May 13, 2016

Soooo... How About That Weather We've Been Having?

Ok, so my last post was... out of the ordinary... for this blog at least. It was more like a personal journal entry that I was just pissed off enough over to actually publish online. I learned two things from this post: 1) People love drama - it has received the most hits ever had on my blog and in just two days. That is after 2 years of writing and over 160 published posts (I'd guess the inflammatory title had something to do with that) and 2) I'm better than that.

I have to admit, my Dad helped me see it tonight (although I didn't admit it to him just then, I had to think on it more), that is not what this blog is about. It has always been a place where I can safely voice and work through my feelings, concerns and views while hopefully helping at least someone out there, without the drama and negativity that held me down so often in the past.

If I had left it at just the blood =/= family stuff then it would have been fine, but instead, I made it personal and it got nasty. Which, in a way, made me no better than the person it was directed towards. Not cool. Especially since I've been trying for years to be better than that.

So, I'm sorry for that. For not being authentic to my blog. Instead of satisfying my own desire for some sort of revenge, i should focus on keeping with the interests of my readers (all two of you!). I will never unpublish it, but it is definitely time to move on.

I thought I'd lighten things up a bit with a picture heavy post of the fun we've been having this Spring. I know this post will only get about 1/4 of the hits as the last one, but I'm totally ok with that, because at least it's happy. I'd rather be known for the fun I share with my kids than the angry rants I hurl into the abyss of the interwebz.

I hope you've been able to get out and enjoy the sunshine as we have. Here are some of our favorite things to do this time of year:

Dirt and Mud Play

Scooping, piling, plopping and, of course, digging - dirt play is the best! It's full of different sights, smells and textures and while it can be messy, it's pretty much a guaranteed fun time for anyone - except Mom who gets to strip off those messy clothes and do the laundry later. But that doesn't stop me - I love playing in the rain or creating puddles of mud with the hose. We don't do it every day, but when we do, it's so much fun.


Water Play

Who doesn't love water play? It's like mud play, only cleaner! Unless you're my kids, of course - they always manage to come away as wet as if they'd gone swimming. I have a stash of cups, scoops, utensils, rags and more that I randomly throw in, but mostly they just splash and try to drink the hose water (don't worry, Mom, I don't let them!). On rainy days I just pour some water into bins and let them have at it on a shower curtain and towels. It's by far one of their favorites!

Painting Outside

This has been one of my favorite activities for as long as I can remember. We did it last fall and painted all the leaves and twigs we could find. This time around I tried some homemade watercolor paint (a 10 second squirt of crayola washable paint mixed with about a cup of water).  Since it dries so fast in the sun, it creates layers of color on the page and adds a whole new element to mixing colors. Do not make the same mistake I did and allow your kids to paint your unsealed concrete patio - while I am in love with our new tye-dye backyard, I'm not so sure our landlord will be.

Playdough Outside


I love bringing indoor art mediums outside. With playdough, we've always enjoyed poking it with and molding it around sticks, rocks and pinecones or making faces with nature items. This time though, I just wanted to get rid of this batch of dough so I let them do whatever they wanted. It wasn't long before it was being stuck to everything from the fence to the trees.  Lo and behold they discovered a whole new way to work with it: imprints.

It was even cooler because you never knew what was going to stick. For example, the pine tree branches left these beautifully detailed and tiny illustrations of themselves. The grass just left a bunch of slants and dead ants. The cherry blossom tree was by far the coolest - the bark looks so smooth but in reality it's full of tiny dots. I was too busy exploring with them to get good pics but you get the idea. We still use The Imagination Tree's recipe for our playdough, try it, you'll love it!

Painting Flowerpots and Planting Seeds

I got these cute little pots at my bff's baby shower and knew we had to paint them. We set up outside and the kids went at it. Later, I mod-podged them to protect the paint from water. I picked up some potting soil and seed mix and waited for a nice day to get out and plant something.

Of course, then came the week of torrential downpours so we did it inside. They played and poked until we added some seeds and water and said a little poem to help them grow. In hindsight, dirt inside was not the best idea - but they loved it. R gave his flowers to his Mom for Mother's day and I'm still praying the girls' will start to grow at some point.

Exploring Everything

My absolute favorite part of Spring is just getting out and soaking up the beauty of the new world, watching the rebirth after the long, cold winter.  My backyard is a fantastic spot, filled with all sorts of trees, vines, flowers, birds and other woodland creatures. If it wasn't smack in the middle of a small city it would be perfect, but at least right now my kids can learn all about the city sounds of cars honking and sirens wailing (bright side, I'm really working on that optimism over here after my last post).

Mostly they just roam around, pointing as I answer their inquiries and experimenting with their environment. Even the baby absolutely loves just chilling out, staring up at the trees and the clouds. I can't wait to get a second gate so I can trust putting him on a blanket on the ground but with 3 big kids running around it's not safe yet.

The other day we watched as 3 squirrels ventured into the yard, unaware of our presence as we ate snack at the opposite end. They hopped and ran and tackled each other while we looked on, the kids stunned into silence and awe. They were just a few feet away before the saw us and hightailed it up the telephone pole, but it was magical for me and for them. And far better than any TV show.

The Cherry Blossom Saga


I wouldn't feel right if I didn't include this in the tale of our Spring. Every year since we moved in I have loved watching and waiting for our huge cherry blossom tree to make its blooming debut. It starts as hairy gray buds and then one day they burst open and fill the sky with pink and white, right outside my kitchen window. Last year, I took some beautiful pictures of the girls in front of it and couldn't wait to do a comparison shot in the same spot this year.

Except this year, it bloomed too early. Who can blame it, what with the 75 degree temps in mid-March? But then, the very next day, the temperature dropped and the ground was covered in 3 inches of snow for only the second time all winter. And all those innocent, pure, beautiful blooms died.

I hadn't even taken a picture yet since I knew it would only get better.

And it never came back.

I cried.

It wouldn't be so sad if they were just buds - but all that brown, those are dead blooms :(

But then, just yesterday, I noticed it. One single white bloom amidst a sea of green leaves. As if it were there just for me. I made sure all the kids got as close as they could to check it out.

It seemed to be just another reminder that even when it seems so, all is never lost. Somehow, light has a way of shining even in the coldest of darkness. Even after everything else has been torched - there is always a way to survive. I can't help but think of how ironic it is in relation to my previous post.

Anyway, Spring is truly here and Summer is on its way. I hope you have a chance to get out and take in all the beauty that our world is giving us right now!


May 10, 2016

Hey Jerk Who Tried To Ruin My Mother's Day - I Hope You're Happy.

We went to the wedding last weekend and it was wonderful. I am so so glad I went. It was a beautiful, simple ceremony overlooking a lake in CJ's hometown. We are so happy for the bride and groom and had so much fun reconnecting with family, many of whom we haven't seen in years. We danced and drank and even went out afterwards - I'm pretty proud of myself for making it to 2am for the first time in years!

We missed the girls but they had a fabulous weekend, making tons of memories (and even a mother's day gift for me) with some of their favorite people. When we got home we spent the afternoon relaxing and laughing with our babies in celebration of Mother's Day. It was truly a wonderful weekend for all of us!

But, because I'm me, it all had to end in some twisted effing way that left me on a low note rather than a high one. I got to spend Sunday night being verbally harassed through text message, for hours, by a total freaking wacko who I have only had the displeasure of meeting once in my life. I won't even bother giving her the satisfaction of more attention than she is worth by telling you who she is or all the awful things she said. Suffice it to say she's out of our lives now.

However, in its own messed up way, this experience, coupled with the events of the weekend, helped truly solidify my belief that the bonds of love are much stronger than bloodlines.

You see, we spent our weekend surrounded by the most loving, supportive people I have ever known, aside from my own family. There is so much joy in our gatherings with them. Even though it is technically CJ's "side," I feel just as comfortable with them as I do with my own. My relationship with them is something I truly cherish and one of my favorite parts of our marriage. And yet, CJ is only biologically "related" to one single person in the whole group - his mom, who was adopted as an infant.

I've never really been close to anyone who was adopted and I'll admit as a family historian, I was curious about it at first. It was always so important to me to know where I came from, in terms of both geography and genealogy. And yet, my own husband and mother-in-law do not really know. But that means very little when you see the bonds that they have with every member of their family. The love, support and laughs they share is all the evidence you need to know that biology does not determine who is part of our true family.

This fact was made even more clear to me when, while relaxing after a wonderful weekend, I was berated out of nowhere for not presenting my children like a set of show ponies to a group of relatives, who are biologically related to them but who have no more of a relationship with us than that of a casual acquaintance.

Without saying too much (it's not really my story to tell, or it wasn't, rather, until this person saw reason to drag me into it), I will say that there is a lifetime of history between these people and my husband and much that even I do not know.

It's a story like many others, of young love, a bitter divorce, and a young child stuck in the middle. I watched many friends struggle with this over the years, but it's different being on this side of it. My own parents split, amicably, when I was 21. I never knew the heartbreak of having to choose, of feeling like a failure for not doing enough to maintain a relationship with a parent. I never experienced the pain of your blood tugging you in one direction, while your heart, in an attempt to protect your soul, led you in the other.

Over our years together, I have watched my husband's relationships with these relatives go through some ups and downs, but mostly it's been radio silence on both ends. I have aided in repair attempts a few times, only to then see months go by without a word from either side. I have watched the person I love most in the world pine for a closeness that will never be with the only people he is biologically related to aside from his mother, and now his children. And it kills me, every single time, to know that it was all out of his hands long before he could even walk.

We are who we are. There is no changing someone's true nature. You can blame time, distance and other circumstance, but at the end of the day, you either try, or you don't. You either care enough to give a part of yourself, facing the risk of rejection, or you don't. And eventually, the people who are supposed to give a damn, who are supposed to stick with you through and through, will realize this, and give up.

And who can blame them? After all, when it's all they've ever known, why wouldn't they?

But sometimes, the kids grow up, they are able to take control, make their own choices and, in the best cases, a shift in the relationship occurs. Words are exchanged, forgiveness is granted for mistakes of the past and there is hope for a future. All is not lost.

Except when someone takes it upon themselves to interject, throwing off the delicate balance of this new-found acceptance. This person, taking the information they have garnered through drunken conversations, the rumor mill of a small town and their own imagination, becomes angry and resentful over something that has nothing to do with them. Then, in a fit of bitter, drunken anger, reeling from their own pain, they open their mouth and target the entirely wrong person. And all hell breaks loose.

Old wounds are reopened. More people are hurt. And those relationships that just a bit ago were on the mend are now being thrown into the fire at the hand of a stranger.

I know you're reading this, so, I hope you're happy. With your misguided accusations, disgusting lack of tact, incredibly hurtful and angry words, you single-handedly destroyed something that took years to rebuild. Up until that night, you had our sympathy, for we all know the hell you've been through. But you chose to take your pain and attack me in an attempt to make me feel sorry for things that are completely out of my control.

Thanks to your inability to control your tongue (or your alcohol) you managed to hurt the one the person you claim to care so much for, as well as the truly innocent in this situation: the great grandparents of my children, who, through no fault of their own are now going to miss out on getting to know two of the best little people in the world.

All because you feel as though you have some sort of right to try and forcefully fix this relationship that you are not a part of. Worse, you go about it in the worst possible way. As if shaming, humiliating and berating us is going to do the trick. As if we don't already know how difficult it is, for everyone involved. All because you seem to think you have some semblance of an idea about the events that transpired decades before your time in his life.

As if you have no idea that you are the very reason we have stayed away for so long. Or does your brain simply choose not to remember the last time you did this to us?

Here's the thing: you don't know us. You have no idea of what we have been though. You don't know me, and you certainly don't know my children or how I parent them. And now, thanks to your profuse word-vomit, you never will. I can only hope that you feel the regret of this choice and that it hurts, as you hurt me, although after that night I am not sure you have a heart with which to feel that pain.

We, on the other hand, we will be just fine. Better, even. For now we know: blood does not make you family. True family is built with love, respect, patience and kindness. It's giving of yourself because you want to, even if it is inconvenient or hard. Going out of your way to build trust and strengthening bonds through communication and time. It cannot be forced and it does not simply exist because 30 years ago two people made a baby together.

We know what true family is and I thank God every single day that we are surrounded by it. And now, I thank God that it will never, ever include you. In a way, I should say thank you, for taking the choice out of my hands.

Like I said, I hope you're happy. I know I am.


May 4, 2016

I don't want to go. But I do. And I don't.

Growing up with anxious tendencies, a brain that would never shut up and a heart that felt everything way too much, I was a wreck most of the time. The most common phrases used to describe me have always been "worrywart," "dramatic," and "crazy." Yeah, I was fun to be around.

I've spent a long time trying to fix these less than awesome aspects of my personality and have it pretty under control. Until I'm faced with something totally new and unknown and usually a little scary. Then I get sent into orbit.

This weekend we're going to a wedding about 4 hours away. We'll stay overnight and be home mid-day Sunday. It's going to be fun and I'm excited to go. But I'm also freaking the hell out about my babies who will be staying behind. It's safe to say I'm in full-blown crazy mode, feeling like bundle of nerves, bursting into tears and talking to myself at random.

It's a fun game that I know all too well.

My stupid body cannot get it together and is pulling me in both directions. It's like one side knows that it will be good for us to get away. It's a great time to do it and they will be fine with my parents. The other side is like, "What in the eff are you thinking? This is the worst idea ever and you will regret it. Do not go, stay home!"

Because I'm not ready. Because I'm afraid that they're not ready. Because it's Mother's Day.

Nowadays, nine times out of 10 I'm able to trust the more reasonable side and get over my issues. I deal with the emotions of it all and just let it go. I learned somewhere along the way that whenever I don't listen to the logical side, I regret it. But even the pain of past regrets isn't enough to stop the war in my brain this past week.

Going to the wedding is the rational, sane thing to do. But it is hurting my heart and I really don't want to. Except that I do. It will be fun and we need it and we're already committed so that's not cool. Part of me is terrified that I'll fall back into my old ways and just not go. It would be so easy and so typical of me, but disappointing to many, including CJ.

It brings me back. I'm 18 years old, sitting on the floor of my dorm room, a hot mess of sweat and tears and begging my Dad to pack all my crap up because there was no way in hell I was staying there.

He almost did it, but instead, he waited for and helped me deal with my stress - to process it and breathe. And then it was over. Two hours later I was having dinner with my "new friends."

I can't even being to fathom right now how different my life would be if I had actually gone home that day.

Today, I pretty much decided I wasn't going. I was loving on my babies and telling myself that people would understand, we've got twins, I'm still nursing, it would be too hard. But then I realized I was doing it again. I was about to miss out on something simply because I was terrified of the what-ifs and unknowns.

So, I cried. And then, I went out and bought new shoes. I spent $35 on myself at Target and bought a cute pair of shoes to go with my fabulous Jude Connally dress. I even bought nail polish since I should have gotten a pedicure (needed a hair cut and color too) but I just kept putting it off as part of not wanting to go. 

But I am going, too-long gray hair and all. And I will have fun because if there is anything in this world I need right now it is a night away. Even if it means I will miss my babies so incredibly much that I'll probably cry a few hundred times and try to facetime them every ten minutes during the reception.

I finally realized something today: they need this as much as I do. It's supposed to be hard because we are each others world right now, but we can't be everything for each other, not forever at least.

They need to see that it's ok to get dressed up and go out and have fun. Even when you're a Mom. Especially when you're a Mom.

They need to see that it's ok to be nervous about something new but not to let it ruin what could be a perfectly wonderful experience.

They need to experience making memories with their grandparents without Mom nearby. It's one of the best parts of childhood, especially with my awesome parents. They will get spoiled and probably be nightmares for us but it will be worth it.

They need to know that when I leave, I will come back and that bad things do not always happen when someone goes away for a bit. This is something I still struggle with. Considering we haven't been apart for more than 8 hours since they came home from the NICU 21 months ago, I'd say it's time.

Wish me luck and pray I don't wake up Saturday "sick" or flat-out refuse to get dressed like I used to do when I was a kid/last year.