When all you can do is wipe their tears.....

Big Bro T was born early and it never phased him!  He was in the NICU and received excellent care and he spent years with respiratory issues and he just rolled with it.  He got sick more often than most kids and he just took it in stride.  Big Bro T is the kid that loves to be home hanging out instead of out seeing the latest movie or going somewhere.  He is the kid that loves to be back at the Disney hotel ordering room service for the night instead of staying out to see the fireworks.  He is the kid who loved to ride in the car and say “what beautiful trees mommy”.  He is the kid that plays with anyone who happens to be outside, no matter the age.  He will also talk your ear off about Star Wars or Mine Craft but he’ll also notice your new haircut or if you rearranged the pictures on the mantle.  He will share his field trip souvenir money with a fellow classmate that didn’t bring any or didn’t have enough for what they wanted. 
He is kind and he is happy.  Period.  His former soccer coach called me at home to tell me that if I wanted him to play in the Spring Season I’d have to work on making him more aggressive.  He can’t stop and help the kid from the other team who fell down.  He can’t concern himself with others; he had to increase his aggression.  He did not play in the Spring.
Big Bro T is now 9 and is beginning to deal with the reality that participation is not a guarantee at school.  In early elementary years he has been happy to be in the “background” of the Christmas musical and never have a solo.  He has not realized that he never has any candid photos in the yearbook.  He did get to be Jesus in last year’s class Chapel and he was awesome (says his proud mom). But he took the part because his teacher assigned him to do it- he follows directions. 
This year begins the grade where you apply for different school positions or are recommended for participation in special programs.  His sister has also started in the preschool on his campus and my attention is now a bit divided so I may have missed the memo that he is on the “bid kid” side of the elementary years now. 
He started asking me to check the mail, that he was expecting a letter from school.  Apparently there is a program that his grade is now eligible to participate in but it is based on test scores, teacher recommendation and “personality” and he REALLY wanted to be a part of it.  It is a team of kids that compete against other schools in the area of robotics- and Big Bro T loves this kind of stuff.  I overheard parents talking about it and saying their kids were not picked due to not being “competitive minded” enough……..UH OH!  So we checked the mail for 3 days……and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I already knew the kids that made it had already received their letters. 
So after checking the mail last night I finally told him that I don’t think he was selected.  He was crushed.  He couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t be chosen since he is a good student and really interested in robotics.  I told him that if this is something he really wants to do, he needs to meet with the teacher and find out what he needs to do to be prepared for next year.  And then the watery eyes came…….
So as I wiped the tears he was trying to not let fall, I had to tell him- he needed to know- Life isn’t always about being happy and kind.  If you want this, then put yourself out there and make it known that you can handle the pressure of competing against other kids.  Approach the teacher and ask for her insight into what you can do to be a stronger presence.  If you have to wait a year because you missed it this time, then use that time to build up their confidence in you as a strong team member.  Do the work.
My heart broke for my sweet boy who is now going to begin to see that life will begin to take on new perspectives.  But the reality is- if you want something, you go after it and you improve yourself if needed to achieve your goals.  I never want him to lose his compassion for others or his “comfortable in his own skin” personality.  But I also want him to feel the success of taking on a challenge and stepping up to the plate to tackle it head on.  And there is pride to be had in that. 
So as Dad dropped him off at school today he said Big Bro T made a bee line for the teacher he needed to talk to. 
I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I’ll always be there to wipe the tears he doesn’t want to let fall…..whether they are tears of defeat or the tears of joy at overcoming a challenge. 

Moms Helping Moms

The media has a way of making moms feel like something they tell us is supposed to be a  "newsflash"....for example, a celebrity becomes a mom for the first time and after a few months of motherhood gives a quote in an interview something to the effect of, "mom's can't have it all".  And this declaration is on the news, on the internet, in the magazines and we moms are supposed to read that and say, "Oh we can't, I didn't know that til it was just pointed out!"  Really???

Here's the newsflash- no offense to the new celebrity mom who was just giving her thoughts, but WE ALREADY KNOW THIS!  We certainly don't need a reminder of this fact.  We live with the humility of this knowledge everyday.  We are constantly in a guilt battle over what family priority comes first and how do we work that around our job or our kids or our friendships or our spouse, or our ME time?

What has become a newsflash to me in the past few months is how little credit we give ourselves.  And what I have learned about myself in the last few months is how little I have accepted help over the years from moms willing to lend a helping hand.  I have had a very bad habit of not asking for help and not accepting it when offered.  Well with 2 growing kids at different stages in their lives, working full time, and a husband that works full time- this has become an even greater flaw of mine.

So I would like to take the time to share what examples I have seen of moms helping other moms to "have it all" and how moms I know have sacrificed so their families can "have it all" and how I am trying to follow their lead!

A very kind mom helped me get Big Bro T to his Tae Kwon Do class one week (when I couldn't be in 2 places at once) so he didn't miss a class and didn't miss getting the Student of the Month certificate (that is a big deal in his world).  The guilt of me failing him helped me find the humility to accept her help.

A very well educated mom took a job in a field that she is way overqualified for so that she works closer to home and has a more flexible schedule for her family.  And she does this knowing her children will never know the sacrifice she is making for them.  Her selfless act is a reminder to me that we don't always get to be the mommy we want to be, we get to be the mommy we need to be.

A mom raising 3 kids under 5 at home helps out another mom by taking care of her 2 kids (under 4) for a month until they can start at their new preschool.  I cannot even imagine how she gets them all down for nap time, but I know that dropping off her favorite Starbucks drink might help get her thru the afternoon. :)

Three moms took the time out of their busy schedules to surprise me with a Birthday night out!  Since Lil Sis B has a birthday 2 days after mine, my birthday can get lost in the shuffle.  Yes they found me on a Friday night in my pajamas at 7pm but I managed to throw on some jeans and stay up past 11pm!

Single moms who do double duty will always have my love and support!  As will the moms that keep calling to set up coffee dates with me- even though I cancel a lot- thanks for hanging in there!

And you HAVE to have the mommy friend that can see you struggling to manage your toddler in a public arena, pull out her cell phone and take a picture of you so you can laugh about it later!! 

Learning to ask for help and learning to accept help with motherhood is a humbling process I am stumbling thru.  Trying to do it all so that you can have it all (whatever "all" is) is not a goal of mine. 

The media may be shocked to learn that some of us mommies just want to have "some" of it all! :)

When a System fails......

I have a son and a daughter- and in all honesty, I had always wanted boys.  ONLY BOYS.  I went so far as to track my ovulation in order to “increase” the odds of a baby boy.  (Yes, I also referenced the Chinese conception chart).  And our first born was a BOY!  Success!  So when we FINALLY decided 6 years later to attempt another pregnancy, I figured that I had the system down and we would be welcoming another son into the family---- a bit over confident maybe.....
Due to being a high risk pregnancy and my advanced age ( ;) ) I underwent many tests early on and we knew the gender very early on.  So the very sweet nurse gave us the “good” news-“ it’s a GIRL!  Now you have one of each!”  SILENCE………then I stuttered, “But I have a system!!!”  The poor nurse was so confused!
And then I started crying and imagining all the ways I would worry and fear for this baby girl on the way- What about when a boy breaks her heart??  What if other girls are mean to her because she doesn’t fit in??  How do I prepare her for monthly pain and moodiness??  What do I tell her when she hates how she looks??  How do I help her thru not feeling smart enough??  I looked to my husband for answers and I saw an even more terrified look!  UH-OH!
Lil Sis B is now almost 3 and she is the most determined, stubborn, active, focused and hot-tempered girl I know.  She runs everywhere, even if it’s just from room to room, and will not be stopped.  Preschool days will be starting soon and I am afraid for her.  Afraid she "won't play well with others" and afraid for the teacher that tells her it’s time to come in from recess and she refuses to be removed from the swing/slide/tricycle!  I have already role played some of the inevitable phone calls in my head.
This past weekend Lil Sis B decided that she was up for an outing and tells her Daddy “I want to go to the Princess Castle”.  Well her Daddy lives for moments like this, so we were all in the car and on our way to Disneyland in a matter of minutes.  After a 30 minute line, we entered the new Fantasy Faire section and met Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Cinderella.  Lil Sis B was star struck!  All we heard was her breathing and saying “ooooooh” and she could NOT move.  So Big Bro T stepped in and guided her to each Princess and helped her ease into the “meet and greet”.  Big Bro T even posed for all of the pictures with her, Daddy furiously videotaped his princess with the Disney Princesses, and I snapped pictures like a crazed paparazzo! 

As I looked at Lil Sis B grinning from ear to ear and all of us grinning at her from ear to ear, I felt a little of the fear and worry slip away.  Girls have it tough in this life and I have always known a daughter would break my heart because I would not be able to keep her from all the heartbreak that awaits her.  But I know there are at least three people on this earth that will stand with her thru every minute of the good and the bad.
So much for my “system”!

NOT a New Year's Resolution......

If you start something in February, then technically it’s not a New Year’s Resolution right? 

I cannot tell you the last time I was a member of a gym, been inside a gym (taking my kid to gymnastics or Gymboree probably doesn’t count), or put on a sports bra with any regularity.  Yet I have been wanting to join a gym for a while now.  The main thing holding me back was the fact that back many years ago when I did have a gym membership (back when the treadmills did NOT have TV’s), like many people, I paid the  monthly dues and never went.  So the idea of repeating that cycle has kept me from slapping down my credit card and starting that up again. 
Also, life looks a lot different for me these days than it did back then- back then I was single, younger, and had time to do what I wanted to do.  That doesn’t mean I went to the gym- just that I COULD.  These days I am married, older, and immersed in making sure my kids have their school treat ready a month ahead, homework done to some degree of quality, and are involved in the sport or activity of their choice: for Big Bro T that is currently piano and Tae Kwon Do, for Lil Sis B it’s wearing me like a blanket- she is usually glued to me as soon as I pick her up from the babysitter’s.  And the idea of being gone all day at work and then coming home and leaving the kids again makes me feel a bit selfish and guilty, especially when there is SOOOO much to do.  Even though I really do crave time to do something for ME it usually ends up in the middle of the list and never the TOP.
Another big excuse I have used is that my husband’s schedule varies from week to week- I never have an idea of what evenings he will be home before 8 or 9pm.  It depends on the activity, sport, or meeting involved with being a High School Administrator.  This is not new to me, but it makes it very challenging to have any sort of routine in mind for ME.  So why set myself up again?
But I did.  I joined a gym.  And the perfectly nice young lady that helped me starts “assessing” me:

“Why do you think it’s been so long since you’ve been in a gym?”
How much time to you have honey?
"What goals do you have for yourself?"
My goals are to win the lottery (which means actually buying a ticket), figure out what being vegan really means, not forget the half million things my kids need to get done every month, and hope my husband doesn’t see my visa bill!  Oh, did she mean my fitness goals??
“Do you have any injuries we should know about?”
Do bad hair days and laziness count?  I have to admit that for the past 15 years I have been devoted to keeping up on my DVR shows from the comfort of my couch and that has pretty much insured my “injury free” status!  Probably not a bragging point……
“Why do you think this time will be different than your last gym experience?”
            The gym holds a new perspective for me this time around…..so far.

I need to do something for me.  I am long past “wanting” to do something for me.  Mentally I am ready and I have gone as far as slapping down the credit card again.  Now I need to move myself to the top of the list a couple of times a week. 
It started with buying a few sports bras, some new workout pants (as I was told the ones I used before were actually pajamas), and dusting off the tennis shoes I bought last year.  And maybe.......just maybe, if I jump on the treadmill (with the TV of course) and dream of running away for an hour or so, I’ll be re-energized to run back home and continue to carry the family I love on to the next week!
So the adventure begins….people still wear leg warmers to the gym right??

I found THE ONE......

What do the weekends bring?  Birthday parties of course!  It is the month of February and thanks to the amazing So Cal weather it is not a problem (this year) to have a backyard birthday party in February.  This weekend's agenda was a Baseball themed 1st birthday for our good friend's little boy.  The one wrench thrown into the party planning is that there was also ANOTHER birthday party on the same day and same time for another friend's little boy.....so we implemented the divide and conquer method of Dad dropping off me and Lil Sis B at the Baseball party and making a dash over to the other party with Big Bro T.

This method seemed like a good idea- in the past I would not be so eager to attend a party alone with my 2 1/2 year old because we have decided it takes 3 adults to handle her.  But as she is getting a bit older and communicating with us more, she seems to be mellowing out some.  I say this because the girl has a short fuse- she can go from happy to major meltdown in seconds with not much of a clue as to why.  But I swear, lately she has been more friendly, allows family and friends to hold her, makes eye contact with people- just more open to being out in public and communicating with the masses! ;)

So bring on the divide and conquer party attending method.  My bravery was in part due to my very good girlfriends and their kids were at the baseball party so I knew I had back up if needed.  I had our baseball shirts and baseball hats ready- so let's do this!  Time to get Lil Sis B dressed- and yes I left her in her Princess Sophia nightgown until it was time to get ready becasue I didn't have a back up baseball t-shirt for her- but here's the problem:  She LOVES Princess Sophia.  She LOVES having on her Princess Sohpia "dress". 

I was able to put on the PINK baseball t shirt,  but then she is insisted on having her "dress" back on!!  When I hesitated- she lost it!  So long story short, I put the dress back on over the t-shirt and decided to try to reason with her on the drive over to the party (which we were now late for!).  As you can see from the photo I did not win!!  So I was now the proud mom of the little girl walking around looking like a haggard  mom in her leggings, nightgown, baseball cap and bad hair!  BUT she is happy and the kind party go-ers were getting a good natured laugh at my" strong willed" daughter and she was none the wiser!

And I have to say, for the majority of the party she eats, drinks, and plays a bit and I managed to eat, drink and play a bit myself!  That is, until she discovered the extra helium balloons in the house.  She finds the few extra balloons and wanted to take them outside. I tried to explain to her that she has to keep a hold of the string or let me tie them on to her or they will fly away.  I got the famous 2 1/2 year old look of  "Whatever... I'm going outside".....and of course it happens. The ribbon slipped out of her hand and a VERY on the ball mom leapt past me and grabbed it saving the day!!  Until a bit later when the ribbon slipped out of her hand AGAIN and this very on the ball mom was not in leaping distance and the balloon sailed up and away.  And as Lil Sis B watched the balloon get smaller and smaller, her face crumbled more and more and her screams got louder and louder!  The act of watching that balloon get smaller and smaller was just too much for her and she could not be consoled. 

I walked her over to the bounce house to try and distract her and a little boy bounced over to her and said, "Don't cry baby, you look pretty!"  And just like that, I found HIM!  This is the boy that my daughter will marry!!  The boy that can see the pretty in all her madness!  Finding Lil Sis B's soulmate made it totally worth venturing out alone with her!! 

I hope his mother is prepared for ME! ;)

Marriage Lost and Found

December is for many of us, a gift giving and receiving month.  For many it is not only the Christmas season but also their Birthday Month.  My husband is one of those people.  He pretty much likes 4 things (besides us of course):
1. USC
2. Golfing
3. Ties (he wears a suit and tie almost everyday to work)
4. Getting presents for his birthday

My husband is a high school administrator and over the years his students and staff have made it their mission to "surprise" him in some way during the week of his birthday.  One year it was to fill his office with balloons like in the movie UP, one year it was to put millions of copies of his face on every surface in his office, and so on......but people also want to get him the perfect gift.  I refer you again to the list above....not much to work with right?? 

Starting about mid November I start getting emails, text messages, phone calls, etc. all with the same question- "What does he want for his birthday?".  Now if I tell everyone that asks that he likes USC, he will get 75 USC shirts and that seems to be kind of a waste and not very creative.  Plus, I still have to figure out what the kids and I are going to get him. 

Thankfully the idea of gift cards has become a huge hit in the gift giving world and I am able to suggest to people that ask, that they get him gift cards for stuff he could do while on Christmas Break from school- he loves to go to the movies during this time to see all the movies I refuse to see with hm (SCI-FI.....).  So this trend took off and he has been the recepient of many Starbucks cards, restaurants, and movie gift cards. 

Here is what I forgot about this man.  He is the master of delayed gratification.  Money does not burn a hole in his pocket.  I do not have the same maturity.  He will put these gift cards all in our top kitchen drawer and LEAVE them there.  I open this drawer about 20 times a day to get a pencil, a paperclip, count how many cards he has, alphabetize the gift cards.......and they just sit there staring at me.  So this year I have decided to become a concerned citizen of our household and designate this drawer the Lost and Found.

Here's how it works---I see these gift cards (and I'm mostly talking to the Starbucks cards because really when do I get to go to the movies!!) and they are not mine so they must be LOST.  I will let them sit there for the requried 30 days or so and see if anyone CLAIMS them.  If they are still there after the 30 days or so I will determine them FOUND by me!! 

I did this recently with one of his 10 dollar Starbucks cards and here is how I continue to rationalize it.  Since our life schedule doesn't allow for many date nights these days, I can toast my Venit Tazo Tea to my husband and count this outing as a DATE! See.....EVERYBODY WINS!! 

How many hands do you think I have.....

Big Bro T has taught Lil Sis B many things in her short 2 1/2 years, but the latest is how to throw her snacks on the floor, jump down on all fours and eat them like an animal!  We all made the mistake of laughing at this initially and now she does it with food that is not "eat off the floor friendly" and doesn't understand why we stopped laughing.

Big Bro T takes Tae Kwon Do twice a week- I take him one night dragging along Lil Sis B (because Dad isn't home from work yet).  And my husband takes him one night while I keep Lil Sis B at home- basically he gets to sit and enjoy watching Big Bro T learn new skills, chat with other parents, surf the internet on his phone, stare off into space, you get the idea......

I had to take over Dad's day last week meaning an extra day of packing up his uniform, snacks for Lil Sis B-- after work I pick up Big Bro T, pick up Lil Sis B, feed them in the car on the way to Tae Kwon Do, have Big Bro T change in the car in the parking lot (thank goodness the boy doesn't care) and attempt to settle in for class. 
My first mistake was packing a banana as a snack for Lil Sis B- she decides to peel the ENTIRE banana, break it in two so that each hand can have a piece.  While holding the banana she decides to climb up on the bench and then jump of it...and repeat...  Being cold season she has a bit of a runny nose and as she is chewing a bite of banana she sneezes- and guess what goes flying out of her mouth and onto the floor- MUSHY BANANA!  Before I can scoop it up without attracting too many stares, she drops to all fours and EATS IT!

At this point I have perfected the art of not making eye contact with other adults in order to avoid the apologetic face I would have to make to say "I know that is really gross but what can you do??"  Needless to say, the 40 minute class consists of me making sure Lil Sis B is entertained and contained at the same time, while trying to show Big Bro T I am watching him too! 

After class I text my husband to tell him that Big Bro T did some very cool sparring excercises.  His reply was, "Did you video it?"...........Now I love this man, but how many hands does he think I have???!!! 
I did not reply.