Friday, January 17, 2014

When Time Stands Still

I found this poem and wow, how it hit home to me. I think back about all the craziness that has happened in our lives and I am thankful for every minute of it. Our experiences have changed us to our very core. We view the world differently than we did pre-open heart surgery. There were many long days and frustrating moments, but many, many, many quiet and serene seconds that I appreciate forever.

"When Time Stands Still"
by Debbie Hilton-Kamm

It starts with news impossible to hear
It conjures up your every fear
It's when they say your child is ill
That's when time just stands still

In that moment, that suspended time
A thousand thoughts run through your mind
Will he ever laugh and play?
Will I see his wedding day?

All the planning, the hopes and dreams
Are put on hold -- just what does this mean?
His crib is empty, his toys alone
For now, the hospital will be his home

This is a place where time stands still
Where the void's too large to ever fill
For in a hospital's intensive care
Children lie, some unconscious, some aware

And time is measured by a new yardstick
Every second marked by a monitor's tick
Noting every breath the child takes
And every beat his tired heart makes

Just a moment of watching a child writhe or strain
In sedated confusion, or fear or pain
Or pleading for a drink to which you can't oblige
Seems like far more than an entire lifetime

And the children who live far too long
In hospital gowns, trying to be strong
They have old souls, that's what they say
Because in each moment they've lived a thousand days

For those who say time goes by too fast
Sit with an ill child, and see just how slowly time can pass

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Was it Enough?

She asked if she could open her presents early.

It was the night before Miss Moon's 6th birthday and she couldn't stand looking at those beautifully wrapped presents any longer.  They had been sitting in the living room for about three weeks, all wrapped in their birthday love.

As I smiled and agreed to let her open them, I counted the gifts.  Six.  Three books and three new dresses.  Then that mommy guilt that hasn't been around for a while, poked it's head around the corner. 

Did I get her enough for her birthday?

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I had strategically decided to purchase a few extras that I could use as birthday gifts.  Really good thinking on my part.  I was ahead of the game and didn't have to worry about the after-Christmas crowds. 

When the school Book Fair came to town, I had bought three books that totaled less than $10.  And the three dresses, I picked up on the clearance rack.  I figured I could pick up a toy or something else to go with them later on.  But I never did.

I had basically forgotten about the gifts that I had wrapped in birthday paper three weeks ago with all the Christmas presents.  I had placed the six gifts under the Christmas tree and they got shoved and shifted around in the Christmas hustle. 

In the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas; the school Christmas programs, family get-togethers, and last minute trips to pick up stocking stuffers, I had forgotten to get her a toy for her birthday.

I instantly questioned my gifts.  Not one single toy.  Was that enough?  How could I have forgotten to get at least one toy?

As she ran to pick up the six gifts, she giggled with glee at the sight of the sparkly Tinkerbell paper I had wrapped the books in.  She sat in the middle of the living room floor with all of us sitting around her. 

She squealed as she opened the three books.  Proudly asserting that she could read two of the books all by herself!  The third was an informational book about Horses and Ponies (her favorite animal) and she asked her brother if he could help her read that one.  He nodded in agreement and smiled at me.

As she tore into the dresses that were wrapped in birthday balloon paper, I felt dread that she would be disappointed in my lack of getting her a toy.  Ripping through the paper and flinging the box to the side, she pulled the first dress from the box as if it were a gown for the Royal ball.

She quickly stood up and held the shimmery dress up to her chest and twirled around.  She smiled excitedly and gushed about how much she loved it. 

I felt better but still dreaded that she still had two gifts to go and there wasn't one toy in there.  She's only six years old and I didn't get her one single toy.

She tore through the other two boxes quickly and with each one she repeated the routine of holding the dresses to her chest and twirling around, professing her love for her new clothes.  Now that all the gifts were open, I worried that her realization that she only got three books and three clearance rack dresses would sink in. 

Instead, she sprang from her spot in the middle of the living room floor and threw her arms around her brother, shouting "Thank you, Ivan!  I love all my presents!"

She then turned to her Daddy and wrapped her little arms around him and said "Thank you, Daddy.  I love everything!"

To that he replied, "Well, you should really thank your Mommy, she's the one that picked everything out!"

With that, she turned to me and squeezed me tight around my neck and whispered, "Thanks Mommy, this is the best birthday ever!"

My eyes got watery and I fought back a choke in my throat.  While I was fretting about whether I had bought her enough gifts for her birthday and questioned and doubted myself, she was thankful and gracious for the gifts that she received. 

As a mother, I question my actions and always wonder if I am doing enough, giving enough, teaching enough.  While, I doubted myself and worried too much, she let me know that not only were the six gifts enough but that I was enough.

Sometimes, I just need to remind myself that I am enough.  I do enough.  I give enough.  I teach enough. And that is enough for them. 

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Crappy List of 39 Things You Can Do At Home While Snowed In With Kids

If you don't come up with some ideas soon,
this is what their room with look like.
If there is anyone out there who is snowed in (still) like me, I'm sure that you have been finding things around the house to keep you busy.  In case you are bored out of your mind and need some ideas of things to do while you wait for the plow trucks to unbury your street, here's a crappy list of stuff that my readers and I came up with...

1)  Make some coffee.

2)  Sit down and get caught up on Dalai Mama. (See what I did there?)

3)  Watch an entire season of a new TV series that you've always wanted to, but never had the time.

4)  Clean the microwave with this recipe.  I did it yesterday and it totally worked and that is saying a lot because my microwave looked like a gremlin exploded in there.  * *that was Dalai Dad's joke, so I can't take the credit for that one.

5)  Play Uno with the two littles that keep chasing you around the house with the deck of Uno cards and whining, "Pleeeeeease, can we play Uno?"

6)  Slap those suckers with a Draw 4 as payback for the Wild card and calling the color that you didn't have.

7)  Watch like 3,000 episodes of the Regular Show with the kids and choke-laugh through the whole thing while eating a bag and a half of York Peppermint Patties.

8)  Read a Gillian Flynn book.  (I've read two in the last month; Sharp Objects in two days.  She is an amazingly, disturbed writer and I love her to pieces.)

9)  Boil some water and throw it into the air and watch it turn into a cloud of... snow?...fog?...mist?  I don't know what the hell it was, but it was cool when we did it last night.

10)  Build a couch fort.
Or you could plan a
Barbie/Monster High/stuffed animal/doll
 road trip.

11)  If you're a mama, head over to to read some awesome parenting stories from equally amazing writers. 

12)  Check out just in case you were missing your favorite store and haven't been there for, like, a week and four days. 

13)  Watch all your neighbors try to make it up the street in their cars while the ass-end fishtails and swerves, narrowly missing a fire hydrant. (That would have been exciting.)

14)  Bring some snow in on a cookie sheet and let the kids make a mini-snowman inside.

15)  Make snow ice cream

16)  **Not advised, but if you have to....make dinner, do the dishes and throw in a load of laundry.

17)  Cruise on over to Pinterest and do some pinning...ahem....meal planning.

18)  Get out your old photo albums and listen to the ooooohs and ahhhhhs from the kids about how young/skinny/pretty you USED to look. Thanks kids.

19)  Three words:  NERF GUN WARS!

20)  Crank the stereo and have a dance party.

21)  Make chocolate chip cookies.

22)  Hide in the laundry room and eat the last of the chocolate chip cookies.

23)  Build with Legos, color the Doodle Bear, or build a model car. (Kids submissions)

24)  Watch Seasons 1 and 2 of the Muppet Show.

25)   Benadryl shots with brandy chasers.  (For you or the kids or decide.)

26)  Demonstrate to the kids what constitutes your "bubble."

27)  Play with Playdoh and board games.

28)  Pick up 1.5 million bits of Playdoh.

29)  Teach your kids about London, Paris, and the Louvre.  If you have pictures, a travel journal and travel brochures, that's even better.

30)  Let them ooooooh and ahhhhhh about how cool you USED to be.  Thanks kids.

31)  Let your kids make a performance and record it so they can watch it later.  Commercials are funny to do too.

32) Take funny pictures of things around the house and make up stupid captions for them.

33) Read Sharts and Farts one more time, just for shits and giggles. Just don't giggle and shit!

34) Chase the dog with a remote control car.

35)  Have a matchbox car racing tournament and then smash all the losers with the remote control car, Bigfoot style.

36)  Play "bad guys" with the dog being the bad guy.

37)  Play Art Store, complete with French accents.  Then play restaurant and bakery with custom menus designed by the Art Store. 

38)  Host a 'search and rescue' mission for lost or abandoned toys (after a Toy Story marathon.)  *A good way to find all those missing little pieces that otherwise get swept under the rug.

39)  Harry Potter Marathon with popcorn and a blanket 'nest' on the floor.

So there it is...a list of stuff to do while you're snowed in.  After rereading it though, it seems that this list is mainly a catalogue of sorts for me and me alone, but whatever.

And around my house, if you even so much as mutter the words, "I'm bored" you end up cleaning something, so there's that too.  Have fun and stay warm!

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Soul Singing Non-Resolution

It's January. Again. 

Here we are, all refreshed, bloated with cookies and new found inspiration to start the new year. Everywhere you turn, people are making resolutions (and probably breaking them by now). 

I'm not fond of the whole resolution thing, though.  I tend to be on the side of doing what makes me happy and peaceful now, not just because it's January. 

So, in celebration of not making a New Year's Resolution, I made a list of things that make me happy in the now.  These are the things that make my soul sing.  This is what I want MORE of in this new year:

1.) My Hubs.  He is IT, I'm telling you.  He feels like home.  He is everything and the only one that I need on a daily basis. I didn't think it would be possible to love that guy any more than I did 13 years ago, when I said 'I Do' but....I do.  We've certainly had our ups and downs and Lord knows that there were days....well, we won't go into that, but we have handled these years with finesse and taken the challenges in stride.  Together. Our alone time together is sacred, but far and few between these days of raising babies.  I want to carve out more dates with my hubs this year.  We have so many more memories to make together and I can't wait!
2.) My Kids.  I would be lying if I didn't say that those kids crack me up, piss me off and grab my heart every single day.  While they drive me nuts sometimes, they are also the sweetest kids ever.  I try to soak up as many little moments with them as possible. I try to remember every tiny conversation, facial expression and giggle that comes from them.  I know that some day they will be huge and grown and I will miss those tiny faces, but for now, I will enjoy all the crazy goings-on in our lives.  This year, I want to teach them more, explore with them more, and show them more.  I want them to learn to appreciate the little things in life that can make you happy.  (Like when I taught them the best part of drinking a milkshake is eating the cherry and whipped cream first.)  I want to make as many little, tiny memories with them as possible and I pray that I never forget those things. 

3.) Music.  When I've had a rough day or just feel a little down, I crank it.  I have some go-to artists but mostly they involve loud, sultry front men like Jim Morrison or Robert Plant.  Something about a great song can make my soul sing like nothing else in this world.  It makes me feel, me.  There is something so familiar about certain songs and music in general, that it makes me feel like I'm home.  It takes me to a place where they know me and motion for me to come in for a big group hug. It wraps it's big arms around me and squeezes me tight.  I would love to throw more live music into the mix this year.

4.) Writing.  My goal last year was to read and write more.  Which I think I have done a pretty good job doing.  I've been more intentional in my choices of what to write and I'm always looking for an angle on a moment that I can make into a story.  I'm not sure how many people actually read this blog but it's more for me than anyone else.  I consider writing a therapy of sorts.  I keep a notebook with me, so I can jot down ideas or phrases throughout the day.  Even if nothing materializes with those thoughts, I am being more reflective in my everyday life and that just makes me happy.

5.) Reading.  I have a stack of books that I got for Christmas that are waiting for me to read them.  The thought of diving into a new book gives me the shivers and butterflies of excitement.  Kinda nerdy, I know, but get over it.  This year, I would like to read more books that are outside of my normal genre.  Maybe I'll pick up a Sci-Fi or Historical Fiction.  Who knows, I might get really crazy and pick up a Non Fiction book.  Stranger things have happened.

6. My kitchen  While most people are busy calculating calories and hitting the gym, I would like to spend more time in my kitchen this year.  I love that (occasional) feeling I get when I can crank up the music, fire up the stove and dance around in my pj's while cooking up a killer meal.  My culinary skills tend to be in the remedial department but I can bake like nobody's business.  I would like to pick up a few new dinner go-to's this year. 

7. My dogs  As my dog, Phoebe, has turned 15 this year, I have been trying to spend more time with her.  I know our time left together is short and I try to baby her as much as I can.  A few extra treats and more play time is definitely in order.  Winston is already a big baby and follows me everywhere I go.  But that girl, Phoebe, she has been with me through thick (very thick) and thin.  I know I will be devastated when she is gone, so I want to make her time with us pleasant.  I want her to know how important and loved she is in our family. 

So there it is.  These are the things that make me happy on a daily basis and what I want MORE of in the new year.  They make my soul sing.  They make 

What makes your soul sing?  What makes you smile on the inside so much that you get butterflies?  Make your list and focus on that this year and you might be surprised at how simple happiness can be.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Amateurs Step Aside: A Target Story

A few weeks ago, I shared my frustrations with you about my struggles as Christmas brings out all the amateurs at Target.  Well, I must have hit a nerve because I have had quite a few great conversations about this as of late.  And then today I received this genius post about a shopping experience at Target gone wrong.  And I hate to admit it, but the catalyst for the major malfunction all has to do with the writer not wanting to fit into the "amateurs" category, so she didn't get a cart.  I'll just let you read it and you'll see what I mean.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did....
***Note, this is not written by me and I can't (unfortunately) take credit for this masterpiece.  This was written by my sister in law and submitted to Dalai Mama. Enjoy!

                “I am sooo not an amateur” I said to myself, walking into Target days before Christmas. I had perfectly practical shoes on, as I put Leslie Sansone to shame while I sprinted across the snowy Target parking lot at 8:00 am that morning. I tried not to let the full ‘totally awesome’ and ‘bitchin’ parking spots irk me (the doors just clicked open for business-and I know the employees are parked up front instead of the back 40) But whatever...professionals do NOT let shit like that throw them off their game. 
The doors slid open at the perfect moment as if to say "And…GO!" 
I grabbed my small, hand held basket in professional fashion.  I had to skip Starbucks - no one was at the counter and I was on a mission.  I was there to get snacks for snack day at work and one pair of shoes for the baby.
I stopped at the dollar bins because who can resist those bargain glory finds!  I filled 2 inches, at least, of perfect finds for the kids’ stockings.  No problem.  Plenty of room for my snacks and one pair of shoes.  I took a breath to find my center and regroup after losing all common sense from those damn bins. 
“Okay, baby shoes are straight, then to the left, then I can swing back to grab the snacks. I'll be out in ten minutes.”
I held my head high and picked up the pace to the shoes. 

I get there and it was a total NIGHTMARE.  None of the shoes were on the shelves under the appropriate display.  I looked like I was practicing my ballet plies for the nutcracker as I squatted and sprung back up, searching for matching code numbers and sizes. 
No matter.  A professional has no shame and trains for this sort of shopping conundrum. Again, trying not to let this disaster and nor perky Starbucks barista lose my focus, I continued my search for baby shoes like no other.  I find the perfect shoes for our 3 year old, then the baby. Two boxes of shoes into the basket.  Guilt ridden, I figure I had better buy some shoes for our two older kids.
Bam! Bam! Done. 
And I found another pair for the baby! Five shoe boxes in my basket. I have the basket in the nook of my left elbow, boxes towering, using my right hand to balance the tower.  Satisfied that I feel I am continuing to put amateurs to shame, I amp up my RPM back to the snacks, mentally going through my Christmas To-Do list. Damn it, wrapping paper!
(Backstory-when our oldest kid was less than two, she noticed that the ‘Santa’ paper was the same as Mommy and Daddy's paper and the labels were the same.  Ever since we have made sure that all of the paper is different.)
So now I need four rolls of paper, plus whatever I can use to wrap my hubby's gifts in.  As I pass the electronics and toys, I notice about four Target employees stocking shelves.  I made brief eye contact with one woman who gave me a quick nod, which I interpreted as "Oh she is a pro. Carry on good lady. Carry on."
I scored two huge rolls, compromising that it's reasonable that all of the kids can have the same Santa paper.  I tucked the two rolls of paper under my right arm pit, right hand on the tower of tennis shoes and coached myself.
"Woman get it together!  You are pushing the limits!! You still need snacks and you need to get your ass to WORK!" 
I needed to find Kitchen Cooked chips and Prairie Farms french onion dip for the office snack - always a classic.  Since both are made here in Central Illinois,  you can get them practically anywhere, even at gas stations and dollar stores. 
I eyed the aisle signs, blowing past more employees stocking shelves of DVDs and camping equipment, all using carts.  I have begun to feel fatigue in my arm muscles at this point. Cursing myself for even bothering with the shoe aisle.
- CHIPS!- pedal to metal I zoomed around to find Kitchen Cooked chips.
Holding the top of the bag between my right middle and ring fingers, I continue speed walking to the dairy section. 
“One last thing and we are out!” 
I danced back and forth between three cooler sections and dairy selections.
"Dip, dip, dip, WHERE IS THE FUCKING DIP!!!"
I know the cramping in my little fingers, from holding the bag of Kitchen Cooked chips, was aiding in my frustration. I knew I was beginning to fail in my mission. 
My positive, heroic demeanor quickly turned to feelings of defeat and rage.
“What will they say when I am demoted back to an amateur? I cannot disgrace my fellow sisters this way."
And like any normal person does, I deflected my defeat toward blame of the Target employees. 
"Why didn’t anyone see me struggle? Why didn’t they offer me one of the ten carts they had back there?! UGH."
And now they don’t have the dip I need!  I kept going back as if it would appear suddenly. This is total anarchy! How can any retailer survive in this economy without French onion dip? I am certain someone in upper management has no clue this type of mistake has been made.  I have half a mind to use their PA system to call a staff meeting by the cheese to do a customer service intervention. 
No time for soap box speeches though, so I take my basket that is full of shoes and crayons and wooden tops, my two huge rolls of paper under my arm and my chips between my fingers BACK to the snacks aisle.
I’ve lost all focus. I have no idea what to bring. I am way late for work and I have no snacks; just a Charlie horse and an urge to drop all of my shit and throw a tantrum right there in front of the Bugles and Gardettos.
Hmmm. Gardettos.  The boss likes Gardettos.  But they are the small bags. Whatever. I grab three bags. Notched between all of my knuckles on my left hand this time (carpal tunnel set in on my right hand-rendering it completely useless) the Gardettos became part of the herd.
Someone cued Eye of Tiger and I sprinted up to the checkout lanes, passing another 8-9 stock people. I dumped everything on the belt and stood back to breathe.
"I made it. 8:25." Whew.
I busted out two coupons and a gift card, totally redeeming myself from the dangers of demotion to amateur status.
“Did you find everything you need” she asks. Not knowing where to begin, too tired to start.
I simply said “Could you get me a cart?”

P.S.  If you would like to hear more about my funny, Target shopping episodes read :

Prostitutes in Target:  The Time I Overheard a Craigslist Connection in Target

Blogher Featured :  A For-Real Conversation that I Heard in Target

Blogher Featured :  Christmas Brings Out All the Amateurs

I'm pissed off at Target:  Say Something I'm Giving Up on You

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Real Sexiest Man Alive (Sorry Adam!)

When my blogger friend You Know It Happens At Your House Too declared that regular guys can be sexy too, in light of Adam Levine's crowned victory as the Sexiest Man Alive, she urged her readers to submit entries about their sexy husbands and tell why they were so damn sexy.  I didn't have to think twice about this one and so I posted the following: 
My sexy husband and I have been together for 14 years but it seems just like yesterday that he struck up a conversation with me and was too shy to ask me out.

He is amazing for loads of reasons beyond being a sexy piece of man meat.

1) He has a crazy sense of humor that only I can get sometimes. He laughs with me and we constantly entertain one another. He makes me laugh every single day, even the days that I just want to cry.

2) He knows when to step in. When to give me a break. When to give me a drink. Or when to give me a hug. He has impeccable timing and he can read me like a book....cover to cover.

3) I truly enjoy the company of my husband. Even though, in these days of raising babies and leading hurried, chaotic lives, we etch out time to spend together because sometimes he's all I want.

4) He gives the best hugs and knows when to hold on tight and not let go.

5) He is the amazing father that I knew he would be. He has been up all night with sick kids, changed poopy blowouts and wiped snotty noses. He has sewn a doll's hair back on during a massive meltdown from a heartbroken little girl. He has been involved in scouts with our son and teaches him how to fix stuff.

6) He is a do-er. From the moment I met him, I knew he was a keeper. He is not full of empty promises, what-ifs and maybes. If he says he is going to do something, he does it.

7) He knows a lot about a lot of stuff. His brain astounds me sometimes with the tedious facts and bits of information that he holds.

I could keep going but you get the picture. My man is the bomb-diggity! And he's pretty friggen hot with that beard.

P.S. I LOVE no shave November!

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