Let’s get real

I think I may have a slightly addictive and/or martyr-type personality. Not in an extremely alarming way, but more like a “go till I can’t go no more,” self-destructive type of way. This leads me to hardly ever tear myself away from my kids and/or work, let myself have “me time” and in general allow someone else to take care of it. 

This is really not good. 

I also feel like I have “a third eye”. I know this is a hippy-dippy statement, but when I look at things that have happened in the past and how I’ve felt in the moments leading up to them, I believe this to be true. I feel that journaling (or in a modern world, blogging) is a great way for me to open up this intuition and channel it a little more (? pure speculation here, folks…haven’t done much research on this). So I’ve decided that a return to writing is a great outlet for me.

We’ve had blogs in the past, and in my mind, I’ve felt a lot of pressure… pressure for hits, likes, frequency of posts etc. This time around, I really don’t want to focus on any of that. I’d like to just write and share… and if you find it entertaining or valuable, great. If not, well ok then. 

I love the name of this blog, but if I had to change it to anything, it would be called “let’s get real; parenthood.” I feel like in this age of technology we are constantly bombarded (especially women) by posts, pinters (my husband’s pet name for pinterest pins), tweets, etc etc about our perfect events, occasions, mornings, bible studies, crafts and more. But c’mon people, our lives are hardly perfect!

Sure there are certain times where everything magically aligns and we do end up making kickin’ photo books, chocolate chip cookies, having ethereal 1st birthday parties, or our kids behave perfectly in Target, but the majority of the time our lives can be quite mundane, sad, disappointing or frustrating. This is another aim of this journaling; let’s just be real. And to be really be real, I need some way to reinvigorate my mommy brain!

On the flip side, my aim is also not meant to be purely negative. I don’t feel that is my nature and I don’t want to add fuel to that fire. There is already too much negativity in this world. My main intention is to be realistic and in a round-about way, stop putting such unbearable expectations on my family and especially on myself. Anyone else in that boat?

Well then join me!

Image

 

A beautiful moment of sister and brother, watching the Jungle Book… and yes that is someone’s boxers in the background…that I’m trying not to freak out about… 

Kaleigh

My First Father’s Day

I had my very first fathers day a few weeks ago and I am happy to report that it was AWESOME! Since it was my day I was able to decide what to do, and like I mentioned in my last post, I was taking my small brood to the 1st Annual Denver Comic Con. I was super excited as this would be my first “Con” and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew that it would at the very least be a very fun people watching experience, one that Kaleigh and I would both enjoy. After suiting up the family in our Star Wars shirts, and getting some delicious breakfast at one of our local cafe’s, we were off.

Olive is excited for her first Con, proudly wearing her Millennium Falcon shirt

After parking we made it inside.  The con was being held at the Colorado Convention Center downtown and in the main convention hall was all the action.  Immediately upon entering the hall i was struck with how many people there were.  And specifically how many people who were mere nerdy than me!  I couldn’t quite believe it.  I love all things fantasy/comic/sci-fi related but I can honestly say that I felt like a complete novice walking through the many aisles of displays, celebrities, artists and fans.  It was eye-opening. This can be evidenced by the fact that I meant to take a lot of pictures to document the occasion, but only managed to snap a handful. My goal was to get a picture of Olive and Darth Vader but unfortunately he didn’t make an appearance.  There were several Storm Troopers and lots of Jedi, but again like I mentioned above, I was a little overwhelmed.  I searched the inter-webs and found several great pictures of some of the better costumes, mainly from a website entitled Geeks are Sexy (which is true).

We saw several of these guys/girls on Sunday but according to several people I talked too, most of the costumes showed up on Saturday, the first day of the con something I will take into account for next year. Despite not getting a photo with Darth we were able to get Olive with a very special droid…

R2-D2!!!

All in all it was a great time! Very excited for next year!

Kaleigh and Mr. Freeze

After the con, we went home and spent the afternoon watching golf and napping in the heat.  We then finished the day with dinner at Billy’s Inn with tacos, sangria and a margarita! I couldn’t think of a better way to end a father’s day that with my two girls…

Day of Dads

“Join me and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son!”

So tomorrow is my very first father’s day. I am very, very excited to spend the day with my little family tomorrow. Tomorrow I get to choose what we are doing and I have decided that I want to take my family to Denver Comic Con.  That’s right Denver is having its first Comic Con and it is taking place this weekend and me and my brood will be there.  If you don’t actually know me you should be aware that I am a huge nerd.  I love Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, all the Marvel Superheros and pretty much everything else in the Comic book/Fantasy/Sci-Fi world.  And Comic Con is the place to be for nerds big (me) and small (Olive). Basically tomorrow is going to involve meeting some important figures in the comic book world and taking lots of pictures of the fans that have dressed up for the occasion.  My main goal for tomorrow is to get Olive’s first picture with Darth Vader.  I am not sure if he is going to make an appearance, but my fingers are crossed, its fathers day after all…  I am not sure what to expect tomorrow but I am sure it will be entertaining and I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures.

Now back to fathers day.  Kaleigh has gone back to work this week and leaves me alone with Olive on my days off.  I love these days.  I have never felt more like a father than I did yesterday after Kaleigh had left for work, and it was just Olive and me.  We spent the entire day together doing nothing, watching American Pickers, Mountain Men and Star Wars.  Olive slept most of the day, but for several hours she was awake and happy. Responding to me, gurgling at me and turning her head to my voice. The best feeling ever is coming into a room where Olive is sitting and calling her name, she turns her head to look at me and then smiles.  That smile, that sign of knowing who I am and being happy to see me, melts my heart. To me that is what being a father is all about. It is the essence of fatherhood. That is what I’m celebrating on father’s day.  The fact that my little girl, who has only been alive for two months knows who I am and likes to see me.  That is enough to keep me going all year.

So being that it is father’s day tomorrow I began thinking of memorable father’s from my favorite movies. Darth Vader aside here are some of the fathers from my favorite movies/tv shows, see if you can figure out which ones…

1.

2. 

3. 

4. 

5. 

6.

7.

I am sure I missed some, my brain usually isn’t at its full potential this early in the morning.  Who did I miss?  Who should I add? What are your most memorable fathers from the big screen?

I don’t want to miss a thing…

Well my two months of glorious maternity leave is coming to a close. I am desperately sad about having to go back to work but I also feel like God has been so gracious and kept it from feeling like it went by way too fast. I have enjoyed every second of my leave, even when our little girl has gotten too fussy for me to handle. Luckily God has also given us an extremely well-natured little girl and I can count on one hand how many times she has gotten “too fussy to handle” in these past two months.

I feel as though I am 8% ready to return to my responsibilities at work again, and 92% ready to never work again and stay with Olive all day, every day. I love my job and I love being able to help people, but I have found that I love being around to hear every squeak and coo from her so much more than I could ever imagined.

And truth be told, it has taken me about a month and a half to actually realize that she IS my daughter and I AM a mother now, but instinctively I’ve loved her every second and I don’t want to miss anything. I certainly don’t want to smother her and I have taken my breaks where my husband has lovingly helped relieve me of my  mommy duties. But taking away forty hours of the week that I have been spending with her breaks my heart. She is way too much fun to be apart from!

Because of this, around a month into my leave I was having occasional small anxiety attacks about going back to work. I was frantically racking my brain on how I could become a stay at home mom. Around that time, I also received the book Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. This book chronicles an expatriate mother raising children in France. The book has really opened my eyes on the extreme differences in child rearing between Americans and French but also on the mentality of what it is like to be pregnant and a mother. Two striking differences in France for me was that maternity leave is paid (can you imagine?!) and children are quickly placed in day care after birth and in fact, positions in day care are wildly sought after. It is extremely rare that French women do not return to work and if they don’t return, they still take advantage of day care. There are many factors that contribute to both of these differences, but mainly they struck a chord with me because it makes me feel more at ease with having to return to work. The book was a great read, and I’m sure that I will address it more in the future.

Maybe in the future I will be able to reduce my hours at work or get rid of them completely, but for now I have to deal with this reality. We have hospital and bike bills to pay and I also would love to start saving for Olive’s future, so truthfully having a second income again will help to nurture her future and our present. The ability to be able to eat out at great restaurants and have some cushion is only going to enrich our lives so right now, it was feels right.

But that doesn’t completely eradicate my feelings of despair about having to be away from her. I want to be right next to her for all the firsts… the first laugh (she’s so close!!)… the first real tears… her first real word. Mostly I fear that when I get home I’ll feel like I have to do a million other things and not be able to just lay and talk with her, enjoying her company. I don’t want to be so tired and worn out that I don’t take the time to enjoy her. We have to re-learn a whole new system waking up, picking up and dropping off at grandma’s, figuring out a new sleep schedule and so on…

We’ll have to re-learn, but I pray that I don’t ever forget to sit and admire her…

-kaleigh

Pancakes

I love pancakes. I always have. In fact I love everything about breakfast, from the pancakes to the bacon to the coffee.  Everything. The issue I have when I make pancakes though, is turning them over. For the life of me I can’t figure out how to flip a pancake without turning creating a semi-circular, semi-burnt circle of cake. I have been making pancakes for a while now and I still haven’t found a solution.

They always start off well…

But they always turn out something like this…

Despite using a very happy spatula…

Anyway at least they always still taste good!  And in my opinion a semi-irregular, semi-burnt pancake is better than no pancakes at all! Pancakes have always held a special place in my childhood.  My dad was a master pancake maker, who would usually make us pancakes on Sundays before church.  It was always a great surprise to wake up in the morning to the smell of melting butter and maple syrup.  It was always going to be a good day if it started with pancakes.

My other prominent pancake memory is from our trips to the “Secret Fort.” This was a the name given to the local McDonalds that we would frequent when my mom was out-of-town on business.  I remember going to the secret fort, getting a hotcakes and sausage meal and then spending an hour or so plotting my takeover of the ball pit in the play area.  It is strange how such a simple trip to the secret fort can make an entire day better.  How a simple pancake with maple syrup and an adventure in the play area can be so much fun and so memorable that some 15 years later it is still ingrained in my memory. I am not sure why this is, but I can only hope that such a simple experience will capture Olive’s imagination as much as it did mine. I don’t think there is some sort of special magic in McDonalds’ hotcakes, but I do think that my dad created a special world for my sisters and me.  I think he helped foster us using our imagination by using his. By turning our neighborhood McDonalds into the Secret Fort he created an atmosphere for our imaginations to grow.  My dad wasn’t afraid to help us turn that McDonalds into the Secret Fort.  No doubt he got some curious stares and judgmental looks as he brought us into the McDonalds calling it the Secret Fort, but that is the mark of a great parent. You forego any claim on your own dignity in an attempt to create a fun environment for you kids to succeed.

Seriously, look around the next time you are out and about in the store or the mall.  The kids that are having the most fun are the ones that are dressed up like princesses or super heroes.  The ones whose parents are actually paying attention to them, interacting with them, dare I say playing with them.  I remember a perfect example of this that I witnessed back when Kaleigh and I were throwing around the idea of having a child. I was in the restroom and in walks this dad and his son.  And immediately you can hear the dad telling his son, “You can do this!  You are awesome! Are you ready to rock!” Not sure what exactly is going on I glance over and can tell that the boy is potty training and his dad is solely focused on encouraging his son to do well! Again he chants, “You got this, you rock!”  I leave the restroom with a huge smile on my face knowing that even if this boy doesn’t master potty training today, he will eventually, and his dad will be the reason why.

I can only hope that Olive will feel this support from Kaleigh and me.  I can only hope that she loves pancakes as much as me.  And I can only hope that our secret fort will be as awesome as mine!

Until next time…

I AM a good dad

Ok first of all I apologize for going MIA for the past few weeks.  I can’t say that I have been extra busy, more so I have just been lazy.  It turns out having a baby is tiring.  Earth shattering I know, but seriously now that I am back at work, when I get home I just want to relax with the girls and do pretty much nothing. Plus I have started reading a new fantasy series you may have heard of, Game of Thrones, and it has been fun to lose myself in the land of Kings, Lords, Knights and some strange beasts known as The Others…but I digress.  I just want to commit to at least two posts a week.  I have a great source of material (Olive) so it shouldn’t be a problem. And honestly I know there are a few people who read this blog but the writing is also very therapeutic for me, I get to write my thoughts down and vent on various things and if others enjoy it, good.  But if they don’t I would still write.  Anyway on the title of this post…

I AM a good dad.  Or maybe it should be Am I a good dad? I’ve found that being a new parent I am continually comparing myself and Olive to other parents and young kids. This happens everywhere we go.  In fact I first noticed this when Kaleigh and I took Olive to church a few weeks ago for the first time since she was born.  We sat in the cry room as a preventative measure and inside this room it was like a different world.  There were babies everywhere, and parents too, plenty of subjects to analyze and criticize.  Obviously Olive is the best child in the world, I didn’t have to see other kids in action to know that Olive was the greatest of them all.  I mean if you take one look at her you know that she couldn’t ever do anything wrong. But this cry room  provided a secluded area in which to directly compare her against other kids. I was proud to see that Olive slept through the whole service.  She didn’t make a peep. She was peaceful and happy and sleeping. This could not be said for the majority of the other babies in the room.  Almost every one else had some sort of outburst during the service that required parental attention.  To me this obviously meant that Kaleigh and I were amazing parents and that Olive’s behavior reflected that. We didn’t have to do anything but listen to the service and admire what good work we had done with Olive. Never mind the fact that we really hadn’t done anything special with Olive and in fact we had/have no idea what we are doing with her still to this day.  She just likes to sleep, especially after being in the car.  But I will gladly take credit for my child’s mild temperament and affinity for sleep in moving vehicles. Anyway back to the cry room, as we left church that day I got my first dose of parental pride. I was proud of my little girl.  She stuck it to everyone else in the room, I thought I saw jealous stares as I proudly picked up my still sleeping daughter and walked her out of the room.  As we were walking back to the car I began to daydream of the future of Olive winning the Spelling Bee, of being the youngest girl to win Olympic Gold, of her graciously destroying all challengers in anything she did. My chest swelled even more as my fatherly pride grew exponentially.

I wonder if all parents feel this way.  I am not sure that they couldn’t.  I am sure that in that cry room other parents were checking out the other kids and thinking, my son/daughter is showing them up! I am sure that some of those parents were looking at Olive thinking, “That poor kid has no personality, she is so quiet…!” or something similar…I think that all parents think their kid(s) are the greatest, as they should.  But obviously they are wrong…:)

Thinking About Olive…

Right now its 10:21 PM, Kaleigh is sleeping in her bed, I am on the couch typing and Olive is sleeping in her car seat on the dryer.  Oh and the dryer is running.  And I am listening to The Smiths. You may think parts of that description are weird and ask why Olive is sleeping in her car seat on a running dryer. Well I guess I can thank my parents for this stroke of genius.

When I was little whenever I was crying and fussy and wouldn’t go to sleep my parents would place me in my car seat and place me on the dryer before turning it on. Basically this was to serve as a virtual car ride. I was a sucker for car rides. Whenever I was in the car for more than 30 seconds I feel asleep. So my parents, being resourceful decided that a dryer when on, creates similar vibrations as a moving car and viola! Instant sleep aid!

Now back to Olive. Olive like me, loves the car.  At least I think she loves the car I’m not 100% sure what she really loves besides eating.  Let’s put it this way she loves to SLEEP in the car and if you have an infant or have ever had one you know that a sleeping infant is a blessing. I am sure you can see where I am going with this…Tonight Kaleigh wasn’t feeling very good and Olive was being extra fussy (usually she is very well-behaved.  Honest.) and I actually, besides being tired, was feeling just fine so I have decided to try to give Kaleigh at least a few hours of uninterrupted sleep and my solution to Olive’s fussiness was to try the dryer trick.  And guess what.  IT WORKS! Not only does it work it works like a charm! Honestly I was a little shocked.  This isn’t to say that I was doubting the authenticity of my parent’s story or their methods, I was just figuring me to be a little strange and so the dryer trick worked for me, but any other people who tried it would just have an upset baby in a car seat on a dryer.  Well I can testify that there is either something behind those genes that scientists talk about or Olive is just as weird as I am.  Which gives me a small amount of pride.

IT WORKS!

Anyway since I have a few hours to myself with both my girls sleeping.  I have started to think about Olive when she gets older. Not too old though cause that still really freaks me out. I have been thinking about kid’s imaginations and how when I was a kid I was always in my own world.  Whether that was fighting alongside Han Solo, or Squanto or flying jets I was always off somewhere else. I hope Olive is the same way.  I hope her imagination is huge and that she uses it continually. I hope that she creates her own worlds and is queen in them.  I hope that she invents new creatures, that she dresses up, that she runs around in the backyard by herself completely happy, completely engrossed in her imagination. I hope that she taps into that creativity that is found in every child but is continually stamped out or destroyed by sitting in front of a computer/tv. I hope she isn’t ashamed to be herself and to express herself.  I hope she prefers to be outside.

Thinking about this reminded me of a blog post I read a few days ago that really got me excited to play with Olive. The blog is called Sweet Juniper and the post is called Preparing for the Siege. Besides being very well written there are great photos and insightful thoughts, I would highly recommend it. In the post the author (a father) talks about how he loves spending time with his son.  One of his favorite things to do with him are “knights walks”.  This is where his son gets dressed up in armour made by his dad and they walk around the neighborhood.  Here is an excerpt that really struck me:

“In each adventure he has a different hero name and a different evil enemy he must pursue and conquer. As I strap on his breastplate and hand him his shield, something happens: I can almost see his imagination go to full throttle as we exit into the cold air and he becomes a hero and there are trolls and ogres waiting behind bushes and he knows he is strong enough to defeat them all. The huge apartment towers are an enemy’s impregnable castle; the ventilation grates lead to its subterranean dungeons. Smoking steam pipes are a dragon’s lair. As we wander around the neighborhood looking for monsters, I whisper a silent apology to Lego and the video game people: Sorry guys, you can’t have him yet.”

That is exactly what I am talking about. That kind of imagination that is at the same time innocent and amazing. It is a child in their purest form.  Thinking about these watching Olive use her imagination was one of the driving forces behind me wanting to have a child. I want to be a part of that, actually not even a part of it.  I want to be a witness to it. I want to witness that imagination and feed off it, embrace it, foster it.  I want to see Olive embrace herself and her imagination and know that when she uses her imagination she can go anywhere she wants to be anything she wants. I am not sure what the future holds if kids will even be using their imaginations.  I am not sure if Olive is going to want me to make her armor so she can become a she-knight and go fight ogres down the street, although I secretly hope she does…