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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Candy Coated Gratitude

I am a lucky one. I feel almost overwhelmed for that I have to be thankful for. Health, happiness, heat, amazing friends and family, chai tea, mojitos...

But you know what I'm feeling so blown away, cup runneth over with glorious gratefulness? I know you are thinking my children and that seems cliche and of course, I have to say them or what am I heartless? But that is only part of the equation.

It is that my children are fun.

This may be where you question that maybe I've been heartless in the past if I haven't fully appreciated that my children are fun. Doesn't everyone think that they're children are fun? The thing is, I'm being completely honest here, for me, it has been a process to get here to the pure raw joy that they are and can be.

Some people reach their fun in pregnancy or are enamored with the baby stage. I loved being in the glow of that space in time but I never fully embraced that as my natural comfort zone. Toddlers can surely have fun moments but it is freaking exhausting keeping them from every dangerous situation that you never even realized before was dangerous. My twins as toddlers made many a friend reconsider whether or not they should go for a third child. For me, the candy coated part is childhood. And the ages that my kids are now- 4 year old twins, six years old and a nine year old are (overall) delicious.

There are still challenges, but there is a hell of a lot more laughter and I'll take that bliss any day. It doesn't feel like it is all about surviving moment to moment any more. It is about soaking in the happy. Fewer tantrums and timeouts and tears and they can dress themselves and want to be good friends to each other. The potential of the day feels so much more silver lined.

Right now, they are off of school and they are building legos and making bracelets and I am writing. In another room. Yesterday I took them all bowling and it was actually fun. Seriously. The grocery store trip that followed was pushing it but still there is joy out there to be had in outings. Dreams can come true friends. This time of blissful parenthood before felt so foreign and far away that I just wasn't sure if it could ever really happen to me. And now that it is here like most things that are invaluable in life, I'm just trying to hold on to this ride for as long as I can. The days can be boundless but the years are fleeting.

Happy Thanksgiving and cheers to all that is small and mighty that you have to be thankful for...

Endless gratitude to you for reading.
Love & joy...

Our Thanksgiving decorations may be small but the gratitude I have for
these four fun turkeys is anything but.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What NOT to Get My Kids this Holiday

It is upon us once again. The insane frenzy of all things bright, sparkly and overstimulating. The blinking commercials and overflowing catalogs have made my children want every toy ever made. Ever. This is where the parent filter needs to come into play. I am not trying to be a Scrooge but I am going to be honest here, Lorax style. I am the naked momma, I speak for all the (clothed) mommas who don't want their homes to turn into a Toys R Us.

The thing is, I love the holidays and the pure magic of watching it unfold through a child's eyes. But I like it simpler. I like the focus to be less on being a gluttonous consumer and more on the wonder of it all. And as for those toys that my kids that my kids "can't live without" (we will call that CLW here) that make both their draft list and their final list? Let Santa bring them. Let's not steal Santa's thunder by giving them what's at the top of their list two days before Christmas. You know who are.

So here you go. Here is a brief list (I could probably think of oh so many more but I'm trying not to be a complete buzzkill) of what not to get my kids this holiday:

  • Anything with batteries. Yeah that's right, I said it. I don't love loud, constant stimulation. Or baby dolls that seem possessed. Or ones that wet the bed (I'm pretty sure we have enough of that going around here anyway). I really don't even want to change the batteries on the shit that Santa brings from the CLW list. We have found that our kids attention spans with toys last much longer on toys that require a much more natural thing: (drumroll please, I'm about to get serious) their imagination.

They really just want to eat pasta naked.
Pay no attention to the open bottles of wine behind them. This is an old picture.
We have many more open bottles now.

  • If it is sold via infomercial, it is probably going to suck in real life. Unfortunately, we have lived and learned on this one.

I can't believe I've been cooking for all of these years without a pillow around my neck.

  • Candy. We are still working through last years heart shaped Valentine chocolates. You know who brings them Christmas candy? Santa baby. It is the ultimate stocking filler. Seriously, stop stealing his thunder. If anyone's giving my kids a sugar high it is going to be this guy:

Geez Santa, you could have shared some egg nog with the rest of us.
Greedy bastard.

  • Would you want it in your home? If the answer is remotely close to a hell no than please mother of all things holy, don't give (or regift) it to us.

Awwww, you shouldn't have. Really.

  • Anything that breathes. I can barely keep my children alive. If you give them a pet than you need to be prepared that it will be instantly regifted back to you. 

Wait. I can custom make it costumes too?!
Still going to have to pass.
I'm not even sure what type of animal this is.

  • Things that are completely too old for the recipient. I'm looking at you Lego set of the Eiffel Tower. If you give my four year old something with over 250 pieces, please set aside the 17 hours it is going to take to help us put it together. Then stick around for the 44 seconds for it to be  destructed. And then that bonus 17 hours again, please. Better yet, may I recommend a Lego gift card with a side of a vat of wine.

Hold the phone.
I just saw that this costs hundreds of actual dollars and doesn't come
with someone who will build, guard and protect it.
If you are rolling in your Benjamins, how about we set Junior up with a college fund instead.

  • Things that are completely too young for the recipient. I'm trying to not have them grow up too fast either. But if a toy is designed for the under 18 month generation, the above 18 month generation is going to see it as too babyish. You can even bet some smart 16 month olds aren't going to be feeling it either. I know it is the thought that counts, but for a toy that won't be played with, no matter how good of a deal it was PLEASE donate it to Toys for Tots or another fabulous non-profit instead. 

"I love it!"
Said no one over the age of two ever.

The truth of it is that there are too many kids living without enough to give in excess to those who are lucky enough to already have plentiful gifts under their tree. Let's make sure that there is enough love to go around. Give back. Let's teach our kids to the same. A kinder more generous world could probably help bring the world peace that I'm really hoping finds its way to making more Santa CLW lists this year. Until then, please especially remember the no batteries request.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, 
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
 Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Wishing you all things merry...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What I Learned in Paradise

I have been back to reality for about a week and a half from having experienced one of the greatest trips of my life. Truthfully, I was in denial of reality until a few days ago when one of my children threw up all over the interior of our new car. That was just what I needed didn't realize I needed to remind myself to wake back up and remember that I wasn't in St. John any longer. If you have not been to St. John, let me just tell you that it was probably the closest to paradise that I have ever been. Crystal blue waters, 85 degrees, stunning beaches, snorkeling, phenomenal food and the rum... I can't even begin to tell you how ridiculously enticing those rum drinks were. And did I mention that we didn't bring our kids?

Just my husband and I with another fabulous couple with a jeep and a villa. PARADISE. Leaving the door only required grabbing a map and a water bottle. If you have young children, I know that is really the part that sounds truly amazing. And it was.

I am not sure if I will get another chance in the next decade to escape real life again so I wanted to capture this moment in time, feeling that sun so close, and remembering that it actually happened; it wasn't just a dream though if I didn't have pictures and a fading tan line it would be hard for me to believe. Here is what I learned in paradise:

  • Silence is bliss. Don't get me wrong. I love the energy and sounds of the world, especially those that come from my children. I try to not only embrace it, but to feed off of it and ignite me to play and have more fun in these days. But sometimes it is loud. Insanely high pitched screaming at all times loud. And I forget how therapeutic it can be still with my own mind. We don't realize how much noise fills our days until we have these rare stunning moments of quiet where we can just be aware of our own selves. I realized that this is why I crave yoga- that stillness and silence is priceless. On our trip, I would meditate on our deck and I could hear the sounds of tree frogs and nature and breath and peace and I fell in love with it all. Meditation could change this world.
  • The sun rejuvenates the spirit. Vitamin D is our friend. There is so much talk about too much sun exposure, skin cancer, dark spots, certain hours that should be avoided in the day, and yadda yadda yadda that we have built up a certain fear of the sun. Some fear is healthy but too much that you avoid it and you are missing out on a beautiful, natural mood lifter and depression blocker. Let's throw on some sunscreen and go soak in some happiness.
  • Be present. You know what you don't see in paradise (aside from anti-depressants)? People constantly checking their phones like their next breath depends on it. I would sometimes leave my phone in our room for an entire day and not even miss it. An entire day. I am back home and it is currently 7 inches away from me. But I'm instilling a parking lot policy for it when I'm with my kids. If we are outside than the phone is inside. I'm letting it charge when we play Go Fish. Being away helped me see how much more present and alive I can be when I'm giving my phone less power over me.
  • Be patient. No worries, mon. Island time is a miraculous thing. Stress is non-existent. Slowing down is the nature of the lifestyle. It is hard to care how long you have to wait for your entrees to  come when you have rum punch and sun kissed smiling people around you. Breathing in the moment and not being so pressed for every minute to go by faster than the next is what I hope to remember to take away. Every day. Slow down. Take it in. There is enough time for everything important in your life, you just have to be patient with yourself and awake in your life. Paradise is all around us, we just have to open our eyes to it. Booking a flight doesn't hurt either. 

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” 
 Bob Marley


Until next time...