Thursday, June 30, 2011

A special Day, An act of kindness

9 years ago today, I woke up on a beautiful June day. I nudged two of my best friends who were still sleeping and said, 'It's Today!'

Back then, 'Today' was my wedding day. The day went so quick, that if I try to remember all the details it appears like a commercial you fast forward through. It was here, and it was gone. But each year as we celebrate our anniversary I like to sit and reflect and remember everything I can about that special day. I thought it would be fun to make a list of my top most memorable moments. In no particular order:

1. The immense feeling of love I felt that day as all our friends and family came together to celebrate us.

2. All my girls, and mothers, and sisters getting our hair done together in eager anticipation for the day.

3. My grandfather standing before us, such an incredible example of a good man, husband and father asking us to 'repeat after me'.

4. The quiet and 'private' moment we setup where Sean could see me in my dress for the first time. The look on his face, and the giggles and tears from my bridal party who spied on us from around the corner.

5. Walking down the aisle with my dad who sensing my nervousness, patted my arm and just smiled.

6. Brent's (Sean's brother) best man speech. We tease him now, but having him be there standing by Sean's side, and being THAT nervous was so endearing.

7. Dancing with my dad for the first time in my life where I wasn't standing on his toes.

8. A photo I have and still cherish of me with all of my girlfriends. Some of which I've grown closer with, some who our relationship has remained the same, and others who over the years we've grown apart.

9. The moment during our ceremony where the ice sculpture deliverer dumped a bucket of ice that echoed throughout the entire hall and I realized that 'weddings are never perfect'.

10. My first dance with Sean as a married lady and realizing that I could not be any luckier.

11. Watching our family members approach the DJ and request songs like, 'celebration' and 'YMCA' and have them turned down. They sure did stay true to my 'do not play list'.

12. Our friend Darren, and one of Sean's groomsmen removing his dress shirt during a dance and revealing a t-shirt with 'I fear no beer' and then watching him use the dress shirt as a prop in his dance moves.

13. Looking around wide eyed for my grandparents as the song 'baby got back' played. Feeling the judgement, but only caring a little.

14. Looking around during the reception at nearly everyone on the dance floor, jumping and dancing and smiling and thinking, 'now, THIS is a party'.

15. Driving to our hotel, IN my Honda Prelude, STILL wearing my wedding dress.

16. Starving to death (as most brides do), ordering pizza, and falling asleep with the box on my chest (in my wedding dress still).

I knew that day as Sean and I stood together that I loved him. I had no idea how much. I had no idea that with the birth of each of our children it would seem to double and triple. As the years pass we've matured, we gain more respect for each other every day, more understanding, and strengthen how we operate as a team. This is not to say we have not had our rough patches, that we are perfect, or that we both don't have days where we want to ring the others neck.

However, if Sean can make it 9 years screwing the toothpaste lid on for me, and I can pick up the clothes off the bathroom floor for him, and together we can survive this thing called parenting I think we'll be alright.

Today, after a frustrating afternoon, a horrible commute and two stops to pick up the kids, I drug them into the local Fred G Meyer for an anniversary card. I stomped around the store, my hands wrapped tightly around each of their hands as they bounced and flailed and asked for a new pillow pet. I regretted my tardiness in this task. I still had two more stops before home, and a mountain of laundry to do, bags to pack, and food to buy for our 4th of July weekend. Ian's birthday is in 4 days and I have nothing for him. I even maybe laugh out loud a little at the irony of the cards I was reading which said, 'Happy Anniversary'. I thought they should say something like, 'Tired Anniversary' or 'Wish we could celebrate our Anniversary', or 'Let's at least shoot for 5 minutes of adult conversation on our anniversary'.

I looked for the shortest possible line to pay and ended up in a line with just one woman in front of me. As I dig for my wallet I see the MOUNTAIN of clothes and accessories she's purchasing and the (for lack of a name on his name badge) potential brand new employee ringing her up. My eyes grow wide, if it were possible steam may have come from my ears and I prayed for calm, peace, and serenity.

All I wanted to do was beat Sean home so I could write on his card and un-wrap the take-out I planned to pick up on the way home. Maybe if I had the time to put it on a plate (because that is less ghetto) I'd feel better.

The woman glanced over at me and reads the cover to my card which of course read, 'Happy Anniversary'. She then looks down at the bouncing bundles of energetic JOY who were pleading for a snack and says to me, 'Is that all your're buying?' I say, 'Yes, they were all out of straight jackets'. She laughs and takes the card from me, and asks the cashier to scan it for her. 'Have a happy Anniversary' she said.

I thanked her profusely and I may or may not have teared up at this random act of kindness. I try to perform these acts spontaneously throughout the year and this was the first time the karma was blatantly returned. And it was in a moment when I needed it most.

I made it home with our brown bag of food, a card, and some renewed perspective. I don't think that woman will ever know the profound effect she had on me. But I do plan to pay it forward.

To Sean, who after 9 years is still putting up with me I thank you deeply. I was so lucky to find such a dedicated, driven, and 'mostly' patient man to live this crazy life with. Nobody knows me better or deeper and there is nobody I'd rather deal with the bad or celebrate the good with. I write this in hopes that one year from now we are just as happy, and maybe a little tan after a well deserved week somewhere tropical and relaxing where children are not allowed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

And we stifle our laughs...

Ian is at this hilarious age. I feel like everything he says or does is funny. Even if it's wrong, naughty or inappropriate. In these instances we deliver the solemn faced punishment, advise him of our disappointment and then run with our hands over our mouths into the other room to laugh in private.

We went through a two month period where each and every day I picked him up from school, I would wait for the teacher to pull me aside. I'd see a note jotted on the sign in sheet. 'SEE TEACHER', it would say. I'd tip my head back, roll my eyes and like a kid in trouble would sulk to the teacher and ask, 'what this time?'

Usually it was in regards to his 'potty words'. What is it about boys and these 'no-no' words? I DO NOT KNOW. We don't talk like that in our house. At least not in front of the kids and from a young age we worked to instill the words we wanted them to use that were of our liking. But of course, there is JUST so much you can control about a 3 year old. The final straw was when Ian received a stronger course of action at school for swatting another boy on the rear in the restroom. Now to me, this is just part of being a boy? I mean, he's just advanced, right? Isn't that what happens in the boys locker room? On the football field? Regardless, he rec'd weeks of solitary bathroom use and could not enter the boys restroom unless alone.

As I'd buckle him in the car each day and dole out the punishment for the night (usually something taken from him, (the privilege to drive his electric car, his favorite toy, or the after dinner t.v. show) he would pout his lip, cross his arms and one day he exclaimed, 'I hate you'.

I gasped. I retracted from him shaking my head in disappointment. My 3 year old son hated me.

I remember as a kid the word, 'hate' not being allowed in our house. Low and behold, we are fighting the same battles in our 4 and now 6 year old. Alex started it, surely picking up the word from school and when frustrated, mad, or what have you would scream, 'I hate myself!'. This of course was hilarious to us as, I think she really meant to say, 'I hate this' or that or the situation, maybe even 'I hate you'. Regardless, 'I hate myself' would send us sneaking out of the room to hide our grins. It was time for an intervention.

We buckled down alongside the teachers, working together to nip this problem in the bud and I'm happy to say that after a week or two of swift and diligent consequences for his actions he was on the up and up.

One Friday, after 5 whole days without a timeout or 'potty word' at school I buckled Ian in his car seat, I told him how proud I was of him. I said, 'this deserves a reward with a dinner out!' His response, 'Ah Mom. Thanks! I don't hate you anymore!' After dinner, the kids got to choose a 'shot' of dessert of their choice. These are adorable, tiny sized desserts that fit in a double shot glass. Perfect size, perfect price for our perfectly behaved, non potty word saying angel boy.

I watched Ian finish his dessert with pride, and smiled as he put the last bite into his mouth. We did it! We were cocky in our parenting skills as we glanced around at the Mis-behaving kids in our midst. All it takes is consistency and dedication! Ian then dropped the spoon into the empty shot glass and shouted, 'Butt hole!'. And with that, he was whisked from his chair and taken to the car with a full belly of chocolate lava cake and a smile on his face.

He's also smart as a whip. Our bedtime routine usually goes something like this: He'll bat his eyes, snuggle up to me and sing me a little song. He says 'Mom, did you hear that? I sang you a song and I'm giving it to you. Giving it to your heart.'

I thank him, kiss him, snuggled him and can't let go.

Then he says, 'So...Can I have another story?'

Some of you may remember this post. Not much has changed since these early days of getting Ian to sleep in a 'big boy bed'. We have ourselves a night owl with this one and luckily he stays in his room for the most part talking, singing, quietly playing with intermittent shouts that send us cracking up downstairs. Each evening as we head upstairs to bed we each stop into each of the kids room to fix their covers, kiss them goodnight, and most importantly see what predicament Ian fell asleep in.

He is notoriously in a funny position, toys strewn about, bed completely torn apart, and as of late, resting high on a tower of pillows like the 'prince and the pea'. He pulls the backrest from the mini-couch in his room, stacks on that his pillow, on top of that his pillow pet, on top of that HIM like a king on his thrown. All the blankets (and there are many) piled on top of him. With a gentle push, he rolls from his tower and settles nicely on his bed and I have to use all my willpower not to giggle out loud and wake him.

I never know what each day will bring with this child. Whether it's a head injury, a giant kitchen spill, a stern talk with his teacher, or a stifled laugh. I will say (and I'm going to use a forbidden word here), I hate to imagine a day without him. Good behavior or bad behavior if you can laugh through parenthood, and the ups and downs of it I think you're doing alright.

On May 19th, 2005 at 4:39 pm, Sean and I welcomed a little girl into the world. She weighed 8 lbs, 3 oz and was 21.5 inches long. We named her Alexandra Reese and today, that little girl turned six.

I didn't keep this blog when she was born, but if I had I would have surely written a novel on that day. I would have in way too many words expressed my awe, my wonderment, and my pure fear in how I would take care of this infant I knew nothing of.

I remember looking at my mom on the day she was born eyes wide, body still feeling the trauma of child birth, tears streaming down my face from both pain and joy and saying, 'Mom, I think I got a fussy one'.

My mom laughed at my instant judgment of the 'wee ones' personality. She didn't know that weeks later, she would admit I was right after we suffered 2 months of agonizing colic.

Each day since, (and I do mean when the colic finally ended) I have fallen more in love with this girl than I knew possible. The way in which she has matured each year has blown me away. She has an incredible personality and spunk and a sense of humor her Momma is so proud of! This year, she went to Kindergarten and lost her first teeth. She made new friends and wowed us on the soccer field. She cares for and loves her brother and shows him only in his most vulnerable moments. She always makes sure he 'knows his role', and that 'she is the alpha sibling' but is always the first to run to his rescue, help him up if he falls, and grab an extra snack on her way through the kitchen.

The older she gets the more I see myself in her. Not just in how she looks as I was a spitting image of her at this age but in her personality. In all honestly, this is good and bad. She's warm, caring, and respectful. She always wants to do good, and be appreciated. On the other hand I'm learning (as myself) she's a bit of a glass half empty girl. This is a character trait I have battled with honestly for several years after many years spent resenting the label. This last weekend, after a fun-filled day at the balloon festival complete with rides, and an elephant ear, Alex cried incessantly in the bath that night screaming, 'this was the worst day of my life'. All because we ran out of tickets and she did not get to go 'fishing' to win a prize. I sat back, hands lathered in her shampoo and like a freight train was hit with the realization of the battles I used to have with my parents.

I've since called my mom and apologized AGAIN as I've done several times over the years for my childhood behavior.

I like to associate being a 'half glass full girl' with just wanting to do and be everything at 100%. When that doesn't happen her and I both get frustrated and discouraged and instead of focusing on what we did do and accomplish, we focus on what we didn't or wanted to. I hope that as I have over the years learned to recognized this and improve upon it that one day she will too. She has a lot to learn from me good and bad, fortunately and unfortunately.

Like me, Alex is an emotional being. Yes, this means that she may over-react, appear 'dramatic' and blow little problems out of proportion. This also means, she sometimes cares more than she should. She is empathetic and caring and a worrier. She can, without words, make my day brighter with a hug she can sense I need.

Alex is smart as a whip just like her dad, and has a photographic memory of sorts. She remembers times and locations and events and is often asking me, 'Hey mom-remember when I was three and....' She blows my mind with her love to learn, write and read.

For her sixth birthday, we had an 'at home party' with a small group of TWELVE kids. This was after she narrowed her list down from 20. Being a social butterfly has it's drawbacks! We converted our garage into an art studio and I do believe she had a blast.

I can't believe how quickly time flies. I can't believe that 6 years have passed. I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. I remember our first car ride home where we kept looking into the backseat and then to each other shaking our heads in amazement. I remember her first words, and her first steps. I remember the first time I hauled her kicking and screaming from the grocery store. I remember everything yet it feels like such a blur.

My wish for Alex on her sixth birthday is that one day, when she reads this blog she understands even a tiny fraction of how much love her dad and I have for her. That she knows how deeply she's blessed our lives, and how all her traits are so loved and appreciated.

Happy Happy Birthday to my sweet Alexandra Reese, may your next year be as great as the last!