Tag Archives: family

Juggling Change

14 Aug

I’m experiencing one of those seasons of my life where everything seems to be going right. I told a friend last night that it all seems a little too good to be true lately and that I’m just waiting for a ball {or a few, but hopefully not all} to drop. I can’t help it, it’s the pessimist in me.

The kids and I are squeezing the last drops out of summer with evenings at the pool, Tuesdays at the farm, and playdates with friends before school starts up again next month. We had a blast at the beach last weekend, the kids brought home sand in every.single.thing, but it was so worth the smiles on their faces I caught on camera while they dug, made pizzas and strawberry pies and rolled in it for hours.

Juggling-Change

I started my part-time job yesterday, and so far, so good. I am confident it is going to work out. But it’ll likely be November before we really know if it’ll be the right fit for the long-term. I hope so.

We have one last trip before we can settle in for the real end of summer and the start of fall. One of my husband’s cousins is getting married, so we’ll be heading out to Wisconsin for the festivities and I’m so excited to get to spend time with the family. Saying prayers to the travel gods for safe, tantrum-free travel with our little people.

These years of our kids being little, this season of our life is right now. I’m trying to teach myself every day to stay present and enjoy this time because I know when I look back I’ll feel it flew by too fast. It already seems like the past five years have buzzed by.

I used to dread change, would feel the anxiety and fearful anticipation crawl under my skin, but I can sense my attitude shifting. I’m beginning to love the transformations of the seasons of my life. I never realized when I was in the throes of a career which I loved and which loved me back, that within a few years I’d want to have a family and things would have to change.

My illness emerged before I’d have a chance to come face-to-face with the issue of opt-in or opt-out. I had to opt-out for a very different reason and I’ll never know how life would have played out in the career arena for me, had I not been dealt the mental illness card.

The thing is, I’m okay with not having a traditional career. I’m content with being able to use all of my skills to their greatest capabilities because I’m dividing my time efficiently and effectively. I’m a wife, a mom, working part-time, writing part-time, and I’m also producing a show over these next nine months. Sure, there are plenty of times when I feel like I’m spread too thin. But ask any mom if she ever feels she has the perfect amount of time for everything and everyone in her life and of course she’s going to say No. No way, Jose.

This life which my husband and I have built is not perfect. But its perfectly ours. And each time a new change arises, I’m the first to lean in for extra hugs because they help. He’s always there, with a smile, to wrap his arms around me and say a simple, “It’s okay.”

He’s right. If a ball drops, it’ll be okay. I’ll just pick it back up and start juggling again.

Juggling-Change2

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The Best Summer Camp Counselor. Ever.

15 Jul

TheBestCampCounselorEverThe best summer camp counselor. Ever.

“Tomorrow I’m sending my kids to a three-night, four-day all-inclusive summer camp for FREE. It’s called “Sleep-away camp at Grandma and Grandpa’s house” and they are super excited. (The kids, that is. My parents are excited too, but are also just a teeny bit nervous that they’ll survive this little experiment.) I, however, have faith that everyone will have an exceptional time.

Including my husband and I who will be home enjoying the peace and quiet.

Sometimes parents just need to take a break from their offspring.”   ….please click over to WhatToExpect.com’s Word of Mom blog to read the rest of my article which I wrote last week. It was just posted today.

Thanks so much for reading my work!

Back to Normal Life

18 Jun

AirplaneHomeOur view on the flight home from Cancun.

It feels good to be home. Terrible-two-girl-tantrums and all.

There is nothing like the anticipation leading up to combined with the time spent enjoying vacation to the fullest.

We definitely milked that vacation for all it was worth. After nearly a week of indulging in gourmet meals (sometimes brought directly to our room), one-too-many drinks during and after dinner, and the lazy, I’m-not-going-to-exercise-I’m-on-vacation mentality, lounging by the beach and pool with fruity, boozy drink in hand for six days, my body was ready for a detox when all the fun came to an end. All good things do end sometime.

 

We’d soon be back to our regular family routines. But first, we had one more day with all the family together to celebrate Father’s Day at the marina where my in-laws keep their boat.

Smiles all around as week took a leisurely ride around the bay before circling back to the dock to gather around the picnic table for a lunch spread fit for a king, three actually, courtesy of my mother-in-law. Owen and Vivian squealed and giggled as they chased each other in the grass, busy bees at work playing while we ate.

Father'sDay2013

They displayed for us all what was spinning around within my heart: joy and gratitude.

How did I get so lucky with these three amazing, loving, kind, smart, funny, fathers in my life? They’ve each given their children so much in life by just being themselves. And I’m so proud of each of them.

 

Today, I find myself back in my little mothering moments.

Rising early to the sound of my son’s voice at my bedside.

Calming the third tantrum of the day before naptime by the little miss.

Smiling as I gaze out the window above our kitchen sink, washing fruit for lunch.

Piling laundry into the washer, folding the load that just finished.

Blowing bubbles on the deck for over an hour, surprised at how big it seems they’ve gotten in just a week.

Catching up with friends I’ve been missing, making dates to get together soon because it’s been too long.

Crafting with the kids, snapping pictures of their masterpieces as we go.

Picking up the same toy I picked up a few hours before. Repeat. Repeat.

Pondering what to attempt to make for dinner.

Eagerly awaiting my husband’s arrival home at the end of the day.

These are tiny moments in my day. Each day a little different than the next, but always full of my three favorite people living life within my favorite place to be, always. Home.

 

Linking up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary who has just arrived with her family in their new home in Austin, TX. Welcome home, Heather!

Rainy Wedding Days

20 May

photo (4)

Last night, before turning out the light in the guest room of my brother’s house, I pulled a slim white album off the corner bookshelf at the foot of the bed. I knew what the album contained before opening it. Some of the photos were familiar, but I marveled at how I found there were several which I seemed to be looking at as if for the first time.

They looked so young to me. I tried to imagine the emotions they must have been feeling on that day. Fear, excitement, joy, and a little anticipation for a new sort of freedom thrown in for good measure.

My dad, he stood so straight and proud. Decked out in his dress uniform. Short military haircut, boyish grin. His eyes sparkled with an obvious happiness.

My mom, a vision in her long-sleeved, poofy-shoulder white gown. With lace detail and tulle veil. Her eyes gazing nervously into her future.

At that moment, when they became husband and wife, I wonder if they stopped to think during all the buzz and exhilaration of the day. Did their future flash before their eyes?

Did they envision two kids and the single-family house with a white picket fence? Did they ever think, in their wildest dreams, that they’d eventually have a son-in-law and daughter-in-law who so perfectly fit their own daughter and son? Or that many years down the road they’d be the proud grandparents of four beautiful grandchildren ranging in ages from eight weeks to almost 5 – two boys and two girls?

I guess our family has a thing for keeping things in balance.

If my parents felt on their wedding day anything like I felt on mine, they experienced a roller coaster of emotions, tied together with a string of nerves. I just wanted everything to be perfect and so naturally, it rained. Not just a little sprinkle. No, actually, it was quite the opposite. The sky threatened to open up from the second we woke up that Saturday. But of course, it held off until that critical moment for every bride. Just as my dad and I were getting out of the limo to enter the church filled with our friends and family, rain fell from the sky in buckets.

The rain must have brought with it the good luck that everyone says a rainy day wedding brings. It also rained on my parent’s wedding day, forty-two years ago this October. For me, married for almost 10 years, I most certainly feel extremely lucky in love.

And I have a new-found appreciation for a rainy day.

“Love comforteth like sunshine after rain.” – William Shakespeare

{It’s been raining all day today, my last day here in Florida. It was a perfect day to write, with the melody of raindrops falling fast and furious as I type out and post what I wrote this morning. Tonight it’s back home to Virginia, to my little family who I’ve missed so much these past 4 days.}

Song: Five Minute Friday {7}

17 May

BabyGirl_BML

In a few hours I’ll be leaving on a jet plane. Flying down south to meet a shiny new face, the newest, littlest member of our family who was born in March. I have yet to hear the song of her tiny cries, her coos and gurgles. I will say goodbye to my three lovies with kisses and hugs, breathing in their scent in an attempt to keep it with me while I’m gone.

For three nights, four days I’ll hear the song of my brother’s family, a newborn in the house, demanding the attention for bottles, diaper changes, snuggles. I can’t wait to hold her, to spend time just sitting and talking with my brother, sister-in-law, mom, dad, nephew. Because time slows down a little when I’m on vacation, listening to the song of my sweet family which I’ll wrap around me until I have to say goodbye on Monday.

When I’ll return to the familiar song of my own family, waiting patiently for my return.

 

Five Minute Friday

 

 

My husband, our chef

30 Apr

Saturday morning we were all anticipating my husband’s arrival home, as he had been away all week on a business trip in Austin, Texas. It had been a long, draining five days of doing ALL THE THINGS by myself and I was tired. The kids couldn’t wait to see their Daddy, especially our son who was anxiously wondering whether his father was going to be bringing him home the Lego City Police Station, a toy carrot he had dangled to ensure good behavior for Mommy. {It really came from his Grandma, but she wanted us to say it was from Daddy and we didn’t object.}

It worked like a charm. Or maybe that was because I continuously reminded him of the reward he would receive for said good behavior. Hey, I never said I was above bribes.

Swim class that morning was the last hurdle I had to jump over with the two kiddos before I could breathe easy knowing my better half would be home two hours later. And it wasn’t even that bad since baby girl wasn’t feeling well that meant I didn’t have to attend her class with her, giving us both the luxury to sit on the bench and relax, watching her brother splash and float during his lesson.

Home again, I made lunch and the kids ate and then it was time for naps and quiet time. I wanted myself to curl up and take a quick snooze before my husband got home, but instead I began the process of tidying up the house {aka dusting, vacuuming, and re-arranging our masses of clutter} since we were having friends over for dinner later that evening.

A few hours later and all was well in our world. I had raced to the store and back for fresh ingredients, while the kids got to fill their father in on all their adventures during the time he was away. Lots of hugs were exchanged and plenty of snuggles for baby girl who was feeling the unpleasant effects of the massive amount of pollen in the springtime air. Our little man talked his dad into building the two vehicles that came with his Lego police station, so as to appease him until the next day when they could spend a few hours putting the entire set together. Our daughter had fun dressing and re-dressing her Melissa & Doug ballerina magnet doll. {Another new toy from their Grandma. She loves to spoil her grandkids and we let her.}

Then my husband got to work in the kitchen, preparing the meal for the evening once our guests had arrived. It was so nice to see our friends who live close, but not close enough that impromptu visits are easy and frequent. Instead, we have to plan a few months ahead and then pray that kids stay healthy so that we can keep the date. It worked out this time since allergies were the culprit behind our little girl’s scratchy throat and sneezy, drippy nose. The kids easily connected around the water table and played together happily as we adults caught up over appetizers and drinks.

I love watching my man cooking dinner. He is very methodical in how he approaches the tasks of the recipe, which he usually follows to a perfect T each and every time. This time we were trying out a new dish, Lemon Garlic Scallops with Rustic Farro Risotto, from my friend’s food blog, with asparagus on the grill to accompany it. I try not to impede on the way he moves about the kitchen, but of course I find myself critiquing and offering suggestions on how he should be searing or grilling or stirring, when I really should just keep my mouth shut because his food always comes out delicious.

I know how lucky I am to have an amateur chef as a husband. I’ve finally come to realize this after almost ten years of marriage. He generally does all the cooking in our house, because every so often when I do try my hand at putting a meal together, nine times out of ten it turns out terrible. Sometimes worse than terrible. I get mad, curse myself for the wasted time and effort, and my pride suffers. Then I swear I’m never cooking another meal for him again because whenever I do, he turns his nose up at it. {This is because it is terrible, remember, so I really can’t blame him.} But over the years I have slowly accepted the fact that he’s simply better at cooking than I am and I should embrace it rather than try to compete with it.

So with that, I present to you: my husband the chef.

HusbandChef_BML

And now, please excuse me while I go pin some new recipes for him to try.

I love you, honey. Thank you for feeding our family with love.

“Cooking today is a young man’s game. I don’t give a bollocks what anyone says.” ~ Gordon Ramsay

10:35pm – Edited to add:

When Ben got home tonight, I asked him read my post, as I usually do on the days that I publish. Reading over his shoulder as he scrolled through the post, I noticed that I had forgotten something very important when writing this piece.

When I first became sick at the end of 2005, I struggled with eating a great deal in 2006. From the mix of medications I was on to the raging anxiety that had taken over my body, sitting down to enjoy a meal three times a day was a distant memory from my past. Some days I was nauseous from the moment I woke up until I crawled into bed at the end of the night. I lost about 12 pounds, which may not sound like all that much, but for someone who is only 5 feet, 2 inches tall, it’s a big deal. I remember looking back at pictures from that summer and my cheeks were sunk inward on my formerly chubby face, my arms seemed like pencils they were so thin. But my loving husband did not give up on me. He tried new recipes he thought I might like, went back to some of our old favorites from college when he used to cook to impress me while we were courting, and kept me smiling with his extravagant baking to appeal to my sweet tooth {and in the hope that I’d consume some calories, even if they were all sugar}.

Anyone who has ever been clinically depressed knows what I mean when I say it was impossible to eat at times. My appetite was squashed by my diagnosis and meds, and my formerly sunny, outgoing personality had also been beaten up pretty badly. If my husband wasn’t there by my side, encouraging me to keep trying, taking me on dates to our favorite Indian restaurant at least once a week, I may have lost more than the weight I did that year. I may have lost my power to fight the illness that had knocked me down.

I am forever grateful to my better half, for not only sticking with me, but for feeding me when I needed fed. He fed me with his love, his optimism, and his incredible culinary skills.

I love you with all my heart, honey.

xoxoxo

Decisions

18 Apr

DecisionsQuote_BML

It’s so hard for me to go back to that time. But today I tried because I {ironically} decided to write a post on decisions.

It was early summer – July 2005, I think – and my parents were visiting for the weekend. Not-quite-newlyweds anymore, Ben and I were ready to take the leap from townhome to single-family house. So we toured a new construction neighborhood under development in the area we wanted to move to and were completely sucked in.

 

Looking back I can’t believe how incredibly naive I was.

 

After touring the exquisite, professionally decorated, top-of-the-line-everything model, we picked out a lot, decided on a floor plan, and signed the contract. All within what felt like less than a week. It all happened so fast. The plan was to start the building process and sell our townhouse the following year before closing on the new home. We qualified for the mortgage easily on account of the salaries our jobs provided in addition to our impeccable credit scores.

 

When I try to remember what was going through my head at the time, I am dumbfounded. The thought of becoming a mother wasn’t even on the periphery of  my vision of our future, other than the fact that this house had four bedrooms. And yet, I knew we wanted to start a family. So I imagine myself screaming at my young self: “Why aren’t you thinking about your future, you idiot?! Why??? Don’t let yourself get caught up in this idealistic vision of suburban life! You are still going to have to commute into the city – are you NUTS?”

 

I think about this choice we made early into our marriage often because I now drive past this neighborhood where we almost lived, four times a week. It’s on the route to church and our son’s preschool. The only answer I have is that I wasn’t thinking about my future in that moment of excitement over buying a new house. I wasn’t thinking about how someday I would want to have babies with my loving husband. How I envisioned taking long maternity leaves after the births of the two children I wanted to have so that I could ease into the adjustment period of becoming a mother. How maybe I’d even like to be a Stay-at-Home Mom until they were in school full-time. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that this house would be a little out of reach for us financially when we started having kids. Our future life as parents just wasn’t something playing in my mind at that moment of deciding to build a new home.

 

So, yeah. Turns out I was a little nuts. Figuratively and then, literally. Succumbing to the {mostly self-inflicted} intense pressure I was putting on myself at work to earn the money I knew we needed for that big, fancy house we were building, I suffered my first manic break five months after making that decision to build. A chemical imbalance in my brain was the other culprit.

 

It was the mental breakdown which opened my eyes to my true dream of my future: a happy, healthy family. Big house, small house, that wasn’t all that important to me anymore. It wasn’t until then that I realized we had made a mistake by deciding to build a money-pit house in a Country Club community. It was too late. The house was under construction. The frame was going up, rooms were taking shape. The nails were being driven into the wood and with each blow of the hammer I crawled deeper into my pit of despair.

 

Why did I allow myself to make this bad decision? How could I be so stupid and ignorant?

 

What I didn’t realize back then is that life is one big mess of choices. I know this now. Decisions we make today will impact our future, whether we like it or not. My dad always tried to instill this into my brother and I as we were growing up, but for me, it wasn’t until many years later would I begin to understand what he was so fervently working to teach us.

 

Today, I marvel at a decision that almost was for us. After coming out of the hospital and focusing on my health, we were able to manage to withdraw from the building contract and only lost our deposit. It was only money. My well-being was far more important to us than the biggest check we had ever written. We ended up staying in our townhouse a little longer and when the time was right we found our ‘forever house’, as my friend likes to call it, in the same town as that home we were building. I can now look upon the house-decision experience as an invaluable life lesson in learning to really slow down and take my time with big, important choices in life. And the little ones too, for that matter.

 

Because you never know how a decision may impact your life. That’s the beauty in the choices we make each and every day.


Happy Friday, my friends. Thank you for making the decision to read my blog. I really appreciate you.

No regrets

14 Apr

DareToJump_BML Last week was pretty surreal.

The outpouring of support from my friends and family surrounded me by way of emails, phone calls, text messages and blog comments. From 8:30am until 10pm. All the conversations about my decision to go public with my illness made my heart swell with gratitude. So much gratitude.

But there were two people who were quietly sitting back at home, taking it all in. Without saying a word.

Glued to my computer, watching the discussions take place in real time before my eyes, I longed for their approval in some shape or form. I waited for their number and picture to show up on my phone. The hours flew by and all of a sudden I looked at the clock and realized the day was over. The call never came.

Sometimes when someone is silent, their message comes across loud and clear.

I knew that my choice of words describing their reaction to my diagnosis might have hurt them. But that wasn’t at all my intention. I only wanted to take my readers back to those moments when the shock of it all was still so raw for my family and I. After months of not seeing the light, the daze lifted to expose sheer exhaustion. We were all so worn out from the intense stress of trying to figure out what the hell was going on with me. So tired and drained – both physically and mentally – between the three of us we had cried so many tears that our eyes had nothing left to release, though we probably kept dabbing at them with wet tissues.

My mom and dad have a depth to their faith that I have yet to find. I admire that in them. I hope to some day reach that level of connection to God. They both prayed so hard during that year when we didn’t know what else to do or where else to go to help me get well. The days crept by so slowly. Tears fell continuously. They had already spent most of their time researching doctors, medications, treatments, alternative medicine, research studies. Anything that could potentially bring me back from the dark hole I had dropped into. Anything that could fix me. A miracle seemed so out of reach and yet they kept on reaching, kept on praying. Praying and reaching for me because I had lost my will to reach myself.

Whether they know it or not, every night I thank God that they had the strength to keep on praying because their prayers were answered.

I probably could have used a better word than “mortified” when I described my perceptions of how they felt about my mental illness diagnosis. That wasn’t fair. Fear and bewilderment probably would have been much better representations of their emotional state back then. They’ve wanted me to hold onto my anonymity because they worry about me the same way any parent worries about their child. I am an adult and I could have made the decision to blog openly about my illness a long time ago and I decided not to. But that changed recently. I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I don’t want to look back and have any regrets. I don’t want to wish I had done it earlier. I wasn’t able to do it before now. I wasn’t ready.

The fact is, parents will worry about their kids no matter what decisions they choose to make in life. That’s just the nature of being a parent. So whether I made the choice to go public and become an advocate as I did this week, or I remained anonymous in my attempt to inspire other people living with bipolar disorder through my writing, my parents would have kept on worrying about me, either way. It’s part of the job description when you’re hired on as a parent: perpetual worry. Just comes with the territory.

I’ve only been a parent for less than five years, but with many more years ahead of me, I can only imagine how much harder it gets. Thank you, Mom and Dad. Thank you for loving me unconditionally they way you both always have. Thank you for supporting me and for encouraging me to keep writing. And thank you for being there to listen. Even if you may not completely agree with my decision to take this leap.

I love you both so much.

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