At the end of October my son, Landon, turned five. Since I dedicated my last post (one of only 7 blog posts I’ve written this year!) to his siblings’ birthdays, it’s only appropriate that he gets a post, too.
But, it’s tough.
You see, this year has been really rough on my little family. A big part of why I’ve stepped away from blogging is due to the stress I’ve experienced from several areas of my life. I guess I’ve been so overwhelmed that my love of writing and photography has just sort of died… or at least moved to the very back burner. Sad, huh?
Look at my beautiful, bright, blue-eyed, magnificent child, Landon Drew. Just looking at that photo fills me with so much love it hurts. It also fills me with worry and a bit of sadness. You may remember near the start of this year I wrote about overcoming struggles with him and how we had finally found our way and that four was a miracle age. Well, I spoke too soon. I really don’t want to go into details, but we have been on quite the behavioral roller coaster ride with this guy. We finally got in with a therapist near the end of summer and got some answers and we are slowly making progress. Bit by bit I am starting to better understand who my child is and what he struggles with each day.
Landon at five years old is stubborn, oh so stubborn. But he also has a big heart and the goofiest, most entertaining personality, too. He loves doing puzzles, playing dress up, irritating his baby brother, potty humor, cooking (he seriously makes the best scrambled eggs!), sweets, and going to school. This year Landon is in a preschool class for “barely 5’s” and goes for 2 half days and 2 full days each week. This has been a great way to get him ready for next year when he will start kindergarten (!!!). Landon has no desire to participate in any organized group sports or activities yet, but loves playing baseball and football with Dad in the backyard. He’s got a pretty mean throw! Landon stands out in our family with his blue eyes, thick lashes, and shaggy golden locks (which he took scissors to the other day, resulting in a buzz cut and tears from his momma). This kid is my wildcard, but I wouldn’t have him any other way.
Wow, it’s been seven whole months since I last wrote a blog post. Wow. At the start of the year I made a resolution to write more here and I made it two posts before I gave up completely. God had other plans in store for me. Part of me wants to share everything that’s been going on, but part of me isn’t quite ready to re-enter blogland yet. However, one thing I will never regret about starting this blog is being able to look back over memories of my children growing up. So, if anything is worth posting about, it’s my sweet babies.
This past summer my oldest and youngest celebrated their seventh and second birthdays just a week apart. This is for them.
Roman Michael – TWO!
Oh Roman, where do I begin. You are the light of all of our lives. So goofy, so sassy, yet so sweet. For your second birthday we got you a balance bike (this one and it is the BEST for the price) and it was a HUGE hit. You are so freakin’ FAST on that thing. It is the cutest and most terrifying thing ever to see this tiny little thing flying down the street on a little bike. The other day we were getting ready to walk to the store and I was getting the stroller out of the car and set up while you and your siblings played in the driveway. Once I had it all ready to go, I went to put you in it and you were no where to be found. Little man, you almost gave your momma a heart attack! I found you two blocks away, cruising on your bike in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Talk about a bad mom moment.
At two, here are a few of your favorite things: playing with mommy’s purses and shoes (I seriously clean up shoes scattered all about the house throughout the entire day), snuggling your special “banky”, riding bikes and scooters, going to music class, eating mommy’s sandwiches, snuggling, playing with play dough, playing monster with sissy and brother.
Roman, you are so funny! You make me laugh each and every day. You are the chattiest little two-year-old I’ve ever met. Like seriously, in the car sometimes I just want to tell you to SHUT UP. No, I wouldn’t trade your chatter for all the silence in the world. Sometimes you babble away and I can’t understand what you’re saying so I’ll say, “What Roman?” And you’ll respond, “Oh, nuffing.” Kills me! And your facial expressions? I can’t even. You are so expressive and flirty and HILARIOUS. I really can’t wait to see all you accomplish in this world as the go-getter you are. You are everything I wish I could be.
Leila Jade – SEVEN!
My beautiful daugher, the one who made me a mother, where do I even begin? Whenever I sit down to reflect on the amazing person you are I instantly cry. I am beyond blessed to be your mom. You are so stunning in all ways, from your big beautiful squinty-eyed smile, to your tender love for your little brothers, to your crazy creative soul. You amaze me.
At seven years old you are already more than I will ever be. You’re a dedicated pianist, a beautiful ballet dancer, and an amazing engineer of recycling bin contraptions. You’ve lost your love of dolls in the past year (which breaks my heart a tiny bit), but you’ve replaced it with a love of writing and creating and rollerskating and bike riding. Gone are the days where everything you loved is pink. Instead you prefer green and blue. This past week you started 2nd grade. Instead of squeezing my hand tightly as I walked you to class, you pushed me away and ran off with your friends before we even entered the school. I am continually fascinated watching you grow and learn and develop into the unique individual you are. I’m grateful to be your mother and to have you as a best friend.
Building a close relationship with my 4-year-old son has been a journey. Don’t get me wrong, from the moment I felt those first kicks in my belly I loved him fiercely and when I held him in my arms for the very first time, I knew he would have my heart forever. However, as a parent you quickly learn that while you technically do hold all the control in the parent-child relationship, you really have no control. If your 2-year-old decides that it is his life mission to refuse to wear socks and shoes, chances are he will be going shoeless that day.
I’m going to be real honest and admit that a year ago I thought something may be wrong with my son. Either that or something was seriously wrong with me as a parent. The terrible twos were beyond terrible and three was in a completely different realm… like who came up with ‘terrible twos’? Two was NOTHING compared to how terrible age three was. There were many nights where by the time I got all three kids to bed, all I could do was drown myself in tears. And the thought of dealing with what we went through that day again tomorrow was almost enough to turn me into an alcoholic. Instead, I spent a lot of those days commiserating with my mom friends who also had difficult toddlers. And I got really familiar with the stares as I carried my barefoot 3-year-old kicking and screaming over my shoulder with no coat on in the middle of winter to pick his big sis up from school.
I hit some of my parenting lows during those rough days with Landon. I said things I never could have ever imagined myself saying when he was just a sweet new babe in my arms. I raised my voice more times than I’d ever like to admit. I thought things that no parent wants to admit thinking. And I’m telling you all of this because I think it is 100% completely normal and now that we are on the other side of the terrible/horrible/horrendous twos/threes, I can say that it will get better. If you are in the throes of it now, stay strong. Pull out all the love you can find in your heart and pour it out on your sweet, monstrous child. Under all the tantrums and the stubbornness and the seemingly utter dislike towards you is still a perfect little God-given creation.
Today Landon and I have a very special bond. We’ve worked through more things than my first born and I ever had to. I now better understand his personality and what he needs and he better understands how he should behave and how to communicate in a way that benefits all of us. Growth is a miraculous thing. The age of four has been a game changer. Whereas a year ago it was at times like a war zone during the bedtime routine, he now sweetly asks me to carry him up the stairs on his way to bed. Every night as his little legs and arms are wrapped around me with his head on my shoulder, he gently pats my back as I carry him up. Some nights I can’t hold back the tears of happiness thinking just how far we’ve come in his four short years. He loves me. He really, really, really loves me. And the love I feel in return is so heartbreaking… in the best way possible.
Hello…. from the other side! (He, he, he.) Happy New Year! Hooray for 2016! You don’t even know how good it feels to put 2015 behind me with all the hope in the world that 2016 will be bigger and better.
I find it utterly fascinating how life is so unpredictable, yet everything seems to happen in bursts of good or bad. I still can’t get over all the hurdles we overcame last year. Roman’s first surgery, an unexpected medical diagnosis, crumbling moving plans, horrendous forrest fires, an epic and destructive wind storm, and yet another major surgery for Roman to finish off the year strong. Typing it up, it all sounds so painful and hellish, but the truth is that I still had a good year. Coming out of it, my family is strong and healthy and hopeful that we will have smooth sailing for a while.
The icing on the cake of 2015 was Roman’s final (hopefully!) surgery on December 8th to fix his kidney reflux. We went into it very optimistic since he seemed to do so well after his last operation. However, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to experience. He was under anesthesia for almost 6 hours and didn’t come out of it as well as last time. His recovery in the hospital included four days of utter torture for me. Nothing is worse than seeing your child in pain. NOTHING. I’ve never been so miserable in my life and would have given anything to take his place. However, he pulled through and is back to his spunky, sassy little self these days.
And now I am done. I’m done talking about how rough last year was. I’m done thinking about it. I’m ready to move forward and change my mindset to let in the good. I’ve spent the last couple months thinking a lot about this blog and what I want to do with it. Should I continue? Should I start something new? What should I write about? I still don’t have the answers, but I know I’m not ready to completely pull the plug. I just want to get back to writing from my heart. I want to put out more inspiring words and photos. I want to rediscover a piece of myself that I feel like I’ve lost.
It is so easy to get swept away in what is happening to us and around us. It is so hard to just be. When life is going 10 million miles per minute, how do we stop long enough to sort out our own head? That’s the conundrum I feel like I’m facing lately. How do I
find make the time to work through my own issues when I spend so much time caring for others and running around like a chicken with her head cut off? I think this is something a lot of parents struggle with and I want to be more aware of it this year.
I want to stop what I’m doing and catch snowflakes on my tongue with my children. I want to press pause on life and close my eyes and listen to some good music while doing nothing else. I want to find more balance… more moments of silence among the chaos. And that is my hope for this new year.
Time to interrupt this little blogging break to talk about thankfulness on the eve of Thanksgiving. Yes, I know I’ve bored anyone who actually reads my blog with the tales of my awful year (well, awful in my little charmed world), but yet again we dealt with another doozy when the worst wind storm in the history of my city struck and left my family without power for an entire week during the coldest stretch of the year. Let me tell you, I have never felt more grateful and thankful for modern conveniences like lights and washing machines and refrigerators and furnaces than when I had to go without for several days. But ya know what? If we didn’t experience struggle and strife now and then, how would we ever truly appreciate all of the good? The truth is that through all the inconveniences in my life this past year, there’s been twice as much joy and happiness. Sure, I could have let circumstance get the best of me all the time (and sometimes it really did), but for the most part I chose to take the struggle and use it as fuel to focus on what I have that I am so, so, so thankful for.
To really drive this home, I thought I’d take a few minutes to sit down and type up my annual list of 100 Things I’m Thankful For. This is a favorite exercise of mine to re-center myself on what brings me joy and what I am so lucky to be able to experience.
- Hands down #1: My Family
- My friends
- A roof over my head (even when it’s freezing cold with no power)
- Getting to stay home with my babies
- Drive-thru windows
- Endless opportunities
- Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator
- My fancy camera
- YouTube tutorials
- The Internet
- My faith
- Weekly lunches with my girls
- Travel to tropical places
- Getting to experience all four seasons
- Amazon Prime
- My health
- Nap time
- Modern medicine
- Roman’s amazing urologist
- Social media
- Fiction novels
- My big, cozy bed
- A warm rice pack or heating pad on a cold day
- My neighbors
- Living in America
- Getting to be a mommy and living my dream
- Seeing the world through my children’s eyes
- My past, this present moment, and what is yet to come
- Macaroni and cheese
- All the carbs
- Chocolate covered gummy bears
- Mid-week playdates
- Our membership to the children’s museum
- Leila and Landon’s amazing teachers
- My car
- Walks around the block
- Cleaning dance parties with my crew
- Essential oils
- Andy’s job
- Fresh air
- My memories
- Childhood friends
- Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
- Late nights with my hubby
- Hearing my kids laugh every day
- Montessori education
- Cultural experiences
- Photo books
- The Cloud
- Leila’s creativity
- Roman’s sense of humor
- Landon’s snuggles
- My self confidence
- Growing up
- Hot showers
- My marriage
- Growing up in the same small town as Andy
- Visiting our parents on the weekends
- Weekly visits from my momma
- Playing cards
- Inspirational quotes
- Almost being done with diapers (well, in another year or two)
- The thrill of uncertainty
- Mixed drinks
- Being able read to my babies
- That Leila can read to me
- The sun, moon and stars
- Knowing how to appreciate the little things
- Realizing the power of thankfulness
The other day right after the crazy windstorm, the kids and I got in a fender bender with another car. I was an emotional mess coming home from the wreck to a cold, dark house. I was angry and sad. As I walked through my kitchen on the way to the garage to get yet another armful of wood for the fire my flashlight hit the small chalkboard sign I had just recently changed the quote on…
The perfect reminder to me at the perfect moment. A reminder I had unintentionally given myself! My house may be dark and cold, but we have a roof over our head. My car may be smashed up, but it still drives and most importantly, the three most precious people in my life are giggling in the other room. There is always, ALWAYS, something to be thankful for.