Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You Scream, I Scream

Gwennie hit a milestone last night. And while that is very exciting (for us, anyways), her reaction to every one else's reaction is really the most notable.

So there I was, laying on the floor, rolling a tennis ball under my shoulders when Gwen crawled to my side. I braced myself. Recently I've become little more than a human speed bump for her as she cruises across the carpet. She placed her chunky little hands on my belly. I watched, and waited. But to my surprise, she didn't launch herself over my torso. Instead she brought herself to a squat and then slowly let go of me and stood herself up. Her knees straightened out, she raised her arms over her head. It looked like a stance of triumph but was probably closer to curiosity about what would happen if she also did that.

Anyways, there she stood. Toes curled slightly into the carpet. She teetered slightly for the first several seconds but her feet remained steadfast on the floor, bearing the weight of her body. I know this happens for every kid. It happened for my last two, but man, I never cease to be awestruck when Gwennie comes upon these milestones.

She looked around the room, still standing and looking a little more steady. I didn't want to alarm her, so I didn't react as enthusiastically as I wanted to. However, her older sisters were in the room and they were very outwardly enthusiastic. They screamed, they clapped, they cheered like rabid fans, "Gwennie's standing on her own! Gwennie's standing on her own!"

With my eyes fixed on Gwennie's face, I tried to quell the pep rally. Her silent content changed to confusion when she noticed her sisters' boisterous celebration. As they continued, confusion became concern which finally turned into panic.

That's when it happened, the notable reaction to her sisters' well-meaning reaction:

There Gwennie stood. Her fair skin took on the "I'm-Seriously-Freaked-Out-Here" Fuchsia hue. A fearful wail tumbled out of her. She leaned into me and began clawing at my neck the way she does when she needs comfort.

I held her, shushed her, soothed her while explaining to Allie and Sofia why their over-zealous excitement scared the bejabbers out of her.

But you know? Her histrionic fall out makes this milestone reached SOOOOO much more memorable. Don't you think?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Flowers for Abraham

We've got these pretty weeds growing in our backyard.

My 8 year old agreed to pick the abundant flowery weeds for $1. Since that means a chance to browse the dollar section at Target and actually walk out with something she wants, she was very very eager. Unfortunately, my 6 year old had a hard time understanding that these were weeds and therefore, could not stay. She reaped the discarded flower-weeds as Allie pulled them out of the ground.

A little bit later, I saw her at the back door with a bouquet of them in her hands. I slid open the door, told her how beautiful they were and followed it up with, "those have to stay outside. You can't bring them in the house." The smile fell right off her face, and her expression started to turn into one of near heartbreak. She stared solemnly at me with her sad, wide brown eyes.

"But mom... these flowers are for Abraham?" 
"Abraham Lincoln. These are for his grave!"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wishes For My Daughters: Reflections On Being A Mother

As I stack the basket of freshly stuffed cloth diapers near the pack n play; as I listen to the older girls make paper lanterns and discuss the creep factor of Dora's talking map; as I enjoy the momentary lull of feeding, changing, and entertaining the baby, I find a rare moment of relative peace. Reflections of my 8 years of experience as a mom soon followed. I found  myself wondering, do I wish anything were different? Turns out, yes. There are many things.

In no particular order:

  • I wish the bathrooms would stay clean longer than a day.
  • I wish I didn't have to throw out entire loaves of bread because they put it back in the pantry but didn't close it.
  • I wish I never had to walk into a kitchen to see spilled milk left pooled on the floor, or cereal crushed into the kitchen tiles.
  • I wish homework helping didn't make me want to scream, and that bath times didn't end with a quarter inch of water outside the tub, still.
  • I wish I didn't have to request their help more than twice.
  • I wish I didn't waste so much energy trying to be the Ideal nutritionist, cook, maid, tutor, playmate, scheduler, teacher...
  • I wish I didn't feel so burdened by how much extra house-work they create.
  • I wish I wasn't usually too tired to enjoy them more.
  • I wish sometimes I didn't really want to sell them to Gypsies.
  • I wish I didn't waste so much energy feeling inadequate.
  • I wish I 'd never spent so much time feeling ashamed to admit these feelings

But of all the things I wish were different, there is one thing I wish will never change-

I wish my girls NEVER doubt that however mean, frustrated, exhausted, unfair or demanding I may sometimes be, I ALWAYS love them. Even when I don't. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Apologies To My Mother

In honor of this upcoming Mother's Day, a list of all the things I'm sorry for putting my mom through:

Dear Mom, I hope you accept my sincerest apologies for all of the following:

  1. The times you asked me to do something, and I said I would but didn't. I'm sorry.
  2. The times I forced you to referee petty disagreements between me and my sibs. I'm sorry.
  3. The times I said I'd be home at "x O' Clock", didn't, and then fought with you about why I shouldn't be in trouble. I'm sorry.
  4. The times you toiled in the kitchen after a long day of work to make dinner, and I told you I wasn't going to eat it. Rudely. I'm sorry.
  5. The times I told you "you don't know what you're talking about!" I was wrong. I'm sorry.
  6. The times I checked out books from the library or rented movies without you knowing... until you got the bill for the over due fines. I'm sorry.
  7. The times when I wouldn't accept "no" for an answer. A thousand apologies! I'm sorry.
  8. The times I asked for your help and then got angry when you gave it. I'm sorry.
  9. The things I destroyed, intentionally or not, at your and dad's expense. This includes, but is not limited to: the cabbage patch dolls I beheaded (mine and my sister's), the barbie dolls I scalped, the two windows I cracked practicing goal shots in the yard and the alarm clock I broke trying to shut off
  10. The times I swore I didn't have anything to wear to school, although my closet was bursting with clean clothes. I'm sorry.
  11. The times I didn't let you use the bathroom in peace. I'm truly incredibly sorry. 
  12. The times my mode of operation was stuck on DON'T. STOP. TALKING. And all you wanted was a little bit of peace. I'm sorry.
  13. The times I ate that last piece of cake/pie/whatever, that you were saving for yourself. I'm sincerely sorry.

For the sake of brevity, I'm going to stop here. Just know that this is far from a complete list!

Then I started a list of things I appreciate about my mom, but then decided to list only a few of them. Not because there isn't much to be grateful for, there's much. But because each of these items is at the heart of everything my mom did for me. So here goes-

Dear Mom, 

Infinite thanks for:

1- Your enduring love. I know I wasn't the easiest kid to raise but, I kept you on your toes, right? =D

2- Not loading me onto a boat to the Philippines with a hobo sack, a snickers bar and a note saying, "DO NOT RETURN TO SENDER." Or even threatening to.
Looking back, I can imagine you were tempted many, many times. Probably even several times a day.

In conclusion,

Happy Mother's Day, mom! 
Even though I forgot to send a card, I want you to know I'm thankful for you every single day.

Love Always,
Your Best First Daughter

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Homies Helping Homies

I can't avoid it any longer. The kitchen counters are in serious need of decluttering, and the pantry and the fridge need to be culled. Because I'm determined not to let my children skate through their youth thinking they get a free pass with the housework, I request their assistance quite frequently. Getting them to cooperate, though, is usually more trouble than it sometimes feels worth. For every one thing they seem to clean or put away, three other things revert back to a state of entropy. Plus, there's the battle that almost always ensues between myself and one or both of the girls. And I'm too tired to continue engaging over even the smallest things (please throw away your granola bar wrappers). Battle fatigue has set in with no chance of immediate reprieve. So when I get a child to cooperate, I'm happy. When they take the initiative to go above and beyond, I'm pleasantly confounded and extremely grateful.

Enter Sofia.

This morning I tasked her with clearing off the kitchen counter. I was putting away pantry things and left out dishes, she was supposed to throw away the banana peels and wipe the chocolate syrup off the counter. But then she decided she wanted to be a super duper helper today, and put away her toys that were in the kitchen, then help me wipe down the breakfast bar. Wow!

As we were spraying and wiping she said to me, "helping each other is a really good thing, isn't it, mommy?"
To which, of course I replied, "indeed it is, Fi." And then she said, "Homies helping homies. That's how it should be, huh?" I laughed, and once again agreed. "Absolutely."

As I feed Gwennie (and work on this blog post waiting to see if she's finished or not), Sofia continues amaze me in the kitchen. She's put stuff away in the pantry, swept and is currently rockin' the wetjet on the kitchen floor. All of her own volition.

I love it when my homies come to my aid. And I love it even more when those homies call me "mom".

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Win a 2011 Maclaren Triumph Stroller

Baby Gizmo is giving away a 2011 Maclaren Triumph Stroller for this weeks giveaway. It's a great site chock full of reviews on all kinds of baby items. I just recently found it but wished I had sooner!

Anyways, check them out to see how you can enter to win this lightweight stroller. Hurry, contest ends tomorrow. Don't forget to use my name in the referral space and GOOD LUCK!

I want to win a Maclaren Stroller!

Friday, April 8, 2011

You're Toooooo Late: Military Pay Already Effected by Budget Impasse

Military members have been anxiously keeping their eyes on the news recently to see how the impending Government Shutdown of 2011 will play out. There's a lot at stake here. The very least of which has anything to do with ruined vacation plans (due to National Parks being closed). Our Troops and their families going to really feel it where it hurts- in their paychecks.

Let's get one thing straight, right off the top. Military members will still be paid for their service. They just won't receive any of it after April 9th if the government shuts down Midnight, April 8th, for however long the shutdown lasts.

Half the day is over, but apparently, it's too late to avert any financial fall-out for our Troops (many of whom are currently deployed to war zones, helping to pave the way for Democracy in other countries).

Military pay statements are out, and from what I can tell, they've already been cut in half (meaning they've only been paid from the 1st of April until today). How long will it take for them to reverse this if Congress reaches an agreement by midnight tonight? Who knows. Anyone with experience getting back pay from the military knows what a pain in the ass it is.

Here is the official line from the Defense Financial and Accounting Services (the ones who officially handle the paychecks):

Government Shutdown Impacts on Pay
Due to the government shutdown, the Department of Defense has no legal 
authority to pay any personnel - military or civilian - for the days during which the 
government is shut down.  The shutdown will not affect payments to retirees and 
annuitants as those funds come from a retirement trust fund.  Below is the effect 
the government shutdown will have on active duty military, civilian personnel, 
retirees and annuitants, and DoD contractors. 

Military Active and Reserve military members will be paid on time for pay earned prior to 
the expiration of the CRA (midnight April 8) -- approximately half of their normal 
mid-month payment.   Active duty military and on-duty reservists cannot be paid 
for duty performed after the CRA expired, until additional legislation is enacted.  
Once another CRA or an appropriations act is signed into law, normal 
disbursement of pay will resume for pay earned after employees return to work. 
Military members who perform duty during the shutdown will be entitled to 
retroactive payments. 

Check out this link for the full FAQ: DFAS Government Shutdown FAQ

So, here's the bottom line- from a Veteran of the USAF, and current military Spouse, thanks, Congress for nothing. 2012 is an election year, and I damn sure will remember.