Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Going Green(er)!

I'm always up for an opportunity to do my part to protect our planet. Now I can say that my mommy-blog is carbon-neutral! Who knew that the C02 emissions of one blog in a given year can be as great as 8lbs? I didn't. The C02 absorption of one tree in a year = 11lbs! Thanks to an innovative group based in Germany, the program "My Blog is Carbon Neutral" will provide one tree per participating blog-domain. Their goal is to re-populate the forests that have been victimized by fire in recent years in northern CA, while also erasing the carbon foot-print that the explosion of bloggers has contributed to creating. The trees are planted in Plumas National Forest by the "Arbor Day Foundation". Many thanks for the opportunity to help this initiative, "Make it green!"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Show Some Emotion!

The 4 of us were hanging out in the kitchen, sharing food, laughs, music, and good vibes. I was on my way to the sink when Joel placed his arm around my waist, and pulled me in for an impromptu demonstration of his affection. (My fave!) We shared a moment, and almost forgot we weren't alone in the room - Until...... 
"A VERY Happy Fam-i-ly!" was voiced at a high decibel from just across the room. It was Myla, paying close attention to our encounter, and providing her take on it. :)

TIP: If they learn from you to hide emotions, they'll carry that with them, and it can be unhealthy. Let it shine!
A QUOTE: 'Twas not my lips you kissed
But my soul ~Judy Garland
WHIDFML: Sat with my girls during their week of illness, and shared with them some old Disney classics, as they reveled in them for the first time! 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Week From He....y! This isn't so Bad

So - I had thought this was going to be "the storm"... (You know, the one that would follow the "calm" I had been feeling lately...) Things with the man - awesome! Things with child-rearing - fab! Things with strategized disciplinary tactics - vastly improving! The tides of stress - receding! 
Then... Wouldn't you know it, I decided I'd better brace myself for the upcoming week when I learned the following: No day-off this week, Joel was expected to be working 10-hour-days each day, Joel worked on Sunday, and will also be working this upcoming Saturday (weekend? What weekend??), AND - both girls are terribly sick. Yuck (That's a new 4-letter word, if you know what I mean.) Wow. 
So, I braced myself. For some reason, on Monday - I woke up feeling lighter than air, and rather unwound. I had an innate sense of peace. Starting each day by looking out the window to view the brook as it meanders past, only helps further encourage this calm. (Ah, Spring.)  It was unexpected, but I figured I must have been prepared enough to remain "strong" and handle whatever lurked in the dark corners for me during this expected treacherous week. Maybe so. Whatever it is... things seemed to work out. When my mind wandered to thoughts about what we might expect to have to pay at tax time... I booked another wedding and received an unexpected bonus check from J's company in the mail in the same afternoon! When considering how I might acquire some babysitting this week for a mommy-break... I realized the calendar was nearly empty all week (unheard-of!) So I figured I can make it through one week without it. (We're half-way there!) Addie had trouble sleeping (cough-cough-cough, poor dear), and woke up Myla who hadn't napped all week (when she needed it most!) Oh - wait... that's the opposite of what I'm grateful for. Ah, but by some tiny miracle (and this does count as a miracle - family will KNOW), both fell fast asleep again after I aided in blowing their noses! It was a gentle nudge - my reminder - God will provide. (He knows our needs better than we do!)
Overall, I really can't complain. I feel better than I've felt in a couple of months now - and the timing really couldn't be better. Moving forward, always, though usually in baby-steps...

TIP: Lay down 2 sizable towels on the floor beneath the humidifier to catch the mist. When the kids are out of bed during the day - hang them to dry for the next round of slumber. [Not yet sure what to suggest to prevent the paint from caking-off in layers! We do turn on the exhaust fan over the stove, and in the bathroom, with a few windows open, to eliminate what we can in the A.M.]
Bonus-TIP: When kids are congested, use the Vics Baby Rub. It contains some lavender to tone-down the intensity. Swipe some onto the top of the pacifier (right beneath their nose) - to help enable them to keep that in their mouths until they've fallen asleep. 
A QUOTE: "Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you 
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right...
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face"  ~ Alanis Morissette (Song Title: "Ironic")
WHIDFML: Enjoying all of the recent networking, vendor-recognition and correspondence, and my drive to take a chance and explore some new approaches to further broadening my reach to potential photography clientele. :)

Singing for Joy

Myla was singing spiritedly the other day. She did a near-perfect rendition of an older Christmas tune... Not sure why that caught-on around here so late in the winter season... It's the warmest March I can recall. In fact, if we get through the next few days with no snow, we will make history! Thus far in recorded history, no March has unraveled its days without any snowfall. There's a first time for everything! (Not too sure what that means for the planet, but it means this month has been a welcome early-spring!) 
She's been so eager to learn songs and sing them... She really enjoys it. She makes songs up around here regularly... To no specific tune, she'll rehearse these verses almost daily: "I love my mom, I love my dad... I love my sister.... They are so cuuuuute!" 
We continue to encourage her enjoyment of this activity. After completing the aforementioned holiday ditty without a hitch, and in its entirety, for the first time, Daddy provided accolade... "WOW! Nice job. You sing better than Daddy, you know that?" 
"Yeppy, I dooooooo!" came her response ~ (without missing a beat; no pun intended.)

TIP: I believe music has a way of inspiring people. It can enhance an existing emotion in just the right way, or adjust a mood for the better in as little as a few seconds. It is simply amazing how it can feed the soul, generate ideas, and allow one to artistically self-express. Everyone can relate to it in some form. Expose kids to it early, and provide variety. Even if they don't create music of their own one day, they will only stand to benefit. 
QUOTES: “Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.” ~Unknown
“Music is what feelings sound like.” ~Unknown
WHIDFML: Talked at length to a friend whom I've missed chatting with! We will resume regular interaction again :)  

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Big Girrrrrrrrrrrrl!

Mark you calendars: March 16, 2010 ~ 
Myla decided (after chewing it to grossness) that it would be best to send her Nun-Nun (Nuk) off to the Nun-Nun-Fairy for good... "I think the Nun-Nun-Fairy should throw it away..." She reasoned. OKAY! Sounds like a plan to me! So we neatly inserted our letter, and the shell-of-a-nuk into an envelope, safely sealed with Winnie the Pooh stickers. (Insert "OMG" Verbiage HERE!)

She has now been separated from her sister for "nap", being that she refuses to accomplish one. I'm listening as she's singing to herself behind the closed door of the 3rd bedroom, adjacent to my location at the computer. So she didn't want to sleep. But, she didn't cry about the nuk either... And hey - she's singing! I think this might be what they refer to as progress?? JOY!

TIP: Sometimes, leaving it alone can work to your advantage. She wanted to initiate that... Now, she has! :) (Yay.)
A QUOTE: “All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience. ~” Henry Miller
WHIDFML: Kept the faith :) (God knows our needs!)

Spring Cleaning (of the Mind & Soul)...

For years now, one way in which I find myself 'dealing' with the onslaught of stress as it occurs, is by cleaning. I clean house... clean the truck, clean out the junk-drawers, organize closets... I can't seem to get enough. It's not that I enjoy cleaning. I enjoy the results of cleaning. I used to think it was my way of taking some control of my situation - by effectively altering my space and providing myself with a more soothing environment. As it turns out, I realize that it's not about control - but rather - about acquiring a clean-slate. I need a means of 'starting fresh' - and refreshing my surroundings gives me a starting-point. In cleaning out my cluttered environment, I allow my mind to become less engulfed in cluttered thought, and ta-da! Clean slate :)
Since about the age of 24 (wow, 7 years already), I've made it a priority to manage stress in my life, and not take on too much. I want to enjoy life - thrive... I don't have interest in merely surviving. We all have to do certain things to survive. We have to make various sacrifices and adjustments. That's to be expected. This is also heavily based upon our specific goals/ dreams. But there is something inherently wrong with a culture where money becomes more valuable than the time to enjoy life. Too often, we become so absorbed in the small stuff - and forget about what's truly important. I decided a long time ago that I refuse to live that way. I also chose not to sell my soul to any industry - even when it came to my dream-job. Now, I work for myself doing what I'm most passionate about, while also being there with my kids. It's not easy, it's still work, but It's meaningful and fulfilling, and I don't have to answer to anyone but myself, and those closest to and most important to me. 

I went to sleep last night with my head spinning. Joel and I had a heart-to-heart about babe #1. I had been feeling bogged down, frustrated, unsure, and exhausted. It was an opportunity to reassess some things, and determine what needed redirecting. Namely - Joel and I have to be the parents - always...  (And though we have Addie in check, it'll be hard to maintain that if she sees her older sister getting away with too much, too often.) We haven't been intentionally "letting" Myla get away with things - but we haven't been consistent enough (particularly between the two of us.) It begins now. We (both) give her one warning, and time-out takes effect immediately upon ignored warnings.  If we're in a restaurant... we leave. If we're in the grocery store... we leave. Whatever it takes to get the point across. Leaving time-out so soon? Add a minute each time she moves, and put her back silently each time. (Zero attention.) Less emphasis on protecting her feelings, and more emphasis on correcting bad behavior and setting her up for an overall better life because of it. (Um, and US too!)

So, needless to say - my house is pretty sparkly right now, and my mind is clear again. (Man, that feels good!) I woke up this morning with a whole new perspective on things, and am feeling much more like myself again. It'll take a bit of doing to get Myla to where we need her... but I feel like we have some directive now. She's always posed a greater challenge, and therefore, it's natural for us to have to take extra steps to feel our way with her upbringing. Now that Joel's on board with me, this should be much less strenuous. Thank God for Swiffer!

TIP: Watching Nanny 911 can be beneficial... sometimes. So can eating chocolate. [Maybe this will be a "famous quote" one day - with my name behind it! Ha.]
A QUOTE: "There may be dust in my house but there isn't any on me."  ~Author Unknown
WHIDFML: Awoke to rain, curled up, and went back to sleep.  :)

Click  HERE  for my song of the day today! 
AND, my horoscope! (Rather fitting)

Your Daily Horoscope: March 16, 2010

Sagittarius Nov. 22 - Dec 21
This is a good day to experience the magic of faith, Sagittarius. Expect a miracle, and you just might experience unexpected help coming from an unknown source. As long as you are not buying into defeatist thinking, today's opportunity period can bring anything from hope to a fresh start. If you do begin to believe that your forward momentum is lost, then the opportunity period will make that possibility real. Don't think in terms of limitation or lack, you will only succeed in creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of the most negative kind.

[Here's hoping there is a miracle involving less money owed for taxes, as well as the turn-around of our little (defiant) lady.]

Saturday, March 13, 2010

For Our Next Trick...

Seemingly - I spoke too soon. Wait... I take that back... I'm still in a much better place, and truly have found the freedom (and motivation) to meander back out into the world, even with 2 toddlers in tow. Revelation still applies; Common disciplinary tactics still in effect. However....
I've realized that Myla - with her need for constant control - is starting to slowly eat away at my innards. This child is not your average child. Oh no. Never has been, and apparently, never will be. The saga continues. One major contributing factor, I've come to recognize, is Joel's misconception that Myla has some special need for insurmountable levels of attention. While he does step up to discipline the little lady, his desire to continue coddling her remains unchanged. 
Following a minor nervous break-down on my part, he finally seemed to really understand what I was getting at with this piece, and he's already shown vast improvement in his attempt to cushion all of her negative experiences. (See, with Myla, pretty much anything that doesn't go precisely the way she visualizes it - (every detail) - then becomes a 'negative experience'. She gets this from her dad - to whom I must give props - as he has come a long, long way in realizing that life is messy. It's much less stressful to choose your battles, and go along with the rest.) I certainly don't aim to blame him entirely - but I do believe that her ranting and very charged requests for 'daddy' all day long while he's at work, stem from this. I have come to recognize when she may need a bit of added cushion. (She is still only 3, after all.) But candy-coating everything for her isn't going to help her in the long-run - (or any of us!)
Addie is normal. She's an overall happy kiddo - She's smart, sweet, compassionate, sensitive... And she has her moments where she needs to stand up for herself (often against Myla's command), toss a tantrum, or otherwise test the waters of her growing independence. She eventually comes around, and generally wants everyone in the situation to be happy. We regularly give her options, and she seems to appreciate this approach. Her reactions are all normal, and to be expected. In fact, it's what I had always envisioned during this stage. Myla, on the other hand, will intentionally do the exact opposite of what you say - merely to spite you and maintain "control". She refuses to be told what to do (or not to do), and doesn't back down - EVER. No tactic seems to successfully retract a requested response out of her. Taking away shows, toys, treats, or other earned rewards... She could care less. Time-out. This she despises, but won't remain in her time-outs any more. She talks back, argues... She pushes every button possible. I can't begin to effectively describe some of the goings-on between she and I in our day-to-day. 
ANYwho - to make a loooooong story short: I'm at my wit's end with enduring constant Myla-spasms, and I'm out of ideas for avoiding/ correcting them. If all else fails, I'm prepared to shower the world with our daily drama via Nanny 911. 
So, we've survived the tidal-wave that was baby-drama, and have moved on to new and different issues. Such is life as a parent. At least this time, it is only with one of the two children... (though it affects us all indirectly in some way.) I don't mean to wish away a long-awaited summer season... but fall's preschool schedule is looking mighty appealing right about now!
I've always known (from birth) that Myla was "different". Not typical. This is appealing in many aspects... But when it comes to this control-battle... I'm the one in serious need of "TIPS"! (Or a Nanny intent on getting kids as such out of that mindset!) We'll see. Cheers to daddy for realizing the impact of his "overly-kind" (babying) ways, and stepping up to help me turn this kid around - before she hits those "tween" years! For our next trick................................. Now that nothing that has worked in the past seems to enable us to reinstate our position as the parents here, we'll need to unearth something entirely different... to compliment the 'different' child, and this new and different stage of growth. Suggestions are welcome!
TIP: If you notice 'special needs' - tackle them early on. Don't wait until you lose your sanity ;)
A QUOTE: "There comes a time when deceit and defiance must be seen for what they are. At that point, a gathering danger must be directly confronted. At that point, we must show that beyond our resolutions is actual resolve."  
WHIDFML: I picked up some fun new eye-shadow on clearance. (Regular price would have been around $13... I paid about $2.60 for all 3 compacts!)  How could I not??

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Perks include FREE Comedy, DAILY!

 Photo by Joel
A couple of Myla's most recent funnies:

~After realizing she wasn't going to "win" during a recent transgression, she sighed, "Ohhh, You're Im-POS-sible..." (with a smile)

~As if she hadn't realized this already (after being previously corrected - Mind you, Daddy is the perpetrator in his regular use of this phrase around the tikes), she blurted out the following: "'Oh boy!' is a good word... But 'holy crap' is a bad word." (Insert sheepish grin with shoulders hunched.) 

~I was jotting down some of these things so I'd remember what I wanted to blog about next... (They were adding up fast!) As I was writing, she inquired, "Are you writing a letter for olives??" [She had previously witnessed me jotting down things I had remembered we needed from the grocery store.] :)

 Photo by Joel
Addie gets funnier by the day! ~

~Mommy is going potty, and she wants to see... (Ok. WILL this ever win me the opportunity to stop buying diapers???) She sticks her face down as close to me as possible and asks, "Poopin' mommy??" 

~After completing my whiz (thank you very much), she tries to flush for me... She's not quite strong enough, and while struggling with the handle, she shouts, "C'mon.... C'MON! Come ON, dude!" I almost peed myself again laughing!

 ~When something isn't going quite her way... she regularly mumbles, "No no no..." while trying to correct the problem. 

~She mimics her Grandpa Mack ("Papa") by answering "Nope!" when she means no.

~She mimics her Grandma Roxane by sighing, "Oh maaaaaaaaaaan!" when something goes wrong. (Much better than "Oh crap" for a 2-year-old though, don't you think!?) It's truly adorable. Type can't adequately portray the emphasis, and it's almost with a chuckle that it's usually exclaimed... Kind of with the attitude like, "bummer - but no use crying over THAT!"

Nursery Rhymes?

Growing up, my dad had some funnies he'd share that he learned in his own youth... One such kid-friendly rhyme sequences as follows: "Oooey-Gooey was a worm, a mighty worm was he. One day he sat on the railroad tracks, the train he did not see; Oooooooeeeey-Gooooeeeey!"
The girls are now learning this fun little ditty from Grandma & Grandpa ~ only their version is something like this: "Oooey-Gooey worm was he. Ooooooeeey-Goooooeeey." 
Hm. Somehow, it's not as funny written out as it is when witnessed live! (Guess I'll have to get that on video. Thanks for bearing with me! HA.) 

TIP: If you start reading to them very early on... even if they lose interest, their interest tends to re-surface again later. Start with rhyming books, they love 'em! They'll get hooked.
A QUOTE: "What we remember from childhood we remember forever - permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen."  ~Cynthia Ozick
WHIDFML: Over the weekend, Joel and I trimmed a few trees. Then we enjoyed an outdoor bonfire with the fruits of our labor, treasuring this spring-time weather, all while the girls napped. 

My Revelation! (Finally)

When I was a new mom, I felt overwhelmed for a while. This was heightened when number 2 arrived 17 months later. Dealing with the pandemonium of, well, motherhood, in addition to the baby's Colic, acid-reflux, sleep-resistance, the second baby's food intolerance, my own newly-discovered food intolerance (gluten), lack of sleep, and my inability to pump during nursing - I was understandably under a lot of stress. That doesn't touch base on any of the other life-issues that were being dealt with besides. (Regular life + bigger circumstances also ensued.) 
I recall reading an article in a parenting magazine about this woman who had undergone a revelation after supressing her needs in the beginning of her mothering journey. She made mention of things such as the following: "I realized, I can still cook gourmet meals - I just have a baby now! I'm still ME." And, "I can still socialize with my friends, and go out shopping, just with a baby now!" 
Say what? 
I felt even less adept at mothering after reading that, actually. Here I was, my optimistic self - trying desperately to see the light at the end of the tunnel on particularly difficult days, and making a point to seek the silver lining, and focus on how much I love these little people that God blessed me with. Yet, in spite of my positive thoughts and diligence in re-inventing balance in my life, I couldn't help but wonder, "Where the heck is MY revelation?" 
Gourmet meals? HA! Out with friends... Hm! Not this girl... This girl was actually more stressed  in her initial attempts at doing anything "normal" and "just with a baby now". While I still held out hope for some return to normalcy once the impending disarray subsided (SOME day), I had pretty much decided that "a revelation" was not in the cards for me. 
But alas! It appears that my revelation was just hidden behind days, months, years... of learning to tackle disciplinary issues in coordination with my husband;  maintaining communication with him through the shrieks, whimpers, and also the squeals of glee; managing 2 children close in age, equally needy, but with amazingly varied requirements; learning to balance babies, me-time, couple-time, work, house maintenance, daily responsibilities, exercise, eating, and sleep (all within 24 hours time each and every day!); re-establishing priorities in order to effectively refrain from going insane; and figuring out which things are temporary, which can be changed, and which things to suck up! (Hey - no wonder it took me a while.) 
I've never felt more assured, more fulfilled, more priority-driven, or more confident in myself and my needs, as well as my wants in life. I'm making daily progress -  making my way toward goals that are important to me, as well as my family, and I'm still learning and growing as a result. We finally seem to be past the true "baby-stage". I thought that might make me a bit sad... In actuality - I'm relieved, and I know that I was directly involved (probably more than I should have been) - and didn't miss out on any aspect of it whatsoever. Also - my passion for photography has enabled me to satisfy the sentimental fool within via literally thousands of photographs to take me back to the good times as often as I want! AHA - see - revelation! I feel so FREE! I can move around - get out of the house, cook (sometimes!), take them on adventures, go outside and play, (go outside and relax by myself when they happen to be with the retired grandparents for grandbaby day!) I can think... I can breathe... I am ME again! Only better, stronger, and even more focused on what's truly important. 
Hahahahaha! Finally! It only took around 3-1/2 years. ('Bout damn time.) ;)

TIP: When your mother tells you, "It WILL get better... I promise," take solace in the knowledge that she is right! (Keep your chin up!)
A QUOTE: "Cease trying to work everything out with your minds. It will get you nowhere. Live by intuition and inspiration and let your whole life be Revelation." ~Eileen Caddy
WHIDFML: Set aside the photo-blog that stopped working, and caught-up on THIS blog! :)

Less Disorder, More Joy

We finally appear to be at a stage of growth... Granted, every time one segment of life with children has concluded, the next is merely steps away. However, the steps are getting lighter and we seem to be dancing more and tripping less! The past 3 years have been a bit of a blur. But, now I'm finding a tad more down-time in amongst it all. It also helps that Joel and I have really maintained a greater consistency when it comes to discipline. They know their boundaries. Makes a difference. There is your "TIP" for tonight!

Having had an opportunity to really relax and enjoy on a recent get-away, we bonded as a fam. Now, if we can just continue to incorporate more of that mentality into our daily life... things should flow more readily. Cheers to that concept! Baby steps... Keep it all in perspective.

TIP: If you give yourself some "me-time" each day, and give your kids some time each day, you'll find you can better concentrate on the other tasks, and you'll feel more fulfilled and balanced. (Be sure to give your spouse some time too!)
A QUOTE: “Adversity precedes growth.” ~Rosemarie Rossetti 
WHIDFML: Let the laundry and other less pressing tasks go for about a week while I catch up on photos and blogging. (Much more fun anyway!) :)

Rise & Shine!

So Myla wakes up daddy one morning by tugging on his chest hairs... He opens his eyes to find her there plucking away adamantly. Her eyes meet his and she asks him, "Daddy? How come you're so hairy?" What an end to our recent vacation!

TIP: Learned this one from a friend: Roll your clothing when you pack a suitcase. I successfully packed one large suitcase for checking (which did NOT go over the weight limit), and one carry-on, both containing enough clothing and goods for 4 of us for one week! (Though 2 of the four are obviously miniature, and their clothing therefore is too. But still - not bad!)
A QUOTE: “Our spontaneous action is always the best. You cannot, with your best deliberation and heed, come so close to any question as your spontaneous glance shall bring you.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
WHIDFML: Achieved the goal of finishing all of the digital processing for my 2200+ trip photos! (I've been away for a while in order to do so. Time to catch up!)