Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Milestone Alert: We Made It!

Haha - I need to update to some pix featuring the greenage that is spreading among the yard during Spring's early arrival! Lovin' that! 

Know what else Joel and I are LOVIN' this year?? The fact that we can choose to work in the yard, or simply relax in it - - - while the girls play together within our sight - on their own!! This day has finally arrived! We have made it past the "hovering" stages, and we can now let them run free (within reason), whilst we do the same! Truly a milestone worth celebrating ~ Talk about feelin' free :)

These wonderful outdoor cushions should get a little more wear this season... and many regular yard-maintenance projects will receive their due attention as well. Man, I love he who invented the non-motorized push reel mower! Fresh air, sun, quiet (comparatively), exercise, and enjoying the yard while cutting the lawn gets two-thumbs-way-up from this outdoorsy diva!

So does swaying waywardly on a back-yard-swing on a warm summery day with some tea or a Mojito in-hand ;) Cheers!

TIP: Having kids close in age can be challenging in the beginning... But it comes with grand rewards for your extra-hard work. 
A QUOTE:"Independence is happiness." ~Susan B. Anthony
WHIDFML: Took the opp of having no grandparent day for the girls, to introduce the littlest lady to her drop-in daycare site. She had fun, and hugged the blond boy with spiked hair goodbye after 'school'. HA! I also took this opp for my quarterly massage. Did I mention I splurged on a facial as well? I earned it! ;) Delish!!

Milestone Alert: Let There Be Light!

For years now, we've taken fairly extreme measures (think dark material tacked all around the outer framing of the window to block any remaining light from entering around the edges of the shades), preventing any TRACE of daylight from entering the girls' room in the early morning. It's common for young kids to be timed with sunrise & sunset - to trigger their natural sleeping patterns. But I wasn't about to wake that early on a regular basis after the infant stages  -  and neither was big sis - who was apparently already past this stage, and has always been a late-sleeper! So we did everything in our power to prevent the uber-early rise... and it has been working pretty darn swell. 

Fast-forward to today, and it's going on approximately a week of light-exposure (lifted shade on window), that has not prompted earlier waking times!! [GLEE!] We may have crossed over into a new dimension with this. 

What prompted the desire to let in the light? Well, our hybrid camper tent-ends don't exactly filter out daylight... We're hoping we can begin to 'train' them, and avoid waking around 5:30 in the morn during all seasonal get-aways this year! 

BONUS: A more welcoming kid-room, more light filtering through the living area of the house, and we can also now open a window to let in some fresh air too! 
Cheers to all of that!

TIP: "Okay To Wake Clocks" - as can be found on Amazon.com - also aid in keeping little feet from pitter-pattering toward your bedroom in the still-too-wee-hours. Worth the $30 in assisting with this routine any day (particularly for the night-owl momma)!
A QUOTE: "Live in rooms full of light."  ~Cornelius Celsus
WHIDFML: Began walking outdoors again - wagon and kids in-tow.    Fresh. Air. 

Milestone Alert: No More Naps!

It was bitter-sweet initially, and somewhat intimidating. I mean, I was depending on those 2 hours of sleepy-time for the littlest lady each day - as that translates to work-time for mommy. But then things all fell together!
~ No napping means the littlest lady falls asleep at bedtime, and doesn't lie awake keeping the older sister in the bunk above her awake too...
~ Little sis isn't waking up early after napping the day before, and waking big sis up early too.
~ The above 2 points equate to a much more well-rested older sister each day! (Direct Bonus!)
~ They are both sleeping-in for the most-part... and waking at nearly the same time. (As close in age as they are, they share a recommended number of hours of sleep per day for their age range. Kids their ages need 12-14 hours of sleep each day; They are now both averaging 12!!)
~ No napping = smooth-flowing days!! We can plan things at any time, and not have to 'hope' she's up from her nap in time... And no rushing home from things to fit the nap in!
~ I get to fit some work-time in during her lunch, and later eves; She gets to watch her fave educational kid-shows on TPT while she eats, and I get to catch-up on work. After lunch, she happens to be fantastic about occupying herself with coloring, games, "scissoring" (they are practicing that in school!) and playing with her toys & dolls. I should have known that Little Miss Independence would work it like that - woot! Then, we have our time spent together in there too - The time of the year for this transition is especially good - since we can now really enjoy getting outside :)
I'm totally digging this new freedom-promoting, napless lifestyle!

Now... If we could just figure out how mommy can squeeze in a nap!!

TIP: Was told by a friend (who also happens to be family) that it is recommended that any sleep transition be given at least 3 days for full adjustment. It seemed just about exact! There is still that inevitable 'witching hour' - but now they both share the same mid-afternoon slump (at about the time I normally do)... At least we all get it over-with together - ha! 
A QUOTE: "Sleeping is no mean art:  for its sake one must stay awake all day."  ~Friedrich Nietzsche
WHIDFML: Got caught-up with some personal writing while awaiting my next formal writing assignment. This doesn't feel so much like a job - as I spill my overflowing mind all about ;)

New Goal: Being UN-Busy

Allow me to intro with a song that I'm particularly fond of for the verses within:
Mayberry, Rascal Flatts

When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to 'grow up'. I wanted that FREEDOM that comes with being an adult and making my own decisions. I also wanted the freedom from the 'institution' of school... (Just never motivated in the school dept.) 
Then this free-spirit found her way into a relationship that wound up making me feel 'trapped' for some years. I still had to "answer to" him in a sense (though it was subtle manipulation into what he felt was 'protecting' me from the craziness in life...and it took me some time to figure this all out.) 
Then, those issues were resolved. I "grew up" - AND - my relationship woes turned into relationship wows! Next, I entered into parenthood (willingly!) Ha! I adore my girls, and I wouldn't change it for anything... I'm grateful for their (and my) health, and the bond we share. But it IS a bit of a ball-and-chain, particularly when you're literally feeling 'chained' to them via breastfeeding without the ability to successfully pump in between.
Include in there, the subtle manipulation and expectations that ensue within extended family relationships, particularly as they evolve, as well as our go-go-go-culture in general, and I realized I had been still feeling a lacking sense of true 'freedom'.
I'm a go-getter by nature. Never been willing to simply 'settle'. I know what my heart yearns for - and I go for it - with good intent and no desire to hurt anyone else in that process. People often like to view that/ me therefore as selfish and/ or stubborn... However, it simply makes me motivated & determined (and sometimes stubborn - but I'm usually glad that I was in the end!) 
So now I'm starting to see more clearly, those things in life that mean the most to me, and those things which will ultimately win-over my instinctive desire to find some genuine source of ZEN in my life. I'm not willing to just fall into the practices of our work-crazed-society because I'm afraid I won't otherwise fit in or I'll be judged. Newsflash: All of us will be judged no matter what we do... So I say - why not do what matters to you?! Exactly. 

I barely made it to bowling this season. I just don't feel a connection with most of the girls there. I enjoy it once in a while, and I like socializing between the girls & the family of workers up there whom I feel more connected to, in fact. I've had little prods and mentions made by various members of the team on different occasions - all similar to the phrase, "You should come up to bowling more." I've been SOOO wildly tempted on a few recent occasions to ask, "Really? Why do you think so?? What am I missing out on?" Any time the games go over, everyone's bitching. They complain about how crappy it is to have this commitment on Mondays... and yet, I'm expected to be there (even though I don't bowl - unless asked to sub.) On days where my patience had been already worn particularly thin, I was even more tempted to beg the question, "Why would I want to go hang out with a group of gals who barely take notice of my presence when I am there, and who I recognize have (and clearly continue to) talk-smack about people who aren't there... when I could be at home in my sanctuary, surrounded by pristine nature, and my husband who loves me in spite of my faults and my often-no-apologies-attitude (NO "I'm sorry I don't live up to your expectations" from me!) - as well as my darling daughters who continue to grow more every second of each day??" Gee... Let me think this over. Tough choice, right? 
I've also taken the priveledge that I hold by working for myself, to establish some more straight-forward guidelines for myself & clients with regard to my 'business hours' - or hours I'm willing to make myself readily available. I don't go into Best Buy and say - "You know, it'd be a lot more convenient for me if you were open until 11pm." And so - I shouldn't feel guilty for not (nor should I be expected to) work outside of my preferred parameters. 
As a mom, I automatically inherit the challenges that come with the parenting-package... And so, I've decided to no longer give up on one of my enjoyed perks - buying dresses for my little ladies for special occasions! I let it go for a while, while beneath the cloud of a financial strain that has since passed... But now, I must embrace this right while I still can!
I don't apologize for not being near my phone at all times, simply because I can if I want to.
And finally - there is no reason to expect that we can only say 'no' to people when we have something scheduled. We can elect to revel in some non-scheduled time as a family, without the need to provide any kind of 'excuse' or 'valid' reason.
Nothing more will be done out of obligation, expectation, or a concern of judgement. (While the latter hasn't usually been a motivating factor for me, it can creep-in on rare occasions.) It's not all about everyone else's convenience. I'm willing to work with people, and meet in the middle when trying to plan things - and help people out - sure! But I'm no longer going to regress backwards from my goals due to others' expectations. I'm only willing to commit to things that mean something to me, or my nearest & dearest. There is a pretty significant difference between those lovely perceptions. And if people choose to judge me over my choice to be so free (which certainly reflects onto them as their desire to be so free)... so be it. It's entirely their prob; Not mine. They can also opt to choose more freedom in their lives. If their fear of how others might perceive them holds them back - not much I can do about it. I don't intend to hurt or 'derail' anyone else in my process... I simply want to live more simply, make a point to enjoy more free time, and make decisions accordingly. Amen!

TIP: I've learned from a wise lady in my fam that we all have a "No" - and when we must use it - we must use it - no matter the reasons. Period. I so appreciate this light being shed through her own practices of maintaining a certain amount of assertiveness! And I SO respect her for it! That's how people should feel about that.
A QUOTE (or 4!): "If you really want the key to success, start by doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing." ~Brad Szollose 
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." ~Dalai Lama
“It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion, it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who, in the midst of the world, keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes." ~Tony Blair
WHIDFML: All of the above!! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Secret Stressors

Another fab article from my regular Oprah updates via the inbox: Secret Stressors that are Affecting You More than You Know
If you read this - you might be amazed to find that many of these points are affecting you! At least that was the reality for me. I had already been in the midst of battling some noise-pollution issues in the 'hood. A squeaky house vent atop a neighbor's abode, and a squeaky windmill on another neighbor's plot... contributing to the consistent disruption of my serene sanctuary in the backyard.

In order: 
1) Sound Creep (inundated with too much noise, as noted above)
2) Not-Broke Money Anxiety (Am I doing "enough" to keep finances in check?)
3) Long-Shot Health Worries ("But what if it's....?")
4) The Rehash Hangover (Can't stop talking about what happened with a stubborn boss/ ect, etc)
5) Suburban Schlumpiness (Things starting to show signs of the times/ foreclosures/ lost businesses)

I found that I struggled with each one except #5... 
Resolutions for me:
1) Take a moment of 'quiet' to myself each day - minimum of 10 minutes. (And get those nearby, squeaky metal items lubricated!!)
2) We've learned the tools to achieve the financial goals we have. We still have to live for today as well - so that will limit our commitment to all early pay-offs. However, while both are priorities - making fond memories and exploring the world with our babes is still #1! Remembering that is key~
3) The occasional "what is this now?" worry over health can occasionally creep in... Like when I'm on overload and my brain won't function - and I can't even think about proper words to use in a casual conversation... It's likely not the early stages of Alzheimer's. But I'll still do what I can to limit the likelihood of it progressing to that, using natural means!
4) Totally guilty. I like to think things through though - and 'finish' them... So I tend to need to rehash it at least once to finalize it in my mind. I think if I limit it to one time - sharing with Joel - that can be good for my letting-go, and good for our relationship - in that we're communicating our feelings openly.
5) Meh. Not a big issue around here. Nearby on some walks, I had taken notice of some dilapidated  establishments.... but this has not been a source of stress for me.

They did leave-out one stress-trigger for me though... Am I giving enough time/ attention to my kids!?! It has been a source of stress over the years - balancing 'play time' with them - with maintaining the home, paying bills on time, running my small biz, keeping up with extended family, and all the things that life throws at you...  But, I've come to the conclusion - through people who have been brought into my life more recently, and my own children's perceptions being vocalized, that I'm doing well by this! I'm beginning to see them bloom in ways I hadn't been expecting yet - and I'm pretty darn proud of 'em. (And myself!) Here is a source of reassuring sentiment that was sent home in a recent preschool newsletter: "Plan a special time each day, even if it is only 10 minutes, when your child can depend on your undivided attention to talk, read stories, listen to music, build with blocks, take a walk, play in the sand, or whatever you like doing together." YES! Mission accomplished there (and well beyond 10 mins per day!) While I have instinctively believed that fully devoting small 'sections' of time throughout the day to playing on their levels was both meaningful, and aiding in building their confidence, self-esteem and independence, I hadn't had such confirmation of those beliefs until just now! (Aside from their demeanor and abilities, that is. But nothing quite compares to early childhood personnel telling you that slotted 'special time' each day was important - while stressing quality over quantity.) It's also good for them to learn the value of knowing you're nearby if you need them, but recognizing that adults have things to tend to in life as well - and cannot provide undivided attention ALL day long! Thank you preschool newsletter. I'm always happy to take all of the reassurances I can get! This wasn't exactly in the 'handbook' ;) There is your TIP for the day!

A QUOTE: "Children need the freedom and time to play.  Play is not a luxury.  Play is a necessity."  ~Kay Redfield Jamison
WHIDFML: Planned an upcoming vaca with the hub! 

Trust More; Analyze Less...

I'm analytical by nature. So it's particularly challenging for me not to 'over-think' most (if not every) decision I make. Some decisions are big. Others - not so much... Yet I find myself thinking through so many things on a regular basis - that I've begun to realize I'm driving myself a little insane with all of this unnecessary thought. 
Since kids entered the picture - calculate my analytical ways by double, at least. I am now thinking for 3, you see... (and as every woman knows,  sometimes 4!) So -  my brain is already on overload. Then, I can be asked a simple question, such as - "How would you like that done?" And I want to respond with - "Please, you tell me."

I'm also spiritual by nature. Rather deeply-spiritual, in fact. So I've decided to try to remedy the elongated and unnecessary thought-process I continually put myself through, by depending more highly upon my faith. As such, if you are ever in our vicinity, and you happen to hear Joel begin to make croaking sounds (as in FROG - or Fully Rely On God)... or suddenly blurt out the word "Trust" - it's not Joel going crazy, attempting to call frogs, or questioning my trust in him... He's doing his best to remind me to TRUST - - - that it'll work out the way it is meant to work out. TRUST God. TRUST my instincts. Simply - TRUST! 
I've gotta say - it's already doing wonders. My heart has prompted me, and I'm responding accordingly. Now - if I could just 'trust' that cooking a meal inside of our new camper won't prompt a grizzly to invade the tent-ends whilst we're out there in the wild later in the year... I'd be all set ;) 

TIP: Sometimes a little prayer, or a moment to let your mind finish a thought, and then become quiet - are enough to prompt a greater sense of serenity. Let's also keep in mind that 'trusting' doesn't mean 'giving up' and waiting for things to fall out of the sky to your liking. You still have to put in some effort - - and then know you've done your best to 'make it work'. The rest is up to God.
A QUOTE: "Depend upon yourself. Make your judgement trustworthy by trusting it. You can develop good judgement as you do the muscles of your body - by judicious, daily exercise. To be known as a man of sound judgement will be much in your favor." ~Grantland Rice
WHIDFML: Spent a perfectly beautiful Spring afternoon with J and the girls - just enjoying our yard, a walk by the river, a bbq together & dinner brook-side, while unwinding after a busy couple of weeks!


Soooo... Interestingly enough, I haven't had an opp to write in a while, and this particular occasion comes after another tornado dream. The difference? This one was so obvious to decipher. Joel & I were at odds in this dream, about the best place to hunker-down with the kiddos as the impending fleet of tornadoes abruptly made their way toward our locale'. He thought we should all be near this sink (?? - That piece, I have yet to decipher!) And I thought we should be down on the ground curled up together, to avoid the plethora of debris sure to come crashing through the windows above said sink. (Still don't get this sink thing - but I think it's besides the point.) All in all - we wound up on the floor. So that was a good thing. Not because I "won" the argument, but because I felt relieved and reassured that we were doing our best to protect our little people from impending doom.

I'm pretty sure this is my unconscious mind trying to work out some unresolved concerns over snakes, bears, & keeping kids safe during an upcoming vaca to snake & bear country. (That, or my intuition is warning me about another stormy season this summer.) Upon waking, I told Joel that we had better figure out the best way to prevent our snake-loving, curious little cat of a 4-year-old from approaching Rattlesnakes when we go on our camping trips this year. (Not many here in our state, though they do reside in the southern portion where we'll visit during one outing - as well as out west, where we intend to road-trip later in the year.) Between venomous snakes and grizzly bears, I'm trying to really prepare for how best to keep little feet from tip-toeing where they shant.

I was intrigued that Joel went from an initially nonchalant "Eh... Just don't worry about it..." to a concurring, "Yeah - we better buy a snake bite suction kit and some bear spray..." Thank you Amazon, for that little piece-of-mind... And, thank you subconscious mind, for urging me to seek an agreed-upon resolution!

TIP: Found the absolute PERFECT kids' book, All About Rattlesnakes (This is the updated version, though the info probably hasn't changed very much!) The best part? I found the previous version at Half-Priced Books - for $2. Woot! NOW the girlies really get how these reptiles - though fascinating - are also dangerous to people. We also picked-up a GPS with lifetime updates so we can be sure to find ourselves a nearby hospital, Heaven forbid we should need one.
A QUOTE: "All of us deserve a greater peace of mind, knowing that our children are better protected wherever they are." ~Bob Ney
WHIDFML: Joel and I sold our Babe-the-Blue-Ox-sized camper, and are patiently awaiting the arrival of the new little, simple, hybrid camper that will take its place!! Although impractical with little kids, we miss tenting. Now, this camper is the best of both worlds - with tent-end pop-outs, on a hard-sided trailer. Can't wait for more spontaneity, more outings overall, and the inclusion of cross-country road-trips!!