Nemo

Nemo.  Not quite the funny clown fish from the movie anymore, is he?  We will probably all remember him as the little orange bastard who snowed us in the weekend before Valentine’s Day. I’m going to rename this blog Our Year of Natural Disasters.  What is up with Mother Nature?  I suppose the East Coast had it coming to us.  Historically, we have enjoyed very few catastrophic phenomena. The West Coast has fires, land slides, and earthquakes.  The Midwest has tornadoes.  The South has hurricanes.  In the past two years, our area has had an earthquake, a hurricane, a few tornadoes, and some crazy winter storms. It’s like we are getting the crap kicked out of us by one nasty weather pattern after the next.  Luckily, winter storm Nemo wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
Yes, we endured almost three feet of snow, but we never lost power or cable and therefore, we were snug and happy with our movies, TV and heat (in order of necessity).  We found lots to do: making lasagna, shoveling, baking cookies, shoveling, eating ice cream made from snow and more shoveling.  After about three hours of shoveling, my husband came in and said he needed a break.  It went something like, “Ugh, I’m spent, can I get a sandwich over here on the couch?”  After a little while, I hinted sweetly that I’d like him to help me with the kids.  That went something like, “Yo! It’s not like I’ve been sitting on my ass all day, time to get back in the game, dude!”  It’s a good thing he gets my sense of humor… or does he?  After my adorable quip, he challenged me to shovel a little and see how taxing it is (read: harder than running after the kids).  Ahhh dear sir, I accept with pleasure.  I think he was shocked by how quickly I threw on his snow pants and galloped out the door.
What’s that?  I am going to get some time outside, by myself, to exercise a little and enjoy the sun?  Peace!  And that’s what I did.  I shoveled between the two cars in the driveway, unearthed one and cleaned it off.  As I was getting to the part of the driveway behind the other car, to my delighted surprise, my neighbor walked over with his snowblower.  State Farm’s got nothing on this guy!!  Without a word, he simply removed all of the snow left behind the car!  Someone’s got a heaping pile of baked goods coming his way tomorrow.
All in all, I think I shoveled 90 cubic feet of snow.  That’s a rough estimate that should mean virtually nothing to everyone reading, but it means something to me.  It’s a personal victory.  I wasn’t sure that I’d have the strength to shovel three shovel-fulls, let alone the hundreds I must have disposed of.  I figured my weakened pectoral muscles wouldn’t allow me to rise up to my husband’s challenge.  But booyah, they did!  Truly, it’s my forearms and my back that are feeling the brunt of it now (yes, I know that my back pain is an indication of my poor form.  I swear I was bending with my legs, but I’m no pro here).  Although I am now on the couch with a glass of wine in front of the fire and typing is somewhat excruciating, I feel incredibly strong.  Take that, Mother Nature (and you too, my dear)!

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Confidence

It’s a funny thing, confidence. It comes in so many different forms, even in just one person.  Confidence in yourself can be comprised of confidence in your body, your mind, your spirit, your skills, your abilities.  The list goes on.
I suppose I’ve always felt that I am a confident person. I never felt the need to go with the group if they were doing something I didn’t want to do. I know my values, stick to them and think I make good decisions (for the most part). On the flip side, I lack confidence in different ways than I used to and it often gets me down.  My parenting skills (or a seemingly lack thereof on some days), my intellect (or lack thereof on most days), and my ability to multi-task or manage time has really plummeted of late.
I didn’t love my body in my youth, but I didn’t hide it in shame either.  It wasn’t until I became a mother that I truly marveled at the abilities of my own body. When I think about another human growing inside of me and then morphing into a little person who is talking back to me everyday, I can’t help but feel wowed by the human form and everything it can do.  Thinking about it from a Darwinist or scientific point of view, our bodies can adapt and overcome so much from creating life to living without limbs. I’m often awestruck when I look at myself in the mirror now.  Not because of how much my body has gone through and the scars there to prove it, but more shocking to me is the fact that I feel more confident about it with its many flaws.  I like my boobs with 16 inches of scar better than before my double mastectomy.  Sure, it doesn’t exactly look natural without nipples and placed atop my chest like two bowling balls, but it beats them hanging down to my ankles.
It’s a shame that teenagers or people in their early 20s don’t feel better about their bodies. Ahhh, age is so wasted on the youth.  Things sag, droop, scar, flatten or seem to bubble over and out as our bodies get older and lose their ability to bounce back from childbirth, weight gain, and, well… life.  Even the lines etched on our faces and the grays sprouting like chia pets out of our scalps seem to duplicate at exponential rates as years pass.  With this particular aspect of my own self-confidence, I can stare back at my reflection and see that I earned those lines from laughing and crying.  Those grays are itching to start peeking out from stress and worry.  Those muffin tops and saddle bags are there from my kids and from fun, if not glutinous, times with family and friends.  My body is evidence of a life well lived and I’m certain that’s why I respect it now more than ever.

Boundaries

Do you remember the scene from Jurassic Park when the T-Rex is breathing against the round glass window of the kitchen door?  It’s a heart-pounding, anxiety-filled moment where you think, “the door’s closed, no opposable thumbs, there’s no way….” and the handle turns.  Oh shit!  That is exactly how I felt this morning.  The little one, at 17 months, figured out how to open the door to our bedroom.  Oh shit is right!
Our usual routine in the morning begins by allowing the girls to watch a little TV as we muster up enough energy to throw our legs over the side of the bed and actually step onto the floor.  The girls won’t sit still and watch their programs, so we typically close all the doors in our room so that they’re safe in our range of sight while we pry our lids open. I hate mornings. So imagine my horror when I saw her run for my door, stand up on her tip-toes and grab the handle.  I thought, “No way, she can’t do it yet.”  She looked back at me over her shoulder with that adorable, mischievous smile she’s had since her first poopy diaper, and pulled the door open.  Then my little Prefontaine ran down the hall and I swear I could hear George Michael’s “Freedom” blasting inside my ear drums.  Ugh!  This little chicky needs boundaries and I’m going to start by locking the door.
In actuality, everyone needs boundaries.  It’s my job as a parent to set them for my kids, just as my parents did for me and my siblings.  I’m going to have to cater to each girl’s very different personality in order to set appropriate boundaries for each of them.  I never had to worry about my big one climbing up on boxes, steps, chairs, I find myself in unfamiliar territory re-baby-proofing for my little one.  The big one never opened the kitchen cabinets.  She wasn’t interested.  I have locks on the cabinets with knifes and sharp objects, but now my pots and pans need to be locked away too.  As always, I look to my parents for examples on how to do this fairly.  Yet, I distinctly remember one older brother telling my parents it wasn’t fair that he had a curfew when the other brother did not.  My parents simply said, “We know that when he gets tired, he’s going to put his little head down wherever he is and go to sleep.  You, on the other hand, will party all night and then get sick from lack of rest.  We will see you at midnight.”
As I extrapolate further, I see that I need to set boundaries for myself too.  I am a classic over-sharer.  No need for truth serum here, I would sing like a canary if cross examined.  I probably overstep the bounds of appropriate conversation quite frequently turning my attempt at honesty into making others uncomfortable.  I find myself telling almost complete strangers about my boobs.  Sure, I’m trying to spread awareness, but I’m pretty sure my mailman just wanted to give me a letter.

365 Days of Gratitude

I recently saw a blank journal for purchase; it was entitled 365 Reasons I’m Grateful This Year.  There was a space for each day of the year.  What an awesome way to teach my kids what it means to be grateful.  But then it occurred to me… maybe I need that journal too? It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday monotony or drudgery of life, but I bet I could find at least one thing to be grateful for each day (and if nothing else, I can be grateful for two little people everyday).
It’s no small coincidence that I happened to see this journal while I was on my way home from my appointment with the breast surgeon last week. You only need one cancer scare to feel an abundance of gratitude every time you walk away with a good report.  I saw her one month post-op and now this time, about 4 months post-op.  For the next two years, I will go back every six months for her to feel around and make sure I don’t have any suspicious lumps.  Then it will be a yearly check.  No mammograms ever again (another thing for which to be grateful).
At first I was a little intimidated thinking of 31 things I could jot down for the month of January, but with a renewed feeling of positivity after my great appointment, I thought I’m going to give this a shot.  So here it goes.  I’m grateful for (in no particular order):
1.  My kids – duh
2.  My husband – although he’s now spending more time at work and studying for the GMATs than with me, I know why he’s doing it and he’s got our very best interests at heart all the time (but ummmm babe, I’m on the second Fifty Shades, so scurry on home and take a break from the computer, thanks)
3.  Fifty Shades of Grey – this needs an honorable mention.  Although it is written so poorly and I feel dumber with each page that goes by, it is highly entertaining!  We will leave it at that.  (ps. no, I’m not a perv, the real kinky stuff is blah to me)
4.  My family – meaning my parents, siblings, their spouses and their kids, and my in-laws.  Their help and support is overwhelming and I often feel my trite words don’t do enough to express my gratitude.  But here they are in the gratitude “journal”, so that should suffice, right?
5.  My new boobs – they rock…. are rock hard right now, but I still love them (even if they can no longer enjoy the nipple action that sexy bitch gets in Fifty Shades)
6.  My surgeons – they are amazing!  From their bedside manner to their skill in the OR and after.
7.  Clorox wipes – with so much poop in the tub, they make my job a lot easier
8.  Laura Mercier – I finally found a lip gloss/stain that I like, that is SPF15 and doesn’t feel like I’m an old lady or have wax caked on my lips – it smells good too
9.  Random Conversation – both with friends and overheard at a coffee shop (I kid you not, this lady just practically screamed, “BJs, we’re all about the BJs.”  and I truly do not think she meant it like we are all thinking she meant it.  It is taking everything in me to not snarf my latte right now)
10.  Lattes – my lifeline
11.  My babysitter – when I took the big one to school this morning with the little one tagging along with us, she folded a mountain sized pile of laundry that I had done yesterday and then played with the little one when we got home so I am getting a half hour to myself at the coffee shop right now.  She makes my life so much easier (special shout out to the huz for working hard enough so that I can have her around.  I feel spoiled but grateful).
12.  Vacation – we haven’t taken one yet this year, but we will and I cannot wait.  I’m also grateful that my parents are having lots of vacation time (and this year I’m able to feel said gratitude in large part thanks to #11 above).  They need time off too (from what, I have no idea?  just kidding)
13.  BRCA testing – reasoning is obvious
14.  Lil Mamas – this almost launched website based on a closed Facebook group that my friend started is amazing and a place to vent when you just can’t do it anywhere else, a place to ask “friends” for advice and not feel judged, and a place to lend support to other moms who are ready to lose their shit everyday, it’s a constant comfort knowing we’re not alone
15.  My iPhone – putting everything at my fingertips so easily and helping me capture the little moments that make up my day (or my life really), keeping me in touch with people so quickly and easily, entertaining my kids when we’re out and about and they’re about to freak. (#15. a. the hope that my best friend will finally get one when her cell contract is up in February so she can finally lose her beeper or StarTac flip phone that has kept me from more constant contact and seeing pics of her adorable boys)
16.  Driving alone – because Mommy likes to break it down and pretend I’m good at singing in the car
17.  Pitbull and FloRida (please note that is NOT pitbulls and Florida, big difference)
18.  Cover-up – this should really be on a list of the things that the people who have to look at me are thankful for
19.  Your Baby Can videos (see previous post)
20.  Saturday office hours at the pediatrician – the little one has another ear infection and since the office was open, she was seen and we are able to give her medicine and nip it in the bud before she was really uncomfortable or even got a fever – major score!
21.  Older siblings teaching younger siblings – especially at 3 and 1, the big girl is an expert on the world according to herself and her sister.  As they both looked out the window the other day, the big girl said to the little, “Yeah, the outside is a world!”
22.  Funny shit kids say – I really get a kick out of the big girl saying TO her daddy with an appreciative hug and an endearing smile, “You are my little girl!”
23.  Pinterest – I just love it, it could take up a spot for everyday on this journal… this is my year of gratitude for Pinterest… nerd alert!
24.  Sleeping in (or really, my husband) – I love sleep, I don’t get it that much, but my husband will take the girls downstairs at 7:30am every weekend so that I can catch a few more minutes/hours (depending on what’s going on that day or their mood).  Soooooo grateful for that. (and a lot of times, I come down and they’re making pancakes and bacon too… who’s better than that guy?  I should really stop complaining about him working too much during the week, but …. I probably won’t)
25.  Not high beaming – this is a perk of not having nipples when it is so bitterly cold.  In high school, one of my friends told me that her “nipples were so hard from the cold, they could cut glass.”  sounds painful.
26.  My friend’s husband, the tree guy – another crazy storm hit the area and thousands were without power and my parents lost three enormous trees.  He cut our trees back the week before Hurricane Sandy and we didn’t have a single limb fall then nor during this storm.
27.  Power
28.  Shazam – I was in a store recently and there was a great song on the radio, I had no idea what it was.  Thanks to this app, I found out the song and have been rocking out to it ever since (Dancing Song by In Search of Elusive Little Comets – they need a way better name for this band)
29.  Real Simple – specifically the January issue featuring an article about being a grown woman and having a fear of being home alone – thank you Real Simple for the validation
30.  Cocoa Butter – it smells so good and moisturizes so well
31.  Friends – old, new, whatever and especially Mom friends who provide an ear for whining and their kids for entertainment
I did it!!!  Check back at the end of February to see if I can do it again (thankfully February is a short month).