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I Got a Tattoo.

You’re like, “yeah, and?” I know I know. And like many of you I have two already. So it’s no biggie.

But really, it is. At least for me. I have a list of tattoos I want. Nothing big. Just some small meaningful ones. I have been wanting them for years. Years.

That’s why it’s a big thing. I did something completely for me without giving a care or thought to what anyone else thinks. That’s a huge thing to do. Admit it. Is there something you want to do so badly but buried deep in side the only reason you haven’t done it is because of a fear of what people might think?

I’m not even sure of what I was worried they would think.  Personally I could care less what people do to their own bodies so why was I so concerned with what others might think about what I did to mine?  It became one of those things that holds you back from getting what you want in life.  Whatever small it may be if you’re holding back due to a fear of what others might think you are jeopardizing your happiness.

I always consider myself my own person but there are still things that I must overcome when it comes to caring what others think.  So step by step I am.  Let me tell ya, it’s freeing, you should try it.

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What color is gender?

I went to bed with my soul hurting last night.  Hurt and confused.  Raising a gender non-conforming child is perhaps one of the hardest things a parent can deal with.  I’ve been through so much in the short 5+ years I’ve been a parent, it never seems to end, this one is up there.  I question what I do all the time as a parent.  Am I doing the right thing?  Leading them in the right direction?  Altering the direction too much or not enough?  How much do I let them lead?

Recently, shopping for clothes for my twins has been a personal struggle.  Typically, I do shopping like this without them, parents get that, but more and more I have been finding myself completely unsure of what each will like.  When my boys were born, and ever since, I have dressed them matching or at the very least coordinated.  I said I would always do that until they told me otherwise.  Pat has been good and helpful reminding me of that recently, now that the time has come.

This past weekend armed with my 30% off along with other coupons I went to Kohl’s, with both kids in tow.  I was going to let them guide the shopping process.  Michael was very excited.  Patrick can care less about clothes for the most part and will probably always be that way; I have to laugh about it.  Michael and Patrick both loved a pack of “Hatchimal” socks so we got those.  Michael also picked out a zip up pj with Elsa and Olaf (Frozen, he loves Elsa), a set of Minnie Mouse pjs that were fuzzy and soft (his words) and a pair of black jeans with sequins patches on each leg.  He was so excited and I felt good about these choices.

As we moved to the “boy” department, I was finding items and showing them to Michael and Patrick.  Patrick only liked the character items so we ended up with Mario and whole bunch of Star Wars gear, and of course the beloved Lego Ninjago pjs.  I offered, showed, and tried to coerce Michael into SOMETHING from the boys section.  No go.  I was informed every time that he does not like or want boy things.  I asked.  I did my due-diligence.   I let it be.

As with any child (or adult), Michael was very excited to wear his new gear.  The Frozen pjs went on as soon as we got home and he wanted to wear the jeans and his favorite pink kitty zip up to his Grandma’s birthday party the next day.  Michael was so excited in the morning that he was dressed and ready to go before 9:00 am.  I wish that were always the case!

To my dismay, Pat was upset.  Not with Michael but with me.  Or so he thought.  What he was really upset with was the prospect of his child being bullied.  Being “beat up” or called the derogatory “fag”.  I struggle with this thought.  Half of me wants to believe that we live in a better world than that.  That our children will be growing up in a time when all people are accepted no matter who or what they are.  I’m an optimist.  Pat is not.  He lives in the world that is not nice.  The world that will make fun of and bully someone for being different.  We balance each other in this way.

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This next part gets hard.  It is hard because your family is supposed to support you and uplift you.  Accept you for who you are.  We do not always have that support with some of our family.  I hate to say it but I was not surprised when we walked into the birthday party and Michael was quickly asked “what is that on your pants?” and I couldn’t have been prouder when Pat chimed right in and said enthusiastically that they are sparkly pants!  I love that man.

Michael’s favorite colors are pink and purple.  Everyone who knows him knows that.  He was very excited when Grandma’s cake had pink icing, as was she because my husband’s family is very boy heavy and there is just not much pink!  All of the girl’s names were being rattled off insinuating they could have pink cakes then too and Michael added he wants pink as well.  Then I heard it, “no you can have blue.”  I’m pretty sure my head lifted off my shoulders, spun around, and steam came out from my ears.  I firmly reminded this person that pink is his favorite color and he could have a pink cake if he wanted.  C’mon people!  It’s a color! A freaking color!  I want to know who it was however many years ago that decided “blue is for boys” and “pink is for girls” because I just do not understand the logic or reasoning. Mental note to research this.

After a number of other comments and conversations, not all regarding Michael, just things in general, I was so happy to leave the toxic “party” environment.  So happy we were heading to Costco where I could get some retail therapy.  That or I was going to need a drink.

The rest of the day was beautiful.  It was family, it was love, and it was everything.  All I need.  I snuggled with my sweet boy in his cozy Frozen jammies and my other sweet boy in his Ninjago jammies as we watched Frozen and I tucked in two happy 5 year olds.

But when I went to bed that night.  When I stopped to think and reflect the emotions came flowing back.  I was so upset with how our own family can be so unaccepting.  Strangers were nicer to Michael.  How do I keep this sweet child happy?  How do I protect him?  How do we know we are guiding him in the right way and doing the right things?  I almost got up to start writing down all of my thoughts but I knew I was too emotional and needed things to digest in my mind overnight.  So today I wrote and I made a counseling appointment.

 

National School Breakfast Week

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from the ever inspiring Dale Hayes in the world of childhood hunger and nutrition.  “When students are listening to their hungry stomach they are not listening to their teachers.”  This resonates.  Think about when you get hungry, so hungry that it’s all you can think about.  Imagine an 8 year old child sitting in class who didn’t have breakfast that morning, they may not have even had dinner or if they did it wasn’t much to speak of.  All they can think of is when is lunch coming.  Not because they are bored, or want to play, or just don’t want to sit in class anymore; because their little tummy will not stop grumbling and they know a full hot meal is waiting for them.

School breakfast helps to solve this problem.  Many do not realize that school breakfast is part of the lunch program.  The same one that offers free or reduced price meals to children also provides breakfast (and in some cases afterschool snack or dinner but we’ll save that for another day).  Unfortunately many schools still do not support this program.  Whether it be cost, labor, stigma, unsupportive faculty, or lack of initiative there are a host of excuses.

National School Breakfast Week allows us to thank those who work so hard to make sure no child is hungry in the morning and is ready to learn.  After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day isn’t it?  NSBW also allows us to bring focus to the work that still needs to be done.  We need to turn excuses into possibilities and help schools bring breakfast to more students on a daily basis.  The importance of breakfast has been proved time and again through an infinite number of studies, there should not be a question or a reason to why it is not available to all our children every day in our nation’s public school system.  Children in our country should not be going hungry.

For more inspiration I encourage you to watch this video:  https://vimeo.com/195810067

You can take action to make school breakfast a reality! It only takes a minute to email your governor and and urge them to support breakfast programs that help connect more kids with the meals they need: http://bit.ly/2FE1SJa

Or join me and make donations to No Kid Hungry to help their mission:  https://secure.nokidhungry.org/site/Donation2;jsessionid=00000000.app215b?df_id=14444&mfc_pref=T&14444.donation=form1&src=18XWH0000S0&_ga=2.33752865.1685853255.1520276327-691640603.1516723820&NONCE_TOKEN=B68A6AC99FBEE24A6CF8C858CC23E530

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Are you prioritizing YOU?

Women are busy.  Throw a kid or two in the mix and you have the perfect recipe for a personal tornado.  But are we doing ourselves any justice?  Are we mindful that we come first?

When I became a twin mom to two premature babies my self-prioritization went out the window.  I firmly believed that those two nuggets were the only thing I needed to focus on.  And honestly, between doctor’s appointments, pumping, moving, work, and on and on I didn’t really have much free time.  Or so I thought.

None of us truly have extra time.  I mean really?  We are busy.  Life in this century is busy and dramatically different from life 50 years ago.  Everything is constantly moving at a crazy fast pace.  However, we need to learn to prioritize.  One of my favorite quotes is from Christy Wright, “We don’t have a time problem, we have a priority problem!”  Amen sister.  Think about it, if we actually WANT to do something we are pretty good at finding the time to do it.  Take working out or going to the gym.  Not many of us WANT to do that.  It easily becomes one of those things that we simply cannot find the time for.  If we turn our mind set around and make getting that gym session in a priority we will find the time.  Make it a have-to.  Schedule it in.  Write it in your planner or on your Google calendar.  If you start the day saying “I’m going to try to get to the gym” then you won’t.  If you say “I’m going to the gym at 4:00 pm today” then you will.

I’m willing to bet most of you have heard the saying “happy wife happy life”.  Well it’s true.  If mom ain’t happy then nobody is!  But it goes a lot deeper than kids behaving and your hubby bringing home flowers.  YOU need to figure out and do what makes YOU happy.  Is it a weekly meet up with your girlfriends for coffee?  A bi-weekly  mani-pedi?  Daily gym session?  A quiet 30 minutes a day to read or do a daily devotional?  Perhaps (and most likely) it’s a combination of things.

I found that I had lost myself very easily after the twins came.  Adjusting to motherhood and where that fell in the rest of my life was rough.  As it is for most women I assume.  Then I realized I was just not taking care of myself.  When they were about 1 1/2 it hit me and I realized I needed to refocus and get back on track with a life that made me feel great, not just good.

Two things for me are working out and reading with some girlfriend time a couple times a month.  If I don’t read daily it throws me off.  I always read before bed, for around 30 minutes.  All this involves is me going to bed a little earlier.  It also helps clear my mind and gets me away from electronics for a while before I shut down for the night.  I also take my book to the boys lessons and such so I can sit and read while I wait for them.  As for working out I would love to do so seven days a week but it’s honestly more like five due to the family schedule.  I’m still good with that though!  Life is a give and take.  And I refuse to wake up earlier than I do to work out!  I’ve gone through bouts where I can’t work out regularly and boy do I know it!  I don’t sleep as well, I’m more irritable, and just don’t feel like me.  It’s amazing what a few days a week of mindful exercise can do.  It’s important to find what you love too.  I hate running.  I mean hate.  But I know a lot of people who love it so that’s their thing.  For me it’s Pure Barre, some Beachbody home workouts, weekly dance class, and occasional gym cardio sessions.  Find what works for you.  I can’t stress that enough.

So, what do you love?  What brings you peace?  What allows you to recharge and be the best you?  It can be anything!  But do something.  I promise, you will be a better wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, employee, boss, whatever roll it is you fill (and I’m sure it’s many) you will be better at it.  Stop losing yourself in your busy. In your kids. In your career.  Once you find yourself and focus on yourself you will find that you like yourself more and you are much better at wearing all those hats.

One Way I Relate to “This Is Us”

I could not even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard phrases like “wow twins, you must be busy”, “I couldn’t imagine twins”, or “they must keep you busy”.  I usually just smile politely and say yes but know it my mind that no matter what my heart is full and that’s what matters.  After all I went through to have my babies I will never ever think of anything but gratefulness and love.

I will however admit though that parenting multiples has its own set of struggles.  While watching Tuesday’s episode of This Is Us last night my heart just ached watching Mandy Moore’s character Rebecca struggle with raising her multiples because I could completely relate.

Raising little humans is hard.  Add in little humans who are the same age and you have a whole new world complications open up to you.  When your children are going through the stages of life at the same time it becomes easy to compare them, have the same expectations, and generally treat them like they are one.  It is hard to separate these two individuals and treat them differently when they are going through all the motions together.

How do I make sure each is getting their necessary amount of attention?  Am I giving them enough space to be the amazing individuals they are?  Am I empowering them to be those individuals?  Do both feel equally loved or do they feel like the other gets more attention?

Having one child with special needs has certainly compounded these thoughts.  All the times Patrick was picked up from school and Michael left behind because he had to go to therapy or Patrick getting special attention and treatment because of his needs, has this affected Michael?

I know my boys love each other fiercely and will defend the other against anyone no matter what but I do not want them resenting the other or me because I have failed to give them what they need.

Pat and I do our best to allow their personalities to shine.  To have special one on one time with each apart from the other.  We also try to help our family and friends understand that they are individuals as well with different likes and dislikes.  I know when we enter the world of elementary school a whole new obstacle course will come before us.

At the end of the day we all do our best.  We love the best we can.  We discipline the best we know.  Parenting is hard.  There is no rule book or guideline.  To top it off every circumstance and child is different.  I have to balance raising them together at the same time while also making sure they get what they need individually.  I just hope I don’t mess them up too much. 🙂

Forget Resolutions, Hello Intentions!

As we all seem to do this time of year I have started thinking about what I want to change or do in the new year.  (Which I can’t stop thinking is the year my twins will be starting Kindergarten, but more on that later I’m sure.)

What is a resolution?  By definition it is “a firm decision to do or not do something”.  In hindsight that sounds pretty firm.  So, as the ball drops on NYE we all exclaim excitedly “I’m going to do this!”  Within a month or so most of these resolutions have dropped as far as the post feed on Facebook.

I have had one, yes ONE, resolution survive past the first quarter of a new year and still continue to this day.  That resolution was to wash off my makeup every night before bed, no matter what.  But, was it the resolution that created this long term habit or something else?

It’s no secret that habits take repeating.  Most sources will agree that it takes about 21 days for a habit to take hold (or be broken).  In order for those 21 days to be successful you must be intentional.  Ah, yes, there it is.  And here’s another definition-Intentions:  a thing intended, an aim or plan.  I like the sound of that so much more.

I want to be intentional when I do things.  I want them to have a reason and a purpose.  I don’t want to do something just because I’ve made a “promise” to myself that is supposed to be ironclad.  This is why so many resolutions fall to the wayside.  We have to understand the the purpose and desire to achieve whatever goals we have set for ourselves.  We must be intentional about what we do and why.

I think I have my list of intentions figured out:

  • Learn to crochet.  (I tried self-teaching via YouTube videos to no avail so I’ve decided to take some classes.)
  • Read more.  I currently average 1-2 books per month depending on the size but my intention is to up that 3-4 (or more, who knows!).
  • And of course, everyone’s go to-be healthier.  I don’t feel like I do a horrible job at this but my PCOS and Lupron injections work against me making it very discouraging at times.  I want to be intentional about working harder and finding ways to work around my obstacles.

So there it is.  I’m ditching resolutions and replacing with intentions.  What are your intentions for 2018?  I’d love to hear!

 

 

 

 

Why me God?

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Last night as I was laying in bed trying to go to sleep I had a quick reflection of my life’s journey to parenthood and as a parent.  I started wondering if it all was some sort of cruel joke.

It’s not a secret we struggled to get pregnant and needed IVF to conceive.  But let’s recap the rest:

  • High risk pregnancy that led to pre-term labor at 26 weeks.
  • Our twins were born via emergency c-section at 31 weeks spending 5 weeks in the NICU.
  • Can we say doctor’s appointments?
  • Michael had two heart surgeries before 6 months of age leading to a permanent heart defect.
  • Patrick had Tortocollis that required many months of therapy.
  • At 14 months the twins needed tubes in their ears after hearing tests discovered they were not hearing well at all.
  • Both boys needed speech therapy by 20 months due to obvious significant delays.
  • Just over two years of age we were on the path to discovering Patrick’s Autistic Tendencies and Sensory Processing Disorder.
  • At three they needed another set of tubes and their adenoids out.
  • Patrick has been in and out of Speech and Occupational Therapy his entire life.
  • Michael has been continuing to show signs of being Gender Creative/Expansive meaning he tends to present as a female in his interests and dress preferences.

I’m sure there are other nuances in there that I have left out but you get the jist.  All of these added together could make me want to shrivel into a ball and hide in my bed.  I could be angry, so angry.  Why me?  But yet.  Why me?  Why am I so blessed?  Why was I chosen to have such amazing, challenging, and rewarding children?

Has it been easy?  God no.  Will it get easier?  Oh heck no.  What it does do is challenge me on a daily basis.  Challenges me to think outside the box.  To be an advocate and ally for my children.  Challenges me to educate the world.

I refuse to ever let my children feel they are less than they are.  They may be different, and different can be amazing.  It is amazing.  They will know that they are loved, cherished, and supported.  They will always know that they have a safe haven in the arms of their mom and dad.  We will love and support them for who they are and who they become.

So yes, why me God?  Why was I chosen to have these two special humans in my care?  I am grateful.  I am blessed beyond words.