Hey you, Snow!

Dear Snow,dear snow

Hey snow. I’ve been watching you from the window all winter. You have created quite a mess out there and I’ve cursed at you, under my breath, when you’ve caused my car to get stuck in the driveway.
You’ve made a prisoner out of me this year. I’m captive in the comfort of this structure of walls. All the while, you sparkle and glisten out there in the open space. You have the sun shining down on you and yet, you remain perfectly intact.
Well, not for long snow. As I watched you glisten from my window as the sun was rising this morning, I heard you. You called my name. But not the name Michelle; you called me Elly. The nickname my brother and sisters called me when we were kids.
Then, I remembered, snow. I remembered how much I used to love you. There was a time when your arrival was the most spectacular time of the year.
When you came, you brought snow days. We got to miss school and bundled up, if only, to cover ourselves with you. We had so much fun together, snow. You are one of my oldest friends. My childhood companion; We made so many great memories together.
Hey snow, do you remember the time when my brother rolled you up, packed you into giant balls and threw you as hard as he could at my face? It hurt so bad I almost cried. Do you remember? I got him back though, didn’t I?
How about all the times we took empty ice cream buckets, and packed them up full of you. We made the most remarkable igloos. We would hide out inside of them. They were safe havens during a snowball fight.
We enjoyed you while using our Snoopy Snow Cone maker too. We poured in the colorful flavors and made you taste so good!
Oh snow, how did I forget? I can hear us laughing now. My little sisters, smaller versions of them, running and screaming, frantically, as huge balls of snow zoomed past their heads.
My brother, as the only boy of four sisters, telling me that I had to be his brother because he didn’t have any. I took a lot of beatings playing football in the snow with the neighborhood boys.
You softened the fall, snow, when a game of two-hand-touch turned into our neighbor friend, Rob, plowing into my shins to tackle me, causing me to fly 3 ft in the air, and land directly on my back.
I had the wind knocked out of me, but if you weren’t there, blanketing the earth, it could have been much worse. Thank you for saving me snow.
It’s true.  We’ve all grown up snow. The smaller versions of us are bigger now. The gang of kids we once were, have gone our separate ways now.
With age, we have grown bitter with you and it’s sad, but true snow, you can be a nuisance.
We’ve been on some great adventures as “grown ups”. I’ve even been to the other side of the world and back.
But thank you for reminding me that at one time, the world was only as big as our home and our backyard.
You are a beautiful nuisance.
I do have something to tell you, my dear friend, snow. You don’t have to keep beckoning me anymore. I heard you call me, loud and clear and, I remember now.
I have good news for you too. Even though “Elly” grew up, and learned to hate you, today is a new day. Elly grew up to have two kids of her own. Those kids have been her greatest adventure yet.

Let me tell you, snow, my kids have been pleading to go out to meet you this year. You’ve already met Ashley, but you haven’t met my baby, Jackson.
Today, snow, I’m going to bundle them up, just as my mom did for me, and you’re going to get a proper introduction.
Yes, snow. You have been sitting pretty in our backyard for far too long, perfectly untouched; perfectly intact.
I heard you calling my name. It’s time for you to meet my family.


You’ll be seeing more of them lately. Have no fear. I love you snow. And, I know my kids are going to love you too.
They will get older, as time passes. They will forget how much they once loved you, and grow bitter with you one day too. But the circle of life will continue, snow.
Don’t get discouraged, though. I know how you will miss them, just as you have missed me. One day they will be introducing you to their own children too.

I won’t let them forget.

Love Always,
Elly

Been busy…

one cup love one ounce timeMy car got stuck at the end of the driveway again.  This is the 2nd time this winter so far, which is a lot for me….considering that I haven’t gotten out much this year.  I pulled the parking brake up and left it there.  There’s not much I can do about it right now because I had my 1-year-old with me and a gallon a milk I had just picked up for him from the store (daddy is at work).

I figured since it’s raining today that it would be easier to get around since the snow is turning to slush, but that theory must not apply to someone who needs two new front tires.  I was slipping and sliding all over that driveway.

It felt like one of those cheap rides that cost a penny at the grocery store or toy store.  You know, they’re also in little sections of the mall (only they cost way more than a penny there).  My Jeep (that’s not a 4×4) would move forward a little, sort of tilt, and then move back again.  I think my son enjoyed the ride.

Anyways, so I wanted to say that I’ve been pretty busy lately.  My kids, as usual, keep me on my toes daily, but we all got hit with some winter sickness that lasted weeks.  Finally, we’ve pretty much recovered.  Hopefully that bug stays away from us for the rest of the winter (fingers crossed).  Also, I started a new blog a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a blog to represent my love for photography, cooking and baking. So, basically, it’s a food blog.

Let me just say this.  That blog is proving to be more of a challenge than this one ever was.  I love doing it though.  I mean, I love food and I love to cook and bake anyways, so it’s fun sharing recipes.  I have also come to discover how much I really love photography.  I’m saving up for a nice camera and I can’t wait to get one.  It’s really neat how you can bring out the creative side of you that you maybe never knew about.  I am aware that I can be creative, but I never knew I could be with food photography until I gave it a shot.

You see, it never hurts to try something new, huh?  Imagine all of the things you haven’t tried that you may be really great at.  Something to think about I should say.

Well, I just wanted to post an update.  Oh, if you get a chance you should come take a look at the new blog.  It’s at acupofthat.com (also a WordPress blog).  It’s where you can see more of the picture I added to this post.  I’m working on building new website through WordPress.org that’s already hosted, but that’s going to take some time, considering the fact that I have no clue how to code.  One thing you should know about me though is, when I want to do something, I will learn how to do it.  I’ve been teaching myself and I’ve learned a lot already.

I can’t wait to get all this work done.  Since the family is feeling better again, hopefully I’ll have some time to post more here.  Inspiration is a fickle thing when a virus comes to town.

Bits of the Aftermath

Bits of the aftermathWhen I was in elementary school, there was a fire.  Our house burned down completely.  All that was left was a pile of ruble and some bits of the room in the back of the house where the cellar was.

It was the creepy part of the house actually.  The part of the house we were afraid of as kids.

I believe I was in 1st grade when this happened.  We lost everything.

I have mixed, random memories of this event.  Well, I was in school when it happened but I do have memories of my grandparents picking us up from school and telling us that we no longer had a home; That we would all be staying with them for a while.

They drove us by the house to prove it, and as I watched in awe as the black smoke danced and twirled its way up into the clear blue sky, I remember wondering where our dog Roger was.

Roger didn’t make it.  My memories of that dog are few, but the memory encompassing the upset of that discovery is vivid. I also remember that we had named him Roger because we loved Roger Rabbit.

My grandparents house had a small building next to it the size of a shed.  This building contained an open room with a bed on one side and a bathroom on the other side of it.  This is where we stayed after the house burned down.  All 7 of us.

It’s weird to think of that now.  How we all crammed in that little space together and coexisted there for that time.  When you’re a kid, things like that can seem like an adventure.  Like a camping trip.  Something new and out of the ordinary.  That’s a good thing, the blissful ignorance of childhood.

Some nice people in the town collected money and everyone pitched in to buy us a mobile home.  They placed it on the land that was previously adorned with our house.  We lived there, all 7 of us, for a couple of years until my parents purchased a new home closer to where my dad worked.

When I returned to school, I walked into my classroom and was greeted by compassion and empathy.  My desk was surrounded by bags full of toys and clothes.  Everyone had pitched in to give us anything they could.  Everyone was eager to help.

I remember standing there in shock and unable to move.  I was so overwhelmed that I burst into tears. I was surrounded and attacked with hugs.  It was my first lesson for a lot of things.  Compassion, empathy, sympathy, sorrow, loss, unity, sincere thankfulness…and hope.

The remaining ruble of what once was our home became a playground for us.  We would climb the bits of brick and shout from atop the aftermath of an event that had surely caused my parents great heartache.

To us, the ruble and brick was a castle.  A great prop to an imaginary kingdom.  We could be princesses in that castle.  We could be kings.  We could be strong, brave knights.

The bit of aftermath was a great fortress too.  We could hide from our imaginary enemies.  We could climb to the highest part of the fortress and proclaim that we had conquered it.  We could state that we had won.

With the bits of the aftermath, we could be anything.  As long as we could dream and laugh and play.

Time later concealed the remains of those bits of aftermath.  Eventually, grass and earth covered the ruble and created a small hill.  The slate of land was clean and fresh again.  Renewed for a new beginning.

I hope to never forget that.

 

Give it Up, Girl

Give It Up

I’m going to have to admit it.  I’ve been stuck in the house for 8 days now.  Let’s make this clear.  Eight days in the house with my two kids, who also haven’t left this house for 8 days.

Can we say, stir crazy? Or cabin fever maybe? Or oh my goodness, we are going crazy?!

Anyhow, I let it get the best of me today.  I have been getting irritable.  Partially because the kids are getting bored and irritable, and partially because I am too.

You know what I have realized tonight though?  Aside from the mess that gets cleaned up and messed up and cleaned up again (on a daily basis), I really, really, love my family.  They are awesome.  The best, really.

Even though Ashley acts as if she is starved for attention most of the time (because I have dedicated so much attention entirely to her for so long), she is such a sweetheart.  You would not believe the thoughtful things she does, all on her own.

When Ryan works, she asks me when he will be home.  If I say that he should be home soon, she immediately climbs the bookshelf, picks out two of his books, and places them on the arm of the chair he loves to sit in.

She says, “I’m going to do something just for Ryan.”

It is so sweet, and really considerate and thoughtful.

Jackson, well even though he’s only almost a year and a half old, he’s very demanding. Actually, lately he has been REALLY attached to me.  I’m not sure if this is what all little boys do at this age, or if it’s because he’s been stuck indoors with me for eight days straight, but it’s really crazy how attached he is lately.

He can be very forceful and aggressive when he wants me to do something for him.  For example, if I’m in the kitchen trying to cook, he’ll come up and push me as hard as he can, until I acknowledge him.  Then, when I do, he’ll grab my hand and lead me to a place he wants to go.  It’s usually the bathroom tub or sink, because he LOVES playing with water.

But, you know what?  That little boy is so sweet too.  He comes to me because he knows that I’m the one who gives him the things he wants.  He comes to me when he’s hungry or thirsty.  He leads me to the kitchen and points to the faucet for a drink.  Even though he isn’t as vocal as my daughter was at that age, he uses his little, mighty and forceful strength, to tell me what he needs.  I love him for that.

Now, as for Ryan.  My poor sweetheart has felt a bit of the wrath of me the past couple days.  I have been so emotional.  I need some fresh air, some sunlight.  Well, air that isn’t -50 degrees and sunlight that isn’t just a reflection off the blaring 8 feet of snow.

I started to get crabby about the sink that was filling with dishes after I had everything cleaned up and he began to rant in argument and I realized that it was all so pointless.

I mean, really? What the heck are we doing?  Do I really want to spend an hour arguing about some stupid dishes and spend an entire evening and night angry about it? No…and as a matter of fact, NEVER.

Sometimes you just have realize what’s going on.  What’s really going on and why it’s going on, I mean.  We have been cooped up and let’s be honest.  If you barricade the exits and trap anything in a cage, it’s going to go a little crazy before it gives up and rests.

So, I spent a little time going crazy…and now it’s time to give up and rest.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I understand why you used to threaten to throw all of our toys away when we were kids.  We thought it was unfair and ridiculous, but I see it clearly now.  I understand why you expected us to help with the chores. 

Sometimes, it’s just too much for one woman to handle.  I’m beginning to think that maybe you were the Asian Superwoman.

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I get it now. Even though we had a ton of toys, you still continued to buy us the new ones because we just had to have them. I understand because even though my kids have mountains of things, we continue to add more things.

The proof that mountains can grow is in each of their rooms.

In fact, it has now gone beyond their rooms.  There is even a mountain of toys that started growing in front of the bathroom door today.

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These kids are small, but mighty mom. You should be so proud. They moved those there all by themselves today. I had them neatly put away in Jackson’s new toy box.

I’m amazed how easily these children move mountains. They do it so quickly and so effortlessly.

Much more quickly than I was, when I spent hours putting everything away only days before.

I have been working on getting Ashley to start helping by cleaning up her own room. Take a look at what a great job she did.

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She says this is clean because before she pushed the mountains of toys against walls, I couldn’t even walk through the door and get to the bed.

So mom, I understand now. Perhaps it took me 32 years, but you can write that one off of your list.

Love,
Your daughter Michelle

10 Things to do During a Snow Storm

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It’s winter in the Midwest! We’ve been watching the news a lot lately to figure out just how much snow we can expect in our area of the state and to put it simply, it’s not looking good.

We didn’t make a mad rush to the grocery store to fill up 10 carts of milk and bread or anything, but Ryan did make a stop there on the way home from work for onions.

This is what he reported:

“The store shelves and produce were pretty bare. The only onions they had were white onions and there was no bread, at all.”

Oh my dear goodness! What can that possibly mean?

White onions must be the least favorite type of onion in America.

The kids and I get pretty bored when we are stuck in the house for days so I have put together a list of 10 things to do if we get snowed in.

1. Redecorate your walls (you may be staring at them a lot while you’re stuck indoors). I went ahead and took down a shelf and put up a picture gallery, with the help of my honey.20140104-194602.jpg

2. Try a new recipe, like this authentic Filipino dish. Chicken Adobo.

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Take a few pieces of chicken, pork, or beef (I usually use chicken because it’s the kids fav) and cook over medium heat in a frying pan or wok. Add fresh minced garlic (or garlic powder) and onions sliced or diced, it’s up to you. Dabble in some soy sauce and cover pan with lid and let it all cook together. Should be done in 20 to 30 minutes (or until chicken is cooked). In the meantime, make some white rice. I use a rice cooker, but if you don’t have one, follow the directions on packaging for cooking rice on the stove. Pour chicken adobo over rice in a bowl and dinner is served. It’s so tasty too. I haven’t met a single person that doesn’t love it.

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3.  Organize the Clutter.

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If your family is like mine, you know that areas that were once in perfect order can easily become over cluttered.  Take a look in those drawers and clear out what you don’t need.  Being trapped indoors is the perfect time to organize areas like book shelves and put random papers and folders where they belong.

4.  Work on some DIY projects.

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Get creative and start working on those DIY projects you’ve been dreaming you had the time to do! I did a couple of Shadowbox frame projects to add to my picture wall, but you can work on whatever you want.

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5.  Clean, Polish, & Disinfect.  Make everything sparkle.

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Okay so maybe your house looks clean already, but it could always be cleaner right? How about taking this time to break out the items you may not use every day, like the wood furniture polish. Go ahead and bust out those disinfectants too and sanitize everything. What better time for this than during a winter snowstorm (and cold and flu season, I might add)?

6.  Play with your kids.

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If you have wished you had more time to play with your kids, now you do. If the snowstorm has made it impossible to leave the house and get to work, look at it as a free pass for some quality family play time. Work hard, play hard right?

7. Learn something new.

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Today I used the resources I had to learn how to use Open Office Writer. There’s no better time to surf the web or thumb through books to teach yourself how to do something new.

8. Pamper yourself a little.

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Yes. I’m a mother of two Pre-K kids and I wash a lot of dishes. Can you tell? I swear I just painted those things a couple of days ago and already, they are ready for some TLC. Take a little time for yourself if you can. Take a bath, moisturize that dry winter skin, take a nap, or for goodness sake paint those nails!

9. Read something.

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It’s rare that I get a chance to sit down to read a magazine (aside from the waiting room of my kids Doctor office, between chasing them of course). Being cooped up inside leaves plenty of time for chores, organization, play time and even a little left for some leisurely reading. Enjoy it while you can!

10. Love, laugh, smile, and hug. A LOT.

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Take some time to love on your main squeeze. Being stuck in the same place with the same people for days can irritate anyone, but instead of bickering, snuggle instead. Who would you rather be stuck indoors with during a blizzard?  You’re probably looking right at them. Enjoy your family, and the love of your life.

Stay warm Midwest folks!

Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

Wear your heart on your sleeve
Many of us have heard the phrase, “Wear your heart on your sleeve”, but what exactly does that mean?

I have my own ideas about the definition of this phrase and it is based on describing many of my closest friends, and even myself as well.  This is probably why we are so close.

It basically refers to people who put themselves out there. They expose their true self to those around them. They have a hard time pretending to be someone else. They struggle with hiding their feelings. They do not feel it is necessary in all situations.

If they are upset, it is evident. Even when they are not open about their disenchantment, it is clearly written all over their face.  They don’t expect anyone to take it personal, because they wouldn’t if it were the other way around.  They realize the world and the people in it does not revolve around them.

If they are happy, everyone knows it. They exude happiness and it rubs off on others. They love to spread the joy.

When something is on their mind, they speak up. When they need advice, they ask for it. Usually though, they just need to talk about it.

They do not like to burden others or bring anyone down, but discussion is therapeutic to them.  This is why they are good listeners as well.  They understand the concept behind this.

When they love, they do so with all their might. They are considerate; even to the point of failing to consider themselves and their own needs in certain situations.

They put others first and themselves, last. They are typically selfless people. They can adapt to having less for themselves if it benefits someone they love in some way.

They are generous, giving people. They would give you a bigger portion of food and deal with less, even if they are left hungry. They would use their last dime to drive over to comfort someone in a time of need.

They see that they are full in other ways. Having peace of mind that your belly is full is what satisfies them. This makes these type of people happy, even if they are still a little hungry.

They are comforted by the fact that they could be there for you in your time of need, even if there was nothing in it for them.

This is because they are loyal, true friends and companions. Among the best a person could ask for, if given the opportunity.

Sadly, these little sacrifices usually go unnoticed. At times, what once was a quality that was appreciated, is now expected. Sometimes, it is even taken advantage of.

People tend to forget to feel grateful for the considerate and selflessness of these actions, regardless of how big or small they are. Not everyone will reciprocate this type of treatment.

All of this is not surprising though.  We live in a society that encourages individuality, and judgement has gone viral.

We are told to think of ourselves before others. We are told to do what makes us happy because if we are not happy, then how can we make anyone else happy.  We are told to weed out those who seem negative and to only surround ourselves with those we feel are positive.

Think about that though. When someone who wears their heart (their emotions) on their sleeve asks you to lend your ear as they express something that has upset them, many will decide that this person is negative.

They will cut them out of their life completely.  It sounds somewhat harsh and cruel if you ask me.  That is, of course, if the other person meant no harm.

Some call them blunt, others call them cold-hearted.  That is because they typically don’t sugar-coat anything. They are realist; They are raw, they call it how they see it and they never mean to offend.  If you were to oppose they would listen and value your opinion as well.

They are open-minded. They are aware that others may have a different perspective or beliefs, and they embrace those differences, whether they agree or not.  It usually does not change the way they treat you.  Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and thoughts.  They understand that one persons feelings, opinions, or beliefs do not hold more value than another persons feelings, opinions, or beliefs.

What matters most to them is to keep their own self-image intact. They do not react out of spite or to prove a point, but they stand by their own values just as others do as well.  They respect others rules, beliefs and values, but they will not subject themselves to partake in those if it makes them uncomfortable in any way.

An example of this:  If one had a friend that was anti-gay marriage, would you invite a friend who you knew was pro-gay marriage to attend an anti-gay marriage rally?  If you did invite that pro-gay friend to such an event, would you be upset that they declined?  I doubt it, because you should have known better.  Everyone is entitled to their own values, but you should never expect others to change their own values, even if you feel your values are better in some way.

You can respect and value another person and their values without having to sacrifice your own by conforming.  The fact that you can still be a friend to someone with viewpoints or beliefs on the opposite spectrum is proof of this.

Being so mutable and accepting of the human race and all their flaws, difference of values, and being open-minded can create problems though, because others may expect them to conform. This is because they are so adaptable and accommodating. Boundaries can easily become crossed.

This type of person is told to be political about things. That is peculiar because aren’t politicians generally thought of in a negative light for being dishonest and selfish?  That seems to be the consensus I have seen in regards to many politicians lately, yet that is not to say that all feel this way.

The bottom line is though, that sometimes the most misunderstood people are actually some of the most caring and kind people, if people would actually take the time to get to know them.  And sometimes, those that seem to be the most wonderful people can actually turn out to be just the opposite deep down.

I feel like people avoid getting close to those who wear their heart on their sleeve because it makes them uncomfortable.  No one likes to be put on the spot.  People fear judgement, even if they judge others themselves.  Many are more comfortable living an existence full of relationships that are only “surface relationships”.  Many don’t care to have deeper, more meaningful relationships because it scares them.  Exposing yourself can make you feel vulnerable, and most shy away from that.

What I want to say to those of you that do live life with your heart on your sleeve is, please don’t change.  Do not let others put you down.  Do not allow them to change who you are.  Don’t allow them to take advantage of your adaptability and open-mindedness and definitely don’t allow anyone to take away from who you are in any way.

Please don’t allow the judgements or the decisions of others taint you in any negative way either.  For example, if you feel someone is negative all the time because they are always coming to you with their problems, you are only tainting your own spirit with negativity by shunning this person instead of trying to help them by being there for them.  As long as this person is not harming you in any way and has good intentions, they deserve your help.  If you cannot help, they at least deserve an open ear.

It just seems to me, that it is very selfish to expect that everyone around you should be pleasant and in a great mood all the time.  It is absurd to expect that the world should revolve around you as well.  Realize that there are always going to be things that others don’t favor in you as well, yet they tolerate it and they treat you no differently.

I do believe that there is a time and place for such discussions.  If you are having a bad day, particular social settings may not be favorable for sharing your feelings or expressing your anger over a particular issue or problem.  It is always a good idea to be mindful of others in that aspect, even if you mean no harm.  At times, you must learn that you must put on a pleasant face for others and that should not be considered being fake because you are doing it for those people.

You can pull someone aside individually if you really need to speak up or answer honestly that you just aren’t having the best day and state that you don’t mean to offend.

The point of all this is though, that you can wear your heart on your sleeve, if that’s who you are, but realize that not everyone will like the color of your shirt. It is a great quality to have, especially once you have learned to balance this quality and apply it with that knowledge.  Although you may have a heart of gold, some will only pay attention to the color of the shirt you wore that day.

 

The Jack-in-the-Box

JackintheboxI wonder, at times, if one ever gets to the point of feeling as though they have been around forever.

To me, it feels as if I’m always astonished at how fast each year has gone by. Like one day I am making plans and setting goals for the new year and the next, I’m spending the day after Christmas getting rid of all the mess that Christmas left behind.

The bows, the empty boxes, the bits of wrapping paper, and the crumbs of edible goodies that were satisfactorily enjoyed by all.

The remains of celebration, family togetherness, and joy. The untainted, pure delight of happy children, wide-eyed with smiles that hold more truth than most things this world contains. The evidence of an event we had all been looking forward to all year.

Assembling new toys for the kids and struggling to find or create space for them; Space that is only imaginary now. Space that once seemed infinite. When the place was empty, before love and family moved in and filled every nook and cranny with the evidence of our existence.

I wonder if there will ever be a time when the days just seem to slow down. A day when I’ll feel like everything is done; Like all is well and my job is complete…if even for a single day.

Routine is just that, routine…but they say change is constant. Perhaps the only thing that really changes is the face staring back at you when you look in the mirror. The children that once were so small you could cradle them in one arm, who will eventually outgrow you. The loved ones that pass, leaving an aching void in your heart and home that can never be filled.

At times, I imagine myself in this box. There is this giant hand that I can see from the window as it winds a handle on the side of that box. It grips the handle tight, winding until the handle clicks, which causes all the commotion and growth in that box. When this giant winds it up, we move around in that box.

I wake up and make breakfast for the kids. I clean up. I entertain and we continue to do as we do until the box handle stops. We go to bed and rest up for our next day of motion and life, when the box handle winds up to a click again.

Sometimes I am able to pop out of this box. Things aren’t so predictable then because it’s always random; It’s always a surprise.

I explore the world outside of the box. I meet new people, make new friends, catch up with old friends, and exhaust myself, in every way possible, as much as possible. Then it ends. The giant hand pushes down on me, and down into the box I go, until the next time I spontaneously rise to the surface again.

Eventually, after days and days of living this existence in this box, the box itself, becomes worn. We are worn and ragged inside as well.

I wonder, at times, if the days will seem to slow then. When the vibrancy of life and love has subdued with age and loss. The loss of youth, of children who have grown and gone, and the loss of those we loved the most.

Is it then, and only then, that I will feel like all is well and my job is complete? Perhaps, it is only time that will tell.

The Silence & Time

The Silence & TimeSometimes I feel like the room is spinning.  The noise of my daughter’s Littlest Pet Shop YouTube videos playing on the TV, the sound of Baby Genius songs blaring from the Laptop, Ryan singing Christmas songs using the wrong words to amuse the kids, and himself…and me, with a million things on my mind, in the midst of it all.

Every five minutes, my daughter asks me for something and every 10 minutes my son latches on to my leg, desperately screaming for me to pick him up. He grabs for my hand to lead me upstairs to let him play with water in the bathroom sink.

Every morning, after the kids are fed I clean up the mess from the night before.  The dishes from dinner and breakfast, the toys scattered across the floor.  Clothes from the six outfits my daughter had tried on the previous day to wear for an hour, that later ended up in some room, on some floor.  Crayons and markers with caps missing, dried up and useless from being left out all night.

The shoes.  So many shoes.  Shoes in every room, in closets, under beds, behind couches and chairs and on the stairs.  Eight feet reside in this house and we have enough shoes to supply a small village.  We trip over them and get angry.  Then we continue walking, leaving them behind to trip over them again and again.

Where are the socks?  I have no idea.

Strange pieces of what could have possibly once been a bagel or toast on my daughters movie shelf; Only discovered when my baby boy walked up munching on it.  Random bits of noodle stuck to his leg. The case of the missing sugar cookie solved when he is found in a corner, silently chewing up his sugary discovery.

I’m beginning to think he knows what he’s doing.  That he stored those treats away, like a squirrel stashes nuts away for winter.  Where did those things come from?

My 7 minute showers interrupted by little hands with even smaller fingers, poking through the crack under the bathroom door.  Little fists against wood… pounding, pounding, pounding until my 5-year-old decides to open the bathroom door and they both come crashing in excitedly, trying to push each other aside to get ahead of the other.

They pull the shower curtain open and start undressing to join me.  Eyes filled with joy with only the prospect of a shower or bath with mommy;  Exuding the same level of excitement they would attain from chasing after an ice cream truck on a hot, summer day.

I hurry to finish, wrap up in a towel, turn the shower into a bath and let them bathe…as I sit on the toilet with the seat covered to supervise; Dripping wet and cold, with only the thought of how I almost made it through an entire shower without them this time.  I decide every time that the next time I’ll be quicker.

The trips to the store.  Ashley dancing through the isles, eager to find something she can ask for when she promised she wouldn’t.  Jackson standing up in the cart every chance he gets, wondering why he can’t wander around to walk just as his big sister does.  Strangers who are shopping, stopping to look at things with their carts left in the center of the isles and their bodies blocking the spaces next to it.  It’s a very dis-pleasurable experience, grocery shopping.

Sometimes we get a chance to be alone.  I shut things off when no one else is home.  It gets so quiet in here that I don’t know what to do with myself.

Ryan sits with his notebook and writes lists and lists of things down.  His notebook, which is one of a thousand.  Stacks and stacks of Ryan’s notebooks, in closets, on shelves, on the floor by chairs and beds, and in the car.  Notebooks, notebooks and notebooks… everywhere.

Where are the pens?  I have no idea.

The silence.  Then and only then, it makes me ache for the noise of the children screaming.  It beckons me to wish for sounds of the kids playing, or to hear them laughing.

The time.  The time then, leaves me lost with feelings of no direction.  No child asking me for something.  No tug-of-war over a toy to break up.  No one to take care of.

When they are gone, only silence and time is left behind.  Silence we choose to not fill, and time we don’t use effectively.  Instead we just are…as if we have no other purpose.

Behind the Camera

Image

Alright, here we go. Here I am! For those of you who may be thinking, whoa!? Why is this woman posting this collage of herself? Is she starved for attention? Is she full of herself?

Well, the answer is no and no. I am critical of myself just like all of you other ladies. When I look in the mirror, I see all of my faults.  The reflection of the person looking back at me, is likely not the same person others see when they look at me.

The fact is, I’m just sick of being the woman behind the camera.  The one who never appears to have been part of any memorable moments.

In 3 days I will officially be a year older, and I have come to realize some things this year in terms of aging.  You see, I’m a mother of two youthful, beautiful children.  They have changed my perspective on life in a lot of ways.

I have so many friends who are so critical of their looks that it saddens me.  When I look at them, I don’t see what they see.  I think they are still youthful and beautiful.  They don’t like having their picture taken because they feel too fat, or too ugly.

I see all these comments in social media sites like Facebook where people (mainly women) are putting down those who post pics of themselves on their page.  We identity these pics as “selfies” and that term has been associated with negativity.

Come on ladies!  I realize there are, in fact, those people out there who need that sort of attention and validation from others, but there are those that do not as well.  If a 500 LB woman posted pictures of herself similar to the ones I have posted above, what would you think?  My guess is that we would be happy that she is confident enough to do that.  It’s funny how our thoughts can change based one particular persons appearance.

I know many people saw the article posted in the Huffington Post (because the post circulated around Facebook) about a mom who decided, that despite her self-image insecurities, that she would make a point to include herself in photographs for the sake of her kids.  There was someone on Facebook recently who had a relative pass away.  When they were going through her photographs looking for ones of her for the funeral showing, they couldn’t find any.

 

It is clear that many women avoid pictures because of insecurities regarding their self-image.  It is clear that many women avoid posting pictures of themselves on social media websites because they don’t want to be “that girl”- the one who is narcissistic because she posted a “selfie”.

One thing I have come realize over the years is that there aren’t a whole lot of men who run around ready to snap photos and capture moments worth remembering.  I noticed when looking through my daughters old photos that I was not in many of them.  Even now, I have so many pictures of my daughter and my baby boy and I’m running out of memory on all my gadgets.

My point is that I am the photographer in my world.  I’m the one who thinks to whip out the camera or the phone to capture moments.  That’s why I haven’t been in many of those pictures.  I was always the person behind the camera.  So, unless you want to start harassing the man in your life to start taking pictures of you, the kids, or you and the kids together, you are going to have to continue taking them yourself.

This is why I have decided that I won’t be afraid anymore.  I won’t be that person who lives in fear of those who will think negatively about me for having posted a picture of myself on a social media site.  I won’t be ashamed because there’s nothing wrong with it.  Even having posted the pictures above really makes me nervous, but in reality…why should I be?

It’s just me.  I’m fully clothed and those photos are head-shots and there is nothing risqué about them.  Some day, I imagine that my children are going to collect all the photographs of me to keep for themselves.  I want to make sure they have plenty to remember me by.

Sure, right now it’s easy to notice every little thing wrong with the way we look, but some day we may wish we could turn back the clock.  Someday, when I’m old and gray…I hope to look at those pictures of myself and remember how youthful and lively I was.  And, when I’m older, my hair has turned gray, and my skin has wrinkled, I doubt these pictures will make me think about how horrible I looked when I was in my thirties.