Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weathering the Storm

It's been a tough week for people in lots of places and it's getting harder and harder for me to watch the news.  Every time they show kids reuniting with their parents after the terrifying ordeal, screaming for their moms, I choke up and can't talk.  Xavi looks at the tears leaking out of my eyes and he does this "pat pat pat" without really knowing what is going on with crazy ol mom.  Being a mom makes me so vulnerable...and I can't stand it.  I hate that feeling of not being in control (HA!) and I don't like feeling what may be perceived as weakness.  I am, however, learning that vulnerability does NOT make us weak but actually allows us to connect, to love, and to be wholly loved.  Ugh.  I still don't like it.  But I'll still take being a mom and being this vulnerable to any other alternative.  I pray that I'll never have to weather a storm like those families have in Oklahoma and other places around our country...and if we do, i hope I have the grace to come through as many of them have.
see story below

Some days here i feel a lot less than grace-full with a lot less stress, relatively speaking.  Oh-there is stress and some times it feels like my ears are going to start bleeding and I really want to yell "SHUT UP!" at the top of my lungs...see what I mean? NOT grace-full.  But I don't (unless you count going into the bathroom and muttering four letter words into the towels I'm "re hanging").
Alfie's had it rough too. He keeps getting stuck in the "muck" and any puddle around.

In the last four, five days now, either Xavi or Nico has had a fever, been extra needy, and/or just feels like crap.  Nico's poor gums are so swollen and it looks like they'll pop through any day.  Xavi was sick for a few days and still isn't 100%, but he's stressed with some of the upcoming changes we've been talking about and now has canker sores in his mouth.  ugh.  definitely not a EF-5 tornado but the noise in my head sure resembles one.  When things are like this I just have the hardest time engaging...all I want to do is "numb" out (watch TV, read a book, facebook again, do anything except pay attention to the crying and constant whining/needing around me).  isn't that terrible?  But when I realize what I'm doing  and re-engage, it's kind of amazing how things slow down again and everyone needs LESS not more.

It also turns out that the kids are very in tune with my energy and as I amp up, stress out, or even "control" my anxiety...they feel it and they react in kind.  Gosh.  That is a hard pill to swallow since I know that I've been nervous for our upcoming reunion with papa..which has definitely affected my whole house.  I really wanted to enjoy the last few days together with my boys, to celebrate what we've just come through, and frankly, it's just been quite miserable.  I did have a moment last night however when I went outside to put the stroller away, lock the gate.  I remembered the night 7 months ago that Mario left me in tears at the front gate.  I remembered him looking back at me with the adorable boyish look that he can have while saying "I'll be back before you know it babe.  It's going to go so fast."  I didn't believe him at the time and some days it didn't feel very fast. I missed him but at the same time, I got used to him being gone (which is scary in itself as I ponder what that all means...).  My eyes welled up with tears, feeling pride at what we've just come through and feeling anxious for what's yet to come.

The exciting homecoming and resultant changes will be a bit stressful...for everyone.  He goes from being a bachelor who has been sleeping and eating in peace to hearing the crying/screaming that currently is our life.  I go from wearing the pants, making decisions, and being the sole comforter in chief to sharing, giving up control, and sharing (for more info on my potential issues with sharing, read past blogs about "Xavi's issue" with sharing or see above my need for control).  Xavi needs to see where he is fits in with papa around to share mom and Nico is wondering who in the world this handsome guy is. I know this is not unique to our family.  Every military family goes through this after a deployment.  There are pamphlets, support sessions, and get away weekends to help families work through it all.  I am thankful for that support but in the end, no one can get in there, get dirty, and weather this storm for us.  A friend of mine shared a song he wrote and in it he sings
                      "I want to hold your hand...and through this storm our love will stand...
                       The roof might not make it through the night...but I know our love will be alright.
                        I am ready...I am willing."

Thanks for your prayers and love.  I hope we don't lose the roof but more importantly, I hope this storm will pass in its due time and with mercy.

*My Xavi is so he is re-enacting a Thomas and friends story where a couple of naughty trucks crash into the special lightening tree.  Thomas and his friends work hard to save the lightening tree by holding it up until they can prop it up with proper support.  Here they are holding up the "lightening tree"and working together.  I've come across these trucks in similar postures at the base of other structures as well...I smile seeing it since I know what he is doing and I love it!  When he "crashes into the buffers" and the buffers are his brother...I don't love that as much.  oh well...I guess I'll take it as long as I can catch little Nico in time.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Walking on Sunshine...Nico's growing up

Nico is 8 months old today and it hardly seems possible that so much time has gone by.  He is preparing to walk (gulp), throwing balls, pulling up on everything, following brother around, and in general being a busy boy.  

He charges around our tiny cottage going from toy to toy, but especially into Xavi's room to "play" with his trains and train table whenever brother is not looking.  Today I picked him up three times and carried him out to keep him safe...Xavi is, to say the least, very defensive of his trains.  But he was determined to get in there and wreak havoc on the's just the right height I guess.  
Xavi's treasured Garbage truck..

Our neighbor's awesome laid back Zeus...didn't even flinch

heehee...I know I'm not supposed to be here

Watching from a safe distance with mom by my side

The last few days he's been clapping and then smiling, so proud of himself.  It must be that he learned how to clap by hearing me clap the sports cheer "let's go" as loud as I could whenever both of them were crying and I didn't know what else to do?  It's adorable.  
He loves swimming class on Tuesdays and kicks and splashes for the entire 30 minutes.  It's the about the only time that I have alone with Nico so I treasure the few minutes of uninterrupted quality time. 

In our little pool, getting "baptized" by Elodie and Xavi

Poor baby does cringe when Xavi comes around and sometimes he drops the toy he has in his hands.  I can tell he's learned his lesson after getting shoved a few times, or having things swiped out of his hands, or just having his brother's yelling mouth in his face.  I feel so bad but I really don't know what else to do.  It happens so fast and I am usually sitting right there.  Now I'm hyper vigilant (exhausting)trying to anticipate a shove before it comes and never leaving them alone anywhere.  Someday though...he'll be big enough to "fight" back.  Yikes.  
In my defense, he wasn't on his head when i first started to take the photo...

 I don't have the words to explain what it does to my heart when he turns to me, beams with his perfect little face, eyes lighting up at the sight of me.  Just thinking about it warms my whole body and makes me feel like all is right in the world.  

And when he wants mama...he doesn't sit and cry for me to pick him up.  He finds me, crawls right up to me and up my leg.  And I squeeze him to my heart...he is my little sunshine.
Save some for the bunnies 

He loves his little perch...on mama's (ahem) chest

I can't resist this face...mama's sunshine

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Arena (and Life) Awaits

Life is full of tough days, hard times, and potential regrets.  A life well lived that is.

As I write and yearn for my bed (I'm currently in between beds, literally on and off all night long...believe it or not, the musical beds has helped with getting longer blocks of sleep...whatever works right?), I wanted to post something and reached into my day for some inspiration.  All in all, it was a day being a mama of a toddler (2.5 to be precise) and an on the go infant.  I am tired.  But I did get to read during nap time...and this quote brings me back to the center of it all.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..."

-Theodore Roosevelt

At my best, I've chosen to live in the arena and depending on whose perspective is being expressed, I've known both high achievement and absolute failure.  This mama gig kicks my butt regularly and some nights, I think that I just can't do it again.  But there is no winning or losing here and everyday I somehow find the courage to get back in there.  Regardless of how the books say it should be, or how other mamas say it should be, or what bystanders watching me ringside think I should do...I know that I'm all in, giving all I have (and then some), and learning to love me for having the courage to do so.  

I was reminded of this in a small, insignificant, silly way as we were walking down to the beach...I saw a woman driving her gianormous SUV up the hill (too fast), waving her arms at me, and mouthing with an angry twist to her mouth "YOUR DOG!!".  I knew what she was talking about...Diego had gotten the leash stuck between his hind legs and was walking/being dragged backwards by yours truly.  While I appreciated her concern for the welfare of my dog, I knew quite a bit more about what was going on than she did or thought I did.  I happened to be navigating my double BOB stroller with one hand, while holding my precious 2.5 year olds hand with the other WHILST crossing a cross street (and watching traffic to ensure no one was heading our way).  Diego was attached to the stroller by his leash and was relatively speaking JUST FINE.  I fixed him as soon as we were safely past the street crossing, back on the sidewalk but there was no way I was going to put my whole family in jeopardy of some texting idiot driver to fix Diego's leash.  

 I got this, lady.  And anyone else who might observe and judge from their safe seats ringside. "did you see that wicked woman? waltzing across the street dragging her poor little doggie...I never" If you want to get down and dirty with me inside the arena, or commiserate about your mama/papa experiences...fine.  in the end though I know that it is me that has to answer the tough questions at the end of the day...from me.  And that I can answer wholeheartedly is all that matters.  I doesn't mean that I get it right every time, every day...I just am daring to live and learn together with my kids...and get everyone to the beach safely.  Just focus on living your life and driving safely.  Please.  In turn, I promise to be too busy and comfortable in my own arena to judge you in yours (and your huge luxury SUV).  Hee hee, at least that's the goal.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Spring" Break Midwest Style (aka SNOW break)

Here are the highlights of our March trip to the frozen tundra.  Warning:  Mostly a Lot of photos from our trip with family...

First flight with two babies by myself?  I give myself an A for effort, C for execution (TOO MUCH SHTUFF), and an A for overall outstanding behavior (the kids were pretty good too).  Although I did notice that my jaw hurt pretty bad from clenching so hard and I am pretty sure I went hours without a full breath...sigh.  Maybe someday I'll be able to carry on again when traveling (and take a nap or have a drink in a cup without a lid or watch the movie or read my book).  
IPad snacks and trains = lifesavers

This one squirmed the entire trip and did a bit of screaming because I wouldn't let him crawl under seats

I actually sat on the floor in front of the seats to let him sit by himself for's a wonder I didn't get stuck!  

New friends at MSP

Xavi loves to watch the airplanes come and go

Hmmm...what does mom have in here?

"OK Nico...when it's our turn you have to get your snack bag and go down the aisle...OK?"

Getting Outside? The first few days were the worst...once he got the hang of it all, he was a bit less miserable. But I mean for a kid that hates to wear a diaper let alone clothes plus jacket, snow pants, socks, boots, mitten, hat...he was none too pleased.  Nico...well he did a bit better but he did have a comfy place to ride.

Xavi found a puddle to play in after all

And he got good at walking through deep snow to see...


Carrots and apples...every day, twice a day.  

Sick and/or snowy...the ponies whinnied when they saw us coming.

A winter wonderland...and some little stroller tracks from the mama engine that could

Not feeling great but snug in blanket and stroller for quick horsie check.
I think this was actually the first day of spring...ugh.

  Cousin time!  Rachie, Gramma, Owen, Gabby, and Liam came to see us.  Xavi loved playing with his cousins and practicing wrestling moves.  There was something special about watching Xavi play with his cousins, his family...different than with friends or kids at the park.  I had this gut reaction that my kids HAD to know their cousins, their family...I want us to live closer to family.  Guess I am glad we aren't going to Guam or Hawaii after all...We'll still have to travel but it's well worth the TMJ problems.
Big cousin Owen was such a great sport

So was Gabby!

Liam and Nico, born just 7 weeks apart...were "fast friends" and both fascinated with their images on the IPad...notice the paparazzo in the background.
Both trying to get Nico and Liam playing with the IPad

getting acquainted during tummy time...Nico keep trying to taste Liam.  Hmmm...maybe that's how we all got sick?

3 Monkeys in a row...just missing Gramma Momma

Playing and Sharing! his precious trains...Xavi shows Owen some of his collection

Sick time! We all got sick for the last week of our stay reminded me of all the other times we came to WI in the winter...fevers, coughs, hours in the rocker...but this time there were two!  Poor babies!

Grampa Time!  Mom still had to be at work every day but Dad was home quite a bit.  Nico and Grampa were quite the buddies...he woke up extra early to go hang out with Grampa in the kitchen in his special Bumbo chair.  Grampa just kept handing him his toys while keeping knives etc out of reach...Mama got to get a few extra minutes of sleep.  Thank the LORD!! When has that ever happened before?  HA!  Xavi even got to go sledding with Grampa...but it wasn't at killer hill this time.

Stealing kisses...I mean, who hasn't done this?

Playing trains over Grampa's Hands

We'll definitely have to come back...when it warms up and we can swim, go to the zoo, have bonfires, and play outside.  See you then Gramma and Grampa!