ten things I love about you: pato

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Last weekend, I took Pato out for a special valentines date. He had decided he wanted to go on a dessert date, which pretty means show you that my kid knows me very well-- I'm all about the desserts.

"We can go anywhere you want!" I said. I named a bunch of places that I (selfishly) thought we (I) would want to go to, and he responded with, "I know! DUNKIN DONUTS!"


I did my best to do that "I'm smiling real big but I hate that" face and was like, "YOU GOT IT BUDDY!" So, we went to Dunkin Donuts. After seeing that I wasn't going to eat a donut, he took mercy on my soul and we went out for the SECOND part of our date for some dessert pizza. Phew. Crisis averted.

But, even though my boy has a love for doughnuts that I can't quite match, I would do anything or go anywhere for my Pato. I have been falling in love with him over and over since the day he was born. And since I know one day he will be totally grossed out by my outward proclamations of love, I am squeezing in as much as I can before that day comes.

So, here you go.

Ten things I am loving about my pato today. Right now.

He is a cuddler extraordinaire. He is always down to cuddle and gosh I love it so much. Especially when he says, "Mama, can I cuddle with you??

He is so bright and loves to learn! I love catching him reading to himself.

I love this Star Wars phase that we're in. You could ask about  *any* character, major or minor, and he can probably name it for you.

When I pick him up from school, he runs right into my arms. It's one of the highlights of my day.

I love his sensitive heart.

He's a great big brother to Oscar, and when they're not fighting, a wonderful younger brother to Sof.

His dance moves. They.are.so.great. He just goes with it!

I love the way he checks out his hair in the mornings. He will always remind us to brush it before we go anywhere, and he likes it done just right.

That wonky-tooth smile is giving me a million heart-eyes over here.

Lastly, one thing I love about Pato is that he is so easy to love. He makes me feel like I'm doing okay at this mothering job. He truly doesn't ask for much more than just to be loved.

To the moon and back, P. xoxo

10 Reasons Every Parent Should Go to Disneyland Without Kids (Even Once!)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to go to Disneyland with some of my fellow mama friends, and truth be told, I wasn't so sure what to expect! The weeks before the trip, I kept debating whether I would even tell my kids where I was heading (I could just say "California," right??) but keeping it from them just didn't sit well with me because I knew they'd find out eventually. So, I sat them down and told them, expecting some wailing and maybe a few tears. To my utter surprise, my big kids were both champs, and the promise of souvenirs helped soften the blow :) 

Disneyland is a place that I've loved ever since I was little. I always remembered my dad would enjoy taking my family here, and I think it was because he could see how happy it made me and my brothers. There is something really magical about seeing things through your kids' eyes. Being a parent, I totally get that now. With that said, I've never been to Disneyland with just a group of friends, and before we left, I thought, "Will it really be as much fun as when I was a kid?" And the answer is yes! A million times yes. 

So, I've compiled a list of ten reasons why every parent should try Disneyland without kids!

1. How cute are those balloons? How cute are the collectable pins? How cute is every dang thing there?! Well, when you don't have the kids with you, let's just say it's a whole lot easier to walk past the gift shops!

2. (Most of the time) your friends won't be (too) embarrassed to take pictures with you ;) After the second picture with my kids, it's basically like standing next to a group of monkeys hopped up on candy. 

3. You can choose which characters you really want to see, and don't have to worry about hunting anyone down. I actually was pleasantly surprised at how sweet the characters were with both kids and adults alike. I'll also add that one of my children is super afraid of "characters" so it was also really nice not having to be constantly vigilant and ducking every time one came into sight! 

4. THE FOOD! I could eat anything I wanted and didn't have to worry about someone grabbing it out of my hand or licking it and basically claiming it for themselves.

5. There was something super liberating about not having to carry around a bunch of stuff around for my kids. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I turn into a human garbage can slash "dumping ground" for stuff when we're out with our kids. I just had my small back pack of things and hopped in and out of the rides easily. And better yet, no worries about pushing around a stroller!

6. Waiting in line was a breeze! We were pretty lucky because we didn't have to wait in a ton of lines,  (thank you fast passes!) and none that were super long. But, any time we did it didn't feel long because we would just chat that time away. I'll admit that the waiting in lines with my kids part of Disney is what makes me most anxious. 

7. You can go on any ride you want! Last time we went to Disney, I don't know that we even made it onto Space Mountain because we were too busy going on all the little kid rides (not saying those aren't fun--I love It's a Small World about as much as I love any other ride).

8. Two words: bathroom breaks. No getting out of the line two minutes before you're about to hop on a ride because someone can't hold it another minute and is doing the potty dance in front of you and everyone else in line!

9. You can go as early as you'd like and stay as late you'd like, too!

10. Because YOU can take a turn being the kid! I seriously had so much fun at each and every turn. Main Street looked and smelled magical. The Matterhorn left me a little spooked! And those first couple of drops on Pirates of the Caribbean made my stomach drop a little even though I knew they were coming. 

So, if you're thinking you're too old to still enjoy Disney like a kid, I'd say think again :)

when sometimes love doesn't feel like enough

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

So...I've had a few experiences this last week where I've seen other moms struggling, daring to be open about their situations and share what's on their heart. I would sit there thinking, "Wow. I've felt those feelings, too." And I know how lonely it can feel when you think you're the only one going through it. I feel like I often write about the good things, the easy things. Because there really is a whole lot of it. But, the truth is, this mothering gig is the most rewarding thing I've ever done, but also the hardest and soul-crushing thing, too. There are certainly moments where I just sit on the crumb-covered floor and just sit. I shut my eyes and take a second to just.be.me.  For a second, I have to let myself just be me and separate myself from the mom I am the other 86399 other seconds of the day.

So, here's what I'm going to be open about.

I know I'm one heck of a mother. My kids couldn't go somewhere else and find more love than what I try to pour out to them every single day. I try to make them a hot breakfast as often as I can. I sit down and play round after round of games that I'd be happy to never look at for the rest of my life. I soak little clothes trying to get stains out. I volunteer at school because I know it makes my girl feel safe. I sit there and watch tricks repeated over and over again. "Mom! Did you see that?! Watch me!"

I know that I'm enough.

But, sometimes, love doesn't feel like its enough. 

I love all three of my children equally. I still don't know how it works mathematically, when I only have one heart and they each have 100% of it, but it's one of the magical things of life. Most times, I feel like I'm more than enough for Pato. He doesn't ask for much. Just let him tell you about Star Wars or basketball and you're gold. Oscar just wants hugs, attention, and food.

My Sof, though. She's trickier.

Sometimes being her mom makes me want to run away.

She always wants to be with the people she loves, and doesn't understand when I say mommy needs a little space. Whatever she's doing, she wants to do it with someone. And I hate saying no to her because I know this time with her at home is short, and next year she'll be in school all day and I know I'l have moments where I'll miss her. She's demanding of my time and my attention. And when I say no, I feel like she has no problem letting me know how I've let her down. 

She has so many feelings, and they're all big. It's truly one of the things that I love most about her, and has me convinced that this life of hers has a specific purpose and she will change lives. When she's happy, you can't help but feel it, too. When she's sad, her whole body is sad, and you want to move mountains to make her happy again. She's the same with all of her feelings, and I'm afraid she'd be a terrible poker player.  But, keeping up with all her feelings leaves me emotionally and physically drained.

She has strong opinions, and will already tell me when she thinks I'm wrong. Which feels like a lot. Sometimes, being her mother is like being on a treadmill. Just when I am able to keep a steady pace, she pushes me to the next level. And I'm running and running, begging my legs to keep up. "Don't fall. Don't fall." I tell myself. 

More often than not, I can scramble and find the pause button. Yet, once in a while, I stumble and fall so hard. It's then when I find myself going to a hard place, and I sit and cry and think, "She deserves so much better than me." For a brief a second, I consider how much happier she'd be with another mom. One who was more patient, more creative, could maybe actually draw more than a stick figure, and wouldn't care so much about shoes on the floor or an unmade bed.

But, Sof, you're outta luck, girl. Because you're stuck with me. So, everyday, I will keep choosing to hop on that treadmill. I will jump on there happily one day, and perhaps more tentatively the next. I will hit the pause button over and over again, and I will wipe out, too. But, I will never.stop.geting.back.on.

Because at the end of the day, love will always be enough after all.

hitting the re-start button at 4pm

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Because sometimes it's 4:00 PM, and everyone is a little cranky, and baby brother won't stop chasing you with a lightsaber, and you just need a chocolate brownie custard to re-start your day (even when its actually almost close to dinner.) 

Also- I can't even handle all these faces Oscar makes.

And yes, this totally ruined their dinner.

resolutions and a cup of tea

Late last year, I had a very good friend come visit us from out of state. During a late night talk, I had one of those "ah-ha" moments that quietly change your life. One of those moments you can look back on, and pinpoint a very real change in your being.

I walked away from the conversation with two new ideas. Ones that shouldn't be difficult to understand, but for me, things that are still very hard to put into practice.

1. It's not your job to make people happy. Tied to this is the simple fact that you're just not going to be everyone's cup of tea. As someone who in the past has felt like she needs to be everyone's cup of tea (and doing everything I could-- even changing what flavor I was to do so) this was a hard fact that I'm still trying to come to grips with. Furthermore, I'm learning to be okay with that. Because changing my flavor from person to person was leaving me exhausted.

2. The second thing I came away learning is that it's perfectly okay to say no. It's perfectly okay to follow my truth, and do what brings peace and joy into my life. (This doesn't mean trampling on other people along the way, of course.) I often find myself asking myself, "Does this bring me peace? Does it bring my family joy?" And if saying "no" is what does so, I'm trying to do that.

Which now leads me to two resolutions I've made for the new year. Last year my goal was to read a certain amount, and it felt so good when I surpassed my goal. This year, I'd like to have the same goal, but I'm doubling the number. Mind you, I was starting small! The second goal I have for myself is to strengthen the relationships that build me up. I'm an awful texter, and an even worse phone-person. I don't always follow up with a family member or a friend nearly as often as I'd like. But I want to do better this year. Reach out more. Listen more. See more. Stop more. Listen more. Ask more. Be available more.

And I guess the unofficial third goal is a whole lot more cuddles with my babies :)

Reading List for Early Fluent Readers

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

You know when you say something, and immediately think, "Wait, did I actually just say that?"

We were in the middle of the get-ready-for-school rush, and I was reminding the kids to make sure their backpacks were ready and was on time nine out of fifteen of asking them to please put their shoes on. I found Pato walking around the house with his nose in a book, and I said, "Pato! Please stop reading!"

It immediately took me back to those times I would sneak under the covers with a flashlight and a book because I desperately wanted to know what happened next in the story, but I was supposed to be asleep. 

Kinda felt like one of those "full circle" moments.

Anyway-- I've been trying to find books series that would be challenging enough for my kids to read on their own, but also have stories that didn't go way over their heads or turn them into serial killers. The people of Instagram came to my rescue, and I was able to compile a good list of series and some non-series books as well. I was asked by numerous people to share the list, so here ya go! (Quite a few of these were recommend numerous times, so I'm hoping they're good!)

Nate the Great series by Marjorie W. Sharmat
Ramona series by Beverly Cleary
Ivy & Bean series by Annie Barrows
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
 Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald
Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew series by Carolyn Keene
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel
Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minaret
Pete the Cat series by Kimberly and James Dean
Pedro, First Grade Hero by Fran Manushkin
Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne
Eerie Elementary series by Max Brallier
Cam Jansen series by David A. Adler 
Happy Reading!

one fair, three very different summers

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Every year, the fair comes to town. We've only been here for a few summers, and it's amazing how different each summer has been. And specifically, how I remember this particular fair.

Three summers ago, I didn't even go to the fair. I had just found out I was pregnant, and each day felt like I was barely trying to keep my head above water. While my daily joys typically revolve around playing with my kids or seeing them get excited about something new or even a really delicious ice cream sandwich, during that time, I had a really, really, really, really, hard time finding much joy in anything. I felt so tired-- as if my own blood cells couldn't muster up the energy to do much more than just survive. The day of the fair three years ago was dark for me, and I really can't tell you much more than I went to bed around five in the afternoon, and didn't wake up until the kids had already been asleep for a couple of hours. I remember asking Chris how the kids liked the fair. But, even my questions felt half-hearted. I couldn't understand why I didn't even feel like being around my own kids. Having suffered with depression during my second pregnancy, I knew what was happening, but it sure didn't make it any easier.

Last summer, we went as a family of five. Chris and I were officially outnumbered. We brought baby Oscar with us, and we were still trying to find our footing with three kids. And I remember the big kids saying, "Mom! I'm so glad you came this time!" They couldn't wait to show me every ride from the year before.

Fast forward three summers later. A genuinely happy mama, with two genuinely happy kids, and one baby back home sleeping. 

And one genuinely happy dad who didn't have to ride the teacups :)

As we stopped at the top of the ferris wheel, Sof hung on to me so tightly. Every time it would go around, she would squeeze me around the same time because she knew what was coming next. She was anticipating the fear that she knew would come. As I sit here writing, I've realized that I know so well what that feels like. Sometimes, I wonder if we do have another baby, if that same darkness will come back. I don't know if I've ever really written or vocalized it before, but this is the truth: I am scared. I am scared of going to that really hard place. I know that I am one of the fortunate ones. One of the ones who experiences antepartum depression for a few months, and then it sort of seems to fade away by around the half-way mark of my pregnancy. But, as I've talked to other moms, I've learned that while each experience is unique, it is still very real. 

So, yeah. Just cracking a window open here to let you know that stuff scares me, too. And feeling so lucky to have such amazing people in my life who let me squeeze them tight when I'm going around that ride and are there with me when I need them most.

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