Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 59 - becoming a mom...

Do you remember the moment that you felt - really felt - like a mom? 

I know that moment is different for everyone - and occurs at different points and times.  For some it may be when the when the baby's heartbeat is first heard.  For others it may be in a sleep-deprived moment in the middle of the night while feeding their newborn.  And for still others it might be when the adoption papers are finally signed.  No story is identical. 

For me, the moment occurred after two inductions four days apart, and four hours of pushing.  Finally, in a room full of nurses, doctors, along with my sister and husband my moment happened and in that moment, I was scared, relieved, overwhelmed, exhausted, and confused.  In the moments following, my son Alex, whose umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck and was a grayish-blue color, was rushed over to the respiratory team for oxygen and special care.  I kept asking if he was ok, since I didn’t the big “I’ve-just been-born-cry that I had expected.  Instead I only heard Alex’s tiny, pathetic whimper.  I was reassured that he was “just tired” and doing fine.  In my gut, I knew that everything was going to be ok, and bravely, I decided to listen to my gut, dismiss my fears and what-ifs and believe.  And, in that moment, I became a mom.

A scared, overwhelmed, exhausted...yet joyful mom.

When did you first feel like a mom?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 58 - I can not imagine...

This morning when I watched the news about the shooting at Chardon High School (a Cleveland-area school district), I found myself overwhelmed with emotions. My mouth opened wide in disbelief. My eyes filled with tears in sorrow. My heart swelled with compassion.

I can not imagine being a parent of a Chardon High School Student.
photo credit: Associated Press

I can not imagine how horrible it must have felt to not know if your child is safe.

I can not imagine the panic and the fear!

I can not imagine the wait - the long awful wait - between hearing about the shooting and seeing your child.

I can not imagine waiting...and not seeing your child...

I can not imagine...  (and I hope I never have to!)

And tonight, I hugged my boys a little bit tighter!

My heart goes out to the entire Chardon community,
especially to the families directly impacted!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 57 - Me-time SELFISH? I think NOT!

Often when I take time for me. 
Yep, M.E. (OMG, can you believe the audacity I have??!!?)

I feel guilty. 

I feel selfish.

I think, "I should be doing laundry, or going to the grocery store, or washing dishes, or getting work done, or stripping beds, or helping out at the school, or..."  the list could go on and on.

And then, if I am lucky, I think about one of the most powerful mom-quotes I ever read...
 “As women, wives, and mothers, we seem to spend our lives pleasing others and thinking little of our own well-being. We take little thought for how we feel about ourselves and our self-fulfillment, and we neglect nurturing our relationship with ourselves.

If I didn't take time for me...a few months ago,
I would have missed the beauty right outside the door.

Though it sounds selfish to focus attention on yourself, the opposite is true. By developing a healthy and fulfilling relationship with OURSELVES, our other relationships with spouse, family, and friends will be improved.”
~Jenny Willardson

And I feel BETTER (and, if I dare, I feel justified and fabulous)!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 56 - 6 years ago today...

Six years ago today, I was thirty-six years old.

Six years ago today, it was snowy in Cleveland - really snowy!

Six years ago today, I was in the hospital. (in the exact same hospital room that I had been in just 433 days earlier)

Six years ago today, my husband and my sister were with me in that hospital room.

Six years ago today, Vince Guaraldi was playing on the CD player.

Six years ago today, I was thankful for an epidural.

Six years ago today, Alex (14 months old) was clueless about how much a baby brother was going to rock his world.

Six years ago today, I was clueless how much another baby was going to rock my world.

Six years ago today, I became the mom of two boys.

Six years ago today, my little Owen was born.

Six years ago today, seems like soooo, long ago - yet in many ways it also seems like just yesterday.

Happy 6th Birthday
to my sweet Owen!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 54 - The 21 Day Challenge

Today I started a

Twenty-one days to a new (healthier) habit.

I am excited about it!  But, I am also fearful that it is just another one of my "things" that I start and do not finish. 

I keep telling myself that it's only 21 days - just Three weeks!

Anything is doable for that short time - Right?

So, here is my committment: 

For the next three weeks I will exercise 6 out of 7 days a week for at least 30 minutes!

So, this morning, I Wii Zumba'd.  And it felt good!

WooHooies...I am 1/21st of the way to a new healthier habit!

What new habit will you create in the next 21 days?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 53 - The Lovely Construction Site.

Recently, I was reminded of a fun trip, with the boys, to a construction site.

Well...we didn't really visit the actual site, instead we were floors above in a neighboring building looking down at a huge project in downtown Cleveland. 

And Alex and Owen were enthralled! For one full hour (and they would have stayed longer if I would have let them) they watched, mesmerized and awestruck. 
Owen, age 5

At first, I watched them, watch it. But then I began to watch the construction site through their eyes. As I took in the scene, I found myself using words like beautiful, choreographed, splendid, synchronized, and amazing. Words that are not typically used to describe a mucky, dirty, smelly, messy construction site.
Alex, age 6

There were 100 hundred ton dump trucks, cranes, backhoes, front end loaders, skid steers, plus many other construction vehicle that I could not name.  The whole scene was amazing!  It was almost like watching a highly skilled ballet troupe.  Each machine's movement was deliberate and precise.  All the hard hats seemed to know exactly what to do when and how they related to each other.  It was truly a lovely site (pun intended).

It's amazing how seeing the world through my boys eyes changed my perspective.

As Alan Watts once said, "Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them."  But, because of my boys, I really looked and saw something so different than I expected.

And for that, I am thankful!

What have you really looked at and truly seen?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 52 - Children's Book Favs

Today, my mom sent me a newspaper article that listed the top 100 books for children, as ranked by Scholastic Parent & Child magazine.

This prompted me to think about children's books I love.  And, so today I am going to share with you some of my favorites (in no particular order) and why I enjoy these books!

On Beyond Zebra
by Dr. Seuss
I love that it challenges kids to think outside of the box!

When I Grow Up
by Al Yankovich
Great message about all the possibilities!

But not the Hippopotamus
by Sandra Boynton
Whimsical and funny.
And because when Owen was younger he giggled each and every time I read it to him (which was a lot)!

Sarah's Little Ghosts
by Thierry Robberecht
I love message about the importance of honesty and the sweet way in which it is told.

I'm Gonna Like Me
by Jamie Lee Curtis
Self-Esteem booster and great conversation starter.

The Caboose Who Got Loose 
by Bill Peet
Fun, imaginative adventurous tale!

The Whingdindilly
by Bill Peet
Great message about being exactly who you are, instead of wishing to be someone else.

Farewell to Shady Glade
by Bill Peet
Fun adventure!

Shades of People
by Shelley Rotner and Shelia M. Kelly
Love the descriptions of different skin colors and was another great conversation starter.
Plus adorable pictures of my friends' daughters are in this book!

Rotten Teeth
by Laura Simms
Imaginative and gross - in a wonderful way.

Hooray for Fish!
by Lucy Cousins
I love how the words are weaved in this story.

Horton Hears a Who
by Dr. Seuss
Because, "A person's a person no matter how small."

Piggie Pie!
by Margie Palatini
Fun for adults to read yet silly enough for children.

What Do People Do all Day?
by Richard Scarry
Great reference book for explaining our world.

The Little Engine that Could
by Watty Piper
Who doesn't like the little blue engine?!!?

One Morning in Maine
by Robert McCloskey
Great story about losing a first tooth.

Make Way For Ducklings
by Robert McCloskey
I love the perspective of the ducks in the city.

Harold and the Purple Crayon
by Crockett Johnson
The moon is always there guiding Harold adventures.

An Awesome Book of Thanks
by Dallas Clayton
Whimsical, fun, and awesome message of gratefulness.

Beautiful Oops!
by Barney Satzberg
Celebrates the joy of mistakes.

That's my list - but I am not sticking to it...
I am sure I will wake in the middle of the night kicking myself because I didn't include others...

What are your favorite Children's Books?
And, why?


Monday, February 20, 2012

Day 51 - The blank wall dilemma

About two years ago, my husband painted our walls in the living room.  And for about two years, the walls have had nothing hanging on them.  No photos, no artwork, no nothing.

It looks so bare. 

I have lots of ideas.  Too many ideas, probably.  So, I have often started, but time and time again I have made no decision.  And, I know, that no decision is a decision.

Thus, by default, decision is BARE walls.

I think that this is one of those times when I need to just do something - Anything!

Today, I started to go through my photos to see what is wall-worthy.  And, I saw some contenders!

So, I have decided that before the school year is up, something will be hung on my walls.


What is something that you just need to do?
I dare you to set a deadline and just do it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 50 - A Jolt of Happiness, again.

In 2010, I introduced "Jolts of Happiness".

As explained in  my first Jolt of Happiness, (I also did a second Jolt of Happiness) I set my kitchen timer for ten minutes and took photos of happiness. 

And, since I was feeling a wee-bit down this afternoon, I decided that it was time for another Jolt.

So, today, for me, happiness looks like...

Surprise flowers from a good friend!

A good workout this morning!

The lion that hangs in the boys' bathroom - that I made years ago!

A cute simple solution.

My journal of thoughts, insights and goodness!

The book that my 6 year old son created.

One of my creations printed and ready to hang.

OK - Your Turn!
What does happiness look like, for you, today?
Ready, Set, Go!
(Your 10 minutes starts now)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 49 - Unexpected Family Fun

I can not believe that I am going to say this...but, today, I had fun cleaning!

Yep, you read that right.  I had fun cleaning.

I typically hate cleaning.

But this afternoon, we (yes, we: Alex, Owen, Jeff and I) had fun family time tackling the messy playroom.  Together we sorted through all of their stuff, boxed up outgrown items to donate and threw away broken and worn out toys.  There was no yelling, no screaming - I wasn't pulling my hair out in frustration - and the whining was almost nonexistent. 

It was unbelievable! 

And, in case you are wondering, No, we didn't drug the kids.  Nor was I (or my husband) drugged or delusional. 

You may be wondering, how did we have fun cleaning?

Well, we promised them new toys, of course.

Let me explain...

You see, in November, our neighbors gave us boxes of toys and books, from their son's (now a teen) younger days.  And with Christmas coming, we decided to stash the toys in the garage until later.  We knew we had to go through all of our current toys and purge.  So for months, the boxes sat in the garage and the boys did not know what was inside... Until today.

This afternoon, as we carried the twelve boxes inside, we told them about the books and toys and explained that no box would be opened, until we cleaned and organized the playroom.  Alex and Owen were so excited to make room for and get new (used) toys that, unbelievably, they were cooperative and happy to help.

After all the cleaning and purging, we opened each box, one by one, and it was like Christmas all over again.

And, in typical boy fashion, they picked the large collection of plastic army men to play with first.

Truly a fun time! 

Family Fun!!?  Who would of thought!  You could knock me over with a feather!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day 48 - Life is curly!

I just finished reading the book Simply Shine: Stories That Stirred The Fire by Jill Blashack Strahan and I am truly inspired!

Jill Blashack Strahan is the founder of Tastefully Simple - a multimillion dollar business that she built from the ground up.  And while I her business talents are amazing, I am inspired, reassured and galvanized by her life's stories and the the lessons that she shared.

There are SO many nuggets of goodness in this book...too many to share here.  But, there is one that I can't keep to myself!

In a chapter entitled We Never Fail, Jill says:

"Life is not a straight line.  It's really quite curly.  We rarely know exactly how we're going to get where we're going or what to expect when we get there.  We just dive in and do it.  If it doesn't work, we learn from it."

 As a person who likes to know where I am going and what to expect and because I would love a success guarantee, the concept of life being curly is scary, yet incredibly powerful!  It is shifting my thoughts.  It is shifting my perspective.  It is giving me breathing room to let life happen!

And that is a great lesson!

What lesson have you learned recently?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 47 - Vulnerable

Oh, this morning was not hit me like a ton of bricks.   And, I was so caught off guard - but it was there...That awful feeling.  I felt it in the pit of my stomach.  My sweaty hands were figuratively slapped with a ruler.  My face turned bright red and was hot.  Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart sank.  It was visceral.

I felt vulnerable.

Or, more precisely, I felt V.U.L.N.E.R.A.B.L.E.!!!

It doesn't matter what triggered this feeling.  And it doesn't matter whether or not the situation warranted this feeling.

Because it was there.  And in that moment (and many moments that followed) I felt it.  I felt it HARD.

Whenever I feel vulnerable, I am never sure what to do with it.  Mostly, I want to stuff into a sealed box and bury it so I can never feel it again.

But, what I have learned in the last few years is that stuffing it (ie, fearing it) does not work. 

So, today, instead I chose to let it exist.  

The tears flowed.  I became curious about it and reached out for support.  I was raw and exposed.   I felt fragile, breakable, thin-skinned, and weak.

Though, I do have some thoughts why vulnerability appeared today...Perhaps it was because of my insecurities that have been tested recently, or maybe because I am tired and stressed, or maybe the stars are aligned just so...I am not sure I will ever know fully, why, vulnerability snuck in. 

But I do know this: 

I will feel vulnerable again.  And, when it arrives, I will, again, feel fragile, breakable, thin-skinned, and weak. 

But that does not mean that I am fragile, breakable, thin-skinned and weak.  Nope.  I believe that by feeling it and allowing it to exist, it means just the opposite - that I am strong!

p.s. - Every time vulnerability sneaks in, I think of Dr. Brene Brown - a professor who studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame.   Here is her TEDX talk that is incredibly powerful!  It is 20 minutes of goodness!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 46 - Imagination and Fiction

I am a kid at heart.  So this quote really speaks to me!

Imagination and fiction make up more than
three-quarters of our real life.
~Simone Weil

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 45 - Love!

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Today is all about LOVE.  Sweet wonderful love!

And today, instead of celebrating the love for partners or spouses, I want to honor a mother's love! 

Especially the love that a mom has for her baby.

I remember, with much fondness after the birth of my first child, being filled with joyful contentment and pure overwhelming love as I would breastfeed my infant in the middle of the night while my husband dozing in and out of sleep, would lovingly caress my son’s head and my arm.  In that moment I was completely fulfilled and I felt pure love.  It was beautiful!

So today, in honor of valentines day, Moms, I double dog dare you to share one of your love stories in the comments below!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 44 - Thankful for the Differences

Do you remember as a child laying on the grass and looking up at the clouds?

Did you see a cloud in the shape of a giant boat, or a galloping horse, or a fish, or a bowl of fruit?

Or did you see the clouds and easily identified which were the cirrus, stratus, and cumulus?

I was the boat, horse, fish and fruit finder, while I am pretty confident, Jeff, my husband, growing up 80 miles away, was the cirrus, stratus, and cumulus identifier.

Likewise, when I started this doodle, Jeff (who runs a printing company) saw ink scribbled on paper and could even identify what type of paper the marks were on.  And, I saw what the scribbles could become.

In some ways it is odd that we wound up together. We are so very different. Often I tease him about his random, useless (according to me) knowledge and, his curiosity about how things work, and his seriousness.  And he teases me about my quirks.

We have two very different personailties and perspectives.
We have two very different set of strengths and gifts.

Fortunately, most of the time, we appreciate each other and our differences.

And, that works for us.  Really well.  (most of the time).

So today, on the eve of Valentines day, I am thankful for those differences. 

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day 43 - Keep Moving Forward.

Part of my promise for this year is that I would have a mini-theme each month.  At the end of January, I decided that I would work on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet and that would somehow become my theme for February. 

But then, February arrived, and fruits and veggies did not.

Typically, at that point, I would just say F-it and label it (and perhaps myself) a failure.  And, since I have recently, been struggling to stay motivated and to make the changes and to keep all of my promises, it would not be uncommon for me to just quit everything and deem this whole thing - My Year Long Promise to Myself - a big fat failure.

But for some reason, this time, I have decided to respond differently.  I am not allowing myself to throw in the towel and instead, am choosing to continue on, even in the face of failure.

 "Why", I wonder...

Perhaps it is because I have this blog that is keeping me accountable.  Perhaps it is that I have committed to a year long "You Can Do Anything in a Year" Coaching group (Thank you Jamie and friends!).  Or perhaps it is because I am tired of trying and quitting.  Or perhaps it is all of these things and more.

Regardless, I just keep going and moving forward...
     even if I have just taken ten steps back.
     even if I have failed at something.
     even if it feels easier to just quit.
     even if the forward movement is less than an inch.
     even if I am tired.
     even if my forward movement takes a detour.

And, so, today I realized that, unbeknownst to me I have had a mini theme for this month! 

Yep...this month's Mini-Theme is to just

And, it is WAY more inspiring than any fruit or veggie!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day 42 - Science Factory Fun!

One of my goals this year is to value my time.  And, after a few weeks of craziness, yesterday afternoon, I decided that I needed to find something fun to do with my boys.  I knew that the best use of my time, right then, would be to spend it with Alex and Owen!

A friend of mine and her boys were registered for a class at a new place in town, called the Science Factory.  On a whim, I called to see if we could join in to the class and I was pleasantly pleased that, even though it was the last minute, they were able to accommodate us!
Alex, Owen, and their friend Sean, solving the great candy caper!
It was so much fun!  For just over an hour, we hopped on Scooby-Doo's Mystery Machine, headed to the lab, and investigated the great candy caper!  We got to be Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, and Velma and analyze the evidence that had been collected.  It was our responsibility, along with our other colleagues, to figure out which suspect was the candy stealing criminal!

measured bite marks,
identified dirt samples,
tested blood types,
scrutinized hand writing,
examined fingerprints,
and inspected fibers.

Just like on CSI!

The boys had a blast!  With each new piece of evidence, they were curious and excited to learn!

It was perfect! 

And time well spent!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 41 - Creativity

A couple years back I realized that being creative daily raised my happiness level.  And lately, I haven't been making the time for creating.

So, today I made it a priority.   

And it is amazing how much better I felt when I finished creating my dinos.

Creativity lightens my mood.   Creativity makes me smile.  Creativity fills my soul!

What fills your soul?
I dare you to do it!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 40 - The little engine...

Remember the story of The Little Engine That Could?

The story starts off..

"Chug, chug, chug.  Puff, puff, puff.  Ding-dong, ding-dong.  The little train rumbled over the tracks.  She was a happy train for she had such a jolly load to carry.  Her cars were filled full of good things for boys and girls."

It sounds wonderful!  But as we all know, that happy train engine breaks down.  And fortunately, for the boys and girls, the little blue engine shows up and saves the day.  It's a wonderful story with a powerful message.

But, have you ever wondered what happened to that happy-now-broken-down engine?  She started off so excitedly.  So energetically.  So...well, Happy! 

That is what I felt like in January.  My chug was in gear and going strong, my puff was a happy one and I was ding-donging all day long!  But now, in February, my chug is sputtering, my puff is more of a sigh, and my ding-dong sounds like its battery is about to die. 

I see other trains puffing away beside me chanting "I think I can, I think I can..."  I have even seen some celebrating at the top of the mountain!  And, I am thrilled for them!

But, in this moment, I feel like that broken down engine sitting at the bottom of the mountain.  I have run out of steam.

I need to refuel.  I need a tune up.  I need for this lack of momentum to be OK for now.  And I need the mountain to look smaller.

So, (inhale a deep powerful breath) I will allow myself this time to breathe.  I will refuel by gathering my support systems, finding my inspiration and motivation, and believing in myself (again, and again, and again...).  I will refine my goals and expectations of myself.  And, instead of only seeing the steep mountain, I will look at the next few railroad ties in front of me, and focus on simply moving forward...(I think I can, I think I can...)

Because I want to be the engine who starts and finishes this journey!