Monday, February 22, 2010

Fun Fun Fun

So everyone knows by now I have been trying to spend quality FUN time with my kids for the last couple weeks. We have been doing so many things that were out of character for me, as I aspire to make some changes. Here are some examples of what we have done lately:

Today was such a fun day for me. Ella went to school this morning and I had some Ryen alone time. First we cuddled and lounged with the dogs while we watched TV. Then Ryen and I hit the grocery store, and she had a blast! She sat for the first time in the little car buggy with the steering wheel and beeped the horn throughout the store. She also ate a bunch of strawberries and bananas and pretzels and she got down to run around and gather tomatoes for me while I waited at the deli counter. And of course I got tons of compliments on my beautiful little girl :)

After school and during Ryen's nap I had Ella alone time! Shopping and girly stuff. We went dress shopping for Ella's friend Madison who's birthday party is this weekend. Ella picked up a super cute dress and matching cardigan for Madison, declaring "that's perfect Mommy." Of course she also had to grab a dress for herself. Boy they sure do learn these things young huh?
On to the next store where I bought some great buys from one of my favorite collections called "Popatu". An adorable glitter tutu dress one piece for Ella and a two piece oneside with matching tulle skirt for Ry Bunny. I cant wait to dress them up in these! A close ups of our fabulous buy:

Then it was off to Target to surprise Ella with a pair of rain boots so we could go splash in puddles. She has never owned a pair of rainboots cause quite frankly I don't think we need them in the desert. But she LOVES to jump in puddles. And usually I don't let her cause it will ruin her shoes, or clothes, or make a mess of her or the car. Today I decided kids are supposed to jump in puddles, and Moms... well they are supposed to clean up messes. So off we went. She picked out Hello Kitty boots (of course) and she also picked out an adorable umbrella. Here are the photos of her having the time of her life actually being allowed and encouraged to jump in puddles.

She wore these boots pretty much right up till bedtime and would have slept in them if I would let her. :) sigh... the best $15 I have spent in a long time. When we got home from puddle jumping Ryen was awake from her nap and chasing Daddy and the Doggies around the house. Ella and I changed our rain soaked clothes and grabbed Ryen and headed to the library for some book reading and computer time. Here are both my girls having fun playing on the computers at the library:

The girls were both good during dinner and afterwards Ella drew masterpieces with her Art set and practiced using her scissors while Ryen played and read books. Both went to bed with minimal complaints. A great day indeed!

I didn't make it to the gym today like I hoped to, but I put lots of smiles on both my girls faces today and on mine too. The gym will always be waiting for me tomorrow...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Need to stop worrying...

So these last two weeks have been kind of strange for me. First I came across that blog that I told you about here and how inspired I was by her to slow down, stop looking at my kids like a series of starts and stops and chores and tasks that need to be completed from when they wake up till when they go to bed. But instead to actually enjoy them being kids and babies and get messy with them instead of preventing messes all the time. And to forgive them more. And to forget their rudeness or their whining or their lack of respect more. And love them better (not more cause I don't think I could love them more, but just better).

Then I read this book called the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. This book explores the volatile relationship between a Mother and Daughter. A Mother who has regret and guilt over her mistakes parenting, and a Daughter learning to forgive and forget the bad and focus on the positive. I was struck by a passage in this book where the mother was so overwhelmed. She had been smelling nothing but baby formula, baby poop, baby puke, etc for so long. She had not had a good nights sleep in so long. She had been dealing with tantrums and attitudes, and crying and whining for so long that Motherhood had ceased to be fun for her. Sure there were moments of joy, but for the most part the bad was outweighing the good. She talked brutally honestly about sometimes wondering what her life would be like if she had no kids. About how some days she just didn't want to go home. She just wanted to run. Not forever, but just for a little while. I just remember reading this (while on the stairmaster at the gym) and feeling like I knew what this woman felt. Have any of us really ever NOT felt this way at one point or another? But we don't talk about these feelings for fear that we will be judged. For fear people will look at us like "OMG! How can you feel that way!" Or for fear that people will think we don't love our kids.

But when did becoming a mother mean that you cease to exist? There are days I just wish I could go to the gym without worrying that my kids are going to pick up something terrible in the daycare. Or throw a fit, or have a potty accident. To go get a manicure or a pedicure whenever I get the urge. To spend an entire day lounging in chairs at Barnes and Noble perusing the latest cook book or magazine? To be able to pick up at a moments notice and jump in the car and head somewhere without worry about sippy cups, snacks, movies, portable DVD players, pack n plays. etc. To be able to hop on a plane to go for a visit back to Boston without having to buy 3 tickets to do so. Just to be able to take a shower or go pee without a kid following me into the bathroom cause they love to play in the sink or under the cabinets or splash at my feet while I try to shower. If I had it to do over again I wish I did more before I had the kids. I wish I had more date nights instead of nights in front of the TV. I wish I had done more traveling instead of worrying about money and saving more. I wish I was a little more prepared. I read every pregnancy book out there and every baby book imaginable and no one talked honestly about the downside of having kids. Or the regret that can sometimes creep into your thoughts in places you don't like to talk about. And the guilt and despair that you can then feel for even having these thoughts when some people cant have children at all, and others have children that are fighting horrible diseases or have lost their lives too young... Don't get me wrong, it wouldn't have changed my mind about starting a family and YES I still would like to have more kids if I could, but it might have prepared me a little bit more for the bad times and maybe I wouldn't feel like such a failure when I feel like I am not having a bad day with my kids, but a bad month.

Then lately I am worrying about everything. Getting back to the Ya Ya book, there was a section in the book where the daughter has an incident from her childhood that she will never be able to forget and probably never be able to forgive. It has scarred and shaped her as an adult. I thought about this, and instantly held my breath, starting to scan my own childhood for those incidents that I too will never forget. We all have them. I was trying to go back to Ella's age to see if I had a memory that far back. What age do kids start remembering your parenting mistakes and lows? I was suddenly filled with so much worry. Have I already done something that Ella will never forget? Have I yelled too loud, or handled her too forcefully, have I lost my temper and scared her, or said something she will never forget yet? Just a couple weeks ago I was recalling something from my own teenage years and a friend said to me "Wow you can tell you are still really bitter about it." My response was "Yes, I am, and I think I always will be." So suddenly I am filled with a completely unrealistic dread and worry of the moment I will commit my first act that my children will keep with them forever. As if to think there is anything I can do to prevent it. But hopefully by then I will not say, I did the best I could, but instead will say, I am sorry for hurting you, please forgive me and know that I love you.

And more worrying... lately my three year old is being ridiculously bossy. I cant tell if this is normal for the age or a personality or character flaw showing its ugly head. As a parent you want your child to be liked and you want people to want to be her friend. I am not talking about needing her to win a popularity contest. But I know children that are so controlling and so bossy and unbearable that other kids don't want to be around them. I so don't want her to be like that. So my worry that she will turn out this way might be making me over react when she is being bossy and controlling. But lately one-on-one play dates with friends have become more work then they are worth. For one, she is super sensitive due to some teasing she has been enduring recently. She is always on the defensive and thinking people are being mean or don't want to play with her, even when they are not, and she is always angry at her friends when they wont do what she wants when she wants it, or they don't play the way she wants. I do remember some of her friends being like this at times, but only caught glimpses of it. So here I sit, once again wondering is this yet another fabulous (NOT!!) phase that our children enter and I just need to sit tight and ride it out (like hitting or not sharing) or is this just a part of her personality? And if it is, should I crush it as hard as I am? What if her bossiness is laying the foundation for her to become a great leader one day, or a great manager, and it is just manifesting in ways that are not good right now as she learns how much is too much, but will eventually level out? And so I worry more...

And I said to my friend Jessica on Saturday some days I wonder how much of my teaching them to be good people, and good children, strays sometimes into me crushing their little spirits or personalities? And I am thankful for Jessica cause she listened to my ranting about all this stuff above with the most non-judgmental look on her face and said I am so relieved to hear you admit these things cause I don't feel bad anymore or like something is wrong with me for feeling some of these things too or for yelling at my kids etc. And then she said something that stuck with me and has put a smile on my face the rest of the weekend. She said:

"Jill you are a great Mom. Yeah your kids may remember some things some day but they will also remember that their Mom was cool enough to let them have their own Christmas Trees in their bedrooms. And your kids will say 'My Mom was cool, we had Christmas Trees in our bedrooms.' And really Jill, how many kids can say that?" Not many I thought. But mine can. Maybe I am not so bad after all. :)

I am not a perfect Mom, but I must be doing something right cause my Children love me more than anyone else on the planet. They light up when I walk in the room. When I am gone they truly miss me. And they actually want to spend time with me, at least for now...


Friday, February 12, 2010

Ski weekend with the girls

Superbowl weekend my wonderful Husband watched the kids all weekend so I could go to Pinetop with some of my girls to go skiing for the FIRST TIME ever. The girls have gone for 3 years straight but this was my first year without a newborn/infant to take care of. Imagine growing up in snowy New England and I had to move to Arizona to go skiing for the first time. ha ha. We drove 4 hours from Chandler through the mountains up to Pinetop. AZ had gotten slammed with so much snow last month that there were 4ft tall snowbanks on either side of the roads. It will be a while before that snow is gone.

It reminded me so much of Home. Scratch that. It reminded me so much of Boston. Will I ever stop referring to Boston as home? I even say to my girls out of habit, "we are going home to Boston in April" and they look at me like huh? We are home Mommy... lol

Anyhow the cabin was so cute (3 bedrooms plus loft) with a gorgeous stone fireplace from floor to ceiling in the living room. We lit that immediately upon arriving and cranked the heat since the cabin was freezing. We each made our drink of choice and huddled around the fire to warm up. It didn't take long before the stories were flying and we were laughing so hard and just enjoying our girl talk. We were having so much fun eating chips and guacamole and drinking beers/wine/champagne etc that we could have stayed there all night right through dinner. But apparently it is a Fri night tradition on these ski trips that the girls always grab dinner somewhere and then hit up the towns only dance club- Absolute Distraction. So we all got ready (my friend Emily made fun of me for still using Covergirl asking me "what are we 16 still?" I have to admit, she was right and it was quite funny of her to call me out, so after showing her the Maybeline and other Walgreen's bought makeup in my bag, I called her a snob and then told her if she looked young like me she could still get away with Covergirl. Touche! Ha ha! We giggled about it all weekend. We snapped some photos before leaving:

At dinner we were a little crazy and loud. Our waiter looked frightened of us, but not sure why since we were probably the coolest and most fun table he had all night. We got much more crazy in the restaurant then these pics will show, but as the saying goes "What Happens in Pinetop Stays in Pinetop!" Yeah right.... ha ha ha. In the end we had a great Italian dinner and lots of laughs as we always do! Here are some pics of us goofing off at dinner. (PS we closed the place. Welcome to Pinetop).

Birthday Girl Teresa enjoying her Tiramisu

Me proving I look silly in glasses

Emily proving anyone can look good in glasses by grabbing your boobs! ha ha

Crissy, Jill, Sara, Yolanda

Better without the glasses???

Teresa, Emily and Jackie

Kissy Lips!

Next we headed over to Absolute Distraction, which turned out to be an absolute DISASTER. Besides having to pay $5 each to get into this shit hole we all got "wanded" on the way in. The only time I was ever wanded was when President Clinton came to my High School and maybe once going through airport security. I asked the bouncer, did I take a wrong turn somewhere and end up in an inner city? He said no, but you're in redneck country now. I was like hmmm... great. Although there weren't many rednecks in this bar from what I could see.
What there was instead of rednecks was a bunch of young white boys trying to be ghetto hip hoppers that could've used a bit of advice from General Larry Platt. "Pants on the ground, pants on the ground. Looking like a FOOL with yo' pants on the ground!". Not only that but the DJ was terrible. He was playing hard core rap the entire time. And I am not talking Jay Z or Kanye but hardcore stuff full of F-bombs, P-words and N-words. The type of music you would expect to hear if you were sitting in a car with Snoop Dogg and a cloud of pot smoke. NO ONE was dancing. Our brave and drunk friend Emily tried many times to give the DJ a lesson in good music but he wasn't interested. At one point when he played something we actually could dance to the floor filled up. Then he went back into his ghetto rap and the dance floor emptied. Emily told him and his bodyguard girlfriend "did you happen to notice when you played dance music people were dancing and then you played this and everyone left the dance floor????". They just glared at her. LOL. I do think the highlight of the night was Emily and Jackie doing a full slide across the dance floor on their knees circa something straight out of footloose. It was awesome! My friends are so funny. Here we are at Absolute Distraction, and as usual we OWNED the Dance Floor. woot woot...

We woke up bright and early on Saturday for our day of skiing. Yolanda was staying at the cabin all day alone to relax and read books and sit by the fire and cook us dinner. A part of me was jealous and tempted to stay with her, but I was REAL excited for my ski lesson! Yo woke up with us and made us all fritatas and coffee which we wolfed down as we got dressed for the slopes. Here we are getting ready to leave. It was a 30 minute drive to the slopes during which some of us nursed our hangovers and some of us jammed out to Black Eyed Peas!

Here is the ski lodge and the ski school, where I signed up for my all day lesson! I was the only rookie amongst us, so the 5 of them went off to ski together (and snowboard) while I took classes alone. Which I was ok with cause I really wanted to learn how to ski. My lessons were supposed to go from 10-11:30 which an hour break for lunch and then from 12:3o-2. I was a NATURAL! My first lessons went really well. I picked it up right away and my instructor threatened to throw me off the Bunny slope and send me to the midway slope which I wasnt quite ready for yet. I don't but you all but I think that the next step up from the bunny slope should not be a slope that takes 10 minutes to get to the top. Especially when it takes 2 minutes or less to get up to the top of the bunny slope. There needs to be something a little more in between! Geesh!

Here is my instructor Roger. And me practicing my pizza wedge! I swear I could be heard saying "pizza wedge" and "french fries" all the way down the mountain the first few times down. If you have ever taken or taught a ski lesson you will know what I am talking about. I didn't fall at all during my lessons and never fell once getting off any ski lift all day long. After my first lesson my instructor gave me an extra 30 min private lesson since I was sitting around waiting for my girlfriends. But this then meant I had only 30 minutes to wolf down my lunch before going back out for my next lesson. I wish I had more time to drink more water!!! Who knew skiing was so dehydrating. He also gave me an extra hour lesson from 2-3pm. I took some photos while on the lift of the scenery at the resort. I also got someone to snap a dorky photo of me on the lift- how cool is that?? Here they are:

When my lessons were over I decided to take a lift to the top of the middle mountain and then take a trail over to meet up with my friends over at lift 4. Technically I had been told that as a first time skiier I was restricted to lifts 2 and 8 for the day. (Bunny slope and midway). However my ski pass that printed out said lifts 2, 4, and 8. And since I had been doing so well I figured what the heck. Little did I know that by meeting my friends over at 4, there was no way for us to get back over to the main lodge without either taking lift 5 up to the top of another mountain and skiing our way over, or taking a shuttle bus. Lift 5 did go up to a green slope (beginners) so even though it looked mighty high with my friends encouragement I decided to give it a try. As we are climbing higher and higher on this lift I am really getting nervous. Didn't help that EMT's brought one person down on a backboard with a neck brace on as we went overhead and that we were flying over a black diamond where skiers were actually going off course and landing among trees. Really? Great!

Here is the top of Mount Kiliminjaro where we got off the lift. Ok ok so maybe not that high, but it sure felt like it to Miss First Time Skier. But I have to say being on a mountain skiing for the first time and having it start snowing on me while skiing was pretty cool. Above is a photo of me ready but nervous to start our trek back to the other side of the mountain. There was something kind of majestic about it. Skiing gave me a real affection for snow that I have been lacking after years of scraping it off windshields and shoveling it off driveways and watching it turn from beautiful white powder to dirty brown slush on the side of the road. Luckily my friends Crissy and Teresa were ready to lead me down the mountain and were very encouraging the whole time. Crissy kept telling me I was doing so great as a first time skiier, and I really need to hear that to keep my confidence up. Teresa kept skiing ahead and then stopping to wait for me to make sure I was ok. We had no idea it was getting so late. The lifts closed at 4pm and we got to the top of this big slope at 4pm. We figured 15 minutes down to the bottom. And that is when all hell broke loose. First we got lost. No biggie we turned around and corrected course after about 10 minutes. But I was getting nervous and second guessing myself, was dehydrated, had a pounding headache, was nauseous, struggling in the altitude, and was so tired that my legs weren't really leaning into the skis the way they had earlier in the day. I couldn't turn as well on my right ski. Needless to say I started crashing and falling all over the place. It was funny as heck. I was literally going ass over tea kettle and my poles were flying. I was upside down and spread eagle a couple times. It would take me like 5 minutes to get up each time. I would have to trek back up the mountain to get my pole. My friends were patient and encouraging the whole time. lol. The only way I know to stop is to turn right or left. But as a first timer you are not that good with edge work or fast stops or turns so I would panic that I was going to run out of room. On the left side was an embankment with a ton of trees that I could fall off and on the right side an upturning slope of snow. So I would head towards the trees till I ran out of room and then head towards the slope and ultimately tip over. I fell so much it was ridiculous. Ski patrol came along looking for stragglers on the slopes and I was afraid they were going to ask me what the heck I was doing up this high, but they didnt ask me anything other than was I ok. Crissy went ahead to meet up with everyone and Teresa did her best do hang with me. Her reward was watching me crash into two snowbanks so hard that my ski's popped off. That was when ski patrol took my skis and told me to walk the rest of the way down. I was so bummed and asked was my skiing that bad??? His answer was no ma'am but we closed 45 minutes ago. It was almost 5pm and the lifts closed at 4!!! LOL. Here are the action shots of me skiing thanks to Teresa. And no as much as I wish she got one, there are no photos of my many spills!!!

When we got back to the cabin Yolanda was waiting for us with a spread of appetizers, some wine corked and ready, a birthday cake brownie for Teresa and a hot Spaghetti dinner with fresh baked French Bread! We had such a good dinner, some hot showers, and then settled in for a competitive and hilarious game of Taboo, before turning in for the night. Emily and I left at about 7:30am the next morning and the snow was coming down real hard in Pinetop. We actually spun sideways across 3 lanes while going only 20mph. It was real scary but luckily we didn't hit anyone. I put on my 4WD from that point on and we made it home safe and sound. This was such a great experience and I cant wait to going skiing again!! I caught the ski bug! Here is the last photo I snapped of the snow falling on my way out of Pinetop. See you next year!! :)