May 21, 2013

Level UP

I was never really an emotional person. I wouldn't shed a tear over a sappy commercial or weep during a sicky-sweet love story in a movie. The news read the same years ago as it does today: scary, devastating, sick, sad and heart-wrenching. My heart, however, never seemed to fully wrench. I mean, I had feelings of sorrow and terror and all that, but I couldn't truly comprehend the level of emotion on which it seemed the rest of the people in this world operated. Until I became a mother.

When my best friends were having their first babies I naturally shared in the joy. It was an exciting time for them and for us as friends to be moving into another chapter of life. Only I wasn't moving. I was doing the same thing in my life - working hard Monday through Friday and playing hard on the weekend. I visited those babies and held them with a beaming smile of awe - but I didn't truly know how precious those moments were for my friends. And after years of feeling somewhat guilty about that I can finally state with authority that Nobody does until they become a parent.

Having a child in your life, in your care, needing you wholly everyday - it magnifies everything. When I became a mother I quickly realized how beautiful each moment of each day really is. How special, how tranquil, how precious, how amazing. Yes, even the moments where you have to raise your voice or wipe poop off of the wall. When you feel like you need to rip out a few strands of your hair, when you just don't want to clean up after another meal, when bedtime seems so very far off... yep, those moments too are precious.

I was deeply affected by the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre - and still am. And if I remain haunted I cannot imagine what those families feel like every day of their ongoing lives. I think about watching my sweet child standing on the school steps waving goodbye, Mama and walking out of sight - for the last time. I think about what those children were doing in their classrooms just before the horror entered. Raising their hands to answer questions... with sweet, smiling innocent faces. It's almost too much to even think about. It's so unfair! I continue to pray for those children, teachers and families and I pray that my friends and family never experience such tragedy and loss of life.

Yesterday's savage tornado devastation in Oklahoma makes those wounds fresher still as we hear about the loss of children in their elementary school. My heart was just aching for the parents not knowing whether their child was one that made it out safely or one buried among friends in the ten foot debris pile. How do they cope with that?? I know as humans we have coping mechanisms ... and adrenaline that kicks in and propels us through tough times... but really?? How much can a person handle? I absolutely cannot even begin to think about losing my baby girl. Not for one second.

My point in all of this is that when Scarlett entered my life she changed the game. She forced me to "level up." I became aware on a much larger scale of what love and need really mean. To truly need someone in your life to be able to function. To love someone with every miniscule spec of your soul. To understand compassion and to be empathetic and sympathetic. And that there is a much better way to go through life than being cynical and jaded.

Now, I get weepy during sappy commercials. I can say there are scenes from movies that "get me every time". I'm softer. Scarlett melted the ice... and I can't thank her enough for that.

Becoming a mother has also made me more generous with my heart. I offer it up all the time because surprisingly there is plenty to go around.

May 16, 2013

Yeah, I can't do this...

It's a beautiful day. Currently, the temperature is 78 degrees. There is a light and lovely breeze. The sky is blue, the sun is shining and all that other harmonious crap. So, the question at hand is Why am I not outside enjoying this glorious day with my little peapod? Well, if you MUST know, the answer is Because I am an absolute lunatic.

Spring time. Some wait all year long for it - daydreaming of ice-cream trucks, children on swing-sets, flip flops and open windows. Others (myself exclusively) want to hibernate from it while mentally taking a brown crayon and coloring the entire neighborhood barren and still asleep. I'm not ignorant. I know that nearly every creature in the world emerges sneakily during the first sniff of a warm day. I've seen them crawling. I've heard them buzzing. Don't think I haven't killed at least seven of them already. We can't avoid them so we just suck it up and get on with our lives, right? Yeah, no.

Scarlett and I have shared many a session of outdoor play before the height of hatching season. I enjoy bringing her to various playgrounds and especially the beach. Sure, I am most comfortable dressed head to toe in fleece romping around in the freezing cold snow where you can't find an insect with a chisel. I'm also quite popular during the Fall months, ya know after those initial overnight cold blasts exterminate the yard naturally. May is probably the scariest month of the year. Flowers popping up everywhere - not to mention weeds and pollen galore. You can't focus your eyes on a blade of grass without seeing at least six nasty wigglers crawling around from your peripheral vision. And, if you're my neighbor, you can't grill a burger from your deck without seeing me flail and hearing me shriek at least once during your meat flips.

I tried today. I didn't feeeeeeeeeel like going out in the yard. I was crampy and bloated, I had a slammin headache and swollen glands (allergies). And honestly, I'd have rather just taken a walk around the neighborhood in my beekeeper suit. But I feel so guilty keeping Scarlett inside. I know that we'll get ninety other beautiful days but today is kind of a true gem. Plus, she has only used her sandbox once since we bought it and I knew I'd have to conquer that bastard eventually. So I put on my brave face, lathered her up with sunscreen and we headed out.

First, we tried out her new bubble mower... which she made abundantly clear that she hated. Awesome. Next stop was the sandbox. My heart was pounding as I got closer to it. The lid was just covered in leaves and little floofy things that had fallen off the tree. {I reeeeeeally didn't want to put the sandbox underneath the tree but it's the only logical place to put it when it comes down to Scarlett's sun-safety and Gregg's yard work}. I somehow managed to take off the lid and not ONE leaf/floofy thing fell off of it. That grossed me out... why are they stuck to it????? Then I eyeballed the sand. Holyyyyyyyyyy ... really?? Like nine florescent green worms are crawling around in there. Then I see a frigging sand-colored (camouflaged???) spider with like a weird bubble-stomach. I really almost vomited. Various dead gnats or whatever spotted the rest of the sand. I immediately grabbed her sifter and sifted every little asshole out of that box. I dumped them into the gravel and tried to crush what I could. She played for about five minutes until I decided that my heart was about to burst into flames and we were going for a walk.

So hours later here we are... sitting in the upstairs den. She carefully chooses colored blocks from a pile and drops them into a pillowcase. The rest she fits interestingly into the lid of a box. She "reads" her favorite Mickey Mouse Clubhouse books. She does somersaults, runs down the hall from room to room, works her puzzles and plays the xylophone. I think we're okay here. She's being creative, getting exercise, learning and playing. I'm calm, my blood pressure has returned to a safe level and my headache has even disappeared.

I will not deprive Scarlett of the joys of being a kid, playing outside all day and night -the way I always did before I became a ridiculous, irrational maniac. I will, however, pick and choose the time and place and possibly the pill prescription for myself.

May 14, 2013

word of the day: Beautiful

I wasn't exactly in the best of moods today. I had one of those mornings where it felt like the universe was working against me. Little annoying things were piling up and building their own little tower of sourness in front of me. One that I just didn't feel like tackling. I ignored it as best I could and went about my day.

I was at the counter of Toys R Us purchasing a pretty, pink bubble mower for Scarlett and mindlessly humming along to the store music. I noticed the cashier humming the same tune. She said, "this song is SO catchy!" I agreed and we discussed further. The song that was playing was One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful." Sure, it's one of those lame-o, teen-girl faves but it certainly catches the attention of women everywhere. It has such a great message especially for very impressionable young girls who all too often wander down the path of self destruction. Gee, what's that like? The cashier mentioned how she really likes the song and finds herself singing it in the aisles every time it comes on. I admitted that I also like it due to its cheery and uplifting message. We parted ways with overly friendly "have a great day!"s. The song had noticeably amped up our moods.

Continuing on my errands I had no choice but to sink back into a somewhat foul mood after being forced to drive the roads alongside typical Rhode Island assholes. Swerving, bumper-riding, speed-passing, non-blinker using assholes. It is unavoidable.

I grouchily headed to CVS to finish up my list. As I approached the door to enter, a man (who looked like a thin Cedric the Entertainer) was exiting. He energetically stepped aside and said, "Go ahead, Beautiful." Huh? Did he just...?  I smiled with sincerity and said, "Thank you so much." As I took off my sunglasses he exclaimed, "Wow, LOVE the eyes!" I again thanked him as he walked out toward his car and I entered the store. Now, I am not someone who normally falls for a compliment from a strange man. Having been jaded for a good fifteen years now, stranger compliments usually sound creepy or uncalled for or something along a negative line. However, I have good instincts about people and I have to say this man seemed like a genuinely kind man. He had a little pep in his step, cheer in his soul and a smile that was certainly true. My crumby mood was turned around for the second time today.

And for the second time the basis for this change was beautiful.

Moral of the story? Let things make you happy. Be it a corny-ass song that you aren't supposed to like. Or a word of kindness from a stranger. Don't linger too long in your doubts and dissection. Sometimes we hold ourselves back from our own happiness - and we just don't realize it.

May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!!

I want to send my warmest wishes to all the moms out there! I hope you all have a very special day with the people who mean the most!!

An extra special wish of happiness to my own mother and my grandmother - who continue to support me just as much in my adult life as they did when I was a child.

And I would also like to thank my beautiful Scarlett - without you I wouldn't know the amazing feeling of being a "mama" ... and to my husband - without you, there would be no Scarlett - so, thank you!

For everyone today, not just the moms, I want to wish the most important thing in the world - HEALTH. If we have our health, we have it all. Be grateful for good health, realize the gifts that you may take for granted - they are promised to no one.

May 9, 2013

pregnant mom with breast cancer ... PLEASE SHARE

Friends, I need your help. It's not a lot that I'm asking, and it's well within reason. My friend Danny's wife, Michelle, is fighting the battle of her life. A beautiful, loving mother of three is now pregnant with her fourth baby while battling Breast Cancer. Diagnosed in March of 2013 she is doing everything she can to heal her body naturally hoping to avoid chemotherapy. Unfortunately, these natural cures are not covered by her health insurance. Please take a second to think about your own life. How YOU could very well be Michelle. Can you imagine the tremendous pressure? Pregnant and willing to do anything for your unborn baby yet knowing that you need to aggressively heal your own body in the most gentle way possible. Or you could be Danny. A father and husband so determined to give his wife everything she needs to heal knowing that he can only reach so many people and do so much. That's where you guys come in.

I am simply asking you to view the link to her fundraiser and pass it along to your friends and family. Share it on Facebook and Twitter. After all, isn't that what social media is intended for? Certainly not only to share flash mob videos and make "Gangnam Style" an overnight sensation. If you have a few extra dollars to donate - it would make a great impact. If you can't donate just simply share the link. And share it again tomorrow. And the next day. Danny and Michelle need to reach as many people as possible in a short amount of time. We can all help them in the most simple way, it just takes a few seconds. And why wouldn't you want to help? What would be your reason to NOT share the link? Can't think of one can you? Just do it.

You can even donate right from my blog just click the "give" button on the right side of the page!

You can copy and paste the link below to your facebook or twitter account or email it to everyone in your address book:

Michelle and Danny deserve to be elated by this wonderful pregnancy and focused on the joys of being parents. Let's reach out for them and help Michelle to kick cancer's ASS!!!!! (this fundraiser ends on June 1st, 2013)

May 8, 2013

Punky Longstocking

The doctor's office... perhaps the only place that a toddler can get away with wearing white corduroys.

Scarlett had her 18 month check-up today (even though she's 19.5 months old) and she is doing great! My super tall girl, who remains in the 90th percentile for height, is now at 34" and quickly catching up to her mama! She's gained ten ounces since January, bringing her to 25.13oz, and is now in the 80th percentile for weight. That's the stats!

As far as skills, she's doing really well in most areas. I think we need to work on meal-time junk. I tend to hold her back a bit when it comes to drinking from a cup (without a straw or spout). She does great - as long as I'm holding onto the cup. I'm sort of afraid to let it go completely because I don't want to clean milk out of the curtains. BUT I am slowly letting go more and more. She's also a little lazy when it comes to using utensils. She CAN do it, but it's easier to hold the fork in her right hand and shovel food into her mouth with her left. She's shown improvement over the past couple of weeks and I'm trying to enforce it as much as possible. Along with her "please"s and "excuse me"s. She's coming around.

Scarlett can count to ten - sometimes perfectly, sometimes out of order. Today she counted my fingers by grabbing one hand and saying, "1,2,3,4,5" and then the other hand saying, "6,7,8,9,10". I was impressed by that.

She knows some shapes: circle, triangle, rectangle, square, diamond, heart, star and oval mostly.

She doesn't really know her colors - sometimes she picks the right ones out of her crayons but I think a lot of times it's coincidence.

She still loves music at meal times and in the car and her current favorite television show is Super Why. Recently she's been able to recognize the letters M, O, B, I and P. Off to a good start!

We went to the aquarium and zoo on Gregg's vacation and she wasn't impressed by the fish or animals. She had the most fun running around the playground getting soaked in the water-play area.

We bought her a sandbox this weekend (in which I liberally sprinkled cinnamon because I read that it keeps bugs away) and she loves dumping that sand everywhere.

I've been taking her to the beach in the mornings on nice, sunny days and she loves playing on the shore. Yesterday she bolted into the water, shocking the crap out of me. Thankfully I was right next to her - holding her hand until she briskly let go. She fell to her knees in the cold water almost immediately. She was a bit stunned but was ready to keep playing. I was kinda pissed because I thought I was prepared for anything yet didn't have a towel or change of clothes. Scarlett- 1, Mama- zip. We managed to dry her off with a sheet and salvaged the trip with a slide and swing at the playground.

She's a roughneck. For sure. She's bold. She's not shy. She falls down and gets up saying, "ok" over and over. Definitely not a delicate flower.

One thing that is pretty adorable: She gets behind my father's motorized wheelchair and thinks she is pushing him from room to room (while he uses the controls). She even makes the grunting noises like it's soooo hard!

Scarlett continues to be the light of my life. I post a tiring amount of her photos on Facebook but I want my friends and family to know that the little faces she makes, the sweet smiles and smirks - they are so accurate in depicting her personality. She's such a little maniac. She's a dash of Pippi Longstocking, a heap of Punky Brewster and a pinch of Dennis the Menace. She's our sweet Scarlett June... and she's growing up too fast!