I’m small. I’m 4”9 and in 6th grade, I’m also 65 pounds, I’m small for my age. Its because I have fast or high metabolism. Having a high metabolism means your body burns energy from food at a faster rate than your peers. My mother keeps getting a letter for my school saying that I’m ”Underweight“. To be honest, its kind of annoying because its just the way that I’m built. They keep sending it to her. Its kinda hard at school to be short and small Continue reading “Small & Short”
This month one of my dearest friends had her very first child. I could not be more elated for her and her fiance. I could not be more ecstatic that she has been reaching out to me for advice as she maneuvers the road of motherhood. In all of our talks what I have found is how our society has created an environment where they prepare us to be a parent in every clinical and technical sense. These parenting classes sell all the beauty and excitement of the new mom smell. Yet all of these parenting classes, coaching, and boot camps fail to prepare parents, especially moms, for the emotional gauntlet that they run in their first hours, days, weeks (and beyond) of becoming a mother. Continue reading “The New Mom Smell”
If you would have asked me how life with twins would look nine and a half years ago I quite possibly would have broken down into a pool of tears. The feeling of reality pummeling me in the gut, wrenching my comfortable existence, instantly changing life with one child to three overnight. However, I found this little piece of the world called blogging as my outlet to share the adventure of life with twins by simply posting updates. The updates were a genesis to keep family far and wide up to date on the excitement and novelty of twins, but eventually our tales became so much more than just updates. Stories about how real life happens in the most simplistic to the depths of emotional turmoil that shape who we are and who our children are to become. So far, that is what life with twins – nine years later – has been for The Chad and I. Continue reading “Life With Twins – Nine Years Later”
Growing up everything was literally an “even Steven” sort of situation. The oldest of three children, the middle grandchild on my mother’s side, both my maternal grandmother and my mother were obsessed with making everything equal. If you want to know about equality these two ladies have the market cornered for equality among children. Everything was fair and square, from each penny spent on back to school clothes to lunches and even Christmas presents. Continue reading “Even Steven Fair and Square”
Multiples are such a curiosity; twins, triplets and higher order multiples always garner childlike questioning from adults. Over the years I have compiled many of these questions, to this day they still make me giggle. During the height of the whole Octo-Mom fiasco, people flocked to the twins and I like a moth to a flame. The gamut of vulnerable, obvious, sometimes silly and sometimes outrageous questions presented themselves to the marveling passersby. Here is my top list of questions from people (and parents) without twins ask parents who have twins and higher order multiples: Continue reading “Top Questions People Without Twins Ask Parents Who Have Twins”
When The Chad and I married I knew I wanted to have his children. Hell bent on exactly two children, one boy, one girl. My plan was flawless, as was my ideal for parenting these prophetical children. I made egregious assumptions on how I planned to parent my children, based on how I was parented as a child. Wanting more for my children, wanting more than what I received, wanting them to experience more than what I had the opportunity to experience. My ideals were laced with sprinkles of pride and entitlement, did you catch any of that? What I did not realize in my assumptions was how much I would eat my words and plans. What I did not realize is how much we have to practice parenting like physicians practice medicine.
Parenting is not something we have completed flawlessly when our children are born.
Speaking with my mother the other day I was given a most beautiful revelation into parenting. In one of our many heartfelt discussions about parenting and my childhood, I shared my vulnerable feeling of how I felt adopted. She [Mom] asked me why. I explained how I felt so out of place in our family since I was so different from my siblings. I was an enormous ball of emotion (still am), I feel everything I experience, my thoughts are my emotions and vice verse. I process and see the world differently, holistically, with all the moving parts and pieces foreseeing the downstream affects of each action with people and anticipating their feelings. Knowing my present self and my child self, I asked her why I was treated so differently. My mom explained how she was so unsure on how to deal with me, my emotions, my ability to communicate thoughts, feelings, and experiences. All of this was unexpected for her and appreciably overwhelming.
Sobbing began on my end of the phone, my inner child grieved with my parental self, grieved with my mother. How awful for my mom to be placed into a situation where she felt so helpless and inadequate to speak to her child. I felt how she must have felt, that my abounding will, overwhelming emotions and stark ability to communicate, outweighed her ability to feel adequate as a parent. She went on to explain how my intelligence, even as a small child, afforded me the amazing opportunity to figure out every situation on my own, so she sometimes left me to my own devices in that regard.
My mom made me so proud in such a somber moment. She had the ability to admit imperfections as a parent, she could tell me that we are not all perfect, we okay to not be perfect. We do not have the answers when we are faced with unknown situations and moments with our children where we just feel helpless and out of sorts, but we make do and love our children through the seasons. So when mom shared this naked parenting moment I could not help to clothe it in love and know exactly how she felt when you do not know what to do for your kids.
I know those moments. I know those imperfections. I know that child. I see her everyday in the faces of my children, in their hearts, in their emotions, their trains of thought. I meet my kids in those moments.
Parenting is trial and error. A learning curve. We are like physicians who are practicing an art in an evolutionary society that is moving much faster than we anticipated. Media, technology, communication, the temptations, the drivers and motivators, everything has far exceeded simpler times, the age of innocence is no more. Our children are thinking today in ways we never thought 20 or 30 years ago. They are exposed to a world where virtue is on the verge of extinction and quite frankly this scares the hell out of me. I’m barely chartering the boat as an adult, let alone comprehending how a child stays afloat in the drowning sea of advancement.
Just a few months ago The Chad found our oldest son conducting a truly innocent search on the internet which opened a Pandora’s box of images, experience and explanations we did not anticipate so early on in his life. At dinner the other evening my sweet baby girl asked how babies are delivered if you do not have to cut open the mommy; like when she was born. Explaining inappropriate touching and how people hurt children by touching their genitals was another conversation in our pool another afternoon. Adult topics and conversations in which we were unprepared and inexperienced to find the words, but met our kids in those moments to educate them.
So we practice gentleness, tact and timing of these very adult topics to be catered to our seven year old’s and 12 year old, respectively. Educating them and informing them in a fashion that does not deter them from experiencing life, prevent them from creating an established opinion (positive or negative) that would discriminate or be hurtful to themselves or others. We practiced preparing them for this evolving world, realistically.
We want to validate their emotions and thoughts which is often the most difficult of all our practices as parents. Dealing with our own baggage that we travel with into adulthood can be an albatross legacy for our children. Such as with my mother and myself. In her home, feelings were never discussed, felt, experienced, and or validated. The legacy she carried was much of the same. At no fault of her own, she only learned what her mother taught her and my grandmother’s mother taught her. My desire was to end the legacy of oppression so that myself and my children could continue to grow and leave a better legacy for their future.
As parents we are often unaware of our traveling suitcase of faults. Often others are quick to point out what we are doing wrong without the gift of grace to help us unpack our baggage. People are messy, that is not always a fault. Others are also quick to judge how we should be doing it as if they have the answers; the lovely armchair parents or second opinion parenting, our Monday morning quarterbacks. What we as parents and people forget, or fail to realize, is that raising children is not a one size fits all t-shirt. Each child is different, each life is different, each experience is unique.
For example, my three kids, I say I treat them all equally. I don’t. Bear with me while I unravel the story. Each of my children has their own gifts, their own personality, this can at time pose difficult when you have twins since everything in the early stages of their life was done in tandem. IÂ do, however, treat all of my children equally based on their individual needs as people.
G, my oldest, is like myself, a walking ball of emotion who’s mind could be met with that of Neil Degrasse Tyson with the way he thinks about the world. He stuffs down his emotions because he is a young man coming into his teens and because of his size. He is a tall, muscularly stout boy with the strength of an ox. My gentle giant. I constantly pray with him and affirm the safety of talking with his father and I about feelings, events, moments, so that he can be free with his emotions and thoughts because he has yet to find his words to elaborate some of what he has seen or experienced. I give him what he needs based on how he needs me as a mother, parent and adult. I cannot treat him as I do his siblings because he is a different child, so I practice strength, support and grace for a young man entering a season of great uncertainty as a tween and teen. Reminding him of his awesomeness and reinforcing that in life we are okay to be different.
Seth, my youngest son, is a river of words, thoughts, emotions, feelings, activity; he is a whir of flowing worry and joy. I constantly pray with him and affirm that he does not need to carry such a heavy burden as a young man, that he too can lighten his load because he has his words. I have to catch myself to ask him to stop talking, I do not want him to stop talking. The day he stops talking is the day I die because that is the day I experience him die inside as a person. His uncanny ability to communicate to myself, The Chad and others is so raw, so beautiful, world leaders could only learn from my verbose little boy. I practice with him the ability to be humble and admit I do not know or have the answers to all the questions he has of this world, but that we will find them out together. I give him the gift of listening because he needs an audience and needs affirmation of his words.
Finally, my baby girl, whom I deny is exactly like me. She is a most beautiful writer, illustrator and artist where her words, her feelings, become art. Her “mess” litters my house, miniature books about the experiences she has had in her tiny life, colorful drawings, paintings, scribbles and tape are found in every corner. I practice patience to try to keep as much of her art and her feelings, I never want her to lose the ability to create works from words, feelings, experiences and thoughts. Her strength, tenacity and independence are a great spirit I never wish to break, so I practice teaching her how to use these gifts so that she is not trying to figure it out in her late 30s and into her 40s. I give her the gift of praise that even when we do it wrong, we tried and we can learn from the unbridled passion and spirit for life and expression.
Writing this I realize I am all three of my children as I practice myself to be a productive adult, loving child, and decent parent. Stuffing down my own feelings of insecurity and worry if I am doing this parenting thing right. Using my words as they flow from my mind, my mouth and they become art. I practice parenting so that my children will become better people in spite of me, not in spite of my upbringing. Just as a physician is skilled in his expertise, he continues to practice to get better. I practice parenting as a mom that wants my children to have more and experience more not because of my selfish desires or pride, but because they deserve more and want more for themselves. The practice of parenting is so that we can become better people for our children, ourselves and they too can become better people.
Last November we made the decision to make an update to our lifestyle. You see, The Chad and I have always been outdoors people; camping, hiking, the open road and the wind at our feet describes our nonconformist hearts. Our life prior to children was filled with impulsive joy rides and haphazard escapades. The main aspect of our willy nilly adventures came in owning a Jeep. If you have never owned a Jeep you miss the mystique of breathing in the fresh air on this off-road convertible. As I mentioned we updated our parental lifestyle; we went out and bought a four door Jeep Wrangler, because life is better in a Jeep.
Sans kids, The Chad and I went everywhere in our Jeep. One most memorable trip together was when we lived in New Mexico, we made an impromptu decision to load up camping gear and head north. Exploring the open wilderness we set out for the Jemez Mountains. Natural hot springs, preserves littered with Ponderosa pines, volcanoes and elegant rock formations color the landscapeÂ of this region outside of Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
We set out to the local grocery story and loaded up on supplies and off we went. As we wound around the abandoned railroad track areas and deep into a wonderful clearing outside of the Gilman Tunnels. A breathtaking pasture of green, a flowing brook and cows.
I can digress on the cows, but lets face it, this is about life in a Jeep.
Only one of the many adventures The Chad and I tripped along while together with our Jeep. So when we purchased our first family Jeep we took our first family camping trip this past June. We came across a four wheel drive-Jeep club on Facebook, joined and set out on our first adventure.
What better locale to take a Jeep Adventure: Sedona!
This was no pink Jeep expedition either. We were blessed to have met an excellent group of people that had previously started out as sheer strangers. An entire day of roaming around the red rock wilderness of Sedona. All of our families and our children forging friendships, building relationships, life of a Jeep owner.
Views were breathtaking. Submarine rock. Chicken rock. Covered in red dust, bull nosed rock edges, smooth from years of weather and age and our Jeeps crawled over these high desert spectacles. A full day was spent out and about and we returned for a mid-afternoon break before heading back out for a night run with some other new found friends.
Our evening adventure was not as pretty as the mountainous red rocks that decorate the surrounding area of Sedona but nonetheless beautiful. Creeping along in the evening hours our group was a literal parade of Jeeps, a band of brothers and sisters sharing the same passion and love for life, the great outdoors, and doing it all in a Jeep. We all watched out for one another. Validating no one was losing fluids, making sure everyone was whole. Being a community.
That weekend was a day after I lost my job at the bank. A weekend I truly was dreading because of the unfortunate circumstances, but it turned into a life changing weekend for The Chad, I and our family. We met some amazing people, these same folks today we call friends and try to get together with as often as we can despite the miles in between us all.
If you have ever heard that it’s a “Jeep thing” or “Jeep life” it is an unspoken way of life. Hard to believe that experiencing life could be different, but there is something to be said about having the top off on your Jeep, experiencing the sights and smells that accompany a life of unbridled adventure where roads are optional. Above all, the relationships and friends you make along the way who share the same values and love for life as you do, those friendships are priceless and cherished. Let’s face it, life is just better in a Jeep.
I was talking with my friend Joie the other day and I couldn’t help be taken back to the last seven years of my life. Tripping over those years of nostalgia I pondered where the time went. Today as I look over and I see two individuals, different yet similar, completely independent yet reliant on the other. Continue reading “Surviving Twins The First Year”
All winter parents were longing for the dog days of summer to arrive. When the day finally came for the kids to depart from the crayons, pencils and elementary learning’s, groaning ensued once more from parents counting the days until school resumed. This year our fish family ventured into a new era as the twins had their first big day celebrating their fifth birthday and we counted our days all summer until the little squids had their first day of kindergarten.
What better way to start the BIG DAY right but with the most important meal of the day, breakfast! My three fish kids started their morning off with a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats with skim milk. Although my daughter will secretly confess she prefers hers without milk at times. Frosted Mini Wheats has eight layers of whole grain fiber to help kids feel full and focused to conquer their first BIG DAY.
Not only were the twins beginning their education adventure but they were enrolling in a new school environment. We helped to prepare them by doing some of the following to make that first BIG DAY less hectic and reduce their anxiety:
- Chose their own clothes and shoes for the school year
- Picked out their own school supplies
- Showed excitement for picking out backpacks
- Let them choose their own lunch pails
- Stress free excitement (from parents)
As parents we often forget the last step in helping our children to tackle their BIG DAY is to show lots of positive reinforcement and excitement and pocket all the stress. Not only are our kids anxious and a little stressed but so are the parents. Remember that everyday can be a BIG DAY with tests, activities and the like for our kids when school is in session. We can help them overcome any fears and anxiety with lots of simple fun, excitement, and always focus on the positive.
Did your kids have a BIG DAY this year when returning to school? Any major milestones like my twins entering kindergarten? For more BIG DAY success stories, tips, and ideas visit:Â http://www.scholastic.com/pcbigday/
This past Friday was the kickoff to the holiday season here in Phoenix. Not an official kickoff with ribbons and hoopla and hullabaloo, but a kickoff in the grand scheme of over seven million twinkling LED Christmas lights celebrating the wonderful season that truly commences this Thursday.
Twinkling, glowing, flashing, dancing, and blinking in over a one mile maze of wonder for children to gaze their eyes upon each and every holiday season are beautiful Christmas lights. In the west Valley of Phoenix metro is a local farm that hosts these now eco-friendly LED beauties to share in the spirit of the holiday season and to give back to the community on a truly astounding level. Â Friday night was the official opening night for the Arizona Celebration of Lights for the VIP members of the media here in Phoenix and I was so thrilled to attend as a member to be among the staff of 12News and AZCentral. Not only to share the Christmas lights with my kids, but to also here more about how the Arizona Celebration of Lights has touched our community.
Thanks to generous sponsors like Sheely Farms who give up their farm for the wonderful production of glowing lights and the drive through traffic to enjoy the joyous event. Other generous sponsors such as PostNet, 12News, Channel 3, 99.9 KEZ, Holiday Inn Suites and Holiday Inn Express, Jamba Juice and Chik-Fil-A to name a few. With the help of the sponsors, proceeds from visiting the Arizona Celebration of Lights park where admission is $15 per vehicle Monday through Thursday 6-9pm and $20 Friday through Sunday 6-10pm, go to heartfelt organizations such as Salvation Army, St. Mary’s Food Bank, and Ronald McDonald House of Phoenix. Get $2 off as well by bringing in a bag, with a minimum of (3), canned goods to be donated to the food bank and families in need.
While listening to the presentation about the 14 year history here in Arizona I was pleased to hear about all the organizations that will receive proceeds from the event. The boost in local economy is tremendous in a devastating recession, but the truth is that these organizations are in great need as are the people they serve and as we come into the spirit of sharing, gratitude, and giving we should remember to give where we can. I was tweeting up a storm on Twitter that night in order to retain all the information to memory about how our non-profits will profit our local families and community members. This year alone St. Mary’s Food Bank of Arizona donated over 400,000 food boxes to local families in need, that is over 72 million pounds of food! Where in years past they doled out only half that, and this year is the first year the food bank has seen a decline in donations. So now even more we should give , if just for the receipt of a small discount while driving through the park, every little bit helps to donate to the food banks to help local families who are not as fortunate.
Moreover are the families of the children who travel to be at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for care and sought treatment and their families sought refuge and relief with Ronald McDonald house while in the care of the loving staff of Phoenix Children’sÂ Hospital, where Ronald McDonald House Charities housed over 1900 families so far this year and the year is not yet over!
Everyone enjoys beautiful, seasonal Christmas lights and we should love them even more knowing that the lights help our local communities and families like ours each day the park is open this holiday season.
My kids were loving the event on top of me getting my philanthropic fill of goodness to make me want to do more. They were antsy and chomping at the bit to get back in the car and see all the lights. But in the meantime we took photos next to the tree, and with the Chik-Fil-A cow! When we arrived at the park we were immediately greeted by a glowing tunnel of beauty and the cool evening air where we rolled down the windows to really take in the spirit of the season and the magic this time of year brings. Christmas music playing across the pretuned radio station as we drove along the path to Santa’s Village where the kids could get out and play.
How can so much fun be so rewarding on so many levels. If you have the opportunity, the drive is well worth seeing the fun the kids will partake with seeing the lights and taking at pit stop at Santa’s Village, and to share in the season of giving and sharing with your family and other families. If coming from the east valley, head over to I-10 and head West to 99th Avenue exit and go right for about a mile and a half and you will see all the signs and lights. But if you cannot get out that way, view a few of the videos on You Tube of the fun lights on display, or “like” the Arizona Celebration of Lights page on Facebook where you can see other great videos and photos.
Animated Christmas Lights Display Arizona Celebration of Lights
Wishing everyone the happiest and safe holiday season.
Big thanks to the staff at AZCentral for the photos and an ever generous and speechless thank you to the folks at Miller Davis Agency who put together and promoted a wonderful event, the generosity and kindness of Mike Miller, thank you for you time that evening Mike, and affording me and my family the opportunity to get a sneak peak before the park opened to the public and to share what the Arizona Celebration of Lights is all about.