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My Fragile Psyche

13 May

So as uncomfortable as I am looking at myself in the mirror, I have never been happier or more comfortable with myself in my life.  I don’t know if it is because I am getting older (30 in 2 months), or if it’s because my hunky husband somehow still wants to have everything to do with me every night of the week, or if it’s because I’m too busy to care.  Perhaps it is a combination of all three.

Image Courtesy Google Images

As solid as I feel emotionally, I have these supremely fragile days, like I did on Wednesday.  My dear, hot husband is a complete workaholic.  I feel blessed to be a stay at home mom but I never get a break.  Even rides in the car don’t provide me with any alone time.  My job is literally 24/7 and sometimes I have a mental health day.  I’m trying to learn to allow myself those days and to not feel entirely nutty when I have one.  This is by far the most stressful job I’ve ever had and add to it a nice dose of PPD, I think I’m handling it pretty well.

Image Courtesy theidagirlsays.wordpress.com

I just need to solidify the idea in my mind, that no day is going to be perfect, the house is never going to be perfectly clean, dinner will never be perfectly on the table at 6pm, my children will not always be perfectly behaved, and I cannot always look my best.  It would be nice if I had an Au Pair who could help me achieve all of these things but the reality of the situation is that I’m a one-woman-show.

So forgive me my fragile days and lift me up.  I’ll do the same for you.

My Mother’s Day Presents

8 May

Mother’s Day doesn’t look the same for all of us. As a Stay at Home Mom, I am with my kids all day, every day. My ideal Mother’s Day would be me, alone, sitting in a comfortable chair on a beach somewhere with a good book in my hand and a jug of water with lime slices in it. Alone. It would then be followed up with a pedicure. Alone. I would then go home to my family, completely refreshed and thankful for the “mommy time” and we would eat their favorite meal to avoid any dinner-time complications. Together.

But that’s not what Mother’s Day looks like for me. Mother’s Day, for me, looks like any other day. My dear, hardworking husband is a restaurant manager in a swanky restaurant in a posh hotel, and is therefore required to work all of the big, busy holiday-days. So for me, Mother’s Day looks a little like any other day. Yet still, I have already received three very different gifts from my three very different children.

Styles.

1. Styles: He woke up around 8:30, came into my room and asked if he could watch TV. I happily obliged so that I could have a few more uninterrupted minutes of sleep. He came back in at 9:15 and told me that he wanted waffles for breakfast. I laid in bed a few more minutes, finally drug myself out of the warm covers, and made him some waffles and a glass of orange juice. While he ate we talked and when he was done, he gave me a hug and told me “Happy Mother’s Day”. His gift to me was speech. And a hug. He is old enough to know that the day is significant and celebrates his mom who loves him unconditionally. His age makes him sensitive to the fact that today is my day but it is because of HIM that I am even able to celebrate this day. His gift of speech drives me nuts sometimes but it enables my job as a mother to be a little bit easier because I rarely have to guess at what he wants. Except for when he mumbles. Which is kind of a lot. I wish he’d stop doing that….

Grady.

2. Grady: He woke up at 5:30 this morning and nursed for a phenomenally long time then went back to sleep after a few burps and farts. He then slept until 9:45 which enabled me to spend time with Styles. Once he woke up, he was all smiles and coos. His gifts to me were time and talks. Last night was the first time that Grady had ever cooed at me. Well, it wasn’t really at me, it was at the writing on my t-shirt but nonetheless, I was wearing the t-shirt so by default, he was talking to me. But this morning. THIS morning was different. He looked into my eyes and smiled FIRST. He spoke FIRST. Without any prompting or making ridiculous faces at him first. I have been told that the first 6 months of having 2 under 2 is really difficult and sleep-deprived. I am so blessed that Grady is the easiest baby I could have possibly asked for. He has very distinct whines (not even cries, just whines) for his needs. He is easier to read than a picture book and the past two months have been some of the most fulfilling, wonderful, and easy months for me. Although if you were to ask my husband he’d tell you that these two months have been horrible because he comes home to a tornado of toys, laundry, pots, and pans all over the house. I digress….

Madilyn.

Madilyn: Slept until 11:40 this morning. NO. LIE. Her gifts to me today were time and laughs. Before she woke, I was able to take a shower. A good, quality shower where my hair got washed and my legs were shaved. It was absolutely glorious. When she woke up, Styles was on his computer and Grady was taking a nap. So Madilyn and I sat outside while she ate breakfast/lunch and I drank my coffee. She is becoming so animated and I love how excited she gets over the simplest of things. She is now on my phone having a very intense conversation with the person on the other end.

So though my husband may be at work, and I am literally stuck at home (his car got a flat so he had to take my van to work today), I am thankful for my three kids. I am grateful that despite being told that I’d never have any more kids on my own after Styles, that I had two more children. I am blessed to be able to be home with them every day, even on Mother’s Day. The littlest two might not know what today is about, but I do so today I am going to relish them a little more than I normally do.

What did you get for Mother’s Day? What did you do for Mother’s Day? Tell me about you, your family, and what Mother’s Day looks like for you.

C.A.B.D.

5 May

Today on a trip to the happiest place on Earth (WalMart), Madilyn found a Creepy Ass Baby Doll that she really, really wanted.  You know the kind of doll I’m talking about.  It’s airbrushed to look real, has wrist-rolls, fat piggie toes, and those eyes that close when you lay it down?  The kind of baby doll that likely spends the night perusing your home looking for the sharpest object to stab your eyes out with.  Yeah.  That kind of Creepy Ass Baby Doll.

I hate baby dolls.  As a matter of fact, I always have.  I was a My Little Pony and books type of girl and I prayed every day that I was pregnant that Madilyn would find baby dolls boring and weird too.

Um.  That didn’t happen.  She loves them.  And naturally as she gets older, she’s beginning to like the super-creepy ones.  So I’m going to have to start locking my door when I sleep.

Tell me what you think:

Geez, I’m sorry… I didn’t realize Madilyn was so violent.

That baby’s creepy, right?


							

mURPHY’S lAW mONDAY

2 May

Things happen in my life on a near-daily basis that prove Murphy’s Law as truth. Each Monday is now dedicated to showcasing my life’s crazy moments.

If it can happen, it will happen.

My third, wonderful child was born exactly 8 weeks ago today.  That Monday, Murphy’s Law was tested.

I was admitted into the hospital the morning of March 7, 2011 to get 2 bags of Penicillin due to a positive Group B Strep culture administered before my induction would begin.  The induction began at 11:30 after two full rounds of Penicillin and as a third round was administered.  Fast forward to 5:30PM and I still wasn’t in labor, despite the fact that the Pitocin was turned up to a 24 out of 30.  My doctor came in to check me and decided that we should break my water (like I said I’d never have done again) because the baby was still at a -5.  My water was broken at 5:45PM and my wonderful doctor stayed to monitor the baby and me until 6PM.  At 6PM I still had not had a contraction so my doctor decided to leave the hospital to check on another patient of hers that was at the other hospital just down the road.  This particular patient was a first time mom and had been progressing slowly all day so she thought she’d just hop over there, show her face, and come back to deliver my baby since I have a history of rapid labors.  I felt my first contraction around 6:15PM.  As history dictates, my contractions were pretty well one right after another but not super painful.  I had to pee at 6:55PM.  I had one contraction on the way to the restroom and one on the way back from the restroom.  I decided to jump up into the bed and lie on my side.  My next contraction caused a huge, strong reaction in my uterus and the nurse noticed the look on my face.  She checked my cervix and I was 8cm.  But in the next contraction I could feel the baby moving down into the birth canal.  My baby was born at 7:10PM into the hands of two nurses.

If your doctor leaves your hospital to check on a patient at another hospital because you’re not even in labor yet, you WILL have your baby in the one hour that she is gone.

If it can happen, it will happen.

My Letter to Mamom

6 Mar

I wrote this tonight for my grandmother’s memorial service which will take place on Tuesday while I am in the hospital.  I intended to write tonight about why my husband and I made the VERY difficult decision to be induced tomorrow morning.  A decision that we did not take lightly, as I am vastly opposed to induction for anything other than serious medical reasons.  But instead, I wrote for the woman who insisted that I had a talent.  A talent with words.  A talent that I didn’t believe existed until recently.  And a talent that I am now more determined to not let go to waste.

Please enjoy this.  It was written with a lot of love, over many tears, and with a very runny nose.  I’ll get back to my own life after my baby is born.

***************

I am devastated I cannot be with you all to remember the life and mourn the death of Martha Northcutt today.  Instead, I am sitting in a hospital, 4 hours away holding her just-born 6th Great-Grandchild, a  child whose due date was originally her birthday: March 18th.

Martha was different things to each of us; friend, wife, mother.  But to me, she was Mamom, and that’s how I will address her today.

“In one of the stars, I shall be living.
In one of them, I shall be laughing.
And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing when you look at the sky at night.”
– An excerpt from “The Little Prince”, a book that Mamom shared with me many, many years ago.  Many fond memories that I have of my time with her revolve around either reading or writing.  I was always a bookworm and she seemed to understand my love of literature, fostering it from a very young age.  I have a collection of vintage books that she gave me a few years ago; they are some of my most treasured possessions and they mean even more to me today than they did a week ago.  I would not be the woman I am today if it weren’t for her influences in my life.  We did not have the good fortune to spend lots of time together as I was growing up but I did cherish every moment that we spent together and I have many fond memories of those times.  I’d like to share a few of those with you today.

When I was young, Mamom taught me which utensil to use while eating, the proper way to use a spoon, where (and where not) to place my hands while dining, and to chew with my mouth closed.  I may not use those skills on a daily basis but I’ve certainly wowed a couple of dates at fancy restaurants and some prospective in-laws.  Because of her taking the time to teach me these things, I feel comfortable in good company, swanky restaurants, and with the upper echelon.   She taught me the true meaning of poise and because of her; I learned to walk with good posture, something that aided in my years as a dancer and something that I am complimented on often.  I never fail to think of Mamom’s constant reminders to stand up straight and hold my head up high when I was a young girl when people notice my stance.  It makes me proud that she took the time to help me learn to carry myself like a young woman should.  Thank you, Mamom for teaching me poise.

Every Christmas I think about how when I was old enough, she took me to the theater see “The Nutcracker”.  We always dressed in fancy dresses with pretty jewelry.  I felt like a high-society belle each time we went and my love of theater blossomed.  She shared “The Phantom of the Opera” with me and I was drawn in.  I don’t believe I would have ever danced had it not been for my early days enjoying the theater with her.  When we moved to Alaska when I was young, our trips to the theater were one of the things that I missed every single year, and still do.  Thank you, Mamom for introducing me to art.

We shared a love of all things avian.  It might have been boring to some, but sitting at the window waiting patiently for birds to descend upon her feeders excited us.  It was something that we shared every time we were together.  The last time I saw a Cardinal was at her kitchen feeder, until this past weekend when I saw one in my neighborhood.  I don’t think it was a coincidence.  Thank you, Mamom for teaching me to love nature, and to be patient for its presence.

We spent lots of time at a marble-topped table with yellow chairs playing “Parcheesi” where I was taught good sportsmanship, how to win graciously, and how to lose gracefully, rarely without a good case of the boo-hoo-hee-hee’s.  Thank you, Mamom for teaching me grace and perseverance in life.

Over the course of my adult life, we have forged a friendship.  I looked forward to our phone calls a couple of times a month, and we emailed on a regular basis.  She has always applauded what she thought was my talent; writing.  Until recently, I doubted the existence of any talents but she was always there offering to help me become published, or telling me to finish my degree in writing, reminding me what I am good at.  I recently began writing again, mostly due to her encouragement.  I also doubted that I was ready to welcome a third child into my very hectic life.  Being a Stay-at-home-mom is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.  I asked her recently how she did it with 3 children so close in age.  Her advice to me was not taken lightly.  And she shared that like me, she had lots of help from a very patient husband who “shuffled a path through the toys” when he got home.  It has changed my life for the better and has emboldened me, just in the past couple of months.  She told me that I was ready and that my feelings were normal.  I can doubt myself no longer.  Thank you, Mamom for believing in me and helping me see that I can be good at the things I love.

I’m certain each of Mamom’s grandchildren can share the following sentiment:  She made THE.  BEST.  Scrambled eggs and Oatmeal.  I’ve tried my entire adult life to duplicate each, even after her instructions were emailed to me, and I’ve failed miserably.  It saddens me that those are now mere memories.  It pains me that I couldn’t be closer in distance, but over the years and through the miles we have been close at heart and I have tried to keep both Mamom and Papa abreast of my life, and the lives of my children.

I could go on for pages but instead I’ll keep the rest and leave you with this:

“Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.”  Thank you, Mamom for your love.

ADHD – Not So Crunchy

10 Feb

I’d like to start this post by saying the following: I’ve never believed in ADHD. I always thought that ADHD was a diagnosis to brush off bad parenting. Kids who had ADHD spent way too much time in front of the TV, not enough time outside running their energy out, and did not experience enough discipline in their lives. The thought of giving a child Ritalin or something similar because they had energy baffled me. Kids have energy. It’s what they have. It’s what they do. Lack of attention span? GET OUTSIDE! GET DISCIPLINED! GET A ROUTINE!

That was then, this is now.

My handsome son was born 6 minutes after midnight on August 18, 2001 after 3 hours and 6 minutes of a whirlwind labor. When they laid him on my belly, I was so afraid to touch him. All I could do was stare at him with saucer-sized eyes and mouth agape. I remember my mom yelling at me to touch him (!) but he scared the crap out of me. I had never really been around babies before. He was so small and fragile, (at 8lbs 13oz), but absolutely beautiful. And it was then and there that I realized that I would never, ever be able to do enough for him. I would never be able to give him what he needed in life and I would most certainly fail him.

I don’t feel that way anymore…all the time. I do my best by him. I’ve realized that I’m not a perfect parent but nobody is. Shoot, even Mrs. Brady had her faults. How did she get to be a single mom to 3 girls anyways? The woman probably had a crazy streak, I know I would. Anyways, back to Styles: He was the easiest baby EVER, except when it came to eating. I had (have) flat nipples and opted to try breastfeeding without the use of shields. It was SO painful and I’m sure it was difficult for him to get a good latch while he began the work of drawing my nipples out. I had refused pacifiers at my baby shower and really didn’t want him to ever use one because I was absolutely terrified of nipple confusion and failing at nursing. Unfortunately, all he wanted to do was nurse and his little tummy couldn’t handle all of the milk that he was ingesting so he began projectile vomiting undigested milk all over the place. FUN. Our pediatrician recommended a pacifier after day 5 so I broke down and got him one. I’m not sure that he ever had nipple confusion but breastfeeding was certainly a learning experience for the both of us. After a few weeks, we got the hang of it and after about 2 months my pain finally dissipated.

Once we got the hang of it and my pain went away, I was better able to concentrate on enjoying Styles while he nursed. Because of the difficulties that we started with, I hadn’t yet tried to nurse him in public but the day finally came when I would try. It didn’t go so well. He would latch for maybe ten seconds then turn his head towards the action going on around him. He was hungry but wouldn’t nurse. He just wanted to see what was going on around him. Defeated, I took him to the car where he hungrily and efficiently ate his lunch. About a week later, we had family in town. I noticed that Styles wouldn’t nurse if anyone else was in the room with us. As soon has he heard another voice, he would unlatch and look around like nuts. The second I went to the bedroom, he would nurse just fine. Once the family left, I began noticing that if the TV was on, he wouldn’t nurse either. It had to be dim and quiet for him to nurse.

He was only 2 months old.

As Styles grew, he had boundless energy and once he started talking (FINALLY at the age of 3), he never, ever shut his mouth. 6 years later it’s still never realized a quiet moment. He could play for hours with his cars but beyond that, nothing held his attention for very long. And meal time? Forget it. It took him at least an hour to finish a meal (this bit actually hasn’t changed). Typical toddler!

Styles went to VPK when he was 4. He was the youngest in his class but a super-smart cookie. But he wouldn’t color, or sit still for story time, or take the time to learn to write. He had BETTER things to do! Like what? I can’t even tell you. But there were better things. Believe me. Styles loved to be the center of attention. During song time, he was always up dancing in front of the class. Typical Preschooler!

I debated sending Styles to Kindergarten. He was only 4 when the school year started but turned 5 shortly thereafter. I had heard that boys are less mature than girls and that it was ok to hold them back. I wasn’t at all concerned about his maturity, I was concerned about the fact that he still couldn’t write his name like the other kids in his VPK class, and couldn’t recognize simple words like “if” and “it”. I couldn’t ignore his supreme intelligence and decided to send him anyways. The kid could have a conversation with an adult, no issue. He GOT. LIFE. His teachers loved him. Styles was entertaining and excited about learning. He was in and out of his seat so that he could socialize with the other children in his class. He spent recess working on the classwork that he was unable to finish in class. Have I mentioned that he NEVER ate his lunch? Typical Kindergartener!

First grade came and went. Styles constantly brought home work that hadn’t been finished in class. His handwriting was (and still is) atrocious. He was a disruption to the class but not in an angry way. He was just so excited about life and wanted to share…everything…with anyone who would listen, whether someone was already talking or not.

Second grade. Styles had an awesome teacher. I had known her since I was a kid; she was excited to have Styles in her class and she had high expectations of him. The year began with some troubles. I noticed that Styles was having trouble concentrating on his homework. Even a simple beam of light on the table distracted him. His distraction wasn’t fleeting. He became obsessed. Obsession ruled his life. He would get excited about a toy and talk about it from the time he woke up until he went to bed at night. Or upset about something that happened in school and talk about it from the time he got home until he left for school again the next morning. He was abnormally emotional about everything. Everything. When he came home from school, he would cry and cry over his frustrations in school and say that he “just couldn’t do it”. He’s immensely smart, but was unable to get his intelligence down on paper. It was frustrating and upsetting as his parent to see him suffer. I decided to start eliminating things from his diet to see if it would help these symptoms. We eliminated refined sugars, everything white, added fruit high in antioxidants such as pomegranate and blueberry, began giving him fish oil caps to increase his Omega-3s, and started an herbal supplement called, “Calm Child”. I’m all about the placebo effect so we told him what the supplements were intended to do. I told his teacher that we were making some changes at home and to please let me know how things went at school. She was excited for Styles and eager to see the changes that I hoped for. After about 2 months of living with these diligent changes in diet and lifestyle, nothing had changed. Styles was the same at school and at home. It was around that time that his teacher suggested two things. 1: That Styles was gifted and 2. That Styles had ADHD. Gifted, yes. ADHD? HAHAHAHAHA! Not MY child.

I am a disciplinarian. We didn’t have cable TV. Styles was allowed to release his energy however and whenever he saw fit. I read to him every night. I was attentive to his needs. He had his own independence. We ate well, er…I ate well. Styles didn’t like to eat. Still doesn’t. He has better things to do. There’s no such thing as ADHD!

I reluctantly signed the papers that would allow Styles to be observed in class by a professional to determine whether or not we needed to pursue an official diagnosis. Near the end of the school year, we got the results back. It was clear by the results that the professional who did the observation thought that Styles had ADHD. She recommended that we see a Psychiatrist. I laughed at the results of his test while my husband got angry with me for “taking it so lightly”. I laughed because I could see Styles acting out the things that the observer described. And as much as they saddened me, they were the little extra special things that made him Styles. During tests or other times that he needed to be doing work, he would rifle through his desk, appearing to look for something. He would turn the pages of his work, appearing to look at what he should be doing, then roll his pencil across his desk for a few minutes. He would then get up to talk to the teacher, who would make him sit down and the whole thing would start over. Most times, he wouldn’t even finish his work. He was unable to finish his work.

When school got out that year, I took him to a Child Psychiatrist who was a DO. I liked the fact that she knew natural ways to deal with mental disorders. She met with us a few times and determined that Styles did, in fact have ADHD. I begged and pleaded with her for ways to treat him that didn’t involve drugs. She told me that where ADHD is involved, there is little that you can do that is “natural” that will truly help control the symptoms. She did admit that a diagnosis of ADHD was not taken lightly by her. She said that much like autism, it is a spectrum disorder and can have varying degrees of severity. Apparently Styles was a relatively severe case. I told her about the changes that we had made with his diet and the herbal supplements and she was not at all surprised that it had not helped him.

I was devastated. My efforts at being a good parent, a parent who would protect her child from all of life’s troubles, a parent who genuinely tried to do what was best for her child, had failed. I couldn’t protect him from his genes, from the chemical imbalance in his brain, or from the social stigmas that follow people with ADHD around like a landfill stench. We began a long and arduous process of finding a medication that would help Styles overcome the symptoms of ADHD. I’ll save that story for another day, but there were many before we finally settled on Adderall. Styles is now even more well-rounded than he was before he began taking medication. His grades were never bad, but he had a difficult time doing anything. I was afraid that the medications would cause him to become a zombie but that hasn’t happened. He definitely calms down, he is able to focus, and his work is outstanding. He was tested for the gifted program before Christmas and we recently found out that he does not only suffer from ADHD but is, in fact, gifted. I attended his Honor Roll ceremony today, where he received “High Honor Roll” for Q1 and “Honor Roll” for Q2. He comes home from school every day, has a snack, and does his homework. He concentrates in school. He gets phenomenal grades without much studying, and he is just all round…better. He generally doesn’t take medication on the weekends but there is rarely a morning that he doesn’t ask for it before he leaves for school. Ask him. A 9 year old who wants to take medication because he knows that it helps him to be the best Styles that he can be.

I couldn’t give my son the best start in his life, but I can help him have a better life by guiding and directing him, and allowing him to have a say in his health and well-being. I feel strengthened that he recognizes the differences in taking his medication and not taking it. And I feel proud that he’s mine; that he’s gone from a baby who didn’t have the time to nurse, to a child who makes straight A’s and is “gifted”.

I have so much more to stay on this topic, and it is one that I plan to talk about on a fairly regular basis. I want to share with people the “natural” things that we tried, educate people on what ADHD is and is NOT, and let all parents, crunchy or not, know that it is not only a real disorder, but a serious one. A disorder that if ignored, can put your child in a strange place emotionally and socially. It is a disorder that, if not treated with prescription drugs, can lead to self-medication with drugs and alcohol later in life. I want parents to know that it’s OK to have a child with ADHD, and that it’s OK to seek out natural alternatives for medication. But if and when nothing works, do NOT feel ashamed to turn to modern medicine to help your children live their best lives. I received a lot of flack from people about putting my child on drugs. And sometimes in the natural parenting circle, I am embarrassed that my son’s disorder and the way that I’ve chosen to treat it is not “holistic”. But it’s ok. Because as purple as my decision to treat him may be, it’s a decision that I made after informing myself and after trying other things. And it’s a decision that I made as his parent who is only trying to do what we’re all trying to do: Give our children the best lives possible.

Spoken like a True Parent

2 Feb

My son, Styles is from a previous relationship. He’s 9. I won’t tell you how old my husband was when he was born because I’m pretty sure you’d never talk to me again. All you need to know is that my husband is younger than me. As of July, I’ll officially be a “Puma”. Anyways, back to Styles. He’s mine. Kyle has really stepped up to the plate and plays the daddy role well. He disciplines, he loves, he provides, he entertains. And he disciplines. I keep telling him that when he has his own kids, he’ll understand the whole “choose your battles” concept. His response to that is usually, “Styles IS my son, I DO understand!” No. He doesn’t. Or DIDN’T until very recently.

Due to the restrictions I’m experiencing with this pregnancy, Kyle has been giving Madilyn her nightly bath for the past couple of months. Like most kids, Kyle loves routine. (did I just say that out loud?) I meant Madilyn loves routine. So together, they have developed a really good bath time routine. I love to listen to them playing in the bathroom from the living room. Kyle had me absolutely convinced that Madilyn picks up her own toys while in the tub. *hold the phone* WHA?! She doesn’t do anything remotely similar for me, in or out of the bathroom. I’ve given her a few baths in the past couple of months and not once has she picked her toys up for ME! *pout*

We ran a little late on dinner tonight and Kyle offered to do the dishes if I’d give our little princess a bath. I was more than a little happy to trade dishes for my bathing beauty. After a nice, long bath, I told Madilyn that it was time to get out and asked her to pick up her toys. I even sang the jacked-up version of the Barney Clean-Up song that Kyle sings to Madilyn every night. She laughed at me. No lie, she looked at me and laughed. Then farted. I yelled at Kyle to please divulge his toy-picking-princess secrets. He came in the bathroom and said:

“Yeah, she doesn’t do that. I gave up on that a while ago.”

Spoken like a true parent.

Christmas Tree Traditions

13 Dec

I absolutely LOVE Christmas.  I love everything about it: the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree, the scent of baking that lingers in my kitchen for over a month, the warmth of a fuzzy snowman-adorned blanket, the crisp air that stings your nose when you breathe in, the lights, the decor, AND the music.  Christmas makes me happy. The kind of happy that you felt as a kid as you waited for Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve.  The kind of happy that you feel when you discover something new in a world of familiarity.  I feel just pure bliss when surrounded by snowflakes, snowmen, moose, reindeer, and Santa.

One of my favorite things during Christmas, is getting the Christmas tree put up and decorated.  I also love going to stores and other people’s homes to see how they decorate their trees.  I envy the Martha Stewart-types who put up beautifully trimmed trees with ribbons, sprigs of sea oats, beads, and white lights.  I ogle over the trees that look like they just jumped from the pages of “Southern Living” into someone’s random living room.  I lust after the trimmings and trappings of country-inspired decorum placed thoughtfully here and there.

But my tree is one of memory.  Each and every ornament on our tree is inspired and brings back memories.  We sit around the tree with Christmas music playing, sipping hot cocoa, while we unwrap each ornament individually, then guide the ornament to its temporary home on our tree.  We briefly talk about each ornament every single year, walking down memory lane as we trim.  We remember the person who gave it to us, and almost always the very specifics of the gift.  Our lights are multi-colored because white would not match the vibrant and eclectic personality of our tree.  I look forward to this walk down memory lane every year and it is a tradition I hope never fades.  I would love to have so many ornaments on our tree some day that each branch is weighed down with a memory.

Our favorite this year was an ornament given to my husband by the family dog as a Christmas gift last year.  It is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with a halo and angel wings.  “Farley” passed on to greener pastures and softer rugs this year, and the irony of the gift did not escape us as we had a laugh and then a moment of silence when the ornament was unwrapped.

Maybe some day we’ll have a house big enough to have an elegant tree and our tree of memories, but if given the choice I’d always choose our Christmas Memory Tree.  Unfortunately, in the haste of moving a few years ago most of my ornaments were lost.  I now live vicariously through my husband’s ornaments while I slowly rebuild my own collection.  The tradition is no less wonderful now, though.  I love hearing his stories and recollecting my favorite, now lost ornaments and their tales.

What are your Christmas tree traditions?  I’d love to hear about what goes into decorating your trees and maybe even see some pictures.

Wordless Wednesday: A Blast from the past

1 Dec

Freak the Freak Out

27 Nov

By FAR my most popular post so far. Glad it is being enjoyed and that I’m not the only parent who thinks that this song is highly inappropriate for the age group this show is targeted to.
I don’t know about you, but my 9 yr old, innocent son enjoys watching TV from time to time a lot.  His favorite shows are “Phineas and Ferb”, “The Wizards of Waverly Place”, “iCarly”, “Sonny With A Chance”, and “Victorious” among a couple of others.  Aside from Demi Lovato’s recent entry into a rehab program, I have had no problems with the stars in the shows that he watches.  We haven’t talked at all about Demi Lovato or what she went into rehab for, I’m not sure he even knows that she’s there.  I’m just glad that she’s getting help for her reported eating disorder and cutting problems, and I hope that she returns to the scene soon.

But (and this is a big BUT for me), just this week I have come into unfamiliar parental territory.  The show, “Victorious” aired a one-hour special entitled “Freak the Freak Out” named after a song that the show’s star, Victoria Justice, recently released.   I’m not at ALL impressed.  The song talks about how the object of Victoria’s affections (correction provided by apparent co-writer of the song) Victoria’s PARENTS don’t listen to her and she’s sick and tired of it.  Lyrics (from second stanza) are as follows:

I’m so sick of it,
Your attention never stick
Never listen, You never listen.
I’m so sick of it,
So I’m throwing on a fit
Never listen, You never listen.
I scream, your name,
It always stays the same.
I scream, and shout,
So what I’m gonna do now
Is freak the freak out, Hey!

I could be wrong but I believe that the target audience for this show is somewhere between 8 and 12, and my son listens to the music sung by stars of various Disney & Nickelodeon shows on his MP3 player.  It is my professional parental opinion that this song is exceedingly inappropriate for this target age.  Freak the freak out?  At your PARENTS?  Really, Nickelodeon?  You  might as well have just said “Freak the F#ck Out”.  This is NOT a phrase I’d like for my 9 yr old to be repeating at school OR at home.  Argue with me on the target age if you want to, but I guarantee you not many high schoolers are watching this show (I wouldn’t have).

I realize that I am his parent and I have the authority to tell him whether or not he can watch a show or listen to certain music but I don’t feel like I should have to be music police for a 9 yr old while he is watching a network that I trust to deliver age appropriate content.  What is appropriate for this age?  I think I should be able to trust Nickelodeon and Disney to deliver (relatively) wholesome and fun music for my kids to listen to.  I’m OK with songs about love, feelings, and growing up, but directing these sorts of emotions (and phrases) in a song for elementary and middle schoolers is just out of line.  Growing up can be really difficult to do and I know that teenage angst seems to come younger and younger as the decades crawl onward.  It’s difficult for these “big kids” or “young adults” to communicate appropriately as it is, why are we teaching them to “freak the freak out” or “scream and shout” to get someone’s attention?  Are they going to be able to differentiate between peer relationships and parental relationships and what’s appropriate in each?  I don’t think that it’s appropriate or necessary to “scream and shout” in ANY relationship, but this song is clearly supporting doing just that if someone isn’t listening to you.  I don’t know what I expect, songs about respect?  I mean why not?  Sing it, Aretha!  This “Freak the Freak Out” song is super catchy so it’s hard not to nod your head a little and remember the lyrics upon listening to it only a few times.  So now I have a 9 yr old walking around talking about “freaking the freak out” and I really don’t know how to handle it.

What do I do?  Tell him to turn the TV off every time the song comes on?  Forbid him from watching “Victorious” or even worse, Nickelodeon?  Am I being too overprotective?  How many of you parents out there think that the phrase, “Freak the freak out” is inappropriate for a 9 yr old to be saying, or even exposed to for that matter?

If you’d like to check the song out, please listen.  And after you’ve listened, I’d love some input and friendly debate.  What do you think?  Do you think this is appropriate for your children?  For your future children (if you don’t have any)?  All witty quips welcome.

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