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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

25 Day Challenge - Day 15

Patience
When I set today's challenge up at the end of yesterday's post, I thought to myself: Oh god, that's going to be a hard one!  I am not graced with much patience, you know, and especially these days with a baby, a toddler, 2 high-maintenance dogs, a whiny cat and a husband (who again left his coffee cup on the counter), my patience seems to be running a bit low.  

So, today was indeed a challenge.  But...it paid off!  When I logged on to my blog dashboard this morning, I gathered that I had gained 2 followers overnight, yet the number of followers on my dashboard and on my blog were the same as last night: 46.  Huh?  I tried everything: refreshing the page, emptying out the cache, opening everything in a different browser, restarting the computer, nothing seemed to get the 46 turned into a 48.  As I was trying more things and more things didn't work, I felt my patience quickly being reduced from medium to ULTRA-low.  And as my patience went down, my blood pressure went up.

Then, I decided to let it go.  I'd figure it out later.  Or not.  But damnit, I really wanted to see that '48', not the '46'.  Sigh....  No, I'd move on with my day and figure it out later.  Really.  REALLY.  Later came and later went, but I didn't figure it out.  The kids went down for a nap, they woke up, I still hadn't figured it out.  

I figured that since it happened miraculously overnight that new followers didn't show up on my page anymore, so maybe the problem would fix itself overnight as well.  I mean, a mommy can believe in miracles, can't she?

I had sent out an email to a few fellow mommy bloggers and got some good feedback and tips, but unfortunately nothing helped.  Until...at the end of the day there was the 1 tip that did the trick.  Thanks Diane!!  The 2 followers who didn't show up were following me 'privately', meaning their photo doesn't show up on my followers' list.  There was the ahah-moment and the realization that 'patience' had paid off.  

That does bring me to a question for the more seasoned bloggers among us:
Why do people choose to follow privately and not publicly?  

Well, on that note, here's tomorrow's challenge:

Co-operation
To be co-operative means to have a quiet eye for what is needed and contribute accordingly.  To be a support at the right time, in the right place.

Click here for the 'pause - think - act' elements of the challenge.

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Wordless Wednesday

Kai wanted to make sure that Ryder had all his toys:


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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

25 Day Challenge - Day 14

Will Power
When Kai was about 6 months old he and I enrolled in a mommy-and-me class at a local community college.  There is one 'class' that I remember vividly.  (I say 'class' as they really weren't classes, but merely a chance for the kids to play with other toys and other kids while mommy was around).  


Kai is focused on the tunnel that he can crawl through and does so with great enthusiasm.  All of a sudden he stops and his eyes lock in on a phone and cable outlet in the wall - the only 2 that weren't covered with outlet covers for child protection (given that covers for these type of outlets don't exist).  Completely fixated on the outlets, he abandons the tunnel and heads over to the wall.


I get where he's going, tell him that these are no toys and pick him up to place him back in front of 'his' tunnel.  Only for him to turn around 180 degrees and to resume his mission that was so abruptly aborted my his mother.  He and I play this game a few times back and forth, with me putting returning him to the play mat, but every in a spot that is further and further removed from the darn outlets.  Finally, the winner distraction: food.


After 10 minutes filled with a snack and milk he is enough distracted and continues to play with the toys at hand.  Mommy, happy that the outlets seem to have been erased from the cognitive part of his brain, sits down to 'relax'.  NOT!!  Kai spotted them once again and was headed in their direction, looking occasionally over his shoulder to see if Mommy was going to catch him.  Yes she was.  And yes she did.  


This game finally ended when class was over.  All I can say is: the kid has will power.  When he has in his mind that he "can and he will", he will.  At times tough for mommy, but I hope in the end it will work out in his advantage (unless mommy doesn't want it to).

Tomorrow's Challenge:

Patience:
Patience is your willingness to let time and life move forward at their own pace, without losing sight of your destination.  When there's no rush, no hurry, out goes anxiety, in comes peace of mind.

Click here for the 'pause - think - act' elements of the challenge.



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Wahoo!! My 2nd Blog Award!

What a wonderful way to start the day:  not only did the kids let me sleep until 7:15, but then, while I was sitting on the sofa with Kai on my lap who was ferociously downing his milk and watching Sesame Street, I managed to check my blog and discovered that Mommycrat had given me the following award:


This is the 2nd award I have won since I started blogging in May.  How awesome!  It is so gratifying to know that people not only read my blog, but also enjoy it.  That really made my day.  Check out Mommycrat's blog - great writing, great perspective. 


So, now that I too understand better the rules of blogger awards, let me first pass this award on to 5 blogs that I recently discovered and have come to love and then share 7 things about myself.

Some of the new blogs that I have discovered and am really enjoying:

Adventures of WannaBe SupahMommy - the blog that makes me laugh every day.  I like people who speak their mind.

Be Still a Minute - A great blog, combining humor with things that make me think.

Land of Mama Grits - Inspiring and funny.  Thanks for making me smile!

The Dave Ramsey Road - This blog contains great $-saving tips.

The Girl Next Door Grows Up - Another one that makes me chuckle.  With all the stress these days, I really enjoy a good laugh!


Now, here are 7 things about me:


1. I used to play tennis professionally as a teenager, until I was diagnosed with a back injury and was told I had to quit when I was 21.


2. I recently discovered that I love writing and would love to do more with it, though I don't know quite yet what that would be.


3. When both kids are in school, I want to start my own business.  What that is?  I don't know that one yet either, but I still have about 5 years to figure that out.  Maybe it'll involve writing?


4. I am originally from The Netherlands, but have lived in the US since 1999.


5. I have a Masters degree in Integrated Marketing Communication from Emerson College, Boston.


6. I speak 7 languages: Dutch, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and 'Kai'.


7. In my mind, chocolate should never be omitted out of any diet.  It has anti-oxidants and makes one happy.  It simply cannot be bad for you.


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Monday, June 28, 2010

Post It Note Tuesday: Frustrations, Happiness & Questions






















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Impeccable Timing

Until recently I thought that Kai would be one of those kids who would never, ever potty train.  I am still not convinced that he will before he goes to college, but I think at some point in his life he actually might.  'They' (whoever 'they' means) always talk about the signs that your toddler displays when they are ready to potty train.  Well, Kai doesn't show any of those and given his incredible stubborn-ness, I wonder if he ever will.  By the way, I have NO idea where he got that stubborn-ness from....probably dad....uhum....[blush]

So, if he's not showing any signs, then there's gotta be other ways to get him to move toward saving mommy some diaper $$, right?  Right!  I call it Bribery!!  And I am 100% in favor of it.  Big thumbs up on conditional parenting in that respect (I just read the book 'Unconditional Parenting' - can you tell?).

The Deal: he tells us that he did a poo-poo (before we smell it and tell him we need to change his diaper) and he gets 5 chocolate chips.  It's a steep price to pay, I know, but I hope it's worth it.  

He is totally getting the chocolate chip reward and contrary to some other 'rules' in the house, he seems to be capable of remembering this one very well.  Fascinating.  Lately however, his timing in telling me has been impeccable:  I call out that dinner is served and everyone needs to come in to wash their hands.  He comes running up to me and proudly announces: "Mommy!!  Kai poo-poo" to which mommy only has to bend over oh, about an inch to get a whiff of confirmation that indeed, Mr. did a poo-poo.  Let me repeat: dinner was served.  Sigh...  This has happened several days now.  Enough to make me call out that dinner is ready 10 minutes early.  That way I don't have to reheat everything in the microwave.

Today, just as I had sat down to nurse Ryder: Kai comes running in and announces full of excitement: "Kai poo-poo!!!  Chocolate please!!"  I mean, does he on purpose wait for the most inconvenient moment to tell me?  Whazzup with that?!

At the end of the day, I am happy that he seems to be getting it.  Now, if he could tell me right after he does it and before he smushes it around by plopping down on the ground, that would be lovely.

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25 Day Challenge - Day 13

Add Fun To Your Life
I'm half way there!  To adding fun to my life?  Noooo!!  I'm half way through my challenge!!  Yahoo!!  Do I feel like a better person at this point?  No, but at least I am having fun playing around with the different challenges.  Icing on the cake is that they are teaching me something.

As did today's challenge:  I was that woman at the grocery store...  You know, the one with the crying baby.  The one who people look at and wonder: why is she letting her poor baby cry?  Why does it not bother her?

Well, people, for the record: I DON'T LET MY BABY CRY.  To those people: you obviously have never dealt with babies, but lemme enlighten ya: sometimes, you know,.....they cry!  Yes, that's right!  Sometimes they cry!  There are times that there is a reason for the spilling of tears, and believe it or not, sometimes there ain't (a reason).  I will do my best to soothe him, but hey, sometimes I can soothe all I want, but if the reason for his crying is out of my control, then crying he does.

Secondly, it does bother me.  Do you think I like the sound of my baby crying?  No!  Especially when I'm wearing him on my chest.  That kid has some lungs, and he's LOUD!!  It makes me almost need to have a stash of Tylenol ready as he sometimes successfully manages to give me a headache.  Of course it bothers me when my baby is crying. But sometimes there isn't much that I can do about it.  And that was today.


Again, we woke up at 5am.  (I now get what 'sleep regression' means, but really, I would have been just as happy not knowing.)  By the time we got to the store, that made for a tired baby.  And what do babies do when they are tired?  You got it!  They cry!!  And guess what?  There ain't much I can do about that while I am waiting in the check out line.  


This morning I was ready to have fun today.  To turn what I usually would describe as the much-dreaded-grocery-shopping-chore into an excursion with my boys.  Different way of approach, yet still getting my fridge re-loaded.  Kai was loving it.  Anytime he gets to ride in the 'soppin caht' [shopping cart] he gets that grin on his face. Even more fun is pummeling the items I give him to "gently put in the cart" down in the basket...(obviously I don't give him the eggs).  Then, at the check out there always is the request for "stickies please" and then, the most exciting thing: waving and saying "BYE!!!" to everyone who wants to hear it (and even to those who don't).  


As you may have gotten by now, Ryder wasn't having it so much this morning.  Oh well, we can't always have it our way.  To those people who wished I wasn't there this morning: TOO BAD!  Suck it up, 'cause I was there!  Bring your earplugs the next time you go grocery shopping.  Me being bothered by my kid crying is not going to soothe him.


In light of my challenge, I decided not to let the situation get to me.  And guess what: we hadn't made it to the car or he was asleep.  He had a delightful nap in the 6 minutes (yes, that's right) it took us to get home and was the happiest, giggling-over-everything, bright-eyed, delicious, chubby, gerber-baby you could possibly imagine until the moment I told him that it was time to take a nap.  Oops...bad mommy.  How dare I put my kids down for a nap?  Actually, it wasn't much appreciated by either one of them.  Oh well, life is tough being a baby and/or toddler.  Darn, I wish that someone came over to me and said "time to go nite-nite".  Yeah, that would bring me to tears too.  Tears of HAPPINESS that is!


So, was I really having 'fun' in that check out line this morning?  No, not particularly.  But it didn't get to me either.  And it would have been very easy to have gotten bothered or stressed out.  Having fun and enjoying the 'little' challenges that my kids throw me today allow me to go with the flow a bit more.  I think it makes for a more relaxed mommy.  Now, if I could only remind myself of these wise words around 5pm...:-0


Tomorrow's Challenge:


Will Power
If you believe 'you can' and have the strong desire to do so, then despite setbacks, it's your will power that makes you 'try, try, try again'.  Both 'will' and 'power' are released when you go from 'will do' to 'doing things willingly'.


Click here for the 'pause - think - act' elements of the challenge.



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Sunday, June 27, 2010

It Was Not That Morning

There are mornings that you wake up, realize you actually got a good night's sleep and you're ready for the day.  Though for many of us these mornings are rare, I do love them.  This morning was certainly NOT one of them.  Yes, I said NOT.  Those mornings don't start at 5am.  Mine did.  Those mornings I wake up before the kids do.  This morning I did not.  Those mornings start in quiet.  This morning did not.  Those mornings I feel fresh and awake.  This morning I did not.

After 2 birthday parties, bouncy castles, running around, lots of crap food, and tons of excitement, Kai slept well and did a perfect job attempting to make it one of those mornings for me.  Ryder didn't get the memo and was awake at 5am.  You'd think that being out and about, getting tons of attention and stimulation, fresh air and all other things that make babies tired, he'd sleep longer.  Nope.  Did not happen.  This morning was definitely NOT one of those mornings.

Also, I marvel at the tremendous amount of clutter that was laying around in my house.  The double stroller was functioning as laundry basket with several loads of clean, unfolded laundry piled on it. (At least it was clean!)  The living room mirrored the image of an exploded toy store and our bedroom was filled with a wide variety of items that belonged elsewhere, such as the kids' rooms, the bathroom, the closet, and so on.  So much for a relaxing sanctuary.

I needed my sanity back! (Translation: it's cleaning time).


I hate tidying, yet the result is always nice and soothing.  But, in the process I always wonder: where the heck did all this junk come from?  Who bought this?  Oh wait, I did.  Why did I buy this?  Oh yeah, for the kids.  Sometimes it seems as if the toys multiply over night.  Laundry seems to do the same.  Can it do that?  'Cause it seriously looks like it can.  Oh wait, I live with 3 guys.  Right.  That explains.  Yes it does, because let's face it, it's not my laundry!  Well, maybe a few items.  


Then there is the magical coffee cup that appears every morning on my kitchen counter.  It truly is like magic, given that I DON'T DRINK COFFEE!!!  My beloved husband on the other hand does.  Without his go-water he is nothing.  Absolutely lost in space, no sense of direction (literally and figuratively speaking) and completely incapable of being productive.  So, coffee is his morning ritual.  That's wonderful, after all, we all have our 'must haves' right?  Going back to the cup.  So, here's how it (the cup) works: one fills it with the brown liquid, adds a splash of half 'n half, and puts it to their lips.  The coffee gets ingested and starts doing its job.  (Or so you would think.)  Occasionally, once the cup is empty, it gets refilled, but eventually it always ends up (mostly) empty...on the kitchen counter (or in the sink).  Right above the dishwasher.  Not in the dishwasher, but right above it.  On the counter.  (Sometimes it ends up on the counter in the bathroom.  Result: a bathroom reeking like coffee.  Ugh!)  Doesn't that stuff work?  Maybe it's old.  Maybe I should buy some super-duper-kick-in-the-butt coffee that I am blatantly unaware of.  Would that work better? 


Come to think of it, the mystery of the magical coffee cup, very much resembles the mystery of the magical socks that always end up next to the bed and then slowly migrate under the bed.  (Mind you: I wear flip flops).  I really don't want to go into painting a picture, so I am going to refrain from explaining this one, but with a little bit of imagination you can figure out where I would have gone if I were to continue at this point.

At this point, my laundry is done, folded, (almost all) put away, cup is in the dishwasher, kids are about to wake up from their nap and I need to start cooking dinner (that is, if anyone wants to eat tonight).


Can I just say that I look forward to having one of "those mornings".  They are beautiful and productive.  I need one.



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25 Day Challenge - Day 12

Overcoming Anger
The challenge for today was to write a letter to someone that I am angry with and then throw it away.  Hmm...come to think of it, I am not really angry with anyone.  Annoyed, yes, but not angry.  And the annoyance, well, I've let go of that on day 7 when I packed up my thoughts.  So, it would be better to say "I was annoyed".  Right.  I stand corrected.

I guess that is it for today as far as the challenge goes.  I'm almost half way there.  12 days done, 13 more to go.  Cool! 

Tomorrow's challenge:

Day 13: Add fun to your life
Waking up energised and excited about tackling challenges is a sign that you have the 'fun factor' in your life.  When you're having 'fun', you're curious enough to explore life.  And then, nothing is impossible or off limits.


Click here for the 'pause - think - act' elements of the challenge.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Honey, I need a bigger house!!

We live in Los Angeles and are lucky enough to be home owners.  Our house is by no  means big, but with just enough bedrooms for the boys and ourselves and a spacious back yard, it works (for now).  When we bought the house, it hadn't been taken care of for 25+ years.  Need I say it was in bad condition?  Bad enough that we couldn't move in.  We worked our lovely rear ends off for 3 months to make the place move-in ready, but the work never stopped.  

Then we decided to start a family and we had a choice: move, or build on as the house didn't have enough bedrooms.  (The 2nd bedroom was our office as we are self-employed).  We added on to the house.  Nice.  Instead of 6-9 months it took 2 years. Lovely.  BUT...we learned A LOT!!  

There is still work that needs to be done, but that's not the point here.  The point is that we have a nice ranch-style house in one of the hottest parts of Los Angeles (temperature-wise that is).  

Move on to babies.  I swear, before the end of this post, this is going to make sense.  I promise.  Kai was 8 lbs. 7 oz. when he was born and turned into a ferocious aggressive, food-obsessed, devourer of milk (and later food).  At one point he consumed 51 oz. of milk per day (right before he started solids).  That's 1.5 liters for those who observe the much more logical metric measurements.  I mean, that's more than I sometimes drink per day!

Here's the kicker: Ryder was born at almost 11 lbs.!!  (No, that was not a C-section.)  In addition to his first instinct of survival, his main focus in life (at the moment) is to catch up with Kai.  And he's well on his way.  He's approximately 20 lbs. at the moment and is eating like crazy.  Yesterday proves that point: 11.5 oz. before bedtime.  I mean, 11.5 oz.!!  (Metric translation: 340 cc.).  Today, while Kai was celebrating his beautiful friend's Madison's birthday, Ryder devoured half a jar of peas, nursed me empty and topped it off with 5.5 oz. from the bottle.  Where does the kid leave it?

Long story short: before I know it I'm going to need a deep freezer to store more food.  It's one thing when it's 'just' the kids who are eating a lot, but it's another thing when they start bringing friends over.  Who also eat a lot.  I fully expect that the day where I open the fridge and wonder where the food for dinner went, to which Kai will say "Oh, I had that for a snack" is not even too far away.  So, I need a deep freezer (or at least a 2nd fridge).  And since I don't have any place to put it, the only logical solution is that I need a bigger house.  Makes sense right?  It does to me ;-)



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25 Day Challenge - Day 10 & 11

What happened to yesterday?  I swear it was lacking hours.  There were fewer than 24, I just know it!  At least that's how it felt.  Didn't have a chance to write and even now, I am sitting down in between birthday parties filled with sugar, bouncy castles and amped up toddlers to find a moment to write.

The challenge yesterday asked for every time I felt like saying "I have to...", to replace it with "I get to..."  Oh man, that was difficult and I am just not sure if I passed the test.  Most mommies will be familiar with the 'witching hour' and as many families, we have one as well.  At the end of the afternoon, always right when I am about to start cooking.  

I always enjoy company in the kitchen.  Nothing beats a nice conversation (while enjoying a glass of something) while prepping dinner,  but when that company fusses, cries, fusses, cries and occasionally lets out sounds at the volume strong enough to deafen me, it really destroys that nice ambience.  Yesterday wasn't any different and I had a really hard time to move from "I have to find a way for Ryder to calm down" to "Yippee, I get to wear my 19 lb. baby on my chest, while dealing with a sore knee, a painful back, oh and while prepping dinner."  


Being able to move from "I have to..." to "I get to..." can make a big difference in our minds and in how we perceive things on our way.  I totally see that.  And I totally had a hard time with it yesterday.  So there!

Today's Challenge:

Concentration Ability
When you want to do something sincerely and are decisive about it, the power of concentration becomes available to you.  Concentration allows you to achieve more in less time and respond to situations in a more effective way.


Click here for the 'pause - think - act' elements of the challenge 
As I am writing this, my dear husband is on the phone and decided to put the conversation on speaker phone as he 'can't hold the phone and type at the same time'.  I am in the same room, making attempts to write this post and though it is challenging to block out the conversation (which does not involve any typing at the moment, yet is still on speaker phone), I am surprised about how well I am able to concentrate on the thing that I am doing here.  

It's not because it's written in the challenge, but I do strongly believe that I am much more effective in what I do when I do 1 thing at a time and really give that thing 100% attention.  Many times I feel overwhelmed with the ever-expanding list of to-do's.  That list never seems to get shorter.  For every thing that gets crossed off, it seems there are 2 more things that are being added at the bottom.  

Here's what I have learned in the past, which really seems to work: on a note pad, make a master list of all the things that you need to do.  Then, pick 1 thing off that list and write that down on a separate page.  Leave that page visible to you and do that 1 thing.  Finish it and cross it off the 2 pages.  Now, take the next 1 thing that needs to be done and write it down on that second page.  Do just that thing, complete it, and cross it off.  

This way you stay focused and don't get distracted by all the other things that need to be done.

Here I am.  Still writing.  In the mean time, I have said "not now" to something that I was asked earlier and I haven't checked my email (despite it ringing several times, alarming me that there is yet another piece of junk mail that needs reading immediately).  In the mean time my husband ended his phone call, just in time for me to be done writing.

Tomorrow's Challenge:

Overcoming Anger:
Anger can be a by-product of our way of thinking, rather than it being caused by a person or an event.  You can either hold on to your anger or, you can calm down and let go.  Choose to be calm and you'll find it easier to forgive and move on.


Click here for the 'think - pause - act' elements of the challenge

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

25 Day Challenge - Day 9


Finding Clarity
I have to admit that today I totally 'missed out' on my challenge.  I didn't even think about it.  Ohoh...bad mommy...

BUT, having honestly admitted that, I do have to say that over the past couple of months I have worked on the very thing that today's challenge asked for: clearing my environment.  No, I have not been picking up trash from the street (though I have from our front yard.  Can you imagine, people actually littering in other people's front yards?!?!  Yes, it happens!  Grrr!!!).  But, I have been clearing out my living environment.

A few months ago I was at a game night that one of my mommy friends had organized: a bunch of mamas, sipping wine, playing games and having good laughs.  My idea of a fun eve with friends.  We got to talking about this book that the host had bought and how it had changed her life.  I was intrigued and ordered it myself:

The Simple Living Guide, by Janet Luhrs is very insightful and gives great tips on how to go about simplifying every day aspects of life, reducing our stress levels and teaching us how to live more 'in the moment', more fully.  

The book prompted me to clean my house, take out all the crap a lot of things that I hadn't used for over a year and put those in boxes for a yard sale.  I filled up 3 trash bags with stuff out of my closet.  (No, I did not touch David's!) After my pregnancy with Ryder there were enough clothes that I couldn't or wouldn't wear anymore, so why hold on to them?  All that was left over after the yard sale got donated to Goodwill.

It feels nice to clean (out), though it is an activity that makes David nervous, to say the least.  He's the pack rat, I am the ... opposite (can't think of the word here).  So yes, it may have happened at some random moment in the past that I may, possibly, in a moment of ThisHouseNeedsToBeCleanNOW-overwhelm,  have tossed something out that I later  needed..or was his...possibly...dunnot remember specifics (Momnesia, I suffer from it).

Overall though, a clean house, and space around me (clean desk, tidy closets, tidy kitchen, etc.) gives me peace.  Ahah!  Now I know why I'm so-not-peaceful at the moment!!  Too much clutter!  That's it!  Glad I had my 'Ahah-moment' today, but unfortunately I am not in the mood to clean right now.  It's 11:20pm.  Too tired.

Must. Go. To. Bed.

Tomorrow's challenge:

No Complaining Zone
If you approach life complaining about what's missing then you'll be dissatisfied.  Satisfaction comes from knowing that things can always be improved but at the same time appreciating what is right in your life, right now.

Click here for the 'pause - think - act' elements of the challenge.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

25 Day Challenge - Day 8

Go With the Flow
Oh, I much I love, love, love this one.  And oh, how I need to remind myself of this one much more often.  

Today's challenge falls very much in line with the one of Day 4.  Going with the flow and letting go of expectations is a wonderful thing.  I actually managed pretty well today.  As you know by now, it was Dave's b-day, which meant I was flying solo on the whole getting-the-day-and-boys-started part of the day.  Mornings and evenings are always most challenging as both the animals and the boys have needs simultaneously, which, if not met right away, mean the end of the world for as far as they know it.

I've done it before and know very well that it is possible to make it through this part of the day without any obstacles, if I just go with the flow.  And I did this morning.  It did mean that the dishwasher didn't get unpacked, dishes didn't get put away, floor didn't get swiffered, b-fast dishes didn't get done, but...what it did mean was that the animals got fed, the kids got fed, they each got their mommy-and-me time, Ryder got put down for his nap while Kai was occupied and croissants got baked for David's b-day breakfast.  In other words, it all went flawlessly.  Eventually I even got the dishwasher unpacked, but unfortunately the floor didn't get cleaned.  Oh well, the dirt will still be there tomorrow.  Waiting patiently to be removed and everyone will be happy.

The happy ending to a great day.

Tomorrow's challenge:

Finding Clarity
Clarity is more than knowing whether you should choose (a) or (b).  Clarity happens when you turn your mind within and allow it to be still. In stillness, there's clarity - you know exactly what it is that you have to do.

Click here for the pause - think - act element of the challenge.

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The Loving Thing My Husband (almost) Called Me

First of all, let me give a shout out to my husband:  Happy Birthday Babe!  I love you very much.  Yes, I love you AND I have to write about this, despite your pleas not to, but it's just too friggin' funny and I wouldn't want to withhold laughs from anyone.  Hey, if with this story I can brighten someone's day, or make at least 1 other person (besides us) laugh, then it's worth it and you can beg all you want, but it's staying up on my blog.  (After all, I AM the Queen - see siggie!)

So, as I said, it's my hubster's birthday today and tradition is that the birthday person gets to sleep in.  So, today was his turn.  Lucky guy.  Hubby wakes up, breakfast is ready (warm croissants from the oven, fresh fruit, daily caffeine-fix-without-which-reasonable-functioning-does-not-happen, gifts, etc.).  The day is on its way to become a lovely day.  Did I say he was a lucky guy?

Then Ryder wakes up and it's time for more food.  This time for him.  He eats his rice cereal after which he nurses and downs a bottle of milk.  (Having cereal before milk doesn't seem to keep him from consuming the same amount of white-stuff.  Good for him!)

David gets ready to go to an audition and explains to Kai that he has to go book a job.  He continues "that way mama can buy some actual veggies for Ryder and can back off of producing milk as if she were a ... [silence and swallowing of a word]", to which I started laughing and asked: "were you actually gonna call me a cow?"  All he could do was stutter, blush, mumble, blush, giggle embarrassedly and blush some more, which totally gave it away.  He actually was gonna call me a COW?!?!?!?  My own husband??  Wow, it's enlightening to see what 7 years of marriage will do to one.  I couldn't help but laugh and that's when the back pedaling started.  "No, I didn't mean to, I was going to say 'wonderful-milk-providing-goddess'.  Seriously, I didn't mean to call you that!!!"  I was soo amused to see him struggle and couldn't help but exclaim: "That is a story I have to write about!"  Well, that sent him completely up the wall.  Oh I "shouldn't do that!"  He "really didn't mean it after all!!"  I know that, and I will make sure to mention that you didn't mean it, yet it was still very funny and I am still going to write about it.

So, on that note, there it is.  My husband was gonna call me a cow, but hey, he didn't mean it!!  

When I started this blog, I thought it'd be fun to document my journey of discovery as a mom to 2 boys.  I knew that there would be material that I may be able to bribe and embarrass humor the them with when they are older, but it looks like this is also becoming a re-discovery of my husband.  Babe, this one is for you!!  So that I will remember this one for future purposes we can have another laugh about this later.  I love you anyways.  Oh, and Happy Birthday!!


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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The price I pay for having big boys

For being 6ft. tall in flats, I wasn't surprised when Kai was born at 8 lbs. 7 oz.  Pretty average I would say.  The kid immediately managed to communicate that milk was going to be his favorite for years to come.  And he was right.  At one point he would easily and with determination consume 51 oz. per day.  51 oz. people!  That's more than I drink on an average day.  He quickly outgrew all his baby clothes. In the beginning, I actually forced him to wear his newborn outfits.  They were small, but heck, they were cute, so he HAD to wear them if for no other reason than for me to take a photo.  He continued to like his food (and milk) and as a kid who isn't yet 2-1/2 he's wearing 3T-4T clothes, weighing approx. 39 lbs.

Ryder decided (even while still baking in the oven) that he was going to catch up as quickly as humanly possible with his big bro and came into this world weighing a little under 11 lbs.  Yes, that's right.  He was a big baby!!  He too likes his 'White Gold' and at the wonderful age of 4 months he wore a 24-month onesie today .

So, there I was, this afternoon, at the doctor's office.  Explaining to my doc that my knee had been bothering me since Ryder had been 1 month old.  Yes, I wear him in the carrier around the house.  Yes, I carry him in my arms a lot.  And when I'm not, I'm on the ground wrestling with my toddler-monkey.  Gosh, and I was surprised that my knee was bothering me?  No, not really, but nevertheless, it bugged me and wanted to know what was up.  Well, inflammation.  That's what's up.  No, cannot take an anti-inflammatory as I'm still nursing.  So here I am, with one of those highly fashionable knee braces and the advice to alternate cold and heat packs in the eve.

Oh well, c'est la vie.  Life as a mom of big boys.  By the time my knee feels better, I'll be needing to invest in a deep freezer for the extra food I need to have on hand as they will most likely empty out my fridge in the kitchen, before I know it.  If anything I am grateful for the fact that they eat and that they eat well.  (We have decided to hold on to our Costco membership a bit longer.  I think it'll come in handy.)


Now, can anyone rub my knee?  
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25 Day Challenge - Day 7

Pack Up Your Thoughts
I have to admit that today I totally did not pause, or act in line with the challenge.  I did think about it.  It was the first thing this morning that I thought about.  Since Christmas I have been thinking a lot about the relationship that I have with certain people in my life and quite honestly, if I allow myself to really think about the details it gets my incredibly wound up.  In other words: totally not worth it.  This morning I started thinking about it again and then it hit me: just let go.  Don't worry about these things anymore.  If it causes me to frown and therefore enhances the wrinkles on my forehead....NOT WORTH IT MAMA!!!!! 

We're not talking about anything that I am dreading and that is inevitable such as my taxes.  I'm talking about 'relationships' that drain me of energy.  The ones that leave me feeling empty and that make me sigh.  In line with today's challenge: sometimes it is better to pack up the negative thoughts and feelings.  That way I am creating space for positive thoughts, feelings and experiences in the relationships that do give me energy, a sense of satisfaction, love, laughter and joy.  Did I pack them up?  I think so.  I have let go of the thought that I 'should' get along with everyone.  'Should' according to who?  Right, according to no one but myself.  All those thoughts are in my mind.  I have let go of them and it feels liberating.  I feel relieved.  It's a good thing.

I guess by now I have to re-write the first sentence of this post.  I did pause and act in line with the challenge.  Guess I did better than I thought.

Tomorrow's challenge:

Day 8: Go with the Flow
Sometimes we just have to be wise enough to go with the flow.  We have to put our trust in life and let the current carry us.  That doesn't mean we should take our focus off where we're going.

Click here for the 'pause - think - act' elements of the challenge

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh my goodness, we have a parrot!

Both the boys' bedtimes are around the same time, so most of the time (whenever possible) bedtime consists of 2 similar routines, executed independently from each other, by both parents.  I cannot wait for Ryder to be strong enough to be able to sit and weather.  'Sit' as in 'sitting' as he's not there yet.  'Weather' as in 'being tough enough to deal with Kai's testosterone explosions excitement in the bath.  Kai loves his bath time.  


Both boys are pretty set in their routines now and over time, daddy and Kai have started the routine of recycling the bath water.  When the diaper is on, they scoop the water out of the tub with a pitcher, which Kai then carries outside to water the 'baby tree' outside.  Actually, Kai doesn't carry it, daddy does, as Kai is only in diaper and is not wearing any shoes.


After watering 'Kai's' baby tree last night, David and Kai return to the front door, only to realize that they had locked themselves out.  Just painting the image here: David with Kai (39 lbs. and barefoot) on his arm, pitcher in his other hand, wrestling to somehow fish the keys out of his pocket.  In a rush of frustration David mumbles: "Crap".  And there he (Kai) went: "Crap papa!"  Realizing what he had just done, David ignores it.  "Crap papa! Crap!"  Oh no!! "Crap"  That went on for a few minutes, but got boring real quick, so Kai moved on.


On my way back from the grocery store, I was stuck behind one of those people who cannot drive.  'Cause of course, I am an excellent driver.  Always.  Uhum...  Anyways, left turn at a traffic light.  I am the 2nd car in line.  The #1 car: that driver obviously was waiting for a written invitation to turn left.  Good grief!!!  Luckily I was able to refrain from saying anything I would later regret (though I was definitely thinking it), but for the remainder of the drive home all I heard from the back seat was "Com'on!!! GOOOO!!"  


Oh my goodness, I have a parrot in the house.  It's very funny, I have to admit, though sometimes I really, really have to bite my tongue.  For the sake of...well, I guess everyone.



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25 Day Challenge - Day 6

Time Management
"When you want something done, ask the busiest person."  Pretty true.  But...not always.  I think I have the right to say that I am pretty busy these days, but do I get everything done?  Oh heavens....NOOOOOO!!!!  

This morning was consumed by the feeling that it was slipping away from me.  What was slipping away?  Time.  In order to keep my family fed happy, I had to pack the boys up this morning and head out to do some grocery shopping.  I knew this yesterday and had fully planned to make a grocery list before going to bed.  (Grocery shopping without a list inevitably means impulse buying.  And when on a bit of a budget: impulse buying = not good.)  However, I didn't.  I don't remember why, but that doesn't matter.  The thing that matters is that when this morning arrived, I didn't have a list to go by.


Mornings are hectic in the house: feeding a toddler, nursing a baby (at the same time mind you, as both are convinced that waiting would be synonymous to 'starvation'), feeding the dogs, feeding the cat, making coffee for hubby oh yeah and sneaking in a bowl of cereal for me at some point when everyone else is busy digesting.  Right when I'm done, baby is done being awake and needs nap.  During the hour that follows I: check email, empty dishwasher, get dressed, brush teeth, dress toddler, tidy, clean, make quick phone calls, prep Ryder's upcoming snack and...[outta breath].  Then: baby wakes up, needs to eat and since we just started on rice cereal last week that is a time consuming activity.  All this leaves approximately 1 hour to do groceries, run errands, take the kids to the park, or do whatever it is I set out to do that morning before we have to return home for lunch and nap time.


See: times flies in our house.  Especially when you're having fun.


For that reason, I need to always be ready to go.  In the evening make my grocery list, pack my bag, put the clothes out, etc.  Especially since sleep deprivation is keeping me from having a clear mind in the morning.  Today it was as if my brain was constantly shortening out.  Szszszszsz......crackle, crackle.  Something like that. 


Long story short: I did manage to make a list before venturing out to my beloved Trader Joe's, however, my time management this weekend could have been better.  It sure would have made for a more relaxed morning.  All this goes back to the original quote: work smarter, not harder.  For moms, this is an excellent mantra to live by.  It sure would take some of our stress out of the equation.


Tomorrow's challenge:


Day 7: Pack Up Your Thoughts
What are you choosing to hold onto in your mind?  You can always pack-up all the unnecessary and negative thoughts and feelings in your mind.  Pack away and put it out of your mind.  You then have space to create something new and positive.

Click here for the 'pause - think - act' elements of the challenge.



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Sunday, June 20, 2010

25 Day Challenge - Day 5


Fear Nothing
That is soooo much easier said than done.  I fear a lot of things, which I (believe me) would really rather not fear.  But I do.  And I survive them.  Not always happily, but I do.  If I didn't fear anything, would I be happier?  I don't know.  I would not have to deal with the emotion of 'fear', but then, when I overcome something that I initially was afraid of, I also wouldn't experience the emotion of "I conquered that!!".  Know what I mean?

With both kids I remember the day of the first grocery trip.  For all the mommies out there: do you remember that trip?  How did you feel prior to taking it?  I was terrified.  In my mind I was going to be the lady who was fighting her way through the grocery store with 2 screaming children.  One in the shopping cart, the other one in the carrier on my chest.  In my mind, I would without a doubt pick the wrong check-out line; the one that has the lady in it with all the coupons, or with the one broken egg that needs to be replaced.  The lady, who then continues to write a check instead of using her card (which reminds me of the Visa commercial that aired several years ago.  Yes, the one with my hubby in it: at a restaurant, everything goes smoothly until there is the one customer who pays cash.  This stops the whole flow of music, dance and happiness in the restaurant....loved that commercial, in more ways than one).  Anyways, that line, you know the line I'm talking about right?

I was terrified that I would be that woman.  The woman who everyone (especially the ones without kids) look at and wonder silently what she is doing in the store with her kids who are obviously out of control.  Oh, I feared being that mom in the store.

I remember it took, what seemed, an eternity to get out of the house.  I packed enough things to make it look like we were going away overnight.  Bag, snacks, drinks, milk, nursing cover, diapers, wipes.  After all: you never know.  

Even though I (most likely) still picked the wrong check out line, both those first trips with kids went well.  I certainly got some attention (after all, you get attention when you venture out with a newborn baby), but it was all for good reasons.

When I got home, I experienced a mixture of pride, accomplishment and excitement.  A few hours earlier, I had feared my little outing.  I feared the inevitable, faced it and overcame it.  Now, I smile when I think back of that day and though for most of us this might be an example of a small thing to overcome, as a fresh sleep deprived new mom that was a big step to take.  As moms we all took them and we continue to take steps to overcome whatever we may fear: it could be a plane ride, a vacation away from our children, the kids' first sleepover (somewhere else), their first vaccination, our first day flying solo (not having the help of SuperDad), etc.  And yet our fears don't deter us.  

Fearing something is normal.  Taking steps to overcome it takes courage.  And courage comes from the deepest source: le cœur, which is French for 'the heart'.  There is nothing wrong with anything good that comes from the heart.

Tomorrow's Challenge:

Day 6: Time Management
Whilst time can't be controlled, you can manage yourself.  When you begin to work smarter, not harder, and do the right things better, you'll begin to make the most and get the best out of your time.

Click here for the 'pause - think - act' elements of the challenge. 

 
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Saturday, June 19, 2010

25 Day Challenge - Day 4

From Expectations to Acceptance
"Let go of your expectations."  "Go with the flow."  "Just accept what is."
The number of times that I have told myself one of these things over the past 2 1/2 years in my role as a mother exceeds anyone's ability to count.  As a type A personality, I like things to happen when they're supposed to happen and to be where they're supposed to be.  Anal?  No.  OCD?  No, it's not that extreme, but definitely a strong type A.

Add to that a husband with a strong will, 2 strong-willed Australian Shepherds, an incredibly strong-willed cat and, last but not least, 2 boys.  Result: mommy sometimes is about to lose it (and occasionally does).  House is never clean anymore, the laundry hamper is never empty, there are always muddy prints (dog, cat, or human) somewhere and it's becoming a challenge to keep an eye out for everyone.  Is my house out of control?  No, I'm not saying that, but my type A personality would prefer a bit more of it (control that is) at times.

A lot of these things have caused a certain amount of stress for me.  Things never go exactly the way that I want them to go.  Things are never all in the place that they are supposed to be.  But...I think I am at times (not always) pretty capable of remembering one of the phrases from above.  And it helps.  If I let go of my expectations, if I let go of how I think things (or humans for that matter) should be, then they won't cause me to get stressed when they're not.  And trust me, they often 'are not'.  

Me stressing about the fact that Kai doesn't always tell me that he has done a poo-poo, doesn't make him tell me.  If anything, it might cause the opposite.  It still bothers me when he smushes the content of his diaper all over the place by plopping down on the ground, but me stressing about it and getting upset that he did that (not on purpose), is not going to change anything.  I still have to clean the smelly mess that is now about to squirt out of his nappie.  Ah, the joys of motherhood.

The past few years of being a mother have taught me a lot, but one of the things is that babies and toddlers behave the way they do.  Yes, for a big part I can influence their behavior, but at the end of the day, me stressing about it and being of the opinion that he really should be eating more of his dinner, isn't going to make him (or at least not peacefully).  Motherhood is making choices, picking your battles.  And sometimes it's just better to move from having expectations, to accepting what is.  For the sake of peace in the house, trust from my boys, and mommy's sanity.

On that note of wisdom, I am signing off to get ready for a little get together with friends.  Some BBQ, some Margarita's, some lounging outside.  You get the idea.

Tomorrow's Challenge:

Day 5: Fear Nothing
You already have the courage to "Face, Explore, Accept and Respond" to fear.  All you have to do is move beyond inertia and discover your true potential.  Then, courage will enable you to take action in spite of fear.

Click here for the 'pause - think - act' elements of the challenge.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

You Rock!

I am Dutch.  And in Dutch there is a saying that translates to something along the lines of: "I could shove them under the carpet".  Sigh, this sucks.  Whenever one translates expressions or sayings, they always lose their strength and impact.  This one just did as well.  What I'm trying to say here is that I love my toddler with all my heart and that sometimes he drives me crazy and all I want to do is to make him shut his mouth or stop doing whatever it is he's doing (and is not allowed to).  Know what I mean?  I assume this sounds familiar to some of you.  

Well, there are moments like that in our house.  Especially when I am nursing Ryder and Kai knows that I can't come running outside to keep him from .... [fill in the blank.  Use your imagination and sense of humor and you're probably spot on!]  I choose not to pay too much attention at moments like that, even if it's only to keep myself calm and relaxed while providing Ryder with his oh-so-longed-for and oh-so-desperately-needed (in his mind) meal.  Really.  The boy is well nourished.  His thighs are getting so chubby that he is starting to get stuck in the Bumbo seat and I need to start prying him out of it.  Trust me, the kid's not lacking anything.

And then, in sharp contrast to those moments described above, there are the moments that make you fall even more and deeper in love with them then you already were.  Just when you think you can't fall any more in love, you do.  Shebam!!  How do they always manage to walk that line?  I guess it's their intuition: testing how far they can go and getting to half an inch from the limit followed by the biggest hug, the biggest (and wettest) smooch or the most loving smile.  Sigh...those moments almost make me go "okay, what is it that you want?  You can have it"  Mind you, I said "almost"!!

On my birthday I went in to Kai's room to snuggle with him for the duration of 1 song (that's our rule) before he fell asleep.  It always starts with him wanting to wrestle, but when I tell him that at the end of the song I will go "bye bye", he usually calms down.  When I asked him if he could give me a hug, I got the biggest hug ever.  He cuddled and immediately gave me a big kiss.  The conversation that followed:
Me: "You Rock Kai!"
Kai: "You Rock Mommy!"
[pause]
Kai: "And Papa rocks and Baby Ryder rocks and A. rocks and M. rocks."
(A. is my best friend, M. is her daughter and Kai's 'girlfriend')

Sigh...I'm in love (again).

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25 Day Challenge - Day 3

The Solution Focus
So, today we are making the choice to see problems as opportunities.  ALLLLLLLLrighty, where do we start?  Well, I guess at 5:20am this morning when both boys decided to rise and shine for the day.  People!  5 friggin' 20!!!  That just ain't right!!  How was I going to see waking up before sunrise as an opportunity?  Huh...  Waking up early = morning nap for Ryder early = early afternoon nap for both boyz = waking up early from nap = being able to make it to the kids' godparents who they absolutely adore.  So there!  Problem turned Opportunity! 


With a husband who is self-employed and me being on 'break' from work for having just had a baby, finances are tight at the moment.  It has forced us to be creative and start thinking about alternative ways of generating income.  Now, whereas all the initiatives that we came up with may take a bit of time to pay off, it has put us in a place of looking for opportunities, rather than focusing on the problem.  I'm not saying that it is easy.  I'm not saying that I am forgetting about where we are.  I'm not saying that I pretend that all is okay.  I am saying that in situations when we are faced with what we consider a problem, we often subconsciously start looking automatically for opportunities of ways out.


This drives home the point that I got to yesterday as well: I think that being conscious of the process is a major thing here.  Be aware.  Think.  Don't just act.  Think before you act.  And think about what we can learn from this situation.  If for no other reason than to learn from the situation and to make sure that this won't happen again.  (For as far as it is in our control.  As I have a suspicion that sometime before the kids go off to college I will be once again be awoken before sunrise.)

Tomorrow's Challenge:

Day 4: From Expectations to Acceptance
Getting on with people is tough, especially when they don't fulfill your expectations!  Instead, if you accept people the way they are without expecting them to be something they're not, you end up less disappointed and frustrated.


Click here for the 'pause - think - act' elements of the challenge.

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