Pockets Full of Leaves

Hello, there!  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  One of my “New Year’s Resolutions” (really using the phrase loosely, here) was to write more.  We’re practically halfway through the year, and this is the first time I’ve really sat down and made time to write.  I’m calling this a win.

I realized that, in my busyness, I was beginning to miss things.  I’ve always been a writer, always kept journals – especially since becoming a mom.  While the baby books aren’t completed, I’ve promised myself that one day my Ziploc bags with locks of hair and little scraps of paper with notes like “Grant first step 3/18/16!” will become coherent sentences in the future baby book I will finish (after I purchase it, of course).

But when there’s been too many months absent of writing, I start to feel untethered.  So I’m making a semi-conscious effort (let’s face it – all moms are semi-conscious on a daily basis) to write just a little bit more.

When I sat at my desk yesterday, I realized there were some items in my pockets.  I pulled them out one by one, and found they were the boys’ treasures they’d collected on our walk from the parking lot to their preschool entrance that morning.  Two rocks, a few leaves, a snail shell, and half an eraser.  The boys always hand their treasure to me for safe keeping, until I pick them up in the afternoon.  My purse is frequently filled with similar treasures, along with Matchbox cars, socks, and Legos.  Once a week, I empty the bag to gather the treasures, surveying the week’s adventures.  I am amazed that children can find just as many interesting things walking to the preschool entrance as they can during a trip to the park.  Isn’t this the beautiful thing about childhood?  The wonder and adventure of it all?

Sometimes I’ll forget to take these things out of my pockets, and the laundry will end up full of leaf fragments.  Sometimes someone will put half an uneaten sprinkle cookie in my purse.  Almost always, the cookie goes unnoticed, until I reach in the bottom of my bag to find something and come up with a handful of crumbs and sprinkles.  Childhood is also full of surprises.

The boys are 4 and 2 now, and it’s dawning on me that we’re entering a new chapter.  This is the twilight of the toddler years.  Soon their independence (and size) will keep me from carrying them.  You can sense the change in seasons through the way the boys talk and play, the questions they ask, and the things they learn and share.  Miles will talk to you about endangered species, while Grant will show you how high he can climb by himself.  Offers for help are more often turned down, because “I can do it myself, watch!”  The little hands that could once only hold my finger now have a firm grasp on my hand when crossing the street, reminding me to “stop, look, and listen.”  The soft baby hair that once fluttered like down in the breeze now sticks up wildly and in every direction, sweaty from an afternoon of boys’ adventures in their make-believe pirate ship.  The tiny people whose grapes I once sliced in half now open the refrigerator, find a snack, and help themselves.  Gone are the days of airplane spoons and booster seats.

So I’ve told myself to stop; to pause, to soak it all in, because we’re growing up.  Every time I hear Grant say, “Uhm-a-no, door!” or “yeyyow nana!” I want to remember that moment, because soon he’ll be able to say, “Open the door!”  and “yellow banana!”  and I’ll miss those mispronunciations.  When Miles ask for help writing his letter “S” because it really is tricky to master, I have to watch and take in his concentrated face and efforts, because one day he’ll be typing his term papers.  When the boys ask if we can build just one more fort, I’ll drop everything I’m doing to help, because one day they’ll be constructing all on their own, with no need for mom to get to the things they can’t reach.

I’ll miss those pockets full of leaves.  I’ll miss finding rocks hidden in my shoe, and Batman figures stashed in the vegetable crisper.  I’ll miss overflowing bubble baths, putting socks on their feet while they’re sleeping, and turning off the nightlight.

Every age is full of magic.  Every age we reach, I think to myself, “this one, right here – this is my favorite age” because the truth is, these tiny beings are incredible, wonderful, amazing people, growing into incredible, wonderful, amazing young men.  I treasure the beautiful series of moments replaying in my mind, from first steps, to learning to brush our teeth on our own, to putting on their shoes by themselves. 

Yes, Ferris Bueller was right about life, and it moving pretty fast.  Take time to stop and smell the roses, even if they’re covered in strawberry jelly and glitter, because one day, you’ll miss this.

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It’s Christmas…don’t be a jerk.

Do you remember what Christmas was like as a child? If you have kids, or are around kids during the season, then you probably know exactly what I mean. Christmas is full of magic; tinsel, lights, pretty packages, time with family and friends, hot cocoa and Christmas cookies, lots of fun things happening at church, and tons of arts and crafts. The month of December guaranteed a smile from ear to ear.

Then, we grew up. And you know what I’ve found as an adult? Adults have the capability of making the Christmas season kind of sucky.

When we were young, we were naïve. We were protected from some of the unpleasant things that happen around this time of year. But as an adult, the innocence is lost, and you become fully aware of just what this season does to some people.

1. Commercialism and materialism is just overwhelming.  

Occupy Black Friday.

Occupy Black Friday.

The ads, commercials, sales, super sales, super huge sales, stores open 24 hours…STAHP IT. All this does is create a nervous, panicky feeling of, “I MUST BY ALL THE THINGS FOR ALL THE PEOPLE!” in most of us, and I hate it. I don’t want to purchase a gift with little to no meaning out of the simple feeling of obligation, because that’s not fun (also, you don’t need new mixing bowls, slippers or a neck pillow). I want to find something special and meaningful, with an enormous emotional value, and not necessarily an enormous monetary value. Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean that it’s the perfect gift, people.

2. People can be jerks.

Prepare to go postal.

That lady in the coat knows what’s up.

On the road, at the grocery store, in the mall, at the post office, everyone is in a hurry, and so many people are focused only on themselves and what they need to accomplish. Nevermind the gal (ME) with a kiddo (MILES) in a stroller, trying to wrangle four priority envelopes and two packages at the automated postage machine. Because if you really super hurry, you can cut in front of me in line. Yes, Season’s Greetings to you, too, jerkface.

3. You think people can be jerks? Well, guess what family can be…

Left alone? Guess what...

Probably has some jerky family members.

You guessed it. When we’re young, we have the joy of being completely oblivious to the fact that the holidays can exacerbate the existing stress/drama/malarky that families tend to carry around throughout the year. Not speaking to a sibling? Can’t stand your great aunt? Avoiding in-laws like the plague? That everyday behavior becomes even jerkier around Christmas. And do you know who suffers as a result? Not only you, but the rest of your family. You might not be in the mood to see Uncle Joe, but guess what? Your cousin might be. Is it fair to them that the holiday is spent broken into segments of family members who get along? Probably not. So next year, build a bridge and get over it. Christmas is not about you.

4. Loneliness. 

Not even cake can conquer loneliness.

Not even cake can conquer loneliness.

It happens whether you’d like to admit it or not. This time of year can be a total bummer sometimes, especially when you think about the family and friends who are no longer in your life; whether they’ve gone to Heaven, have moved across the country, or they’re just jerks who have disappeared. Regardless of the reason, there are times now that you’ll feel a twinge of sadness (most likely when a Publix commercial comes on…) and that’s okay. Not every minute of every day is going to be a holiday explosion of joy and glitter in your face. Sometimes, you want to cry. Guess what? Lots of people do. Have you listened to the lyrics for “Auld Lang Syne” lately? Grab a Kleenex and let go.

In our home, we do our very best to keep this time of year special and sacred. I want to keep that magical Christmas feeling forever; not just a few weeks a year, but every single day. And I don’t want the aggravation that can come with this time of year to slowly find its way into my mind.

This is immensely important to us now that we have Miles. That same joy and love and peace and fellowship should fill our home and lives constantly. The importance of Christmas and true reason for the season – that our Savior came to earth for us – should be remembered each and every day. Kindness, generosity, the gift of giving, time with the ones you love…365 days a year. The magic of Christmas.

No stress, no drama, no bleeding ulcers, no 24 hour shop-a-thons and no arguments. Just love for everyone…even the jerk at the post office.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

CHRISTMAS MAGIC.

CHRISTMAS MAGIC.

Love love love,
Kristin

Round-Up: SAHM Edition

Last week, I was on vacation.  Glorious, stress-free, vacation…AT HOME.  I have always wanted to take a full week of vacation time and just sit at home, eating nachos for breakfast, watching Kathy Lee and Hoda, reading Us Weekly and wearing yoga pants with zero intention of actually doing yoga (or any physical activity, for that matter).  Now that we’re parents, a week of time at home gives me a peek into the life of a stay-at-home mom.
I learned a few things in those 7ish days; some of those things are valuable life tools.  And some of those things involve The Wiggles.
Top Ten Things Learned During SAHM Week…
10. You’re an anti-TV parent until you are forced to become a TV parent.  Let me clarify this by saying we are still anti-TV parents; however, when you need 15 minutes to vacuum, take a phone call, find the cat or just poop, well…plopping Miles in the Jumperoo and giving him some PBS was the answer.
9. Your coffee will probably be cold by the time you finish it.  Every morning, I would play with Miles on the floor in the living room and attempt to drink my coffee.  This worked fine, until he noticed my coffee mug.  Once the mug was in his line of sight, it was game over.  He would stop at nothing in his attempts to grab my mug, because suddenly that mug of coffee was more important than anything in the entire universe, ever. 
8. All electrical cords belong to Miles.  I thought I could work on our family Christmas card while Miles was playing with one of his favorite toys (a measuring cup).  He was intently putting his orange monkey under the measuring cup, scooting it over, then picking it up again to see if monkey was still there.  He had no idea I was even in the room.  I quietly plugged in my laptop, and started working.  That was the moment his spidey senses kicked in…realizing an electrical cord was nearby, Miles immediately stopped playing with his cup.  After 10 minutes of attempting to work, I gave up.  A similar situation arose with the vacuum, steam mop, and phone charger.  Some of you may be wondering why electrical cords are so awesome.  Like all awesome toys, you can BEAT THEM ON THE FLOOR AND MAKE NOISE.
7. A majority of children’s programming is frightening, or created by people taking psychotropic drugs.  I thought I’d check out that BabyFirst channel, only to find some terrifying show with three large and incredibly realistic looking mice singing and dancing, with no movement from their mouths.  Just these blank, vacant stares from their beady costume eyes.  

And now you can share in my nightmare.


So that ended up on the “do not watch” list.  Then I tried something called Lazy Town, but found most of the actors had rubber masks or weird hair, and added that to the list as well.  These very strange shows also seemed to lack any educational value.  

Not good role models.  Also, questionable fashion choices.


What made the cut?  The Wiggles, Barney and Friends (YES, THAT IS STILL ON THE AIR!), Sid the Science Guy, Sesame Street and The Chica Show.  Good stuff.

6. A majority of new children’s music is also frightening.  While I am anti-TV, during playtime we do have music going…Miles loves music.  We usually listen to jazz, but I decided to venture into the world of children’s music.  There’s a lot of good stuff out there.  For instance, Caspar Babypants (you can’t make this stuff up) is now in my regular playlist.  He’s like a Jack Johnson for babies, and it is awesomesauce.  

How can you not love this guy?

SERIOUSLY.  He’s awesome.  I would listen to him even if I didn’t have children.


However, when a group called “Preschool Popstars” came on singing a song about a daycare dance party, I decided I did not want my eight month old in da club.  You would also be amazed at the number of adult pop songs (Lady Gaga, Beyonce, etc.) that make it to the children’s station because they are being sung by THE CHIPMUNKS.  This type of torture should be saved for Guantanamo.  Fun fact: These tunes will also make your ears bleed.

Sippin’ on juice.  Just juice.


THIS IS AN ACTUAL SONG.

Yes, I could have made the entire post about this one thing.
It’s like a train wreck, I just can’t turn away from it.
WHY IS THAT TODDLER WEARING SUNGLASSES?!


5. You can wear the same clothes five days in a row, and no one will know.  Except the UPS guy.  And maybe the mailman.  Also, employees at Publix, depending on how many times you visit the store.  Fashion be damned, I wore the same yoga pants and Grateful Dead t-shirt ALL. WEEK. LONG.  It was awesome.
4. You get to eat lunch with your kiddo!  Feeding Miles while simultaneously feeding myself is nothing new, but eating lunch at 11am is.  So at 2pm, when I was suddenly hungry in a way that can only be akin to a bear waking from hibernation, I would usually binge on something sensible, like an entire sleeve of Ritz crackers and half a jar of Nutella.  Don’t look at me like that.
3. You finally see why all the other moms won’t stop talking about the blue Wiggle.

 Oh, you think he’s kind of lame?

TRY AGAIN.
2. You get to read a book!  And a magazine!  And watch re-runs of SATC!  Miles’ longest nap usually happens around lunch time…two hours of glorious, uninterrupted ME TIME.  Choirs of angels sang the first time I sat down to read. 
1. YOU GET TO TAKE A NAP…EVERY SINGLE DAY!  Oh my gosh, naps.  I haven’t taken a nap since…how old is my son?  That long.  It was awesome.
Besides these learning moments, I also really, really, really enjoyed just getting some downtime with my kiddo.  These are the days that go by quickly, where he seems to still be swaddled one minute and somehow riding a tricycle the next.  It happens that fast.  So having many, many days of “just us” was an incredible, tremendous blessing.  I cried The Ugly Cry three times last week, just sitting there watching him play, because I suddenly realized he was no longer my teeny, tiny little baby.  He’s a big boy.  An amazing, smart, funny, snuggly and loving little guy. 
Dropping him off at school on Monday was like that first day, all over again.  Only this time, Miles eagerly crawled to the basket of toys and immediately began dumping them all over the floor, totally oblivious to the fact that mom was standing there, teary eyed, watching her baby grow up.  I kissed him goodbye; he bopped me on the nose and tried to take my glasses, then he gave me a hug.  A real hug.
I left before my morning at daycare turned into a Publix Thanksgiving commercial.

You cried when the pilgrims were separated at the table, right?
Working parents, if you get the chance to take some vacation and spend it at home with your young ones, I cannot encourage you enough to do it.  In the blink of an eye, kids are off at college, getting married, giving you grandchildren…these days are precious and brief.  Even when you’re tired, distracted, running a hundred miles an hour…stop, and make the most of these days.  You will appreciate these memories so much as your children grow.
Sappy McSapperston,
Kristin

Slow. Down.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays, and not just for the endless array of casseroles, gravy, cranberry sauce, wine, dessert (and dessert wine).  It’s a time that we get to enjoy at a slower pace, surrounded by friends and family, wearing stretchy yoga pants, watching football and just enjoying each other’s company.  Right?  RIGHT?!


I have never been a Black Friday shopper.  I hate the mall, I hate the crowds, and I really don’t enjoy shopping (my nineteen year old self just rolled her eyes at me…) Some people love Black Friday; the thrill of the hunt, getting up at 3am, standing in line, fighting over Tickle Me Elmo dolls and arguing with the barista when she forgets the triple shot of espresso. 
And each year, stores open earlier, stay open longer, offer more insanely unreasonable sales to drive the hoards of crazies through their doors.  Thanksgiving is no longer a holiday to be celebrated; it’s become a minor preamble that we rush through just to get to the 100 MILE PER HOUR GIVE ME ALL THE STUFF CHRISTMAS SHOPPING EXPLOSION IN YOUR FACE.  NOW WITH MORE STUFF!!!
The commercialism of the holiday season is overwhelming.  There are too many screaming TV commercials with blinking lights, bells, dancing elves, annoying music and size 72 font prices for me to handle.  This time of year is not about getting a Hamilton Beach crockpot for 83% off retail price, just because you can.
People, you don’t need this stuff.  You have enough stuff.  You don’t even have room for the new stuff.  You can’t even name all of the stuff you already have.  Do you know what you really need to do?  Slow. The. Hell. Down.
We wait until after Thanksgiving to put up our Christmas tree.  We wait until after Thanksgiving to do any Christmas shopping.  We want to enjoy each moment, day, holiday, gathering, activity, as it comes.  If you’re constantly racing to the next event, can you truly enjoy and appreciate where you are right now?  Stop.  Sit with each other.  Talk.  Laugh.  Drink more wine.  Eat more pumpkin roll.  Enjoy your time.  And be thankful.
We have instilled a “Get One, Give One” mantra in our household.  If you get a new toy, you must give an old toy to Goodwill.  It’s important to us that our children understand that receiving gifts can be fun, but giving is so much better.  Because if you feel a thousand rays of sunshine happy when you get something, don’t you want someone else to experience that same feeling?

We are also making an effort to spend less because, again, stop it with the stuff.  I have a decent list of DIY Christmas gifts I have put together over the past few months (friends and family, be prepared…)  If spending money on a gift, we are considering things that are practical, enjoyable and most importantly, meaningful.  And if I actually go through with any of this DIY business, rest assured there will be a post about it, wink wink.
We will focus on our time together, more than ever.  Ignore Pinterest, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram and television.  You have enough sugar cookie recipes; you will never get around to making those votive holders (unless it’s a gift, then have at it…), and there’s no need in making yourself feel holiday guilt by comparing your tree, house, gifts, etc., to those of your 1,872 “friends” on Facebook.  Look at each other.  Spend time with each other.  Put down the smartphone, close the laptop, and connect to something other than your wi-fi for a change. 

This really is a time of thanks; if you stop for a moment and take inventory of your life, you will find you are immensely, tremendously, incredibly blessed.  And it’s not just the stuff you have; it’s the people, the relationships, the memories, the time together, the experiences, the laughter, the love. 
Ferris Bueller said it pretty well back in 1986:
“Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”



Happy Thanksgiving.

Taking it easy,
Kristin