Bittersweet Birthday Cake

From the second they place your newly born baby into your arms your life has changed. Not only because of the sleepless nights and endless diapers, but also because there is a person that you instinctively love more than yourself. I have received so much joy experiencing life through their perspective. Getting another chance to feel excited over the first snow fall or the last the day of school. Raising my children has allowed me to reminisce on my own childhood, to feel the magic I once believed in.

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Today my youngest child turned five. As I write it, I still cannot believe it to be true. It feels like the closing of a chapter that is bittersweet. No more toddlers running through the house with bad pronunciations and a desire to stay in the nude. No more little fingers pinching away at scattered cheerios, or toothless grins. No more wobbly feet desperate to walk and no more teeny, tiny hands grasping onto my pinky finger.

There are many things I will not miss from that era of babyhood through toddler-hood, but somehow those details fade to the background, slightly out of focus.

My youngest child is now five.

Now, here I am, navigating through parenting with their childhood fully bloomed, inflated with feelings of their self esteem, curiosity, stress, fear, ego, anger, just to name a few. As a mother, I feel as though somebody turned the parenthood dial up a few notches. There is more to it than just maintaining their life and teaching them not to bite people. I feel an innate urge to ensure they are each emotionally okay, despite the world of influences they face everyday when they step out over the threshold of our home.

“A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child.”

An accurate statement loaded with stress and heartache, which cannot be avoided. I know that in a few years, when they cross over to the next plateau of their life, I’ll probably look back and think how easy I had it. Tears and frustrations will fade and I will be in amazement of how fast time is passing and how bittersweet it is that they are minimally in my presence.

However, today I am working hard to make sure they have a childhood they can recall upon one day to fill them up with joy and reminisce the magic they were able to experience when they could rely on their mommy to fix their mishaps and make them feel loved unconditionally.

Happy 5th birthday to my last born child.

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The Art of Gratitude

Do you know that feeling you get when you desperately need a new toothbrush? The bristles are worn and rough. Every morning you pick it up and think, I must buy a new toothbrush today! And every night you want to kick yourself for forgetting to buy one, even though you were in the store. Then, that special day comes when you are both in the store and remember that you need a toothbrush. Hallelujah! You walk over to the dental aisle and view your options, careful to select the right strength, bristle style and color. That night, you crack open the plastic, place the perfect amount of toothpaste on it, and brush your teeth. The new bristles massage your gums that have been so badly mistreated by your old, crotchety toothbrush. When you are done, you run your tongue over your teeth with the wonderful sensation of cleanliness. You can finally take the perpetrator out of your spot on the holder and sentence it to death by trash. There is a sense of joy that fills you when your new brush is hanging there proudly.

Gratitude can be more than just taking a few minutes to ramble out thoughts of the obvious things that contribute to your life in some way.

For me, I began to practice gratitude when I was at a low point in my life. I treated myself to a beautiful leather bound journal and began writing down things I was grateful for each night. Just as most people, my first couple of months entries were repetitive for the obvious things, health, family, food, a placed to live, employment and a vehicle. Looking back and reading through, I began to notice an evolution of my entries. Gratitude slowly began oozing into the crevices of my life, showing up in minor details. I can tell you the dates I bought a new toothbrush, opened a brand new bar of soap or watched the mail man deliver my mail in the pouring rain. I can tell you when I noticed a bird bathing in a puddle and how it made me feel. Reading through my journal I can tell you when I felt good in an outfit and when my egg omelet was cooked to perfection. I know all the times I was grateful for a good laugh with a friend and each time I hugged my children extra tight, looked into their eyes and told them how much I loved them.

Practicing gratitude has allowed me to observe my life in the moment I am living it. I find myself stopping throughout the day to feel grateful and happy for little details that I might have overlooked in the past, and for that I will always be forever grateful.

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It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log

The kids had a snow day on Friday and another one yesterday, making today a false Monday and putting an end to their four day weekend. Winter has officially hit Long Island.

The day began like any other weekday, some breakfast, packed lunches and snacks, strange outfits and running down the block while the bus patiently sits at the corner with its doors open, ready to swallow up reluctant children. The day is in full swing with lots to get done.

By the time the evening comes, I sit on the couch with a cup of coffee ready to relax, a reward to myself. Sometimes I make a mental list of all the little tasks that I was able to do and I feel accomplished. I sit there all “Carpe Diem” and “Zen-like” feeling proud of myself. You did a good job. There will always be more to do, but you chipped away at the ol’ block today! You owned it today.   It’s usually around this time it starts . . .

“Go to bed,” I say slightly above my typical speaking voice. I can hear pattering feet above me. I decide to make my trip to the bathroom a surprise inspection, popping my head into their rooms while they scramble like cockroaches to their beds and fumble under the covers.

It’s only a few minutes later, their little voices are carried throughout the house, usually giggling or arguing and lots of shushing one another.

“Get in bed,” I shout out, with hope that they will instantaneously feel tired and fall asleep.

Skipping over the dreadful details, the evening typically concludes with me explaining to myself, out loud, that I am not being unreasonable by asking them to go to bed. We did everything that had to get done, it was a packed day and now its time for sleep. Simple.

If the phone rings and I decide to have a conversation, not work related, not bill related, just a casual, shoot-the-shit phone call, I find myself every few minutes pulling the phone away to scream like I have a disease. I am forced against my will to frequently get off the couch to sort them all back into their correct rooms and beds.

Just a few of the things that fly out of my mouth almost every night.

  • I’m done!
  • I’ve punched out!
  • So much happened today. How are you not tired?
  • That’s it! You’re all going to bed a half hour earlier tomorrow.
  • Please just go to bed. Please.
  • Now you’re thirsty? Really?
  • GO PEE THEN!
  • It’s a school night and because I said so, that’s why.
  • The kitchen is closed!
  • NO! I have already tucked you in twice, now you’re on your own!
  • SLEEP!

Not sure what I am doing wrong here, but by the time they all settle down, I can’t even think straight. Any creativity to write or desire to read has been drained and I just sit there in shock.

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Right.

 

What Matters

When my son was in Kindergarten, the teacher would tell me during recess all he does is sit in the field and dig in the dirt using a branch. She wanted him to stop because of the potential danger of having little holes littering the field where other children run.

When I confronted him on his digging, he brought me to his room and pulled an old lunchbox out from under his bed. He explained that he was searching for special rocks to add to his collection, despite the millions of rocks that blanketing the playground area he could have easily chosen. The rocks in his collection didn’t look special at all. As a matter of fact, some weren’t even rocks, but chunks of pavement or concrete. I left it alone and encouraged his digging to take place at home.

From time to time, on a special occasion, I would receive a small gift, wrapped in a paper towel. When I opened it up, I would find a rock that was carefully selected and washed.  I then understood how special those rocks in his collection really were.

As I have recently moved, and have spent a lot of time deciding what to pack and what to get rid of. It made me think about what really matters. I realize that what matters is different for each person but there is a common denominator, how it makes you feel. What mattered to me was the paintings from our travels, some of my favorite photographs of family, my favorite mug that has magical powers to make coffee taste better somehow, and my books. Each of those things make me feel something, sentimental, love or simply joy. They have the ability to affect my mood and remind me of who I am, at my best. I believe that what we have may be very different, but why they matter is because of the same reason. They make us feel something and remind us of who we strive to be at our best. Some of my most valuable things are not valuable at all. For my son those rocks were special and to me, that is what matters.

 

I would just like to note that a follower had emailed me to see if I am still writing.  She said, that I wrote about things that mattered.  Thank you for your concern, as it has inspired me to continue to do what I love.

 

Tick Tock

Time is a strange concept. We all experience it, yet it feels different for each of us. One year may be better for one person than another. A season or time of day may be preferred varying from one person to the next.

When I was a child, a week felt like a month and a month felt like a year. The minutes ticked by so slowly I thought Christmas would never come back again and summer was a faint and distant memory. I was always in awe of the concept of time, questioning my mother why the day felt so long and the nights blinked past us in a flash.

My mother had told me time is like a triangle. As children we all start at the bottom, traveling from side to side, which takes the longest. As we grow old, we move up the triangle and traveling from side to side goes by more quickly, until you’ve reached the top, when you find you can no longer keep up with the years.

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Well Mom, you were right! I have moved up the triangle and time is really picking up now. The pause button doesn’t work, there is no slowing it down. Another school year has flown by, summer is just eight short weeks and then we can all scurry around for another holiday season.

I understand this realization when I look at my children. They have become kids, past diapers and bottles. When did that exactly happen? An old photograph of them caught my eye the other day and it took my breath away. When did they change? I hope I really enjoyed holding each newborn baby, listening to each first word spoken. I pray that I remember their first steps and how it felt when they would rest their heads on my shoulder.

I hope I am soaking in every moment now that they are in grade school, letting their imaginations run wild and discovering the world they live in. I hope that I can capture their excitement and wonder, never letting a fleeting moment pass me by without indulging and fully experiencing it. I am aware of the importance of right now. 

The clock seems to be ticking by just a bit faster . . .

tick tick tick tock . . .

Learning How To Balance

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We are all performing our own balancing act, cautious not to lean too much in either direction, contemplating each step and considering the elements that surround us. Although at times we may wobble, we can quickly gain balance and move forward. We have mastered the delicate balancing act of life.

This weekend, my husband rummaged through his tool bag until he pulled out his pliers and removed the training wheels off of my daughters bicycle. Each wheel fell to the floor with a clang as he loosened the lug nuts. My daughter eagerly straddled her bike ready to give it a try. I hope she approaches everything in life with enthusiasm and determination.

We told her to be safe and wear a helmet. I hope she always considers safety before pursuing any future endeavor.

We told her to think about where she would be going. Aim for the fence. I hope she always has a goal she is in pursuit of achieving.

We told her not to lean too much in either direction. I hope she always remembers to hold her ground.

We told her to steer clear of any obstacles. I hope she can always be aware and avoid anything that may get in her way.

We told her to put her feet down when she is ready to get off. I hope she is always able to land on her feet.

When she fell, we told her to dust herself off and get back up. I hope she never lets anything or anyone hold her down.

My husband held onto the seat and ran with her until he couldn’t hold on any longer. We were forced to watch, filled with anxiety, hoping she would be okay. I know one day she will be ready to face the world, soaring forward and, ready to conquer. On that day, we won’t have a choice but to let go.

❤ My baby learned how to ride her bike this past weekend. ❤

My Ass Hurts!

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PITA

Yes, you read that correctly. My ass, does in fact hurt! Why does my ass hurt? I will gladly explain what is causing my ass pain.

Child 1 : Likes to fight with Child 2. Loves to leave dirty laundry on the floor. Hates to share video games. Doesn’t enjoy eating vegetables. Forgets everything. I am not exaggerating on this one, like EVERYTHING!

Child 2: Also enjoys fighting with Child 1. Loves to change into as many outfits as she can in a day. She like to go through my closet to try on my shoes and scuff them. She hates to share. She doesn’t really play with anything. She likes to do things but not play. She would like to employ me as a personal masseuse or entertainment to be ready at her disposal. Loves to spend most of her time setting something up and then abandoning the project. For example, she will pull out tables, blankets, toys, clothes to set up a pretend store, but before she actually plays, gets bored, abandons the idea and leaves the mess. 😦

Child 3: She enjoys crying and whining. She loves to ask for things in that sing song whining voice. EEEK!!! She also enjoys changing clothes and often protests getting left out of what Child 2 is doing. She like to secretly write on the walls and then pretend it wasn’t her, even thought it says her name. She hates to use the bathroom and needs to be dragged to use the facilities. She much rather hold it in until she explodes.

Child 4: She like to eat, eat & eat again. When I cut her off, she cries, cries and cries. She has a cry and scream that can probably speak to the whales in the depth of the sea. She likes to get into things she isn’t suppose to, especially something that is important to Child 1, 2 or 3. She enjoys spilling toys on the floor and then running away. She also enjoys changing her clothes, but when I need her to be dressed she lays limp, not wanting to participate in getting dressed. Go figure.

All of this going on simultaneously can be a real pain in my ass. I love them, I truly do. These people are the air that I breathe and my purpose in life, but sometimes they can be real assholes. I have decided to express to my husband that I am at my wits end. These kids are a bunch of assholes. He simply sips his coffee, unfazed and replies, “I blame it on the parents.”  😦

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Thank you for listening to my rant, again! 🙂

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This MOM’s Life

I am so happy to be featured on My Sweet Nothings! She features Mommy bloggers in her posts titled, This Mom’s Life. I love that she has compiled interviews of mothers from different parts of the world.

As different as we may be, we all have in common the love we feel for our children. ❤

I just want to say thank you again, for including me!

Now What?

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I find I am clutching my mug of steaming hot coffee a bit tighter lately, grabbing for the throw blanket to burrito myself in more often than usual, and procrastinating a little longer before rolling out of bed or stepping out of the scorching shower. Winter has officially set in for Long Island. BRRR!

The garbage is filled with empty cardboard hearts, yes plural, and a new blemish has erupted on my chin (which for me, is unusual). We have gone through several sketch pads, glue sticks and packages of construction paper in this house. The DVR is empty, every book has been read, the toys have been played with and Logos have been built. We have beaded necklaces and bracelets, molded Play-Doh into mini animal shapes and even practiced some school work.

Its only Monday! SIX MORE DAYS! Six more days the kids are home from school and the snacks are depleting at an astounding rate! Its too cold to go outside and after an unexpected vet bill, my budget is a bit tight.  (Doggie is doing fine now 🙂  )

Its only Monday! Now what?

If it was up to me, I’d remain a burrito all week long reading, writing and editing. Sigh . . but that will not satisfy four energetic children. So does anyone have any great suggestions?


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What the Library Means To Me – Book Nerds Where Are You?

I wrote this some time ago for a library writing contest and won! I really couldn’t believe it. I ❤ the library! Here’s to my inner nerd!!

Why I Love my Library

Throughout my life, I have always been drawn to the library.  The large brick structure stands strong, protecting the authors and valued pages of literature that it houses.  As a child, during summer, I would walk through the automatic sliding doors, letting the icy cool air engulf me, leaving the hazy sun behind. I would browse the endless spines of eye-catching titles, printed in fancy calligraphy or block font. The choices were limitless, leaving me dizzy and indecisive.  The library was a good friend to me then, as I thumbed through the pages of my R.L. Stine, “Goosebumps” series, quietly sitting in the adult section, feeling mature at age 10.  The library provided me with one autobiography after another, as I obsessively read through volumes, on every person I recognized.  The library was calm, sensible, and willing to keep me company, until my curfew beckoned me home.

​Eventually, the library would become a tutor for me, as I researched information in the reference section, for countless hours, to prepare for a school report.  It was where I would seek help for my next Regents exam, or SAT test.  Sifting through books on biology and mathematics, the library supported me through my education, aided me, in reaching for a higher test score.

​The library is a second hand thrift store, where I could sit and browse through a respectable selection of books, and have the joy of walking out with ownership of a piece of literature, for only a dime. A small present for myself, purchased with the change rolling around on the bottom of my purse.

​The library is a knowledgeable mother, guiding me through parenthood.  Providing suggestions on ways to soothe a sleepless baby, tips on discipline, and holding my hand, when it came time for the ever-so-dreaded, potty training.    The library saw me through my challenges as a new mother.

​The library is a teacher, allowing me to learn about any topic, from filing taxes, to writing novels, along with the best ways one can explore Disney World.  I can sit and learn for countless hours, from the wisdom that the library embodies.

​The library is my office, where I went to inquire about civil service employment opportunities. It is where I go when my computer is down, or I need to make copies.  The reference desk awaits me, if my documents need to be notarized, or they simply require a staple.

​The library is both a coach and cheerleader, encouraging reading for all age groups, with rewards and prizes.  Ringing my phone and delivering good news, I can collect my winnings!  Generously providing my children with a weekly prize, and allowing them to be exciting about reading.  Graduating them through reading clubs, as they excel and develop their reading-skills.

​The library is a Mommy-and-Me, where I went to sing songs, and listen to fairy tales in the community room. My tiny tots would sit in my lap, clapping their chubby, little hands to the cheerful melodies.  As toddlers, my children engaged in the singing and dancing, playing with puppets, and a simple musical instrument or two.

​The library is an art class, where my children and I can walk in and decorate a treasure box, or color a wooden snake.  They can create a picture frame, or a present for Dad, for Fathers’ Day. The library is inventive and creative, allowing us to leave with a parting gift of some sort.

The library is an app on my tablet. Access to a new and interesting read is just a few clicks away, anytime, anywhere.

​The library is a media super-center, generously providing the latest DVD releases, as well as the classics.  It’s where my family goes to plan an epic movie night.  The library provides music for an upcoming party, or just for my daughters, to sing and dance along to, in the living room.

​The library is a hideaway, for my four children, and I. It is where we go when the snow is piled high to our knees, and when the rain leaves the playground soggy. It is a place to escape to, as I did so long ago, when the summer sun beat down relentlessly.  My affection for the library is a trait, which I have proudly passed down to my children.  The library has provided countless bedtime stories, for their heavy eyes, and early-reader books, as they struggled to sound out each letter.

The library is a place that is expansive in wisdom, and an infinite source of creativity. The library is not just a building, but it’s a thriving part of our community.  The staff is warm and inviting, helpful and educated. The library is a haven for my family, where we are known by name. The knowledge, memories, and friends that we have gained, at the library, has made an indelible impression on the life of my family.