Days of Plenty

Lately my children have been on sweetness overdrive. Seriously, the stuff that comes out of their mouths the last few weeks make me stop in my tracks, get all doe-eyed, and let out an audible “Oohhh!”  Here are a few examples:

-While reading a comic book, David asked me what lovesick means. I explained that sometimes when you love someone your stomach gets fluttery and your heart races and it makes you feel sick in a good way. His reply, “like how I feel about Sydney at her birthday party.” Awww….

-A few nights later, David tells me, “Mom, I’m lovesick for you.” Double Awww…

-I go to the Y to workout and leave Ben at the daycare for about an hour. When I came to pick him up yesterday, the girl a the counter was holding him. When he saw me, he got a huge smile, clapped his hands and yelled, “Mommy’s here!” I don’t know if anyone has ever been more happy to see me than my kids are, even if I have only been gone from the room long enough to go pee.

-A recent conversation between David and Ben:

David: Hi Ben, did you have a good sleep, sweet pea?

Ben: Yes!

David: Can I snuggle with you?

Ben: Yes!

David (crawling under the covers): See outside? It’s foggy today.

Ben: It’s foggy!

David (kissing Ben on the forehead): I love you.

Ben: I love you too!

-Ben’s favorite game right now is when I pretend to be a shark and he’s a fish. I do the Jaws theme (na-na, na-na, na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, NA-Na-NA!) and then eat him up. My kid is pretty rad.

-David calls me sweetie, honey, and “my best mom” on a daily basis. Must remember this in the future when those names will be replaced with annoying, nag, and “pain in my ass.”

Life is about the tiny moments of joy that too often pass by unrecognized. I wanted to save these, write them down, give them a place of permanence for a time when I need to be reminded that everything is amazing. Because everything is.

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The Presence Project: Breaking the iPhone Addiction

They say the first step down the road to recovery is admittance you have a problem so here it goes: My name is Jamie, and I am an iPhone addict. My phone has become an ever-present part of who I am. It goes in the car with me, to the bathroom, and sits next to my pillow while I sleep. If, on the very rare occasion, I forget my phone, it is as if an essential part of me has been left behind. Like my right arm. When Ben wakes me in the middle of the night to get him a bottle, I use that as an opportunity to check up on all the Facebook statuses I missed while I was sleeping. I have my earbuds in so often that my husband has given up trying to have a verbal conversation with me and instead communicates vital information through pantomime. I check my email constantly even though the most pertinent information I receive is a two-for-one-sale on socks at Old Navy. Nothing strikes me with more dread than when the “10% battery life” warning flashes on my screen.

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I saw this and laughed, without irony, while looking at my phone in line at the grocery store. Clearly, I have a long way to go.
Photo courtesy of autowreck.com

 

I realize this is a big problem, one that I have been avoiding. My husband has tried to tell me that I should put my phone down once in awhile. Usually these gentle suggestions come after I complain that my neck and shoulders are always achy or that I can’t read anything smaller than a billboard after 8pm, and they are always prefaced with “now don’t get mad at me but…” So I guess maybe I am a little defensive on the whole phone issue. To be fair, he is on his phone and iPad a lot too, but he is reading Wall Street Journal and New York TImes articles while I am checking Us Weekly and TMZ updates. Occasionally, he will say something to me like “can you believe what’s going on in Turkey right now?” and I’ll put on a concerned face and vaguely say, “yeah, it’s crazy,” hoping that I might pass as well-informed while I secretly wish that, just once, he would ask me my opinion on Miley Cyrus or the Duck Dynasty controversy.

But really, he’s right, and I know he is. I use my phone as a way to check out, take a break from the constant demands of parenting, which is fine if it was once in awhile. But now it is to the point that I am afraid my children’s’ clearest  memory will be of me sitting slack jawed, illuminated by the white glow of my phone screen, ignoring their demands for attention with a muttered “in a minute. Just let me like this picture some person I haven’t talked to since third grade just posted of their kid’s dance recital,” And soon my kids will have their own phones and their own Facebook accounts. I can already hear my future shrieks of “put down that freaking phone!” ringing in my ears. It is going to be very hard to stay atop that high horse if I myself can’t go pee without checking Instagram at the same time.

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Photo courtesy of storiesofahappymom.com

 

So the first step of my year of living in the present is to put down the phone. Not completely, let’s not be crazy, but I am going to dramatically cut down the amount of time I am on it. Yesterday I even decided to turn off my music while on a run and just try to be fully aware of the moment I was in. Which turned out to be a bad idea because I haven’t run in a really long time and all I could hear was my own gasping breathes and shuffling feet and it was pretty discouraging. Anyway, I am going on iPhone restriction. And as a true step in the right direction, I am deleting the Facebook app from my phone. Right after I comment on this picture of a half eaten bagel my old college professor posted…

Word of the Year

I was watching Louis C.K. the other night. My favorite thing about him as a comedian is that he has the ability to say things very clearly in a way that makes you listen. He said “Life is amazing. And it’s really short.” Maybe it was the late hour (9:30pm on a Thursday is now the equivalent of 4:30 am on a Saturday to me) or the beer I had after dinner, but that really struck me. He is totally right. Life is short, none of us know exactly how short until it’s too late to do anything about it, and it is really, really awesome. And I let way too much of it pass me by without appreciating it.

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My lovely and talented friend Deb Stone introduced me to the idea of a word for the year. Instead of making a list of resolutions, you pick a word for the year and incorporate it into your life in any form it takes. I love this idea and think it is a better way of going into the year, with a word as your guide rather than a list of things I want to change about myself. Because, if I am being really honest, I don’t think I am changing too much. A resolution isn’t going to magically transform me into a person who always flosses before bed and who loves to do squat lunges. But a word is something I can get behind. A word has meaning, can be adaptive and open to interpretation across many aspects of my life. A word is its definition and all of its connotations combined. A word is as simple or complex as you need it to be.

My word for the year is Presence. I spend way too much of my life with my head somewhere else. I daydream, check out, worry, dwell instead of taking notice of the moment I am in. I don’t want to miss the life I was given. I will never have this time again, this specific time with my kids at these ages, having these experiences, and I know when I am an old lady sitting on my porch drinking green tea and yelling at the neighbors to get their cat out of my yard, that these are the times I will long for again. I think it is only fair that I honor this life by giving it my full attention. Somewhere along the way in adulthood, I have lost my sense of wonder. I think by being present I will find my way back to appreciating the world I have been blessed to live in.

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I haven’t worked out all the details yet of how I am going to adopt my word, but that is the beauty of a word for the year, it is an evolving process. I have picked out a mantra to help bring me back to the here and now when I find my mind wondering down a tunnel of what if: “Be here now.” Because here is wonderful and now is all we have for sure. I hope you all have a fantastic year ahead of you.

What is your word for the year?

Harry, the Laziest Elf on the Shelf Ever

I never planned on getting on the Elf of the Shelf bandwagon. It seemed too cutesy for me and honestly, that wide-eyed elf face creeps me the eff out. But one day a few weeks ago the kids were fighting over what to watch on TV. David was watching Spongebob and Benny kept turning off the TV. David would get up and scream at Ben for turning it off. Then Ben turned the TV off again and laughed. Then David did his high-pitched whiny thing he does when he is really frustrated and and screamed “Benny stop it!” before turning the TV on again. Periodically, I would yell from the kitchen, where I was trying to prepare the 300th meal of the day, to stop touching the TV. I think i even said something like the button would wear out from being pushed so much and that I wouldn’t buy a new TV if they broke it. They didn’t care and after this loop of annoyance was repeated over and over, I lost it.

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Tell me this isn’t the stuff nightmares are made of.
Photo courtesy of http://www.elfontheshelf.com

 

“That’s it!” I yelled, stomping my way to the living room. “I am sick of you guys not listening to me. I called Santa and he is sending an elf to watch you and tell him if you are being bad!” Because nothing says Christmas like threatening your children with a permanent spot on the naughty list.

“Santa is sending us an elf?”David said, his eyes lit with glee. “Can I see the elf? When is he coming?” I hadn’t anticipated his excitement since I didn’t exactly frame this elf thing in a positive light, but David was excited. Benny just looked at me and then hucked a train across the room.

So the elf came and we read the book and picked a name (Harry) and set him on the shelf. And it worked like magic. Every time the kids started to fight over a toy, I would see David look up at the shelf, and then hand his brother whatever piece of plastic they were about to come to blows over. Throughout the next few days, David chattered happily about all the good things Harry was going to tell Santa. Everything was going according to plan, except for one thing–I didn’t realize how much involvement this stinking elf would require of me. I’m supposed to move this stone faced little freak all over my house each night. But I can’t just stick him on the couch and be done with it, it’s supposed to be getting into mischief. Now I barely have enough room in my brain to remember to feed the dog twice (okay once, but it’s a super big bowl) a day, how am I supposed to come up with 24 fun and original scenes of elfin adventures?

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Seriously people, can we lower the bar a little?
Photo courtesy of crazyloucreations.blogspot.com

 

On day three, David woke up and ran into the living room. His face fell as he looked at the shelf and at Harry sitting exactly as he was the day before. “Hey, Harry didn’t move!”David yelled. “I thought he was magic.” Leave it to me to introduce a heartwarming and cherished Christmas tradition just to crush it three days in. In my defense, I fall asleep putting my kids to bed most nights. It’s not like I should be expected to stay awake past 8:30pm just to move a stupid elf around the house.

Thinking quickly, and having enough introspection to know that Harry would be sitting on that shelf for many more mornings to come, I said, “David! Can you believe it? Santa sent us a lazy elf! Harry is so lazy he doesn’t even move.” David looked at me and the rumpled his eyebrows.

“Mom, our elf is so lazy! Santa is going to be so mad at you Harry!” David said, pointing at the wrongly accused elf. I couldn’t help smiling to myself and thinking how lucky David is to have such a smart mom. Now David is happy when Harry is found in a different spot in the house (I did manage to hid him in the pile of laundry on the couch and in a bag of pretzels) or if he is still on the shelf. So the moral of the story is to know yourself, your limitations and abilities, and have a clever excuse at the ready to explain away any of your shortcomings.

Are you an Elf on the Shelf over-achiever or slacker?

Merry Christmas!

Jamie’s Jargon: The Resurrection

Well here I am at the close of another year, hair greasy from the lack of a shower, house smelling faintly of onion and burnt tire after the dog was assaulted by a skunk last night, and a pile of dirty dishes waiting in the sink. So, obviously nothing has really changed for me in the last year, which should make the lack of blog posts easier to come to terms with. I know, you have all been wondering what I have been up to the last twelve months. While staring into your slightly mushy bowl of cornflakes you may have found yourself thinking “I wonder how big  the pile of laundry on Jamie’s couch is?” or “I wonder if Benny and David are sleeping in there own beds yet?” or “I wonder how many times Jamie had to clean up vomit from the crevasses of the car seat?” The answers to your questions are huge, no, and too many to count. Side note: I have discovered that the best way to rid your car of the smell of curdled milk after your two-year-old rage barfs all over the backseat is diluted white vinegar. You’re welcome. And now we are all caught up!

Seriously though, everything I just wrote is completely true and a pretty good summary of the year. Life as a housewife is redundant and, if you are lucky, the household crises  don’t rise above the level of expelled bodily fluids or waking up at 5:30am because your son has decided the become partially nocturnal and wants to rise before the sun. We made it through another year happy, healthy, and (mostly) sane. And for that I am endlessly grateful.

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Look, we all held still long enough to get a picture without a blurred head (David and Ben) or a half-closed eye and open mouth (Me). It’s a Christmas miracle!

I am going to write a more extensive post in the next few days about what I am working towards in the New Year. Not resolutions so much as prioritizing those things that are important to me but that get pushed aside for the daily grind of parenthood. One thing I can share now–I am writing with intention and part of that will include regular updates to this blog. So I am hoping you are looking forward to hearing a lot more from me. See, it’s like I just gave you all a virtual Christmas present!

Hold Tight

There are days when being a mother leaves me breathless.  Days when the crying and the fighting and the constant requests make me wish I could go temporarily deaf.  Days when I think if I hear the words “Mommy I want…” “Mommy, I need some more…” “Mommy get me some…” again I will lose whatever sanity I have left.  Days when each and every tiny task is a challenge, a negotiation, a debate and all that gets me through is the thought of 8:30 when they will be asleep and I can curl up on the couch with a beer and a bullshit reality show.

And then there are days when the unthinkable shakes you to your core.

I was in the parking lot of Starbucks on Friday when my phone screen lit up with a news update: Shooting at Connecticut elementary school. Unknown number of fatalities. Most of the victims believed to be children.  I scooped Benni up from his car seat as I wiped the tears from my face.  Most of them children. I muttered my order to the barista and asked to pay for the coffee of the young man behind me who held the door for me as I entered, suddenly overwhelmed by the kindness of his gesture.  A stranger held the door for me, and across the country parents were wondering whether their children were alive.

When confronted with the worst of humanity, the little things come into focus.

Since Friday, along with a sorrow which only seems to grow for all that was so viciously taken that day, I feel a deep gratitude for all those little things.  Because I am one of the lucky who is still able to hold her children in her arms and feel the weight of their bodies as they slip into sleep.   I am still able to pour them milk, build them a fort out of blankets, and wash the dirt from their hair.  I am still able to call my children’s names and have them answer.I am lucky.

I left Starbucks that day and headed to my son’s school.  Though it was well before dismissal time I needed him with me.  I found him seated with a few other kids on the floor watching Polar Express in the back of the classroom, their soft faces lit by the glow of the television.  As I watched him I closed my eyes and gave thanks to the universe for blessing me with two healthy, beautiful children.  “Mom!” David shouted when he noticed me standing there, “you’re here! You came back for me!”

“Mommy always comes back for you,” I said as I returned his tight squeeze.  “I’ll always come back.”

Sentences I Never Said Before Having Kids

Motherhood forces you to explain the obvious, the absurd, and the disgusting on a daily basis.  Every so often you hear yourself utter a sentence that makes you stop and think, “Did I really just say that?”  For example:

-“If it stinks, stop sniffing it and go wash your hands.”

-“Please stop licking my sunglasses.”

-“I already told you, they don’t sell shrink-rays at Target.”

-“You can’t eat your ice cream until you finish your french fries.”

-“I’m sorry, but when your brother throws up on your shoes it’s time to leave the zoo.”

-“The mailman doesn’t want to see your wiener, please close your shades.”

What is your favorite parenting sentence?