Friday, August 22, 2014

Change: take 2

I wrote my original five minute prompt on change, which I liked, then I saw a picture. One solitary picture that placed words in my mind.  Words that must be written down while America's Test Kitchen plays in the background and my sweet baby big boy sleeping and my almost 5 year old in 2 days is out with dad and my 6 almost 7 year old is in first grade and my 9 1/2 year old is in fourth grade.  Change.  My life has changed. My life has given me some breathing room.  My daughter started preschool today, which she was so thrilled for and I (not so guiltily) was happy for her and a little sad for me, but mostly happy for her. Then I wondered, am I changing a bit because I am happy for her instead of sad for me?  I am happy because she is doing something new and exciting and big girl.  Because she is moving on to the next big step in life.  Because she is prepared for it. 
 
I used to be a cry my eyes out on the first day of school mom.  Feel guilty because my kids were in school when they should be with me every second.  Because I love having them with me even when they drive me batty.  Then my sister, Michelle, whose oldest son is turning 14, told me that she isn't sad when her kids move up (not too sad), but she is excited because all the kids are doing something new.  An exciting adventure, just for them!  Yes, she is sad, feeling  twinge of loneliness maybe as her sweet Nolan goes off to full day school.  But also a feeling of pride as she has prepared them so well to take on this big bad world. 
 
And I am thrilled to have an older sister who reminds me to not be a depressed mom, but to be happy for their new moments.  To embrace new things for myself.  That I have prepared my kids, as well.  That I have tried as hard as I can because I know that the few years at home with the kids do fly by.  But that as they fly, I am developing small grown ups.  I am developing little people who can add to society, can change lives and improve the world!  And in this process, my little ones are developing me.  They are changing me and encouraging me to be my best.  That change is part of life and we can embrace it or can let change ruin us.  I do have my moments of crying, wo is me, missing my kids, did I do enough feelings.  But overall, I am going to embrace change.
 
My four changing kids in the changing Iowa corn.  Yes, my 2 year old has goggles on.  My oldest boy hates hair cuts because the hair gets into his eyes, so I had the bright idea to put goggles on him. Problem solved.  Someday I will write how I came to this idea.


Change (5 minute prompt)

Change

Change, what a word.  A word that my college roommates warned Blake I was afraid of. I still remember the conversation, "Heather doesn't like change."  What?!?  I like change, I love change!  I have moved 10 times in 12 years. I have had four kids in 7 years, one of which was born two weeks after a cross country move.  I have changed houses, jobs, diapers, clothes, ideas, opinions.  Just because I might have a favorite powder blue down quilt that I have a hard time transitioning from in the Summer.  Just because I like to eat at the same places.  Just because I like the same almost-worn-out-in-the-crotch capris.  Just because I like the same kind of make up.  Just because I like the same kinds of lotions. Just because I like the same Ghiradelli boxed brownies once a week. Just because I like chocolate ice cream with all kinds of extras in it.  Just because I like the same exercise routine to work off (some) of those delicious brownies and ice cream.  Just because I like to clean in a certain way or do laundry a certain way.  Just because I could watch Food Network every night.  Just because my little idiosyncrasies get the better of me and make me have a hard time with change or change of schedule.  Well, I think I can fairly say that I can manage big change, as long as my regular favorite activities are in tact.  And do you blame me?  There is a definite comfort in regular.

One of my regulars.  This was in Las Vegas after a gorgeous thunderstorm.  Gorgeous thunderstorms call for this type of regulars.


The Hardest Part of Moving...

We have moved 10 times in 12 years and two of the moves were within the last 2 years.  So, I have had some experience with moving and want to tell you the saddest part of moving.  You would think it would be leaving your house, starting over, missing the old places, but for me it was:
 
Not knowing anybody at the store. 
 
You know, when you have lived in a place for six years, going to the store is like a friend reunion.  There wasn't a time when I didn't run into a friend at the store and before you know it, we have been chatting too long and the kids have put extra cookies in the cart and are racing through aisles.  I even ran into two families I knew while I was at the store in Las Vegas, after not living there for two and a half years.  Well, when you are new to town, the grocery store visit is much quicker.  It's just the weirdest feeling to know you won't be running into anybody that you know.
 
The other day, the kids and I were at the grocery store and I looked over and saw a lady, Nancy, from church and I was so excited! It was so fun to walk by and tap her on the shoulder and say "Hi!" while she ordered from the deli.  We aren't best buds by any means, but we have chatted and know each other's families.  It was just comforting to know a person!  Then we headed out to the car and I hear, "How was your trip?" and it was another woman from church, Emily.  We talked for a minute, while she sat in her car, about summer trips and whatnot. 
 
As I got into the car, I started to feel at home in Iowa.  I loved, loved our first little town in Iowa, Leclaire, the sweetest river town.  I had no problem feeling at home there.  The move to our second town was fine, but it wasn't as quaint, as slow as I had gotten used to.  A pace that I really acclimated to.  But getting to know and love people in whichever place you live, will make the place feel like home.  Whether you have family there or not, whether you are single, married, empty nesters or a new mom.  Reaching out to others, making an effort and getting to know people will make any town home.
 

Sunset in our town in Iowa
PS. I just remembered that I ran into another lady, Camille, at the store a few months ago and I scared the chicken salad (Mo Willems reference) out of her.  That was pretty rewarding as well.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Begin (five minute prompt)


Begin

Where do I begin? I don’t even know where because I am writing this without thinking of anything at all to write! And now I just told my nine year old to not look over my shoulder when I write and she got ticked off and went to go sit alone.  Sigh, danged if I do, danged if I don’t.  Anyway, beginning is hard and easy.  I love beginning new things, new projects, new ideas, new school years, new relationships, new exercise routines, recipes, anything really!  I love beginning.  Ending is harder for me.  I have a hard time pushing through sometimes to the end.  Except in writing.  I never think of an ending in writing because I hope it will never end. I hope writing will never have an ending for me because I look forward to it.  I love the release and the feeling of creation.  I love the small response I get every once in awhile.  I love the feeling of something coming out on paper that I never even expected!  I just love writing.  I am so glad I began writing when I did.  That I was reinspired a few years ago and definitely shocked over where my writing had gone.  I was involved in research writing for college which I loved, but now my writing is completely different. Not worse or better, just different. I hope I will always be beginning at writing.  I hope I won’t ever be too prideful or vain or some other thing so that I won’t take advice or be willing to begin again.
This picture was taken somewhere in Iowa, I believe.  I loved that there was a definite beginning but no end.

Why I think moms should take their kids on a long trip alone


Why all mothers should travel alone with their children at least once….

 

I just got back from a month long trip with my children.  Blake was able to be with us for two weeks but then he had to get back to work.  So, I made the awesome choice to drive home alone with the kids.  It was a 1, 500 journey, 20 or so hours in the car and took four days of driving with fun stops in between.  What?  This doesn’t sound fun to you?  I’ll admit that a few days before the drive I was a little, ok, very nervous about how things were going to go.  My kids are aged 9, 6, 4, 2 and they are both best friends and worst enemies, as most siblings are.  They learned a lot about responsibility and pitching in and doing their part.  They learned to share pillows when they didn’t want to, open snacks for the little ones, put up with the shenanigans of teasing and pestering in an enclosed space.  They learned to help each other in the bathroom, be patient for food and drink and that you don’t have to watch tv all day in the car to have fun.  They learned that when mom says/yells, “I have been driving for 18 hours, you guys can figure it out.” that it is time to be quiet. 

I learned that many hours of driving leads to a lot of reflection and wonder to “Why haven’t I lost my mind yet?”  And I came to this discovery.  I, (the adult) actually have some control over my emotions!  My kids to have some control, but they are still in the midst of discovering patience and love and kindness.  I am 33 years old and hopefully have learned more about these things.  When I wanted to freak out, I reminded myself that “I am the adult” and that I could manage my feelings.  The kids would work out their problems and I would just have to ride through the grumpiness for a few miles, which is surprisingly easy to do when there is some good music and beautiful scenery.  It will give you the confidence of a warrior!  You will have the feeling that you can do anything!  And you can and I can!  I am no longer nervous to take my kids to appointments alone, church alone, in public alone. I have always taken them everywhere with me but been apprehensive.  Now, I don't even think about it.  It is such a freeing feeling. 

I have always been bothered by the saying that the mother controls the mood of the home.  Who wants that responsibility?  I definitely don’t!  But I do have it and I have come to look at it as a good thing.  If I can swallow my outbursts and think before I speak, then my kids will learn to do the same.  It might take years of trial and error, but they will learn to do the same.  And hopefully sooner than I did!  It is a true honor to be the mood decider.  I have told myself many times that I will not let my kids affect my mood.  That one temper tantrum in the day doesn’t equal a bad day as a whole.  That a blown out diaper, broken figurine, an “I hate you” doesn’t have to destroy my life.  These moments are just moments of the day, not the whole day.  (Now ask me if I think these same things when I am pregnant someday!) 

All in all, I discovered that I could do something hard.  I could pack and repack the car, I could throw snacks back with great accuracy, stay awake after 9 hours of driving, maintain my sanity after a sleepless night courtesy of William and stop along the way for the first pony express station.  We bonded like crazy. I was the only adult to listen to, so they had to do it.  We relaxed and laughed and saw rolling plains, red rock, mountains, fields of gold and fields of corn.  I learned to go with the flow.  That if we got in an hour later, it wasn’t going to kill anyone.  If it took longer to get to the pool, we would still get there.  I learned that life doesn’t have to be as scheduled as it was when I had kids age 4, 1 and newborn.  I am pretty thrilled about this turn of events.  I am even more amazed at what my kids are capable of.  They were awesome at pushing through so many miles, different houses, food and all the rest that comes with a road trip.  I was so proud of them that I could shout it from the rooftops!  (I guess this is my way of doing that.)  To sum it up, you can do hard things as a mom.  You can push yourself harder than you thought.  You can live to tell the tale.  And you can live to tell the tale with grace.

Us at the first pony express station in Gothenburg, Nebraska

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Lost (5 minute prompt)

(This post really took 8 minutes, but I was on a roll and when you're on a roll, you don't dare stop!)
Lost
Sometimes, during the day, I end up lost.  I have a million things to do: laundry, cleaning, playing, activities that I just end up lost.  I wander a bit, not sure where to begin. Not wanting to miss out on time with the kids because I have to get errands or work done.  But not wanting to get errands or work done because I will miss out on time with the kids.  It's a vicious cycle.  I don't love feeling lost, without direction, without focus.  I find myself wasting time some days because I haven't buckled down on what I need to accomplish. I make lists and they help, but it is still hard to get everything done.  Because, as a mom, the work is never done.  The laundry starts over the minute it is done.  The kids are still hungry although they just ate 11 out of 16 hard boiled eggs between the three of them, then finished off a bowl of apple slices.  The dishes need me, the mopping and what is dusting? Hilarious!  Something that happens when people come to visit.  At these times when I am feeling lost, I try to take a break.  I try to take a breather and refocus on what my true purpose and plan is.  I want to be a good mom, first and foremost.  I want to teach the kids to work, to love, to play, to read, to share, to hug and to laugh.  I want to write, read an create.  I want to give Blake attention and not be completely drained that I just can't give him attention that he deserves.  I want to serve God and His children, my friends, my family.  When I found myself lost, I think of these things and I start to find myself.  I find myself reading to the kids or starting that laundry pile or finding a book or just sitting.  Sitting in the stillness of a moment when the kids are playing a made up game "secret forest" and I am Heather, not mom, not wife, but Heather.  That person who feels like a long lost friend.  I find her and she reminds me that I am still me and I am more.  As I have become wife and mother, I have become more. I have grown, I have stretched and developed into a person I hardly recognize from ten years ago, even two years ago.  And this new person is my forever self.  The one I have always wanted to be.  So, when I find myself lost, I know I am lost in the care of other people, people who love and enrich my life. Who think I am number one despite my many faults, which they are apparently blind to.  In being lost, I am found.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Release (5 minute prompt)

Ah, the release of writing...
the feeling of letting go of your feelings and emotions and fears.
Knowing that they belong on the page and not in your head.
Because inside your head they can seem mangled and unmanageable and frustrating.
But on your paper, they make sense.  They help move you on to other things.
They help you to heal, to accept, to plan and to endure.
Sometimes the words come out in a great spill and complete.
Sometimes the words come out in a slow pensive mood.
Sometimes the words need to be edited.
Sometimes the words are not able to be edited, because they are downright bad.
But even "bad" writing is still writing.
And any attempt at writing is a learning experience.
Sometimes the words end up being completely different than you thought they would.
Sometimes the words make you proud or sad or excited or happy, but the words are your own and there is no greater feeling than putting words together in a symphony of sounds and emotions and sentences that could change a life or change a mood. 
Especially if that life or mood is your own.
 


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