Wednesday, April 11, 2012

All that he is.

My adjustment to motherhood was not easy, mostly because I had such a different vision of what motherhood would be and who my son would be as a baby. He would be a sleeper and I would be superwoman able to get it all done. I would be one of those mothers who makes organic baby food and takes her easy going child everywhere. Ah... rose colored glasses. Or perhaps first time mother syndrome?

I've slowly learned to embrace it all.

The good.

The bad.

The ugly.

Mostly because what choice did I have?

Even during my overwhelming moments I still had a baby to nurse, a diaper to change, or a cry that needed a cuddle. 

But bottom line, I wasn't the mother I wanted to be because my baby wasn't the baby I thought he'd be. Does that make sense?  I HATED the baby stage oh so much. The give and give and give that a baby demands was almost too much for me.

But I realize now was that during the baby stage I was laying the foundation.

Malone is now a toddler morphing into a preschooler he is exactly who I thought he'd be. He is smart and curious, full of adventure and funny. He wants to go on adventures and read books.

So, I'm finally feeling like the mother I was meant to be. I can do all of these things, and I can do them well.  Even during those moments of toddler turning three power struggles and limit testing, I shine as a mother.

But a part of me feels so guilt for hating the baby stage so much.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Bucket List

Mother Nature can't seem to make up her mind.We've already had a heat streak with temps in the upper 80's but now it is cold again with a lot of wind. I am afraid that April showers might actually be April snowstorms.

In any case, Spring is here, or at least that is what my calendar says. So, I've decided to make a bucket list of things to do this spring. I wonder how many I'll be able to check off my list.

Spring 2012 Bucket List.

Family Goals
  1.  Renew our seasonal park passes. We usually get a State Park pass as well as a pass to a nearby park that has mini golf, two great playgrounds, a splash pad, a train, bumper boats, and lots of tables to picnic at.
  2.  Take Malone on a hike. I am not a hiker so this will be out of my comfort zone a bit. However, Mike loves to hike. Also, I am afraid of ticks which are everywhere out here.
  3. Go on at least four outings/play dates with another family.
  4. Attend church on a regular basis as  family.
Marriage Goals
  1. Have a monthly date with my husband.
  2. Start taking my friends up on their babysitting swap offers. 
  3. Plan an overnight date with my husband. 
Me Goals
  1. Complete the Couch to 5k running plan.
  2.  Run a 5k
  3. Blog more three times a week. 
  4. Become more intentional with my spare time.
  5. Complete 3 craft projects. 
  6. Buy a sewing machine.
  7. Learn how to use my new camera.
  8. Deliver more meals to those new mamas, those in crisis or sick, or those who just would enjoy a night of not having to cook.
Family Travel Goals 
  1. Take a day trip to Boston.
  2. Take a day trip to NYC. 
  3. Plan our summer beach trips to the Cape. 
  4. Plan our next visit back to my hometown in Illinois.
Home Goals
  1.  Start a compost bin. We don't have a yard or garden to use for compost but recently I learned I can take compost to Whole Foods.
  2. Research and purchase biodegradable trash bags.
  3. Get smarter about meal planning. Freeze more meals.
  4. Cull through the clutter. 
  5.  Have a tag sale.
  6. Create a household binder. 
  7.  Decorate the Master Bedroom.
Misc. Goals
  1. Start planning Malone's 3rd birthday party.
  2. Start a savings plan to get Mike's fancy road bike he's been dreaming about.
  3. Get Malone fully comfortable using the potty 100% of the time during the day (we're so close). 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Catch up.

It isn't that I meant to be silent for the last 24 days, there were so many times I wrote a post in my head. But the act of getting to this space and getting it out was always at the bottom of my to do list.

On March 2nd a large band of tornadoes swept through the country. And it seems like every other day, or at least once a week there are a few more. Tornadoes destroy homes and lives. I work in the insurance industry. Work has been quite busy, to say the least.

About a week after that, I took my first jog of spring. My run was going really well, I was proud of myself for getting out there and getting started again. Until an unfortunate run in with a small stone or stick that brought me to the ground in my neighbor's drive way about a half a mile from home. Said neighbor had to scoop me up and drive me up while my ankle swelled the size of a golf ball. It is still not better, but it is getting there.

And then we welcomed daylight savings. Anyone with a child knows what a potential train wreck that can be in terms of sleep patterns etc. Malone transitioned like a champ but somehow I'm still tired.

Next came a visit from Meme for St. Patrick's day weekend, followed by an illness that knocked my husband to his knees for about two days. He's just now feeling a bit better. Maybe?

In a nutshell, things are busy around these parts. Life is full, hectic, and amazing.

I desire this space. It is mine. And getting here is at the TOP of my list, starting today.

But, excuse me while I log into work and play a little catching up while no one is in the office to interrupt me.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March 1.

On March 1st five years ago, my world was changed forever. I was woken up from a dead sleep to my cell phone ringing. I didn't get the call in time. When I heard it ringing again, I knew something was really wrong. I don't remember who drew the short straw in my family that day. I don't think it was my grandmother and if I had to guess today, I'd say that it was my Uncle Jeff.

She was gone.

My mother had died.

I was living in New England. Everyone else, including my mother was in my hometown in Illinois.

We would later learn she died of alcohol poisoning. She was an alcoholic and I had noticed it was getting worse when I was home in January. She was trying hard to be sober while I was home. My eyes couldn't help but see her hands shake as we looked for wedding inspiration ideas at Michaels.

She was really excited about getting to play her role as mother of the bride in August. I remember the joy she felt as she gave her opinion on bridesmaids dresses. I wanted my girls to pick something they felt comfortable in. Each choose a dress that was different but within the same color scheme.

I had already picked out my dress and it was on order. But while we were at the bridal boutique she said "This one is like yours, try it on just for fun." I did. And she looked at me with beautiful tears in her eyes and told me what a beautiful bride I would be. It was the only time she would get to see me in a wedding dress.

After hearing the news of her death, I immediately went into shock. But just for a moment. They say that your best qualities come out during tragedy. Mine are organization and leadership.

I called my boss. It was early morning. He was an older gentleman with a sweet soul. I still remember his words.

"Say it ain't so, NJ. Say it ain't so."

But it was. I told him we were leaving for the airport. And I didn't know when I'd be back. I hoped there would still be a job for me to come back to. But I understood if business needs couldn't support it. I'd be back when I was ready to be a functional person again. Two weeks later, I wouldn't say that I was functioning. But at least I was managing.

The flight home was not without drama. The airport was in the middle of a remodel and the ticketing desk was at one end of the airport but the make shift security line was at the other. The line was long. We were not going to make it. I made it know that we NEEDED to get through ASAP, my mother had just died and we had to get to our family waiting for us. We made our flight, by the skin of our teeth.

When we finally got to my grandmother's house there were family friends and close family waiting. Word travels fast in a small town. Everyone was in shock. No one knew what to say, so they didn't really say anything.

One thing that really surprised me was the strength and love I felt from my friend Tim's dad. Tim was in my graduating class and committed suicide as a result of PTSD after returning home safely from a tour in Baghdad. A father without a son, comforting a daughter without a mother.

People filed in and out over the next few days.

Food came.

Flowers and plants came.

Arrangements were made.

I found the decisions to be very difficult. I wasn't sure on which hymns she would have wanted sung. I didn't know if she'd want communion. We had never talked about it. The only thing I knew was that she wanted to be cremated. My grandparents and uncles kept saying "it's your decision, you decide." But I didn't know what she wanted. So I tried to read their minds to figure out what they wanted the service to be like. After all, their world had been crushed too.

The next few days went by with a blur. We welcomed more friends. Memories were shared. Tears were shed.

We had the service.

I delivered a funny and beautiful eulogy.

People thought it was strange that I was so held together.

I didn't.

Someone had to hold us together.

I promised my husband I would address my feelings as they came up.

A few weeks after I got home, they did.

5 years later, they still do sometimes.

Its strange. I mostly feel like she was jipped.

It wasn't until after she passed that I really started to blossom into the person I wanted to be.

I grew up and out of the "wandering" years that are your early twenties.

I left my job in retail and got a position in a company I'm madly passionate about.

I got married and and a child.

I found some my of the best friends in the entire world.

I miss her the most when I look at Malone. He is a spitting image of me, and I of her. I can't give him a bath. It makes me miss her too much. It is such a mundane task but makes me think of her. Of all of the times she sat by my bath, caring for and nurturing me.

There are times when the grief hits me like a wave slamming my body against the shore.

But there is no place to go but forward.

Second by second.

Minute by minute.

Hour by hour.

Day by day.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

This is what....

When I saw them run by today, I was excited. When I saw them stroll by in the lobby after the their race, I was thrilled because I knew I'd have a chance to take Malone to meet them. This is what I want Malone to remember about this day.

Dear Malone,

This is what determination looks like.

Today Daddy finished his first half marathon. This was a goal he has been working towards for over a year. He has made his dream come true through hard work and perseverance. He spent many nights running by head lamp after you were in bed and many of his lunch hours on the dreadmill. He did it without sacrificing time he could have spent with you. There were days when he didn't want to lace up his shoes and get out there, but he didn't give up. He pushed on to work through it.

This is what hard work looks like.


This is what love looks like.

This is Team Hoyt (Dick is the dad, Rick is the son). We had the extraordinary luck to run into them today while we were waiting for daddy to cross the finish line. When Rick was born, there were some complications. As a result, he was diagnosed as a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy.

His parents were advised to put him in a mental institution.

But instead, they fought for him. They fought for him to accepted as part of their community- to go to school, to learn, to dream, to live his best life.

When Dick learned that Rick wanted to run, he set out to make that dream come true. He worked hard, pushing Rick in a special wheel chair.

One foot in front of the other.

At their first race, they came in second to last place.

But they didn't give up. And they haven't.

This year they will cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon for the 30th time. They have also competed in several triathlons- thinking outside of the box to find a way to make those dreams come true.

There will come a time when you will admire a professional athlete or singer. You may not ever remember meeting Team Hoyt today. But I want you to remember the lessons they teach us.

Ordinary people can do extraordinary things too.

People of ALL abilities have the power to inspire us and to do great things.

If you have a dream, you can make it happen. You may have to think outside of the box to get there. But Daddy and I will be here to help you the best we can.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Last week, things were good. Malone slept through the night several nights in a row. My morning hour was fruitful. Even though I was getting less sleep, I felt energized from having an hour in the morning to myself. I spent it working on this blog- writing, reading your blogs, commenting, and returning comments. Mike and I squeezed in a couch date during the weekend.

This week, things are different. Not bad, just different. Malone's sleep all over the place again. He is no longer reliably sleeping through the nights and he is waking early. Today's power hour lasted 15 minutes before I was interrupted by him.

Malone is shifting again and needing more from both of us. He is begging for more connection and yearns for more time at home. I want to give it to him. As a nurturer style parent, I will give it to him. But, in order to do that, I have to shift again too. It will mean moving from where I am most comfortable- out and about with him experiencing the world one toddler step at a time. It will mean mustering the energy for a power hour post bed time and knowing that it is likely the precious time in the morning will be uninterrupted just long enough to get my basis morning needs met.


Teeth Brushed.


My husband pointed out to me that I never like these shifts. He is right. Just when something seems to fall into place, everything changes again leaving me feeling anxious and unsettled.

I am letting these feelings marinate. I know their roots.

The thing is, that big beautiful things come from shifts like this. And looking back on life things always fall into perfect place

We cannot stay the same and grow at the same time.

Thanks Shell, for giving me space to pour my heart out.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday's Story Behind The Picture

Here is today's Saturday's Story Behind the Picture.

Malone and I are in my hometown (which is quite small) and at the annual wiffleball tournament organized by one of the families.

Malone and I have flown in from the East Coast by ourselves. Mike is joining us for the second half of the trip. He couldn't get a ton of time off. When he arrives, Malone will be baptized into the church that is a cornerstone of my family- my grandparents have been members for the better part of 40 years, my parents were married there, I was baptized there, and we were married there.

The flight out was rather uneventful. We breezed through security. Malone slept and nursed. He didn't fuss much. There were no poo explosions on the plane. I have fit all of our things into a suitcase and a carry on. We will use our cloth diapers while we are here. I am excited to show them to my family as they have changed so much.

While I am home, I have an amazing conversation with my elderly grandmother about cloth diapers. I learn from her that disposable diapers were just beginning to become available when she was raising children. The reason she used cloth diapers was because she was unsure of how well disposables actually worked, felt guilty about throwing them away, and thought they were too expensive. She will tell me my mother felt the same way and also chose cloth diapers. I look her in the eye and tell her those are the same reasons I'm choosing cloth.

I didn't bring a stroller or much gear along. I have preferred to wear Malone, than use a stroller. This was a bit of a surprise for me, I didn't expect to fall in love with baby wearing. I am thankful that we talked ourselves out of the $700.00 Uppa Baby Vista stroller. Everything that I need for this trip has been borrowed (car seat, pack and play, stroller so my relatives can take Malone for a walk.

Malone is about 10 weeks old. His hair is red, which is lovely. It reminds me of my mom, who also had red hair. I am wearing him in a Sakura Bloom Linen Sling. This is really the first time that I've worn him forward facing. He likes it well enough, but seems to get overstimulated very easily.

At the tournament I run into just about everyone I know, friends of mine as well as my mother's friends. It is great to see some old friends. My mother's friends are happy to see us, but I sense their underlying grief. They are sad she isn't here to witness the joy of Malone. She passed away before I got married. It was sudden.

They mean well, but it's not coming out right.

We don't stay at the tournament long- just long enough to see and be seen. I don't want to be sad today.

She is gone.

He is here.

I have to hold it together. He needs me.

Besides, it is windy and getting chilly.