Five Minute Friday: Full

It's time for Five Minute Friday! Click over to The Gypsy Mama for instructions if you would like to participate! (You totally should!)

Today's prompt is: Full


5-minute-friday-1 My days are full of the pitter-patter of little feet. Shrieks and giggle and silly jokes. Conversations with a little girl who speaks with words wiser than her years, but with the logic of a three-year-old. Ear to ear smiles from an almost one-year-old who's eyes could peirce your soul. Full of "mom", "mommy", "mama". Tears and tantrums and frustration. Endless energy and boundless joy and sadness.

No fear of what peope will think if they dance or sing in public. Talk to or smile at strangers. Enlist anyone nearby to help them. Say, "Of course!" when asked for help. No boundaries or walls exist for them. Repetition of games, songs, phrases. Trial and error.

I watch my kids as they go through every experience in life and see how they live it to the fullest. They aren't just sad, they are devastated. They aren't just happy, they are ecstatic. Laughter is loud and full. Able to find joy in seeing an ant or an airplane. Always observing the world around them.
Watching them brings a fullness to my soul. This is the way to live.


What do you do to live life to the fullest??

Just Love Them

Since getting to New Mexico we have been staying with my sister, Nell, and her husband, Chad. I have really enjoyed the time with her! My sister's house is beautifully decorated. In other words, so not baby proof!

My girls have simultaneously loved and had a hard time here. We are all sharing one room, they can't touch "anything", Mommy didn't bring very many toys, and there's no place to play outside. On the other hand, Aunt Nell spoils them, they have free reign of our childhood barbie collection, they get lots of attention, and surprisingly they've done fairly well here.

On the other hand, their schedule has been thrown off so they aren't always getting enough sleep. (What is it about changing your environment that you can't seem to function quite right? Or is it just me?) Unfortunately, lack of sleep has led to clingy girls, attention hogging, whining, crying and temper tantrums. While these things are usually part of our day, it's not usually to this extent. Being the only parent here (Matt is still in Utah until Sunday) has been very taxing.

I have spent most of my days here frustrated with my girls. It's exhausting to constantly be clinged to, whined at, screamed at, and disrespected. Sometimes I almost want to cry when they get like this. My patience well is running so low I am actually feeling happy I have to work 8 hours today so I can get a break.

While all of this is quite a normal cycle in the life of a parent with young children, I started thinking tonight of the bigger picture.

284987_238267526196185_100000388173375_790849_3532766_n I am here in New Mexico to support my younger sister, Kristin, and her husband, Cameron, as they were thrust into parenthood much earlier than expected. I've watched them brave the storm of the first few days when we weren't even sure their baby, Isabella, was going to make it. I've watched as each time they were faced with hard procedures or a difficult prognosis. I've watched as they got snippets of good news. I've watched as they fought and never gave up hope. They stayed strong and brave through all of it.

In the last few days things have really looked up. They finally got to hold their precious, tiny miracle, bathe her, feed her (through a feeding tube) and begin to look towards a future of taking her home.
I watched their weathered faces gradually brighten with hope and love and happiness in a situation that is still precarious, but stable for now. They love her with everything they have, want the very best for her, want her to be happy. Mostly, they are grateful every day that she is alive and here with them.

This is parenting at it's best.

And it took me back to the first time I held Zoe and Paige. It reminded me of all the promises I made to myself and to them in those first moments of parenthood. Especially the first time around when you go into it completely blind and find that parenting is all about learning as you go. When you think you won't make the same mistakes your parents, friends, and neighbors did.

People try to tell you how hard parenting can be. I've often said myself that parenting is the most frustrating, yet most rewarding thing I've ever done. Yet no one told me, and no one really could have put it into words, the day-to-day frustrations of parenting. Especially how it builds up.
When your kids are being difficult, it is sometimes hard to remember the pure joy of those first moments. It's hard to remember to find joy in the every day moments with them. It's hard to appreciate the sweet moments on the days where they are far and few between.

While I've been busy feeling frustrated with my children, Cameron and Kristin are grateful for another day with theirs. While I get annoyed with how clingy my girls are, they waited for days just to be able to hold Isabella. While I get tired of the whining, they are giddy over every movement and noise.

While I contemplated this, I thought to myself, "These are your most precious blessings! Your job is to love them, care for them, teach them and support them. NO MATTER WHAT!" Instantly I felt like I needed to reevaluate myself as a parent. Zoe and Paige are kids. They are allowed to be roller coasters of emotion. It is my job to be their solid ground, their cheerleader, and their teacher. Mostly I just need to show them as much love as I possibly can.

I love being Zoe and Paige's Mom. I am grateful for my girls. I do feel blessed to have them in my life. What needs to change is I need to show them that I feel this way. Show them my joy more and my frustration less. Use my calm voice more and my loud one less. Be more gentle and kind and patient (even when it seems impossible) so they will learn to be more gentle and kind and patient. I want to remember this time in our lives as a happy time and not a frustrated time.

The only way I know how to do this is to make the commitment today and make the better choice at every opportunity. I know I won't be perfect at it. But if I can do better every day, then we will be happier.

I knew the second I met her that Isabella would be an inspiration in my family. I knew she would have a lot to teach us. I didn't realized it would happen so quickly. Or that my little sister could be such an example to me. Your prayers and good thoughts for my family and for Isabella continue to be appreciated.

What challenges do you face in your life? Have you ever had an epiphany that made you want to change things? Leave me a comment! I love to hear from you.

Five Minute Friday: Loss

It's time for Five Minute Friday! Click over to The Gypsy Mama for instructions if you would like to participate! (You totally should!)


5-minute-friday-1 I have lost several people in my life. I lost my sister three hours into her life at age 12. I lost both my Grandfathers in the same year. But the hardest loss I have EVER had to deal with was the (now temporary) loss of my husband.

I am finally ready to talk about what I went through. I choose to do it here where I can do it once, and quickly. Like ripping off a bandaid.

The loss of the person you were supposed to spend your life with is the worst thing I have felt or could ever imagine. It is a physical, emotional, mental, draining loss. A loss that make you unable to breathe. A loss that makes you want to puke. A loss that doesn't let you eat. A loss that causes you to drop 30 pounds in a month.

It is a loss that makes you cry until there are no tears left. A loss that keeps you dry sobbing when the tears are gone.

It is a loss of the future. Of all your plans. A place of chopped up memories.

It is the inability to answer the questions of your little ones who don't understand the complexities of life. Just that they want their Dad to be at home where he has always been.

It is the inability to know what to do with seven years of memories in picture and memento form that you shoved in a box "for now".

It is the kind of loss that makes you feel like if they had died it would have been slightly easier. Just because you know they left you without choice and left loving you.

It is a loss that makes you feel small and unwanted and not enough. A loss that is often filled with too many unanswered questions.

A loss that feels too great to bear as you care for two small children. Knowing if your children weren't there to care for you probably wouldn't bother moving from your bed.

It is sleeping, eating, breathing, dreaming thoughts of one person. It is dreams of reunion and waking to an empty bed and instant tears.

It is the worst thing that has EVER happened to me. And now it is over.

I am grateful for this loss. For the strength it gave me and for everything I learned. Because, in the end, what we found was love and forgiveness. And that is all we need.


Ok, so I wasn't able to stop in five minutes. The Gypsy Mama herself didn't today so I hope that's ok for me too. Not editing, just posting. Breathe...

A Miracle

I witnessed a miracle today. A gorgeous, 12.8 inch, 1 pound 14 ounce miracle. Her name is Isabella and she is my newest niece- and the very first for me on my side of the family. As I sat by her side and gently stroked her tiny feet, it was love at first sight.

She looks just like her Mom, my youngest sister, Kristin, who says she has her Dad's lips. As I sat and watched her tiny chest rise and fall I noticed her clenched fist looked an awful lot like mine. I smiled inwardly at this and laughed a while later when my Mom echoed that thought aloud. Only fitting, since my firstborn looked just like her Aunt Kristin at birth.

Speaking of Kristin, I am so proud of her. After all she's faced in the last two days she was calm and self assured when I finally got to see her. Already doing what Mommies do best: taking care of her little girl any way she can. Amazing how in one day, the little sister who I always had trouble accepting was old enough to be married, became a Mom. And, though she has been for a while, a woman in the eyes of an older sister who didn't want to believe she grew up. So much wisdom and bravery in her eyes.

And who could ask for a better Dad than Cameron? My Brother-in-law is a rock upon rocks. He is brave and strong and always keeps a clear head. Always there to support the people he loves. Someone you can count on. As he took me back to see her, I listened to him talking. It takes literally seconds to become a Father. Any man can be a Father. Cameron is a Dad.

Imagine finding out you're going to be a parent three months early! They have both stepped up to that role and I am so in awe of them. Isabella couldn't have come to better parents.

There has been miracle upon miracle in her life so far. She is a strong and special little girl. I can't wait to see what she does with this life of hers. I can't wait to see what she has to teach us. For now, she just needs to rest and grow.

I don't want to share too many details here. I don't want to take that privilege from her parents. I will say that your thoughts and prayers thus far seem to be working...and continue to ask for more.

I love you little Bella!

July Goals

At the beginning of the year I came up with 28 Goals (new page) I wanted to accomplish my 28th year. Here's where I stand:

Goal1 #7 I'm at 5 books. This is very frustrating to me.

#3 Exercise has completely died. "Just do it" needs to be my mantra.

#19 Morning prayers are still a struggle.

#6 Potty training is COMPLETE!!!! I cannot tell you how happy this makes me.

#22 Water is still not where I want it to be.

#12 My poor flute remains untouched, still.

#28 My nervous habit...still biting my cuticles. Maybe if I started getting manicures I wouldn't be so inclined to bite them? Anyone have trouble with this??

#8 Take more pictures than last year (especially of Paige). I am happy with my progress here.

#15 Take walks regularly. Still working on it.

# 20 Learn to be on time. I am still horrible at being late. ALWAYS.

#23 Write More Poetry- I wrote one. It was terrible. Will keep working.

#11 Play the Piano 2-3 times a week- I played two times this month.

#1 Go Back To School (need to start looking into it!)- haven't started. Not sure I'm going to try this year at this point.

#14 Do one public music performance. I'm still going to post a video, but I keep having throat pain. It went away and then came back. As soon as it feels a bit better I will work on it.

I have so many goals that I'm working on at this point, I'm not going to assign any for July. In truth, I'm feeling pretty pessimistic about them right now.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed by your goals?

The Fish With Nine Lives

(I hope.)

Last week I was spending some time visiting on my neighbor's porch. It was gorgeous, cool day and we spent most of the evening there. Our homes are all situated around one big park. A huge grass field and a basketball court greet me as I walk down my sidewalk from the front door. They are called "park homes" and we essentially all share one giant front yard.

Matt was gone to a late softball game. I was watching Paige crawl around the grass when Zoe decided to run home to go potty. She does this often when we are outside so I wasn't worried. I sat talking with the neighbors and watching Paige devour a green tomato I gave her. Kid seriously LOVED it. When Zoe come back out of the house, she came straight to me and tattled on herself, "Mom, I fed Fish Food."

I immediately got frustrated because I had fed him for the night and she had already fed him AGAIN once before that. (Granted, I shouldn't have left it within her reach. I just hadn't put it away from being left out when my family was visiting.) I warned her she needed to be careful how much food she fed her fish because too much food could kill him. (We are very graphic in our house.)

All of the sudden she melted into a ball of tears and came and cried in my lap. I calmed her down and told her we would take care of him and Mommy would do everything she could to keep him happy and healthy, but she needed to know what could happen if she fed him too much. She melted again.
I calmed her down again and she went to play as I sat mystified at how upset she had been. Usually she takes facts very well and applies them. This time, every time I mentioned overfeeding the fish, she freaked. Needless to say, I have decided the fish will just be replaced if it ever dies. Zoe is not ready to experience fish death.

We sat on the porch until dusk and then I went inside to get the girls to bed. I made plans with the neighbors to make non-alcoholic Mohitos after the kids went down.

Soon, it was Mohito time. We mixed our drinks and sat down in the living room to enjoy them. (They were yummy, but we are going to do a bit of tweaking next time.)

As we were talking I noticed Fish Food's water was looking pretty cloudy. I looked closer and there was a pile of food on the plastic leaves in his bowl. I stood up and gasped as I saw this:
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Zoe had emptied the ENTIRE contents of the brand new can of fish food into the fish bowl. No WONDER she was so upset about overfeeding him!

Concerned, I grabbed the bowl and moved Fish Food to a bowl of clean water. I emptied out the contents of the bowl into a strainer and immediately gagged. Fish food stinks! (The actual food, not the fish. Although, I've never actually tried to smell him. Perhaps he does stink.) Especially mushy fish food in large quantities.

I began to run my fingers through the rock/fish food combination to wash off the fish food. It was gross! Meanwhile, I tried to keep tiny rocks from falling into the garbage disposal. (Because luck would have it that only the garbage disposal side was available for fish bowl cleaning.) Finally, I plugged the drain and the cleaning went much faster.

In order to give me a heart attack, Fish Food (the fish...this is going to be a problem) kept floating on his side in the bowl he was resting in. My neighbor and I kept putting our fingers in the water to make sure he was still alive. Stupid Fish.

At last, the bowl was reassembled and filled with clean water. I purified the water, checked the temperature and put Fish Food back in his bowl.

Then I watched him.

He was being kind of twitchy.

I started to freak...a little.

Eventually my neighbors told me to calm down. He was probably just worked up from all the chaos.
After a while they turned out to be right. He calmed down and was soon swimming around happily.
The next morning I showed Zoe the sparkling clean bowl and the happy fish and told her I took care of him like I promised. I was rewarded with a huge smile and the tightest hug.

Supermom? I think so.

Ever had any crazy, or parent saves the day, or just gross, animal experiences? Please share!

Three Years

Dear Zoe,

Right now you are sleeping and I'm enjoying the stillness of the house. When you're awake, you are a bubbly, loud, high-pitched ball of fun...most of the time. I enjoy that part too. You have just entered your third year of life. Year two was a very big year for you.

Shortly after you turned two you became a big sister. You had a really hard time adjusting to sharing attention. Especially at the beginning when Paige needed so much of mine. It was an adjustment for me too. I missed being able to play with you almost any time you wanted. Getting just the two of us ready and out of the house. Going on walks together to the park or the library. Being able to just focus on you.

Paige came and all of that changed. Not because I love her more, just because adding someone else to the family is both difficult and wonderful. Also, babies are hard. They are cute and snugly and you love them and kiss their cheeks, but they don't let you sleep and they cry and want to eat all the time. I think we're finally starting to get the hang of it. Mom is learning how to divide her time between the two of you. And you are starting to play with your sister a bit more.

Curiously, you have a difficult time being "gentle" with her. I'm certain you just want to play with her, but it's hard for Mom to get you to understand that she's little. You're getting better though. You are sweet. You are constantly watching out for her and letting us know if she needs something or is doing something dangerous. You love her so much. Every morning you come in and ask me, "Can we go get Paige?"

For a long time you would run into her room and shout, "Hip-pottomas!" Paige would grin and you would giggle. Now you just yell, "Good Morning!" You often share with her (though sometimes you don't) and you are my little helper. Always getting her toys to play with and even trying to feed her. Your favorite thing to do for Paige is make her laugh.

A couple months later, Dad moved out for a while and we ended up getting divorced and you learned to split households. This was hard on you. You asked Mom a lot of questions I didn't have answers for. You cried and were upset easily. You started coming into my room at night. You couldn't understand why Daddy wasn't home anymore.

You're too little to understand what happened. And part of you is still trying to feel secure now that things have mended. Still, I'm so proud of you for how your young self handled this. I get teary-eyed thinking of times I cried and you would come hand me bunny to make me feel better. You were so worried about me and I tried to put on a brave face for you, but failed so many times.

All you need to know for now is that Mom and Dad forgot how to love and trust each other. We forgot to be kind and forgiving. Now we know how grateful we are for each other. When you are older we will have a lot to teach you about love and commitment. For now, we promise we will be a forever family just like it was supposed to be.

This year you really came out of your shell. Where you were shy around most people before, you are now open and talkative. You wave and smile easily. You will talk to anyone who will listen. You love to sing and will sing anything from Twinkle to Michael Jackson to Adele. Music moves you. You enjoy dancing to a good beat and playing the piano.

You want to do everything "by myself, Mom". You are interested in the things I do and always want to help me cook or clean. You are becoming more and more independent every day. Sometimes I miss you needing me more. Occasionally you will still ask me to do things for you that I know you can do on your own. Or ask me to carry you. I'm grateful for these moments you give me to "baby" you. I know they will not go on for much longer.

You are beautiful and smart. You still love to read and you love to tell your own little stories. Often they start with, "When I was a Mommy" or "When I was 15" or "When I was a dog". I love to listen to your imagination being put to words. Or when you "read" and talk about what you picked up from books...or read them all the way through from memory. Your vocabulary amazes me. Often, people are surprised you are so young because you converse so well.

Sometimes, because of this, Mom forgets you are still young and tries to treat you like an adult. You put me in my place fairly quickly. We have a lot of "battles" thoughout the day. Your emotions are so big for such a little girl. We are working on putting names to how you're feeling and finding better ways to deal with them. Mom is working on holding her temper back.

June 2011 001

See, even Moms and Dads make mistakes. We try hard to recognize them, apologize and correct them. I hope this teaches you that it's ok to make mistakes sometimes. As long as you learn from them and do what you can to fix any damage you caused.

Potty training was a good lesson in this. When you're a Mom, you will understand why Mom lost her temper a few times during this part of year two. Potty training is frustrating. For everyone. But you pulled through and Mom learned to keep her cool and now you are officially potty trained! Even at night. Mom and Dad are SO proud of you for learning this important skill!

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You talked about your birthday for months before it ever happened. You are obsessed with Pink and wanted Grandma to make you a pink cake. And you never let her forget it. You were certain from the day I asked, and every time I checked after that, that you wanted Barbies, books, clothes and a fish that you wanted to name "Fish Food." (You got them.)

You LOVED your birthday this year. I loved seeing your face light up over your presents and all the people who came to celebrate with you. You are certain you are a princess and I'm inclined to agree. Princesses are all the rage in our house now.

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Other things you love and have discovered this year are Elmo (still), Dora (ugh), everything princesses, sidewalk chalk, pedaling your bike, hopping, jumping, skipping, Tangled (the first Disney movie you fell in love with), picking out clothes and dressing yourself, going to the dentist (you keep asking to go back), pulling weeds (playing in the dirt), dress-up, your play-kitchen, barbies, books, music and your friends.

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It's often hard for me to watch you grow up. I frequently ask you if you could stay little forever. Always the sweet one, you tell me "yes". I know that I can't keep you here forever though. So I write these letters to you to tell you how much I love you and to remember the moments when you were small and adorable (most of the time). Maybe someday you will read them and understand the blessing you are in my life. I hope you always know how much I LOVE to be your Mom. It is the best job ever!



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Five Minute Friday: Grateful

It's time for Five Minute Friday! Click over to The Gypsy Mama for instructions if you would like to participate! (You totally should!)


I am finding it difficult to put into words all the things I am grateful for...especially in five minutes. So I'm going with the list option.

5-minute-friday-1 I'm grateful for Love.

Grateful for my Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ.

Grateful for Matt. Especially for having a second chance to have him in my life as my husband.

Grateful for Zoe. For how often she makes me laugh. For her testing my patience and making it stronger. For her beautiful, infectious smile and her singing.

Grateful for Paige. For her big beautiful eyes that seem to light up over everything. For how easy-going she is and how much she seems to really enjoy life.

Grateful for family visits. My Mom was recently in town with my little brother. It was so nice to have them here. She always does so much for us. I hope she knows how grateful we are for that.
Grateful for my family and friends. For all the love and support they freely give us. For the smiles, the laughter, the company and everything else.

Grateful for my home, my job, Matt's job. The fact that I am able to adequately provide for my family. We may not have everything we want, but we always have everything we need.

Grateful for this blog. For a place I can express myself, no matter who I am that day. And for people who are willing to read and comment and be part of my life.

Last, I am grateful for this opportunity to see all that I have to be grateful for. It's humbling.


I could have gone on forever! Today's prompt is fabulous! What are you grateful for? Leave me a comment!

I can...

wear what I like
feel how I feel
choose who I love
marry who I choose
have a hundred kids
or maybe three
work where I want
and how I want
own a home, or rent
believe in my religion
and practice it
raise my kids
give them opportunities
have my own
learn and grow
read books
gain knowledge
have an opinion
share it
write on this blog
because I live here
the land of the free
Stars and stripes
As Americans celebrate our independence this weekend I hope we take a moment to remember the sacrifices that were made so that we could be liberated. I hope we take a moment to remember the sacrifices that are still being made so we can keep our liberty.

I hope we remember that freedom is not a privilege, but a responsibility. I hope we strive to be better people. To be kinder to those around us. To learn not to take offense, but try to understand and to respect. To move forward and not back. To do our duty to make use of the rights those before us gave everything, even their lives, to have. To ask what we can do for our neighbors, our communities, our states, our country, our world. Not what they can do for us. 

Happy Fourth of July!

Five Minute Friday: Welcome

Shhhh...we're going to pretend it's still Friday. Okay? Great.

Click over to The Gypsy Mama for the rules and participate!

Zoe's birthday 2011 018 We have a new member of our family. Meet Fish Food. So named by my very clever, three-year-old, Zoe.
He was her birthday present and has been a very long awaited- at least in the eyes of a young child- family addition.

I found myself getting more and more excited with her as she chose the fish from the big tank and made preparations to bring him home.

Once we brought Fish Food to his new home, we had to prepare his new fishbowl. I had so much fun doing this with a very excited Zoe last night. I didn't realize how much work it is to create a safe environment for a fish.

Honestly, I have a major fear that I'm going to end up killing the poor thing. (I have this fear a lot about things. Lately I've been worried I will be the one to kill the community garden I have been in charge of watering.)

Seriously, what if I don't put in enough water purifier? Or I put in too much? What if we forget to feed him? Or if we leave him in a too hot or too cold area? How am I going to explain life and death in such a powerful way to my three-year-old?

Let's just hope I can keep the dang thing alive and she won't have to learn such a hands-on lesson about life or death at her age.

In any event, welcome to our family, Fish Food. We hope you like it here. (I promise to do my best not to kill you!)