Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It Appears We Have A Fisherman

Check out this 18 inch large mouth bass Max caught with his tiny little toddler pole!  The excitement was palpable and shared.  My 3 year old son has finally shown that he CAN indeed sit for an extended period of time and commit to one activity.  I am thankful and impressed.  He is one dedicated little fisherman and that is all he wants to do when we go to the cabin. 

He was sitting with his Uncle Greg when he caught this one.  Max told him that he had a big fish and needed help.  Uncle Greg assumed he just caught some weeds, but to appease him he asked Max if he thought he should get the net.  Max said yes.  To humor him he got the net and to his surprise, he found Max reeling  in this big fish.  He was stunned to say the least.  Sure enough this kid pulled in one of the biggest catches on the lake this summer. 

And Max was so excited but you could see him playing it cool too!  Exhibit A:

It was the perfect end to a perfect day!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Prayer for Today

God, Grant Us Hope & Faith & Love
~Helen Steiner Rice

Hope for a world
grown cynically cold,
Hungry for power
and greedy for gold...

Faith to believe
when within and without
There's a nameless fear
in a world of doubt...

Love that is bigger
than race or creed,
To cover the world
and fulfill each need...

God, grant these gifts
Of faith, hope and love
Three things this world
Has so little of...

For only these gifts
From our Father above
Can turn man's sins
From hatred to love!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Mental Shift

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"Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love." ~Mildred B. Vermont

I am no longer a rookie in the ranks of the full-time, stay-at-home mom army. These last five months have flew by and what a glorious blessing in disguise it has been. While I was on maternity leave, I recieved a call from my HR lady. The tone in her voice was as if someone had died. I don't envy her position, it can't be easy giving that kind of news to anyone in these times. Initially, I was stunned. I had such a great career for a great company, but when my division was acquired by another company...not much you can do when you are in management. I almost took it personally, but then soon realize that it was just business and I was one of many casualties in this arena. I woke up the next day with a renewed sense of perspective

After discussing our situation, my husband and I thought that it might be best if we try to make it work on one income until the fall. The main reason for this was our daycare provider could not take Amelia until September and who wants to have their kids in two seperate daycares...PITA! And since it was my husbands idea, the guilt of not working for the summer was virtually eliminated...or so I had hoped. Hello SUMMER VACATION!
I decided that I was going to embrace this hiatus. Live life in a new way. Cherish and relish this small gift of time with my family as much as I could. Embrace spending quality time with my children and creating memories that would be held on to forever. I had lofty ideas: plant a garden, landscape our yard, make homemade baby food, get back to painting, clean the house on a regular schedule, get physically fit, do family outings weekly with the kids, volunteer weekly, re-organize everything, learn how to cook and bake, read and write more, and the list really goes on and on. Doesn't it all sound so great! And it all is...but what a huge shift!
The adjustment was monumental really. Going from being career (me) focused for 20 years to being a working mother of one and now a full-time, stay-at-home mom...the mental shift is great. The sad part is, the biggest obstacle has been changing my mental perspective on being home and not "working"(earning a paycheck). I think many people think that if you are not earning a paycheck, you are not really working. That is a HUGE lie. And it's strange that you can actually place such a high value and importance on making money. I was one of the many women who had a higher salary than my husband and that felt like a bit of an accomplishment. Not that I was competing, but it gave me a strong sense of self-worth to provide for my family like that. I could spend and live freely. But now, I feel like I need permission and I feel more constricted. And this is ALL self-imposed, as my husband is wonderful and supportive. Never says a word really. It's just what I do to myself and as we know, your self-imposed prisons have the largest walls to break down.
For the last couple of years, while working, I had this strong feeling that I wanted to make a career shift and do something that had more of an impact on society. Something that made some kind of a difference, rather than slaving over web advertising for "the man". Well, my prayers where indeed answered and certainly not in the way I ever expected.

I never truly understood the job of being a full-time mom. It is the hardest "job" there is but it is by far the most rewarding and gratifying. I never thought less of stay-at-home mom's, but I didn't UNDERSTAND what it actually entailed. It entails love and joy. It entails patience from DEEP wells. It entails firm routines and discipline. It entails mutli-tasking and baby-driven deadlines. It requires flexibility, lots and lots of it. It requires you to always be on the move, there are no breaks and you're lucky to fit your lunch in. It requires creativity beyond your wildest imagination to comfort, fix situations and curb meltdowns. I could go on and on but why bother. Mothers KNOW and those who are not don't really care or get it until they are one anyway.
But believe it our not, I now I have that dream job. The one that makes the biggest impact on the most important people in the world. The one that makes a difference. I am making deposits in my childrens' memory banks and I am praying that the investments are fruitful for the Lord, themselves, my husband and me and society. This is the most important job that I have been given and I have shifted my entire perspective based on that. "Lives are like buildings and the quality of their foundation will determine the quality of the whole." ~Author Unknown

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Mommy Moment

Standing in my kitchen, doing the mommy sway with my Millie asleep in my arms, I was thanking the Lord for all the blessings he has bestowed me.  I am distracted by the hum of the lawnmower, and I know that can only mean one thing:  Max and daddy are out for a spin and doing some work.  I always love to watch them together, so I walked over to the sliding glass door to take a peek.  As I watched them, I started to tear up while thanking God.  Jeff has been in angst over the state of our barren lot and he is always stressing over what needs to be done.  But when I looked out, I saw the most wonderful man taking the time to show his son how to properly swing a golf club.  Minutes later, he picked his rake back up and diligently got back to work.

This speaks so deeply to my heart.  We need to take the time and make the time to be with our children.  Really BE with them.  No one ever said that was easy, especially these days where the name of the game is better, faster, first.  I stood there and just watched them and it made my heart sing.  There is something so amazing about watching a father and son.  Max adores his daddy and wants to do everything like him and with him.  That is power.  Power that should not be trifled with.  Power that deserves the utmost respect.  Power that is long-lasting, long after you are gone.  It was once said by P.D. James, "What a child doesn't receive, he can seldom later give."  We all know that to be true.  We just say it and feel it in different ways. 

Children need unconditional love, time and discipline.  The discipline part is VERY hard, but oh SO very necessary to instill respect.  Respect is what thrives deep within them and respect is what will come back to them.  We shouldn't be so focused on teaching self-esteem, what we should be focused on is self-respect.  Self-respect is not self-centered.  It does not create a sense of entitlement or ego.  Self-respect is something that continues to give to the child, even in times of challenge and adversity.  And we know all children will go through things.  They must be prepared for that and not coddled and sheltered from it.  I think many forget that trials can not be avoided and if handled in the best way, will make you a stronger person with great character and faith.  As Victor Hugo stated:  "Joy's smile is much more close to tears than it is to laughter."  This is the balance of life. 

It is impossible to feel true joy and happiness at their heights if you have never experience the polar opposite emotions at their depths.  Trials, adversity, challenges, problem-solving, hurt feelings, not winning all the time; these are the situations that form children into the adults they will become.  The kind of people that you want to be around or keep in your company.  The kind of people that give to the world.  The kind of people who work hard and respect people, the earth and things around them.  The kind of people that don't take simple pleasures for granted.  The kind of people that are thankful for their jobs/careers and give their all to it, not expecting that the job/employer owes them.  The kind of people who cherish their elders and heed their words, as they know the experiences they have had in life.  The kind of people who can effectively communicate to those around them with listening first and then engaging.  The kind of people that would give their parents great joy and pride, no matter what they end up doing in life.

I guess it really is true:  what comes around, goes around.  Daily life can take it's toll and it's so easy to forget and just surrender to your emotions in the moment.  This has caused much angst in my life, as I am a very reactive person.  I have never had the gift of taking a deep breath and logically thinking about the situation before responding.  You might say, I suffer from verbal diarrhea often.  But I try to renew my mind every day with the Lord so that I can remember to have patience and wisdom to deal with all that comes my way for that day.  Every day is a new day and thank goodness children are so forgiving.  All they really want is your guidance and love.  Both of these things take time.  I am learning to give it every day.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Here's A Ray of Sunshine To Brighten Your Day

"Weather is a great metaphor for life - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella." ~Terri Guillemets

Just to brighten your day and take away your crappy weather blues...isn't she something! 

But seriously, I am now tending to stay away from Facebook on days like today.  I know that this dreary weather can really put a damper on your soul, but people come on...we live in the Midwest.  You need to mentally prepare yourself for snow in April.  Period.  And then it won't get you down so much.  There is no point in dwelling on it and letting it ruin your entire day.

Maybe I am just jaded from being in the business world and having contacts all over the US.  The one commonality in conversations with people is always the damn weather.  It makes sense, but I am seriously so sick of talking about it, hearing it and letting it be the opener in any conversation.  Over it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Precious Miss Millie D

I still can't believe I have a precious little baby girl.  What a blessing she has been in our lives.  Amelia Dolores was my early Christmas present this year; however, she was my very late Thanksgiving baby.  I was due November 18th and Miss Millie didn't arrive until December 1st...what a fun wait that was.  My friend Darcey called it when she said it was a girl because she was late like me...a very funny one.

She was a force to be reckoned with from that point.  After being 2 weeks overdue, my doctor finally said it was time to do a C-section at 7:30am on December 1st, and he had no arguments from me.  I had hoped for a VBAC but she was so stubborn.  I was mentally prepared to just go in and have the C-section, not thinking about a VBAC AT ALL...I was DONE being pregnant!  I went home from my appointment that morning with the resolve that I was going to have my baby in the morning FINALLY.

Well, wouldn't you know it, at midnight that evening I woke up in labor.  Of course I did.  This baby was taking me on a ride and she wasn't even out yet!  I started timing the contractions and thought that I could sleep through them.  Well, they came on strong and pretty fast and I thought it was best that I call the hospital to see what they thought.  They told us to come on in and I told Jeff we really needed to go.  I could see the fear in his eyes and I knew he was praying to God to get me to the hospital in time.  I tried to calm and reassure him that I was not going to have a baby in the car.  My only focus was to get to the hospital in time to get an epidural.  If I was going to have a VBAC, I was NOT doing it without the epidural.  Especially when I was already in the kind of pain I was. 

We arrived at the hospital around 3am and things were really rolling now.  This experience was totally different than my first.  The nurse saw that I initially wanted a VBAC and I told her that I wasn't too sure about that after all.  I was not mentally prepared for this.  I was prepared for the C-section.  Was this my sign from God that I was going to get this experience after all or was this baby just messing with me?  I was totally freaked out by the pain and all the things that were happening.  I was expelling things and all of them were green...I was completely unprepared for mucus plugs, meconium, water breaking and puking hard-core.  Fast forward a couple of hours and I was in complete, earth-shattering pain still puking and NO epidural.  At this point, I was not really sure why I hadn't got the epidural but the only thing I could pin it on was the bitchy "au naturale" prescribing nurse.  She wanted to know my decision on C-section or no C-section.  This was tough for me.  Instinct told me to do the C-section, but at that time I wasn't sure if I was just wussing out.  I really wanted to have the vaginal experience, as I believe that is something amazing and special and be the best mom I could be.  I was in tears.  Jeff was a wonderful support to me and it didn't take that long to decide to stick with the C-section after he encouraged me to go with my gut.

So, time stood still and my pain and agony progressed.  Things are a bit of a blur until they put me on the bed to wheel me down to the OR.  My dear friend Renee was my nurse and thank God for her and her calming spirit, which had no real affect on me.  I was screaming so loud and hard that the nurse wheeling me down said:  "Ericka, you need to work through this, you are scarring our other patients."  UMMMMM, F*** You lady!  Of course, I know I am one of the loudest people but I could not control it.  And I would have felt bad if I had been swearing like I normally do.  But I was in such a state, I was screaming for my "Mommy" all the way.  Poor husband of mine...he was mortified!

Long story short, I am glad I went with my gut because my little peanut had the cord wrapped around her neck nice and snug three times.  I would have ended up with the C-section anyway.  And the extreme pain I had could be contributed to a very thin uterus where my first C-section incision I could have had a uterine ruption.  Whew, crisis one and two averted.

But when they pulled my little Millie out, all they could say was how precious she was.  They all joked that I should name her precious because she was so precious.  And truly she was just beautiful and perfect.  She was just a tiny little thing but she had these lashes that curled up over her brows.  They reminded me of the little doe Clarice in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer movie. One look at her and it was all gone - ALL of it.

I should have known what a different baby she would be and I am thankful that she is.  She is a very busy little girl and she likes to control situations already, but she is so sweet and funny.  Her demeanour is very determined and precocious.  She likes to be engaged and she is very strong.  She is also very challenging at times and I should have known this from the very start!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

E.T.: Always A Tear Jerker

Whew, it's been a while.  I have missed you blog.  I forgot why I started this thing...mainly to keep a journal of my life with my husband and children and to spew random thoughts about things.  I have been too busy as of late.  I had a beautiful baby girl, Amelia Dolores aka:  Millie D on December 1st and about a month later I lost my job.  That is a blessing in disguise but a story for another post.

I was just watching E.T. with my newly 3 year old son Max.  One of my all-time favorite movies and one of the very first movies that I saw in the movie theater.  Anyway, he made it through the whole movie but not without a million questions all the way through.  It amazes me how his little mind works!  I was pretty impressed with the depth and understanding of his questions.  But what touched my heart beyond words was to witness his sensitive little heart. 

As you all remember the end, it's heart-wrenching.  I bawl every single time I watch this movie,  much like Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias, but I digress...  As we are snuggling on the couch, he turns his cute little face to me with his big black eyes wide open and I can see tears forming.  I ask him if he is crying and he starts bawling unconsolably.  I couldn't believe that he understood at the depth that he did.  As I hugged him and tried to comfort him, he just kept sobbing.  I told him that I always cry too and that it was alright.  I asked him if he would like me to hold him and he said yes.  Well that is a moment every mommy loves, of course.  I just took him in my arms and consoled his sweet little heart.  It just touched me to see his sensitivity.  He was happy that E.T. was going home to his mommy and daddy, but he really understood the connection that he and Elliot had and was so very sad that he had to leave him.  He is just a sweet little pea.  I hope he continues to grow with that kind of empathy and sensitivity as a man because that will make him such a great little human.

I had to get this one in the books as I must remember this story for Max some day...whether it's to understand him better in the years to come or share it with his first girlfriend!