Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Yes, I am going to write about Thanksgiving, as everyone else is doing this time of year. But really, can we ever be too thankful? I think not. It's always a good reminder to be grateful.

So I want to ponder the act of giving thanks, not the holiday. What am I thankful for? I try to make it a habit to recite my appreciations everyday, however, when this time of year rolls around we have a custom of voicing our gratitude. So here is my #1 for 2010, the thing I am most thankful for this year is: Family.

Yes, I know, very cliche, but bear with me. How many people do you know who can genuinely say they are most grateful for their family? I know of several people who dread spending time with their family over the holidays. I know of a bunch of other people who enjoy their family but are limited to a superficial relationship with them, they lack any degree of depth in their relationship. Still for others getting together with family is an obligation, not a joy, a time to drink and watch movies as opposed to quality interaction.

I am blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful, caring, genuine people. I am also blessed beyond words by my three children. I often ask my husband how we got so lucky with our kids? They are amazing! They bring me more happiness than I have ever known. By the same token they bring me more challenge and hardship too. You know how it goes.... But the overall feeling I get from my kids is a deep, all consuming love that overshadows everything else. It is true that there is no love like a mother's love. You have no idea what it is until you become a mother yourself, then it's a feeling that completely overtakes your being, leaving all other senses trailing behind, a distant second.

So, to know this feeling, to bask in such love is definitely something I am grateful for. The majority of my life for the past 7 years has been dedicated to my family, my kids in particular. It's been difficult but more rewarding than anything else I've ever done.

I take pride in being a mother, it's not just a job to me. It's not something I look down on or diminish because I'm "just a mom". No way! I am a mom!!! I am a proud mom who puts my children above all else. I work hard at guiding and instructing. I also work hard at loving, playing, and goofing with them. I am preparing three souls for the world. That is pretty significant.

In recent years I've begun working part time again, from home, so my interaction with my kids has taken a slightly different direction. And yet, since I love what I do for work I carry that joy and excitement over to my time with my children. It's a win-win.

To sum up, I am truly and deeply thankful for my family. They inspire and motivate me to be not just the best mom I can be but the best woman I can be too.

What are you most grateful for?

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tough Tournament

My oldest son, 6, plays on a soccer team. The team has maintained its core players for several season now, and I must admit, (somewhat) humbly that they do very well. I am so proud of my son's dedication, progress and talent.

A few weeks ago he, along with his teams core players and a few others from opposing teams in his league, was invited to participate in a soccer tournament. Evidently they were short one team in his age group and the tournament coordinator also owns and operates the league my son is in. So he asked several of the top players if they'd be willing to jump in and join the tournament.

I don't even know where to begin with all this because it was such a whirlwind of a weekend. First of all our newly formed team had time for only one practice together prior to the tournament. Secondly, this league operated under several different rules and regulations than our league does, which we learned on the field during the games. Thirdly, the boys we played against were actually a year older than our boys. And fourthly, the icing on the cake, the teams we were facing on the field were ranked as the best in the state. We were literally out of our league.

Our team looked like the Bad News Bears out there, only we didn't experience some miraculous win in the end. In fact, we didn't win at all, not one single game.
Now, our boys are used to winning. We as parents are used to them winning. My son's team consistently beats everybody in our own league.

There were definitely some lessons learned over the weekend. Here is what I took away from the experience:

Our boys had THE BEST attitudes I have ever seen! They got the snot beat out of them over and over and over, yet there was zero complaining. Those little guys played their hearts out. They learned the new rules as the game progressed and adjusted accordingly. They never gave up or slowed down. They already play hard every week but this time they pushed themselves even harder and got noticeably better in just two days! And they had fun! They loved it! They knew they were getting killed, they knew they sucked compared to the other teams but they didn't care. They were thrilled to be there and soaked it up as a learning experience. These are 6 yr olds and this is how they were describing the tournament to us!

I am super competitive and it was very difficult for me to watch my boy getting beat, repeatedly. I like to win and I like for him to shine. But this time it was different. I had to take a step back (sometimes literally as I wanted to rush the field and choke the ref or the other teams coach!), and cheer for my son's effort. I saw him through different eyes, not as the shining star, but as one struggling but trying so hard, putting his everything into the game. It nearly brought tears to my eyes to witness his commitment and strength, not only his physical endurance, but his mental strength as well. He was a star! Every single player on our team was a star. I cheered for them so loudly because of the fierce fight they put up, game after game, and for their amazing and outstanding attitudes. In my book, they were all super winners!

I learned how to better handle myself from watching these kids. I was humbled by their outlook. They set an example of excellence for every single person present at that tournament.

I actually took this lesson to heart and put it into practice with my own little soccer team that I coach. I remember to learn from every experience and to find joy in every game, regardless of the scoreboard or the mistakes made. My team puts their all into every game and I let them know how extremely proud I am of them all after every game.

Now I just need to remember to tell myself this when I'm the one playing the game!! :)

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Slight Detour

The drive to my son's preschool M,W,F each week is a straight shot down the road once I make it onto the main street from our neighborhood. It takes 12 minutes to get there.

Last Friday I loaded up my son and my daughter to make the simple drive. Just on the other side of the first main intersection I cross runs the railroad tracks. Today the bars are lowered. I wait for a minute thinking they'll soon be raised, then notice off to the side that there is a fire truck positioned across the tracks just a few feet down. Strange. Apparently the bars will not be lifting anytime soon.

Making a quick decision I turn right, hatching an alternate route in my mind as I drive. No biggie. I'll jaunt to the right, turn back left at the next through street, take it down a mile then make my way back to the street I was originally on well beyond the train track issue.

Ok, so apparently I found the one and only street that does not go through like every other Phoenix area street does. Navigating through Phoenix neighborhoods is super easy because the city is planned out on a grid. It's nearly impossible to get lost. Somehow though I picked a street that took me directly into an industrial area (again, this is not the norm, especially in my suburban neighborhood) with no outlets. Every turn was into a business parking lot. What?!?! How do I get out of here?

I finally make my way far enough down the road, which has now turned several times, again what happened to my nice little grid? But I do see a main road, at least. It's 1/2 mile farther in the wrong direction than I planned on being, but it's ok, at least I now know how to get out of here and back on track.

Not so lucky.... Bam! A Street Closed sign right there! I can see my destination but can't get there. I have to follow another detour, which of course, takes me the opposite direction I want to be going. There's no other way, it's either back track or get stuck in a dang parking lot (what are all these businesses doing here anyway?).

So, I'm following the detour signs along another curving street (these pop up in the strangest places) and make it to the main road, now a good 2 miles beyond my original detour. But I know where I am. I'm feeling good despite all the craziness when my son says in exasperation "Mom, can you just take me to school please?"

We finally arrive, 15 minutes late and drop him off. He's fine but my daughter is no longer happy in her car seat. She wants out. And I've forgotten her binky so she will not be soothed. She's done with our little excursion and letting me know it. Up goes the radio volume to drown her out.

I figure that the initial railroad/fire truck problem is resolved by now so decide to take the usual route home. On the way back however, I have to pull over to the side of the road not once, but five times because cop cars keep driving past me with flashing lights and sirens. What the heck? Five cop cars all perfectly spaced out so that every time I get back on the road at a decent speed another one comes along forcing me to slow and pull over.

Now I'm starting to look for hidden cameras. This has to be a joke, right? Someone is following me with a video camera laughing their head off, right? I mean we're in passive, slow Gilbert, AZ. This stuff doesn't happen here, at least not all at once.

I have no idea where they're going or what the deal is. Luckily it's not the train tracks. By the time I get there it's cleared and open so I sail through and arrive home. My daughter is still crying and has snot running down her face. Now she won't let go of me so I hold her for the next hour or so as I make valiant attempts to clean and organize one-handed.

I'm tired, I'm frazzled, I'm hungry and it's only 9:30! Coffee!!!!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Not For The Squeamish!

Saturday evening I enjoyed a special night out with my sisters and mother. We went to Bucca Di Beppo for some fabulous food and stimulating conversation. A few minutes after our arrival I got a text from my husband saying our daughter was sick, she'd thrown up three times since I left the house (about an hour before). This was a complete surprise to me since she had not shown any signs of illness prior. I called home and spoke to my husband for a few minutes. He was fine. He's become quite a pro at caring for the kids on his own over the years.

Upon my return home later that night I discovered that she had thrown up nine times already!!! Nine! She's only 19 months old and hasn't been ill in quite some time. It's always distressing to parents when their kids are sick. We experience such feelings of helplessness...

Of course I wrapped her in my arms as soon as I walked through the door... just in time to be on the receiving end of throw up number ten. Yes, she let mama in on some of the fun. My husband, in his preparedness, had a towel laid out on the floor
for such an occasion, which took the brunt of the spillage (thank God). I checked her for a fever, gave her some water (which she drank willingly, a good sign!) and tucked her into bed.

The night was uneventful, she slept through. The next day was my oldest son's last day of his soccer tournament. I was looking forward to cheering him on but chose to stay home with my daughter since she was obviously ill. Well, the entire day she acted normal, granted she was more subdued and her appetite was weak, but this behavior is expected after enduring a grueling night of vomiting. She wasn't displaying any other signs of sickness though. I thought she was well, a small bout of some sort of flu bug, now over and done with.

Since it was apparent she had recovered we decided to stick with our plans of attending a friend's birthday party that evening. We arrived for a surprise birthday dinner all set and ready to go. The kids were playing, the baby was compliant, and we were enjoying conversation and company...

Yes, you probably have guessed correctly. My daughter was not as healed as I thought. Towards the end of dinner she started to get very fussy, crying and whining, not wanting to be with anyone except mommy. Prior to this she had made the rounds and let a few others hold her. Now she wanted nothing to do with anyone except me. I held her for a time, balancing her on my lap and maneuvering my bites of food around, over and through her squirming body. When I noticed my husband was finished eating I handed her off to him so I could do the same.

My friend, the birthday girl, bless her heart, relieved my husband of our crying child in an attempt to help us out. She carried her up and down the room trying to distract her and recuperate her earlier cheerful self. A couple of minutes into this thoughtful assistance she received a huge "gift" of thanks from my daughter. Yep, projectile vomit all up and down the side of her body. My daughter managed to splatter her entire dress, the birthday girl's hair, shirt and pants, and leave a nice big puddle of her insides on the floor. Nice.

So, mom to the rescue. I picked her up, drenching myself in her puke in the process. This lethal liquid is not to be confused with baby spit up. There is a huge difference. This was pure nastiness. Disgusting, stinky, sticky, chunky grossness.

I felt horrible. Horrible for my daughter who I had proclaimed healthy and well, but who obviously was not, horrible for my friend who was now covered in my daughter's puke, horrible for the other guests who were now exposed to her germs as well as her stink, and horrible for me, also smeared with vomit. Yuck.

Everyone was extremely gracious and understanding. In fact, my friend's mother's response was (directed at the birthday girl), "Well, now might be a good time to open your present from us, sweetie". They had gotten her several new tops. Perfect.

Needless to say we made our exit shortly thereafter.

I'm sure almost everyone can relate to this story. Something similar has happened to us all, right? Now a special treasure of a memory, tucked away in our hearts.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wonder Woman

I wear many hats as a woman. I also feel like different types of people on different days. Sometimes I feel excited and giddy (Barbie), sometimes anxious and worried (Piglet), other times tired and worn out (The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe), some days angry and irritable (a wicked step sister), and other days energetic, motivated and upbeat (Wonder Woman).

I think we all can relate to the varying personalities. We know what it’s like to be each of these characters, and even more! My favorite days by far are the ones I feel like Wonder Woman. Don’t we all? We love to compare ourselves to a super hero and not fall short.

I know I’m walking on dangerous ground here. Aren’t I being vain? Aren’t I bragging? Aren’t I drawing unnecessary attention to myself? Well, let’s ponder this. We can talk on and on about our shortcomings, our failures, our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, right? We have hour-long discussions about how trying our kids can be, about how difficult it is to find the right pair of shoes, how tired we are, how are muscles ache from the continuous cleaning. If we are allowed to “brag” about our trials and woes, why can’t we do the same for our good days? Why do we minimize our achievements?

I think it’s time for a change. Let’s dwell on our accomplishments, reaching our goals, our days of glory, our Wonder Woman moments. After all, these are the times we feel our best, these are happy days, these are moments to cherish and reflect on, snapshots to file away in our mental rolodex. We don’t need to brag or boast, but permitting a healthy pride in our good days is perfectly fine. Congratulating ourselves on a job well done is ok. We congratulate others, why not ourselves? This act of personal acknowledgment will actually work to promote more of these good days as well as raise our self esteem and confidence.

Here’s an example of a Wonder Woman day for me: I wake up before everyone else, enjoy a meaningful quiet time in the morning by myself, get the kids up, fed, and ready for school, take them to school, come back and endure a grueling workout session, shower and dress, wash the car, play with the kids, get lunch prepared, put the baby down for a nap, put a movie in for my son so I can get some work done, write like a speed demon and actually get all my scheduled work done and even more, get the baby up and feed her, fold laundry, run errands with the kids, pick up my oldest from school, play with the kids, help my oldest with his homework while preparing dinner, finish dinner prep just in time to stick it in the oven to bake while we’re at soccer practice, drive to soccer practice and coach a team of 4-6 yr olds, return home to a delicious smelling home, take care of last minute meal details, eat dinner as a family, engage in great conversation with the kids and my husband, clean up, play with the kids, haul everyone upstairs for a bath, chase freshly cleaned and clothed kids around the house, read bedtime stories, kiss all three goodnight, walk downstairs and tidy up the house, relax on the couch to read a few pages of a book, retire to bed happy and fulfilled, giving thanks for a beautiful day.

What makes a day like this so special, what makes me feel like Wonder Woman, is not so much the actual things I do, there’s nothing super spectacular about this day, it could belong to anyone. What makes it stand out to me is the fact that I sailed through the day with a positive attitude, with enthusiasm, with joy and energy. Of course there were hiccups and unexpected kinks but with my can-do approach they were easily remedied. Now, I could have experienced this exact same day but been in a different mood, which could have produced a different outcome. Instead of feeling like Wonder Woman I could have felt more akin to say The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe or even Piglet. Same day, different outlook.

Not only are Wonder Woman days happier, but you actually accomplish more on these days because your optimism, happiness and energy levels are all elevated, allowing for more productivity. So, savor Wonder Woman. Embrace her, cherish the moments she’s with you. She’s important, she’s real, she’s you!

What makes you feel like Wonder Woman? Who is your favorite character to be?

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