The Kind Of “Sweet” That Won’t Make You Gain 10lbs

Just wanted to wish you all Happy Halloween by showing off my adorable monsters. Most of these pictures were taken by White Rabbit Studios who did their Halloween feature today and included the pictures they took of my kids in their Halloween costumes. A few were taken by me at one of our many Halloween outings the last few weeks. We have definitely gotten our money’s worth out of the costumes this year! I actually had to wash Wes’s costume last night because it’s gotten kinda nasty with all of the festivities we’ve worn it to. And by “kinda nasty” I mean “repulsively toxic”.

Fontain
Smirk
Toesies
Stairs
Mountain Dragon ROAR!
Goofy kid
Boo!
Helping
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Thank You.

Paper Flower

The thing I go back to a lot as a new (Can I still say “New”? It’s been over a year now.) Stay-At-Home Mom is wondering if anyone’s life is better because of this situation. Are my kids better? Is my husband better? Is this situation in any way an improvement from before? Because – of course – if it’s not? Then I feel like a total failure.

It turns out I can never really answer that question confidently. I blame this on two things: 1) My horrible insecurities which keep me from recognizing value in work I do and 2) Spending 14 years saying my family was better off with me at work. It’s hard to undo a 14-year foundation in just over a year.

What I do know for sure is that my family’s world is better because of other Stay-At-Home Moms. This is something I’ve learned since last Spring when I started volunteering to help with the Seussical production at E’s high school. I found myself in awe over the amount of work done by volunteers. Some of them were Moms and Dads who also had jobs! But many were Stay-At-Home Moms, giving all of their days to this program.

Since then I’ve been open to more volunteering – Soccer Mom being my latest role. And each time I do I think about all of the things done for my family and my kids over the years by other Stay-At-Home Moms. Field trip chaperones, classroom party planners, and team Moms. I’ve been thinking a lot about how – maybe we do have villages raising children in some ways. I know that in the 14-years I worked or went to school I took advantage of hundreds of other parents, most of whom didn’t work outside the home.

So, I think I’ve been trying to say, “Thank you” lately. I’m doing a lot of volunteering lately and I hope that, in some way, this pays back all of the other volunteers in the past that made my family’s life better or easier. And maybe I’m also trying to Thank the volunteers helping my family today. The high school E goes to? Has – what seems at times – more parent volunteers helping in the main office than actual faculty and staff. Every coach at the ball field is a volunteer, and often also a working parent, which means I should thank them double.

I guess what I’ve done is, since I can’t seem to find validation in the work for my family, I’m trying to do it in the work I do for others. And I’m seeing how many others have been doing work for my family over the years. I don’t think I realized how many things that go on at the schools are run by volunteers before I started being one myself. I see several groups of parents at the high school when I go up for meetings. It’s not just the theater department that sustains itself on volunteers. It’s the band program, athletics, math teams…they all have parent volunteers organizing and planning and providing.

So…to all of you who who have helped other families by giving your time and efforts without any compensation? Thank you. If any of you have actually helped out my family in some way? Double Thanks. And if you are a volunteer who often doubts yourself in your home like I do? Know this…you ARE making a difference. And for that – I thank you. I think I went 14 years blind, just too busy to stop and see all of the others helping out around me. But now I see all of you, and I thank you for the help you give and the work you do. Thank you for being part of my village. I hope that my delayed efforts can help make yours better as well.

And to those of you who work full-time, raise small children, and manage to volunteer? Please tell me you have a house-cleaning service, a lawn-service and possibly an in-home chef. Or at least tell me you eat out a lot! And if you have/do none of those things? Please don’t talk to me. I’m already insecure enough. Super-heroes like you just make me want to jump off a bridge. But – Thanks for all you do! Even while you’re making me look bad!

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Day 01 – Something I Hate About Myself

Taken by Lilz

I traced this blog idea back to a blog that now seems to have an adult content warning, so I’m creating my own source-page just so that I don’t have to worry about sending readers somewhere they might be offended. Here is my own source page for the 30 Days of Truth Meme. But, I’m seeing tons of people doing it and finally decided that I was enjoying reading the entries too much on other blogs not to try it here. While I’ll do them in order, I’m not going to do them one right after another. And – I plan on putting off Day 03, 22 and 26 as long as possible. In other words? I may still be working on this project 10 years from now.

I’ve been thinking about Day 01 for about 2 weeks now. Because – if you’ve been around here before – we all know that hating myself for crap is kinda my specialty. I’m very hard on myself. I thought – at first – about declaring that my answer. That I hate hating myself. But I thought that might be cheating so I tried to find the root of some of that hatred and this is what I’ve come up with.

Something I Hate About Myself

I hate that I compare myself to others so readily and so critically. Every person I know – that I’ve even talked to for more than 7 seconds – has been put on a list in my mind entitled: People Who Are Better Than Me And Why. It’s almost like my challenge, to find as many things about another person that they do better than I do. You dress nicer than I do. You over there? You have a more beautiful home. You? You are a better Mom. And you in the corner? You’re a better wife.

I do it to everyone. I see exactly how I fail in comparison to every one I meet. It’s sick and it’s twisted and I truly hate it about myself.

The thing is – it’s not a logical action. I don’t think about it rationally. It’s entirely emotional based on my own insecurities. I know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that everyone has their failures. No one is perfect. The logical part of my mind knows that there are things I probably do better, too. But the emotional part of me, the one that manages most of my relationships, can’t get past the failures. And, as much as I know that comparing myself to others is a fruitless job – it does no good for anyone – I still can’t stop myself from doing it. And I always pale in the comparison.

I think this has gotten worse since I became a Stay At Home Mom. Without any sort of formal validation in the form of paychecks or appreciation from a superior in the office…without any sort of organized task list being monitored by a greater power…I have no real way of evaluating my own performance. Since I became a SAHM, the emotional side of my brain tries to build an evaluation out of comparing myself to others. And I’m always losing in those comparisons. The logical part of my brain knows that I do a lot and deserve a lot of praise, but the logical part is kinda wimpy and gets beat up by my emotions daily.

If you are trying this project as well, please leave the link to Day 01 in my comments section so I can pop by and see what you hate yourself for. You know – so I can compare our answers.

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Porch

Watching the wind

We had a very tiny screened in porch in the house I grew up in. VERY TINY. On that porch there was a gurney.

What? You didn’t have gurneys in your home? You much not have had a Dad who was a biomedical engineer at a hospital then. Because he had access to the best “trash” piles ever. We had 3 old-school, all mechanical, gurneys in our home. One was on the porch.

And we’re back to the porch.

We would sit out there (on the gurney) during storms when we were growing up. It was such a good thing to be kinda in a storm but perfectly safe the entire time. When we first saw the screened in porch on this house? We fell in love with the porch. Mostly because it’s just awesome. Huge and awesome. Beat up, needs some repairs…BUT AWESOME.

From the play area

Wes and I sat out there yesterday and watched the storms roll in. Now…we didn’t have a gurney to lounge on…but other than that? It felt just like hanging out on the porch in Knoxville. It was such a peaceful space in time. Watching the leaves blow, discussing that many of them looked they came from the sky because the wind blew them so high before letting go. It was very fun. And very awesome.

Leaves

It also made me very glad we found a house with old trees around it. There are dozens of new neighborhoods popping up around here. They plow down all of the trees and build every house on an empty plot. Then they come in and plant a baby tree or two somewhere on the property. No shade. No leaves. The new houses are very tempting, and we talked about focusing on some of those type of neighborhoods. However, we needed a certain size home, and the new version of that home would be more expensive. Basically we would have to trade space, for youth. We didn’t think it was worth the trade-off. Especially if part of the “youth” meant no trees.

Waiting on the porch
Lap

Yesterday…when we were watching the wind bring in the storms that would have us hearing 5+ tornado sirens yesterday afternoon? I was still very glad we opted for the trees and even more happy that we had a porch to watch them sway from.

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To The One Who Periodically Makes Me Wear Nail Polish

Diva

My daughter turns 5 today. Every year I tell myself I’ll do one of those great letters or photo montages or videos that so many bloggers do so well for their kids. And every year the birthday rolls around and I’ve done nothing but eat all of their cake poppers when they weren’t looking.

I’ll just say this: I can not believe my daughter is 5. WHAT IN THE HELL? I mean, I keep this blog going because I like documenting our life for our family, but the reason I started it many moons ago? Or, I guess I should say, the reason I started it and stuck with it? (Because I started dozens of blogs before and none of them lasted.) Was because I started discussing my struggles trying to have Nikki. TTC. Trying To Conceive. That and my nasty habit of miscarrying. Discussing those disappointments and fears and then the anxiety when I finally successfully seemed to be carrying her full-term? All of those things kept me writing every day. Then, once she got here? I couldn’t stop writing.

In other words – this blog was the first time something I was doing for her, actually benefited me. And isn’t that what parenting is all about right there? The surprise gifts we get from our kids? And she has given me so many. She’s taught me so much about being a girl because it’s something she just savors and relishes in. Whereas I remember fighting with my friend Ashley when we were…maybe 8? About who was the biggest tomboy. (I think she won because I had a sticker collection and that’s girly). She is so different from me in so many ways but that has taught me much more about myself than if she had popped out with curly hair and a love of maps.

Happy Birthday, NikkiZ. You keep me smiling. And sometimes you encourage me to wear skirts. These two things make every day better.

Almost too big for my arms
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