So This is Christmas

I awoke this morning to the news of so many children losing their lives at the hands of armed gunman. It’s not an unusual story to hear about on the news. Two years ago, a deranged young man took the life of his mother along with numerous elementary aged children in Newtown, CT before eventually ending his own life. Hearing these stories at a time when we, as Christians, celebrate the birth of the greatest child to be born, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is extremely heart breaking.

We are exactly nine days away from celebrating the birthday of Jesus, a child born unto this world who would ultimately die for our sins. This is a time of love, happiness, and joy, but yet it’s hard to maintain that level of enthusiasm when we’re inundated with so much evil and hatred.

As I continued to listen to the news reports throughout the morning of the children who died at the hands of Taliban terrorists, I evolved from a state of anger to a state of sadness. As a mother, my perspective on life and society is much different than what it once was. I find that I put myself into the shoes of other parents, that I find a way to empathize with them, and I pray. I pray that the Lord guides these parents. I pray that He helps them to heal and forgive. I pray that they never feel His absence.

And then, when I can no longer stay in the shoes of other parents, I look at my children and think back to my childhood.

Christmas was always a magical time. The days seemed infinite. The minutes ticked by slowly on Christmas Eve as we sat alongside the fireplace and watched television, listened to music, and told stories. I always worried we wouldn’t make it home in time for bed and that Santa would bypass our house. After all, he did have a lot of packages to deliver and he needed to get a head start.

When I was the age of many of these children killed in Pakistan today, the worst thing I’d ever seen happen was the Challenger explosion. It made me cry because it had been such a huge thing to have an average American, a teacher, going up in space. It was mechanical failure, not failure of society or the human heart like the majority of the tragedies are these days.

When I was the age of many of these children, I didn’t worry about my education. I didn’t worry about my safety at school, or that someone would try to deny me of it. I didn’t fear that at any point my city or town would be bombed. I was a child, living a carefree life. I was a child doing exactly what a child should be doing…not fretting about the insensitivities and violence knocking on my door.

When the shooting of Newtown happened, Davey was just over a year old. I cried for the longest time as I watched parents with children who would never open presents on Christmas morning. I sobbed uncontrollably at the thought that these parents would wake up the next morning and not see the smiles of their children, their laughs, and inquisitive natures. I thanked the Lord right then for my blessings and I hugged Davey harder.

This morning, I found myself doing the same thing once again with both Davey and Henry. What a gift these boys are to me. How wonderfully blessed I am to have them in my life. I can’t imagine waking up one day to the realization that their little lives were snuffed out at the hands of selfish, inhumane monsters. I can’t imagine how or why anyone would want to hurt children, the most innocent and pure of society. A child shouldn’t have to carry the burdens of this world. Jesus Christ did that for us. He suffered for our sins and yet we are still a horribly sinful world when things like the murders of innocent children is occurring.

On days like today, I find myself playing John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” in my head. How many of you have actually listened to the words? I’m not a huge fan of John Lennon, but what a wonderful song he wrote. He asks, “So this is Christmas. What have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun”. What have we done, as God’s children, this year? And then the tears start to fall when I hear him sing, “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.”

As a Christian, I implore all of you to please think beyond yourselves. Think about, “the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, for the road is so long.”

Don’t take a day for granted, don’t miss a moment. Hug your children, love them, and set an example for them. Think about those children who won’t get a Christmas this year, or for those who won’t breathe life again. Think about your childhood, be it good or bad, and want more for those who’ve come after you. Let the true spirit of the season overwhelm you and fill your heart with more love than you ever thought imaginable.

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Another First

I close my eyes and I can still see it all, vivid and clear. If I’m quiet, I can still feel the pain, the anxiety, and the sheer impatience.

I arose much like every morning, perhaps a bit earlier. My excitement was getting the better of me. I couldn’t wait to meet my new little baby. He’d been baking for what I felt to be much too long, plus I’d started experiencing something with him that I hadn’t felt with the first…CONTRACTIONS. It was something I could definitely go a lifetime without having to experience.

Nearly six hours later, and after much discomfort, Henry was finally here. My lucky little baby on what is normally considered an unlucky day…Friday the 13th. During the C-section, I had a localized pain in my right shoulder, that apparently was like an air bubble. I became nauseous, and found myself heaving, eager to expel any demons that were inside of me. I didn’t hold my baby for a long time, not because I didn’t want to but because I physically felt in capable. If I meditate for a moment, I can still experience all of this…a year later.

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What a year it’s been too! Henry came just in time for Christmas, but had no clue what was going on. He rang in the New Year with me and a bubbly bottle of grape juice while everyone else in the house slept. His older brother wanted to send him back because he lacked a personality for quite some time.

He rolled over, he crawled, and he walked all ahead of schedule, but perfectly in line with his older brother. He developed a love of cars and his thumb, began sleeping in his crib much earlier than his brother, and even had the bed lowered sooner! He learned to climb steps, baby gates, chairs, beds, and even his pack and play. He found out just how ticklish doggy kisses can be from our dog, Dixie.

He’s brought a smile to everyone’s world, a laughter that you only find deep within the depths of your soul. He’s infectious with his laugh, and you find yourself giggling just as hard. He makes friends everywhere, hugs everyone, blows kisses, and eats chili cheeseburgers!

He hates car seats and strollers, loves to run as fast as possible. When he cries, which is rare, his brother sings “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to him, eliciting a calmness. He’s cuddly, loveable, and has developed a personality unlike anything. He loves to perform, to be the center of attention, and unlike his brother, he’s all my side of the family…a Bruce through and through.

This weekend commenced a fun-filled three days of celebration from my second born on his first birthday. He had multiple cakes, numerous presents, and created a new set of memories we’ll all treasure for a lifetime.

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Happy Birthday, Henry! You are my second gift from God, a precious little angel I never thought I would be capable of loving this much. You make me smile, you make me laugh, you make me cry, and you may think. You encourage me to take my parenting to a whole new level. I am the most blessed mother in the world to have not only you, but also your brother. I love you, my sweet, sweet little baby. Here’s to a lifetime of love, happiness, heart ache, and memories.

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Winter Wonderland

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The snow flakes began falling, light little flakes of dandruff from the clouds. We’d seen it before, nothing spectacular, but still a beautiful sight.

Slowly the ground began to transform into a crystal layer of white fluffiness. It looked like a powdery sugar goodness. The branches of the pine trees were beginning their acrobatics of swaying in the wind and somersaulting to the ground. They dramatically bowed after each little gust of wind, sweeping the snowy wonderland under their tips.

At first, Davey wasn’t impressed. He didn’t like snow, or so he claimed. We all know better. He was just being difficult, contradicting every thing we said. Henry; however, stared out the sliding glass doors onto the deck now covered in snow. With each passing moment, the flakes became bigger, each one a unique little gift from heaven. What a magical site for the kids and I found myself sitting alongside Henry, watching the flakes fall softly to the ground. What was he thinking? Was he comprehending what he was seeing? Man, I wish I could be inside his mind, to see the wheels turn.

Davey eventually warmed up to the snow, an irony in itself. We drove down the road and he was mesmerized with the plows, their huge shovels hooked to the trucks. What were these machines with their added mechanical arms and why were there so many on the roads? He watched the people pushing their snowblowers. He sat for minutes watching the machine till up the snow and then shoot it out feet into the air. How exciting!

The best side effect to the snow, though, was how just its sheer sight encouraged my boy to WANT to take a nap. If he napped, he concluded, then he could go outside and play it in. How right he was because two and a half hours later, a good nap under his belt, Davey was pulling on his snow boots and snow pants for an afternoon adventure that rivaled anything he could experience down south.

The snow was still coming down when we went outside. The flakes were changing from small to large and the wind had begun gusting more. When Davey set his first foot into the snow he let out the loudest giggle as the snow came up to his knee! He stepped in with another foot and once again, the snow engulfed his knee! So much snow! So much beauty and so many things to do! We made snowballs, at least to the best of our ability with the light, powdery flakes. Davey tried running and found that it was like having a weight tied around you. He couldn’t go as fast and had to raise his legs higher.

We made snow angels. We stood tall, our arms held out to our sides, and fell backwards into the cushion of snow. We laid there, letting the snowflakes touch our lashes. It was marvelous. I snapped pictures as Davey and his daddy tossed snowballs at each other. I smiled when he wanted to help shovel the driveway (always wanting to be like his daddy). Most of all, my heart was content as Davey played.

It’s a hard time to be away from family especially at Christmas. I’m grateful that if my husband’s family must live so far away, they live in a place that provides my children an adventure that they otherwise wouldn’t have. I’m thankful we get this opportunity to be with them and I praise The Lord for providing His wonderful beauty for my boys to see.

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Spreading Our Wings

And we’re off! This marks Davey’s 8th trip to Rochester. He’s been on a total of 30 plane rides in his 3 years on this earth. I think I hit 30 plane rides when I was 30 years old. This is Henry’s 2nd trip to Rochester, with a total of 10 plane rides and he’ll be a year old a week from today! Where has the time flown?

When we first began flying with Davey, I had much trepidation. I worried that he wouldn’t be able to handle it. I worried that I would be surrounded by travellers much like myself pre-baby. I was all prepared for the evil stares when we boarded the plane. We didn’t have any of that and we didn’t have a fussy baby either. Davey was a pro and has been ever since that first flight.

Henry did well his first time around, but I worried this time since he’s sick and just because he’s a lot more active and not exactly eager to sit still. Thankfully, the plane rides were not packed and we had empty seats in front of us. Davey chose his seat alongside the window and spent the better part of the flight staring out it. Henry? Well, he fought sleep and coughed and sneezed all over everyone. I’m sure people were panicking that my child would give them some sort of dreaded flu. But as we flew, I found myself reflecting on life before babies and what flying was like.

Ready for the first flight.

Ready for the first flight.

I’m envious of those people who get the luxury of putting earbuds into the ears and listening to music. I loathe those who get to sit back and read a book on their flights, and I absolutely abhor the ones who are able to recline back and sleep. It’s an Olympic sport just trying to maintain two children while flying. Once Davey was bored with looking out the window, he moved on to pretending that every barf bag was a bad guy and began to punch them profusely. When the seatbelt light when off, he thought it would be wonderful to try to crawl under every seat like it was a tunnel.

Really the flight is a piece of cake compared to the layover especially when you have a 3 HOUR layover and it’s from 6:30-9:30 in the evening. That’s prime playtime and bedtime for the boys. They’ve been cooped up on a plane for over an hour and then we’re going to continue to quarantine them when the moving sidewalks and escalators are beckoning them? What could we possibly be thinking and how horrible we are as parents to even consider keeping them constrained.

Fortunately for us, I brought Henry’s pajamas so he was able to get comfortable and snooze. Davey was able to watch Despicable Me on the iPad and basically all was well with the world. And with every flight, you’re unsure as to who or what you’ll encounter. Last night before boarding the last leg of our journey, Davey was able to meet two extremely selfless and brave young men. Our flight was fortunate to have two Marines on board, one of which had just graduated from Parris Island, SC.

Daddy's make the best pillows especially in an airport.

Daddy’s make the best pillows especially in an airport.

My only regret was that I did not get a picture of Davey as he walked over to both Marines, shook their hands, fist bumped them and then thanked them for their service. Of course I explained to my son who these young men were and what they did.

“Mommy, they’re heroes?” he asked me.

“Yes, Davey. They are heroes.”

“They beat the bad guys really bad,” Davey said with inflection on the words “bad”.

“Yes, buddy, they do.”

“I like them, Mommy. They are my best friends.”

Once we boarded the flight, all it took was a matter of minutes with the cabin lights dimmed, and both boys were fast asleep. Too bad the hubs and I couldn’t sleep or read a book or relax like all of our other flight mates. So goes the joy of flying with kids.

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I Do Want To Love Myself

I don’t enjoy feeling this way. I really loathe it. I want to be happy and I know I can be, I’m just not really sure how to get there. You see, I’m my own worst critic. I have probably the world’s greatest self-deprecating personality. I am NEVER good enough for myself, and I really want to move past this. I just don’t know how.

Perhaps I put too much into my physical appearance, but it’s been almost a year since Henry’s birth and I can’t seem to get my body back into shape. I have a gut, hips, and thighs that are larger than they’ve ever been. I have a butt! When I was younger (high school) and was 120 pounds (70 pounds lighter than I am now), I would have killed for some curves. At 6 feet tall, I was the butt (pun intended) of every joke around for being such a stick. Now? I would just love to lose 20 pounds.

I’ve never had an issue with losing weight or being thin, so I suppose this is why I’m angered so much. I envy my younger self. I envy those on television and in magazines who are older than me, are not stick thin, but can own it and be the most beautiful women in the world. I envy their abilities to let it go and embrace themselves. I’m 8 months shy of hitting that 40 year old mark and I don’t want to go into my 40s being sad and depressed.

Tuesday night, I had a Christmas party to attend. I spent an hour trying on clothes, before finally settling on what I felt to be the frumpiest outfit ever created. I started crying and of course my husband tells me I’m not fat and that I’m beautiful. He’s suppose to say that so how can I really trust him? “Who are you?” I thought as I looked at myself in the mirror. I was once the envy of so many others, and now? Well, now, I’m just average, and my personality has never allowed me to settle with average.

I told my husband it was great that I didn’t work because it would cost us too much money for me to go back to work. All of my old clothing from my Corporate America days no longer fit! I would need to buy a whole new wardrobe and that would pretty much negate the reasons for returning to work…needing more money.

I genuinely wish that I could happily look at myself in the mirror and be proud of how I look. These curves and stretch marks are thanks to two of the greatest gifts in this world…my sons. If I had my old body, then it’s likely I wouldn’t have them. They are totally worth it and I’m grateful that at least they’re the reason for my body metamorphosis. I work hard to try to relieve myself of some of this added weight, but nothing is working.

I trained for two triathlons and a half marathon over the past year! I can do more than I did before having kids, but I can’t seem to get rid of the weight. I actually shaved 20 minutes off my overall time on my last half marathon, and yet I’m still 20 pounds heavier than I was from the first one. It’s not muscle, folks, so don’t start down that path.

I know what my issue is, at least within the weight loss arena, and it’s my inability to get rid of the sugar and flour in my diet. I wrote a post a few weeks back about the harmful effects of sugar, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot expunge it from my life. I want to have my cups of coffee. I want to have the occasional treat. I don’t buy any sort of candies or cookies because I don’t want to deal with that temptation, but I can’t give up my coffee. I just can’t.

Five years ago, when I was at my thinnest and healthiest since high school, I was working at a corporation that provided lunches and snacks on a daily basis. These snacks consisted of ice cream, chips and dip, and even some of the yummiest cupcakes I’ve ever had. I only ran 3 miles a day back then (way less than I do now) and I was a size 10! Perfect for my 6 foot frame. I was even drinking a Starbucks venti mocha TWICE a day. These days? I treat myself once a week to a mocha and I ask for it to be skinny, and my coffee no longer has sugar, but instead splenda and I drink way less of it now than I did back then. I don’t drink sodas (which I did then) and I drink more water. So what gives? Really, what gives?

I would love to be one of those women who is able to name her stretch marks and rolls of fat. I’d love to be able to say, “Regina Roll,” while pointing at my belly, “you’re here because of Davey and for that I love you.” It’s just not going to happen and I don’t know what to do.

Part of me says it’s a losing battle especially around the holidays, but I can’t give in. I can’t let all the yummy and unhealthy foods readily available right now push me over the edge.

Maybe one of these days, I’ll be happy with how I look. Maybe one of these days I won’t “believe” I’m feeling the stares of other people around me for being fat. Maybe one of these days I’ll just accept that this is a part of life. Maybe one of these days, I’ll just destroy every mirror in my house. Or maybe one of these days, I’ll learn to love myself the way God does.

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A Travelling We Go

When did it become my responsibility to pack for EVERYONE when we travel? At what point was Executive Director in Charge of Packing, added to my title? I suppose it was somewhere between Vice President of Business Affairs and CEO of D&A Doser Llc.

Once upon a time, I enjoyed travelling. It’s something I always wanted to do. These days I still enjoy it, even with the two spawns in tow, but I loathed the packing process, at least until now. It’s a distant memory, somewhat fuzzy as the days pass, of a time when I could grab a piece of luggage and be responsible for only me. These days I no longer pack for one, I pack for four.

Four? You say? Yep, four. No, I didn’t have another child, unless you want to call my husband my man-child. So, yes, I pack all FOUR of us. My husband at least brings his clothes into the guest bedroom, but it’s my responsibility to double check he has his underwear, undershirt, socks, and enough clothing to get us through the trip. I don’t care what it looks like anymore, just as long as he has the right amount of clothing. My boys? Well, obviously I have to take the time to figure out what they’re going to wear. It’s a much more conscious effort than that of my husband. Then there’s me, and since I’m a stay at home mom, my attire consists more of jeans and leggings. I may dress those up with a nice blouse and shoes, but gone are the days of having a different pair of shoes for each outfit. Thanks to the surcharges of baggage by the money hungry airlines, I have to pare everything down.

Since Sunday night, I’ve been in rapid laundry mode. I arose at 4:30 this morning and ironed, then started another load of laundry. We’ve sporadically brought our clothing into the guestroom and this morning, while the boys watched Rio, I started the thoughtful process of packing.

Now that I handle everyone’s clothing, I’m always looking for new creative ways to pack, ways that utilize every little piece of space in the luggage. It’s almost like trying to fit together a puzzle or playing the old Tetris video game.

I used to roll a big portion of my clothes and pack them. I saw this process online once and it’s proven efficient in the past. This time; however, I’m trying to get more space out of my luggage so I decided to try a new technique I’d seen on the Today Show. It’s call the “burrito roll” and I have to say it’s actually worked quite well.

And like someone who’s purchased a $500 pair of boots for $50, I’m eager to share my “find” with my husband. I can’t wait to show him my new packing technique. I can’t wait for him to see just how much space this does indeed save.

So, here’s a picture of Davey’s share of the clothing. Take into consideration that this is a small bag which I am fitting inside the larger bag. And what you see is 5 days worth of clothing including underwear and socks. That’s all the room his clothing took up!

Snapshot of Davey's clothing using the new method.

Snapshot of Davey’s clothing using the new method.

Gosh, I almost want to pack more just to see how much I can really fit into the space.

http://www.today.com/home/how-pack-pro-bundle-wrapping-means-no-wrinkles-no-fuss-1D80318978

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Santa Elf Davey

Well before my first child was ever born, I’d already jumped on the “Elf on the Shelf” bandwagon. I’d seen a co-worker bring one in and I thought, “what a marvelous idea! I wish we’d had something like this when I was a kid.” I wanted to purchase one terribly, but I didn’t have a child to give one to.

When I became pregnant with Davey, Elf on the Shelf was one of the first things I wanted to purchase. My sister-in-law beat me to the punch, having purchased one for me, her mom, and herself (in order for Davey to really buy into this, we had to prove that the elf really was everywhere he would be). Davey was 3 months old for his first Christmas, so I packed up the Elf on the Shelf and decided I would wait a few years to pull him back out.

Santa Elf Davey hanging out in the lamp.

Santa Elf Davey hanging out in the lamp.

Davey is now 3 and in preschool. He’s a lover of books, all books, any books, every book (makes this book loving mama happy), so I thought why not dust off the Elf on the Shelf and read the story. Plus, with the addition of a walking Henry, Davey is becoming a little naughty and territorial. I needed something to help keep him in line.

I told Davey a little bit about the elf, I read him the book, and told him we needed to come up with a name. I assumed the name would be Jasper, just because Davey’s grandfather calls him that (no clue why) and Davey must name everything else “Jasper”. This didn’t happen. Davey wanted to name him “Santa Elf Davey”, not just “Davey”, but we MUST say the entire name, otherwise he starts having a stage 5 meltdown and the toxic radiation from one of those could compete with Chernobyl.

That first day, Santa Elf Davey hung out in our Christmas tree. He was high enough up for Davey not to touch him, after all Santa Elf Davey could lose his “magic” if Davey touches him, and Santa Elf Davey had the perfect view of the room. All the better to see you with, my dear. Which leads me to the “creepy” factor of this elf “watching” my child. Truthfully, the elf creeps me out more than he does Davey.

Santa Elf Davey on the mantle.

Santa Elf Davey on the mantle.

For years, I’ve watched Pinterest and Facebook feeds. I’ve seen pictures and read blogs about how all these wonderful moms (not me) find creative ways to place their elves. Some of them are ridiculous. For example, I’ve seen pictures of some elves who’ve left messes with flour, sugar, and even toothpaste and I’m led to question some of these moms. Don’t you want your child to behave and doesn’t the mess just encourage the same from your child?

This morning I read a blog from another mother about her Elf on the Shelf experience and it pushed me to write about my own. Much like Tabatha Kammann from the blog http://kooperscoop.blogspot.com/, I’ve felt the guilt of being a not so clever mom bearing down on my shoulders. I pulled out Santa Elf Davey a week and a half ago. That’s 11 days. And in those 11 days, Santa Elf Davey has only moved from his spot 5 times and they haven’t exactly been clever. This has prompted Davey to inquire about just how authentic Santa Elf Davey really is, after all the story does state that he will be in a different spot each morning. I haven’t exactly been following through on my end.

Santa Elf Davey in his original spot.

Santa Elf Davey in his original spot.

There’s a lot of unnecessary pressure with Elf on the Shelf, thanks to all you Overachieving Moms. I struggle just to remember to brush my teeth in the mornings, so how could you possibly expect me to remember to move Santa Elf Davey?

Thanks to Tabatha’s wonderful blog this morning, I was reminded that Santa Elf Davey has sat atop that surround sound speaker for 3 days (and the speaker idea was thanks to my husband remembering to move the darn elf). Davey’s already asked me once if Santa Elf Davey perhaps didn’t go see Santa on Sunday, the day Davey was his naughtiest. No, Davey, he told Santa. And Davey responds, “Mama, is he for real? He hasn’t moved in days.”

When you have a moment, check out Tabatha’s blog.

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