Striking the perfect balance, hopefully at least sometimes!?

When I was younger I swore I would never have children.  They were dirty, needy and would just get in the way.  I had visions of being the CEO of IBM.  As with most of us, the visions of a young person grow and change as we do.

Newborn Megan 8/11/2004

Newborn Megan 8/11/2004

I did well in my career but something was missing. I remember when I held my Megan for the first time, her wide open bright eyes looking up at me, I swear she actually waved.  That was it. That was all I needed to know that there was no job in the world that could ever be as fulfilling as staying with my baby.  I have been fortunate enough to be a part of every aspect of my girls development.  Financially it has not always been easy but it has been the most rewarding job ever!

Being a Mother has been an adventure, figuring it out day by day.  Frank and I don’t have any parental guidance and I never had the perfect role model.  My relationship with my mother was not perfect, whose is?  At the time it was all I knew.  Some will say she was a difficult person and I would agree.  She was a functioning alcoholic and in those days this was acceptable.  She had a temper and was not what anyone would call “warm and fuzzy”.  There were not many hugs or “I love you’s” in our house.   With that said, she raised three children alone, kept a nice home for us against all odds and ensured that we had the best education possible to enable all three of us to improve our own lives.  I am blessed to have had such a strong woman as a mother.

IMGAs I raise my own children I struggle to find the right balance.  Many of their friends are handed everything with no understanding of the value attached to the items.  Too many parents would rather be a friend than parent.  I never want to have the heavy hand I was raised with yet I want to ensure there is structure and discipline, but discipline filled with love.  Yes there is such a thing.  The ability to say “no” to your children, to realize that they may get mad at you and life will go on.

Being a parent is not always easy, as a matter of fact uneasy is how I feel much of the time.  So many firsts in life that need to be explained.  Hurt feelings, confusion and the unknown are all a part of everyday life and I love it!  Each day is an adventure and I look forward to  every one of them!

Perseverance, unicorns and just a little pixie dust

Life is messy, and hard and sometimes downright  mean.  I would like to be able to tell my kids that it is filled with unicorns and roses but that would be silly, untrue and would not prepare them for the reality of the future.  I would like to tell them that they can just shut the door until the hard stuff is over but that would just make them victims to the evils that would eventually consume them.  I would like to tell them that they could close their eyes and wish it all away but in my opinion that would ensure them a future of failure.

unicorn-11273No, I tell my girls the truth.  The cold, hard and often ugly truth.  Life is unfair, hard and dirty at times and often it will disappoint you.  With that truth comes the real lesson, a lesson of perseverance that those who keep their heads up, those who work hard, those who strap in for the rough ride will succeed in the end and be the stronger for it!  My girls have lived this lesson from early ages.  I am sure they feel that their lives have been often unfair to this point, Madison being witness to my miscarriage, major health scares for both of their parents and more hospital visits than any child should have to endure.  They have seen their father work non stop only to have his pay cut and eventually be laid off by the same company.   I am fully aware that our lives are a paradise when compared to others.  We all have our struggles, how you deal with them makes us who we are.

I try to teach the girls that when life gets tough to face it and never give up.  I hope that my husband and I have modeled this same lesson for them.  There is often an easier way but it does not make it right.  Never run and never bury your head in the sand. Do not be afraid to try, to  fail, but NEVER stop trying, learn and grow and always keep smiling.

29a8d7a59eec706135ac1eb9fe9e26d1As meaningful as those lesson are, it is also important, more important  to celebrate the wins, the glass is half full side of things.  The fact that my girls are healthy and smart, athletic and kind.  The fact that after a tough search my husband has found a wonderful new job. From time to time, it is nice to live in a world of unicorns and when life is on an upswing you grab on with both hands!  How do you best celebrate the positive turn in events?  With a trip to Disney World of course!  Very soon we will be off to see that amazing Mouse!  For our family Disney is that place where you get to close your eyes and wish it away, that world where fantasy is reality and pixie dust rules the land!  I can not wait….Mickey we will be there soon!

2013 Magic!

2013 Magic!

Cheers to a new year!

At the end of the year WordPress sent a recap. I glanced at it but did not really read it. I have not posted regularly in a while.  Honestly it sat unread in my inbox until the other day.  The recap itself was not too interesting since it only covers what I posted, which was not much, but it brought to mind a very stressful year.  It brought to mind laughter and tears, memories that were at times busy, frustrating, exciting, painful, stressful and of course love filled.  At many times I thought of posting to help me clear my head but for so many reasons at the time it just did not seem right.

Sometimes the weight on your shoulders seems too heavy. It often seems to great to bear but when you are about to scream, it is good idea to step back and take a second to look down the road you have just traveled if for nothing else than perspective.

Watching winning returns come in on Primary night

Watching winning returns come in on Primary night

Early in the year I was approached to run for political office with 2 others for township council.  We won the primary but in the end I fell short by about 30 votes of winning in the general election.  Months of meetings, greetings, hand shakes and campaigning.  Politics can be ugly.  It was a very interesting experience that I am thrilled I attempted but to be fully honest I am just as thrilled to leave behind.  It was time consuming and stressful on my family especially my girls who have grown accustomed to my being home every night to put them to bed.  We could have done good things for our township had we won but each day I know I do great things for my girls, and in the end that is enough for me.

Megan's dingy cast right before removal

Megan’s dingy cast right before removal

At the end of  May I received an emergency phone call from school to pick-up Megan after a recess accident.  During a kick ball game she had run into another student and had fallen.  She hit her head on the concrete and was cut up pretty good.   An urgent care visit and many tears later we realized we had our first broken bone of the family.  Much celebration came when the cast was off at the end of June in time for swimming.

Sadly this was actually the second experience with emergency rooms for us in the year.  One of the more stressful and downright terrifying events of the year was in early May when Frank fell short of breath and began having chest pains.  Within a few short minutes he could barely stand on his own.  We rushed him to the hospital where he stayed for several days.  After a cardiac catheterization, a heart attack,  along with any heart issue was ruled out thankfully.  No perfect answer was ever fully provided to us as to the exact cause but again, thankfully, he has been fine ever since.

IMG_6244Of course we had the normal hustle and bustle of travel soccer, basketball, music lessons and Karate.  Both girls achieved their red belts this year.  Years of work and focus, not an easy achievement.

We went to Niagara falls Canada in July and had a wonderful time, although the 10532776_10202345983271454_9206650645340516440_nprices were ridiculous.  We did the normal tourists things and enjoyed some nice family time.  We also took a ride to the Toronto Zoo to see the Giant Panda’s.  Amazing creatures! IMG_6086

During the holidays we were treated to a performance of the school’s fifth grade chorus, of which Megan is a member, singing along with the South Jersey Philharmonic Symphony.  Megan was so thrilled to be on stage.  It was something special to witness!Whitman Philharmonic

My husband worked for a well know large company which I will not name.  Over the years he was subjected to pay cuts in the name of streamlining which we accepted.  Things over the last year had been stressful but came to a head in mid November when he was notified that the decision had been made to lay him off along with hundreds of others.  (Yes the media says things are so much better, question what you are told). Christmas was both a blessing where he was able to enjoy the girls without work but also extremely stressful since he had not landed a job.    Tomorrow  2/9 he starts a new chapter in our lives with a new company.  Good luck to my Frank and we love you!

I continue to turn to this forum as a sounding board and I apologize if this is a bit rambling.  I realize it is late but I wish everyone a happy New Year and say cheers to new starts, new years and new opportunities!

Do you believe?

santa claus images

I know people who have made the decision to tell their children that there is no Santa. Not because the child asked questions but because they were going to find out anyway. Before I give my opinion on that, let’s recap the first few minutes of the news cast I tuned into last night. Missing college student last seen at a bar well over a week ago disappeared without a trace. 17-year-old boy brutally attacked in an alley after leaving a party, caught on tape. Of course they show this tape over and over. There seems to be controversy over some grandmothers taped smoking pot and some local daycare conditions are filthy. There was a sexual assaults, we are waiting for DNA results in an old unsolved murder mystery and of course continued updates on riots and protests. Retail sales are down and the recent jobs numbers cheered by some are being shown to be “padded” creating only cheap part-time hourly jobs while full-time family supporting jobs actually saw a sharp decline. The economy is stagnant, the country is more split than ever in my life and the future seems just as bleak.Weihnachtsmann mit Rentierschlitten und Sternschnuppe

So, back to the situation with Santa and a question, what is wrong with a little magic? We all want to believe that magic is real. What is so wrong with allowing our youth to stay innocent as long as possible? The world is big and at times very harsh and ugly and in time everyone will have to face it head on. Is it so wrong to allow our 10 year olds to hold on the belief in a jolly old magical being for just one more year?  To allow them to feel safe watched over by loving beings?detail_450_10460

Many of us have the elves, those crazy little toys that we curse nightly as we climb and stretch moving them around trying to add a little extra magic to the season. Why? Because of the glow in the faces of my girls and millions of other children who wake each morning running through the house to see what the elf did last night after returning from the daily reporting trip to Santa. This year Santa Claus actually sent letters to the girls though the mail. They received them yesterday in the mailbox.  Pure childhood fascination swept over both as they read them, thrilled that Santa knew names of friends and teachers as well as things they are interested in. Those letters are now hanging on the refrigerator and have been read at least 20 times.  elf-on-the-shelf

It has been a tough year for our family as it has for many.  The amount of presents under the tree will be smaller.  It would be easy to allow the stress of the year to bring us down.  Instead I find this more motivation to get into the spirit and share some Christmas warmth.

I believe because my girls believe.

I believe because there is a true joy allowing yourself to be swept up in the magic.

I believe because the sound of Christmas bells are a happy and joyous sound, and I still hear them :-)

I believe because the smell of cinnamon and chocolate  together in the air gives me the strength to face an otherwise grey day.

I believe because doing so even for a small part of the year reminds me to spread kindness in a world that is very short of it.

I believe because a strong imagination has guided me though many a dark day and will do the same for my children.

I believe because there has to be something more.

I love Christmas and all of the joy and magic that it brings.  I love the entire season and do not feel the need to argue over who is most important during this fine season. I do not mind saying happy holidays to those who do not share my religious background and I often find myself humming the dreidel song at some point during the season.  Love, joy, family, sharing and reflection on the things most important is what it should be about.  For me, that means keeping Santa as part of the celebration as long as possible, I for one think we all could all use a little magic!

A simple question

It is once again October and the Pink is flying.  Breast cancer awareness visually pushed into the forefront for all.  Put aside the millions being made by the CEO’s running the charities or those behind the merchandising of all of the apparel and take it for what it should be, a moment to step back and recognize that awareness, testing and early detection really does save lives.  So instead of a long-winded post rehashing my own story or one looking at so many strong women who have fought or are currently fighting this awful disease, I ask a simple question, when is the last time you had your mammogram?

If you would like to buy a pretty pink sweatshirt, pen, baseball bat or energy drink with the special label go right ahead but I ask you to go one step further.  If you yourself are due to see your doctor and have your scans get off your butt and make the call and schedule your appointment.  Today and all month-long as you interact with those women closest to you, remind them to do the same.

CLICK HERE FOR A LINK TO THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EARLY BREAST CANCER DETECTION

A mother’s crazy pride

It starts when they are born, how alert the baby in the first seconds of life or the belief that we saw them wave to us the first time you held them in your arms.  That crazy mother’s pride that you have just delivered to the world the next great thinker.  That crazy pride that at some point we all show. It of course is measured differently by all, to some every single thing you child does is amazing. Facebook posts are made hourly to announce each and every “new” moment.  To others, they are so guarded there is really nothing that will spark that crazy mommy thing. To the rest of us it is everything in between,

Both of my girls are playing travel soccer this year and my husband is one of the coaches on the little ones team. Last week was the official opening week. Of course both games were at the same time so we were separated. I believe it was the first game of Meg’s that Frank had ever missed, (and thankfully so). My daughter is the primary goalkeeper for her team, a team who saw three of its top offensive players pulled up to another team in the off-season. The game itself was, well it was a catastrophe, a pure annihilation. I could take this moment to tell you that it was over 90 degrees and,…but I could not tell you anything both teams did not have happening to them. Our girls had lost by the 10 minute mark of the first half. The entire team looked like they had never played the game before (although this is the 3rd year of travel soccer), and if I am being truly honest my daughter was plan awful. She was lazy and half-hearted and when pulled from the goal at the half I was thrilled. The game was painful to watch.

We have spent many an hour sitting at extra training sessions with Meg to help her be the best keeper she can be as well as a good chunk of money on those sessions as well as protective gloves, jerseys etc.  We of course understand that the ball has to get through the rest of the girls before it ever even reaches her position.  We also fully understand that she can not score from her end of the field so if the team does not even take a shot she can not control that.  What she can control is the effort she puts forth each and every time she takes the field, we expect that  she gives it her all.

These are some of the things we discussed all week-long heading into week two.  There was no yelling but the conversations were stern.  My expectations are high for my children and I do everything I possibly can to help them to rise to those expectations.  I believe that is a big part of what is wrong with the country right now, the lowering of expectations.  We stressed to Megan that no one expects anything from her except to come out each week and play hard.

The girls took to the field this week under cloudy skies and rain expected.  My girl was on!  She stopped one and then a second and with each her confidence came back.  The team fed off of her spark and even though the rains came and made the game a little messy the girls took away a well deserved 2-0 win.  Seeing my children believe in themselves, seeing them rise to the challenge, seeing them fight, that is where I derive my pride.  Megan was so happy.  She walked off the field with her head help high and a smile a big as could be.

They will always have ups and downs.  My job it to figure out how to help them reduce the distance between the two, to help them brush off and recover quickly from the lows and to always, always be strong enough to face the next challenge.  I love my job!

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