Water Fights & Breezy Days

My grandpa’s dementia is progressing.  When we go to see him, and we are still trying to weekly, I never feel like it is enough.  A couple of hours pass by too fast, whether it’s reading to him, talking to him about things, or singing to him, it just all goes by too fast, and it sucks that I only see him once a week.  I’ve thought of making it twice a week, and for the second visit just to drop by to see how he is and say hi.  At least keeping him apart of our life is somewhat doable, but he also misses so much of it.

He was such an incredible man.  He and my grandma took care of me when my mom went back to work when I was 6 weeks old.  I still have the strongest affections for scrambled eggs and sausage, the way he would make it, and my grandma’s particular toast with butter & strawberry jam.  The tastes of those foods immediately remind me of the joy I spent being raised by them.  My grandpa was crazy!  So fun and unpredictable – wild for a grandpa, honestly.  This last Friday when I took my sons to see him we teased him about all his tattoos… he’s still proud of them.  He was a sailor in the Navy after the time of WWII, and his tattoos are an ever present reminder of a past we can only imagine from his animate stories and pictures from when he was younger.  He was so handsome – so uninhibited and funny.  The tattoos still visible on his forearms and upper arm, go so well with his personality and masculinity, even as an 87 year old.  He was one of my favorite people growing up.  It’s hard to see him deteriorate in front of me, like watching a beautiful disaster that one can’t prevent, and yet, he tells me he looks forward to Heaven and gets this excited, boyish gleam in his eyes talking about it.  Sometimes he forgets who I am, but I love how he smiles so satisfied when he finds out I’m his grand-daugher, and that these kids are his great-grandkids.  He smiles, tears up sometimes holding the baby, or laughs his sweet laugh that I miss so much when my son does something comedic.

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This weekend has been full of love and family, spending time together, playing outside together – going on adventures.  Water guns, water fights, baseball and soccer, deep conversations with my dad, seeing my mom cuddle the baby, my dad playing catch with my older son in our backyard.  The beautiful weather we’re having.  It’s just a time of a lot of fullness.  There’s always something to do, always another thing to attend, always a party, always something to clean, or cook, but I love it!  I love embracing the fullness of our life right now.  We are so busy, and yet so happy.  It makes me incredibly grateful for the quiet moments.  My oldest out playing in the sunshine, wearing a king’s crown and wielding a super-soaker, the baby swaddled and sleeping peacefully on his play-mat in the living room.  And me at the kitchen table, drinking an afternoon cup of coffee surrounded by an ambiance of peace.  Such a beautiful place to be in.  Such a beautiful, wonderful life.

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My brother with my son

My brother with my son

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He has my eyes!!!

He has my eyes!!!

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A Texas Rodeo

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Every year, since I was a little girl, I’ve gone with my family to the Stock Show & Rodeo, which comes into our town every February like clockwork.  It’s a part of our city’s foundational traditions, and a favorite of every little kid in town.

Like a country romance come true, it’s always (for our family) paired with Valentine’s Day & my husband’s birthday; the days are full of Stockshow fun while the nights are for the excitement of Country Music concerts & Bucking Broncos.

We were beyond excited to be able to take our littlest to his First Rodeo. ❤

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His first Cowboy Jacket.

His first Cowboy Jacket via Baby Gap.

My oldest son's outfit while he tried to escape the camera ;)

My oldest son’s outfit while he tried to escape the camera 😉

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My rodeo outfit, minus makeup.

My sexy Cowboy date

My sexy Cowboy date

Let the ambiance begin… Pictures to give you the feel of a real Texas Rodeo

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Talking to Bee keepers about how bees live & the honey they make.

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Cowboys talking over BBQ

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Alligator Wrestling Show from Florida

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Baby Albino Alligator – he was sweet.

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Love Guns & Crystals

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The Golden “Calf” of the Rodeo

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Cowboy Buckles

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Cowboy Buckles from Las Vegas

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The Carnival

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Newborn Bliss

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It’s been a week since the birth of our second son, and this time has just been so incredibly blissful!  Last Sunday morning was supposed to be a day of quiet and yet anxious anticipation – our scheduled C-section was for the next morning, and we needed to be at the hospital at 5:30am.  Sunday was going to be a relaxed day – a day where I could take care of the last minute details like sweeping the floor, or getting our 4-year-old to pick up the toys in his game room that I’d been letting him leave out for days now.

Instead, I was woken up by cramping uterine contractions, first randomly intervallic at 10 minutes to an hour apart… I called my mom just in case they really were the real deal, but I felt certain they were just a false alarm – I told her not to worry, maybe I just was constipated!  I was going to send my husband to go buy some prune juice.  Fast forward 4 hours, we decided to go to the hospital, but I wanted to make a  quick (psycho) stop at a local Wal-mart trying to find a purple shampoo for my hair, and prune juice (I still didn’t believe they were the real thing) all while I was having contractions steadily 5 minutes apart (and had been for 2 hours straight).  We get to the hospital, contractions were then at 2-3 minutes apart and extremely painful.  The dr. confirmed the baby needed to be born today – unless I wanted to try for an unplanned VBAC (Vaginal birth after c-setion) – haha… no! 

After watching my contractions on a computer screen that measured their duration and intensity, she decided the baby needed to come out ASAP!

It’s hilarious how in denial I was – I didn’t want to have the baby that day, I still needed to sweep the floor (oh wow).  My husband took charge and got us there in time for it to still be a C-section, thank God I can depend on his judgment – otherwise we would’ve been on the news as the couple who had a baby at Wal-mart because the wife couldn’t decide which shampoo to buy!

The experience at the hospital, from the C-section to being discharged, was so wonderful.

Now we are in full swing of caring for our newborn, and relaxing in the concept of being a family of 4.  Family of 4 sounds so beautiful.  Words just can’t describe how thankful I am for a healthy baby (no issues at all), for how long he waited to come out (instead of being premature), and for a normal hospital experience (no Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).  Our first son’s birth was so dramatic, but that would be a different post.

Now for pictures!

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The nursery widow looks out into the back of the yard where the trampoline is - perfect for being able to keep an eye on the big brother!

The nursery widow looks out into the back of the yard where the trampoline is – perfect for being able to keep an eye on the big brother!

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And last, a post-partum pic!  I love this part of after-birth… having the weight literally seem to melt off of you!  Already have lost 17 pounds since his birth last week… only 7 more pounds to lose until I get back to the pre-pregnancy weight.  It is very empowering to know that my body is capable of such an amazing thing such as pregnancy… and to be able to bounce back so fast – it surprised me with my first, but is still surprising with this little one also.

Giving birth and immediately feeling the weight and hugeness of pregnancy (that uncomfortable roundness) disappear is just wonderful.  It makes me proud of my body… proud of my health & fitness level… and more respect for my body in knowing exactly what it can do.  🙂

Inspiration

5 Beautiful Things:

1. Braids

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sixisterstuff.com

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Anastasija-Nikitskaja-blonde-braid-hairstyle-2

glambistro.com

BAFTA Los Angeles 17th Annual Awards Season Tea Party - Arrivals

celebritystyle.com

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2. An amazing letter written from a dad to his daughter about her True Worth: http://www.quickmeme.com/p/3vt86j

daddaughter

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3. This French Song:

4. This quote:

“True beauty radiates not from outer cosmetics, but from the simple joy of making a difference for those that need your voice, passion, and time without expecting or wanting anything in return…”
―     Deborah Barnes

5. I frequently visit a shop called Z Gallerie for inspiration when it comes to home design and color.  Last time we went I took some pictures to give you the vibe of the incredible shop, complete with mini art gallery on the side of it.  Their official website: http://www.zgallerie.com/

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 It’s so beautiful

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Many paintings

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I fell in love with this one.

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They always use florals… in the best way.

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Beautiful ideas

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This chair and the surroundings.

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A more masculine mirrored look.

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Emotional Erosion

I was doing some reading of my favorite blogs this weekend, and found a beautiful piece on GOOP (Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog).  It was so strange because the night before I read this, I had a dream about soil… about being depleted vs. having rich, nurtured, complete soil.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  The difference it makes in how when soil becomes depleted, nothing can come from it anymore… there can be no more growth.  When applied to our emotional health, this analogy is brilliant. 

Enjoy this article from GP’s blog, consider it a “re-blog.”

The 1930’s is known as the “Dirty 30’s” because of the raging dust storms that ravaged much of Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle. A decade of deep plowing by farmers had displaced the native grasses that kept the topsoil in place. With the grass gone and the increased use of heavy, mechanized farm equipment, the land was fully exposed to the elements, degrading quickly and losing all of its life-giving power. When a severe drought came, the un-anchored topsoil dried out and became as fine as powder, taking to the air as the winds whipped across the open plains. What was once living, nutrient rich soil became useless dirt, devoid of any nourishing or nurturing capabilities. Starvation quickly ensued for both man and animal in this area of the country. It’s this despair that Steinbeck’s characters were trying to escape.

Inside all of us, there is grassland that needs tending with the greatest of care. It’s a spiritual ecosystem that’s completely self-contained and self-supporting, so long as we know how to farm it the right way. When we don’t have the proper tools to nurture it, the soil of our soul becomes exposed to the damaging effects of our negative life experiences. quoteIt dries up, loses its nourishing capabilities and blows away, leaving us completely ungrounded. How many people do you know who are flighty, scattered or addicted to drama? They’ve lost their resilience, the ability to nourish and nurture their soul through the ups and downs of life. Think of it this way: If lightning strikes the plains and burns thousands of acres, it only takes days before new shoots of green grass start poking through the ash. The grassland maintains its resilience and can recover from such a traumatic event because the underlying soil, which contains the nourishment for rejuvenation, was never disturbed by the surface damage. Such is how it is with the soul.

quoteSome of us are never given the tools to get through life’s traumas. In a perfect world, it’s our parents who comfort us as children, teaching us how to self-regulate our emotions.  Unfortunately, crying and anger aren’t always met with compassion, and so we learn how to repress our feelings to avoid the consequences. We teach our children—especially young girls—to be people pleasers from a very young age, choosing emotional responses that are agreeable rather than authentic.

Without proper modeling, it becomes impossible for us to navigate the difficulties of our adult lives—divorce, job loss, quoteillness, or the death of a loved one. We can’t apply compassion, empathy, understanding, and non-judgment toward ourselves because we never learned how.  Sure, we can stuff our emotions down and get on with life, but we still carry the emotional charge that’s poisoning the soil of our soul. Eventually, unresolved traumas deplete our soul’s nutrients—like innocence and understanding—and we end up living in a spiritual dustbowl of self-judgment, hopelessness, and cynicism.

quoteRenowned psychologist Wilfred Bion called this kind of existence living in an uncontained state.  Bion believed that elements of thought or emotion carry projective (male) or receptive (female) functions.  If someone is projecting a powerful emotion like anger, his state is uncontained.  He’s in need of someone who understands—who can receive that energy and contain it, completing an emotional cycle where each cancels the other out and equilibrium is restored. For Bion, the crux of his famous Container-Contained Theory is that psychic growth only happens when we can integrate this process within ourselves.

As adults, tens of millions of Americans are living in a perpetual state of uncontained emotion.  quoteTheir soul-scape is completely barren and because they can’t nourish themselves internally, they rely on external sources—illicit drugs, psychotropic medications, food addictions, crime—to do it for them. It doesn’t matter what the mechanism is: It’s always false and its effect, temporary.

I believe it is uncontained emotion that holds the secret to healing all chronic diseases, especially for women.  From an early age, parents inadvertently teach girls to deny their feelings in order to please others, and then the media convinces them to hate their bodies in subtle and insidious ways.  Later in life, we put them in a catch-22: If they stay home to raise their children, they’re holding themselves back, but if they choose work, they’re absentee mothers. We’re constantly putting women up against standards they can’t possibly meet. When you can’t be the ideal wife, mother, girlfriend, teacher, cook, church volunteer, corporate executive and activist at 20 pounds below your healthy body weight, what’s left but to silently (and subconsciously) hate yourself because you’re not perfect?

quoteI believe that this subtle, relentless, uncontained self-hatred is at the root of the autoimmune disease epidemic in women. How else would you personify a body that’s attacking itself as the enemy? The National Institute of Health estimates that 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease. Even more shocking is the fact that 75% of them are women. The disparity between men and women is even worse when you look at specific kinds of autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (10:1); Grave’s disease (7:1); lupus (9:1). The occurrence of autoimmune disease is so prevalent among women that a study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2000 declared that total cases exceeded the 10th leading cause of death for all women, across all categories, between the ages of 15 and 64.

Bion and I would agree that the uncontained self-hatred that gives rise to autoimmune disease needs to be contained with self-love. The problem is that most of us were never taught how to love ourselves, or we have a distorted understanding of what it means. Love affects the body in profound ways, but it’s not enough just to receive it: We must be able to generate that energy within ourselves if we are to maintain our health. To achieve this, we can’t begin at self-love but at self-forgiveness—forgiveness for not being a certain body weight, beauty type, Mother of the Year, the perfect daughter, wife, or anything else. When women let themselves off the hook, they will acquiesce into a place of self-acceptance. It is only in acceptance that we learn what love is.  When love is the nourishment we’re using to seed our soul, our lives become fertile in all areas again. There’s no need to fear the future because we know that so long as constant change is life’s nature, survival doesn’t go to the fittest, but to the most resilient—and resiliency always resides in the richest soil.”

(link to full article & blog: http://www.goop.com/journal/be/270/goop-mag-14-soul)

Valuable

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There is no better and ultimately no other way to teach your children that they are valuable people than by valuing them. 

Second, the more children feel valuable, the more they will begin to say things of value.  They will rise to your expectation of them.

Third, the more you listen to your child, the more you will realize that in amongst the pauses, the stutterings, the seemingly innocent chatter, your child does indeed have valuable things to say.

 

I love this quote from one of my favorite books The Road Less Traveled.  If you have children, undoubtedly you understand the task it is sometimes to try to listen to them…  to filter out the endless (and sometimes mindless) talking to get what they are telling you.  I joke around a lot with my 3 1/2 year old, and enjoy teasing him and adding play to our days, but I love hearing what he has to say – it usually surprises me how much he already knows.

The thing is, if I don’t really try to understand what he’s thinking about things, how will I know what to teach him?  What if he’s got the wrong idea?  What if he’s confused about something, but thinks he’s right?  How would I be able to get him to listen to me, if I don’t give him the time and effort it takes to fully listen to him.

Teenagers are a completely different side of the same coin.  If you have a teenager, especially a teenage boy, it might take some work to draw them out to tell you what they are thinking – or to be able to put down everything you’re doing when you can tell they need to talk, but it is so worth it!

A couple of nights ago, when I was putting my little one to bed, he was praying and thanking God for all of his family.  Then he peeked up at me with laughter in his smile and said, “And thank you God for my silly Mommy!”  There is no greater treasure than getting to be that role for him.  I feel like I’ve been blessed with too much.

Kids Chaos & Mistakes

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I think having a child is one of the hardest things in life – knowing how to raise them, deal, in a good way, with their sometimes difficult behavior, and maintain a good relationship with them through to adulthood, sometimes seems impossible when you’re in the thick of it with toddlers or even pre-teens/teenagers.  Being a parent is hard, I was reminded of this fact these last few days – maybe the weather change, or maybe the excitement from knowing Christmas is closing in, had my 3-year-old upping his tantrum-mania anytime we went out.

Obviously, it’s best to stay calm in any situation, but it’s understandable when it’s been their 5th tantrum of the day, or when they try to hit you with their little plastic golf club, that you can make the mistake of losing it & screaming at them.  For me, I truly have to remind myself to stay calm, have clear expectations beforehand, and carry-out the discipline already decided in the calmest manner I can conjure.  This of course, doesn’t always happen, but it is our go-to for dealing with the normal tantrums & chaos that children are known to do.  I try to keep in mind the kind of man I’m raising, the character I want him to have.  Feeling like his success wholly depends on you, however, can also put too much pressure on your parenting needing to be “perfect,” leading you to feel massive amounts of anxiety that you’re failing your children, when in reality, they are just kids who sometimes behave difficult.

 If you do make a mistake, punish the wrong child for something they didn’t do, overreact and lose your temper, you need to admit your mistake to your child/children.  They will love you so much more knowing that you have the character to be able to do this.

I love Elaine St. James’ words on this topic,

Children need to see that it’s natural to make mistakes from time to time.  The last thing you want is a child who is unable to own up to the fact that she was wrong.  If you’re trying to teach your kids to be open-minded and responsible for their actions, you must demonstrate this behavior yourself.  How better to learn than from a parent?

Some parents believe their authority will be undermined or that it’s a sign of weakness if they allow themselves to be swayed or to admit they’ve been wrong.  With others it’s often a false notion of how a parent should behave, or simply bad judgement. Whatever the cause, you’re doing a disservice to our children by taking this position.