Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Even Mommy Gets Sad: My Tantrum

The time is now for me to get off my chest something that has been brewing and completely become a thorn in my side recently.

Please know that what I am about to share with you has little to do with parenting but more so to do with the importance of being a parent trying to manage emotions while maintaining a cool demeanor so that we don't lose it in front of our children or get them upset unnecessarily.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not advocating that we never share our emotions with our kids. We absolutely should. It's important for them to know that mommy, and daddy, get sad sometimes, upset, and even angry. We are all human and we have feelings, and sometimes they get the better of us.

However, when our children are young and not fully understanding of what we may be going through, and that it may require a great deal more explanation than it's worth, sometimes it may be best to find other outlets -- such as writing a blog, talking with a friend, or crying it out -- to get our feelings and emotions in check. I say this because I have experienced with Sarah on occasion her getting upset when I get upset. She gets sad for me I think more so because she does not understand the full ramifications of the situation including, for example, frustrations of the economy, tragedies in the world, etc.

When I first considered writing about this topic, which I will get to shortly, I had a completely different approach in mind to take that involved tips for parents.

However, due to a recent experience now filling me with overloaded emotions and feeling like I am going to bust at the seams, I have only one direction at this point to take, and hope that you will understand.

As some of know, last year I moved my family for a great new career opportunity and to also be closer to family in a city that's also somewhat more affordable to live in compared to where we resided previously.

When we moved here nearly a year ago, our plan was to rent for a year, get to know the area, and then buy a home.

We still have that plan, but recently were sidelined.

Throughout the house hunting journey, we brought Sarah along with us to be part of the process so that she could feel apart of this milestone we were experiencing together. We also thought it would be fun for her to let her tell us which room in each of the homes we visited that she liked.

Sarah really enjoyed being part of this endeavor with us. And, when we found the house that we loved, really loved, with her room already picked out, it was great to know that she was involved in this big family decision.

However, after countless hours of searching, researching, visiting many homes, and eventually finding "THE" home and getting as far as the contract process including inspections and money spent, the deal went south. The culprit -- an empty oil tank that years ago leaked and inevitably contaminated the soil.

It turns out that after several tests on the soil, this is a much bigger problem that needs a lot of time to repair and resolve. Our attorney even strongly advised us to walk away as there is no certainty as to when this problem can be fully resolved, and the appropriate paperwork received to enable occupancy.

As a result, I have experienced sleepless nights thinking about what to do about the house. Daniel spent hours in conversations with attorneys, environmental experts and people with similar stories to share. We were so close. So very close.

The incredibly hard part about all of this was the time, devotion and emotion dedicated to this deal to then have it fall out from under neath us in the eleventh hour.

I feel deflated. I am spent. I want to cry but haven't had the chance to do so as I need to keep it together not just for me and Daniel, but for Sarah as well. It's not that Sarah is upset about the loss of this house. At her age she doesn't fully understand what's happening.

I can't fathom how I will find it in me to go through this process again without feeling incredibly cautious and negative expecting something like this or something else to happen that will impact our ability to find the house of our dreams, near our price range and in a desired location.

Buying a home is a stressful process. Daniel and I know this all too well as we have done this before. We get it. We understand it.

However, no matter how well versed one is in the real estate market every home is different. Every experience is different. It's like every child is different and cannot be compared (the latter point is another blog for another time in the future).

Today, I felt like my cup runneth over and that venting was necessary for me to begin to move past this and start fresh.

I am pouring my figurative tears into each and every word that I write here. I feel the emotion boiling up in me with tears desperately wanting to fall out of my face. I know that if I lose it now it will be hard to get back on track to start this painfully, arduous process all over again. In some instances I think, okay, just get out a good cry and move on. In this case I don't want to even let myself get there, and just move on.

On top of it all, what makes losing the house even more painful is how good a deal we were able to negotiate including a good interest rate during this volatile economy.

It sucks. It really, really, really sucks.

Now, if I were you reading this and seeing this from the outside in I would say to me, "get a hold of's not the end of the world."

Yes. You would be right to say that.

However, what I am feeling now is defeat and no desire to get all pumped up and excited again should we be deflated yet again.

I know that I need to pick myself up and get right back up on the horse. And, as a parent, of course I would be telling the exact same thing to Sarah to help encourage her not to feel saddled by unfortunate situations that may come in life.

It still sucks. It still really, really, really sucks.

I feel reluctant that we will be able to find the home of our dreams without feeling like we are settling. I know that this sounds extreme, and it is. It's what I am feeling right now. Do you hear the vulnerability, frustration, anger and exhaustion speaking?

There are likely some of you, many of you saying, "get over it" or "that is was not meant to be." Now I am just sounding immature. Well, it's very likely I would say these very things to me or anyone else in this situation. It doesn't make the sting of this situation feel any less painful.

Tonight, we got back on the saddle. Still, it sucks. We went back to look at homes we have already looked at but are looking at them with different eyes. We have a benchmark, the home we loved, that we are now comparing everything too.

So, as I write these final words, I think I need to have an all out real cry, pick my self up, get back online and begin the search all over again. I may need more caffeine tomorrow, more confidence the day after and many hugs from Sarah and Daniel in the days to come to make this blow in our house hunting journey less painful.

Wish us luck. I know that the right thing to say is that the house we are meant to be in is out there or something close to it, and that we need to just keep looking and we will find it.

Be kind to me, be gentle as my wounds are fresh and open. I may need time to heal from this as I really had visions of our future establishing roots in this new home.

I know this seems silly the way that I am acting and how I am feeling, but it is what it is. So, thank you for letting me vent and express what I needed to say as I don't want to let it all out and become and emotional mess in front of Sarah where reasoning is just not yet present in my mind with this situation.

Maybe tomorrow, the day after or next week I will feel renewed strength to embrace this process again. In the meantime, if you see me in person or online please be nice to me, hug me or give me a smile and tell me it will all be okay.

Just like we do as parents, as adults we need pep talks too and words of encouragement and solace to get us through difficult situations. I know that this experience is not life threatening and that there are many more terrible things to worry about.

I should be thankful for many things, and I am. I have been blessed with a wonderful husband, amazing daughter and family and friends who love and support me every step of the way. I am blessed and need to keep reminding myself of that.

Here's to getting back on the horse...Giddy up.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Marriage: Comfort Versus Complacency

How often do we hear the expression or say the words "time flies?" It's usually when we are having fun or reminiscing about the years that have gone by and how much has happened in between.

As parents, we often think about this as it pertains to our kids, amazed at how quickly they are growing up and developing and it feels like it's happening so fast.

I still can't believe that Sarah is approaching the age of four and there are so many amazing memories we have had to date. I say often how time has flown when looking back at old photos and videos, and thinking of the many moments I have had with my precious little girl.

Thinking about this further, it's hard not to remember the less than favorable memories too in which we wished for the tomorrows and next weeks to come after many sleepless nights of crying babies, issues and pain associated with breast feeding, and the stress and anxiety associated with being a loving parent worrying about everything in relation to our children.

However, one thing does hold true. As a parent I know that I did, and still do, find many ways to keep the fun alive to entertain Sarah and keep her happy, while being a happy parent too.

It's very easy to get lost in the routines of life including meals, bath time and bedtime rituals. Fortunately, while routine is very important for children they very much need variety to try new things, explore and develop to grow.

The same holds true for marriage.

As parents, it's very easy for us to set our marriage needs aside and dedicate more of our efforts to our children and their needs and wants.

This thinking came up for me recently when a newly married friend at work, Michelle, who writes a blog called Life as a Vroom, shared a story recently here about the importance of recognizing when a married relationship becomes too complacent.

From her perspective, this story rings true as her own parents, at a later stage in life after years of marriage and grown children, are going through a divorce.

At first, I have to admit that I read complacency in her story and instead felt it was important to point out to her, after being married nearly eight years, that I think it's okay to get comfortable in a relationship as it's a sign that you are connected to your partner and not necessarily complacent.

The more I thought about, the more she was right. It's very easy to become almost too comfortable in a relationship to the point where it becomes complacent and life becomes more routine where we stop listening to each other and instead go about every day life, working, making money, parenting the kids, and more.

It's those date nights and little quirky things that we do in relationships that needs to continue to keep the spark alive in marriages, whether there are children or not.

The timing for this blog post is perfect. About a half a year ago Parents magazine was seeking ways in which couples with children keep marriage alive and the reminders of their love for each other.

The picture up at the beginning of this story is part of bigger article in the September 2011 issue of Parents magazine entitled How to Fall in Love All Over Again. Daniel and I shared one of many experiences with the editor that has been a fun, constant reminder of the love and appreciation we have for each other. The funny thing about this one "thing" is that it was not a thought out idea, but instead something that sort of just happened on its own and morphed into something much bigger than we had anticipated.

One day, nearly seven years ago, Daniel was changing the printer cartridge on our computer. While testing the toner he printed out a piece of paper with the words I Love You!!! It was cute. I giggled. Then, I didn't think much of it.

Over time, this piece of paper would find itself, planted by Daniel first and then by me, in various places in our home, traveling suitcases, plastic bags inside ice cream containers, jacket pockets, glass cases, lunch bags and, yes, a toilet seat. (Yep, Daniel was the brilliant one to place this, thankfully in a plastic bag, one morning before I had to pee).

Every time this note, which has been folded and refolded many times over, gets found each of us says, "Oh, look, my [insert location] loves me." Each of us then often giggles. It's kind of funny how after so many years this simple piece of paper brings a flood of memories, happiness, communication, connectedness and comfort.

Each of us as couples, as parents, are different. What works for one family may not work for another. But, my friend Michelle reminds me, from her newly married point of view, that regardless of how long you are married and whether you have kids, it's important to keep that love alive, fresh and renewed. Think about the ways in which we ignite fun with the kids to keep them happy, appreciated and loved. It's imperative that we do the same for our marriages to avoid complacency.

Let's continue to keep the spunk in our relationships and find new ways to express love and appreciation through both verbal and non-verbal communication.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kids Activities and Memberships

Any one with children knows that it can get expensive to enjoy fun activities with them outside the home at places like zoos, children's museums, farms and more.

While you can get a lot for your money, just know that many times these places require pay for both adults and children to enter. The good news is that some places do allow children under the age of 2 to get in for free since these tots may not get the maximum use of the facility at this young age.

Also know, in some instances, sites charge the fee to get in the door and then have some activities inside such as pony and carousel rides and petting farms that require an additional cost to participate.

Considering all this, it was great to find out that most if not all of these types of places offer annual membership packages that are especially ideal for those of us who frequent these establishments on a regular basis, or would like to.

Even better, most of these places offer what's called reciprocal membership, where you can visit other locations throughout the U.S. in addition to your home area and get in free or for a lesser admission. This is especially nice if you are out of town with the kids looking for something to do and this is a great benefit to take advantage of. This also works nicely if you have multiple children to entertain.

At first, I was skeptical about these memberships because the total amount to sign up seemed a bit steep. So, I held off on these offerings until I got to know these places better, we experienced the activities being offered, and determined how often we saw ourselves going.

After that, and crunching the numbers, I realized that there is definitely a benefit to some of these memberships. For example, our local zoo where we used to live, had reciprocal membership to two additional zoos near by and across the country that after just four visits to the various locations membership would have paid for itself.

So, I discussed with Daniel and he agreed. We decided to sign up for membership with the local zoo during the spring time through the following spring. And, when we moved to the area we are in now we signed up for the children's museum from this winter through next winter. Both are annual memberships.

Something I didn't consider when signing up, but another great thing to keep in mind when having memberships, is that you can use them as much as you want. You can stay for a short time or a long time. Even more, you can take the kids after school, on the weekends, and during some holidays to let them run around and play especially when you don't have set plans and need an outlet for them to let loose.

Just this past week Sarah asked if she could go to the museum after camp, and my work day, when it was too hot to play outside. I thought it was a great idea and found the museum had late hours in the summer during the week.

So cool.

I was able to take Sarah and my niece for an hour and still be home in time for dinner and bath time. We had a really fun time.

Many places have membership choices.

When we started with our local museum we signed up for the basic service. After time, we realized that it behooved us to sign up for the premium offering so that we can bring four adults or children with us each time at no additional cost. It's a great way to give Sarah the chance to have a buddy when she goes and she loves it. It's especially nice too when we have friends or family in town and they can enjoy the activities too without having to spend the extra funds.

Another thing that I've noticed with places of this nature for children, and I may be the only one guilty of this, is that I often try to direct Sarah to experience as much as possible, to get our monies worth. After the initial visit we go back and Sarah roams and does whatever it is she wants. If she wants to dance on the stage in the theater for the entire visit then she does. She decides what she wants to do and for how long we do it or until I say it's time to leave.

Consider local children's places in your area and weigh the benefits and offerings to see if it's right for you. It's not right for everyone. It may be better to even wait until your little ones are fully walking and talking and can really appreciate what these places have to offer to get the most out of them. We have experienced a great benefit with these kid-friendly places and highly recommend them.


Halloween Candy for the Troops

While we all recover from over indulging in too much candy during Halloween, still the candy is in our homes staring at us willing us to...