Running For My Life by Cindy

I started running a couple years back because I had to do SOMEthing. I couldn’t sit around anymore. I didn’t want my kids to see me so blah. I reached that point in parenthood where you start questioning what happened to yourself. I didn’t know what I liked anymore. I didn’t really know anything other than Feed Baby, Change Baby, Bring Child to Bus Stop, Make Dinner, etc… it was time.  When my sister-in-law asked me to run a 1/2 marathon with her, I laughed so hard…I think I even did a spit take right in her face!  She is a physically fit specimen…played soccer her whole life.  Joined a women’s rugby team.  She is in constant motion.  At that point in my life, I was a slug.  The very thought of running 13.1 miles in a row was so foreign to me I let it flow right out the ear it came in on.

But, guess what?  A little of that thought stuck with me and I started running… and I ran a little more.  Then more.  Then last year I ran my first 1/2 marathon!   It really feels good to run.  It has helped me find myself again.  And in the process, I think it has helped me be a better mom for my family.  Here’s why:

1. My kids see that being physically fit is an easy thing to do.  You just have to run… that’s what they do best!

2. I can escape just long enough to miss being with them.  I get a small break – freedom- from being a caregiver.  I can run as fast or as slow as I want.  I don’t have to abide by anyone else’s whims.

3. I can listen to music with swears in it.  That makes me happy.  Well, not necessarily the swears, but the fact that it’s not the Bubble Guppies theme song…again.

4. I do my long runs on Sundays which forces me to go to sleep at a decent hour on Saturday nights.  I don’t have “just one more” Mike’s Hard Lemonade because I don’t want to be dehydrated for my run the next morning.  Bonus:  That not only saves my waistline, but it saves money for the family!  😉

5. My 7 year old daughter decided that if I can do it, so can she.  She signed up and ran a 5K last month.  She did great!  She even got a medal for “1st Place Woman in the 12 and Under Category.”  I was so proud of her…all the pictures of her crossing the finish line are beautiful .  The ones of me are terrible because I’m bawling my eyes out with pride.

6. Running has given me much more energy.  It’s much easier to deal with kids when you have energy.  Especially the little ones…they never ever stop.

7.  It also helps with my 3 year old son’s seperation anxiety.  He knows I’ll be gone for a bit, but I’ll be back.  I’ll be sweaty, but I’ll be back.

8.  Most importantly, running makes me happy.  It gives me a pride in myself that I never really had before.  I think showing my kids that I’m happy is a good thing.

I never thought I could do it.  I never thought when my sis-in-law asked me about that race that I could seriously do it.  But I was wrong.  I am more than just some kids’ mom.  I am me and I can run.

Summer camp? More like summer cramp. by Cindy

I thought signing my 3 year old son up for summer camp would be a good thing. My daughter always loved it and still does. She loves the prospect of doing endless crafts and playing games and seeing people other than her family every day. She loves packing her snack bag with whatever she wants (within reason) and opening it up in front of everyone at camp.  She loves telling me about everything she did that day when I pick her up.  She can’t wait to go back every day.

Everything I just wrote about?…My son HATES.  Well, except the snack bag part.  We took a trip to Target the other day specifically for him to pick out his very own snack bag.  He picked out a cute little elephant one with a matching elephant icepack.  He played with the ice pack and even let his sister borrow it after he punched her in the arm.  He was happy.

He remained happy all the way from that moment until Tuesday morning at 8:55. Tuesday wasn’t the first day of camp, either…it was Day 2.  Monday, he was ok.  I think distraction played a big part…he walked right over to the head counselor and let her lead him into the room.  They told me he cried a bit when they first got into the room, but he was fine soon after.  When I went to pick him up Monday, I saw him before he saw me.  He was a model camper!  Running over to his spot on the rug and sitting down criss-cross applesauce.  I went in and he ran to me…showing me the cool crown and sceptor he made.  My little prince!

Tuesday morning I figured he’d be excited to go.  Nope.  Tuesday morning, he wanted nothing to do with it and started with the koala bear full body strangulation hug at 7AM.  “Mommy, I don’t want to go to camp anymore.  I miss you when I’m there.”  My heart started yelling at me to tell him he didn’t have to go anymore and that we could spend the day hugging instead.  But, I couldn’t breath, so I figured I’d better take him to camp so someone could pry him off me.  Picking him up that day wasn’t as magical as the first day…he ran to me and said, “Let’s get outta here.”

Every day got progressively worse.  7AM strangulation hugs turned into 6:45, then 6:30…then by Thursday night he was already trying to get out of Friday.  He had mastered his grip, too.  You know that little bugger almost pulled my pants down right in front of all the camp counselors?  The entire week he cried for me for at LEAST 15 minutes after I dropped him off.  I know this, cuz like a jerk I stood outside the door (out of sight) until he stopped everyday.  If there’s any advice I can give with this story, don’t do that!

When I went to pick him up on the last day, I peeked in the room.  All the kids were sitting nicely on the rug listening to a cute little story.  All smiles and happy.  But, I couldn’t quite see my son.  Maybe it was just the sun glare off the glass?  No, it was because he wasn’t there.  My sister-in-law (who came with me for moral support) then said, “Oh there he is…over there at the table.”  The little guy had decided he had enough.  I asked the head counselor how he did.  You know it’s not good when a trained professional scrunches her face and says, “Well…..”

So now I have a week’s worth of crafts that the counselors made, because my son wanted nothing to do with making them.  And I also have a slight tear in my heart for making him go through that.  But I think it was good in a weird sort of way.  Even though he didn’t like it, he completed it.  And he made a couple little friends.  And he learned how to play Duck Duck Goose.  So that right there was worth it.

Your Epidermis is Showing! by Cindy

It’s always been a nice thing to be able to hand stuff down from generation to generation. To keep traditions going…to be able to say stuff like, “This was my grandma’s. She had this when she was a kid!”  Little trinkets…maybe clothing…maybe a doll or diary. But then there are the other things that get handed down that just flat out suck.  In our family, it’s bad skin.  I don’t mean like teenage acne either…I mean BAD skin.  The worst.  The kind you want to rip off and leave in a heap somewhere for some other family.  Yes, that leaves a nasty visual, and I’m sorry, but it’s really THAT bad.

Excema, psoriasis, calluses, sensitive skin, allergies…you name it, we got it.  I don’t know exactly how many different medicines and lotions we’ve had to use over the years, but right now I can name 14 that we have in the house at this very moment.  Just tonight I counted 4 lotions I had to put on my son for 4 different flare ups he’s having.  This has been going on for generations.  My grandfather’s hands looked like rocks!  Big strong cracked up rocks.  He never complained.  I don’t mean to either, but when I watch my little 3 year old son scratch and scratch and scratch so much that he bleeds…it hurts my heart.  I need to complain, just a little.

And thinking of my 7 year old daughter…and then thinking of what I went through as an angst-y teenager…I worry for her.  It’s enough pressure to just BE in high school.  Having something that’s different about you – and not different in a good way- is hard.  Right now she doesn’t care that she has to have greasy lotion all over her face when we go to an amusement park.  But she IS starting to wear longer shorts to cover up her red cracked skin on her knees.  When she turns 14, what do I do for her?  Do I tell her what I used to do?  That I would make up lies because I was embarrassed?  I would tell everyone that my knees & elbows looked all banged up because I fell a lot on the basketball court.  I don’t how that lie was better than just saying “I have psoriasis”, but in my teenage mind I guess it was.

I am 37 years old and JUST came to the realization that it really doesn’t matter…friends don’t care what your skin looks like.  And if it hurts, they will help you.  But I still worry for my kids, because it’s a long time till they’re 37.  I hope they can both keep the attitudes they have right now and save the angst for boyfriend/girlfriend troubles.

Oh My Blank! by Cindy

Had a discussion today with my kids about certain words and phrases that I’d rather they don’t say. It started because my son blurted out “Oh My God…watch this!” and then squirted his sister in the face with a water gun. I told him, “Please don’t say that. That’s like yelling up to God to have him stop what he’s doing and check you out. He’s busy up there! Let him do his thing and only call him like that when you really need him.” So my son then asked if it’s ok to say “Oh My Pants!” I said, “I guess so.”  Right? I mean, God’s smart…does he know that even though my son said Pants, he really meant God? Is that just as wrong? Nah…I’ll let that one slide.

But then he started asking about using other words in place of God like ” Oh My Balls”…and “Oh My Cans.” He meant it innocently, but c’mon!  I can’t let him go around saying that!  I told him to stick with Pants.  But then my older daughter asked “Why?  What’s wrong with cans?”  So I then had to explain how some people call breasts “cans”.  (OK, some people including me.)  So of course, the next question was from my son, “Well then is Oh My Boobies ok?”  Nope.  Sorry, son.

After another few minutes of inserting normal words into the phrase and having them sound just as dirty, I gave up.  If you hear a couple little kids blurting out “Oh My Sausage!” just please remember I tried.

The Lovely Number 4 by Cindy

I was just reading a post by my friend (and fellow loserpie) Jamie on about the urge to have more children. It got me really thinking. How do I write about this without sounding like the worst mother in the entire world? How do I actually write down that I do NOT want anymore children- definitively- without making other moms banish me from their babysitting phone lists? I don’t know, but there it is…I don’t want any more children.

I have 2 right now who are my world.  My daughter is 7 and may as well be 20 with her wide open mind.  She has a brain like no other and her wit is fantastic.  She gets jokes…she MAKES jokes… she is a whip.  My son just turned 3 and is the cutest little charmer.  He tells jokes, too, but they could be nonsense and I’d still laugh because of his delivery.  Always with a twinkly smile. I can’t believe they are mine.  It blows my mind every time I look at them and see them do normal human things.  They are what makes our family 100% whole.

But on the flip-side, it is HARD WORK.  Much harder than I ever anticipated.  On the best days of parenting, I still go to bed exhausted.  On the worst days, exhausted happens, but sleep doesn’t.  The tremendous worry that goes along with having children overwhelms me sometimes.  Without sounding like a sappy Lifetime movie character, I feel like my kids are little pieces of my heart walking around out there.  I know I’m not the only parent who gets upset leaving the kids for a night out, but I’ll tell ya…it’s really hard for me.

And I don’t know if I’m good at it, either.  There is no way to tell.  I think my kids are good…they have manners, they eat their vegetables, they love me.  I know that’s all that really matters in the long run, but is it?  I don’t know.  I always wanted to be a mom…for as long as I can remember, that was going to be my job title.  (Well, except for that short stint when I wanted to be a dentist for other dentists because I couldn’t figure out who cleaned THEIR teeth.) And I always thought it would be hard, but do-able.  And it is.  And I’m doing it.  And I love it.  And my family is complete.

I’m sure there are many different branches to this tree that could be discussed, but this is just the trunk of the thing.  Do I love kids?  Yes.  Would I be upset if an “accident” were to happen and another baby came into the picture?  No, because that would just be what was meant to be.  All I’m stating here is that if I have the choice, I like my family number at 4.

Where We’re From

Pretty sure we're not Dutch after looking at Grandpa's expression...

My mom calls me her Irish daughter and my sister her Italian daughter. We both married men of those descents and I guess we kinda took them on as our own. It’s funny, because neither one of us have either Irish or Italian in our bloodline at all.  I like to use the term “Irish by injection”, but not in church or anything.  We are mutts…a little bit of this, a little of that. For the most part, we’re Hungarian. My dad’s side of the family came from Hungary…my grandma relayed stories to me that her mom told her about coming over to Ellis Island….standing on the long benches looking out at the huge crowd full of hope.  My grandma was VERY into her Hungarian heritage and could speak Hungarian so fluently that on a visit to Hungary a local asked her for directions.  My mom’s side is a little more tricky…her mom was mostly Swedish and her dad mostly German.  I don’t know about the other parts because I never bothered to ask.

I honestly never really paid much attention to it until recently.  Even with my full Hungarian grandmother who made stuffed cabbages and sent things to our relatives in Budapest, I never cared to pay attention to my heritage.  It never really mattered.  I am what I am…knowing where I came from wouldn’t change that.

Well, that is, until I had kids.  Once my daughter started going to school and learning about other countries, I noticed that her mind was expanding…she started wondering if any of OUR ancestors came from far away lands.  I told her of course they did…I just didn’t really know where.  And at that point, all the people I could ask had passed on to even farther lands.  But thankfully, my grandparents left behind many photos and memories for me to sift through.  I’ve been trying to get answers for my kids and really have been enjoying the process.  I think that’s why I cling to my husband’s Irish background so much…his family is large, and there are many generations here with us to learn from.  It’s fascinating.  He also has Scottish and  Czech blood, so the stuffed cabbages are good no matter whether we’re at my parents or his.

I don’t really have too much regret in life… I do feel that everything we do is a learning experience for us.  However, I miss my grandparents…all of them…every day.  I would’ve liked to have learned more from them when I had the chance.  It IS important to know where you came from…what struggles your family made to get you where you are today.  I’d have to think that my Hungarian great-grandmother’s trip across the ocean in a scurvy-riddled old boat was not all that fun.  But she did it for her family…for me.  And for my kids.  Her story deserves to be learned.

Good Morning… by Cindy

There’s something about getting up in the morning by your own free will that makes the day just a little bit better. Right now, I’m looking outside watching a deer eat some clover in the yard. Birds are chirping to their friends. Tea is steeping. I kinda feel rested.  I set my alarm – even though it’s Saturday – on purpose just so I could enjoy a couple fleeting minutes for myself.  Just for me, no one else.

An hour from now, my son will start calling down to me. This will most likely make the deer run away (his morning voice is kinda old-manish and loud for a 3 year old) and cause my daughter to also wake up.  They will both come downstairs and then fight over which TV show they should watch and then try to get me involved.  This is when I almost always bring up the fact that when I was a kid, there was ONE SHOW on at a time on Saturday morning and that was it!  And I hated the Thundercats!  But I watched it anyway, so they should be grateful for the million channels we have now and not fighting about it or I’ll turn the TV off and you won’t watch anything at all!!…..

Ok, so back to my lovely alone time with my pretty deer and birdies.  It’s wonderful to have just a few minutes to open the steam valve before the kids wake up. ..get out all the pent up thoughts about bathroom floor pee clean-up from yesterday, Big Time Rush songs, SPF 70, peanut butter sandwiches…get my brain to stop floating…reset for a new day.  It just helps.  Would I rather be sleeping?  Sleep does feel good.  But nah, I’d rather have these minutes awake in my thoughts.

I just noticed the deer is gone and I don’t hear any birds…their animal instinct must be working, cuz I think I hear something stirring upstairs.  Yup…there it is…MOMM-MMMY!!!

#1 Dad, no scratch that…#1 Husband by Cindy

Somewhere sometime somebody said something like, “Always put your husband first.” Agreed! Easy reply for me because my husband is awesome and totally my best buddy. We are two spooning peas in a lovely king size pod with Egyptian cotton sheets. We only have one TV that we watch together every night once the kids go to bed. Other nights we play darts and act like we’re in college… listening to our music and arguing over song titles… He’s wonderful to me and I know he always puts ME first. So for me, it’s a no brainer. Husband = First Place.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule… like, child falling off bicycle trumps Daddy needing another cold one. Thankfully, we know the difference here at our house.
But husbands SHOULD come first…they were husbands before they were dads (in the majority of cases I know) and will hopefully be husbands after the kids move out. Once our kids move out, we have a master plan of traveling the US in our very own recreational ve-hi-cle. I hope he still likes me by then, cuz I’m really psyched about our trip.
I know I am truly blessed with a great man who thinks I’m funny sometimes. He is what a dad should be to our kids…he plays with them after working out in the elements all day. He tells them stories and reads books and tries our daughter’s homemade cookies. (I use the term “cookies” lightly…I don’t really know what those things were) …and he’s hot, too.
I just wanted to bring this up because I love my husband. No other reason. He’s my husband first and always will be. Oh, and he NEVER, EVER expects the big pork chop at dinner. But I will gladly give it to him every time.

First Time Out of the Box by Cindy

I’m new. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t mean exclusively to blogging…I don’t know what I’m doing in most EVERYthing. I’m a good faker and have a lot of people fooled, but sometimes I get caught. Like the other day when I promised my 3 year old he could have a snack when he woke up from his nap that I never intended on giving him. He was tired and whiny and I just wanted him to stop yelling in my face, so I promised him something to which I would never follow through. All that did was make him cry again – and LOUDER- when he woke up. Big fail on my part.
My daughter who’s 7 catches me all the time. She’s smart, so it’s hard to fake it around her. She’s like a little Catholic school nun. I am afraid to be a bad parent around her. If I do something remotely bad, her innocent almond shaped eyes put me right back into place.

It’s not that I WANT to be bad. I try my best to be good, but like I said I don’t know how sometimes. I can’t blame anyone. I didn’t want anyone to help me when my daughter was born. I had all these ideas when I was pregnant that parenting was going to be an easy challenge…that it would be a change, but not a hard one. That we were going to be this awesome family that all had our own custom surfboards and paddled out every Saturday at 5AM then got pork roll and cheese sandwiches for the ride home.

The rude awakenings started soon after pregnancy…immediately after to be exact. In the hospital after giving birth, my daughter just wouldn’t stop crying. She cried so much that even though the wonderful nurses tried to calm her so I could get some sleep, they had to bring her back to me to nurse every 1/2 hour. No one could calm her except me. The first thought about being a parent was that I was the only one who could soothe my child. So that thought took over. My sister wanted to help…NO! My mom wanted to help…HELL NO! My mother-in-law wanted to help…HELL NO! I love my family, and looking back I feel like such an idiot. Because of the lack of sleep at the time, I felt like everyone who tried to help me was trying to take over my job…the only job I ever wanted in my entire life. I felt like I was stuck on an island with this screaming kid and no one could save me. On the contrary, EVERYone wanted to help, and I just wouldn’t let them. I’m surprised they still even like me at all. I was a big fat bitch.

Now it all bites me in the ass when I do something stupid like yell at my son for asking me the same question over and over. He cries, and then I cry and he ends up asking me the question again. I don’t know what I’m doing. Thankfully these kids ARE smart and they are good teachers. They are my helpers now, and I am learning that help is good. Maybe we’ll be able to break out the surf wax one of these days. I could really go for a pork roll and cheese.

Chippendales? Chip and Dale?

I’ve been up since 6:00 AM since the smallest of the small ones had to go potty and had to tell me about it and then had to crawl in bed with us. I have had two cups of VERY STRONG coffee. I cooked a mean spinach, mushroom, and feta omlet with Food for Life toast. Currently, I’m on a cleaning mission. I finally stopped to open the kitchen window to see two chipmunks playing (very Disney-esque) under the swings in our backyard (birds were tweeting, too!). I yelled to tell the small ones to run and look out the back window at Chip and Dale playing in our very own back yard!

Well, this got me thinking… Which came first: sweet, furry Disney characters or hot, sweaty half-naked, bow-tied men? What if my kids google it someday and some cheeseball ’80s dancer pops up!? Well, the answer is…wait for it…. the Disney characters. They premiered in 1943. The dancers came along in the late ’70s.

Now, you might be wondering, “where is she going with this?” And quite honestly, I have no idea. It was just a caffine induced, cooking/cleaning frenzy, mind racing a mile a minute, moment. “Hey kids, Chip & Dale!”. Chippendale? Wait, how could Disney name characters after strippers? Or, why did strippers name themselves after chubby, furry rodents? Well, now you have it. All of the answers. No need to thank me.