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Stronger. 2012, here I come.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t like them and the only one I’ve kept is the one I made not to make them. I’d rather set goals throughout the year, targeting areas that are meaningful to me at that time. And 2012 won’t be any different, except that I’m going to be more focused in what I want to accomplish.

The truth is, 2011 was a good year in a big picture sort-of way but ended poorly. In fact, December really sucked. Happy, worth-celebrating events, like a dear friend’s 40th birthday and the Christmas holiday, were overshadowed by a miscarriage, coming in dead last in my 5K (stupid of me to attempt it two days after my D&C), crappy deadlines, and a horrible cold (I even lost my voice). All of that put me in a foul mood for almost the entire month.

But 2011 is behind me and 2012 brings a fresh start. So far, I changed my hair (went a little darker with a little ombre, adding a touch of spicy to the new year), Fussypants turned 5 and in itself is monumental but also brought my brother, sister-in-law, cutest nephew ever and my aunt in town for a visit and I started working out again. So far, so good.

After the miscarriage, I did some reflecting and realized that without question, I am content to remain a family of four. And since four has always been my favorite number (I don’t know why, it just is), it becomes even more meaningful that I have four areas I want to focus on in 2012: Family, Friends, Fitness and Me. I couldn’t come up with an F-word for myself (ha) so I’m calling that area Feng-shui Me (simply defined as improving life by receiving positive qi – life energy, life-force), so it works as my F-word.

My four areas for 2012

In addition to my four areas of focus, I am also incorporating a word theme. Shell from Things I Can’t Say had a fb post about word/themes for the year and that intrigued me. It was easy to pick one since I know what I want to accomplish: Stronger. I want to be stronger in several areas.

Family: My family is my everything but I plan to be stronger and more focused on prioritizing certain areas so that I am really embracing the moments I have with my family.

  • Date nights. 2011 was a better year for my husband and I in terms of making more time for date nights, which often included overnight babysitting, but I want to be more consistent in making sure he and I have alone time. This ranges from the simple matter of getting the kids to bed at their bedtime hour so he and I can have time to ourselves each evening to actually going out on dates and taking weekends away. The last weekend away we had together was in July – I know. But so far, 2012 is off to a good start…we are going to Vegas, just the two of us, in a few days.
  • One-on-on time with my kids. Fussypants is at the age where he enjoys and benefits from just mommy & me time and daddy & me time. My husband is better at this than I am (but only with our son) and I want to spend more time with each of my kids, doing what they want to do. They each have their own interests and I want to embrace that. This will also include time with my son, husband and myself and my daughter, husband and myself. We tried this on Fussypant’s birthday. My folks took Little Miss and my husband and I took him to the hockey game, just the three of us. It was really nice and he enjoyed the one-on-one attention.
  • Family fun time. In direct contradiction to the bullet above, I want to spend more time together as a family. We are always better at this in the summer but there is no reason why we can’t focus on this all year. My husband’s work schedule means that sometimes he isn’t home 24-72 hours in a row so we need to take advantage of when he is home and do fun things, even if it is something as simple as a family bike ride.
  • Extended family. My parents live in Southern California now and I don’t want to only see them when we are passing the kids off when they babysit. I really like my mom and dad and want to spend quality time with them, sometimes without my kids. And I need to see my brother and his family more often. He lives in Arizona but my nephew is growing so fast and I don’t want to miss out on every single moment. I also have an aunt, and two cousins (one who also has kids) in Northern California that I miss and a biological family that I very much enjoy spending time with that I want to see more of. It’s difficult to fit it all in but I need to find a way.

Friends: I used to be a really good friend but then I had kids. I thought I’d see more of my friends after having kids but it rarely works out that way. Our kids are on different schedules or in different age groups or have different interests so I don’t have as many play dates as I thought I would. And some of my friends don’t want to do play dates, they want to get together without the kids which then introduces scheduling and babysitting dilemmas. I’m not saying I never see my friends, that’s certainly not the case, I just want to be better at it. In 2012, I want to make more of an effort, I want to be the one inviting my friends to lunch rather than just accepting their invitation. I want to reach out to them more, just because. I plan to be stronger and more focused on being a better, more accessible friend.

Fitness: I’m off to a good start in 2012 but I don’t want to be in getting in shape mode forever. I want to achieve maintenance mode. Maybe that is not the right term but I want what my husband has. Ok, not the freakishly fit, carving out 3 hours a day to workout routine but he is already in shape, and works out to maintain that shape. I feel like I’m constantly wading in the deep end of getting back in shape and targeting certain areas (currently I’m all about cardio and core). But I need to dig deeper (says the girl who likes carbs and wine and chocolate). I have a 10K trail run coming up in March, and the week after that I’m doing a mud-run with a team of moms. Working towards a goal. I plan to be stronger and more focused on consistently working out and pushing myself to achieve the results I want.

Feng-shui Me: I’m always tired and usually cranky, forgetful, and unorganized. I never used to be that way, especially forgetful and unorganized. And I’m done with it. We recently watched Kung-Fu Panda 2 and it occurred to me that I need to find my inner peace. If I can align myself in my own mind, then my family, work , sleep, and everything else will benefit. There is so much to do in this area; I need to purge and organize closets and kid crap, time-manage my work projects (I’m actually really good at meeting deadlines), get a freaking handle on the laundry (my life would be more pleasant if I folded and put away at the same time), actually look ahead on my calendar so I don’t almost miss birthdays and really, really, really make more time for myself to be me. This could be as simple as reading a book (I’ve set a goal to read a minimum of 25 books this year), taking a nap, getting a pedicure or as big as having a girl’s night out. I almost always operate in Mom-Wife-Career Mode, which I love and wouldn’t change for the world, but sometimes I just need to take a step away and be in Coreen Mode. I plan to be stronger and more focused on myself, so that I am more peaceful and productive.

And that’s that. 2012, here I come.

gingerbreadmama

Falling for Fall

Who says we don’t have Fall in California? The leaves on our trees have changed and turned into a fun afternoon play activity.

 

gingerbreadmama

My new Crush

Little Miss is only crying in the picture because she detests the paparazzi. The diva.

Sometimes I think I’m on an involuntary quest to complicate my life but I knew I was ready and so was my family. So I’m happy to announce that it’s official, we are again pet owners! We adopted Crusher, a 10 month old golden retriever. He was an owner surrender, their situation changed so they had to move in with family (and they have 4 kids and another little dog) so they gave up this sweet boy!

But it was lucky for us. He gets along so well with Little Miss and Fussypants and is really well-behaved for a puppy. His personality makes us believe he was treated well in his previous life but we don’t think he had many of his own toys (he’s a bit of a hoarder) and he’s a little shy. We are working on his self-confidence but he’s proved to be such a sweetie. And he loves to swim!

His name was originally Laker, then the rescue group changed it to Parker but Fussypants kept calling him Peter (as in Spiderman) so we knew we needed to find him his own name.

At first Fussypants lobbied for Buster, then Pluty (which Hubs and I vetoed). Hunky hubby and I liked Crash because the pup is all legs and when he hits the tile moving fast he’s all over the place (plus it’s our song) but Fussypants ultimately decided on Crusher (nickname Crush) because Crush is the sea turtle from Finding Nemo and the Hulk (Fussypants still calls him the Incredible Hurk) smashes and crushes things (the inner workings of a 4.5 year old mind). But the name stuck and Crusher is already responding when called.

Since we’ve had him, Little Miss has added two new words to her limited verbal repertoire. She now says doggy and when asked what the doggy says she responds with wooo (which we assume is woof). She also has a partner in crime. Crusher is potty-trained but has had a few accidents, Little Miss is a gal who doesn’t like to wear her diaper. On Sunday, I can honestly say I don’t know who peed on the carpet in the hallway. The kids were playing, I had walked into my room to get a sweatshirt and Fussypants yelled out “There’s pee’! He didn’t see who did it either but both Crusher (with his golden grin) and Little Miss (with her diaper hanging half-way off) were both sitting there, and they both looked guilty. One more thing to add to my growing joys of motherhood list. 

 The rescue group we worked with, Stella’s Hope, is amazing. If you are in the Southern California area and want to adopt a dog, go there first. They are good people and they do good work.

I mention this for two reasons, the first to get the group some exposure. Seriously, tell a friend about them, donate to them, like their page on facebook, whatever. But associate yourself with them in some way because they are great. The second is because up until we found Stella’s Hope, we had not had a good experience with rescue groups and even one local shelter. So, my blog, my time to rant.

Turns out we were practically blacklisted because we have children under the age of 5, and particularly because we have one under 2. I get why the rescue groups are cautious but one of the reasons we wanted to go with a rescue group is because the dogs are fostered and therefore they tend to know more about the pet’s personality than a shelter does. But we were not even given a chance. We got as far as the home visits (and that’s a $20 donation) and one group rescheduled the home visit three times (I understand that these people volunteer to do this but rescheduling three times is excessive; if you are that busy then hire an assistant).

But after the home visit, we hit the dead zone. One rescue group’s dog placement coordinator called me just to let me know that they very rarely adopt dogs to families with kids under the age of 7. She used all the buzz words…dogs are high-energy, mouthy, they jump up when excited.  I tried to explain that both my husband and I understood that, as we had survived our childhood as children who grew  up with dogs (and his family had Rottweilers) and that we’d also had 3 dogs of our own that we raised from puppies, and that my folks have a 10 month old goldendoodle and my mom-in-law a large 1 yr old mutt that we spend a lot of time with, but she cut me off. She had only called to give me her your shit out of luck with us spiel, and had nothing more to say.

We had similar disappointing, yet through e-mail, exchanges with three other rescue groups. Even when the description accompanying the dog said “good with kids”, we were still turned down. And not always politely. I felt a little persecuted for being a parent of tots.

And one shelter made it so hard for us to just see the dog out of its cage that we almost left. Just to see the dog we had to fill out a 5 page application, give our driver’s license number and wait almost 40 minutes. Then we were told that if we wanted the dog, we wouldn’t be able to adopt him until we brought our kids back to meet him first.

What irks me the most is that these people are supposed to be in the business of finding homes for these animals yet they act like they’ve never had a dog of their own. As a responsible adult and parent, I understand the dynamic between a pet and small children. I also understand that with love, exercise and training, dogs can be very well-behaved.

We were honestly discussing going through a breeder and getting a puppy but I was still hesitant because there are so many dogs that need homes and puppies don’t sleep through the night. And Little Miss is not consistently sleeping through the night. Seriously, teething sucks (her teeth are coming in all out of order, she just got her bottom molars but is still missing most of her other bottom teeth). Since there is no way to guarantee the puppy and my daughter would be on the same ridiculous up all night schedule, I saw even less sleep in my future.

Then I saw “Parker” on petfinder.com. I called Stella’s Hope and also filled out an application and sent an e-mail. I got an e-mail back within an hour and a phone call a little after that. We were able to meet Crusher and do the home visit at the same time (with no fee) two days later and that’s when Holli suggested we do a foster scenario so that we could get to know Crusher and my husband (who was on a 72-hour work shift)  could meet him. That’s all it took. I tried not to get attached but when Crusher got a clean bill of health from the vet and hubs said he liked him, my heart exploded with joy. And Holli was supportive, she provided us with everything we needed for Crusher and even called to follow-up with me. But the best part about the follow-up was that she didn’t call only to inquire about the dog, she also asked if I needed anything and how the kids were liking him.

Stella’s Hope gets that it is about the pet and the person, which is something other rescues need to work on.

Our happy family is now a little bigger, by four feet, actually. And I couldn’t be happier.

Hello, my name is Crusher.

gingerbreadmama

Happy Place

Want to know one of my pet peeves? It’s when people shout “I’m living the dream”. Because mostly, they are doing something I don’t ever want to do. Ever.  So no, you are not “living the dream” you are “living your dream”. Get it right.
 
My life isn’t perfect and some days it downright blows, literally. Like Saturday morning, day three of my stomach bug battle – the kind where it’s coming out both ends. 10 am soccer game and I’m the effing snack mom. My husband got stuck in traffic coming home from work and my mom thought the game was at noon. So I had nobody to take the kids for me. I had to motivate, load the kids and snacks up, get the puppy (wha? a puppy? more on that later) in his crate and get to the field.
 
As an adult, have you ever had to puke in an elementary school toilet? They are really low to the ground.
 
But I’m still living my dream.
 
We get home from the game and my husband and son say, “something smells really bad”. Well, the puppy I’ll explain more about later had stress-separation-anxiety-related diarrhea all over his crate, himself and the wood floor. Cleaning that up was disgusting and it did smell really bad.
 
But I’m still living my dream.
 
Because I wasn’t feeling well we postponed celebrating our anniversary (didn’t want the overnight babysitting offer to go to waste) and sold our hockey tickets. Staying home didn’t bank me any extra downtime because when you are a mom you don’t really get to be sick since it’s expected that you remain functional. It’s more like operating half-ass and plodding along.
 
But I’m still living my dream.
 
Things may not always be perfect but my happy place is with my family. This is my perfect.

Happy place

 

Puppy love

Happiness

Little Miss sharing her baby doll with the puppy

Because I am living my dream.

gingerbreadmama