Memories Captured

MemoriesCapturedcollage I often have to pinch myself.

I sometimes can't believe that I got my wish.

One boy, one girl. My sweet little munchkins who I often catch playing together in the corner of the family room. Building forts, having picnics on our maroon couch blanket all spread out on the beige carpet, or just running around the house chasing each other in their superhero capes.

He leads her in the mischief they get into when I'm not looking. Such a loving, doting big brother. The way he puts his arm around her protectively, leaning in to kiss her forehead which comes up to right where his lips are as he turns his head, eyes still on me. I love how he loves her, how she looks up to him and follows his every move.

The fun they've been having lately playing dress-up is just so silly and adorable. I've found her tangled up in his jammie shirt, while he's running down the stairs with his underpants on his head exclaiming how he is "The Underpants Man!"

When I think back to the year we spent planning our wedding, and the months when I was trying to pick out our first dance song, I smile and my heart swells with wonder. There were two songs we had narrowed it down to: True Companion and One Boy, One Girl....

We ended up going with True Companion and there couldn't be a better description of my love. He is my perfect compliment, my true companion.

But whenever I hear the song we didn't choose, my eyes tear up and I think of how incredibly lucky I am that my dreams came true.

Making changes for the sake of my kids

1-IMG_7310 I've read a few blog posts recently about how we, as a society, have become so wrapped up in our handheld technology that we have been neglecting our relationships with our kids. My cousin even went so far as to get rid of her smartphone after realizing she didn't want to miss out on one bit of her daughter's childhood by falling into the habit of "staying connected".

As I read "How to Miss a Childhood," I found myself nodding here and there, but mostly thinking that getting rid of my Windows phone (I am pretty much the only person I know without an iphone) was something I could never do, simply because I mostly use it to take pictures and video clips of the kids, not to play games or surf Facebook while pushing my child on the swings at the playground, as the author described. And yet, as I read a similar post by a different blogger, it started to hit me.

In "Dear Mom On The iPhone," a mother of four wrote about how if we are not careful, our kids will remember us as having been more connected to our smartphones and ipads than we were to them as they grew up.

That is NOT how I want my children to remember their childhood.

She went on to describe in detail how important she feels it is for us as parents to always, and I mean always, give our kids their full attention. Even if that means listening to your 5-year-old daughter tell the same silly joke five times in a row. Because kids remember.

I felt empowered after reading these posts. Not that I was about to toss my smartphone out the window. Please. If I did that I would never be able to drive anywhere other a three-mile radius from our house, I use it's GPS that much, really. But I was ready to make some much needed changes to the way I utilize technology in our household. Yesterday afternoon I tried it, with limited success. You see, I also recently discovered the Vine app and it's slightly addicting, as you'll notice by my Twitter feed. But I guess that is the root of this story now, isn't it? I digress.

On Sunday afternoon, I made sure to look my Little Man in the eyes, each and every time he said, "Mommy! Mommy, I want to tell you something." I snuggled with my Baby Girl and we sung the ABC's at least fifteen times. I played games with them and helped my Sweet Pea work on her color identification. These are simple things that I used to do with my son all the time when he was little, back when we didn't own smartphones, an ipad, and an ipad mini.

I truly listened to my kids and I heard their voices in a way I hadn't in a long time. I noticed how Baby Girl skips the "H" in her ABC's and how she perfectly and emphatically pronounces the "X" the same way her big brother did when he was her age. I felt her smooth, soft baby skin and noticed, when she decided to strip down to her diaper, that she's starting to lose some of her adorable baby rolls. Her pudge is being replaced by a more slender version of herself. And her brother. His imagination is running wild in all sorts of directions and his stories of what his monster trucks and firemen are up to are just fascinating. I never tire from seeing how his eyes light up when he tells a story. His eyelashes practically touch his forehead, they are that long.

I noticed such an impact, such big differences in just one day of slight changes in my behaviors. From now on I'm going to do my best to make even more of these important changes. Slowly, I think. Because I've never really been a cold turkey kind of gal.

I'm not going to turn on my laptop/ipad/phone first thing in the morning. Instead, I'm going to kiss and hug each member of my family before engaging with an electronic device. Because my family deserves that kind of respect. I'm only going to log onto Twitter/Facebook/blogs/email in the evening after the kids are in bed or during nap time. My friends and family know how to reach me in an emergency, and if something is urgent, then a person can call me rather than email me. Email can wait. I will no longer make calls while driving, hands-free earpiece or not, unless it is an emergency. This is precious time that I can spend talking to my kids about their day, having conversations. And I'll do my best to pull out my DSLR to take pictures of my family instead of clicking snapshots of them with my phone.

On Saturday while the kids were at swim lessons, out of annoyance from all the other parents who were on their phones while their kids swam fifteen feet in front of them, I refrained from taking out my phone to take videos of my kids. Instead, I waved excitedly at my two little fish and beamed with pride as my son did his best few freestyle strokes yet, complete with a strong kick. I may have missed that moment had I been checking out my Facebook news feed like so many of the other parents.

I share this with you not because I am planning on becoming a model parent when it comes to limiting technology in the home. Lord knows I still have a great deal of work to do in this arena. I share because my eyes were opened by what two other women had written. And maybe you haven't read their posts, but you are reading mine. And maybe this may help you make some changes that will allow you to capture so many more memories of your kids as they grow.

I know I grabbed a ton this weekend that I'll hold in my heart forever now.

Which is much, much more important than time spent on any so-called smart technological device, don't you think?

{Just in case you are wondering, I wrote this post last night in my journal, after the kids were in bed, hubby snoring happily beside me while I wrote. I edited and am posting it this morning from the guestroom office, while my Mother-in-law is spending time with the kids downstairs.}

One sunset memory at a time

1-WP_001463 I patted her diaper-padded bottom as we ascended up the stairs to the hall bath last night, her brother a few steps ahead of us. She playfully peered through the rungs of the banister and smiled at her reflection in the foyer mirror. I sang a song of marching up the steps to move her along. It only added to the silliness of parading into the bathroom for tub time, her feet happily marching along to the beat of the song.

I am so lucky, I was thinking to myself.

You see, each time I walk the kids up the stairs to tackle bathtime, I can't help but think back to the night I took my son up for his bath at 18 months old, his baby sister a mere poppy seed in my belly, and how I could feel that I was losing my mind. Thoughts were racing through my head, but yet at the same time, there was a calmness about it all. He was completely oblivious to the whole thing, of course. He climbed up the stairs and I paused to look out the window above our front door, the clouds swirled up in the sky a hazy magnificent sunset display, colors so vibrant they looked as if they were burning with the secret of heaven.

We sang songs in the tub filled with bubbles and toys, and as we did this, I began to feel like the world was ending. The planes soaring over our house because of our close proximity to the airport, pushed my anxiety over the edge and I started shaking a bit, the walls were beginning to cave in on me. I quickly and methodically bathed my little man and then wrapped him up and dressed him in warm jammies, smelling his freshly washed skin and hair with deep whiffs as I read him a story, sung him a song and tucked him in his crib for the night. I remember thinking I would probably come get him and bring him into our bed once my husband and I went to sleep for the night. Given it was probably our last night on Earth, I felt it was fitting we should be together as a family in a cozy bed at least.

Hard to believe I made it out of the hospital after a week's stay, and recovered from that episode within a few months under my doctor's close supervision. I thank God every day that we had a healthy baby when our little girl was born 8 months later, and it never ceases to amaze me that I was given the job of being their mom every day. I'm a good mom. It's just that I have a past that is speckled with bits of sickness and recovery, and I often am reminded of those times. For me, they are simple reminders for me to be grateful for my health and my family. These times I remember, these old dusty memories of what happened when I became manic and how I became well again, they make up my story and they inspire me to keep on writing.

One day at a time. Or, one sunset step up the stairs to the bathroom for tub time, at a time.

Making the most of time

Do you ever wonder how much time you have left? Not to sound morbid, although there isn't really another fitting adjective, but I tend to think fairly often about life and our time on this Earth. I often wonder if I'm making the most with the time I've been given. God, I sure hope so.

I mean, of course, I am first and foremost a loving (and often nagging) wife and mother to the three most important people in my life. I'm also a daughter, sister, granddaughter, aunt, cousin, and friend to so many special people who I love. And I love these roles with all of my heart and then some. But yet, there is still a part of me longs to be something more. To do something incredible with my life.

I guess I want to be remembered for making a difference.

I'm reading an amazing book right now - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. It's all about how he learned how to edit his life to create a better life for himself simply by using the tools storytellers use to tell great stories. Early on in the book there was a part that struck me. It talked about how we have so many memories that we create throughout our lives, but how many of them actually stick with us? I know that for many of us, the memories that stand out are probably the unique experiences we've had and the people we shared them with. And I also know that life can't always be full of extraordinary events such as skydiving or swimming with dolphins or the birth of your children or the loss of a dear friend to cancer.

In my reality it's full of diaper changes and messy breakfast dishes in the sink, rushing off to preschool mid-week. There is laundry to be washed and folded and groceries to be unloaded from the car while sleepy babies doze in the backseat. After naps in the afternoons the kids bring me books to read and they both plop down on my lap, one on each leg until my foot falls asleep, and we read Goodnight Moon and Green Eggs and Ham and they never get tired of it. Neither do I. I love to smell their soft necks and kiss their chubby pink cheeks. I say, "I love you" to each of them so many times throughout the day and I never get tired of it. These are the little moments I wish I could bottle up tight and revisit from time to time.

And yet, they pass by so quickly, without time to document them all as I would like. Keeping my journals is one way I've captured some intensely stressful and emotional periods in my life and I am so grateful to have them to look back at to remind me how far I've come.

I do want to I want my life to be a great story.

But for now, I'll immerse myself in the sweet precious moments of my everyday life. Because so far I feel like it is a really great story. And it only gets better with time.