Friday, June 24, 2011

Moments of Peace

We are in the midst of the "terrible twos" around here. 

It begins in the morning when I wake Ava up.   She's lying there so innocent and cute, sleepy-eyed and slowly smiling at me while I talk to her, tickle her and try as best I can to ease her into the day.  But the moment I swoop in to pick her up, it's whine city.  What happened to the little one who would pop right up and reach her arms out to me?  Now I've got a teenager in a two-year-old's body who does not want to get out of bed and I literally have to grab her legs and drag her toward me so that I can get some leverage and pick her up.  Great way to start every morning!

During the afternoon, whining and tantrums commence.  No, she doesn't want peanut butter and jelly for lunch!  How dare I suggest that?  When puzzle pieces don't fit, it's frustrating and getting upset is the only way to deal with it.  I won't let her have a cookie for a snack?

Bed time is becoming increasingly difficult as well.  Ava will do everything in her power to drag out the routine.  She runs away from us when it's time to put her pjs on, refuses to let us brush her teeth (which results in us doing it the hard way, aka pinning her to the ground) and insists on reading every single book in her room.  By herself.  When she finally asks for water, it's my cue to put her in bed.  Water = bed.  And once said water has been drunk, there is no getting out of bed.  No, you don't need your diaper changed again since I just put a fresh one on half an hour ago.  No, we are not going to sit in the rocking chair; that opportunity has passed.  No, you don't need to take 5,092 toys to bed with you...good night, good bye, see you in the morning!  Cue me leaving the room and Ava crying hysterically for, oh, less than five minutes before finally falling asleep. 


However, in the middle of all of this, there are moments of peace.

Playing outside is a sure way to keep Ava happy...and even better if Katie and Maddie are out too!

Ava also likes to blow buys us about a half hour of peace.  And let's face it: I like to blow bubbles too.  It's so relaxing, probably because for once you are forced to breathe deeply and slowly and those magical iridescent orbs floating around in the air are so pretty to watch! 

She has become fascinated with a drain cover that is always dotted with rocks.  This is her rock collection.  She picks them up, sorts them, moves them to new areas and then puts them back when she's finished.  Again, another half hour of peace.

Looking at the big picture, I know the tantrum phase is just that: a phase.  It too shall pass and one day, when she is a teenager giving me attitude about every little thing...I'll probably wish for the toddler tantrums.  In the meantime, I will enjoy every tiny moment of peace!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bachelorette Weekend

My dear friend Barb is tying the knot in just a few short weeks, so to celebrate, we headed to Bonita Springs, FL for a girls' weekend full of sun, sleeping in, laughter, drinks, late-night conversations, ice cream...and one prank call.

7:30am flight = a full afternoon in Florida!
What is it about getting away with the girls that is so refreshing?  Back in the day, before marriages and kids, my girlfriends and I could plan a trip on a whim.  We'd choose a destination, book a last-minute flight and stay a week in a new locale.  Now, trips take planning.  Lots of planning.  It means asking for time off of work, stocking the fridge for your husband, making sure your child has enough clean clothes to last while you are away.  No longer is a girls' weekend a spur-of-the-moment decision...but it makes these trips feel so much more fun and appreciated!

Barb's bachelorette extravaganza in Florida was the perfect get-away.  Absolutely perfect.

Not where we stayed...but I couldn't NOT photograph this gorgeous house!
We sipped tropical drinks, like sex-on-the-beach and margaritas.  We ordered bottles of wine with dinner.  Pitchers of limeade beer were consumed by the pool.  Celebrations call for fun drinks, and plenty of them!

We also ate...a lot.  Bagels and fruit each morning; sandwiches and chips al fresco right on the beach.  None of us had to worry about cooking dinner.  We dined out each night, feasting on fresh seafood and salads or chicken fingers and fries.  It didn't matter - no cooking or cleaning involved! 

The first night was spent hysterically laughing over a pack of "Girls Night Out" cards, which contained questions both tame and wild - with the tame ones quickly being discarded in favor of the crazier ones.  A few rounds of drinks later and a pack of cards scattered all over the table, we finally decided to head back to the condo for beers and a dip in the hot tub.  Little did we know the guy driving in front of us would plaster all the information we needed about his logo business on the back of his car.  Prank calling ensued.  Good times!

We celebrated, laughed, shared stories and relaxed.  In the midst of it all, I looked at each of my friends and realized how gorgeous they are and how lucky I am to have women in my life with whom I can be myself.  Women who open up to me and allow me to do the same; fellow moms who offer advice or a word of empathy; partners in crime when I feel like getting a little crazy; friendships that have subtly changed over the years, but are good and stable and ever-lasting.

I am so glad we could all put our busy lives aside for a few days to celebrate Barb's upcoming wedding.  She deserves it, and I wish her and Matt a happy, healthy and FUN life together! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Everything in Moderation

There was an article today on Yahoo titled "Seven Everyday Cancer Risks."  We all know tanning beds are bad.  But coffee was on there.  And alcohol.  I clearly remember reading articles, also on Yahoo, that coffee protects from certain cancers and that a glass of red wine is good for you. 

What's up, Yahoo?  Your articles contradict each other.  I find myself annoyed on a daily basis with the articles that are posted.  It reminds me of Lewis Black's comedy routine: "First they said eggs were good; then they said eggs were bad; eggs are good, eggs are bad - JUST MAKE UP YOUR MIND!  IT'S BREAKFAST!  I GOTTA EAT!" 

My sentiments exactly, Mr. Black.  I'm tired of the "this is good, no wait, it's bad" routine we are being bombarded with on a daily basis.  How about we all pull up a chair, have a coffee or glass of wine and just enjoy life?  I'm not saying to throw caution to the wind and do anything you please.  Eating fast food every day, not wearing sunscreen, drinking two pots of coffee at work or consuming a six pack of beers each night are not good things.  But if you make a drive-thru run once a week, buy makeup or lotion with sunscreen in it, have Starbucks each morning and a beer or two each  Who cares?  It's all about moderation.

Little ones know how to enjoy life.  They know all about moderation.  A little play time, munch on a few grapes, watch a cartoon, color for ten minutes, eat a cookie, read a book, run through the sprinkler, make a mess with spaghetti...and on and on.  Their days are varied, what they eat is varied (hopefully - I guess this is mostly up to the parent!)  My point is that they do not read articles on Yahoo and worry about every little decision in their lives.  We could learn from them, these new-to-life free spirits who take things as they come and find pure joy in the small things, each and every day.

Everything in Moderation: The Sun

The sun is bad.  It will kill you!  Unless you buy this $50 sunscreen that boasts an SPF of 100,000.  Then you will be safe!  Or, you could just stay in your house at all times...but if you're near a window, please make sure you are wearing sunscreen and gloves.

Really?  Okay, maybe I exaggerated a little. 

I know the sun can be dangerous.  Heck, I've paid for my own teenage years of sunbathing and going to the tanning bed and working as a lifeguard in the form of basal cell carcinoma.  But now?  I play it safe.  I don't avoid the sun; I just protect myself.  And I protect Ava too, each and every time we are out in the sun.  She always wears sunblock! 

Why would I deprive her of splashing in her pool?  Of playing with the water hose?  Those activities are way more fun than sitting inside on a warm summer day!

"The itsy-bitsy spider..."

Everything in Moderation: Food

I try to maintain a good balance with food.  I search for healthy recipes, vary the types of meat and veggies we eat, I stay away from caffeine (mainly because it hurts my stomach and makes me feel jittery) and I drink a lot of water.  But real life is hectic and we do eat McDonald's.  I only buy organic once in a while.  If a label boasts "NO HFCS!" I will buy it...but I don't specifically search for products without it.

Homemade salsa.  Soooo much better than from a jar!
Thinking back on how I grew up, my mom was the same way.  We ate plenty of veggies and fruit and she made healthy dinners almost every night...but we also ordered take-out and snacked on chips or ice cream. 
I hope to pass the same lessons on to Ava.  She loves healthy food: grapes, applesauce, green beans, corn on the cob...but she also loves cookies and hot dogs and chips.  Already, we have balance!

Everything in Moderation: You Get It?

If you are like me and read those contradicting articles on Yahoo, I say...stop.  The internet is a wonderful thing, but it also causes us worry and stress we otherwise would not have.  Obsessing about anything is unhealthy.  Guess what "everyday" thing Yahoo should've added to that article?  The stress one feels when reading stuff like that!

Make good decisions, but allow yourself some wiggle room.  Eat a healthy dinner, and enjoy a bowl of ice cream later.  Play out in the sun, but wear sunscreen (those spray-on kinds are super quick to apply!).  Walk on a treadmill while watching your favorite reality show. 

Balance.  Moderation.  Good stuff!  

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'WOW, what a ride!'"