Share the Slide

The Big Kids have a plastic slide. This slide is honestly way too small for them, but they’ve yet to realize that they’ve outgrown it. It never fails, when we have a crisp fall Sunday afternoon, I find myself reminding them that they need to share the slide and not push each other down the foot and a half of fun it provides because they are too anxious to enjoy the short thrill themselves.

I was traveling for work a few weeks back and a thought hit me. I have to learn to share the slide, too. It’s not a pretty thought.

My thoughts about sharing the slide starting when I was anxiously awaiting wheels up to get home to my babies (all of them). The flight attendant rattles off the list of oh so familiar reminders about in-flight safety. One of them is one I hadn’t really listened to.

In the event of a water evacuation, the door slides can be used as a raft.

The door slides can be used as a raft. Huh.

I thank God that I don’t have the schema for how big an inflated door slide would be, but if I am doing my math right, there’d be eight slides (provided we have access to them all) and about 130 passengers to share these slides with. So, like 16 people per slide (again, if we have them all).

That means 16 of us have to exit the plane in an orderly fashion. We have to leave behind the belongings that we have decided are oh so very necessary to shove against others’ belongings in an effort to save $25 or $50 in luggage fees. We have to navigate the lighted path to the exit doors and trust those seated in exit rows hold fast to their duty to assist others. And then, we have to share the slide.

We have to share the slide with 15 other people we may have never met. Or maybe we bumped into them in our rush to line up in group four when they haven’t even called group one. Or maybe we chose not to laugh at the anxious passenger’s joke about the way the crew is tossing the luggage on the plane and instead stared at them like they had the plague. Or maybe they’re someone who has a bit of a sneeze but had to get on the plane to go defend our country. We have to share the slide with people that we need to be in it all together.

Stop and think about that.

We have to share the slide with people that are just like us in that moment, people that are looking to be safe and sound.

We have to share the slide not only in an emergency, but also when it’s time to have fun. We have to share it when it’s time to go through the paces of life. We have to share it every single day of our lives.

Friends, I encourage you to be kind to those around you always. You never know when you might need to share the slide. When you might need to be gentle to the person who is taking their time getting their butt on the slide and pushing off. When your kindness might be the one moment in their day that has gone right.

Be patient. Be kind. And share the slide.

Arianna, 2013

Float

Go Float. It’s seriously what I want to tell all the world. Especially as I start another crazy/busy work week and am anxious about all the things that are on my to-do list. Mama really needs to float. (*articles may contain affiliate links*)

What’s floating, you ask? I wondered that myself after I got a ‘lil nebby on Twitter. The Taco Truck (LA Tacos) happened to tweet about Levity, a float studio, to one of their followers…thus started my rabbit hole of learning about floating and escalating to getting a float session on my calendar / chatting about all things float with Dave, owner of Levity.

I went to my session with no expectations, and came out with all the feels. I’m going to tell you about it, but my float experience might not be the same as yours, so honestly, the best thing to tell you is to just go float.

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Source: floatlevity.com

Levity is in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh in a “hole in the wall you’d miss it if you had no idea it was there” business spot. I asked Dave why there’s not a lot of signage and that’s because this floating thing is our getaway from the world, something that doesn’t necessarily need neon lights and arrows to point you in. That’s not exactly what Dave said, but he did mention that the lack of advertising on the “store front” helps keep high profile clients (like Pittsburgh athletes and artists) from getting stormed by paparazzi when they come and go. I love it, but am willing to point you to their website so you can find out just where to go to float (floatlevity.com).

When you enter, you can immediately feel the love that went into the design of the entryway done by John Malecki, a designer and Steeler. Malecki used reclaimed wood that you literally can feel love coming from. Even that big door shoots off elements of a loving home. Everything deserves a second chance, Dave told me, and I couldn’t agree more.

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Source: floatlevity.com

When you’re ready to float, you’re taken to another world that lets you escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Glance to your right and you’ll see gorgeous artwork by a local teenager. Glance to your left and you’ll see the filtration system that keeps things clean – and on the floor, pennies from Dave’s friends and family to represent the labor of love that Levity is for him and his wife.

20150708_163657Once you are in your private room, you shower while music plays to get your float started. I thought I’d be scared to climb into the pod and shut the lid behind me, but all claustrophobia vanished when Dave talked to me about the benefits of floating. You are in the pod for 60 minutes of zero gravity healing of the body and mind and then music plays again, signaling it’s time to get out, shower*, and feel what I felt when I was done. 20150708_164830

20150708_163929And what’s that I felt? Well, I couldn’t even really talk to Dave afterwards. I just sipped on water and kept nodding my head. He knew what I meant. Walt from LA Tacos also knew what I meant. And I’m hoping more of you will soon know what I mean. Clear skepticism when you walk in. They float, come out the door…and they get it. Troubles float away,” Dave tells me.

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I just floated for an hour and now am all about the mermaid hair. ♡ Thanks for centering me today, @levity412!

Go online and schedule yourself a float. Levity doesn’t take payments at your session (when money enters a relationship, it opens the door to trouble, Dave says), so all you need to do is bring yourself and a welcome spirit to feel the benefits of a float. Handle everything else before you come in and everything else after will be handled so much more smoothly.

 

* Pro tip – Levity has some amazing shampoo / body wash to use in your shower, but I should’ve brought a thick-toothed comb and leave-in conditioner. My mermaid hair don’t care attitude worked for me, but if you are going to Levity before a date or PTO meeting, I highly suggest you do what I didn’t.

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You Earned This

Today is the last day of my company’s fiscal year. It is a time to reflect and think back. To remember all the challenges that we overcame. To tell those leaving us “so long”. To tell those retiring you earned this.

Yesterday I worked from home with the full intention to reflect on my year, to assess myself. My goal was to do my self review and gather up my positives and negatives from the year. The goal, of course, is to highlight the wins so that when raise discussions come around, my boss can say you earned this.

The day started with me snuggling the girls after a late feed followed by coffee on the porch. Because my battery died, I left the laptop inside and just enjoyed the cool morning. You earned this.

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As I put my things together, I heard the door open. It was Evan, coming to see what I was doing. He snuggled up in my lap and we did some watching of the birds. A later start to my day? You earned this.

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My day didn’t go as planned…it never does when you work in support…but I crossed several things off my to do list. When it was time to log off, I made sure to close my IM conversations with “enjoy the weekend” and some “you earned this” kudos.

The evening was spent talking with my mom, some time with the kids at vbs, then ice cream. You earned this.

This weekend is full of plans to rest, breathe, see friends, go on a date, celebrate my dad’s birthday. Enjoy it, I will, telling myself over and over, you earned this.

Now go have a beautiful day. You earned this.

My Succulents

I took (and posted) three selfies over on Instagram yesterday. When trying to find a photo to write about for this post, I was like, oops…share one of my succulents instead?

And then I got thinking about my succulents. They survive in drought and heat. They retain water for when they need it. They overcome (everything except for being eaten by a big, silly dog, RIP my first crop of Hens and Chicks). Wouldn’t you want to be like a succulent?

Not all are prickly like the commonly known cacti. Many flower or are beautiful shades of green and blue. I even found a variety that grows cobwebs. Diverse and beautiful, my succulents.

Kids, I hope you become like succulents. Physically, there are many benefits to drinking water (and your body will handle that what and when to do with it if you treat it right). Mentally, drink from the water of life and take in all you can, storing it until you need to use it. Be beautiful on the outside, yet with some roughness to ward of the enemies this world is sure to send your way. But most of all, be uniquely you, my succulents.

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…love is all you need

All you need is love. Love. Love is all you need.

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Greg and I are on a mission with our children. A mission to be sure that they grow up to love and accept everyone in their lives. Regardless of faith, race, or orientation. With no limits. With no conditions.

Because love is all you need.

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Our country is not the most welcoming right now, and that’s caused us some unrest. But it’s a beautiful thing, this thing called knowing that our kids don’t see the dirtiness of the way many of the world’s people treat each other. And for now, that’s all we need.

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Congratulations, Ashley and Nurin!

 

Let Me Out

Being stuck in the house the past 4 weeks + 18 days before that have driven me stir crazy. This Mama is a go-er. A do-er. So it should be no surprise that my body and brain have been screaming, begging: let me out.

When you have been healing from a major surgery that the incision re-opened causing you to have to see a home nurse each day to be repacked, you scream it: let me out.

When your small town doesn’t have a Starbucks and the Internet is full of reminders of a BOGO deal on a new, yummy drink, you yearn: let me out.

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When your trips out of the house have been to the hospital, doctor, and once to the grocery store, you can’t help but repeat: let me out.

When you hear all about some big running event in your city and you haven’t been allowed to run in 8 months, your body cries: let me out.

When you are walking around like a zombie, complete with spit up filled hair, you beg: let me out.

Today, I was so thankful to a dear friend who came to my rescue and let me out. Sure, we took all the kids with us and got haircuts, Starbucks, and dinner…but I got so much more. I got out. Out of my feeling of being helpless and caged in. Out of my frustration at the sun shining and me feeling gray inside because I can’t enjoy it the way I want to. Out of my fears of being an inadequate mom because of my babies’ slow weight gain. And out enough to let my husband sleep just a ‘lil longer than usual to prepare for a busy work night.

And now? My next let me out is going to have to not take so long to admit that I need it.  

Unity in Diversity

Last night, I couldn’t sleep. We don’t have cable and my wireless has basically puttered out. My days are spent in bed or on the couch or at the hospital or doctor’s office or occasionally accompanying Greg to get Evan from school.  This means I haven’t kept up on my current events (shame on me) and hadn’t heard about Baltimore in as timely a manner as I usually would have; however, I did find out about the riots just before going to bed. This didn’t bode well.

You see, there’s this burning rage in our country about race relations. We’ve come a long way, but not far enough. And as the wife of a bi-racial man and mother of children who will always have to check the “Black” or “African-American” box when there’s only one choice, I can’t just sit back and ignore what an impact this has on my life. So I snuggled my baby girls and prayed for our country and the families impacted by the events of late.

Then today, Evan asked me to look at a tulip. “Yuck, there’s black inside!” he told me as we looked at it. To a four-year-old, this isn’t about color of skin or anything deeper than the simple fear that one of his beloved yard art flowers might be dirty inside, its yellow color tinged by a dirty blackness.

But to me? To me it’s more. “Yuck, there’s black inside” has been said in ignorant ways to my family, to my parents, to Greg’s parents, about our love and lives. It’s being said about other free citizens of this beautiful country we live in. No, Evan doesn’t get it nor associate that darkness in the tulip as anything more than possible wilting come early, but he sure sparked something inside of me, something brought in words of beauty from my mother-in-law about the tulip. Unity in diversity! 

That tulip signifies a whole lot more to me than it just being a tulip. Something beautiful. Something amazing. “How beautiful, there’s black inside!” // “How amazing, that tulip is living and breathing, sharing this free space with me!” // “How awesome, God made that beautiful flower / child!”

So we don’t always have to go so deep…but why not when we can. Why can’t we look at a flower or a person and see beyond the “dirt” inside and see the potential, see the love? Why can’t we see things the way God intended, unity and peace? I’ll be praying again tonight for love and light in Baltimore and for all lives and for my children…that they may see the things our parents taught us as we were raised — to see beyond the dirt and difference. To see that that tulip is just as awesome as all others.

The Real Reason I Cried at Sweet Frog

Yesterday was my 32nd birthday. I got the greatest gifts when the twins were born a week ago (I’d insert a link to their birth story here, but my posts are limited to mobile this week because all the snuggles all the time).

There was no need for a fancy cake (still have their welcome home cake, a family tradition). There was no need for balloons (there’s a few princess balloons floating around from Grammie’s traditional gift). There was no need for flowers (Grandma filled our home with greenhouse goods last week). There was no need for gifts (have you seen the girls yet?!?! …if not, you need to be following on Instagram and like our Facebook page). There was, however, a need to eat a real dinner that wasn’t leftovers from the week before I had the girls.

We planned to eat dinner, grab some newborn onesies (how I forgot Arianna was in nb for a week and Evan never touched that size, I don’t know), and get frozen yogurt from Sweet Frog. As usual, Greg wasn’t ready to eat, so we did the mall first.

While at Children’s Place, Arianna asked for everything in sight. 3T PJ’s? A must-have. 4T boys t shirts? Toss them in the bag. I let her and Evan each pick out a pair of sunglasses, but then remembered she did need a new swimsuit. After picking out her swimsuit, she went to the sunglasses and of course, if you give a girl sunglasses, she needs a case to put them in and of course that case has to snap shut on her fingers and cause the spin off of what became the start of how I spent my birthday night crying in front of Sweet Frog.

A few more things happened before we left the mall that made me have to take a parent time out from my kid. I told her she lost her toppings at Sweet Frog and then Greg took her to help get the truck and give me time to breathe. The second I got to the truck, something (I don’t even know what) set me off and I wanted to go home.

Since we had promised (don’t promise your kids anything cause they remember your exact words), Greg took them to Sweet Frog. I nursed in the car and cried and cried and cried as I watched my kids enjoy my birthday without me. But Arianna acting up and me having a momtrum is not the real reason I was crying like I was…

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See my Football Eyes? This cry was REAL.

I was crying because life is too short and Sweet Frog and my birthday reminded me of that. I was crying because we came to Sweet Frog with cousins to celebrate three new great-grand babies coming to my Grandma’s family (just after we lost Grandma) and one of them is now a precious angel. I was crying because I heard Arianna’s heart beat for the first time 7 years ago on my birthday and I was facing being a single mom (who knew then that the incredible man giving up his pound+ of froyo to stand strong with my punishment would step up to be her father and the love of my life). I was crying because Wendy and none of my grandparents got to meet the girls. I was crying because as tough as this parenting thing is and as much as it sucks to give up something on “my day”, what sucks more is how fast time with our children really goes.

Thankfully, my ways of coping with angry tears and emotions are writing about them, praying, and having a super supportive husband who asks me to try to start again. We had dinner then Greg and I got our Sweet Frog. And I still got a bedtime hug from the best big sister in the world, my not so little girl who is in this with me…and not against me.

Keep Scrubbing

I want to start off this post with a few warnings and notes. 1. I know I am writing about the past and need to try to forgive, forget, and move on…but sometimes that is just not easy and writing helps me cope. 2. Greg and I are fine…tense due to pregnancy hormones and adjusting to a new schedule but this is NOT in any means a sign that we are in turmoil. 3. This is my space…my place where I want the kids to one day come and understand a lil bit more about the me that is their mom…and sadly, these are things their mom has to deal with. And 4. With all the DV topics surrounding the Grammys and other media, it’s hard not to have this issue on my mind. This post is sensitive and contains some history about me and my past so you’ve been alerted in advance.

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I scrub and scrub and scrub but it doesn’t go away. The grime on the silver parts of the bathroom sink just won’t go away. They will never go away good enough to the point where I am satisfied with their shine.

I’ve tried. They are tarnished beyond my repair and regardless of how hard or how long I scrub, they will never be just right. And someone is always going to notice. Someone is always going to criticize how bad I’ve done at my job. Even when I have given it every ounce of strength and shed tears against the reflective surface…it just won’t be enough.

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The grime on my sink is likely invisible to you, but to me, it sparks horrible, awful feelings. Aches. Pains. Memories that as hard as I try, and as much as I talk them out with a counselor, I cannot erase. As many times as I forgive myself for staying, I equally beat myself up for not leaving sooner.

It will never be good enough to take away the hurt and the anger. The unequal balance of independent woman in a relationship with a boy who thinks he can control her and make her work long days and provide the perfect home to hide their imperfect relationship. Because the shining silver sink hole is going to hide the bruises and the scars. Because it will take away the need to hide the truth from close friends and family because you don’t want to admit you’ve failed. Yup, keep scrubbing that sink harder and all you will get is raisin fingers and an aching back.

And perhaps some harsh words that you aren’t good enough, didn’t they teach you how to take care of a house at that women’s college? Didn’t they prepare you to care for a man so he can sit and watch TV and bark orders at you or the pizza guy or the innocent dog? Keep scrubbing.

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But even when you do get the gumption to end it, there are these things that you will always carry with you. Things you can’t erase. Things that haunt you at the stupidest moments. Things that you don’t expect will trigger these PTSD type moments, making you want to keep scrubbing harder to make it all go away, to make it all shine.

One day, it will be easier. One day, it won’t happen so often. One day, it will not be triggered by simply tossing a load of clothes in the wash to do your loving partner a favor.

Because one day? You will understand that you are worth it. That you are shiny enough and good enough to really, truly be loved. That one day is coming. It may take more courage and strength than you realize…but one day…you’ll have scrubbed enough to forget.

And it’s ok that today is not that day…because you have the strength to know this is just one bad day in many years of good. So scrub. And work this out.

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I can. I will. I am trying. Bear with me.

Write Me a Story

As I hopped on the computer this morning, hoping for a quiet morning full of blogging inspiration, I got exactly what I asked for. Google alerted me (via their search header image) that today “is” Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 148th birthday.

Source: Google.com

My love for writing started with reading. Sure, I asked my parents to read me a story many times in my young life, but I never really connected with a series so much as I did with the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. How a 10 year old in the 1990’s connects with a girl who would have been 10 in 1877, a much different place in time, is beyond me, but I did it. Perhaps it was living on the “Ohio Plains” of Wren, Ohio for three years, in the midst of farm country and back before the days of Apple TV and smart phones (which is how my kids know about the things they do). Perhaps it was her independent spirit, her love for describing her ordinary life, or her connection with her family that did it for me. Whatever the case, Wilder’s stories stuck with me and had a huge influence on me today.

It all started with bedtime stories. My mom and I would read a chapter (or more) a night, blasting through the whole Little House series and leaving me wanting more. And there were more. I swear we read books about Laura being a wife and mother in the Ozarks, navigating life as a farmer’s wife and all the things that the years leading up to the turn of the century brought (like the World’s Fair). (Try as I might, I can see the books in my head and probably even have them somewhere in this house, but I can’t find them on Google.) All of these books inspired me in ways I cannot adequately describe.

Sure, I knew I couldn’t just face 1990’s America as a pioneer kid. I loved my neon and roller skates and Boyz II Men, but that didn’t stop me from doing pioneer life inspired things. I dressed as Laura for Halloween one year (and if memory serves me right, the captured photo has me looking crazy miserable because that’s what pioneer photos looked like, “DUH”). There were pioneer treats that I HAD to have my mom help me make – like maple candy (which I think was snow candy after a conversation I had with a co-worker last week!) and gingerbread. A McDonald’s 101 Dalmatians toy puled the Conestoga wagon of  my third-grade diorama (because Jack would NOT let me borrow horses, dogs it was). It’s odd to think that a busy lady like me once craved a much simpler time. And then there was the writing.

My stories started off simple, recollections of the summer days spent on the blocks of Wren – biking, fishing, playing softball and basketball. As I grew into a teenager, the stories churned into fan fiction about my friends and cousins meeting the Spice Girls or my idea of what it would be like for one of the juniors or seniors on my bus to take me on a date (to the Golden Corral, I was that kid that knew no better). And then, the stories became my dreams, my aspirations – writing stories about having Wendy for longer, stories about moving my whole world to Myrtle Beach the day after High School graduation / becoming a lifeguard / everything being perfect. There were poems, oh, the poems written late at night on a word processor about crushes and unrequited love. And then my passion turned into classes at school – journalism and AP English. Writing changed for me, it had more of a focus and less of a fantasy, but it was still all about the stories of ordinary life.

As I went off to college, the stories were clearly child’s play and I turned to writing papers and research and didn’t really write for fun. Sometimes I’d write on a political blog some friends and I put together, other times editorials for the college or local paper (I got heated about people tearing down fliers in our elevator and the local community being outraged that Poison was headlining the fair concert series). But I forgot to document life on paper. I tried in pictures, many of which I’ve now thrown out  because of the pain around those times, and also because I didn’t think my ordinary life mattered that much.

But then, without thinking, I became a mom blogger, a title I am owning. A blogger who writes about her ordinary life with her ordinary kids and ordinary husband. We’re not special because we have space on the web, we’re just documenting what this life is like for us – exactly what Laura Ingalls Wilder, an ordinary girl with ordinary prairie life experiences did. And even if I never put solid, consistent thoughts in this space or in a published book, I am a writer who hopes that her kids will fall in love with the stories. Stories of us, stories of them, stories of others. And that these stories will inspire them to back away from the TV and camera and document the amazingly ordinary life that’s ahead for them so their kids can beg them to read them a story (like the one when Evan said BACON before Mama – his current favorite – or the one when Arianna  got excited about a bird). And then, my writing, my purpose, will be fulfilled.

Ok - I wasn't as miserable as I thought!
Ok – I wasn’t as miserable as I thought!