florida 2015

Thursday, July 9, 2015

We just got back from our annual pilgrimage to Florida in search of sun, sand and water and we are all sandy, sun kissed and... exhausted. For as long as we've been going to Florida we have had my parents there first for company and eventually as we expanded our family - to help shoulder the load. Unfortunately, this year my parents traveled back to Russia for the summer and were unable to join us. I'll be honest with you we severely underestimated how difficult it would be to pull off this vacation without their help. With two under three and changing resorts twice and teething and hours in the car it was definitely not the most relaxing time. 
You also may have seen on my instagram account that we had a scare with Teddy the first week there that landed us in an EMT truck and surgery later on that night. Additionally Birdie got stung by a bee and our poor papa bear stepped on a shattered glass bottle that someone so carelessly left on the beach. I called my mum the second week lamenting how hard it has been and how much we miss them and she told me something that stuck with me the rest of the vacation: "Vacation with kids is no longer for you, no longer relaxing or restful. You do it for them, for those moments of pure joy and to watch them discover something that you have been enjoying for years." From that moment forward I decided to shrug off the stressful aspects, the things that didn't go right and instead I would soak up all the good and trust me, there was plenty of it to go around. And you know, they loved it, they just ate it up (Teddy quite literally by ingesting fistfuls of sand any chance he got). Every morning Birdie would wake up and beg that we go to the "peach and the lotion" (aka the beach and the ocean) and if we didn't take her in with us I'm pretty sure she would still be on the beach building sand castles. 
So yeah, I didn't read a single book, I sat in a beach chair for a total of sixty seconds and I forgot to put sunscreen on because I was too busy reapplying it every hour to two squirmy littles but I made some memories with our little tribe that I'm sure we will look back on for the rest of our lives. So to all of my fellow mamas and papas hauling everything but the kitchen sink to the beach everyday with impatient and cranky littles - it's worth it, trust me. It will be worth it. And get yourself a date night when you get home :).
I mean how can you not just forgive anything when you have these eyes looking up at you???
Toddler bikini... enough said. Papa bear said it's the last bikini she'll ever wear, lol.
This boys tag line is definitely "down for whatever." There is nothing he doesn't LOVE!
Birdie was OBSESSED with all the "scizzards" as she called them. And every day she would walk around like this saying "I catch him." She never did but God bless her for trying!
I couldn't leave Winter Park without a stop at our favorite spot - Jimmy Hula's. Best fish tacos ever!
We had no idea what to expect with Birdie and Disney World. The last two times she was really too young to understand anything. The night before we told her all about the princesses and Mickey Mouse and the big castle and by the morning she was pretty amped. Once we got in the park she was nervous and excited and we got there just in time for the big first show of the morning at the castle. She enjoyed it for two minutes before having a total meltdown. We were sure that that was it for us and the whole day would be a mess. We took her away from the stage and decided to take her to go see Pooh Bear and Tigger (a big favorite of hers). She waited very patiently and I kept telling her to give Pooh bear a hug when it was her turn. The lady next to me warned me that she may freak out and I assured her that we were totally prepared for that. Well imagine our shock and happiness when after being allowed up front Birdie bounded straight into Tigger's lap and proceeded to hug them both for the next ten minutes! We eventually had to drag her away with her saying "one more hug! one more hug!" To say that my heart exploded would be an understatement. From then on she wanted to go on every ride and as soon as it was over would demand to "go again!" We headed home around 2 pm as we were all hot, tired and hungry but it really was an absolutely perfect, dreamy experience and one I think we all will cherish for years to come!
She loved her daily "soothie" at the pool. Mostly because she loved those candied cherries.
All. Day. Long.
Really, is there anything better than babies asleep on the beach?? So delicious!
Let's pretend that they are playing, not fighting over toys...
This guy covered a lot of ground at the beach. He's our little energizer bunny and never slows down.
I want to end this post by saying that perhaps the fact that this vacation was somewhat difficult and stressful had it's silver lining in that it made us see such a beautiful side of human nature. Everywhere we went people reached out and touched us and supported us and made us feel taken care of. From the people that fawned over the kids to the families that generously gave us their cabanas as shade was hard to come by in Orlando our first week there. To the EMT who took my hand and promised me that Teddy will be in good hands and that he will make sure that nothing happens to him and who ended up taking us to a state of the art children's hospital that was farther away but so worth it. To the pediatric surgeon who was the only person that evening that could calm Teddy down (as soon as she entered the room he reached up for her to pick him up). To all the different people at the beach that helped us carry things and set up our tent. We are especially indebted for life to the family that intervened when it began to storm and rain and ran up to us and said "HOW CAN WE HELP." With the wind tearing down our tent and the rain pelting us all the lady collapsed and then carried our pack-n-play while her husband and son helped Kevin take down and carry our tent while I ran back to our room with the kids. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And to all the mamas that would come up to me and say "You're doing great mama. I've been there. It gets better." Thank you, a million times thank you. 
As we packed up our things on Saturday morning I told Kevin that more than anything what I learned from this vacation is that I always want to be that person to someone else. The person that says "how can I help" and rolls up their sleeves. Because at the end of the day we all need a helping hand and the world is a much better place when we're all willing to help each other. 


Friday, July 3, 2015

As a kid I used to love those little "birthday books." I was obsessed with journals and time capsules. And to this day I love the idea of putting down your "piece de resistance" every year. It's such a wonderful way to track your growth, to see how you change from year to year or to see what things remain the same.
It goes without saying that I have changed drastically since having children - physically, mentally and emotionally. Yet oddly enough I feel, as I stand on the precipice of 30, that the biggest changes are yet to come. The days surrounding my birthday I have begun to feel the earth shifting beneath my feet, I've felt the wind of change gently blowing across the hairs on my back. It feels as if things I have been building for years in little pockets of my mind are going to burst forth. Dreams that I have had since a little girl. I just need a few more pebbles to get going...
I have spent the pasts four years rolling up my sleeves and getting to work on building our family. Head down I have grown, birthed and am nursing my littles. My life has been pregnancy tests, prenatal appointments, hospitals, breast pumps, tiny and big diapers, nighttime feedings, sound machines and bottles. It's been hard, beautiful, rewarding, holy work. Standing in front of a mirror, last night, on the eve of my 29 birthday, I saw not just my own face and body but the faces of my children dancing like shadows across my face. I breathe for them and even when my arms and legs feel weary I press on, for them. And when I do, when I'm tired and empty I feel my own mother's strength when she pushed through tears for so many tears, I feel the exhaustion and strength that pumps through the veins of mothers everywhere in tandem. Like a seesaw - we fall down so low and then the love we have for these babies of ours lifts us back up...
I feel a slow lightening coming with this year. It is becoming easier and easier to brush things off. To forgive, to move on. For much of my life I was like a bottomless pit of need - needing love, attention, affirmation and admiration. I sought it out everywhere I went and yet no matter how much I got it was never enough. In turn I felt as if I was never enough. I think I can finally say, with some newfound confidence, that I feel like what I have now at 29 is enough. And if it isn't enough for some, well... As they say "it's all I've got, take it or leave it." I've come to understand that some people will never like me or love me and it's not a reflection on me, or even necessarily on them - it's just... incompatibility? And that's ok. It's ok. It's ok to be too much for some, not enough for others and not somebody's cup of tea. I am enough, I have enough. When I walk through the house late at night, turning off the lights and checking doors and I come across the sound of my fur baby's snores my heart bursts with love. When I peek into my little girl's room and see her splayed out on her bed, clutching her beloved doggie her lids heavy with the restorative sleep of a child - my heart bursts. When I feed Teddy his midnight bottle and feel him wrap his warm little fingers around my pinky as he nurses through his sleep - my heart bursts. When I lay down next to my partner, my other half, my best friend and love and intertwine my fingers with his and drift off... my heart bursts.
It's not that I feel like I have changed so much this year, or that my life has been altered so drastically, but I feel as if my eyes have been opened wider, my vision is more clear. I see what is right in front of me more clearly and my focus on the future has narrowed, sharpened. In the past decade I have fallen lower than I ever thought possible and I have soared to heights I could have never dreamed of and it is in this yin and yang that I have found myself, found strength I never knew I had in me. And now as I head into 30 I want to harness my experience towards bringing forth something meaningful, beautiful and necessary. I want to go forth with a spirit of generosity and gratitude. I want to be generous with my time and my love. I never want to question giving more of myself. I want to send more letters, push more hearts and leave more comments, send more texts and make more phone calls, I want to say yes to more play dates and lunches, to entertain more, to send more flowers and bake an extra batch of cookies. I want to always be grateful - on the hard days, the bad days and the days that make it easy to say "today was so good."
This is the year I want to tell myself over and over that I can, I should, I will... I don't know if I deserve to have my dreams come true but I owe it to myself and my children to at least try. I have nothing to lose and if all I gain is the experience that comes from failure... well that is a gift in and of itself.

the thank you plate

Monday, June 15, 2015

It's late at night and I'm extracting tiny socks and tee shirts and little girls underpants from the dryer. The only light is the small bulb inside the drum and the only sound is the whoosh of the dishwasher. I scoop it all out - my husbands tube socks, my seventeen pairs of yoga pants, bibs stained with sweet potatoes, my daughter's favorite pajamas adorned with tiny blue flowers, onesies (so many onesies) and a few kitchen towels. And I think to myself "wasn't 2006 just yesterday???"
I think... Didn't we just make out in the car while Akon sang "I Wanna Love You?" Wasn't I just retrieving my Juicy Couture sweatpants from the dryer instead of baby socks? Wasn't I just crying over finals week and filling out those awful FAFSAs?? Wasn't it just yesterday that we graduated, got engaged, married, moved...
Because in reality it does feel that way sometimes. You go from being twelve and feeling like summer is never going to end and Christmas can't possibly come soon enough to all of a sudden it's all happening so fast like bam, bam, bam, babies!! I felt that after college I was always performing some circus act and never allowed to take a break - balancing this and that and spinning all those millions of plates, shutting my eyes for a few hours and waking up to do it all over again. Like a dog chasing a treat except the treat was always replaced as soon as I gobbled it up. Graduate!! Graduate! Oh good you graduated? Get married! Get married!! Oh good you got married?! Get a job! Oh good you got a job?! Have a baby!! Babies! Babies! Oh good you had a baby?? Have another baby! More babies!! And you're running like mad, doing it all, getting it all but you are tired, so very, very tired.
As I leafed through that pile of laundry, sorting it all into four little piles, I realized that this right here was once a dream I had. To live with this man, to bear our children, to dance to Same Cooke in our kitchen while making pancakes on Sunday morning. To sort our laundry. To cook meals for my people and watch them eat it with gusto. To read bedtime stories and tuck them in for the night. To say "I love you" and have the tiniest, sweetest voice whisper back "I wuv you too."
I sat with it. With the ordinary and quotidian beauty of it all. Because the treat has been replaced yet again and once more I am running, running, running. I must stop. I must give myself time to digest what I have just eaten, to savor it (at least a little) and to give myself a moment to wipe my mouth. I've been fed so much goodness in these past couple of years but I don't feel like I'm taking enough time to acknowledge that, to be grateful for it. I think perhaps that is due to the fact that when these miracles happen they don't usually fall into your lap smelling of lavender and sparkling. They are still real, still human and still messy and complicated and full of contradiction.
Take weddings for example - though wonderful and beautiful and full of love they are also full of surly relatives, broken AC units, the wrong song, the wrong flowers... Or a move somewhere wonderful, though exciting and exhilarating, it is also full of boxes and the perpetual sound of tape ripping and my favorite of activities - painting (kidding, just give me a gun). Or, at least for me, childbirth. You're holding this tiny miracle and storing that newborn smell and those little groans in your time capsule and at the same time you're in more pain than you've probably ever been, are struggling with the most basic bodily functions and look like a helium balloon that has been ran over by a car. Twice. You are not in fact clothed in some creamy and billowy confection with a halo around your head and there are no trumpets to announce your child being placed in your arms for the first time. The confection is a bland and probably itchy hospital gown and instead of trumpets you are surrounded by the incessant beeping of a dozen machines. And rolling. What's with all the rolling ( I've learned that everything in a hospital has wheels)?? By the end of my stay I half expected to look down and discover that I myself had sprouted tiny little wheels under my heels.
And yet they're miracles. The moments rain down goodness into our hearts, minds and souls and I am learning more and more that whether we are able to do this in the moment or after the fact we must take the time to soak it up, to bask in gratitude, to taste the fruits of our labors. I don't have the luxury of waiting until the weekend or vacation or an afternoon off to take stock of how blessed I am. I have to make a conscious decision to enjoy it and be grateful for it whenever I can. While doing laundry, while picking up blocks in the playroom for the fiftieth time this week, while sorting the mail, while driving, while falling asleep. I need to make sure that at least one of the millions of plates that are always swirling around in my head are dedicated to enjoying today, right now or maybe yesterday. Because one day soon I'll be sorting laundry full of teenage boys' gym shorts, mini skirts, crop tops and jerseys and I'll think to myself "Wasn't 2015 just yesterday???"


Sunday, June 14, 2015

birdie: every morning she tells me "I need lil bit of mama's kawfee." Emphasis on "need." 
teddy: between crawling, teething and general "growing up" this boy is keeping his mama real busy.