I’m currently a little more than three quarters of the way through Felicia Day’s book “You’re Never Weird On the Internet (Almost)” . Now, I could be a normal person and wait until I finish the book to talk about it. But meh, I’ve never been normal.
Now I knew who she was before I read the book, I had seen her in stuff, she’s adorable and quirky and I liked that she was a geeky chick, etc. But, because I’m not a gamer, I didn’t know much about THAT part of it all. I hadn’t seen The Guild, which I just started watching (because of the book and because Curtis was really into online gaming before he knew me and told me it was worth checking out). ANYWAY (yes, I have a point), you know how you see or read about famous people and you are like “oh I wish we were friends!”? (or is that just me?) Anyway…That. But since that’s kind of creepy, I’ll just say, she seems like an incredibly sweet, kind, and wonderful person that deserves all of these good things that have come her way.
But, I digress. The reason I mention this at all, is because in the book, she talks about her struggles with writing and how she longed to create but found the process agonizing. And I found myself sobbing a little because I miss my creativity. I miss writing. So much. Throwing out excuses isn’t why I am writing now. I want to understand it though. It always seemed like something that was easy for me, words were my solace–reading them, writing them, finding comfort in them. I have been told I was a decent writer since I was young. I spent my entire college career learning how to write every which way available to a Journalism major/English minor and while tastes run the gamut, I know I can cohesively put together words to form thoughts, stories, poems, articles, papers, (and now) tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram posts, etc. Sure, I am a sucker for ellipses, commas and parenthesis (in case you haven’t noticed), but I don’t think I abuse the privilege. Maybe. Whatever.
I used to want to write the great American novel (ahh, the folly of youth). I wanted to write something that would make me rich! It would make everyone fall over themselves to declare me a brilliant writer. Now? I just want to write something that someone wants to read. Maybe something that means something to someone. Something that a weird person like me can’t even finish before she stops to write about how awesome it is because it made her think about her own creativity (but, ya know, they will finish it, eventually–like I will). Even if it is just one (weird) person. Or not. But let’s face it, they will probably be just a little weird (psst: that’s a compliment).
I see my girls and they are following in my footsteps, which I find amazing. There are dozens of little notebooks scattered all over my house with their drawings, writings, comics (they are REALLY into creating comics–especially Olivia) and I see that I need to get back to it. Find that creative spirit that they have, the one that makes them unafraid to just throw it down on paper. No matter what. Somehow. For them, and for me. I mean, shouldn’t that be why I write anyway?
At the end of the day, I won’t please everyone. Which, as a people pleaser is probably some of my hang-up. But, inevitably, someone will read something I write and declare me a horrible, horrible writer and sit back and say either A) It will never be published or B) They can’t believe I got something published. The likelihood of it getting to that point is so slim, I realize that (have you seen how many books are in this world? I’m a librarian…there are lots). BUT. The likelihood of it happening without writing anything is nil. So, a slim chance is still a chance. And I’m stubborn. When I’m on my game? I’m stubborn as hell. Sophia got that shit honest.
8 years. Tomorrow marks 8 years since my father passed away.
I’ve written a lot about it (no, really: start here, then here, and here ). I honestly thought I had gotten past it, because the past few years had been much more successful emotionally when this day came and went. I felt I had conquered that demon. Or whatever. But here I am, feeling entirely paralyzed by whatever it is that overcomes me during the beginning of July.
I had a dream with him in it a week or so ago. I hadn’t dreamed of him in a long time, and the previous time had been almost a “goodbye” of sorts. He was getting on a rollercoaster and he looked healthy and he smiled at me. Like he was telling me he was okay. This dream, I can’t remember details, but he was there. It wasn’t negative though. But I think I am feeling it this year because I am finally understanding my father just a little bit more since my bipolar diagnosis, or rather, my acceptance of my diagnosis. I see how incredibly hard it can be living in your own head when it betrays you. I realize how people treated him, how they dismissed him, how, even I, just thought he was “crazy” and didn’t want to deal with him because it was all too much. For that, I am so sorry. It doesn’t excuse his behavior, as there are so many of us who lead rather productive lives even with mental illness, BUT–35 years ago when my mother knew things weren’t right, she had no resources in our tiny community.
I hadn’t realized what I was dealing with until I had a recent distinct manic episode following a long period of depressive episodes. Sure, I had experienced them in the past, but nothing like this, nothing where I was able to stop myself and go “woah, you are manic, slow down, it’s okay.” If I am being completely honest, in the moment the mania is nice–you get a LOT done. It’s also horrible, you can’t focus on one thing long enough and you feel like a rambling idiot sometimes. I also know that even though I had the frame of mind to tell myself I was experiencing a manic episode, it took me almost 24 hours to get to that point. I couldn’t sleep, I kept having these AMAZING ideas that I HAD to write down and it was as if something was compelling me to write, I kept telling myself to go to sleep, but there was this voice going “if you don’t get up and write this brilliant idea down, you will regret it tomorrow because what if you forget this tiny little detail? And this tiny little detail will make or break this idea!” I tried so hard to shut my brain off, but I kept getting up, writing down these ideas. I was exhausted the next day, but I still HAD to get the ideas I had written down into a cohesive format, so I spent a good portion of my day, as exhausted as I was, writing out this plan. Then when it was done, I was trying to move on to the next idea, all while trying to multitask and do everything I had been putting off just a few days before.
Only a few weeks prior I had barely been able to get out of bed.
You can understand how that can screw with a person. The real mind-fuck is: I am actually medicated. I went to my doctor, we adjusted my medication, and I am ultimately FINE. Sure, I may have another episode, because, unfortunately, medication is not a magic fix. BUT, with medication, therapy and a strong support system, which, I do have, I am stronger and better able to deal with these situations. My father wasn’t as lucky. Medication is hard to get right. Mine was working just fine…until it wasn’t. Then we had to adjust it and now, i’m cruising along again (mostly) okay. I don’t know my father’s full story. I doubt I ever will. But what I do know is that the stigma of mental illness contributed to a lot of what went wrong in his situation. Which is why I refuse to hide mine. Maybe you don’t agree with that, but this is my life, and I have seen what pushing it under the rug does. I’m not my diagnosis. I’m not a liability. Even if I forget that every now and again. And neither was my father.
This doesn’t magically absolve him from all the awful shit he did, but I do understand it and I choose to believe that those things were a product of an unmedicated, mentally ill mind. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe he was a real jackass. But, regardless, he helped create two very amazing women, who, in turn, between them, created three pretty amazing girls. So there’s that.
When my father first died, someone reached out to me and said “I’m so sorry for your loss–but you weren’t very close, right?” As graciously as I could, I thanked them and tried not scream and hurl obscenities at them. It is the one thing I have always struggled with when it comes to my father and his death. I felt like I wasn’t “allowed” to grieve. Especially not after all this time. Maybe that is why it is still there. Because we weren’t close. Because I didn’t know him. Because I keep learning more about him through myself, so I start feeling connections that I never had before, so I lose things I never knew I had. Which, realistically shouldn’t hurt. But they do. It kills me that I didn’t answer the phone when he called in the weeks leading up to his death. It kills me that I didn’t understand, REALLY understand what it is like to be at war with your own head. Growing up and learning so much about myself and seeing the struggle though my own eyes. I just wish I could sit with him and say “hey, I get it” because it feels amazing when you realize you aren’t alone. When you see or read or hear about other people who go through these things. Because while you wouldn’t wish this on your worst enemy, it exists, and it is nice to know you aren’t alone in the world with your struggle.
I pray my children do not have to go through this–but I don’t blame him, or harbor any ill will. So, while this is a generalization, and does not apply to everyone with bipolar disorder, MANY with the illness, (myself included), feel things incredibly deeply. Every emotion is jacked up to 11. So yes, this means I cry a lot. It means I get REALLY sad and I can feel sad about things for awhile. I cry over the world and the horrible things that happen. I can get super bummed for a long time and feel weighed down. But it also means I have so much joy. Incredible, mind-numbing, jaw-dropping joy. Delight. Wonder. Love. I find happiness in such little things. I’m not sure if I am willing to give that up. It is a part of who I am. Good and bad. So I am sad today. And I may be a little sad tomorrow. But it will pass. And it will be okay. And so will I.
I realized, after Timehop so kindly reminded me, that I haven’t blogged in a year. It’s not for lack of want. It’s not for lack of material. It’s not for lack of motivation…ok, one of those is a lie (hint: it’s the last one). I guess I just allowed it. I’ve been having this major roadblock when it comes to my writing life. I’m not sure where to go. I’m not sure what direction I want to go. But, excuses don’t get shit done, now do they?
For almost five years I’ve known a truth that I haven’t wanted to admit. I’ve actually only really started discussing it openly in the past six months. I’ve skirted around the issue, and everyone knows about my anxiety, my depression, my mental health turmoil. But in actuality, in August of 2011, I suffered a nervous breakdown. I held it together pretty well, as far as breakdowns go. I managed to keep my children safe, fed, loved and cared for. I would always say “Oh I came as close to a nervous breakdown as you can get” when I explained it, because I was afraid of people judging me. But ya know what? Screw it. I HAD A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN or what is now called a “Mental Health Crisis”. I could not sleep, I could not eat (I functioned on about 400 calories a day) and I lost 20 pounds in 4 weeks (gained 30 back, but ya know, whatevs), I poured every ounce of energy and strength I had into making sure Olivia and Sophia were okay. Luckily they liked bed picnics and movie nights.
But that wasn’t the big reveal. The big reveal was when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I fought the diagnosis, because I couldn’t possibly have my father’s illness. In fact, I denied it the same way I did in college when the doctor tried to put me on anti-depressants, as I have always had issues with the idea of being medicated, for fear of “turning out like my father”. After sobbing to the doctor, he smiled and said “oh no, this isn’t for anything except your serotonin levels are very low! It’s okay, you’ll be just fine.” I’m not stupid. I knew what he was saying, but I chose to ignore his meaning and listen to his words. So, I did this when my psychiatrist told me I was “Bipolar Lite”. For 4 years I would say “oh yeah, I’m just “Bipolar Lite” so I’m not REALLY bipolar.
Uh. Yeah, except that I’m a card-carrying member of the Bipolar Disorder II society. I’m not a time bomb. I have bad days, but it’s not because I am “off my meds” it’s because I’m a fucking human. BUT. I do cycle, and I do have depression, anxiety and suffer from panic attacks (Oh boy, I was given a bouquet!).
If you know me, you know that I am generally a very happy person. I’m nice, jovial, friendly and typically very positive. This is my “normal”. This isn’t everyone’s normal. A lot of people can get annoyed at me and I’ve been asked how I can “be so happy all the time”. Ahh, grasshopper, it is because I know what low means, so when I feel good, I try to not take a second of it for granted. Because low is hard. It’s not just “being sad” or “depressed” it’s like depressed on steroids. Low is your brain telling you things that you know aren’t true, but believing them because for a split second it IS true. It’s fucked up. Sometimes it isn’t as severe as that, sometimes it is just bursting into tears when you see an inspiring video, and not because you feel good, but because you just can’t understand WHY there has to be such a video and WHY we have to have such suffering. Super severe empathy. During these times, I can’t watch depressing movies because they sit with me for too long. I can’t compartmentalize (but that’s a whole separate thing, I’m sure). Sometimes I want to buy stuff, so I go online and put a bunch of stuff in my digital shopping cart and never check-out. And sometimes I do. But I trust myself to never spend more than I should. And I never have. That’s a taste of what Natalie’s bipolar is like, but trust me, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all illness. It hits people differently and people react differently.
I have grown very good at not inflicting myself on other people (okay, USUALLY, I’m not perfect). I didn’t want to be a burden. It’s pretty much what I have done my whole life, the handling of my anxiety has basically been me pretending it wasn’t there–pushing it all down, stomping on it and trying to throw it away. Unfortunately, piling shit on top of shit only leaves you with a bigger pile of shit. And sometimes, well, that shit starts to stink. So I had no intention of getting into a new relationship–I thought it wasn’t fair to fall in love with anyone while I was still healing, still shoveling through all the shit. That on top of being a single parent, well, I had my hands full.
But all the annoying cliches are true and life doesn’t really care if or when you are ready for things. Or maybe it just knows better than we do what we are ready for, who knows?
I guess Curtis is a part of my healing process. It’s not that I can’t do it without him, because I know that I could, but he is such a wonderful support system. But I didn’t realize the implications of it until recently when I commented to my therapist that I was worried I was in the wrong relationship because I seemed to fall apart more and more than I ever remember doing before. I felt horrible, felt like I was punishing this amazing person who was SO patient with me and SO good to me. I was more vocal about what I liked and didn’t like, I didn’t hold back, I allowed myself to be honest about what I wanted. As guilty as the outbursts made me feel, and as much as I would apologize when I did something I felt was “mean”, I also realized that I have never been happier. My therapist just listened, and when I was done, she just kind of smiled and said “You’re safe.”
Something I don’t know if I have ever been in my entire life. I’m safe to be totally 100% irrational sometimes, safe to get angry at something he has done (no one is perfect), safe to sulk, safe to argue, safe to just be myself. The good, the bad, the ugly. Mostly good, but again, no one is perfect.
I will resume my birthday posts as soon as I possibly can. I just felt that I needed to write, since it has been way too freaking long since I updated.
I have so much to tell you. Olivia and Sophia are growing and thriving so much! Both are doing well in school (3rd & 1st graders), they are Girl Scouts (a Brownie AND a Daisy), and they are constantly growing and changing–amusing and surprising me daily. I am really the luckiest mama ever– even when they drive me bonkers.
I am so crazily in love with Curtis–he is the smartest, kindest, sweetest, most considerate and loving man I have ever met, and we are close to our 2-year anniversary. We moved in together about a year ago (yes, it was quick), but it was the best decision I could have made. We lucked out big time and have a really beautiful home. I love my job, and have the most fantastic group of friends a girl could ask for. They are my tribe, and I am so thankful they take me as I am and don’t expect anything more or less. They are my Framily. I am mostly healthy–still working on keeping my anxiety and depression under control, but overall–life is AMAZING.
I used to think that no one wanted to read that stuff–the good things, because pain=the good writing. But I think that was the pessimistic, sad, depressed, YOUNG me. I now realize that I don’t care if you want to read it. I want to write it. I am not writing for anyone but me, and maybe for the girls to one day read. If others want to read–bonus! But, ultimately, I’m okay if I don’t have hundreds of readers.
I think I got so scared to write stuff down because I was afraid that it would blow up in my face and I would feel so stupid after–history repeating itself. However, I know my heart, and my feelings are pure when I write them down, and I shouldn’t be ashamed of them. I shouldn’t feel like a fool because I am honest about my feelings.
I am starting to accept who I am. I am Natalie: I wear my heart on my sleeve, I love with my whole heart, fully, completely, and unabashedly. While I am still very naive and want to believe the best about people, I’m wiser now, and have been more cautious with my heart. I am an over-sharer, I talk way too much, I over-explain and I over-extend myself. I have volunteer-itis, major anxiety and I talk to myself more than I would like to admit. I am not 100% happy with my physical self, but I am a work in progress and I am striving to be a body-positive role model for my girls (I think I am doing an okay job). I am learning boundaries, working on repairing relationships or distancing myself from toxic ones.
This is who I am. And I really really like me. I am finally at a place where I can say: I love me. I am beautiful, I am strong, I am a fighter and I am taking care of myself.
When I fell in love with Curtis, it was unlike anything I had ever felt, and I only hope everyone feels this way about their partner. He isn’t my first love–but I feel with my whole heart he is my “last” love. We weren’t ready for that love until two years ago. I would go through everything all over again if I had to, as long as I knew I would end up exactly where I am right now.
I mentioned previously how I would never “love like that” again when I was in the middle of all the shit I went through. This is still true. I never want my girls to doubt that I loved their daddy, because I did. SO very much. I never thought I would be in love again, the chance of getting hurt was so high and it scared me. Curtis snuck up on me, and neither of us intended to fall in love. But we did. And I love Curtis in such a deeper, healthier way. It is unlike anything I have ever felt, the way he looks at me, the way he speaks to me, how he loves me is beyond anything I ever imagined I would feel. For the first time in my life, I am in a healthy, equal, ADULT relationship. And no matter what happens (which, I don’t think either of us are going anywhere), I will never be ashamed of that statement. He loves and cares for Olivia and Sophia like they are his own children. While they do still have a relationship with their father, something I am thankful for, and they may never call Curtis “daddy”, that is the role he plays in their day to day life. He is an amazing daddy too, and they love him…hard.
I’m so glad he snuck up on me and asked me out on a second date 🙂 I am so glad I didn’t close my heart, or give up on love entirely.
I don’t plan on giving up on writing either. So, stay tuned. I’m not making promises, but the good stuff is important to document. The little things still matter.
For Olivia’s 6th birthday (2012) she requested a rainbow themed pottery painting party at a local studio. It was the first time I had ever done a “location” party, and I never realized how much stress I put on myself getting the house ready (ie: clean) for the party on top of getting the party stuff together. Hint: a LOT.
The invites were made by etsy seller LollipopPrints–Olivia’s said: “Purple, Pink, Green or Blue, Olivia wants to paint pottery with you!” The invite was also changed to reflect the colors mentioned. Because the location was so small, it was requested that we scale down food and decor. I decided to use that extra time (hahaha) and make Olivia a pretty fantastic looking no-sew tutu and hair bow. The party package included a keepsake plate that all of the guests signed, which turned out pretty adorable.
For some reason, I felt the need to make SOME type of decor, so I made tiny ones to put on the table. I used a big hole punch and cut out multicolored circles to make a 6. I used the same hole punch to make a teeny birthday banner that I kept up with tiny tissue paper covered blocks of styrofoam. Food was pretty easy–fruit made to look like a rainbow, rainbow colored goldfish, pretzels, peanuts, etc.
I had initially planned on making cupcakes, but then I found out about rainbow cake in a jar. Olivia and I both loved this idea and they were a hit. So much so that every time we went to the pottery studio after the party (even a year later), the employees remembered me as “cake in a jar” mom. Plus it was much easier to transport from my house to the pottery studio. It was time consuming, but no more so than any other cake I had ever made for a party. I had a lot of leftover cake, so I made cake pops as well. The “paint brushes” were rice krispy treats with a big popsicle stick stuck in them, dipped in melting chocolate. Hint: Buy the already made treats, they are uniformly shaped and will make your life SO much easier.
Having a location party helped me calm down and realize it isn’t about stuff being perfect, but about the girls having a good time with their friends. Since that mission is always accomplished (CAKE=happy kids), the rest shouldn’t be so stressful.
So, in keeping with my attempt to update you on our lives, I’m finally posting all of the parties from the past three years. If you want, check out Olivia’s LEGO party which I posted like two weeks ago. Sorry, I thought I would be more on top of things. Slowly, but surely wins the race, right?
Sophia decided for her 4th birthday in 2012, she wanted a Robot themed party in our backyard.
I’m going to be honest–it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had with party planning. It was cheap too, decor was pretty much silver spray paint, hot glue, boxes/empty containers and a bunch of those random IKEA parts and pieces that were just sitting around the garage. I rented a bouncehouse and VOILA, robot party fun!
I found the invites on Etsy from seller Paperspice, who was amazing to work with. Sophia’s invite said “Sophia is gearing up to turn 4! Bolt on over and go nuts with us!” (cheesy, but effective, tons of compliments on the “clever” theme). The birthday banner was relatively easy, just found a gear template online and used it to cut them from black cardstock. The font was one I found online, it was just called “Droid Robot Font”. Along with the invites, I was given the cute little pink robot labels, which I used for the gift bags AND some of the treat bags. I found the “Nuts and Bolts” labels free online (can’t remember the website, but I do have the files on my computer if you need them).
Can we just pause for a second and reflect on how freaking adorable the treats are? I found this silicone mold online (I get nothing if you buy via the link, just trying to be helpful) and I used it to make little robot chocolates (both white and dark) I still have it, and have used it to make ice cubes since then–it has been well worth the purchase. I also bought a huge bag of Chex Mix and made small snack bags for the nuts and bolts.
I lucked out when it came to the gift bags. Michael’s had a bunch of Robot themed party supplies on clearance, so I was able to get all sorts of stickers, notepads, pencils and these HUGE erasers (seriously, huge) shaped like robots and gears.
I went a little freestyle with the cake–I incorporated a few different ideas from cakes found via Pinterest and I was pretty happy with the outcome. Buttercream was my friend–I found this silver spray food coloring stuff at Michael’s, which was the coolest thing ever. I made the icing slightly grey and covered it with the spray to give it a more metallic look. It was the same “Extreme Chocolate Cake” recipe I think I have used since the beginning of my party planning days.
I rented a bounce house with a robot man on it–keeping the children entertained was never easier. Highly recommended if you have the space. Sophia chose her t-shirt from Etsy seller Revolution46R46; it doesn’t look like they have this exact design any longer, but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to ask if you were interested. Or you could do a “Robot birthday shirt” search, which is what I initially did.
This may have been the highlight of the party for me. My Robot family; painstakingly (HA!) made over a few afternoons with a friend while the kids played in the backyard. I used all sorts of random crap and hot glue. It was so much fun coming up with different robots. My friend, who claimed she wasn’t crafty at all, really got into it and was amazed at how creative she got. If you look at the top photo, you will see a tin can hanging from the tree, which was made to look like a robot head (nuts, bolts, screws, bottletops, etc + hot glue). These were placed randomly, some hanging, some on the table, holding napkins and utensils. I still have a couple–one holds straws in the pantry and the other is a pen can.
After the kids had bounced enough, they decided to wear the robots and dance around. Funniest.thing.ever. They were bumping into each other and dancing blind, as I didn’t anticipate them wanting to don the decor. In hindsight, I probably should have. Some of the kids asked to take robots home, which I was more than happy to allow, since it meant less for me to throw in the recycle bin.
I was pretty pleased with how everything came out–and I think everyone else was too. Most importantly, the birthday girl loved her party and had a smile on her face the entire day.
On Wednesday, my baby turned six. SIX. This weekend, she will be having a very small gathering of her best buds to paint pottery at a local studio. It was only after her party last year, where I invited her entire Pre-K class, that I realized she may not be a prime candidate for having a larger party. Sure, a great time was had by all–except the birthday girl. She perked up and joined the fun AFTER the majority of her guests left.
This year, as I was party planning, I realized that I haven’t documented any party since Sophia’s 3rd, which is a shame, because in the past three years the girls have asked for and received: a Lego party, robot party, a pottery party (with a rainbow theme), a Phineas & Ferb water party, a mad scientist party and this Sunday? A pottery party with a My Little Pony theme. It would be a super wasteful for all of my hard work and photos to only be beneficial to me, so enjoy the next handful of posts, one for every party. What can I say? I’m a giver.
Olivia’s 5th Birthday–A LEGO Extravaganza The birthday banner was super easy, just time consuming. I found a LEGO-esque font online, and then just used primary colored card stock to make the Legos. Food was simple, but tasty. (chips, dip, meatball sandwiches, pigs in a blanket, quesadillas, and fruit). I’m sure now it is a bit easier to find Lego party supplies, given the movie’s popularity, but this way worked fine too.
I decided to get crafty and make the pinata. I used an old box and distressed it before covering it in tissue paper. You can find instructions online (seriously, google “make a pinata out of a cardboard box”). It worked out pretty well and the kids were able to *eventually* get to the candy. Excuse the crappy cell-phone photos (seriously, pre-iphone cell pics kind of suck) but these were the gift bags–lunch sacks with coordinating colored dots glued on to look like a Lego brick. Party favors were small building sets (they have party packs available relatively cheap), and I made Lego brick crayons using this tray and melting down old crayons. Warning: you will never be able to use the tray for ice again, but the crayons are cute. For the hats, I bought basic party hats and glued a cut-out Lego guy to it. Again, time consuming, but LOOK HOW CUTE! I’ll be the first to admit that the cake wasn’t my finest display of cake art, but whatever, it tasted great. Loaf pans and mini-cupcake pans. Cut and paste. Frost. Repeat. Easy. I built Olivia a Lego table for her birthday, (Ikea LACK table $7, Green Plates $40). Instead of organizing games, I just brought the table and all the girls’ Legos outside for the kids to build. That, coupled with them running around outside and making sidewalk chalk art, they had a great time.
If you just sprinkle in a few (okay more than a few) links with social commentary attached, a bunch of “My babies are sick, this sucks” posts (usually followed by “OMYGAWD I’m sick now” posts), you pretty much have the past year in our lives. While the past year has been crazy–it has been crazy in a positive way, and I really hope that this is the last “yearly” update I ever need to post. I want to let ya’ll back into our *somewhat* daily lives. AND since I totally bombed on keeping those written journals for the girls–I’ll Doogie Howser it.
Without further adieu…
June 18th: “Mama! After America’s birthday, then it will be MY birthday!” Sophia is very excited for July.
June 27th: While I am proud that my girls are so hygienic, I really hate stepping in puddles on the bathroom floor, or tonight’s newest fun times: toothpaste. Bathwater, I get…But toothpaste?? And then one needs to ask themselves: if they did, indeed, get toothpaste on the floor, how did they miss seeing it? And if they didn’t miss it, WHY didn’t they clean it up? Are they just evil geniuses plotting my demise, one toothpaste covered foot at a time?
June 28th: After putting on a jumpsuit, Olivia grabs the straps, looks at me and says “I don’t think I can wear this to school, because it’s got these…noodle straps.” The cuteness….kills.
(Later that night): Typical night in our geeky family includes conversations on such topics: wormholes (so…it’s just a theory, mama?), algebraic formulas (“x+4= what mama?” “Well, it depends on what x equals. Don’t worry, you’ll learn all the formulas soon enough”) and arguing over Green Lantern and his powers. Ya’ll are SO jealous, amirite?
June 30th: Introducing my girls to a childhood favorite: The Goonies & having a living room picnic. The little things!
July 7th: “Hello, por favor sounds so much better than Hello, please” –Sophia, who never followed up with why someone would need to say please after hello in any language.
July 9th: This morning, Sophia asked for cinnamon toast for breakfast. After realizing I had no butter, I told her I couldn’t make it. She looks at me and says “that’s ok mama, you can just make me French toast.”
Well played little girl, well played.
(later): Olivia has been playing her guitar this afternoon, making up songs…Sophia goes to sit next to her and Olivia stops playing and says “No Sophia, not now…I’m not ready for an audience yet.”
(even later): While eating spaghetti, Sophia decided she was “eating grubs”.
Sophia: “I made up a song: “eating grubs, eating grubs, I am eating grubs”
Olivia: “I made up a song too: ‘no singing at the table, no singing at the table’.”
I decided not to point out the irony.
July 11th: I have lived in California for 14 years, and still have my Southern accent–albeit not as thick as it was when I was a kid, it’s still there and noticeable. Tonight, after a marathon phone conversation with my mom, the girls wouldn’t stop laughing at me. “Mama you sound like MeMe!” It’s true, I could give you a toothache with this drawl right now 😉
July 12th: Fun: a trip to Trader Joe’s where we fill our cart with fun stuff. Not fun: having to re-shelve an entire cart of groceries when you realize your wallet is not in your purse. Sometimes, you just gotta laugh.
(later): Overheard while at McDonald’s playplace: Olivia (to a little girl):”My sister is a princess, but I am a mathematical genius scientist…but I’m not supposed to brag…but I’m definitely not average.” Kinda proud Olivia has found her voice, just gotta work on being humble.
July 14th: Looking through old family photos, Sophia comes across one of her dad wearing a “WTF?” t-shirt.
Sophia: “What’s that mean? Whaa-ttuu–fff?”
Mama: “Those are initials, not a word.”
Olivia: “Um, what does it stand for? White Turtle Farts?”
Mama: “Yes…yes it does…”
(I went on to explain that it was something big kids would say, and not for little girls’ vocabularies).
July 15th: Talking to the girls’ wonderful therapist about sleep training to halt Sophia’s middle of the night journeys into my bed, she suggested I put a bell on my doorknob.
Me: “That’s an excellent idea, going to do that tonight!”
Sophia: (whispering to me) “Mama, what if I hold the bell when I open the door, so it doesn’t ring?”
Seriously people–hands full.
July 16th: 5 years ago today, Sophia Madeline came into the world, knowing what she wanted, and she has not been afraid to let the world know since then. Spunky, stubborn, sweet, silly, smart, sometimes shy and sometimes sneaky, with an incredible sense of style, Sophia never fails to make me laugh. She is full of surprises, and every day I thank the universe that she is my girl. Happy Birthday my SophieMad, my Jeckle, my Cletus, my Clyde, my sunshine…I love you to the moon…and back.
July 25th: The girls are now filming each other making “Art Shows” where they teach “kids” how to draw stuff. Never a dull moment.
(later): Overheard while girls are taking a bath together:
Olivia: “Extra, Extra, here is the news!”
Sophia: *unintelligible mumbling*
Olivia: “NO Sophia! You need to ask me a question that only smart people would know!”
Hmm…guess I need to teach Olivia about the Lowest Common Denominator.
August 2nd: Amazing how having your kids ask you to play in the public pool with them makes you lose your self-consciousness of being seen in your swimsuit.
August 4th: While resetting my router today, Staas (Olivia’s friend and my adopted son 😉 came over to try to supervise and proceeds to attempt to insert his router resetting wisdom.
M: “Staas, do you know how old I am?”
I couldn’t even finish my thought after that.
August 13th: (In reference to a link I posted about Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”) The girls think the lyrics are “we’re up for a Mexican Monkey”
This made my morning. Love this song!
S: “I want a little brother.”
M: “Well, at the moment, I have no way of making that happen, but if one day, I meet a nice man who I love, and who loves me, you and Olivia, maybe you will have a little brother.”
S: “But what if you don’t have a boy?”
M: “Well, maybe I will meet someone who already has a little boy.”
S: (laughing hysterically) “WHY would you marry someone who already has a little boy??”
M: “Why would someone marry me, who already has little girls?”
S: (Takes a minute) “OH!! I get it!”
August 20th: Overheard at breakfast:
S: “I don’t know if you can do that.”
O: “Sure I can, it’s easy as pie!”
S: “You don’t even know how to make pie.”
O: (slightly exasperated) “It’s just something people say, Sophia.”
S: “You mean it’s an expression?”
O: (sighs) YES.
O: “So…does an ‘F’ stand for ‘Failure’?
M: “An ‘F’ is a failing grade but I don’t think the ‘F’ stands for “Fail”.
S: “I’ll bet a ‘D’ stands for “Double Loser”.
September 1st: Olivia and Sophia are playing LIFE.
Sophia (running into my room): “MAMA, I have $200,000!!!”
M: “Wow, that’s A LOT of money, much much more money than mama has!”
S (turns to walk out, stops, looks at me very sympathetically): “Well…mama, it’s not real money.”
S: “Back in the old days, before TV, if people wanted to get the news, they read the newspaper.”
M: “Yes–some people still do.”
O: “Yeah, newspapers are for people who don’t know about the internet.”
(Journalism Major) Mom FAIL.
O: “Sometimes I want to throw stuff at people for no reason…”
M: (laughing) “What? Why?”
O: “I said for no reason!”
I can’t stop laughing…also, I may need to email the child’s therapist.
September 13th: (after watching Space Jam)
“Bugs Bunny is really clever.” Astute as always, Olivia
September 14th: “I’m just gonna have some ‘me’ time in my room…if you need me you can knock on my door.” –Sophia (why doesn’t that work for me?)
(later): Sophia came in my room, underwear only and started dancing. “Can you video me?” So…I did…after she was done I asked her go to get dressed.
S: “Oh no…don’t send that video to anyone! I was only in my panties!”
It’s always nice to have blackmail fodder on your kids…or is that just me?
(even later): While watching ET:
O: “Mama this music sounds like Star Wars music!”
M: “That’s because the same guy did the music for ET & Star Wars.”
I then proceeded to blow her little mind with John Williams’ résumé. I love that she recognized it!
O: “I don’t like John, I was just following him around so I could annoy him.”
M: “Why would you do that?”
O: “I just like to annoy boys.”
Today we celebrate my oldest, beautiful brown-eyed girl. Happy 7th Birthday Olivia Dawn–my sweet, messy, adorable, witty, intelligent, sensitive, compassionate, funny, inquisitive, studious, enigma of a child. You amaze me daily, keep me on my toes and make me smarter. Never stop being you–my absent-minded professor, my Cletus, my Clyde, my LivieDawn–You are a fantastic big sister and daughter–I am the luckiest mama ever and so blessed to have been given the chance to show you the world, and to see it again through your beautiful brown eyes. May all your experiments, potions and inventions in life teach you something new.
Bad: scratching the mess out of your car…Good: spending 2.5 hours being adored by a gaggle of Kindergarteners & realizing it IS all good. Thanks Ms. H for allowing me into your awesome classroom.
I’m finally getting Olivia to start her Thank-You cards for her birthday gifts. Her honesty is refreshingly funny: “Thank you for the *insert gift here*-I haven’t opened it yet, but I know it will be fun.”
S: “I’m famous, yo!”
M: “Um…where did you learn that from?”
M: “You’re not in trouble, I just want to know.”
S: “Jessie…I think”
So, after having a slight heart attack that my child had seen Breaking Bad without my knowledge, I remembered they loved the Disney show “Jessie”.
S: “Can Santa read minds?”
M: “Um…why do you ask?”
S: “Just in case…”
October 30th: No, YOU just bought dog vampire capes to re-purpose for your children’s Halloween costumes.
November 2nd: Sophia was reading her “Silly Spooky Halloween Book” she made in class to me and she looks at the bottom of the book & sees the copyright. “Hey, Ms. H has a BLOG!”
Too smart, that one…too smart.
November 18th: Parent/teacher conferences today–Bursting with pride that Olivia is reading at about a 5th grade level (with spectacular comprehension) and has excellent math skills. Sophia had as close to perfect a report card that she is allowed in Kindergarten. I am so incredibly happy with the amazing public school education they are getting!
M: (after seeing Sophia’s new doll tucked into her bed) “wow, you are such a good dolly mama!”
S: “that’s because I was trained by the best mom in the world!”
If you need me, I’ll be in a puddle…
I wrote this last year, and while I’ve amended it slightly, I think it is still very appropriate:
Today and every day, I am thankful for this life. I am thankful for every moment I have been given. I am thankful for every single bump, bruise, failure and triumph of my past, because it has brought me to this point, and even when I am sad…I have happiness. I am thankful for the lowest points, because without them, the highest wouldn’t have been so high. I am thankful for the two beautiful, healthy, wonderful children I have been blessed with raising, even as I do it alone. I am thankful for every single person who has been in my life, because they have all taught me something, whether they knew it or not. I am thankful for my friends, who have helped me through the darkest of my hours, and have forgiven me for not being as good a friend as I want to be because of it. I am thankful for my extended family, for the family I never knew I had. I am thankful for being a little naive, for having a pure heart, for trusting, and for not allowing the past 2 years make my heart hard. I am thankful for new love, something I never thought I would find, the magnitude of which is still being discovered. I am thankful for being knocked down, as it has shown me the strength in myself others had seen, but I could never grasp. As Maya Angelou wrote, more eloquently than I would ever: “I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now”.
Happy Thanksgiving, to you and yours, love Natalie, Olivia, & Sophia
Step 1: Learn how to sew 18 inch (ie: American Girl Doll) sized clothes.
Step 2: Open an etsy shop.
Step 3: PROFIT
So…provided I pass a background check, I will have my (part time) childhood dream job–Elementary School Librarian (for the girls’ school!!!). I can’t wait to get started!! Thank you to everyone rooting for me & those who told me to apply. Love you all!
Having as much (if not more) trouble as the girls weeding out toys. Dang sentimental heart.
(later while waiting for Santa): Now I know what Ralphie felt like when he saw the long ass line to see Santa…
January 11th: Introducing the girls to Gummi Bears. You know you’re jealous…(aaannd now the theme song is stuck in your head too).
S: “Mama, can I be your super secret spy and when they (meaning Olivia & Staas) are doing something they shouldn’t, I will come and tell you?”
M: “How about…no…if they are doing something dangerous, of course come tell me, but no spying necessary.”
What are the chances she will agree to be a super secret spy when her sister is like…16?
March 7th: I once thought he was my future, but today I signed my name to keep him in my past…I am amazed at how far I have come in almost 3 years. I am thankful for my friends, my family, my amazing girls & my fantastic future–who helps heal me daily. Life is a roller coaster; there will be ups & downs; but I am now prepared to hold on for the ride.
March 20th: Sophia’s reading level was tested today and she is reading and comprehending at a third grade level. WHOA.
C: (after the kids have gotten out of bed a few times for various stall-tactic reasons) “we should wake them up in the middle of the night every 20 minutes; ‘I can’t sleep’ or ‘Natalie won’t stop looking at me’ etc…think they will get the hint?
Me: “you’re new to this parenting thing, huh?”
S (as we are walking on the sidewalk back to the car): “whew, I have a hard time walking up steep hills!”
M: “What are you talking about? This is a sidewalk! It MAYBE has a slight incline.”
S (not skipping a beat): “I have a hard time with those too.”
May 22nd: Unbeknownst to me, Olivia has been playing WWF (Words With Friends) under my account, so if you have played against me in recent months–that was Olivia 🙂
June 8th: Yesterday, Sophia got bit by a big ole fire ant. As I was attending to her, I said “well you’re a real southern girl now!” Through tears she said “I got bit on the other foot too, so I’m really really southern now, right?” I laughed & nodded. She looked at me & shook her head: “I don’t want to be really really southern, mama.” Bless her.
July 5th: The girls asked for a cookie from last night’s party…
S: “What if you said we could have all these cookies?”
M: “Well, I wouldn’t be a very good mom–you would get a tummy ache.”
O: “You would be a nice mom, but not a very good one.”
I’m glad that distinction is being recognized early on…