Friday, June 27, 2014

We made a decision...

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A little over a month ago Chris was given an opportunity to interview for a teaching position in Washington. One week later we were faced with the decision between 220 average rainy days a year or perpetual sunshine.  We spent the following two weeks in a constantly anxious state of decision. As of Tuesday morning, we officially decided to move from the comfort of California, friends, family and everything we have ever understood about the word "seasons" into the unknown realm of Seattle, Washington. 

We are both excited and extremely nervous about our future, but we wouldn't have made this decision if we didn't think it was the best one for our family.  I have been given the opportunity to embrace the vocation of stay at home mom,  one I could never be granted while living in sunny Southern California on a teachers salary.   I am feeling beyond blessed and probably overly excited about the prospect of being with my children day in and day out.  Most days now,  Chris and I wonder what our life will look like next summer.  Me, tired from 9 months of every day with my children, 9 months of planning dinners and laundry and picking up toys and art projects, 9 months of making our house a home, 9 months to be fully present with my children. 

Now, I am not oblivious to the obvious dream like state I am making the profession of staying home sound, I know there will be days, that might turn into weeks, that might turn into months, in which I just want a break.  I will probably wish that I had an office job to escape the reality of being a domestic goddess.  But, to those future feelings, I say "bring it on".  I am determined to find the beauty in this reality.  The beauty of long restless days surrounded by chaos, laundry piled in the corner and dishes overflowing. The truth is, watching my children grow, will always beat the days sitting behind a computer screen wondering how they will grow. we come.

Friday, June 20, 2014

More photography from Scarlett...

Scarlett plays with the tri-pod again...she spent a good 30 minutes telling everyone where to go.  It was pretty cute.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Our son graduates...

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At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year and just three months into owning our new home, Chris and I opened our third bedroom to an eighteen year old boy that in the following 9 months would become a part of our family.  1 2 3 4

Dominic was only 9 months old when Heon first came to live with us, and the morning after his arrival I found Dominic, sitting on Heon's lap in the middle of the bedroom floor. Heon was a silent part of our lives, preferring to spend time alone, but the moment he dared to venture from his personal space into the common areas of our home, he was attached by a two crazy kids, hoping for 5 minutes of play time with their foreign "brother" and friend.

When I dropped Heon off at the airport on Monday, Dominic cried. I put the windows down so the kids could scream their goodbyes, as he turned away, with arms outstretched Dominic yelled for Heon, giant crocodile tears framing his face.  Watching Dominic reach out the window and show an element of love for this young boy simultaneously brought me intense joy and deep sadness.  Regardless of how often we did or didn't see Heon, or how much effort either one of us put into our relationship with him, Heon truly had a place in the hearts of our family. 

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Embracing the chaos...four years in the making

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As I sit, stealing a few moments peace in the mist of the chaos swirling around me to write this post, my kids run on a homemade track of pillows, circle after unending circle around the living room, and I actually smile at the mess they made.

This progression of attitude has been four years in the making.   My visions of a professionally designed home with white walls and light grey couches quickly diminished after my first and were completely obliterated after my second. I have sacrificed perfection for sanity, and I am finally okay with it.

My name is Andrea, and I am redefining perfection.

I have memories as a little girl falling asleep at night to a running internal dialogue, reciting the exact location of all the things I love, and some that I just unnecessarily obsessed over. After having my first child, this dialogue turned away from the things I loved and focused sharply on the things that were bound to drive me crazy. I knew it too, I knew that this obsessive compulsive desire to know where all five of our pacifiers were at any given time, two in the bag, one in the side pocket, one in the front, one under the bed, one on the window sill and...crap, we lost one, how could we loose one, I am going to fail as a mom, I can't even keep track of 5 pacifiers, was going to literally drive me insane.

Well, on October 29th 2010, I called it quits on the unattainable perfection of keeping track of everything that comes along with a new baby, and decided to only sweat the big stuff. I would from then on dedicate my time to the things that evoke emotion, the dresses that I can give to Scarlett for her future children, the pictures reflecting memories that will fade with time, the jewelry that might loose its sparkle but always keep its story. I will surrender to just enough obsessive behavior to remember what is important and let the rest of my craziness slowly chip away one pacifier at a time.

Then came baby number two, he turned one and she turned four, the house became messier, the crafts became bigger and more frequent and I reverted into my insane behavior, demanding perfection in my children and myself.  As a part time stay at home mom, my two special days with my children turned into personal fits of frustration and self doubt.  I would half finish cleaning dishes left out from breakfast, get distracted by the buzzing dryer, and on the way to laundry, would start picking up books and legos that somehow made it to the living room floor. I was never fully in one place,  pieces of me scattered around the house, and not one piece of me was attending the needs of my children.  In an effort to keep the perfect house, I was loosing every opportunity to be the perfect mom.  Or at the very least a mom at all.

Essentially, I was using way too many "in a minute"'s and "hold on"'s and "after I finish"'s. And not enough, "Can I be the princess this time" and "what game should we play" and "let's do this together this time"'s.  So two weeks ago, I decided to stop.  I stopped obsessivly picking up crayons, I let the dishes rise and the couch cushions sit in a circle all day long, the laundry was done, but sat in pile on our bedroom floor, waiting for my kids to go to bed.  I stopped worrying about being the 50's housewife and worried about just being. In between a game of Life, getting a check up from two pretty adorable doctors and make believe restaurant, we cleaned up, made housework a game, and cooked dinner. Although everything took way longer than it would if I was doing it alone, I wasn't alone, we were together and we were happy and my kids learned how to help and I learned how to be the perfect mom.  Not perfect in that everything was done and we were all smiles and roses all day long, but perfect in that I just was.  I was perfect for them, in that time, on that day.  So now, when I look around my disaster of a house, instead of seeing unconquerable chaos,  I see an hour of work after the kids go to bed and the smile on their faces. 

My name is Andrea, and I am still redefining perfection, one day at a time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Giving up the battle...

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I have officially given up.  My dreams of cute frilly dresses and hip skinny jeans have been completely shattered time after time and I just can't do it anymore.  The arguments that constantly stem from "help me get dressed" just are not worth it.  She asks me to pick out her clothes, so I give her options, that is what you are supposed to do right, give them options?  Options that I think she will like, and she turns them all down.  From there we just escalate into the same cycle as the day before and the day before that.  At this point, I realize that I have given up all control to a four year old.  I have allowed her to manipulate me into thinking that this day, maybe just this one day, will be different from the 50 that came before it.  That today, just maybe she will put on something different than the three same dresses we have been rotating through for weeks on end.  I pray that the hem will tear and I can convince her to try something new. 

This isn't new, these arguments that I cycle through all day with my budding lawyer.  We do this every day, clothes, food, bed time.  We relive the same battles, the same way. I say the same words and so does she, reciting them from memory, like some sort of messed up screen play.  We do the power play game, who is going to win this time?  How did I even get into a situation in which I am asking myself who is going to win, me, or a smaller version of me?  How did we get into these battles, when did they start and how do I make them end?  Do I fight till the death, do I put my foot down over something as simple as wearing the same dress over and over even after asking for my opinion?  And when did my four year old turn into an emotional teenager, demanding attention and then rebelling when she gets it?   Why do I even care?

Truth is, I don't care.  I don't care what she wears, but I do care how we are interacting while deciding.  I hate these arguments, I hate the way that I respond to her being so stubborn and I hate the way she throws my "I am not doing this with you today" right back at me when she is just as frustrated.  We are like sisters, Scarlett and I, when we love we love hard, but when we fight, we fight just as hard, facilitating both with equal emotion and vigor. 

My mom and my sister were like this.  I remember growing up and listening to them in the background of my life, always arguing about nothing and everything.  Neither one wanting to give up the fight and be caught with the second to last word.  They loved each other naturally, but they had their way.  I on the other hand sat in the corner, head down, murmuring my "yes, mam" and "no, sirs", a raging argument on the inside and always thinking "I should have said" after it was way too late. 

I never thought I would be this way, never knew I had this much emotion, this many motherly truisms constantly rubbing at the tips of my lips. Never knew I had so many words to say when I think I am right.  And maybe I did all along, I just never had anyone to push me enough to use them.   Unfortunately, the person that sees and knows this side of me just as deeply as her own, is my poor four year old daughter. 

So, with all of that said, I am trying to change my ways.  To be more aware of the way we talk to each other.  To speak calmly, to reason, and when necessary, demand.  I have already engrained an unfortunate pattern that will likely take years to reverse.   But, that is one battle that I think is actually worth fighting.