August 15, 2012

Snacks for Salt Lake

Tomorrow Matt and I are taking our two toddlers, putting them in a cab, and flying them with us on two airplanes on our way to Salt Lake City. Boy, just saying that makes me tired!

I've tried to prepare myself mentally for the challenge that this might be for all of us, (I'm hoping I'll be pleasantly surprised) and I've been preparing physically for the trip as well. I sought advice from my Facebook friends, and asked for tips on how to get through two flights and a layover with two near-two year olds. The overwhelming answer I got: snacks! Be prepared with snacks--particularly new things that they haven't gotten bored of yet.

So, a few days ago, I trekked to the grocery store and picked up almost nothing but junk food. I've made the decision that I'll allow the girls to devour evil amounts of sugar on this trip tomorrow, because, that's what you do as a parent--you stave off bad behavior with sweets. Right? 

To accomplish a successful trip, I realized I needed to put snacks into containers that we could just readily reach for and bust out since there won't be any room (or time) for dolling it all out once we reach cruising altitude. 

I ordered these cups (6, actually) from amazon. They are called snack traps and I LOVE them. The girls think they're awesome, and mommy likes them because they don't spill and only allow for little bites at a time. Since Sophie has been known to stuff her face, this was a great solution. Plus, they're totally portable!

For their snacks, I decided to go with pretzel sticks, airheads (something chewy for them to help their ears pop....yeah, we don't do gum), fruit snacks--a solid Sewell favorite, animal crackers, and mini chips ahoy cookies!

Let's get real, people, I'd LOVE to haul along some carrots, broccoli, celery, grapes, tomatoes and cucumbers instead but I'm not going to take a cooler with me as a carry on (I'll save that for my photography equipment and apple products), but I think these snack-packs are full of yumminess that will keep the girls tongues and tummies satisfied. 

We'll be sure to get them some "real food" during our layover in Chicago.

August 14, 2012

The Million Things Man

In my therapy session this evening, my counselor asked me to name some characteristics of Sean that were descriptive of how I remember him being. For each attribute I named, a memory accompanied it. I think about him every day, and I wanted to share these memories that I have while they are still fresh in my mind.

Sean was Kind: When it came to arguments, he never yelled. Not with me anyhow. The two times he was snappy with me included an allergic reaction to an anti-nausea medication, and a severe (eventually fatal) brain hemorrhage. I think I'll give him a pass on those...

Sean was Considerate: He consulted me about everything. Whether it was how I was doing after being told he had recurred again or what movie I wanted to see that weekend, he made sure to include me in his life in every way possible. 

Sean was Mischievous: I'll always laugh at the looks on his sisters' faces when they tell me the stories about how he poured pickle juice on them in the shower. I'll always remember laughing so hard when he told me the story about how he had to speak to police officers when he was 6 because he got caught up in a game of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" with a girl from class (really? come, on they're in 1st grade!) And I'll have a constant reminder of his mischievous antics in front of my face every single time I look at Sophie, who has a very distinctive devious little smirk...and it ain't her mama's!

Sean was Funny: He made me laugh. I love laughing, and I loved his sense of humor. "If I was a dog, I wouldn't even drink beer!"

Sean was Smart: I remember when he and I were dating, I told my mom that he was probably smarter than me, which wasn't something I had ever found in a boyfriend before. She agreed. He was witty, intelligent, and bright. His ambition to become a doctor was infectious and he constantly made me want to do things to better myself.

Sean was Not Stubborn: Or if he was, he wasn't anywhere near my level. I'd like to believe that we had a good system of compromise in our relationship, but truth be told, he relented to me, not because he felt frustrated or stuck, but because he loved me, and recognized when something was important to me, for whatever reason.

Sean was a Fighter: Sean fought each day like he truly had something special to live for. 

Sean was Determined: He was determined to remain strong for me, his family, and his friends. He was determined to knock cancer on its ass, and did so many many times throughout his 3 year battle. He was determined to leave an impression on the world, and he was determined to always seek greater things out of life.

Sean was Hopeful: He was always hopeful that the next treatment would be the one to cure him forever. He was always hopeful that there was a next treatment. And he was always hopeful that there was a bright future waiting for him after he had put his disease behind him. His hope gave me hope in all of those things too, and from him, I learned how to hope for things for myself after he was gone.

Sean was Loving: There wasn't room for hate in his heart because his entire being was taken up by love. He loved me, passionately. He loved his parents and his sisters vehemently. He loved God and gave his life to Him in so many ways. And he loved his children with all of his being from the first idea of their conception to his very last day on this earth. Also, he loved football. This is very important.

Sean was Protective: Stephanie, I'm looking at you. I remember when we happened to be in the neighborhood on a Friday evening and decided to stop by and say hi to all of you, and there you were, out on your driveway with a big group of big guys. The look on your face as you saw us drive up was priceless. The look on Sean's face was...terrifying. He was adamant about your protection, about keeping boys way from you, and about locking you up until you were 30. If he knew you were in Florida right now, we'd all be in for it!

Sean was Outgoing: He did, after all, make the first move. 

Sean was Charismatic: Especially with children. He wanted to be a neurologist and find a cure for his father's disease, but children were drawn to him like he was covered in sugar-dust or something. He would have made an amazing pediatrician, and had a natural knack for getting kids to bust out great big belly-laughs. 

Sean was Spiritual: He looked to God for answers, and always directed me to do the same.

Sean was Existential: We used to have loooooooong conversations well into the night along with his roommate, Trevor, about why were are here on this earth and what our purpose is, and how we rationalize our free-will along with God's plan for our lives. These were some of the greatest nights of my life.

Sean was Playful: He was game for almost anything. We once drove along State Street after dark, trying to hit the red lights, so that Trevor, riding in the passenger seat wearing a truly gruesome-looking Halloween mask, could slowly turn and peer into the window of the car stopped next to us. I've never laughed so hard in my life, and some of those people probably had the shock of theirs! He did normal things too, like build snowmen with me in the winter (although he did instigate some pretty competitive snowball fights), dye all of his hair red for a Utes game in Las Vegas, and wrestle with his parents' German Shepherd, Rio...who was just his size.

Sean was Intuitive: He had a great sense of things. He could read people...particularly if they were full of it. He had a great sense of me and who I was, and he always knew just what to do or say to set me back on track. Not meaning to say that I was full of it...

Sean was Understanding: He was gracious and patient which translated into him being one of the most empathetic and understanding people I've ever known. Nothing about people seemed to shock him, and if it did, he acted like it didn't matter, which it didn't.

Sean was Non-Judgmental: He understood that people are human, and that whatever mistakes a person made in their life was part of their human experience. He simply loved, and left the judgment to a higher power. 

Sean was A Million Other Things: He was an oldest child. He was 6'3. He was born in March. He was my best friend. He was an xbox geek. He was a handsome devil. He was a movie fiend. He was amazing.

I'm always in awe of how much life this man packed into 3 short years with me. I'm even more amazed at how much love he packed in there as well. It was effortless for him, and I'm grateful to have had him as an example in my life. Today is not a special anniversary of anything, although it is Kyle's birthday, so there's that. But it's not a special day where I remember the love and friendship I experienced with this man. It's every day. 

August 7, 2012

Marvelous Messy Marker Madness!

Lately I've been struggling. There are many things in my life that I feel that I am good at, and being a mother has always been one of them. But for the past little while, I've struggled at finding a balance between motherhood and taking care of myself. In a conversation with Matt this past weekend, I confessed that I often feel like a lazy parent. I feel like I'm constantly saying "no" to my girls, and although I have a good reason for doing so sometimes, there are many, many other times where I feel like I say no because I'm too lazy. And I hate that. Being a lazy parent isn't something that I find acceptable for myself. 

As my hubby so graciously reminded me, "twins are hard". And as obvious as that should sound to a mother of multiples, it sort of came out of nowhere at me. My struggle with finding that balance definitely stems in part from feelings of being overwhelmed, from feeling exhausted, and from feelings of frustration. I feel overwhelmed by how much I feel I fail as a parent on a daily basis. There is so much more that I could be doing for and with my daughters, and these things just aren't happening, plain and simple. I am exhausted from the tantrums (and there are so many) and the constant reinforcement of "no", and from battling day in and day out with myself over what the best way to get through this developmental stage is. I'm frustrated because I feel like I should know better, like I should have all of these answers, and like I'm making excuses for myself because, I am a lazy parent.

But after some soul-searching, and a good hard look at my girls' well-being and overall happiness, I know that I am not a lazy parent. I know that I am an overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated mommy of multiples. But I'm not lazy. The way today played out is a typical example of my plight. I felt as though I accomplished nothing. But as I thought back on my day and recounted the things I had checked off my to-do list, I was amazed at how much I had actually completed, even though I felt the opposite. My day went like this: I woke up, showered, got the girls out of bed and dressed, made breakfast, cleaned the kitchen, allowed my children to watch Curious George while I vacuumed the living room, my bedroom, and the bathroom. I cleaned both bathrooms. I cuddled with Olivia (who was extra clingy and temperamental today) on the couch, and fixed the girls' lunch. I put them down for a nap, ironed and starched Matt's work shirts for the week, tackled some editing that I have backed up, supervised the installation of a new air filter in our AC unit, and caught up on some emails. I called our health insurance company (and you all know what a pain that can be!), preemptively prepared a snack before the girls woke up from their nap so that as soon as they had been changed we could run out the door for an errand. I got the girls up from their nap, changed them, and ran out for our errand. We went to Michael's and picked up some new art supplies to serve as entertainment away from the TV. I busted out the washable markers, and a strip of paper, and let my two two-year-olds go at it (and that they did!). I  managed to take photos of their playtime, clean them and their mess up, and busy them with boxes while I rested for what felt like 2 minutes. I made them dinner, and then cleaned that up. I made myself dinner (while holding Olivia the entire time), and returned some more emails.

At this point, Matt came home from work (about 7 pm) and he was able to help me with the rest of my evening which included getting dinner for him, a bedtime snack for the girls, and then executing their bedtime routine (jammies, brush teeth, bedtime story, drink, bed). 

Now, some of this is typical of my every-day routine, and some of it is a little bit off. For example, sometimes we eat together all as a family, but on nights when Matt has to work late, the girls get hungry before he gets home so we all eat in shifts. The errands that we run from day to day are different, and mostly consist of trips to the park or Costco, and my lunch-break is filled with a myriad of tasks that make the 2 hours (if I'm lucky) while the girls nap simply fly by.

Lazy? I guess not. Even so, keeping busy with tasks and chores and errands doesn't help with the persistence with which I tell the girls, "no" throughout the day. And since I had been feeling like a terrible, lazy parent, our errand to get new art supplies today was my way of forcing myself to let go a little bit (okay, a lot) and let my kids be kids. They got super messy, and had a blast. They were so proud of themselves, and I took that opportunity to photograph that moment in their childhood.

I haven't posted many pictures lately, and that's because I have about 5 drafts here in my blogger account that have to do with my opinions on current political issues and writing those has taken up much of my time and brain-power. I'm not going to post them though (you're welcome) because I feel like those of you who know me already know where I stand on most issues, and while I could keep shoving it all down your throats, I think I'll let Facebook handle that one.

So, here are the photos from this afternoon's "YES" to what turned out to be a marvelous messy marker madness! Let me just be clear that while I am attempting to be a little more laid back, a lot more patient, and to allow my girls to hear "yes" along with the no's, these are washable marker's. Let's face it, I just couldn't allow this to happen any other way....and yes, my floor was covered in ink.

But those smiling faces and infectious giggles were well worth the mess and clean-up!

August 1, 2012

London, Baby!

For those of you who got that this post's title is a reference to Joey on Friends, give yourselves 10 points. :) For everyone else, you really need to brush up on your '90's pop culture!

Last Friday night the world watched (1 billion of us, as per NBC's Matt Lauer) as Danny Boyle's take on the history and significance of the British Isles unfolded in what turned out to be a good-not-great 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. The music was intense, the theatrics were...well, theatrical, and if it hasn't been for Meredith Vierra's incessant commentary I probably wouldn't have understood what I was watching. For whatever reason, my mind kept wandering back to "that Pan's Labrynth director" and the wonderfully weird spectacle my bizarre mind desired to experience only to have my hopes squished under the realization that we were, in fact, dealing with Slumdog Millionaire's director....which is a very different movie in very important ways.

Matt and I agree that our favorite part of the ceremony was the transformation from the agrarian period into the industrial revolution. I thought it had a very Les Miserables feel to it, and it pretty much sent a chill through my entire body. Well done Mr. Boyle.

Can we all just take a moment and acknowledge how incredibly _____ (insert synonym for 'stupid' here) it was when her Royal Majesty, Elizabeth, Queen of England, "jumped" from a helicopter with none other than James Bond and parachuted into the arena for her grand entrance? Not the evening's finest moment. Yes, I know it wasn't the queen who jumped out of the helicopter. I do find it risky, though, to put the queen and James bond on the same flight, however, I mean what I'd something had happened to the both of them?!

As I was watching the Parade of Nations, I found myself in awe of the athletes from Syria. They were there from a war-torn country, showing support for their homeland, and it was very moving for me to see the athletes make such a hopeful presence, despite the tragedies that are occurring in their country. What a true showing of the Olympic spirit--hopefulness, unity, and good old-fashioned competition.

I have no idea as to the history of the USA athlete's previous uniforms that they have donned in opening ceremonies past, however, I did feel that it was a ridiculous party-foul when it was reported that the designer of the team uniforms, Ralph Lauren, had used garments that were made in China. It's so typical of what this country is known for, and although Mr. Lauren promised to only use made-in-America uniforms "next time", we'll just have to wait and see. If there was ever a time where it was important for representatives for the USA to be wearing clothing made in their own country, the Olympics are certainly it.

Now, let's talk about the cauldron lighting. How sweet was it to have the 7 young athletes who symbolized the next generation of Olympians light the cauldron? Not very. I personally felt that it was very "hunger-games", which I'm sure was not the intent, but that book truly ruined that moment for me, I must say. Anyway, I just hope these kids realize the honor that they were given, and that they strive as athletes, citizens of their countries, and members of the human race to live up to that honor. The next generation of nearly everything in this world is a treasured facet of growth and as cliche as it sounds, it truly is where the future of mankind lies. 

I was definitely disappointed that the cauldron was kept so low within the stadium. It has always been a great symbol of what the Olympics stand for to display the Olympic flame where it can be seen by all throughout the duration of the games. Whether you consider it a light of hope for peace and unity across all nations on this earth, a symbol of warmth and acceptance, or even if you're a it's-just-a-giant-ball-of-fire type of person, having the flame set atop a high perch is something that just needs to happen at the Olympics. It just does.

Just how old is Paul McCartney these days? My goodness! I wonder if he felt insulted that before he came on, the audience was being serenaded by a Beatles cover-band. Perhaps he was grateful that he wasn't asked to play all of those songs. I mean, after all, singing Hey Jude for what felt like 20 minutes has got to take a lot out of you, right?

It wasn't the Super Bowl, but I did enjoy the commercial advertising the kickoff of the NFL season in September featuring Petyon Manning with the Broncos. Now THAT got me excited! 

I heard the next day that NBC took a lot of flack for not airing the ceremonies live. Normally this wouldn't have been a big deal for me, but as I now live in the Eastern Time Zone, I felt that I was up so late! I'm torn as to whether or not I enjoy sports in this time zone better or worse than my old home of the Mountain Time Zone--it means that I don't have to miss any of the early NFL game by attending church, but it does mean I have to stay up later at night to catch the end of the Sunday and Monday night games. Eh, in a perfect world, huh?

So there you have it, my thoughts and opinions on the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies.