upheaval benefits

Anyone who has followed life under The Big Top of late knows much has happened in a very short time:

  • my darling husband turned 53 and got really, REALLY, REALLY lucky in a car versus motorcycle accident so that he could enjoy celebrating turning 53.
  • Fallon now enjoys making direct eye contact with Mima’s camera and is literally counting down the days before she begins pre-Kindergarten…it’s coming y’all in DAYS!!!
  • Daniel is back to school in 8th grade and we are all pretty certain that I will be that mom as this is the last time ever for me to have an 8th grader who will be graduating 8th grade nine months from now. I’m already teary y’all.
  • And in one weekend, Abby and Jodie both moved out. Jodie moved back for another year at Arizona State which means that she won’t be home for dinner tomorrow or the next day or even the days after that. Abby ran away from the circus to her own apartment shared with her best of friends. She is not far but she is definitely off doing adult things like grocery shopping and hanging pictures and dealing with apartment maintenance trouble shooting a leaky dishwasher.

One would imagine that I am here just wanting to settle back into a quiet, calm, easy, normal routine.

Are you kidding?

It’s quiet around here…it’s even quieter than I might have ever imagined when all these kids of mine were home and noisy and loud and everywhere and underfoot and standing on my last nerve. This is too calm, y’all.

And so I decide to challenge myself with a little change or two or more.

Why not?

Yes, I know that I am late to the Whole30 party…but I am not the only one. Truthfully, I might have never given it a second or third thought were it not for the inspiration of two people I am acquainted with, two very busy moms of four. I watched them both take on the Whole30, making all the changes in their kitchens, their routines, their diets…and they did not go bat-shit crazy trying to balance Whole30 into everything else that busy moms of four kids under 12 must do. On the outside, they both looked better reporting inches and pounds lost, better sleep, better skin, hair and nails…and for one, who has dealt with a number of health issues after a major medical crisis a few years ago, dramatic improvements in her overall health.

Hmmm…

Why not look into this. I am a woman of a certain age now…menopausal with all the fun and games that comes with that bull-shittery. Sleep well? I am a a nurse who works 12 hour night shifts…please. But positive health changes and inches and pounds lost aside, it’s too quiet around the Big Top and I need a challenge,,,soo…

Of course it takes time, planning, patience and support from people around you. It might seem hard but as Melissa Hartwig phrases it: Quitting heroin is hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Childbirth is hard. Drinking your coffee black is not hard. I’ve birthed more than my fair share of babies…which doesn’t come close to beating heroin or cancer but I get it. This is a challenge but it is a do-able challenge.

The initial pantry-stocking shopping list will likely hurt but you got to start somewhere. The dreaded first week might have been hard except I had a killer summer cold to distract me from feeling miserable without sugar and pasta and bread. Let’s just say they both made me miserable. But I did survive Bill’s birthday cake by letting his children serve it up.

Ultimately, it wasn’t as hard as I imagined it to be. The circus that remains under the Big Top has literally never eaten better. I didn’t miss Bill’s birthday cake or bowtie pasta with pesto sauce or even the big bowl of Jelly Bellies in the break room at work. I enjoyed feeling full between meals, improved sleep and energy levels. My skin literally has never, ever looked better.

The Whole30 is not really a diet but more of a dietary reset. Eliminating excess sugars, dairy, grains and over-processed foods resets your gut allowing it to heal and then work the way that it is designed work. Still people think of Whole30 as a diet and, of course, want to know what are the results? How much weight did you lose??

Well, 30 days later I am happy to report that along with all the other positives I have lost a little over 9 pounds and 8 inches and yes, that is pretty cool too. And now, 30 days later, where do I go from here? Whole60? 90? Whole30 forever? How about Whole30ish. I’m liking the overall changes in my health and physical condition and I imagine that I, like other mere mortals, will need more than 30 days to see far dramatic results…like the end to these ridiculous soaking hot flashes because menopause happened more than five years ago….so I will continue to maintain following Whole30 guidelines with the exception of treat like when a coworker brings in a Nothing Bundt Cake to share or wine or a Moscow Mule or an ice-cold glass of chocolate milk after a 5 mile run because, literally, there is nothing better than that!

everything I might have ever learned about parenting I learned while potty training

Is that even possible? There is, after all, so much more to raising these humans we call our children so that they will be successful adults…with jobs…responsibilities…the ability to hang their own pictures in their own first apartment. Of course there is so much more that we learn as we grow and these babies of our grow but a social media conversation today struck me that there is much to learn while potty training each of our children…and observing others…observing, comparing, contrasting and maybe judging as we do because, for some, parenting is a competitive sport…maybe an Olympic event worthy competitive sport.

No not really.

Still we often do compare and contrast…and pat ourselves on the back because we are doing a great job…or wallow in self-doubt and lots of mommy-guilt.

One thing I might have learned or appreciated potty training five unique individuals is that they were uniquely five very different individuals…and I was no more an expert in how to potty train a human after the first, second, third, fourth or fifth. I did learn was to appreciate the big picture in that when physically ready, the kids are capably continent and there is much, much, much more that is a better measure of their success years and years later…like when they are parents themselves.

And then I come back to the conversation today. Watching our own children as parents we must recognize and acknowledge our successes (and definitely major fails) as parents. Watching them, as we do in every major event and milestone of their lives, we must trust that we did good…and that they are doing even better because of,  or perhaps in spite of us. Our children will not be the mothers and fathers that we are; and for some of us that is a very good thing. They are not us  even if they came out from our own bodies. They are uniquely their own selves just as their own children, our grandchildren are too.

For me, for my daughter, I recognize that we are so different as mothers…even if I joke that she is raising herself times two because my curses are that good. Lucky for her daughters too. Literally one of the joys of being a grandparent, a Mima, is witnessing and celebrating what a great job my child is doing as a mommy…because of me, or more likely, in spite of me. She might do things differently than I did or would as a mother but she is her own mother making this motherhood gig her own bitch. I could critique, whether privately or for all on Facebook-land to see under the guise of well-meaning advice…or I could just enjoy the adventure…her adventure…her adventure as my grand babies’ Mommy.

And of course I continue to enjoy the sweetness that is my grand babies, her children.

And, in my daughter’s own words, I get to enjoy the truth that she is (today) winning at the mom-game, because she is.

Dear friend, when it comes to crowdsourcing for parenting wisdom and critique to pass on to our grand babies’ parents…don’t, just don’t. They’ll potty train your grand baby when your grand baby is truly ready. Just enjoy your grand baby buying all the big kid underpants and practicing going potty with them when they are at your house because what happens at Mima’s house stays at Mima’s house. And when your adult child picks up THEIR child from your house, tell them how glad that you are that they are your grand baby’s parent.

Yeah, I learned so much of this and more in the adventure that is potty training my five children with all the well-meaning wisdom, observations and advice.

 

NOT the parents and other Olympic moments

Watching the Olympics am I?

Of course I am!

Team USA is thrilling me from the moment they paraded into Maracanã Stadium through the days that have followed so far. We have enjoyed all the USA triumphs thus far especially the ones where we celebrate the Olympic-sized achievements of the wives of swim coaches, Chicago Bears’ linemen and the fiancé of Miss California 2010.

Don’t hate.

You have to give credit where credit is due and hurray for media and social media to remind us all of that…never mind the actual YEARS, blood, sweat and tears that the actual medalists contributed to their own personal achievements.

Take note, Michael Phelps’ unprecedented 19th Olympic gold medal achievement was included because what is good for the goose is equally so for the gander. Just ask Katinka Hosszu and Corey Cogdell.

But it’s all part of the Olympic-sized dripping grama that are Olympic stories…right Al Trautwig? I get it though. Simone Biles’ personal story is almost as remarkable as she is on the gym floor…almost. Then again, as a mother whose family was created by birth and adoption, I would argue that Simone’s parents adopting her as a very small child is really not the most remarkable thing about her; I mean, have you been watching her performance in these games that you have been commenting on, Mr. Trautwig? Or have you been too busy deleting your snark on social media that is forever in spite of your hitting delete? Dude, it’s forever.

As always, I maintain that there is more than one way to make a family. My family circus is but one example of that truth. Ron and Nellie Biles’ is yet another example. Our families, as any other family out there, are truly remarkable for all the love, all the talent, all the unique qualities that make our families our families. Adoptions is but a very small part of who we are, but it is not the most interesting thing about our families…not ever. We are their parents, their moms and dads and they are our children. We are the ones who have walked the floors with them for so many sleepless, tear-filled nights. We are the ones who have held their hair back while they puked and rubbed their backs while singing lullabies. We are the ones who helped with the homework, read all the stories, cleaned up all the poop and puke and snot and who have sat through all the episodes of Calliou. We are the ones who smiled and waved while fighting back the tears as they entered their kindergarten classrooms and walked across the stage at graduation. We are the ones who scrimped and scraped and sacrificed for all the dance classes, the cheer camps, the sports’ clinics and have sat in all the bleachers cheering until we had no more voice left to cheer with. These humans, who call us mom and dad, even if we didn’t grow them inside our own bodies are our own, our children and we are absolutely, positively their mom and dad and some sportscaster known for his play by play of the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers and his Emmy Award for Outstanding Edited Sports Specials is ever going to take that away from us because honestly, Mr. Trautwig, that unique resumé does not ever qualify you to define what makes a mom a mom, or a dad a dad, or a family a family, much less to offer play by play expertise on Olympic caliber gymnastics. Perhaps you should hush now and let Nastia Liukin speak.

Meanwhile…

This is one Olympic moment I approve of. Thank you, Pita Taufatofua, thank you very much!

one last time

First day of school here under The Big Top, y’all. It’s just Daniel here under The Big Top but it’s still a big deal.

Dude…he grew TWO INCHES over summer vacation!!!

Meanwhile, here we are starting 8th grade and for me, mom of an 8th grader one last time. Lots of emotions and eye rolls under The Big Top this morning as we prepped for first day of school. Family and friends only encourage me to be that insufferable 8th grad mom as I shared the prerequisite First Day of School picture on social media. If I do become that mom, I make little apology because this is 8th grade, one last time.

:::eye roll:::

Mom, it’s time for school.

If you have been following this adventure since his very first day of school, you may join me feeling all the feels right now because here we are, eighth grade life, one last time.

I promise for him to try and restrain myself.

smiling eyes

When it comes to the selfie game, most of this circus act has it down to a science. Now don’t hate on the selfie. Were it not for the art of the selfie some of us wouldn’t even be a part of their own narrative…ahem…because they almost always are behind the camera. Here under The Big Top, we love the selfie and love to share with one another a selfie or more while making great adventures away from home.

Bill helped Jodie move back to Arizona this weekend and the two of them, as promised, kept me updated with pictures so that I can in a small way be there with them.

Currently this will be my favorite picture of these two and I made sure to tell my darling husband so.

His selfie game is improving; and yes, he was smiling with his eyes…and that makes all the difference, my darling husband.

When he gets home I will try to explain why he must never use “smize” in a sentence again.