There is No Pause Button

palm trees just feel like home.
palm trees just feel like home.

We are egotistical creatures. We protect ourselves. Relationships with others can be hard and confusing.  I have always struggled with friendships. I worry if the person really likes me, or if they are playing a cruel game. I worry they laugh about me behind my back. Most of this stems from real life situations, childhood scars that I haven’t taken the time to open up and pour a healing balm of knowledge on. Some are just my own insecurities.  I find it hard to trust others. My relationship with my best friend, the only who knows everything, the one who supports everything, is not this way.

Our friendship has been fast growing, and a really important part of my healing. She believes in me. She pushed me to write, to grow my writing, and myself. She has pushed me through races telling me to “suck it up buttercup.” Those words were true, and are today. I may have taken a pause for vacation, but that does not mean that the rest of the world did. That would be my ego, thinking that I was responsible for the world.

The world did not pause. While we were away, something wonderful happened. My best friend, who lives a 5 minute walk away,  sold her house, and purchased a new one. I am beyond thrilled that she has found their forever home, and that it is almost a reality! This new house is much further away, and not one I can walk to. It is a short drive away though. I am glad she will be close enough for a visit, and I know her friendship isn’t going anywhere.

on the other side of these flowers was the shell of a baby sea turtle who did not make the journey to the sea.
on the other side of these flowers was the shell of a baby sea turtle who did not make the journey to the sea.

I am only sad because I wasn’t here. She has been preparing for this moment for over two years. A wonderful Realtor, a beautiful house, and fresh baked cookies at every open house. She has dreamed of their forever home for a long time. We have purged over online listings, driven past houses in the dark, and dreamed of what we would do to change our dream houses. This is the moment you look forward to. I wasn’t here.  I couldn’t go over with a bottle of wine and a packing tape gun and help her work. I couldn’t even answer my phone when she called to tell me the news. I was there on the beach…I wasn’t here with my friend.

In my mind, this was a turning point moment in our friendship. All of the old feelings came back. Is she mad? Was she hurt? How do I make up for being 1300 miles away when she had the happiest news of her life? (okay maybe 4th happiest with two children and a spouse!) Then she called. As we were heading home, she called. She wanted to know when I was coming back, and when we could see each other. I was relieved. I still have not seen her as our schedules are crazy right now, but, I know she wants me to be a part of her life.

So grateful for this lady in my life!
So grateful for this lady in my life!

When we work within relationships with other people, we have to remember that there are many points of view. If we always look from our own, we may miss a moment that is important to someone else. I was worried, she was elated to have made this step. I thought she would push me away because I wasn’t there. She drew me in. We cannot let our perspective cloud our ability to see the other side of the fence.

welcome home

when we can just unwind and be still
when we can just unwind and be still

I know I have talked a lot about this vacation. To be honest this has been something we have been dreaming about. Being here is like being home.

Why is that important? It is important because we aren’t at home. Cell phone service is spotty, businesses close down between 9-10 at night, and well, we are all together.

When we are here there is no practice. There is no homework. There are no lesson plans. There is no work. There is just us. As I sit in the living room with the family, and the boys are watching a TV show I feel a sense of peace.

seriously so excited to be this close to the ocean!
seriously so excited to be this close to the ocean!

This is what I want my home to be. Peaceful, contained, cutoff from the world. Just being together. On the other side of our glass is the pool, and just beyond the pool is the ocean. my favorite place, 2 minutes from my door.

beautiful  artwork representing what this place was built for.
beautiful artwork representing what this place was built for.

While we sit here there are mother sea turtles nesting on the beach. I love that the boys get to relax, and at the same time they are able to learn. We can spark a passion for nurturing others in this place.

Their passion may not be not may it never be turtle conservation. It may be education, or medicine, or standing up as a spokesperson for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

I love that our home away from home is a place where they can grow. I also fee like I can grow. Our last time here is a very distant memory for me, and I am glad for that.

My relationship with my husband was bad. We weren’t seeing eye to eye. We decided to divorce here in this place. That never happened(thankfully!) , however the emotions of that made for a sour taste about this place. As I entered everything seemed different.
I came “home” with different eyes. We are happy, and so this place can’t bring us down. Now, we aren’t perfect, we struggle daily, but what I learned from that experience is that every day is a struggle.

we have come so far with a lot of really hard work
we have come so far with a lot of really hard work

Home is where the heart is. Truthfully, we could be anywhere, but as long as we are in it together, we are home.

the pause button

the top is a hidden mickey in our resort, the bottom is water drops by the pool, it is not a hidden mickey.
the top is a hidden mickey in our resort, the bottom is water drops by the pool, it is not a hidden mickey.

Here in Disney there is a thing called Hidden Mickeys. This is a “secret” mission to find all of the Mickeys hidden around the theme parks and the resorts. These were purposely put in place by “imagineers” for guests to find.  The rules are very clear, it has to be intentional, it has to be hidden (not a Mickey face on your cupcake), and it has to be proportionate. Easy? No, not at all. Some can be. Some I know exist, and I have looked and looked for them and have never found it.

It takes patience to look. Stopping in one place for a few moments and searching. While searching it is nice to breathe in the atmosphere that was so carefully assembled for you.
Much like searching for those little gems, searching for peace in your family can take time, patience, and stepping back to breathe.

a snail and a very tiny lizard we saw on a walk at our resort
a snail and a very tiny lizard we saw on a walk at our resort

The boys have discovered many little creatures and a few big ones while here. From a tiny lizard to an alligator, we have seen a lot of things. We also have seen each other. I watched my oldest pick up my youngest so that he could return his towel. I watched my middle put his last three quarters into a video game for his brother, I have watched the youngest find independence in the pool.

all my boys gaming.
all my boys gaming.

I have enjoyed a trip where we did not have to be anywhere at any given time. I find that there are moments when I want to rush, I want them to just go, and I forget that they need to stop and pause and take it in.

As adults we rush. We have deadlines and responsibilities. We feel a sense of urgency about everything. Often we impose those senses of urgency on our children. Often I forget that there is no reason to rush when we are away from home. I want to pause. I want to stop and take a moment to see what they see.

watching the water raise and the sorcerer light up at mini golf
watching the water raise and the sorcerer light up at mini golf

In pausing, I am finding moments I never saw. The way they play, the way they fight, what they worry about, and what they need. I am seeing the communication breakdown between them, and I am able to step in and give advice when needed. I am able to lift them up when they are unsure. I am able to ask them to step back when they overstep (mostly the pre-teen). I am grateful for a pause in our lives to see these things.

All three boys sat on the sidewalk to watch the fireworks. I have never seen them just sit. It was also nice because my parents are here as well.
All three boys sat on the sidewalk to watch the fireworks. I have never seen them just sit. It was also nice because my parents are here as well.

I am also grateful for the ability to see these while in our favorite place. Today we leave this place and head to a resort on the ocean. A resort where our options are beach or pool. A resort where all we will do is pause, and I am so excited to stop, breathe in, and find the details.

Revamping Mama

this is a statue in our hotel, it is from Africa, and reminds me of how any mother holds their child.
this is a statue in our hotel, it is from Africa, and reminds me of how any mother holds their child.

As we travel for our vacation my husband likes to drive. I am sure it is some masculine testosterone thing about leading his family and being in charge. To me, it is him feeling comfortable. Safe. So I let him. Besides while he is driving I can read.

I have met many people who tell me how carsick they get it they read in the car. (and as of his reading this, I discovered my husband is one of them!) I feel very blessed to not be one of those people. I love to read, and long car rides are a great place to escape and do it.

I brought 6 books for this vacation, and I may need more because I am through 2 already, and we just arrived!
The one I started yesterday has me captivated. I haven’t finished it yet, but I am afraid for it to end. You know that feeling when a book ends and you wonder what happens next. I get as engrossed with the characters in the books I read as I do with my best friends. I am emotionally invested for better or worse, These characters have me.

This book is captivating me.
This book is captivating me.

This story is about a mother.
About a daughter.
About relationships.
It weaves in and out. Every chapter from the point of view of a character, almost every character in the book having a chance to share their perspective.

from the floor of our hotel.
from the floor of our hotel.

The mother works with elephants. Why is this important? It is important because as a mom I have a child who is obsessed with Elephants. We went to the zoo every day to watch them eat and get bathed. We have books, stuffed animals, drawings, mugs, mobiles, blankets, t-shirts, etc… With elephants. His room is painted elephant grey.  We know elephants. When I chose this book, I had no idea that this was going to be such a major topic. There was a reason this book spoke to me louder than the four I had in my hand at the bookstore that day. This book is speaking to me louder than any other. The relationships jump out at me.

A mother elephant has a strong connection with her calf, and elephants as a whole are a matriarchal society. The mom is in charge. The details in this story are gripping me to see the mom I once was and the mom I want to be again.

staring our the window at the ocean.
staring our the window at the ocean.

The hustle and bustle of life take away my ability to be patient. I have no tolerance for silly or crazy actions in my house. Sword fights? Forget it. Painting? Too messy. Legos? Well ok, Legos are everywhere. I used to be the mom whose house had crafts everywhere, trips to the beach and the zoo. Picnics in the backyard. Walks to the playground. I will admit, as my oldest aged, I tired of these things. For him everything had to be routine. If we did something once it had to be part of the routine every day. It became harder to manage his needs and raise a second and then third child. His demands for everything to be the same were becoming more and more unrealistic. And so, I became unable to enjoy those things with him, or any of them. Selfish? Maybe. Worn thin? For sure. Matured? Probably not.

I have all these questions running around my head. Can I be a good mother if I am bored with childish activities? Can I function as a mom if I have more energy for teaching than I do for playing with my boys? I don’t know. Am I the mom I want them to remember? No.

What I do know is that for the last year or so I have been trying to rediscover my love with the “mundane”. To tap in to my child side while maintaining my authority and their respect. We travel to the beach or the zoo. Aquariums and museums. I will let them get soaking wet at track practice in the sprinklers (and then soothe their rashes when we get home). I am playing video games with them, letting them share in picking the music in the car, and doing more of letting them make choices. Trying desperately to put a hold on their childhood while it is still reasonable to do so.

I am also starting to help them be independent. I should have done this a while ago with the oldest, but I didn’t. Am I a bad mom? No. I just wasn’t ready to let go. I wasn’t ready to let them make a mess, make mistakes or even make the decision that I had failed them as a mom. I wanted them grown up, but dependent on me. So they had to be still, not speak unless spoken to, no toys got played with. You can’t have a mess. This wasn’t helping them. It really wasn’t helping me.

this quote hit hard
this quote hit hard

I have to remember that my job as their mom is to teach them love, kindness, respect, compassion (for others), and joy. I am working on this (although it is a true uphill battle sometimes)! I am picking my battles, finding the joy in their chaos, and learning what they love. There is a fine line between loving your child with love, and loving your child with disciple and boundaries, sometimes that line is impossible to see. We as a family needed to find an escape from our current routine.

Track was probably the best thing for this because we were together. Their father and I assisted in coaching and were able to give each child attention and love in a way we hadn’t before. We supported them, raised them up, believed in them, kept them focused on their goals, and allowed them to make choices. They in turn felt respected, respected us, and had fun.

A few weeks ago the boys and I visited the zoo for a nighttime zoo event called “born to breastfeed.” It was a night about mothers and breastfeeding. Women supporting women. And I was drawn to the elephants. These three elephants have lived in the zoo for a long time. The same ones my oldest loved when we could go to the zoo every day. I reminded him of bringing him to the zoo every day and he said, “you did?! I don’t remember that!” My heart broke a little. I want them to have memories. Good ones, and ones that they ( like an elephant) will never forget.

As we journey through this vacation together, I am trying to remind myself to stop, breathe deep, and let the children I am raising remind me how to be a kid again. Tonight that meant getting in the pool and going down the water slide. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Every Family Needs a Get Away

those would be turtle tracks in the sand...just amazing to see.
those would be turtle tracks in the sand…just amazing to see.

As a family, one thing we believe very strongly is that we need to take breaks. Forced stops in our lives. We spend days at home doing 1000 piece puzzles. We go to the zoo, or the park. We take bike rides, go to the movies or just for a drive on the coast. sometimes a few hours is not enough.

We try to go on a vacation at least once a year, sometimes twice. Our favorite destination is Disney World, and I know what you are about to say, “did you win the lottery? Disney twice in a year? WHAT?!”  We certainly have not won the lottery, but in a way we have. Seven years ago we decided to become members of Disney’s Vacation Club. It is a time share program that is supper flexible for users. We can travel any time of year, and stay at any resort on or off Disney property. Our new favorite location is Disney’s Vero Beach. We will be staying there this summer. The nice thing is we pay a “mortgage” every month for our vacation time share, so we do not have a huge out of pocket expense for our hotel when we travel. And it is a ten year loan for 50 years of vacations, so the investment now will last a lifetime!

seriously amazing. she rescued these guys from a nest and we watched her set them free.
seriously amazing. she rescued these guys from a nest and we watched her set them free.

The nice thing about Vero Beach is that it is a beach resort. Truthfully the most relaxing vacation you will go on. Your options are swim in the ocean, or swim in the pool. There are many other activities, but no parks, no lines (except for the awesome water slide!), and no rush.

They also have a Sea Turtle Conservation team on site, so it is an educational trip as well (sorry kids!). We are so excited to stop.

For Mama, the most stressful part of these vacations is packing. With my husband and three boys in tow, it is super important to be organized. I always have a mini panic attack, and packing usually starts a month out. This time, it didn’t, and I was cool as a cucumber. I made sure to have a plan a few months ago so that I would not be stressed. I truthfully start with a basket in my room, and as I go through the day to day, if I think we need it for vacation, it goes in the basket. This way, a month later I am not saying “Where did I see that?” It is my quirky way of doing things.

this is before we started packing
this is before we started packing

I always make a list. I probably have several packing lists on my computer. This time, I wanted to pack lighter. I do not think that happened, but what did happen was a chance for me to share my organization with my boys.  The list started like this:

I always just brainstorm a list, thinking of things we may need. Essentials, things for the pool and the beach, then what do my boys need to have (don’t worry we have a washer in unit). And then the things I know my husband will need. (he always decides for sure, I just suggest.) and then finally things for me, and then things for everyone. It makes it easier to sort if I start with topics, then add to them.  I asked the boys to look at the list and tell me if I missed anything they would want. I told them the things they needed, and one by one they collected the items, and we packed their bags. The other thing we do is the boys bags are BIG, so we utilize their bags to pack board games and puzzles and things we can do on rainy days, or in the evening. I love that we do this as a team and everyone knows what they are bringing. There was a time I would have packed for them. I realize now, I need to enable them to be able to do it on their own.

wow, we edit a lot!
wow, we edit a lot!

After packing (as if I am finished!) the list looks like this:

We pack, scratch off, change, add, we forget things and then we remember. We highlight things we still need to pack, and cross off what is packed. We take things out of the bags because it is still summer, and we have de-cluttered our wardrobes, so we need clothes! Right now, the bottom of my stairs is filled with bags. I so hate the feeling of un-organization packing can bring, but I love the excitement that we are going somewhere!

Don't worry, daddy's bag is in our bedroom.
Don’t worry, daddy’s bag is in our bedroom.

We don’t enjoy flying.The stress of what you can and cannot pack, the kids, the air pressure in the ears, the motion sickness for some, it just is way stressful.  Once we went through security and one of the boys did not follow through. that was a stressful time. I just do not like the uncertainty of flying. If we can, we drive. Usually we drive straight through and arrive at our destination in less than 24hours. We stop for the bathroom or a snack, or a meal. We stop to stretch.This time we have decided to stop along the way, breaking up our 24 hour trip into 3 days. It is going to be exciting and maybe stressful. We have planned stops, and made sure they had pools and ocean views!

it is clear so they can see what they are looking for!
it is clear so they can see what they are looking for!
The box open like on their lap in the car
The box open like on their lap in the car

To keep the kids occupied for the trip we have a DVD player, headphones, I-pods with their favorite songs, books, paper, colored pencils,  kindles, snacks, and Lego boxes that I made.They are craft boxes that I glued a green Lego board to the cover of, and made a pocket for the Legos so they can play them on their lap! These come in handy in the car, and in the resort when each child needs their own space to play or stash a favorite toy or treasure!

sitting by the pool felt like being in the tropics or on an island somewhere!
sitting by the pool felt like being in the tropics or on an island somewhere!

We also know that we are not millionaires and we have not won the lottery. We are very careful about planning activities that work for our budget. We will do Walt Disney World with all of the bells and whistles. We buy tickets way far ahead, plan reservations, utilize the dining plan, and ask for gift cards for birthdays/holidays to help defray the cost. We also have been enough that we do not need to do everything every time. That is why a pool/ocean vacation is so great for this trip. We know we can have a lot of fun, for very little money, and make amazing memories! That makes the trip less stressful for Steve who works so hard to earn for our family. I appreciate that our cell phone service is weak there so we are limited to wi-fi in the room, and family outside.  I think every family can find a way to either have a getaway vacation, or even a “stay-cation” to have some time to breathe and just be.