Monday, May 23, 2011

No Complaining Today

Yesterday I was getting a pedicure -- a pedicure -- when tornado sirens went off.  Tornado sirens are no stranger around these parts so I didn't freak out like the woman next to me who had just moved to Minnesota from Florida.

I texted Brian, who was home with napping children, to see what it was all about.

He replied: "Nothing.  It was just a test."

A tornado test?  On a Sunday afternoon?  Later we will be going over what exactly a tornado siren means on any other day except the first Wednesday of the month at 1:00, which is the actual day and only time for a tornado siren test.

So instead, as I sat enjoying the chair massage and getting my toes painted, I tagged down my friend, Amy, who was on top of all the tornadic action on Twitter.  She told me I would be fine.  It was all North of me.  I laid my head back and relaxed.

I knew something was different when I got in my car and the local radio station was airing live weather coverage instead of "80s, 90s and Today!"  I knew something was different when I got home and saw my Facebook and Twitter feed lit up like a Christmas tree.  I knew something was different when the news anchors on the 10 o'clock news were standing in front of television monitors instead of seated behind their desks.  I knew something was different when I caught glimpses of the first photos coming in.

And it was different.  This time, instead of hearing about and imagining tornado damage and destruction across the country, it was striking just a few miles from home.  My home.

But I think the hardest part of it all was that it struck North Minneapolis.  If it were possible to handpick a part of the Twin Cities that could best absorb and rebuild from a tornado, North Minneapolis would be last on the list.  North Minneapolis is an area littered with vacant homes that have long since been foreclosed on.  The store front windows are decorated with steel bars.  And this small area, by far, is home to the largest number of homicides in all of Minnesota.  Every metro area has one sore spot and this is ours.

When the 10 o'clock news was over I climbed the stairs of my beautiful home whose only real flaw, at the moment, was some gutters in dire need of cleaning.  I turned on the light in the bathroom because I had working electricity.  I washed my face with warm water because my hot water heater didn't have a gas leak.  I walked those newly painted toes down the hall into my bedroom and slid them between my clean, soft sheets.

I laid in bed wide awake for a long time thinking about those people on the other side of the river who woke up that very morning in a bedroom just like mine and now were sleeping in a Red Cross shelter with the rest of their neighbors.

I haven't thought of a way to help just yet.  But I think trying my best not to complain about my own life today is a good start.

I know the Minneapolis tornado destruction has been minimized by tornado stories out of Alabama and now Missouri.  But it's different when it strikes this close to home.  It just is.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Hate Kid Birthday Parties

How many of you did I just offend with that title?  There's probably even some of my readers who have invited us to their children's birthday parties.

It's OK.  I get it.  There's a lot of pressure to put them on.

William is 4 1/2 and has begun to be invited to many birthday parties.  I cringe whenever I get the tell tale little envelope with the SpongeBob sticker over the flap.  Here's why I think they suck:

1.  Kids are the center of their own universe.  My kids LOVE getting on the phone and calling a relative on their birthday and singing to them.  They love to help blow out candles and eat birthday cake.  Sometimes they can even sit back patiently and watch someone else open up presents.  Sometimes.  But get them into a Chuck E Cheese or a bouncy castle or some other over-stimulated place and they've long forgotten the whole reason they are there in the first place.  They don't care that it's your kid's birthday.  Which leads me to my next point:

2.  They're impersonal.  Your kid is turning six this year?!  Guess what?  So is every other kid in their kindergarten class.  No one except the members of your own family thinks this is very special.

3.  They feed the clutter culture.  I really don't want to be spending $10-$30 on a gift for your kids.  Especially if our relationship is such that I wouldn't already be buying a gift if there were no party.  I hardly spend that on my own kids and now I have pressure to find the perfect gift for a kid I barely know.  I don't like hunting through Target aisles wondering what toys or games your family might already have or what sort of thing your kid is in to.

And then there's the party favors.  What a waste!  How many party favors do you think haven't made it into the trash after a week?

4.  They're expensive.  For both the party-goer (see #3) and the party-thrower.  Just imagine if you took all the money it cost to host a birthday party and did something really intimate with your child.  Take them out for a fancy dinner.  Go to a baseball game.  See a play at a children's theater.  Go to an amusement park.  All these options are much more special and much more memorable.

5.  They are time consuming.  Almost all birthday parties are held in the evening or on the weekends.  My husband works long hours so when he's here, it's family time.  I don't really want to use that precious time to trek my kid to a birthday party for a few hours and then either wait there until it ends or have to trek back to pick him up.  It's not my idea of time well spent.  I won't go out of my way to avoid your party but I also won't go out of my way to attend it.

I don't hate birthday celebrations for kids.  It's actually quite the opposite.  I think birthday parties have done a disservice to birthdays in general.  They're so cookie-cutter it drives me crazy.

When one of my kids has a birthday I can't believe how much they've grown, matured, changed.  It's all so amazing to me because I'm the one who held them when they weighed just a few pounds.  I want to celebrate that.  I want them to feel as special as I think they are.

I know that I had a few birthday parties when I was younger but I honestly only know this because I have proof in photographs.  I don't really remember them.

I do remember one year, I think I was turning sixteen, when my mom let me have a sleepover with a few of my best friends on a school night!  Our high school hockey team had made it to State and we were all going to watch the game on TV.  It was memorable because we all got to do something out of the ordinary together.  And probably also because I was older and the girls that were invited are still some of my best friends today.

I don't know if I'll ever throw a traditional birthday party for my kids.  I don't know yet if this decision will anger my kids.  So far I haven't heard any complaints.  At a recent party for his cousin at Chuck E Cheese William exclaimed, "Mom, I want to come here for MY birthday!"  And I told him we could.  With just Daddy and Lucy and me.  And he thought that would be great.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Design - Yay!

If you're viewing this in an RSS reader quick click on over here to see my new design.

I kind of love it.  And I did it all on my lonesome.  It probably took me ten times as long as it would have if I paid a designer but it feels SO much more gratifying.

I love how the header captures the essence of what it is to be living in Casa del Mama Nash right now.  It makes me giggle every time I view my site.  William so flips cartwheels in the living room and Lucy so twirls pirouettes on her tippy toes.  The baby, of course, is still cooking but at least his/her presence is represented on this here little blog.

I still might monkey with my menu buttons and I need to make a Mama Nash button for all of you to grab and share, but in the meantime I hope you likey.  This space is feeling much more a part of me every day.

This Is Real Life [Or: About This Third Pregnancy]

Have you ever noticed it's so much easier to talk about a storm or a difficult time in your life after it's already over and you've had time to evaluate and digest your feelings?

This post is going to be me all cracked open.  Not just the surface me who likes to keep up appearances.

It's about my third pregnancy and how I had a lot of mixed feelings about it.  Both before and after I got pregnant.

I'm writing about this because I think a lot of women feel the same way.  Even when a pregnancy is plannedI think a lot of women are reluctant to reveal their feelings because it might send a message that they don't love their baby.  I'm here to say that I love this little unborn baby with every ounce of my being.  This is not about them.  It's about me.  It's about giving up of one's self and learning to live in faith.

Some time last Fall the baby bug hit Brian.  This is not a huge surprise.  The baby bug hits Brian about every other hour.  Even when I'm already pregnant.  This man loves babies and would keep me eternally pregnant if it were up to him.  I love this about him.  So many other couples have an opposite situation where the woman really has to convince her spouse to have another baby.  This has never been us.

When we got pregnant with William we knew were ready and we were excited.  When we got pregnant with Lucy we knew we were ready and we were excited.  When it was time for baby #3 Brian knew we were ready and he was excited.  I was not.

It's hard for me to describe exactly how I felt.  I knew our family was not complete.  When I looked far into our future I saw many more Nashes gathered around our dinner table.  But when it came to the here and now, I did not have the overwhelming sense of excitement I had experienced with my previous pregnancies.

I threw out every excuse.  "I'm going to Napa.  I can't be pregnant in Wine Country."  "I don't want to get pregnant now.  Then I'll be due in the middle of the summer."  "Let's just wait until after the holidays.  They're always so busy."

I didn't want to avoid pregnancy but I was definitely using every excuse to delay it.

Maybe it was because I already had two kids that kept my life rich and full and busy.  Maybe it was because I already had a very boyish boy and a very girlie girl.  Maybe it was because I still vividly remembered that last uncomfortable month of my pregnancy with Lucy.

But after the first of the year Brian put a stop to it all.  He showed me the calendar and pointed out that if I got pregnant now the new baby and Lucy would have the exact same spacing as her and William.  It was time.  And I knew it.

At this time you should not assume that Brian was forcing me into something I didn't want.  In fact it was the exact opposite.  Sometimes I think God speaks more clearly to my husband and at this time it felt like a gentle nudge back on to the path I should be following.

And besides, I didn't not want to have another baby.  I just wasn't over-the-moon about the idea of it.

So fast forward a few weeks to early February when I found out that I got pregnant almost immediately.  And that's how it always works, doesn't it ladies?  When you're really trying...nothing.  When you have no opinion on the matter...two lines.

Those first few weeks of early pregnancy flew by unnoticed.  Some days I even forgot I was pregnant altogether having to be reminded I needed to order from the non-alcoholic side of the bar menu.  Insert sad face.

And then in late February I was hit like a fast-moving train out of nowhere with those first trimester blues.  And this time there were a lot of factors working against me.  Brian was working a lot.  The weather was awful.  We were experiencing one of our worst and long-lasting winters on record.  The kids were antsy indoors all day and were going stir crazy with a mom who wouldn't take them out.  I was nauseous.  Nothing sounded good to eat and anything that did sound good to eat required a trip to the grocery store, a task that seemed completely impossible at the time.  I had no energy and was tired all the time.  It took everything out of me to get out of bed before ten o'clock and even then I was counting down until nap time and then until bed time.  Emotionally I felt blah.  Nothing excited me.  But I wasn't sad or angry either.  I did, however, feel a lot of guilt for not being the wife and mother that my family deserved.

I distinctly remember sobbing to Brian in bed on the night of my 30th birthday.  With all these icky feelings I somehow thought my birthday would be a bright spot.  Something to look forward to.  But the day came and went without a lot of pomp and circumstance.  But let's be honest here.  No production for my birthday could have ever been big enough to dig me out of my hole.

At the time I could see no light at the end of the tunnel.  Not only was I not excited about this pregnancy before it occurred, now it was making me feel like crap and making me worse off than I was before.  I wasn't mad at the baby.  In fact, at that time I don't think I even considered that there was a little being inside of me.  And perhaps that was the whole problem to begin with.

So by now you're probably wanting to know how I got better.  And I can say with full certainty that I'm not only better than I was in those dark days, I'm better than I was before I got pregnant.

I can't place my finger on one single thing that was my cure-all but there were small things that led to big changes.  Hearing the baby's heartbeat for the first time certainly gave perspective.  Being able to eat without wanting to heave helped too.  And so did the ever so slight warm-up in the weather.  Getting showered, putting on makeup, doing my hair and picking out a few new clothes also had an amazing impact on my energy level.

But I have to say that the biggest factor of them all was my decision to change my attitude.  Pregnancy, all pregnancies, are a gigantic leap of faith.  Pregnancy, in my mind, is one of the best examples of what it means to give up one's self for another.  Marriage is another great example.  Your whole being -- your body, your mind, your appetite, your emotions -- all of it is up for grabs when you are pregnant.

But the real secret behind self-sacrifice is that it only leaves you barren and deserted if you let it.  Maybe this is why our divorce rate is so high.  We live in a selfish culture constantly telling us that we deserve this and we deserve that.  We've forgotten: No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. John 15:13

So I'm here now.  On the other side of my dark hole.  And I've come out a better person.  I'm so excited for the path I've been put on.  I'm happy for busy children who fill me up.  I'm happy for a busy husband who brings home a paycheck.  I'm happy for the spring weather.  I'm happy for filling meals that don't make me sick.  I'm happy for this big, growing belly and the tiny flutters I feel within it.  I'm happy for my cozy bed and I'm happy when it's time to get out of it.

Mostly I'm happy that I took a giant leap into uncertainty and came out with a whole heap of certainty.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Random Happenings

Written last night (Thursday) but published this afternoon due to more than 12 hours of downtime on  Yeah...I might be ready to switch to Wordpress.
Blogger is currently unavailable due to maintenance so I’m typing this in Word so I don’t lose my mojo.  I’m thinking of following the crowd and moving to Wordpress.  But I’m scared.  Will I lose my archives?  My comments?  My template?  And speaking of template, I need a new header with impending baby.  I’m feeling the need for a new design anyway.

I saw William for like an hour today.  That’s it.  And now I won’t see him until Sunday no less.  He had school this morning and then a lunch date with a friend, who happens to be a girl.  When he got home, he and I made chocolate chip cookies until Nana came to pick him up.  His BFF cousin is in town from New York so they’re spending a few days together at Camp Nana.  It’s a nice break for him and for me.

He’s challenging me right now with his need for constant activity and companionship.  His behavior is superb so I really shouldn’t complain but sometimes I just wish he could play quietly for twenty minutes by himself.  Actually, ten.  I would take ten minutes if he offered it.  But it’s who he is so I try my best to honor that.  And even though I say I’ll indulge in the quiet and the stillness, the truth is I’m already missing his chatty mouth and his squirmy body trying to squish closer to mine on the sofa.  I love that boy.

Brian worked from home this afternoon so I went to Target by myself while Lucy was napping.  Holy dollar bills ya’ll.  I spend way more money when I have no kids with me.  Whoever says kids cost a lot of money has never taken a handful of them to the store.  Any mom knows that as soon as she walks in the store it’s a ticking time bomb until all hell breaks loose so the necessities is all you really have time to grab.  Next time someone asks me if I use coupons I’m going to say, “No.  I bring the kids with me.”

Tonight Brian is at our church’s Men’s Club meeting where he will be elected to the Board.  This is no small feat, you guys.  Those of you who know our parish know that it is very large and very influential and very locally prominent, even among non-Catholics.  Honestly, when we first moved here we weren’t sure we wanted to join this parish because we were under the assumption it was a bit clique-y.  And maybe it is.  But we joined anyway and immersed ourselves and we have been so, so, so happy that it’s a part of our neighborhood.

So anyway Brian started attending Men’s Club meetings in September just for the fun of it and seven months later he was nominated and now elected for the 10-member Board. Ten members!  And he’s one of them!  At 29 years-old, no less.  (What a young buck he still is!)  Of course, this means a lot more sacrificing in terms of time on my end but since I’ve been somewhat limited in my volunteering capabilities I’m going to go ahead and look at it as doing my part to give back.  Or at least that’s what I’ll tell myself.

I’m starting to feel my little bun move around a lot more consistently now.  Feeling the baby move is definitely my favorite part of being pregnant.  It’s like a small token of appreciation from God for putting up with the rest of the not-so-great parts of being pregnant.  But I really do love being pregnant.  So you won’t hear me complain too much.  I hope.

On Saturday Brian and Lucy will join William at Camp Nana’s and because I already had a previous engagement scheduled for Saturday evening, I won’t be joining them.  Secret Admission: I’m kind of glad I had a previous engagement scheduled for Saturday evening.  It means I will have the whole house to myself for a night.  I don’t know if that’s ever happened.  And since Brian is taking the family vehicle and I have no idea how to drive his crappy stick shift car I’ll be forced to stay at home. (Dear Crappy Stick Shift Car: Don't take offense.  I love you.  You cost us next to nothing and require little to no maintenance.  Please don't die.)  I will, however, be attending the engagement.  Which happens to be a girl’s night out.  I think I’m really looking forward to this time alone.  But I also think I’m really glad it’s only for one night.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring, Where I Live

All pictures were taken by me in either our very own front or back yard.

P.S. I kind of love
my camera and am happy to say it isn't a super duper expensive DLSR, either.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Mother's Day

My Mother's Day was pretty great this year.  I'm not one of those moms who likes to pretend she's not a mom to celebrate Mother's Day.  Instead I like to spend Mother's Day doing all the fun parts of motherhood while I let someone else do the not-so-fun parts (i.e. changing diapers, getting up early, cleaning up after meals, etc.).

As a tradition we usually get all fancied up and go out somewhere nice for brunch.  This year we did just that at a great French restaurant not too far from our house.  We dined on strawberry crepes, croissants with fancy spreads, blue crab cake omelets, French toast and smoked salmon with goat cheese.  But I have to say, hands down, my favorite part of the meal was my Virgin Mary cocktail.
After the meal Mother Nature, as if on cue, opened up the clouds to a light, peaceful rain.  The kids napped and I sipped a cup of coffee while I conversed with Brian and caught up on some television shows.

Hey, here's my first belly shot with this pregnancy.  I thought it would be a good addition to a Mother's Day post.  I bet I'm bigger than you thought, aren't I?  They tell me your third pops out a lot quicker so I'm sticking with that excuse.
How was your Mother's Day?  I hope it was grand and I hope, above all, I hope you were loved.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday Doldrums

I want to write today.  I intended on writing today.  But I'm feeling uninspired.  And, in my experience, an uninspired writer leads to lackluster writing.  No matter how I try, I can't write a quality post when I don't feel like it.

I had a good day yesterday.  The sun was shining and it was my cleaning day so I got to work scrubbing away winter's residue on the windows and taking down cobwebs on the screens that have been hidden away for so long.  It wasn't extremely warm but I opened the windows anyway and instantly my house smelled fresh.  I love that.

I cleaned the bathroom.  Dusted the main floor.  Including the window blinds.  Vacuumed the area rug and the stairs and under the kitchen table and in all the nooks and crannies.  I mopped the hardwood floors and scrubbed the kitchen floor on my hands and knees.  I paid the bills.  Balanced the checkbook.  Finished three loads of laundry.  Put dinner together.  And I took a shower.  I even blew dry (blow dried?) my hair and ran a flat iron threw it.

After that I still had time to sit in the sun's rays for a half hour and throw around the ball in the backyard with the kiddos.

With my house in order, today's agenda consisted of me and Lucy running some shopping errands for some upcoming birthdays while William was in school.  When William was finished with school we would have our lunch.  Some would take a rest.  Some might go outside to play.  And then I had chicken and veggies on the grill for tonight's dinner menu.

But alas, instead I woke before six bells to the sound of my four-year-old throwing up.  Since then I've been shuffling in and out of his room every ten minutes.  It's noon and we're all still in the clothes we woke up in.  Except the four-year-old who has had a much-needed bath from said sickness.  The washing machine will not get a break today.  And the shopping will not be had.  And I'm not sure chicken on the grill sounds so appetizing anymore.

And that, my dear readers, is the best description of what it is to be a stay-at-home mom.  Or a mom at all.  Just when you think you've got it all together, the gears are greased and running smoothly, those little ones throw a wrench in the whole thing.

So today we'll sit in our comfy clothes and watch too much television and hope that tomorrow brings a better day.
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