Major (minor) changes.

Most high school juniors and seniors spend months fraught with worry over where to go to college, what to major in, where to live, what to do with their lives. Deciding what you want to be when you grow up is a big freaking deal.

I, in contrast, had a 10 year plan when I was 12 years old. Not because I was a control freak (although I may be one, now), but because I made decisions based on feeling rather than fact. I had always followed my instincts on most everything and my gut served me well.  So deciding a school, major and life’s path was simple. There was never a question that I would do anything with my life that wasn’t based in the communication field. I would graduate, move to the city, be awesome, the end.

*** I have to take a moment to acknowledge how very, very far off my actual life has played out from those glorious, naive plans. HA, ha-ha, ha, ha. ***

So young. And tan. And silly. My freshman year of college. In my parents very plaid kitchen.

So young. And tan. And silly. My freshman year of college. In my parents very plaid kitchen.

I packed the trunk of my parent’s Ford sedan and traveled east on I-80 toward a new adventure as a college freshman. My loads of enthusiasm paired with little real world knowledge played to my favor. I look back in amazement at how many of my life’s greatest decisions were fueled by youthful ignorance and a general sense of invincibility.

So, I unpacked my side of an impossibly small dorm room with waffle ceilings and I enrolled in the College of Communications with a major in journalism. I loved my freshman year. It was exactly what I envisioned my college years to be. I loved the freedom of college and the really, incredibly interesting people I met. I don’t remember many of their names but their faces are crystal clear in my mind. I learned more from these students about life and culture and the world than I did sitting in any 400-student lecture.

But then my sophomore year came and things began to feel off. It’s a concerning feeling when something you’ve been so sure of for so long suddenly seems forced and foreign. Everyone else around me seemed to become more settled and confident while I back-pedaled and tried to figure out where I took a wrong turn. Something that was once so natural, an extension of myself, felt weird.

Main entrance of Old Main, at Penn State Unive...

Old Main. It makes me feel nostaligic and then remember I have those student loans to keep me company. (source: wikipedia)

By May, I was over half-way done with my bachelors degree in a major I was locked into, both through the school’s policy and my own strong-willed. There was no denying that what I was certain to be a perfect fit began feeling restrictive. I didn’t want to be a journalist. I kind of cared about people (no offense to any j-school graduates out there). What I once loved about the school became burdensome. Areas I knew I should be dominating felt foreign and stiff.

So I changed. I changed everything. I switched to a small liberal arts college. I switched my major to public relations and with a minor in speech communication. It felt like home and I excelled. I met incredibly intelligent professionals that I had the privilege to learn under. I built networks and confidence. Once I stopped telling myself that this was what I was supposed to be, I realized the self-imposed restrictions were masking other abilities I had never took the time to explore and grow.

New major. New college. New hair color.

New major. New college. New hair color.

Blogging has been a lot like my college experience. When I began blogging at The Lambent Life, I thought I knew what I was coming here to say. I was excited to share about our lives as we embraced simple living, clean living and the joy that comes along. But over time, life changed. While I strive to live this lifestyle, a lot of life is spent surviving what is thrown at us.

So, I’m changing blogging majors.

My content has gradually evolved over the past few months, so this is more of a declaration than a drastic change in what you’ll find at The Lambent Life. My writing and content will remain mostly the same with the addition of some new topics with a new look. I still wholly believe in eating and living in a manner that is both clean and sustainable and finding simplicity and contentment in the everyday. I’ll be talking more about parenting, healthy living, fitness, motherhood and, well, just navigating the craziness of life. It’s my sincere hope this new freedom means more frequent and interesting posts. I’m not a DIY guru, master chef, fitness fanatic, parenting expert, or Wife of the Year recipient. But I hope you find something of interest hanging around my cushy corner of the blogging world.

I’m a hair shy of my 100th post – which is apparently quite the landmark on this blogging journey. I’ll be back with a new look and updates on life (exhausting), springtime (yay, farmer’s markets!), B’s allergies (wee!), our diet (not vegetarian), new fitness goals (beyond running), and E’s life as an almost 4-year-old (eek!).

It’s going to be fun. I’m excited.

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I remember when I lost my mind.

Is it really Friday?! Even though it was business as usual on Monday, the holiday threw my days off and I’ve been functioning a day behind since then. I’ve been playing catch up and working a few things over in my mind to the point that I feel nuts.

I’ve had a post drafted and ready to go since Wednesday but I was sort of sick of it when I came back to publish it. Sometimes I spend so much time thinking about and writing on a topic, I’m over it before it even gets published. All that time and energy and it just didn’t feel right. Probably my least favorite part of blogging. Does that happen to anyone else?

I’m starting to think that any time I publish something, the universe catches wind and comes around to change my perspective or experience. It’s making me a little leery of every making definitive statements in any public fashion. Or even thinking them.

There are going to be some changes coming to The Lambent Life over the next few weeks. Don’t fret – I’m not going anywhere. Physically or on the blogosphere.

I’m short on time as we’re getting ready to go to a “nice” dinner with the whole family. Wish us luck. Seriously.

Any fun weekend plans?

Parenting gone rogue.

Today, J and I decided to do something we have never, ever done in our nearly 4 years of parenting.

We skipped nap time.

This was a huge freaking deal.

To me, nap time is the Holy Grail of parenting. It is non-negotiable. It’s an hour and a half for us as parents to regroup and prepare for the upcoming 5 hours of nonstop questions, crying, eating (everyone except us) and entertaining. Without this time of rest, my children are monsters. Especially E. Some children get quiet, snuggly and docile when tired. No, not my child. She goes into some sick form of self-preservation and everything is kicked into high gear. She runs around like a maniac laughing and crying and hysterics. Sometimes urine is even involved.

She’ll be 4 years old in June and honestly, I’m amazed she’s still napping at all. Her naps have dwindled down to about an hour each afternoon and I have taken that as a sign we’ll soon be nap-free. Sad face.

So, when we were making plan for today and the gorgeous weather forecasted, I suggested we forego our precious nap times and head to lunch and the park after church.

park12012Doesn’t that look like fun?

It was fun. The weather was perfect and the girls had a blast. It felt so energizing to be out and around other people during a time of day that for the past 3 plus years has been spent with E’s bed nearby. I swear, I forgot what angle the sun shines at during that block of time. It’s beautiful, really.

We loaded back into the truck around 2:30, a solid hour and a half after nap time and I felt proud.

Look at us, living off the cuff! Scoffing in the face of predictability and regimented schedules. We are cool parents and our kids have fun while those boring babies are sleeping in their boring beds while their parents read boring books. We are young, hip parents with perfectly well-adjusted children!

Yes. I thought all of those things. It’s a little embarrassing.

So when I turned around in my seat to engage my children in a reggae rendition of The Wheels on the Bus (because I’m that cool), imagine my surprise to find E fast asleep.

Oh. No.

Our window of opportunity for napping slammed shut well over an hour previously. If E took a proper nap, J and I would be royally screwed when it came time for E’s bedtime schedule.

I took back all those thoughts about living freely and my well-adjusted children and all that garbage.

My child wasn’t well-adjusted, she was terrifyingly exhausted and I was in for a wicked afternoon.

We got home and this poor girl was a wreck. She had slept just enough that I couldn’t have gotten her to lay down had I wanted to. But she was still so clearly spent that she went into overdrive and didn’t come down for nearly an hour. I eventually calmed the beast with a soft yellow blanket and a late afternoon viewing of Dumbo on Netflix.

So no, my 3 1/2-year-old is in no way ready to be done napping. Ever. She will probably nap until she has children. And then she’ll just wish, along with the rest of us, she could nap and hate the fact she decided to reproduce and consequently will not sleep again until her children have children.

But it was a lovely day at the park. And B had fun. That sweet little girl.

Why I can’t watch Toy Story.

I have this annoying habit of personifying inanimate objects. I know it’s crazy and I feel crazy when I do it. But I can’t help it.

Sorry, nameless souvenir animal from the Jacksonville Zoo. Lu really enjoyed your tasty head. E was mildly concerned so consider that your funeral.

Sorry, nameless animal.

It is no wonder why things don’t last long in this house. Between a curious 3-year-old, a destructive toddler and a chew-happy puppy, I’m amazed at the little carnage we do have.

Someday we’ll be able to have nice things again.

Or not.

The gift of a 3-year-old.

“Here, Mommy. I picked a flower for you because I love you and you should have nice things,” sang E in her sweet little 3-year-old voice.

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And my heart melted into a sloppy, messy puddle.

When I spotted it sitting on my kitchen table this afternoon, I almost forgot about our morning trip to Kroger when E dropped a pint of blueberries, squished them on the floor and then tried to eat them. Grocery shopping with kids is awesome.

It’s this flower and the unbelievably kind and unexpected actions that she pulls from thin air that get me through the really, really not fun times.

This simple gift of a flower snipped from the neighbor’s bush (shhh!) may seem, well, simple but to me it’s monumental. It is the fruit of three years of prayer and patience.

For my sweet E to show me love, unrequested. To know that not only does she love me, but actually likes me.

She has always been a daddy’s girl. From just a few hours old, she has always preferred J and his jungle gym body and afternoons of adventures. When E is fighting against me with every fiber of her being, J can get her to obey without incident. She counts down the time until he comes home in the evening. I’m certain she only naps because she knows it means daddy will be home sooner. I’ve always felt like the caregiver she tolerates but would never select.

Earlier this month, she informed me that she’d prefer if I went back to work so that Daddy could stay home and play all day. Ouch.

With the new year, I decided to make strides towards becoming a better mother. With that goal in mind, I’ve been listening to E and letting her speak. She can make decisions. She has more responsibilities and in turn, more rewards. While she is still very much a little girl, I’m treating her how I’d want to be treated if I were a 3 years old. Within reason, of course. She still can’t have any of my nutella.

And if my little gift is any indication, I think it’s working.

Do your children prefer one parent over the other?

How to get dropped from your pediatrician’s care.

I’ve been under the impression that it takes quite a lot of bad behavior to get fired, divorced, or dismissed from a doctor’s care.

Apparently it doesn’t. I can’t speak to the first two but I’ve learned it’s rather easy to tick off a pediatrician enough to be dropped from his practice.

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One week after making this comment in a private forum (a closed Facebook group), I received a certified letter dismissing my children from the practice. Not just mine – several families, apparently. There are eyes everywhere, my friends.

My comment was in response to a post by other mother who was griping about a less than stellar experience with the office staff at this practice. I decided to commiserate. Which didn’t play out as I had expected. Apparently some other mothers in the private group like this doctor so much, they decided to take the conversation offline and personally inform him of our, uh, dissatisfaction.

What I didn’t mention in my comment – but may as well have since we were nixed anyway – is that I had called the office twice prior to the appointment and asked to reschedule because of the number of sick patients they were seeing. I was assured and reassured that our appointment didn’t need to be rescheduled.

The kicker? B spiked a wicked persistent fever two days after our not-a-doctor’s-visit visit.  Which was awesome. Waiting room germs rock.

Perhaps I should have requested a conversation with the office manager when I determined we would need to reschedule.

But here is irony of it all: I knew how busy the entire office was dealing with the influx of sick patients. I didn’t want to be that patient that halts patient care just so the staff can apologize to make me feel better. My complaint wouldn’t have changed the way the not-a-doctor’s-visit visit happened. I thought I was being courteous by leaving them to do their jobs and swallowing my frustration.

It’s better this way. I’d rather have a doctor who cares for patients over a silly Facebook post in a Facebook group (of which I’ve since removed myself. Too much drama for this mama). And I certainly won’t make the mistake of silencing my frustration in an attempt to be understanding.

Good grief.

So, to the mommas out there – hug your pediatricians a bit tighter. Enjoy the crinkly paper of an exam room table. Ask for an extra sticker. You never know when a visit may be your last.

How do you find a pediatrician? Word of mouth? Google? Any Facebook drama?

Hand wash only.

My fingers are permanently pruned. My skin is itchy and dry. My finger nails? Forget about them. Peeled down to nothingness.

Our dishwasher bit the dust.

More accurately, I’m the new dishwasher.

Our house is older and when we bought the house three years ago, we the appliances would need a bit of updating while we resided under its roof. In that time, we haven’t had any real trouble. Aside from a furnace. And the washing machine. And the other time the dishwasher broke.

No really, it’s a great house. I suppose it got tired of waiting for us to have those extra funds needed to update things according to our original timeline. These kids keep needing new shoes and haircuts and unbelievably expensive dietary supplements. Really, who has the money lying around for a new dishwasher? It’s not even an exciting appliance like a new vacuum or washing machine. (Writing that sentence makes me feel incredibly adult and boring.)

I’ve been spending the bulk of my time spent hunched over the sink scrubbing away and it’s made me much more conscious of how many dishes we use every day. Do the girls really need a new fork at each meal? How dirty is a sippy cup that contains just water? I think they are some gray areas.

Honestly, I don’t mind washing the dishes. It just takes awhile.

We ordered a new dishwasher but it won’t be in until next Monday. J is planning to install it himself which means it most likely won’t be in until the following weekend.

There is a lot of dishwashing in my future.

For your viewing pleasure, a picture of my current favorite. Because she leaves me no dirty dishes to wash.

dog

Pay no mind to her creepy ghost eyes.

Lu, my lovely Lu. The joy this sweet, mangy dog has brought us is immeasurable.  She’s now a solid 35 pounds and has no concept of her size. She lets E play doctor and pull her legs, ears and tail. On any given day, she can be found acting stand-in as: a jungle gym, a pillow, a trampoline, a horse, a princess, a shield and so on.

The verdict is till out on her breed but my current guess is a Weimaraner/hound mix.

What a lovely mutt.

The holiday hangover.

Does anyone else’s child had a hard time adjusting after the holidays?

Around here, we call it the holiday hangover.

We’re in the thick of it.

The treats, toys and getting spoiled by the grandparents has thrown poor E for a loop. Preschool began again yesterday and she was a absolute wreck afterwards. Everything was a battle – taking of our shoes, eating lunch (which she picked!), getting settled for an afternoon rest took three times longer than normal. And it was more than the typical delays or requests for a few more minutes to play. I’m talking about whining, tears and gibberish.

Gah.

It was a stressful day for B, too.

She got her first head wound.

Man, those suckers, bleed.

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Thank goodness for Strawberry Shortcake bandages and boo-boo bunnies.

Today was a slight improvement.

In my efforts to get B more socialized, we tried a new (to us) music and movement class. At $7, it seemed like a relatively cheap and noncommittal way to meet new people. E loved it. B? Not so much.

She didn’t hate it. She just didn’t know what to make of these crazy people shaking instruments and playing under a parachute. We’ll try it again.

I suppose I have a bit of a holiday hangover, as well. It probably has something to do with being away from home for a while paired with the chilly (for us sissy southerners) weather. But lately I just want to spend our days at home. Cooking, cleaning and playing with the kids sounds like the best way to spend our days.

Have you recovered from the holidays? 

Resolution.

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. I didn’t have anything particular against them; I just never felt the need to make a definitive statement of my intentions.

I feel differently this year.

Being that it’s January 4 and a lot of people have already fallen off the resolution bandwagon, I’m incredibly late to this New Year party.

But I didn’t want to make my resolutions lightly. I tend to jump into big, major, life-altering things quickly and with both feet without always thinking things through. I act emotionally and impulsively and whilst that’s dandy most of the time (thank God I married a more rational man), I wanted to think through my goals for 2013 with more than just an eager heart.

This HuffPo article says that the key to keeping resolutions isn’t wishing, but instead trying. That makes sense. I can’t keep hope, hope, hoping things will change without making notable steps.

When I was younger and envisioned who I would be at my present age, I saw a woman with more self-awareness and a better grasp on all these things that everyone else seems to know how to handle. I somehow missed Well-Adjusted Grownup 101 my freshman year of college.

I spent quite a bit of time reflecting and pondering who I want to be when I ring in 2014. All of the attributes on my list fell easily into categories with specific goals:

1. I will have better willpower.

2. I will be a stellar wife and mother.

3. I will grow new friendships.

Number 1 sounds easy enough but this category will be the hardest for me as it encompasses the most. It isn’t just about saying no to nutella rice crispy treats (which, admittedly, does take a lot of discipline) but saying yes to myself when I’m inwardly saying no, I don’t want to. I can rationalize anything and give myself far too many free passes.

It’s raining, I don’t want to load the kids in the car and go to the gym. B didn’t sleep well last night and she’ll probably be a wreck for the ladies in child watch. I’ll run later. <– i’m a wimp. girls are fine. i probably won’t run later.

It’s okay my house is a disaster area. I have two little kids and, you know what they say, “there is no point in shoveling in the middle of a snowstorm!” <– actually, there is a point. it’s so much easier to handle a bit at a time rather than a crap load at once. truth.

I should get up early to read my devotions and have some quiet time. But I could really use that extra time to fold the mountain of laundry that is eating my sofa. Or sleeping in this warm bed because God knows I’m completely physically and mentally exhausted by these two children who will surely wake the moment I sit down with my coffee.  <– stupid. everyone (God included) knows that laundry won’t get folded regardless of what time I wake. everyone is tired. shut up and read the bible, you whiner.

Ways to correct this bad behavior are numerous. For the sake of brevity (and your interest level, I’m sure), here are a few.

  • Suck it up, buttercup. When I make the decision to run/crosstrain/practice yoga, I will keep myself accountable. Yes, there are times that will require flexibility and forgiveness. But planned workouts that are skipped will have to be made up just like high school PE.  And no one really liked high school PE.
  • Keep on the housekeeping beyond the never-ending dishes and laundry. Motivated Moms has been a great way to start and there is an App that provides a customizable checklist of daily tasks.
  • Wake up early enough to get myself prepared both physically and mentally for the day before the girls wake at 7 a.m. On gym mornings, this means preparing breakfast for that morning with leftovers for the following. The mornings that I need to shower will go smoother with breakfast prepared and I can focus on getting the girls out the door once they wake. This time also includes devotions and personal writing.

Number 2 is a bit more vague but revolves around my needing to be more selfless and more invested in my family.

  • I will listen when my children speak. They are hilarious and brilliant little humans and I want them to know that when they talk to me, I will hear them and value what they are saying. Now and forever.
  • I will say “yes” more often. The bulk of the verbiage coming from E’s lips are requests ranging from the bizarre to the downright annoying. I typically say “no” for the sake of time and simplicity but the joy these quirks bring to that sweet child is immeasurable. An added bonus is that I will no longer be fighting my daughter on things that really don’t matter. As a strong-willed child, she needs to feel like she has control and if that means she gets to dip her apple slices in ketchup, well, so be it. The more I say yes, the more willing she will be to cooperate when I say no. Her little mind is fascinating.
  • I will cut my husband some slack. J has a seriously stressful job with long hours and often travels on short notice – all of which, in turn, is seriously stressful on the rest of us. He is an awesome employee and takes providing for his family seriously. He knows how I feel. He doesn’t need a tongue lashing every time he’s late coming home or leaves me shouldering additional responsibility. He knows. So I will be quiet and supportive.
  • I will trust my husband to lead our family.

Number 3 will be interesting. I’m the person that smiles and makes small talk with the grocery store cashier. But I’ve gotten in the habit of closing myself off from new friendships. When we moved to Savannah, I made a great network of friends through children E’s age.  Some have moved away and others I don’t see as often as I’d like but I’ve been in the mindset of “I have friends – I don’t have time/energy/room for any one else.” I know what it’s like to be lonely, especially as a stay-at-home-mom. When I meet someone new, I always assume everyone has someone to love or if they extend an invitation, it’s a matter of manners rather than genuine interest. Instead, I’m going to extend myself. I will go beyond the polite chitchat.

As a subset to number 3, B needs more friends her age. E has grown up with no fewer than 10 close-aged buddies with whom to share a morning play date. B hasn’t had that. Paired with her disdain for children not yet able to string two words together (she’s a bit of an ageist), it will otherwise be a lonely childhood for her.

 

I’m excited. I’m looking forward to 2013 and finding comfort in 2012 and all the years prior. Because of this, there is a number 4.

#4. Accept myself for who I am and who I am meant to be.

 

Did you make resolutions? Care to share? How are you doing? 

The Tale of a Lackadaisical Liz.

I spent the month of December doing not much of anything.

I let the willpower slide. My normal routine was really nonexistent and I wasn’t particularly  unconcerned with making myself do anything I really didn’t want to do.

It was wonderful.

After a mini-meltdown triggered by my own holiday pressure, I cut myself some slack and just enjoyed things. I forgave myself for my shortcomings. I didn’t stress about being the best or most ambitious. I just enjoyed things.

There is time for hard work and discipline. But there is a season to sit back, enjoy and reflect on what’s been learned and experienced, gained and missed. It’s necessary.

So that’s exactly what I did.

I didn’t run a lot. But I did eat a lot. I spent evenings lazy on the couch with J. We traveled and spent time with family and played in the snow.

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SONY DSCSONY DSCAgain, it was fantastic.

I wish I could continue on like this but the joy in rest only comes after the hard work.

Back to life as we previously know it.

I’m rested. I’m excited.

Happy 2013.