Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Taking back my living room

Last week a friend who is in the process of putting her house on the market asked for tips for getting the clutter under control. It seemed as she got one area of the house cleared out, another area fell apart.

Ah. A familiar story. I was reminded of the time we put our house on the market when the Babies were not even one.

I dug deep, trying to be encouraging and helpful, while at the same time being reminded of the often-circulated e-card...

While it wasn't easy to keep the house semi-ready for an impromptu showing, I did remember a couple of helpful tips. One was to clear out a room and then shut it off (as much as possible).

Another was to round up as much of the kids' toys from the living space and relocate them to one room. Leave a few toys in the living room but keep the number to what can be quickly stashed in a basket.

When we de-toyed our living room, we moved a ton of play stuff to our small bonus room, leaving just a few things behind. We were lucky to have the space, but at their age, we weren't comfortable with them playing in the bonus room without us up there. Most of their play happened downstairs, in the living room.

Over time, the toys crept back downstairs, especially after the house came off the market.

At Christmas, we added a train table.

This Saturday, as I listened to them play independently-- upstairs in the bonus room-- I counted a train table, a crate of books, and two boxes of toys in the living room.

I also realized that it was time to take some of my own advice--advice that would be useful even if the house wasn't on the market.

There was no reason to have all of these toys downstairs anymore. We have a playroom and the kids are finally big enough to play in there without constant supervision.

So, after 4-5 trips up and down the stairs, we finally had our living room back. It was a moment of freedom reminiscent of the day the baby gates came down.

It was a moment worthy of pictures.

Like matched with like. My OCD inner child beamed.

And all was well...

Until the twin tornado touched down.

Surveying the damage, I realized I had skipped the first part of my decluttering advice: purge the unnecessary.

These kids have too many toys. It's time for some things to go.

But, for now, I am going to shut the playroom door and just go back to enjoying my clean living room.

It's been too long...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Whiplash

I want to go to the camper!

I want to go to church!

I want to go to Ms. Jeanine's pool!

I want to go to the pancake place!

I want to go to school in my bathing suit!

...And, all of these requests came in the first minutes of waking up this morning.

...And, once again, I was dogged by a nagging question, "Can you have too much fun?"

There's no doubt about it-- we've had an action- packed summer. We have gone and played and ate and swam and...

It might just be easier to show instead of tell--

Over the Memorial Day holiday, Marty and I took our first, real kid- free vacation. While we enjoyed a week in the Dominican sans tantrums and potty emergencies, the kids were spoiled by Aunt Windy, Uncle Tom, and GiGi.

We were only home from our trip for a couple of days before we moved into birthday celebration mode-- first a ship and then a party at a bounce house. Emily and Drew asked to go to a bounce house every day for at least the next two weeks.

The next weekend found us on the road for a weekend trip to Charlotte to visit friends and Carowinds. We even managed to squeeze in a trip to Discovery Place.

And then there were trips to pools of all shapes and sizes...
Thanks, Ms. Austin!

And, Ms. Jeanine.

And, Daddy for blowing up our new camper pool

Oh, let's not forget all the weekend trips to the camper!

With trips to the camper come trips to the sand.

Tired yet?

We're not done.

There was a Battleship visit,

a trip to the Children's Museum,

our first big kid movie,

and Vacation Bible School (Sorry--no pictures yet. Mommy's been busy teaching).

Whew. Is it any wonder my kids have summer whiplash? That they wake up asking to go 10 different places in 10 minutes?

They are only three, and I think I know they have done more than I did in 10 years of my childhood.

I spent my summers outside, barefoot, making forts and mudpies, while cooling off with juice jugs and Mr. Freeze Freezer pops.

Going anywhere was a luxury. For my kids, it's a way of life.

I'm not going to go so far as to say any of the above fun is bad.

I don't think it's bad to give kids experiences, especially when they are shared experiences.

I don't think we spoil kids with our love and attention.

But I do wonder (notice I didn't say worry) about balance.

Am I creating kids who will need constant entertainment--kids who will complain about being bored once the activity inevitably slows down?

Is it possible to be too busy? To have too much fun?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'll be sure to read and respond just as soon as we get back home from our final night of Vacation Bible School and before we head to the beach for the rest of the weekend...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sunny with a strong chance of change

Summer in North Carolina this year has been uncharacteristically wet.

We've often joked that purchasing the Ark play set in June for the Babies' birthday was a smart move since we might need to use it to escape the rising flood waters.

Perhaps it is this extreme weather that has Emily and Drew so tuned in lately to the weather.

Mommy, can we play outside if it's not raining?

Mommy, do you have an umbrella?

Mommy, was that lightening?

As we hunkered down in the bed last night, listening to the boom of the thunder, we talked of the rain, the thunder, and the darkness of the night.

Emily, assuming that mothering role she loves so well, snuggled up to him and said, "Don't worry, Andrew. Tomorrow there will be a new sky."

Don't you love the profound, innocent wisdom of children?

And, guess what? Today, there was a new sky. Granted, it was pretty clouded, but it was new.

As I looked up at the clouds this morning, I thought about how life is like the weather, especially life today.

If we're friends on Facebook, you might have picked up on some changes I had been forecasting but couldn't quite broadcast.

Today, I can say somewhat more officially that the forecast for Melissa is "Sunny with a strong chance of change."

Today officially began my two- week notice at work.

On August 8, I will wake up to a new sky and will begin a new job.

This is a big move. I've been in my current job for 6 years--longer than any other position I've been in before.

I've learned so much, met so many wonderful people along the way, and endured many seasons of changing weather.

But, the time has come to make a change.

While the work will be similar, the faces will be new, the daily routine different, and the drive much shorter.

It's scary. It's exciting. It's a little cloudy and a lot sunny.

It's a new sky, for sure.

I'm not too worried, though.

As we drove to school this morning, under cloudy skies, I decided to brighten the mood by singing, "You Are My Sunshine." As I wrapped up the last verse with a loud, dramatic, "Please don't take my sunshine away!" Emily said, reassuringly, "Don't worry, Mama. Nobody's going to get your sunshine. I've locked it away and hid it!"

Watch out, world!

Nobody steals Mama's sunshine!

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Ticking Time Boobs: A Friday Confessional

If you've followed MaMe Musings for any length of time, you know that I have no problem letting it all hang out, especially in a Friday Confessional...

I've talked about life before Marty, life during infertility, and life after loss.


I confess: While I've been accused of being "perfect" with "your blog, your twins, and your Pinterest," my life is far from perfect. And I am okay with the imperfection. What's the saying?

Yeah, this blog is like giving my crazy a cold Bud Light Lime (my current drink of choice).

I confess: Writing is my outlet-- one of them. Drinking wine and cursing are some of the others. Writing is healthier, don't you agree? At a minimum, it's more socially acceptable to write alone than it is to drink alone and talk to yourself.

I confess:
This blog is a record. It's also a conversation. From my most honest posts, I have reached people who are struggling with similar issues. With all of the divisive uses of the Internet, it feels good to do some good.


I confess: This confessional is about to two of the most private places ever-- my boobs. (Oh, no she didn't just says boobs! Yes, she did-- Boobs, breasts, boobies).

Here we go...

I confess: I've talked around the edges of my anxiety-- the anxiety that set in during my pregnancy. When I birthed 16+ pounds of baby, I also birthed 16 tons of worry. Insane worry.

Bone- chilling, panic attack anxiety.

I confess: Maybe my body was just beaten down from pregnancy, a delivery where I hemorrhaged and almost died, or the sleepless nights of newborn twins. Maybe it was the post- partum hormonal changes or the anxiety manifesting itself in physical ailments... Probably all of it. The result was clear-- I felt bad. Not just emotionally. Physically. Bad. Something had to be wrong...

I confess: I went to the doctor. I had blood tests, ultrasounds, a CAT scan... What was causing the pain in my stomach? My back ache? My abnormal pap? Was that level on my blood work elevated?

I was convinced I was dying.

Oh, God.

I was going to die and leave my babies. The thought alone was enough to kill me if whatever dark force in my body didn't.

More anxiety.

I googled and feed the anxiety beast.

I cried.

I prayed.

I took medicine.

I saw a therapist.

I googled some more.

Something had to be wrong with me.

I confess: Something was wrong-- I had serious anxiety. Post- partum anxiety? Maybe. A tad of OCD? Probably. A crisis of faith? Sure.

I confess:
In the throes of the worst of it, I knew it was crazy. But I couldn't stop. I was petrified.

I had these little babies who I loved so much it hurt-- more than any physical pain I was experiencing.

What if something happened to me? Who would love them like their mommy? Or, more selfishly, what if I didn't get to live to see them start school, graduate, go to college, get married, have kids, start their own blog...

And, the twisted part was the anxiety was keeping me from enjoying the very things I was scared of losing. I was alive and dead.

I confess: At some point, the anxiety found a place to settle and grow-- my boobs. I think the seeds of the fear were planted the summer before I got pregnant when I watched my best friend, Jeanine, get diagnosed with breast cancer at 39. Talk about a kick in the gut. Then I watched more friends-- too many too young-- get the same news. Suddenly, my monthly self- breast exam didn't seem so routine anymore. It became a matter of life and death.

I confess: The irony that my boobs became a source of anxiety is not lost on me. My breasts, a symbol of nourishment, were bad. Was my subconscious fear of being an inadequate mother manifesting itself in such obvious way? Was I centering my worry on tangible objects instead of facing more abstract fears? Oh, Freud would love me...

I confess: I was scared of my boobs. I was convinced every lump or bump was something bad. And, for someone with fibrocystic breasts? Well, that's a lot of bad. And a lot of self- groping.

I confess: I was somewhat reassured by numerous doctor examinations that found nothing serious enough to send me for my first mammogram. But, there was always a nagging fear-- deep in my chest--even on the good days, that maybe I should just squeeze the boobie bite the bullet and get a baseline mammogram.

But I didn't. Because... (fear)


I confess:
About a year ago, it was like the fever broke. The anxiety got better. No meds. No therapist. It was actually a moment of spiritual enlightenment that's probably a story for another blog post...

The anxiety subsided. The boob fear faded-- kind of.

I confess: I was still a diligent boob checker. So, this past Saturday, when I felt some new lumps, well-- I freaked. It was like my ticking time- boobs had finally exploded.

I confess: Freak doesn't seem like a strong enough word. (See beginning of post where I mention my predilection for other ways of venting and fill in the blanks with your four letter words of choice).

I confess: I called my doctor at 8:01 on Monday morning. She had me in her office by 8:45. By 9:15 she had felt me up, hugged me, and reassured me that, while I definitely have complicated boobies, everything felt like classic fibrocystic tissue. But-- a mammogram and ultrasound were warranted.

At 10:30 the next morning, with Jeanine by my side, I faced the demons I had been fighting for two years-- my boobs, my fears, and the mammogram machine.

By 11:00, I had been properly squeezed, while crying like a complete wuss. I would like to say I was strong. I wasn't. And, no, I wasn't crying because it hurt like hell because it really didn't. I was crying because I was scared-- like the biggest chicken you've ever met.

In the next hour, I received two ultrasound examinations (where I cried some more) from the technician and from the doctor who both concluded the same thing-- while my boobs feel like a mess, they scan clear. No cysts. No masses. No microcalcifications. Nothing to watch or biopsy. Just a boob complicated enough to need a map to chart all the "nodularity." (Oh, yes. I now have a boob map).

I confess: I felt somewhat vindicated when the doctor remarked that examining my breasts would challenge a doctor much less a 37 old woman who doesn't feel boobies for a living. She assured me that I was absolutely doing the right thing getting the mammogram and the ultrasound. And she walked me through my bumps, one at a time, helping me to feel the fear and conquer it.

So, what's left to confess?

I'd like to say I've learned my lessons and can sum it all up in a neat and tidy ending. I can't. Life, like my boobs, is complicated. Here's some of what I know today, in no particular order:
  • Anxiety sucks.
  • Cancer sucks.
  • The fear of cancer sucks.
  • Fear of anything is exhausting.
  • I am tired of being scared and tired of being tired.
  • I could learn so much about strength from my friends who actually have faced my fears and have come out stronger on the other end. They are my heroines.
  • I love my friends who get it, hold my hand, watch me cry, offer encouraging words of hope, refrain from judging me, and never leave me.
  • Being scared of my own body is not good.
  • I should have trusted my instincts and gotten that mammogram sooner. There was a reason I was worried. When I didn't listen to my body, the fear only grew.
  • I want women, including myself, to be diligent but not petrified, about their breast health. Mammograms don't hurt half as bad as you might fear. Even if the thing you fear is real, you can't deal with it by ignoring it.
  • It will be okay. Regardless, it will be okay.
  • My worry doesn't change the outcome.
  • I want to say I am better. Today I am. But, I know that I must also be diligent about monitoring the subconscious lumps of anxiety while not being controlled by it.
  • I am not guaranteed tomorrow on this earth-- none of us are. But I am going to let it all hang out and try to live every day like the blessing that it is.


One final confession...

I confess: You will not see me letting it all hang out-- literally. I've nursed twins, after all, and there are just some things people don't need or want to see ;-)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Our Fourth Fourth

A little digging in the MaMe Musings' vault has uncovered some pictures from Fourth of Julys gone- by.

Our very first Fourth--the one where they were not even one month old and their clothes were four sizes too big.

Our second Fourth-- the one where the two of them stopped-- for just a second-- to pose in their two new chairs.

Our third Fourth-- the one where the three of us snuggled up to watch the fireworks at the local park.

...and now we are preparing for our fourth Fourth--the one where the four of us pile everything we own into the back of the car to head to the camper for four days of freedom from work (and hopefully the rain).

Pictures to follow-- for sure!
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