Monday, December 29, 2014

#MicroblogMondays - Being Enough

We went on vacation to an all inclusive resort in Jamaica for the Christmas holiday, and the resort we stayed in offered "Kids Camp." Camp included structured activities for the kids to do every day - glass bottom boatadventure, swimming, crafts, baking/pizza making in the kitchens, tea parties, singing, dancing, games, treasure hunts, visiting with Sesame Street Characters in real life, etc etc etc.  The first full day we were there, we didn't do it, but we ran into a camp counselor the second day who enticed Sofie to try it.  She LOVED it.  We did it during the day for 3 days in a row, dropping her off around 9:30 and picking her up around 3:30 so we could still do some swimming.

I have to say that it was the best thing ever.  My husband was sick with the flu, so having her attend let him sleep.   Also, doing the mom/adventure coordinator thing on vacation was a lot of work by my self.  I had booked the trip to Jamaica with a vision of some alone time/beach time to recuperate from this year (see previous posts about the 3 different jobs & broken/twisted ankles).  Kids Camp allowed us to have some alone time during the day, and we picked up Sofie mid-afternoon so we could swim/make sand castles/etc.

On the last full day in Jamaica, I dropped Sofie off again for kids camp, and one of the counselors made the comment that "most parents don't drop their kid off on the last day - we weren't expecting you."  I felt judged big time.  It felt like she was implying I didn't love Sofie enough to spend the day with her.  Sofie had woken up at 6 that morning and had been pleasant for awhile but metamorphosed into a screaming, temper tantrum, walking nightmare from 7-8:30. She had been sneaking candy, and when she eats it before breakfast, it doesn't do nice things to her disposition.  I know that I didn't need to justify my decision to drop Sofie off to Kids Camp.  I just expected that they would do their job, take my kid, and let me have a couple hours of peace.  Why did I feel so judged?  I should have just told her to "F OFF"

I have had some time to think about it in the last day, and it rubbed me the wrong way because...

I am the single breadwinner in our family (full time middle manager in a technical industry), and sometimes I have a hard time accepting that I am enough and give enough to every stakeholder in my life.  My husband is a full time homemaker.

It feels like most of my colleagues spend the 10-14 hours a day in the office. Why? I can only imagine that they 1) like to work, 2) are hiding from their significant others, 3) are really playing "worlds of Warcraft" or some other computer game, or 4) they are shopping/reading news/on eBay, etc.  I spend 8 hours a day at work, working.  I am there to get in, get work done, and get out.  I also have about 90 minutes of commute on top of the 8 hours, plus an hour lunch.  That means I spend at least 10 hours a day on work related activities, on a good day when I actually get out of work on time.  and I am a person who used to be defined by my work.  I love working.  It makes it tough to not spend all my time at work.  I feel guilt because I am not at work.  Also, it is a highly political, tumultuous time in my industry, and people are being let go.  I feel guilty that I am not doing enough.

Then, when I get home, I feel guilt about not being the best mom.  Many other moms at my daughter's school are full time moms.  They have time to make their daughter fancy dresses, go to the park, drop them off at school, pick them up at school, make dinner, go shopping, do soccer practice, do homework and volunteer at school. I am lucky to make Sofie breakfast, sometimes get her dressed, and have dinner with her.  I also help with the bedtime routine, but a lot of the time, when I get home, I am worn out. I feel guilty I am not doing enough and giving enough.

Then, I look in the mirror and I see that I am 100 pounds overweight.  I see the flaws - where I blew my knee out twice, where I broke my leg, where I broke my ankle this year, the scars, the flab.  I feel guilt about not taking care of myself, not having self control and not respecting myself enough to not overeat.

I keep meaning to do things - schedule extracurricular activities for my daughter and myself, but it hasn't happened yet.  Other moms seem to be arranging and facilitating activities for their kids.  They supplement the existing school with languages and physical activities.  Why am I not doing that?

At the end of the day, I need to tell the negative, nagging voice in my head to shut the fuck up.  I have prioritized taking care of my family financially, and I need self care for myself too.  I have provided amazing opportunities for my daughter that she never would have gotten if she had remained in China.  She got her cleft palate fixed as much as possible for her age. She has gotten speech therapy and is up to age appropriate sounds (she could only do vowels and "m" and "n" when we got her).  She takes piano lessons and dance lessons.  I am teaching her to bake. I sing with her. We dance together. I helped provide an amazing opportunity to go on vacation to Jamaica.  She has learned to swim.  She is learning to read.  I am a great mom, and I don't need to feel guilty about giving her to Kids camp for a few hours on our final day in Jamaica.  I deserve rest and relaxation too.

I am enough.  I just need to remind myself most days.

Don't know what #MicroblogMondays is? Check it out here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lazy Days

It's a lazy day in paradise, and I am feeling grateful. We picked a resort with kids camp, and Sofie went immediately after breakfast (chomping at the bit for fun)! The hubby has the flu (son of a gun... Life is not fair. He braved it Sunday, our travel day, and yesterday). I made him go to bed after breakfast in hope that  his fever will break and that he will feel better tomorrow.

Here I am, sitting in paradise on our lovely balcony.

I am thinking about grabbing a drink with rum and having some quality alone time. It is definitely solitude. Beautiful.

Monday, December 15, 2014

#MicroblogMondays - Christmas cookies galore

I love the season of Christmas.  Every year, I decorate the house while watching Christmas movies.  The first movie is always "White Christmas."  Phase 2 includes making Christmas food - cookies, fruitcake, chocolate truffles, apple pie - and watching more movies (National Lampoon Christmas vacation, home alone, miracle on 34th st...).  The typical cookie fare includes sugar cookies, Norwegian gingerbread cookies (pepperspisser), Norwegian sand cookies (sandnoetter), toffee bars, candy cane cookies, and sometimes spritz. This year, I discovered the melted snowman cookies which are my new rockstar favorites.  Basic 101 instructions are here.

I used Martha Stewart's perfect sugar cookies and royal icing recipes. So yummy! It will be a tradition for years to come!  My innovation for the snowmen were the tic tacs for nose, googly eyes from the store, and pretzels for the arms.  Using Martha's recipe + marshmallows yielded a taste that was creamier than a typical lemon sandwich cookie.

While we had the dough/frosting, we went crazy with other cutout/decorations.

The decorating was perfect for ages 5+.

What are your favorite Christmas cookies?  Do you have a fun-gotta-try go to?

Don't know what #MicroblogMondays is? Check it out here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Birth Parents

When I woke Sofie up this morning, she did this cat stretch thing that she does every single day.  I was sitting, watching her, and wondering if it is what her birth mom or dad does every morning when they wake up.  I don't do it. Her dad doesn't do it.  I wonder how many of her gestures, looks, mischievous smiles, sunny personality, stormy moments, voices and characteristics are from her birth parents.

It is funny how I am so grateful to her birth parents and think of them almost every day.  I feel connected to them through her, and I send so much love in my thoughts.  I wonder if Sofie has brothers and sisters in this world. I wonder what they look like and what they do. I imagine that they are gymnasts and performers who found love early.  I imagine they are married and thinking about Sofie every day.  I imagine that they are full of joy and happiness and trusting the universe to take care of their beautiful girl.

For those who don't know, Sofie was left on the doorsteps of an orphanage on what they think is the second day of her birth.  She was both a girl and had a cleft palate.  In her province, only 1 child is allowed per family.  I wonder if her parents had been loving and singing to her every day during the pregnancy.  I wonder about their reactions when they realized that she was a cleft palate kid.  I wonder if they knew she was a girl and planned to give her up for adoption anyway or if the cleft palate was what made it happen?  I wonder what happened to her birth mom and dad.

I wonder when Sofie is going to start asking questions and worry that she isn't enough.  I wonder if she will know in her heart that she has been wanted and loved since before the moment she was conceived, like a thought of a seed in the universe. She has such joy and purpose. She has such abundance of spirit.

How much is from me? my husband? from her? from the universe? from her birth parents and grand parents? Do they think of her every day and cry? Do they know she is loved and thriving and becoming an amazing young woman?

I wish they could hear my call and thoughts.  If they could, I would tell them...

  • We have an amazing child together
  • I am eternally grateful to you for sharing her with me
  • I wish I could send you updates so you could see how your sacrifice of love paid off
  • It is an amazing life and you are part of my family forever if you want it
  • I love you. Truly.
  • Thank you.

Monday, December 8, 2014

#MicroBlogMondays - Magic Moment of the Week

Yesterday, I had one of those "magic moments" that I wish I could experience forever.  When Sofie woke up, she put on this little hot pink, sequined leotard with a skirt. Later in the day, she and I were watching "Whit.e C.hristmas" together (my favorite movie), and although Sofie isn't quite old enough to watch the entire thing - she IS only five - Sofie tuned in when there was singing and dancing.   When the musical number "I'd R.ather See a Mi.nstrel Show" began, she instantly engaged.  By the time "Mandy" came on, she decided to dance with Vera-Ellen and copy everything that Vera did.  I was watching the movie and Sofie together, in similar costumes with similar expressions of joy on their faces and for that moment, time stood still.  I hoped she would love W.hite Chri,stmas, and I experienced everything I could have hoped for in that moment.

Have you had any magic moments lately?

Don't know what #MicroblogMondays is? Check it out here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

#MicroblogMondays - Advent Traditions

It's December 1st, and the race to Christmas is underway.  We started this morning with our annual-manual-made Advent calendar that my mother-in-law made for us when we got Sofie all those years ago.  I went on a hunt and plunder adventure at Target and the first gift of the season was Christmas Hel.lo K.itty socks.  A crowd-pleaser for me and a snoozer to her. The tree is up. The outside lights are up.  I bought Christmas aromatherapy candles yesterday.  And we remembered to light our single Advent candle (thank you BBB).  We started a new tradition of saying the Norwegian Advent Poem (in Norwegian and English) and then what we are grateful in our lives.

What are your advent traditions?

Don't know what #MicroblogMondays is? Check it out here.