Thursday, March 19, 2015

"So How Do You DO It All?"

  Last month, we grabbed our kids, our dog, our necessities (including but not limited to clothes, diapers, "bankies," debit cards, my violin, our wedding album, and goldfish crackers) and made The Big Move from Fort Benning, GA to Fort Carson, CO. We broke up the trip so that we actually traveled over the course of four days, to maintain our sanity and give my achin' back a break from the driver's seat as much as possible. All things considered, the kids did very well, and we made it to this mountainous state in all its' beauty in one piece. Since then, we have moved into a rental home, mostly unpacked our things, and we're slowly but surely getting used to Will's insane work schedule (and by "insane," I mean he usually leaves for work around 5:30am and if we're lucky, returns by 6:30pm). It's been a big adjustment, and we've had to weather our way through tantrums, multiple beagle escapes from our back yard, a pregnant woman with chronic back pain, and a papa who isn't around as much as he used to be. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I love Colorado. I love looking out the window and seeing mountains in the distance, I love all the state parks and attractions that are merely a short drive away, and I love the wonderful opportunities and organizations for families that are absolutely thriving in our community. I am truly very happy, and very thankful to be living here.

  One thing I've been hearing frequently from family and friends is, "how do you do it all?" combined with, "I could never do xyz like you guys," etc. So, brace yourselves, because I have to let you in on a little secret.

*whispers*

  I don't.

  I don't do it all. I have plenty of evenings where I look in our mirror and say to myself, "I have absolutely no idea how I made it through this day alive. Thank you God." Tony and Alessandra are both at the age where they require mental and physical stimulation. I try to balance their needs and wants with MY needs and wants, and believe me, that doesn't always pan out. I want to have a clean and organized house, I want to enjoy this pregnancy without wincing in pain every time I stand up, and I want to do fun, crafty projects and visit fun, educational places with my children every day. I also want to put away a healthy chunk of change in our savings account while squirreling away a decent percentage of our income towards our retirement, all the while replacing things in our home that desperately need to be replaced, and plan for a fun family vacation this summer while Will has block leave. I want to make delicious, healthy meals every night for dinner, while still keeping my children entertained lest they grab a box of crayons and color on the toilet.
Yeah, about that...
  Well.

  The past few days, my back pain has been so unbearable I didn't even attempt to make dinner. Tony and Alessandra have been feasting upon peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (at least it's natural peanut butter, right??) and scrambled eggs with cheese and toast. 15% of our income going towards retirement? More like 10% right now. I'm actually doing a decent job of sticking to a budget and putting money in our emergency fund, but we keep getting hit with all these random bills ($25 to the neurosurgeon I saw when we first moved here, $200 for the Harmony test I took during week 14 of my pregnancy, $140 gas bill, etc). Alessandra is getting her two-year molars, which means she's cranky, out of sorts, and not sleeping well. Poor little baby just wants to snuggle, read books, and eat things that feel good on her teeth, and while that's perfectly fine with me, my 4-year old (understandably) has zero patience for her discomfort, and just wants to run around at the park all day. Our home isn't dirty, but it's cluttered. Clutter makes me insane. I feel like I'm struggling spiritually. I try to take a few minutes every morning for prayer, but something usually gets in the way. I feel like my back is going to snap in half every time I stand up, and I spend most of our days limping after my children like a 90-year old woman. Gone are the days of experimenting with exotic cheese and Italian deli meats; those meals are no longer in our budget or on my timetable.

  In short, I'm falling short. As much as I appreciate the kind words and encouragement from my family and friends, the simple fact of the matter is that I'm so far from Wife and Mother of the Year it's not even funny. I'm just as guilty as the next mommy blogger of posting our Norman Rockwell pictures on my Instagram ("Look at my kids playing together at the playground in our neighborhood! See the tasty looking meatless meal I made for a Friday during Lent? Here I am with my hair styled and makeup on!"), and I'm really making an effort to knock it off. First and foremost, it isn't honest. I don't mean to imply that every day around here involves a war-torn house with mom on the rampage and Tony and Alessandra running around in rags, but lately, my life is a lot more Lynette Scavo from Desperate Housewives than Bree VandeKamp. Secondly, back in 2010 when I was gradually making the change from "dual employed married couple living overseas" to "gigantically pregnant stay at home wife in a Boston suburb," I made the mistake of devouring mommy blogs. And not just regular blogs written by regular moms; clearly, there's nothing wrong with that. No, I went for the full-on Perfect Mommy Blogger Who Looks Like She Just Stepped Off the Runway in Paris With Her Four Perfect Children in their Designer Twee Clothes Who Thinks Up Super Fun Artsy Projects Every Day and Has a Seemingly Endless Amount of Patience, Energy and Money. You know who I'm talking about (and this isn't even any one blogger in particular). I hadn't even given birth yet, and I already felt like crap about myself. I wanted to be the best mother I could possibly be to my children, but I knew there was no possible way I could measure up to those women. And truth be told...I didn't want to, because I knew that wasn't me. It was still a hard mentality to break from, and it's taken me a loooooooong time to be satisfied with my parenting, housekeeping, wife-ing, you name it.

  Bottom line? Don't be fooled by what you see on the internet. I'm not discouraging reading blogs altogether, because there are a few I've found that I absolutely love, and I draw inspiration, rather than self-criticism from these women. Just know that if you see what looks to be the perfect family with the perfect life on the perfect blog, you only know what they're choosing to show to the world. Their marriage may be on the rocks. They may have a huge, beautiful home and designer clothes, but may be drowning in debt. Their children may be involved in every art project, ballet class and playground get-together that week, but they may be sick to death of being photographed (and dare I say, exploited?) every minute of every day. Don't be fooled by my blog or my Instagram, either. Just because you see my kids hugging it out at the park doesn't mean they weren't at each others' throats an hour earlier. You didn't see the post where I tripped over my own two feet, spilled coffee on the carpet, and taught my daughter a new (swear) word. Just because I post a picture of our healthy Lenten dinner on Facebook doesn't mean that I didn't serve ice cream for lunch.

  I'm making a pledge (ugh that sounds so cheesy, doesn't it?) to be more honest about my life on social media. I can't, in all fairness, rip on other bloggers when I'm guilty of doing the same thing. That doesn't mean that every single aspect of my life has to be shared on this blog, but if I'm going to write about the good times, I damn well better include the bad and the ugly as well. In the meantime, if someone says to me that they don't know how I do it all, I will be graceful and kind, and because I DO know that it's a compliment. But I will also stress to said person that I don't do it all, I reach my limits like everyone else, and if they don't believe me, they are more than welcome to show up at my house at approximately 3pm (known as "post nap"). That should do the trick. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

7 Quick Takes-Intruders


1. So, this was totally the situation this morning.
  
  I've been experiencing a lot of back pain these past few days, so after getting Tony and Alessandra set up with breakfast, clean clothes, a few books and a pile of Legos, I decided to take a relaxing bath. Nothing like the promise of a relaxing soak with epsom salts and (pregnancy safe) essential oils, especially considering I can't take my prescription pain medication anymore. Well, the second I turned on the bath water, some kind of alert went off in Tony's room ("warning! warning! mama is about to relax!") and they both rushed into the bathroom. I was already attempting soak away the back pain, and Alessandra decided to help by sticking her arm in the bath water and splash me. I very gently suggested that they go play with some toys, color, read a book, etc. Tony cheerfully said, "That's okay, Mama! We're just going to stay in here and watch you take a bath!"

  Sigh. Of course you are. 

2. Hey parents, want to get your kid's attention? Are they ignoring you in favor of a toy, a TV show, or just because they turned on their "kid selective hearing?" All you have to do is attempt to take some kind of break. Sit down on the couch with a book you've been meaning to read, blow dry your hair and put on makeup, watch your favorite TV show, whatever floats your boat. I guarantee your child will be on you the second you look even slightly comfortable. 

3. The movers are coming in six days. I will not freak out, I will not freak out, I will not freak out..
*runs away and freaks out*

4. Umm, of course I didn't break out my maternity pants already! I'm only 9 weeks pregnant!

5. I *may* have found the perfect (or almost perfect) home for us in Colorado. It's a 4-bedroom house in the neighborhood we wanted, with a fenced in backyard, and very close to our good friends. I put in an application and I'm waiting to hear back from the realtor. Here's hoping...because I REALLY don't want to add "house hunting" to the list of things we're going to need to do once we get to Colorado.

6. Parents of girls, please tell me (something. anything) to reassure me that potty-training daughters is easier than potty-training sons. We're getting to the point where we need to start introducing Alessandra to the potty, but I'm putting it off for a couple of reasons.

 a. We're about to do a cross country move. I can't possibly think of anything worse than a 3-day road trip with a freshly potty-trained child.
b. I'm still kind of scarred by the epic battle of potty-training Tony. 

7. Am I the only one who actually enjoys filing tax returns? Granted, our taxes aren't very complicated, and the nice chunk of change we receive the following month is always nice....but Turbo Tax is just so much FUN. Can you tell I'm a banker's daughter? 

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum. 

 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

12 in 2014

This is one of my favorite link-ups every year. Dwija from House Unseen generously hosts this ever popular online get-together, and I always have fun sorting through my pictures from the year. It's hard to believe 2014 is almost over. Will became an officer in the Army (okay, technically that happened in the middle of December 2013), the Army moved us to Fort Benning, GA, Little Miss celebrated her first birthday in style, we found out where our next duty station will be (Fort Carson, CO, and yes that move is quickly creeping up on us!), and we were blessed with some wonderful news. It's been adventurous, exhausting, frustrating, joyful, and at times, even relaxing these past twelve months.

  Cheers to 2015!!

January

Tony's 3rd birthday. He only wanted to eat the Oreo wheels off the cake I made for him.



February

We moved to Fort Benning (Follow Me!)



March

Good times, good drinks, good friends at Fort Rucker, AL


April

Alessandra's 1st birthday


May


James graduated from flight school, and we finally got a picture of Alessandra with her godparents!


June

My friend/roommate from junior year, at our 10-year college reunion. Lawrence University in Appleton, WI.


July

Poor baby was bitten by a spider. Fortunately, antibiotics and spaghetti alla carbonara helped her recover in no time.

August

Drinks and dinner with my little brother, who flew to GA for a visit.

September

Fun at the space museum.

October

Michaelangelo and an angry spider ready to go trick-or-treating.
Okay, two pictures in October...sue me. My cousin's wedding in NC. Welcome to the family, Piper!

November 

Happy Veteran's Day

December

Tony and Alessandra have an announcement! 

 Interested in doing a link-up of your own? Go to the link in the first paragraph, and add your own 12 (or 13, whatever your preference) to your blog, and completely the link-up!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Changes

  So, quite a bit of blog neglect going on here lately. The holidays snuck up on us quickly, and with Will's insane work schedule we kind of had to throw everything together at the last minute. We somehow managed to pull it off, and everyone had a lovely Christmas. My in-laws came from Alabama and stayed with us for a few days to celebrate the holidays, and now we're kind of in the "we're keeping the Christmas season going until the Epiphany, but mom is feeling more sluggish and not quite with it, and why do we still have the tree up but everyone forgets to turn on the tree lights every single day?" stage. Not to mention, we have a whole lotta big changes happening to Team Tenney in the next couple of months. Beginning with...

1. Our move to Colorado Springs, CO

  Did I say months? I meant WEEKS. Yes, we are doing a cross-country move with two little kids and a dog in a matter of weeks, and I've done exactly zero preparation for said move. Okay, I've been doing a little bit of house-hunting, which essentially means I've been sorting through homes in the COS area that fit our size requirements and price range, finding what looks like the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood, only to discover that it's been snatched up already and the website hasn't been updated. Oh, and we've tentatively mapped out our route. Yep, that's about it. Things that still need to get done:

 a. Arrange for the movers to come and pack up our home.
 b. Do a massive purge and remove any junk that we've accumulated over the last year and don't want to bring to Colorado.
 c. Call the guy who installed the fence in our backyard and ask him to un-install it. 
 d. Make an appointment for housing to do a walk-through of our home before we head out.
 e. Check out hotels, rest areas, restaurants on our drive to CO. 
 f. Set aside things that must be packed in the car with us (my violin, clothes, shoes, shower/bath accessories, blankets, dog food, essential oils, toys and books for kids, phones, chargers, etc).

  So, I've decided that for now, the best course of action is to completely ignore the upcoming move, and hope that everything will take care of itself. With zero effort on my part. That will work out swimmingly, I'm sure. And, in other big news...

Because we never do anything halfway.

  I mean, what's the point of JUST doing a cross country move with two little kids and a dog when you can add a pregnant woman in her first trimester to the mix? That's right, we are expecting Teeny (hahaha) Tiny (lolololol) Tenney THREE in August! I had my first appointment with a midwife here in Georgia, and she determined that the newest member of our family will arrive on or around August 20th. Clearly, given my track record of birthing extremely late and rather large babies, I'm not holding out any hope that this baby will arrive any time before September. But we did a dating ultrasound, and we were able to hear the most beautiful sound in the world; our little one's heartbeat. 
  
  So! I'm currently battling round-the-clock nausea, fatigue, and back issues (which, unfortunately, still remain). Moms of 3+ children, I'll be counting on you for advice. As in, lots and lots and lots of advice. Will and I are slowly but surely getting used to the idea that our kids will outnumber us, and I'm more than a little embarrassed to report that my regular pants are already feeling pretty tight. I'm holding on to that "you show earlier with each additional child!" mantra like my life depends on it. 

  I hope everyone had a joyous Christmas, and if you're the type to celebrate New Year's, enjoy that as well. I plan on eating stuffed mushrooms, sipping my Welch's sparkling cider, and most likely passing out on the couch around 10pm. Mainly because we'll be attending Mass twelve hours later, and my pregnant butt can't stay up past 10:30pm anymore. 

Cheers to 2015!

Friday, December 12, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday-Get It Together


1. So, I have about five (no joke) unfinished blog posts, and every time I sit down to actually, you know, finish writing and post, life happens. Life meaning kids deciding if they DON'T EAT SOMETHING RIGHT THIS SECOND THEY WILL SURELY STARVE TO DEATH, Alessandra pulls the cloth wipes out of the warmer and throws them all over her room, Murphy slyly pulls a loaf of (homemade!) bread off of my kitchen counter...you get the picture.

2. Will is back in the field until Sunday. I feel like I should just say, "Will is gone...again...he'll be back...sometime." He usually returns right as my sanity is getting ready to say "sayonara" once and for all. Fortunately, this is the last stupid field problem before he finally graduates from this ridiculous class and we can LEAVE!

3. Yes, I know. Easy on the caps lock before I hurt myself. What can I say, this past month has been a bit, what's the word...trying. There. Italics. Ya happy?

4. Fort Benning sponsored a wonderful program called "Trees for Troops," in which families all over the country generously donated Christmas trees for families here at base. All the families needed to do was show up, present an ID card, and claim a free Christmas tree. Wonderful, right? Only by the time Will got off work (I had no hopes of going solo, as my degenerative disk disease is too far gone to lift a 7ft. tree to the roof of our car on my own), almost all the trees were gone. Sad face. However, Home Depot came to the rescue and supplied us with a beautiful tree, that was a whole 50% less than the trees we purchased in Shreveport.

5. Ah yes, leaving, as mentioned in Take #2. It looks like we are definitely moving to Colorado next month, which frankly is just fine with me. Will was initially hoping to take another class-fortunately, one that does not involve frequent trips to the field-but since we've been here 10 months already, the Army doesn't feel like amending Will's orders. So, a move to Colorado in January it is! That should be quite the adventure.

6. I made the (loving? foolish? brave?) decision to let the kids help me bake gingerbread cookies this morning, and later decorate them. I'm predicting sprinkles all over the floor and frosting all over the wall. 'Tis the season, amiright??

7. Proud Catholic parent moment: a few days ago, I heard Tony playing in his room, and praying the Our Father. Granted, it sounded a little more like, "give us today lots of bread, and forgive us for trespassing on playgrounds, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temples, but deliver us from Evan."

You're getting there, kid.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.

Friday, December 5, 2014

7 Quick Takes-Mother of the Year



1. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I feel so on it as a mother. I can take my kids out in public and I'm met with approving nods at my children's model behavior, we can get through a long car ride without any meltdowns, and Tony and Alessandra play nicely with other children at the playground. I'll smile warmly and give myself a mental pat on the back, congratulating myself on raising such lovely, gentle, calm children.

Well.

2. Will is once again in the field, four days this week and four days next week. Such a schedule makes for a stressed out mama and cranky kids, but hey, such is the Army life, right? I can totally handle this on my own. Unless, of course, your kids both come down with a nasty cold at the same time, and your son develops a miserable ear infection as well. And said ear infection makes a violent appearance at 10pm, and your son spends the rest of the night screaming and sobbing in pain, while you curse the Army for taking your husband out of the house for days on end.

3. But hey, you still got this! Calm and cool, you pack up two coughing, sneezing, miserable kids and trot them off to the doctor's office to get a prescription for your little boy, and possibly an exorcist for your daughter (had to stop at church for that one; sadly, exorcists are in short supply at most doctors offices). Pick up prescription. Head home, medicate and feed children, put everyone to bed. Take care of the dog. Attempt to get some much-needed rest for yourself, only to be woken at least once every 2 hours, because when your daughter coughs, she wakes herself up and is unable (or, more likely, unwilling) to self-soothe.

4. The following morning, irritable and exhausted after getting barely any sleep, make sure to stub your toe as hard as possible on the dining room chair. Before you've had your cup of coffee. Mistakenly believing that you are alone, mutter a string of curse words that would impress even your 4-time Iraq War veteran husband. Spin around in shock as your 3-year old says disdainfully, "Mama, you say a lot of bad words."

5. Realize you should probably have a little Come to Jesus talk with yourself regarding road rage as well. You know you might have let your temper get a little out of control when the stoplight turns green, the guy in front of you hesitates, and your son says, "Hey dude, light a fire under it! Light's only one shade of green!"

6. The following afternoon, you also need to have a (strongly worded) heart to heart with your son about hoarding. Specifically, rotting food. Upon entering his bedroom to institute Mandatory Quiet Time, you will smell a foul odor. You will follow the smell to the closet, at which point you will discover two rotting apples in the corner. After removing them with a broom and dustpan, while wearing rubber gloves, you will ask your son WHY in the world he felt the need to store half-eaten food in his closet. His answer of, "Because I felt like it" will not exactly reassure you.

7. But don't worry! Really! Your husband will be home tomorrow, at which point you can shove the children in his arms the second he walks in the door, and retreat to your bathroom for a luxurious bubble bath, a few candles, a good book, and NO ONE will disturb you.

For a whole 18 minutes.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum

Friday, November 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes-Shake It Off


1.  Over the past three weeks, I've heard Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" approximately 135 times. Tony and Alessandra have decided that this particular song was meant for them, and it MUST be played whilst driving, first thing in the morning before Mama has her coffee, while they're "helping" me make dinner, and after nap time. I have to admit, it's a catchy tune, but at this point, I can feel my right eye twitching when I hear the first few notes of the song.

2. On the other hand, I have to give Taylor Swift credit. Tony and Alessandra can be in the absolute worst possible mood, and all I have to do is turn on my iPod, put the song on, and they're out on the dance kitchen floor, shakin' it like nobody's business. They're like, "well, today sucks and everything sucks and we're going to make everyone around us miserable and HEY THAT'S MY JAM!! Watch me shake it off!"

3. Speaking of Apple products, my birthday present from Will arrived a few weeks ago! A brand spankin' new iPad2. It is glorious. I am in love.

4. Will is in the field until Monday evening, so I've been a) trying to keep the kids as occupied as possible, so they won't be too upset by Will's absence to take it out on me, and b) saying lots of prayers that my back won't give out on me. I saw my ortho surgeon earlier this week, and while I can tell he's leaning towards spinal fusion surgery, he's going to run a few tests (blood work, bone scan, and something called a discogram, which makes me think of a bunch of people in bell bottoms standing on my front porch singing "Stayin' Alive." Anyway. Carry on). Soooooo still kind of in limbo, but unfortunately still in pain.

5. If anyone wants to break into my home and steal our remaining Halloween candy, I would be very grateful. If you let me know in advance, I'll even leave the door unlocked for you.

6. I was wondering if Facebook and Instagram could clear something up for me. I know that these two social media powerhouses don't hesitate to ban even the slightest suggestion of a mother breastfeeding her child, but despite the claim that Kim Kardashian broke the internet, I'm still seeing pictures of her ample (I'm being nice), or photoshopped (not so nice) "I just took a bath in olive oil" derriere all over my news feed.

7. I know, I know. Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.

(I'll show myself out now).

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!