Today I woke up determined to give my fur babies some quality time and love.
So, after lunch I headed to the park with 2 dogs and a baby in tow. I was feeling good. I spent a good chunk of the morning playing with Atlas on the floor. I spent his entire nap cleaning our home. I had already taken the dogs for their morning walk, but I thought the park would be the icing on the cake for both Atlas and the dogs. I could just feel it – that proverbial ‘mom of the year’ award was going to be mine after today. I had it in the bag.
All was going well. The sun was shining. A nice breeze made it feel like the perfect autumn day. Nobody was in the park, so Ob & Marley had the entire run of the place. Atlas was laughing out loud as he ran through the grass, which was a huge victory because Atlas currently doesn’t like me to set him down. And when I say he “doesn’t like me to set him down” I mean when I tried to pee earlier today and I set him on the bathroom floor (there are just some things I cannot do while holding a 25 pound weight) he threw his head back and screamed so loudly I was sure our neighbors were going to come over to ensure CPS didn’t need to be contacted. Lord help me.
Anyways, all was going well…
And then I noticed Marley sniffing something from across the park and before I could even register what was happening, he was rolling like a maniac in the grass. If you have dogs, you know this is never a good sign. Ever. I took off in a mad sprint yelling at him to stop, but it was too late. He was covered in this atrocious brown funk from a dead animal. The whole right side of his body was visibly covered in something that is far too horrific to share in detail here.
I immediately leashed Marley up and got him away from the deceased rodent before turning around to pick up Atlas, who at that very moment decided he was actually content not being held 24/7. That apparently wasn’t a decision he could have made while I was trying to pee this morning. Atlas was throwing his head back in protest, stiffening his body so I could not pick him up and screaming at the top of his lungs. After wrangling Atlas back into the baby carrier, I turn around to call Ob so I could leash her up because clearly this party was over. And then I saw my precious Ob. My sweet, obedient Ob. My golden child. Gun-to-my-head-if-I-have-to-pick-a-favorite-its-her-Ob. She’s rubbing her body in a cat-like manner against Marley’s body in an effort to get some of that funk off him and onto her.
And then I lost it. “It” being my sanity. My patience. My temper. My testimony. I lost it all.
I started shouting, “Oh my gosh! Seriously? Come ON you guys! I can’t take you guys anywhere! Is this what I get for trying to treat you all to a fun afternoon play date? Because I could be home right now getting stuff done. That’s it! I’m never doing anything fun for you guys again. Do you hear me? Marley and Ob, you will never frequent a place where squirrels live again.”
And then we began our march back to the car where I continued my rant. I was telling them that even though I didn’t have the logistics worked out, I was sending them all back to where they came from. I was going home to update my resume because any job must be better than the one I was currently tasked with. At the very least, any other job would surely smell better.
Since I spent Atlas’ nap cleaning our house, I wasn’t allowing Marley & Ob to waltz through our door until they had been properly cleaned and sanitized. After making some phone calls in the parking lot of the park, we were in route to a local groomers.
Fast forward to the car ride home from the groomers. Atlas has finally cried himself to sleep in his carseat and in the quiet moments that follow, the thoughts start flooding my head.
“I suck at this stay at home mom gig.”
“No, I don’t suck. This job just sucks. Sucks. Sucks. Sucks. No, actually it is me. I suck. I yelled at a dog for being a dog and I yelled at a baby for being a baby.”
“Dave would probably love me more if I went back to work. He must know how bad I suck at this. And now I’m costing us $150 in an impromptu grooming bill because I can’t bathe 2 dogs and hold a baby that has been clinging to me since he woke up this morning. I bet Dave wishes I was still at work.”
“Atlas would probably love a nanny more. I could hire a real life Mary Poppins and she would play with him all day long and teach him a different language and read him nursery rhymes and he would be more well rounded as a result. And Mary Poppins would never raise her voice. Ugh. She’s practically perfect. Of course Atlas would love her more. Atlas would not have these clingy issues & temper tantrums with Mary Poppins. She would have a degree in child psychology and she would know exactly how to nip this crap in the butt.”
“I’m failing at life. Failing miserably. This should be an easy job. Why can’t I do this job? What is wrong with me? Maybe everyone in our family would be better off if I just went back to work and hired professionals to do all this stuff because I am screwing it all up.”
By the time I got back home, I felt totally and completely defeated.
Now, as embarrassing as it is to share those thoughts, I felt compelled to share all that with you because I imagine I’m not the first mom (or human) to have thoughts like that. Maybe I’m the first mom to give so much thought to Mary Poppins, but surely the general idea can be shared.
The first thing I would like to highlight is that Dave wasn’t the least bit upset about the impromptu grooming bill. He responded with, “I understand. That’s just part of our life. You got to do what you got to do. I’m sorry your afternoon ended up being so stressful.” Yes, he’s a gem.
The point of this incredibly long story is this: Don’t believe everything you think.
I read a book recently called Crash the Chatterbox and the entire book addressed thoughts like the ones I mentioned above. I highly recommend the book. The premise of the book in a nutshell is that the direction of our lives is primarily determined by the voices we respond to. While some of those voices are external, the book points out that most of the voices we struggle with are internal. This isn’t to say we are all crazy, but rather we are our own worst critics. We beat ourselves up. The book goes on to talk about how there is a real enemy in this world and he is after our minds because when our thoughts turn negative, our lives follow suit. However, when you understand what the enemy is after you can make a plan for protecting it.
After taking some deep breaths I determined that I was bullying myself. Nobody else was telling me I suck at this whole motherhood thing. In fact, Dave walked in the door tonight and said, “The house smells great!” He also went on to tell me that the dinner I made tonight was one of his favorite meals. Atlas woke up from his nap happy as could be, the incident at the park totally forgotten. Marley got several treats at the groomers so he returned home with a smile. Ob will forgive me in another day or 2 after she’s had time to cool down (she really hates the groomers). Nobody was hating on me but me. And my thoughts were fueling my attitude. And I control my thoughts. So I had to stop, reevaluate the situation and my response and make some changes. Should I have lost my temper at the park? No. Did I owe Atlas and the dogs an apology? Yes. Does that make me the worst mom ever? Absolutely not. I’m not a perfect mom and being a stay at home mom is not what I expected it to be like. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not doing the job God has called me to do.
I can’t let what I expected fail to keep me from God wants me to experience. I expected motherhood to include a lot more baking and a lot less crying. I thought I would be baking cookies for all the neighbors and planning play dates, but a more accurate picture of my reality would be me spending most of the day picking tupperware up from the floor (Atlas loves to spread it all throughout the house), shepherding a child’s heart and eating cookie dough at night before bed because I’m too exhausted to wait the 8 minutes for them to bake. But I think God wants me to experience all the chaos and tantrums because it is in those things that I find myself totally dependent on Him and that’s when He can do His best work in my heart.
Friend, maybe life isn’t turning out quite like you expected. Trust that God has something to teach you through the experience. Open yourself up to life’s lessons and opportunities to grow and change. And think happy thoughts. Straight up Peter Pan style.
And on that cheesy note, I’m off to enjoy some cookie dough before bed.
The last 2 weekends have included travel for me. First up was a trip to Pennsylvania to celebrate Atlas’ birthday with Dave’s sweet family. I’ve been to Pennsylvania a handful of times before, but never in the fall. The drive from New York to Pennsylvania was the prettiest drive of my life (it was also the loudest because Atlas screamed for 90% of the trip).
I knew I had to sneak in a run while we were visiting Dave’s family because I couldn’t pass up the chance to see all the beautiful fall foliage. I also ate a lot of birthday cake so that always motivates me to put on my running shoes. Since Dave’s family lives in a state park, I told Dave that I strategically packed my Nike camo running shirt so the bears wouldn’t see me while I was running. It worked. 3 days after getting home from Pennsylvania, I was rushing out the door to catch a plane to Memphis for a Juice Plus conference. I took exactly 2 pictures during my 48 hours in Tennessee. It was a whirlwind of a trip, but the more I learn about Juice Plus the more I want everyone I know taking the product. Fruits and vegetables are where it’s at!
By Sunday afternoon, Dave & I were exhausted from all the travel (he was in upstate NY for a conference while I was in TN. Ob & Marley watched Atlas while we were gone. Just kidding. My mom was here to help). Since we were both fighting the urge to take a 4 hour nap, we knew some vitamin D would do us good so we headed to Liberty State Park with Atlas and the dogs. If you ever want to snap some beautiful photos of the NYC skyline and the statue of liberty, I suggest heading to Liberty State Park.
It doesn’t attract the crowds like Central Park, which makes it great for endless rounds of fetch with Ob & Marley. no crowds = off leash time for dogs.
I clearly put my all into throwing a stick for Ob & Marley.
Atlas had fun playing in his little blue car, chasing a ball around (kids are a lot like dogs), eating grass (seriously, so much like dogs) and running free.
It was the perfect Sunday activity.
Liberty State Park also makes for a pretty run. It has a long boardwalk that allows you to log a lot of miles while taking in breathtaking views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, downtown Jersey City and the Statue of Liberty. Definitely check it out if you’re ever in the area.
And on that note, Atlas & I are off to Manhattan for a doctor visit. Time for his 1 year check up! Say a prayer for my little buddy – he’s got blood work and shots on the agenda today.
I think fall has finally arrived in the Northeast and we took full advantage of the season over the weekend. Dave ran in the Staten Island half marathon, Atlas and I ate cinnamon rolls (we take carb loading seriously) and we all went apple picking.
I never really got that into fall in Florida because temps stay so high, but something about the brisk weather we are having in NYC makes me want to embrace all things fall right now.Outdoor runs/workouts. Blanket scarves. Chunky sweaters. Boots. Vests. I actually don’t lose my mind over a pumpkin spice latte (I’m not a big coffee drinker), but pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bars have already been made and devoured in our house. FYI. If your pantry needs a box mix of pumpkin bars, head to Trader Joes.
Wherever you live in the country, I hope your autumn season is starting in a wonderful way!
Now, here’s hoping we get our new house organized and unpacked before Christmas! Our room is painted and just about finished, but we still have to finish decorating Atlas’ room. I am loving our new place though and I think Atlas is too. He just walks around giggling, I think because he has so much more room than he’s used to.
I’m posting this a few days late, but I couldn’t let Atlas’ first birthday pass by without writing him a poem. Its something I try and do for Dave & the dogs each year (yes, Ob & Marley get a poem) and I want to start the tradition for Atlas. Yes, yes. I know. I’m the cheesiest writer in all the land. Don’t hate.
This poem is for you Atlas, my firstborn son,
In honor of your birthday – your very first one!
Never before has someone changed my life quite like you,
You have also changed the lives of your dad, Ob and Marley too.
There is no disputing it – you are your father’s clone,
But we knew from the beginning you had a mind all your own.
You can’t talk yet, but you always make sure your opinion is heard,
You let me know exactly how you feel without saying a word.
It didn’t take you long to turn my world upside down,
Gone are those nights of going out on the town.
You’ve brought chaos, laundry and messes galore,
Life with you is never a bore.
You love to be on the go – you have to always be moving,
If I stop for the tiniest break you are very disapproving.
At the rate you’re going, I’m confident a great runner you’ll be
I can’t wait for the day when you ask to race against me!
An ‘easy child’ you most certainly are not,
As far as spankings go, I suspect you’ll get a lot.
You have a very strong will and Heaven knows,
Your tantrums and meltdowns keep me on my toes.
Atlas Luke, you are one of a kind,
When God made you He had me in mind.
You see, He’s using you to teach me new things,
Like the unconditional love motherhood brings.
Every night before bed, it is for you that I pray
That you grow in God’s wisdom each and every day.
I pray the Lord guides me as I guide you,
And you will grow up thinking on things that are true.
I pray you live a life free of remorse,
And you make lots of money on a golf course.
I pray wherever you go your light shines bright,
And you will always stand up for what is right.
I hope the lessons I teach you take deep root,
And one day you’ll bless others with your spiritual fruit.
You already take life’s challenges in great stride,
When I watch you fall and get back up I beam with pride.
Without a doubt, you have changed my life for the better,
You are my life’s greatest gift, for which I will always be a debtor.
In the sound of your laughter is where my heart finds joy,
I couldn’t have handpicked a more beautiful boy.
There is nothing for you that I would not do,
Hopefully that has been proven by all our trips to the zoo.
Happy birthday, Atlas! I look forward to watching you grow,
I love you more than you could ever know.
On Saturday I was doing the below leg workout, compliments of the Nike Training Club, when Dave looked at me and said, “You’re going to be hurting on Monday.”
Holy crap. He was right. I woke up this morning and practically waddled like a duck down to the park for a run. I think I said “ouch” out loud 12 times in the first mile of my run. I did the above workout 3 times through without stopping for a 15 minute concentrated leg workout. I swapped out the side lunge with rotation for a cross back lunge with a medicine ball and it did the trick. Nike Training Club workouts are no joke! If you don’t have the app already, I highly recommend it. Thankfully, after running 4.8 miles this morning (I just didn’t have time to do those last .2 miles) my legs loosened up and they are feeling a bit better now.
I mentioned in a previous post that we have spent a good portion of our summer searching for a new apartment. We absolutely love the location of our current home because we are in the middle of everything. We walk to Central Park, Riverside Park, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, 5th Ave, a plethora of restaurants, etc. There really isn’t anything that isn’t at our fingertips. We are 15 minutes from Soho. We can walk to Times Square (although, we hate Times Square). We spend our weekends playing in the Central Park Zoo, FAO Schwartz and the Plaza Hotel (The food hall in the Plaza Hotel is my favorite place on the planet). It is a cool way to live.
But, we come home at night to a very tiny apartment. A very tiny and very expensive apartment. And that’s the other side of the coin of life in New York. Real estate is stupid expensive. After meeting with several realtors and viewing dozens of apartments we realized that to get into a 2 bedroom apartment that was approximately 1100 square feet that included an in-unit washer/dryer and was still close to the parks would cost around $6,000 a month. Give or take a little bit. Crazy, right? And in addition to that monthly rent, we would have to pay an upfront realtor fee (it is next to impossible to find a place in Manhattan that is ‘no fee’). That realtor fee is typically 15% of your year’s rent, so you’re looking at upwards of $10,000 just in fees to move into a rental. Not a home that you own…a rental.
You can let that sink in for a minute. It took me about 2 months to fully process that.
The only way we were getting into a bigger place that met most of our needs (we realized all our needs wouldn’t be met in this city unless we won the lottery) was if I went back to work. This would also mean we would be getting a nanny or au pair for Atlas and a dog walker for Ob & Marley. When Atlas and I play at the park each day I would say less than 3% of the kids in the playground are there with a parent. They are all accompanied by a nanny or au pair, which makes sense because to make it in this city you need 2 incomes or you need to be Donald Trump.
But I knew my calling wasn’t in Corporate America anymore. My calling was to stay home and raise Atlas. I watch kids play alone at the park everyday while the person getting paid to watch them plays on their phone. I couldn’t handle the thought of leaving Atlas with someone who wasn’t invested in him. So, for the last several months we have prayed and waited for God to miraculously open up a door to a home that would fit our family and last week our prayers were answered!
On Thursday we signed a new lease for a 2 bedroom town home that is located 15 minutes outside Manhattan and we couldn’t be more excited! God exceeded our expectations and blessed us beyond what we had hoped for. Our new place will be over double the square footage of what we currently live in and the rent is actually $500 cheaper and Dave’s commute into the city will be short (Dave’s commute to work was our biggest reason for not wanting to venture out of Manhattan). Atlas and I will still be able to come into the city with ease to see our friends, but we will be in a community that I foresee making lots of new friends too! Very exciting stuff!
We move October 1st! Yay!
Throughout the last several months I have felt the Lord teaching me how to trust in Him enough to walk through difficult situations with hope and a happy heart on a consistent basis. I am still learning that God does not always rescue us from certain situations when we think He should, but He is always with us as we navigate frustrating and overwhelming obstacles. There were definitely more nights than I care to count when my frustration about spiraled out of control due to our cramped living quarters. However, there were other times when I would be walking 7 flights of stairs to do laundry with a baby on my hip and the Lord would fill me with His peace and remind me that He is always good, even when our situations suck.
And on that note, I’m off to get Atlas out of Marley’s water bowl. Hooray for a new place where I can put the dogs’ bowls behind a baby gate! 1 more month!
It has been a while (ahem, 4 months) since I wrote a post detailing Atlas’ monthly progress. Atlas turned 10 months old on August 5th and even though I’m a tad late, I wanted to write out what this stage has been like for us.
With each month that passes I become more aware of the fact that I won’t remember the chaos of my current life in just a few short years. It is already hard to remember in detail what it was like bringing a newborn home, so I’m sure I will only vaguely remember the teething and tantrums I dealt with yesterday.
Atlas is roughly 23 pounds (taking a guess on that one – he hasn’t been weighed in a while) and over 31 inches long. He has 5 teeth and he’s not afraid to use them. I thought nothing in this world would be cuter than his toothless grin, but this smile is pretty darn cute too.
He’s been crawling for a while now, and while that has made life difficult on a whole new level, it has helped his mood tremendously. He used to seem so aggravated with life. He hated to be set down. Hated.it. He never liked those baby swings. He just wanted to be held and that was tough. Oh my gosh, that was tough. I remember saying to Dave on several occasions that Atlas just seemed like a miserable kid. I know that sounds horrible, but the boy just seemed frustrated all the time. However, once he started crawling it was like the world opened up for him and his whole personality began to change. He seems to enjoy life so much more now that he can go where he wants to go. Unfortunately, the only places he wants to go are the dogs’ bowls, the toilet and the trash can. The kid is a mover and a shaker. Whether it be climbing all the furniture, chasing the dogs or banging a toy against a wall, he seems happiest when he’s on the move. This would explain his frustration in his early months. I think he’s going to be like Dave. Dave does not like to sit still for too long and he’s always looking for the next adventure. And I guess I’m the same way, unless I am getting lost in the pages of a book, in which case I’m fine sitting by a pool for 8 hours.
Atlas loves the people he knows; Our family, our friends from the dog park, his babysitter, our doormen,
the sales girl at Club Monaco. He is terribly shy around people he doesn’t know though, often burying his face into whatever he can find so he won’t be seen. I think he gets this from me. I have my core group of people that I love talking with, but I’m an introvert by nature. Dave on the other hand is the extrovert that can sit at a bar for 1 hour and leave with 5 new best friends.
While Atlas may have received some of my introverted ways, he did inherit Dave’s love for golf. Oh, you didn’t know that was genetic? Apparently it is. Atlas’ favorite ‘toy’ is a golf ball. I don’t leave home without 2 or 3 golf balls in the diaper bag because it is sure to keep both Dave and Atlas occupied if we are
in the dressing room at Lululemon out and about. Atlas plays 2 games with the golfballs. First, he throws them and then chases them. This game allows me to pick up more golfballs a day than Tiger Woods. The other game Atlas enjoys is finding something he can drop the balls into (like Dave’s running shoe) and then he takes them out and then repeats that cycle 582 times. This game is what allows me to make the bed, brush my teeth and get dressed in the mornings.
Atlas is getting to where he eats whatever we eat. He still nurses 3 times a day, but I plan on stopping that around his first birthday. I still make some baby food for him each week because quite frankly, it is much faster to feed him pureed food. If I can spoon broccoli into his mouth, I can feed him in about 10 minutes. If he has to pick the broccoli up and shovel it in himself, it takes about 30 minutes and roughly 50% of his meal ends up in the mouths of Ob & Marley.
He absolutely loves eggs mixed with cottage cheese, sweet potatoes, ground turkey and chicken. Kid is a carnivore, which is funny because all I wanted when I was pregnant with him was meat.
It is mind boggling to think how much life can change in 1 year. To think how much one little boy can change the life of 1 little family.
Nothing has strengthened my faith quite like motherhood because nothing will make you seek refuge in the only One who can truly offer rest like a hard-to-handle-infant. Once I put down all the “how-to” books and opened my Bible, things started to get easier to manage around here. I can say with 100% certainty that I’ve become more frazzled and less put together in the last 10 months (what is make up, again?) and sometimes it seems like I’m a lot worse for the wear now that I’ve embarked on this journey of motherhood. However, I feel confident that the changes happening within my spirit are worth the unbrushed hair, gym clothes and tired eyes I’m currently sporting.*
*There’s a good chance that Atlas will be 7 years old and I’ll still be sporting gym clothes all day. #yogapantsforlife