This Month's Topic: Focus on Finance

Living in the Valleys

I’ve always loved the mountains. If given the choice between a mountain or a beach vacation, I’ll always choose mountain, no hesitation. For me, mountains are synonymous with adventure, with wilderness, with freedom. They make me think of Maria von Trapp singing “The Hills are Alive” and of miles and miles of quiet beauty.

But lately, I’m starting to appreciate the valleys more.

On vacation recently, we were driving through the mountains when I found myself explaining to my son what a valley is.

DSC_0434“See, down there,” I said to him, pointing to the house-dotted landscape, “is where the people live.”

“Why don’t they live in the mountains?” He asked.

“Because most people don’t live in the mountains. Mountains are for exploring, for climbing, for visiting, really. Valleys are where you live.”

We’re in a valley right now with our daughter, but we just came down from a mountain. The mountain delivered everything mountains are supposed to deliver: frequent bursts of adrenaline, breathless momentum and a healthy dose of fear. It was an enthralling place to visit, but now we’re back in the valley, and I’m relieved.

On the mountain, there were many times when I couldn’t reach Anna. Too often, she ran too far from my grasp, past the point of reason and of turning back. She left me scattered, shaking, determined we’d never make it out the other side.

In the valley, Anna is reachable. I can grasp her hand, look her in the eye and know she’s come back from the mountain, that we’ve made it to the clearing after all.

You can’t live on a mountain. Or, at least, most of us can’t. Not for long. Not for the day-to-day.

But that doesn’t mean we won’t return. There are going to be more times when I can’t reach Anna, when I’m once more afraid she’s gone too far to come back and I’m left helpless, wringing my hands and calling out for someone to save us when no one can hear. But we’ve climbed so many mountains already, some higher than others, and always, always come back to the valley.

Valleys couldn’t exist without mountains, after all, but valleys are where you live.

 

 

 

 

 

The Minivans and the Minivan-Nots

Isn’t it interesting how most people are almost – no, not almost, 100 percent – apologetic when telling you they bought a minivan?

“I knooow,” they’ll lament, “I can’t believe it, but they’re just so practical.”

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Jill’s black stallion

Or, they’ll take another tack, a heavily-laced-in-sarcasm tack à la my sister Jill, who just bought a minivan two weeks ago: “Don’t be jealous!… I know you’re jealous. She’s a pretty sweet ride.” (I’ve taken to calling Jill’s black Honda Odyssey “the black stallion.”)

Plus, how many vanity plates on minivans have you seen that say, “We caved”? (OK, I actually think those are pretty hilarious and laughed for a good 10 minutes the first time I saw one.)

Why are people who buy minivans so apologetic, though? What do they have to be apologetic about? They shouldn’t feel an ounce of embarrassment over the sleek, power sliding doors (I not-so-secretly covet those every time I open a car door a little too close to the car next to us), the spacious second- and third-row seating, the Bluetooth capabilities or the almost ridiculous amount of cargo space. No, most minivan owners I’ve talked to are pretty in love with those features. In fact, I’ve heard a few of them comment on the fact that if you forget about how the minivan looks to passers-by, you kind of get lost in its luxury-like interior accommodations.

So, apparently, it’s the exterior that leads to the apologetic replies.

But, as I think we all know, it’s not the superficial exterior… it’s what that exterior represents.

When you buy a minivan, the proverbial thinking is that you caved. You drank the we-have-kids, life-as-we-know-it-is-over, time-to-fully-embrace-this-thing-and-cut-the-cord Kool-Aid.

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A pretty poor picture of our Touareg

Now it’s full-disclosure time: We do not own a minivan. I have never wanted to own a minivan. I haven’t even given it much thought, honestly, but, if ever pushed on why I don’t want a minivan, I would probably reply that we don’t need one because we only have two kids. (So, apparently, in my mind, three kids equals minivan-purchase necessity but anything else clears you.) Also, I would say, I really like the look of Jeeps and SUVs that look like Jeeps… I like boxy, (presumably) gas guzzling, SUV-type cars. In fact, I had a hard time trading in my Jeep Liberty when I was pregnant with Anna for a Volkswagen Touareg… which looks more like a minivan than an SUV, really.

That said, what I want minivan owners to know is: You don’t have to apologize for buying a minivan. I think you should be proud. What a brave thing you’ve done, really. You needed space. You decided that your family and your life with your family is the most important thing right now and you made space for it, and you have no problem leaving your past, child-free life behind. And I want you to know that, actually, when I haven’t been drooling over the power sliding doors on your minivans, I’ve been feeling a little apologetic myself.

I don’t own a minivan, but why don’t I? Shouldn’t I? Wouldn’t owning a minivan symbolize my complete and total devotion to my kids and to our family? Although I do have it on good authority that owners of minivans use the second car in the household as the “party car” and take it out on joy rides… not naming any names or anything.

Now, I’m not going out to go out and buy a minivan right now, so don’t go getting any ideas, but I did want to start the conversation between the minivans and the minivan-nots. There is no warThere is no animosityThere is no judgmentMostly, at least from the minivan-nots’ side of the road, anyways, there’s just a lot of drooling, which, while gross, should make you feel pretty good about your pretty sweet ride.

 

Thirty Years of Happiness

Today, I am 30.

Yikes.

That is all.

…OK, OK, OK. Colleen has told me that this is not a post. I disagree, but it’s better to appease Colleen. If you know Colleen, you would agree.

My great idea to spruce this up? Photo montage!

So, last night at my Dad and I’s joint birthday dinner (his birthday was the 22nd), I made sure to bring my camera. Looking through the pictures, I can’t think of a better way to sum up my 30 years of life: Complete happiness and a fantastic family.

(Be sure to tune in next Monday, when I include a photo montage of the other half of my family: the Stulbergs! (And, to the Stulbergs coming in town for the weekend, make sure you are camera ready!) :)

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I’m Mom Now

You know when you were growing up and no matter what was wrong, your mom could always make you feel better? Whether you got hurt or failed a test or just had a really crummy day, your mom was always the one you turned to to make things better?

That’s how I used to feel anyways and, often, I still catch myself feeling that way now.

The other day, Austin was playing in the kitchen while I was cooking dinner. Before I even knew what had happened, a few drops of hot water from the stove splashed and landed on him. He immediately started crying, and I panicked. I grabbed him and hugged him as hard as I could and rubbed the spot where the drops had been.

Serious blog requires a not so serious pictures!

A serious blog requires a not-so-serious picture!

I felt terrible. I have probably never felt so terrible in my whole life. I started to cry and definitely continued to cry long after Austin had moved on and wanted to keep playing. The hot water had been from boiling chicken, so I knew that salmonella was a factor and I was totally panicked. My first thought – which didn’t seem weird to me until I thought about it a few hours later – was that my mom would tell me what to do and help me clean up the spilled salmonella water in the kitchen. I kept thinking about that, bizarrely, for a few minutes, until I finally snapped out of it, stopped crying and decided that Austin should get in the tub. I kept the water at room temperature and washed him to make sure that no salmonella water was left on him. After the bath, I decided I should put Austin in the pack ‘n play and clean the kitchen floor.

I am only writing this because I had an epiphany that day. It seems simple but the fact is, I’m mom now. I will be the one to make my kids feel better when they are sick or get hurt or when anything bad happens. I need to toughen up. I need to toughen up for my kids and not let them see that I get worried, too, and that I am terrified that they will get hurt and that it makes me want to cry when they are sick.

My dad always used to tell us that we needed to have thick skin, and I always thought I wasn’t too terrible… until I had kids. When I think of myself crying on the floor with my son, I realize that now more than ever, I need to develop thick skin. When I watched my sister spend an entire weekend with her daughter at the hospital because Anna was having seizures and that’s what the doctors recommend she do, I was amazed at the way she handled the situation. I remember texting her afterward to tell her how impressed and inspired I was by how together she’d been. Her focus was on her daughter, not herself.

That’s what I need. I am working on it and I bet, as I have a few more kids, I’ll get better and better. Right now, though, I’m working on developing my thick skin, so that my son will always know that his mom will always be there to make things better.

The Snow Must Go

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Happy at the beginning of the season. See the Christmas tree still in the background? That should tell you something, snow.

Alright, snow. We’ve had just about enough.

We understand that you’re pretty and serene and blankety-looking. At the beginning of the winter, we loved to “ooh” and “ahh” over your white, pristine elegance and simple, understated beauty. We loved to suit up the kids and ship them outside for a good 20-minute romp in your powder and crow over the snow angels and snowmen you allowed them to build. We’d laugh as the kids threw snowballs at each other, at us, and often, mistakenly, at themselves, and then we’d delight in ushering them back into the warmth of the house and a mug (or sippy cup) full of hot chocolate. (With marshmallows, of course.)

But then you kept coming.

We’d read stories of sledding and take the kids out for a (let’s face it) five-minute run on their “Cars”-themed sled and then (mostly) delightedly usher them back into the warmth of the house and a plastic cup full of hot chocolate. (When they’d remind us that we forgot the marshmallows, we’d hurry to get them some.)

But then the blanket drug on, snow, and you grew. You’d dump buckets on us overnight and we’d wake up to your crystalline brilliance and sigh, “Another day without school. Another day stuck inside.” You became more of an inconvenience, snow, a guest who wore out her welcome. We’d still read the sledding and snowmen stories and, occasionally, give the kids a few minutes outside in the snow, “helping Daddy shovel,” and then we’d grudgingly change them back into warm clothes when they grew sick of you, too, and inform them that we were out of hot chocolate but plain milk should suffice.

We don’t want you to go away and never return, snow. We love how you come every winter without fail, bringing your white, clean landscapes and light, puffy fun. We just don’t need anymore of you right now, and we think we would all be better off in the long run if we took a little break from each other.

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We do love sledding on you, snow, but we have enough pictures for one winter.

The kids are, quite frankly, going bonkers inside all day and we’re pulling our hair out. The Christmas toys have long since been played with and set aside and we’re running out of ideas. (Scratch that, we’re way out of ideas.) They want to run circles around us, around furniture, and around each other in the house and, when that’s happened for more than two hours in one day, the desire to just give up and turn on the TV gets to be too great and we cave. We stare out the window at you and we sigh, “Could you just melt already?” It’s really nothing personal. It’s just enough already.

We stomp across you and remind the kids for the millionth time to “Be careful. It’s slippery,” and we sigh that there’s still so much of you and think that the weather forecasters can’t possibly be right that there’s still more of you to come.

It’s just enough already, snow. Please melt, go away and remind us next winter of how much we love you. We promise we’ll restock the hot chocolate supply by then.

 

The Beauty of the “Staycation”

Let me begin this blog by stating: I am one very lucky lady. I realize that not everyone is able to do what I am about to recommend. But, if you can somehow make it possible, I can’t imagine anything better.

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Also, let me say that I rarely give parenting advice. I definitely share experiences, but most of what I have to say on the subject has always been, “Whatever works for you.” Or, “It’s all about survival.” But today, I am giving some parenting advice that I truly believe in.

The “Staycation.” (Clouds part and angels sing, “Ahhh.”)

I’m telling you, parents: Go on the beautiful, sometimes tough to work out, but always worth it “staycation.”

Adam and I took a “staycation” this weekend. It was the best decision we could have made and it was a decision I wasn’t really looking forward to, honestly.

Let me start at the beginning. We decided a long time ago that we wanted to celebrate our fifth anniversary/30th birthdays in a big way, so we planned a ski trip to Colorado. We were going to head to this neat resort in Breckenridge, Colo., for a four-day weekend. We asked our wonderful parents to help us  with the kids. My mom and dad would watch them at their house for two days and Adam’s parents would help out the next two days and keep the kids at our house.

It was going to be awesome!

A well-deserved dinner after a productive day.

A well-deserved dinner after a productive day

Then, Adam and I had a very real discussion. A discussion that wasn’t any fun at all. A discussion about money and reality. A very grown-up discussion. And, as it turns out, grown-up discussions can really bite the big one.

So, after our hard but necessary discussion, we came to the agreement, together, that a Colorado trip wasn’t a trip that made sense for us at this point in our lives. So, we said goodbye to our dream anniversary trip and bit our lips to keep from crying. Truly, it wasn’t easy.

We asked our parents to still plan on having the kids that weekend and we’d figure out what we’d do as it got closer. Honestly, I was not very excited about the whole thing. I was still pretty disappointed about our canceled trip and didn’t really think we’d have that much fun, whatever it was we decided to do.

I told Adam that I’d still really like to ski, even for a day. I also said that I’d like us to do some cleaning and organizing around the house. Those were my two requests. Romantic, right?

Actually, it was.

What we did:

Thursday – We dropped the kids off at my parents, worked around house, went to a 5 o’clock movie and then a nice dinner.

Friday – Slept in! Worked around the house a little more, picked up the kids and had dinner with Adam’s mom. Left around 9 p.m. for Dayton.

A scary drive to Dayton Friday night.

A scary drive to Dayton Friday night

Saturday – Slept in! Skiied at Mad River Mountain Park and then had another nice dinner in downtown Dayton.

Sunday – Slept in! Had a leisurely brunch and arrived home around 12:30.

Tonight, Sunday night, I sit on my couch and write a list on why our “staycation” was so wonderful and, as it turns out, exactly what we needed:

  1. We weren’t too far away from the kids, so I was not stressed about leaving them; if there was an emergency, we’d be there in under an hour.
  2. When the kids are out of the house, you get A LOT done. Our house, especially our basement, got a massive overhaul on the cleaning and organizing front, one that was MUCH needed.
  3. When the kids are out of the house, you can sleep in. In your own bed. With your own coffee machine.
  4. After a productive day at home, there is nothing nicer than treating yourself to a nice dinner. I actually felt like we “earned” the dinner and deserved to be sitting in a nice restaurant and relaxing.
  5. After a day away from the kids, it was nice to have them back for a bit. I remembered how much I loved them, but also knew that it would be OK to leave them for a bit longer; they were obviously fine without me.
  6. Because we weren’t traveling too far, packing was not that important or stressful.
  7. Because the kids stayed around here, packing for them wasn’t a big deal either.
  8. Weather was not a concern; we didn’t worry about delayed flights and all that jazz.
  9. We were not on any kind of a schedule due to the closeness of everything.
  10. We didn’t feel guilty spending a little extra money on dinners and skiing because we didn’t fly anywhere and weren’t staying at an amazing, yet expensive, ski lodge.
  11. Did you see all the times I wrote “slept in”?! Also, did you notice the word “leisurely” I threw in there? If those two things don’t sell this idea, I don’t know what will.IMG_2064

It was honestly the best weekend I’ve had in a long time. Tonight I feel relaxed. I feel reconnected to my husband. I feel extremely grateful for my family. I feel very, very lucky.

I will repeat: I realize that not everyone has such a wonderful set-up as Adam and me, with grandparents that live nearby or are willing to come in town and help out with the kids. But, if you can somehow swing it, I would STRONGLY suggest a “staycation.”

I will also say that there were many times this weekend that Adam and I discussed future vacations. We talked about these fabulous trips we would take, either just the two of us or the whole family. And, in a few more years, we’ll take them.

But for now, we’re just fine with what we have.

Making a Memory

Do you remember “The Parent Trap” movie? Not the remade Lindsay Lohan version, but the old-school, 1960s, Hayley Mills one?

There’s a part in it where one of the twins, Susan, starts sniffing her grandfather’s coat and, when asked why, replies that she’s making a memory, that, “All my life, when I’m quite grown-up, I will always remember my grandfather and how he smelled of … tobacco and peppermint.”

I’m thinking of that movie line today because it’s Brayden’s 4th birthday and, while his aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins gathered around him the other night to sing him happy birthday, I was lucky enough to watch him make his own memory. One that no, he may not remember in two years’ time, but one that I always will, especially because my husband, Kevin, caught it perfectly on camera:

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Watching Brayden watching us, all of the people who love him, sing him happy birthday was magical. He looked at each person’s face, then swiveled his head to look at the person opposite, with a goofy, lit-up grin on his face and eyes wide with joy.

I’m just so glad that while Brayden was making a memory, I was making my own, and that, thanks to the pictures, it’s a memory we’ll be able to remind him of some day when he’s “quite grown-up” himself.

Kids Say the Darndest Thing (Sarah’s Take)

Since Noah turned 2, his language has really taken off. He talks a whole bunch and, most of the time, it’s wonderful. I really do love it. We can have entire conversations, I can ask him questions that he can actually answer, and we can be silly. He loves telling jokes that he thinks are hilarious and singing sentences/questions to me throughout the day. He’s become quite the character.

IMG_1297He’s especially helpful when it comes to telling on his sister, which can be good and bad. For instance, the other day, I was cleaning up from lunch in the kitchen and the kids were playing in the other room. Noah came running to me and said, “Sophia has Zimri’s stick!” I walked into the room and, sure enough, Sophia was going to town on Zimri’s chew stick. To be fair, she is teething.

At that moment, I was very appreciative of Noah’s ability to talk.

However, there are other times that it’s not so great.

Take, for example, when he wakes up crabby from nap. Sophia and I go in to get him and he growls, literally growls, “I don’t like Sophia. Sophia needs to go to bed.” Moments like that? Not so special. More like, if his head starts spinning, I’m calling a priest.

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Or, when we’re sitting at lunch with a friend and her kids, and everyone is being good and eating quietly, and Noah feels like it’s the right time to say, “You know what? Mommy does NOT have a penis.” Excellent.

Or, when I try to get Sophia to open her mouth to eat some yogurt off a spoon (the girl does not enjoy anyone feeding her; she has to do it herself), and I say, “Ahhh” as I’m prompting her to open her mouth. Noah, whether he’s in the room or not, finishes my “Ahh” by singing “Sabenya!” You know, from “Lion King”?

OK, that’s actually pretty cute.

Or, when Sophia and Noah are in the bath together, and Sophia keeps repeatedly hitting Noah on his behind while he’s lying on his belly playing with his toys. When I try to handle it without drawing attention to the fact that I’m freaking out and say to him, “Noah, if you don’t like what Sophia is doing, tell her to stop and sit up,” and he retorts with a smile and says, “I like it!”? Yikes. We may need many years of therapy for that one.

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But my favorite “talking Noah” moments always happen when it’s really quiet, and in a very serious place.

I’m talking about church.

To be fair, it wasn’t that bad. I know there will inevitably come a day when Noah decides he’s going to try out a new word when the priest asks everyone to bow their heads in a moment of silence. I know that day is out there looming, so I should really take yesterday’s incidents lightly.

Adam and I took the crew to 4:30 mass on Saturday, and we came prepared. We had drinks, we had crackers, we had toys, we had books; we had it all. Or so we thought.

Incident No. 1: We were sitting next to an elderly gentleman who couldn’t be nicer, but, during the homily, did seem to be nodding off. Even I noticed. His head drooped, his eyes closed, and I swear, he was even snoring ever so softly. I noticed all of this and, as it turned out, so did Noah. He looked at me and very loudly asked, “Is he sleeping, Mommy?” Everyone looked at Noah, and the gentleman sat up with a start. I think we all blushed, except for Noah, who went back to happily playing with his Lightning McQueen car.

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Incident No. 2: During petitions, another particularly quiet moment, I was doing my best to pay attention to the mass as opposed to Noah, who was standing beside me, munching on a cracker with crumbs sprinkling all over the bench in front of us. I swear, it was only silent for a moment, but in that silent moment, Noah farted. And then looked at me with this cheesy, guilt-ridden but actually pretty proud smile: “I tooted.”

I lost it. I couldn’t help myself. So there we were, the family whose kids pass gas loudly in church and their parents laugh about it. I finally got control of myself and leaned down to Noah and told him he needed to say, “Excuse me.” I wanted to make sure that the people around me knew I was a good mom and taking the situation seriously. I wanted them to see that I was going to teach my son manners. And darnit, I was going to make sure they knew it was Noah who tooted.

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I, however, was not the mom who knew her son would take her words so literally. Noah took it upon himself to say “excuse me” to everyone in the general area, one at a time.

It was the longest 30 seconds of my life. I was caught between feeling proud that he was being polite, being mortified at the situation, and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

Yes, I think Noah’s talking will definitely keep life interesting and a little scary. But every night, when I tuck Noah in and tell him I love him and he responds in his sweet little voice, “I love you too, Mommy,” that makes all the embarrassing and unpredictable moments so worthwhile. Even if he does follow that sweet moment with a “toot,” which happens more than I’d like to admit.

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

I know we’re not alone in feeling this way, but we have had a very rough winter in our house. In fact, I’m pretty sure we have had every possible cold or stomach bug available this year.

When I was about 10 weeks pregnant, we found out that Austin had Fifth disease. WHAT?! OK, so it sounds really scary, but it’s basically a virus that gives kids a rash. However, while it’s no big deal for kids, it can be very serious for pregnant women.

Perfect.

I had to see my doctor and give blood to make sure that I had already had the virus when I was a kid because that would mean I would be immune to it now. While I waited for the results, I convinced myself that I was already showing symptoms and that this new baby was not going to make it. Then, a week later, after I’d cried myself to sleep the night before thinking about my poor, doomed, unborn baby, the doctor called and told me the test showed I had immunity and that I shouldn’t worry. Phew!! My “symptoms” magically went away and I forgot about the whole thing…

…until a few weeks later when Austin came down with another bad cold, which went into another round of antibiotics.

Austin getting sick was manageable, though, as long as I was healthy.

Keeping my eye on the prize..

Keeping my eye on the prize..

Then, I got a cough and it was constant and miserable for about a week. I went to the doctor, who told me it was not pneumonia or bronchitis and prescribed me some heavy-duty cough syrup, which I decided not to take because I was tough and the cough would go away. After a little over a week, the cough finally started to subside. I was thinking we were in the clear. Thank goodness!

That night, though, as I was giving Austin his bottle, he pushed it away and made some gurgling sounds. A few seconds later, he vomited all over the floor in front of us. I did the only thing I could think to do: I cried. Austin has never thrown up before, and it was traumatizing (at least it was for me!).

After 24 hours of no one getting sick, I thought, once again, that we were in the clear. However, I should’ve known better because we were not. Austin and I now both have the stomach bug.

Unwillingly, I have to say that he is handling it much better than I am. I keep telling myself that it will go away and it just has to run its course, but I’m feeling frustrated. I can’t help it. I’m frustrated with this winter and I’m frustrated with feeling sick, and we desperately need some fresh air in our house. I always start to feel this way around February. I know everyone does. But this constant parade of sicknesses just has to end.

Come soon, spring!

Be Still With Me

I was at the chiropractor’s office (yes, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor since Sophia was born because my back really hurt after the pregnancy; I think it’s getting better, but I’ll let you know for sure in another month or so), and I checked the clock on the wall. I was in a hurry.

I’m always in a hurry. Does anyone else feel that way? I have no idea why things always feel like they need to be rushed, but they do. It makes me think of the song “I’m In A Hurry” by Alabama. They hit it right on the nose.

I’m in a hurry to get things done

Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun.

All I really gotta do is live and die,

But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.

I can never just be. I’m always on my way to something else. Planning for the future. Planning the next meal, the next outing, the next day, the next week. Planning, planning, planning. And I’m running around to keep my plans. I hurry, hurry on to the next thing.

So, I’m in the chiropractor’s office, checking the time, and, in place of the clock, there’s a sign. The sign says, “Are you present?”

Yikes.

Obviously not, since I was thinking about getting home in time to take the kids to a music class.

Instead of the gentle reminder I’m sure the sign was meant to be, I took it as accusatory, and it made me feel uncomfortable. I wasn’t present and haven’t been very much lately. These days, I find myself getting lost in the future.

Don’t get me wrong: The future is an OK thing to think about. Case in point: We’re going to Disney in May, and I am already so, so excited about that trip. It’s good to look forward to things. It definitely gives us something to live for. Case in point: I can’t wait to see who my children will be when they grow up, where they’ll go to college, what they’ll study, etc. The future is also our chance to redo some mistakes, to try again and God KNOWS I need that. We all do.

Sure, thinking about the future has its pros, but the question on the sign in the place of the clock asked me, “Are you present?” and I can honestly say, almost 90 percent of the time, I am not.

How sad is that??

I could sit here and blame a lot of different things. I could blame technology. I hate technology. I hate it because I love it so much. I could blame my need to be social because planning play dates, date nights and girls’ nights out are very much high on my list of things to do. I could even blame the kids, because if I don’t plan ahead for them, I might run out of Sophia’s formula, or not register Noah for preschool next year.

But I don’t blame any of that. I blame myself. It has been my decision to lose myself in everything I listed above. That’s exactly it. Those things don’t just fill some of my time; I lose myself in them.

I’ve gotten to thinking ahead so much that when I’m actually doing those things I plan for and am so excited about, I don’t enjoy myself. I’m already checking the clock and thinking about what I have to do next, when I need to start cooking dinner and wondering if I called the babysitter about next weekend.

Driving home from the chiropractor’s office, an Imogen Heap song came on (I swear, the Ipod was on shuffle, so I took it as a very serendipitous moment). The song is called “You Know Where to Find Me,” and the refrain repeats the phrase, “Be still with me” over and over. (It’s a beautiful song, fyi.)

I got to thinking about my kids, my husband, my sisters, my parents, my friends and the honesty of it all had me choking up.

Am I ever really just still with them?

That question makes me think of my mom. My mom is the best mom. Truly. I’m 100 percent sure she is the reason that my sisters and I took the route in life we did. The whole “get married, start a family, be at home with the kids” route. Because she was that good. We idolized her and still do. My mom (and dad) made our lives so wonderful, we couldn’t wait to do that for our own kids.

But the memory that came to my mind in the car today was one of my family sitting in the living room at the end of the day (no particular day as it happened many different times) and yelling for my mom to come in and sit down on the couch with the rest of us. It happened all the time. We’d all be hanging out in the living room and my mom would be rushing around the kitchen, cleaning up, starting a new load of laundry and checking the calendar. All I wanted was for her to come in and be still with me.

Mom, I know you read these blogs, and please understand that I am not at all trying to make you feel bad. On the contrary, I’m giving you a LOAD of credit. Because in order to be a great mom, the great mom that you are, you have to be busy. You have to clean, you have to be organized and you have to plan for the future. The family depends on you. You can’t take a day off.

My point, however, is this: My mom did come and sit with us whenever we’d ask her. She’d find a stopping point and sit on the couch with the family. I’m sure that on those nights she went to bed a little later than she would have liked because she then had to finish up things she didn’t get to finish earlier. But I didn’t notice that. I just remember wanting her to come join us and that she did come join us.

Being a mom, it’s easy to be so busy trying to make everyone’s life organized and wonderful that you aren’t ever just able to be still with your family. It’s one of those awful Catch-22’s in life.

I know that my life will always be busy; I will always be planning, always thinking of the next day, making my shopping list and stressing over the calendar. It’s my job and it’s necessary.

That said, the next time my kids look at me with their big, beautiful eyes while playing with their tea set on the floor, I’m going to imagine they’re saying “Be still with me, Mom.” When my husband gets home from work, I’m going to be still with him, even if just for a moment. When I’m out with friends, I’m going to be present.

The future is something I will always be thinking about, but I need to learn that, no matter how many times I may say, “I can’t wait for {fill in the blank},” I, in fact, can wait. I can be still, be patient, be present and just be.

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