Thursday, December 20, 2012

A New Do

Day 12
Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox: Try something totally different.  Have something for lunch or dinner you don't normally eat.  Make up a new recipe.  What did you come up with?

When I met Andy he had the longest hair and the fluffiest beard of any man I have ever known.  That was more than six years ago, and other than a couple of trims, not much has changed.  When we were getting married someone asked me if I was going to make Andy cut his hair and shave his beard for the big day.  I remember thinking, "this is the man I fell in love with.  Why would I want him to look completely different on the biggest day of our lives together?"

So, I was pretty surprised when Andy came home last week and told me that he wanted to cut off his hair.  He even had a picture of the style he was thinking of.  I was nervous...really nervous.  He scheduled an appointment at Geneva Hair Studio, and as the day neared I tried to prepare myself.

What if I didn't like it?  What if he didn't like?  How would people react?  Would people think I "made" him do it?  What would Ramona think?

It surprised me how quickly I got used to his new look.  After about a day, I stopped doing double takes when I saw him out of the corner of my eye.  I have always felt like he was an extremely handsome man, and that has not changed, but it certainly is trying something new.

The Good, the Bad, and the Oh So Ugly

Okay, as promised, the intent of this blog is to give my children an accurate description of what life was like when they were little.  And since I am quite certain that they will not remember their mom as this woman who had it all together...I should probably write a bit about our not so good days.

At bedtime, for the last couple of months, Ramona and Andy or I have been reading "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."  Ramona calls it "Bad Day."  It is the story about a young boy who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and spends the day complaining about trivial matters.  My favorite part being, "There were lima beans for dinner, and I hate limas.  There was kissing on TV, and I hate kissing."  This past week, I have been channeling my inner Alexander.

I get this way from time to time.  It has been like this since high school.  I don't really have a reason to feel down, but I just get into a funk and become a grumpy moody mess.  I just want to curl up and sleep all day, or run away and wander a bookstore alone for a couple hours.  Little things stress me out...laundry, dishes, Christmas outfits, wedding gifts that I am very behind in making, sick kiddos, the need to workout, the desire to eat more, being "behind" in blog entries, and on and on.  I can't shut my brain off.  It sounds feels dramatic too.  And then comes the guilt.

Andy always teases me that I get too emotionally involved in TV shows and movies. When I was pregnant with Ramona he wanted to watch The Wire. We got two episodes in and we had to stop. It was making me a nervous wreck. *We have since watched the whole series, and I would highly recommend it!*  With Miles it was Breaking Bad. And again, I couldn't do it. My fragile emotional state during pregnancy does not allow for such drama.

This is how we watch a show. We don't have cable, so we wait until a season is on Netflix or on DVD at the library and then marathon watch. We watched the entire series of Lost in just weeks...mostly on the weekends. *This was pre-children mind you.

So, it is unlike us to have a show that we tune in for every week.  But for whatever reason we have been watching Parenthood since it first started. Andy thinks that I like it because it is a large family who all talk at the same time...much like my own.

I cry almost every week. Usually over little things. *I must admit that I once cried watching Tim Allen's Jungle to, it doesn't take much.* But watching the last new episode, made my heart break!
One of the characters made a video for her children because she has breast cancer and wanted to have something to give them in case she did not make it through treatment.

I know it's a TV show, but I also know that there are real people that have to go through illness and death.  I started thinking about what it would be like to have to say goodbye to my babies, or be losing Andy.  I cannot imagine the pain these people endure.

Then the tragedy happened in Connecticut.  And I thought about losing my kiddos.  Honestly, I can't think about it long, because it is just too overwhelming of a prospect.  I can't even try to put myself in those people's shoes.  Really that is all I can write about it.  It just completely overwhelms me.

So, how can I feel down when I have literally NOTHING to complain about?  Every time I lose my patience with Ramona, or wish that Miles would sleep in his bed for longer periods at night I feel guilty...which makes me more grumpy.  A vicious cycle.

There are things that I know, from experience, help:
-getting out of my house
-showering and getting ready dressed in the morning (seems little, but is a huge deal!)
-having something to look forward too/change in schedule
-acknowledging that I am being a grumpasaurus rex and making a conscious decision to act/feel otherwise

So, tomorrow I will get up and get ready, we will go on an outing to play group, I will look forward to the rapidly approaching holiday, and I will apologize to my loving husband and kiddos for not being my best self.  Just writing this and having a plan has made me feel better already.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Not Your Traditional Stance on Traditions

Day 10
Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox: What new traditions do you want to start this year?

Oh can I not sound like a Scrooge and still say, "No New Traditions!?"  Andy and I talk about this often.  We both come from big families with lots of "traditions."  Some are them are real, like my family cutting down a Christmas tree together, but a lot of them are not really that meaningful, like a chili dinner on Christmas Eve when we have already celebrated Christmas at three other events with those same family members.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love our families.  I love that my kids will grow up knowing five of the great-grandparents, their great-aunts, uncles, and second cousins!  But when you combine the number of "traditions" our families have, we might just have one for everyday of the year.  So, we are currently removing traditions from our schedule.  And that is not to say "Bah Humbug" to the whole idea, but that we want to truly appreciate the "traditions" that we do celebrate.

A Partner

Day 9
Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox: What did you do this year when things got hectic?  How did you unwind?

I have the utmost respect for single parents.  I cannot imagine raising kiddos on my own.  When things get hectic, I turn to my partner, and I will never have sufficient words to express how much he means to me.  I am a worrier, an over thinker, a stress ball.  But seeing my husband, hearing his voice, calms me, centers me, makes me a better person.

Makin' Stuff

Day 8
Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox: What did you make this year? Whether work-related or something more personal (like a song, craft project, or work of art), share your process and the end result.

As a carry over from my last post...I have been a "makin' stuff" fool this year.  Here are some of my projects:

Pudding Paint for Ramona 

 Recovered Our Front Porch Furniture

 Two of the Three Outfits for Ramona

 A Not All The Way Finished Yarn Wreath

 A Piece of the Scecina Project I am Working On

 Loaf of Bread

 Max and Wild Thing Halloween Costumes

Marshmallow, Apple, and Peanut Butter "Smiles"

Another Little Ramona Number

But what was my favorite thing I made this year...

This Guy.

Pinterest Board

Day 7
Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox:  What do you want your life (or your kitchen, your job, your x) to look like?  Create you own inspiration board.

I have had a couple of days to think about the prompt for Day 7.  And, at the risk of sounding obnoxious, I like how my life looks right now.  Sure we don't have much money, our house is a constant mess, and we are learning how to juggle having two little ones.  But, by and large, I am living out my dreams.

Still, plenty of things inspire me on a daily basis.  And, since Ramona was born, I have been enjoying doing more DIY projects.  This is where Pinterest comes in.  Probably a sad addiction,  but it has helped me rejuvenate my interest in sewing projects, given me ideas for crafts for the kiddos, and made me a more adventurous cook.  So, as far as inspiration boards go...feel free to browse my Pinterest page.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

East Side Catholics, Clap Clap, Clap Clap Clap

Day 6
Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox:  How do you want to get involved in your community this year?

My parents moved to Indianapolis when I was four years old, and happened to buy an old home on the east side of the city.  There was no connection to this community, but I definitely feel like God had a hand in them landing where they did.

Growing up in Irvington and attending east side Catholic schools made me the person that I am today.  For everything I learned from I book, I learned three things from the people around me.  I am by no means perfect, but I do think I was brought up in a home and in a community where I was taught to appreciate others, to be grateful for and humbled by what I have, to feel confident that I could try whatever I wanted to try (including being on the tennis team in high school even if you were and still are a horrible tennis player) and to try to give back as much as I take.

And it's not just me.  I truly believe that each member of my family are who they are and value what they value, in part, because of this community we became a part of.

When I was grown, I happened upon a boy who grew up in that same community.  He would be quick to point out that he is four years younger, so when I was a senior at Scecina, he was an 8th grader at Holy Spirit; however, this is irrelevant because when we met he was 21 and I was 25...completely appropriate in my book.

Our relationship started and has continued to be the easiest relationship I have ever experienced.  I think this is, in large part, due to the fact that we come from the same stock.  We were raised with the same values, with the same education, and also with the same people.

So, it does not surprise me that we met because he played in my best friend's little brother's band.  Or that all but 1 of our 12 person wedding party were east side raised.  Or that we bought a house in Irvington, where we will raise our children, and will grow up as parents with the same people we grew up with as kids.

I love it!  And I appreciate it more than I could ever put into words.  There is something special about this community of people, and I know not everyone has the same warm and fuzzy feelings about the "small, family environment," but it sure means a lot to me.

Which is why in 2003 I started directing the musicals at Scecina Memorial High School.  Why, for three years, I coached cheerleading at Our Lady of Lourdes.  And why in 2009 I accepted a job at Scecina working to increase enrollment, improve their online and print communication, and, most importantly, fund raise so that kiddos who wanted to go Scecina, but could not afford it, would get the same opportunity I did.

I wanted to give as much as I could back to the community that helped me become me.  So, what are my plans to help this community in the coming year?  How am I going to get involved?

Well, today someone mentioned that they felt like my blog was being written with "valuable sincerity," and while that is extremely flattering, it has also made me conscious that people are actually reading this thing and I better be honest. plans for community involvement...there are none.

Sure I will try to go to the OLL chili cookoff, and I will buy a candle from a Scecina softball player, and I will help my husband make a video for Scecina to use in their fundraising efforts, but that's about all I have in mind at this point.  I took the job at Scecina to give back, but I left my job at Scecina to start a family.  And now I have a little community within this community that is my sole focus at the moment.

I retired this year after nine years directing the musical.  I miss it already!  But I would feel selfish trying to be there Monday - Thursday nights from 7-9PM for three months when I have two little ones and a husband at home.  It just doesn't make sense for my family right now.

Hopefully by making these decisions, and trying to instill in my kids the same values my parents and this community instilled in me, years down the road there will be two more people who want to give back to Indy's east side.  And hopefully soon, I will be able to get back to paying off the debt I owe too.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tis the Season

Day 5
Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox: Interview three people about their favorite moments of the year. Share what you heard.

Okay...I am going rogue today.  Partially because I have several things that I want to document for the sake of the reason behind the blog, and partially because I didn't do my assignment.  My goes Day 5.

I do not have a good memory.  Really, that is an understatement.  I have a horrible memory.  Which is the main reason I wanted to start this blog, because I KNOW that when my kids are having kids and wanting to ask me questions about my experience, I will have no answers!  My memories will be blurry, altered, and probably completing inaccurate as if I am permanently suspended in the mind erasing process of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

So, it is with this in mind that I jot down a couple of quick stories about our recent days.  I warn you that if the thought of a breastfeeding woman is appalling to you...maybe go ahead and stop reading now.

Every year, since I was born, I have gone with my parents to Bohman's Tree Farm in Greensburg, IN and cut down our Christmas tree.  We stop in Shelbyville for breakfast.  Then, when we get to the farm, we ride on a tractor out into the fields.  My mom says, "hold onto Hannah."  My sisters and I giggle.  Sarah and Hannah use weeds to hit Abby with as we walk up and down the hills. We select our tree.  My dad gets on the ground and begins to cut it down.  We each take a turn, even though we make absolutely NO progress in achieving the end goal.  My dad gets back on the ground to finish cutting the trunk.  My sister, Sarah, strategically lays on the ground so that the tree falls on her.  We pick the tree up.  Put it on the tractor's bed, and ride back to the entrance, where we stuff our pockets with mini candy canes for the ride home.

Now, as a 31 year old, not much has changed...except that they don't let you sit on the side of the tractor bed anymore with your feet dangling off the side, my youngest sister is now 21 (but yes my mom still said, "hang on to Hannah"), we get five trees instead of one, and our family of six is now a family of ten and three children.  Two years ago, I was EXTREMELY pregnant, last year only Andy and I knew I was pregnant (we would reveal this fact to our families on Christmas day), and this year I am the proud mama of two.

This is definitely one of my favorite Zimmerman family traditions and one that I hope that Andy and I get to continue on well into the years when we are grandparents of the little ones.

So, we got our tree, Andy hung our outdoor lights...because we are grown ups after all...and we decorated our home for Christmas.  All of our decor is hand me downs/gifts from our parents, and I love how our home feels when it is all up!

Last year, Ramona was too little to appreciate any of it.  And while I am sure that Miles is internally grateful to be living in a holiday wonderland, it is definitely more fun to watch Ramona experience this new "look" we are trying out in our home...complete with 8 foot live tree.

The day after we decorated the tree she took her "babies" (an Eebee, a stuffed monkey, a baby doll, and often a ninja turtle action figure) one by one and talked in her baby voice (yes, my baby has a baby voice she uses to speak to anyone she thinks is younger than her) showing them the lights and ornaments.  It was darling.

Then things got a little weird.  When I was pregnant with Miles, people told me that Ramona might regress when seeing me nurse Miles and want to start nursing again.  And some people said that she may want to sit and "nurse" her "babies" when I nursed Miles.  Well, neither of these was the case.  Ramona, not often but it has happened on several occasions, will bring one of the above mentioned babies over to me while I am nursing so that I can nurse both Miles on one side and her baby on the other.  It doesn't bother me, in fact I think it is pretty smart that she gets that I am one that would be able to feed these little people she cares for.

However, a couple of days ago, Ramona found a new baby.  A little baby the size of a cashew who was born in the manger.  And this is how I came to nurse Baby Jesus.

In addition to the nourishment Baby Jesus has received at our home, I also walked up on this happening...

Merry Christmas friends!

An Urban Farmer in the Making

Day 4 - December 4, 2012
Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox: What was the wisest decision you made this year?

We have had a lot of wonderful things happen to us this year.  Obviously, becoming parents to another little one being at the top of that list!  However, the decision to have another baby was made last year.  So, as far as conscious decisions I have made this year, nothing immediately jumped out at me when I read this prompt yesterday.  I decided I should just let it marinate for a bit.  And then today, this happened...

This, my friends, is my current place of employment.  A dear friend of mine, Annie Grinstead, has set out on a new journey in life, and she asked me to join her.  She is an amazingly talented event planner, who I used to work with, and in April she started her awesome new company Positive Energy.

She has a great office, but since I am nursing my little guy, she has graciously agreed that, on Wednesday mornings, my crew comes to her house and her daughter's nanny plays with my kiddos while we work in the next room.  I do her bookkeeping, and we chat about life, events, and our babies.  To say that it is an ideal situation for me would be an understatement.

But here's the gets even better.  Not only has Annie given me the opportunity to make a little income for my family, in a job I really enjoy, for a company and person who I couldn't have more respect and excitement for, but...she has allowed my little gal the opportunity to experience a little slice of life on a farm.

The Grinstead abode is not only a home where is I go to work.  It is also a full on pig farm, and today Ramona, Miles, and I got to go in the farrowing house with a mama and her 11 three day old piglets, or "babies," as Ramona has been referring to them.

Ramona actually got to get into the pen with these pigs, and she loved it so much!!!  Annie and I have been friends for years, and I love every pig adventure I have had with her...including when I was peed on by a little guy a couple of years ago, but today was something that I have never experienced before in my whole life.  It was the first time that I, as a mom, felt with every being of my body, thank God my baby is getting to experience this.

Now this probably means that I am not grateful enough for other things in my life, or it may just be the start of this feeling since now Ramona is at an age where she can start appreciating the things we do, but I felt so blessed that I was able to provide her with this moment.

She said her goodbye only after I promised that we would come see the pigs again next week, and she has been making oink sounds and talking about the mama and babies all evening.

As for me...I couldn't be more thankful that when my friend asked if I would take her leap with her, my decision was "yes."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

Day 3
Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox: If you could meet someone new in 2013, who would it be?  Or would you rather spend time with someone you already know?

Playgroup Pic

I am not good at meeting new people.  Several people have said that they are surprised when I say something like this.  But it is definitely the truth!  Once I know someone, I am fine with starting chats, but the idea of networking or going up and introducing myself makes me a nervous wreck.  I get extremely self conscious and worry whether someone new will think I am worth getting to know...even when I tell myself that this is silly.  I also feel like I have super awkward conversations/interactions with people until I really get to know them.  If this has happened with you...I'm sorry!

My other issue is that I am not good with keeping up with the people I meet.  I have lost touch with some of my favorite people over the years because I am not someone who remembers birthdays, calls someone up to talk on the phone, or goes out of my way to make plans.  

These things bother me about myself...I wish I was better at meeting new people, but I think I am improving.  My secret is that kids are the perfect excuse to make new grown up friends.  

I have always had far more male friends than female friends.  However, since becoming a mom, I now have a group of fellow mamas that I have, happily, stumbled upon and become a part of.  These are women who I  can call to go on our morning adventures and who I sit and talk with on Friday mornings at Little Flower's Playgroup.  We swap mostly stories about our children, but, let's face it, they are my best subject matter these days.

These relationships are truly blessings in my world.  They make me a happier person, a better mama, and a better wife.  Because while I struggle with friendships, I am definitely a social person...and not having an adult conversation for an entire day is just not my cup of tea.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Plugged in Wirelessly

Day 2
Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox: "Get Unplugged" Unplug for an hour, a half day, or a whole day.  Choose a time that feels a little uncomfortable.  How did you feel?  What did you do?  Reflect on your experience.  How much did you unplug this year?  How does this experience make you feel about unplugging this coming year?

Before Ramona was born in 2011, I was seriously plugged in!  I spent all day, every day working at a desk, on a computer.  I was a wiz when it came to Excel spreadsheets, event timelines, marketing pieces, and meeting agendas.  In fact, I was so plugged in that when I went into labor with Ramona, I was timing contractions at my desk and sending out emails to wrap up all the loose ends of projects at Scecina.  I liked the adrenaline that comes with being busy.  But on March 1, 2011 that all changed, because that day I went into labor was the last day that I have worked a formal "job" since.

So, you might think that a stay at home mom would also be a person who is not tethered to technology at all times of the day, and you would right...except for one thing.  When Ramona was about three months old, my husband and I got iPhones.

This little handheld device makes it possible for me to be monitoring my daughter at the sand table in the Children's Museum, carrying my son in a pouch, drinking a coffee, AND checking my Facebook page all at the same time.  I love that I take way more pictures and videos of my kids and that I can share them very easily, but I have to constantly remind myself to be PRESENT and not ONLINE.

In the evenings is when it really gets bad.  When Ramona goes to bed and Miles dozes off on the couch and the house is quiet, Andy and I do not seize the opportunity to have a conversation...we check our email, I go on Pinterest, we read twitter.  Our brains are usually a bit fried by this point, and it is hard work to communicate with spoken words!  Mindless TV and Facebook distractions are lovely to people who are worn out by 8PM.

And so, as I embark on this new experience of blogging, I am also going to challenge myself to "unplug" from my wireless device this December.  I am not going to use my phone for anything but picture taking during our morning adventures and I am going to try to not use my phone or computer after 8:30PM from now until the new year...we will see how this goes...I'll keep you posted.

A Picture Paints A 1,000 Words

Day 1 - December 1, 2012 (okay...I know I am bit late here)

Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox: Did one photo encapsulate your year? Maybe it takes a gallery.  Go out and take a new one that represents your year if you need to.  Let's see those photos.

We are now a family of four.  When I was pregnant with Miles, I had panic attacks about how I was going to juggle two wee ones. And while there are definitely times when I fail to keep the balls in the air, there are also flashes when our little crew appears to be a well oiled machine.  Photos help capture those precious, often fleeting, moments.

These three pictures capture our year at it's moments of serenity.  And they show some of my favorite characteristics in our clan.  My husband is a truly amazing and fun dad, our dog is a constant companion, our daughter is a darling independent spirit, and our new little guy is a flexible newborn.

Sure those same characteristics can cause frustration.  Sometimes Andy playing electric guitar is not how I want to start a lazy Sunday.  There are days when Abraham following me from room to room makes me want to scream.  Ramona is often saying, "No, Mama," so that she can explain her own way of doing things. And since my flexible little guy naps mostly attached to me in the Ergo, it also means that I carry him more hours than not.

But these pictures help me to pause and remember that these are the reasons that I love these people more than I could ever say.  If my kids grow to love music and laughter, it will be because of Andy. If I ever need to curl up on the couch for a nap, it will be with Abraham.  If I learn that my way is not the only way, it will be because of Ramona.  And if I need a reminder of why being a mom is the best thing I have done to date, I will just look down into the pouch that holds my Miles and he will smile back at me.

Game On

My lovely friend Jamie suggested that I get my blog going by participating in a challenge constructed by SmallBox  called Think Kit.  They will be sending out prompts in December to inspire blog topics and the challenge is to blog every day from now to the new year.  So...thank you Jamie...challenge accepted.  By the way, you can read Jamie's wonderful blog, littlebylittleindy, here.