Success

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I have been thinking a lot about success recently. Who knows why, surely because I’m a stay at home parent without much else occupying me during nap time. 😉 But I also think it’s important to constantly reevaluate what it means for you to be successful at different points in your life.

It used to be that being successful meant that I made certain grades in certain classes. It’s easy to realize you have to redefine success once you graduate — but for me this was actually difficult. I really enjoyed the validation of academia and my professors and struggled with the decision to go back to grad school and whether I was making it because I wanted to go back or simply because I was used to being successful there and I was struggling to find a job after graduation.

And a similar thing happened to me once I did find a job — success became about salary, work responsibility, saving the company money… and when I became a stay at home parent all of that was lost to me and I had to redefine success again.

That I really struggled with. For a while I thought I could do freelance photography and that could be where i found validation — but frankly, I wanted to spend more time with my family and less time marketing myself than I could spend too be successful at it. So I started writing — and quickly destroyed my enjoyment of that with all this pressure to write a commercially viable novel so I could find success there.

It was hard. I was spending so many years outside the job market doing NOTHING. This was my worst fear. Stagnating. Becoming worthless to an employer. A resume with five years of employment gap. I had no idea how engrained this idea of success was within me until I was facing down total failure.

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But now, when I lay awake at night trying to fall asleep, I listen to how quiet it is. I think about my babies as they sleep — all of whom have their own bed, perfect little matching sheet sets, stuffed animals to snuggle with, full bellies (if they hadn’t refused dinner that night 😉), and a safe house full of entertainment for them. They are happy. They are content.

And suddenly success isn’t about me any more — not really. Instead, success is about having made it through the day okay. Success is about having created a nurturing environment for my children, that even if it’s not perfect all the time it is still safe, it is still home. Success is about waking up to a new day full of little eyes learning, little bodies playing, and little hearts beating. Success is about something bigger than me — success is about the success of three little people who will eventually go out into the world and define success on their own.

I still want to write a novel. I still want to do some photography sessions here and there. I want to run a 5k again and I want to travel again and I want to learn what else I want from life. But right now? I’m learning that this kind of success is important and validating too — if I can get out of my own way and let myself experience it. 😉 It’s taken me four years, but I think I’m finally finally there. And that, in and of itself, I think, is success.

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Camp is in Session

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So pretty much as soon as I found out about the YMCA summer camps I knew I wanted to sign Izzy up for some. Initially I thought she was too young but then I learned they had a half day program. Since I have always been a stay at home mom and she hasn’t had the traditional daycare experience most of her peers will have had I thought this might be a good thing for her to do before preschool to get her used to following a schedule and snack times and listening to instructors and interacting with other kids. The day is short too, it’s only from nine until noon, but it would also be a trial run for the babies and me as we’ll have to all get up at nine every day once she’s in pre-k.

So far she seems to like it! She was a little unhappy with the early wake up time (I’m lucky in that my kids usually all sleep in until at least nine ha!) but as soon as we got there and signed in she perked right up! One day she had some difficulty with a little boy pulling her skirt down, but otherwise she reports nothing but a good time doing crafts and learning games like duck duck goose. 😉

Unfortunately the babies are about ready to have a meltdown by the time go pick her up because they’re so tired. But I’ll just move their naps up when Izzy goes to preschool. Plus they’re insanely jealous of her and drop off isn’t so easy! The best way I can explain it…

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I only signed her up every other week so we get a break this week. I fully anticipate her to be excited to go back though! We’ll have to see… 😉

Destination Destin

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In much more pleasant news, we recently got to go to Destin! For a minute we were highly concerned Orin’s injuries were going to make this trip impossible but thankfully that was not the case. It was paid for by Korey’s company — every year they do a big retreat for the employees, last year was in Nashville — and I’d never been to the gulf before so I was anxious to go. Especially because the kids had never seen the ocean before.

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The place they picked to host us was absolutely gorgeous!

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It was held the San Destin resort and although Korey’s company tries to discourage families from going, it was perfect for a families haha. I hope one day we have the money to stay there on our own. The room was HUGE, with a separate room just for us and a full kitchen and washers and dryers and everything you could want.

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On top of that, it was only a short walk down to a little “town” area with a huge playground, several restaurants, ice cream shops, a carousel, among other activities for kids and adults. The kids were pretty much in heaven with the playground after a six hour car ride. 😉

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Korey had to go to an event that night so we were pretty much on our own but the kids were very well behaved and we played, got dinner and ice cream, and ran around the hotel room for a while.

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I actually have a lot of fun with them, so I didn’t mind not being able to go to the events with Korey. 😉

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But the next day he didn’t have anything specific to do so we all got up to go to the beach. (Not that his company didn’t have events — most people apparently took pontoon boats out to a bar that was on a literal sand bar in the ocean! But clearly I wasn’t letting him go do that without me… 😂)

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Poor Orin — because of his healing skin, he had to wear a hat so that his face was fully covered. So we all got hats to support him. 😉

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It was super nice because we got to take a shuttle to the beach. With three kids there’s honestly no better vacation than not having to worry about driving. Seriously!

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While I’m honestly not hugely fond of the beach — despite how much I love the ocean — we had a great time! Orin ended up being terrified of it — it kind of jumped up and touched him when he wasn’t expecting and he flipped out. 😂 But he was head over heels for the sand.

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Izzy and Zelda though absolutely adored it! They both stood out in the waves with me, screaming and laughing as each one rolled by. Some of the most positive memories of my childhood involve jumping in the waves in Lake Erie and seriously, nothing could’ve made me happier than recreating that with my own kids.

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They were all so exhausted when we got back to the room that even Izzy took a nap — which she hasn’t done for probably six months. 😉

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But then we headed down to dinner and to ride the carousel and dance on the lawn. My girls wore their matching dresses and were soooo cute!

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After dinner Korey left to go to a company event and we got ice cream. Again. Because I’m the best mom — obviously. 😉

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It was getting dark by the time we started heading back to the room. Almost immediately though Izzy spotted a frog hopping across the path. Well — it was far from the last one we saw! There were tons of them hopping their way across the path and every single one she chased after to pick up. 😂

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When we got back to the room I let her go out on the patio since we were on the ground floor to search for more and she even found a green tree frog — which she called “the one that sticks to the window.” 😂 I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one in real life before! I remember seeing lizards on our honeymoon in Saint Croix but not frogs. Anyway, watching Izzy and Zelda in their little dresses running barefoot across the patio searching for frogs was like something out of a Miyazaki film and I couldn’t have a more beautiful memory of our trip than that. 💕

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Unfortunately it was only a weekend trip and so we had to head back the next day. Driving twelve hours for forty eight at the beach might not have been worth it for most people, but after the horror of Orin getting hit by a car we definitely needed a mental break from the norm and I had been looking forward to this trip since they announced it would be in Destin. I love the time we got there though and I hope in a year or two we’ll get to go back for a little longer!

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A Mother’s Worst Fear

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I’m pretty terrible about updating — and I own that 😉 — but the last few weeks were made infinitely worse by the terrible experience we had a little more than three weeks ago.

You know when you have one of those days where nothing in particular is really going right? That was totally my Wednesday when I packed the kids up and took them down to the YMCA. We had been going pretty habitually recently because they love it and I’d been trying to get back on the couch to 5k program but that morning was just a struggle. However, with three kids four and under you don’t think too much about that. 😉 Sometimes, that’s just life.

But because of that I parked in a way I usually never park and coming out of the YMCA I left Izzy and Orin to play on the hill while I threw Zelda in the car and then went back for them. They are typically content to run up and down the hill a million times but I guess because I was out of sight Orin decided to find me. No sooner had I gotten Zelda in the car then I turn around to hear Orin and Izzy both screaming.

There is no possible way to describe what it feels like to turn around and see your baby laying on the pavement, crying but not moving. I’ll never have words for it.

I ran to him immediately, picked him up, knew instantly that he’d been hit by a car, and watched as the person who hit him drove away. In that moment I did none of the things you are supposed to do — I didn’t get their plates, I didn’t even get the model of truck, I just watched and hoped they would stop but they didn’t. 😞

When I turned back to assess him I figured he probably had a broken arm because he was holding it like it hurt and he was obviously banged up. Because of this and the fact that I had two other kids with me, I made the decision to drive him to the emergency room. Now, in retrospect I probably should not have done this. If he had lost consciousness or been more severely injured I probably wouldn’t have but my child had just been hit in this parking lot and I didn’t want to risk hanging out any longer with two more children.

Also, I actually think this made my emergency room visit faster because man — as soon as I walked in there and the words “my son has been hit by a car” left my mouth they sprang into action despite all the other people waiting there.

Unfortunately they also freaked me out with the fear that he had a collapsed lung among other things but that’s their job. They also helped me file a police report on the hit and run and did tons of scans on every part of his little body and treated us so well I’m honestly tearing up writing this. I know this particular hospital gets a lot of flak around here but my experience with them as a trauma center was nothing short of perfect.

Ultimately they made the decision to transfer him to the children’s hospital that had performed Zelda’s heart surgery so my mum came and picked up the girls and Korey dealt with our cars with my in laws while I took the ambulance transport down into the city.

Being as I was familiar with the hospital we were transfered to I was pretty thrilled to be going back. I knew they would take amazing care of Orin and find out exactly what was going on with his lungs — which turned out just to be a little touch of air from trauma and not a collapsed lung — and that if he needed surgery on his arm he was in the right place. Thankfully he did not need surgery as it was only a fracture but we still spent the night to get some more x-rays done and verify that the air in his lung didn’t get worse.

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We both managed to get a little sleep that night and in the morning they confirmed he didn’t need surgery so I ordered him breakfast. Poor little man though — he was in pretty good spirits when I got him dressed to take a walk but it wasn’t until his sisters got there that he really perked up. Zelda was so happy too! They really miss each other when they’re not together, it is the sweetest, most heart warming thing to see as a mother.

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Of course, the cookie daddy left him didn’t hurt either… 😉

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Thankfully we only had to spend one night there and when we finally got home it was obvious he was missing it. He was back to his old self immediately, being entertained by his sisters and eating pizza like a champ. 😂

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A week later we went back for a follow up orthopedic visit and was put in a real cast. 😱 An experience I was not looking for to facing — ha! None of my siblings or I ever had a cast as children. It’s really sad and cute to see a little baby cast. 😂

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Already you can see how quickly his face healed though! Mostly surface scratches, only a couple were very deep.

Ultimately though — holy shit could this have been much worse!! As I’ve thought and rethought about this, I have decided the driver probably didn’t even realize he hit Orin. I think what probably happened was that Orin ran straight into his tire. He might have even looked back at Izzy yelling at him not to run because he had a big radial burn on one side of his face and the other was much more banged up. I would guess the power of the tire spun him into the pavement and his elbow took the brunt of the force and fractured. He was only in the cast for three weeks, my initial assessment of his condition was accurate, he never lost consciousness or suffered from a concussion, and he has healed perfectly so far. We got very very lucky with this accident and I’ve learned that I need to have more patience and always park near the sidewalk — no matter how inconvenient or how long the walk — or get out the stroller. At least for a little while longer.

The takeaway here for me is — parenting is difficult as hell. It’s hard to know when you need to teach them independence and when you need to carry them through an experience. It’s easy for me to look back and say “I should’ve done this, I should’ve done that” but the truth is I thought they would be okay and they weren’t. It was an accident. But one I hope to god I never experience again. 😩

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Porch Playland

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Oh my goodness what a day we had yesterday! As I messaged my friend — I created a kid’s heaven and a mother’s hell. 😂 Thankfully I try to keep it in perspective and only give myself the kind of mess I can handle on that particular day and yesterday was a good day where I exuded patience and good humor. 😉

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This water and sand table were gifts from my grandma for the kids for Christmas and the weather has finally been consistently nice enough to set them up. I waited until the babies were napping and had Izzy set them up with me. Sometimes it’s better to let her have first dibs and explore a new toy before letting them all go full throttle on it. Then she gets her inspection out of the way and is excited to show something new to the babies. 😛

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They absolutely had so much fun. It kept them occupied for an hour and a half until I forced them to come in. I also had that slide from Izzy’s second birthday as well as a little table for them to sit at (not that they did much sitting — ha!) Somehow pretty much everything managed to get covered in sand, but it’s cheap and sweeps away easily enough. 😉 They got to knock down sand castles and splash each other and dig and slide — it was pretty much a perfect afternoon. And best of all? I didn’t have to leave the house. 😂

Izzy’s Speech Therapy Evaluation

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As her birthday was last month, Izzy had a four year check up. Alongside some other minor concerns, I brought up the possibility of speech therapy with the doctor because despite me mostly understanding her, it had become increasingly apparent to me the was not the case with everyone, including my own parents. Until now I figured, she was just a late talker, it didn’t matter, but as she’s facing pre-k in the fall I don’t want her to get discouraged or frustrated with learning if teachers struggle to figure out what she’s trying to say. Izzy is naturally very inquisitive and eager to please so I expect she’ll LOVE school — but then she also gets easily embarrassed and has a stubborn streak a mile long… (No thanks to her parents. 😛)

I knew she had a tongue tie but it never seemed to affect her so the pediatrician suggested we get a speech therapy evaluation first. And I’m very glad I did! The speech therapist immediately told me that was not her problem at all — in fact, her tongue is too often outside her teeth. 😂

Izzy was so great for the evaluator — saying everything requested eagerly. I just love her spirit! But the evaluator eventually told me that her speech issues were pervasive, pretty much all the blended sounds were affected (like “CH” and “SH”), and that she pretty much speaks on the level of a two and a half year old. Which, honestly, didn’t really bother me to learn — we were clearly in the right place and I know it’s no mark of intelligence. Heck, Korey has some pervasive speech issues from his childhood still and it’s clearly not affected him negatively even in a professional capacity. But it did prove to me something definitely needed done about it, where I was on the fence as to whether it was really even an issue. 😅

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Because we wanted to be sure insurance would pay for sessions at that location, we went ahead and scheduled an appointment the very next day. It was really cool to be able to sit behind a one-way mirror and watch the appointment (as seen above.) I had actually done this done in college, so I knew what to expect. Super helpful though that I can bring the babies with me and they can play in a separate room and not distract anyone. 😂

Izzy did perfectly at her appointment too! She is very eager to please and loves one on one attention. The therapist had them play games that encouraged the repetition of certain sounds — this time it was all about the “beach” and playing “catch.” Since we’re going to the beach this month and she loves to play catch it is easy for me to work on these concepts at home too. 😊

I can already tell that she’s being more conscientious of how she says the words — the trick is trying not to make her feel too self-conscious. Personally I know that I shut down when I’m embarrassed and she is similar so I try not to call her out on it all the time, especially not in public.

Our next appointment isn’t until the middle of the month but I’m excited to see how her speech slowly starts changing. And to see her not have to repeat herself a thousand times to kids on the playground any more!

Izzy turns four!

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Izzy’s fourth birthday was Tuesday and today we had a birthday party for her! I totally have put off having real birthdays since her first because I was pregnant and overwhelmed with the twins and I honestly think they’re kind of dumb. (So I aged another year — woo….) But knowing how much Izzy loves people and parties and being the center of attention right now I felt she deserved a day to celebrate her after how much she put up with over the past two years.

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I wanted to keep it small but given the size of our combined families that way pretty much impossible. 😛 Thankfully I feel good enough now that I totally spent a week cleaning and organizing most of the downstairs. (Since we got a new dining room table it really motivated me. I took down old baby gates and touched up paint and bought long overdue curtains for the living room and everything.)

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Izzy was so excited she counted down the days every day, helped me clean, repeated the list of the all the grandmas and grandpas that were going to be there over and over again, and made sure to tell everyone she could about it. 😉 It totally made it worth it to me even without having had the actual party yet. But the day of was even better!

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Although I don’t have many pictures of her, she was beyond excited, running to the door wherever someone came and announcing to everyone who they were. Her excitement was infectious! I immediately knew all that cleaning and prep work had paid off.

The best moment for me though was after everyone sang happy birthday — which she totally basked in — and she blew out her candle, she ran up to my and gave me a huge hug and said “thank you momma!!” as if I had given her the best day of her life. I nearly cried. I don’t know how I got so lucky with her — she is so affectionate and gentle-hearted and thoughtful. Truly the best child I could’ve ever asked for.

Of course she also got a lot of wonderful gifts that she was thrilled to open, but I definitely think the best part for her was just having everyone over and getting to have a special day all of her own. And I wouldn’t say that about most kids but right from the get go, as soon as I told her about my plan to have a party, the first thing she asked was “and everyone is going to come to my house?” So she got her ultimate wish. 😂

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I cannot even believe it’s been four years. Sometimes, before having kids, I wondered if I was really cut out to be a mom (sometimes afterward too — ha!) But looking at Izzy and what a sweet, happy, wonderful little girl she is makes me feel like maybe I was cut out for her. ❤