Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Surprises and Secrets

*** Well, Nathan went and messed up this post I wrote last week by making a liar out of me. I'm still posting it here because... well, because I did the work already! But after I wrote this he, the girls and my family and friends showered me with real surprises that I didn't see coming. So, while you're reading the smart-alecky words I wrote last week, I will be busy working on ways to say "Thank you" to my wonderful family for an awesome, surprise-filled birthday week!

********* WHAT I WROTE (BUT FAILED TO POST) LAST WEEK ************

This weekend the house sounded something like this:

Giggle, giggle, giggle... "Oh no, she's coming!"

Gasp! Door slamming... giggle, giggle, giggle... door opening... 6 year old steps out and says:

"Mommy, you have to PROMISE not to come in our room!"

"Okay. I promise."

Door slam. Paper rustling. Giggle, giggle! Door opens... 4 year old comes out and says:

"Mommy, we're not doing ANYTHING in our room except just sitting on the floor."

"Not doing anything, huh?" Giggle, giggle, giggle! 4 year old runs back into her room... door slams... and so on...

I chuckle to myself, appreciating all the effort these sweet little people are putting into my birthday surprise, knowing full well that I will really just have to act surprised when I open the presents they are wrapping. No matter, it's the thought that counts. And judging from those happy sounds coming out of their bedroom, the thoughts count for a lot!

Why do I already know what my gifts are? To explain, let me dig into my blogging archives. Two years ago almost to the day, when we had just moved onto the boat, I wrote an entry that pretty much sums it up. Here's what I wrote back then:


September 21, 2009 - Monday, 6:25am

I have a crazy secret. Actually, it's a family secret and we've been keeping it for a full 2 months now. You should know, I don't like secrets.

I do, however, like surprises. I come from a long line of proud, expert surprisers. When I was little every birthday and holiday was filled with unexpected delights whose success depended on the cooperation and sworn secrecy of every other member of the family. My mother was the master of all known surprise-givers. We were her willing apprentices and accomplices.

Then I married an anti-surpriser. Not only was my husband the kind of guy who tried to find his hidden presents before his birthday, but he was incapable of adhering to the most sacred surprise rule of all: never ruin another person's surprise. After my family and I got over the shock and horror of many spilled beans around the holidays we learned to become better surprise-keepers in the face of such a challenge. We also came to realize that his anti-surprisism was genetic. We had a lot of work to do.

We learned early on that my husband and his parents could not be told even the slightest details of planned surprises. Because of this policy, during our 12 years together we have had some surprise-successes, like the book party I threw for my Mother-in-law which required the secrecy and participation of dozens of her family and friends around the country. Of course, as with any great accomplishments throughout history, that only came after countless surprise-failures along the way. Still, in order to pull that one off, I had to get my husband on board and he did beautifully.

Mind you, I never was so naive that I thought I could actually convert my beloved husband to our way of thinking. We simply agreed to disagree on the importance of surprises and learned to live together in spite of our fundamental differences.

That is, until now.

For 2 straight months my husband has helped me to keep a secret so large even I can barely stand it. I have even gone so far as to tell a few of my friends who don't know my family, just to release some of the secret-keeping steam that has been building up inside of me. Thankfully, we are in the home stretch of the surprise-delivery phase.

You see, my birthday is in 6 days, which means it is also my sister's birthday. (Didn't I tell you my Mom was the Master surprise deliverer? She surprised me on my 3rd birthday with a baby sister!) The same sister that works for an airline and can fly anywhere she wants on a moment's notice. You see where this is going?

For the entire 2 months of secret-holding, I have been bugging my sister to come down here. My parents too, since they also can use her flight benefits. And for two months no-one has hopped on a plane. With our birthday rapidly approaching I knew it was the perfect time to deliver the surprise, so I started emailing, texting and calling my sister daily to say: "So are you coming down here for our birthday?" But, because school just started and she has 3 kids, she was resisting the idea of throwing one more thing on her plate. I can't imagine why!

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Last night my husband called her husband and, with my permission, told him our well-kept secret in order to get him in on it. Unlike my husband who needed to be almost beaten into secret-keeping submission, my brother-in-law was a quick-study and has been one of the better surprise-givers our family has ever known, so there is no chance of him blowing it. We are optimistic that this will be the push she needs to get here for the big reveal.

So, my dear reader, the time of greatness is near. By this time next week the world will know my secret. Until then, I will stay busy trying to convince my husband that he really should do something surprising for my upcoming birthday.


The "secret," of course, was that we had moved onto a boat with our two little girls and the dog.

I'm sharing all of this with you now, two years later because it is again the eve of my birthday (this time with a big "0" on the end of it!) and I realize nothing has really changed. Yes, my husband showed me what he was thinking of buying me, and then ordered it for me online as I sat there beside him. Such a move used to drive me nuts, but I have learned over the years if that is the worst of his annoying habits (which it thankfully is) then I'm in pretty good shape.

The good news is that my kids don't know this. They think he bought them something to give Mommy as a total surprise. So, of course, I will act super-surprised when I unwrap those gifts because I know not only will they get to experience a bit of the joy of giving, but it should go a long way toward helping me achieve my ultimate goal of overcoming their genetic-tendency toward anti-surprisism.


But, in the end, it turned out the surprise was on me! Thanks again to everyone who made my 40th birthday celebration better than I ever could've imagined!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mommy is a Triathlete

Self-portrait, just before Live.Love.Tri
The world is completely different lately. Or maybe I am different. Two weeks ago I went from an exhausted, frazzled, stay-at-home-Mommy to a successful Triathlete after completing the Live.Love.Tri Triathlon in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Granted, right after the race I had a moment where I thought I might pass out. At first I thought it was just the normal effect of the post-adrenaline rush. But now I am thinking what I felt was actually a major shift in the entire world as I know it. That's certainly enough to make anyone feel a little bit dizzy.

7 Desert Mommies just before Live.Love.Tri
To be honest, the whole experience was a little dizzying. Two weeks before the race I had no idea I was going to do the Triathlon at all, but some of my friends convinced me to just go for it. When I started to offer my list of excuses, one friend pointed out that she was pregnant and was still going to run the race. In fact, out of the 7 of us that participated from our playgroup, 2 are pregnant, 2 are nursing mothers and all have children under the age of 5. So, my excuses evaporated and I went for it. The goal wasn't to break records, but simply to finish. I am happy to say that, despite being the last of my friends to finish, I did meet that goal and did so much more in the process.

Ziva's sign of support for Mommy's race
Perhaps the most important thing that came out of doing this triathlon was realizing not just that I COULD do it physically but that I SHOULD do it for myself and my family.

Ahava's sign wishing Mommy, Miss Carrie and Miss Lilly good luck
That realization hit me like a ton a bricks when I came around the corner after a grueling (for me, at least) 3 mile run and 10 mile bike ride and saw my daughters' faces. It was their voices in my head that had pushed me up those tough hills ("You can do it Mommy, you can do it! Little by little and bit by bit!") and seeing their excitement over my accomplishment was incredibly uplifting.
Finishing bike ride. I'm in pink shirt. My family's behind that tree, running to cheer me on in the final event... 400m swim! (photo by: Brandy Klobuchar)
In an instant I went from the Mommy they have always known to a different kind of a role model.
"I did it!" (photo by: Brandy Klobuchar)
And as I pulled myself, with shaking arms and legs, out of the pool after the 400 meter swim I knew I showed those little girls that women can do amazing things.

Cover page of my daughter's report
Who knows what they will do with that new information in the long run, but by the end of the weekend my 6 year old daughter was writing a report for school about "Mommy's Triathlon," which she proudly read to her whole class Monday morning. And when one of her classmate's mothers came up to me and said, "So you're the one that my daughter was talking about running in that race!" I could've sworn I saw a twinkle of pride in my own daughter's eyes.

Of course, there is no time to rest on my laurels. In two weeks I will be participating in the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Relay with my husband in celebration of my 40th birthday. I wanted to do something to celebrate this milestone and give thanks for my health at the same time. And this time the kids won't just be on the sidelines. They are running their own races too. As I watch them practice sprinting every day before and after school I know for sure that the world has indeed changed in marvelous ways!
My wonderful support team! (Photo by: Dianne Hensely)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Award Winning Blogger

I just won a blogging contest! How exciting is that?!?

Okay, so that's a flat out lie. I actually just entered a blogging contest late last night and then, after I got my entry in one minute before the deadline, I went back and read the rules of said blogging contest. That's when I realized I was 200 words over the 300 word limit. Call it "baby brain" but the fact is my chances of winning that blogging contest are "slim" and "none." Still, I have decided to act like I won it anyway.

Let me explain. Around 10 o'clock yesterday morning, as I was getting 5 kids ready for a trip to the aquarium, I checked in on Facebook. One of my friends had posted the link to "Real Simple’s Simply Stated Blogger Contest" which has two great prizes; $1,000 and the chance to become a blogger on Real Simple's popular website for a month.

"Sounds good," I thought. "I could do that."

Then I looked at the deadline. It was only about 12 hours from the time I first read about the contest. But instead of thinking, "give me a break!" I thought, "I could do that!" After all, wasn't there a time when I wrote a dozen stories for broadcast in half as many hours, and still looked presentable enough for live TV?

Of course that was during my productive, "B-3-K Era" (before 3 kids), and if I've learned anything from my (now 4-year-old!) video podcast, New Mexicast, it's that when mommies make deadlines children make other plans. Yes, I can still do ANYTHING I want, I just can't do everything WHEN I want. It is just a parenting absolute that must be accepted. Anyone who doubts this unbendable, universal truth need only try to take an uninterrupted shower with a person 10 years old or younger in the house. Accomplishing such a feat would defy the laws of Physics and would no doubt send the world spinning out of control.

But there's something else I have learned from both my podcasting and broadcasting; I am better with a deadline.

How's that for a catch-22? Deadlines are impossible with kids and I do my best work with a deadline.

Which brings me to my little lie at the beginning of this blog entry (okay, my big lie). The only way for me to blog in any consistent fashion is to trick my brain into thinking I have a real deadline. So, brain, in case you're listening...

Guess what!?! We just won a blogging contest that now requires us to blog on a consistent basis! Yes, I know it's a lot of pressure, but we can do it. We've done much more than this in the past, right? Right! So, brain, I'm putting you on notice... It is time to step it up and get writing!

Okay, for the rest of you, please feel free to check back in often over the next month or so to see whether my brain is falling for this little ploy or not. It worked when we submitted that blogging contest entry before the deadline (never mind the extra 200 words!), so I'm optimistic this will work.

But for now my brain and I both need some rest!

¡Hasta la proxima!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Baby's Cries

Exhausted baby fell asleep while playing on his mat.

My poor baby boy is miserable. He has been crying for the better part of 36 hours. It breaks my heart to see him this way and to feel so helpless to make it better. But before I let heartache creep in, I remind myself that this will soon be over. My baby will likely be back to his sweet, smiling self tomorrow.

Unsuspecting, Samuel before his shots.

His agony is just a reaction to the 6-month vaccinations he received yesterday. Baby Samuel's immune system is fighting like crazy right now and, despite the torture it puts us both through, that is as it should be.

Cranky, post-shots baby won't let me put him down. So I'm vacuuming with him in the Baby Bjorn.

But as the hours pass and I hold him close, trying to ease his suffering, I can't help but think of all the children out there who don't heal overnight. I think of all the mothers whose only wish is to see their baby stop suffering; to see their baby healthy. There can be no greater pain than to see your child suffer without hope of recovery.

It is not just my baby's cries that have me in such a somber mood. Recently a friend's teenage son tried to kill himself. Another friend's teenage daughter cuts herself. And a loved one has watched her daughter's mental illness take her to the depths of her own personal hell more times than she can count. I cannot pretend to understand what these mothers are going through. But hearing this little baby's cries makes me think of them. I am humbled to think of the love they continue to offer to their children during the most difficult times.

Sometimes, when one of my daughters skins her knee or pinches her finger, she comes running up to me for comfort. Generally, a hug for the kid and a kiss for the boo-boo is all it takes to make them as good as new. If only time really could heal all wounds. If only the power of a mother's love could fix it all. If only.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Better Than Perfect

As I sit here in the fitness center's parking lot, covered in sweat and nursing a very cranky baby, I am reminded that my grand plans for post-pregnancy fitness are very easily derailed. While I am so grateful that the fitness center has onsite childcare, and that they never balk at the fact that I take up 3 of the 10 childcare slots each time I work out, it is still a big let-down when I'm in the middle of a body sculpting class (trying to sculpt some muscle I didn't even know I had) and one of the trainers comes in to get me. Nothing brings a workout to a screeching halt like having someone tell you "your baby won't stop crying."

Still, while it is disappointing, I choose to celebrate what I did manage to accomplish: 30 minutes of hard exercise after getting 3 kids to the gym (with the kid-wrangling being the more challenging endeavor, of course). It's better than not going at all, right? I can't help but think that whoever said "Great is the enemy of the good" must have been trying to burn baby fat.

Or maybe they were talking about blogging. If you are subscribed here you may have noticed how infrequently I post. It is not that I don't write posts; I have at least 6 drafts of blog entries just waiting to see the light of day. The problem is that I haven't had time to fine-tune them to my standards. So they sit in my "draft" file with their less-than-perfect brothers and sisters, hoping to be set free.

But who ever said it all had to be perfect anyway? Perhaps blogging is like fitness in that you have to give yourself permission to be less than perfect. I may not be able to run a triathalon tomorrow, but I can move my body for at least a little while and maybe even work up a sweat. And, who knows, if I do a little more every day maybe I will be able to run a race again some day. And maybe, if I allow myself to have a few less-than-perfect blog entries I may actually allow myself to not only do the thing I love, but to do the thing I think I cannot do.