Thursday, September 11, 2014

Workin' Mama

Most days I'm a stay-at-home mom. But on occasion, I get to travel, make speeches and talk about diving on tv.

Sometimes, I feel like I have an alter ego. That might also be why I'm slightly obsessed with being a superhero. I digress...

At home I'm just an everyday, regular mom trying to keep up with my kids. On good days I may attempt to shower and get dressed. I'm constantly making dashes to the toilet with toddlers or asking for privacy in my own bathroom. There is constant repetition, constant repetition, and I'm usually trying to translate toddler speak to English in my head. Although my house may not look it, I am in a perpetual state of cleaning.

Just to show you how un-Pinterest perfect I am, here's a little snippet of my real, everyday life. This is me in all my smelly, unshowered, greasy-haired glory sporting a Tom Petty shirt with USA pajamas attempting to do an ab exercise. And this picture was taken after Hubby got home from work one afternoon.


A few weeks ago I flew with just the baby to Connecticut to be a working mom of sorts. You may have read about that lovely travel experience here. My mother-in-law came to watch the baby while I went to work. It was so weird to have someone there ready to watch the baby every morning as soon as we woke up and even at night so I could go to dinner a few times with colleagues. I could shower each day, take my time, drink an entire coffee before it went cold and talk to adults on a regular basis. It was kind of like summer camp for moms.

 And I think Grandma had a little fun, too!

I won the lottery on mother-in-laws ya'll, seriously.

Basically, I got to hang out at the NBC Sports building for a week to watch and commentate diving for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. I thought it might be fun to give you a little behind-the-scenes look at life in the studio.


And yes, I'm a dork.

We had a special "green room" just for us. That pretty much means "waiting room" in non-tv talk. Although there is a little brainstorming that goes on here, too. Plus you get to hang out with cool people like 2008 Olympic silver medal gymnast Alicia (Sacramone) Quinn, 2008 & 2012 track Olympian Nick Symmonds, 2000 Olympic beach volleyball player Kevin Wong, sportscasters Jim Watson and Jason Knapp and, of course, our rockin' producer Lena Glaser.


l-r: Jason, me, Alicia, Jim

l-r: Lena, Kevin, Jim

Since the competition was in China and aired prime time in the states later that day, we watched the competition in a sound proof booth while commentating. I would always rather watch a competition live and be in the middle of the action, but voicing over is fun, too. It's not the same adrenaline pumping pressure as filming live, but we're still watching the event for the first time and calling it like it is live.

Jim & I in the booth- our home for the week.

It's always easy when you have the opportunity to work with a great team! Jim was a terrific partner to call diving with. While it was his first time working on diving, he's covered nearly every other sport, including three Olympic Games (2000 Beach Volleyball, 2004 Indoor Volleyball and 2012 Weightlifting), professional and collegiate sports. So he picked it up quickly and every event went smooth. Our producer Lena, the voice in my ear Lee Ann, the almost nerdier-than-me researcher John, the magic editor Rob and the logistics queen Kate put together five great days of diving that showcased junior divers from around the world and gave us a glimpse of what we might see in Rio in 2016.


This is just another cool area in the building near our little booth that kind of looks like mission control for sports. Actually, I think that's exactly what it is.


But it wasn't all work and no play. My friend and 2012 diving Olympian, Cassidy Krug, came to hang with us one morning. We always have fun together!


And even though I was working, I came home each day to just one little one, so I got lots of extra snuggles that made my mama heart happy.


Overall, it was a ton of fun, and I truly hope to do more diving events in the future. But as much fun as we had, I couldn't wait to get home and squeeze these two dolls and kiss them to pieces.


Friday, September 5, 2014

The Girls' First Haircuts And The World's Smiley-est Baby

After three years and hair down to her waist, we figured it was about time for a trim. It took some convincing, but both girls finally agreed that a little hair cut would make for less tangles after bath time and they would be extra beautiful for their first day of preschool.

They were all excited up until their names were called. Then, of course, Arella promptly flipped out. When I tried to carry her over, she began diving full force out of my arms. Meanwhile, Zoe marched right after the stylist and hopped up in the chair by herself. Since she had little sleep last night, I assumed Zoe would be the one to freak out. You just never how kids will react to something new no matter how well you prepare them. But I've learned that as you have more kids, the odds go up that at least one will completely loose it at any given activity.

Zoe sat there like she was being made into a princess. Not one drop of fear. She just seemed to be waiting for the magic to happen. Then she got sparkles sprayed in, and it was like the fairy godmother just bippity-boppity-booed her right into Cinderella.




Zoe was able to reassure Arella that it wasn't scary and didn't hurt. That plus a sucker did the trick. Arella did great from that point on, although she didn't need sparkles to feel like a princess.




Thanks Snip-its for a good experience!

And just because he is so stinkin' cute and let me take a ton of photos of him while the girls napped... I present to you the world's smiley-est baby in full force. You. Are. Welcome.








Happy Friday friends.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mommy Burnout

There's an old adage that I'm sure you've heard; "the days are long but the years are short." I get it. I really do. But allow me to explain why I'm getting really tired of hearing it.

Somewhere after we brought Zoe home from China in December of 2012, a time warp seemed to happen. In the span of 13 months we went from one to three kids with a fourth on the way (Ethiopia adoption), moved houses, and changed jobs. And those are just the highlights. I'm still trying to grasp the fact that it's 2014, and I heard this rumor that it's already September. So yeah, I get the "years are short" part.

Occasionally our "days are long." Somehow a 10 minute tantrum can feel like a whole afternoon, and I have been known to beg my husband for an ETA post work to begin a survival countdown. Those days definitely happen.

As the girls have gotten older though, they can play more independently with less refereeing and melt downs. Our days generally go by fairly quickly and are filled with less tears and more giggles. 

Arella and Zoe taking a silly selfie.

However, recently our nights feel like Ground Hog's Day- a constant repeat every hour of crying, screaming, coughing, and whining. I sleep like an elephant- about four hours a night and not consecutive. (Thank you Wild Kratts for my new found animal knowledge.) Plagued with a teething and runny-nosed infant, a congested toddler who is already a light sleeper and needy at night, and a big girl that now wakes us to go to the potty, well, you get the idea. 

Hubby and I are great at "divide and conquer," but that's not the way these kids are playing the game. They have honed in on their etiquette early and are each giving the other the courtesy of bellowing their very own howling wake up call to the parents via the monitor.

One parent will go check on shrieking child, do a little please-I'm-begging-you-to-go-to-sleep-dance, then eventually make his/her way back downstairs to bed where the other half-awake parent attempts a middle-of-the-night encouragement with a "good job honey," although they have no idea what just happened, what time it is or if they're even awake. Both parents lay back down and quickly fall asleep. Ten minutes later (just long enough to fall into a deep stupor) a different child sounds the alarm. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Wake up for the day. Or sometimes, still up for the day.

He puts on a cute face, but you can see our tired eyes, well, definitely mine.

I know "it's just a season." I know the "days are long but the years are short." I know I should "cherish every moment because it's gone in the blink of an eye." I know. I get it. In just three short years of being a parent I can see that very clearly. But knowing all those things doesn't give me a good night's rest which is basically what I'm whining about here.

I adore my children. I love staying home with them. I cherish every second I can. But right now I. Am. T-I-R-E-D. I've been running on fumes for nearly 2 months, and I think my mommy engine is overheating. I've been trying to write 3 blog entries for a week now, but there is no down time, no rest for the weary.

How then am I writing this tonight? Well, it started on my phone last night when I was up with the baby (the second time I think), and I'm finishing it right now as Hubby is up with spicy peanut. Oh, and did I mention that our AC went out? Just the upstairs. Just where our poor, sweet, already non-sleeping children lay in bed. Somehow we managed to concoct a plan B that consists of an air mattress and baby swing next to our bed downstairs. I'm sure that'll help us all get a good night's slumber. Slumber PARTY maybe.

Even though my eyes are bleary, my mind is fairly disconnected and I'm approaching full-on mommy burnout, I see my girls' imaginations coming to life. They break out into song (usually made up with no real words) throughout the day and they play everything together. This morning Arella marched outside and announced that she wanted to be alone. Zoe said, "I want be alone, too!" and followed Arella. They enjoyed some alone time together.


And they way they love Zadok blows my mind. They want him to be a part of everything. And they want to be a part of his everything. Arella lives to make him laugh, and Zoe always makes sure his paci is in, the swing is going or he has a toy to play with.









Sweet angels by day, evil geniuses at night. But oh how I love those exhausting little souls. The nights are long, but our joy is full.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Diving TV Schedule for the Youth Olympic Games

NBC has given me the exciting opportunity to commentate diving for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games



Diving begins tomorrow in Nanjing, China. It will air each night on NBCSN and highlights from each week's events will air on the following Sunday on NBC.

The air dates and times (ET) are as follows:

Sat., August 23          9-11 p.m.            NBCSN

Sun., August 24          Noon-1 p.m.       NBC
                                  9-10 p.m.           NBCSN

Mon., August 25         7-9 p.m.             NBCSN

Tues., August 26         7-9 p.m.            NBCSN

Wed., August 27         7-8 p.m.              NBCSN

Sun., August 31          12:30-1:30 p.m.    NBC

Coverage can also be accessed at
http://stream.nbcsports.com/liveextra/

Good luck to all of the divers and other athletes competing!





Thursday, August 21, 2014

Baby Grenade

It's hard enough just being a parent, but then we pile on bringing our children to the airport, sticking them on a full plane with limited space to move and force them to be quiet. Yes, it's like pulling the pin on a baby grenade and just waiting for the explosion.

I have the opportunity to do some diving commentating this week for the Youth Olympic Games. Since I'm still nursing my almost seven month old, he gets to be my sidekick for the week. My mother-in-law was super sweet to volunteer to watch him while I work.

For the flight to New York, though, I was on my own. We had a test run on a shorter to trip to Knoxville a couple of weeks ago, and the little man was a saint. A poster child for all traveling babies to look up to. 

But in the last couple weeks since the anointing of his sainthood, this guy has grown (off the charts I might add), become mobile and started talking. See, that combo is a recipe for flight disaster, no matter how saintly your kid usually is.

So we get all checked in and through security, no problem. He started getting antsy and hungry while I stopped to grab a sandwhich. Then we hurried to the gate where everyone was already boarding, but I knew I had to nurse him before we got on or things would get ugly. 

Slightly stressed, I hurried him through his milk, and we rushed over to hop on the plane. We got seated by the window on a full flight, meanwhile he's making friends right and left with his big blue eyes shining and his smile flashing.


As we're settling in, they announce what everyone wants to hear: we'll be arriving early. Unfortunately it was followed by: they're making us sit at the gate prior to takeoff (because the airport is too busy to have a gate ready for an early flight). 

Upon hearing these words, my little man starts getting cranky, as if he knows exactly how disappointing this news is. He's suddenly extremely tired. I start going through all the things that calm him down. It worked for quite a while, but he just couldn't get comfortable enough in our tiny space to completely give in and pass out. Oh, and did I mention they turned off the AC? In Houston. In August. While we're trapped in a plane with three inches of breathing room. Yeah, that helped.

Then came the screaming. The inconsolable, desperate, blood curdling screaming. Yes... that was us. I was powerless to stop it. I was powerless to even tone it down. 

I started seriously stressing as everyone was watching us. Not a smile or knowing look of support in sight. The flight attendant even came to see if anyone was severely wounded. I laughed gently and said, "We're fine, he's just tired." But no one likes to hear that because they can't fix it. 

Finally. Finally the plane started moving. And my little man promptly passed out and slept a glorious two hours.



But the flight was over three hours long. He woke up confused and upset. Settled down, then got hungry. Ate then got upset from a diaper. He fussed while we had to wait out turbulence to get up. Changed him in the oh-so-small lavatory with the world's tiniest changing table. Sat down and he immediately started crying on decent because of his ears. 

Yes. That was my screaming child on the flight today. My precious little baby grenade, exploding in tight quarters for maximum impact.

I wanted to share my craziness with you because my immediate response in this type of situation is to always feel bad and apologize profusely. I do this for myself, and I find myself doing it with the kids. 

But as my little guy was screaming in my ear, I realized that instead of feeling bad, I need to use these moments as opportunities. The only opportunity I had in that moment was to love on my child and try my darndest. Focusing on him instead of worrying about everyone around me really kept me calm and in much better spirits. It didn't seem to make a lick of difference to the baby, but it helped me not only get through it but get through it with joy and peace. Okay and maybe some exhaustion, too.

Instead of being a tightly wound ball of stress with tears spilling forth upon arrival, I was pretty calm, cool and collected. 

And as for my little baby grenade... He melted at the sight of Grandma.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Ice Bucket Challenge & 3 Other Fun Surprises

I was challenged by my dear friend Julie Carrier and my other sweet friend Rachel from church to do the ALS ice bucket challenge. My little girls watched other videos of people getting water poured on them and thought it was funny. I asked if they wanted to pour water on mommy, and they got really excited! Of course in the video they look a little unsure of themselves, but I think they were concentrating real hard on the task at hand.





Here are a couple other challenges that I thought were fun.

Charlie Sheen adds an unexpected twist, turning ice to cash.




Then George W. Bush steps up to the challenge.





And one of the best challenge fails that I've seen.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

3 Little Joys Shining In The Dark

This week has been R-O-U-G-H. On Tuesday I told my husband that I was already over the week. So of course, it only got progressively worse from that point on.

Nothing earth shattering happened, it was just a week filled with sickness, no sleep and lots and lots of toddler drama because of it all. It's now Saturday. The week is just about over but apparently no one told the dark cloud hanging over our house.

But...

Every cloud really does have a silver lining. Sometimes even a few beautiful bright spots. If you choose to see them and focus on them, they will bring you joy in the middle of the chaos. They are truly gifts from God as He is the light that breaks through the dark. I choose to see His light. Then the big, ugly, dark, scary cloud becomes just a distant shadow and eventually, just a fading memory. But His light not only brightens our dark days, it also guides our steps, lights our path and leads us full of hope into His unending joy.

Nothing about this week was life-altering, but it's hard to choose joy in a really hard place if you've never done it in your small, daily struggles. So, I'd love to share with you my joys in the midst of this dark week.


Joy #1 

In the middle of the sickness and no-sleep drama, Zoe up and decided she wanted to learn how to use the potty. 

Ya'll, I was NOT optimistic. All I could think about was the added stress, exhaustion, and of course, massive clean-up. 

But...

I couldn't have been more wrong. Zoe was ready, willing AND able. By the second day she didn't have a single accident and she's always willing to try. You all should celebrate with me because I'm down to just one kid in diapers!




Joy #2


We all think our kids are adorably awesome. And it's especially exciting when someone else thinks so, too. This week we were asked permission to use a cute video of the girls jumping in a crib together for a marketing piece. I will post the links and/or piece when it becomes available, but here is the the video they took a snipet from.







Joy #3

The biggest highlight of my week came from a complete stranger. Yesterday we had to make a run to the store to get another humidifier. Since we were exhausted and starving, we stopped to eat dinner on the way home. It was early, so hardly anyone was in the restaurant, and we had our own little corner.

As we were finishing up and I was spoon feeding Zadok some bananas, a lady stopped at our table on her way out. She said, "Hey ya'll." We all said, "Hi," and I turned back to feeding Zadok. Then she grabbed my attention. She looked at Eriek and said, "I just wanted to pay you a compliment, well, actually I wanted to pay your wife a compliment."

My head snapped around as I stared at her in confusion, wracking my brain as to what she could be talking about. I guess the kids were being good, maybe that was it. But they were also covered in ice cream. But a compliment? I must have had a very dumbfounded look on my face, spoon paused mid-air full of mushed banana dripping over the jar.

She smiled really big and said words the words I never saw coming, "A few minutes ago when you got up from the table, you kissed both your girls on their heads. It was just so loving and beautiful."

All I could do was blink.

I have been told my kids are cute. I have been told (once or twice) that they are well behaved. I have been told they are sweet, they are smart, they play well together. Which is all wonderful and I enjoy immensely. But never have I been complimented on how I loved my kids.

It was so profound and coming after a day of being stressed and frustrated at those very same kids. And here she stood, telling me that I loved my kids well. This woman's simple words left me baffled, and then began to refresh me and fill me with an unspeakable joy.

In the middle of hard, in the middle of stress, in the middle of a very dark week where I doubted myself, my patience, my endurance, my strength and my ability to parent, this stranger only saw my love.

Tears are still streaming down my cheeks right now. Small words from strangers can impact like a tidal wave. Thank you lady. You made my dark day radiant. I hope I can pass it forward.



What joys have you experienced during your dark days?