Friday, April 30, 2010

103 Years Ago an Amazing Woman was Born

Today, I celebrate Ena L. Giddings who was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan yes, 103 years ago. Isn't that crazy to think about! I knew someone born in the early 1900s! She was one of seven children and lived on a farm, where everyone in the family had a job on the farm every day. The reason I thought it was important to share her story with you today is that I am honoring her today, on what would be her 103rd birthday.
Ena was probably the most influential person in my life. From the time I was three months old until I went to Kindergarten, she and her husband, Nate, took care of me every weekday when my parents went to work. After I went to Kindergarten, they were such a part of our family that they were our "adopted grandparents." In August 2001 she died at age 94. She was a huge part of my life and my families' life. Anyone who knew us, knew Ena. She was at every holiday, birthday, mother's day. And in the end, when she had to go to assisted living it was my mom who served as her care giver and friend and visited her ALL the time. Above all, today I have reflected (and in many years since her death) on how influential she was in my life. It's amazing how one person can make that much impact. But she did. So, I want to share with you some of the most important lessons in life that she taught me that I still carry with me today.
My mom and Ena both always claimed that it was a total blessing that they found each other. Ena and Nate had just moved from Michigan to Florida to retire. In their 60s, they were full of energy and life, but didn't have much to do. A friend of my mom's told her about them because I had just been born and my mom had to go back to teaching that fall.
Nate and Ena (they actually sometimes would call themselves Natena) were a loving and humble couple who had tried for years to have children of their own but to no avail. When they were in their 30s (old back then) they adopted a son Rix. But, he would only live to 19 years old when he was killed in a motorcycle accident. Even as a young child, I would see and feel the devastation that his death had caused in their lives. Ena had wanted children so badly and then to have lost him so young, was just devastating. In fact, when I looked at her last Bible that I kept (from 1985) she had written in it the dates of both Rix and Nate's deaths. Clearly, the two most important people in her life.
What you have to understand about Ena is that she was a devout Baptist who loved God with everything she had. She loved music in all forms…to play piano, sing and watch Lawrence Welk on TV. She would do anything for you. She loved Spring time – maybe because we both had birthdays during April making us both Taurus women (we definitely both were strong and bull-headed at times). She adored Spring flowers, birds playing in her birdbath and graham crackers and milk (my daily snack). She dealt with the devastation and heartbreak in her life with courage, grace and optimism. You never lied to her (because she would know), you never crossed her and yet you always knew she loved you.
My biggest regrets are that she wasn't at my wedding (she died almost exactly two months before I walked down the aisle), she never met Sydney and that she died alone in a hospital (although I guess everyone says that is inevitable). But today I honor her for all that she taught me and all that I hope I can pay forward through the way I live and through my parenting to Sydney.
Ena taught me:
  • How to swim
  • That you get spanked if you run across the street without looking (and she would always tell me that was the only time she ever spanked me because I had put myself in harm's way)
  • To believe in God
  • To believe it the good in people
  • Sing loudly even if you don't think you have a good voice
  • You can do anything you set your mind to
  • Be proud of who you are
  • Love and respect your family, they really are all you have
  • Marry for love, not money
  • Sadness and adversity will only make you stronger
  • Be thankful for the sun, flowers and butterflies
  • Put your American flag out every day and be proud of it
  • Only use three squares of toilet paper when you go #1
  • Always have a sense of humor
  • Children are our future and everyone of them needs a chance (she always donated to the local Children's home and orphanage because they had helped her get Rix)
  • Love, love and love
  • Be passionate about whatever you do
And so much more…
So, today I sit outside writing this with the sun shining, a blue sky, the breeze blowing, reminiscing about her and being so thankful for her impact in my life. I am so fortunate and thankful to my parents for finding her and allowing her to be such a big part of my life. They chose someone so wonderful to take care of me and I am so lucky for that. They also of course, helped reinforce all these wonderful lessons throughout my life and I am thankful for that, too. As Ena would say when she was saying good-bye and was ready to get off the phone, luv, luv. I wish someone like Ena for everyone. We all would be better people.
April 30, 2010 in loving memory of Ena L. Giddings

Friday, April 23, 2010

“I had a long day.”

Yes, these are the exact words my toddler decided to scream the other night after 30 minutes of trying to get her to bed. It was hysterical. Jason started writing all of the things she was screaming down and I have listed them at the bottom of this because it really was funny. So among the almost tears of dealing with putting her back to bed a million and one times, we sat and looked at the list and realized just why she was being such a terror. Before, all those lines had worked on us. To be quite honest, I think we truly failed as parents during the past few weeks, mostly during our vacation. We inadvertently created a little blond-haired monster. One who knew how to get her way by crying loudly, hitting us, screaming at the top of her lungs and then playing hungry, tired, sick, and needy. Oh, yeah, and that she had a long day. (She must have heard this from her teachers:)).
Anyway, that was the first night we implemented the Super Nanny way of getting her back in her bed (thanks to insight from my mother-in-law). After telling Sydney one time she had to stay in her bed, every time she got out, we put her back in gently with no talking. By the time she stopped, I was sweating from the up and down the hall, tired, sore and really over it. But, you know what…it worked. And last night, although painful again, I do think it took less than 45 minutes. Let’s see how tonight goes. Time out is next with this approach, because we are fighting to keep her in her room for time out, so I think the “naughty spot” might be making an appearance at our house vs. her room. Anyone else done that? 123 Magic says use the room, but we either have to put a lock on the outside of her door (which I am not a huge fan of) or stand in her door way.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. We are heading to the Inman Park Festival and parade tomorrow and very excited about. We will miss our friends Lauren, Jonathan and Lizzie, since they turned us on to it years ago, but we will see them soon.

Quotes from the Toddler "Fighting Sleep" Bedroom

  •  I’m sick 
  • I don’t feel good
  • I want to give you a big smoochie
  • I want to give you a big hug
  • My stomach hurts
  • I’m hungry
  • I’m not tired
  • I don’t feel better
  • I had a long day
  • Talk to me, Mommy
  • You hurt me
  • I want my sleeping bag

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

No Motivation Station

I am so not motivated today.  You know really, it feels like months of no motivation. But when you are a mom there are very few times when you can actually have "down" time. I guess that's why we have to make it for ourselves. Move ourselves up on the list. How do you do that? I struggle with that a lot. How to do all the things that need to be done, that I want to be done and take the time for yourself. It's interesting, I'm part of this mommy blogger community called and they are hosting a contest about the little things you do for yourself that keep you happy and healthy. I realized I don't have enough of those, ok, I couldn't come up with anyJ Now, I guess I do workout for myself but let's be real, who REALLY wants to do that?! Take a few minutes in the morning…um, yeah, we are lucky to get out the door in the morning without someone crying. Before bed, I can barely keep my eyes open right now, let alone at 10 p.m. So how do you make the time? Would love to know how you do it.

On the interesting side of things, we might have had the worst day ever with Sydney yesterday. I hate that this becomes my bitching blog, but I gotta tell you, 3 year olds can scream way louder than I thought and hit pretty hard, too. Yeah, total tantrums. Not sure if the 1-2-3-Magic is working or if Jason and I have just lost all of our patience. Could be both. My dad told me to Google "behavior modification" and while that is great and I found wonderful information, when I am I supposed to read that and come up with all these new things? Oh, well, we did start a new sticker system and we'll see how that goes.

No one ever said there would be days like these…

More to come soon.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Vacations Sure Are Different with a 3-Year-Old

We're on vacation. Yes, 10 days of what sounded like bliss…skiing in Vail with my family, visiting good friends in Denver, time off, etc. But, here we are…nothing ever works out exactly as you plan. First, my child was a NIGHTMARE (and, yes, I meant to capitalize that word) on the airplane. You know the people that you look at and think "get a grip on your kid." Well, that was us. No nap, a tantrum, refusing a movie, coloring, toys, snacks, until she had a total fit over the M&Ms and took off her shoe and threw it while kicking the airplane seat in front of us. Yes, that was us. We arrived in the Denver airport to all of us crying (Ok, well, Jason wasn't crying, but he could have he was so mad). Next, Jason's temporary crown fell off his tooth (we jokingly keep saying his tooth fell out of his head) and then, he stepped out of the SUV we rented and turned his ankle on the first day we were here. No skiing for him and a trip to an emergency dentist.  Really?

It took awhile, but we finally have settled in. Got past the "this is life" feeling, got some sleep, let some time pass and now we are having some fun. I tell you all this, because well, you may have been here before and if so, please share. I was so distressed by all of this that I thought "we are never going on vacation again." But do you know what happened? Two things: Jason got a haircut and we sat at the bottom of Vail Mountain for an afternoon.

Jason's Haircut
Why in the heck would Jason getting a haircut matter? Well, as described above we had a few rough days and nights at the beginning of the trip. Jason and I were at our wits end. But when we got to Denver to see Dana and Barry, Jason decided he really needed a haircut. There was just not enough time before we left. When he came home from his haircut, he had a different sense about him. He told me that the woman who cut his hair was young, about our age (yes, I still try to call us young) and nice. She did a good job with his haircut. But, what had impacted him was their conversation. While he was in the chair he noticed she had a picture of a little girl on her mirror. Jason had already told her about us being out here to teach our 3-year-old daughter to ski. When he asked about her child, who looked about six or seven, she said that yes, she had a daughter, but she had died. It took Jason's breath away. He didn't know what to say. They went on to talk about the situation. She and her daughter had been in a car accident and her daughter had been injured -- a hole in her heart -- and they couldn't save her. The hairdresser wasn't injured at all. She said how horrible it was to live beyond your children and how much guilt there is with living when you're child dies. I know Jason offered his condolences. But, what a terrible story. Jason told me this and then looked at me and said "Shelly, there is a reason my path was supposed to cross hers today. The timing was right." He was right, it made all the stress of our travel and Sydney's behavior seem so small and silly in comparison.

The Bottom of the Hill
On that same note, today Jason and I watched a man in a wheelchair get himself into a very cool ski contraption in order to go skiing. He had to slowly move his way into this chair and use poles with skis on them to maneuver. He had to pick up each leg separately and move it into the chair, clearly having no feeling in his legs. It was amazing and I said to Jason "Now that is dedication and not letting anything stop you." We had just gotten done talking about how much work it was to get Sydney dressed and ready for skiing, then schlep down to the slopes with all her stuff, make sure we didn't leave anything behind and Jason and I weren't even skiing. All that work, slugging of equipment, etc. didn't seem to matter anymore. Here was someone who had it even harder and was not complaining, but getting out there and doing something so difficult. Inspirational, I tell you. Very inspirational.

Enough sappiness for now. My point, vacations are very difficult and very hard, but still a joy of time with your family.  Off to see if my child is passed out from learning to ski. Wishing you the courage and wisdom to be a no guilt mommy. I know I am still searching.