What it means to be a good parent . . . .

It has been a weird summer.  I have been overly reflective.  That is to say, I've spent many nights up late thinking.  Thinking to much. Over thinking.  Questioning.  I've been thinking a lot about my life and the boys.  I think a lot of it has to do with Henry going to school.   It has caused to be think about my time as a stay at home mom.  Have I made the most of this time?  Have I been patient enough?  Or maybe I have been to selfish.  Perhaps I have taken on too many side projects.  Maybe it's just me but I always feel insecure in my roll as a mother.  I'm constantly agonizing over my choices.  To be honest, the boys have been hard this summer.  To be really honest they are always a lot to manage. I keep expecting to get to a point where I don't feel so overwhelmed.  But it never seems to come, even now as Henry gets ready for school I find myself so exasperated some days that I am counting down until school starts.  Then I feel guilty because I will miss him so much.  This circle of guilt and regret have been driving me crazy.


The other night, like the several nights before, I was up questioning and over analyzing my life and my job as a parent.  As I was tossing and turning, I heard Alex whimper.  I went to check on him. I snuggled in bed beside him.  As a lay down he threw his arms around me and asked me to sing "Honey, Honey."  Yes, he is referring to this "Honey, Honey" from The Musical Momma Mia.  We have a soft spot for musicals and Abba.  That's normal, right? As I hummed the chorus to him it hit me that maybe the fact that I worry so much about being a good mother is proof that I am one.  I care, probably more than healthy at times, if I am being the best mother I can.  I worry about the time I have with the boys.  It is slipping by so very fast and I won't get it back.  As I held Alex and hummed Momma Mia songs it hit me as well that I am not perfect.  I get frustrated.  I raise my voice.  There are times when I need nothing more in the world that a few minutes away from my beautiful boys.  And, I almost always feel guilty and while I can take the guilty too far (ie staying up all night) at 2am it occurred me that makes me a good parent.  Am I am perfect parent?  Oh God no.  You should see my house right now.  But. I am trying so very hard and that is what matters.

IMG_0021 I should add a few moments after my motherhood epiphany Alex started mumbling about getting something out of his eye.  I then realized his top eye lashes were stuck in the bottom of his eye lid.  Like folded down, covering his eye ball and stuck in his bottom lid.  Did you just just squirm reading that?  You should have.  It is super gross and this was the third time his beautiful long lashes have gotten stuck.  Thanks to my friend nurse friend (hi Valerie)  I learned a neat trick of using a Q-Tip to help get them out.  But of course Alex gets hysteric and I had to wake Jason up (not that he could have slept though his screaming). There we were in the middle of the night trying to get our toddler's eye lashes unstuck.  Parenthood can be so weird. After we finally freed his eye lashes he asked to sleep with us.  Given the tramua we all endured I agreed and we all snuggled together.  And I remember what I thought in the bed, I am doing an okay job (and so is Jason). We aren't always the best but we love our boys so very much.
 Here is to  the sleepless nights of parenthood, whether self imposed or forced upon you by screaming children.

PS.  I have to tell on Jason . .. . .  he took Alex to the Y the other day without pants. Yes, you read that right . . . sans pants.  While I was working on the mural he decided to hit up yoga.  Somehow when they were getting ready to leave, Alex removed his paints.  He believes that underwear are adquate and would only wear them if we let him.  Jason managed to buckle him in without noticing.  They were running late.  When they got to the Y he went to get Alex out of the car seat and realized his folly.  Poor guy had to turn around and go home.  Thus missing yoga.  But seriously, funniest story ever.  I laughed far longer than I should have when he told me.



Mural is Done!

The mural is done!  First, let me say, I could have NEVER done this on my own.  I had so much support, help and encouragement in this endeavor. I did the math and I had a little over 30 hours in this mural. Truthfully that isn't really that long for a project this size.  I would have been out there painting a lot longer if I hadn't had so much help.  Not to mention all the sponsors and donors that made it possible. It has been an amazing experience.  I really do love my town and I am so happy I got to contribute to my community.  My favorite part was just being on the Greenway.  As a runner I am out there a lot but this was so different. I was stationary.  I got to speak to all the different people who use the Greenway. I love meeting people new people and talking to people from all different walks of life.   I met so many interesting and diverse people.  Everyone was so friendly and  encouraging.  Doing a project like this helped to remind me that the world really is full of good people.  Kind people.  Generous people. Supportive people.  I really hope this project will help remind people of the goodness in the world, like it did for me. I really can't even begin to tell you how meaningful this project was for me.  Not only did I have amazing donors but I also had awesome friends who donated their time, as well as their resources for this project.  I had lots of volunteers.  Several of which I didn't even meet until this project was underway.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the people who helped bring a little art and cheer to one of my very favorite places.

Here is a group pictures with a few of the volunteers and donors.


I want to give a special thank you to Carrie Workman Photography, Ace Hardware of Cleveland, the Habitat Restore and my dear friends Tim and Laura Gould.  Without these folks this would still just be an idea floating around in my head.  They enabled me to put the paint brush to concrete.  I'd also like to give a HUGE shout out to Rhonda from Create and Celebrate Studios who gave me a ton of paint and helped bring the daisies to life.  I wish I could list all the people who donated paint, but that list would be too long.  And last I want to thank all the kids and adults who braved the heat and humidity to help me.  I'm so lucky to know so many kind and generous people.

Speaking of giving folks . . .  my friend (Hi BEN!) made an amazing time lapse of the project.  The song playing is "Love Don't Go" by The Family Crest which inspired the concept painting for the project. Please listen to this band if you haven't already, they are amazing (one of my favorites).

Now for some fun facts:
  • This took over 30 hours of painting
  • I had over 20 volunteers help with the cleaning, priming and background painting
  • The painting itself was done with 100% recycled paint
  • I was only bitten by two ducks (seriously feed the ducks of face their wrath :) )
  • I destroyed three paint brushes doing the detail work
  • Henry (my five year old) put some red blobs of paint on the wall when I wasn't looking so I turned them into lady bugs.  I also hid a bunch more for the kiddios to find while walking by.
  • I wish I had kept count of all the friendly strangers who encouraged me while I was painting (it was amazing).  Basically, it was everyone who came by. 
  • I donated my time.  I didn't make any money off this.  All funds raised went to supplies.  
  • Mural is a little longer than 40 feet and 7 feet tall under bridge (9 on end caps)
  • I had never painted anything bigger that 4 feet before this. 
Our paper wrote two great articles about the project.  Here is the first one and the followup article (which I love because is has volunteers and donor interviews in it).  Funny story, the reporter asked my kids what they thought of the mural.  Alex told her is was kind of dorky. Seriously, I cracked up.  Who knows why he said that but he did.  Kids, you really never know what they are going to say!

Here are some more photos of the finished underpass.
IMG_9968 IMG_9946 IMG_9947 IMG_9959 IMG_9971 IMG_9944

And my favorite picture is of my family.  They were so great.  Jason is always supportive of my crazy ideas.  After running to Boston I promised him a quiet summer.  My exact words were "no crazy projects."  Then a month later I told him I was thinking about the mural.  Without hesitation he told me to go for it.  He is the best. 
I decided I wanted to hide a little something extra in the painting for the boys.  So, I made a little lady bug say hi to the boys. 
 And for Jason, I got all sappy and hid two kissing lady bugs.  Seriously, this man is so supportive.

Once again, THANKS to everyone.  I still can't believe I got to see this mural come to life.  It is amazing and I know I could not have done this alone.  I have a great family, wonderful friends and a fantastic community. I am so blessed.


This kid is FIVE

This kid is five!

IMG_9897 This kid is five?

IMG_9901 This kid is FIVE?!

five My baby, my sweet first born is five.  I won't lie.  I've been surprisingly emotional about this milestone.  In someways, it feels like Henry has been with us for forever.  I can barely remember life without kids.  But, in others, it has gone so quick.  Wasn't he just a chubby little baby a week ago?  I can't help but think of the time we've had.  Did I make the most of it?  Have a really enjoyed his preschool years.  He is getting ready to start school, which is going to be such a change.  And, there is a part of me who wants more time with him.  But, the truth is you can't turn back time.  Life moves forward, you want it to our not.  You can't hold your baby forever because they will to grow up.  Yes, it is a little sad.  I do miss baby Henry and toddler Henry, but kid Henry is awesome too.  I am working to fight the temptation to be sad that he growing up.  Fighting temptation to over analyze the last five years . . . . .  Have I been a good mom?  Was I to selfish?  Did I play enough with Henry?  Please tell me other parents have to fight this urge to be overly critical (and feel they might be falling short).  No, instead of looking back (and over analyzing)I am going to celebrate and look forward. I am rejoicing in how wonderful Henry is.  He has grown into the sweetest, wittiest, brightest, kindest and most loving little five year old.  I love talking to him.  He is a joy to be around.  He has blessed our life so much.  It is true, he isn't a baby anymore but this new phase is pretty amazing.

Henry, thanks for changing my life.  You are making me a better person.  I love you more than you will ever know.   Oh and I pretty sure Alex is the luckiest kid to have such a great big brother!

As for actually birthday celebrations, we partied last weekend.  Henry wanted a Lego party so we had it at our local library. They just started doing parties and it was awesome.  They did all the work and I just got to have fun.  It was great.
  IMG_9828 IMG_9818 IMG_9809 
Guys, building Lego kits is kind of hard.  This is my "off book" creation.  It has some structural flaws.  Henry keeps telling me not to worry, one day I will be master builder.  It just takes awhile ;).
This family photo is terrible and hilarious. 
  IMG_9797 IMG_9790 

PS.  Someone gave Henry silly string (I can't even remember who) and he loved it!
Alex not so much. 


Mural Progress

I got to start the mural this weekend!  Weather has been hit and miss but I still managed to get a good bit done. At this point I am around 75% done. I wish I could publicly thank all the people who have supported me, encouraged me, helped me and/or let me borrow supplies but that list would be stupid long.  Just know, I love all of you.  I have never felt so loved and blessed.  I really do live in a wonderful community.

On Saturday morning, this what the under pass looked like.
 That is my awesome husband priming the underpass for me.  He is the best guys.
Later that afternoon we met under the underpass with volunteers to start painting the background.
Duane, my Run Now Relay teammate, did a little legal vandalism.  Which really helped to brighten the space. It is funny but just covering this ugly pipe was such a big change.
Then the kids got busy.
We had a lot of kids.  It was chaotic but in the best way! 
We stopped Saturday just before a big thunderstorm blew in.  The weather has been crazy.  Luckily we had great weather Sunday.  I got up and spent my whole day painting.  It was amazing.   Actually I spent a good bit of time alone. I really enjoyed it. I talked to all kinds of different people.  Our town really is great.  I had a few funny conversations, like one guy who asked if I had permission to paint the underpass.  I giggled then realized he was serious.  His follow up question, once he realized I had permission, was if the city was paying me.  Once he realized I was self funded and had permission he just turned around and walked off. Of course my favorite was this older gentleman who was riding a bike shirtless in jeans with Willie Nelson hair.  He rode up, loudly proclaimed "that is looking pretty darn good" then rode off. He kind of made my day.  Truthfully, the Greenway folks were awesome and so encouraging.  And while I did spend some time alone, I had lots of help and company too.
Rhonda from Create and Celebrate came by to spent a little while painting.  Then my friend Valerie brought her adorable girls out to paint. It was her husband who helped me pressure wash it. I also had some girls who helped on Saturday came back on Sunday.  I had an awesome high school student come and help this week too. This would have taken so much longer without volunteers helping me.
Jason and I had a bunch of friends from college in town for a wedding this weekend.  A few stopped by to say hello, which was so nice.  All the friendly faces made the day even more fun.  People were even willing to be in pictures with me when I know a smelled bad from sweating so much. It was SO HOT.  

It was such a fun day!  Here are few more shots of the progress.  It was been amazing to see the change. I still have a bit more work to do but I am hoping to finish it up this week.  I think painting a mural is like building a house. I don't really know much about building a house but I used to work for Habitat for Humanity, so it is the only metaphor I've got.  The first part of house construction is the most exciting. You go from foundation to a house.  People get so excited because it goes so quick. But, the end of the construction which doesn't seem as dramatic, takes the longest.  That is were I am. It is "roughed in" and a big change but now I am doing all the detail work.  Fortunately, this will only take days instead of months. Either way, it was exciting to see the "walls" of the mural up.
Wish me luck and let's hope for good weather.  Hoping to wrap this up by the weekend!
Thanks again for all the love guys!
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