Sunday, November 25, 2012

HTW Days

It's confession time.

I like to think I'm a pretty motivated person. I definitely don't see myself as lazy. For me, as for many of my readers I think, I tend to take on too much and have to really consider another activity or get-together before saying 'yes' to it.

For the most part, I'm very efficient. Jenny often can't believe how much I get done in a day. Sometimes others have communicated to me that they're impressed with what I do, especially when they find out that we homeschool.

What Jenny and the others don't know and what even Jason didn't totally understand until today is that I have HTW days. Let me explain . . .

I have a productivity cycle. (Don't worry. This is completely different than a reproductive cycle. While I am sharing some of my secrets in this post, I will not be heading in that direction. Phew!) In this cycle, I go, go, go without much of a break. This week was like that. As soon as one event or item was checked off the list, I was preparing for the next one. This is how I function most of the time. I like to be prepared and organized; meal planning and grocery shopping for two weeks at a time, getting clothes out and bags packed with necessary items for the next day's events the night before, getting the coffee maker prepped for the next morning at night, etc, etc. My brain seems to always be asking, "What else can I get done? What's next? How can I get more prepared for it?"

But of course I can't keep that up. No one could. So after a certain amount of time, I have an HTW day. What's HTW? Hit The Wall. The amount of time between my HTW days varies, depending on time availability, what my productivity level has been, stress levels and I'm sure, hormone levels. So yes, when I'm pregnant, there are definitely more HTW days.

In more detail, an HTW day looks like this: I find some minute discomfort and exaggerate it to myself and to others. A slight headache becomes so bothersome that I just can't do my life that day. Everything that I planned to get done that day gets put on hold. I watch too much TV; often movies and sitcoms that I've already seen ten times--Harry Potter, Sex and the City, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Gone With the Wind, Overboard and Everybody Loves Raymond are some of my favorites. I eat crap. I don't exercise. The dishes stack up in the sink. The laundry piles up. Meals consist of the easiest possibility; leftovers, cereal, popcorn, cheese and crackers, whatever. I'm less patient and interactive with my children. I read more. I write more. I'm on Facebook more. Anything I don't feel up to doing, I cancel.

For instance, this morning when the alarm went off, my stomach felt just slightly upset. In my half-asleep state, I exaggerated this to myself and to Jason, saying that my stomach was really upset and I couldn't go to Church. After I took a TUMS, listened to Jason taking a shower and woke up some more, I decided to rally and join the family for Church.

But when we got home, I got back into pajamas and again blamed my upset stomach for why I couldn't take the dog for a run and asked Jason to take Kahlua and the kids out for a walk so that I could rest for a bit.

Sometimes, I'm even a productive rester :) While resting, I got real. I knew that my stomach was actually fine and that I wasn't being honest with myself. I realized that what I was feeling was just that I had HTW. Hit The Wall.

When Jason returned, I explained this to him and more. I often feel guilty for taking the day off like this. It's never planned. So in order to justify it, I will blow up a small headache or some other minor thing as a reason why I can't be productive or do what I had planned. Furthering my guilt is the dishonesty, small as it may be. And what's more, it is so needless. If I just told Jason that I had Hit The Wall, he would completely understand and would offer to help out all on his own.

In the past, I've felt that I needed a better excuse and thus the exaggeration. But after some reflection today, I've decided that I'm going to just skip the excuses. I'm going to just own it and be honest with myself and Jason about my productivity cycle. I work hard. And eventually I need to rest hard.

Today I am resting hard. While I can feel like this is irresponsible and lazy, it really is a good choice. First of all, I can. I absolutely can sit around in my pajamas today without much consequence and get back on top of my life tomorrow. And secondly, it is needed. It is needed because of everything I've done in the past week or so. It is further needed as preparation for the coming weeks.

Am I the only one who does this? It feels like I am. It feels like everyone else lives their productive lives without ever hitting the wall. It seems like everyone else makes wise, mature, healthy food choices all of the time. It seems like everyone else sticks to their exercise routines without fail. It seems like everyone else pops out of bed when their alarm goes off. It seems like everyone else joyfully plays with their children all day and enjoys every moment of it.

I realize that's not true. But it's the way it seems.

So that's it - Now you know a secret of mine. HTW Days. And now I will continue with watching the Kardashians :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Let the Festivities Begin!

It's been such a great week. Such a wonderful holiday. And this morning was equally awesome.

It has become tradition to go see Santa the Saturday after Thanksgiving while Adrienne is with us. This way, we can get a great photo of the four of them together each year. We are creating quite a collection. 
This is actually Veronica's first Santa picture as I was about five months pregnant with her, taken two years ago. Jason and I had to hop in the picture at the last minute as Noah was scared of Santa. Adrienne wasn't with us because she had to go home unexpectedly.

We parked at Jason's work and took the street car into downtown, an event all on its own as the children and I had never ridden on it.

We walked over to Nordstrom and there didn't seem to be much of line. However, in retrospect I now understand that this was a deception. In the past couple of years, we have gone to Macy's as the line is MUCH shorter. But I do prefer Nordstrom's. It's where my family went when I was a girl. The Santa takes more time with the kids and is, simply put, a prettier Santa. But they no longer take reservations and the line is always ridiculous, hence the switch to Macy's.

This morning there didn't seem to be much of a line at Nordstrom's, so we headed in that direction. Upon arriving, we found out that you have to put your name in and they will text you once they are ready for you to enter Santa's Workshop. The wait was an hour long. We were okay with that and were somewhat committed to going to Santa at Nordstrom's at that point, as the children had all seen that he was there. I wanted to avoid the questions about how he can be taking pictures in two places at once. 

During the hour, we went on the carousel, took pictures in front of the tree at Westlake and shared some fresh doughnuts. It was after we had been texted to come back that I got really frustrated. Once in the workshop, we waited another hour! The kids (and the adults) were very tired of waiting by the time it was our turn. The wait at Macy's is usually about twenty minutes total.

Waiting for our turn with Santa, riding the carousel . . .

"Look how big that tree is!" thought Noah.
 I do have to say that Nordstrom's does a good job of helping parents during the wait. They had free cookies and cider and coloring sheets for the kids. We still may go back to Nordstrom's in future years, but I will anticipate the wait time by bringing more snacks, drinks and activities.

And really, the wait was worth it. Knowing that Veronica may be a little nervous about Santa, this week I have been showing pictures to her of Santa, talking about him and asking her if she wants to give him a hug. Her answer was always 'yes.'

So once we turned the corner and she could see him today, she couldn't wait to get to him. She started wriggling in my arms, I brought her over to him, she said, "Hello," and gave him an enormous hug. Even the staff at Nordstom's couldn't believe it. I explained how I had tried to prep her and they said they might add it to their tips on their web site. The picture was great and without tears, a feat that is not always possible with an 18 month old. Before we could leave, Veronica insisted on giving Santa one more hug. I love that girl so much.

I also got to speak to a five year old girl while we were waiting in line and was amused by her Christmas list of about ten things she was going to ask Santa for, including an iPod Touch and another baby, even though she has about a million of them at home. Wow. When our boys were asked what they wanted, they both answered with their one toy that they would like for Christmas. Even Santa was surprised and asked if there was anything else. They actually said no! I was very surprised and also pretty relieved :)

It's been a great start to our holiday season. Tomorrow Jason takes Adrienne home, which is hard because it's such a short visit. But we will have her again the week after Christmas, so at least the wait won't be too long. And while he is gone for a lot of the day, I plan to relax and read my book after all of our holiday action this week. :)

Happy Holidays!
All dressed up with many fun places to go!

All tuckered out after all of the festivities.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Create a Thanksgiving Slideshow

This week is all about being thankful. It is a time to reflect on the blessings in our lives and to appreciate  all that we have.

Sometimes, it can feel as though I'm being put on the spot--

Quick, quick, what are your blessings? Do you feel grateful? Do you? Do you?

It can be difficult to create or force sincere gratitude. Sure, we all rationally know how blessed we are and we are thankful. But there are moments in life when I am so overwhelmed by the feeling of gratitude that I am overcome with joy and moved to tears. How do you create that?

It can be especially difficult for us moms as we prepare for a holiday. There is grocery shopping to do, pies to bake, clothes to pick out and iron, a house to clean, etc, etc. While dealing with the stress of added items to your to-do list, are you feeling genuine gratitude? Maybe you are. But some of us might need a little help :)

Something that has helped me this week is pretty simple and only took about twenty minutes or so. I changed the screen saver on my laptop. How does this make me feel thankful?

Well, I have basically created a Thanksgiving slideshow to be my screensaver. I have also done this for Halloween and Christmas with pictures featuring those holidays. I also plan to do this for each child, making a slideshow featuring that child to have playing around the time of their birthdays.

I do have some Thanksgiving photos that I have added to this slideshow. But the majority of the photos I have added are from special moments in the past year or two. Veronica's birth. Family vacations. Kristen's 21st birthday. Our anniversary. Time spent with friends. Our new puppy. Veronica's baptism. Kristal, strong and healthy and on the other side of chemo, running a 5K. Jason and I becoming godparents, strengthening our friendship with two different families. My surprise 30th birthday party. Grandparents and great grandparents bonding with our children. Seeing our children growing up before our eyes.

Visual reminders of all of the blessings in my life.

Reviewing all of the photos we've taken in this way helps me to pause from all of the to-do's and recall how very rich my life is. A few days ago, I overheard Joshua ask Noah, "Have you ever had a dream come true?" This question makes me smile and also makes me realize once again that most of my dreams have come true.

I have set my computer settings so that this slideshow begins after only a minute of inactivity and angled my screen toward the kitchen so that I can watch it while I cook and wash the dishes. To further the sentiment, I have the soundtracks to certain movies playing that make me feel reflective.

While I realize how busy all the moms are this week, especially those of you hosting the holiday meal, make sure to take some time and truly reflect on your blessings. You deserve that. You deserve to experience this holiday with genuine gratitude and joy in your hearts. The moms I know work so hard at creating and building beautiful homes, families and lives around them. If need be, skip the laundry this week. It will still be there on Monday, I promise. Have popcorn for dinner tonight. Whatever you need to do to create a little time for yourself and reflect on the riches of your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. It is high times in the Burdullis house this weekend. I didn't even know we had a missing part of our family. But we did. And now she's here.

As many of you know, we got a puppy this weekend. You can read about how that came to be here. Well, our introduction of Kahlua to the children did not go quite as expected. We actually ended up bringing her over to the house spontaneously on Friday afternoon. Jason was working from home yesterday because I attended a funeral in the morning, so he was able to be there for all of it.

It's funny how you create crazy expectations in your mind. We weren't able to wrap up all of the new doggie supplies as an early Santa present for the boys like I had described, since we brought Kahlua home a day early. When my brother and I arrived, I carried Kahlua downstairs to where the boys were playing. I asked if they would like to keep her, and they smiled and said yes.

Did they start jumping up and down and screaming in hysterical merriment? No. Not so much. Did they exclaim, "Thank you, thank you, Mom and Dad for letting us get a dog!" Nope. Notta. Their initial reaction was happy but not all that excited. In fact the rest of the day was kind of chaotic. Kahlua was great. But the kids could almost not handle or express their happiness and excitement about a new puppy. By the end of the day, they had all melted down.

With her Gentle Leader harness on, about to enjoy her first dinner at our house. She can eat, bark, drink and pant with it on.
Then today was better. Today it felt like our whole family really fell in love with our new dog. As if it was meant to be, we really had no plans this weekend, which is rare. This made it possible for us to simply spend the day bonding with Kahlua. I took her for a walk/run this morning. She did really well. It also gave me the chance to train her some without the kids around, which was really helpful. We have been using the Gentle Leader harness to teach her how to walk with us and it seems very effective.

Then the boys played with her outside for a long time. She fetches really well, which surprised me. And after all of that exercise and excitement, a lot of time has been spent just snuggling. She is quite a love and the kids all dote on her. Veronica gives her these very gentle, sweet, dainty hugs and kisses. Joshua loves to run around with her in the back yard and throw the ball for her.

And then there's Noah. The formation of Noah's relationship with Kahlua is already beginning to tug on my heartstrings. Noah is so shy and has been working so hard this year on his eye therapy and on being polite in social situations.

It is such a blessing to see him so naturally bond and connect with Kahlua.

If Noah has a love language, it is physical touch. He wants to snuggle, hold hands, hug and kiss all the time. His need for affection seems insatiable. I try hard to fulfill this need in him, but I just can't. Life continues and there's food to cook, dishes to wash, lessons to plan and laundry to fold. I do take breaks from life and make time to cuddle with Noah and all of my children. But the reality is that the majority of my minutes are spent working hard, not sprawled out on the couch.

So when I see Kahlua napping on the couch with Noah nuzzling into her fur, both of them in affectionate, boy's-best-friend bliss, I am actually witnessing a need of Noah's be met more fully than I can fulfill it.

I have read about how dogs love unconditionally, but I really just had no idea. Really experiencing that; witnessing your children's experience of that; watching a dog love your child the way you do and providing something for that child that you can't always--well, that's what has happened this weekend.

Our hearts and our joy have grown.