It is Wednesday again and yes, I am still slacking off one day a week. And yes, I am still on my family trip and the kids and I are still having fun. I am even unexpectedly extending the trip by a few more days in order to drive all of them home, instead of having the girls fly back with my parents. Twenty five days of being away from home is a long time. Kids D and E do not remember where we actually live. They keep asking what our “old” house looks like. Sheepdog had to go back because he has a J.O.B. I do not like when the chickens are scattered about, so I’ll be happiest next week when we are all back together again.
Today, however, the boys and I are going to the beach. The girls are headed to Hershey Park with my parents for a little side trip down Nostalgia Lane (my parents used to take them there when they were little bitties), which should be interesting because my dad is scheduled for knee surgery next Monday morning (which facilitated the change in plans that extended our trip) and is having a hard time walking around.
So my honorary guest post writer today is another sister (I have lots of them), Sister C. She is beautiful, in her mid-thirties, married to Handsome Rob (formerly Cute Robbie), has three gorgeous kids and is currently pregnant with Number Four. She is pretty and skinny (despite her diet of candy, gum and Cool Ranch Doritos) and a former Miss New Jersey Teen USA and Miss New Jersey USA contestant (yes, there is a difference and yes, I can explain it so yes, that makes me a pageant dork). She still does some modeling and acting work. It is really cool to see her in a television commercial every once in a while (“You’re gonna LOVE it!”).
People often think that girls like Sister C are stuck-up or bitchy or full of themselves. In fact, Sister C is a great example of things being the complete opposite of what you think they are. She is quiet and shy, especially in new situations. She is not very good at small talk or cocktail parties because they make her anxious. She tends to focus on her own physical flaws that no one else even notices. Yet she is hysterically funny and uniquely weird (she and a college roommate created their own language – totally bizarre but really funny to hear them use it) around people she feels comfortable with.
She works to make herself a better person – a better wife, mother, sister, friend. She struggles with the big and little stuff that comes along with marriage and kids and work (she works part-time from home). She is very much like you and me, except that she is beautiful and wears a size zero. Now we could all hate her for that, or we could stop being jealous and remember that everybody has their issues and everybody struggles with something. This bitch just gets to do it in skinny jeans.
So now I proudly present to you Sister C’s post…
Wrangling the Entropy, Tip #5 by honorary guest writer, Sister C
I have three kids (7, 5 and 2) and one more bun in the oven (no, I’m not as crazy as Stacy with five…but, just one behind). Someone is getting the old snipperoo after this one pops out, but I’m not naming names. Life with kids (especially little ones) is crazy and you can get bogged down with the day-to-day and lose the big picture of things very easily, even more so if you are a stay-at-home mom. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but have found that focusing on three main things helps me to keep looking at the big picture of life. In no particular order, here they are (and don’t go judging me for not putting God as number one…He kind of ties everything together and will go last):
1. Make time for yourself. Find an activity that you really enjoy. For me, it’s tennis. I took a few lessons as a kid, but never really played until a few years ago. I joined an ALTA team in Sister B’s neighborhood and immediately loved it. I don’t think I have missed a season yet (except maybe to have Kid Crazy, #3) and I think I will be playing until I can’t move anymore. While the season is going on we practice one night a week and have a match every Sunday. It is a great group of fun girls, who have become really great friends too! It’s a great escape for me to hang out with friends and to burn off some steam. I loved tennis so much that I finally convinced my husband (let’s just call him House Captain) that he she should start playing too. He did and loves it just as much as I do. We even have played a couple of seasons of mixed doubles and played as partners. We consider it a date and get a sitter…it has been really fun for us to be a “team” on and off the court. In addition to tennis, I enjoy jogging, yoga and pilates…sweating for me is the best way to burn off some stress and I try to fit some of that stuff in whenever I can.
Rest is another important “me” activity. I actually think I have a disorder that I need to sleep so much. I take a nap pretty much everyday. That helps recharge me and helps me to not fall asleep by 6:00 pm.
2. Make time for your spouse. This can be one of the hardest ones. You work all day (or watch the kids all day), have dinner, clean up, bathe kids, put them to bed…then the day is almost over and you are exhausted. Last thing I feel like doing is having anyone else touch me or even talk to me for that matter…I need my decompression time. But, I have heard way too many stories of middle-aged couples getting divorced because they lost each other along the way of raising their kids. Then, all the kids leave the house and they don’t know each other anymore. Not for me, pal. I have zero interest in starting all over again in the dating arena 20 years from now. And it ain’t like I’m getting any cuter, less wrinkly or less squishy in areas.
Your marriage is the foundation of your whole family…the rock from which everything else stems. House Captain and I are lucky enough to travel together quite a bit. We take a number of trips per year (most years) and that always seems to recharge us. We also try to do date nights every so often. About a year or so ago, I made House Captain take this quiz in the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It basically tells you what makes you feel the most loved…words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. Once you know what your spouse’s “love language” is, you can try to cater to that. You may think that your wife would love it if you brought her home a gift one day, but if her “love language” is physical touch she would probably much rather like a giant hug. I feel like knowing each other’s language has really caused us to focus more on meeting those needs for each other.
Communication is also huge here…we have to sit down and have heart-to-hearts from time to time to work through something. House Captain actually remembered a technique that was taught to us in pre-marriage counseling, where you go off separately and write down your feelings about something first, then come together to discuss it. This prevents things from being said that either one of you might regret (When he brought that up recently, I was like, “lame…I just want to yell at you instead.” But I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.). Marriage is a lot harder than I ever thought…you have to constantly work at it for it to work right. You can’t just forget about that part, though, because one day it will just fall apart if you do.
3. Find a higher power to inspire you. For me and House Captain, that’s the big guy, God. I don’t want to come across as a holy roller or anything, but I believe that there has to be a higher power from which you derive faith and strength. Our marriage, how we raise our children, and how we go about our daily lives revolve around God. We found our church (shoutout to North Point Community Church) a number of years ago and it took me a really long time to get used to the giant-ness, lack of pews and hymnals, and broadway show-like production of it all. I generally hate change and this couldn’t have been farther from the church I grew up in. When I finally opened up a bit I realized that this was just the format to actually make me interested in going to church every week. I ended up loving the music and the weekly messages are just what I need to keep everything in check…they are constant reminders of how I can be a better person, spouse and parent. They also have an excellent children’s program and the kids enjoy going. It can’t hurt for the lessons we are teaching them to be reiterated either…kids need all the positive guidance they can get.
I have learned that it helps for me to hand things over to a higher power. I can’t carry the burden of everything on my own shoulders. I have peace in my heart knowing that things happen in life for a reason and I need to trust in that. Most importantly, I am learning more and more each day that I cannot control or plan everything (hello, baby #4). Trust me, this is a hard thing for all the Paarz sisters to grasp.