Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Six years ago Chris and I were on our Honeymoon and dreaming about the life and family that was to come.  We were sitting poolside in Mexico drinking from coconuts, zip lining through the rainforest, parasailing over the ocean.
That's me parasailing!

It was idyllic.  We had no idea that we would soon be facing infertility, that it would take seven cycles of fertility treatments to conceive, or that we would be told that IVF was our only option for a second baby.
Newlyweds

It was a tough journey to get here, but we've also been so blessed along the way.  We got our very first positive pregnancy test on Christmas Eve - hands down the best present ever - and our second child was miraculously conceived naturally while on a break from treatments - much to the shock of all our doctors.  Both of our children are happy and healthy and amazing.  I recognize the struggles, but I choose to focus on the positive.

If it wasn't for my infertility diagnosis I wouldn't have started vlogging 5+ years ago, and I wouldn't have found an amazing group of supportive women that would walk this journey with me.

I love my little corner of the internet.
I love that I can share my struggles and my successes with people that understand.

Have you ever heard the quote "Comparison is the thief of Joy"?
I think it fits really well with my experience in the YouTube and online Mom communities.
Whenever I see someone that makes a fabulous video, or comes up with a really great idea for a vlog topic, I find that I berate myself a bit.  "Why aren't you doing more with your channel?  It's been a week since you vlogged!"  I get so down on myself.

And then William spills a cup of water all over himself because he's still learning how to tilt the cup without falling victim to physics and gravity.
Or Hannah brings me three different colored legos and asks me "What color does orange and red and white make?" so I bust out the paints and we discover that it makes a pretty pinky peach color.
Or I get a phone call at 8am just as I've sat down to edit that day's vlog and it's our caseworker asking if I can bring my foster son to the office for a visit with a family member - in an hour.  So I drop everything and pack a diaper bag.

And then I remind that inner voice to cut me some slack.

Being a mom is a big job. period.

There are so many things I want to do and can never seem to find time for.
I'm in awe of some women that seem to do it all - raise cute kids, edit videos every day, write witty blogs, volunteer at the soup kitchen, refinish Goodwill furniture and still have time to sip a Starbucks coffee with perfect nails and hair - but I've come to terms with the fact that I'm never going to live up if that is the ideal.

So I've made my own ideal for a life well lived.  Well, I'm *making* my own ideal.  It's evolving.
It's also full of a lot of cliches, the first of which is: Comparison is the thief of Joy.

How often have we achieved a goal only to realize someone else has surpassed it, and immediately the victory has turned into a failure?

We can choose to be jealous and turn that negativity on ourselves or others, or we can start training that voice to be positive.  To congratulate them on their success and to learn a thing or two from them, because the thing to remember is - their success doesn't equal your failure.

Their child speaking in French at 20 months doesn't mean you're a failure as a mother.
Their channel reaching 534k subscribers doesn't mean your channel sucks.
Their house being suspiciously devoid of any stray toys while they vlog doesn't mean you're a failure as a SAHM.

It means they are rockin' it.
High five them and move on.
Cut yourself some slack and just do your best.
I promise - it's enough.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lessons From The Playground

Most of you know that Chris and I have recently become foster parents.  I've been discussing this new journey over on my YouTube channel, so if this comes as news you can catch up here (Foster Care Playlist) and hear about our first placement here (1st Placement).  Recently we provided 5 days of Respite Care for a 4 year old boy.
Respite Care: Respite care refers to one foster family caring for another family's foster children for a short amount of time. This allows for the children's original foster family to have a break. This type of foster care is especially helpful when foster children have behaviors such as seen in many therapeutic foster homes.
Before I get too deep into this story I want to tell you about something that happened a few weeks ago.  I took both kids grocery shopping and it was a great outing - they listened, we laughed, they were helpful - I walked out of that store loving my kids and feeling like I had this Mom thing figured out.  I put the groceries in the car while Hannah buckled herself into her car seat, and then I went to put William into his driver's side car seat.

As I lifted him out of the shopping cart I noticed a mom and her teenage son walking towards me.  The boy had the start of facial hair and looked sullen with his head down.  I thought nothing of it, in fact he looks pretty much like the typical teenage boy stuck grocery shopping with his mom on a Saturday.  She slowed to open the trunk - turns out they were parked next to me - and put the groceries in her car, but he kept walking.  She called after him and asked him to wait (I was trying to buckle William in at this point and help Hannah adjust her chest clip) but he kept walking and proceeded to open the car door forcefully into my back and got into the passenger seat.

Normally I would have been annoyed.  If I was having a rough day I might have even had a dirty look or a few choice words for the son (and perhaps even the mother if I was really looking for a fight), but I was in a great mood and it didn't phase me.  The mom rushed over apologizing profusely.  "He has autism.  He doesn't even know you're there."

I could see it in her eyes, she was trying to beat me to the punch by explaining, but was braced for judgement.  I smiled.  "No worries.  He's fine.  No harm done."  I tried to convey everything I felt with that smile - not pity, just understanding from one mom to another.

On the drive home I thought about that mom, and since that day I've continued to think about her.  I wonder how many times she's had to apologize like that, how many times she's been met with judgement instead of kindness.  I've never been so thankful to have been in a good mood.  She unknowingly reminded me that we're all just doing the best we can and a smile and some understanding goes a long way.

Fast forward to our respite care placement with Travis* (name changed to protect privacy).  He was fairly new to the foster care system.  He'd been with this family for 6 weeks after he was found wandering the streets in a diaper.  Yes, he's four years old and not potty trained.  He also didn't speak more than a few words.  From what I understand he's on a waitlist for a pediatrician that might give him a diagnosis other than neglect.  I suspect (strongly) that it might be Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Regardless, he was a perfectly sweet little boy.  When you sat with him you could see his deficits: His voice and hands had tremors which made talking and eating difficult.  He could build anything with legos, but couldn't understand interlocking puzzle pieces.  He was friendly and kind, but he also didn't understand personal space and would often get in Hannah's face and wouldn't stop when she asked nicely - or when she yelled not so nicely - for him to back away.

But on the playground he looked like any other 4 year old.
He had limitless energy and loved going down the slide.  He made friends because he was so outgoing and nice.  He ran and played for an hour without the smile leaving his face once.

I took Hannah, William and Travis* to the park and everyone had a great time.  William tired first and so I sat on the bench next to the other moms and he sat on my lap as we watched the big kids play.  Then it happened.

Travis went down the slide and his shirt flipped up in the back.  As he ran around to the ladder his diaper was visible above the waistband of his jeans.

"Is that boy wearing a diaper?!" exclaimed one mom.
"He's not potty trained yet? That's just lazy." muttered another.
"I wonder what's wrong with him.  Maybe he's slow." posed the third.

I was frozen in my seat.  Stunned silent.  Flabbergasted.
I wanted to call them out for their judgments and point out that he's a little boy that's been through hell.
I wanted to ask them if they'd ever changed a 4 year old's dirty diaper.  Honestly, it's gross.  It's much easier to be a 'lazy' parent when your child is potty trained.  I can't remember the last time I put Hannah in a pull up or diaper.  Life after potty training is a breeze comparatively.
I felt so judged as his 'mom'.  I wanted to advocate for him.  I wanted to hug him and protect him from their words even though I knew he hadn't heard them.  I wanted to pause that moment and have time to figure out the best way to handle this situation.
Instead, as calmly as I could I said "His name is Travis, and he's doing the best he can."

I stood and collected the kids and we went home.  Hannah exclaimed "This was the best day ever!" from the backseat and Travis* asked "We go back?" and I told him we could return tomorrow.  Inside I felt defeated, and sad, and slightly proud that I had said something instead of letting their judgement continue.

A week later and I'm still not sure what I should have done.  Travis has since returned to his foster home, but in many ways I'm still back on that playground.  Thinking of those moms, of all the children like Travis*, of the future foster children I'll care for and the judgements they'll receive.

I suppose I wrote this to remind you to smile at the mom, for an ounce of kindness goes a long way, and to be mindful of your words, for they carry more weight than your realize.

“I have learned silence from the talkative, 
toleration from the intolerant, 
and kindness from the unkind.” 
~Khalil Gibran

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Video Roundup for July 27th - August 2nd

With VEDA (Vlog every Day in August) and Vlogust kicking off this week, my YouTube subscription box is overflowing with videos.  In case you're having a hard time keeping up with the new videos and mine got lost in the shuffle, here are the videos I posted this week:


I really love this video.  We left Grandma's house and on the way home we spent the night at a water park, camped at Yellowstone National Park, and the slept in a hotel in Boise.  I edited down over 4 hours of footage, so this video is full of the best clips from our vacation.

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This month's Battle of the Beauty Boxes was perhaps the closest match up yet.  Fabulous cosmetics and skin care products, testing out new brands, and a few favorite products as well.  Which box came out on top in your opinion?




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When I got back from vacation I had all my subscription boxes waiting to be opened and so I filmed them all in one day.  Thus, this is the week of the green shirt.   I really enjoy my Julep box each month because I have some control over what colors I receive and the products are always full sized so I feel like it's a great value.
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I have been receiving Citrus Lane boxes for over 3 years and really enjoy them each month.  I like that the products are a surprise each month, but that they're catered to my child's gender and age.  Here's William's box which included this great pretend cell phone from Plan Toys
A big thank you to all of my subscribers!  I've almost reach 17,000 subscribers which is incredible and humbling.  If you haven't checked out my channel yet, here's the link:  TheBubblelush


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Behind the Scenes in Seattle - WITL 65

I really like this week's Week In The Life video (WITL 65) but we had such a great time and I took so much footage that I couldn't fit in some of the photos that we took on a trip to Seattle.  Like this gem:



If you haven't watched this video yet, make sure to check it out.  Hannah graduates preschool, we attend the annual company party at the Museum of Aviation, and then we spent Saturday morning at Pike's Place market watching them catch fish, drinking Starbucks and eating delicious pastries.  And at the end of it I got to stop in to Marie Bitsandclip's birthday party and finally meet her son Luca.  It was such a fun trip!



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

5 Things to Know Before Watching The Fault In Our Stars


Four months ago my husband bought me The Fault In Our Stars for Valentine's Day.  In his defense he didn't realize that he was giving me a book about kids with cancer, but bought it because I was excited for the movie trailer that had just been released.  I held off on reading it.  I didn't want to finish this book that everyone had raved about and then have to wait months to see it come to life in the theater.  So I waited.  But I'm a procrastinator at heart, as well as a fast reader, and before I knew it the day I could see the movie was upon me and I still hadn't cracked the spine.  And thus #TFIOS day was born.  In a span of eight hours I read the book, fixed dinner, put the kids to bed, and saw the movie*.  And when I got home at midnight I was thoroughly emotionally depleted.


So here are my FIVE SEVEN tips for seeing The Fault In Our Stars:

  1. Wear waterproof mascara.  You're going to cry.  It's a movie about love and kids and cancer.  There's no escaping the emotion.
  2. Bring tissues.  I forgot to bring tissues and ended up using the sleeve of my sweatshirt as I hunkered into my tiny theater chair in what resembled the fetal position and wept.  If you to go this movie without tissues and wearing a short sleeve shirt, you're screwed.
  3. Attend a late showing.  Consider the run time of your movie and figure out the approximate time you'll be leaving the theater.  Is this a high traffic time?  Are blockbusters starting and will the lobby be full of people?  Because you're going to be, like, 10 minutes post-ugly cry.  I when to the 9:45pm showing and the lobby was thankfully a ghost town when I left the theater.  I was able to power walk to my car under the guise of darkness with few witnesses.
  4. This is not the best first date movie (have I mentioned the ugly cry enough for this to be self explanatory?), but this is a good movie to help weed out the heartless bastards.  They don't have to cry to be considered a keeper, but if they laugh at you for it, they suck.  Kids. With. Cancer.  Consider this movie a litmus test for his emotional maturity.
  5. Read the book first.  I've gone back and forth on this ruling for a week, but I think the movie was better after reading the book.  The movie was solid - the acting, the emotion, the storytelling - it was all nearly perfect, but because I read the book and I knew the inner dialogue of the character I felt like I could read between the lines of the scene and picked up on all the nuances of the emotions portrayed.  The movie stays fairly close to the book, but some things are cut for time and reading them helps you to understand the characters a bit more.  The movie easily stands on it's own two feet, but if you have time read the book first.
  6. And a bonus tip (because the first 4 were about crying I feel like I owe you a bit more substance):  Appreciate the fabulous casting.  Laura Dern as the mom is so believable and brings depth to what could easily be a background character in the movie adaptation, and Ansel Elgort as the male lead Gus is so adorable and self assured that you root for him, but Shailene Woodley steals the show.  She's perfect in this role.  She's lovely and vulnerable and wonderful, and this role is sure to catapult her to leading lady status more so than the Divergent series which she also stars.
  7. Bonus Bonus Trivia:  Speaking of Divergent, Elgort and Woodley play siblings in the Veronica Roth series and love interests in TFIOS.   
*Tuesday nights are my 'Mommy Moment' movie nights.  Chris stays home with the kids and I sneak out after bedtime to see a movie on $5 Tuesday.  Everyone wins.  Except Chris I suppose, but he has an early shift the next day and couldn't come regardless.  Just wanted to clarify in case you thought I left the kids home unattended.  

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