Thursday, December 9, 2010

Judgmental Much?

Recent events in my life and the lives of others very close to me have made me really think about what family truly means to me.  Here goes...

FAMILY is: (Below are several dictionary definitions...)
  • All the members of household under one roof.  So, related or not, if you live together, you would be family.
  • A group of people sharing common ancestry.  This is the most typical and accepted definition of family.
  • Two or more people that share goals and values, have long-term commitment to one another, and usually reside in the same dwelling place.  This is a less common definition of family but makes a lot of sense to me.
I suggest yet another definition, a definition that is more personal to me.  I suggest that family is a network of people, whether related or not, that supports your life endeavors, are non-judgmental (as much as humanly possible), will be there for you in good times and bad times, and will love you unconditionally, whether they disagree with your life decisions or not.  In my opinion, THAT is what family is truly about.  We ALL make mistakes, we are all imperfect.  It's how we rebound from those mistakes that really makes or breaks us.  And a strong family will support us, even through our failures.  A strong family will be there for you and at least make an attempt to not judge your mistakes as- let's face it- we're all human and we will judge others, no matter how hard we try not to.  A strong family will lift you up when you're down and celebrate with you when you have triumphed. 

Family should NOT constantly focus on your failures, make you feel like less of a person, put you down to make themselves feel better, downplay your successes, or force their views upon you.  To me, these are things our worst enemies would wish upon us...not family. 

Therefore, I would say that FAMILY, is not necessarily just those that share common ancestry.  Family are those around you, whether through ancestry or not, who share common values and beliefs, and who provide a network of support in which you can rely upon, whether times are good or you've hit rock bottom.  Family is there when you need them, a network in which you can depend on when you're down.  I know who my family is...they're the people who know me best.  The people who know my fears, who have shared in my failures, and who have celebrated in my successes.  Family are the people I know I could call at 3AM when I'm worried about something or the people with whom I could share my deepest thoughts without fear of being judged.  For those of you who I consider family, thank you for being there for me.  Thank you for loving me as I am, for knowing that I have my weaknesses but that together, as family, we can overcome these weaknesses and that our relationship makes us better people.  Thank you...

A few people I consider family, although not related by ancestry...

Susan - What I've gained from our relationship... a sense of hope.  You have shown me that no matter how difficult things seem to appear, nothing is impossible.  You grab life by the reins and you MANHANDLE it girl!  You are wonderful mom, a fantastic wife, and a true friend.  I hope you realize how much you mean to me, even though I don't always express it.
Kate - What I've gained from our relationship... confidence.  You've shown me that I have to be confident in myself to be able to exude that confidence to others.  You are a prime example of today's modern woman and you should be proud of that.  You are a great mom and a wonderful friend and I'm so glad we met.
Mary - What I've gained from our relationship...inspiration.  You put the WOW factor in everything you do.  You busted your butt to change your lifestyle and become healthy, fit, and happy.  You completely left your old life behind to make changes that you knew were necessary to grow as a person.  I'm so proud to know you and so glad to benefit from your inspiration.
Autumn - What I've gained from our relationship...strength.  You are, out and out, one of the strongest women I know.  You have made a life for yourself, without depending on others.  You have been a beautiful role model to your boys.  You have been there for me when I needed you and you always have an ear and a shoulder to lean on.  I hope you know that our friendship means a lot to me and that I am always here for you, however I can be.

And to my sister Samantha....
Life will throw you lemons...and you have been thrown too many of them to count.  You have made your mistakes but you have miraculously rebounded.   Even when things look horribly depressing, you have a sense of optimism that always shines through.  As a first-time mother, you have made your mistakes, as have I.  But you have shown your daughter the most important thing of all...the power of love.  You've shown her that for love, we will do anything and you've shown her this by working to improve yourself - as a person and as a mom.  You are creating a life of love that will surround her when she needs it most.  My life would not be the same without you.  You are piece of my heart and when you hurt, I hurt.  I love you...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Military Wives...the Unspoken Heroes

Anyone that knows a military wife knows the struggles she goes through--while her husband is gone on deployments or trips but also while he's home.  Andy and I have only been through one deployment since we've been married.  We recently went through a 3-month separation while he was at 1st Class Dive School and we have a deployment ahead of us in the near future.

I think people forget how MUCH a military wife truly does to support the household and the family while her husband is away and at home.  My good friend is currently raising her little man on her own.  She's going through all the trials and tribulations of a first time mom without her husband by her side because he is currently on deployment, serving his country.  And while the deployment is hard on him because he's missing out on a lot of his son's first and of course the comforts of home too, it's just as  hard on her, in my opinion.  Not only is she taking care of the household, but she's caring for her 6-month old baby, handling bills and house repairs, all of the doctor's appointments, and still managing to find time to care for herself.

I think being a military wife, especially with children, makes you a stronger woman.  You realize that you can do things you didn't think you could do.  While Andy was gone, I took up mowing the lawn & caring for the pool.  I didn't have much problem with the lawn but the pool proved to be my arch enemy.  I swear if Andy is gone during the summer again I'll be hiring me a pool boy...seriously!  As military wives, we are often forced to drop everything to change our lifestyle while our husbands are absent.  Now, I wouldn't have it any other way because I'm proud of my husband, proud of his service to his country, and love him more than words can describe.

And then, when our guys are home, while things are definitely easier, we our their sounding board for all the craziness that comes along with being in the military: the mindless regulations, early mornings and late nights, last minute trips, the stress of advancement tests, and more.  And it seems that sometimes it's almost harder when they're home because if their work schedule changes at the last minute...we can be stuck left in a bind with not much time to change plans to accomadate the last minute changes and are left scrambling to make back-up plans.  For me, as a part-time college student, late nights at work for Andy mean I may have to find someone else to watch Brock and I may not know until the last minute.  Luckily, I am surrounded by wonderful friends and neighbors that are always willing to help when needed.  But not every military wife has this support network.

I guess I've been rambling but the point of this post is just to say, not only THANK YOU to the military men and women that serve this country, but also to say THANK YOU to the families that stand behind them.  Without the support of their families, these men and women would not be able to clearly focus on the task at hand, protecting our country.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Potty Training 101

I recently started potty training my 3-year-old son, Brock.  I looked online and researched several different potty training methods but finally decided on a method used by a mom who had recently, and successfully, potty trained her son.  She sent me the guide and I read up.  I set forth with an artillery of weapons: big boy undies (and lots of them), a small potty seat as well as a potty seat for the big boy potty, pull ups for naps & night time, and most importantly, rewards!  Days 1 and 2 were a whirlwind of peeing on the potty, changing underwear what seemed like a million times, lots of praise and by the end of the 2 days...a very depleted stash of M&Ms.  Days 3 through 7 brought LOTS of frustration as my son acted like he had no clue what the potty was for and was peeing everywhere BUT the potty.  By the end of Day 7, I was all but ready to completely give up.  We took Day 8 off...a time for me to renew and Brock too.  We started back with a vengeance on Day 8 and now, here were are on Day 9 and we've only had TWO accidents in two days.  I can't believe the progress Brock has made!  Several friends just told me to stick with it and that he would get seems he's really starting to get it now.  I'm sure we will have many more ups and downs.  As a first time parent, and a virgin to potty training, I have found this experience to be both rewarding and also very frustrating.  Knowing my son is intelligent, it has been hard for me to cope with those times when he acted like he didn't know what a potty was used for.  But, I realize that him being intelligent has nothing to do with just needing practice.  This potty training process is definitely exhausting but I know it will pay off in the end.

New to Blogging...

So, as a way of expressing my thoughts, my fears, my failures, my triumphs...and life's journeys in general; I thought it would be interesting to start a blog.  I haven't ever been much of a "blogger" but figured I would give it a shot.  This blog will serve as a way of me sharing things that are going on in my life...a chronicle, if you will, of life's journey.  Here we go...