Goodbye Facebook

I did it.

Finally.

No more facebook for me.

People who are closest to me were probably sick of hearing, “I should just quit it! I should just do it.”

Well, I finally did.

This morning, in Adoration, it became clear to me that the time is now. My heart was nudged in this direction every time I went to Adoration for almost a year. Often I pray best by writing (fancy that), and as I looked through the last year of entries the pattern became clear: Where is my time? Why don’t I have time to pray, to meal plan, to make meals, to clean? To sit with my children? To love my husband?

The problem wasn’t facebook. It was me. I’m an easily distracted person, and having an addiction to feed that part of my personality wasn’t making life any better.

I don’t use the word addiction lightly. There are people very close to me who have suffered greatly as a result of various addictions, or the addictions of others. And while I would never try to equate my trials to theirs, it is my addiction none the less.

Here’s how I know:

I opened a new tab to write this blog post, and I had typed “facebook.com” before I stopped myself.

I would surf facebook on our laptop, stand up from the couch to do something (probably important, like feed the children), but first check the open facebook tab on my desktop… unconsciously.

If I was sad: open facebook. Happy? Open facebook. Bored? you guessed it. Angry, tired, excited, felt anything? To facebook I went.

Sounds pathetic doesn’t it? And it is.

Was.

For me, it was escapism at its finest.

Some people eat their emotions, I facebooked mine. (OK, I eat my emotions too, but I can only make one giant mental-health leap at a time).

Recently, Lulu has tugged on my pant leg every time I stood at my desk (yes, standing-desk geek over here). “Mama help, please.”

“Mmmhmm honey. Just as second. Mama needs to finish reading this article…” or crafting this perfectly worded status update, or watching this hilarious video, or LOLing, or picking the right photo to upload, or…or…

Ultimately anything I was doing couldn’t have possibly been as important was whatever she needed. Mommy-war articles included. Maybe those were the most damaging of all. Instead of being a Mommy, I was spending time reading about how other women were succeeding (or failing) at being a Mommy themselves.

But heaven forbid I miss the most recent posts. Spastically switching back and forth between “top stories” and “most recent” on my news feed usually assured that I was the MOST in the know.

Why don’t you just give it up for a while?

I’ve tried. God only knows (well, and probably Andy too) how hard I’ve tried. Every Lent, most every Advent. Summer fasts. Days, weeks, even months at a time. I would do well after each fast, keeping my checking to once or twice a day. But then creep happens. And I’d be checking it three times, then four times, then it’s really just easier to have a tab open. What if someone messages me? I need to respond to them immediately or they won’t think I like them, and I’ll never have any friends again!

Welcome to the crazy train, people.

Well, it was a combination of decision fatigue and dopamine receptors. The more times you have to tell yourself “no” the more likely you are to fail. That’s especially true if you receive pleasure from saying “yes”. The open facebook tab is like a open cookie jar for me.

I think one of the perils of stay at home mommyhood, aside from poop and lack of substantive conversation, is that it’s so easy to be isolated. I went to an amazing weekend gathering and the take home message was: “Moms, you are not alone. Use social media to prove it! Build each other up!”. The internet can be an amazing tool for consolation and camaraderie.

For a long time, especially right after we moved, facebook was my escape from parenting isolation. Until it subtly transformed into an escape from parenting.

I’m a people person. My husband calls it hyper-social. If you’ve done the Living Your Strengths Class, “Woo” is my #3. I like to like people and I like people to like me. The more people the better. I was that kid at camp who never made one best friend because I was too busy being friends with everyone, and trying to make everyone my friend.

That was fine when I was 13. Now I’m, well, more than double that age, and I do have great community. I am not isolated. I do have best friends, chief among them: Andy. Closely followed by my own children.

My Mom told me, when I was in the depths of PPD after Lulu, “Caitlin, some day your kids are going to be really good company.”

And you know what? That day is here.

Monica asks me so many good questions. I was explaining the difference between red blood cells and white blood cells to her just this morning. Conversation quickly transitioned into how to say words in Portuguese and morphed into what people eat in Japan.

Lulu has a fantastic belly laugh, and is the most compassionate two year old I know. Got an owie? She knows right where the ice is kept and how to hold it on your bump just so and how to give you a bear hug that will make you feel better in no time.

Dom, well, he’s getting there. He will be there. If the girls are already great companions, he will be too, sooner than I can imagine.

So, that’s all to say that my family is amazing. And I am missing it.

Some people, probably most people, are good at keeping an online/offline balance. I am not one of them. I delay going to bed, to sleep with my very own husband, so I can check what other people are doing as they get ready for bed.

Seriously?

Well, now you know.

And if you know, then I can never go back.

After a dear friend of ours passed away due to an addiction, Andy and I promised that if we knew anyone else who was ruining their lives, wasting their lives, on something frivolous or dangerous, we wouldn’t hesitate to tell them. To try and help them.

So, here I am.

Helping myself.

Telling myself, Caitlin. Don’t waste the time. Don’t waste your life. Because they are one in the same. Your time is your life.

I had this quote written on our white board for a long time:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. -Annie Dillard

I think I need it tattooed on my forehead.

Or, at least, glued to my computer screen.

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Moments

I am dragging today. It’s not even 7 o’clock in the morning and I’m really looking forward to bed time. One of those mornings.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling threadbare, snapping is easy. It’s more like ripping. And all the ugly escapes: frustration, yelling, impatience.

This morning, this long, dark morning, the ugly was just starting to show through the tears in my mommy-fabric, when the girls had a moment.

What is that I hear? More crying? GAH! Why me?! Why can’t those girls just get along? All I asked them to do was get dressed. Can I just go back to bed? Girls, come here right…

Wait? That’s giggling? Singing? What is going on?

momentsCuteness.

That’s what’s going on.

moments-4Reading a Frozen book, and singing “Let it go” at the top of their lungs (sorry still-sleeping Corey and Dom Dom).

moments-6 moments-3 A moment of ridiculous cuteness.

moments-2And this, even more than the sleep deprivation, even more than the yelling and lost-patience, this is the patchwork of my life: a collection of adorable moments.

moments-5 If I take the time to see them, these moments save me from the depths of self-pity.

And when I can stitch my threadbare sanity back together with these moments, then I know I can make it to bed time with a little less ripping and a little more love.

Coffee helps too.

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December is for (Photo) Lovers

St Nich’s Day, I told Mo to “line up” all the shoes we were giving away. I love how her mind works:December December-2 December-3 December-4 December-5 December-6 December-7Christmas Tree shopping (as is our tradition) on the second Sunday of Advent:December-8 December-9 December-10 December-11 December-12And a sneak peak of our Christmas photo shoot. Taken in our very own….Hallway! Nothing but innovation over here, Ladies and Gents ;) December-13Luckily, the kids are cute enough, that just about anywhere will work. For example, here are several excellent specimens of Christmas Cheer:December-14 December-2-2 December-3-2Christmas Card Photo? Nailed it!

 

 

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Scott at the Grotto

grotto-3Jessie’s fiancee is the choir director at a high school in the Tri Cities. He brought his A team to Portland yesterday to perform at the Festival of Lights at the Portland Grotto.

It’s kind of a big deal. Performing is by invitation only, and only five choirs perform a night.

Corey, the Kiddos and I donned our favorite winter apparel and headed over to Portland to hear his choir perform.

grotto-4It was beautiful.

The acoustics in the church carried the voices out into the listeners and blanketed each in a depth of harmonies.

The girls were fascinated and listened with rapt attention.

grotto-7 grotto-5 Except for Lulu, because, well, she’s two. But she tried really hard!

grotto

We watched as Scott directed and moved and pulled music from the ensemble. Each gesture was met with a response from the choir, piano to fortissimo, quick breath to extended hold, wax and wane.

grotto-10They performed three Christmas-themed pieces. At the conclusion of each I wanted to shout, “Bravo!” and once they were completely done, “Encore!”

This marks the first concert of Scott’s we’ve been able to attend. But it certainly won’t be the last.

Nicely done sir!

grotto-8Plus we got to see him after, in a “we get to take a picture with the celebrity” kind of way. The girls loved seeing their soon-to-be-uncle (and they also fist-bumped a Dominican friar, though I missed that photo…).

grotto-2The music each night is fantastic, and the Christmas-lit Grotto well worth the entrance fee! Mo kept exclaiming, “It’s so beautiful! This is a beautiful night!”

grotto-9And it really was.

(tree and moon picture credit to Corey)

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A Life Full of Goodness

recently-11Things have been a little slow over here on the blog, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been hiding, or that life has slowed down.

recently-8Not. One. Bit.

We’ve got a busted water line and broken fence, but we’ve also been celebrating birthdays and holidays and visiting family.

And petting baby bunnies…recently-9 recently-10

Our lives are so full.

And it is good.

I’ve also been picking up the camera to shoot some more formal things recently: newborns, families, church activities…

Here are a few of my favorites: recently recently-2 recently-7 recently-5 recently-6 recently-3 recently-4

 

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#SNOWVEMBER 2014!!!

Stay in your homes! School is cancelled!

4-6″ of snow expected in Portland metro!

Don’t even try to drive to work!

Run! Hide! Stock up on food and water!

PANIC!

At least that’s what it felt like the media was saying the last couple days. Are you ready for pictures of SNOWPOCALYPSE?

Here you go:snow-5 snow

Underwhelming to say the least.snow-2

Not quite like the last snow day we had.

I’m not trying to give the local meteorologists a hard time. I can’t imagine trying to tell the future, even with the best predictive technologies on hand, that’s still a hard job. snow-9 snow-4

But seriously, Mother Nature? We were expecting a little more than this.

Oh wait. That’s right. You showed your cards the two days before, with gale force winds. The tree across the street fell down, and our power went out for several hours. Then our fence fell down…

snow-6 snow-7You win! You don’t nee to “bring it” anymore. We don’t need another weekend project.

snow-8 snow-10Regardless, after a morning of tromping around in the “snow” (frozen over ice-pellets), you still need a warm mug of hot chocolate, right? As far as the girls are concerned, in our temperate climate, even one day of frozen precipitation heralds a change in season. snow-11

“Hot cocoa is better in the winter,” Mo said as she gazed out the window at the frozen ground.

snow-12Agreed, Mo Bug. Agreed.

Mama’s may have had some powdered instant coffee mixed in.

Yes, you read that right. Caitlin has started to worship at the altar of Morning Coffee.

It took 3 kids, and 4ish years of interrupted sleep to get me there, but Dom’s been waking up 3ish times a night for the last month or so, and I’m just about ready to fall asleep writing this.

I’m not complaining.

Ok, I am complaining, just a little bit. But you feel me, right?

The real issue here is: I can’t blame anyone, or do much to fix it. Sure I can blame Dom, but what good would that do me? It’s not like he wants to be awake every 2 hours at night. He’s teething, and caught a cold, and is too big for the bassinet. I’d be grumpy too if I had teeth pushing through my gums, couldn’t breathe at night, and hit a wall every time I rolled over.

So, attitude adjustments were made, he’ll be moving to new bed soon, and everyone’s favorite drug introduced into my morning routine.

Turns out, I’m a much happier Mommy with a little coffee.

So, thank you Jesus for caffeine. And Thank you for Snow Days too. Amen.snow-3

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Puddle Jumping and Rainbows

Last year, I did the puddle jumping once the grey days of winter returned.

rainbow-2This year it was all Daddy.

rainbow-3 rainbow-4rainbow-5rainbow-7 rainbow-6 rainbow My pot of gold, right there.

(And, for your information, Tim: Dom was in the house, asleep, with Corey listening to the monitor. We didn’t just abandon him to the leprechauns…)

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Baby in a Sink

Dom bathI could almost crop the dirty dishes out…

That’s the nice thing about blogging, I can present whatever world I choose! And in my bloggy world, there are never dirty dishes in my sink *cough cough, ahem…

I couldn’t even finish that sentence without choking. It’s just that untrue! So just pretend there isn’t a sink full of dirty dishes right next to him, k? Thanks.

I forgot to post the stats from his 6 month visit (almost a month ago now), so here they are. They’re probably a little +/- at this point.
Height: 2′ 4″ (97%)
Weight: 22lbs 12oz (99%)
Head Circ: 18.74″ (100%)

Just look at that noggin! And the arm rolls! On a somewhat related note, next time I see you, ask me to flex. He presents quite the upper body workout.

Dom bath-2He tried sweet potato today; his first solids. Just a couple little tastes on the end of my finger. There were funny faces, but there wasn’t any crying, so I say, success!

Dom bath-3I really do love this butterball more and more every day. He’s currently sitting up on his own with minimal face planting. This is one of my favorite stages. I can sit him down, give him a basket of toys, and he’ll entertain himself  for minutes on end AND stay put!

He blows bubbles, screeches, babbles and is currently not sleeping through the night. Not by a long shot. Growth spurt? Teeth? Developmental milestones? All of the above? Who knows? Whatever the issue, it translates into several wake ups at night for extra meals.

Dom bath-4 Good thing he’s so dang cute.

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60 Years

60years-3

These are photos from Grandma and Grandpa’s 60th Anniversary celebration.60years-10

It’s hard to find words to describe the weekend, because it was a whirlwind and poignant and emotional.

60years-11There were many people present to celebrate their long-standing relationship, including Grandma’s sisters from Quebec, family from San Diego, my family from WA, neighbors, friends, and so many relatives.

60years-14At some point I looked around and realized, truly comprehended, the fact that none of the people gathered would be present without the love story, life story of Paul and Paulette. What beautiful, tangible fruits of my grandparent’s labors. The stories we told, the memories we share, are products of their loves, their sacrifices, the results of their good times and bad times.

60years-13I can’t possibly know their relationship the way my Dad does, or his siblings, or even my cousins who have lived so close for so long. But as Grandpa fades into the shadows of dementia, there are memories of them I want to preserve, and this weekend was one of them.

60years-4Grandpa sits, confused, but mostly happy. For now, it is a good kind of dementia. Not the angry, violent kind that I have seen in others. Every time I pass by, he says, “How’d you get so pretty?” or “Wow, you are something to look at!” If I’m carrying Dom he reaches over to pinch his fluffy leg or rosy cheek, “Who’s this handsome guy? Yours?! I don’t believe it.” Two or three minutes later it’s the same, loving conversation.

He saves the hard parts of dementia, the annoyance, the confusion, the incomprehension, for my grandma. She is his anchor to a reality that is fading. In a way, she reminds him that there is something missing. And, since she is his anchor, she is pulled the hardest as the ship of his comprehension tries to set sail. So, there is this subtle undercurrent of understanding that this may very well be the last time we are all together in this particular place, in this house, which is big enough for all of us, but too big for the two of them.

60years-12Grandma tries to switch between the French of her sisters and the English of everyone else. At some point Mom, Dad, Dom and I are sitting on the front porch and she joins us. She very enthusiastically thanks us for coming and tells us what a joy it is to see us, but in French. “Grandma! You have to speak English,” I say with a laugh. She laughs too, and says it again. In French. My dad chuckles, pretends to speak French “Baguette, oui, oui. Je voudrais allez…Bonjour!” She laughs and tries again. The French flows smoothly. The switch just won’t flip. Before long we are all laughing till our cheeks hurt and tears stream down my face. It is a beautiful moment of levity.

60years-6Grandma walks in for The Surprise!!, and is slightly confused. The banner says “Happy Anniversary!” which means happy birthday in the language she’s been speaking all day. “Who’s birthday is it?” she asks.

60years-5Grandpa says, “Who’s turning 60?”. We all laugh, and once everyone understands, we raise toasting glasses to the happy couple.

60years-15Ashley has made a beautiful cake, complete with their original cake topper. Just stunning.

60years-16Later in the evening, they hold hands and cut it, in much the same way I imagine they did 60 years ago.

60years-19Bryan has compiled photos and footage and modern videos that bridge the time-distance between their courtship and their youngest great grandchild.60years

60years-18As night settles, we all watch the compilation, projected larger than life against a sheet. The old film from their wedding looks like something straight out of a turn of the century documentary.

60years-9Watching grandma watch her younger self is a sort of paradox, a kind of time travel, a testament to how quickly time passes.

60years-7I see grandpa retreat from the craziness, sit in his chair in front of the TV and tap his fingers back and forth, mumbling. Mumbling a prayer, “Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you.” Five words. Five fingers. Tap, tap tap tap tap. And while he prays, life and love and laughter surround him.

In a way, each laugh, each smile, is a prayer of its own. A prayer of thanksgiving.

Thanking Grandpa, thanking Grandma, for saying yes so long ago.

60years-17Or, for some, maybe not so long ago.

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Friday Musings

Mary over at The Domestic Apologist shot me a cyber high-five:Liebster-Award2

It goes something like this: Hey, I like you and I like your blog. Here’s a Liebster Award and 10 questions that you should answer about yourself.

An easy post to write. I mean, who doesn’t like expounding upon themselves? Introspection starts…. now!

1. Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Taking a dish to another home?
Um…I have no idea. I’m sure there are other people who know details like this far in advance. I, however, am not one of them. In fact, Andy and I had a conversation about this very thing just last night:
“Hey Love, what are we doing for Thanksgiving?”
“I don’t know.”
“Me neither.”
“Ok. Well, glad that’s settled.”

2. Are your kids sufficiently revved up for Halloween, AND, when do you buy your Halloween candy? 
The girls are…divided. Every day they change their minds as to their desired costumes, although for Mo we’ve narrowed it down to “Elsa-dinosaur-flower-ballerina”. So, that should be interesting. Candy is purchased in a panic the day before/of Halloween. See #1 for how great a holiday planner I am.

3. Costumes or saint getups for your kids this year? 
Costumes! Although if I somehow magically catechize my kids well enough that they choose to be a saint of some sort, I’m sure I will take a bazillion photos and post them proudly here. Maybe we should host an All-Saints Party. That’s a thing, right?

4. Everyone loves fall. Is there anything about autumn that bugs you?
Ha! I don’t love fall *gasp. I am solar powered, so as soon as our earth’s axis tilts us away from the sun, I fight the urge to fly south. So, what bugs me? EVERYTHING: getting colder, leaves to rake, less sunshine, less sunshine, less sunshine, split tomatoes, rain, grey…ug. Maybe my question should be, what do I like about fall? Um…I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

5. What recent meme really cracked you up?
I’m cheating, a little, and posting two.
First, Corey and I, in a fit of sleep deprivation watched this gif about a hundred times. Eric Chavez’s “hey hey hey!” face gets better and better with each watch.

Eric-Chavez-throws-ball-at-Cody-Eppley

The second is a favorite ’round here, and one that most any parent can relate to:
poop_0I’ve seen Andy laugh so hard at this he cried. He was also sleep deprived at the time. I’m starting to notice a sleep pattern ’round here…

6. With what kind of intensity are you following the Synod?
I’m mostly just waiting till the official translation of the final draft comes out. That means I’ve ignored most media outlets for the last forever and half my facebook feed.

7. On weekend mornings, do you cook a special breakfast at your house?
Waffles and scrambled eggs courtesy of our own chickens. Mmm mmm mmm. Nuff said.

8.  Pick one current pop song. Expound upon your love or hate of it. 
Current? Pop? What is this magical dance music that you speak of? There is something other than Wee Sing and the Frozen sound track in the audible universe?

Send auditory help. Stat.

9. If you had one for eternity: kettle corn or movie theatre popcorn?
Choose one? Ooh, but that splits up the salty-then-sweet spiral of waistline death that I love so much. Um, does the Sate Fair come with the kettle corn, and a Movie Theater come with the classic popcorn? If so, I choose kettle. I love me some 4-H.

10. Predict the Superbowl champion. Or, recount your man’s elation or misery at the outcome of last year’s Bowl. 
Mary, you picked some tough questions. And this one, perhaps the toughest of all. Because, see, we don’t do football in this house *another gasp! (She doesn’t like fall or watch football? Is she even American?!) For the sake of my sister Jessie and her fanatical boyfriend Scott, I will, however, say: Seahawks. They made it pretty far last year…right?

….

Speaking of my sisters, I’m passing this highfive on to both of them whom I love (Jessie is here and Corey is here); to Bonnie, where I lurk; and to Abbie, who I long to see back in Vancouver. I know some of you haven’t blogged in a while, so feel free to answer on whichever online platform you prefer.

Ready ladies? Start your engines:
1. What is pizza (that one is from Mo)?
2. What is your greatest accomplishment from the last week?
3. Digital or analog planner? Analog over here.
4. What are you snacking on today?
5. Favorite article of clothing? Why?
6. Who paid you a recent compliment? What was it? You’re beautiful. There now you can’t back out of the question. Mwahahahaha!
7. Where would you go on a dream vacation? What would you do? Who would be there?
8. Let’s talk superpowers: Which one would you like to have and which one do you already command? We all have one. Andy’s is perfectly guessing which tupperware to use for leftovers. It’s an engineer thing, I think. 
9. What’s one thing you own that doesn’t match your personality? For example, I own a chainsaw. I don’t think people think of me as a chainsaw kind of lady…
10. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Any holiday, any tradition. I’m interested to see how my sisters answer this one…

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