Managing expectations

I was editing something for a non-profit I’m involved in, Project Reveal, this morning about expectations and it got me to thinking about my own.

The woman we spoke with talked about how she’d built her life up around expectations but that she only was able to enjoy life when she let go of them and really experienced her world free of them.

That’s a pretty powerful concept. We all have these huge expectations. And expectations can come in lots of forms: hopes, dreams, goals, aspirations… While it is good to have goals and things we want to work toward I think the position we often, well let me stop there and just start speaking for myself, I often find myself in is that I lose track of working toward a positive goal and instead start criticizing myself for not meeting that expectation.

It went from a goal of, “I want to be a more engaged and present mom in the evenings after work” to “I am failing at being there for my boys because I answered those work e-mails and took that phone call.”

Having a plan and a goal is a wonderful thing. I LOVE a plan. But I’m still working on letting go of it if things don’t work out or go as planned — from the simple things such as having a meal out where my kiddos don’t cause a scene to the bigger expectations of being meaningfully engaged in my family, at work and in the community while still having time to breath, I need to loosen up the expectations and give myself a little grace.

Let go of the expectations and gain a little peace.

One day at a time!

I used to be so much fun

There’s this app on my phone called TimeHop, it allows you to see what you were doing this time one, two, three, four, etc. years ago.
I both love and hate the thing.
Sometimes when something pops up from six years ago, I sigh and say, “I used to be so much fun!”
The features department is a small group and two of the four of us are in their early to mid-20s. They are a lot of fun still. And when I hear stories about all their weekend antics I’m like, “aww man, I used to do stuff like that.”
We rented a water slide for our "pre-rehearsal" cookout and did it without the water.

We rented a water slide for our “pre-rehearsal” cookout and did it without the water.

Bounce house for my 28th birthday

Bounce house for my 28th birthday

Seriously guys, I was a lot of fun. Here’s a few examples — for my 28th birthday we rented a giant bouncy house for the backyard for me and all of our friends. For my now-husband’s birthday (also the same night he proposed to me) we rented a giant inflatable water slide and played on it ALL night long with about 30 friends (dish soap even got involved.) We had parties for nearly every occasion, and my crazy friend Jodi usually ensured that fireworks were a part of every celebration. I even hosted a 1920s-themed murder mystery party where I transformed my house into a bordello.
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The squierrel I rescued and had to keep with me and warm until the wildlife rehabber could get him. He even went with me on a few assignments.

The squierrel I rescued and had to keep with me and warm until the wildlife rehabber could get him. He even went with me on a few assignments.

The antics didn’t stop at parties. I’ve kind of always been a bit eccentric. I had a pair of full-sized mannequin legs rescued from a department store that I’d transformed into a lamp complete with high heels and fishnet stockings. I had a room devoted to my accessories, yes a room — my shoe room. I had the space (a three-bedroom house for just me) and it was just silly enough to be something I’d do. I had an entire large Rubbermaid tote filled with adult dress up clothes (there were occasions). I went to “Rocky Horror” dressed up. We had mock fashion shows and photo shoots in the middle of the night. I could always find a reason to wear a boa.
I rocked those socks.

I rocked those socks.

My funky style still is showcased on special days.

My funky style still is showcased on special days.

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Michael and I used to do all kinds of silly things. He, of course, rolled his eyes through most of it but I know was having a great time. We “borrowed” an old office chair from the newspaper we worked for and stayed up until 7 a.m. reupholstering it before getting a greasy diner breakfast and then sleeping until 3 p.m. the next day. I forced him to go on plenty of adventures, including an alligator hunt where I ended up kissing a gator. Outings often included a picnic lunch. One date even ended with a tow truck — that’s a story all by itself.
Late night chair redecorating.

Late night chair redecorating.

Kissing a gator

Kissing a gator

The date that ended with a tow truck.

The date that ended with a tow truck.

I was the fun one at the office, making cake for everyone’s birthday, the center of every laugh fest and just the general goofball whose goal was to make everybody have a good time, especially when they were having a bad day. I did things like make silly kid crafts (with pom-poms and googly eyes) with a co-worker and then leaving one for every single person in the office in the middle of the night so they could be surprised the next morning. Or picking out a “spirit animal” for all of the people in the newsroom and leaving a stuffed version of it on their desk.
Birthday cake!

Birthday cake!

One of the infamous tots.

One of the infamous tots.

There were stuffed tater tots that lined my desk, which often were the subject of various kidnapping plots. I remember packing my car to the rooftop with supplies for ONE night at a friend’s cabin and my dog coming along, barely room to turn around.
Gear for one night camping and the dog.

Gear for one night camping and the dog.

Enjoying gumbo after having a drink at 9 a.m. during a traditional Mardi Gras celebration in South Louisiana with my mom.

Enjoying gumbo after having a drink at 9 a.m. during a traditional Mardi Gras celebration in South Louisiana with my mom.

Writing out all of this makes me wistful for those crazy days filled with silly antics. We had some epic times.
But, while I miss many of those things and would love to repeat many of them, I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for my “crazy” times today. I LOVE being a mom. I loved being the center of my social circle throwing fun parties and doing silly things, but being the center of my boys’ world is so much cooler.
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And you know what, the other day Miles crawled up into my lap and gave me a giant hug and said, “You’re my best friend!” I just about melted. He was SO excited because I was going to be with him “all night long.” He tells me all the time that I’m the best and so much fun.
Miles painting in the nude.

Miles painting in the nude.

Swinging at the park with Miles and Owen.

Swinging at the park with Miles and Owen.

We do things like have dance parties in the middle of the living room rocking out so hard to “Yo Gabba Gabba” that we make the breakables on the mantle jingle. We make scented play-dough from scratch. I let him paint using his fingers! We go for bike rides. We laugh until our bellies hurt saying things like “poop trash” and “home” for still-unknown reasons. With less than 24 hours notice, I booked tickets for Christmas Eve at an indoor water park. I let him eat the occasional marshmallow and chocolate chip. I ride the spinny rides with him. I listen, I snuggle, I care.
Spur of the moment Christmas trip.

Spur of the moment Christmas trip.

Climbing in the tunnel with Miles.

Climbing in the tunnel with Miles.

We sing silly, crazy songs. We try to have mini-adventures each weekend doing things like going to festivals or the museum or digging around in the backyard. We are raising chickens, just because.
Unplanned swimming adventure.

Unplanned swimming adventure.

Playing in the dirt and rain.

Playing in the dirt and rain.

I am still that same old crazy, eccentric, giggly gal. When asking Michael to help me think of some of the silly things we did in the “old days” and some that we do today, this is what he said (cue waterworks):
“Just being quirky and off-center in general, that’s one of the things that first struck me about you, that you were willing to put yourself out there and not be afraid of looking goofy or whatever. It is one of the main reasons I love you. It’s still there, you just don’t have as much time and energy to show it off as you used to. That is to be expected. But that is what draws people to you. One of the things that first attracted me to you is your laugh, and the reason I fell in love with you is because you were a lot of fun and got me to do and experience things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.”
Awww! I don’t think I can top that. So yes, I guess I am still fun, it just looks a little different.
See, we can still have fun, even without the kids!

See, we can still have fun, even without the kids!

Family photo

Family photo

How has your “fun” changed with kids over the years? How do you make sure that you keep that fun still alive when things get crazy busy?​

Picking up, I mean out, chicks

So the chicken dreams have become a reality.

I think Michael is calling them his chicken nightmares, but that’s another blog post altogether.

Miles and I headed over to Rural King to pick out some chicks. I’d gone myself a few weekends ago and checked out the cute, tiny chicks there. And then went last week twice — once with Miles and once with my chicken guru/awesome friend Stephanie. The chicks then were still on the little side but looking much less fragile.

 

Meet our toddler chicks -- Mocalotive, Choo Choo, Stella, Olive, Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little

Meet our toddler chicks — Mocalotive, Choo Choo, Stella, Olive, Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little

With Stephanie by my side last week — Owen sleeping snugly against my chest, oblivious to the monumental chicken lesson going on around him — I loaded up my cart with all the chick necessities. I grabbed pine shavings for bedding, chick feed, heat lamp and bulb, a chick feeder and water dish and a few other miscellaneous items. Stephanie loaded me down not only with supplies, but chicken knowledge.

I’ve done my fair share of chicken research (too much my husband says) but nothing compares to firsthand experience from my own personal chicken virtuoso. Stephanie said she’s excited to have her own personal chicken apprentice. We are going to establish our own chicken journeyman certification through this whole process.

So two weekends ago was filled with all the technical stuff — supplies and knowledge. When Saturday finally rolled around I was ready to get my hands on some chicks!
So back to heading over to Rural King … the selection of breeds was a little lighter than I’d hoped but there were plenty of chicks there ready to find a good home. And instead of being tiny, cute, itty-bitty chicks they were more like toddler chicks. Don’t get me wrong, they were still awfully adorable. A bit of me was a little sad but then I remembered just how fragile Stephanie had described the newborn chicks and the extra tedious (and sometimes icky) tasks that goes along with them. So I celebrated my decision to wait until the chicks were about four weeks old to pick them up. My biggest disappointment was kind of a trivial one — I really wanted the Ameraucana breed chicks because their eggs are a neat blue/green hue.

The two breeds that they had pullets (female chicks) in were Silver Wyandotte and Light Brahmas. Miles and I scoped out the bins walking around a few times. He excitedly dipped his hand inside causing the sea of chicks to run in the opposite direction. I found a chick box and started selecting our future little chickies.

My process was, as should be expected from me, a little different. I didn’t just grab the first three from each bin that I could then called it a day. I wanted Miles to be able to select a few.

I was too distracted by my tiny helper to get any pictures during the actual chick picking stage. But here they are ready to go home.

I was too distracted by my tiny helper to get any pictures during the actual chick picking stage. But here they are ready to go home.

“That one,” he excitedly said. “That one with the speckle, right there. That one, that one!”
So of course, I HAD to get THAT one. My hands darted up and down the metal tub trying to grasp what must have been the fastest, sneakiest of the bunch. Each requested chicken was more elusive than the last.

After he’d selected four, I wiped the sweat from my brow and decided that last two I would pick out. I overheard two employees talking about needing to separate a few chicks because some had gotten picked on. AWWW! So of course I mosey over there eavesdropping and then just butt right on in.
“Which two are the most picked on?” I asked, tears almost welling in my silly eyes. “Let me rescue them!”
They, of course, laughed at me causing my little monkey-see, monkey-do little guy laugh hysterically.

“Mama, you are SO silly!” he cried, practically rolling on the floor.

Kid, it wasn’t that funny.

Anyway, the high school kid employees go to great lengths (seriously, one of them even stepped in the bin to track down this poor, feather missing chick) to procure the bullied chicks for me.

Done!

I had my six chicks, a 3-year-old and said 3-year-old’s stuffed owl that he INSISTED come into the store with us. And no cart. Yep, you read that correctly. It’s like I’m a glutton for punishment.

So as I surmise the situation — three little cartons of live chicks, a squirmy kid who does not want to leave the chicken area of the store and a stuffed animal that said kid will now no longer have anything to do with — I start to come up with the most plausible out, bribery.

“Hey Miles, if we go home we can get a special treat!”

“What treat? Nevermind, I don’t want a treat. I want to stay here! I want to be with the chickens and the bunnies. I want to stay ALL DAY LONG!”

“When we get home we have our own chickens that we can play with.”

“But mom, there’s lots of chickens right here!”

Desperate I look around.

The yellow, painted chicken tracks leading from the front door back to the chicks catch my eye. Yes.

“Miles, let’s follow the duck path!”

“Oh, OK!”

Easy, peasy.

We miraculously make it to the car with six still-alive chicks and get everything back in the house and set up. Miles names two chicks — Mocalotive and Choo Choo; Michael begrudgingly threw two literary chicken names in the mix — Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little; and I used girl names that I loved when we were having babies — Olive and Stella.

Chicks in their mood lighting.

Chicks in their mood lighting.

The little chicks seem pretty happy. Right now they are cozy in an oversized tote in our basement complete with a red heat-bulb keeping them toast. Michael put together the coop Sunday afternoon as Miles played and Owen cooed in the sun.

So far all is good on the Doyle farm. I’ll update you when the chicks have made their way outside.​

The directions for assembling the coop were one page of pictures... no words. And he used all the pieces and lost no limbs! Good job honey!

The directions for assembling the coop were one page of pictures… no words. And he used all the pieces and lost no limbs! Good job honey!

The completed coop

The completed coop

Wordless Wednesday — Maple Sugarbush fest

Wesselman's hosts the annual Maple Sugarbush Festival complete with a pancake breakfast starring Hoosier-made real maple syrup. Miles approved.

Wesselman’s hosts the annual Maple Sugarbush Festival complete with a pancake breakfast starring Hoosier-made real maple syrup. Miles approved.

Thanks to my own affinity for owls Miles has a fondness for the feathered creatures as well. This is Ralene.

Thanks to my own affinity for owls Miles has a fondness for the feathered creatures as well. This is Ralene.

Miles brought his "baby boy owl" Feather to the breakfast. The volunteers noticed his stuffed owl and owl hat that they made sure he got an upclose encounter.

Miles brought his “baby boy owl” Feather to the breakfast. The volunteers noticed his stuffed owl and owl hat that they made sure he got an upclose encounter.

Miles loved his up close and personal introduction to Ralene.

Miles loved his up close and personal introduction to Ralene.

Manic Monday

It’s 5:02 p.m.

How did this happen? I feel like nothing was accomplished today. There were fires, lots and lots of fires, that I stomped out. But actual work, I’m not really sure how much of it I got done.

First there was a mistake in Sunday’s paper. The designers unintentionally cut the last two high schools’ listings from the musical list so there were unhappy schools and disappointed reporter.

E-mails, calls, plan … fire out. I apologized to the offended parties and made a plan to rerun the list.

Speaking of apologies, a few weeks ago a columnist made a joke that someone, obviously easily offended, didn’t take kindly to and wrote a pretty scathing letter “demanding” an apology. Said columnist needed some advice on how to handle the issue and sent off a couple drafts of the follow-up column.

A couple reads, a few more e-mails and a plan is hatched. The original draft while entertaining probably wasn’t appropriate. Don’t poke the bear. A second draft it is.

One of about 8,000 phone calls for issues that I have absolutely nothing to do with come into my phone. This one is from an 87-year-old woman who can’t leave the house and depends on her television watching to pass the hours. She couldn’t understand her TV guide.

Several phone calls to track down who handles the TV guide and with her to try to figure out what her problem is. Eventually we figure out that she was confusing primetime with morning viewing.

Kelly, our entertainment reporter, comes in and her landline phone is kaput. Technically it isn’t a landline phone as they are internet based and, you know, technology is great, when it’s working… And this morning it wasn’t.

I thought a quick call to IT would be the fix. Nope, that’s too simple. No one answers so I send an e-mail explaining there is a problem with the phone. The response is that I need to fill out an electronic ticket that goes out into the great big interwebs.

Four hours later the IT person I originally called is able to fix it by simply plugging something in and hitting a few buttons. But in the meantime I had to respond to no less than five e-mails in this help desk ticket process.

The list of fires goes on… many of them involving cranky individuals making my personal cranky-meter rise with each one — a faulty iPad and poor freelancer who was sitting around waiting for it to work, photos that wouldn’t upload, you get the picture…

It’s one of those days that if I didn’t struggle to maintain a normal blood pressure (unlike most of the world, mine runs super-duper low) I’d be concerned about my head exploding.

I’m anxious to get home even though I’ll be greeted by my crazy 3 year old and currently pretty fussy 5 month old. Even with those challenges that I know are awaiting me, I can’t wait. That crazy 3 year old will jump in my arms and give me a great big hug and kiss and start excitedly screaming all about his day and the cranky, teething babe will give me a drooly smile of relief when I pull him into my arms.

My jaw is unclenching as I type the words…

It’s just another manic Monday.

 

 

Throwback Thursday — snow!

Winter through the years!

Miles first winter in 2011/2012

Winter 2011/12

Winter 2011/12

Then we had 2012/2013

Winter 2012/13

Winter 2012/13

Winter 2012/13

Winter 2012/13

And the winter of 2013/14 was our first back in Southern Indiana

Winter 2013/14

Winter 2013/14

Winter 2014/15

Winter 2013/14

This this winter, 2014/2015, is Owen’s first and our first in our new home! (And yes, Miles has worn the same winter coat for three years in a row, a hand me down no less! What can I see, he’s a little kid!)

10408098_10152758655963434_7055173015335397673_n

Winter 2014/15

Winter 2014/15

Little baby, I implore you, please sleep for more than an hour

Is sleep a four-letter word?

You tell me, I can’t count letters myself; I’m too tired.

But I am pretty sure Owen — now 5 months old — thinks it’s a dirty word. He certainly wants nothing to do with it.

Wide-eyed Owen not wanting to sleep.

Wide-eyed Owen not wanting to sleep.

We went through the newborn weeks like most moms and babies, up every two or three hours each night. That was pretty consistent until about three months. During that time, I learned to function as a zombie, and by the time I went back to work — eight weeks in — I’d gotten pretty good at it.

But then we started having longer stretches of sleep. Every once in awhile even five or six hours at a time. My brain and body took a collective sigh — awesome. This I could handle.
I just started to get that rhythm and then BAM — it all changed again.

What, sleep, NO!

What, sleep, NO!

 

 

Owen has now decided he misses me SO much that he needs to see my smiling face (I try) every hour on the hour throughout the evening. This is not an exaggeration. I may die.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists the causes of sleep deprivation, and it’s not pretty: lack of energy, an inability to focus, forgetfulness, distractibility, attention problems, irritability, anxiety and a lack of physical coordination, among others.

OK, so I might not die. That may have been a bit of an exaggeration. But I can certainly vouch for all of those other symptoms. I’m sure my co-workers, friends and family can too.

Sorry guys.

Thankfully most of the times when the little bugger gets up he’s happy and smiling. We chill in the rocking chair and babble to each other sometimes. Other times I nurse him. Sometimes I try to negotiate with him. Sometimes I beg and plead through tears of exhaustion.

None of it works. He’s still up EVERY SINGLE HOUR.

I’m blessed with a husband who has offered countless times to help. Unfortunately, said hubby wasn’t blessed with the miracle of lactation. And by the time 5:30 rolls around each evening — whether or not I’m home from work yet — Owen is over his daddy and his stupid plastic bottles, and he makes that displeasure well known.

I get that this is a short-lived stage. (It is, right? Oh please let it be. Don’t tell me otherwise, or I might not make it.) I recognize it’s just one of the many sleepless nights to come.
Right now, I’m doing my best to silver line it all — after all, it means there are plenty of extra snuggles with my baby who’s growing up too quickly. But folks, I’m beat.

Finally asleep

Finally asleep

Memories take me ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’

Memories are funny things.

dad and ab

You can be driving home, mindlessly listening to the radio, when … BAM! something out of the blue hits you and reality takes a back seat to whatever time and place you are recalling.

dad 2

Sights, sounds, smells and even tastes can bring these recollections out when you least expect it.

It was sound, specifically music, that recently brought memories of my dad racing throughout my mind. I usually have him somewhere dancing around in the back of my mind, but occasionally those background thoughts become the focus of the moment.

dad and mom

The littlest munchkin, Owen, and I were driving back from a weekend spent sewing at my mom’s house. Talk about memories — the hum of that sewing machine instantly put me back to a Sunday afternoon in my elementary school days as my mom sat in the dining room sewing while my dad watched football. The melodic hum of the machine would often be interrupted by dad’s cheers or colorful language, depending on how the Bears were doing. But that’s another story altogether.twins2

Music was huge in our house. We made a lot of road trips to see out-of-state family, and those trips always included music — mix tapes and CDs, usually. We’d loudly sing along with John Prine, the Beatles or the Indigo Girls. Many of the songs would end up getting slightly modified to suit whatever trip we were taking or whatever else might be happening in our lives at the moment.

The Temptations’ “My Girl” was a favorite of both my dad and his girls — my twin sister and me. He’d sing the chorus, “… Talking ‘bout my girls …” and Sarah and I over him would sing, “… Talking ‘bout my dad, my dad, my dad.”

twins4

So back to this recent drive back to Evansville — of course “My Girl” comes over the radio; I sing my version of it through tears. Happy ones, but tears nonetheless. As soon as I get myself mostly put back together, here comes Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s ukulele cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and the waterworks start back up again. This was the song that played as my dad walked me down the aisle for my wedding.

That’s a good memory. My dad being classically my dad: After the bridesmaids had gone and it was time for us to make our way, he goes down the aisle without me, starting toward his seat to the laughter of the audience — our closest family and friends who had made the trek to Louisiana from Illinois and Indiana. They amusedly directed him back up the aisle to retrieve me.

Good thing that was a long song.

ab dad dance

I treasure those silly memories. Those times in the car when dad would say, “Where’s your microphone?,” and we’d all grab the nearest thing that we could sing into. Or that intimate moment when we finally got ready to go down the aisle and he squeezed me close to him and said, “I’m so proud of you. I love you so much!”

The anniversary of his death, although that phrase is really a cruel one, is Wednesday. It doesn’t take that day for me to think about him because he is really all around me. I hear him in a song. I see him in the eyes of my two boys. I know that without his guiding influence I wouldn’t have the fulfilling professional or personal life I do today because he taught me how to dream big and how to live bigger.

ab and dad

Ultimately, I am my father’s legacy. In some small way, I know that part of him will continue to live on in his grandsons and their grandchildren. I can’t think of any better way to remember him than to keep singing through those happy tears and know that he is proud of me.

ab dad and sarah