The Importance of Dads

Last night, Nick and I gave Damon his “big” Christmas gift… a few days early, yes. Because he already pretty much knew that his big gift was a new 12-gauge shotgun that he’d been asking for. And he asked Nick if they could go duck hunting this morning… and Nick was like “wellll, it would be nice if he had his new gun to take hunting…” So we decided that it probably wouldn’t totally ruin Damon’s Christmas if he got his “big” gift early.

So, anyway, we gave him this gun. And I’m sitting on my bed watching this scene unfold… Damon and Nick are standing at the foot of my bed, taking this gun out of its box and putting it together, and Damon’s getting it all figured out. The safety… and various other things that I don’t even know enough about to describe to you. But this kid of mine? Oh, he knows. He’s handling this weapon, that is like a foreign object to me, and I realize, “he actually knows what he’s doing with that thing!”

And then it hits me, right in the center of my heart (not necessarily in a bad way), that I had nothing to do with THAT. That half of the person Damon is, it didn’t come from me. I certainly didn’t teach him about guns and gun safety and hunting and where to shoot various animals and what to do with them afterward. I also didn’t teach him how to shoot a bow… or how to drive and work on a four-wheeler… or how to hit a baseball. So much of the person that Damon is came from his dad, clearly. And the same can be said for Avery.

I really can’t even begin to imagine what these children would be like, who they would be, without Nick’s influence, without him being here, present in their lives, every single day. I’m incredibly grateful that my children have a hands-on dad who loves them and guides them and has such a huge impact on the people they are becoming. Looking at Nick and Damon, fiddling with his gun, last night, I was so overcome with pride… not just for Damon but for his dad, my husband. I doubt if he gives himself enough credit for the role he plays in our kids’ lives and realizes just how much he means to them, and how much that means to ME.

So this is my shout-out… to Nick and to all the dads out there who are present in their kids’ lives and making a difference, every day.

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Posted in Damon, family, kids, motherhood, Nickolas | Leave a comment

Christmas Break, Day One

Today was Damon and Avery’s first day of Christmas Break. And I’m a little sad that I no longer drink, because if I did, I’d be hitting the bottle hard tonight. lol

Nick and I both had to work today… so our lovelies were home on their own until I got home this evening. So, I made sure I had the ringer on my phone turned up while I was at work, just in case they needed me. Uhhh, apparently they needed me… a lot. I’m pretty sure my co-workers were just as annoyed as I was after hearing my phone BLOWING UP all day.

First it was Avery calling, whining, because Damon wouldn’t get off of her computer and out of her room (where the computer is). So I tell Avery, “let me talk to your brother.” She yells for him and I hear him scream back, “NO!” No?? But, wait, I’m an hour away at work, so what the heck am I supposed to do about this refusal exactly? So I pull out the low Mom-means-business voice and say, “you tell your brother to come to the phone NOW… or he’s gonna be in BIG TROUBLE.” (Co-workers are definitely snickering now, and I can’t blame them one bit… I’m even cringing on the inside as I hear these words come out of my mouth.) So Damon finally comes to the phone and gives me attitude and pretty much hangs up on me. Again, GASP. And, again, what the heck am I supposed to do about it??

Then, a few phone calls later, I hear Avery’s voice on the end of the line again… and this is our conversation:

Avery: Mom… do you still use your hair straightener?

Me: Uhhh… yes. Why?

Avery: Wellll… you might wanna think about getting another one.

Me: What did you do, Avery??

Avery: Wellll… my Barbie’s hair was kind of messed up and lumpy…

Me: Oh my God… (and aside to my co-worker Natalie) Wait until you hear this one!

Avery: Soooo… I tried to use the straightener on her hair, and it kind of… STUCK to it.

Me: So, basically, you melted Barbie hair on my straightener??

Avery: Yes.

Me: Okay, Avery. Do me a favor and don’t use any more electrical devices until I get home, okay??

I mean, seriously… WHAT is a mom supposed to do at this point?

So, I called their dad and asked him to call and check on them, to make sure they were still alive and had their hair… because I was genuinely concerned but couldn’t deal with calling myself and talking to either one of them… AGAIN.

And this is just Day One of a 3-week vacation??? Lord help me.

Posted in Avery, Damon, kids, motherhood | Leave a comment

Comparison

I took a picture of the kids standing by the Christmas tree as they were decorating yesterday… and, even though I see them EVERY day, even I was amazed by how huge they looked. So I thought it would be fun to hunt for some older “decorating-the-tree” pics from years past and see how they compare.

Though this first one is not a decorating pic, it was the kids modeling the Christmas outfits that my Granny sent them… so it was around the same time as tree decorating!

Xmas 2005 (Avery 1, Damon 4):

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Xmas 2006 (Avery 2, Damon 5):

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Xmas 2007 (Avery 3, Damon 6):

2007 (2)

Xmas 2008 (Avery 4, Damon 7):

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(I don’t know what happened to Xmas 2009! lol)

Xmas 2010 (Avery 6, Damon 9):

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Apparently I didn’t get any pics of them together the next two years…

Xmas 2011 (Avery 7):

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Xmas 2012 (Avery 8):

2012

And Xmas 2013 (Avery 9, Damon 12):

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Ummm… How does that happen exactly??

Now I’m on the hunt for even OLDER decorating pics! (Post updated to include older pics!)

Posted in Damon and Avery, Holidays, kids, Looking back, pictures | 1 Comment

Witschey Christmas Tree, the 2013 edition

My husband is a funny kind of person. Most people who know him, or think they do, would never imagine that hiding under that cool, redneck, “I-don’t-give-a-f***” exterior is a meticulous, OCD, control freak. But if you’ve seen him decorate a Christmas tree… or *gulp* tried to HELP him decorate a tree?? Oh, you know.

I guess it was Christmas of 2001, when Damon was just under a year old, and Nick and I moved into our very own trailer paradise in Laurel, Delaware, that we found ourselves broke as a joke, with no Christmas “stuff.” So, we found a tree on sale for $19.99 at Rite Aid and stocked up on $1 ornaments/trimmings from the Dollar Store… and I got my first glimpse of his OCD when it came to putting up that tree. (Luckily for him/us, I’m perfectly happy to sit back let him work his magic when the OCD surfaces! It might be one of the only reasons we’re still married today.) But, the end result was pretty amazing… especially for a $20 tree and cheap, plastic $1 ornaments!!

Fast forward several years, to when we now have two young children and a couple of destructive dogs… and suddenly, the beautiful Christmas tree was really not that important to me. For the last many Christmases, I’ve set the tree up (which became much easier a few years ago when we finally bought a bigger, pre-lit tree!) and then let the kids have their way with it. They throw the ornaments on there, randomly, usually lumped together in one or two places… and we call it done. It’s “their” Christmas, after all, right?

So my plan this year was pretty much the same… set it up, let the kids decorate it while I sit back and watch The Grinch. But yesterday evening, while this was happening, I was sitting on the couch looking at what our tree was becoming… and I was getting more and more depressed. (Blame it on hormones… they’re powerful, annoying things for a mom skating dangerously close to a mid-life crisis!) Nick came upstairs from the garage, where he’d been working on his truck all evening, covered in grease and grime and muck… and I was pouting and said, “I want a pretty tree.” *pout* Nick said, “Okay… let’s go to the store. We need beads and bows and…” So off we went in search of more tree trimmings.

Then we came home and the Tree Magician went to work. I wish I had taken video… he was screaming and hollering at the kids for not placing the ornaments EXACTLY where they should go (you know, there’s a science to this… smallest ornaments at the top, progressively getting larger as you move DOWN the tree… I had no idea that this was a thing, prior to Christmas 2001).

I did, however, snap a picture in the middle of one of his more exasperated moments… poor Avery! lol

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Make sure you put that candy cane in the PERFECT spot, Witschey!

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Damon even helped out some… before exhaustion won out and he took to his bed, at around 1am.

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And once the ornaments are hung, then it’s time for the beads. Oh, those darn beads. Avery was Daddy’s helper, following behind him as he walked circles around the tree, placing the beads.

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After the beads, we have bows and bells and pinecones… to fill in the “holes.” Oh, and the tree skirt! Can’t forget the tree skirt. I had to dig through the mountain of dirty laundry downstairs to FIND said tree skirt… because last year, when we were taking the tree down and packing it up for the year, I left it out to wash it. And, ummm, just got around to doing that last night. But finally, the CLEAN tree skirt made its way under the tree. My mom made this skirt for us in 2001, when there were only three names, and then added Avery to it a few years later. It’s a little small for our tree now (because our first tree was much skinnier at the base), but I still love it!

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Oh, and at some point, even Avery had had enough. She and the dogs were looking like this by 2am…

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Finally, at 2:30am, the Tree Master deemed it done. Well, almost done… we forgot to buy the candy canes (can’t have a tree without candy canes!!). So we’ll be adding those one of these days, I’m sure. But it’s mostly done. And it’s gorgeous… just like I knew it would be.

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In fact, I think it’s our best tree yet! (Even though Nick is still not happy with it. He was sitting on the couch this morning, shaking his head, pointing out “holes” and noting where he went wrong with the bead placement. OCD. Seriously OCD, people.)

Mostly, aside from loving our beautiful tree, I’m grateful that my husband knows me and respects my hormonal mood swings well enough to humor me, at any time of the night. Mid-life crisis postponed at least one more day. ;)

Posted in family, Holidays, Nickolas, pictures | 2 Comments

On selfishness, forgiveness, healing, gratitude and looking ahead!

As this year comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the last 12 months. To be perfectly honest, 2013 was an extremely tough year for me, personally, for reasons that I won’t state publicly.

A part of me feels like I owe an apology to family members and friends for maybe not being as “available” as I should have been, as they expected or wanted me to be. But, quite honestly, the bigger part of me realizes that everything I’ve done, or haven’t done, in the last year was important for my own sanity and wellbeing. Yes, I’ve been quite selfish and have put my needs before others… I feel like I’ve done that a lot lately, a lot more than I’m maybe comfortable with. I’m sure I’ve upset people, as a result.

I am truly sorry for upsetting anyone, whether it be my children, parents, grandparents, in-laws, or even neighbors and friends. I never intentionally set out to hurt or piss off or treat anyone unfairly. If I’ve been selfish at times, it was because I needed to be, not because I’m a hateful, horrible, uncaring person who doesn’t think of or consider others. So while I hate the idea of hurting anyone unintentionally, I can’t apologize for trying to take care of myself in the bargain.

People talk a lot about forgiveness. I talk and think A LOT about forgiveness these days. I think it’s one of those things that is easy to talk about in the abstract, and not quite so easy to practice in your everyday life. I’m trying, very hard, to practice forgiving those who have wronged me, in various ways. I hope those who feel wronged by me, in any way, will extend the same mercy.

And I truly hope that, by this time next year, I feel more like myself and that some of these broken pieces will be put back together. To those who have stood by me this last year and supported me when I needed you, in any small way… I can’t express how grateful I am, for all of you, for what you’ve meant to me and how you’ve helped pick me up on especially bad days.

I’m really not at all sad that 2013 is almost over; I’m ready to put it behind me and am looking forward to a bigger and brighter 2014!

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Back to “Normal”

A little over two years  ago (November 8, 2011 to be exact), I ventured back out into the working world. After working from home for 12 years and seeing my kids through diapers, sleepless nights, first steps, Nickelodeon on the TV 24/7, more sicknesses than I can count, first days of school, etc., it was time. And I found a perfect job for me, not too far from my small town in West Virginia, which was very surprising… not a huge demand for editor types who are obsessed with commas around here!

So when I was offered a job as a legal proofreader, on third shift, I didn’t hesitate to accept it. I knew the third shift thing would take some getting used to, but I’ve always been a night owl, and it actually worked BETTER than a first shift position would have, because I didn’t have to worry about before/after care for my kids… or who would watch them during Christmas Break or when they got sick, etc. Nick and I would be able to tag-team parent with our opposite work schedules… I would still see my family in the evenings, I’d just sleep while they were at work/school and I’d work while they slept. Sounded pretty perfect, actually.

Well, it was far from perfect. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was a nightmare. And even though there ARE some conveniences to working third shift, it was in no way worth it for me. The cons absolutely outweighed the pros. For almost two years, I was a walking zombie. Sleeping during the day is just not natural, and I was never able to sleep for more than 2-3 hours in one stretch. When I wasn’t at work, I had no time for anything other than TRYING to sleep (and failing most of the time). I was tired and grumpy and became a horrible mother, wife, friend, etc. When the weekend came, I spent more than half of it unconscious, trying to catch up on the sleep I missed out on all week. And my relationships suffered, all of them. Looking back, I feel like I really lost myself on third shift in many ways.

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to switch my schedule to first shift. An EARLY first shift even… so I now get home from work at the same time my kids are getting home from school. And Nick goes to work later than I do, so he’s able to get the kids up and off to school every day. So we’re still doing the tag-team parenting thing, but now, I’m back in a normal rhythm… sleeping at night when it’s actually dark, next to my snoring husband; spending an evening with my family, not consumed with squeezing in an extra hour of sleep before I head to work for the night; enjoying and appreciating sunlight that comes through the window during the day, instead of cursing it.

I can’t even express what a difference this has made. And how grateful I am that that period in my life, my time as a third shifter, is a thing of the past. I have promised myself, and my family, that I will never put myself, or them, through that again. If it’s a choice between being unemployed and working nights, I will gladly clip coupons, turn off our cable, or sell an organ before I will go back there, to that dark place and that dark version of myself. If I had known two years ago what I was getting into, I wouldn’t have been so quick and excited to accept that position. I look at it now as a learning experience… a very painful one that I’m glad we all survived and thankfully don’t have to live with anymore.

 

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‘Tis the Season

Every year I look forward to this holiday season. And I have big plans, every year, to REALLY get “into” it and make it a special holiday season for my family… and for me. And every year I kind of fail in this department. I’m not a very festive person… probably because I’m a very lazy person. And although the dozens of Christmas Crafts that I pin on Pinterest look fabulous, I don’t actually follow through with many (any?) of them.

It’s funny how the holiday season changes for a person as you get older. Of course it’s magical, and the best thing ever, when you’re a kid and everything you ever dreamed of appears under the Christmas tree on December 25th. And then you get a little older and realize it’s really NOT magic, but still, lots of things you dream of still end up under the tree, anyway. And at some point GIVING replaces receiving, and then the magic happens when you find that perfect gift for someone (or several someones). Then maybe you become a parent and Christmas becomes ALL about creating the magic for your children… suddenly you don’t buy for other family members, or even for your spouse. Every spare cent and ounce of creative energy goes to making sure your kids have The Best Christmas Ever, because you feel like that’s all you can do. Christmas is nice at this point (mostly nice for your kids), but something seems missing. Christmas becomes very anti-climactic and more of a hassle (and a drain on your bank account) than anything.

So, that’s the stage I’ve reached. Nick and I have never really exchanged Christmas gifts. And we don’t usually buy for our parents or siblings or friends. And our kids don’t buy gifts for… anyone. They’re all about receiving. And that’s 100% our fault because that’s what their Christmas has been about for the last 13/10 years, at our direction.

This year, my big goal for the holiday season is to introduce my kids to the magic of giving AND receiving. We’re going to actually EXCHANGE gifts this year, with each other and hopefully with others we love. Of course, I also hope to address more of the spirit of Christmas and the meaning behind it and that it’s not ALL about gifts. And maybe I’ll actually work on some of those Christmas Crafts that I’ve been pinning on Pinterest, too.

Christmas CAN still be magical. I’m sure of it.

Posted in Holidays | 1 Comment