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It’s Okay to Ask for Help

Posted on May 14, 2020 in Uncategorized

Every military spouse will tell you that something goes wrong when their spouse deploys. It’s an inevitability. It could be a major appliance breaking – say, an air conditioning unit during a heat wave in your third trimester of pregnancy. It could be a natural disaster – hello, hurricane season! You could have a baby while your husband is on the other side of the world (not a problem, exactly, but not ideal.) Or maybe a snake will take up residence in your living room. Who knows? The fact is we military spouses anticipate these kinds of issues so when they happen, we are somewhat prepared to handle them.

Why yes, yes I do.

I’m pretty confident that no military spouse anticipated a global pandemic. And while I can’t speak for everyone, I most definitely was not prepared for this.

Let me back up. Nine months ago, I had my third baby, Kate. My husband, a Naval aviator, was at sea. He was able to return home the day before the birth and stay for a few days before returning to his squadron. My mom stayed a couple of weeks before returning to her home. And then I found myself alone with three kids – a 7-year-old, 5-year-old, and a newborn. I knew it was temporary – my husband would be returning in several weeks – but still, I cried the day my mom left. I wasn’t overwhelmed yet, but I knew I would be.

My first outing alone with all three was a weekend swim meet. It was a lovely Virginia summer day – about 95 degrees with 100% humidity. I schlepped a swim bag, diaper bag, cooler, stroller + car seat, beach chairs, and a TENT into the pool to set up camp for the morning. I gracelessly popped open the tent, placed the sleeping baby inside, and applied sunscreen to the older kids. I was trying to shove breakfast down their throats while figuring out their events when a woman I had never met, Monica, offered to help.

This woman, this saint, happened to be a postpartum nurse at the hospital I had just delivered Kate. Monica held and rocked Kate and even changed a blowout diaper so I could watch the older kids swim. Another friend loaned me money when I realized I had forgotten cash for the concession stand (because of course I did.) A few more friends watched my oldest when I had to take the baby home. This was the first instance my village rallied around me while my husband was gone, but it certainly wasn’t the last.

That summer and fall my friends and neighbors generously offered me help at every turn. And I readily accepted it. Here’s the thing – I am not a woman who needs to look like I have it all together. Nobody sees me and thinks, “Wow! How does she do it?” And that’s okay! I have three kids and I work from home and my husband is gone for weeks and months at a time. I shouldn’t have it all together! And while I accepted the much-needed offers of help – meals, childcare, snake removal, etc. – I always felt slightly uncomfortable doing so. After talking with many women about this, I know I’m not alone in my reluctance to accept help. We don’t want to seem needy; we don’t want to inconvenience anyone; we don’t want to be a burden. We don’t want to be… human?

It sounds silly but it took practice for me to respond to offers of help with a resolute, “Yes. Thank you. I would appreciate that,” without hemming and hawing or promising to return the favor soon. It took even more practice (and a good dose of humility) to go ahead and ask for what I needed instead of waiting for someone to offer. I’m glad I honed those skills last year because they have been critical during quarantine.

We all have burdens to bear during this time. Every single one of us. Mine happens to be caring for three children, in isolation, solo. It ain’t great, folks. I don’t know that I have ever felt as isolated or lonely as I did those first few weeks of the lockdown. (Ironic, I know, since I was literally never alone.) But once again, my village showed up. I’ve been brought to tears many times at the numerous ways people have encouraged and supported me in whatever ways they can. And yes, I’ve had to swallow my pride and ask for help. Without my spouse or school or childcare, I can’t go to the grocery store, so I’ve asked people to shop for me when delivery falls through. I’ve asked for help fixing my daughter’s broken bike because… what’s an Allen Wrench? I’ve asked to borrow books for my son and I’ve asked women I’ve never met to arrange Zoom playdates with their daughters and mine. Some of these are big things, some are small, but they’re all necessary in these unprecedented times.

I hope I can help, too! I may not be able to cook a new mom a meal, but I can order delivery to her home. I can drop off flowers or treats to neighbors to try to brighten their day, because who couldn’t use a little cheer right now? And if a friend needs a mental health check, I can be available for a chat. If you’re reading this know you can reach out to me and I’ll gladly help in any way I can.  

While some of us are starting to emerge from lockdowns, some of us are still in the thick of it. As we gradually adjust to our new normal, I hope we can all give ourselves some grace, swallow our pride, and admit when we need help – pandemic or not. It’s okay to ask, and it’s a blessing to receive.

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2019 Year in Books

Posted on Jan 1, 2020 in Uncategorized

2019 Year in Books 0

I read 52 books this year, including the chapter books I read with my daughter. Not too shabby for having an infant, if I do say so myself. Loved them or hated them, they’re all here. As with last year, these are (generally) very brief, incomplete thoughts. But if you need some recommendations for good reads in 2020 (or want to avoid some bad ones), I hope this list will help. I’m always up for discussing books, so please let me know your thoughts! 1-7) The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis I read this series with my daughter throughout the year. Here’s how I rank them: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Easily my favorite. It was wonderful re-reading and discovering the magic of this story with my daughter. I read this when I was five or six (Elisabeth was seven when we read this) and I still remember hoping that if I found the right wardrobe, perhaps a hidden door somewhere, I would discover my own Narnia. Voyage of the Dawn TreaderThe Magician’s NephewThe Silver Chair: I might have ranked this lower but for Puddleglum, my favorite character in the entire series. He is delightful. Prince CaspianThe Last BattleThe Horse and His Boy: Hated this. I thought the dialogue was far too complex for a child; I had to constantly stop and explain the plot to my daughter. I know many people will disagree with me, but I would have been completely fine had this not been included in the series. 8) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier This was a re-read for me, but I had forgotten pretty much everything about this book, including that the opening line is one of the most famous in literature. Whoops! I also forgot how much crazy is in this book. I mean, whoa there’s a lot of crazy. But there’s a reason this book has never gone out of print –it’s a dark, tense psychological thriller that kept me engrossed, even though nearly every character is just awful (because they’re all psycho). 9) Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies...

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How to Headbutt (According to a Toddler)

Posted on Jan 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

How to Headbutt (According to a Toddler) 0

James here. It’s been awhile since I’ve made an appearance on this blog, but I’ve been working on my headbutts lately and I think I’ve really perfected my technique. I’m here now because I want to share my skills with you. It just doesn’t feel right to keep this knowledge from my other toddler friends looking to fight the man. Or the mom. You know when your mom is all up in your face, trying to snuggle and smother you with kisses and you’re just like, “WOMAN, I NEED MY SPACE!” but you can’t quite talk yet? (I like my snuggles when I like my snuggles, okay?. Usually around 2:30 AM. Get over it.) Or maybe you’re happily coloring on the walls, expressing yourself, and your mom tries to take away your Sharpies. Or, like, you’re scaling up bookshelves and your mom decides she needs to remove you. I know you have so many things you want to say to her that you just can’t. Well, the headbutt is the perfect form of nonverbal communication to get your point across.  And there are so many ways to do it! These are my top three favorite. I hope you find them useful. 1) The Head-to-Head Headbutt: This is the classic headbutt. Simple, but powerful. Say your mom is all up in your grill – and you are NOT having that – this is the fastest way to get her to back off. First, as she nuzzles up in your face flash her your cutest smile. That way she won’t know what’s coming. You want the element of surprise here. Then quickly – speed is key – arch your neck back and WA-BAM! Connect your forehead to hers in one swift movement. The best part of this headbutt is that it will totally stun her, but won’t hurt you a bit. I can’t explain why. Just God’s gift to toddlers, I suppose. 2) The Backwards-Butt: This one is a little more tricky, because you’re usually attacking from a defensive position. Like if your mom tries to get you out of the bath...

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GIVEAWAY: Origami Owl

Posted on Feb 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

GIVEAWAY: Origami Owl 3

Hey Friends. Guess what? It snowed today. A lot.  Actually, it’s still snowing.  All the good parents of Atsugi took their kids out to play in the winter wonderland, while I was like, “Sorry, Kid.  It’s too damn cold.”  I enjoyed an indoor day, warm and dry, while – miracle of all miracles – Elisabeth napped for THREE HOURS.  I think I win this snow day. I’m guessing my U.S. readers know something about cold right now. Except the Californians. I hate you guys sometimes. But for everyone else who is stuck in freezing misery, I have something that might lift your spirits.  Free stuff! That’s right – I’m doing my first giveaway!  My friend Michelle is an independent designer for the jewelry line Origami Owl.  She has graciously offered one of my readers the beautiful silver locket pictured below. Perfect for Valentine’s Day, right?! Ok, given that it’s already February 8th, you probably won’t receive it by Valentine’s day, but perfect for adding a little cheer into this endless, dreadful winter, right?! Mommas, this can be a well-deserved gift to yourself.  Fellas, this could be a belated Valentine’s day gift after you either forget/screw up the actual gift you give your lady.  Either way, anyone can and should enter by doing the following. 1) “Like” My Kid Stole My Cool on Facebook 2) Follow @DianaLoveless1 on Twitter  (Yes I tweet.  I can hardly believe it myself.) 3) “Like” Michelle’s Origami Owl page on Facebook 4) Comment directly on this blog post telling me the best Valentine’s Day gift is you’ve ever been given.  Uh, I can’t actually answer that, so feel free to tell me the worst Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever been given. Or gifted to someone else! That’s much more fun… Each of the above will get you one entry, meaning you have the chance to enter multiple times!  And if you want to check out more of Michelle’s merchandise, check out her website! The winner will be announced on February 14th.  Good luck!   P.S. Damon eventually took Elisabeth out in the snow so she...

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How to Embarrass Yourself: The Fitness Instructor Edition

Posted on May 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

How to Embarrass Yourself: The Fitness Instructor Edition 4

Several months ago I got my group fitness certification.  The sole reason I got this group fitness certification was so that I could instruct a stroller fitness class on base.  Stroller Strides this is not, but it’s better than nothing. I started teaching back in March.  And all of a sudden I had this new identity.  I was no longer just a Stay-At-Home Mom or Navy Wife or Blogger Extraordinaire or whatever else you fine readers think of me.  I was now a Fitness Instructor. Every Monday and Friday morning my fellow moms and I gather at a park, let our children run around unsupervised while we lunge and squat and crunch and whatnot, and I channel my inner Jillian Michaels and shout at them all to, “PUSH THROUGH THE PAIN!” Not really.  I’m not that intense. Here’s the thing.  I don’t look like a legit fitness instructor.*  Well, unless your fitness instructors eat ice cream every night.  Then maybe I look like a fitness instructor.  But you know who I’m talking about – the fitness instructors with -5% body fat that walk around wearing booty shorts showing off their insanely muscular thighs while drinking protein shakes and talking about how many reps they just did.  I don’t look like that kind of fitness instructor.  I don’t even own booty shorts. So if I can’t look the part, I should act the part, right?  Try to be a paragon of healthy, fit living so I’m not a total charlatan?  Sure. Right. But that’s just not me.  The other night I was shopping at the mini-mart on base.  And who did I run into but a woman who had just started coming to my class.  This was only my third time meeting her.  The first was at stroller class, the second was at Booze Fest 2013 Book Club, and then this time, at the mini-mart.  And what was I buying? In case the picture is hard to make out, that’s three bottles of wine, a bag of chips, and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  And that, my friends, is...

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My Beijing “Vacation”

Posted on Apr 10, 2013 in Travel Traumas, Uncategorized

My Beijing “Vacation” 3

How do you define a vacation? For Damon, vacation means he is on official leave.  Time and place don’t matter. For me, vacation means I’m lying by the beach/pool/someplace warm with trashy magazine an intellectual book in one hand and an adult beverage in the other.  Preferably one with an umbrella in it. So when Damon got home from work on Wednesday evening (the night before we left for Beijing) and exclaimed, “We’re on vacation!” I had to disagree with him. Unless he was going to fold two loads of laundry and pack five days worth of clothes, extra clothes, diapers, wipes, medicine, portable snacks, and toddler entertainment, we were certainly not on vacation. Though I don’t agree with Damon’s mentality, I understand it.  When I had a paying job, vacation meant time off that job and usually travel somewhere to enjoy that time off.  But since my job now is rearing a child, I’m not technically on vacation until I am away from my child.  Which is pretty much never. So while our trip to Beijing was a truly great trip (despite my lack of planning), I wouldn’t call it a vacation. Because to me, a vacation is not: -Getting practically cavity searched at the airport because you’ve packed baby food pouches in your carry on. (That didn’t actually happen on this trip, but it has in the past.) -Flying on a several hour flight with a sweaty toddler attached to your chest. -Washing poopy onesies out by hand in your hotel bathroom’s sink -Waking every morning between 3:45-4:45AM because your baby will only go back to sleep if she is sharing your twin bed with you, squeezing your face, neck, chest and arm fat until your entire upper body is numb.  (But not your husband, who sleeps comfortably in the other twin bed, oblivious to the arm-fat squeezing happening to you a few feet away.) -Eating in mediocre restaurants that your tour company has pre-arranged. -Anxiety that your family is going to be killed because the van you’re riding in has no seatbelts and the driver likes...

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