Friday, October 15, 2010

7 Weeks

Yesterday I had a sick kid home with me and it reminded me how very quickly I’ve adapted to my daytime freedom. Maybe freedom is the wrong word because I haven’t been trapped or kept against my will exactly; I’m talking about walking to the grocery store when I need to pick something up for dinner, running both necessary and elective errands, do-it-yourself projects of all kinds, volunteering at school several times a week, running downtown for my internship to show my “boss” what I’ve designed for a promotional piece. And maybe more than anything a certain peacefulness of doing these things without that sound of a clock ticking in my head telling me that I have to hurry or I should get home, I’ve been gone too long… freedom to move about the cabin instead of a certain “buckled in” feeling.

On one hand this feels great and on the other hand, it feels wrong that I’m not buckled to anything (or anyone). I don’t have such a clear purpose as I move about this new lifestyle. The kids have been in school for 7 weeks. I thought it was only 6 but I checked and it’s 7. I like the sound of 6 better – it seems like a reasonable amount of time to be free but 7 is getting into a very grey area. I like the idea of grey for my next painting project but I’m hoping for something brighter in the weeks to come.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Courage 101


I had been pondering how I want to document last week here at Coloring Life Inside the Lines with Libby starting Kindergarten and the transition to a new school for both kids and then I had a thought, why? Can I be completely annoying and just ask if anyone is even reading these musings of mine? I think there are a couple of you so I’ll continue if only this one more time…


You know that question, What do you wish for your kids and the answer, I only want them to be happy? Yeah, I get it and I want that too but last week I realized what I really hope for my kids is to be courageous; courageous to be themselves, to try things, to do the right thing, to do the hard thing. I’m thinking happiness comes from courage really. So, school started last week and everyone was so freaking courageous that I don’t quite know what to do with my residual worry and fret.

Except for one fleeting moment of doubt putting him to bed last Sunday evening, Isaac didn’t miss a beat. Even Monday morning when none of us knew exactly which corner was our bus stop thanks to an odd street that doesn’t go through and a bus that came 20 minutes late, he wasn’t even anxious. At his age I would have been a wreck in that situation and my mother would have had to get on the bus with a traumatized me. Not these 10 kids at our stop. They didn’t bother to even check where the bus was headed before jumping on. But of course I did. And the first thing Isaac said when he got off the bus that afternoon was how much he was going to like his teacher. It was almost too easy. This kid didn’t even need courage he’s so courageous.

Libby started Kindergarten on Wednesday and was so happy to be at the bus stop as a student and not just the little sister, that she smiled for pictures and climbed aboard the not-quite-so-late bus like a champ. Wow. Kramer and I had time to walk to school to meet her as she arrived and again, big smiles. We got her to her class and she made herself right at home. I was the only one who shed any tears and only after I was a safe distance from school. I cried because while great stuff is beginning and I couldn’t have asked for a better start to this new year and new school, it is an ending as well.

I am no longer a mom who stays home with my young children. In two months or two years, I’m not sure how this is all going to look. I’m trying to give myself some time to check lots of things off my list while I have only myself as company all day. I de-yucked the blades of the ceiling fans, cleaned and re-arranged cupboards and picked out some new paint colors for a few rooms last week. So, tomorrow I do some more closet organizing, junk down-sizing and some paint applying and know that when the time comes, I’ll find my way with some of this courage that seems in great supply around here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer, Good; Fall, Frightening

Oh how I’ve been enjoying this summer full of summery things like the pool, outdoor eating, lakes, ice cream, hanging out in back yards past dark and past reasonable bedtimes. We’ve put on a lot of biking miles and taken an ill-fated canoe voyage. We’re going camping this weekend with friends and we haven’t even had the pleasure of our family vacation to Camp Olson yet. Having a 5 and 7 year old feels like a new kind of freedom – freedom to have actual fun instead of what we used to call fun but was really just leaving the house with a plan and playing the odds that we would all have the stamina to make it back. So, it’s been a rather dreamy summer and yet I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have my late July jitters.

Yes, the calendar says it’s late July and that means we’re at 1 month before school starts and life as we know it changes. I have been churning in my mind and my gut the reality of Libby starting Kindergarten and both of them going to a new school because even though she never attended Armatage, it was her future school and she has felt the loss too. Last year it was so nice to send Isaac off on the first day knowing he knew his way around, he’d have Max to sit with on the bus and there would be plenty of familiar kids and adults to greet him by name. But now we’re back to crappy square one. At least we’re there with lots of other families we know but it is still starting over and not exactly on the right foot after an unfortunate “shadow day” at the end of last year that went a bit awry. I have been afraid to talk about school supplies for fear of reminding them that the first day of school means the first day at the new school.

And then there’s me. My stay-home-mom status ends in a month as far as I’m concerned. My status becomes: unemployed. I know lots of moms stay home when their children are in school all day and yet for me, Libby starting Kindergarten means that my time is up. One of Isaac’s friends’ mom who still has a preschooler was saying how great it will be when I have both kids at school and how much I’ll get done. She mentioned looking forward to scrapbooking when her youngest flies the coop. Really? I’m thinking more about retirement funds that haven't seen any action in 5+ years than my photo albums. As Kramer and Snoop Doggy Dog would say... time to get me a jobby job.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Now We're Cooking


If you ask me if I like to cook I’d say, Sure* (note the asterisk). I don’t think of myself as doing a lot of cooking but instead, I make a lot of meals. Here’s the difference and where the asterisk comes in, when I cook for my family it’s when I’ve thought about what to serve and what I’ll need and what should be done ahead of time. Cooking is when I’ve got my act together and I truly enjoy turning basic ingredients and seasonings into something lovely. However, most nights I make meals. They are made with just enough love to be healthy and well balanced (assuming frozen veggies count), but I do it because I have to and I often find myself standing in front of the pantry at 5 o'clock wondering what substitutes for pasta in a pasta dish – I’m not prepared and therefore unenthusiastic about this huge responsibility, feeding ones family.

And the daily meal making (or cooking if you are one of those people I hate just a little) feels sometimes like an even bigger responsibility - like all of mankind kind of responsibility. I’ve allowed myself to learn just enough about what really needs to change in our food production to not panic and build a chicken coop in my yard but be informed enough to make the best choices. We are eating a lot less meat so that when we do eat meat, it’s the kind I can feel good about for my kids, the sacrificed animals and the earth itself. We did the CSA thing (Community Supported Agriculture) last summer, but I was overwhelmed and ended up throwing so much food away that the point was moot it seemed. I don’t know about you cooks out there but I can’t incorporate green pepper and eggplant into breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks on end. Yuck. So, the kids and I are committing to visit the farmers markets in our area and get the amount of food we can use in a week.

Two nights ago I cooked the meal pictured. The kids and I had been to the farmer’s market that day and I had a new recipe in mind so I found what I’d need all fresh and feel-goody because the veggies where grown here and not transported thousands of miles, wrapped in plastic and sprayed with poison. Nice. It was a simple and pretty vegetarian meal that everyone gobbled up. It was a pleasure to feed my family that evening, but the thing is, the evenings just keep coming one after the other so I’ll continue to mostly make meals that I can feel okay about and do some real cooking with the best summer harvests coming soon!

P.S. I don't normally photograph our meals but I knew I wanted to write about feeding my family

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Negotiations

It’s difficult to know sometimes where to set the expectation bar with my young children. I have to remind myself from time to time to give them a little space – space to do the right thing before I step in, sensing exactly where a situation is headed. And even giving them the space to flat-out screw up and learn the lessons of growing up. As they’ve gotten older there are more and more situations where Isaac and Libby are playing and keeping a certain distance from the listening ears and watchful eyes of the adults. If I were a fly on the wall on these occasions, would I be okay with what I see and hear or would I have to start buzzing in their faces for lack of other means to run interference? I’m guessing a little of both.

We were at a friend’s home with a few other families and when it was time to leave, both my kids had stuffed animals in hand that didn’t belong to them. I, of course, instructed them to put the toys away as we were ready to head home. They assured me that our hosts’ daughter had “given” them the toys. Hummm? I gave them my raised eyebrow, skeptical look but my friend told me not to worry about it and seemed happy to see her daughter’s junk leaving with us. Walking home, I asked Isaac who is getting more and more sophisticated at knowing when to keep his mouth shut what the deal was and he just shrugged. While I was tucking Libby in, I pushed her as to why her friend had given them the toys and she told me that two of the girls at the gathering had wanted to be left alone “to talk” and wanted my two out of their hair (I’m paraphrasing) so they basically bribed my kids with stuffed animals to leave. I was puzzled at how to react to this one.

Of course my first thought was, oh great, my kids are pests even among their peers. My second thought, they should have graciously excused themselves so they girls could have the privacy they had requested without needing to be asked twice much less leaving with loot. And finally, I realized that in their own weird way they had all done what I’ve asked them to do countless times, they worked it out. No one had gotten into an argument, hurt anyone’s feelings or come to file a complaint with the adults; the kids negotiated an arrangement that worked for everyone. I can’t really say I was proud, but I was satisfied.

After all, just today I used t.v. time as leverage to get rooms picked up and the promise of banana chocolate chip muffins to make asparagus more palatable. So, what should I expect… set the bar high and hope there comes a time when ones children figure out that the reward isn’t a toy or a muffin but the integrity of making good and thoughtful choices.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Where Am I?

I’ve had a weird, existential day. While Libby was at pre-school I watched Dirty Dancing… yes, that’s right, I spent my morning indulging in the 1987 movie magic that is Dirty Dancing and LOVING every minute of it! I didn’t intend to curl up with the laptop but I was looking for something else on Hulu.com and there it was – absolutely irresistible. It’s still awesome by the way but it really messed with my head. I painfully realized I now relate more to the well-intentioned, misguided father than the young, life-is-your-oyster, wrinkle-free Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman. What a bummer.

I also happen to be reading a memoir called, “The Gift of An Ordinary Day” and I’m getting a little tired of the author finding grace and deep meaning in every bird and breeze that crosses her path, every disagreement she has with her teenage son. She’s hammering home her journey to live simpler and let go of her tight hold as she approaches her life as an empty nester. Ugh.

So, I’m here. At 37 with fairly young children, I’m most certainly not the teenager I was, swooning over a scrumptious forbidden summer romance with Johnny Castle nor am I the mother of grown children finding new meaning in a quiet, empty house. I was very short with my family today because I guess this goofy mix of perspectives made me quite introspective and I felt stuck and maybe even a little depressed for some dumb reason. Maybe because my story is still being written – not neatly told on the silver screen with a great soundtrack making every moment, every glance, every argument more poignant and weighty and it’s not neatly told between the covers of a well edited book. I can’t remember the beginning, I can’t see the end and on this weird day, the middle is a strange unfamiliar place too. ???

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring

It’s springtime and that is a very good thing. It feels like actual relief to look outside and see the grass, as yucky as it is after being covered in that white stuff for so long. In an act of complete optimism I put the winter boots away and pulled out rain boots. So far, so good. Driving with the car window down a bit and dusting off bikes, buds on the trees and longer days have me almost giddy. Or maybe it’s my hair. I’m wearing it a little longer and my husband has decided I have been crabby for 4 years because my hair was too short. I’m not sure about this or at least I’m not willing to admit my stupid hair could noticeably affect my mood… but he insists it’s true.

Isaac is in a happy hair place as well. After a long standoff over a haircut he finally got his helmet of bushy hair cut and it seems a great weight has been lifted from him. He has been 7 for an entire month already and he has wiggled and fussed his way to comfortable again. As with all of his birthdays, as they approach and for a couple weeks after he is a little tough to take. It’s like you can almost see him working through this process of metamorphosis – becoming a new version of himself yet again. Last week Kramer and my dad hung an old basketball hoop (at a doable height) we inherited from somewhere and Isaac has already racked up hours out there perfecting his funny, 7 year old, heave-it-up-there shot. Who is this big kid... this 7 year old kid?

Something has shifted with Libby as well. She wears pants now. I’m not sure if you understand what a change that is from the little lady who would agonize when we insisted she wear pants on a couple occasions like, oh, I don’t know, riding a horse. One day out of the blue 3 weeks ago she said she wanted to wear pants and she has worn a dress maybe twice since then. I am a little thrilled because I don’t miss tights but it came about so fast and unexpectedly it feels like a loss. She suddenly looks like a teenager wearing jeans and t-shirts.

Next week is Spring Break; Kramer took several days off so it will be a nice chance to shake up our normal routine – no alarm clocks, a little road trip to enjoy a waterpark with friends, Easter Egg hunting and the excitement of this time of year in all it’s hopeful awakening.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lame Brain

I had a thought last night as we all headed to Isaac’s basketball game. Is this nearly 7 year old moving past holding my hand? We parked the car and he took off running for the building and it occurred to me that yesterday afternoon he called something “lame” – I laughed that he would use such a word. But I’m not finding it funny that this is the beginning of all things lame maybe. He also wanted to know what “duh” meant the other day. So the awfulizer in me could hear it… “Ah, duh mom, holding hands is so lame.” I know we aren’t there quite yet – I remember him taking my hand for the short walk up to the front of church to receive communion last Sunday. But one of these times when I’m not paying any attention, it will be the last time and I won’t think to cherish it. It’s that thing that happens when you’re not looking, a little boy decides he can wash his own hair in the shower or a little girl stops mispronouncing words in her charming way.

I was reading a friends blog today and she mentioned wishing she could slow the clock down as she reminisced about the changes she sees in her children. I wish for a better memory – a clear and vivid bank of moments both ordinary and remarkable that I could access on demand. Until that wish comes true I just have these moments on the way to basketball…. wait, hold it right there, I want to burn you into my brain right now so I don’t forget that once you had to ask me what “duh” meant and held my hand.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Flour & Flowers

I did it; I conquered my apparent fear of what… wasting flour and water and made bread yesterday. I have been ruminating on making bread for quite some time. I took a big step by putting yeast on the shopping list weeks ago and learned yeast comes in little packets. Is that sad or just a generational thing? So, for no reason other than I was making soup for dinner and soup without bread is like cake without icing, I finally just did it. It tasted like… well, bread. It’s the kind you can’t even screw up because you don’t have to knead it or do any fancy stuff aside from figuring out a warm enough place for rising. Ours happens to be a closet that has a heat vent.

Lately I’m itching to create and beautify the very walls that have started closing in on me with the longest, bleakest part of winter upon us. It really all started when the dude who runs Facebook out of his parent’s basement kept insisting I had changed my email address and it was no longer valid. I decided it was time to pull the plug on Facebook. And with all the time I’m saving, I’ve found a new obsession – crafty, DIY, re-styling type websites. I guess I’m always working on something whether it’s re-organizing a drawer or closet or making our home comfy and hopefully inviting on the total cheap. You would not believe how much time I spend at JoAnn Fabric. The other day I was there for a good chunk of the morning brainstorming ideas for Sunday school crafts and the art program I’m doing at Isaac’s school.

I didn’t take a photo of the bread like people on these creative websites do but here’s another project I did last weekend. A make-over of an old, plain t-shirt by cutting out the flower pattern and sewing another old t-shirt behind. It was a first attempt but like the bread, it felt great to create something lovely out of some basic ingredients.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Force of Feelings

Libby and I are in over our emotional heads lately. We are dealing with our pesky and every changing feelings in our own ways and it’s hard to say how well. We are like the table of contents in a self-help book: Disappointment, the Early Years and Growling Getting in the Way of Your Good Intentions?

Libby is on a very tearful journey right now. She cries at the drop of a hat as it seems she is growing emotionally and discovering a new range of experiences – disappointment has her firmly in it’s grasp. She is still her overall cheerful self but much more apt to pout and sob when she feels let down. I am having trouble finding the right response to her intense reactions and hard-to-please demeanor.

After much discussion about a Star Wars themed Halloween (9+ months away) and how we have nothing that works as a Princess Leia costume in the dress-up clothes, I found a woman on Etsy.com who sews a simple white dress described as Leia or angel. Libby waited 10 agonizing days for it to come and stood outside shivering and willing the mail carrier to make his way up our block the day it was scheduled to arrive. We tore it open, put it on and… instant tears. The sleeves are a little long. After all that waiting and dreaming she was overcome. I’ll admit it was tough not to get all listen-here-kid at her weeping disappointment because earlier that day as a distraction from the mail truck watch, we went to the craft store to get materials for making a Princess Leia belt. We Googled pictures of Carrie Fisher from the 70’s and I was feeling like I had really gone the extra mile on this one with the dress searching, belt making and checking the post office tracking website daily. The crying and flapping of arms lost inside those damn sleeves made my own negative feelings flare up too quickly.

I should be better at this part of parenting as I am sort of a feelings junkie myself. When Kramer and I took our pre-marital classes in preparation for our wedding, we were given a mini personality assessment. I was off the charts on the feeling side of the thinking/feeling category. I’d like to think my score would be a little more balanced if I took it now, 10 years later, but, well, it wouldn’t. That’s why I love my girlfriends and watching things like the recent series on PBS, This Emotional Life. These things speak right to that part of me that knows all feelings can be helpful but need to be well-managed. What I don’t love doing is trying to teach the healthy management part to young children when I’m still figuring out how to do that myself – be a more balanced, more productive feeler.

We temporarily fixed the sleeves with double-sided tape. If only there was a tape for sticking to one’s good intentions.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tooth Tale


Isaac finally lost his first tooth over the holidays and for some reason I feel very sentimental about it every time I see that little vacancy in his mouth. The kids in his class were losing teeth all the time last year so maybe the fact that he is the last one makes me a little overly mooshy. And the jaggedy new one is coming in at an amazing pace – if that tooth is some sort of indication of how fast he is changing, we’ve hit hyper speed.

His little friend pulled a tooth out at the lunch table today when I happened to be at school volunteering – opening milk cartons, fetching forgotten ketchup packets and zipping zippers. She waved me over to show me the bloody little thing hanging by a thread. When I asked her what we should do, all 12 of the girls, through the gaping holes in their mouths, explained that she was to go to the nurse who has a supply of tiny treasure boxes for this remarkable, yet daily event. I love that. We had fun making a tooth box for safe-keeping at home but I hope Isaac loses a tooth at school because who wouldn’t want a tiny tooth treasure chest!

When Isaac’s tooth came out, he immediately commented on how it had seemed big in his mouth, but was so very small as he held it in his hand and studied it with wonder. That’s how I feel about him too, when I look at him, I don’t see any sign of that baby who took a long time to get his first tooth, he’s a big, capable kid but when I hold him close, I realize he is still so small and fills me with wonder.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Not Just Another Day

So, I know I can be a bit… well, obsessed with the darker side of parenting here, but it’s the tough moments I need to sort out, work through and “confess” I suppose. A regular day or even a great day doesn’t need to be analyzed, just enjoyed. Today, I’m moved to make an exception.

Admittedly, Libby and I have had a hard time filling our days in ways we can agree upon. My once trusty side-kick isn’t so keen on my ideas lately and she knows that I can’t stand playing plastic, disproportionate people of any kind: Barbies, Dollhouse or Polly Pockets and she uses this against me. But this morning I asked her if she would like to go to the zoo – I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Now, I didn’t really want to go to the zoo and her initial response was a wrinkled forehead and a frown as if I proposed a fun day of standing in line for a flu shot. But I wasn’t about to spend this lovely fall day feeling restless and isolated at home with her testing my devotion to her by waggling Barbies in front of my face with a well…is it good mom or bad mom today look on her face. With the slightest coaxing – one little, “aw, c’mon” she agreed.

Lo and behold, it was far and away the most enjoyable trip to the zoo ever. Not only did we practically have the place to ourselves where we could sit on the floor and be in awe of the Orangutan baby, and watch the tiger enjoying a meaty bone RIGHT in front of us, but the animals were up and moving and seemingly eager for our attention. One little monkey was clearing saying, “look what I can do, look what I can do.” Even the sloth of a sloth was awake and enthusiastic. We happily wandered around, unhurried and uncrabby taking the time to really watch the inhabitants and wonder about them together – mostly about family dynamics of the animal kingdom. We lingered in the lovely conservatory ablaze with yellow, red and orange mums. Libby frolicked around the sun-filled, bursting-with-smells garden pretending it was her personal castle garden and she was, what else, the princess. I sat on a royal bench and truly enjoyed being in her imaginary world (sans dolls and her domineering brother). We even caught a little story time reenactment of the Three Little Pigs from the misunderstood wolf’s point of view on our way out. It was nothing short of ideal.

And here’s the thing I love about Libby, as we walked back to the car hand-in-hand, she said how she was so glad we went to the zoo even though she didn’t think she wanted to at first. I think we both felt a little enchanted by the whole thing and it was heart warming to know that she, and maybe even that sloth on some level knew it was special.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Haunted

I am being haunted by something that happened yesterday – just a little thing that has me questioning every single thing that I am as a mother. Libby was playing with her dollhouse people and I overheard her saying in the dollhouse mom’s voice that being a mommy was really hard. A sick feeling washed over me as I remembered another comment she made last week, something about me wishing I didn’t have kids. What? Shame. shame. shame on me.

I was watching the new sitcom Modern Family and the stepfather smugly declared being a good dad is 90% showing up. I remember thinking that was setting the bar pretty low, but maybe that’s all I’ve been doing – showing up. I make meals and take care of everyone’s basic needs. We get homework done and read bedtime stories, I’ve been working on Halloween costumes and making sure everyone has mittens and boots that will fit when winter sneaks up on us, but I’m terrified that I’ve detached myself in a way that Libby’s 4 year old intuition has picked up on.

I, of course, haven’t told her that being a mom is hard but clearly I’ve communicated that to her in that dangerous way we “tell” them things with petty actions and missteps – the things that knock the wind out of you when you realize how careless you’ve been. And I’ll be the first to say motherhood is hard but that’s a conversation I have with girlfriends, not my children. So, what did I think, Libby was completely oblivious and didn’t notice I wasn’t even hearing her constant chatter while I hung out on Facebook yesterday afternoon and got frustrated with her impatience when I drug her along to run my errands all morning?

I’m not making any excuses but it occurs to me that both of these incidents happened on Monday afternoons. Monday is our long day – Libby doesn’t have preschool and Isaac is taking an afterschool class. My dear girl really is good company but a 9 hour day without Isaac is something we are going to have to get used to for the next couple months. I will make sure we have some plans so I’m not her only, disappointing hope for a playmate next week and at the end of the day she knows that it is my joy to be her mommy, not my cross to bear.

Today she seems no worse for the wear but I can’t get past feeling like I hurt her, I was careless with her and that is haunting.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bumper Sticker Wisdom

I saw this bumper sticker today:
Change is inevitable, growth is optional.
After a long and emotional fight, the school board is closing Isaac’s school – not the building itself, but the community program we chose for him and Libby. So this unwelcome change has landed on our doorstep and in our community. It is one thing to face change when you are old enough to read and appreciate the wisdom of bumper stickers but it’s another when you have to tell your 1st grader and your will-be Kindergartener that the next 6 years will not look the way we thought. I have felt every feeling there is to feel in such a situation – from angry to silly as we rallied and chanted slogans outside the school board meeting to have our voices heard. I spent many hours at meetings biting my lip as we dared to hope we could change minds. It’s been much like grieving actually and I am somewhere near the end, near acceptance. All I can do is chose moving forward over disappointment and help the kids adjust. Another frustrated, heart-broken mom in our program said it this way, our children will grow where they are planted. We opt to grow.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

Sometimes it’s hard for me to see the magic and sparkle in our little life. I notice that my sparkle meter is highly sensitive to other families. Their lives seem rather luminous in Facebook photos or the blogs I follow making our summer seem a little lame. That is until last week. We are home from family camp and it was indeed magical. And not just because the weather was perfect or the kids willing went along with the Jack Pines (all kids ages 4-6) and all the adults got 3 blissful hours each morning. And not only because I didn’t make or clean up one single meal for 6 days or because it’s just an awesome place oozing with fun… but because I also got a chance to see us through another set of eyes. Without the stuff of our everyday life clouding my vision, I could see the beauty in our ordinariness, in these kids, in being a mom, in being a family.

I needed that because this summer has been challenging for me. I couldn’t seem to get in the swing of our newfound freedom when school ended. Instead, I felt stuck for the entire month of June. I was very blue. I was lost and had trouble finding the worth in my being home with them – I joked that I could just pay someone a few bucks an hour to schlep snacks and make sure they didn’t play in the street so I could do something useful. One part of me longed for the romance of summer – picnics, the beach, effortless frolic-y fun, but another big part of me wasn’t up to the challenge. When I’m staring down the barrel of a 14 hour day, a picnic made me want to go back to bed.

So, family camp was the perfect way to bring the summer to a near close. This has been a much needed quiet week following the week that wore everyone completely out in the very best kind of way. I know the kids had a great time at camp but they would say they’ve had a great summer too and if I put my sparkle detector glasses on I can see that what seemed like a waste of a perfect summer day in June – a entire morning spent in our jammies or the Barbies swimming in the wading pool in our backyard, wasn’t exactly wasteful, but a more… thrifty way to spend a day when you are 4 or 6.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The F Word

My head is spinning with the things on my mind, the things I ponder when my head hits the pillow because it’s the only time I can hear myself think. There is an episode of The Simpsons when Marge refers to a magazine called Fretful Mother. I became a lifetime subscriber to that fictional publication the minute I had the first inkling of motherhood. I joked with Kramer just today, “You know, I read in my Fretful Mother that I haven’t been applying enough sunscreen because those SPF numbers imply a GENEROUS application and frequent re-applications.” I don’t really know where I actually read that alarming little tidbit but you can see why it would be perfect material for the FM readers.

My worries and what-ifs are just there: will Libby go to Princess camp and how hard do I push when she is crying and clinging to me in her tattered organza dress and tiara this afternoon? How do I motivate Isaac who has convinced himself that reading is too hard despite his love of books. I just don’t want him to fall behind and struggle. We are waiting around for the school district to makes changes for the year Libby starts school and they will likely be going to a different school and I get a little sick thinking about it. And why did I agree to co-chair the school fundraiser in October? Am I brave enough to try something I’ve been secretly dreaming about when both kids are in school? I’m in charge of our family camp “talent show” act in two weeks and I’ve got it diagramed on paper – it might be a bit much.

While these thoughts bounce around in my head clamoring for attention I also hear a little whisper reminding me to be a faithful mother too - faithful that this family will continue to grow no matter where it is planted and we’ll do our best with whatever comes our way. And most of all to have faith in myself so I can rest at night when Isaac and Libby are safe and well. Aren’t my best intensions better served by faithfulness than fretfulness after all?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Simpler Summer

As it turns out I'm a stay-home-mom in the wrong era. I find myself a little turned off by the fact that an entire industry has been created to cater to kids and more importantly to the parents of kids (like me) who will fork over the money for indoor playgrounds, waterparks, art studios, gym time... the list goes on. I think it's the fact that it's summer and I feel the need to get us out there, active and busy that has me thinking previous generations of mom's are shaking their heads at us. And yet I drag my feet when it comes time to actually get out there. Where is there? It doesn't help that I have one homebody and one adventurer on my hands. My mom might remember it differently but I recall summers being spent at home with a bunch of kids in the neighborhood putting hundreds of miles on bikes, playing games and building forts in backyards. Our neighborhood is very quiet during the day (all the time really) so we have two choices, be our own bickering company or seek opportunities to socialize. And that's where I feel the longing for a simpler time if you will.

Playdates, who came up with this? I am compelled to make plans with other families and even though our days seem so free and wide open, the minute I try to arrange a so called playdate... scheduling conflicts. But the quality and quantity of time spent when another kid or two is added to the mix is noticable. For instance, we met my sister and her kids at the beach this afternoon (much much later than I would have liked but again, conflicts) and we were there easily three times as long as we would have been on our own. Yesterday we met two families at a pool/playground and again their little imaginations put together can mean a whole morning of bicker-free bliss for me. And of course I bask in the adult companionship and conversation (albeit fragmented, what-was-I-saying conversation).

My kids really are amazing playmates but I think I have convinced myself that a day at home means I have somehow failed. I'm conflicted on being part of this generation of parents who are so child-focused because we want our kids to have all the great opportunities and experiences that come with getting out there to the Children's Museum or the State Parks or the nature centers. I get antsy at home and worry that my kids should be playing with other children because isn't that what we do in the age of dates for kids? As mom's we have to be a little Julie McCoy to keep the ship righted, right?

We have lots of summer left and keeping it simple needs to be my intention. If we happen to be lucky enough to have friends to share some time with, great and if not, well Isaac and Libby plus the hose is not bad either.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Serenity Now

I want my house back. My home has been taken over by short, inconsiderate people! Their (and you know who I mean) shit is everywhere, everywhere! And as fast as it gets put away, it’s back out again – on the floor, the kitchen table, MY BED! I fantasize about filling huge black leaf bags with anything I find in my path from socks and flip flops to game pieces and tea party paraphernalia. I hate the mess and I think it is partly because I just hate it and partly because this house is my everywhere – where I spend my waking hours and sleeping hours, it’s where I live and where I “work.” I haven’t an office, a cubicle or mere square foot to call my own. All of the space in my life is shared. Sharing can be overrated.

I am forever trying to control the relentless spreading of stuff. I have created a system for the art projects that come home, I just bought a shoe organizer to control the heaping pile of footwear at the back door. I have worked and re-worked the closets to maximize efficiency and usefulness. It’s a losing battle. What’s the prayer they use in Alcoholics Anonymous…the serenity prayer? Serene is a feeling I don’t identify with these days. How can a person be serene in a mess? Impossible. Is acceptance the ideal? Unlikely.

And really, I’m not even a super neat person. I have my own piles on the counters and the dining room table is where my projects land, my carnival volunteer junk is stacked up on the desk downstairs, but it’s mine and I will deal with it. The kids have no plans to deal with the stuff they leave lying around. I know that’s unfair, a double standard, but… c’mon, I just want our home to be a sanctuary for ALL of us and if my children could just hit one of the conveniently located toy baskets or the shoe cubby, I’d be so grateful.

I feel good when things are in order. That’s likely why when I’m mad, I clean – wash dishes, scrub the kitchen floor, scoop up the wreckage with the kind of vigor only anger can fuel. It calms me to see my ugly, dated countertops free of dishes, notes, markers, Barbies, army guys, school work, lice notices, junk mail... It relaxes me to have empty laundry baskets. I can be content when things are tidy; I don’t even ask for clean, just tidy. I am something closer to serene and open to sharing again with the people who are permanently in my space.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I'm Warning You

Every step of the way as a mother I have a reoccurring thought: there should be a warning system in place for the unexpected stuff that comes down the parenting pike. This week alone has prompted this list of warnings to my peers:

WARNING: All children get sick and you may have a cougher.

Today marks day 10 of Isaac coughing again – third bout since school started. And I mean coughing like I’d imagine in say, a Russian prison infected with Tuberculosis kind of coughing. He gagged and carried on not quite continuously but with alarming and maddening frequency from 5am until I put him on the bus this week. I mean, what can I do, if I kept him home everyday he coughed, he’d have missed 30 days of school this year. He told me his music teacher sent him to the nurse today to see if he had a fever (which he didn’t). And I did keep him home last Friday thinking with a long weekend he could get past it but as always it has to run its 2 week course. Right about the time I am searching the Internet for some kind of used iron lung or hyperbaric chamber he turns the corner.

WARNING: Six year olds are just half a teenager.

We had some kids over the other day and things weren’t going so well between Isaac and one of the girls. At one point I pulled him aside and said, “Come with me for a minute, I want to talk to you.” I did all the right stuff - took him inside away from the other kids, got down on his level and calmly reminded him about being a good friend. And he seemed attentive until he suddenly interrupted and calmly declared, “that was a minute, I just counted to 60.” I let it go because literally is a big word, but when he’s 12, I won’t.

WARNING: Start all emails to your kid’s principal with, IN CONFIDENCE.

Last week I emailed Isaac’s principal and in making my case for a popular teacher next year, I mentioned that for me (not Isaac) his current teacher’s style has been a little difficult to embrace. Little did I know the principal would then forward this message to his teacher who would actually call me and ask me about it! Possibly the most awkward and unexpected conversation ever!

WARNING: Don’t get too comfortable.

Libby has decided to end the school year the same way she started. This week she has completely regressed to declaring that she won’t go to school and then crying the minute we enter the building. Today I had to pull my hand out of her grasp and leave her there - big tears and muffled sobs. Maybe she’s just ready to call it a year and welcome summer. She only has 3 days left and I’m not even going to mention to her that she is signed up for the 3 week summer session.

WARNING: None of this matters

None of this matters because like the tired old joke about kids not coming with an instruction manual, you can never be prepared for life, much less life with kids, and all it’s surprises – and really, who’d want to?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Check Up & Check In

Last week brought a reassuring sense of okay, of validation that the kids are doing really well overall. Libby had a dentist appointment and she was so brave and cooperative. I proudly watched her in the child-sized chair wearing leopard print sunglasses with her teeny little mouth cranked open liked she had practiced at home. The dentist praised her on brushing and flossing and being such a good patient. We were both pleased with ourselves as we left the office (her mostly pleased with her new ladybug lip gloss she plucked excitedly from the prize bucket like it was a winning lottery ticket).

And Isaac had his 6 year old doctor’s appointment. He was a particularly good sport as there was a nervous student nurse doing the things our familiar nurse normally does with grace and swiftness. It took a looooong time to get the blood pressure cuff on for instance and the one shot was an agonizing 1+ second instead of the lighting fast nano second that again, nurse Paige has perfected. But he did so well and he is chugging along precisely where he should be according to those grow charts. Today I was imagining out loud with him that a day will come when he’ll be taller than me and he looked up and smiled like I had told him a juicy secret.

And finally we had a conference with Libby’s teacher. She had such loving and positive things to say about our little preschooler. It was so satisfying to sit in a teeny chair and have this young woman tell us what we already know, that Libby has a kind heart and contagious joyfulness. I asked Libby how I got so lucky to have her as my little girl and she said, “Because you love me so much.” Indeed.

And just when it seemed everyone was blooming and sporting healthy gums, I was reminded that one person around here needed an appointment, a conference. My husband sat me down and laid it out for me. We have fallen into a rut, an everyday routine where we do a little dance around each other – me making dinner and him wrestling with the kids; him doing the weekly shopping one night, me going to a school meeting another night; us taking turns putting the kids to bed; me reading upstairs, him doing the taxes downstairs; me staying up much later than he does and him already gone by the time I am getting Isaac up for school.

It is so easy to fall into these patterns since becoming parents – a book I’m reading called life with small children an assault on a marriage. We aren’t arguing, we laugh, we exchange information so it didn’t occur to me that anything was wrong, but that doesn’t always mean it’s right either. I think there is a special intimacy that comes with that dance I mentioned but there is also a point where talking about a weird noise the car is making and when do you think you could get the tub chaulked isn’t exactly nurturing to a relationship. There’s a point when you need to reach out and actually dance right up close, touching. And kissing helps.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Questions I'm Asking Myself

What is my most important parenting tool?
I used to think patience but I blew through my wad of patience a long time ago and that leaves me with restraint. Yes, restraint, the invaluable backup to patience and love. It’s the thing that kept me from becoming a statistic when my baby girl cried day and night and I understood why people shake babies. It’s the thing that made me bite my tongue instead of swearing a blue streak when Libby accidentally walloped me in the nose yesterday. It’s the thing that keeps me from doing harm of all kinds.

And what did I do today?
Today I lost it with Isaac. I got so stupidly angry with him for refusing to be the slightest bit flexible, I lost it for every single time he has dug his heels in and refused, for all the times he has whined through reading homework, for all the times I have had to cajole and coerce him into trying something new or breaking with routine, and worst of all, for the simple fact that I see so much of my own stubborn self in him.

And what did this lack of restraint look like?
It went something like this… we had plans to hit the freshly covered sledding hill with a friend, an opportunity for Isaac to try out his brand new birthday gift, a snowboard. But apparently I picked the wrong hill and he responded with pouting and refusal to even take the thing along. It was the proverbial straw that sent me into hysterics. And I proceeded to yell questions at him like, “why did you ask for a snowboard if you won’t even consider trying it out?” What I DID NOT say was something like “what the hell is wrong with you? Why is it always NO with you, you little brat?” because thankfully restraint works on a sliding scale. But while the words I did say were angrily spewing from my mouth my mind was already racing to figure out how I was going to apologize to him and take it all back.

And how did this all end?
Hours after sledding (snowboard left in the snow bank next to the garage where I threw it) and hours after my apologies I got my answer. At dinner Kramer asked him in a perfectly reasonable tone of voice why he hadn’t wanted to try the new board and he explained that we met his friend at the busy hill and he didn’t want anyone to see him practicing. Who’s the brat now? Yep, he was just uneasy about his beginner status and wanted a chance to try it out on a quieter hill but he couldn’t put that into words with his enraged mother demanding an explanation.

As I tucked Isaac in tonight I apologized again, this time for not taking the time to understand why he wanted to leave the board home this time and for losing my temper and I can only hope that my weakness, my lack of restraint didn’t do as much harm as it feels like.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Good Fight

In my last post I was putting up a fight for my children, but when it comes to putting up with my children, I am trying to avoid the fight. There is the smallest amount of sadness and a fair amount of frustration as they daily go about the business of figuring out exactly who they are.

The dumbest things are bothering me -– Libby being so stubborn about what she wears. She has such cute little hand-me-down clothes and my thrift shop finds but she wears the same three “fancy” dresses day after day. They aren’t fancy and they aren’t practical in this weather and they aren’t something I should care about, but I do. I want to go back to when she needed my help getting dressed, cheerfully saying, “okay” to my seasonal, adorable, coordinated ensembles! But I know it’s not worth fighting over and when her little friend at school had at least 25 barrettes in her hair this week, I’m pretty sure mine isn’t the only 3 year old who has decided she will be her own stylist and fired her mother.

And Isaac is figuring out a little thing called the power play. He knows that his dad and I like to know about his school day and what he is learning and he has figured out this means he has something we want – that’s power. He withholds the details of his day and resists working on reading with me. So, I take the little nuggets of information he forgets to guard, and smile when I hear him singing in another room about Martin Luther King Jr. I secretly watch him when I volunteer at school and check in with his teacher often – that’s mom power!

So even though Libby is shutting me out of her closet and Isaac is keeping the door shut on his day, there is no reason to fight this growing up stuff and my part is to sit back and enjoy the magic show as they transform right before my very eyes.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rrrrrrrrrr

Well, it’s official, I’ve found my inner Mama Bear – that instinct to fiercely protect and advocate for your children. Don’t worry, my kids aren’t in harms way or anything but I have been making a nuisance of myself all over our community getting to the bottom of my concerns about teachers and schools and what goes on when the den is quiet and everyone is out in the big bad world. Earlier in the year I visited Libby’s class and was shocked at how one child was causing havoc. I had no choice but to call the director and when she didn’t return my call that day I tracked her down at drop off the next afternoon. A solution was reached and Libby’s teacher thanked me because as she said herself, when a parent speaks up someone will usually listen.

With Isaac it is a certain uneasy feeling I’m getting when helping out in his class too. This has taken a little more time to ponder but finally I ignored my old instinct to simply fret about it and instead picked up the phone and called the principal! And when I wasn’t satisfied with what she had to say, I pressed on and started contacting other parents about their experience and perspective. I haven’t solved this dilemma, but I’ve proven to myself that my kids do have a mama bear to look after them.

And the other great part about finding my mother voice, my growl, is I can’t be looking out for my kids while worrying about what I look like. I have become so much less self-conscious and much more willing to look foolish, try something new or speak up. Look at me growing with the help of my little cubs! Because it may not sound impressive that I made a few phone calls, but I did it because I know that no one else is going to do it for me and being a mom awakens a new part of your heart – the fiercest, biggest, lovingest part.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Olive Mabel Paulson June 7, 1909 to Dec. 13, 2008

My grandma Olive died yesterday and I’m stuck at how it has brought up my maternal instincts. She had been deteriorating for several years to the point of being much like a baby. And I get teary when I think about how she left this world as helpless as a tiny child and I wish someone could have carried her into the next life.

I can’t help but think about how we as caregivers agonize over daycares and then school and eventually college and even nursing homes. We want the people we love so much to be safe and happy and well cared for when they are away from us and yet there are no scheduled tours of Heaven, there is no interview process or even brochure. It is the ultimate unknown and I have to have faith that with her last breath she was carried away by angels or some unearthly force that we don’t even begin to understand and in “coming home,” time vanished, questions were answered and all wrongs were made right. Maybe my faith is weak but when someone is suddenly gone… it gives me pause and my heart feels empty.

She was funny. She enjoyed a small glass of beer on a hot day, she kept a huge garden, she didn’t want for any more than she needed. She was a teacher and a great Scrabble player. She inspired me to keep a journal like she did. She had 7 children, 14 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. She was kind but tough and lived to be 99 years old.

My prayer is that she is whole again, warm and filled with a peacefulness that is beyond our understanding and capacity.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Don't Thank Me

What am I thankful for? I could go on and on but sometimes I wonder if I’m thankful enough. I admit that I live with a low frequency fear that something terrible will have to happen for me to really wake up and smell the blessings. You know those experiences that leave people promising to live each day to the fullest or never take another breath for granted. I don’t know if that is possible to maintain long term. It sure seems daunting to me whose daily aggravations get in the way of my appreciations. My gratitude comes more in the form of zingers, moments that swell my heart, brings tears to my eyes and make me feel dizzy with gratitude for my most lucky life.

And when does this start, this appreciation for relationships and health and things that make life so much easier and more fun? My young children are basically unappreciative and when I tried to lay a guilt trip on them the other night, it didn’t work. And then I realized why as they stared at me blankly. We are blessed to be able to take good care of them and so they simply don’t yet understand that Santa and special outings and even breakfast are not automatic for all kids. I assured myself that every child should be ungrateful – deserving to be taken care of and nurtured so that when they say “thank you” it’s because they have been taught manners, not because they are thankful for a meal or a gift or love. So I suppose in the end maybe I am most thankful for being able to give my kids a life that they take completely for granted. Zing!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Talk, Part I

What did you do with your Saturday evening? I went looking for help – a book, a guide or better yet, a time machine so I can travel back to when Isaac wasn’t asking, “But I mean, how does the baby actually get into the mommy?”

Yes, we are beyond the daddy-and-I-love-each-other-we-wanted-a-baby-and-here-you-are part of the talk. This kid is aware that I’ve skipped over some important details of the story. And of course he catches me completely off guard and every time I have basically dodged his questions and I’m afraid I’ve blown it with my non-answers. And it’s not that I’m embarrassed to talk to him about it, but I don’t know how to put it in terms he can and should understand. I don’t want to lie to him but the truth… come on, I can hardly believe it. And he only asks me, it’s never when his father is around so I have some support or at least someone to make horrified faces at.

So, after the kids were in bed I headed out to explore the Growing Up section at Barnes & Noble. I settled on a book called, “It’s NOT The Stork” because it was the least absurd to me and I think we can all agree that, indeed, it’s NOT the stork. So, this week when Libby is NOT around I’ll ask if he’d like me to finally get back to him on those questions about fertilization. The book is meant to be read together so it has kid-friendly illustrations and luckily he can’t read so I’ll just skip over some we’ll-get-to-that-later details (like the word fertilization) and do my best to appease his completely normal, sweet, smart (God help me) curiosity.

We’ve got the names of body parts down and we’re clear that the outside equipment is obviously different for boys and girls so maybe we’re even a little ahead of the game but really, I don’t want to play yet. I mean geez, why don’t I just tell him that Santa doesn’t exist too and just end the innocence altogether before he hits the ripe old age of 6? Ugh!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Let There Be Light

I’m starting to see the faintest flicker, the tiniest glow of what lies ahead in my ever-changing relationship with our kids. Of course school is a big part of this glimpse into the future – Isaac especially is having an experience all his own. He is part of a new community and while we’re there on the sidelines, it’s his class and his school, his life. When the year started I wanted so much to be a fly on the wall, to watch over both of them like I’m so used to doing but as the weeks have come and gone I don’t wish for that two way mirror anymore. I’ve even eased up on asking so many questions about his day the minute he steps off the bus and realize that there’s a little bit of need-to-know going on here. He is putting that first amount of space between us and it’s scary but it feels okay too.

Even this weekend Kramer and I noted how much things have changed as far as supervision. We did tons of yard work Saturday & Sunday and the kids were so helpful! They weren’t exactly helping but the real helpfulness was the fact that they are able to be in and out of our presence without needing our constant attention. I bundled branches and they chatted with me or cut the twine and then disappeared to play on the swing or pursue some whim inside. I started and FINISHED a lengthy job with scarcely an interruption AND let snack time slide by unnoticed.

That same day we had dinner at a friend’s house; Isaac, Libby and their son disappeared into the basement for a huge chunk of the evening while we sat and enjoyed adult conversation. Someone pinch me! So, even though we had to pack it in by 7:30 when many adults are just considering a restaurant and movie, we had a wonderfully social early evening not spent entirely in their playroom talking over the kids and filtering every word.

The proverbial apron strings haven’t been cut by any means, but lengthened as the kids move a little further away from me. And maybe I have a twinge of longing knowing that this is only the beginning and it will hurt when they pull away at times but I’m also feeling so gloriously liberated. I love having them in my life so much when I am not fighting that nagging, selfish, resentful part of me that has missed a little space and breathing room. So, like God himself said, there is light and it is good!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Leftovers

I don’t know if other women have truly said YES to all that comes with being a mom, but I am still fighting it just a little bit. It’s like the old saying, when one door closes another opens and yet here I am lightly knocking at that door of my old life where my house was tidy and we ate out a lot more. I am forever reminding myself to be right here where this door is wide open and everyone I love is welcoming me.

I think it has something to do with my tendency to enjoy my life like I enjoy certain leftovers. Goulash in particular always tastes much better a day or two later. It’s like that with the kids, while we are in the moment I’m all too often wising we could hurry it up or move on to the next thing but when I look back on last night, last weekend or the summer, the experience has some flavor and was actually really good.

So, I don’t have regrets per se but I do feel like I am detouring my way around the here and now because the here and now is often one of two things, very intense or dull. When it’s intense I just want to get through it and when it’s dull I just want to run away and do something I want to do. Of course there are the occasional in-betweens when I am peaceful and present and my old life behind that closed door doesn’t even make sense because this is it, this is happening right now even if my miss-wired brain and I are always a day or two behind.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Mother's Work Is Never Done

I am laughing (almost crying) at the thought of me marching into my doctors’ office 7 years ago for a physical with my big announcement, “I’m ready to have a baby.” I guess I was as ready as one can be, but I had no idea what I was signing up for when I excitedly quit taking those tiny pastel pills. It doesn’t get easier, it gets more complicated – I’m not just nurturing little bodies prone to owies, I’m nurturing little psyches prone to worry and I’m without a manual or guidebook (one that I like anyway).

I am drained. I have been convincing these kids to be brave now for days – Kindergarten, the bus, preschool, Sunday school, a just-for-fun, non-separating gymnastics class. Today Libby’s entire morning was ruined when I mentioned going to school after lunch where I left her sobbing and choking out a miserable goodbye. I may break out in hives every Labor Day for the rest of my life.

I just have those kids, the same kind I was, kids who fret when anything starts looking, feeling or sounding out of the ordinary. And I feel like the only one kneeling down wiping away tears and fighting back my own. Of course I may be missing any other kids having a hard time adjusting because I’m doing all this reassuring in the bathroom with a crying Libby and her nervous bowels.

And I’m laughing (almost crying) when I’m reminded that this doesn’t end when they are 18 or even 35. I emailed my mom who had been out of town for a few days to update her on how the kids (and I) have been doing with so many changes and calls for courage and she wrote right back because she is still a mother too and her heart aches a little when she knows that I am struggling.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Are We There Yet?

One week and counting until I commit what to my children is the ultimate act of betrayal – I’ll send them to school. They are already getting teary at the mere mention of the s word. And I have to fight the urge to talk too much because my blabbing just makes the anxiety bubble up. They say you can’t talk to teenagers, but you can’t talk to these little tikes either. So, I’m not talking, not talking them out of feeling nervous, not talking them into being excited, not talking about the fact that there is nothing to talk about – it’s school, it’s mandatory.

For weeks various adults have been asking Isaac if he’s excited for school and his answer is always No. It’s partly the honest truth and partly his idea of a little joke because he gets a reaction every time. But today when we went to his new school to see his classroom and meet his adorable teacher, I had to smirk – he is smart enough to simply shrug when she asked him if he was excited to come to Kindergarten. It’s like he knew his teacher would prefer a less negative response. He may not be excited, but he’s ready.

And I know he’s ready and he’ll find his way in this new world. That’s what various adults have been telling me for weeks, “They’ll be fine”. Yeah, yeah, I know. Its just that seeing worry and fear on their faces is the worst. Bumps, blood, minor falls don’t really phase me, it’s walking away from Libby when she’s sobbing or when Isaac’s face shows that quiet turmoil that breaks my heart in two.

So, while these two kids would like to pretend next week will never come, I’m wishing we could get on with it and I could just be there to tell them how proud I am of them at the end of the first day instead of creeping toward the heartbreaking beginning of that day.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Stay Out Of The Way

A question…. If you were school shopping with your Kindergartener and he picked out the absolute pinkest, most girly backpack you have ever seen, what would you do?

I talked him out of it and since that moment have been feeling like a jerk, a very unenlightened jerk. Isaac can go either way on the gender rules and we have never made a big deal of it because mostly who cares, but my instinct was to push him right over to his own side of that line. Of course I didn’t tell him it was too feminine or that kids at school might think he grabbed his sister’s bag by mistake because I didn’t want him to feel one bit bad about liking it, I just lied and said it was too expensive.

I know what made me do it, wanting to protect him at least a little until he has a better understanding of how to make his way in this world, so why am I feeling like I totally let him down? Because I didn’t just say sure, go for it kid, be exactly who you are! I got in his way even if he doesn’t know it.

He wasn’t even disappointed and ended up choosing a most manly camouflage number because like I said, it is hard to put his taste in a category of any kind. For the record I tried to talk him out of that one too and just go with a nice, practical solid color with cool straps, but he had likely had enough of my input.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Taking The Plunge

Oh boy, it’s starting, the anxiety of Kindergarten around the corner -- mine, not Isaac’s. It’s down to weeks and I feel exactly like I did 4 weeks before I went back to work when he was an infant. I feel like I’m throwing him to the wolves without any survival skills. He’ll be away from us in a whole new way and I have no idea how to prepare him for that. He’ll be exposed to new things, words and situations because school is much more than covering the curriculum, it’s an introduction into the larger community and I won’t be there with an explanation or familiar lap. He’ll be a very small fish in a big pond.

I just keep having these flashes of him in a noisy, overwhelming lunchroom, his dangling legs not long enough to reach the floor, or sitting on a carpet square afraid to open his mouth and speak up for maybe the first 8 and a half months of the year. I know he’s as ready as any 5 year old. He’s ready to soak up information and make some new 5 year old friends but suddenly I look at him and he seems so naïve and unseasoned which of course has been by design. And I’m certainly not going to put him through Welcome to the Real World Boot Camp for the next several weeks but how do I help him make the jump into that big pond.

I have to start bucking up now so when Isaac gets anxious (and he will) I can say wonderfully assuring things without my voice cracking and getting all choked up. Or he’ll suspiciously ask, “Why do you sound like you’re crying?” For all my droning about how much time I spend with the kids you’d think I’d be cheerleading around the house, give me a K, give me an I, give me a N… but I feeling more like I want to wrap my arms around him and keep him close a little bit longer before he wiggles away.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Hugger

Most hugs don't require much analysis but one hug recently made me swoon and it wasn’t even for me! Last week Isaac and Libby went to day (morning) camp at our community park. I was pretty sure Isaac would do fine because he has made huge strides in the last few months when it comes to willingness. Libby on the other hand has never really been apart from me and in a stranger’s care so I was extra proud of her bravery. She cried and protested each morning but she took a nice sized step toward kid-sized independence.

But the thing that amazed me was when she did such a simply Libby thing, she hugged her teacher and the adorable teenage helper goodbye as camp ended. Again, this probably doesn’t seem noteworthy but it is her open little heart that wows me. I, myself, am an awkward hugger, tending to stick my outstretched hand into people’s abdomens while they are opening their arms to me. Always uncomfortable. But Libby is a natural at it. She saw it as a hugging situation and I love her for that. What do they call it, the EQ, emotional quotient? Hers seems quite honed for being 3.

Being a mother has added a couple more points to my own EQ or at least given me an amazing opportunity to express feelings of love, admiration and empathy. I don’t balk at telling Isaac and Libby how I feel about them or offer my outstretched hand when a big ol’ hug is more fitting. So, I am delighted to drop them off at camp but more importantly see them embracing more than I ever did at their age.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Some Air, Please

I’m being smothered. My darling children are smothering me. It reminds me of a line from Sex and the City; Miranda said about her son something like… if he were 35 this is when we’d break up.

I was ready to give them the it’s-not-you-it’s-me talk on Saturday. Kramer was working all weekend and the kids had been invited by their Aunt & Uncle to go to the zoo and/or whatever fun they could dream up. They were looking forward to this and I was really looking forward to this – the bliss of solitude. When final arrangements and times were being sorted out, Libby announced she wouldn’t go without me. And Isaac tearily decided he couldn’t possibly go without her. I explained that I wasn’t invited and how much fun it would be (blah, blah, blah) but they wouldn’t have it.

I was mad. No, I was disappointed but it comes out looking a lot like mad. I insisted Libby take a nap – it was the least she could do. I came downstairs after getting her down and Isaac was waiting on the couch with a book. Great. During the week this is our routine, I read to him while she is sleeping. But it was Saturday and they were supposed to be in the car on their way to fun. But I read to him anyway and he, as always, begged for just one more chapter. NO. No, No, No. I had read three chapters and I was going to read some of my own book now! So, for 45 minutes he sat on the couch with me while I read. He had his feet on me or walked his little pirate guys on my legs and forgot about 50 times that this was not the time to chat.

So, mostly I pretended to read hoping that he’d give up and get lost. Nope, it was the way it always is, they are programmed to know when I’ve taken a seat or opened a magazine. I suppose they sense that’s when I'm available and I want them to know that I am available and I love them so much it hurts but it can’t be a coincidence that smother is just the word mother with an “s.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Get It?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but these 14 hour days, 7 days a week are making me nuts. We should unionize or communize or something to ease the pressure. I’d like to think I don’t need another grown-up, a chaperone to be a better parent, but I can laugh when I’m in the company of someone who doesn’t think poop is the best kind of humor and that makes all the difference. When I can joke about Libby’s need to change her clothes a few times a day it makes for a nearly cute story, almost charming, but when I’m home alone with her and she comes trotting downstairs in yet another skirt & t-shirt and I know that the previous skirt & t-shirt are laying on her bedroom floor or worse, in the hallway without any regard for the person who sorted, washed, folded and maybe even put away, I’m just irked. I should rethink the chaperone thing. Maybe then I could appreciate the pure, perfect kidness of her costume changes instead of dwelling on what really amounts to nothing with no ill will intended.

Why is it so much easier to be reasonable and patient when another adult is around? Am I actually more relaxed when I have an ally, a confidante, a person who can appreciate the art of sarcasm? Or is it just social expectations of being in public that dampen my reactions? When it’s the kids and I home on a regular day like today without much contact with the outside world (despite being outside a lot) it’s as if I lose all perspective and apparently my sense of humor. It’s not like I could stand being with anyone else as much as I’m with the kids so maybe we aren’t doing so bad, we just all enjoy someone our own age to share time with!

Like when it’s bath night, we’ve reached the end of the day and the last thing the kids will tolerate is daddy doing any of the things they have deemed my jurisdiction, but all I really need is for Kramer to be in the bathroom, sit on the toilet and keep me company. I can almost tolerate the water splashing out of the tub if I have someone there who simply gets why the water should stay in the tub and why poop isn’t that funny. It’s just good to be with someone who gets it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Post Script to "Beyond Words"

I meant every single thing I said in my last post! It's also been one of those afternoons where if I'd known then what I know now... I might have settled for meaningful relationships with a couple of dogs.

Beyond Words

I’ve been holding another baby, my niece. Molly was born 4 days ago. It got me thinking about the connection we have to our children, the connection I have to my children. This new baby is beautiful and it feels good to hold her but it is nothing like it felt to have my own babies in my arms. The weight of responsibility and the bewildering awe and anxiety is conspicuously missing.

When Isaac and Libby were teeny like she is, I was unable to keep from kissing one sweet spot near their warm temples, so soft and delicious. It was irresistible to me. I had to put my lips to that spot… breathe them in, feel their realness, maybe a thousand times a day. I tend to mostly keep my lips off other people’s babies.

My dear friend who is not a parent herself admits to studying me and other mom friends to gauge if she is mother material herself. I assure her that no one would ever choose motherhood if it were based on spending time with anyone else’s children. I fumble around any child that isn’t Isaac or Libby because only they make much sense to me. I know them -- their tendencies and temperaments. In my before life, I knew I wanted to have children but I didn’t know it would be like this, from the outside it is so ordinary, you can’t throw a nursing bra without hitting a mother, but from the inside it blows me away.

It strikes me that on my wedding day, I stood up and vowed my commitment to Kramer in front of lots of people in a pretty dress but these babies come into our lives in much more private and messy ceremonies and all the promises of commitment are unspoken because your heart, who you are and how you love is simply altered beyond words.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Rest For The Weary

Recently, holding a baby I was struck at how the things that once consumed me as the mother of little babies are now just memories and blurry one’s at that. Back then I was obsessed with sleep; his and hers, not mine; I had given up on my sleep entirely thinking it was a luxury I foolishly wasted in my youth. I was constantly counting on my fingers in hours, the hours they should be sleeping and those they were actually sleeping. I would do sleep math like, he was up at 5:30am so… 1, 2, 3… he should be ready for a nap by 8:30am…1, 2… but maybe I could push it until 9:00 because maybe he’ll sleep until…. It went on and on like this. And that was just sleep.

When they were so little I lived in 30 minute increments. That’s all I could tackle at the start of each new day because 5:00 pm, when the second shift came on seemed insurmountable. If I didn’t think beyond the next 30 minutes I could face a day full of half hours. I remember lying on the floor in the playroom, my body craving sleep, the real kind, not the fragmented, night feeding, never-enough kind.

Things are so different now. I again foolishly waste sleep staying up late when no one is bugging me and no one is crying out to me from a crib at ungodly hours. Now in the morning I awaken to the sound of Libby padding out of her room and loudly closing the door behind her. And sometimes she comes in to hand me her soggy, nighttime diaper or to demand her bowl of oatmeal and juice as if I’m standing behind a counter with a stubby pencil stuck behind my ear and order pad in my apron. But mostly she makes a beeline for Isaac’s room where he has been looking at books and waiting for her. Oh to think that baby who cried out or toddler who called out to greet the day and jolt me awake, has come to appreciate the joy of quietly hanging out in his bed.

And I linger in my bed too because I simply can. I burrow into the covers feeling mostly rested and the day ahead isn’t daunting anymore. Now I think of our days in two parts, morning and afternoon – no more fractions. So, we did it, we made it to here, to this place where babies are in our memories and photographs and big kids sleep restfully for like… 9, 10, 11, even 12 hours in a row.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Let The Sun Shine In

Summer has started at our house even if the weather is having a hard time catching up. Preschool ended last week and that means we are without an outside force to keep our momentum moving forward. School only took up a handful of actual hours each week but it got us up, dressed, moving and out of the house; it kept us busy in a nice way and by the time we arrived back home we had accomplished a whole morning and it was time for lunch.

So, today we didn’t have anything or anyone expecting us anywhere. I’m a little panicked. I want to feel excited and invigorated by the promise of summer and what a treat it is after months of being cooped up and yet, like the warmer weather, I am having a hard time getting here. It’s just so many, many hours to fill and so many, many meals to make. It’s so many, many arguments to be had and sooooo many more opportunities for imaginative minds and busy hands to spread clutter.

I called a meeting this morning to introduce the kids to “The Bicker Box.” This is my attempt at mandating peace for the next 3 months. It’s simple, if they are bickering over a toy, an object (which is usually the case) it goes in the box for the rest of the day. I’ll get back to you with results.

We easily but rather aimlessly made it through what I’m considering our first day of summer and tomorrow maybe we’ll hit the lovely, blooming garden center and then it’s our favorite day, Wednesday, when daddy is home and always up for an adventure. And that’s what will certainly happen despite my jitters, our summer days will simply unfold in unplanned, unexpected and unhurried ways. The kids really don’t need anything but each other to have fun so as soon as Mother Nature and I get on board we are all set.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Playtime

Playing. Sounds fun, right? It’s all my kids think about from morning till night. They are endlessly busy playing while I’m creating my own version of busy to avoid joining in. I just can’t “play” with them and at some point I stopped pretending to pretend. They have almost entirely stopped asking the questions that make me clamor for some household chore that surely can’t wait, “Mommy, will you play with us?” or “Will you be…(Dora, the Veterinarian, etc)?”

Is that as sad as it sounds? I take care of them and most days even find great purpose in keeping them safe and clothed, loved and fed, comforted and coached, read to and listened to, but I can’t be in their imaginary world.

I will, however, play games: Go Fish or Uno, a puzzle or even Candy Land. I will push them in our swing, I will roll out the play doh and I will organize a morning with my sister and nephew to make gifts for their beloved grandmothers, but I won’t “be” the dinosaur who lives in the doll house and sleeps on the roof and I won’t be Dora the Explorer’s side kick in a scenario void of all adult reason.

I’ve decided this is okay; I’ve provided an environment for their outrageous imaginations while I’m on the fringe, available with ideas, help, and a strange knack for knowing where to find a missing doll or misplaced roll of tape. They are kids and that’s what kids do and I’m the parent, doing what I need to do to stay sane and not lose that sense of purpose.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Growing Pains

Isaac has been waking up at night complaining that his legs hurt. That sounds about right, growing pains. I’m sure if I looked closely and long enough, I’d be able to actually see his little limbs stretching. He says his bike helmet is too tight so apparently his head is keeping up. Most of his pants aren’t fitting and his dentist just told us his teeth aren’t fitting - she even used the word extraction talking about making room for his permanent set and hinting that we should start saving for braces now.

Isaac’s pain aside, I love so many things about all this growing. Despite having been walking since the age of 1, now Isaac actually walks. He can get around the zoo or the mall or hike to the park without any wheeled devices or even much complaining. He is riding his 2-wheeled bike in a funny, out of control kind of way up and down the sidewalk “practicing” for real bike rides. He is completely independent in the bathroom and when we get home and my hands are full of bags, library books or dripping-with-glue school projects, he takes my keys and unlocks the door. This weekend he and Libby had a sleep-over at their aunt and uncle’s house and Isaac assured me that he packed his bag and yep, he had everything he needed. I, of course, checked to be sure and except for a pair of socks he absolutely had everything including a sweatshirt, a total just-in-case kind of thing that I have drilled into his head.

What a big kid. I love watching him grow and become so capable even though I know where this is all going… further and further away from me. But I can’t stop that, I wouldn’t want to stop it so I’ll soothe the growing pains with a little Tylenol and TLC and always be there... just in case!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

All My Love

While Libby wears her heart on her sleeve, Isaac keeps his safely in his pocket.

Contrary to our earliest assessments, Isaac isn’t just shy, it’s more than that – he is very carefully guarded, even with us. Yesterday he was angry and crying, he went into his room, shut the door and insisted he wanted to be left alone. He’s five; he shouldn’t want to be alone, he should want his mom, right? Two weeks ago something happened at school and I got a similar response: “I don’t want to talk about it.” It’s all No Talking and No Mooshy Stuff with this kid. And for weeks I have been feeling rejected by him which quickly and irrationally turns into fear that some window has already closed and I won’t be allowed in.

Libby is more of an open book kind of girl right now. She seems to sense when to reach out and when to offer a thoughtful word of encouragement. She is very giving in her receiving of kisses and hugs and I love you’s. It just comes easier and more naturally to her. I don’t know how this will play out and she is showing plenty of signs of being more and more shy in unfamiliar situations but right now she is totally available.

Today I picked up my book, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert in which I have found many profound nuggets of wisdom and these words jumped off the page at me: It’s not their job to love me but my job to love them. Yes, of course, that’s it. It’s my job and honor to love these children and expect nothing in return. I have been trying to find a way to get Isaac to accept me reaching out to him and that’s why I’ve been frustrated; I forgot my end of the deal… that there is no deal. So, despite Isaac’s no kissing policy, I do get lucky at bedtime when his guard is down and his heart is wide open to kisses and shared I love you’s.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Taking Care

We’ve been sick. It’s been miserable with the throwing up and the coughing, the aches, the cold sweats and did I mention the throwing up…

And while we are on our own road to recovery we have just found out about two family friends who are on much longer and more agonizing roads to recovery. This kind of news always brings my biggest fear to the forefront, not so much a fear of losing someone I love but that in a moment, a mere moment everything can change. And there is no warning -- a fun trip becomes a terrifying accident or a routinely sick kid is suddenly fighting for her life in a dizzying sea of doctors and specialists with way more questions than answers.

I have kissed Isaac and Libby a couple hundred more times lately and cried at what an exquisitely unreliable gift life is. As the father of this very sick child wrote on her website, it is hard to be so profoundly sad at her suffering and so optimistically grateful to still have her at the same time. And there it is, the agonizing stuff and the joyful stuff all wrapped up together in a messy, intoxicating, uniquely human way that makes us have children and go on trips and face each day on our uncertain, but hopeful paths.

So, we take care of each other. What else can we do but put the fear of what might be around the next corner aside and take care of the one throwing up or the one in a hospital bed or the one that waits for answers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's My Party...

Next year I think I’ll go with a surprise party for Isaac. It was his 5th birthday yesterday and party planning with him was a bit of a headache. I find myself in this situation in many areas of parenting – trying to accommodate his wants and ideas within my own limits and expectations. A birthday is the perfect example. Weeks ago he said to me, “Mommy, I don’t want one of your homemade parties, I want a store party.” I played along and he didn’t even notice that it was, in fact, a homemade party except for the pirate themed paper cups and plates. And of course our biggest compromise, the piñata; he really wanted one in the shape of a treasure chest so again, we negotiated an agreement. He could have the piñata but it wasn’t going to rain down candy. We instead stuffed goodie bags for each kid inside – no trampling, no hurt feelings, less sugar and more order.

The pirate bingo and treasure hunt, the tablecloth and the balloons were all things that had to be worked out. And by worked out, I mean me getting the desired outcome while creating the illusion of collaboration. And it was perfect -- just the right amount of Isaac’s over-the-top fun and my reigned in, frugally creative fun.

And while I could control the cost and direction of the party, I can’t actually control Isaac. He didn’t exactly get the gratitude thing when he was the man of the hour. He tore into the gifts without any regard for who it was from much less how thoughtful it was of his friends to bring gifts they knew he’d love. This was especially hard for Kramer who kept trying to slow him down and remind him to say thank you and do some obligatory oooooing before ripping into the next gift bag. It was not exactly our proudest moment but it wasn’t much of a teaching moment either. I did feel better when today I was saying what an awesome birthday he had and hinted at what we needed to do. Without hesitation Isaac said, “Thank you notes.” So, we’ll chalk it up to the sheer ecstasy of having a birthday party and be so very proud of our 5 year old in every other way!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Not So Shining Moments

Should 4 year olds be good judges of character? Isaac has a friend, a kid that I have a hard time tolerating. It makes me wonder about the things I might be blind to in my own kids, but seem so glaring in other people’s children. As parents we have the privilege and horror of seeing the best and the worst in our kids. And of course it’s often in the privacy of our home, in a mundane moment that they ooze sweetness or display the kind of openness and generosity that makes me beam just a little. But when we’re out in the world interacting with other children, even family they can come off as greedy, whiney little monsters. It’s embarrassing.

I often have to remind myself to give Isaac some space to express his frustrations and learn the ropes of being a friend, being in a family, being almost 5. It might be a bit much expecting him to always take the high road in social situations – to graciously share when another child wants something of his and ask politely for a turn when it’s the other way around. I wonder if the day will ever come that I don’t have to say annoying, totally parenty things like, “I would like to be asked, not told” or “I’m sorry but I don’t understand shrieking (Libby) or whining (Isaac); please use your regular voice.” Barf!

Oh well, at 5 or 35 we all falter and the great thing is getting another chance to hopefully shine whether anyone is watching or not. And it occurs to me that it probably isn’t character kids look for in a playmate and I don’t have to worry that Isaac is subconsciously taking detailed how-to notes from this rascal of a kid but just likes having a buddy to play trains with (until the trains start flying down the stairs that is).

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ouch!

Speaking sharply, that’s what my favorite real writer / blogger calls it when she uses a frustrated, impatient, obviously sharp tone with her children. This always gives me pause and I think about my own sharp tongue.

This morning I was more shrieking than speaking sharply and it’s been eating at me all day. I can be such a hot head with the people I love the most. Oh, how I berate myself for this… this stubborn, lazy unwillingness to take a few moments to gather myself instead of going form zero to angry in .2 seconds. This morning I got what could only be described as irrationally mad at Isaac for sucking on Libby’s tube of fluoride-free toothpaste like it was candy… again. Yep, that’s the kind of thing that will do it – set me off, anything involving baby teeth.

Anyway, after I tarnished our morning we went ahead with a trip to the zoo with our free passes. Isaac and Libby disappeared with about a zillion other kids into a cave in the tropics exhibit when Isaac came to tell me some kid was not being very nice to Libby – pulling on her ankles and pinching her cheeks between his fingers. Isaac’s face was full of concern and he knew without a doubt that this was unacceptable. I immediately flashed back to earlier, pretty sure in my toothpaste induced anger I may have pinched his cheeks in the same unacceptable way.

I assured Isaac that he had done the right thing telling this cave bully to stop and asked him to go back in and get Libby because sometimes you just have to walk away. I was proud and humbled by his instinct to see an injustice and stick up for his sister. And I got the message loud and clear, the universe was telling me, the hypocrite, to wield my power with great care and speak a little more gently when the situation hardly calls for the razor tongue.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Creative Side

There are a million things I have learned about myself since becoming a parent – the good, bad and the very ugly! Two things in particular surprise me the most. One, I actually thought when I became a mother, and I mean in that instant, I was going to discover an untapped well of patience and compassion within me. I mean isn’t that the essence of mothering? Instead I’m more like one of those oil drilling machines digging, digging, searching for an ounce more patience and kinder words. Secondly, I never imagined I would cringe at creativity.

When Isaac was very small I tried a few creative projects only to realize by the time I blinked he was done drawing a single jagged line or smashing an unrecognizable sponge-stamped heart onto Valentine’s cards. I let myself off the hook and decided he wasn’t quite ready.

Several years and another kid later I cringe when they want to paint or even get out the Play Doh. Shame on artsy-fartsy me that our art cupboard inventory is down to some coloring books, dried up markers and a glue stick. And it’s not because they aren’t interested, it’s me avoiding the mess and hassle. I’m all “let’s make cookies” instead. After all, Isaac gets enough glitter gluing and sequin exposure at pre-school, right?

But they have been asking to paint and I couldn’t just keep whistling and ignoring them so I bought painting supplies this week including new brushes and a huge pad of paper for the easel. It was going to be perfect. And it was (at first). The only thing they were missing were little berets as I got them all set up to express themselves in brilliant, uninhibited strokes. Meanwhile I could go express my need to get away if only via the computer. A half hour later Isaac came downstairs. He was rubbing paint into his hands like hand lotion and had expressed himself with some happy face painting. “What are you doing?” I half yelled and his face went from look-at-me to what’d-I-do? I found Libby with paint dripping off her paper, the easel her stool and enough in her hair (more face painting) to warrant a bath.

But in the end when it was all cleaned up and I explained what I should have explained from the very start – why I bought the BIG pad of PAPER, I realized that I did get irritated but I dug past it and showed a little of that patience and good stuff that I once thought would be so easy to come by when someone was calling me Mama. So, we’ll get the paints out again, but I’ll pay more attention and know that I’m still creating the mom I really want to be and it’s messy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thirsting Or Just Thirsty

I’m having one of those days except that it has lasted weeks – that restless feeling. Like any minute now my real life is going to start even though, clearly, my life is well under way. I get this way and then it passes, but this loitering around on the fringe of my daily life is not a good use of time. I shouldn’t even be mentioning this – boredom at my age, how lame, and yet I’ve been crawling out of my skin lately. I tend to blame the stay-home-mom thing because it’s so easy – too easy.

But here’s the great thing, something or someone comes along and clears the fog and I just like that I can see again. I can see that I was restless before I was home full-time, before I even had children, when it rained, sometimes the entire month of March. My choice to be home with Isaac and Libby is indeed the right one; it’s my daily choices that get me in trouble.

I don’t need to cure my restlessness but learn to use it as a warning device, my inner voice screaming at me to… Take a walk whenever I have the chance. Bundle everyone up and go outside for some fresh air even if it takes us longer to get bundled than actual time spent outdoors. Call a friend; it does wonders for the soul. Drink a glass of water. It’s entirely possible that most of my downfalls stem from basic dehydration.

So, I raise a glass (of water) to the people, the places and the things that guide us and pull us back onto the path we have rightly chosen. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Christmas Miracle





My prayer was answered -- a shining, bright beacon in the crisp night sky made my heart soar with the spirit of the season…

I’m talking about the red Walgreen’s sign two miles from our home that was open late on Christmas Eve. After a celebration with my side of the family everyone was finally in bed (including Kramer) and it seemed safe for me to play Santa Claus. I was horrified to see the baby travel set I bought Libby weeks ago was in fact a travel set -- doll SOLD SEPARATELY. Actual panic washed over me. All she has talked about is a doll, a friend for her beloved Sunshine (another doll). It was 10:00pm and all I could do was pray the whole way on slippery roads that the drug store was open and had something that would pass for a dolly and maybe even fit in the miniscule baby carrier. I would have paid $1,000.00.

And now we have wee little Baby Beans with us. She was $5.99, she fits beautifully in the plastic infant seat and Libby is just another kid that got her wish on Christmas morning. By that afternoon she was much more interested in her new Care Bear, but that’s okay because Santa delivered.