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Thursday, September 29, 2016

I Wish


Dear Darlings,

The dreariness of the past weeks has sapped nearly every ounce of energy I'm trying so desperately to  keep in my clutches. My blog is suffering at the hands of this gray, dull weather. My brain power has dimmed, new ideas are few and far between. So today, I went looking for the lazy writers way out of this dearth of material, and I did what every writer in the history of writers has done (okay maybe not every writer, but a few...well, maybe it's just me). I went back to old material to see what I could spruce up and maybe make new. In doing this little exercise I went back to blogs that were mere shells, pieces that were half-written and then abandoned for newer, fresher, more relevant material ~ or at least what I thought was more relevant material.

And I have to say I wish I would have finished those old, discarded entries. I wish I knew what my brain was thinking ~ where we truly were at that point in our life together. Recently an old friend told me I was leaving a great legacy for my family by putting our life story to words. Legacy may be a bit of a stretch, but I do think I'm giving them a chance to peek back on our family, and offering them the chance to see why I made some of the parenting choices I did. They'll also get to read about my avalanche of parental mistakes, the intense, over-the-moon love I have for them (even when I'm mad), and how being their mom is my biggest wish come true. Hopefully, they'll feel the emotions I had bubbling inside of me as I wrote, that they'll know how intense and crazy and zany this life with them was and still is. I want this blog, this chronicle of our life, to be as much of a gift to them as it's been to me. Being able to look back, to really go back to that small snap-shot of a moment, is like a security blanket for me. And today, I wish I had all of the pieces of it.

So my darlings, don't wish. Finish.

xo,
me

Oh, for the love of my children...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Rambling thoughts on how I just need to be a little brave

Dear Darlings,

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at our kitchen counter when Claire came bursting through the door with unbridled enthusiasm. "MOM!" her was voice thick and rich with excitement, "My field trip was AWESOME!" It wasn't really a field trip for her, per se, since it was just in the school gym, but many other high schools were invited in to hear speakers fromJosten's Renaissance talk to the kids about how each and every one of them could make a wonderfully big difference in the life of someone at their school, someone who may feel isolated and alone. Claire talked and talked and talked about the speakers and their stories. She couldn't stop talking, and I couldn't stop listening to her passionate retelling of the narratives of the day. With a flourish, she finished her breathless spiel with an account one of the speakers told about taking his child to preschool for the first time, and how he, his wife and his young son all had the same mantra for the day..."I just need to be a little brave. I just need to be a little brave. I just need to be a little brave." The parents needed to find the bravery to let go a little. The son, well, he needed to find the bravery to be let go, test his wings a smidge and find a place to fit in. She told me how the parents sat and watched their little one from the car as he stood on the playground his first day of school, wishing with all of their hearts for him to find just one child to play with. They knew it wasn't up to them to find him a friend, the parents realized he had to do it on his own, that he had to be a little brave. They spied on him as he watched others running past him, playing tag and kickball and catch, until finally one little girl came up to him, grabbed his hand and pulled him to monkey bars. Their hearts lifted. It just took that one child a minute to reach out to their son and make him feel included.  Claire finished her stories and left me sitting at the kitchen counter to go do her homework. My head swirled as I continued to mull over her experience. I sat reflecting on one word out of the thousands she spoke. Brave. "I just need to be a little brave."

Today, I'm by our fire place watching the flames dance in front of me (not for warmth mind you, just for ambiance in trying to dispel the dreariness of the day), pondering the word that I can't get out of my head. I have my trusty teacup right beside me and sweet Bella at my feet, trying to find the right way to convey what I want to about being just a little brave, and then I did what I do every time I want to get closer to a word ~ to feel its meaning. I went to the dictionary. This is what I found..."Possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance." That's the dictionary definition of brave, but the definition doesn't really lock into what I think bravery really means.There are so many tasks of every day life that require us to be just a little brave. I'm not talking big, bad, brave events. I'm talking first world bravery kind of incidents. The kind of bravery talked about in Claire's field trip, making you to want to be a better person, to want to do something for someone because you want to leave a better mark on this world, to want others to be proud of the kind of character you possess.

While I was perusing the dictionary and thesaurus this word of the day popped up...
afflatus

uh-FLEY-tuh snoun
1:inspiration; an impelling mental force acting from within.

Its fit with my ramblings of today's blog is extraordinary to me. Claire told me yesterday that the main speaker said there are three types of people in this world...ones who imagine what it's like to take a step to change things, another who group who watch things happen and a third group who makes things happen. It all fits...inspiration and an impelling mental force acting from within must be what drives the third group. 

Today, I decided I don't want to be a part of the first two groups. I want to be a part of the third group. I want to make good things happen. I know exactly what I need to do, and how to do it. I just need find a little bravery to what I want to do into practice. But I have Claire's enthusiasm, and my own desire to make sure to leave a better mark on this world. And too many coincidences to ignore...sitting here looking at my fireplace, I see the pillow right beside me, with LOVE spelled out on it in big, glittery letters. And it hits me...bravery, in the sense it was discussed yesterday, leads to love. Today and always, we could all use a little bravery, because the world needs more of it. Being brave leads to love and love leads to really good things. 

Oh, for the love of my children...

xo,
Me

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The light at the end of the tunnel

Dear Darlings,



That's what everyone keeps telling me..."There's a light at the end of the tunnel."
"Your kids are almost grown and gone," they say.
"There's a light right up ahead! How exciting for you!" they exclaim.



Two weeks ago, Zach started his junior year of college...that's right I said college. This past Tuesday, Lucas and Claire started their senior and sophomore years, respectively, in high school. So I can see where these people are getting this idea that there's a light at the end of my tunnel.



But that's not how I see it. At. All. I'm not planning to lament and bemoan the fact that my kids are growing up...right before my stinking eyes. I've done that enough, and what I've come to realize is I don't have a choice in the matter. They're gonna grow up, whether I like it or not. So I've had to come to accept this fact of life by focusing ~ focusing on them, the moment and being present in the here and now. I can't dwell on the past or dread the future. The only thing I can do is stay here.



This past summer the kids and I watched the entire series of The Office, (they watched it from beginning to end at least twice). And in the series finale Andy said something that I've draped over my shoulders and taken on as my mantra mantel.







I think this is really what I've been doing all along my parenting path. I've thoroughly enjoyed every stage of my kiddos' lives, and have always said, "This stage (whatever stage it may be), this stage is my favorite." I've loved every single minute of parenting these three crazy kiddos. It's been chaotic, cathartic, crazy, stressful and stress-filled, full of times of sunshine and torrential thunderstorms - which sometimes morphed into downright hurricanes, but the most important part of this parenting thing is that it's been filled with love and light...my kind of light. It's not the light at the end of a tunnel. It's the light shining on the here and now, showing me that these are my good old days. And I haven't even left them.



Oh, for the love of my children...



xo,

me






Monday, September 5, 2016

Observations and musings from the last day of summer

Dear Darlings,

Today is our last official day of summer. I know many of you have been back to school for a couple of weeks, but our kiddos don't head back until tomorrow. So today, we spent our last summer day relaxing at the pool.

And today I spent some time musing about the fixation I have with summer days and the pool. This is what I found...


Little girls in watermelon swim suits are the cutest. 
Little kids who poop in the pool are not.

Tennis games are like potato chips. Once you start in, you want more and more and more. 

Little kids who giggle and splash around in the pool are so sweet.  Little kids who shrilly shriek and splash you are not. 

Sunshine, warm breezes and blue skies beckon you to the pool, sucking you in to a day of laziness.  

Nothing tastes better than a cold, crisp beer while you're sitting in a pool chair with cool water lapping at your feet. Nothing tastes worse than a warm, flat beer sitting on the table for too long. 

It should be illegal for ice cream eaten on the pool deck to have calories.

Bees are attracted to both beer and ice cream. 

Diving boards are belly flop magnets.

More and more kids wear swim shirts, keeping out those pesky UVA rays. Smart. Very Smart. 

The gadgets and gizmos out there for parents to keep their new babies cool and shady makes it so easy for them to actually take their little ones to the pool. I have to admit I'm a little jealous. 

Kids are much more subdued in the water on the last day of the pool than on the first. 

Sometimes the water in the pool is just as cold the last day of the season as it was the first day. 

Summer goes by way too quickly. 

Unstructured days are the bomb...for a while. 

I'm pretty sure I say I say this at the end of every summer, but I think this one has been the best ever. I got to spend the entirety of June and July driving Claire to and from work. It's the last summer I will have to take anyone anywhere. Claire will have her license next year, so my quality car time with her is almost at an end. This summer is truly the end of an era. It seems like just yesterday I was struggling to figure out a way to take a new baby to the pool, and now they'll all be able to drive themselves, deciding whether or not to come to the pool and participate in the joy of these hot, summer days. So I have to wonder, next year will I be a mere observer? I don't think I will. I think I'll still fully participate in my favorite season. And I gotta wonder...what kind of musings will I come up with then? 

xo,
Me 

Oh, for the love of my children...






Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Senior --- Take Two

Dear Darlings,

Mornings seem to come earlier and earlier at this point in my life. My brain comes to life, and my eyes pop open somewhere around 4 o'clock every morning. It's then that thoughts come pouring in, reducing the desire for more sleep to mere wishes. I want to turn off the wheels which keep chugging in my head, but I can't get them to stop. The thoughts keep coming, unbidden and unwanted...these thoughts of Lucas assuming the role as a senior in high school. Three years ago I wrote a blog called The Senior ... my reflections about Zach's last year in high school. While I wasn't ready for him to be there, I'm completely, totally under-prepared for Lucas to take this ginormous step into being the oldest class. I'm really not ready for The Senior --- Take Two. Mornings are coming too quickly, marching me to that day where I'll watch Lucas drive to his last first day of high school.

Yesterday made it official. We went and paid his senior fees. Time has flown by. It's been just a blur, exactly like I thought it would be when I snapped these two pictures of trepidatious Lucas walking into his high school for the first time.

Yesterday ... it was a milestone, to be sure. Luckily, I was able to snap one, quick picture of him walking out of the school he has called his own for the past four years. The nervous teen who entered those doors four years ago was gone. There was no trepidation, no hesitation, only a self-assured young man who seems to have outgrown the walls of his high school. 




So maybe he really is ready to assume his role as The Senior.  But I'm not. I'm not ready for Take Two. Because in my mind's eye, this is how I still see my sweet, blond boy.



Oh, for the love of my children....

xo,
me

Monday, August 29, 2016

An Invitation

Dear Darlings,

This morning I was sitting at our kitchen counter with my cup of tea steaming beside me, ready to close up my computer and focus on the newspaper when an email caught my eye. It was from Lucas and the title was Invitation to Edit. My breath caught in my throat as I realized what it was. My sweet blond boy sent me his college essay and invited me in to have a peek. My tea and the newspaper were soon forgotten.

Lucas invited me in. He actually wants me to read what he's written before it's polished and pretty. To this day I've never seen the personal statement Zach wrote when he was applying to college. He and his English teacher worked together on it. I don't think he kept it from me intentionally, but he definitely didn't want me meddling, or maybe he was trying to keep me from thinking about him packing up and leaving our nest. Whatever the reason, it doesn't change the fact that I've never seen what he wrote. Here Lucas is working with a fabulous essay tutor and yet, he still he wants my input. Maybe he never should have asked me, and he may rue the day he invited me in. But I couldn't me more proud to be here...invited in.

My kitchen became a little cozier, my tea a little steamier and my day a little brighter all because of an invitation. Oh, for the love of my children...

xo,
Me

PS. I really wasn't supposed to read it before it was all shiny and purty...Lucas forgot his tutor's little nugget of a rule. Ooops!


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I Need a Fricking Chicken Brake

Dear Darlings,

I've done this twice before so it really shouldn't be that big of a deal, but it is! She's my sweet baby girl, and now she's learning to drive. I have to say, she's pretty good at it. She can drive in straight lines, change lanes, use her turn signals and can almost park...she needs to pull all the way through to get my boat into a spot properly, but she can do it without parking like a jerk. So you would think this would truly be no big deal for me, but ~ really it is.

Because...

The one thing she does that has me cringing in my seat, grabbing the overhead strap and white-knuckling my way through a trip with her is the fact that she goes waaaaaaay too fast. She has an overly-strong attachment to the gas pedal, and she downright hates the brakes. She has always loved the feel of wind blowing through her hair when we're screaming down the highway with the windows down and the music cranked. She's the only one who will indulge me in this little joy of mine. It messes up Lucas' hair, and it's too loud for both Stan and Zach. So she's used to going fast, wind rushing through the car and the tunes pumping, but that's with me behind the wheel. She doesn't have the skill set to be able to do any or all of that at the same time, but she thinks she does...so the gas pedal downs down, the speed goes up and the brakes are rarely applied in a timely manner (but, thankfully, the music is off).

The mantra I have beating out through my heart and in to her head to her is "Gotta slow down, Claire Bear...Gotta slow down, Claire Bear...Gotta slow down, Claire Bear." But gawd, do I need a fricking chicken brake because my words are not really working, and so it has me wondering if my mantra has turned into a metaphor. Is it that she's really going too fast or is it that she's growing up too fast? Is her speed a factor, or is it that I'm afraid we're racing toward some hazy finish-line she sees, and I don't? The one where she's off on her own, traveling the highways of life with the windows down, the music cranked and me in another car trailing slowly behind her.

I always thought the last kiddo would be the easiest, but it's not ~ and it never has been. Sending her off to kindergarten, brought as many tears to my eyes as it did with the boys. She was the one who sobbed hysterically at the thought of leaving elementary school and going on to middle school, which was never the case with her brothers ~ they both did celebratory moving-on dances before the seats of their elementary school desks had a chance to cool. Taking her to high school orientation last year was harder than it was with the boys probably because I now know how quickly these years fly by and are an absolute blur. Sooooo...I most definitely need a fricking chicken brake, because I really need her to slow down!

Oh, for the love of my children...

xo,
me