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Friday, April 29, 2011

Living My Life

This morning we were treated to the grandeur and opulence of the Royal Wedding. The bride glowed with a stunning beauty and seemed so at ease. The Prince was flawless in his appearance and his demeanor. The wedding was a real live fairy tale.

The wedding got me to thinking about my ordinary life. As I watched the bride step into the Rolls Royce on her way to Westminster Abbey I couldn't help but feel a twinge of something...maybe call it a touch of...hmmmm, not jealousy but maybe something akin to jealousy. As I watched this beautiful woman, who is beginning a life of a princess, I couldn't help but think of my own, ordinary life. I thought of the wild contrasts between the life she is beginning and my life. But as I watched the contraints with which Kate had to conduct herself it made me realize I couldn't be more thankful for the life I am living ~ as ordinary as it is.

This morning not only saw me watching the royal wedding, it also saw me racing around getting myself and Lucas ready to go on a field trip. Will Kate ever get to accompany her kids on a field trip or fix them breakfast or wake them and feel the warmth of their sleepy yawns? Will she want to do all of those things? I don't know the answers to those questions but I do know how very blessed I feel to be able to do all of those little things, and more, for my own children.

I feel very content, happy and blessed to be living my life ~ as ordinary as it is.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How the Hell...

How the hell did we survive? How did we survive life with only ONE tv in the house? I'm not sure, either, how we survived with only THREE channels! But somehow I made it through my miserable childhood so I could go on to inflict more misery on my poor, little daughter.

Claire came to me with tears, yes, I said TEARS, in her eyes last night and said "how come the boys can come into the room and change the channel on me any time they want when hockey is on?" Ummmm, excuse me?!? REALLY, Claire. We have three TV's in this house. Granted, one is
in our bedroom and rarely ever on and the other one is attached to the xbox but we do have three tv's with ample opportunities for the kids viewing pleasure. Not that they should be viewing that much on a weekday but...what can I say? It happens.


I'm going to go on one of those little "When I was a kid..." tirades.

When I was a kid we actually played outside WITH other kids not on xBox live via video chat.
When I was a kid we had ONE tv and my mom or dad got to pick the show we watched from one of THREE channels...my parents didn't spring for cable so we could get 13 channels.
When I was a kid we didn't have video games or computers to waste away the hours. If I wanted to waste time I read a book or listened to music.
When I was a kid I didn't have my mom at my beck and call to take me to and from many hours of practices and games. We didn't do that...we played outside with our friends.


My poor, poor children! I feel so sorry for them. They have such miserable lives with only three tv's in the house and hundreds of channels for their viewing pleasure. Their lives are so rough with endless hours of playing and practicing their favorite sports with their friends. I just don't know how the hell they are going to survive!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was A Young(er) Mama

There are certain things in life I wish I knew, or at least took to heart, when I was a younger Mama. Some of these nuggets of wisdom older Mamas tried to give me (I didn't listen) but the others I had to figure out on my own.

1. I wish I listened when the older mamas would say "housework will always be there ~ the babies won't." I took housework far too seriously when I was a younger Mama. I needed to know it was OK to have some dust bunnies. Rock those babies and enjoy every second of it. I loved rocking my babies but at the back of my brain stirred all the thoughts of what wasn't getting done while I rocked my babies. I didn't realize how much I was really accomplishing in the rocking chair with my little ones.

2. I wish I listened when I was told "babies grow up sooooooo fast. Enjoy them while they are little." I used to look at other mothers like they had three heads when they would croon over my little babies and say "Enjoy them now. It goes so fast." I enjoyed my babies, for the most part, but I kept looking forward to the next milestone and the next and the next. I didn't enjoy them at the stage where they were. I didn't believe time would fly so quickly. I believe it now.

3. I wish I accepted that it's OK to have those last few pregnancy pounds six months (or longer) after giving birth. I would get so frustrated with myself for not being one of those women to lose pregnancy weight immediately. I would think I was a failure if it wasn't gone quickly. With each baby it took longer and longer to shed my pregnancy weight. In the giant scheme of life it was no big deal. I wish I knew that and didn't beat myself up so badly for my perceived "failure."

4. I wish I knew NEVER to compare myself or my kids to other mothers or kids. I would compare myself to other mothers and I would see their "successes" while focusing on my "failures." Sometimes I looked at my friend's kids and saw their seeming perfection while in my own kids I saw every flaw. I looked at other's whose kids seem to behave perfectly when we were out and I would be embarrassed when my kids misbehaved or just acted like the little kids they were. I wish I kept in mind kids are kids and there will be days when they won't listen to you, won't get along with you and days you just plain ol' may not like them. I always loved them ~ even when they weren't "perfect" but sometimes I just didn't like them, or their behavior, very much. Everyone's circumstances are different at different times and while it make look like others have it made, looks can be deceiving.

5. I wish I realized I am not Wonder Woman. I had a friend who was Wonder Woman. She scrubbed her kitchen floors every night after dinner. Her house sparkled and always smelled like oranges. She had four little kids. I only had two at the time. She got it all done. I couldn't. She slept only four hours every night. I needed more sleep. She was Wonder Woman. I was not. (This goes back to not comparing myself to others.)

6. Don't sweat the small stuff. I can't say this one enough. This is the one I wish, I wish, I wish I kept plastered everywhere. I sweat the small stuff far too often, even now. I need this one tattooed to my forehead.

7. The most important thing I wish I knew to not be so hard on myself when I was a younger mama. I beat myself up a lot. I wish I had been kinder to myself. This was a hard lesson for me to learn but I learned it. I have learned to give myself a break when I screw up. It is much nicer live to life when you treat yourself with respect.

I have loved being a Mama from the minute I found out I was pregnant ~ although I didn't care much for all the pregnancy stuff. I just wish I took more of the older mamas advice to heart when I was a Young(er) Mama. But hopefully, some new, young mamas, who are not as bull headed as I was, can learn from my mistakes.

For the love of my children...

Monday, April 25, 2011

The First Crush

Do you remember your first crush? Mine was on a cute boy in my third grade class. His name was Christopher Taylor. He had blond hair, blue eyes and was, in my eyes, perfect.

Claire has her first crush right now and it brings back floods of memories of times gone by. The first crush, the first boyfriend, the first date, the first kiss ~ all butterfly in the stomach worthy events. Claire thinks her crush might like her back. She smiled a little shyly at me when she was telling me the story. In a way, I hope he likes her back. In another way, I want her to stay as far away from boys as possible.


I remember Zach's first crush. He was in fifth grade. He was the new kids on the block so he had an aura of mystery surrounding him (OK, well as much mystery as a fifth grade boy can have). He and his crush were "boyfriend/girlfriend" for about a month and then he told her he needed his freedom. He wanted to be single again. And it ended for him. Zach doesn't have a girlfriend now, doesn't show much desire to date anyone and that is more than OK by me! Hang out with the guys as long as you can, Zach. There's time for girls later!

Ah, sweet Lucas! Lucas' first crush did not go well. In fourth grade he had about as much smoothness as a jar of extra crunchy peanut butter when it came to girls. He told his crush he thought she was "hot." A highly inappropriate comment coming from a grown man, in my eyes, made even more so coming out of the mouth of a 10 year old boy to a 10 year old girl and I told Lucas just that. I told him "pretty" or "cute" is the way to go. NOT "hot"...never "hot" unless...well, I'm not sure there is an unless. Needless to say, Lucas' crush thought it was a bad word choice as well so she told his whole class he liked "Bob the Builder" and still watched "Barney." Stick him where it hurts, huh? Lucas left her alone after that incident. In fifth grade he developed a crush on another girl in his class and thought, maybe, just maybe, it was reciprocated but he never wanted to mess anything up with her so he remains her friend...he is still her admirer though. I think he is practicing on his smoothness so when it is time he can find the proper way to express his feelings. Right now, I am more than content having Lucas admire his crush from afar.

While these crushes are cute and sweet and innocent I know there will be a time in the not too distant future where girlfriends and boyfriends will be brought home. Those girlfriends and boyfriends will eventually turn into fianc├ęs and then spouses. Selfishly, I hope that time is in the far, far away future. When that time comes, though, I hope against all hope I will like who my kids bring home. I hope I will love the people my kids choose to marry. I hope and pray with all my heart we will enfold future spouses into our family and it will be reciprocated.

But, for right now, I will enjoy watching my kids grow up and test the waters of romance with little crushes.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Five Years

It has been five years since Stan's job brought us to Richmond. Five years ago I was looking at houses, schools and different areas of the city trying to decide where we might best fit in. Five years ago in May we bought our house here on a whirlwind weekend. I spent two days with our realtor, "One Eyed Betty" (so named because during our house hunting excursions she developed a tear in her retina while we were driving through Richmond. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it out of her car in one piece due to her lack of sight while driving. The next day she showed up with a patch on her bad eye and a driver in the seat of her car to complete our house hunting expedition. All of these adventures caused me to name her "One Eyed Betty.) On the third day Stan was finally able to accompany "One Eyed Betty" and me to look at houses and it is then we purchased our house. The three day house-hunting tour was complete. Our journey to Richmond was just around the corner.

We left Louisville, Kentucky in July of 2006 amid many hugs and even more tears. Louisville had been our home for seven years. It was the only home Claire had ever known. It was her birthplace. The boys were young enough when we moved to Louisville to believe it was the only home they had ever known as well. Louisville treated us well and we were leaving behind many special people who were part of so many fond memories. It was a tremendously hard day for all of us, leaving Louisville.

But Richmond was waiting for us, beckoning us with the promise of many new adventures, new friends and new memories to make. We made the trip to Richmond an adventure for us and the kids. We counted down the miles and we had a party atmosphere in the car. We kept a lookout for our giant moving van, wondering if we would beat it to the new house. As we pulled in the driveway of our new house, the doors of the van burst open with the kids fighting over who would get to see the whole house first. They all tore through the garage and went careening through the house, each one's face full of wonder at which room would be theirs. With the house tour done and the moving van still not here, reality set in and we faced more tears with our thoughts of what we left behind. Thankfully, the moving van arrived to distract us from the sad thoughts which were starting to crowd out all the thoughts of adventure we so carefully planted on our journey here.

With the house settled and the kids getting restless, we started to explore this great city we call home. We did a couple of touristy things ~ like going on the canal cruise in downtown Richmond. We checked out Churches, shops and restaurants. Our explorations found us with new favorite shops, a new place to share our spirituality and many new favorite eateries.

Today, after Church we went to our favorite place to eat brunch after Mass. We headed to Boychick's Deli to enjoy those dishes we have grown to love. I don't think the kids even cracked their menus, they know exactly what they love and they never vary. After our bellies were full, we made our way to the front to pay the check. The boys and I headed outside leaving Stan and Claire to pay the bill. One of our regular waitresses says to Stan, "You all have been coming here a long time and your daughter has grown up so much." Five years worth of growing up.

The adventure of moving to Richmond has been replaced by roots we established in this place we call home. We are blessed to have such wonderful memories of places past and we are blessed to be part of such an amazing present. Our journey to Richmond began five years ago. Five years has gone by so quickly. The kids have grown so much in these past five years.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Heart's Greatest Desire

A sister...I always wanted a sister of my very own. I wanted to fight and bicker over clothes, accessories, make-up, whose room was bigger, boys or whatever sisters fight and bicker about. I wanted to snuggle under covers late at night whispering sister secrets, doing each other's hair and make-up or whatever it is sisters do snuggled in the lateness of the night.

My first taste of "sisterhood" was when I went away to college and had to share a room for the first time. It did not go well. I was young and immature. She was self-absorbed and pretentious. My immaturity did not go well with her pretensiousness. I never experienced anything remotely similar to this situation. I didn't know how to handle it so I packed my bags and left but my greatest heart's desire was still to have a sister.

My time in college provided me many opportunities to try on sisterhood and I fell in love with it. Most of my college roommates were nothing short of amazing. I treasure the memories I have with each and every one of my roommates. They became my heart's greatest desire fulfilled. They became my sisters.

I think every woman needs to have a sister whether it is by blood, chosen or, for the very fortunate, the combination of both. Women need each other. We need to be able to vent, to share, to help heal wounds and to cheer each other on. For me, my "sisters" are my girl friends ~ the ones I turn to when the chips are down. They are the ones I can call and make my confessions without fear of judgement. Thank God for my girl friends!

There are times, still, when I wish I had a "true" sister but there is nothing to be done about it so there is no use whining about it. I will continue to treasure my girl friends and teach Claire to treasure hers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mom Has SO Much Time

Ah, Lucas! You gotta love him! He has absolutely no filter. Whatever is in his brain comes out of his mouth...good, bad and ugly.

After our time at the beach the other day we made our way to one of the many eateries along the strip at Virginia Beach to satisfy our rumbly bellies. We were all enjoying each other's company and some good ol' Mexican food when the topic turned to P909X, the fitness dvd's you see advertised on TV, lead by the uber-fit Tony Horton. Zach and Jan decided to take on this monumental fitness regime. It is a crazy-hard set of dvd's all designed to get you fit in 90 days. It works but it is one of the most difficult exercise plans to follow because of the extreme commitment. Stan bought the set for himself when he turned 40. He wanted to give himself the gift of getting fit as he hit the big 4-0. He stuck with the program and did well but the time involved was, ultimately, too much. The dvd's sat on the shelf until Zach and Jan discovered them. During our Mexican dinner the boys started talking about how to do it right (I don't think Mexican food is on Tony Horton's menu plan) and stay committed.

Zach and Jan started asking Stan questions on how to and what to do to get most benefit out of P90X. The conversation went back and forth for a few minutes and then the boys asked Stan "why did you stop?" Time was Stan's answer. He told the boys he doesn't have time to commit over an hour a day to working out. It's true. P90X took a lot of Stan's time and he doesn't have a lot of time to spare but he did get results. I think the boys will get even bigger results. They are young and the benefits will be evident quickly.

It was at this point in the conversation Lucas pipes up and says "Yeah Dad, I can see that. You have a job. But Mom could do it! She doesn't do anything all day. She has SO much time. Mom, why don't you do P90X?" God love Lucas! No filter.

I thought Stan was going to wet his pants laughing as we recounted the conversation yesterday. If it were anyone but Lucas I might be a little offended but it was Lucas, he has no filter and he means no harm.

Ah, for the love of Lucas...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Throw Like a Girl

Yesterday we spent the day at the beach. The kids and Stan frolicked about in the freezing cold waters of Virginia Beach while I sat on the beach and soaked up some sun (the thought of putting my body anywhere near 53 degree water - even if it was 89 degrees outside - was not on my radar but sitting on the beach, soaking up the sunshine was just my thing!). My enjoyment was complete as I watched the kids and Stan play football in the waves. The boys' included Claire in the throwing of the football and it made me smile.

I always knew there was a difference in the way boys and girls throw a ball, run and do a multitude of other daily activities but yesterday I wondered again why it is such an insult to say "You throw like a girl!" Yesterday reminded me why I get a little offended when I listen to boys insult one another, or girls, by slamming how girls throw, run, scream, etc...I am a girl. I am proud to be a girl. I am proud of my daughter. I hope she always embraces the fact that she is a girl. Yes, she throws like a girl but she gets the ball from point A to point B. I throw like a girl and I run like a girl but I, too, get my ball and myself from point A to point B. I run like a girl and throw like a girl because I am a girl.

Boys do things differently than girls because of differences in body structures. I get it. Male and female bodies, by their very nature, have to be designed differently. They are designed to accomplish different tasks in life.

I am glad boys do things differently. They are boys. I love my boys. I love the fact that they embrace their boy-ness. They are proud of being boys and they should be. Girls, too, have every right to be proud of being a girl. Claire doesn't go around saying "Ooooh, you throw like a boy!" Why should it be OK for boys to insult a girl for differences in body structure?

Why do we, as a society, encourage girls to not embrace their girl-ness? I think girls should stand tall and be proud of what their bodies can accomplish. We can be strong and athletic. We can be tall and willowy. We can be short and strong. Our bodies are perfectly designed. In our society there should be no place for insults regarding gender, sexual preferences, color, religion...In our society we should embrace what we are and stand tall. No one should be subjected to insults based on who they are.

I am constantly amazed when I hear demeaning comments like "Women's basketball (subsitute hockey, tennis, softball, etc...)is so boring." Women's sports are a different game. Women who get to a professional level in any sport should be commended for their hard work, dedication and commitment. Instead, they are belittled for how "boring" their sport is. I enjoy watching men's sports as much as the next person. Their sports are usually full of power and physicality. Women's sports are, generally speaking, a more strategic game. They are totally different games and they should be celebrated for their differences. We all should be celebrated for our differences. The demeaning needs to go.

I was so happy to watch the boys and Claire throw the football through the waves yesterday with nary a comment on throwing like a girl. Claire does throw like a girl. I throw like a girl. I am a girl and I am damn proud of it! I will teach Claire to throw like a girl and be proud of it. I will teach my sons to respect girls who throw like girls, run like girls and scream like girls. I want all of our daughters to throw like girls and be proud of it!

For the love of our daughters....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hypocrites and Forgiveness

As parents we are all hypocrites at times. We have to be. I am sure there has been more than one occasion where all of us have told our kids "Do as I say not as I do." Those of us who enjoy an occasional cocktail expect our kids to stay away from the dangers of alcohol. Those of us who use profanity expect our kids' language to remain clean. Those of us who smoke expect our kids to steer clear of the pitfalls of smoking. So, to a certain degree, we are hypocrites with our kids if we are honest with ourselves.

Adults are a different story. When we are hypocrites with each other it only breeds bad feelings. I don't like hypocrites and I try hard to steer clear of being a hypocrite myself. When I catch myself, and I do catch myself behaving hypocritically, I work to pull myself back, do the right thing and try to fix things. I remember when Stan was still in the Army and we were living in Germany. I was not happy to be living overseas with a toddler, no family and a husband who was gone over half of the time we were there. One day we were shopping at the PX (or Post Exchange which is like a Target/Dillards for our military members.) I took my frustrations out on a lady who, like me, was waiting in line to get help from a store employee. The line was long and disorganized. There was no way to show who was there first but I knew I was toward the front of the line. Finally, the PX employee put out a ticket machine so we could all take a number and be serviced in an organized manner. The lady I talked about above came into the line after I did and took a ticket before I could. My frustration level ratcheted up several notches. Zach was with me and he was getting fussy. All I wanted to do was leave so I snatched the ticket out of the lady's hand. I felt "entitled" to have the ticket first ~ I was there first. In reality, I hate people who feel any sense of entitlement. My remorse and shame was immediate and with my head hung low I apologized to the lady (and her young son) for my bad behavior and returned the ticket. I truly do not like hypocritical behavior in myself or others.


In Christianity we are coming into one of the most solemn celebrations of forgiveness ~ Easter. Recently I was asked to forgive someone for their bad behavior but was told my bad behavior was not forgiven. Interesting and hypocritical. It has taken every fiber of my being to grant forgiveness in this situation...to be asked to forgive but not forgive in return. I am struggling. Thankfully, it is Easter and I have a good role model to follow in my quest to forgive.

Forgiveness and hypocrites do not go hand in hand but my hope is to always follow the example Jesus set.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thrashing About

As I told you yesterday, we spent time in D.C. over the past weekend and had a blast...except for our last night in the hotel. Our last night in the hotel sucked. The hotel was gorgeous, beautiful and perfect ~ except for the beds. The beds were tiny. Those tiny beds made my last night there very difficult!

Stan is not a small man by any stretch of the imagination so the already tiny bed was made impossibly tiny for me. Sharing a bed with Stan is challenging under the best of circumstances. We have a king sized bed at home and sometimes that is not big enough. Stan is a notorious cover-fluffer, thrasher and twitcher at night. This can be an annoyance at home in our big bed but when we are put together in a mini-queen sized bed it is beyond annoying. It is torture. Around 2 o'clock in the morning he started in with some wild thrashing around followed by much cover-fluffing and finished me off with twitching every single muscle in his legs and feet. The twitching occurred at irregular intervals, usually as I was starting to drift back into a peaceful sleep. Finally, after about an hour of torture I moved over to Claire's bed where I saw her sleeping blissfully. She was quiet and still...just what I needed. So, I picked up my pillow, left the wildly thrashing and twitching Stan and crawled in with Claire.

Things were fine in Claire's bed until around 5 a.m. when Claire started in with twitching uncontrollably at irregular intervals waking me up, yet again. On top of the twitching Claire also started "petting" me with her feet. Add the "petting" and twitching to some thrashing about and I felt like I was back in bed with Stan...although Claire is considerably smaller and a lot prettier! I couldn't escape from twitching and thrashing! It's a good thing they are both cute and sweet during the day, it makes the torture of sleeping with them almost bearable. Those two, Stan and Claire, are cut from the same cloth ~ like father, like daughter.

Morning finally came and I was freed from the tortures of their twitching and thrashing. It was then Stan asked me what happened during the night and I gave him my version of the night's events. His version of events had me as the twitcher and thrasher...hmmmm, somehow I find that hard to believe when the proof rests with me having to switch beds. Like I said above, it is a good thing they are both cute and sweet when they are awake otherwise...Ah, what am I saying? I would put myself through many sleepless nights to be able to enjoy their company during the day. Although, I may be grumpy with them, I will put up with their nighttime antics for the love of my family...

Monday, April 18, 2011

People Watching

I didn't blog yesterday because this past weekend we took a trip to D.C. as part of our spring break festivities. We wanted to show Jan our nation's capital while we had a chance. We hadn't had an opportunity to show off the treasures we have in Washington.

D.C. always amazes me with the infinite amount of people watching available to me there. This trip was no exception. I love to people watch. I love to make up stories about their lives. I will look to find someone who stands out in the crowd and try to make up something about their lives based on what drew my attention to them.

Our first day there we were treated to cool temperatures and rainy conditions. The best place to beat the weather is at one of the many Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. The kids chose the Air and Space Museum. I think it may well be the most popular of museums in D.C. Standing in line behind hoards of other people who had the same desire to get out of the rain gave me ample opportunity to people watch. No one really drew my attention, though, until we got we got to the security check point. The man right in front of us was stopped and his back pack re-scanned because the security guard saw something out of the ordinary. This man had a giant pair of scissors in his back pack which were promptly confiscated by security. I imagined he was a famous clothing designer on his way from his studio. In my mind he was in a hurry to meet a friend and he just forgot to take out his scissors. I could tell he was upset about losing his scissors but he handled himself well and he impressed me. He was cool, polite and a bit apologetic about the situation. Claire was with me as we watched to scene unfold and I knew she felt just a little bad for the guy. Once we were finished with security Mr. Scissorhands disappeared into the crowd.

As we made our way through the museum one guy kept crossing my path. I had the distinct impression he was homeless from the unkempt nature of his clothes, hair and shoes. He had on white, ankle-length leggings topped with cut off jean shorts. His hair was longish, greasy and he had a strange mini-bun at the back of his head. He took just part of his hair at the very back of his head and put it in a rubber band and then wrapped it into a bun. He looked like he was carrying most of his possessions in his back pack with a variety of things hanging off the sides of his back pack. His shoes were in poor condition with the soles being worn away on the insides of his heels. He walked from exhibit to exhibit mumbling to himself. I think he may have been in the beginning stages of some mental decline, at least this is the story I told myself as I saw him in different parts of the museum.

The final guy who caught my attention needed no made up story. He was crazy as a loon. Claire and I had the unfortunate opportunity to run across this bonafide crazy man. Claire and I decided to take the stairs coming up from the Metro Station leaving Stan and the boys behind on the escalator. We were standing together waiting for the boys when this short, filthy man came bursting between us. He was foaming at the mouth and his speech was gibberish. He slammed his way in between Claire and me and started circling us like a shark. Claire gave a little cry and jumped behind me. I stood between her and the crazy man. He seemed to back away so I let my guard down for a minute to pin my wet bangs back out of my face. The lunatic took my lapse in attention to deliver a hard punch to my elbow. At this point the boys came up the escalator and the crazy man shrank back into the shadows as I put Stan directly in between us and the lunatic. Claire was beyond stunned and more than a little freaked out by this encounter. Claire and I will be glad to never run into a man as crazy as he was.

My people watching time was limited because of everything we packed into the weekend but I still was able to make up stories about a few of the people we saw. I didn't make up as many stories as I have in time's past, I was too busy having fun with Stan and the kids. The kids rated our trip a five out of five so all in all the trip to our Nation's Capital was a success.

Ah, for the love of my children...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jealousy

What makes some women and girls so jealous and guarded with one another? Why aren't our girls taught to cheer each other on instead of tearing each other down? Think of how much better life would be if all of our daughters learned the value of other girls.

Is it an inherent trait to be jealous and guarded with women who present an unknown in our lives? I know I react negatively, on occassion, to other women. It doesn't happen often but it bothers me when it happens. I try to work back through my feelings to see how and why I am reacting so negavitely. I don't always come to a good answer. Sometimes I know I react negatively because the person presents themselves as something they aren't. They are fake and phony. I don't like fake and phony. Then there are some people who are just schmoes. They are mean and nasty. I accept that they are mean and nasty and I can wrap my head around why I don't like these women (or people). It is when I can't come to a good reason for reacting negatively to someone I really struggle. I think it is jealousy and I don't like it. It feels all wrong when I don't like someone.

Claire is coming into a time when girls are starting to be nasty to one another. She has come to me with some stories already of some mean-girl bitchiness. When she first started swimming she moved to a higher group relatively quickly because she was fast and strong. One of the girls in the new group went out of her way to make sure Claire knew she wasn't welcome. She told Claire to "take her fat self back down to the other group where she belonged." Mama bear came out roaring. I went into protect mode and, with the help of Claire's coach, shut the other girl's behavior down immediately. The other girl was threatened by Claire moving up so quickly. She was jealous and didn't know how to deal with her jealousy. I know I won't always be able to go into to protect mode and I know this is just the beginning. It makes me cringe to think of the potential firestorm Claire is headed into. I want to keep Claire away from the bitchiness of "mean girls." (Don't get me wrong, I think boys can be awful to each other too but this blog is just about girls and their relationships with each other.) I don't like mean girls. I want to teach Claire to support and build up other girls. I want to try to deal with my own jealousy head on so I can be a good role model to Claire. But I don't know if it will be enough...

So, all of you mamas out there who are navigating the waters of jealousy and mean girls how do you teach your daughters to deal with mean girls and jealousy?

Oh, for the love of our daughters.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cleaning for the Cleaning Ladies

Alright, I admit it, we are spoiled. Every two weeks our cleaning crew comes in a works magic on our house. Every two weeks I am forced to deal with my stack of papers and put them where they belong. Every two weeks the kids are forced to clean up for the cleaning ladies. Every two weeks the house is sparkly and clean ~ for about two hours ~ but having cleaning ladies is a luxury I really don't want to do without.

The night before the cleaning ladies come I always hear a litany of whining and fussing about having to tidy up the house. Last night almost sent me over the edge. "I just sat down," they said. "Why can't I have a night off," they asked? They are fussing about getting the house tidy so THEY don't have to scrub floors and toilets. There is something inherently wrong with their thinking (I also know there is something inherently wrong with cleaning for the cleaning ladies but I want them to clean the house not TIDY the house)! I hate to burst their bubbles but once they are out on their own there will be NO cleaning ladies to clean up for (unless they land that super, stupendous $100K per year job right out of college but that is doubtful!).

I had a mini-temper tantrum last night when they started whining about just getting to sit down and asking for a day off! I know they are kids who don't think a lot before words start shooting out of their mouths and I know I am the parent who signed up to work 24/7/365 but...JEEZ to complain about cleaning up for the cleaning ladies?!? REALLY!?! We are all so spoiled in this house and after last night's whine-fest I am thinking maybe I should just have the cleaning ladies clean our room and the common areas. Maybe I should have the kids clean their own bathrooms, bedrooms and rec room. Maybe that would knock some sense into them but I think it would actually create more work for me. I would have to be all over them like white on rice to make sure everything actually was cleaned. I think I'll stick with the cleaning ladies for now...the kids can learn their lesson when they move out and there is no more having to clean up for the the cleaning ladies. That'll teach 'em!

Oooooooh, for the love of....my children!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Moral Dilemma

These days I see more and more people sitting on the corners of streets holding signs, asking for money. My heart goes out to the people I see but what do you do when you see these people? Do you turn away? Do you give money and hope for the best? I have done both and if I'm honest with myself, I have to say, both doing something and doing nothing makes me uncomfortable.

I am uncomfortable giving money to these strangers because it's always possible they aren't genuine. Stan has been burned by the scammers out there who give you the story about being out of town and out of gas so could he please spare $30 bucks to fill up the tank? Maybe these guys are honest but I just don't know. I do know the scared and cynical mama in me says they aren't what they make themselves out to be. I was approached in the middle of a parking lot by a man in a car and he gave me the same story Stan has heard a number of times. He was sitting in a running car. He tried to call me over but Claire and I were together and my only thought was to get Claire away from danger. As I walked into the safety of the store I began to question my moral compass. Did I do the right thing turning away from someone who could have truly needed help?

Then there is the flip side ~ when you actually give money to someone. It makes you feel good and like you are doing something right but are you? There is a man I regularly see asking for money on the corner. I saw him walking into to Target one day so out of morbid curiosity I followed him. I wanted to see how he spends the money he collects from passing cars. I felt a little stalkerish in my quest to follow him around Target but I couldn't stop myself. The cynic in me thought he would certainly head to the wine aisle. Nope. Then I thought maybe he would head to the cough medicine aisle. Nope again. I then thought, as I trailed him through the store, was maybe he was truly hungry and in need. He finally stopped and picked up a package of Depends underwear. How do you process THAT information?

So, my moral dilemma is this...how do we teach our kids to be good and kind and generous without getting taken advantage of? I need to know how to give them a good moral compass without getting scammed. It is my moral dilemma of the day and I would love a good answer for the love of everyone...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One Thing I Can't Live Without

I was recently asked the question "What is one thing you can't live without?" The question kind of threw me for a loop. I am not sure I ever thought about what I couldn't live without in a serious sense. I thought about it in a very superficial sense, you know ~ "I couldn't live without my tea in the morning" or "I couldn't live without tennis," but I wanted my answer to this question to be anything but superficial. There are several things I don't want to live without and even more things I would really be lost without but the one thing I can't live without gave me a moment of pause, only a moment, though.

The answer popped into my head as I ran through my litany of things I love and stuff I hoard. It is my husband I can't live without. Stan makes me want to be the best person I can be. Every couple has one person who is the better half. Stan is my better half. He is the driving force behind my desire to go out and shine in the world. Without him, my life would be dim. I want to be the best I can be because Stan is there.

My answer is more figurative than literal. My physical life wouldn't end if Stan weren't in it but my desire to shine would be diminished (my desire to be the best mama will go on and on). It is that part of my life I "couldn't live without." I don't say any of this with any sense of tragedy or martydom. I say it with the greatest sense of joy. Stan brings joy and where there is joy there is life. Stan will always bring great joy to all of the lives he touches.

What is the one thing you can't live without? It was a fun question for me to answer. If you have time today I would love to hear what you can't live without!


There was another question I was asked at the same time I was asked about what I couldn't live without. It was "What are you most proud of in your life?" Can you guess my answer?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Self Confidence

When I hit the big 4-0 I found a self confidence I didn't have before. I have more of a devil may care attitude. I don't really care what others think when I act silly or goofy. I can laugh at myslef. I feel at ease in my own skin. I feel like I can walk into a room full of strangers and be OK. I wouldn't really like it but I could do OK. I still have anxieties and hang-ups but who doesn't? I just feel a little less inhibitied and reserved.

The one area where I can lack self confidence right now in on the tennis court. It is the beginning of tennis season so I'm thinking a lot of my blogs could be about tennis...today's is about tennis AND self confidence. They go hand in hand.

In recent weeks I have been put on the first and second lines in both singles and doubles. I am not so sure I believe I should be there. Last year I played third singles and third doubles. I did OK there. After the first serve of my first singles match last season I had a bad case of the jitters. As my rallies went on and on, and I found myself returning the ball with ease, I felt confident and strong. I felt like I earned the right to be there, playing third line singles. Last week as I took to the courts to play second line singles my nerves were jangled and kept ratcheting up higher and higher as I lost more and more ground. I felt my self confidence slipping away. Tennis is a head game and if you don't believe you should be there you shouldn't.

I need to recaputure my self confidence so I can succeed not only for me but to show my kids to power through any self confidence issues so THEY can succeed in life. Now, I know this is only suburban league tennis in Richmond, Virginia and I understand I am not going to Wimbleton or the U.S. Open but tennis is a way for me to take care of myself as a mom. Tennis is how (and why) I try to keep in shape. Tennis boosts my self confidence, when I let it. I need to believe I belong on the first and second lines of the line-up because when I have self confidence I am able to pass it on to my kids.

Self confidence is for the love of my children...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The What If Game

Ever since Lucas was little this was his favorite game. He constantly asked all sorts of crazy questions. "What if the sky were on the ground and the ground were in the sky?" "What if the grass were purple?" His mind works like no one else I know.

Claire, Lucas and I were in the car the other day and he started in with the "What If..." game again. I don't remember what his question was because as soon as he said "What if..." I was transported back in time to when he was little. Lucas' questions came fast and furious when he was little. It used to drive me to distraction to have to answer so many, many questions. My tongue would bleed from biting it to keep myself from snapping at Lucas to stop with the crazy "what if..." questions. There were times where I didn't bite my tongue hard enough and ended up snapping at the curious little boy whose head was so full of questions. Those are days I look back on with regret but Lucas seems to have pulled through from my snappishness OK. He is still asking crazy "What If..." questions.

Lucas is, truly, like no other person I know. His mind is constantly working and moving. He is persistent to the n-th degree. He could drive the most patient person crazy with his persistence. I know he has driven me to the crazy farm every now and again. I hope he never loses his curiosity or his persistence, though. He will have to find a field of work where these two traits can be appreciated by his co-workers and bosses. He talked recently about wanting to study medicine and help other kids with ADHD. Lucas would know how to help.

One of Lucas' many gifts to me is his ability to show me his mind's inner workings with the "What If..." game. I hope he plays the game forever.

Oh, for the love of Lucas...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Oh What A Day

This weekend revolves around Claire and her activities. Today was a continuation of her swim meet from last night but before she could go swim she went to dance with her competition dance team. We raced from venue to venue and did a quick change in between. Weekends revolving around Claire rarely happen so when it does I am usually happy for her. Normally weekend activities revolve around the boys' hockey schedules with anything Claire needs to do squashed in between.

Claire and her dance team rocked their competition today. They did a fantastic job and they were rewarded with a Platinum score and a first place trophy. She and her team were on cloud nine. They deserved to be there, they worked hard and it has paid off for them.

We sprinted off to her swim meet as soon as the awards for dance were over. Claire seemed relaxed and happy as we drove to the pool. The two events she was swimming were her best two events, the 50 butterfly and the 50 backstroke. She was .3 seconds away from the A time in her butterfly. She and I fully expected her come away with the coveted "A" time. But it was not to be today. She added time in both events and had a huge meltdown after the 50 fly. I almost had to pull her out of the 50 backstroke because she couldn't pull herself together. In the end, I learned she felt too much pressure to perform in these events. I wish I had known how much pressure she had building inside of her before she swam. She puts so much pressure on herself to perform and perform well. If I had known, I think I could have helped calm her wicked nerves.

After all was said and done, I told her I feel the same way when I feel tremendous pressure to perform at a certain level. I also told her she and I are going to have to learn to work through pressure filled competition together. I think we can help each other learn some good techniques.

I hope I learn some good techniques to help calm pressure filled nerves soon so I can help Claire as she has these kind of days.

Oh, for the love of Claire...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pride

Claire had a swim meet tonight and her first event did not go well, to say the least. She swam the 200 Individual Medley, which is 50 yards of butterfly, 50 backstroke, 50 breast stroke and 50 freestyle. I think her time included an extra five seconds she didn't have before. She was butt naked last. To say she was devastated when she got out of the pool is an understatement.

She told her friend, Emma, it was her worst swim ever and she would never swim that event again. Before the event started she was more nervous than I have seen her in a long time. She did not want to swim this event. I went to calm some pre-swim nerves but I think I made it worse. Usually, when I tell her to swim fast, swim hard and have fun she relaxes a little. Today my words had the opposite effect. She was a bundle of nerves and she was convinced she was going to do poorly. It was a self fulfilling prophecy for her. She believed she was not going to do well and she didn't. She started out great but she lost it going into the second turn and she kept losing ground from there. It was, indeed, one of her worst swims ever but I have to believe she will swim it again.

She went on to swim the 50 yard freestyle and dropped 3 seconds from her time. It gave her a boost in confidence and helped her through a tough spot. When I told her to have fun in this event she said her goal was to make me proud. Her first question to me after she swam was "Are you proud of me?" What she needs to realize is I am proud of her no matter how she performs, in or out of the pool.

I figured out the reason she was so worked up on the 200 Individual Medley ~ Claire was too worried about making me proud to focus on swimming. My guilt meter is spinning fast tonight. She and I had a long talk on the way home. I told her she started swimming because it was fun for her and she was good at it. She needs to keep focusing on the fun of it or she will get burned out before she can even prove how good she can be. I want her to focus on making herself proud with her swimming ~ my pride is always there for her. Claire can be intense and scary in her goals to be better and better. I think my job with her is to keep her focused on pride in herself.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sometimes You're the Windshield...

Today I was not the windshield, I was the bug. I had two tennis matches and I lost both. For the first time, I lost a singles match and I lost badly. We played to deuce over half of the games we played, I just couldn't put it away. I was not happy. I went on to play a doubles match right after my singles match and I lost there too, not as badly but it was still in the "L" column. Our team lost the entire match and I was a big part of the loss. I was the bug squashed the windshield of life.

In the grand scheme of life these losses are no big deal but I hate losing. I don't think I am a good or gracious loser. I try to be gracious but I get so stinking mad at myself for not performing well. I am sure my opponents think I am insane as I yell at myself for hitting the ball into the net. I think it is because of my frustration I am not a gracious loser. It's easy for me to be gracious when I am winning; I think it easy for all of us to be gracious when we are winning. I think I did OK today trying to be a little gracious but...I truly hate losing.

Jan, or exchange student, is the tennis player in this house so he understands my frustration. He was the one who gave me a hug when I told him I lost and said it was OK. He gets the frustration with not being able to get things done on the court.

We all lose every now and again. Losing is a fact of life. It is how we handle the loss that defines our character. Lucas, our middle child, seems to have grasped this lesson. At last year's travel hockey tryouts Lucas was the only one of his original team to get cut. It was a brutal blow to him. He got cut from the team when all of his friends were still together. Lucas was the bug squashed on the windshield but you would never have known it by his actions. The first thing he did after the hockey season started was to go and support his teammates at their first game. He was on the bench with his team but not a part of the team, really. He opened the door for the players as they went on and off the ice. He was their biggest chearleader. Last night at the hockey banquet Lucas went on to impress my friend, Heather. She talked about how character is shown when you are knocked down. It is how you react to being knocked down that defines you, she said. She was so impressed Lucas went to the banquet and sat with his former teammates. He stayed in his seat, alone at their table, as the team was called forward during the awards ceremony and he clapped his heart out for the players who won awards. Heather was so impressed by Lucas' ability to not only rise to the occasion but to rise above. Lucas is well schooled in how to be a gracious loser. I hope he remembers how to be gracious, always.

I hope to keep Lucas' lesson close to my heart so I can work harder and harder to be a gracious loser. I hope Lucas' actions can rub off on the rest of us. In this respect, Lucas is far more mature than I am. I need Lucas to lead the way and I need to learn to handle being the bug a little better. I would much rather be the windshield, although I will continue to try things Lucas' way for the love of all of our kids...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Power of Forgiveness

I am on top of the world. Tonight was our annual hockey banquet and it is my favorite time of the hockey year but it is not the reason I am on top of the world. Three little words gave me an over the top, happy feeling.

I was on the outs with a dear friend of mine. I had no idea what happened. All I knew was things might not ever get better between us. There was no communication. I didn't know what to do to mend fences. I didn't know how to apologize because I didn't know what I did. I wanted to make things better but I was at a loss. My friend meant the world to me.

What happened between us is irrelevant, at this point. It is over and it is done. What matters is I have my friend back because we each looked past the hurt we experienced, we talked about our feeling and we said "I am sorry." Those are three of the most powerful words when they are put together in a sentence. I love forgiveness and I love moving on.

I want my children to always be able to accept apologies and forgive those who hurt them. There is no point in grudge holding. My dad was the master grudge holder when I was a kid. The only thing grudge holding taught me was to hold on to resentments. When he held grudges he taught by example how to act ugly and treat others with disrespect. Thankfully, my mom's lesson were different. She taught me to accept apologies when they are given and move on. I want to emulate my mom, in this respect, and pass it on to my kids.

I can not tell you how light my heart is and how happy I am with those three little words that were spoken today, "I am sorry."

Forgiveness will be shown, taught and given, for the love of my children...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Peter Pan In Our House

I remember wanting to grow up so badly. All of my make believe games when I was a kid were about being older. My games included living in a dorm room in college, being a flight attendant seeing the world and being a working girl living on my own. I constantly talked about wanting to be a grown up. I preened like a peacock during mating season when I was complimented about how grown up I looked or acted.

Claire is my polar opposite in this respect. During her First Communion party last year she had a bit of mini-meltdown about her childhood slipping away. She and I talked a long time about not having to grow up too fast. She likes being a kid and I like her being a kid but the issue of growing up fast keeps popping up. Several of her friends talk quite a bit about where they want to go to middle school and then on to high school ~ keep in mind Claire and her friends are in 4th grade. As we were driving home from swim practice last night she said "I don't want to have to think about where I am going to middle school yet. I'm only in 4th grade and I want to enjoy 4th grade." Claire stuns me with her desire to stay a kid for as long as she can. She doesn't stun me because I wanted to grow up so fast and she doesn't but it is because her approach to remaining a kid is so mature. She appreciates being a kid in a way I never did. She is an anomaly. She is a kid and she is a kid at heart but she approaches life with the maturity some adults will never have.

All kids deserve to stay kids for as long as they can. Being an adult, I figured out, it a lot of work. Now, I would love to go back to being a kid every so often, although, if you ask my kids they will tell you I don't act too grown up sometimes. I guess there are a lot of Peter Pan's in our house. No one really wants to grow up around here. I like it like this. It keeps me on my toes and keeps me young because now I don't want to be a grown up. I want to stay young at heart. I want my kids to stay kids as long as they can. Peter Pan can stay here for as long as he wants. There is plenty of time to be grown up.

Ah, for the love of my children...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Auntie Mame's Birthday

Did you ever see the movie "Mame"? It is one of my all time favorite movies. Set back in the 50's it is about a young boy who loses his parents and goes to live with his Auntie Mame. Auntie Mame had never been married or had her own kids. She has lived an unorthodox (at least unorthodox for the the 50's) life of luxury and comfort. Auntie Mame goes on to raise her nephew in this same unorthodox environment. She does it with love, humor and a tremendous sense of fun. Mame is full of energy and joy. She seems like someone I would love to be around. I love Auntie Mame in the movie.

We have our very own "Auntie Mame." She did not start out as Auntie Mame to me, she started out as Elzia or Mrs. Phillips. She is Stan's dad's sister and she is one of my favorite people. I met Elzia when Stan and I were engaged. We took a road trip up and down the East Coast so Stan could introduce me to his family and friends before our big day. Elzia's house was our first stop. She made quite and impression on me. Elzia was warm and welcoming, making me feel a part of her world from the minute I walked into her house. She included me in dinner preparations and as she cooked, and I helped, Elzia told family stories and kept the conversation flowing delightfully. When it came time to go to bed, Elzia was strict in her philosophy regarding sleeping arrangements. Stan would sleep in the boat house, far away from the guest bedroom where I was staying. There would be no chance of any shinanagins while we stayed at their house. Her rules did not bother me in the least, in fact I respected her for setting standards high for us.

Elzia became Auntie Mame when we had Zach. Stan and I were the first to have any children between Stan's brothers and his cousins. I made the obligatory rounds of what each grandparent or great aunt would like to be called and Elzia said she would love to be called "Auntie Mame." It suits her. She is full of life, energy and radiates such happiness. She is a joy to be around. My kids all love to visit Auntie Mame.

Auntie Mame suffered a massive stroke the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We had just spent the holiday with her. She rough housed with her grandson's and hung out with our boys, talking hockey and lacrosse with them like she was one of them. She and Claire got to have some good ol' Pokrywka girl time when Claire stayed for a sleepover with her beloved Auntie Mame. We left the weekend feeling blessed and happy to have such a wonderful family to share our holidays with. The Monday after Thanksgiving at 7 in the morning my phone rang. It was the phone call letting us know our Auntie Mame had a stroke. It was bad. Stan and I got the kids off to school and raced to Alexandria to be there for Auntie Mame, her son Frank and his girlfriend, Sima. I was prepared for the worst but hoping for the best. Auntie Mame is a fighter. She still has too much living to do to let a stroke take her away from us.

Auntie Mame fought hard from the minute she came out of surgery to relieve the pressure in her brain and clean up the damage. She has made a remarkable recovery. When she first had her stroke not many believed she would regain much use of her left side, be able to walk or to live independently. This experience was a crash course in the fragility of life. Life can change in the blink of an eye. It has been a long four months for Auntie Mame but I am happy to say she has regained nearly all the use of her left side, has relearned to walk and is getting ready to leave the assited living facility where she has been recuperating since December. Auntie Mame has worked so hard to regain what we all take for granted. I couldn't be more proud of her or happier for her recovery. Today is her birthday. Yesterday Stan took the kids to celebrate with Auntie Mame, cake and all. Happy Birthday, to our very own Auntie Mame! This is for the love and joy you give to all of us...

Food Dye

The other day I read an article about the FDA studying the effects of food dye and it's relationship to ADHD. I completely believe there is a correlation between all of the dyes and preservatives we put in our foods and ADHD.

Lucas was diagnosed with ADHD when he was six years old. We had him tested outside of school by a licensed child pyshchologist. The school was pushing and pushing us to get the test done but we pushed back just as hard. I felt the school thought Lucas was hard to handle and they were looking for a quick fix to make him easier to control so I made sure to take him far away from school to have him tested. I didn't want his school anywhere near Lucas when he was tested because I was afraid they would skew the test to force us to either leave the school or heavily medicate Lucas so he was easier to handle. I didn't believe Lucas had ADHD. I thought he was a six year old little boy who was rambunctious, curious and full of energy.

The test results came back and it was a shock to both Stan and me. Lucas scores were off the charts in every single area of the test. Normally, I would be singing from the roof if my child's scores were off the charts but I was mortified. How could I over look all of the signs of ADHD? When I saw Lucas' behavior in the psychologist's office, I understood. Lucas was a completely different child outside of our house and when we weren't in charge. It was summer so Lucas was in a basketball jersey and shorts. When the psychologist tried to engage Lucas in a conversation he sat in the chair, pulled his arms into his jersey and then he pulled his head into his jersey. He looked like a turtle trying to hide from the world. If this is what Lucas behaved like outside of our world it was no wonder the school was after me to have him tested. We didn't see this behavior at home.

After the shock wore off I started doing research on the best way to help Lucas without medication. At this point, I was on the fence about medication but Stan was firmly against it so I sought alternatives. One of the first pieces of information I found was about food dyes. Back then our pantry and freezer were stocked with all of the convenient foods kids love. We had Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Kid Cuisine, Lunchables...all full of yellow dye #5. I started re-evaluating what foods went into my kids bodies. It was no longer a matter of convenience, it was a matter of doing the right thing for Lucas. I pulled all of those foods out of my pantry and freezer and started checking food labels for dyes. I saw a slight change in behavior after the foods with dyes left the house but it was enough of a change for me to work to keep food dyes out of the house permanently.

We eventually decided to medicate Lucas after months of trying every other conceivable option and hours talking to the pediatrician and pschychologist. I cried when we decided to medicate Lucas. It broke my heart thinking we were caving to medication. I thought we would lose Lucas and his free spirited personality. He did OK at home, under our rules but it wasn't a question of whether Lucas could function at home and with our rules, it was a question of how he functioned at school. He couldn't function at school. He was a struggling "C" student who had no friends. The pediatrician was patient with me as I sat on the examination table and bawled my eyes out. He explained ADHD so I could understand it was a medical condition and not just a label we were throwing on Lucas. "If Lucas had high blood pressure you wouldn't hesitate to put him on medicine to control his blood pressure," the doctor said. He gently asked, "why would you hesitate to help him with his ADHD through medicine?" The medicine works but only on the weekdays. Weekends, Thanksgiving, Christmas and summer Lucas takes a "medical holiday."

I can see a huge difference in the boys when they stay away from food dye. I can also see a huge difference in them when they eat something with dye in it. Zach has more freedom of choice with his food and I can tell when he gets a hold of something with dye in it. He is impulsive and hard to reason with. Lucas is a bit more conscientious when it comes to food because he knows how it affects him so he tries to avoid the dyes. Zach's ADD is not nearly as severe as Lucas'. Zach hasn't had quite the same row to hoe Lucas has so he is not as concerned about food dyes. (He is also a teenager and completely invincible, in his mind, so he thinks he doesn't need to worry.) In Zach's defense, though, food dye is everywhere. It's in foods we eat when we think we are being healthy. Life Cereal. I always thought it was a good choice. Healthy, whole grain ~ with food dye. The kids love it but I won't buy Life Cereal anymore because of Yellow Dye #5 and #6. I want to give them every advantage I can so when they leave the house they can focus on school and not focus on how their breakfast is affecting their work. The food dye seems to counteract all the good the medicine does for them.

I hope someday to not have to worry about dye in our foods but until then I will buy as close to natural as I can and keep the dyes out of the house for the love of my children...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Looking Back

Have you ever had a dream so vivid and colorful it seemed to transport you there and you were living it? "Alice in Wonderland" comes to mind but my dream was without the added benefit of hallucinogenics. Last night I had the most wonderful dream. I was transported back in time to when the kids were little, cuddly and sweet-smelling. It was short and vivid but it was sweet. It was only a dream.

In my dream Claire offered me her sweet, little hand to hold. My dream showed Claire when she was a darling little two year old with her sweet two year old hands. I miss the days of little hands. Two year old hands are the best. They are plump and curious. They are constantly working to learn a new task. They are always covered with some type of a mess from the tasks they trying to learn. Two year old hands make me smile. In my dream Claire's hands were soft and warm. The were dimply and chubby. Her little face looked up and me and she offered me her little hand to hold. The dream felt so real ~ Claire's little hand in mine.

My dream put me in a nostalgic mood today. I have been reliving the toddler days in my head. I love reliving the days when my kids were toddlers because I can edit out all of the temper tantrums, the messes and all of the hard work having toddlers brings. In my head I can savor the sweet smell of one of my little ones just out of the tub after their nightly bath. In my head I can feel their warm little bodies drifting off to sleep as they are rocked and read to before bed. In my head I can revisit them in their beds as sleep like little angels. I love looking back sometimes, it fortifies me for the present.

For me, looking back at all of the sweet times makes the tough times of the present a little easier to handle. I looked at my kiddos this morning and I saw the sweet babies, who turned into toddlers, who then grew into preschoolers. I needed to see it this morning because Zach came home asking to go for a practice drive in "his car." His time of independence is quickly approaching. I need to sit back and see the sweet baby who became this incredible young man. I need to savor this time so when he spreads his wings to leave I will have these sweet moments to relive in my head.

Ah, for the love of my children...