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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Growing Up

Dear Claire,

I thought I saw you today. But I know it wasn't really you. It was a little girl who reminded me so much of you as a toddler. She had blond wispy hair, big brown eyes and chubby little hands, grasping at the table and her food and her mama. She was dressed in an outfit much like how I would have dressed you at two. She had on a leopard print jumper with a white top underneath, shiny patent leather shoes and a big bow in her hair. She reminded me so much of you at two my heart constricted. My time with you has gone so fast. Now you stand eye to eye and toe to toe with me. You are no longer the toddler of my memories, you are a beautiful, intelligent young lady.

The little girl I saw today was out to lunch with her mama just like you would go out to lunch with me. We would sit and have "chats" about what you saw, what you wanted to eat and what tasted yummy. Now, you talk with me about what schools you want to attend, from middle school to high school and even talking about colleges already. Your conversations are so grown up and mature ~ the voice of the little girl is gone. It's been replaced by your ever growing, ever changing presence. You are growing up too fast and today I wanted to sit at lunch with you while you ate a toddler's lunch. I wanted to open a go-gurt for you and break your sandwich into little, bite-sized pieces. I wanted to hand you a cup of milk and wipe your chubby, little hands when you were finished with your lunch.

It's funny, I was at lunch with Nana when we saw the little girl who was so much like you and I have to think Nana still sees me as her little girl sometimes. All of the times she calls you Jenni makes me smile. I know she must still sees me as her little girl ~ through you. So, my darling Claire, when you are grown up and have children of your own I will still look at you and see my sweet little two year old baby girl.

But please stop growing up so fast.

xo,
Mom

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Butterfly

This past year has been one of varying degrees of every imaginable emotion...happiness, sadness, anger, joy, anxiety, fear. It's probably like that every year for every person, I guess. For me, though, I think all of these feelings are more pronounced because I am documenting them ~ writing everything down.

This year has also been a year of intense growth for me, both spiritually and emotionally. As I was preparing this morning for tonight's MOMS meeting I came to read the poem "The Butterfly" and it sums up my feelings on the past year...

Not too fast, not too fast,
Let it grow, let it last,
Nature knows when and why...the butterfly.

I remember one morning when I saw a cocoon in the bark
of a tree,
I remember I marveled that imprisoned inside was a butterfly
waiting to be free.

I was very impatient so I warmed the cocoon with the breath
of my sighs,
And the butterfly trembled and began to emerge like a miracle
right before my eyes.

All at once I discovered that its delicate wings were all crumpled
and torn,
When he still wasn't ready I had made him be born.
I was stronger than nature and I had made him be born.

But the wonder of life had a definite plan,
So he died in my hand by the will, not of God, but of man.

Not too fast, not too fast,
Every one has a moment and I'm waiting for mine,
When I'm finally free.
But I mustn't be hurried.
Give me light...give me time.
Like the butterfly...like the butterfly...

Not too fast, not too fast,
Let me grow, let me last.
Nature knows when and why...like the butterfly.

Written by: Sister Therese Even SSND

These are the words I need to remember, live by and pass on. I need to remember that every part of life needs to be lived in that moment. I need to remember that it is sometimes painful to grow but when we suffer through the painful parts of life, it is then we can become the butterfly.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ah, The Life of a Gecko in Our House

So, we don't have just one gecko, we now have TWO ~ sort of...

Zach's gecko came into our house courtesy of the US Postal service. I was unsure how this whole shipping an animal through the post office was going to work and I was more than skeptical of the whole process once the package arrived. Zach wasn't home so it was up to Claire and me to unpack the crested gecko. We kept the box upright, as we read on the packaging. I slit the tape on the top of the box, undid the lid to see a styrofoam box tightly packed inside the box. I pulled off the lid and was greeted by a nest of styrofoam peanuts. Claire and I rummaged through the peanuts, finding a small plastic container with a tiny, orange, crested gecko. My first reaction was to pull back. It looked like a creature from the days of the dinosaurs...think Jurassic Park. My second reaction was "Is it DEAD?" How the hell could it breath? It was so tightly packed I had NO idea how it survived but survive it did. As soon as the light hit the box it started moving around in its plastic container. Claire and I took it to its cage and set it inside where it promptly made itself at home, crawling into the leaves Zach placed in its cage.

I have been won over by this cool little creature with big eyes set on the side of a large head, its little body with a long tail that wraps around your finger and its sticky feet that allow it to walk on glass and jump from place to place with amazing agility.

Both Lucas and Claire have been won over too. Lucas was so won over he went out and bought one for himself. He didn't order it from "Geckos 'R Us" like his brother. He needed immediate gratification so he got Stan to take him to PetCo and bought one for himself...the cage, the gecko, the rigging ~ all from his lawn mowing money. He's so proud of the new addition to his room.

But Houston, we have a problem...

The problem began this morning when Lucas got up and couldn't find the gecko he named Ricardo...he/she is no where to be found inside the cage. The lid was clamped down and Ricardo was in his glassed in world when Lucas went to bed. We've got a gecko to find....

I'll keep you posted on the status of one gecko in our house or two. Let's hope Ricardo surfaces soon. Let's hope he's hiding somewhere inside the fake log Lucas bought for his home of glass. Keep your fingers crossed that we find the cute, little creature who became part of our world when Lucas brought it home from the store.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lucas ~ Sometimes You Can't Live With Him But You Definitely Can't Live Without Him

I just let out the biggest sigh as I sit here thinking about Lucas...

God love him.  I don't know whether to shake him until his teeth rattle or hug him so tightly that he can't breathe...sometimes I want to do both.  Today is one of those days.

Fridays always have me in a good mood.  It's the beginning of the weekend.  I'm happy thinking about the kids' weekend activities.  I'm excited to sleep in on Saturday.  I want to make the most of my weekends.  But the biggest reason I'm in a good mood on Fridays is simply because ~ it's Friday, for goodness sake and who isn't happy on a Friday?

Since I am in a good mood on Fridays I try to convey that to the kids as they come in the door after school.

I heard Lucas open the door to the house.  I heard him say "Hi" to Stan as he made his way up the stairs.  I hid behind a wall so I could jump out and hug Lucas as he came trooping up the stairs.  I was excited to see my little blond boy.  I was also tickled at the thought of getting a little scare out of Lucas as I jumped out and yelled "HI LUCAS!!" 

My trick fell flat.  Lucas didn't jump.  He just came upstairs, laid his head  briefly on my shoulder and cruised into his room.  Hmmmmmm....

Detective Mom didn't have to do too much digging to find out Lucas had a really bad day.  "I got in trouble today," Lucas said.  Uh-oh.  That ain't good!

"What did you do," I asked.  I heard mumbles as he opened his back pack and then I saw the sealed envelope.  You know the one I mean.  The sealed envelope that comes home from school with the words "To the parent of..." written across the front. 

Well, SHIT!  This isn't the way I want to start my Friday afternoon. 

As I reached for the letter Lucas says to me in a whisper "Mom, can we please, please not tell Dad about this?"  His eyes are washed in tears and his chin is trembling.  Sorry kiddo, that's not the way it works in this house.  Mom and Dad are on the same page...no secret keeping.

I finish reading the letter as I walk into Stan's office.  Stan puts out his hand before I round the corner.  He reads.  We talk.  Lucas is called to the carpet to atone for his sins. 

I have never seen Lucas so upset and nervous as he was standing in Stan's office.  Part of me wanted to go and scoop him up and just hug him.  Part of me wanted to strangle him for acting like a dunce.  And part of me wanted to burst out laughing at the sheer idiocy of what he did. 

His behavior the past few weeks has me scratching my head...the (almost) 13 year old hormones are kicking in and errors in judgement are rising to the surface.  What he did to get himself into trouble is neither here nor there. In the grand scheme of life it's not such a big deal. In the grand scheme of growing up and making good decisions it is a big deal.

I seem to remember Zach acting goofy and having major lapses in judgement around this same time and sometimes stretching into the present. 

I guess I'll just have to buckle my seatbelt, sit back and "enjoy" the ride Lucas is going to give me, because sometimes I can't live with him but I definitely can't live without any of him ~ or any of them.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I HATE Being Sick

I can not tell you all how much I hate being sick.  The sickness has been in our house for over a week now and it's time for it to go away!

Stan came home from his business meeting last Tuesday saying his "allergies" were kicking his butt.  I had to correct him and said "you don't have allergies you have a cold."  And a mean, nasty one at that.  The mean, nasty cold turned into bronchitis and he spent all of last week feeling like he was hit by a truck. 

Enter Sunday...

I started feeling a little tickle at the back of my throat but thought it was just because the air was dry.  I went about my day and continued on with my night.  Monday I felt exhausted but OK...something about staying up until midnight and then getting up at 5:45 just doesn't do it for me.  Tuesday morning dawned and I got out of bed feeling like I had 100 mad-men banging away on the inside of head with tiny, little hammers.  I felt like shit. 

Moms don't have time to be sick.  I still had so much to do, so many things to accomplish, so many people counting on me to be here or take them there.  I didn't have time to be sick but sick I was. 

I got the kids off to school and crawled back into bed where I slept soundly until 11.  I got up for an hour or so, ran some errands that couldn't be put off ~ picking up kids meds, lunch supplies, etc...I came home and crashed again ~ hard.  I slept until 4 and even after that I still could barely keep my eyes open.  By 8:30 I was sleeping again.  I woke up at 9 this morning and am still not sure how I feel.

But I know I was "out of the office" yesterday.  I can look around the house and tell that I was not on top of anything.  The kitchen counters are littered with crumbs from dinners last night and breakfasts this morning.  The espresso machince leaked all over the counter with just a paper towel to soak up the mess.  Beds aren't made (not even mine which is a horror and disgrace, I know!).  There are dishes in the sink.  The house isn't too bad, really.  I just hate being sick so I'm going to look for more stuff to complain about on top of being sick.

Today I am spending the day in recovery mode.  I am sitting quietly, writing, catching up and waiting for Zach's crested gecko to arrive.  I have two notes from Zach telling me make sure NOT to pick the gecko up by his tail or it will fall off.  Wouldn't want a tail-less gecko, now would we?  I guess it's a good way to spend a recovery day...waiting for the gecko. 

Let's just keep our fingers crossed that this is the only illness we have in the house this year.  I so hope whatever this is passes right on through and doesn't touch the kids. To encourage this bug to move out of our house I have my box of tissues next to me for when I sneeze. I have my handsantizer for after I blow my nose and I have the clorox wipes ready to wipe down the computer and iPad when I am finished using both.  I don't want anyone else sick.

At least now the kids are old enough to not require so much time and attention when they are sick. When they were little it was painful.  Lucas had constant ear infections from the time he turned two until he was eight or nine.  When he was little he would wail in pain from the pressure in his ears.  Stan and I would feverishly rock him to help ease his discomfort until the anti-biotics kicked in.  Zach was the interesting one when it came to being sick.  Stomach bugs were the worst for him.  I could always tell when he was getting ready to throw up but he would deny it and deny it and deny it.  He would run around in cirlces saying "I'm not gonna throw up, I'm not gonna throw up..." until he threw up, whirling dervish style all over the place.  That was always fun to clean up.  Luckily, Claire was the easy one when it came to being sick, I could rock her and put her to bed where she would sleep until she felt a little better ~ we would just repeat the rocking and sleeping until she got better.  Even though they are older now and easier to take care of when they are sick, I still don't want them to be out. It takes so much time and energy to back on top of it all after being held down with a cold, the flu, strep throat ~ whatever sickness it is that knocks someone on their ass.

So, sickness, just pass right on through....I don't want you here.

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

In This Home

Many years ago my mother-in-law gave me (us) this framed poem...

In This Home

We BELIEVE in living deeply,
laughing often and loving always.
We BELIEVE we were brought together to support and care for each other.
We BELIEVE in celebrating together ~
our faith, our heritage, our traditions.
We BELIEVE that everyone's feelings count, and that the uniqueness of each of us
strengthens all of us
We BELIEVE
in the power of forgiveness to heal
and the power of love to carry us through.
We BELIEVE in one another in this family,
IN THIS HOME.

I keep this in my bathroom; a strange place for a framed poem you might think but to me it's the perfect place to keep it. I'm in our bathroom every day so I read it every day. I try to carry the words with me through the day as I go about parenting our kids. These are the words I want my kids to learn and take with them as they go to spread their wings.

I want them to remember to believe in living, laughing, loving, supporting, caring, celebrating, forgiving and strengthening our family...always.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oh What a Day!

A perfect one, that is.

The day started out as one of my favorites when Stan came into our room with breakfast on a tray for me. Included were my iPad, the newspaper and a piping hot cup of tea. Breakfast in bed is my idea of heaven. I relaxed most of the morning away but I was so cozy and content under the down blankets on our bed, it was nearly impossible break free.

I heard Stan talking to Lucas as he left our room. Lucas was already up, showered and was looking for breakfast. He settled on a can of chicken noodle soup...this is Lucas I am talking about so it's no surprise to me that he decided chicken noodle soup is an appropriate breakfast.

My back dictates to me when to get up by becoming achy and sore from being supine too long so I throw back the covers, make the bed and emerge from our room refreshed and ready to take on whatever activities we have on tap for today.

As I am headed downstairs I run into Claire whose internal alarm clock woke her at 10:30...good for her!

Claire pours herself a bowl of cereal and heads to our screened in porch. The little rocking love seat calls to her so she settles in, covers herself with the big down blanket we have outside, turns on the tv and makes herself a cozy little breakfast spot.

Lucas has already headed outside to play football with his buddies.

Zach has yet to make an appearance. It's 11:10 and I don't think we'll see him until well past high noon...he's 15 and he's really good at it! Oooooooh, I take it back ~ as I am sitting here writing Zach's handsome face makes an appearance rounding the corner into the kitchen. He must have been up for quite some time, he has a bag of trash from his room in his hand. He heads directly outside with it. When he comes back in he has a wry, little smile on his face and with flourish announces to me that his friend is breeding his crested gecko and he, Zach Pokrywka, is going to get one. He follows me as I walk out of the kitchen, shaking my head. Zach says, in no uncertain terms, that he will have one of these...the coolest thing he has ever held.

We've run the gamot of animals in our house...

Stan and I started our marriage with a golden retriever baby girl we named Charlie. Zach's first pet was a goldfish he named Spot. He progressed to a gerbil named Spike and then he and Lucas got dwarf hamsters named Brownie and Sparkle. We brought two baby chipmunks into the house after our cat killed their mama and we named them (appropriately) Chip and Munk. We've had cats named Fricken' Leroy, Princess and Bartflek (what we thought was German for Whiskers but turned out to be "beard spot". All three of these were barn cats we found when we lived in our tiny German village, Prosselsheim, and were returned to their barns when we moved.) When we got back to the States we adopted a black cat and called her Luci (short for Lucifer thanks to Stan). We added another golden girl to our house when Zach was four, Lucas was 18 months and I just found out I was pregnant with Claire. Zach and Lucas got axolotls one Christmas. The man at the mall pet store assured me they were easy to care for and the perfect pets for young boys ~ they died within a week of bringing them home...cool to look at but terrible pets. Lucas was gifted with a kitten named Shadow on his sixth birthday. He was one of the best cats ever and we still mourn his tragic passing. Now we have Graysee and Tigger. When we moved to Richmond Zach was so depressed and he felt needed an animal to dote on so we got him a mouse he named Pumpkin and then we went on to get three rats named Ellie, Oreo and Cheerio. We adopted a bunny named Sugar. We brought in a field mouse that our cat tried to kill, named it "Lucky," rehabilitated it and were getting ready to set it free when we noticed she was now four. Lucky thanked us for our compassion by producing three more mice, escaping and eventually getting herself caught in a mouse trap. Our goldens are long gone. The cats are whittled down to just Graysee and Tigger. The rats have gone on to rat heaven. The chipmunks left us long ago. So now we just have two cats and the rabbit...seems like the time to add a crested gecko, huh?

Stan is happily ensconced in the basement building shelves so he is blissfully unaware of Zach's desire to bring a reptile into the house...

Anyway, the day is shaping up to be quite a doozy now that Zach has emerged. This blog was going in a completely different direction until the handsome young man with the wry smile came bounding into the kitchen, puppy-like, telling me he is getting a crested gecko and asking me to fix him an omelet for breakfast.

Ahhhhhh, for the love of my children...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Freaky Friday

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to switch places with someone?  The movie(s) "Freaky Friday" comes to mind when I think about what it would be like to swap lives and be someone else for a day or two.  Switching places in the movie worked out well for everyone involved but the reality is, it couldn't happen.  But even if it could, would anyone really want to?

I look at the lives of the stars who seem to live such glamorous, charmed lives.  You see them smiling for the camera, dressed to kill with money and influence at their fingertips.  What we forget about is that their privacy has either been given away or taken away.  However it happened, the reality is, it's gone.  Cameras follow their every move.  Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and their marriage problems are all over the magazines.  Jennifer Anniston is said to be having a baby for the umpteenth time; cameras record her going to a doctors office.  The young royals are speculated about and followed while they are walking together or coming out of a gym.  That's a little creepy.  I don't know about you but I don't want be hounded by photographers when I'm just minding my own business and going about my day.  No privacy.

Then I look at the lives of people who aren't in the media spotlight but seem to lead charmed lives as well.  Maybe they have a gorgeous home, fancy cars or they seem to get every break but what goes on behind closed doors is unknown.  Maybe their marriage is in shambles but they smile just to mask the pain.  Maybe they carry so much heart ache from years of pent up grief.  Maybe they are gorgeous on the outside but truly rotten on the inside.  Maybe their lives aren't so charmed after all.

A recent blog post of mine was titled "This too shall pass."  I've been reading quite a bit lately about bullying and it's effects on our youth.  I read the post on http://www.findcatharsis.com/2011/09/the-bully-factor.html where the author, Laura, talks about her fears about bullying when it comes to her son.  It's beautifully written, giving her perspective on her thoughts about someone bullying her son who is developmentally delayed due to a stroke he suffered as an infant.  Her piece got me to thinking about another blog I wrote not long ago called "Bullying." I talked about my experiences with  bullying as it peertained to my own kids.  All of this got me to thinking about my own life ~ my past ~ high school and how this saying is applicable to the bullying that I endured and survived.

"This too shall pass" is a bitter pill to swallow when you're the victim of bullying. You think it will never end.  I was bullied high school by a group of senior girls ~ the queen bees ~ when I was a junior.  They were the gorgeous girls of the school.  They seemed to have it all ~ the clothes, the cars, the boyfriends.  They were the "it" girls.  I looked up to them and admired them until they turned on me.  The queen bees decided, for whatever reason,  to make my life miserable.  They hunted me down in the halls before school and in between classes.  Every day I would change my route from class to class so they couldn't find me.  I stopped going to lunch.  I hid in the library during my lunch period so they couldn't find me.  My high school boyfriend made sure to meet up with me in between classes when he could so I wouldn't be a lone target.  I dreaded going to school.  I did have a great group of friends but I was so embarrassed to be the target of bullying I didn't talk about it much, if ever with them.  I don't know what I did to cause them to bully me.  I never will.  I thought the year would never end but the time finally passed.  They were gone from school and gone from my life.

While I was being bullied I wished so badly I could change places with someone, anyone, so the queen bees would leave me alone.  Sometimes I even wished I could change places with them so they could understand the knot of fear I felt in the pit of my stomach every morning when I pulled up to school.  I even wanted to switch places with them so I could live, what I thought, was a great and charmed life. But now, I look back on the year in my life in a much different light.  I survived.  I didn't let them get me.  Much later, I realize I became stronger because of their targeted abuse.  I don't know if the queen bees can say the same of their behavior.  Are they proud of how they behaved?  Do they even remember or care how they behaved?  Did they go on to lead the charmed lives they seemed destined to have or are they still beautiful on the outside but rotten on the inside?  I won't ever know the answers to those questions but I don't really care to find out.  I live a great ~ life warts and all and those girls, they have virtually no power over me ~ except to make me want to eradicate bullying in our schools.  I remember their behavior but I didn't let it get me down.  It's the past.  Shockingly, I didn't get change places with anyone, thankfully, or I wouldn't be the person I am today...no "Freaky Friday" scenes for me. 

I want my kiddos to learn to admire people for their character and not for their possessions, looks or any other superficiality.  I want them to realize that people who look like they have everything still have shit going on in their lives.  I want my kiddos to understand that everyone goes through bad times but bad times do end.  I hope they learn to never want to be anyone else.  I don't want them wish for a "Freaky Friday" scene in their lives.  I want them to know that shitty times do pass and we will love them, always.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Bucket List

This really isn't a bucket list, per se, since I don't plan on dying anytime soon.  But I have been thinking more and more about things I want to do and experience.  Maybe I should call this a "To Do" list instead but I already have a daily one of those with the heading at the top of my paper that says "Sh*t I Need To Do Today."

Anyway, since I've been thinking about things I think would be cool, fun, outrageous to do I thought I'd share them with you...

1.  A hotair balloon ride...I don't think I'd actually do it, though.  I think I'm kinda afraid of heights. 

2. Go to Greece. The beaches, the food, the history. Maybe for our 25th wedding anniversary...

3.  Horseback ride on the beach.  In Greece!

4.  Visit Ireland.  My people are calling me.

5.  Learn how to pole dance...just for fun ~ not actually to make any money.  Seriously, who would pay a 40 something year old, mother of three to pole dance? 

6.  Learn how to surf.  I can snow ski and water ski, can it be that much different, can it?

7.  Learn how to speak French fluently. I think it's a gorgeous language and I would love to speak it perfectly.

8.  Be in a movie.  I can't act and I hate seeing myself on TV but I think it would be fun to be a part of all of the excitement of making a movie.

9.  Write the books that are swirling and swirling and swirling in my brain...I think I'd be able to concentrate and sleep so much better if all of these characters and plots were out of my head.

10.  Drive a racecar.  Need I say more?

11.  Be a spy for a day.  Move over James Bond...you got nothing on me!

12.  Meet a President of the United States for lunch.  Not the current one or the past one but one I like...guess I'll have to wait until someone I like is elected. 

13.  Win something big.  I don't know what but I want to win something BIG!

14.  Get my concealed carry permit.  I don't think I will, though.  If I go through with it Stan said he will only buy me guns for my birthday, Christmas, Mother's day, etc...I don't think I want a Glock on Mother's Day.

15.  Have a completely and totally organized house ~ nothing out of place and everything fits.

16.  Live the beach life for a summer.  "I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world a cold beer in my hand.  Life is good today."  (Thanks Zac Brown Band!)

17.  Learn how to sail.  I think knowing how to sail seems so totally cool.

18.  Be a motivational speaker for a day.  I would love to inspire people!

19.  Own a convertible.  Top down, music blasting, sun shining, wind blowing through my hair ~ who could ask for anything more?

20.  Learn how to sing on key.  Is that even possible if you're tone deaf???

I am sure there are more I will come up with but for now that's it.  It's just a little list.  None of it's too wild or crazy but the things I want to learn and do will stretch me just a tiny little bit so I feel a twinge of discomfort.  It's when we are stretched and a little uncomfortable that we can grow. 

I want my kiddos to understand that just because I'm a "grown up" (I do use that term loosely when it comes to describing myself) doesn't mean I'm finished growing and learning and reaching for the stars.  I hope they create their own kind of bucket list or "to do" list when, and if, they grow up.

Oh, for the love of my children...

I would love to hear some of your ideas...I need more inspiration!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Too Shall Pass

These wise words swirl around us, sometimes they sound cliche' but are always pertinent. 

I was reminded of this saying at my Ministry of Mothers Sharing meeting the other night.  Our meetings never cease to amaze and inspire me.  MOMS is a spiritual journey for mothers who need a little reminder here and there of what it is that we give and receive in our families. We work together as women and moms to help affirm each other and help each other grow together to be the best each of us can be.  I love all of the wisdom I glean from my time with each of these women in MOMS.

"This too shall pass" has given me so many thoughts I want to share but I will start here...

I think there are so many times women forget that we, as mothers, are a ministry.  Webster's dictionary defines the word ministry as "a person or thing through which something is accomplished."  There could be no greater accomplishment, in my mind, than that of seeing my children loved, nurtured and confident in their place in the world. 

"This too shall pass."  The raising of children passes too quickly.  I am seeing Zach in a whole new light.  He is growing up faster and faster each day.  Two and a half years is all I have left with him before he goes off to college.  Two and a half years will be gone in the blink of an eye.  It seems like is was just yesterday that I was up to my eyeballs in diapers, high chairs, nap schedules, bottles and sleepless nights.  Those days are long past.  Now, I am looking at curfews, first loves, heart breaks, driving, and children wanting to spread their wings just a little.  I don't want time to pass.

There are other things in life that I am more than over and ready to move on but raising my kiddos isn't one of them.  I love being a mom and all of the busy-ness it entails.  I love having carpool schedules to manage.  I love going to games and swim meets on the weekends.  OK, so I don't love homework but that's just one small, minor, detail but, really ~ who does enjoy homework and Claire doesn't count because she thrives on school! Even though I don't enjoy homework, I do love reading what my kids have written and seeing their grades after all of their hard work.  Because of all of this busy-ness I may walk around with bags under my eyes and less than a peppy step from waking up at 5:45 after going to bed at 11 but I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. 

I remember when I was pregnant for the last time.  I knew how incredibly fortunate I was and I understood the important role my body played in bringing healthy little ones into the world.  I knew I wouldn't get pregnant again and I wondered how I would feel knowing that my body would never have such an immensely, important role again.  What I learned in the years since is that every stage in life is just as important as the previous one just different.  My time bringing babies into this world passed and my time is now spent trying to raise them well. 

But this time too shall pass and I will go on to figure out my next role when the time comes...for the love of my children.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Call Me Alice

I have lived the past two nights in my own Wonderland. My dreams have been so vivid and weird...no falling down a rabbit hole, cheshire cats or queen of hearts for me, but definitely wild, out there dreams.

I think Lewis Carroll would have a hard time keeping up with the frenetic pace of my dreams the past two nights. I have to wonder what the heck I am eating to cause such wild dreams. Or maybe it's not food related at all but the pace of my life or even possibly the stress of the moment. I don't know but I really would like to sort out these crazy dreams...

Last night I had a dream about writing my blog.

The dream was about me going on girls' weekend with three other moms. We were staying in a swanky hotel that sat on a cliff. I was the first to arrive. I walked up to the front desk to get us checked in. The lobby was gold toned marble with rich wood accents. The effect was one of total relaxation. The lighting was soft and warm, the lights from the crystal chandeliers sparkled onto the highly polished floors. I was greeted warmly and given a key to a room on the fist floor. As I walked down the hall to our four bedroom suite I became nervous at the thought of being on the first floor. I thought I should turn back and request a different room. What if someone knew we were a party of four women and tried to break into our room, I thought? I opened the door to our suite and was greeted by a wide sliding glass door overlooking a steep cliff. I knew then that no intruders would be able to gain access to our room and put all thoughts of switching rooms out of my head.

Since I was the first to arrive I picked my room and settled in. I heard a key in the door. Thinking it was one of the other nameless, faceless girls on my trip I went to investigate. The hotel staff, not knowing I had already checked in, was coming in to make sure our room was fully stocked with bottles of wine ready for us. Three glasses had already been poured and I was handed a glass of wine. I remember being seated in a chair as someone from the hotel began to work on my toes. My pedicure began without my consent and my freshly painted toes were painted over by some amateur pedicurist. Paint was splattered on one foot and the other foot was treated to the nail polish being run completely around each and every one of my toes. My irritation grew as the pedicure got more and more out of hand. I kept waiting for my nameless, faceless girlfriends to arrive but just more and more hotel staff showed up ~ I guess to party in our suite. It was at this point in my dream I started thinking about this being awesome material for my blog. I dreamed that I said "This is awesome. I have so much material I can use because I can't make this shit up!" Claire came wandering into my dream room and it was then that I woke up groggy and fuzzy wondering what the hell just happened!

Two things strike me as funny in the last part of my dream. Well, actually the entire dream strikes me as funny but two things stand out. One is that I said "shit" in my dream. I don't remember ever cussing in my sleep. The second thing is that Claire's presence in my crazy, messed up dream woke me up! I guess even in my dreams I am trying to keep Claire safe from the crazy world of adults. It wasn't like there was anything truly bad going on in my dream ~ no wild and crazy behavior. I guess I just knew it was girls' weekend and that was not the kind of place for my ten year old daughter. I am thankful she woke me from my dream. I don't think I could have handled much more "partying." I am exhausted from the massive party I had in my sleep. I hope I don't have too many more nights of wild dreams or at least if I do they are good material for my blog and I keep working, even in my dreams, to keep my kids safe.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lucas...

Let me preface this blog by telling you all how much I absolutely adore my little blond boy. I love to tell story after story about Lucas and is "blond" moments not to belittle or be mean but to tell the stories that are Lucas.

Story number 1...

The other day I needed to go in for a re-touch on the hair. (It's amazing how much I've embraced leaving the blond behind and becoming a red-head.) The conversation goes something like this...

Lucas: "Mom, if it's permanent color why do you have to get it redone?"
Me: "Uhhhh, because my hair grows."
Lucas: "Yeah, I know."
Me: "Sooooo, when my hairs grows the new hair doesn't have any color on it."

There was a long pause and Lucas says "Ohhhhhhhhhhh! I get it!"

Ah, Lucas!

Story number 2...

Stan and Lucas stopped by Kroger on their way home from a hockey game not too long ago. Lucas was sweaty and smelly after his game so he decided to wait in the car. Stan goes in, gets what he needs and heads out. As soon as he clears the doors of Kroger he hears a car alarm blaring. Stan turns to an employee walking back into the store and says, in a teasing tone "Did you ram your cart into a car and set off the alarm?" She responds "Nope, but there's some little kid sitting in a truck out there with alarm going off." UH-OH! Stan heads to his truck and sure enough Lucas is just sitting in the truck ~ car alarm honking and honking and honking. As the story was retold, Lucas gave his side..."I wanted to open the window so I turned the key in the ignition and the alarm just started going off," he said. He told us all how he tried hitting every button he could find to get the alarm to stop. He said nothing worked. He is cracking himself up, laughing at the thought of the alarm blaring in the Kroger parking lot. At this point Claire and one of Lucas' friends jump into the conversation. And it goes something like this...

Claire: "Did you hit the unlock button on the door?"
Lucas: "No, I didn't think of that."
Friend: "If you would have hit that button the alarm would have stopped."
Lucas: "REALLY?!?"

Ah, Lucas!

I could write reams and reams about Lucas, his stories and his blond moments. He is quite a character and a crack up! God love that kid as he grows up. I know do ~ love him, that is!



OH, for the love of my children...

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Little Bit of Writer's Block and A Whole Lot of Busy Work

This past week I have found myself with a small touch of writer's block.  I think I can attribute it to all of the busy work I find in my lap right now.

Writing takes creativity, creativity takes time.  Time seems to be something that has slipped through my fingers in the last couple of weeks.  The kids back-to-school stuff, getting adjusted to carpool schedules, school activities, dentist appointments, doctor appointments and then throw in trying to keep in shape; it all seems to have sapped my creative juices.

In order for me to feel creative I need to strike a balance between being busy enough so I have material for my blogs and being slowed down and engaged enough to absorb the material around me.  Life has me feeling like a hamster on a treadmill right now ~ too busy to appreciate the stories swirling around me.

This morning was different.  This morning I packed Zach's lunch at the same time as Claire's (Lucas prefers to buy his lunch...he is getting fed lunch, I promise, just not by me), which freed me to be able to sit down and listen when Zach was waking up.  I have resorted to sending Lucas up to the third floor to awaken the beast that is Zach at 7:30 in the morning.  Lucas came down laughing.  He thinks Zach is a riot in the morning.  Zach thinks Lucas is a pain in the ass in the morning, which is why I have resorted to using Lucas to wake Zach ~ maybe if he thinks Lucas is a big enough pain he will start using an alarm clock.  As I was listening to Lucas tell how he woke Zach up, I heard the floor creak and knew Zach was headed to the shower.  I sat and finished reading the paper, waiting for Zach to make an appearance for breakfast.

Stan was reading the paper in one of our big red chairs in great room and I was in the other.  Our kitchen and great room are attached into one open space, easily combining mealtime and chat time.  Zach sat at the bar in the kitchen drinking his smoothie and went over his plans for his evening...hangout with friends afterschool, dinner, a football game and a sleepover.  Stan immediately put the kabash on a sleepover telling Zach he was obviously running himself down because he needed to come home early from school yesterday.  (He had a massive headache and his shoulder was bothering him again so I gave him some meds and sent him to bed, where he promptly fell asleep for an hour and a half...not a normal afternoon for a 15 year old kid.)  Zach whined and fussed, good-naturedly, about not having a sleepover and kept poking a little about wanting to spend the night somewhere outside of the confines of our house.  Stan changed the subject, going on to tell us how sore he was from playing hockey last night.  Stan said "I feel like I just fell of the back of a truck," to which Zach replied "I feel like I was sent down from heaven!"  Stan's response was a deadpan "Oh yeah, well you're still not sleeping over at anyone's house."  Zach gave an audible whimper...

I love it when life is busy and I'm on the move but I also love it when I can truly appreciate the little everyday stories that make up our life.  Balance is good.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Expander Off Day!

YAY!!  Yesterday was the day my expander finally came off.  It was on exactly eight months, 13 days, and 1 hour...not that I was counting, or anything! 

January 21 was the day I got my braces and expander on and right after they were put on I met two of my friends for lunch.  It was no easy feat eating with those suckers on for the first time.  And then, that night Stan and I had a wine dinner...what the heck was I thinking??  Lunch and then a wine dinner with brand new hardware all up in my mouth!  That was crazy.  I remember sitting at lunch thinking how the heck I was going to choke down french onion soup.  The strands of cheese and onion kept wrapping around my expander.  It was a painful ordeal.  By the 7 o'clock when it was time to leave for the wine dinner it felt like someone had taken a cheese grater to the inside of my cheeks.  There was not much dinner consumed by me, but a fair amount of wine ~ trying to ease the pain. 

Yesterday, as I was leaving for my ortho appointment Stan asked if I was absolutely sure I was getting my expander off...well, that put a damper on my spirits.  What if I was wrong?  What if it really wasn't expander off day??  Could I be tortured for one more month with this damn expander getting in the way??  DAMN!  Now, I wasn't so sure....

My fears were eased as soon as I walked into Dr. White's office and was greeted with "I am so excited for you!"  "It's a big day!"  WHEW!!  I was seated and the work began. 

As I heard the expander cracking and popping off of my teeth I got whiff of an odor so powerful and nasty I almost started to gag.  The smell wafting out of my mouth as the expander was pulled off was something I never want to experience again...it was horrendous.  Months of rotting food trapped on the inside of the expander caused noxious fumes to come spewing out of my mouth.  I was fastidious about keeping everything clean.  I waterpiked at least once a day.  My nighttime routine cleaning my mouth takes about 20 minutes but nothing can keep the food out of the expander.  My ortho tech said my mouth looked better than most she's seen.  I don't think I will ever forget that smell but I sure hope I never have to experience it again!

I went right from Dr. White's office to lunch with some friends.  My first meal post expander.  It was almost as interesting as my first meal with the expander on.  I have to relearn how to eat and chew but I truly am OK with that!  The damn expander is gone and I am feeling good. 

I can check getting an expander off my bucket list.  Been there done that and have no desire to go back! 

Claire is next on the list for an expander.  Oh, dear!  I don't envy her but at least I can sympathize and we can have a really big celebration when it comes off!

Oh, for the love of my children...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ah Jeez!!!

Just what I needed at 9 o'clock on a Sunday night....Claire in tears and Lucas doing algebra homework.

Last night, Claire came down into the kitchen with tears in her eyes and a trembling chin while Lucas was sitting at the kitchen counter working on his long put off homework.  Stan was grumpily working with Lucas.  He had asked Lucas all day if he had homework to work on.  At 9 o'clock he broke out his homework and found he needed help.  Stan was summoned (Stan is math and science.  I am English and history). With Stan working with Lucas it was up to me to console Claire.

I took her up to our room and we snuggled down in our bed to get to the bottom of the tears.  The problem was she didn't know what was causing them...I had some digging to do.  I probed here and I probed there.  Bullying?  Bad grades?  Problems with a friend?  Nope to all of those.  Finally, we unearthed the problem.  She lost the bag she was using as her lunch bag.  She couldn't find it anywhere.  It was a bag she made in preschool, with her handprints in red, green, blue and yellow.  She was devastated to think she lost something so precious to her.  It reminded her of the time she lost her baby blanket in Alabama....it was sadness and tears then too. 

Luck was with both Claire and Lucas today.  Claire found her precious bag and we decided it was time to retire it from lunch carrying duties.  Lucas did well on his homework, even though he did not impress Stan with his lack of timeliness in getting his work done.

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

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Breakfast Club

Do you remember the movie "The Breakfast Club"?  It's one of my all time favorite movies.  The movie defined our era.  The 80's spawned so many movies about coming of age "Sixteen Candles," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Mystic Pizza," "Pretty in Pink."  The list of movies goes on and on...  These movies defined our era...the 80's.  All these movies explored teenage angst, cliques, fitting in, not fitting in, wanting to fit in, where to fit in and how to fit in.

In the movie "The Breakfast Club" there were very distinct groups the jocks, the popular kids, the brains, the outsiders...just like my own memories of high school.  Distinct groups, cliques, crowds, teams...they all mean the same thing.  In high school, I think, we were all divided into what defined us.  Or maybe it we let others define us for ourselves, just like the five kids who sat in Saturday detention in "The Breakfast Club." 


Last night was girls' night in our house. Claire and I watched the movie "Prom". It was a throw back, for me, to the movie "The Breakfast Club."  For Claire the movie ventured into a realm she has never seen before.  For me, it was a trip down memory lane taking me back to high school homecoming dances, proms, sub debs and the daily routine of high school itself.

I recently pulled out my homecoming pictures...

The other day Zach told us he asked a girl to homecoming.  That's a big one.  I remember my first homecoming dance, and my second and my third... Stan and I were at odds with our memories from homecoming. Stan said homecoming for him was not a big deal in his high school. I pulled out picture after picture from homecomings of years gone by ~ my homecoming pictures.

Interspersed in my homecoming pictures were pictures from both my junior and senior prom. Watching "Prom" was like a scene out of my own high school experience. In the movie the main character, Nova, talks about how on prom night kids forget about what place they played in their high school experience, they all come together on one special night just to celebrate their class. Again, it was like "Breakfast Club" revisited.

In our high school, as I remember, there were the geeks, the jocks, the ropers, the cheerleaders, the thespians, and the popular kids. As I remember things I think I was kind of a floater.  My group didn't have a distinct title. I floated, with my group of friends, between other groups.  The pictures I found from my junior and senior proms led me to believe Nova might be right.  Maybe prom is that one special night in high school where we forget who belongs to what group.  I found pictures the other night of me posing with classmates and I have no idea who they were.  Stan was shocked...how could I not know who these people are in the pictures.  When we were talking I told him I don't know how I don't know them but now I do.  Prom is that one night where I had the freedom to abandon all pretenses and be with the people maybe I admired from afar, or the people who seemed out of my league or the people who I really wanted to get to know but because they weren't in my little circle of friends, it seemed out of the question. 

I hope Zach has a blast at his first homecoming.  I hope he has many more fond memories of high school dances.  I know I do.  My only wish, or regret, is that I wasn't so compartmentalized in high school and I felt the freedom to explore other groups.

I hope Zach's like the characters from "The Breakfast Club" who don't want to forget about each other and who don't want to let others define them anymore.


Oh, for the love of my children...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

This Is Gonna Be GOOD!

Claire and I are on our own today and tonight. The boys are in Maryland for some hockey. Claire had dance here in Richmond today so Stan and I had to divide and conquer. The boys are together and the girls are together.

These girls have BIG plans for tonight...


Claire and I took a trip to the Asian market to get all the ingredients to make our own Sushi. The Asian market near our house is one of my favorite places to go. It's a big, stinky wonderland. The smell that assaults our noses as we enter the store made both of us cough and gag just a little. The fresh fish at the back of the store gives off the most horrendous odor but Claire and I perservered, as we always do. As Claire and I venture further into the interior of the store we come across all kinds of strange and exotic things we've never seen before and have no earthly idea what they are. We find packages containing God knows what. Things that seem at first glance to be interesting but then you see an eyeball staring back at you. It's all very foreign but very exciting. We have our list, we know what we need so we get right to collecting our seaweed wraps, rice vinegar, wasabi, miso soup mix, sushi crab sticks, rice, carrots, avocado, cucumber, smoked salmon, cream cheese and bean cakes for dessert. I'm sure we've forgotten somethings and other things we just can't find, if only I could read the labels on the packages in the Asian market.

I did ask Claire if she just wanted to buy sushi. Her answer was an emphatic "NO" followed by a "that takes all the fun out of it!" She's right. I know she is. It's girl time in our house...what better way to spend in than making something we both love ~ together?

Right now, the house smells like fresh sushi-zu ~ the vinegar, sugar and salt mixture that is poured over the rice after it cooks. I have the rice rinsed and soaking. In the next few minutes we'll turn the stove on and set the rice to cooking. The cucumbers are peeled and sliced. The carrots are julienned. The rest of the ingredients are just waiting for the rice to cook.












Rice is cooked and we're ready to move on...

Now it's time to assemble our favorites. Claire loves "crab" and carrots. I'm going for a roll with cream cheese, avacado and smoked salmon. I'm also after a good California roll or two. I think rice balls sound pretty good too; rice rolled into a ball and then are rolled around in the sesame seed, seaweed mixture. I do wish I had some good sashimi quality tuna. A good spicy tuna roll sounds delicious but I don't trust myself to pick out sashimi tuna. I'll rely on the sushi chefs to prepare the tuna rolls for me.




The sushi making is complete. Claire and I are headed into the TV room to find a good movie. It's girl's night in our house and it's gonna be GOOD night!

Oh, for the love of my children...

By the way, the sushi is unbelievably good!! Holy cow ~ I think I've died and gone to heaven!!