Thursday, December 22, 2011

If the Fates Allow

I heard a Christmas song with the line "If the fates allow" sandwiched somewhere in the middle of a bunch of other jolly words. It was a song I have heard a thousand times over many years..a classic. Yet this is the first time I have ever heard that line. I don't know if in past years I was too busy worrying about all the holiday stress or if I just wasn't listening. But this year I heard it and I can't stop hearing it. It seems profound and rather thought provoking.

As much as I want to appear level headed and well anchored to the daily grind I can't deny that I do believe in fate. The fact that I know in my heart of hearts there is a pull from somewhere that is providing the road map for our lives. That somehow we are all destined to be who we end up being. The choices we make could make the journey shorter or longer or maybe less painful but all in all we we will end up where we are supposed to be. The really hard part is that there
is no fortune teller or instruction book that tells us what is coming next. How tomorrow will turn out. We have to live it to know it. Things that we hope are meant to be may end up as temporary.

I think when I replay that song over and over again in my head I am beginning to realize what it means. Take the chance now to be with those you love. Don't fret about who is going to sit next to Aunt Jane or if everyone will enjoy your new recipe. Order a pizza and let people chose their own seat. Don't obsess about calories or the crumbs on your floor. Lick the frosting off your fingers and brush the crumbs under the rug. Relish in today and this holiday with those important to you IF the fates allow....

** My 13 year old relishing spending quality time out to lunch with her family**

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

They Surround Me

Super powers are over rated. At least the ones in the cartoons. Those unfathomable unattainable things that seem to signal a hero. Running faster than a speeding bullet or leaping a building in a single bound really only matter to damsels in distress anyway. The true hero's, at least the ones I know, have much more important special powers.
In my book, if I had one, the hero's would be every day women who have extreme strength. not the muscle bursting out of your shirt kind but the kind inside. The strength that makes it possible to stand back up after being knocked down and keep on walking. The kind that helps you make the strong sometimes stand alone decisions that are not the easiest but are by far the bravest.
My hero's admit weakness and accept help. They do not accept defeat though no matter how many times it seems to chase them. My hero's are real people. People I learn from every minute of every day. People I want to be when I grow up. Real people.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Making Lemonade Makes Me Laugh.

So much of life is a joke. OR the only way to get through most of life is to think of it that way. Laughter usually makes things bearable. Lemons can seem more like lemonade if sprinkled with a giggle or two.

Like you know when you open the umbrella in the pouring rain and it is ripped down the middle. The rain gushes in soaking you but do you cry and add more wetness? or laugh and start singing (in the rain I might add)?

You drive thru the expensive coffee place for your weekly treat. The barista hands it to you and the heavenly steamy smell fills the car. You place it in the cup holder and pull away hitting a bump that sends the cup flying along with your dream of deliciousness and your 6$! Do you cuss and give in to the pain of the burns on your feet?? Nope not me. I laugh...and swing back through to buy another with the change I manage to dig out.

When you realize your kid has been crunching up crackers in her room to feed her elf and shoving them under a book for a week do you yell and tear the arm off the poor unsuspecting elf? NO. You giggle as you sweep up the cracker crumbs and ants and you write a note from the elf thanking the kid for feeding him.

Like when you call the Dr.'s office to see if they have any flu mist left and they tell you they only have ONE and you really need you talk to the receptionist for 10 minutes trying to rationalize enough to choose one kid over the others for the mist instead of the needle. Only to start to giggle. Loud and uncontrollably. Into the phone. And end up not making an appointment for anything at all.

Or when you order your teenage daughter jeans online and can't face the fact that her legs are as long as yours even though she tries to tell you. You order what size you wish she still was. She tries the jeans on and they are half way up her calf and look ridiculous yet while trying to keep a straight face you try to get her to keep them and wear them with boots so you don't have to admit defeat.

When my husband complains about my coffee breath do I stop drinking coffee?? of course not! I make him a cup with half a container of creamer and a dash of coffee and serve it with a smile. He feels like he has become a coffee drinker too. It is a win win situation. He doesn't notice my breath anymore and he buys me the good kind of creamer.

I figure laughing so hard you cry burns lots more calories then just crying. I choose laughter.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rough Edges Are Pretty Too

November. Already. I like the idea of being thankful all year for things not just one day or one month. Because I am... you know...thankful. But to clear up exactly what I really cherish I wanted to say a few things. Things that I have just recently figured out. I am slow I know but sometimes things that are most important take time to realize.

To me the things that I find to be the most important in my life are not things at all. Nothing you can really touch or see but things you can feel. Finding that peace in your own life where you aren't trying to make things perfect anymore. Accepting what you love warts and all, no more trying to smooth the rough edges to a slippery pristine perfect. Realizing how important it is to love who I am when I am with someone... as important as how much I love that person. Why surround myself with people that I can't be myself with and enjoy myself with? I won't. Not anymore.

Tangible gifts are nice for sure but giving the gift of time to someone is more important. Taking the time to really know someone and experience memory making together. Reading a story or jumping in a pile of leaves makes more of an impact then a brightly colored package arriving in the mail. One hundred thousand presents don't equal the same as making a lopsided cake together or licking the spoon afterward. A pocket full of things doesn't make you a better mother, father, friend or grandparent...not with out the time investment.

Lastly I am grateful that I can lend an empathetic ear to those who need it. I pride myself on being able to listen and feel for but not judge those who confide in me. Real empathy takes becoming the other person and not reacting with approval or disapproval. It means listening and reacting in a calming, soothing, bridge-building way. Without having true empathy I don't really think it is possible to develop any relationship past superficial.

So those are the things that come to mind when I am asked what I am thankful for. Also the things I hope my kids can someday say they are grateful for.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Like Fine Wine

It feels like it has all been leading up to this moment. My life I mean. Traveling all the way up that proverbial hill and teetering right there at the top. Ready to start slow on the way down and pick up speed finally crashing into a pile of wrinkles and gray hair.


I have to laugh at that analogy of being over the hill at 40. The trite crap you read on birthday cards. Real life tells a different story.

Saying goodbye to my 30's is surprisingly easy. I feel stronger now then then. I feel like the first 40 years were like studying for the test and the next 40 will be taking it. It is like I have put all the outside edge pieces of my puzzle together and now I am ready to start on the more complex, meatier inside pieces. That can be really hard when you don't have that all important picture on the box top to peek at. But maybe such a defined picture wouldn't really help me since I am making it up as I go along. Maybe some of those pieces have pictures of me doing a triathlon or a marathon. Maybe there are some of me in a bikini on a far away beach or sitting in a college classroom. The possibilities are endless really.

So on Tuesday when it is official don't feel any sympathy. No walkers or putrid black icing for this girl. Fine chocolate and expensive red wine, please. Let's celebrate! Besides isn't it success when you reach an important birthday and you find that you are exactly the same as you were the day before?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Frayed Apron Strings

I feel like I am on the verge of the time when the kids decide they don't want me in the examining room at the doctors office any more. The time where if they forget their lunch money they don't call home but figure out a solution all on their own. When they choose their own science fair project and do all the research themselves and don't ask for input. You know the time when friends and the mall are chosen over family gatherings and diaries are really kept locked and hidden away. When their bodies are growing so fast their brains can't quite catch up.

I can't decide how I feel about it all. On one hand I feel glorious and victorious that we have done our job as parents so far. That they can find that independence and ability. But it is hard to know that things are changing and that I am not needed in the same way I once was. If only I had known all those years ago when I was up at 2am holding a crying baby while crying myself wishing I could just get her to sleep how things would change. I might have enjoyed it more then. As torturous as those tearful drop offs at preschool were I selfishly sometimes wonder if I should have gone in and sat down in one of the tiny kid chairs for circle and snack. But I didn't. I couldn't because it would have been all for me and would not have fostered any sort of independence.

My hope is that I am still the one they will come to for advice. That I am the one they know will set the boundaries that they can't cross but if they do will still love them no matter what. That when something is too hard or too unknown they feel they can confide in me not only because I am their mom but because they trust me to have their back. I want them to know mistakes happen and perfection is a fairy tale.

This parenting thing is a scary tightrope walk but at least there is a net below to help us bounce back up and try the walk again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Main Dish

The fall is always busy. School and sports and birthdays and friends. This fall is over the top. There isn't one night during the week we are all home at the same time for dinner. We eat in shifts. Mostly sandwiches or cereal. Late. Then after that there is homework and showers and bed. No time to be a family. I miss that.

I miss the 20 minutes sitting together to eat. Where we are all turned toward each other and really talking. No phones or iPods or TV. The mismatched dishes and the thrown together meals add to the relaxed conversation. Everyone has something to say to contribute to the chatter. Questions are asked, days are talked about all around that table. Walls are down and problems are solvedall around that table. That time equals family and home. I miss that. I think we all do.

Last weekend we found our selves all home for dinner. The kids set the table and lingered long after the pizza box was empty. They had so much to say. So much encouragement to give each other and themselves. That table is helping to build confidence and empathy. It is opening ears and silencing fears. It is about being a part of something. Always having someone to listen and really hear. I love that table.

As the temperatures start to plummet and the darkness comes earlier dinner will be back on the table every night. It won't be fancy but we will once again congregate and connect. That table and everyone around it help me keep a finger on the pulse of what makes life positive. It makes me remember that my kids are becoming such individuals with opinions and humor all their own. All adding a different ingredient to the main dish: Family.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Paper Trail

I have never been much of a newspaper reader. The headlines maybe but never the stories. The one thing I have always been able to stomach are the vital statistics. Around the time I got married years ago I started looking at the marriage licenses every single day. I would pour over them finding names that I recognized and ages so close to mine. I would imagine how their wedding would be like mine. I would want them to be in as much in love as me. I found myself wondering about their story.Years later after my own wedding had passed and we began to plan for a family I flipped the page to the birth statistics. I saw names I knew often and eventually my own three times.That was a time of lots of laughter and tears...mine and the babies. It was a whirlwind. It seemed to go slowly but when I look back now it passed in a moment. Sometimes I wish I could have read those baby announcements a little longer.

But you have to go forward. I flipped quickly through the next section. But as fast as I went I still saw names I knew in the divorce section. I wondered about the stories behind those names too. Why some marriages make it and others just don't. What happens to those families after the papers are signed.

The last section is still foreign to me. I know I will have to turn the page eventually and read their final story. I know I will start to recognize names as time goes on. I don't want to identify with them. I don't want to recognize names and read those stories but I know I will have to. Some day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In My Own Defense.

In my own defense.....

...I forgot the window was down and other people could hear me singing to the teen station at the stop light...

...the shaving cream can is the same exact color as the hair spray.....

...I couldn't find my glasses because I didn't have them on...

...I forgot to take into account that the bank would be closed for the holiday...

...I never asked to drive a car so big ...or so um wide....

...someone has to be the official cheerleader at the girl's soccer games, why not me? just felt wrong to leave one lonely glass worth left in the bottle...

...that text was meant for someone else ...

...the kids like frosted animal crackers too ...

...the butter made my phone very slippery...

In my own defense.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Truth Be Told.

I have found myself telling my 13 year old more then once in the past few weeks that middle school doesn't really matter in the grand scheme. That she won't remember who sat at her lunch table or which girls stared sideways at her once her real life starts. That the fears and tears will melt away and won't be important. I want this to be true. I wish it could be true but I know in reality all those things really help to make us who we are. I don't remember the details of the miseries of middle school but I know there were a lot. Each one of those small things helped to make me who I am. The real truth is I appreciate some of the gruesome stuff because it made me more empathetic. I know the uncomfortable feeling of not being one of THE crowd. The one who didn't have the right shoes or the flirty attitude. The one with the zit on her chin

I survived though and I continued on to high school and college and marriage and motherhood and happiness. We all want our kid to make the team or get invited to the sleepover. We want for them what we know to be the easy way. The rough stuff makes us as parents get that pit in our stomach and the lump in our throats. It makes us remember. Sometimes it is more beneficial to deal with the rough stuff though. It makes us better people. I know it did for me. It made me an individual who can stand on my own now. As much as I want to make life easier for my kids I know that with out living through their own experiences and learning along the way they will never be the real them. Truth be told.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Note To Self:

Always be sure to check the cats mouth for mice, birds or well anything alive or formerly alive before letting him inside.

Never focus attention on one kid when all three are sitting there clambering for attention. You will end up with mucho eye rolls, tears and a migraine.

Leaving a glass of water on your nightstand right next to your cell phone and laptop is never a good idea. NEVER.

You really do learn something new every single day. Sometimes it is as small as finding a new flavor of gum and sometimes it is as big as realizing how wrong you were about something.

Starbucks really can turn a frown upside down even if it is ridiculously overpriced.

Not all people have good intentions. Sometimes they want something and will do whatever it takes to get it...over and over again.

Cute shoes are most often painful as are cute underware and sometimes even cute seven year olds.
Eating 2 bowls of Lucky Charms at 10pm makes you have dreams about little green men, rainbows and sparkling pots of gold.

Never use your teeth to try and fix the dryer-bent clasps on your favorite bra. It could end in a cut on your tongue, a scratch on your chin or worst case both.

Laziness equals 10 pair of identical denim shorts and 10 white tank tops. Buying new is easier then trying to dig through the mess of your closet.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Playing in the Puddles

Life gets complicated. Schedules and budgets. Jobs and kids. It isn't easy to just smile and enjoy much when you are trying to be a responsible adult. The stress gets extreme and we do things because we have too not because we want too. Everything becomes a chore. A to do list that has to be checked off no matter what the cost.

Maybe it is important to not always be responsible or act like an adult. When I was riding in front of my daughter on a bike the other day and we approached a big puddle I felt my jaw clench and as the water hit my legs and mud sprinkled my back I was less then happy. Well I was until I heard her behind me squealing with delight and laughing a deep belly giggle. I actually circled around and went through the water a second time. Opened my eyes wide and felt the cool sprinkle of water cool my legs. I let myself like it. I almost felt young again myself for a fleeting moment. I felt myself surrender again ,later, when I dragged myself to my tub to soak away the day and discovered brightly colored plastic "scuba" gear strewn across the bottom. Initially I wanted to be mad but instead I filled the tub and gave the goggles a try. Things were quiet under there and everything serene. Everything slow and moving at its own pace. I even sipped a cherry Icee the other day instead of my usual boring iced tea. It was like a party in my mouth that made me think of summers from years ago. Those summers when I played outside from sun up to sun down without a care in the world. Imagining without the burden of reality.

I am only weeks away from hitting that forever-forbidden-milestone-at-the-top-of-the-hill AKA: the big 4-0. Instead of feeling older I am feeling wiser. I feel like I am slowly learning to capture those simple moments..the ones that block out the chaos and slow down the clock. The moments that make life worth living.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Where is My Tiara?

I feel pretty today. It could be because I actually washed my hair and took the time to blow it dry. It could be because Chris told me that he thinks I look pretty this morning. Personally I think it is more about what is going on the inside rather than the outside though. I am really beginning to like me. It has taken practically 40 years of self doubt and body hate to get here. It has taken many tears of why me and anguished sobs of why not me too. Lots of energy spent worrying about what people think instead of what I think. What is important to me and even more specifically why I am important.
So here I am with a spring in my step and my shoulders held back (with freshly washed hair I might add). More concerned about how I pay it all forward then what people perceive about me. Focused on why I make the choices I do rather than what I get for making those choices. Not leaving room for regret because it is not worth wasting precious time on that. Consciously embedding empathy into my reactions and advice. Hopefully being the best daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend and neighbor I can possibly be.
I kind of feel like I have won a beauty pageant of sorts. OR at least first runner up. Where is my tiara??

Monday, June 27, 2011

Like a Piece of Toilet Paper Stuck to My Shoe

Now I remember what I felt like back then. Back when I took my newborn and my toddler to Target alone for the first time. Both in the cart crying and needing something different. The baby wanting to be fed or changed and the toddler wanting a snack or to use the bathroom. Me hardly holding it together with my spit up stained shirt tucked into my under ware , my hair unbrushed and a piece of toilet paper hanging off my shoe. Goldfish crackers periodically hitting me in the face as I ward off stares of women wondering what I was doing to that baby to make it cry so hard. Tossing random items into the cart but forgetting the diapers and wipes so necessary to survive. Signing the credit card slip without even bothering to look at the total and walking with clenched teeth to the parking lot where it has started to pour big wet drops. Strapping the kids in and dumping the bags in the back. Making it to the drivers seat before the tears start to come. Looking in the mirror and hearing myself gasp. Then instead of more tears a few giggles come from somewhere deep down. I realize I am doing the best I can. I am being all I can be at this very moment. No one can ask for more.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Drawing Lines in the Sandbox

I am one of those parents that believes you can't be friends with your kids while you are raising them. I just don't feel like that is part of the job description. To me when you have kids you automatically vow to teach them to be independent, responsible people with morals. This doesn't happen if you are pals. It only happens if you are the one in charge. The one who sets the rules and punishments. The one who follows through with those rules and punishments.

I never quite get it when moms are so proud when their daughters say "my mom is my very best friend." Love? Yes. Respect? For sure. Trust? I would hope so. But... friendship? No. When you start to be best buddies with your kids there is a shift of sorts. Children begin to take on the burden of knowing the kinds of details friends tell each other about their own parents. In a sense they become the parent. Their focus goes from learning to being a confidante. Letting your children be your equal backfires in a big way. They begin to issue the rules and the punishments. The power is owned by them and the parents lose that all important gentle but persuasive guiding hand they use to help raise a contributing adult.

I love my kids but I take my job very seriously. I hope some day to be friends with them. Probably might happen around the time they have kids of their own. By then my job will be done.

Friday, May 27, 2011

That Mom

This summer I will be that mom...

...who invests in noise canceling headphones that can easily be hidden under a hat

....who finds a way to remove green from three chlorine ridden blond heads

...who stocks up on water proof band aids, poison ivy cream , bug spray,sunscreen and WINE

...who serves potato chips for breakfast and ice cream for lunch

...who insists on bike helmets and seat belts but is ok with unbrushed hair and grass stained knees.

...who has room for three in How to Wash Your Own Clothes 101 **extra credit for folding and putting away

...who would rather listen to the kids fight then let them watch TV all day ((at least for the first week))

...who still gets up before the sun to enjoy a cup of tea and a few minutes alone

...who uses the hose to kill bees and get the ball out of the tree but forgets to water my plants

...who dives in the pool over and over no matter how silly I look

...who spends a half hour slathering the kids with sunscreen but ends up
with a burn.

...who makes Target and the Grocery seem really boring just so I can go alone

..who can't quite believe I will have a 2nd, 5th and 7th grader in August

..who has a calendar with big red X's counting down to the first day of school

YEP that's ME!

Monday, May 23, 2011

That Flimsy House

Building a house of cards is a rough gig. Taking those flimsy cards and precariously placing them one of top of the other so that they form a structure. As the house gets bigger each card takes an extra careful strong but tender hand. One that doesn't waiver or tremor. One wrong move and the whole thing goes down. Everything you have built upon to make the thing bigger and better is gone in an instant. There is nothing left. The only thing left to do is start again with one card and then another.
I have thought of this house of cards a lot lately. I keep thinking of how many months and really years I have put into running. How I started with a mile and added on until I got to where I am now. I think of the hours and hours of pounding the pavement that brought me to happiness and fulfillment. How I transformed from a novice to a real athlete. One thing built on another. Up and up. Faster and faster until I was at the top of my game. Then a tremor-y hand and everything came crashing down. An injury. A stress fracture. No running. No exercising. Back down to the beginning. It's sad. It's hard to handle. But I am here. I am gaining perspective. I will be ok and I can run again. I keep remembering that I am lucky. Lucky that I am not one of those families that has had to deal with the horrific tornadoes or the extreme flooding in the past few months. I have not literally lost my house of cards to the wind or the water. I have not lost my life or the lives of my loved ones. My house will be easier to re-build. I am lucky.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

European Cuisine

The nearness of summer always brings about feelings of remembrance of a time before...before I had the responsibility of kids in summer camps and chore charts hung on the fridge. A time when my only job was to be a teenager. The brightest summer was the one that I lived between 8th and 9th grade. The year that defined then and now for me really. I went on a trip that summer with a student group. A few kids from my school but mostly made up of kids from other schools. We traveled to Europe for a 10 day tour of museums and canals. The trip started with me being isolated and alone but quickly turned to a time of discovery. There was a boy of course. One that I desperately wanted to notice me. There was a new girl who I began a friendship with that would eventually lead me to all that is good in my life. There were new foods , lots of Independence and hardly any rules.
We spent that week traveling on a bus from place to place all over Europe. Don't ask me exactly where because I could not tell you. I could tell you what games we played and how many times he winked at me. I can remember that heart to heart I had with my new friend and how we promised to stay in touch even though we would not go to the same high school. I remember the wishes I made word for word as I threw coins in the wishing well. When I look back through the pictures I took on that trip they are all of silly faces and obscure sights. There isn't one of a monument or a palace. Those just didn't matter. That wasn't what the trip was about.
It was about beginning to realize there is more in life to put on your plate than bread and rice. Sampling new things can be exciting and breathtaking. Taking a chance can lead to so much.
So when you send your kid off to that 8th grade trip remember that the education comes in many forms. All important. All worth the money.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Cold Sweat

Sometimes memories come back in snippets, sometimes they come in a huge flood with one leading to another. Most often something happens to jump start the process. Last week a boy around my 12 year old's age committed suicide. He was a boy we didn't know but one that went to a neighboring middle school and had many connections once removed. Just the thought of a kid that young being so tormented whether by himself or others to actually end his own life makes me sick to my stomach. BUT the more I woke up at night in a cold sweat thinking about it the more I realized what kinds of horrible secrets lie within kinds at that age. That's when the memories started. Those things I had hidden away from myself from when I was 12 and 13 and 14. When I was at that awkward stage where things just don't feel comfortable. Where your feet are too big and your skin is too oily. Where your hair can't be perfect enough and your clothes are way too babyish. That time where your inside and outside don't coincide and no one understands how you feel especially yourself. When you want your mom to hug you but you can't stand being touched. When you want to say daddy but it comes out as father.

My wave of memory was a vivid picture of me trying to halt myself from being embarrassing. By embarrassing I mean sweat. I had this thing with sweating. I wore deodorant but it didn't stop the horrible prepubescent sweat. I started to only wear white and when that even stopped working (in my 12 year old mind) I devised another plan. I started to layer a too small leotard under whatever clothes I wore so that I wouldn't sweat through. Did I consider the fact that two layers would actually cause more sweat?? Did I realize that the leotard was black and other people could probably see it through my clothes? NO because I was 12. The sweat was my nemesis. I channeled all my preteen angst straight into controlling that perspiration.
Eventually my hormones must have regulated and the sweat calmed down and all was dry but I don't remember any of that with clarity. I only remember hiding the leotard under
my clothes and hoping no one caught a glimpse and questioned me. No one ever did. That secret went undiscovered and got neatly folded up and placed in my memory for a later purpose. When I began to remember last week all the feels came back. I remembered that horrible awkwardness. I need to remember it bright and uncluttered. I want to take it and use it. You see I have three girls and they will have their "sweat". They will be uncomfortable in their own skin. It isn't a negotiation it just IS. It will happen. Whether it is sweat or zits or bullies or height or weight it will happen. I want to be empathetic. I don't want to tell them to suck it up. I want to put my foot in their pink converse. I don't want them to feel alone. I want to help them get to a place where they can fold up their memory and put it away to use when they have kids.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Open Auditions

We all have our favorite TV shows we like to tune into every week or watch in re-runs for years after they end. We find characters we identify with or ones that make us laugh or cry. Those characters become embossed in our minds. They become real to us. When we see that same actor in a different role it is impossible to take them seriously. As much as you try and picture them as the new character the other, old one keeps surfacing. Forever typecast.

Much like real life. When you meet someone and get to know them they become a certain character in your story. They fit into a mold in your head. When you see them or their name is mentioned a certain feeling comes to mind. It is like they fill a "job" in your life. Maybe they become your comic relief or they are a good listener or fun to go out with. Typecast. The hard part is when they break that mold and start to resemble a new character. We look at them and see the old role. The part they played before. No matter how many auditions they do we just can't fathom that they could fill any new part in our lives.

But what if we opened our minds? We might really like the new character. We might love the new show. We might enjoy their new role in our story.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I took an axe and split my soapbox in two. I have decided that standing up there ranting on about what I think is silly. First of all I am not an expert on anything. Second I think a lot of what I say can certainly be thrown back at me as being hypocritical. I try to practice what I preach I really do but I am human and that often means reactions change with time and experience. I may have said I would never let my kids have a cell phone before high school and that I would never be that mom that said "because I say so." Guess What? My 12 year old has a cell phone. I say "because I say so" all the time. The plan we have in our head doesn't always stay true to itself. Which is fine if I am not up spouting off to others about my convictions. I think putting too many stipulations on ourselves generally causes us to become liars. I hear so many moms out there saying "I don't let my kids watch T "or "we don't eat sugar" or " I am homeschooling because it is the best education my kids can get". These are such broad statements that often end up making them have to recant.

Getting up on that box and talking about how you want to live your own life is only part of the issue. The other part is that by doing that it ends up pointing out other people's faults or weaknesses immediately and as obtrusively as a well manicured finger shoved in your face. It makes them want to find the cracks in your theory. You start to be put under the microscope and called on your own words. That special treat of sugary ice cream just this once becomes a thorn in the word never. Never is too big a word and a very very long time. When those stones hit your own house it will shatter and the glass is pretty sharp. I certainly would not want to have to backpedal across it...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Mud Has Been Slung

So Spring has sprung around here. Sure the birds are singing perky little songs before the sun comes all the way up. Yes flowers are beginning to tentatively poke their heads out of the soft newly green grass. It doesn't get dark until after 8:30 and there is even a rain tinged breeze whispering through the newly opened windows. All those things are true yet that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the sudden onset of multiple activities. Concerts and soccer and plays OH my. I am talking about the muddy ground that is partially still outside but mostly inside on my floor and on my kid's suddenly too short pants and too tight shoes. I am talking about the scramble to set up entertainment for the summer before it is too late. I am talking about the sudden need to yell at the kids to be quiet because the windows are open and the neighbors can hear the screeching and screaming that was so nicely hidden during the winter. I am talking about the 100's of geese that have made themselves at home in the neighborhood. You know the big ones from Canada that like to use my car as their bathroom. Ah yes spring in Ohio.. it has sprung. That line between love and hate is so close together I can hardly tell the difference.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Take it ALL Back

So I have decided to just come out and admit I am wrong.
I am taking it all back. The
advice, the teaching, the modeling, the punishments. All of it back. Who cares that I am 39 years old and a former teacher and their MOTHER. I am obviously incorrect. My children tell me every day. They argue with every word that comes out of my mouth. Lets face the truth...I do not know best.

Maybe reverse psychology will work?

Never ever clean up after yourself. Just let it all pile up and who cares when you have absolutely no clean underware and have to turn some inside out?? Don't worry! No one will know and if you get in an accident and have to go to the hospital with dirty undies and holey socks.

Stay up all night. No really ALL night. It won't matter when your alarm goes off at 6:30. You will be able to drag yourself out of bed and make your breakfast and straighten your hair and be out the door with NO sleep. You ARE right...I am mean when I say 10pm is when you should be in bed lights out..that is just way to early for a 12 year old!

When I tell you it is going to snow and be cold IGNORE me. I am wrong way more then the weather man. Go ahead wear flip flops and a skirt. OH and be sure to leave your jacket in a pile on the floor. You won't get cold.

Packing three different forms of fruit snacks is a perfectly acceptable lunch especially if you add in some chocolate milk and maybe a cookie. That will keep you full all day and I know it will make you ace that spelling test you have in the afternoon.

OH sure let me shell out 80$ for those awesome shoes you want. I mean it isn't like you are going to grow out of them in the next few months or anything. HEY maybe I should add in a new purse and a pair of designer sunglasses while I am at it. YOU know I am made of money and think it will make you a better person if I give you every single thing you desire in life.

Is that outfit clean?? oh I forgot to go in your room and dig through all the piles to find the dirty clothes and then wash them so they were prepared for you this morning. I am so sorry.. will you ever forgive me for being so careless?? Oh and don't worry that there is a dried mustard stain on that shirt...we can just toss it and buy a new one. As a matter of fact let me run out and do that today because as you like to inform me I have absolutely NOTHING going on.

HER mom pays for A's on report cards?? OH WELL what a fabulous idea...let me give you 10$ for each A...oh and HER mom goes to get ice cream?? well lets do that as well...and HIS mom lets him get a new Wii fabulous!

I would LOVE to paint your nails at 9pm! YES let me braid your hair too... AND study for that spelling test...I am certainly NOT in the middle of a show and who cares that I asked you hours ago if you needed help with anything. At your beck and call my sweet angels!

Whats that you say?? You don't feel like playing in the soccer game today?? It is too cold? OH OK you stay in bed while your dad goes to the game and coaches it...I wouldn't want you to have to run or kick the ball especially when you are so delicate and all....I mean wrestling with your sister and jumping from couch to couch should be enough exercise for you today.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Just So You Know.

Just so you know....

I secretly love it when my youngest climbs into my bed in the middle of the middle of the night and snuggles in while letting out a little all is ok now.

My eyes tear up every time I walk in my bathroom and see one toothbrush in the holder next to the sink. A visual reminder of another night alone.

Humor is sometimes my band aid for pain.

I used to hate to sweat. I used to think it showed weakness somehow. Now sweat represents power and being in control. I run to sweat.
I love to sweat.

There is a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. One is nice and sweet the other is uncontrollably all consuming.

Cinnamon rolls make me happy.

Labels are good for food boxes and medicine bottles but not for children.

Politicians are people too. They have families and lives and hobbies and favorite foods. Disagreeing with them on issues is one thing but spewing hate about them as a person is another.

If you are going to talk the talk you better be willing to walk the walk or it is completely meaningless.

Perfection is impossible in real life. No one lives in a fairy tale.

Just so you know.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Magical List

I am not one to make lists. I am not that organized. As a matter of fact I am downright disorganized.. In my head I have lists but they never make it on paper and most of the time they don't ever manage to get things crossed off of them. I have been that way as long as I can remember. It is part of what makes me me. Disheveled and cluttered but still marginally lovable.

We are going on vacation to Disney with some friends of ours. They make lots of lists and even manage to cross things off. They are very organized. I love that about them. BUT I hate it at the same time because it makes me feel like that lady.. you know the one you see with her shirt untucked and her hair frazzled with toilet paper stuck to her heel, running around with her head cut off carrying a screaming baby with only a diaper on.

So in the spirit of trying to be organized and to head off being THAT lady I was inspired to make a list for vacation...I hope I can cross everything off this list..I really do.

My List

Skin ready to be warmed by the sun and hugged by Mickey, Donald and Goofy.

Hands open and ready to hold smaller hands so they don't get lost.

A mouth ready to smile and laugh. A lot.

Taste buds prepared for the delight of vacation only food and drink.

Happy rested feet ready to skip about the happiest place on earth.

The ability to let my worries go and focus on family and fun.

Eyes, wide open, ready to capture memories to treasure for years to come.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Love Exactly.

**Warning: sappy Valentine's post below**

Love, to me, morphs over the years. It begins with the fireworks. The flowers and candy and hand holding stuff. The proclamations out loud of "I love you". Later it becomes more..because words aren't always reality. The longer it lasts the more it changes and deepens.

It is about learning how to be true to yourself yet being able to belong to someone else. He knows me as I know myself and I know him better. We accept each others faults because they are so much a part of who we are as a whole. When he looks at me he sees past my expression to what I am really feeling. His eyes to mine..soul to soul. Always as if we are the only two in the world.

Laughter and tears often intermingle with us. One first then the other. Picking each other up when we stumble. Learning as we go....leaning on each other. Everything swirling around us and nothing for certain except you are for me and I am for you. Exactly love.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Treehouse Club

Apparently I am never right. Everything I say is debated and contradicted and naysay-ed. There are a gang of girls that simply find fault in all that I do and say. three blond girls that look a lot like me. The ones I feed and clothe and hug. My Children.
Sometime when I wasn't looking they took a time out form sibling rivalry and came together to form club called Mom is wrong and we can't let her get away with it. Here is one conversation that pretty much sums up the whole motto of the club in a nutshell.
The 12 year old: "Mom, why didn't we ever have a tree house??? You know, like Arthur (the AARDVARK) and Franklin (the TURTLE)...they had awesome tree houses. I have always wanted a tree house."

The 6 year old chiming in: "OH YES! Little Bear had one too AND the Bernstein Bears actually lived inside a big tree house."

ME: "Well we don't actually have a tree big enough in our yard to put a tree house in...and umm well you guys are not fictional animals that talk."

12 year old: "Well Mother their tree houses were always out in a forest in the very biggest tree with the greenest leaves and the best berries."

ME: "So are you saying that you want ME to go out in a forest and find the best tree and build you a tree house ???"

All 3 girls: " YES if you loved us YOU would!"

The 10 year old: "BUT she won't. She never does anything we want her to do...SIGH"

ALL nodding in agreement ((..while they sat in their warm house, eating a home cooked meal, watching cartoons, wearing their Uggs )).

If I hadn't been so amused by the absurdity of the conversation I might have been a little hurt.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

If You Play in the Big Leagues...

I remember playing dress up as a kid. I would put on a lacy white gown and a veil and it would be my wedding. It was either that or I would play mommy. I would have baby dolls cradled in my arms or in the plastic carriage. I would feed them and change them and love them. I was always one scenario or the other ... sometimes I would still be in my wedding gown and move on to the mommy part. It was all I ever wanted. Love. Babies. White picket fence. The Big League.

The problem is that those absolutely wonderful things come with a lot of pesky details. There are jobs and mortgages. Children that aren't plastic. That have real cries and real poop along with distinctive personalities and opinions. Responsibilities galore. Fights and dates. Crying and laughing. Good and bad but all details. They take energy and time. Sometimes the details muck up the big picture. The important parts. The only parts that matter in the end. Love. Commitment. Respect.

Sometimes those details become too much and start to make you feel like the weight of your world is set square on your shoulders. Whether you crumble under that weight depends on so many things. It depends on being able to wade through all those details to get to the life stands still moments. The moments where time seems to freeze and you remember why you wanted all this stuff in the first place. When your child reads a book to you for the first time. When your husband holds your hand a little tighter and tells you that you are his forever. The days that your child demonstrates all those qualities that you painstakingly tried to teach them. Those moments that become an imprint in your memory. A testament to being a family. Which to me simply means having someone you love as your partner and raising children to be respectful, happy people.

What I have learned in all those years since I used to dress up in that over sized white gown and play family with such ease is that it certainly isn't...easy. In fact being a family is anything but easy. It takes lots of perseverance and work. It is hard and intimidating but anything worth having is worth working hard for.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Hidden Bully

When you hear about bullies these days it often pertains to emotional bullying. Words. Meanness through words. Texting and Face Book contribute to the popularity of this type of bullying. Well that and the fact that the girl bullies don't want to mess up their perfectly flat ironed hair or chip their manicures. One face is beautiful and the number two face is twisted up and grotesque. Hard to swallow at any age but especially at that age when you aren't at all sure of your own place in the world.

Way back when there was a different kind of bullying. The kind you read about in a novel or see in a movie. The kid towering over another that uses physical strength to cause harm. I remember a girl that used to live up the street. She was mean. She needed attention and didn't care if it was negative or positive attention. She used to get off the bus and follow me and a friend as we walked home. She constantly screamed the song "oh Mickey, your so fine..." in our ears and kicked our heels as we walked. She liked to make us cry and then she would laugh. The harder we would cry the harder she would laugh. It was what fueled her fire. Everyone knew her as the bully and she liked that. She took lunch money and lunches. She stole Halloween candy and shoved boys and girls alike. She ended up just where you would think she might. Alone. Uneducated. Jail.

The interesting thing is that the girl that is that bully today blends in well. She wears the Aeropsotle T's and sparkly eye makeup. She has a cell phone and lots of friends. She craves popularity and surrounds herself with the "ones". She knows just how to push girls down to be the one on the top. She knows what to say to make others shrink away. No need for punching or kicking. The new quiet manipulation causes less ripples and a much more efficient effect. This bully is harder to pinpoint. Harder to stop. Eventually this bully will be a lawyer or a mom or a teacher. I think I might like the old school bully more. At least those bullies are not hiding in every clique.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Flutophone Chronicles

My 4th grader came home last week with a snazzy blue case and a big smile. When she carefully unzipped it and tenderly removed her shiny new flutophone (or recorder as they call them now) I cringed. Some memories from when I was her age involving a not so favorable incident with a flutophone swept across my mind. She was so excited that I pushed the memory away and watched her attach the instrument to her neck strap and begin to screech out a few notes. After a few minutes she stopped and took her special cleaning cloth out and wiped it down and placed it back in her case just as precisely as she had taken it out. Her happiness lasted about a week. Last weekend she started to resent the plastic screamer. She couldn't quite get the notes right and told me that the teacher pointed her out and only her and told her she was holding it wrong. She didn't come over and show her how to hold it. She didn't tell her anything good she was doing. She just sternly chastised her in front of the whole class. That vision made my old instrument incident come flooding back like an out of control tsunami.

When I was in third grade I had a teacher who was known as the mean one. She yelled. Her voice was gruff. She had no sympathy for shyness or quietness. She disliked it as a matter of fact. I cried more then once in her class and she would tell me to suck it up, act my age, stop being a baby. That only made me cry harder. By spring I was holding it together more and had made a few friends in the class. We had just started a new unit in music and everyone was all a twitter. It was the flutophone unit! It was the first day and we were all excited to get our hands on them. It was loud and chaotic. Lots of squeaking and screeching. At that time there was not a separate music teacher, the classroom teacher was the one to teach the notes and blowing technique. When she had passed out one to each student she abruptly told everyone to shut up and sit down. Everyone did but there were a few squeaks here and there that interrupted her as she began the lesson. Again she told everyone to be quiet and threatened that the next sound she heard would result in a major punishment. There was absolute and complete quiet. Not one sound. No one wanted to endure one of her punishments. As she started to talk my friend, who was sitting next to me, made a funny face at me and I tried to contain a giggle. All would have been ok IF I hadn't had the flutophone up next to my mouth. You see I stopped the sound of the giggle but the air escaped out of my mouth and traveled through the mouth piece and created a loud squeak. Everyone looked at me, jaws to the ground. I could feel the red hot traveling across my face and the tears well up in my eyes. The teacher immediately walked over to me and grabbed the instrument out of my hands she told me to get up and that I could no longer be a part of the learning today. She led me out into the hall and made me turn toward the wall and put my nose up to it. She said I was a disappointment and turned around walked into the class room and slammed the door. I stood there for what seems like hours, crying quietly and feeling like a loser as other classes passed by me staring and whispering. I honestly don't know how long I was out there and I don't remember what happened afterwards. I do know that teacher should not have been there teaching young kids. After that day I would never ever look at another instrument. It ruined it for me.

When I started to tell my mom the other day about the incident she told me I had never told her before. In all honesty I think it went into the box in my brain full of those things that you just never want to have a memory of...things you would rather forget. My parents had something about that teacher that they put in that box in their heads years ago too. At a parent teacher conference that pivotal year that teacher told my mom and dad that I would certainly never go to college. She told them I would slide by and get through but had no potential for higher education. They told me that years later at my college graduation where I graduated magna cum laude with a degree in education.

Teacher do shape us in our lives. The academics are very important but so is the positive feedback and the ability to see potential even when it might seem there isn't any.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One Foot on the Banana Peel

Some things drive make me bonkers, bananas and as mad as a hatter. Some things absolutely make me teeter on the brink of insanity. Some things like these things...

Forgetting my purse and not realizing it until I am in the checkout line at the store

Cat throw up

People who see the world in black and white and refuse to even consider gray as an option


Coats and backpacks strewn about

People who use guns to try and solve problems

12 year olds

Snow/ snow days/ cold temperatures

Not being able to run outside (see above ^^^)

Thong underwear

People who use religion/politics/being a crunchy mom as a reason for talking down to others

Poor grammar

My closet

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Faster than a Speeding Bullet.

Last year was heavy. Lot of things were hard to swallow and even harder to understand. Things that looked real and for sure, ended up being disposable and fleeting. In other words if something seemed to good to be true it probably was... those visions of perfection make the flaws even harder to accept and almost impossible to forgive.

When bad things start happening to good people it makes you want to grab on to some sort of unreachable faith. To try and find answers to those questions of why people who live their life in nothing but honesty and goodness sometimes have to face challenges beyond the realm of the heaven bound entrance exam. Why live in the light of what is right if there is no assurance of it bringing happiness?

I have decided that I was focusing on the wrong thing. There really might be no answer as to why horrendous things happen to those that don't deserve much as you want a definitive reason why things in life happen chances are you won't get one. The badness and goodness of people is totally independent of the badness and goodness that happens to them. I can't change any of that.

I can however turn the focus inward. I can realize my own contentment. What brings me joy and delight. I can find a way to change my own circumstance. To enjoy the minutes and seconds while they are here instead of worrying about when they might not be. Remembering the things that can't be bought at the store or won in the rat race. Time can't stand still, in fact it seems to be moving faster every minute. Faster than a speeding bullet.