Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gifts from the Heart

Sometimes, when you are down and out about ridiculously unimportant things, there is a little someone who comes a long and gives you something that realigns your perspective.

A gift that touches you deep in your heart and reminds you that the condition of your house is not important, nor is the laundry piling up or the fact that you can't walk into school to pick them up.

It only matters that they love you and you love them. And all will be ok tomorrow or next week because this feels good right now.

You are loved. And that is enough to heal all.


Card and Flowers from B.

Card with game from A.

From my littlest artist, R.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Control Freak

I am an admitted control freak. I’ve said it before. Time and time again. I know this about myself. Yet, this little tidbit has resurfaced to smack me in the face. You think it would leave a little common sense behind with it, but nooo.

Last Friday, I had surgery on my foot. Nothing major, but a major pain in the you-know-what. My foot actually, that’s what.

When the orthopedic doctor told me back in December that I needed surgery, I looked at him and said “Well, I can’t do that right now. I don’t have time for something like this. I have small children.”

Yes, I am very rational like that. In my defense, my regular doctor thought I would be going to him and getting a cyst drained and out and about after the visit. I went from that to having a piece of bone cut off (I’ll spare you the rest of the details in case you are disgusted by blood and guts type stuff like me).

So, here I am all laid up for 2 weeks in a boot. No driving. Pain medication, which I absolutely hate. Not able to carry my three year old. Not able to run my children around to school and their activities. Eyes rolling back in your head wiped out from the meds.

I am not a good patient. I suck at it actually. I am usually the caregiver not receiver. So, this makes me cranky. My husband has been great. He has been holding the fort down, along with my parents. My mom cooked dinner for me twice. That was awesome. Food always tastes better when someone else makes it for you. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.

I am trying to focus and write, but I am uncomfortable. The throbbing in my foot. The headache and haze from the meds. I need to go lay down. I do not feel in control of things. It’s adding edginess to me-to the situation. It would be easier if I could just sit back and relax. Enjoy being waited on. Enjoy catching up on bad TV and good books. But, it stresses me out instead. At least I know who I am.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Prayer

They sit there. On little patches of dusty dirt. In diapers and t-shirts.

Who is changing the diapers? I wonder.

They look around. Are they wondering where she is? Where is my mother? Why has she left me?

Who is doing the reassuring? Who is holding them in their arms for comfort? I wonder.

I can’t watch the coverage.

I can’t stomach the pictures.

I am weak like that.

These little children. Babies. Left alone to look around and see the images themselves.

Body parts sticking out of rubble. People piled up on the roads.

The smell.

If they are lucky and survive, how will they move forward? Will they ever be whole? I wonder if that’s even possible.

I want to walk up to each one of them sitting on their patch of dirt and scoop them up. Bring them home. Hold them for a long time in my arms and try to transfer some love. Whisper reassuring words that all will be ok.

There may not be anyone to do this. To tell them how special they are. To share their stories with them about the day they were born. To love them in the way that only their mother does.

My heart is breaking for each of them.

Give what you can. Remember them in your prayers tonight.

I wonder what more we can do.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Dad


My dad has two daughters and a wife. He has spent his entire adult life surrounded by females. He’s never once complained or said that he wanted a boy.

He is one of the most patient and kind men that I know.

He’s a big guy. Six feet tall. His hands are like paws and his feet are a size 12. I like this about my dad. Even now as a grown adult, I still feel like a little kid when he hugs me.

Some might describe my dad as a gentle giant. He has that kind of demeanor. Easy going. Laid back. Not a lot gets him riled up.

Everyone likes him. His grandchildren adore him.

He is a great baseball player. All state third base. It just came naturally to him. He teaches the game to my son. They all know Papa loves baseball. His heart is broken each and every year by the Cubs. He doesn’t understand aluminum bats or water bottles at games.

My dad helps me out with the kids a lot. He is around during the day if I have a doctor’s appointment or need to volunteer at school.

He brings his grandchildren pieces of chocolate when he comes to see them.

He is at almost every game of every sport that they play.

A few Halloweens ago, he wore a scary mask and cape and scared the bejeezus out of my four year olds. They still haven’t forgiven him.

My dad loves the Beach Boys. He should have been a surfer and lived by the beach. He did once, briefly, but gave it up for my sister and I. This summer he taught B and A to boogie board on vacation.

He was crushed when it took R through her first year of life to succumb to the charms of Papa.

He likes, no loves, pizza and is upset when you don’t order enough or he thinks we’re going to be short.

Twenty years later, my dad still dislikes teenage boys. He doesn’t trust them for anything.

He took me on my Indian Princesses camping trip. We had the best time.

He has learned to text recently and talks to my sister and I throughout the day this way. He hates to talk on the phone.

If there is a cookie to be eaten, my dad is all over it.

He used to make a tent out of blankets and kitchen chairs and sleep with my sister and I in it on Friday nights.

My dad also used to let us put our belts around his neck and act like he was a large dog or horse for us to lead around or ride on his back. Again, the man has the patience of a saint.

The night that I got engaged to T, my Dad came and sat on the top stair, as I was getting ready in our hall bathroom. He talked to me for about fifteen minutes. Where were we going? Why would we be going on a horse and carriage ride? Something special going on? He tried to ask me how I felt about T. Did I love him? I think I answered flippantly. He sat there the whole time like he didn’t want to leave. He said nothing against or pro T. He just wanted to be there with me before I left.

T had not asked his permission prior to asking me to marry him. So, he did not have any knowledge that I would be getting engaged soon. But, somehow he knew. And I think he just wanted to freeze that moment in time with me getting ready for a date in the hall bathroom one more time.

That is my dad.

Happy Birthday, Dad! For all these reasons and more, I love you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Brawl

Last Friday, B missed lunchtime at school because of a follow up doctor’s appointment. He also missed participating in a huge fight that took place on the playground during recess.

The incident involved the majority of his friends. I’m not sure what started it. There was tackling, faces being shoved in the snow, hitting, sitting on other children. Sounds kind of barbaric and upsetting to me. To my husband, it sounded more like typical boy stuff. Coming from a household of only girls, I am still learning when it comes to all things boy related.

The boys all ended up standing against the wall for the rest of recess. This is seen as a punishment at their school. When they returned to class, they were each issued a yellow card-another type of punishment for poor behavior.

A friend of mine called to fill me in on what happened. Her son was involved. She was upset with him, as I would be.

The fight began with a particular child. One that has been causing issues on the playground all year. One of those kids you would rather not have in your child’s class. The parents of this child are very nice. They are also very na├»ve. He was not disciplined this weekend at home at all for his actions. This is his third such fight this year and there have been no consequences for any of them. I know this because I know his mother very well. This child was worried about his school consequences to the point that he faked a stomachache on Monday so that he did not have to attend school and face the teacher. His parents let him stay home even though they were aware of his faking.

We talked to B about the incident. We asked him what he would have done. We’ve tried to teach him about guilt by association all year. This is a hard lesson for a seven year old. His good friend got the same punishment as the others after he went over to try and stop the fight. He ended up getting pulled in instead. We’ve preached up and down about whom you choose for friends and what that means. We’ve talked about consequences for your actions and about good decision-making. I know some of it has sunk in. He has a grasp on pieces of this and has proven that to us recently.

I hope he would have made the right decision if he were there. But, I know it’s hard. It’s hard to walk away and be the only one doing so. It’s hard to be a lone voice when the bully is shouting out orders and all seem to be listening. Is it right for us to expect this from him? Is it too much for us to ask? I don’t think so. I think it’s just the beginning. He needs to be able to hear himself above the noise. To hear the echoes from home guiding him with these decisions. If there is a next time, and I’m sure there will be, I hope he gets the chance to stand still and listen before he acts. And to know that we are always there with him.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fancy Pants

R has taken to the book Fancy Nancy like a fish to water. She loves the glitter on the cover. She loves crazy Nancy. She really thinks she is smashingly fancy. That’s a fancy word for really.

She wears her sparkly silver shoes while reading it. You know, the $9 ones from Target? I think she is channeling Nancy.

She now wears all sorts of jewelry-necklaces and rings galore. That’s a fancy word for a lot. Today, she has an extra ring in her pocket just in case. In case of what, I’m not sure.

Yesterday, she informed me that fuchsia was a fancy word for pink. Just randomly. Thanks for the fancy vocabulary lesson, R!

We are on our way to see The Princess and The Frog. She is dressed up for the occasion. That’s a fancy word for event, which is a fancy word in itself.

I don’t think I have it in me to go all out like Nancy’s family in the book and get us all dressed up to go. She told me she likes my earrings though. And asked me to put on a necklace. She has her daddy wearing one also. So, maybe that is fancy enough for today. Let’s hope so.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Phrase That Pays

Since becoming a mother, there are several phrases that are used regularly around my house. Some of them I have come up with myself. Yeah, I'll own them. Others, were passed down lovingly from my own mother. Either way, I cannot believe I use them on a regular basis. Some of them are down right ridiculous. Some won't make sense to those outside of my house. I guess they are the language of our family.

Teeth and Face! This little ditty is screamed out each morning at my three children. On average, it gets yelled at least three times and spoken maybe two more each and every morning. It can be difficult to get all three children dressed and out the door in the morning for school. One of the tasks that I believe they can accomplish on their own by this age is to wash their face and brush their teeth. (I do still help R with these.) Somewhere along the way, I lost the patience for asking if they washed their faces and brushed their teeth. So, I start off saying it's time for teeth and face. Did you do teeth and face? (These are the more in control times I mentioned where this is actually being spoken.) Surprise, the children don't always listen to me those first few times I request something. So, it usually comes down to me yelling teeth and face! Let's go! Anyone that walked into my house on a random morning might think I have lost my mind and am just randomly shouting out body parts-arms and legs! I'm open to better ideas on getting them to move in the morning.

Get out of the dining room! I know you will be shocked, but this one is also not always spoken in a calm voice. It is old fashioned and passed down lovingly from my mother. She would scream it at my sister and I each and every time we so much as stuck a big toe in there. It was as though she had a sixth sense about such things. I now know that small children are very loud and not so sneaky. Our house room layout forms a race car track like circle. The children, at times-mostly when friends or cousins are over and they are housebound in the dead of winter and losing their minds, can get rambunctious and start to "lap the house" as we say. Oh look, an added phrase for you! This means running around in a circular pattern through each room. Unfortunately, in order for them to complete their lap, they need to go through the dining room. This is where my catch phrase enters. Now, I firmly believe that houses are meant to be homes and lived in by the family. This is why I do not have a formal living room. We actually use our living room,which looks similar to the family room in our house. It took me about 12 years of marriage and until this house to own dining room furniture. The first week the table was delivered, my son took a match box car and "drove" it across the top of the table. A large scratch was left in a trail behind the car. He is lucky that the table had to go back for a new one for other reasons. The dining room is the only room completely furnished, painted, and decorated how I would like. The white trim work is not dented, scratched or nicked. In other words, if I had a house to myself, it would look like my dining room. However, I don't. So, all I ask for is this one room. So, stay out.

Shoes, Coats, Potty! Shoes, Coats, Potty! When did I become so busy that I apparently cannot speak in full sentences? This is yet another mantra that is lovingly spoken to my children each morning. It comes right after breakfast and before we get into the car to go to school. As you may guess, I am looking for them to get their shoes and coats on and to use the potty before we leave. Such simple requests. So difficult to complete. So, I repeat it many times before it gets acted upon.

When I am old and gray, you may find me rambling around in my bathrobe, drooling, muttering things like shoes, coat, potty, teeth and face! No one will know what I am saying. However, it may not mean I've lost my mind. That will have happened years prior. I will most likely just be remembering the hay days of motherhood and missing my children.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Little Snippets 3

We are pulling up to the house and A is supposed to run in to grab something and come back to the car. B decides he needs a snack, so he runs out also. Guess who else decides she needs to get out of the car? R. I tell her no. She throws a tantrum. I try explaining that the reason we are all not getting out is because then we’d all have to reload in the car and get R back in her car seat. B then says, “Yeah, and we all know how that goes…” Spot on son.

I am in the process of making lunch.

R yells down from upstairs: “Don’t come up here Mommy!”

Me: “What happened R?”

R: “Don’t come up. I no want you to come up!”

Me (heading upstairs, duh): “R do you want to tell Mommy what happened?”

I get upstairs to find R naked and standing in the middle of her bathroom. She missed the potty, completely soaked her clothes, the bath rug and the floor. Then, being the neat freak she is, she attempted to clean up the mess with all of the toilet paper and towels hanging in the bathroom. Proceed with deep breathing techniques…

A is enamored with Taylor Swift’s Love Story song. She has known the song for a while, but just saw the video over Christmas break with her older cousins. It must have left a big impression on her. She has walked around singing it for days and is now getting down on her knee and proposing marriage to anyone who will stand still for a minute. And I thought the fairy tale bug missed this girl!

We are getting ready to leave the house the other day. R comes in my room dressed in a purple, blue and pink stripped shirt. She has a Chicago Bears jersey over that. Fuchsia fleece pants with cupcakes on them. Roxy pink and white patterned moon boots. All topped off with a Chicago Cubs hard batting helmet on her head. I swore the dressing thing was going to be one of my concessions. It isn’t worth the fight. I had to swallow a bucketful of pride to just walk out the door with her. And remind myself repeatedly that anyone who saw her would know there is no way that any adult could have possibly come up with this combo.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More

Yesterday, I went out to collect our mail. This task is not nearly as joyous now that the holiday cards have ended and what’s coming are the bills from the month of December. So, I am opening envelopes when I see a magazine offer that is personally addressed to me.

The magazine is entitled Mo.re. They are new. They were offering a free year’s subscription.

Now, I am a magazine junkie. I subscribe to numerous magazines of a large variety. There is O, Entertainment. Weekly, Par.ents, In. Style, Martha. Stewart, Bon. Appetite, Gour.met, the now defunct Coo.kie. You get the idea. It’s a nice varietal mix. Some entertainment, a little improve your life, some parenting, some cooking, fashion.

So, answer me this. Where in the hell does that magazine list read old lady?

Because that’s what this new magazine was offering. Let me quote you from their letter.

“Are you landing or taking off?” This one just pissed me off and not because I am in my twilight years, but because I am in that weird motherhood induced confusion phase.

“In Mo.re, we talk about real issues that matter to you now-from hot flashes to ways to enhance your natural beauty.” Call me crazy, but I am not hot flashing yet at 35.

“Fact. You’re different from the woman you once were.” No shit. But, I can tell you this. I am not yet the fully gray haired woman on your bi-fold brochure either.

(Under a section about finances) “What to say if your children don’t want to sever the financial umbilical cord.” Well, this would be sort of difficult for them since I just severed the real umbilical cord only three years ago. Call me crazy, but a three year old and two seven year olds might need us financially for a few more years.

“In Mo.re, we’re open about things like weight gain, menopause, cancer and anti-aging.” All fun topics that I would love to read about in my five minutes of down time, no?

I have never been more annoyed at receiving something randomly in the mail. I don’t know why it struck me so harshly. In a very logical way, I realize that I probably was put on some bizarre mailing list or purchased some things that led them to believe I was of a certain age. However, I think I am upset because I just had a birthday I wasn’t that comfortable with. In my defense, I don’t think turning 35 should justify aging magazines and products to come calling.

Perhaps, what bothered me the most, was it reflected one of my biggest concerns. That I went from being a youthful twenty something to having children. The years of motherhood and taking care of little people are thrilling and exhausting and can seem kind of like a roller coaster ride. I’m just recently aware, and a bit afraid, that if I don’t slow it down and pay closer attention, I might just step off the ride and be… old.

I want there to be something there for me when I get off this ride. I want to step into a fulfilled life. Not the typical emptiness or loneliness that comes with the children leaving. A life for me has to be waiting on the other side of the platform. Thanks to that magazine for pointing out that it may not be as far off as I'd like…

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Play Date Conundrum

I have never been one to fully dive into the play date pool. Perhaps, it’s a factor of being a mother of twins. I have a built in play date for my children any time I need one. And the bonus is that I don’t have to watch, monitor, or entertain anyone else’s children.

We are swamped with our schedule as it is. The kids have loads of activities where they get to see their friends. These range from soccer, basketball, brownies, religious ed and ballet. They see their friends at the practices and then at the games each week. Some of the kids overlap activities. So, with a practice and a game per sport, we are seeing these children at least four times a week outside of school. Yet, it never fails that the parents will ask for additional play dates.

Is it me or does this seem excessive?

I am pretty protective of our family time. T works and travels for work during the week. His time at night is limited with the children. He gets maybe an hour or an hour and a half before they go to bed. So, the bulk of his time falls on the weekends.

We spent Christmas break avoiding the phone. Family was in town. It was the holidays. We had parties, activities and fun things happening with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Traditions that the five of us were taking part in together. Yet, the phone would ring. Every single day. The phone would ring.

I am grateful that they have friends and that we’ve met so many great families at school. But, I do get the looks when I say no we can’t do this or that’s not going to work time wise. Sometimes, I find myself rushing them out after a game on a Saturday just to avoid the dreaded play date request.

I just don’t want them booked out every single day. I don’t want someone over here constantly either. They need time to decompress. To play with their siblings. To do their homework. Time to just be kids. They shouldn’t have a schedule at their ages. I still believe that they need to be bored sometimes in order to use their imaginations and creativity to figure out what to play or do. They rarely get that time as it is. I don’t want to lose the last tidbit left.

So, we’ll continue to hold the play dates at bay-for now at least. Wish me luck. I'm hoping I don't get pushed in!