Messy Corners

I admit I feel a bit of jealousy when I see some pictures. Pictures of people in homes who have children. And these children are reading or sitting quietly. And the space in huge. And clean and clutter free. No toys, glasses from a quick snack, books or personal paraphernalia that children carry with them and leave everywhere. And I know that some people(and me) clean up a bit before taking those lifestyle photos. No one wants to see our dirty laundry, our fingerprints, our mess of toys, or stacks of books, our inability to keep up with all of the things that our kids drag out each day.

 

And I wonder if I had a home with more space if there would be a room like that. A room free of clutter, museum-like where I could great guests and they could think our home is perfectly clean because of this clutter free room.

 

Or maybe I would have more space to make that happen and my kids would just bring all of their dolls and books into that room because that is where I was sitting. Just to be near. And would I clear it all away just to take a picture of them.

playcorner

We don’t have a playroom or a den or a family room or a basement for the kids to play in. Their bedrooms are too small to hold many toys, but they work well for reading books and small dance parties. We live in a city house with one living space that also includes our dining room table for all five of us to share – and to also share with guests – and it’s quite full of things. Every toy they own, most every book they own, art supplies, magnets on our fireplace screen, movies, games, dolls, our piles of paperwork for work, school and bills, and a corner that is full of winter coats, mittens and hats. Our dining room table – in the center of our living area – is our only place to eat as well as our desks – for work, writing and homework.
This is where we live. This is where I see all of my children. This is where the big kids do homework while I serve dinner and Astrid plays with dolls. This is where we watch TV while Jed reads a book and Astrid colors. This is where we talk, play, live and compete in Just Dance 2014.

 

This is where all the things reside.

 

And sometimes I admit it drives me crazy. Would we be happier to have other places to be. A finished basement to send the kids? An office to work in? Bigger bedrooms to store the toys? A separate dining room that doesn’t become the central dumping ground in the house?  Or would I be lonely with so many empty spaces and people not close? And would my photographs of my kids feel cold and too clean and empty without books stacked in the corners or the room? Why isn’t the dollhouse next to the couch anymore?

readingcorner

Our living spaces now are full of things shoved in corners – the books, toys and extra blankets. These corners mirror my heart and hold this clutter as the memories we are making as a family now together as we share this one space.

 

And I’m tired of trying to put all of the clutter away to make my pictures less about what I think people care about and see and more about what my kids are doing right now. Right here. As I come to appreciate the clutter in the corners.

 

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My friends Alison and Greta are hosting a photography project called Through The Lens Thursday. The prompt this week is corner.

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Hell Hath Frozen Over

We looked at a house in the suburbs a few weeks ago.

 

I also mentioned the word “Homeschooling” as in “I might just try homeschooling Astrid next year.

 

It’s like I don’t even know myself anymore.

 

Now before my city friends drive over here for an intervention…hear me out. And then come on over for an intervention and wine.

 

Here are the facts.

1. I love living in the city – and so do my kids – and Jed most of the time..although he also dreams about living in a barn in the country – which is something he can do by himself because I am not moving to the country. Trust me on this – we cannot even maintain our 40×140 yard – what the hell would we do with land? We love having everything close in the city – the people, the shops, the coffee, the option to not get in your car to get anywhere. We love old, old homes.

2. I still don’t like the suburbs. No offense. I know you like your suburbs…but master baths and big yards and carpet and a house that looks similar to  neighbors just does not do it for me. Subdivisions scare me. They do. They make me sweat. It’s me, not you.

3. And it’s hard not to like the suburbs because you all have awesome schools and good parks and finished basements and seemingly friendly people, and for some reason lower taxes.

4.  Our taxes suck. And I don’t mind taxes. Love me some taxes – but I actually do want something for them too – and since we no longer have a decent neighborhood school as they have redrawn the boundaries, and my god St. Paul – could you plow some snow once in awhile?

5. I want my kids to have a ‘place’ to be and a place to be with their friends as they become teenagers. Mom and Jack I love you – BUT my one bummer of growing up was not having a place to hang with my friends. I never felt they were welcome at our home and I know – we had just one small living area – so there was really nowhere for us to be…so I found myself always at other peoples’ houses. But I really wish you would’ve gotten to know my friends more and I wonder if I would’ve gotten in a little bit less.ahem.trouble if I could’ve been at home with them. So I want to have a welcoming place for my kids to be and to bring their friends – and this means having a space for them.

 

Currently we do not have a finished basement – and a basement in a 105 year old home is well..a basement. This would be a MAJOR project made even more so given the fact that the original owner of our home installed AN ACTUAL HULL OF A BOAT in our basement. Like all of the wood planks, portholes, everything AND named it after his deceased wife “The Helen T!” Cool, right – but if we mess with this 80 year old boat – I fear that Helen will haunt us. So it’s a trade-off – happy teenagers spending time with us OR Helen making our lives a living hell?

boat-in-my-basement

So we are looking at homes with finished basements. Obviously. Because I don’t like ghosts.

 

Now, we are only looking at inner-ring suburbs…and only at homes that are still old-ish – like pre-1965…so don’t get all freaked out that I’m going through my change of life or something.

 

No worries here.

 

And hey if we had a finished basement, a good school and our taxes would stop going up – well this suburb and homeschooling talk would completely end and all would be right with the world.

 

So how about you – City, Suburbs or Country? Where do you live?

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Just Eat The Damn Chocolate

“But Mom, we can’t take the last two.” Eloise said quietly so the lady behind the counter would not hear her.

 

“Eloise, we can buy the last two pain au chocolat. Trust me, it will be fine.” I answered in a voice slightly louder than hers as we moved to the front of the line at the bakery.

 

“But what if the people in line behind us really want those and we take them…just think how disappointed they would be. I don’t think I can live with that guilt.” Eloise frowned and then looked to the floor.

 

“Eloise, but we are next in line so we get dibs on the chocolate. That’s why we came to this bakery – JUST for two pain au chocolat and voila there are two left and they can be OURS! It’s good karma that we buy them. They are meant to be ours! Do you not see this as a sign?” I giggled slightly thinking about how we’ve waiting in line for 15 minutes and now cannot buy the pastries.

 

“It just doesn’t feel right. Maybe we should just ask some of the people behind us if they are planning on ordering them and then if they say no, it’s okay for us to order them.” Eloise inquired.

 

“Eloise, there are 15 people behind us and odds are that yes, they want the chocolate..but we are here FIRST and they’ve been selling them all day and now at 1:45..they have two left and they are OURS! We win!”

 

Ladies can I help you with something?

 

“Eloise we need to order.”

 

“I really want the pain au chocolat, but at this point they just would not taste right. I don’t think it’s ever right to take the last one of anything at anytime.  I can’t. We can just come back earlier tomorrow when they have more and then it won’t feel so wrong.” Eloise started towards the door already basically giving our pastries to the line behind us.

 

“So, do you want to order something else today, I mean since we are here?” My stomach rumbled thinking about French Pastries NOT IN MY STOMACH!

 

“No, let’s just leave the rest to the line behind us. It was just a treat anyway that I didn’t really need…it was more of a ‘would be really nice to have’ and now I’m not really hungry anymore.” Eloise said over her shoulder as she pushed the shop door open, the door bells ringing over the last of her words.

 

“You know, somebody has to take the last pain au chocolats because they won’t keep until tomorrow. Bakeries are happy when they sell-out. We are doing a great service by buying them!” I made one last attempt to order something.

 

“I know, and I’m sure they’ve already sold them by now and I just know that person is happy.” Eloise smiled now as I caught up to her and met her stride for stride down the sidewalk towards our car.

 

“You made that person happy, you know? Which is wonderful..but you know sometimes it’s okay to make yourself happy too. I need to you to know that. Actually, it’s pretty damn important to make yourself happy. I don’t want you to be the only one who gives. Let someone spoil you sometimes. Please.”

 

“Mom, I don’t like when you use bad words.”

 

“Gah, seriously, that wasn’t my point! Well I want you to know that you are such a good person – and your heart is always in the right places – helping others and thinking of others and always being kind…but I need to you to make me a promise, okay? Well, two promises…”

 

“Okay.”

 

“The first is that you will do at least one thing each week that makes YOU happy, because I totally believe that if you are not happy, you cannot serve others like I know you want to do. And the second thing is – please let me swear once in awhile because swearing makes me happy. I don’t know why it does…but it does…so just politely ignore me or I won’t buy you anymore pain au chocolat. You got it?”

 

“Mom, you are so weird…and I need to think about this deal.”

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Simple

My Aunt gave us an old love-seat today. You’d never guess that this 12 year old love-seat is better than receiving Taylor Swift tickets for Christmas. We are slowly attempting to make our office into a functioning space and this love-seat gives us a place to start.

 

Eloise and Esther immediately claimed it as theirs and they camped in there the whole afternoon and evening. They set-up my phone for music and set out books, pencils and paper that could last a lifetime as they drew, journal-ed, sang, and chatted for nearly five hours.

 

At bedtime Eloise said to me “Mom, that couch is the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time.”

 

And I didn’t know whether to smile and be happy for her, or to cry for her..because really, a couch?

But I think I get what she was saying. She was just happy for something so beautifully simple like a couch – a place for her and best friend(her sister) to hang out and call their own. A quiet place to just be. We are always looking for quiet corners at home.

 

And I know when she is 40 and thinking back over her childhood she will remember the day we got ‘the couch’ and she will remember that they sang Taylor Swift songs while designing clothing that was worthy of Project Runway.

 

I’m somewhat sure she will remember this because when I think back to my childhood, it’s the simple things that pull me back. The simple things that are the clearest. I know we had birthdays and weddings and divorces and graduations but truly I don’t remember the details of those.

 

But I do remember when I was 10 and we took an impromptu picnic in Southern Indiana and when we went to the grocery store we bought sandwich spread instead of mayo and truly I’ve never tasted a sandwich that good. And I remember when I was eight and I was trying over and over to do a handstand so my mom could take a picture of it, but I could never hold the pose long enough, so my mom told me to just hold my arms up high above my head and when we got the picture developed we would just look at it upside down. So that’s what we did and I do love that picture and remember laughing so hard at her brilliance in that plan. And I remember being little and eating Kraft Dinner in my Aunt Sandy’s sunny breakfast nook when we would stay with her in the Summer.  She always served mine with a bowl and spoon and my brother ate his on a plate with a fork.

 

I know I’m guilty of going over the top for my kids for their birthdays and their Christmases. For trying too hard to make each moment extra special.

 

But truly, do they really care. I’d like to think not. I think they just need a simple things and a place with people who love them.

 

And maybe we just need to bring an old couch into our lives once in awhile to remind us how beautifully simple life really can be.

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Strive For The Happy

You know that old story about the man who goes to the doctor, moves his arms and says “It hurts when I do this” and the doctor responds with “Well stop doing that!” ..well that’s how I’ve been feeling lately about a lot of things.

 

And then a very wise friend said to me “Put your energy into something that makes you intrinsically happy, without relying upon others to do that for you.”

 

Which is a hard thing to do for a mom. It’s advice though that I would give my own kids.

 

“Don’t worry about what everybody else thinks” “Don’t worry about what everybody else wears.” “Don’t put up with the mean girls – either try to befriend them just being you or kindly walk away.”  “Be true to yourself, always.” “Don’t let yourself feel left-out, instead invite a new friend to play.” “Don’t talk behind people’s backs.” “Don’t lie.” “Be strong enough to ask for help.” “Be strong enough to admit when you were wrong.” “Be strong enough that you have enough to offer anyone help when they need it.” “Don’t take no for an answer the first time.” “Have a good cry sometimes and get up even stronger.” “Try new things.” “Don’t give up so easily.”  “Listen to your mother, she was a teen, a horrible horrible teen at one time.” “Be there for someone when they least expect it and be there for someone when they should expect it.” “Accept help.” “Reject rumors.” “Live your truth.” “Don’t keep doing things that just don’t feel good.”

“Strive for the happy that you first make for yourself…”

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I would like to think that my kids love me for my quick wit and well-placed sarcasm, and as they get older it warms my heart when they actually understand a joke and roll their eyes. But I know that while we enjoy laughing as a family, my humor doesn’t make them love me more. I’ve always used my blog to share funny stories about my kids and our life. The things they say and do, the silly things that I’ve done, the frustrations of motherhood, and the daily trials of family. Sometimes life can get so ridiculous and sometimes so incredibly sad that my favorite coping mechanism and crutch for sharing is through humor.

 

And some days I’m the first to admit defeat and cannot wait to pour the wine at 5pm. There are some very hard days.

 

But the hard ones will never outnumber the good ones. I hope the times I yell(yes I yell) will never outnumber the times that I praise or give a hug. I hope that the times I criticize(yes I’ve gone there) will never be more than the times that I teach and encourage. I hope that the times I throw my hands up in defeat are much less than the times that I say “We got this!” I pray the times that we cry are softened by our laughter and celebrations.

 

My kids know I love them and am here for them through my daily actions of just being a mother, but if I must talk about social media – well I hope when my kids go back and read my online legacy(and you know they can and will) I hope they won’t need to question how much I loved them every single day through my Facebook posts, my tweets, my photos, my words, my blog.

 

It’s weird to think about that – this 2012 footprint we are leaving as our legacy and I wonder am I true online like I’m true at home? I’d hate to think that I’m publishing updates and posts for page-views, follows, likes and comments rather than to just speak my mind and heart about the beautiful gift of motherhood. Even on those very bad days. In fact I worry about those bad moments the most. And it’s not that I want to only show sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns – but I want to remain respectful to my children even through the tears on a 4:45am morning.

 

Because motherhood isn’t glamorous. It’s messy and poopy(yes I went there) and complicated and hard. It’s demanding and all-consuming and exhausting and long. It comes to us without an instruction manual and we’re caught basically unprepared with the future on our small shoulders. We are fragile and tired and scared and weary and unprepared really – yet this is our vocation. Our very important vocation that we do – sometimes because we really want to but always because we have to – and figure out and stumble along and cry sometimes as we learn. But we all do it. Because we’re moms.

 

I don’t want to sugarcoat anything for my kids. I want them to know about the hard days, the many less than perfect days, the days mom cried, the days that mom messed up, the days that motherhood broke me.

 

But I don’t ever want my kids to think that any of the hard stuff was because of them. None of it. Not their early rising, their food-pushing-away-ness, their talking back, their not-listening, their never wanting to get potty trained, their taking toys, their forgetting their homework, their coming home late, their lying about their whereabouts, their dating the bad guy,

 

No, the hard stuff is because if we really are honest – we really don’t know what we’re doing here. And it’s okay to admit that and accept that and trudge along knowing that tomorrow there might be more peace.

 

And most of the time it’s best to just laugh about it. But I won’t be disrespectful to my kids – in person or on social media. I’m not looking for page-views. I’m looking to be true for them. To be their example – during the funny times and not so funny times – just true and theirs as we learn this parenting thing together. Because they are also my teachers as I am theirs and we both have a lot to learn, yet so many things to laugh about together.

 

I ask them to be respectful of me. I hope they don’t complain about me(too much) to their friends  – that I am that ” mean mom” or ‘I’m so unfair” or “I never let them do anything” or “I don’t like their friends.”

 

And in return I know and respect a line – that even as babies, toddlers, little and big kids – they deserve even more of the same respect. And I won’t complain about the early mornings, and the messes, and the constant questions, and ANOTHER DAMN game of Candy Land. Because in the end, and also the beginning – I’m teaching them how to manage their communication, their respect, their footprint and their words and recognizing what is really funny.

 

I don’t want them to be bullies or complainers or martyrs or shamers, even in jest. I want them to be helpers and lifter-uppers and good friends and to live true and honest and humorous community lives.

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So I guess this all comes back to “striving for the happy” – that putting my kids down or treating them with any less respect than I believe we all deserve does not make me happy. And while sure their stories are mine to tell – and the great debate goes on about how much do I really deserve to say about them as their mother versus what they own – I want to write in a way that would make them proud..because they are such an important part of me and I am their main teacher.

 

Does this mean that I cannot write humor anymore? Well no, I can make fun of myself and silly circumstances that happen. Because life is funny – and if we cannot laugh I believe the world would be a very depressing place. But I won’t call making fun of my kids in a disrespectful way, humor. Ever. And maybe that’s why I’ve been so serious on this blog for a few weeks as I have internalized my struggle.

 

In the meantime I’m going to prioritize good things that make me happy while at the same time being the best mom that I can be because truthfully I want my kids to be proud of my footprint – as a mother and a woman.

 

This doesn’t mean we have to just focus on the happy and the good things. It just means that the hard times can really seem quite insignificant when I look at the bigger picture. That’s what I try to teach my kids each day. Life is hard but let’s use our time wisely to lift one another up and laugh with each other. What an opportunity that is. Instead of taking that moment on Facebook to complain about another long day of hard things, what if we took that moment to write to a friend to let them know how amazing they are. We all need a happier inbox.

 

And we will never strive for perfection. We will just strive for a little more happy. For everyone.

 

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Torn Between Two Lovers

I find myself quoting the last episode ever of Desperate Housewives, which really sucks when I’m trying to be all educated and ‘writer like’ and all I can think about is the last thing that Susan Delfino ever said.  Especially since Susan is not even a real person – SO GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

 

You know you’ve reached middle age when your memories become more important than your dreams.

 

And that really kind of sucks. You know like a really amazing Jack Nicholson movie where Helen Hunt depresses you AGAIN because is this really as good as it gets and you wonder why she just cannot be happy. Maybe it’s just that permanent sad expression on her face and you’re like OMG I have that face.

 

Seriously.

 

Confused?

So here’s the thing. My heart is all screwed up and confused right now and I don’t know what to do or who to even talk to about it because anyone/everyone involved has an opinion to sway me to that side because they are on that side. So I tried to talk to Astrid because I see her the most and she just asked for more Goldfish crackers and my other two kids have finally figured out that if I ask them for advice then things are REALLY BAD because mom is confused again.

 

Okay, I never told you the thing.

 

So I have a problem. I have two things that fall on the exact same weekend next month. And this truly never happens to me because I only leave my house about once per year so now you understand how crazy this whole thing is.

 

-One of those things is a fabulous opportunity to see old friends that I haven’t seen forever, laugh a lot, reminisce, maybe drink a wine cooler, and feel completely in my comfort zone. And it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.

-The other of those things is a fabulous opportunity to meet new friends, laugh a lot, make future plans, maybe drink good wine, and live completely out of my comfort zone. And it’s scary and exhilarating to think about.

 

(Please note neither of these opportunities involves lovers of any type but I thought the title of the post was catchy)

 

So then I wonder. Am I middle aged? And is it bad to feel that way. Because I feel comfortable in those memories. And why can’t we clone yet in the year 2012 because my life would be so much easier right now because this decision needs to be made this week because my head is exploding with uncertainty. And my heart needs to get past this.

 

Just Write.

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Do you remember my post about the crazy anti-tree-climbing lady? Well I’m thrilled that it was picked-up and syndicated at BlogHer this week. I would love some sparkle over there. Thank you! xo

 

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Don’t Do This

I missed my kids a lot this weekend. It’s rare that I leave them for a few hours so it’s incredibly rare to find me leaving for a few days. My momma heart ached being so far away, so feeling them in my arms could not come soon enough today.

 

It was a beautiful evening in Minnesota – a perfect blue sky not marred by clouds while the temperature was in the 70′s without humidity.  After dinner we took a walk. The girls laughed and ran through the grass and soon we came upon a monstrous tree to climb. I found a cozy spot on the cool grass to sit. Astrid found sticks that still had leaves attached and she used them as her ‘brooms’ as she swept the grass clearing ‘dirt’ while her sisters pretended to make rooms and a home in the large tree and Eloise climbed higher.  I had to use my hand to shield my eyes from the bright evening light shining down on my children as they played so happily in that tree.  It was one of those perfect moments that don’t come often enough – you know one of those on a perfect Summer day when your kids are not whining or asking for a snack.

Until a young woman ran by and then circled back to us. At this point Astrid was on my lap and I was tickling her and she had that deep, deep belly laugh that I wanted to bottle and let her listen to the next time she was sad.  Astrid then got up and grabbed one of her ‘broom’ sticks and started sweeping again and told me to get up and find a broom so I could be an ‘old lady sweeper grandma’ with her.  But before I could get up the young woman started yelling at me..

 

“Are you the one watching these children in the tree!?”

 

Why yes, they are mine.

 

“Well you are a horrible mother!!! Don’t you know how dangerous it is to play in trees? I’m was an EMT and we saw tree accidents everyday!  I want them out of there and I want the baby to drop the stick!”

 

(And I said nothing because what do you say?)

 

“Parents like you make me so angry! You better be gone by the time I come back or I’m calling the police!”

 

For climbing a tree? I asked calmly. I didn’t move or say more.  I turned my glance back to my children and just willed this woman to leave.
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She ran off and I just continued to sit and watch Eloise and Esther climb while Astrid swept the ground.  But I was sad. Not because I was endangering my children but because someone could worry that much and say such awful things. Maybe she saw something just so bad one time that this was her immediately reaction. But to question my parenting?  I mean sure my kids could be hurt climbing that tree. I know that risk. But who knew that kids could be hurt or killed at places that should be safe – a movie theater, a temple, a school, in a car, in a plane, in their own home, in their own yard.

 

And was this young woman with me at the pool each day this Summer when I was the crazy safety lady watching them ALL the time in the water because that’s my job as their mother…even though I know the only way to guarantee they won’t drown is to not let them swim.   Or was she there when I fed them chicken and cut Astrid’s portion into bites small enough so she won’t choke even though the only guarantee she won’t choke on food is to feed her liquid. But only when sitting up of course.

 

I just hope she doesn’t follow me when I drop them off at horse camp because I know that the only way to eliminate the potential of a horse riding injury is to avoid riding.

 

I take my job as a mom pretty damn seriously and I know a major component of that job description is to keep my kids safe.  And I also still remember being a kid and climbing the neighbor’s trees with my cousin to steal some apples and how she fell and broke both her wrists. And yet tree climbing doesn’t scare me.

 

Because I cannot wrap my kids in bubble wrap and give them a long list of things that they cannot do because maybe they could get hurt. Because how would this list ever have an end point.

 

So I will let them climb trees on a perfect Summer night.  And as God as my witness I will not tell another mother how horrible she is for doing so. Ever.

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The Wish

“Look at all of the wishes, Mama!” Astrid says as we pass by the yard that needs to be mowed.

 

I love that she doesn’t call them dandelions or even flowers. Just wishes because that is what you do with them.

 

“Mama, I can make hundreds of wishes today just standing right here!”

 

And she does. She blows and blows and blows her wishes.  (I try to usher her quickly along on our walk before the homeowners come out and complain  that we are perpetuating their weed problem…how do I explain to them that it’s necessary for wishes).

Astrid’s wishes are simple as she doesn’t know much about anything to even know what to wish for. She doesn’t know about riches and real castles or fast cars and mansions.

 

She wishes for chocolate milk at lunchtime and for us to find where to buy more candy reindeer poop for her dispenser. (HELP!)  Sometimes she wishes for a new stuffed kitty and a trip to the zoo.

 

How nice to have such simple wishes.  So free of jealousy, greed and want.

 

There’s so much we can learn from a toddler on how to just live and not worry about the next best thing. Sure toddlers are inherently self-centered but in such a pure way because what do they need the most….just simply you. Your time, your love, your extra kisses and maybe chocolate milk for lunch once in awhile.

 

So my wish for Summer is simple. I’m going to spend a lot of time with my girls. We’re going to go to the pool and the zoo and we’ll have days just hanging around the house. There are pictures to draw, bikes to ride, cookies to bake, lemonade stands to man, and of course laundry to fold.

 

So I may not be around here that much. And it’s my wish that I’m going to be okay with that. I also may not visit your place as much. I’m considering turning off comments for the Summer too. Maybe. We’ll see.   Because my wish lately is that there is more time in the day..but maybe that’s not the right answer. Maybe the right answer is just to prioritize it better.

 

“Look Astrid, at the hundreds of wishes I see in that field. Let’s go make some come true.”

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Linking up to What I Wore Wednesday.

- Striped tank and black cami both from H&M

-Gauze blue skirt from Anthropologie(buy it – trust me)

-Black sandals old from Born (I’m old and need comfort)

-Glasses from Target

-Necklace from a local art fair

 

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When I’m Not Really Sure What I’m Doing Here..

Esther has always been my easiest child. Always.

 

She was the baby that just sat and smiled from the bouncy seat. She was the perfect baby. Truly. Eat. Sleep. Smile. Repeat. Best sleeper. Never cried. Never.

 

Everyone should be blessed with an Esther baby.

Her thighs were also quite edible. And plentiful.

 

She is my snugliest child.  She never asks for anything.

 

She sings a lot. And dreams of princesses, unicorns and butterflies.

 

She is helpful and giving and truly just full of joy.

 

And I’ve never worried about Esther. Just give her a large bowl of fruit to eat, snuggles on your lap, pink twirly dresses and unlimited art supplies and you pretty much have all of her needs covered.  There has never been any emotional landmines to tip-toe around, no tantrums or unusual wants, no questions of why she isn’t happy.  Throw her into a room of strangers and close the door behind you, and Esther makes friends..and invites them all to dinner.

 

But we are having a tough year. I can tell Esther needs more. Needs something. There are tears that have never been there before and less talk about friends.  Her pink dresses are making way for jeans and her teeth are falling out.  She has emotions spilling out of her and she cries on a dime.

 

And she has no idea how to express what is going on as she’s never had to explain anything before. Because she has always been happy.

I know. I feel. I think it’s nothing big. I think being a first grader has just hit her hard. That she’s not a little, little girl anymore. Or won’t be for long and for her and her love of the magical and the silly…I think being a bigger girl just doesn’t look like as much fun.

 

And I think it’s hurting her.

 

I’m not sure how to let her know that she can still be silly and sweet and big.

 

But I know she will get there.

 

But damn my heart hurts right now watching this lovely girl in pain.

 

I’m just so thankful she still fits in my lap.

 

As I want to hold her as long as possible.

 

And help her find some new magical unicorns to believe in.

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Project 365 Week 1

I’ve decided to join in Project 365 this year. A picture everyday for a year. Actually I guess it’s 366 this year? I decided to do this so that I would spend more quality time with my 5D…but as I find in the Winter…she mainly sits on the desk while 95% of my pictures are done with my phone. Curse that iPhone and the Instagram app..and the fact that my phone is attached to my hand almost all day.

 

Anyway – I will take more pictures with the good camera – but I would hate to start out strong. It’s better to start mediocre and have room for improvement, yes…So here is some of what we did this first week of 2012.

 

We just lived. The not-very-exciting-everyday of just life. A lucky life.


1. Homework, 2. Backseat drivers, 3. bus stop, 4. American Girl Dolls, 5. Wii Just Dance, 6. Swimming, 7. Hanging out, 8. cookies

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And in case you are not a visual person ..but a reader and somehow missed my blog this week in your blur of taking the tree down.

 

Let’s review…

We are making plans to visit New Jersey to see their Jews.

My kids gave me 10 New Year’s Resolutions that I am not sure I can live up to.

I reminded you that I had a birthday last month – in case you forgot to send flowers.

Astrid pondered why cats don’t have hands and thus makes them useless for playing boardgames.

I gave you a lecture on writing your thank you notes. Or Eloise did. Let me blame my child.

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…and on my mind…

I still cannot comprehend the tragedy of the Christmas fire that took Madonna Badger’s three daughter’s and her parent’s lives…and how she goes on. It’s unimaginable. Reading her eulogy tells me how she does go on.  “Love without service is not enough.” If you haven’t read her words yet..please do.

 

Life and love are such a gift. Live like you mean it. Live like you know it is. Live for today. And love. Love big. And serve.

 

…and take lots of pictures….of just what seems like boring life…car rides, homework, play…life…love.

 

Have a great weekend you all.

(comments closed)

 

 

 

 

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My Wrinkles and Muffin Top – Oh Yeah, I Own You

I’ve made a lot of jokes lately about aging. My aging. I think it’s because being in my 30′s was so famn dabulous that my 40′s took me by surprise.  Like REALLY BIG things happen and change and as much as you embrace how much you love yourself – all of a sudden you really do not look like yourself anymore. So it takes a bit to get over. I may have cried once or twice. Which isn’t really great for my wrinkles. You know that just cried face.

So excuse me if I’ve had a minor aging issue in this space of late. It’s all in good fun as time is marching on and my boobs are getting closer to my waistline. Gravity happens. It’s a party in my body! WOOT!

So today I want to push the negative parts of aging aside, down a large glass of wine, and tell you – and me – what I like about myself.  Today I will celebrate my positives and send a good message to my children about loving themselves for who they are.

Elena of Ciao Mom is hosting a link-up for women to celebrate their beauty and their positives. Join us there this week.

So here is my list.

1.  I love my legs. They are long, lean, and strong – and I have amazing calf muscles.

2.  I love my freckles. They are all over my body, but I especially like the ones on my face. I never understood why Jan Brady tried to get rid of hers.

3.  I love that I have tattoos. I like that they stand out and I think they are beautiful. Sometimes I think about getting more. I don’t care if they are wrinkled when I am 88 – I will always love them.

4.  I love that I can make my children’s hurt go away with a simple kiss. I feel like I have super powers.

5.  I am a really good dancer. I have awesome rhythm and can take over a dance floor. Maybe I need to dance more often.

6.  I am glad that I reached my career goals and lived and traveled all over the world before I had kids so I could be home with my kids and be completely content with this life. I have no need for promotions or conference rooms. When I think of it this way – being an older mom is sweet perfection.

7.  I am a good baker. I love to make cookies and treats from scratch for my kids and I have never ruined a batch.

8. I am an awesome driver. I love to drive. Fast. I used to dream about winning the Indy 500. I wish I still had a manual transmission car. My current car was my first automatic and I curse at it sometimes.

9. I love my double-jointed arms and fingers. It’s a cool party trick.

10. I love to laugh. I love that I can laugh at myself and I have a good sense of humor. I never take life very seriously. I also love that my brother and I have the same laugh. My true laugh is very deep and bizarre. When I laugh, I truly hear my brother.

11. I love that my body is softer than it once was and because of that – my kids can lean on me, sit on my lap. and fold into me more comfortably.

12. I love that I have itty bitty boobs. I LOVE my 32AA bra and never want more. Also if I were a lesbian I would totally be attracted to only itty bitty boobed women. I love small boobs. They are adorable.

13. I love that I am tough and stand my ground and strive to be my own person. I hope my girls will do the same.

What do you love about yourself?

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Bright and Vivid –


My middle daughter owns my heart. I don’t know how to explain it. I love all of my children equally – that is a given.

But this child knows how to enjoy life.  This is the child I worry the least about. This is the child who lights up a room.  This is the child that when she does cry, I know it is serious.

This is the child that never complains and will take the smaller piece of candy to make sure everyone else has enough.  This is the child that doesn’t even have her own bedroom and doesn’t care. She accepts hand me down clothes, bikes and backpacks from her sister without a word.  This child asks for nothing but a few snuggles a day, a bow in her hair, and a bowl of fruit to eat.

This child sings all day long and likes to skip instead of walk.

This child makes my heart hurt from her simple goodness.  My wish for her is to always be good.

And not just for what she is wearing, but for how she IS every single day – I am entering this photo in the weekly I Heart Faces photo challenge… Bright and Vivid.

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How do Mean Moms Discipline?

I tried to discipline Eloise today for the first time in her eight years of life.  (I know, she is perfect)

Turns out I had nothing to take away. Nothing. I’m now questioning my mothering abilities.

Girlfriend has a problem – her backpack is “puffy” – I know, total third world issue.  Her backpack is “puffy” when it’s full of, you know, stuff she needs for school – her lunch box, a change of shoes as we wear boots 10 months a year here, snow pants, extra mittens, books, folders, snacks, a latch hook rug kit(I kid you not).

Since it is so “puffy” she decides to carry everything on the outside.  She carries her “puffy” backpack while simultaneously carrying a coat under her arms, books in her hand, shoes in her teeth, snacks in her pocket.

Guess what – she drops and loses things. Try to tell a kid this will happen..trust me, they will not believe you. Moms are stupid it seems.

I go crazy.

So on her trip to school I force her to shove all of his stuff into the backpack to keep it together in the “puffy” pack.  She stomps to the bus stop and moans loudly in my direction with “puffy” on her back.  On the way home, she carries everything separately as her mother is not there to yell.   She forgets things on the bus.  Forever. Because her mother is always right.

I go crazy.

Last straw was Friday when she got off the bus without her COAT(we need them in Minnesota).   Girlfriend is cold since it’s now snowing.

So I yelled and ranted and raved and yelled some more said at least 12 “I told you so’s”  and then started to punish her….and found it impossible.

When you are a mean mom, you already are punishing your kids every minute by their lack of cool stuff.  I started going through this list in my mind of what I could take away as punishment…screen time(she doesn’t really watch TV and we don’t have cable), computer time(I don’t let them on the computer yet), game time(she doesn’t own a video game or a hand-held device), phone time(has never made a phone call), time with friends(she doesn’t really go out with friends yet), her car(yeah, not yet), treats and desserts(I don’t buy nor offer those).

She already has lots of chores and adding on a few extra will just make her say “okay, that sounds great.”

So I looked at her favorite past-times and these are my options:

“Eloise stop reading and we will not visit the library until September dammit!”

“No piano practice for you tonight and I’m canceling your Monday lesson, and no violin for a week young lady!”

“No ballet lessons all month – stop that damn dancing and also that art project you are working on – no markers for you!”

“Music – you want to listen to music – you can just listen to your sister sing!”

“Wait – are you giving your sister a bath and helping her get ready for bed again OH and reading her a story.  No more of that crap – I’m taking that privilege away for at least two weeks. Don’t get mouthy with me or I’ll make it a month.”

I guess I need to start being a bit nicer so I have more to work with here.  I guess I could always make her eat her vegetables.

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What if Matt Lauer leaves the Today Show?

I grew-up watching Good Morning America. Every weekday morning David Hartman and Joan Lunden entered our family room.  I got in the habit of expecting a half an hour of entertaining news before the day started as my parents sat around in their terry robes.

I also got in the habit of drinking a lot of coffee.

When I left for college I left my morning news days behind mostly because 1. I worked at a bakery and was at work before the chickens 2. The Simpson’s watched at the bars on Mondays kept me updated on the latest newsworthy information, and 3. I am not sure I owned a TV.

But I still drank more coffee than God.

Then I got a real job that cut into my morning time anyways and I mostly forgot about the morning news programs for another 10 years.

Until I had a baby, and this wonderful thing called Maternity Leave afforded me morning time. With only a newborn who mainly slept and nursed, I turned on the TV and ate bonbons. And drank coffee.  At seven AM one morning I turned on NBC and this man stared back at me.  Oh Matt.

My parents were disappointed in my defection from ABC.

We became very close over the next 4 months. Two full hours of Matt each day. Morning porn for moms.

When the pesky thing called “work” that provided this thing called a “paycheck” started again 4 months later I had to leave Matt for awhile. Thank goodness I changed my hours to a bit later so I could still almost get a full hour of Matt each morning. Oh Matt.

So thank god 2 years later I had another baby so I could justify quitting my job so I could stay home with Matt my kids full time.

I should also mention that he’s had a few women sitting next to him through the years. I cannot tell you their names. I always pictured myself there.

So you can imagine my horror when the rumors started flying last week that my Matt was leaving my morning view.

Who can replace my morning porn?  Am I suppose to find another station, work out, listen to my children?  Cook a healthy breakfast, give-up coffee, and build blocks? Read my children books, put on make up and do my hair, or god forbid watch Sid the Science Kid.

Please say it isn’t so. No good mom deserves Barney, Elmo or Caillou.

Help me people. NBC please pay the man more.  Please save my mornings and keep Matt Lauer on my television set.

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Paper Dolls

Almost every Saturday, and sometimes on a Tuesday or perhaps a lazy Wednesday, Esther comes to me with paper and scissors.

“This time I want short hair and short dress and leave room for shoes.  Maybe the dresses should be sleeveless this time? Or for Spring coming, maybe just some short sleeves?”  These orders are given to me as I carefully and evenly fold the paper.

Back and forth.

She stands next to me as I cut free-hand.  She picks up the scraps of paper that fall to the floor and hurries them to the trash so she is back for the unveiling.

“Momma, do you think that one day I will have a piece of paper long enough to go across the whole world and we can make millions of people holding hands?”

Her face lights up every time.  Every time I carefully unfold her tribe of paper dolls.  Click click click the paper sounds as it is unfolded, letting go of the cut marks, letting go of each little girl.

Hand in hand they emerge.

She still claps in delight and runs to the table to make their dresses, their shoes, and put bows in their hair.

Every time she names each of them.  An Eloise, an Astrid and an Esther, and then more sisters that she doesn’t have but still dreams about.

When they are dressed, she makes them dance. Sometimes she makes many and hangs them around the house in various happy places.

Sometimes I go into the bathroom and 6 happy girls are starring back at me from the mirror.

It only takes that moment for me to just close my eyes and see my daughters one by one and hoping they will hold hands forever.

*******

Turns out someone wants a paper doll making tutorial.  I will post sometime with pictures – but for basics..

1. Take a piece of paper and cut it long-ways to about the height you want your dolls(so a long strip).

2. Fold it accordion style over and over upon itself in equal sections until you come to the end. (this will also determine the width of your dolls and how many you will have)

3. Draw the outline of your doll on the top piece – making sure her hands go over the edge of the paper so they are holding hands when you open it – you can also have the skirt and/or shoes connecting if you would like.

4. Cut around making sure to not cut through where you are making the doll connections.

5. Open up and voila – a chain of beauty.

6. Oh and decorate for hours.

More wordless/wordful Wednesday and beautiful pictures at  SevenClownCircus and Parenting for Dummies…
Sweet Shot Day

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What we did this weekend while football was on…

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I tend to retire my camera immediately after Christmas. And during Christmas I weep about the poor photos I take. I go through this depression each Winter.  During the time that the sun is low in the sky, is down when my kids return from school, my old home has little light, and my almost 4 year old camera has grain in any photo taken over ISO400. And of course use of a flash is just not an option.
Cheerio Flower treats
So I cry and hideaway my camera until the first feel of Spring.  When I have light.
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But I woke up Saturday morning and looked at my sweet children and realized I’ve missed 6 weeks of changes..of life.  How will I remember the day Astrid decided to be rather pleasant, or when Eloise finally nailed  her latest piece on the violin, or when Esther stopped asking for help figuring out the big words in her chapter books. And do you know how much these kitties have grown in a month?

So I picked up my camera, loaded the memory card and a charged battery and told myself that I didn’t care how grainy, dark, blurry or less than perfect the photos were. I just wanted to document life this weekend. And next weekend. And the weekend after that.

Our life is so imperfect – it’s messy and disorganized, it’s full of dirty dishes and forks that do not match, it’s days of seemingly unruly hair and non-matching outfits, it comes with some tears and raised voices, but hopefully with more hugs, kisses and laughter.

This weekend we had fun doing a lot of just living.

We played dress up, tried to take “formal” Valentines pictures, we practiced the violin and sold Girl Scout cookies.  We read a lot and ate pancakes one day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.   We “baked” and we drew pictures.  And we did a lot of kitten chasing.

And as I look at these pictures of seemingly messy nothingness-special and full of imperfections.

I realized I need to take that old beast of a camera out more.

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You Can’t Take the City out of the Girl…

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After skipping the customary pumpkin patch/orchard trip last fall, we instead enjoyed our urban patch a la Target..I promised the girls a real farm this year…

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The conversation from the backseat early Sunday morning on the way to the farm…(me, alone with all 3 kids…)

Esther:  Mom – we are leaving the tall buildings, why are we leaving St. Paul?

Eloise: Esther, the pumpkins do not grow in St. Paul.  We need to find another place – mom said we were going to the country. She might mean Mexico as that is another Country.
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Esther:  Mom, we have been driving for like, forever(it had been 10 minutes) how far is this country?

Eloise: Yeah Mom, you didn’t tell us we were going far away.

Esther:(we have finally left the freeway and are in the country on a 2 lane road with very few houses…) Mom, is it safe here?

Me: What do you mean, safe?
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Esther: It just seems lonely and if something happened, there is no one out here to help.

Esther:  Do you know what I like about the city(evidently reminiscing and missing her home), we have big swimming pools and we don’t have cow poop EVER in our front yard.

Eloise:  Yeah, and we can walk to the grocery store and get coffee with friends.  Where do you think people in this country grocery shop?  It would take FOREVER to get anywhere.
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Esther: I think these country people grow food, so maybe they can just make everything.  You know at school, whatever food we don’t eat, we put in this big bucket that goes to feed pigs at a farm.  On Friday I put my whole ham sandwich in there because I figured they would be hungry this weekend.

Eloise:  You cannot feed a pig a ham sandwich – HAM IS MADE FROM PIGS – it would be like eating yourself. That is so gross. There is no way that pig ate your ham sandwich.  Mom, do you think they sort out the ham before feeding the pigs?
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Esther:(now in tears..) Mom, Eloise made me sad. I just wanted to give the pigs some food, I didn’t know we can’t feed them ham.  See, I don’t like this country place at all.
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