"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Monday, May 26, 2014

peace, productivity, pickin', paradin', and the pool

Saturday morning, I woke up and left the house. 
To write.
For three hours.

All by myself.

I drank some coffee, wrote a few articles (assignments! Squeeee!!), 
felt totally productive, and totally blissful.

It was alright, I guess.



I came home to happy kiddos playing in the driveway.


I took advantage of their happily-playing-ness and 
increased my productivity by two newly-painted rocking chairs.


We woke up the next morning, and scooted down the road to our local strawberry patch.

First up, naturally, strawberry cider donuts.....
ohmygod you guys.

They're alright, I guess.


Strawberry Fields....






Some time at home....

...destroying my freshly-made bed...


enjoying each other...


(for the moment, anyway...)

And then....Memorial Day.

Friday night, Evan came out of bed for the third time, 
this time with Max with him as Reinforcements.
"You know, it IS Memorial Day weekend. It's a holiday. We should stay up late tonight. 
Kids should be able to do what they want on Memorial Day!"

He was not pleasant about it. 

I was not pleased about it.

I brought him back to his room and told him the real meaning of the holiday. 
For once, I ignored the fact that he's a sensitive kid who internalizes everything 
and feels things deeply personally.

I told him that Memorial Day is not a day for kids to do what they want.

I told him that it's a day of remembrance and reflection and appreciation. 
I told him that, sometimes, soldiers die.
And that some of those soldiers are mommies and daddies. 

It made a big impression.


Sunday morning, we prepared for our grand hiking adventure.
As we packed lunches and slathered sunscreen and filled water bottles and found socks and tied sneakers and ohmygod I KNOW you have to go to the bathroom so just go TRY!......

Evan found our flag.

He waved it during our entire mile-and-a-half long hike.



We met this sweet septuagenarian about halfway along the trail.

She pointed out some honeysuckle growing along the trail 
and helped my boys to sip the nectar.

She was lovely.





The whole morning was lovely.


The afternoon was pretty sweet, too.



Lesson Learned:
Ahhhhhh.....this weekend was just what I needed.


It was alright, I guess.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

hear the words in my heart, babies

"Meet ya at the bottom, Mom!" he called back to me as we headed downhill on the sidewalk that led us back to our house.

They're little daredevils on that hill...that safe hill; the one, gentle hill that ends with a perfect curve into our driveway, on our quiet street, in our idyllic neighborhood, in our little town.

They fly down that hill on their balance bikes, in their Power Wheels Jeep, and on foot. While they fly, they're free.

Tonight, ending our post-dinner walk, they crested the hill and were off with one last: "3...2...1...GO!"

In an instant, I saw each of the six driveways that criss-crossed the path from their point of origination near me, at the top of the hill, to their destination at the bottom. And I saw Danger.

"Watch for cars pulling into driveways!" I called after them.

In the next instant...I couldn't stop my brain from spiraling out of control as I watched, in real life, my boys coast safely into our driveway, happily Whoop-ing the whole way down...


Watch out for fast cars in general...and bad drivers....especially when those bad drivers are your friends. 

In fact, just do me a favor and watch out for ANY unsafe situations.

Watch out for people who make hasty decisions.

Especially when those decisions affect you.

Watch out for people who want to break your heart. Heartbreak isn't terrible...it can be liberating and an impetus for growth, actually, but you'll know the people who set out to disregard your heart out of their own selfishness...watch out for them.

Make good friends.

Make good decisions.

Protect your body and your heart and your soul.

Take care of you when I'm not there to.

I swallowed that giant lump in my throat that is the Weight of Motherhood and I followed my boys down that gentle, safe hill, back home.

Lesson Learned:
It's worth it for the joy and the love and the fullness in my heart, but, damn. This gig is hard.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Gratitude

On this beautiful day after a storm, I'm grateful for...

...a 1-hour school delay. While it's unfortunate that it was due to flooding and power outages in other parts of our county, we needed the extra time this morning.

...the man at the Target Starbucks who, while sipping his coffee noticed the mommy with the super-full cart and the arm full of wiggly 2-year old walking across the parking lot. The mommy who unknowingly dropped a jumbo pack of paper towel rolls off the bottom of her cart. He put down his drink, ran out to the parking lot, retrieved the dropped parcel, followed me out to my car, and even helped load my bags in the back. Good people are not hard to find.

...the drive-thru at Panera, without which I'm definitely sure we would have been late to pick up Max from preschool.

...the fact that I was recently reacquainted with a college ex at a mutual friend's kid's birthday party, making today's run-in at the entrance to the grocery store much less awkward.

But mostly, the fact that in less than 24-hours, the majority of my family (we'll miss you Matt and Megan!) will be gathering here at my house for a few days. The 18 of us will be getting together to celebrate my brother's college graduation....and also, now....the life of our Mom Mom, my mom's mom, who passed away on Tuesday, at the age of 87.

I have a lot to say about this beautiful, classy Lady. Words that need more time to process and craft to do her legacy the justice it deserves. And so, for now, I'm grateful. Grateful that I spent the morning running errands to prepare for a house full of family, love, and celebration.

And I'm grateful for the 34 years that I knew my Mom Mom, the fact that my kids knew her, too, and the memories I'll keep, and share, of her forever.

Lesson Learned:

I'm grateful for the sun that follows the rain...

Monday, May 12, 2014

My Writing Process: A Blog Tour

I met Nicole on Twitter because it's 2014 and that's how we blogging mamas do.

In addition to being a mommy of three, she's a reader and a writer like me, but she's more of an academic type while I'm more of a Writing Gives Me An Excuse To Be Alone In A Coffee Shop type. She's great. Nicole writes over at:

http://3kids2cats1dog.wordpress.com

Through her, I found out about this blog tour about My Writing Process, and I was excited to take part. So here we go....

What am I working on?
I'm working on becoming a Writer. (Capital W.) More than blogging, I want to write for an audience. Ultimately, it would be great to (someday) even earn something by writing...but today I'm happy just to know that people are reading the words that I've taken from my head and put onto the screen. There's something very validating in that, and we all know that validation and recognition can be hard to come by as a stay at home mom. I've written for Mommy Hot Spot, Scary Mommy, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Now if I could only get one foot in the door of a children's book publishing house....I've got a story to sell. (And it's fabulous.)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My blog is different from other mommy bloggers' because I have my own stories to tell (as we all do). My kids provide a seemingly endless supply of material and I have a knack for recalling conversations with them verbatim. I don't write to stir controversy or to make sweeping generalizations about motherhood or child development or life, which are the articles that garner the most attention, rack up the comments, and go viral. But I'm okay with not being the next It writer....I just want to tell our stories and make connections with other moms who are going through similar experiences.

Why do I write what I do?
I started my blog as a memory-keeper of the lightning-fast time that is my kids' childhood and though I write about my own thoughts and struggles in this space, too, I'm trying to maintain the focus of my blog as a time capsule for them. I can't wait for them to be able to read back through it one day....and see what pains in my ass they could be joys of my life they always were.

How does my writing process work?
Most of my blog entries are ripped straight from true life. I write stories shortly after they happen and try to write in first-person, present tense to allow the reader to feel as though they are right there with me in the moment. The stories I write come quickly and easily and, to be honest, I do very little editing once the words are on the screen. My more introspective pieces (the ones in which I'm writing about a thought process, one of my kids reaching a milestone, a discovery/decision we've made, or a parenting move we're about to make) take longer. The "thesis" of the post comes to me and I spend a few days or a week mulling it over in my head before I begin to craft the piece. Often, inspiration for a piece like this will come to me in a statement I make or a question I ask during a conversation with one of my Circle of Moms buddies or Sam. Something I say or hear will resonate with me and the words will start swirling in my head until they start to suffocate me. Truly, when I have something on my mind that needs to be written down, I feel like I can't breathe. That's when I steal away to a coffee shop for a few hours on a Sunday morning...and write...until I can inhale properly.

Coming up next week:
Check out these mamas from my neck of the woods...

Krissy
I met Krissy when we were both young, single teachers....and look at us now! Two husbands, six kids, five houses, and a decade or so later...we stay connected by reading each other's blogs and finding comfort in the fact that during those inevitable hard days? We're not alone. Find her writing about life as a baker, runner, and mama of identical twin boys (plus an I-can-keep-up-with-my-big-brothers! daughter) here:
http://krissywatson.blogspot.com


Stacy
Stacy is a mama to three beautiful daughters who blogs about her family's story, including parenthood and adoption; as well as her personal interests, including baking and photography. You can read more about their journey and their adventures here:
www.ourredthreadtocadence.blogspot.com


Beth
This one's a little different for a Writing Process blog tour. Beth is a local photographer who tells her stories (and the stories of her clients) through photos instead of words. Check out her unique perspective, and her beautiful work here:
www.3catsphoto.com

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

To the Sweet Old Lady who Mistook My Son for a Girl

We were walking home from school the other day when we caught up with two sweet older ladies from our neighborhood, out for their midday stroll. As we waited on the corner with them to cross a street, one looked into the stroller and remarked on the adorableness of the little blue-eyed girl with curly blond pigtails smiling up at her. Because she was a kind and thoughtful lady, she then immediately turned to Max, standing by my side, holding my hand. "Two beautiful children!" she said, then added, "two beautiful sisters."

My heart jumped.

Sisters?

Oh. Max was wearing his pink, polka-dotted, glittery tiara shirt and black leggings.


I looked down at Max, who seemed to be completely oblivious to the comment. Lost in his own private world of rich, imaginative make-believe, Max often needs a hand on the shoulder or a "Look at my eyes, Max" cue to pay attention to the real world. This often annoys the hell out of me; Standing on the curb that day, though, I was thankful for it. 

Before she could continue, as I had a feeling she would, I smiled and said, "Thank you! I'm a lucky mommy," before crossing the street ahead of them. 

As it turned out, we were heading in the same direction. Despite my attempt to end the conversation, she continued it. (Perhaps she thought we'd be better company than her walking partner?)

"Are you enjoying your walk?"

"Yes, thank you, we are, very much."

"It's a beautiful day!"

"Sure is!"

Then to Max, "I love that sparkly shirt!"

He bounced back into reality with a glance down at the sparkly tiara on his chest and a shy smile back at her. It was then that I realized my mistake. I should have swiftly and immediately corrected her back there on the curb. I should have said, "Thank you! Yes, my son and daughter are both beautiful!" But I didn't, and now it was too late. I kept trying to steer the conversation back to safe topics like taking walks and beautiful weather. Didn't work.

"And what's your name?"

"Max."

"Max?"

"Yup. And that's my baby sister Molly."

"Oh, well Max I just love your haircut. It's so edgy! [Then, to her friend] Just like that Dorothy Hamilton. Remember that girl?"

[friend] "Oh, sure! Dorothy Hamilton was cutting edge back then! I could never pull off that look. It would have made my face look fat."

[to Max] "But you pull off that haircut so well! You look just beautiful!"

At this point, I didn't want to be rude, but I really just wanted to get away from them. The conversation was either about to get really awkward for Max or I was about to shout: It's Dorothy HAMILL, not HAMILTON!

So I smiled and said, "Well, I'd better get these kids home for lunch! Enjoy your walk." 

Then I quickened my pace and gave Max's hand a squeeze. 

As we were sitting down to lunch a little while later, Max looked at me and said, "Mom, you know what's funny about those two ladies?"

Ready for it, I asked, "What's that, bud?"

"They thought I just got a haircut. But I didn't want to tell them that I didn't just get one."

"Well, you could have. It would have been okay to tell them. And I could have, too. Sometimes it's important to correct people when they have the wrong idea about you," I say, wishing I had taken my own advice. But then I added, "but sometimes you can just know in your heart what's true and not worry what other people think."

He got quiet for a minute, then furrowed his brow and with a quiet voice asked....
"But Mommy?.....Why did they want to pull off my haircut?"

Four-year olds are so literal. And I love it.


Lesson Learned:
I ain't mad atcha, Lady. I'm just still trying to figure out when it is important to speak up, and when it's okay to let it slide...and to try to make sure that I'm setting the right example for my watching and listening kids.