Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I am learning...

...that I don't need much of the stuff that I possess.
...to let go of the things that I don't.
...not to do it when the children are around.
...that even though summer is too hot, it is also too short. I don't have the time to schedule all the park play dates and take (send) the kids on all the fun adventures that I'd like.
...that Vacation Bible School is a great, inexpensive way to entertain the children for a week.
...that jumping in is better that wading. But I'm too much of a sissified ninnymonger to do it that way.
...Harry Potter is cooler than Twilight.
...ebay can be profitable for others, but mostly it's a waste of time for me.
...you can get screaming deals on ebay, like $.99 for a handful of Italian-made clothes.
...that showering on a daily basis is not a necessity.
...deodorant is.
...that red meat gives my daughter stinky pits.
...to bring 2 barf buckets on road trips.
...to push ginger herb tea & ginger cookies to avoid the use of the barf buckets.
...about plenty of the things that I did as a young mother that are proving to be the wrong way to produce the results I desire.
...that it's too late to fix some of them.
...not to beat myself up over mistakes of inexperience.
...how to love other people's children that I don't particularly care for.
...that talking to children about sex isn't really so bad if you start early and treat it simply and matter-of-factly.
...some things that I keep learning over and over and over again.
...that even though 35 is the new 25, my body is still out of shape, has borne 4 children and badly needs chiropractic care. But it's not too late.
...that eating sugar makes me break out.
...that my husband's Love Language is not the landslide that I thought. He's got a close second that explains a lot.
...that things change, times change, situations change, and no matter how hard you can try to make it work, sometimes it's just best to cut ties and walk away, even if you're walking into the unknown.

And it's okay.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Missed-Nap Love Letter

Today you missed your nap.

Well, not really. I did lay you down. Twice. But you climbed out of your crib, unlocked the door, opened it and came down, happy to tell me about your achievement. You really should have slept, but I figured that the 'lock you in' trick wasn't working, so I gave up. Anyway, how can I put something so smart and determined and happy and CUTE back to bed?

Instead, you played outside with your siblings and helped me make applezini muffins--by "help" I mean that when my back was turned, you stuck your chubby fingers into the applesauce, shredded zucchini and batter to get a nibble.

After dinner you started screaming. I checked your bum, and found a mess that was really irritating your ouchy rash. During the diaper change you writhed, screamed and wailed. Not even a cool cloth on your burny nether-regions convinced you to turn off the tantrum.

So I did the only thing that I could think of. I held you. And rocked. And quietly sang the songs that bring me peace in times of turmoil and tantrum: I Am a Child of God, I Know My Father Lives, Teach Me To Walk in the Light, Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam. It worked like a charm, as usual. You didn't mind the number of times that I changed keys or cracked or simply struggled to hit the right note. There's just something about Mom's soft voice singing songs of the Spirit that brings quiet.

After a while you fell asleep.

Your full lips were just the right shape for kissing, so I did. Again and again and again and again. Your long, dark lashes don't all lay the right way, did you know? Some curl before they reach the length of the others. I'd never noticed before. I kissed your tear-wet eyes, too. Your face was a total mess. I think that crusty blob in your eyebrow once originated in your nose, but it could also have been batter. Probably batter. We never did get you your bath today, so your hair still smelled faintly of the stick of butter that you quietly demolished this morning.

As I rocked you, the evening sun cut through the blinds, the stripey shadows moving across the contours of your soft, round face. And in that lighting, the oils in your skin shattered the sunlight into spectrums of rainbows shimmering across your cloud-soft, perfect, dirty little face. Your chest moved rhythmically up and down as your breathing relaxed and deepened.

I wanted to capture the moment, so when Alex came in, I sent him to have Dad bring me the camera. He brought it and the others came to see what was camera-worthy. Each of them paused to marvel at your cute sleepihood. They adore you. We all do.

Thank you for coming to our family. You were--and continue to be--the best surprise I've ever had.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Laundry Letters

Dear Children,

Laundry is not done magically. Your dresser drawers are not bottomless like the drinks at Red Robin. They do not automatically refill when they get low on clean clothes.

Do you notice that your father and I share a laundry basket? You each have your own, but we two grown-ups with grown-up sized clothing have one.

Abby, please explain to me why I wash clothes every couple of weeks that I never see actually draped over your body parts. How does that work? And the next time I sort stinky, folded shirts, I swear, girl, you're doin' your own!

Alex, I am rather frightened that I wash a week's worth of laundry and fold two pairs of little unders for you. You have plenty. Wear them. Please.

Lee, considering that I have to beg, plead and order you to wear them at all, why am I folding a dozen of yours? And 'how because' your laundry pile is twice as tall as anyone else's, excepting Mom AND Dad's basket of three-times-as-large clothes?

Cora, thank you for your "help" sorting. Moving already-sorted laundry from one basket to another, however, constitutes UN-sorting. You're a very good helper. Now stop. And unless you're developing some sort of nighttime podiatric braille-reading program, get your cute, chubby, jammied foot off the book!

And everyone, the water stays in the tub. Towels may be used more than once. Unless, of course, they were used to take care of the water.

Much love,
The Laundry Fairy

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer Conundrum

Summer should consist of two months of sending the kids out to play. (Well, really it should be three, but that's for the school district to decide.) They should be spending their time making daisy chains, swimming, creating elaborate plotlines in the woods with their friends, sitting in the shade eating popsicles, living in flip-flops, running to show me blackberry-purple fingers, turning the sidewalks into chalky art, sending bubbles into the atmosphere, lying in the grass watching it grow, running, biking, scootering and feeling the freedom that summer embodies.

After their chores are done.

I think it's only fair that if they contribute to making a household mess, they should learn to be responsible for cleaning it up. I feel that it's not a large expectation for them to spend a little time in the mornings completing their small chores on the job chart (30 minutes), making sure that their bedroom floors are tidied (10 minutes, they're not very dirty), keeping up on school skills (15 minutes) and practicing piano (10 minutes).

So why is it almost 4:00 and they're not close to going outside?

I've spent the last 5+ hours reminding them, steering them back on course and redirecting their Distract-O-Selves. That and breaking up fights. And trying not to listen to the tattling.

I'm completely irritated because I've got days of work to catch up on and they're screaming and fighting in the background. Do I give up my requirement that they contribute to the well-being of the household and send them outside so that I can have some quiet? Or do we spend the rest of the summer inside, attempting to teach them that it only takes a long time when you lie down and complain about it for 45 minutes. If you get up and do it, it should take about 10 minutes. If I send them outside, it sends the message that the prerequisites don't matter and don't listen to Mom because she'll cave anyway.

Mean Mom with children who grow up to be responsible, capable adults?
Fun Mom with entitled children who take for granted what they have?

How do other parents do it? How do you teach your children to just get their stuff done so they can play? Or do the whole of the household responsibilities simply fall on the parents?

Either way, summer ain't shapin' up to be fun for anybody!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Alex's Lego Ladybug:

Not the way that I would've constructed it, but he's proud of it. And that's what's important.