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6.24.2010

!!!

No pictures this time, but still plenty to be happy about.


!!!

Waking up really early because it's too hot to sleep and getting to watch the sun rise.

!!!

A few days of sunshine and warm weather to let my children play in the park. Watching my older son, who has always been afraid of water, run through the water pad at the park with reckless abandon, and instead of crying about water in his eyes, laughing and telling me how much fun he's having.

!!!

Finally taking our family dog, aptly named Chewie (as in Chewbacca from Star Wars), to the groomer and having him shaved. I'm pretty sure HE thinks that's !!!, also.

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Getting visits from my Gram, my sister, and a good friend all in the same day--and all unexpectedly!

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Getting my pond CLEAN and free of algae, even if it did mean donning rain boots and not-so-flattering clothing for an afternoon of scrubbing. It was totally worth the random stares of people who drove by my house to be able to enjoy the pond again.

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My son requesting to buy and subsequently falling in love with The Last Unicorn. Husband thinks it's a little weird. *I* just fell in love with my son a little more ;)

!!!

Amanda, who is always there when I need someone to talk to, and is always willing to help me out without question. She and her family have come over several weekends in the last few months to help us get our yard ready for the wedding reception that will be here on Sunday. And she even offered to come help us the morning of the wedding! Best. Friend. EVER.


I was in dire need of some !!! this week; it's kind of stressful around here right now trying to get everything done before Sunday. Thanks to Bad Mommy Moments and Momalom for thinking of !!!

6.18.2010

Six Word Fridays: Appetite



Why is it when they're babies
They need food every few hours
And you start to feel like
Your life revolves around sore nipples

But when they are slightly older
They seem hungry but don't eat
Unless you provide them with candy
Or some other non-nutritious food product?

6.15.2010

Mommy, Snake Killer

We took the boys fishing for the very first time on Sunday. Before heading out, we stopped at a local sports equipment store to buy them their own poles; that alone was a thrilling experience for them. Even if they did think that the purpose of the poles was to sword fight... They also enjoyed exploring the tent displays and gazing nervously at the walls covered in deer and bear heads. I did not tell them they were real. I think it might have ruined it for them.

Once we were on our way, we realized we hadn't ever really decided where we were going. My husband and I have a knack for doing things on the fly without really planning them. So, we headed out down the road, sort of knowing what we were looking for, fishing regulation book in hand. We'll just stop at the first lake we find.

Which we did. A tiny lake that wasn't even on my county map. My husband rented a boat and we loaded up our stuff. I was a little concerned about our older son, who is a little bit afraid of water, but after my initial explanation that the dock was not going to fall in the water, he seemed to be ok.

When we got out on the water, the boys just absolutely came alive. They loved watching their dad row the boat out in to the middle of the lake, and they got a kick out of all the other people in their boats floating past us. It was kind of humorous, though, how easily we created our own large spot on the lake...everyone quickly moved away from the boat full of rowdy toddlers yelling, "HELLO! DID YOU CATCH A FISH? IS THAT YOUR BOAT?" etc.

We finally got the boys settled down enough to ask them to hold still while we set up their poles. Ok...while Dad set up the poles. Because even though I've fished for my whole life, I'm still pretty clueless about the whole process. Everything was fine and dandy... until.

Until it was time for the worm. Which was the single task I was assigned. I pulled a worm out of the container, which elicited excited squeals from both boys. "Oh, worms!" from the older son, and "'Nake! 'Nake! Ssss!" from the younger one.

Then I put it on the hook.

And suddenly I was the world's worst Mommy.

My older son took it ok. He just worriedly asked if I hurt the worm. I told him no, the worm wanted to help us catch a fish. (I'm totally not against lying to my children to protect their feelings. Don't judge.)

My younger son absolutely broke down. He laid in the bottom of the boat with his hands over his head weeping and screaming, "Mommy! 'Nake DIED! 'Nake died in the water!"

Right then, I wanted to die in the water. I never knew my boys had hearts quite so tender. I should have guessed; they do like worms a lot. I should have known this would be traumatic to them. But I never guessed. And I felt so horrible.

Eventually we got Jacob calmed down and everyone enjoyed the rest of the excursion. But he still whimpered a little every time we cast his line in to the lake. And, by no means a surprise considering our boisterous boys, we didn't catch any fish. (We're blaming it on the lake. Better one next time).

6.11.2010

Six Word Fridays: Possibly




the laundry might get done today
i might sweep and mop floors
it's possible i'll bake some challah
it's likely i'll finish these chores

but it is also entirely possible
that i'll put my responsibilities away
take time to enjoy the boys
kind of like i did yesterday

6.10.2010

!!!




!!!
Claimed a space of my own for my crafting stuff. Long overdue and MUCH needed!!!










!!!

(re)built the train track just minutes before it started to pour (again)!!!

(and it was a good thing I took a picture because it's in pieces again already)










!!!

Bought myself a pretty new journal to write in...and it was only $3!!!









!!!
Those are tomatoes. Growing on MY tomato plant. It's like summer is on the way or something...!!!













!!!
Mud pies. I knew the rain was good for something.














Want more !!! in your day? Check out Bad Mommy Moments and Momalom, if you haven't already!







6.07.2010

Speeding Up to Slow You Down

Yesterday afternoon, my husband asked me if I would take the car in the morning and go get a few things from the store for him. "Sure," I quickly replied, since I needed milk and creamer anyways. I didn't give it a second thought.

This morning, as we were getting ready to leave, I grabbed a pen and asked my husband what other things he needed from the store besides creamer for his coffee. "Oh, no," he corrected, "I need you to go to the HARDWARE store."

Those last few words, in my mind's eye, came out in slow motion, and at the same time my insides were screaming, "NOOOOOO!!!" really dramatically. Ok, maybe not that dramatically. But I definitely tensed up.

I am a very intelligent person. I've always done well in school and I feel like I'm pretty capable of holding an intelligent conversation. I am, however, a complete DOLT when it comes to common sense. Ask me to do a small thing like "Get some pickets for the gate and enough sod to fill the bare spot on the lawn," and I freak out. I over-think it, get nervous that I'm picking the wrong thing, and completely lose the ability to speak coherently, which means asking for help is difficult.

So I trudged through the yard, half listening to my husband and writing down measurements so I could pick up what we needed. I was irritated at being asked to do this seemingly simple task, and so I wasn't totally paying attention. Maybe this is part of why tasks like this are so hard on me. I rush through the thinking process and then get to where I'm going and have NO IDEA what's going on.

When I got to the hardware store, my pulse began to race and I started to sweat a little. I probably looked like some deranged mental institution escapee as I stalked the aisles of Home Depot, searching for the right size of lumber. I looked at so many different sizes of lumber and couldn't seem to find the one my husband had asked for. And let's not forget my stress-induced speech impediment. Every time an employee walked by, I would clam up and just sort of smile vacantly, not realizing I should have asked for help until they were gone.

Luckily, my husband called me on his break. I had already been in the hardware store for half an hour, and I still had nothing in my cart. As I talked with him and told him what I had found, inundating him with a lot more information than was necessary, I realized I could have easily solved this problem by myself. You know, if I had been paying attention in the first place. I know how big the gate is. It should have been a simple thing to find boards that would fit, even if I just judged it based on my knowledge of the fence that's already there. Simple critical thinking, right?

I had the same issue when I went out to look at the sod. Suddenly, simple algebraic equations were too difficult for my muddled brain--even with a calculator. But when I calmed down and actually THOUGHT about the area I needed to cover and compared it to the sod, the job became much easier.

After an hour of toiling, I walked away with 14 fence pickets and 8 pieces of sod. This whole thing should have taken 15 minutes tops. But it was sort of worth it, because I realized something really valuable. It's not that I'm incapable of handling this kind of thing. It's just that I shut myself down before I even have a chance to get started. I doom myself from the beginning.

Here's to getting it right next time. The next time I'm faced with one of this silly tasks that makes my heart race and my mind spin, I'm going to tell myself to SLOW DOWN. Because in the long run, it saves time.

6.06.2010

Creativity Boot Camp

I'm participating in Creativity Boot Camp, but because it's likely to be stuff that doesn't really "fit" in to this blog, I will be putting my work here. Just in case anyone's interested. :)

My Jacob

This morning, I was awakened by a distressed call. "Help-a me, mommy, help-a me! Stuck!"

I shot straight up in bed, my eyes suddenly wide open. I wondered what my little one might have gotten himself in to this morning. I ran down the stairs to find him and discovered Jacob, naked except for his diaper, sitting on the kitchen floor with his finger stuck in a bucket. He had taken the handle off and stuck his thumb in the hole where the handle was supposed to go. Well, I thought to myself, at least he's not bleeding.

I thought this because normally he would be. Jacob requires first aid at least once a day. He is a lively, mischievous, curious little boy. If ever there was a real-life version of Curious George, Jacob could be it (except for the whole "being a monkey" thing, of course).

Unlike his big brother, Jacob was a very LOUD little baby. It seemed like if he wasn't eating or sleeping, he was crying. He was a challenge from his very first day on earth, testing our patience and stealing our hearts simultaneously. He does it every day of our lives.

Jake isn't "bad," he's just...destructively curious. If something is missing or turns up broken, a good first guess is that Jacob got a hold of it. He doesn't deal well with punishment, either. He will often try to "punish" you back if you have to reprimand him. The other day, when pulling my finger to lead me to the time-out chair didn't work, he found a teddy bear and made IT have time out instead.

Jacob has an amazingly creative mind. He is not even two yet, and he role-plays more than James ever has. He will pick up two toys and make them have conversations together. He loves to pretend. Right now, his favorite thing to pretend is that he is a cat. He gets on all fours and crawls around the house, mewing and hissing.

Even though he causes me a lot of headaches, Jacob's pure spirit and endless imagination captivates me daily. And then there's his big blue eyes. Which he KNOWS how to use. Watch out if you have little girls. I think he's going to be a heartbreaker some day...



This is my Jake. I wish he could stay this way forever.*


*(Even more "sort of" than my wish for James).

6.05.2010

My James

When my older son, James, wakes up in the morning, he usually greets me with an excited proclamation.

"Look, Mom! I'm awake now!" He says, throwing his arms up in the air, asking to be picked up for a hug. Usually, after this, he also announces, "I want a ride on your back to the couch, Mommy." Which he usually gets. Because it's so cute that he asks every day. And even though he's 3 I still get nervous about him walking up and down our very steep Victorian staircase.

James was my first baby, and he was a very easy one. The most difficult thing about his first year was figuring out how to be a parent. But there was no colic, no bouts of illness, and when he learned to walk, very little curious mischief. He didn't cry much, loved his swing, and slept through the night fairly quickly.

He does, however, have some drawbacks to his little personality. He is VERY stubborn (an attribute I like to blame on his father). When he learns something new, he usually doesn't want you to know about it. As he was supposed to be learning how to talk, I found him to be mostly mute. I kept asking the doctor if he was ok, if he was falling behind, and she kept telling me to be patient. Then I noticed that sometimes he would say words, but if I got excited and praised him for it, the words would disappear again. He didn't want us to know.

He does the same thing now with numbers and the alphabet. He knows more than he lets on. And he is a very deep-thinking little child. Truly introspective, you can often catch him sitting quietly, usually with his thumb in his mouth, thinking about something. Later, you'll discover that he's built a new robot with his Legos or drawn you a picture. He's silently creative, which is beautiful even if it is a little maddening sometimes, too.

The more James starts to talk, the more his personality shines through. His stubbornness shows in his favorite phrase, "I can't want to," and his tenderness in his OTHER favorite phrase, "I like you the best." He is quick to remind my husband and me when we have a bad language slip-up, correcting us, "That hurts my ears. You should say 'gosh' instead."

He is my little man, getting so grown up, and I can hardly believe it. He is a mama's boy, but he hangs on every word his dad says. He loves to talk to everyone he meets, and he always has a story to tell. He's silly and fun, but also often serious and introspective. Trying to get him to smile for a picture usually results in something like this:



This is my James. I wish I could keep him this age forever*.





*sort of ;)

6.04.2010

Six Word Fridays: Message



I know I'm bad at responding
Because I get a little anxious
Every time I hear beep, beep
Because I hate typing on phones

6.03.2010

I had a dream last night

Suddenly, I was somewhere different, not in my bed but sitting on a couch in a dark living room with the curtains drawn. The bright day outside peeks around the edges of the dark blue curtains, and although it is cool inside, a thick layer of humidity still clings to the air.

I know where I am, but I don't know why I'm here.

I rub my eyes and stand up, just as a woman comes rushing around the corner and we almost crash in to each other. She is tall and skinny, with prematurely wrinkled skin set in a worried frown. She wears her hair short and permed, and when she does smile, her bright white teeth seem to take up her whole face. She beams happily now, her eyes disappearing in to the folds of skin around her eyes.

"Oh, Jennie! I'm so glad you're here. Thank you for coming to visit me, it's been such a long time," she cheers, pulling me in to a lingering hug.

"Hi, Meme," I whisper, enjoying the reunion. It really has been too long.

"Is that Jennie?" a voice calls from down a dark hallway. It sounds like barely more than a whisper, but I know it's just the way he talks.

A man walks out of the hallway, very slowly but with obvious purpose. He has long, white hair pulled back in a ponytail and he wears glasses with light frames. He isn't dressed like a man in his fifties; he wears his pants baggy with skater shoes and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. He does everything slowly, but deliberately. Even his voice is low and measured.

"Hi, Jennie!" He exclaims, although his voice is still soft. His excitement dances in his eyes. He hugs me and then holds me back, looking at my face for a moment. Then he squeezes my arms lightly and says, "We didn't think you'd ever come back."

I know it's just a dream but I can't help being excited to be here. To see these people who took such good care of me when I was a runaway. It has been much, much too long, and I feel like I could just sit and stare at them for hours and still be happy. There is one thing lingering in the back of my mind, though. One thing missing from this reunion. One person.

"Henry should be home any minute," Paul says, as if he had been reading my mind. He smiles and tells me to take a seat. Meme asks if I'd like something to drink. But I'm not thirsty. I'm boiling over with anticipation. I converse with Paul and Meme, but the corner of my eye stays on the front door.

After a while (who knows how long a "while" is in dreamland), there is a key in the lock on the front door. I almost jump but keep my composure. I suddenly wish I had looked in the mirror to see if I was presentable. The last few seconds before the door pushes open, I realize I am holding my breath.

And then. There he is. My heart still stops when I see him, just as it did way back then, when we were in love.

He is tall like his mom, but he moves slowly and deliberately like his father. He wears dark-framed glasses and has dark, curly brown hair. He also has a smile that fills up his face, which is there now. "Jennie!" is all he says, in an exclamation much louder than his father's had been. "Jennie!" he says again, shaking his head in disbelief. I don't wait for him to come to me, but instead I run to him and pull him in to a deep, long-needed, comforting hug. He hugs me back and whispers in my ear, "It's good to see you."

The rest of the dream is too dream-like to describe. Mostly emotions streaming past like watercolors on canvas-regret, love, longing, sadness, desire, happiness...when I wake, I'm left with this little lump in the middle of my chest that feels like a weight trying to pull my heart down from the inside. The feeling that I missed out on something. And the ache of a love long lost but never forgotten.

I love my life now, but I loved it then, too. And sometimes I long for it, for the comfortable familiarity of it. And for him. Because even though I am not in love with him anymore, I still do love him. At this point, after ten years, I imagine I always will.

6.01.2010

Deal With It

My children have a train table. It has little drawers to hold all the parts, and the boards on top flip over for a "change of scenery." I remember buying that train table, before our second was even born, and I remember thinking that my firstborn was still too young for it. I imagined pieces everywhere and the train track in a constant state of destruction.

I was right about the constant state of destruction. Every time I would sit down and put the train track together, my son would play with it for ten minutes and then tear it apart. When my second son got old enough to toddle around, he also started destroying it. It started to become sort of a pet peeve of mine. Finally, I just stopped putting it together. Why bother? I knew it would be destroyed in less time than it took me to build it.

A few months after I stopped rebuilding the train track, I was visiting the home of some people who were interviewing me for a job. I noticed they had the same train table sitting in their living room. Their sons were both about the same age as my boys, but miraculously, the train track was not being torn to pieces. Their older son pushed the train around the track for a few minutes and then moved on to something else. The younger son didn't even bother with it, favoring the remote controls on the coffee table. I was surprised enough that I mentioned it to the parents.

"Wow, I have the same train table. But mine never stays put together like that," I exclaimed, trying to hide the jealousy in my voice.

"Oh, ours didn't, either," the mom replied, "not until Bob screwed the pieces into place!" She beamed, obviously very proud of their successful plan.

You would think I would have been excited at this revelation. That I would have ran right home and gotten out the screwdriver. But instead, I felt a little sad. I felt sad for their children, who would never be able to figure out how to put that train table together by themselves. I felt sad that their train track would always look exactly the same, and they couldn't use their little imaginations to reassemble it. I wondered what else these parents had bolted in to place--literally or metaphorically--and what kind of effect it might have on their children.

That day, I realized that there was a damn good reason to keep putting together that train table. And for letting my kids dump the whole box of blocks all over the floor. And for taking every single crayon out of the box at once. It might be a little messy, but it's nothing we can't reassemble later. And in the meantime, it's an extremely safe way to let them spread their wings and figure things out in their own way. The minor frustration it causes me is not worth the detriment it would be if I stifled their creative play.

This isn't to say I don't sometimes wish I could glue a few things down. In fact, I had quite a little fit yesterday after the kids disassembled the train tracks because I had spent quite a bit of time putting it together. Maybe I'm writing this more to remind myself more than anything else.

Today, I'm going to put that train track together, with my two favorite engineers at my side. It will take forever if I let them help instead of following the plan. It will probably be torn down before the day is over. But I'm going to bite my tongue and turn away if I start getting frustrated. Because it's a toy. And we can fix it. My kids, their budding personalities, and our quality time together are all worth it.

Please remind me of this later when I complain about the train tracks everywhere.