Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sayonara March

Dear March,
I am not sorry to see you go.  I must admit that we've had a loving relationship in the past, with your promises of warmer weather and early spring flowers.  However, you've pushed me too far this year.
That's why I don't hesitate for one instant in saying.... See ya later alligator.
You've been a sneaky, busy, lousy month that has robbed me of many things I love, including, but not limited to:
1.  Reading books.
2.  Getting together with friends.
3.  Tucking my boys into bed.
4.  Weekday television watching.
5.  Weekend movies with my husband on the couch.
6.  Working out.
7.  Being a good teacher.

I guess I could blame myself for overbooking and overpromising.....but I would rather blame you.

So what does this mean for April?
That it is going to be A_W_E_S_O_M_E.  April and I have BIG plans...bigger plans than you could ever deliver.
1.  I have three books sitting on my Nook ready to be devoured.
2.  I have great visions of jewelry designs I've been saving just for April.
3.  Photos to edit - fun work...which doesn't feel like work at all.
4.  Dining with friends - we've got birthdays backlogged from February to celebrate y'all.
5.  Tucking my boys into bed every night - but it doesn't stop there.  Games of Memory and Hide and Seek.  Walks outside with the dog.  If I could make a "Best Of" album of my parenting - its release would happen this month.
6.  Speaking of albums - I'm going to make an April-kicks-butt soundtrack to counteract my Angst-filled-March album.
7.  Netflix and Redbox overload - Season One of Greys Anatomy?  Watch out, here I come.
8.  Working out - see above under "Walks outside with the dog." = My favorite gym membership.
9.  I'm on board to be an awesome teacher armed with some new project ideas and inspiring artists.
10.  Spring break.
11.  AND I'm going to learn how to meditate.  Because my mind is not a calm mind....and a calm mind is not a happy mind....or something like that.

And what does that mean for you March?
Eat my dust.
I've got a new partner now and together April and I are in it to win it.
Until next year....

Hugs, kisses, and fist bumps,

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Formal Apology

Dear Mothers of Toddlers that Came Before Me:

I would like to take this moment to formally apologize to all of the mothers of 2.5 year olds from my previous life as a know-it-all-childless-twenty-something.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry because I'm sure at some point I thought that your tantrum-throwing two to three year old was somehow a result of your lax in parenting.
I'm sorry that I might have assumed that you didn't discipline him or her when they threw an identical fit at home.  I'm sorry that I assumed you must give in to their tantrums and that is why they throw them. 
I'm sorry that I assumed these things didn't horrify you 10 million times more than they maybe slightly bothered me - an innocent bystander.
I'm sorry for any ounce of judgment I may have placed on your parenting.
I super duper sorry if at any point I thought to offer some sort of advice. (Man, I really hope that didn't happen.)
I'm sorry for any doubt that formulated in my mind when you explained that "every child is different."
I'm sorry if for one second it felt like I actually thought I had a clue.
And last but not least, I'm sorry that I might have silently gasped in horror as your child ripped off his shoes and socks in the waiting area of speech therapy and threw them across room during a tantrum of unexplainable proportions while you were trying to get copies from the therapist.  
But most of all?  I'm sorry that I now know how you feel.

My deepest regards,
Your soul sista' and fellow parent of the terrible nearly threes

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Badly Dressed Art Teachers of the World - UNITE!

Last weekend I didn't just travel to Seattle to hunt down attractive vampire families, or drink unreasonable amounts of delicious coffee...I actually had a purpose.  Are you ready for this?  It was the National Art Education Association national convention.  The only place you'd find an obscene number of decorative eyeglass chains, frizzy hair, adults singing aloud in the corridor while wearing an umbrella on their head, scarves on nearly every neck, and of course tons of inspiration for this eager little art teacher.
To the average person this may seem like a pretty lame excuse to leave it all behind in the exotic midwest to travel across the country, but these things make me a better teacher, which makes me a happier person.  Not to mention all of the free contraband art supplies I had to shove in my suitcase for the trip home. 
I also had the opportunity to present, which is how I was able to go in the first place.  See me with my cute little giant poster?

I'm glad I went and I'm glad to be home.  I can't wait to actually look back through my notes and remember all of the amazing things I learned.  But most importantly I can't wait to try every one of the umpteen different kinds of roasted coffee beans I brought home shoved between the free clay samples and tubes of acrylic paint.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Our Town

This weekend I was far away in the land of good looking vampires and dormant volcanoes.
 I loved Seattle.  Everything about it was amazing - the coffee, the shops, the market, and even (surprisingly) the weather.  The first few days I basked in a feeling bordering on regret...I wished I lived in a larger city....I always pictured myself taking public transportation to work, dragging my groceries home in a little cart those people in the city use, and walking my kids to school just down the street. When Dustin and I were engaged, I was student teaching in a big city, and we were thinking about graduation. We had all sorts of ideas of where we were going to live.  Every place had skyscrapers and public parks, art museums and aquariums, Safeways and/or Jewels.  Even after we were married and he drug me to "the heartbeat of America" for school, I still got pangs of regret when we would visit any metropolitan area.  That felt like where I was supposed to be....until that one summer I hit the road.
Did I tell y'all about the summer I left town?  Two years before Miles came home I decided to pack my bags and study art for a summer in San Francisco.  Did I consult my loving husband?  Probably in some off-hand way he didn't take seriously.  Did I put any thought into this adventure?  Very little.  However, everything fell into place.  At the beginning of June I flew directly from Rome, Italy to San Francisco, stopping only long enough to pick up my poor husband in Chicago.  (Why was I in Rome? - trust me, that is for another day.)
To sum it up, I studied my heart out in San Francisco....but I didn't just study.  I drank red wine in Napa, hiked around hilly city parks, laid out in Stinson Beach, ate tuna tar tar in a restaurant where everyone sat on beds, biked across the Golden Gate bridge, and met Dave Eggers (don't be jealous).  Was it awesome?  Yes.  Did it make me want to move there? No.
Why not??!!  I know....SF is my city - or so a good friend once told me.  But the truth I've come to realize is that my city isn't on a coast.  It isn't the coffee roasting capital of the world and there isn't a brewery on every corner.
 I can admire their beaches and bridges and H&Ms....but I can still love my much smaller city.  My dippy little corn-fermenting smelling, unreliable buses that only go every 45 minutes, and poor street drainage city.....oh how I love you.
And I do.
Because tonight when I was crossing over our version of the Golden Gate Bridge and I saw my city's skyline I was in awe.  We may not have the Space Needle or Sears Tower, or the Empire State Building, but my city has something more....  Two little boys and a man that are very excited to see me after a long trip.  Sorry Seattle, but that trumps your diverse population, fancy recycling system, fake sultry vampires, and artisan markets any day.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A patent leather bright-green purse

When I wrote the last post I was super excited to write about my grandparents for my children.  I was trying to decide who to write about first, formulating stories, and jotting down notes when it was sort of decided for me.  This weekend we had to say goodbye to my Grandma - your Great Grandma H.
You see that picture down there?  That's her.  And that red squirming wrinkly bundle of clear joy?  That's me - your mama, just five days old.

What was she like you ask?  She was an amazing cook, from green beans, to custard pie to ginger chiffon cake she was the bomb-diggity of all things baked and butter-licious.  She taught your mom to love butter...because anyone who's cooked with butter knows how there is so much to love.

And she was a seamstress.  One of my fondest memories is going with her to the department store to pick out fabric for an Easter dress - white with pink flowers of course, with a pink satin ribbon around the waste.  I remember I loved it.  She sewed it just for me. 

She lived in the next state growing up, so the drive always felt like a long one.  But when we got to her house, she was so excited to see us - lavishing us with hugs and kisses as soon as we walked in the door.  She wanted us to feel at home and to tell what we had been up to...but to never forget where we came from and how we should act.  

And last, but not least she had a green patent leather purse in her toy chest.  I still remember the moment I found out that it was actually her old purse I was playing with.  This was not your everyday God-fearing, conservative, hair-covering wearing, daughter of a Mennonite minister to toting around town purse.  It was spicy.  I loved everything about it.  It was my Grandma. 
Grandma was tired and sick for a long time.  I knew that when she left us she would be going to a better place and would be better off.  I didn't expect to feel so sad about it though.  I find myself talking to her when I'm walking around the house....because now I can.  And I know she is a woman with an opinion. :) It feels like the first time in a long time that I know she can hear me.  And you know how much she would've loved you?  I think everyday about how much she would have loved you when she was in her prime.  And do you know what makes me sadder than anything else?  The fact that the first time she saw you two brilliant boys, I didn't get to see the look on her face.

Monday, March 7, 2011

All Because 2 People Fell in Love...

First I want to show you a picture......

If that doesn't make your heart happy then I don't know what will.  
My grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Saturday.  I drove back to my home state by myself with two little ones (6 hours!) to join my family for my cousin's wedding.  I was surprised to find out there was a small, informal celebration planned for my grandparents the following day.
What a sweet surprise - for me.
They already knew all about it.
I sat in this room FULL of people.  I mean full in the literal sense.  My grandparents fell in love some 62ish years ago.  They had 6 children who married 6 spouses and had blessed them with 18 grandchildren, who have so far blessed them with 14 great grandchildren (and believe me - we are just getting started).
Their love did this.
Those people up there?  They're my grandparents.  They are just as feisty today as they were then.  And they are just as in love.  They are a testament to a life built on giving selflessly.  
They love God, and nature, and serving others.
They are awesome.  
And they have inspired me to start writing about all our grandparents.
Not because you, the readers of this blog care to read about my awesome grandparents, but because I want my sons to know what awesome great grandparents they had - some they will never get to meet.  
But that isn't going to stop me.  
Because I have a lot of love to give and a lot of love that has been given to Dustin and me. 
And as my Grandpa always says at family gatherings while we sit around attentively listening: "What?"
(just kidding grandpa)  (see, he's funny - he'll appreciate that joke.)  
Let me try that my Grandpa always says at family gatherings as we all sit around attentively listening, "We love you guys."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rollerskating to White Snake

At the high school I teach at the Phys Ed classes do a unit on rollerskating.  Not ice skating, or roller blading - we're talking from-the-depths-of-the 80s and 90s roller skating.  It starts with the cabinets of biege-colored roller skates with orange wheels and stoppers on the toes and ends with White Snake blaring from a double cassette boombox teetering on the edge of the stage.  Oh you think I'm kidding?  I'm not.  As I walk through the gymnasium to get...well, just about anywhere in my building, you may think I grow tired of "Here I Go Again on my own..." and kids colliding into one another on their poor excuse for a skating rink.  But I don't. 
You see...I may be clucking through there in my heels, looking like I'm on some great mission to make the ultimate photo-copy, but the truth is that I LOVE this unit.  I'm purely a spectator....a bystander from afar... with a secret.  I. Love. To. Rollerskate.
Am I good?  No.  Do I do it?  Not anymore.  But it doesn't feel like too long ago that my Dad was taking my brothers and I to the rollerskating rink what felt like every Sunday.  When I look back it was a highlight of my childhood - going there with my dad.  I'm sure it was just a generous ploy on my dad's part to get us out of the house and give my mom some alone time, but it felt like it was all about us.  From the smelly skates to the one piece of candy we could buy, to the DJ who would put on some metal mania hit and then show off his mad figure-eight skills for all of us pre-teens to oogle over. 
The other thing I want all of you to dad is a really good roller skater.  My mom said one time that someone exclaimed that my dad "rollerskates like he drives cars - fast and furious".....or something to that effect.
I was pretty lucky.
And the other day when I was walking through the gym and bopping along to "pour some sugar on me," it occurred to me that this is something my sons may never get to do.  Despite the fact that Dustin guffawed the first time I asked him if he liked to rollerskate (there will probably be no Sunday trip to the rink boys), there just aren't any roller skating rinks around anymore.  Which led to another realization.....I am a part of generation whose children will miss out on many of the things that made our childhood so rockin.
So I, in typical blogger fashion, compiled a list of things my boys may regrettably never get to do.
  • Rollerskate in a rollerskating rink.  You know - the limbo, boys choose girls partner skate, girls choose boys, the hokey pokey, disco-ball and Poison skating on hard-wood floors and dimmed down lights.
  • Drive-in movie theaters.  My family/friends and I went many times every summer to the double feature in my town.  What's better than trying to find a comfortable position on a blanket on the grass while freezing your little tushes off?
  • Call a girl on the phone.  Kids text now.  My sons will probably never have to technically call a girl for the first time and spend minutes lost in awkward silence and silly questions.
  • Have to ask to talk to above-mentioned girl when her dad answers the phone.
  • Try to figure out a way to carry on a conversation on the phone with above-mentioned girl while your family is sitting in the room and you are tethered to a phone that is actually attached to the wall.
  • Get up to change the channel on the television.
  • Cover a textbook with a paper sack from the grocery store.  They just don't do that anymore - at least not where I teach.
  • Have a CB handle.  Okay...I had one.  I might have been the only one at my high school without a CB in my car.  Go ahead, let the redneck jokes ensue...
  • Make a mix tape.  When I went to study abroad in Northern Ireland Dustin made me 4.  Four mix tapes I fell asleep to every night and walked to work listening to on my yellow sports Walkman every morning.  To this day when I hear a song that was on one of those tapes I find myself waiting for the song that was next to follow along like I'm listening to it all over again.
  • Wear hammer pants...maybe they'll make a comeback...but I hope not.
  • Cut fire wood.  When I think of this it still makes me shudder.  Being outside in the snow in the middle of the woods with my brothers while a really loud log splitter runs and I'm forced to heave logs into the back of a pick-up only to go home and stack them in the barn until next year when they will be hauled up to the garage where I'll have to stack them again?  No thanks.  You guys got lucky on this one.
  • Live without air conditioning and a dish washer.  I didn't have either of these until I was married.  Now I will never live without.  You guys will never realize how lucky you are.
  • And last-but-not-least...leave a clever multi-family-member answering machine pick-up message.
I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting.  Please add to my list if there are things you can think of.  What great adventures will my sons be missing out on as children of the.......tens?  (That even sounds lame.)