Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day 335: Off

Channeling my inner Mennonite Woman by making school kits this winter.

I remember this about the last time I had a full time teaching job - the pure joy one feels when multiple days off in a row lie ahead of you.  And now with my boys getting a bit older, the days off are more about relaxing, getting things done, and having fun than they are about surviving.  The great days of vacation have once again redeemed their glory.

I'm trying to get up the energy to decorate for Christmas this year.  Usually my family has barely cleaned up the Thanksgiving dishes and I'm pulling out ornaments without abandon.  But for some reason I'm hesitating this year.

I did pull out the tree from the basement - and then collapsed in a heap.  Which isn't as impressive as it sounds considering our tree is only as big as me.

Or maybe that is impressive - I can't decide.

Today I am thankful for days off of work, and that I have a job where I truly feel like I'm "of".

Friday, November 28, 2014

Day 334: The Season of "Boy"

The season where they start to realize just how cool you are....that season.

So yesterday was amazing and satisfying.  I successfully stuffed my face full of good food and sat around all day.

I am always tempted to travel over the holidays.  For one, visiting family that lives far away from me is the only way I get to see my family.  With each of my brothers in a different state, and my parents still tucked away in God's country (O-H!......) (don't worry, I heard you yell it), it is usually impossible to see them without some bit of traveling.  This Thanksgiving we made the decision to stay around here and were lucky to have all of Dustin's family around for the day. There was go-kart riding, and birthday partying, and pie consuming, and game playing...but that wasn't even my favorite part.

It was afterwards friends.

Because when we came home yesterday Dustin sat down with a book, and I started sewing Liam's birthday present (more to come!) - of course thinking that we would only have about 20 minutes before we were called away.

Friends, here is the amazing part....we weren't called away.  OUR KIDS PLAYED TOGETHER.  FOR HOURS.

I know people are always wanting to freeze time with their babies, and I get that.  I love cuddles and first words and all that.  But I think I love watching them grow up more.  I love the first time you can have pizza night on the couch - or the first time they come up with some elaborate imaginative scenario together.   I love with they can put their shoes on and tie them, and when  I can just say, "go put your coat on."  I love having conversations with them about right and wrong, and discussing what birthdays are really about.  I love hearing what their favorite things are, and when they work on legos for hours to create something unique and that works.  And I love when going out to eat starts to sound fun again, and when you take your almost-five-year-old to Noodles and Co. he yells above all of the patrons, "This is the BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WOOOORRRRLLLLDDD!"  How's that for a comment card?

So the mother's of toddlers and infants that are either scared of them growing up too fast, or seem bogged down from taking care of them - it gets even better.

Today I am thankful for this season of parenthood.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 333: Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving morning and I'm sitting here cuddled up on my couch in the dark with a cup of tea in the early hours of the morning trying to sum up the energy to write.  Someone reminded me recently that writing is so important to me, and I mustn't let a little thing like life get in the way of that.

It's been a difficult autumn.  Correction - it's been a difficult and beautiful and full and empty autumn.  I told my therapist last week that I stopped writing because I didn't want to be whiny all of the time - which lead her to give me a look like, "a ha!" and a short lecture about vulnerability.  To which I thought, "I'll show you vulnerability." and decided to put on my blog the words, I told my therapist.  How's that for vulnerability?

On Monday I had outpatient surgery for an incredibly embarrassing medical reason that I actually am not  willing to disclose on here (even in the face of vulnerability).  After all of the work, they found that there actually was nothing to operate on.  Basically, I got the anesthesia for free.  I guess I should be rejoicing in no news (which I am), rather than being embarrassed that I went to all that trouble.  I did get to lay around all day, which never ever ever happens - so it wasn't a total waste. 

Things I'm Thankful for on Thanksgiving.

My clean(ish) bill of health.  

Last night for the first time in over a year Miles crawled into bed with us.  I don't know if it was a bad dream or being cold, but without a word he crawled onto my side of the bed.  Of course I didn't sleep the rest of the night, but it felt good to have him there - next to me.  Needing me.


Healthy Family

Days off school

Nowhere to go

Guys, my raging child is raging less.  That is hard for me to write about, because (luckily for you) 80% of you don't really know what it means for a child to rage. Unluckily for me, and my child, I do.  And it's happening less.  And he's finding ways to calm himself down.  And for the first time in years I can gulp at the air and see dry land.  For the first time I don't believe this season may last a lifetime.  I'm thankful for hope.


Dreaming up schemes

My boys - I mean, look at them - amazing.


Yesterday we celebrated Liam's birthday.  That boy is turning 5.  I can't even believe it.  His new thing is tap dancing.  Must find tap shoes.  I'm thankful for spunk and uninhibited individuality.

Evenings on the couch with my husband, curled up in our big green blanket - whether it is spent watching Hulu, or reading, or on our separate laptops.  Feeling him there is good.  I'm thankful that I have him here everyday.

Pumpkin pie (which I hope without abandon that I get today)

Sweet potato casserole

Memories of Thanksgivings at Corrymeela - my favorite event of the year.


Today I'm thankful for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Day 323: Help

Saturday morning I accepted help that I didn't necessary need and it has been in my mind ever since.  2/3 of my boys were gone with their dad for the morning and so the youngest and I bundled up for a brisk walk in the cold.  We found ourselves at the local second hand store where I like to sometimes just browse the goods because I'm old and boring like that.

In the  midst of many unwanted and outdated items, I found one thing that I was pretty excited to show up at home with - an electric ice cream maker.  Since it was below the $5 limit for a debit card I hunted around for exactly $1.50 worth of treasures and then stood in line. 

It was a long line.  I guess a Saturday in November in a small town leaves little options for those of us who want to be out and about.  We all penciled "bargain shopping" on our morning agenda.

After waiting a good 10 minutes I was told that the debit card machine didn't work. 

At most I felt a little inconvenienced, but it really wasn't a big deal.  I wouldn't die if I didn't have an ice cream maker and the other things were just bonus.  I searched around in my wallet for 30 cents to pay for the little wrapping bow in my pile (the one thing I actually needed) while the woman behind the counter tried desperately to void the sale. 

Suddenly a hand reached across the cash register holding $6.  The woman behind me had heard everything and had just fished the money out of her purse for no reason other than to show kindness. 

I tried to refuse her gesture, but she insisted with such joy that I stopped.  I was more in shock than anything.  Over the last year there were times when $6 from a stranger would have sent me into tears of complete gratefulness.  There were times when a simple gesture like that would have changed the course of my week. 

But on Saturday it was unnecessary - but kind, and touching, and so thoughtful. 

So I let her give.  Part of me toiled with this American Midwest culture where we accept no help.  When offered a drink of water, we "pass" because we don't want to inconvenience anyone.  All my life I've watched adults refuse help because of not wanting to trouble their neighbor.  After being an adult on the other end of that - the one sometimes offering help; and after living in a country that always accepts that help - I'm starting to realize that sometimes the problem isn't the giver, but the receiver. 

Why can't we just be grateful and accepting of the offer we've been given?  Doesn't it make us feel good and wanted to be able to give something to another person that we've offered them? 

So with only a tiny bit of reluctance I let her help me.  I thanked her over and over again.  I thought all day about her kind gesture and how I can pass it on.  Maybe an ice cream party for my neighbors with my new ice cream maker?

Sometimes accepting a gift is more important than giving it.

Today I am thankful for that reminder.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Day 310: Apprentice

I spent a lot of last year trying to figure out what my title was.  I wasn't home enough to be a SAHM and I still can't spit out the word "kiddos", which seems to be mandatory for SAHM vocabulary.  I worked at a college, but for the first time in my adult life wasn't a teacher. 

I made my own cheese. 

That's how confused I was. 

Seriously.  There are people out there that make really good cheese - natural non-processed cheese, and I was grasping so violently for something to be an expert in, that I chose cheese. 

Those people are called cheese makers.  A cheese maker I am not.

The truth is that I most definitely wasn't an expert at parenting.  My role as a mother is so far from what I expected when I started this journey 7 years ago.  As I sat through various parent/teacher conferences, counseling appointments, and doctor's appointments I would shrink into my chair and feel like a failure at the one thing I was supposed to be doing at this season in my life.  Inevitably I felt the need to blurt out "I was a teacher for seven years!" at every single instance.

My desperation was embarrassing.  It was like I wanted everyone to know that I do know something other than this.  There was something else that I actually was almost an expert at.   It was imperative that they know this.  Life or death really.

But the beauty of all this is that I have learned despite my lack of expertise in parenting, I am actually a really good apprentice. I am an excellent listener and note-taker. I learn quickly from mistakes and adjust to changing tides. I will probably never be an expert, but I will enjoy the journey of learning.

Today I am thankful for patient instructors.

Day 307: One Day

One day you wake up from a haze of busyness and remember that you were once an artist and a writer.  You remember that you loved baking and there was a soothing quality to throwing together a meal that now escapes you.  You edit photo upon photo, but never for yourself.  Daily you talk about the importance of sketching, yet your sketchbook lies on the shelf unopened and untouched.


When you wake up you try to shake off the uneasiness and the cobwebs that have fogged your mind. Because of what life has handed you, you're not the mother you thought you'd be, or the artist, or the writer.  You haven't been unhappy or unfulfilled, but you wonder how you have survived this dryspell of your lifeNot only have you survived it, but you have cherished it.  Loved it.

Which makes you panic.  Are you no longer these things?  Will you never again experiment and build.  Create and dream of ideas?  Is that part just over?  Are you just content with surviving?

Do you care?

You do.

You care about that and so much more now.  The problem isn't that there is an emptiness in your life, but that there is so much goodness and beautiful responsibility in your life that your bucket overflows.  Creating must become a priority for everyone, including the artist and non-artist.  10 years ago life was different, but not nearly as messy and gorgeous.  It was easy and boring.  It was also unpredictable and stressful.  There was endless time to be something amazing.

Be someone. Do something.

Make sure it's big.

Definitions change.  Defining yourself is no longer measured in what the outside sees.   Those are only glimpses into what you really are.

Today my classroom board filled with this quote: "Be thankful for what you are now, and KEEP FIGHTING for what you want to be tomorrow."

Today I am thankful for who I am today.

Different than I planned, but better in many ways.

And tomorrow holds great possibility.