Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Space

Jesse surprised me with a little piece of the internet to call my own, so I'll be hanging out over there now.  Come visit, won't you?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Clumps of Moments

This post is inspired from an excerpt of the poem Small Things by Anna Kamienska:
It's not from the grand
but from every tiny thing
that it grows enormous
as if Someone was building Eternity
as a swallow its nest
out of clumps of moments

some of our "clumps of moments:"
a special place to look at letters with a fancy pen
eating a waffle drenched in "seeeryup" with a blue fork on a blue plate
from a mixture of tulle and paint
a Sunday afternoon hike
spending a rainy afternoon at the movies

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I got lost on vacation.  It wasn't anything serious, although for awhile there I imagined my face popping up on one of those AP articles when you log onto your Yahoo email account.  Here's what happened:  I went for a run one morning and instead of going down the main road, I went behind the house we were staying in, and into the woods. 

I realize that was my first mistake.  Going into the woods is comparable to scuba diving.  Everything starts to look the same.  In scuba diving, you don't know which way is up or down, whereas when you're in the woods you don't know which way is left or right. And when I write "you" I mean me.  I'm no John Krakauer for crying out loud. Although I did write him once to tell him how much I loved his book about that kid who ran off to Alaska and he wrote me back! John Krakauer, not the kid.  The kid died.  It's very sad. I'm digressing.

I ran off into the woods because when I started out on the main road there was a bear-like dog having a fit in regards to me running towards his territory.  So I turned around and ran like h-e double hockey sticks into the woods. 

(Readers of this blog know I'm terrified of bees, but I'm also afraid of dogs.  Yes, really.) 

I think it's safe to conclude from reading the previous paragraphs that I am not an outdoors person.  My idea of "roughing it" is sitting outside at a restaurant with kids.   I know nothing about being outside which leads to panic and overreaction.   So while I was running around what probably was a five foot patch of land with lots of trees, I was getting a little scared.  OK I was a lot scared.  And maybe I was crying a little bit but it could've been sweat.  I'm not sure.

Jesse's uncle found me.  Actually, he and his wife (Jesse's aunt) were a bit concerned that I might not know where I was going because we'd arrived at their place in the dark and I'd yet to scope the place out in daylight.  Rookie mistake.   So at a point when they either had to assume I was training for a marathon or lost, he decided to go out looking for me.   We laughed it off as he showed me the way home.

I've been lost before.  I got lost on the way home from Kindergarten once.  In high school it took me a good six weeks to remember where my locker was.  I was lost at Calvin too, but that was more metaphorical.

Being lost makes me uncomfortable. I don't pay attention too well when I'm uncomfortable.  I think, I'm no good in this place, or, I'm not going to try this again.  I think that's the real danger.  Letting one experience determine what you can and cannot do. 

I think in most cases, it's always good to go back and take a second, or third, or thirty-sixth look.

Enough times as it takes until I've begun to pay attention again:

to the excitement one child has for holding a fish, and the fact that the other just wants to throw it back in water...

...or the satisfying thunk the blueberries make after I've plucked them off the bush and dropped them in a bucket....

...and then taking those blueberries home and scouring recipes for blueberry scones, tarts, pies, and smoothies...
...or deciding you've had enough baking and it's time to dance...

Because eventually, you get comfortable.  You start paying attention.  You decide to try new things.
Like ride around a lake on a bicycle built for two.

I can't really be lost with family.  Whether it's with my in-laws or the Lewises and Ayanoglous.  They've always made me feel at home.  The great thing about that is when it's time to go off on my own, I have the confidence to check out that new place and see what's what. 

It's good to get lost every now and then.

I've found some great treasures when that happens.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Phase?

For the most part, I think Hadley's a pretty miled mannered kid.  She rarely loses her temper, is friendly to everyone, and is generally a go with the flow kind of gal.

Except when we start playing Phase 10.  Hadley cannot handle losing this game.  She slams her hands on the table.  She growls.  She throws cards everywhere.

Even if she is winning she'll chant things like, "I am winning and Mommy is a loser."  Note that she calls me a loser.  Not "Mommy is losING."  No, I am a losER.

It's tons of fun.

One night, Hadley asked me if I would play Phase 10 with her. 

"I will, but are you going to get mad if you lose?"

Hadley thinks about this for awhile and then responds, "Yes, I will get mad.  But I will bang my hands on the table lightly like this."

She demonstrates. 

For the record, I wouldn't describe what she did as "light."

But we play, and at one point we are tied.  Hadley is not happy about this but I can tell she is trying hard to stay calm about it.

"Hadley?  You OK?"

"I'm not happy that we're tied, Mama, but I am happy about something."

"What's that?"

"I'm happy that my name is longer than yours."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Summer Hangouts

There were afternoons spent at the ice-cream shop,
and mornings spent dressing up.
There were days gratefully spent in the shade at parks,
or cooling off at Starbucks reading books,
writing first letters
and practicing old ones.
We peeked at the sun through trees
and took long walks home without strollers.
The afternoon nap seems to be a memory,
but there are remnants that we like to take with us.

It's been a nice summer.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

300th Post

Hadley loves to hear stories, and she likes to hear them over and over again.  It can be a story from a book, which she'll memorize, and repeat to her stuffed animals, or it can be a "real" story - something from when she was younger or when Jesse and I were kids.  The one she asks me about most these days is about a time when I was in first grade standing in line to go out for recess and a bold lad decided it'd be OK to kiss the hood of my winter jacket.  It was not OK. 

I told Hadley this story in the first place to illustrate that not everyone likes to be kissed, or pursued for that matter.  Hadley can be a bit of a kissy kisserson and while I don't want to blow out the candle of friendliness, I also want her to understand that there are other ways to say, "Hey!  I had fun with you at the park!" besides giving smooches.  For crying outloud, this isn't France.  Don't they do stuff like that in France?

On Monday night, Hadley wanted to hear a story from when she and Harper were younger.  Because, you know, they're so old now.  So I told the two of them the story of the time when both were still in diapers and we went to the park.  I said, "All was going well until both of you pooped at the same time."

Folks, it's not just boys that think pooping and tooting and butts are hilarious.  I am sure to break up a fight, stop tears, turn the entire day around just by using any of the aformentioned words to my girls.  And I don't even need to use them in a sentence.  I can just say, "butt!" and the day just got better.  Needless to say, this story about me having to change two poopy diapers in the backseat of our car while the girls screamed was a real crowd pleaser with the H's.

I'm not always sure what Hadley as well as Harper, will take away from the stories I tell them. For example, I wonder what they think of what happened to us yesterday and how they'll re-tell it one day.  Here's what I have to say:

This is a picture of a balloon in Target.  It's Harper's balloon.  But that's not where I want to start this story.  I want to start this story a few hours earlier when the three of us got in the car to go to Romp n Roll.  As I'm getting read to pull out of our parking spot, there is a car that is driving in the lot, so I wait for it to pass.  Except it doesn't.  The car, moving at the quick clip of a turtle, stops behind my car.  When I write "stop," I mean the driver of the car turned her car off, and got out of it.  I just want to make it clear that she was in the middle of the street, stopped her car, and walked away, thus leaving me blocked in.

I roll down my window and say, "Excuse me, m'am?  I need to get out."

She turns around and says, "Oh, OK.  I'll be back in just a minute," and continues her stroll.

Would it help to illustrate my reaction here?  Perhaps some thoughts that went through my head at this moment?  Maybe it'd be best to just write what I said next.

"I need to get out now." I tell her.

Without turning around, the lady waves her hand over her head - AS IF TO BRUSH ME OFF - and says, "You can get out."

To which I reply, "You're a jerk."

Also?  This lady was maybe 70 years old. 

I felt so bad I texted my cousin Tara to tell her what happened and, always knowing the perfect thing to say wrote, "I just taught Aquazumba to a bunch of 70 yr olds....I get it."

After the girls class at Romp n Roll, they each get a balloon.  This balloon is played with and carried around for the remainder of the day.  Every Tuesday, for the entire summer, I have had lovely afternooons because Hadley and Harper play with a pink balloon with a purple string all day long.  When it runs out of helium, it becomes a dog to pull around on a leash.  When that gets old, I'm asked to cut the string off and it becomes a volleyball.   It's endless fun, I tell you.

We go to Target after the class and I say to Harper as I'm taking her out of the car, "Can we leave the balloon in the car so it doesn't get lost?" 

Because that would be AWFUL if it got lost.  But losing a hold of it and watching it float up to the ceiling?  That's much better.

We're standing in line paying for computer paper when just that happens.  I see it float past my face and think, "Oh, that's Harper's balloon.  That's not good."  I don't attempt to grab it, though.  My reflexes aren't what they used to be.

Harper watches it and then says, "Mommy? Can you reach your hand up to the ceewing and get my bawoon?"

"No, Harper, I can't.  I'm sorry.  We've lost the balloon." 

Harper turns around to take Hadley's balloon.  Because, gee, I lost mine, so Hadley won't mind if I just grab hers.  This was not OK with Hadley.

Then, as if she's been practicing for this moment all her life, Harper screams, pushes me as hard as she can, then throws herself to the floor.  At the same time, the cashier tells me, with a friendly smile, "You lost your balloon."

I'm sorry Harper lost her balloon.  I really am.  But I'm thinking the sooner we get out of here, the sooner we'll be able to forget this whole thing.  That's not what happens.  Soon, all the cashiers are noticing the balloon as well as several patrons.  Then maintenance is called.  It's a whole "to-do."  There are walkie talkies and everything.  All the while, Harper's screaming and reaching for her balloon, Hadley's holding on to hers for dear life, and I'm laughing slash crying because of the scene I've caused in Target.

Call me a suburban mom, but Target is my happy place.  When Hadley was first born, and I wasn't sure what to do to get the crying to stop, we'd go to Target.  I'd put her in the Bjorn, get a cup of coffee, and we'd walk around the store checking out the goods.  Once, I ran into another mom doing the same thing.  We were in the hair product section.  We smiled at each other, and then she said, "You looking for anything in particular?"  I said, "Nope.  Just walking around."  She said, "Me too." We both laughed and I felt so much better knowing I wasn't the only person who had no clue what to do with an infant; that there were others who were just figuring it out as they went along, too.

"We can get the balloon for you," a maintenance main tells me.

"It's OK," I tell him.

"It's not a big deal," and he walks to the back of the store.

Harper, Hadley, and I stand against a wall facing the checkout lanes.  Every single patron is looking at the balloon along with all the cashiers.  Mostly moms, I hear things like, "Oh man, that's not good," and "Who's crying?  Whose kid is screaming like that?  What is WRONG?"  I even heard, "Well.  What mother lets her kid bring a balloon into the store?  At least tie the thing around her arm!" 

When the man comes back with a claw type wand and begins to reach for the balloon, the moms have all kinds of advice, "That's not gonna work," "He should've put a piece of tape on it so the string can stick to the claw."  I'm sure he can hear all of it, as I can, standing there holding Harper whose eyes are bugged out with hope that this man will save the balloon.

And he does.  He brings the balloon down, and walks it over to Harper while the ENTIRE CHECKOUT AREA of Target is clapping: cashiers, kids, moms, everybody.  It was a scene straight out of a Nora Ephron movie.

"Thank you so much," I say to the guy, but I almost blurted out, "I called a 70 year old a jerk a few hours ago.  I don't deserve this." 

I guess that's not what it's about, though.  Even those of us who are in fact the jerks are shown kindness.  Whether we deserve it or not.

We get back in the car, and I turn around to the girls and say, "Whew!  What a day."  Harper eyelashes are crusted over from the dried tears and Hadley is thudding her balloon against the window.

"I think we should go to the park.  You guys think that's a good idea?"


"But Mama?" Hadley says.


"I really hope me and Harper don't poop at the same when we're there."

I'll try to keep my cool if that happens.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What To Do When Daddy Goes to Hawaii For a Week

Drown your sorrows in ice-cream.

Spend his per diem at Toys R Us

Go out with your six and under friends where the food and balloons are free and people are riding around on unicycles.

It makes the time go by much faster.