Wednesday, February 5, 2014

And now there is Danny.

It's been two years and a lifetime since I've written a post. I tell myself I'll get back to it. Write about the galloping Anna does around the house with her imaginary horse, yelling "Ya" like Brave. How Ava is planning the 8th birthday party of the century that would put the Queen's gala to shame. How Peter wears his big red boots to bed and back. And Danny, sweet Danny, how he's at that infant age of noticing everything, noticing me, as if for the first time every time.

Times are busy, sleep is scant. But this is the best kind of life.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

And then there was Peter.

I've missed writing. Things have been a little...busy... around here.

Teeth have been falling out (Ava's). Teeth have been turning grey (Anna's). And then they've been turning back to white again.

And then there's the matter of this little guy. He is as happy in life as he is in this picture.

Since him, there have been tender midnight moments (lots and lots of those) and precious big sister moments. Moments of overwhelming joy and gratitude. Could it get any better?

And then there have been moments I really thought this is it. This is a nervous breakdown. In those moments it all feels a little too much-- work, responsibilities, unknown, known, bills. Reminds me of that 5th grade science experiment on saturation points: how many more drops can we add before it spills over?

Even in those moments I am rational enough (usually) to recognize the correlation: lose shuteye, lose perspective.

So I do what works for me: have a good cry, go for a run, get quiet with God, take a hot shower. Usually in that order.

And the breakdown moments are really few and mostly far between. I appreciate them though, because they never last for long but they always leave an impression.

Besides, there's no time for feeling bad. Not when this sweet little face-- and two others that are almost identical to it-- smile wide (teeth, no teeth, and all).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Dear Ava:

I would tell you how much I will miss you when you start Kindergarten on Monday, but I know that will make you sad. So instead, I will just hug you tight and smile at you big and tell you how much you will love Kindergarten and how excited I am that you get to experience it. I will look you in the eye and keep you there until you believe it, too.  

You will love it, it is true.

But it is also true that I will miss you in the daytime. I will miss you in the noontime. And I will miss you those moments in between. 

As a very young girl, I considered time and its passage something to be mourned. I focused on the "never again will I's" rather than the, "oooh, what's coming next?". 

At first, having you in some ways made it worse.  But watching you grow and learning from your curiosity and general acceptance of "things" has made it much much better.

I now realize that time and its passage is something to be thankful for.

Thank you God for keeping us healthy and safe that I may be there to watch my daughter say her first word, take her first step, sing her first song, run her first race. Thank you for allowing me to see her first jump from the diving board and watch her fall asleep for her last summer nap.  

Thank you God for getting us to her first day of Kindergarten.

(And Ava, I hope you're not too upset that you're new backpack won't be here in time for school. But I have a feeling that using your old, familiar green one will be just fine with you.)

I love you. I can't wait to see what's next.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

They's Travels

Ava (nearly five) and I were reading "Woolly Stops the Train" the other day. This particular book is great for a lot of reasons but it's particularly handy right now because there are simple sentences on top, and more involved sentences on the bottom.

She takes the top and I take the bottom and it doesn't seem like all of the pressure to read is hers. In fact, she usually takes on the encouraging role "Wow, mommy. You have exclamation points in yours! Great job."


Anyway,  at one point when we came across the word "they" in the book (and she paused) I cued her with, "This is a word we've seen on earlier pages" and proceeded to show her.

To which she replied, "Wow, 'they' really gets around. Quite an adventurer that word is."

I never thought of it that way, but I like it! Adventures aren't IN the words, they ARE the words!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Making It Her Own

If you watch American Idol, then you know the judges often tell the contestants to make the songs "their own." Which, I never really understood. Until last night.

Here is my darling Anna making the song Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton totally her own.

Note: She usually sings it all on her own, without us having to prompt a verse...but I think having us do it for this edition was part of her "own-ness".

Credit: Thank you blueberry pancakes for providing hair and makeup 

Lyrics (Where Anna Starts):

...that you just don't realize how 
much I love you.

We go to a party 
And everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady
Who's walkin around with me
And then she asks me
Do you feel alright
And I say, "Yes, I feel wonderful tonight" 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Twenty Questions

I got my haircut last night, which always feels like a fresh start. And while I was waiting for my highlights to set in, I picked up this month's issue of Oprah magazine.

Immediately I was drawn to these two articles, which were eerily timely for me considering my state of mind lately:

  1. The first article listed 20 questions we should ask ourselves everyday. I can see how many of them could  begin to help me think differently about my own thought patterns and routine behaviors. I'm going to try and keep them close by, picking one or two to focus on each week.
  2. The second was about unleashing your creativity; how it lurks within all of us, we just have to find it. I can see how the two articles could complement one another well in my circumstance. I need to work on changing some thought patterns AND reinforce it with NEW action to make the changes permanent.
In the meantime, I'm going to weed out some old pillow cases and see what kind of Valentine's Day garland I can make so that hearts abound around here. Wish me luck. I don't cut straight lines and I definitely do not sew.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Hat, A Neck, A Big Round Belly

Ah, the number five. You remember learning to write it, don't you? First the hat, then the neck, then a big round belly.

Well, this jolly-old-number has brought nothing but frustration and disappointment to my four-year-old (almost five-year-old) daughter for the past year. It is THE ONE number that she just can't couldn't get right. 

Mommy! It doesn't look like a five it looks like a three! Voice quivers in fear.

Mommy! I. can't. do. it! Foot stomps in anger. 

Mommy, the belly is going the wrong way! Tears fall in frustration.

Well, it all came to a head last week. I couldn't take it anymore. Ava + I were going to get our lives back. She was going to persevere and OWN that number once and for all.

It was afternoon + little sister Anna was napping. I was straightening up after a morning's work in my office; Ava was beside me pencil + composition notebook full of blank pages in hand. Sun was streaming in bright white streaks through the window. A pretty day but cold. So cold you were okay being inside, appreciating it in warmth.

Ava's afternoon challenge was to practice our phone number. She cheerily announced that she wanted to give it out to all of her classmates so that they would have it, just in case. (I realize this could be very bad for a couple of reasons. But the most immediate being that our phone number has a five in it.)

So she began.

Usually when we get to the foot-stomping-tear-streaming-throat-yelling part of number five writing, I tell her maybe we need to take a break. But today, I decided to try a different approach.

When she was ready to give up, to throw in the towel and pick up a puzzle instead, I stopped her. Told her no, that we were going to write the number five. I told her that today was the day she was going to get it. She protested, confused. This wasn't the way it usually went. Usually, we had a little talk about how everything happens in time, how she will conquer five soon, how she wouldn't someday be seven unable to write five.

It wasn't something I had planned, this perseverance approach. But it suddenly felt like the right thing to do. I sat her down and told her we would write the number five twenty times.
Twenty times! That's too many! I can't do that.
Yes, you can. And, you will. I told her.
She sat at the table and was so flustered she couldn't even grip the pencil correctly. She stood up to leave. I sat her back down. She cried. I told her to get started. Firmly. She got up to leave again. I sat her on my lap and kept her there.

I modeled the number five one time. Had her study it and practice it five times before I turned the page over. A blank page. I told her to write the number five. She cried louder.

A hat, a neck, a big round belly.

She got it fifty-percent right. Not good enough, not for her.

She cried louder and I told her we weren't leaving until she wrote it twenty times.

She composed herself and started again, stopping herself at the big round belly--the part where she usually went the wrong way. She thought about it. She went the right way.


After her tenth twenty, she cruised to the finish.
Mommy, I'm doing it! 
The bright white streaks are no longer streaming through the window now. They are streaming through her. Ava is aglow.  
I wish I had captured her face on camera as she inhaled that page full of five's and recognized the writing as her own. It wasn't just a smile, it wasn't just a grin. It was a realization settling deep in her bones. Strengthening her. Framing her.

The truth is, it felt like the right thing at the time, but I wasn't sure it was the right thing. Until that moment. Every time before that, when I allowed her to walk away from the table, I thought I was preserving her confidence.

But here was my realization: Up until that day, I wasn't preserving her confidence. I was artificially preserving her perfection--a practice that I have personally perfected. Can't do it perfectly? Don't do it at all!

When I made her sit at the table and work through discomfort and fear (made her persevere) I was showing her how to abandon the perfect five and accept the five that was perfectly hers. In that moment, over and over and over again. 

Because ultimately, I want her to know the value of seeing it through, not just the value of it, want her to be able to apply the empathy that is gained in the struggle, want her to enjoy the satisfaction that rises out of the sacrifice, want her to accept the rewards + recognition that result from the (hard) work. 

Of course this strategy cannot be universally applied. I'm not going to trek her to the top of a snowy mountain and force her to ski down it. Nor am I going to hand her the periodic table and make her decode it. I don't want her to persevere in a relationship if it's not good for her. Some things, you have to walk away from.

But not the number five. And not lots of other difficult and uncomfortable experiences that await her.  But yes, there are some things she will just have to walk away from. And I pray to God that she has the confidence, the faith, and the experience to do that too.