Saturday, December 18, 2010

Worst. Blogger. Ever?

Based on my last post, I can, without a doubt, call my re-commitment to this blog an epic fail. " I'm going to post more often" yeah....sure. To my credit, I do post original material on every Saturday.

In my defense, like a lot of us, I've been busy. Three kids, one anxiety riddled husband..yadda yadda..makes for a very busy life!!  And I have been busy writing, but who wants to write about writing? Ok, maybe some people, but not me. I A) haven't been doing it long enough to share any hard earned wisdom and B) think it's like writing about eating...if you enjoy it, just go do it for yourself because anything that I say will not be the same type of experience that you have.

Anyway, I will share a couple little nuggets:

Nugget #1 I spent the month of November writing a novel.With the guidance and sense of community that NaNoWriMo ( National Novel Writing Month) brings ( see: ) I completed the mission.

 Of course, it may never be seen by anyone besides my critique group and my mom--but the sense of accomplishment was extraordinary to me. And Bekah wrote alongside me doing the teen version of NaNoWrMo. And she finished as well. Within minuted of each other. We screamed and laughed and danced to Party In The USA. It was really one of those Mother/Daughter moments that lifetime movies are made of. I mean, if sitting around yelling at our laptops, talking to ourselves, laughing for no apparent reason-- for a month was compelling viewing. I think writing a novel is only a spectator sport in Misery.

Nugget #2: Taking a halfway decent Christmas card photo is very time consuming, and family bond testing. the one above took THREE sessions, several location and outfit changes ( Really? you want to wear a t-shirt that says " Awesome begins with me?") and by the time that shot was taken we all were mad at each other. And, that is not the shot that the fam picked for the actual Christmas card, but I look better in this one so..yeah...

Nugget #3: Life is hard. And just when you think you have it all figured out, it gets harder.

Nugget #4: When life gets really hard and you fall to the floor in a sobbing temper tantrum and yell  to God that you can't take it anymore, He either says " yes, of course you can. Get your butt up off the floor." Or he hugs you and says " It's ok, My Love, something wonderful will happen very soon and you will be embarrassed that you threw this temper tantrum. But I still love you."

So, while my keeping this blog updated is second on my WORST list ( first has to be my ability to maintain a Twitter presence. I stink. Awful.), today, I wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Call The Summer Of 2010...DONE!

Wow, that summer was a dud. Ok, it was summer so it was warm, and I got to spend a lot of time with my kids, who are great. I mean, except when they fight. And don't listen to me... no, they are. I'm lucky to be able to know them as well as I do. And have so many experiences together.

Like staring at each other asking " What do you want to do?".

Last summer we had a clear plan, and had a very full summer. This past summer we thought we would roll with it, let the wind carry us, staycation everyday.

* cue cricket chirp*

We did have some fun, went to the beach, swam at any pool that would have us, played outside, gardened, Noah went to summer school...but we did a whole lot of  hanging out at home. We did a whole lot of activities that I could spin to sound idyllic, that I could post more pictures that make our lives look pretty awesome-- but the truth is that the whole summer was sort of boring.

Bekah did a lot of writing, but mostly her facebook status. Luke did a lot of sports, played baseball, took up running, but mostly wrestling was his sport of choice and his favored partner was his brother. Noah made some new friends at school, but he seemed called to play Mariokart.

It was entirely my fault. I can blame the economy, expendable income became even scarcer.I can blame my husband who weekly tells me what we can't afford.  But I have been on the SAHM job for 14 years, I should have been more creative. I have known my kids for their entire lives, I know what they like to do. We tried a few things, but really, mostly we settled back down to the repetitive.

But the flip side? They were VERY eager to start school again. A month now. The child who usually has issues getting his brain in gear for school, well, he is still trying to jump start his academics. But I think he will adjust faster than in previous school years. The little guy started Kindergarten. He loves it. Eldest child started her final year of middle school, readying herself for her next life phase.

And me? I am beginning my next life chapter. With all of the kids in school, and my childbearing years ended, I am looking to what my life is going to be now. And where will it play out? Where can I give the tales of the fam? Here. So come back, read my challenges and struggles and lessons learned right here. ( and every Saturday on

My summer is over, and my hiatus on here goes with it. Thanks for coming back, and I promise more to come.

Friday, July 9, 2010

One of my greatest pleasures

This is going to either sound really lame, or it could be one of our " ME TOO!" Moments.

One of the greatest pleasures in my life is looking at a freshly weeded, newly mulched, crisply edged flower bed. This is best viewed fresh from the shower where I had  taken inventory of my injuries and  washed my hair because it is the only good way to get all the dirt out of my nails. When I am at the pleasure part, the tan line on my feet shows deeper where the straps are on my garden clogs. I have washed  the sweat and the tiniest of mulch particles that cling to  it , off of me. The sun is setting and I can admire my handiwork.

Here is the bed I did today. I do not have a before picture because it was too embarrassing. Let's suffice it to say that an injury sidelined me from maintaining this bed last summer, and it is the last one to be done this year. Yes, it is well past the planting season and a more dedicated ( or less distracted) gardener would have planted some annuals among the roses, boxwoods and lavender that inhabit this bed.

All of my flower beds have a story. The story of this one is order. In decorating a room, it is often suggested that you leave a wall blank to rest the eyes. This is my version of a blank wall. Not a lot going on to visually stimulate.  Lots of mulch, roses that visit and depart  and return as the suits their folly as summer goes by. In the winter, the boxwoods are some of the only green I see.

I also perked up the front flower bed. I didn't get a whole lot of satisfaction from this one, but it does look cleaner  free of the weeds and gone- to- seed Belles of Ireland that I did not plant nearly enough of. I am disappointed in a number of the annuals in this bed, but the vinca, once again, prove to me that they are worthy of front and center status. The story of this bed is usually a color story:purple, lime green and bright pink. But this year, I added the yellow. The gold finches and bumble bees seem to like it, and I think I do too.

 My peak season is fading. I am not very good at late summer blooms, some zinnias dot the beds but this year I was on a quest to fill empty spots with phlox. In the early spring, while the ground was still frozen, I envisioned a sea of phlox. I purchased several ( several= more than I care to admit) bare root phlox. I experimented with root placement, additives, even soaking a couple of them in miracle grow for an hour hoping to stimulate their roots. Now, mid summer,the only new phlox that I have in my flower beds is this one. Taller than me ( which isn't hard) and standing proud in the middle of a bed of daylillies is this specimen. This volunteer specimen. If you aren't into garden lingo, that means it just appeared. I didn't plant it there.

Yes, one of my greatest pleasures is looking at a freshly weeded, newly mulched, crisply edged flower bed. Another one is taking my friends on a garden tour.
Thank you for that!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Notes from The Husband

This is something Brian wrote, I thought I would share.

Well my Blackhawks finally did it last night. Their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. I didn't sleep well because I am so excited and still can't believe it. There are so many thoughts running through my mind. I need to share some of my emotions in the last 13 hours.

In reality, sports are a great escape in life to the many things that cause us stress. Worries about our kids, health, the economy, wars, etc.., are some of the things we can put to rest while we root for our team. Most of you know I am a huge Yankee fan and baseball is my favorite sport. But hockey is a close second and it has quickly become obvious to me that the Blackhawks victory last night was more than just a win. The memories I have due to this one sports moment are crashing through my mind.

It all started in the early 1970's when my Dad would pick me up and take me to see the Waterloo Blackhawks minor league team in Waterloo, Iowa. It was the first sporting event my Dad took me to. I remember the seats were close to the ice and in between periods he would leave to go to the "smoking and beer room" with other adults. There was an elderly couple who had seats behind ours and they would talk to me while Dad was gone. The games were exciting, "old time hockey" and a few times, Dad took me on the ice after the games to meet some of the players. The pictures we have from these encounters prove that I was in total awe of the players and, for a 6 year old, these are moments I will never forget. My love for hockey had begun.

As I grew up, it was a natural transition for me to be a fan of "the real Blackhawks" from Chicago. I remember Dad and I watching games at his apartment and it was special when the Blackhawks were on TV. Although I didn't play in a league, I played on ponds whenever I could and have the only real scar on my body, courtesy of a wayward skate during a pick up game when I was 10. Still, it was the Blackhawks that kept my interest. I wanted to be Tony Esposito and then Murray Bannerman and then Eddie Belfour.

About this time, a special bond was formed between me and my Uncle Rick. As a kid, I always thought he was cool and, man, he really liked hockey! Although he was a Northstar fan, we had something we could talk about for hours. He liked to "jack my jaw" about the Blackhawks. When I was 14, he took me to a Blues - Blackhawks game in St. Louis, just the two of us. Dad got us a hotel room at the Breckenridge Hotel and we talked hockey all the way to and from St. Louis. As we were leaving the game ( Blackhawks lost the game 4 - 2 ) we stoped at a souvenir stand and I bought a Blackhawks pennant. Now 31 years later, I looked at that pennant this morning as it has been hanging on the wall of Luke's room since the day he was born.

Over the years, Dad liked to call me and talk about sports. In the summer, he would call to harass me about the Yankees and in the winter, he would call to talk about the Blackhawks. No matter how busy I was, he expected me to stop what I was doing and "talk sports". Then I hit the location jackpot!

In 1989 I was working for Encyclopaedia Britannica and living in Washington, DC. An opening in our Chicago Region became available. Although it was advantagous from a career standpoint to head to Chi-town the idea of living in the home of the Blackhawks sealed the deal for me. I couldn't wait to go to my first game and literally got goosebumps when I heard the special way the National Anthem is sung and the way the "the pipe organ" sounded after the Hawks scored. It was unbelievable! I still get the goosebumps every time I see it on TV.

At our wedding, one of the first things I talk about AT THE CHURCH is the Blackhawks and we have it on video tape to prove it. My best man and groomsmen received Blackhawk sweatshirts as gifts for being in our wedding. Shortly after that, I got to know a ticket broker based in the Sears Tower. He would get us good seats, but we had to sit in the first balcony as that was the only area of old Chicago Stadium that sold nachos. That is what Susan had to have in order for me to get her to drive downtown in rush hour traffic and go to games. These were fun times and we could afford it because we didn't have kids. We saw Wayne Greatzy play ( in the middle of the game, Susan asked me " when he was going to do something "great".) We also saw a fantastic game in which Hall of Famer, Brett Hall let go a booming slap shot as time expired in which Eddie Belfour made the save. We still have all of the ticket stubs to those games and even though we were able to go to one game at The United Center, Old Chicago Stadium will always be near and dear to our hearts.

On our way home from Luke's baseball game last night we were talking about the game and wondering if the Blackhawks were winning? Could this be the night? When we got home, Luke tried to play it cool, but ended up bolting into the house. A moment later he came outside and told me " The Blackhawks are winning 3 -2 and are 17 minutes away from winning the Stanley Cup". Ok, now it was decision time. I get up each day at 4:45 AM and it was now 9:00 PM. If I watch the game, I might get no sleep. I decided to do some other things and check the score before I went to bed. It was 9:30, with my stomach churning and I turned on the TV. The first thing I heard was the announcers talking about overtime........... The Flyers had tied the game. The announcers were explaining how the Flyers now had all of the mementum going into overtime.

Decision time again. My gut told me stay up as the outcome was going to be quick and the way I was hoping for. I was right and I leaped upstairs to wake up Luke. He came downstairs with Noah, who didn't really understand why all of these guys were hugging each other.

Yes, it happened, but I needed to talk to someone, who do I call? Silence........... lump in my throat, I wanted to call Dad and share this moment with him. Silence again, another lump in my throat, I wanted to call Uncle Rick. Now what? Ok, wake up Susan and she can give me my cousin Doug's e-mail address. Darn it! We only have their Facebook address. ( I hate Facebook....... who has time for it?) Now what? Oh yeah, let's order our Stanley Cup Champion T-Shirts for me and Luke. Time for Susan to work her computer magic........... of course the T-shirts are on back order, but they will be coming soon. Now what? Facebook? Oh yeah, many of our friends in Chicago are describing the madness and joy in their neighborhoods. It looks like so much fun that we wish were still living there. Now, how about Susan's friend in Kansas City who is a big Blackhawks fan and friend in Canada who's husband is a former player and knows some former Hawk players. Facebook again and we are talking live about how great a victory it was.......... Did I mention I LOVE Facebook? (ha)

Ok, it's 11:00 PM and I am really tired and I know when the alarm clock will be going on. Four hours sleep will have to do. I wake up tired, but feeling great...................

Now back to reality. In the course of the morning I found out my cousin Doug recently lost his job and a friend of Susan's is in the hospital and taking a turn for the worse.

The real world has struck again. In over eight years of working for my Mom, I have taken one day vacation day and I often work on weekends. Yet, I still feel guilty about coming home for lunch and writing this note. Better get back to work, as I am thankful I have one and that me and my family are healthy. Will keep Doug and Susan's friend in my prayers.

The great sports escape may be over for now, but for 13 hours it was a great ride.......... Go Blackhawks.......... Go Dad........... Go Rick. What a rush!

Thanks for reading this long note.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Truth About Mother's Day

" Happy Mother's Day."
" Oh, you, too!"

We women greet each other this way on this day. I did it myself many times already.  On the surface it says " I know that we belong to the same Motherhood Club, and I celebrate that commonality!"

But there is another meaning. It is deep in our eyes, visible only to each other. The real meaning is "  I hope you make it through the day without disappointing them. They try."

Some of us were woken far too early today, maybe with kisses and hugs. Maybe with breakfast in bed. And from the moment the day begins, we put on our masks that reveal " I love them, they are trying. ". In a kids mind, if it's harder, it's better. So the kisses are not gentle, the hugs are not tender. But we know this, we know that if they attempt to press their lips through our cheeks, the meaning is deeper, the intention more meaningful than a normal days kiss.

Breakfast in bed may be burnt toast, a bowl of cereal, a pancake. In our heads we know what the kitchen looks like after the creation of such a feast. But we take a bite of the cold pancake, soggy cereal, or burnt toast and try not to think about the crumbs in the bed,or the scrubbing the pans are going to need. We know that they learned that mom makes special treats for special days-- and would like the same. Ok, so they don't have the cooking skill we possess, but they MEAN well.

At church this morning I saw several women sporting corsages. Very sweet. I never got one, maybe I'm not the corsage type. Which is accurate. I would feel foolish sporting one, so I can't  personally comment on this. Maybe I am reading more into this gift than I should, but some of those women sported a look that said " My husband got this for me. He knows I like flowers. In a vase. On the table. At home. Far away from all the eyes that are drawn to this monstrosity resting on my bosom."

At my house a tradition was set years ago. Brian * makes* lunch for his mother and me. This entails a drive through the local KFC . We eat at our dining room table, today he forgot to set it so I scrambled as his mom got here. I'm not a fan of KFC, it's only OK, but the kids like it. And now that  it's tradition, it means so much to them that they can do this for us-- so it must be. Every year. yay.

I appreciate the effort, and I know that they who make it happen only do this once a year. They don't put three meals on the table everyday, they don't coordinate the other holiday celebrations, they don't even handle birthday parties. But they love us, and we them... so we lovingly accept  the flowers that they pulled, roots and all, from our own gardens. We gush over the gifts that cost far more than our budget allows, or the spa certificate we may never get the time to claim, or the regifted gift card that you got for your birthday and didn't like.We fawn over the fuss at the restaurant that isn't really our favorite. Maybe we get exactly the day and gifts we would pick for ourselves, but even then they are secondary. We see the love behind the celebration, and we love you so we  are happy and honored with whatever you do.

In the house I grew up in, my own mother never wanted anything and always said " Thank you, but Mother's Day should be everyday." At the time, as I know my kids think now, I thought " how silly! It's like your birthday, a once a year party for you!" Now I see it very differently, probably closer to how my mother saw it. Although I let my family make the fuss, and spend a good chunk of the day trying to sneak off for a nap.

The truth about Mothers Day is this: we enjoy it because we enjoy you. We let you make a fuss over us, even if it makes us uncomfortable, because we love you. We love being your Mom and if you want to celebrate that, then we will do whatever you want.

 However, if you asked me how I would like to celebrate mothers day, if it was entirely up to me and I wouldn't feel selfish about it, I would like a truckload of mulch in the driveway and a day of peace and quiet to myself to get it laid down. If my kids were grown and moved out-- I mean WHEN my kids are grown and moved out-- I probably will think very differently. But now I am in the trenches of raising them. I don't need them to come home, because they are already here. all. the. time.

That is the ugly truth of my deepest desired mothers day wishes---  a day to myself-- where I don't have to tell you to take your elbows off the table, or to slow down when you eat, or to stop sticking your finger under my nose to see if I am dead when really I'm just trying to take a nap, would be the greatest gift now.

 If I were to add one more caveat to my dream wish list, it would be that you knew how deeply I love you. How I willingly silently sacrifice myself for you each day and  wake up to do it again feeling blessed to be your Mother. I would want for you to feel, for just one moment because you could not take it for longer, your heart hasn't grown strong enough yet-- I would want for you to feel the depth and breadth and volume and weight of my love for you.

Happy Mother's Day to ALL  * insert look here*.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Maybe a Nice Hat for Special Occassions

AGKKKK! I wiggled into my dressy pants, thinking the sleeveless sweater would have been a good choice had it not been a turtleneck. Sweat was trickling down my back. There is no hotter day to me than the first day it hits 80. It feels nice, but my winter body isn't yet acclimated to the warm temps. I get dewy. ok, no.. I sweat profusely. To make matters worse, the humidity isn't doing my 'do any favors. I had straightened my hair and hoped for soft waves that day, but it was leaning more towards a head of violent surf. Add in a few trickles of stress sweat and I was a shiny, damp, frizzy mess. Great day for my first job interview since 1991.

A few days prior I had spoken with a man who might have a job opportunity for me. We got along well on the phone, and he wanted to see me at his office. Like any other working mom, I figured out a child care arrangement for Noah-- OK, it was Brian's idea to call this guy now, months before I was ready to actually work, he can figure out child care. And he did. I dropped Noah at Daddy's office, and headed to my first interview since the Bush SENIOR Administration.

My gaggle of close confidants had prepped me on clothing choices, and I ironed ( which I never do) so I was pretty committed to the pants, short sleeve sweater over turtleneck sweater with heels ensemble. I had whipped up a resume the day before, thinking maybe that would be a good idea. Hey, I wasn't actually READY to go on interviews, I was in the thinking process. No resume required. But that morning, I was dressed to impress, hair in a sorta business... ish.. style, resume in folder slid into my portfolio of previous related work. I even got makeup to adhere to my slippery face.

The interview went well. He wanted me to go on a job, see if I could work with his team. He wasn't sure how he could use me, but that my personality and experience were what he liked to team up with. I was partially elated, who doesn't want to be appreciated and really, one interview out and I have an almost offer? What's not to love? The industry is one that I had many years of experience in. I liked the work of the company, use the product myself. Is this my future? Is this what God had planned for me to do?

Is this my hat?

So last night I went to work with the team, to see if we had a fit. I showed up early, stayed as late as I could, dove right in, asked questions, got to know the people. I admired the quality of the product, enjoyed the pace of the day, and left the prom knowing that this might indeed fit in as one of my hats.

The Prom?

I believe that I have taken a part time, seasonal, whenever he needs me job with a portrait photographer.

See, before I took pictures like this:

And this:

I took pictures like this:

And this:

And some really good ones that are in my portfolio but not on this hard drive, so you have to trust me that I know a little bit. I spent several years working in the same school/team/senior/wedding portrait industry for the behemoth company that does this. I worked for myself as a portrait photographer. I know just enough that I can provide a service to my new company while learning a whole lot more in the process. I think that is called a win/win situation..

So last night I stood on my feet, watching, observing, diving in helping out at the Smtihville Prom. I don't know if my new employer want my whole 28 followers and couple hundred hits a week ( ish) to know his name, I'll have to check. Jury may be out if having me as an employee is brag worthy.

But I think this hat looks good on me, for once in awhile part time, special occasions. This is a hat I have worn before and liked a great deal. I think it might be back in style, but I am not done hat shopping by any means.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

This Is Entirely The Wrong Hat

I am obsessed. I'm going to be blunt: What the hell am I going to do for a job?

Reignite a previous career? Fan the flames of a new passion? Start a fire on some as-yet-unknown occupation? It's a hot topic for me. I meet people " What do you do?"  I talk to people who know me well " What do you think I should do?"

Brian, who presumably, knows me very well suggested I teach.

As in School.

As in kids.

I can honestly say I had never entertained this option in my life. When other little girls were playing school, I was climbing the apple tree to see what the world looked like as a bird. And to get a snack. I teach Sunday School, but only to high school age classes. Little kids en masse scare me.

One of my Bleacher Buddies echoed Brian " You have a degree, you can sub. Work when the kids are in school, turn down assignments when you are busy. If you like it you can go back to college and get your certificate. It's perfect." Problem solved was in the word bubble over her head.

So I used my ( overactive) imagination. I imagined what a day as a teacher would look like. The first round was overly simplified, and quite idealistic. Hey, maybe teaching would be good..then I imagined the kids not listening to me, asking me what the square root of pi is or the capital of Obscuristan. So many eager minds listening to my every word. I know where Noah learned his colorful language, what if I taught them that? My palms began to sweat.

" Mrs V," says the faceless imagined student " I keep looking at this map of Pennsylvania and I can't find Pine Valley ANYWHERE!"

I accepted it. I never, not once in my life, entertained the thought of being a teacher. It is one of those occupations where passion FOR THE JOB ( yeesh, what a world, huh?) should be a requirement. I would not want a me standing in front of my children posing as a teacher.

That hat was an easy no-fit. It looks fabulous on others, thought it might fit , but when I put it in my head--nope. Back to the hat rack I go.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hat Shopping: Part One

I need a job.

Not just any job, and the need isn't as urgent as some in this economy. For that I am very grateful. But when I left my last career type position, I always imagined that once the kids were in school I would go back to work. Brian and I thought the best path for our family was to have me at home with the kids. To be a SAHM. Quite honestly, when Bekah was born, the though of putting her in daycare, of someone else seeing her more during the workday than I did, well, made me sick to my stomach.

Bold statement, Susan, you just lost all the Working Moms.

I can't deny my feelings, sorry. BUT I do know, in my heart of hearts, that the decision that is best for me, is not necessarily best for everyone. I do know a number of working moms who really are better parents because they work. I know a number of them who MUST work, bills need to be paid. I know a number of them who equally identify with being a Mother and being a ( fill in the occupation here)- to give up a hard earned career would make them bitter and resentful. Can't imagine that a bitter and resentful woman would make a great Mom. I do know a number of moms who,  when faced with the prospect of being a SAHM break out in a cold sweat. All kids? ALL. THE. TIME. * shudder*

That is it, it's not for everyone. The days can be very lonely,  very long, very frustrating and the cash pay pretty much sucks.

The first year that I was home with Beks was very difficult. We moved when she was one month old, from Chicago to a new state. Small town. No mom neighbors. No family.It was uphill from the get go.

I had put so much personal worth into career accomplishments that I had a hard time seeing the rewards of being a SAHM. I took every " oh, you stay home?" personally and probably put more negative feeling into it than was intended.

I wanted to slug the next person who said " that must be so rewarding". Really? Having a baby upchuck all over you 24/7 is rewarding?

Reading " The Owl and the PussyCat"  for the 10th time that day ,to a tot who only wants to chew on and flip the pages faster than you can read is fulfilling?

Waiting for your husband to come home so you can talk to another adult other than the Walmart cashier and the Pediatrician, only to have him walk in the door grumpy from a bad day at work, reach for the remote and ask what is for dinner adds to my self worth?

But then spring came, the long winter ended both literally and figuratively. I got out of the house, met other SAHMs and began to see my chosen path as the one I was intended to be on. I really never looked back. God provided for us, Brian made enough that we could, if we lived frugally, afford for me to stay at home.

For us, having a parent home all the time makes the most sense. I love being here when they come home, hearing about school , helping with the homework, keeping an eye on their social scene, taxi-ing them around. I like to cook, and craft, and look for teachable moments. Although not a huge fan of cleaning, I'll do it. I love that I don't have to take a day off if they get sick, or have days off from school. I love doing things with them in the summer. I love teaching them to do things around the house, to cook and clean and help out the family. I love that they know I will be here for them. That is actually very rewarding.

When child number 2, Luke, headed off to Kindergarten 6 years ago I was planning my next move. I had developed an interest in gardening and was researching what it took to become a Master Gardener. This isn't a paid gig, it's actually education for education's sake. After earning the title you give back your time to the community. Gratis. But I love gardening that much. I figured I could parlay my acquired knowlege into a part-time job at a landscaping center as well as working the gardening hot lines. But before I could sign up, I got pregnant.

Flash forward another 6 years. This fall Noah, child number 3 and DONE, heads off to kindergarten. I am in my upper-mid-40's and don't know what to do when I grow up.

 All the reasons for me to stay home are still valid ( except for the diaper changing,spit- up and potty training them myself). I do not want to give up being here for them, but I need something more. Cash would be nice. The cost of having children is pretty high-- it's not all diapers and formula costs.. braces, sports, clothes, extra school activities, food...and have you SEEN this economy? Yeesh! But I also want something for me. I need to get back to having emotional rewards that are not just a hug here, a " thanks Mom" there, a peek in on a wise decision and an unprodded " I love you". I need to DO something else.

Maybe it's time to take that Master Gardner course. Maybe it's time to go back to a previous career in Special Event Planning or Photography. Maybe it's time for something I else new and different.

So every now and I again, I am going to be trying on hats. I am going to seriously think about different careers that would give me the flexibility to still be On -Call for my kids, but also get something back for myself. Something that will set an example to my children that God gives us gifts, it's our job to make figure out what they are and follow that path. I am going to pray about it. I am going to seek wise counsel. I am going to listen.

I may not be a full-time SAHM forever, but in my heart, as long as there are children living under our roof, I am going to be a SAHM foremost. I will never, EVER stop being a Mom. Even when I go back to work as a... a.... a... um. er.... I have no idea.

To Be Continued

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Little gifts

Every once and again I will leave my camera out on the table. The kids will see it, of course, and being kids they will pick it up.  Once they realize I'm either not looking or indifferent to them holding my camera, they start to take pictures.

I like the images that kids take. Usually they show what the kids find interesting. They often show movement. I used to give the kids a disposable cameras. Yes, we would end up with 20 pictures of Barbie, but among those were gems. A 4 yr old Beks posing a 2 year old Luke by the dress-up trunk. A photo essay of what can be done with a chalkboard and a new package of sidewalk chalk.  An expose of everyone knees at a church event. Close ups of what, exactly, is under the bed. It was almost worth the expenditure.

Now that I don't actually have to pay for the bad, the blurry, and the what-the-heck-is-that pictures, I think of them as little gifts. Gifts of my kids being kids.  A still life of lives that are in constant motion.

Pass the wine and cheese and let's have a look at this recent gallery created by my children.

A popular pose is what I call Open Wide


Another favorite theme is food. Luke is usually consuming it or taking pictures of it. Food is very important to an 11 yr old boy. I never realized HOW important until I had to hide things from him. Leave a baked chicken on the counter to serve for dinner, and Luke will have it torn apart, topped waffles with it, and be emptying a can of whipped cream over the mess all while asking " what's for dinner?"

This is actually a failed loaf of bread. I forgot it was rising in the oven, and turned the oven on 10 hrs after I had put the frozen dough in there. This is not recommended on the bread dough label. Luke ate this after he took the picture.

This is dinner. Or part of it. He's wondering where the rest is.

Another frequent pose is kids acting goofy. I actually delete a lot of these, but here is one to sample.

And sometimes they take my picture. ish. Maybe that is how they see me. Just a big smile. I kinda like that image.

Monday, February 8, 2010

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The fact that I have a history of really sucky birthdays is well documented. I have carried on about it in person and print for years. Some of those birthdays were really bad. Space shuttle explosions, full family multi-orifice stomach viruses, city stopping ice storms,attempted home invasions-- bad stuff by any standards. Some were only bad to me, lest we never forget the year Brian gave me Clorox wipes as a gift. The only gift. Not valuable at the time, and very hurtful, I have gotten a lot of mileage out of it so really was a gift that kept on giving. It's all about how you spin it, right?

Last year I thought it would be fun to get together with a bunch of my mom friends and celebrate our mutual sucky birthday histories. We would laugh , eat and drink in the face of our common bond and scare away the sucky mojo. It was not only a fabulous party, but it worked! Last year I had a great birthday!

So, I did it again. Last weekend several of the same women, and many several more, met up again. Same restaurant. Same day, same time. Here is me and my friend ( I consider every woman at that table my friend so let's toss the description) Michelle being goofy:

Down the table, one part of it anyway... no matter how few times we had met we all chatted and laughed and carried on like we got together every week. But the truth is, all of those women " met" in an online message board  ( mom2momKC  ).To be in the same room as each other rarely happens. Some had stepped way out of their comfort zones to be there. I think all of them were happy they took the risk.

Megan and Other Susan got the " wear black" memo.

Karen and Sally showing their cheesy side.

Tracy likes a little wine with her fruit.

  24 women, a few sangria's, and many laughs. It was the perfect preventative medicine for any curse. It totally worked for me,and I hope it works for the others who have a similar birthday curse. My actual birthday was wonderful! Nothing bad happened, exactly the opposite. It was the kind of birthday that we all wish for- I imagine- but don't really verbalize. You can't plan for days like that, they just have to happen. Flowers, calls, notes, and a few gifts rolled in as the day and the delivery drivers went by. It wasn't about the objects, it was about the meaning behind them. I felt loved. The best gift of all.

Melissa made me a coffee themed table cloth, Lee sent a beautiful bouquet!

I got to hang with my kids while my fabulous mother-in-law cooked us dinner!

I have steak about once a year.. this was that night. I'm not much of a meat eater, but once in awhile I get a hankering for a hunka beef.

What kinda awkward body twist I got going on there? Ahh, Brian. Smile. Please?

The cake was carrot ( my favorite) homemade , too, and not by me! Bonus!!!

Tracy - the sangria drinker- send a flamingo with a fairly large seasonal wardrobe. This was a seriously cool gift.

Thanks to a bit of planning, a lot of people who love me and one fabulously outfitted flamingo I turned 47 with glee in my heart. A new tradition has been established and, on  a purely selfish note, I hope it happens every year. Aging has enough of a bad reputation, anything we can do to spin it is essential in my book.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Memory Lane: Not quite the Autobahn, but a wild enough ride.

This is a picture of me 5 years ago to the day.It was me giving myself my last insulin shot before bed. The next day I was scheduled for a c-section and would say " Hello, Noah!" and then " Toodles!" to my gestational diabetes.

I remember the pregnancy well,I still wear those pajama pants, and I don't think I look all that different than I do in this picture, but it seems like a lifetime ago. Sure, it was Noah's lifetime, but it seems like a long time. More than five years.

Some moms look at pictures of themselves pregnant and think " where did time go?" and " it seems just like yesterday that I was feeling you move and kick me from inside." I am not one of those moms. Maybe I will be, someday, but now? No. When I think back, I think to all the work, all the challenges, all the wonderful days, but I can feel the difference between the mom in that picture and the mom I am today. It's a big chasm.

Noah is our 3rd and last child. I was days shy of my 42nd birthday when he was born. The line we give is that perimenopausal means  " you can still get pregnant". But I knew I could still get pregnant. Although the chances were slim that I would, we didn't do anything to stop it. The truth is that was the second pregnancy within a year. 7 months before getting pregnant with Noah, I had a miscarriage at 10.5 weeks. On Thanksgiving. After cooking, and serving the family meal.

 I had found out I was pregnant with that child the day before I was scheduled to go in to get my tubes tied. The same doc asked, upon confirming that I had lost this baby, if I wanted to get that done. I couldn't. In my head I could not go from pregnant to never being able to have another child, although we did not plan on having any more.

The other line we give is " once we found out where all these babies were coming from, we put a stop to that!". This is entirely true. When Noah was delivered I did have my tubes double knotted. I KNEW this was the end of the baby making for me. While my sweet OB hummed as she worked on my fallopian tubes, my newborn son was struggling for breath. He was born with premature lungs, an easy fix once he got to the right hospital, but we didn't know that at the time. We just saw another baby heading to the NICU unable to get a breath. We saw another child whisked away from my arms, unsure of what was wrong with him but having a sickening feeling of deja vu.

Luke was born that way 6.5 years before Noah. He had a very rough entry into the world. For medical reasons, he couldn't be held until he was a week old. Actually, Bekah even did a NICU stint after swallowing a wad of meconium. Then Noah. Three babies, three trips to the NICU. Two of them via ambulance to Childrens Mercy Hospital. Cut, knot and hum away Doc. We are done. We are grateful for what we have, but we knew the challenges ahead of us. Or rather, we knew the challenge of uncertainty that was ahead of us.

The mom flashing a goofy smile in that picture, she didn't know what her next few weeks would feel like, look like, or how they would play out. She had forgotten the feeling of nursing, and sleep deprivation and the tug of her heart when a newborn makes eye contact. She could not know what it would feel like to have her first and middle child bond so deeply and so quickly with the newest member of her family. She couldn't foresee the triumphs and challenges of being a mom at such an age. She had no clue as to the joy and hurdles that would lay ahead of her and her family. But she can now. In her rear-view mirror. And those five years have been a long and curvy road.

I'm not writing this looking for sympathy by any means. I want you to see the gratitude that I have in my heart for the wonder that is my children. For this late in life surprise baby who tomorrow celebrates his 5th birthday. Happy Birthday, Buddy!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Giddy to Snapped In No Time Flat

After three long weeks of school vacation followed by bitter cold and another week of snow days, I awoke this morning giddy. I skipped out and flipped on the TV. The scroll at the bottom of the news, the place we had looked first each day for the previous week was different. Instead of school cancellations I saw stock prices. And then I saw news headlines. YES!! School is back in session!! Elated I packed lunches and took Beks to school.

In our little town, the Elementary School, Middle School and High School share a campus. A service road, with two major road accesses, connects all three schools. Each school has a bus lane and a drop off lane. The rule is that cars do not belong in the bus lane. Sure , it takes a few minutes in traffic to follow the rules and drop your student off in the car drop off lane, But the rules are there for a reason: safety.

I know that our school drop off situation is similar to other schools. And I know my frustration of people who think the rules do not apply to them is shared by many. The problem that I mostly have is the safety factor. High school students ( and yes, some parents) who feel that the rules are for others and drop their students off in, or at the entrance to, the bus lane. Sometimes I blow my horn , sometimes I just catch the drivers eye and make a " naughty!" face". Mostly I just rant to Beks. She rolls her eyes, often laughs but mostly she knows me and rolls with it.

Today, however, I saw a parent and a high school student, two cars, pulled off to drop middle school students off by the bus lane. The road was icy and slick. I had enough. The accidents that I had imagined for the past two years were highly probable today. We all had been out of practice with our school week routines, and the road conditions made for a situation that inexperienced drivers never could prepare for. There was no cars behind me, so I stopped, got the high school students attention and signaled for him to roll down his window as I rolled down Beks's.The parent in the other car was already cutting in front of me to make an illegal U-turn, I could only honk at her.

As the kid rolled down his window I realized I knew him. His sister, getting out of the car, had been in Beks class before. Heck, I think she had even played at our house  before. His parents are acquaintances of mine who I really adore. I know this kid to be kind and sweet and funny-- a good kid. But it was too late, I couldn't turn back or say " hey, Jacob! Say hi to your mom for me". No, I had to tell him that was not the drop off lane.

I wish it could have been a kid I didn't know. I wish it could have been one of the kids who stops in the middle of the road and really causes a hazardous situation. But poor Ethan got two years worth of memories of those kids in my comments. I didn't yell, but it may have been more anger than he was used to ( his parents are VERY sweet). He said " ok" , but I'm sure the unsaid part was " you crazy lady".

Then, from my passenger seat, Beks said very loudly  " Please excuse my mom!" uuuugggh. I just committed a huge middle school social faux pas. My stomach dropped and I apologized to her as we drove on to the drop off lane. She said it was ok, but if I was here I wouldn't have. She got out and said to me what I normally would have said to her " have a marvelous Monday!" Commence Internal Self Abuse!

An hour later, I was backing out of our driveway to take Noah to school. Thanks to illness and really cold weather that kid had literally been home for three weeks. He NEEDED to spend time with kids his own age. He needed to go to school even more than I needed him to. As I was backing out of the driveway I backed straight into the 4 foot pile of snow and ice at the end of it. I got stuck.

I would like to say that I calmly dug us out. But calm was nowhere to be seen. " Are you KIDDING ME!!!??" I muttered as I went to get the snow shovel and deicer out of the garage. Then I accidentally dropped the bucket of  deicer IN the garage and hauled out the motherload of curses. My 4 yr old , still strapped in his carseat then heard words that he should never hear. He heard combinations of curses that I never would have imagined could go together, and yet were flying out of my  mouth.

Fifteen minutes later I finally got on the road. Huffing and puffing from my workout, I spent the drive to school apologizing to him for what he heard, telling him that is not the best way to handle stress, and pleading for him not to EVER use those words.

In this brief morning that should have been filled with giddy bliss I embarrassed my 13 yr old, taught my 4 yr old creative cussin'  and gave myself the Mother of all Guilt trips. And we all know no one does guilt like a Mom.