As you’ve probably guessed, I am on hiatus from writing this blog until I have time to actually write for this blog. Sorry!
I’m showered and in my pajamas, reading a book in bed. The kids have been tucked in for two hours at this point. Suddenly, I hear a door open. I’m not sure which child is up until our door is opened without a knock. In toddles the cutest person in our house, all smiles and giggles. He rushes to my side of the bed with a big smile and a “hi mommy!”
This is a parenting test. I know what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to get up and walk him back to his room, explaining that it’s bed time and he needs to stay in bed until it’s light outside. He needs to learn that night time is for sleeping, not for playing. He needs boundaries.
My mind flashes to the future. I see the cutest person as a teenage boy. Perhaps he’s moody and sullen. Maybe he’s a polite, well-spoken young man. If he follows in the footsteps of his father (who followed in the footsteps of his own father), he’ll be a smart-ass with a beautiful heart who will do anything for anyone in need. No matter who he becomes, he’s not going to want to snuggle in bed at night and, quite frankly, neither will his mother. This moment is a fleeting opportunity.
So I grab my smiling, giggling little boy and lift him into the bed. He immediately snuggles up to me and I feel the softness of his fleece footie pajamas – the ones covered in “ah-panes!” I kiss his head and we tickle and giggle together. He sucks his thumb and tucks his head under my chin. As I hold him close, I’m reminded of how children seem to be shaped to fit the contours of our bodies. In a few years, he’ll feel boney and angular like his sister, but for now he still feels like a baby with his squishy legs and round belly.
After a few minutes, I pick him up and carry him to bed. I tuck him in and kiss him, telling him he needs to stay in bed until morning.
And he does.
So, the government shut down this morning. Luckily for my family, my day was completely different in absolutely no ways at all. Still, the whole thing is so frustrating – no matter which side of the aisle you lean. Even more depressing is this clip from last night’s Jimmy Kimmel show:
Whether you’re for or against Obamacare (and I think many people are for AND against Obamacare), you should at least know what you’re talking about if you’re going to answer a reporter with a camera.
I did, however, enjoy some of the comments below the video:
“Most of America is Lenny and the rest of us are George, just trying to keep them calm and stop them from destroying something.”
“If we had the government we deserve, we’d be living in Thunderdome.”
“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.”
Recently, 6yo became 7yo.
Because weekdays are bad for everybody, her birthday party was held on a Sunday. It was a small affair with family and a few close friends. No theme, just some cute $.97 disposable table cloths, a few balloons, and cake that 7yo specifically designed herself. We barbequed some chicken and ate fresh-picked sweet corn. Nothing big, nothing expensive.
Last year, when she turned 6, the birthday production was much bigger. The Saturday before her birthday, there were two parties. The first was a kid’s pirate themed party, complete with crafts, a scavenger hunt, a pirate-ship cake, and a giant pile of presents. I had ordered every pirate decoration offered from Oriental Trading. Kids left with eye-patches, telescopes, plastic gold doubloons, head scarves, candy, and a treasure chest they designed themselves. Once the under-10 crowd dispersed, we were joined by family and a few close friends for a second, more low-key party (and a second cake). On the actual day of her birthday, Jim and I took her downtown to celebrate with dinner at the restaurant of her choosing and stops in all of her favorite local shops followed by desert in her favorite ice cream parlor.
At the end of 2012, when I was working to organize our photos for the year, it became apparent to me that we may have gone overboard. So, this year, we decided to scale it down a bit. As I was putting the tablecloths on the folding tables in our yard, I second-guessed myself for a moment – would it be enough? Will she be upset that this year’s festivities don’t compare to last year’s?
Of course she wasn’t.
Not once did she say “aren’t more kids coming?” or “why aren’t there games and prizes?” She thought her birthday party was perfect.
This morning, I’m thinking of a dear friend. I’m reminded of her because we’re nearing the second week of August.
For years, while I was in high school and college, I would spend the second week of August on vacation at Treasure Lake. Treasure Lake is a golf community with two highly-rated golf courses that also offers boating, swimming, and many other fun summer activities.
I originally began going as a helper to my Aunt (my father’s sister) and Uncle. They had young children and I spent several of my summers babysitting them. At the end of each summer my Aunt and Uncle would generously bring me along on vacation so that they could both enjoy some rounds of golf together. I would take the kids for bike rides, to the beach, and to the pool while the adults played their 18 holes. My relatives covered all of my expenses and the kids were a dream to babysit. I was basically being paid to go on vacation.
We were joined every year by another couple, Shirley and Wayne. Technically, Shirley was my uncle’s aunt, but they were so close in age she seemed more like a cousin. Still, all the kids (including me) referred to her as “Aunt Shirley.” She was kind, generous, and a great deal of fun.
After a few years, I stopped babysitting, but I was still invited to come along simply as a family member. I was often invited to join them for their daily rounds of golf. My Aunt, Shirley, and I would golf together while the guys (who took their scores very seriously) went on ahead. Our team motto was “Hit it toward the cart path!” Shirley was actually a very skilled, avid golfer. She taught me everything I know about golfing (which, admittedly isn’t much). I always golfed better when I was with her. Her most important advice was repeated to me year after year in a sort-of mantra she had learned from a golf instructor once-upon-a-time:
“Keep your head down.
Keep your head down.
Keep your God-damned head down!”
Outside of our vacations, I didn’t see Shirley and Wayne that often. I would attend picnics at their house and run into them at some family functions. They both danced at my wedding. Still, there’s a familiarity that develops when you spend a week with people year-after-year – a bond akin to those one develops at summer camp. I considered Shirley and Wayne to be good friends and was extremely fond of them.
A few years ago, Shirley succumbed to cancer at an unfairly young age. She left a gaping hole behind in the community and in the hearts of her loved ones. Her funeral was beautiful, yet terribly painful. She was a nurturer, a leader, and a doer. She is fondly remembered by all who knew her and her memory continues to live on in her friends and family.
Often, not just in golfing but also in everyday life, I can still hear her voice telling me to “Keep your head down!” and simply trust that, if I do what I’m supposed to, things will go the way they should.
We miss you, Shirley.
I love rocks. Who doesn’t?
Granted, they’re not very fun when you’re digging….or when they hit your car…..or when you’re caught in a landslide…or when you’re being stoned to death.
Other than that, rocks are awesome. After all, the wise man built his house upon the rocks. If he was really wise (or a woman) he would’ve built his house on Boulder Field because those rocks have been there for 20,000 years. But he didn’t, so the government took it over and turned it into a tourist attraction.
There’s some story about how glacial melt caused rocks to break and somehow magically end up there, but I choose to believe that there’s really an Asgard ship (Stargate, not Marvel) hidden beneath the 12 feet of rocks. One day, when we need it, those little gray geniuses will send us a code to turn it on and Richard Dean Anderson will fly it out of the ground with his mind.
Until then, tourists will skip from rock to rock (some more gracefully than others) and write stupid stuff on them, like “I love Betty” and “Shane rocks!” By the way, very funny, Shane (who writes his name with an S shaped like a lightning bolt). How clever of you to demonstrate your understanding of homonyms on a 700 pound rock that was just minding it’s own business.
I’ve neglected this blog for a number of weeks. I’m sure my three avid readers were slightly disappointed, but probably no one else noticed. Summer is an unpredictable time for us. Our daily schedules go haywire and I find that days go by without me thinking once about writing.
Here in NEPA, the summer is already winding down. School starts in two short weeks. Despite the common misconception that all teachers live for the summer, I am looking forward to returning to teaching. 6yo, on the other hand, has no desire to return to school because “It lasts for hours!” She’s had a rough time these past few weeks with her health, so I’m just hoping she’s fully recovered before we head back.
It was a little over two weeks ago that we saw the spot. It was on her leg, about the size of a half-dollar. In addition, her eyes were starting to look sunken, her face was pale, and she started complaining that her hips and knees hurt. She was constantly tired, despite getting decent amounts of sleep. Her appetite was nearly non-existent. The morning I took her to the doctor, she came crawling into my bedroom because she hurt too much to walk.
Twelve days into her 21 prescribed days of antibiotics, she broke out into a severe case of hives. Her knees, ankles, and hands swelled. She could hardly walk. She was prescribed a different antibiotic for the remainder of her treatment. Slowly, she seems to be improving.
Through it all, she’s been quite the trooper. She plays through the pain and chokes down the hideous-tasting medicine. She’s blotchy and itchy, but in good spirits. Our greatest hope is that her treatment works this first time, and she doesn’t join the legions of people fighting this illness long-term.
Hopefully, she’ll be one of the lucky ones.
Despite common assumptions, most teachers do not go into the profession because they have off for the summer. I would be perfectly fine (in fact, I would prefer) if the school system changed to be year-round with shorter breaks between semesters or trimesters.
Some things I love about summer include:
- Morning snuggles with my kids.
- No make-up!!
- Sometimes, I don’t wash my hair for days.
- Grocery shopping during the day.
- The possibility of squeezing in a short nap in the afternoon while 1yo takes his.
- Less pressure to get to sleep at a decent hour.
- The absence of the dark cloud that hangs over Sunday night.
Even with all these benefits, it’s at this point in the summer that I start to feel the itch to go back to school. I am not disciplined enough to be at home all the time. I admire stay-at-home-parents who can keep their families on a productive schedule, but I am not like that. I thrive when I’m busy. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I am a better parent when I am busy.
I may eat my words next week when I’m gone all day to teach at an integrated arts camp, but I suspect not. In the meantime, I will continue to wear ponytails and declare afternoon snuggle times.
My children are generally happy and content kids. When I’m home with them in the summers we have very nice days. During the school year, they are both happy where they are. They are easy to manage and fun to be with. The older one is very helpful and creative. The younger one is still extremely cute and takes nice long naps in the afternoon. They make life pretty easy.
For us, it usually falls around 4:00, right as I get home from work. Suddenly, everyone becomes whiny, bored, and hungry – despite having just had a snack an hour ago. You don’t want to give them more snacks because dinner (which you’re trying to get started) is just around the corner. The little one is grabbing at your leg saying “Up! Up!” and you eventually have to put him on the other side of the gate so he doesn’t get burned or trampled. He starts to cry as he attempts to climb the gate, all the while still screaming “Up!UUUUUPPP!”
The older one, having used up all of her allotted TV time earlier in the day or week, is now “sooooo boooorrrredd” and “no” she doesn’t “want to go outside and play.” Trying to be a hands-on parent, you invite her to come help with dinner. When she enters the kitchen, the little one screams louder because he’s not also allowed in the kitchen. Eventually, he starts throwing things over the gate, some of which land in the dog’s water. In attempting to help pour ingredients, the older one ends up spilling something on the floor. Even though you maintained your temper, she starts crying inconsolably. You can’t believe there are still four hours until bedtime.
At that moment, your spouse walks in the door from work. All you want to do is shout “Please take them! It’s been a long day and I’m just trying to make dinner!” But you can tell from his face that it’s been an exceptionally long and stressful day for him, so you decide to give him a chance to settle himself. Somehow, after burning a few things (and possibly yourself) you finally get dinner on the table. You carefully portion out the amounts of vegetables everyone is required to eat before they can leave the table. You then get up three or four times to get the forgotten spoons, condiments, and napkins. Finally, you get to sit down to your (now cold) dinner. Whew.
Jim and I have both played this role. It’s just part of the parenting journey. Years from now, when we come home to a quiet house and fix our simple dinner-for-two, we may even miss it.
For now, I’ll just make sure there’s always a cold beer in the fridge to have after dinner
When my parents got married in the late 70s, they didn’t have much. Fortunately, if you grow up on a farm, there’s likely to be a piece of land on it where you could build a house. That was the plan all along, it just took some time to come to fruition.
My parents’ first house, the one I lived in until I was 6, was a used trailer left over from Hurricane Agnes. It had been a government-issued pre-fab home used as a dwelling by people who were displaced during the aftermath of the storm. There was no insulation, so often in the winter our blankets would freeze to the walls in the middle of the night. It was small, especially once we became a family of four, but my brother and I never minded. We were little and it was plenty for us.
It took my father years to build an actual house all by himself. Once he did, though, it was time to get rid of the trailer. Conveniently, there was a nearby couple just starting out that needed something to live in until they were able to build their own house. So, our house was handed down to them.
The moving day was one of the most exciting days I remember from those early years. I can’t believe they pulled it off. Basically, with help from both families, they towed our house away with a tractor and placed it on the property of the new owners. The roads by us were hilly and curvy, and I think they almost took out a bus shelter. Eventually, the trailer made it to its destination and served its purpose once again.
“Home is where one starts from.” T. S. Eliot