Tuesday, November 29, 2011

every evening I wait for you

I don't need a clock to tell me. I run forward. I run backward. I climb up. I climb down. I see the way the tree shimmers differently now. The sun casting its golden net from below, not above. I hear the urgency of wheels on pavement, the rush to get back to where they belong.

It's a punctuation mark on our day. The exclamation point that says we're here! We're all here, together again.

Daddy is home, and now we can dance.

Monday, November 28, 2011

a few notes on fashion

I will never be the mother whose children are perfectly groomed. Inside my house, my kids are often naked (or half naked) or dressed in various costumes from B's dress-up box. I brush B's hair once in the morning, and if it gets messy an hour later, so be it. Before we leave the house, I check three things: 
1) Is B wearing panties under her clothes? (It's hard to explain to a 4-year-old why undies are necessary. They just are.)
2) Are the kids going to be warm/cool enough for where we're going?
3) Do they have shoes?

I do require them to wear some sort of clothing when we leave the house, but that's about the extent of my fashion rules. We have so many years ahead of us to argue over clothing. Why start now? As a result, we end up wearing some interesting outfits in public. A few recent examples:

I bought B a new package of socks recently, and she decided to wear all 8 pairs at once. 

It's about their growing autonomy.

What are the fashion rules in your house? Do you let your kids comb their own hair? Choose their own clothes? Where do you draw the line?

Also: At what age can you expect kids to help with the laundry? The biggest downside to my letting the kids change clothes frequently is extra laundry...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

a conversation

Miles: I have sisscotti peese, Mama?
B: But you don't like biscotti, Miles. It's too crunchy. You can't eat it.
B: Mommy, he doesn't like biscotti! Don't give it to him!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

a slight misunderstanding

What I said: "On Thanksgiving, we're going to be cooking all day."
What B heard: "On Thanksgiving, we'll eat cookies all day."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

thanksgiving cards

Her idea, not mine: Make Thanksgiving cards for everyone we know. Best part? Licking envelopes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

the list

Last November, we were strolling around Target and Bronwynn caught sight of the toy aisle. Not just any toy aisle, but the one specifically targeted to girls. It's a dizzying vortex of pink and purple that sucks toddlers in and spits them out slobbery and screaming for all the things they cannot have. Boys have an aisle too, of course. They're seduced by wheels and polished chrome and real! live! action! sounds!

This is consumerism and gender stereotyping at its worst.

Like many parents, I felt helpless and desperate to pull her away before it got ugly. She started picking up dolls and hugging them and saying "Mommy, I want! I want! Can I have?!" To which I responded, "not today....maybe another time..." Her voice got louder, whinier. She was pleading. I could see where we were headed, so I tried to switch gears.

"Let's make a list," I said. "You tell me everything you want, and I'll put it on your list, and at Christmastime or your birthday or whenever you earn a treat, you can get something off your list." She jumped at the idea.


A year later, I can tell you that THE LIST has been one of my favorite parenting tools. I don't have to actually write anything down. She just tells me what she wants to add to her wish list. Sometimes, if it's really special, we take a photo of it with my phone. Bronwynn is aware that her list is very, VERY long and that she will not receive everything on it. But when a special occasion comes around, she tells me what one or two things on her list are most important to her, what she'd most like to have. Miles has caught on and started his own list. 

Shopping with toddlers has never been more pleasant.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

performance art, redux

My friend's twin boys, when left to their own devices, create big, big mischief. Things like emptying a whole bottle of Hershey's syrup on the kitchen floor and rolling in it (you should see THAT photo).

My kids get into trouble, but it's always been more subtle, more sneaky. Like discovering half-eaten apples or slices of cheese stuffed between books on the bookshelf. ...Or, this. B was supposed to be resting in her room. Instead, she used a whole roll of toilet paper and water to create paper mache and "decorated" every surface with her own little sculptures. I found these rubber ducks the most amusing. Are they wigs? Or soap suds? And what role does the rubber mouse play?

At least she's crafty.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

which came first?

Last night's dinner: Chicken and broccoli.

B: "Where does chicken come from? eggs?"
Me: "No, chicken comes from chickens."
B: "Chickens?!"

I braced myself for her outrage. Maybe even tears. My 4-year-old declaring herself a vegetarian. Instead, B paused mid-bite, stared down at her plate, thought about it for a moment, and then said "yeah, but where do chickens come from?"

Me: "Eggs."

Crisis averted.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

for the love of snow

Bronwynn has clear memories of winter in Colorado, building snowmen, sledding, white Christmases and snowball fights. Miles was only 7 months old when we moved to the desert. These photos Kris shot at the Grand Canyon last weekend say it all.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

how to survive parenthood

2:30 AM: B crashes into my room, shoving the door so hard it bounces off the doorstop. She is crying, panicked. I am instantly awake. Heart pounding. Adrenaline coursing. What's wrong? Did you have an accident? "No, Mommy. My socks fell off. And I can't find them ANYWHERE."

I find the socks. Shimmy them back onto her feet. Tuck her in. She rolls over and falls right asleep.

My mind is racing. It takes me another 90 minutes to settle back down and drift off. Two hours later, Miles is up for the day.

Later, in the gym locker room, a mom I don't know complains about her 6-year-old, who still climbs into bed with her each night. Other moms drift in and out of the conversation, moaning and offering up their tales of sleep-deprivation woe. I'm tempted to tell the sock story, but I bite my tongue. Some moms believe that their parenting angst is more special than anyone else's. In the midst of seeking community, they are trying to one-up each other. But really, it's a common thread that unites ALL PARENTS EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD: sleep deprivation. If you're a parent, you're tired.

I will yawn, and I will occasionally complain and assert that my flavor of sleep loss is unique and more challenging than yours. And I will assert to my husband that he has it good, because he gets to retreat to an adult-only office every day for 9 hours. A break from the kids! What luxury! While I work from home and juggle deadlines and nap times and house cleaning and bill paying and cooking.

But the truth, dear readers: I have it damn good. Really....what's so awful about your 4-year-old needing you to put her socks on at 2:30 in the morning? Is it really that painful to be summoned to your little boy's crib at 6:15, his arms outstretched, his fair hair matted on one side, his sweet voice chanting "Mama, out. Mama, I hungee. Mama, snuggle"?

I sip my coffee and stare at them, in awe of the relatively narrow spectrum of their concerns: milk. matchbox cars. socks. constructing elaborate imaginary worlds. negotiating who gets the yellow crayon first.

They don't worry for a second whether their needs will be met around the clock. It's a given.

This is the salty sweetness of parenting. They exhaust me. I love that my children exhaust me.

ALSO... I recognize when that exhaustion is nearing its crest and I need to take action before I crash and burn. Because no one wants a martyr for a mama.

I am approaching that crest. And serendipitously, this weekend, I am retreating to the hilltops with some dear women. There will be wine. A spa. Hiking in crisp, fall air. There will be no children. But, there will be blessed, blessed sleep.

Monday, November 7, 2011

how to amaze your children: show them snow and the grand canyon in a single day

This weekend, Kris' mom and aunt were visiting and we drove up to the Grand Canyon. They'd never seen it, and neither had our kids.

There was 4 inches of snow on the rim and a lot of fog, but they still got a sense of the splendor of the world's biggest ditch. B was nervous about falling in, and totally in awe when Kris and I explained that we have backpacked down to the bottom and along the Colorado River for several days.

Miles? He appreciated it in his own way...by driving his Matchbox cars along the rim at Grandview.

Friday, November 4, 2011

preschool t-ball world series

You know what I love about toddlers and t-ball? 

 "Cracker Jacks. 10 cents"

"Pay up, Dude."

She closed her eyes as she swung the bat, yet somehow still managed a home run. (The fans in the background are older kids from the elementary school.)

Go Spiders!
B's teacher even made a shirt for Miles. He hangs around the classroom enough that he's become sort of a mascot.

He's taking notes for next year, when he's up to bat.

health care crisis

Remember when Miles cut his chin and I took him to Urgent Care? The doctor washed the cut and glued it shut. Easy peasy. We spent maybe 5 minutes in the doc's care.

The bill came today. Anyone else see a problem here?

I'm thankful for group health insurance (something we didn't have access to when both Kris and I were self-employed). We paid $20 coinsurance for the visit. But how is it okay for the doctor to bill $1,040 for gluing a cut? Am I missing something? Do they have to bill that much in order to get the $206 they deserve from the insurance company?

More importantly....if we didn't have insurance, would they have billed us $1,040?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

HopeWalk 2011

In the midst of parenting, writing, blogging, and generally being extremely busy this past month, I was asked to photograph the HopeKids annual charity walk. HopeKids is a support community for families who have a child with cancer or some other life-threatening medical condition. It gives them outings and events to look forward to throughout the year.

Spending a few hours with them on a Sunday morning was like opening a window and letting a cool, fresh breeze pour over me. My cheeks were sore from smiling so much.

The walk was 3 miles long and many of the kids completed it with their families and friends. At the end, they all received medals (medals were donated from other running events, so the kids could pick whether they wanted a "marathon finisher" medal or even some first, second, and third place medals from triathlons. It was cute.)

I wanted to share a few photos with you so maybe you can smile too and be reminded, as I was, of the infinite blessings in our lives. Even when faced with unimaginable hardship, there are so many reasons to hope.

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