Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Best Day of Summer

The summer is quickly reaching its close, at least the part of the summer that matters- summer vacation for the kiddoes. In my house, this isn't really that big a deal yet, and once school starts the weather here will still be hot. In fact, in Albuquerque, our hottest days may yet be ahead of us. We don't usually break out the jackets until nearly Halloween and then BOOM its winter and the holiday season is upon us. We've had a super mild July, with lots of wonderful thunderstorms and rain. My backyard looks absolutely wonderful as a result- work in progress of course, but everytime I look outside and see the green and yellow and pink I get a rush of happy.

These are actually fuller and about a foot taller now...took this pic almost a month ago.

We have not wasted the season, as I have so many times in the past. Unlike most summers, I wasn't hungover from teaching the school year. In fact, thanks to a new yoga/walk/run regimen, and my fabulous physical therapist, I began the summer in better shape than I've been in 3 years. I've been active and able to keep up with my active little boys. Such a blessing!

The boys and I spent most of June with my parents in Texas, visiting with my darling new nephew, Rory, and his parents as well as some friends I have there. Greg joined us for a week, and during that time we drove down to my Grandma's house in Milton, Fl. Our favorite day of the trip, and possibly of the whole summer, was partially spent at Navarre Beach in Florida. Its an easy drive from my grandmother's house. We woke up to a delicious egg and biscuit breakfast made by Grandma and then packed up and drove to the beach. Even the drive was beautiful, bridges across the bays and vegetation overhanging the highways. The South's best season is Spring, and I'll wager no other region in America blooms quite like it does, but summertime also has its charms, especially when the heat hasn't caught up to all the wonderful giant flowers they grow down there. Anyway, across one more bridge and after figuring out the best place to park, we were up the stairs, over the sand dune, and there was the Gulf of Mexico, brilliantly blue and the beaches smooth white sand. Our shoes were off and after a brief confusion over where to park our stuff, we made a little camp and went straight into the water. Both boys were initially hesitant. The water isn't cold, but in contrast to the hot air it was a surprise. Peter instantly decided he hated moving water, salt water, loud water, and would start a low whine which elevated to crying and tears in proportion to how far into the water you took him. He did mildly better with me. Its amazing to me that Peter trusts me above all others, even his father, when I always make him do the hardest and scariest things. I took him farther in, kneeling on the floor of the Gulf feet from the tide's edge so he could feel the waves moving on us .

Peter was MUCH happier in the sand than the surf.
My fear of sharks attacking and carrying off one or both of my babies stayed with me the first half hour we were there. I could feel my heart elevated and I kept searching the clear water for anything dangerous-looking. It was ridiculous, of course, there were plenty of other people there who were way more accessible away from shore and more tasty than my boys. Who am I kidding, no one is tastier than my boys. But I forced myself into the present, into what was. I forced myself to stop ruining my own day. Standing in the surf with Benjamin, holding tight to his forearms as the waves gave him a ride, seeing his joy and wonder at the entirely new experience of saltwater, Greg sitting on the beach burying himself next to Peter eating sand and enjoying the soft seat, I realized THIS: this was the happiest moment of my life to date. I was going to completely miss it worrying about stupid sharks. I joined my family mentally as well as physically and we spent a perfect 2 hours playing in the surf and sand and worrying about nothing except sunburn.

Words fail. The hair, the smile, the squint-in-the-sun eyes- its all working for me here. 

Beautiful blue green ocean. 

After I realized that the backs of my legs were burned probably to the third degree of skin we packed the boys up and went to rinse off. Watching other people try to rinse off the beach is an entertaining past-time, I can tell you. I refer to the dance done by most as the 'sand-hop', especially as they try to get their feet back in their flip-flops without introducing more sand. Awesome.
I made Greg take this picture because there were no pictures of me taken on our first family trip to the beach yet, and the boys might well wonder if I was even there. Afterward, we drove back to the perfect comfort of my grandmother's house- a place that is as much my home as any house I lived in with my parents- and enjoyed the next two days in the calm of the Florida rain with my father's family. Besides my sunburn, I have everything to be thankful for in that blessed, amazing little trip to Grandma's house.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Five-minute Friday- Beautiful


My sons' eyelashes, black and curled up toward his hairline sometimes make me stop what I'm doing and stare. When they crack each other up I see them forming the natal stage of a friendship, a club, that I won't necessarily always be part of but am privileged to stand witness to. My son grabbing the little one under his chin in an effort to pull him off the ground to stand, and his attempts to follow my directions to put his hands under his arms, under his arms, no no, under his arms. The little one's patience during this hilarious exercise.
Beautiful- new curtains framing a room that I envisioned and am almost finished with. Creating my space and seeing what I dreamed possible come out even better than I expected. Husband's exasperated but ultimately willing help making the dream come true. Teamwork, building our home together. Making it ours for our children.
Beautiful is great-grandmothers talking softly to great-grandchildren. Her memories of all of her children, grand, great-grands, the way she remembers the details of her children's playing, accidents, achievements. The way she's stored particular moments with grandchildren running through her modest but most comfy, most sweet-smelling, most warm and homey-home of all homes. The way she still and always will get so excited to see us. We were the highlight of her summer...until my sister visits with her new son, and that will be beautiful, too. I remember bringing both of my sons to her after they were born. We travel a long way to make sure Nene sees her babies. And there it is- that ultimate beauty, not caught up in any of the silly words our society seems to attribute to beauty, having nothing at all to do with skinny, smooth, sexy, and yet the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced, four generations under one roof, sharing a meal, laughing at the newest little love as he fist-shovels his first serving of Nene's banana pudding into his happy mouth.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Five Minute Friday -Rhythm

Five Minute Friday: the word is rhythm

Five Minute Friday

Our rhythm is ebbed and flowed at the whim of the 2 year old's desires to be outside, inside, outside, inside. The 1 year old's naptime, milk-time, cuddletime, playtime. The little duck-like walk he has adopted as he learns his walking power. 
Rhythm is the way we structure our days and our lives, and when the rhythm changes out on the road it is refreshing to hear a new beat- but also unsettling for a new momma. I think most of my confidence comes from that rhythm at home. I have pride in my rhythm. My children thrive and I am happy, or at least satisfied, knowing they've eaten well and I've exercised and they've played and we've all enjoyed the yard and caring for it. ON the road I can't count on any of these things, and I feel unsure of myself as a mother. I watch in horror as the disruption of their rhythm suddenly makes their baby behavior magnified. The screaming is louder in other people's homes, suddenly not eating what's on their plate seems rude instead of a symptom of just not being hungry or being too tired. 
Looking forward to our home rhythm- vacation is nice, but home will be a welcome and reassuring treat.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Resisting the bar

This post is seriously bugging me. I know what I want to say- and I have in some measure said it below- but its not coming out exactly right. But I've spent more than a week staring at the stupid thing and I'm just going to send it out, mediocre and incomplete. bleh.

I know what you're thinking, but not that kind of bar. I mean resisting the bar of perfection. I mean resisting the allure of looking like Superwoman while raising children, taking care of your house, your health, your husband, your friends. I just read this and felt every word this brilliant lady was saying. She puts her guilt in a backpack, but I am trying not to carry it at ALL. It can live in my notebooks and Ipad and blog entries.

Guilt when you do something wrong is a healthy reaction that helps you improve behavior.

Guilt that you lug around, bound to you by perfectionism or others' expectations or others' PERCEIVED expectations is just extraneous baggage and its HEAVY. Shed it.

I am taking up the song of the new mom revolution. We don't live in a carefully cultivated Pinterest-worthy universe. We don't live where the dishes are always done, the makeup is always on, the children are always dressed. (I'm lucky if the grownups are dressed) Our food isn't organic all the time, our plates don't always have vegetables, and I give my kids cow's milk because its full fat and has all the vitamins.  I used leftover party decorations for my son's first birthday, and not only did I not have party favors for the kids who came, I didn't plan any games, either. (We had bitchin' cupcakes from a local bakery, though.) We may choose public, private or charter schools for the kids, and any of those choices are perfectly fine. I may still be 20 pounds overweight this time next year, OR I may lose all the weight and it will be because I was able to put my health on the priority list- some mommies can't and they know why. Its their business and the rest of us should stay out of it.

That's just a small list of the things that I allow to eat me up with useless guilt. Once I make peace with some of those decisions, others pop up to leave me uncertain and guilty. But if I am still for a few moments, if I take the time to turn inward for a bit and listen, I know I am doing a good job. I know my kids are happy and pleasant and creative and amazing. I know that I am happy and pleasant and creative and amazing. Hopefully by treating myself with gentleness I can become an example for other mommies and make it okay for them to do the same.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My earliest memory

My earliest memory is the dawning of a lifelong habit. I am probably 3  years old, although I may have been 2 1/2. I couldn't fall asleep. My sister, in the bed across the room, is fast asleep. She fell sleep probably before my dad finished closing the door and is snoring lightly. I listen to the crickets sing in the muggy Florida night and tell myself stories. Then, from out in the living room, I hear my mother laugh.  My mother laughs easily and often. Hearing her laugh makes me miss her, makes me lonely and left out. I creep out of my bed and tiptoe to the door. Its never latched, and I inch it open carefully. I know I will likely be spanked if I am caught, but I want to be with my parents so badly. I make my way into the hallway silently and carefully. Then I lose my nerve and lay down on the floor. I know they wont be happy to see me. I know they will just be angry that I am awake. I content myself with laying on the linoleum hallway, cheek cold against the smooth floor, and listen to them chuckle at the television show. They are probably watching Johnny Carson, but I don't remember the content of the show, just the talking and laughing. The memory ends with my cheek on the floor, looking at the baseboards and the white wall of the hallway. I probably fell asleep there. I still have trouble falling asleep, to this day. My mind never shuts up! I can blame caffeine, tv, a good book, but the truth is, my earliest memory is of wondering what else is going on in the world that I might be missing while I lay there wasting time sleeping.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A little disclaimer.

I feel the need to say something. I started this blog because I am trying to conquer fear. I have lived a great deal of my life afraid of being out there. I've been afraid to fail, and when I fail I generally say 'well, that isn't something I'm good at' and I move on. This applies to relationships, jobs, hobbies, passions, and even cities. In some ways this ability to 'move on' has been a real asset- but in others it has not. I have missed opportunities to grow, opportunities to discover hidden parts of myself.

So, now, this blog. I struggled last year with many things, some of them covered in this blog, some of them not. But the number one reason I woke up one day and wrote that first post was because I was afraid to. Writing is something I want to fail at. I want to fail so that I can grow my writing and hone in on my voice and develop a discipline. The only other thing I've ever been disciplined at is yoga, pre-baby. Oh, and that time I put myself through college. But that was more out of need for gainful employment with benefits than conquering any fear- plus I kicked ass at it.

Sometimes these blog posts will be funny and about the children and my struggle to maintain a household with two toddlers. Sometimes they will be sad because I will need to write about my depression or my anger or my DIY failures. Fine, DIY failures are funny, too.

Right now my big boy is sleeping in and my little boy is happily scarfing down homemade oatmeal pancakes and banana. I feel a little bit like supermom. I've lost 14 pounds and tried hot yoga for the first time this last week. Despite desperately trying to fit most of my body on top of my block for the last fifteen minutes (picture an elephant on a little circus ball) in order to get away from the heated floor, I STAYED IN THE ROOM and actually participated for about 60 out of the 90 minutes. OKay, 50 of the 90. It was a triumph. I had no idea I had that much fluid in my body to sweat out, and I've been chugging water for the last two days. I feel like a million bucks.

I totally lost focus there with my yoga story. My POINT that I was getting too- life is really good today. Some might say idyllic. Especially the way Ben just said 'hi, mommy! Ben is awake!' from the stop of the stairs just now.

But there is still lurking depression, anxiety, anger. They are put to bed now, and I always hope they are gone, but life is life, and there will be good and bad. In fact, I just got done changing two of the grossest, giantest, ooziest, impressive poops I've ever seen, and around here that's saying something. While it didn't knock me off the cliffs of despair, it sure wasn't super fun.

If you can stick with me through the tough (and stinky) there will be sweet. Much like being my friend. I will stick with you, too.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A few changes around the house.

Greg and I are redoing our breakfast nook. It was serving as a playroom, then a wet room for art projects, now an eating/playing/desk area. My father-in-law has made beautiful benches with storage to replace the high chairs and accommodate more people. I ordered fabric yesterday to make cushions for the benches, curtains, and to add a little pizazz to the back of my desk. I still hope we can do art projects in here- but I don't really want them flinging goop on my computer, so we may be moving the wetworks outside. 

Thrift store table find- painted it white immediately. The chairs are from my parents' beautiful old dining room table they gave us when we moved in here. Its in the dining space in the main room still- it expands out into a giant 10 person table, much too big for this little room. 

Sometimes I look around my house and get all panicky with all the builder's beige and plain angles. Then I breathe and remember: one corner at a time. A house isn't occupied immediately, it takes time and planning and lots of breathing. I will probably never be finished, either, and that's okay, too. I am really looking forward to what the fabric and the benches look like in our little breakfast room. My goal is to have it all finished by July when my mom comes to visit- an ambitious deadline considering we'll be gone most of June. But Greg is really motivated since his dad worked so hard on building the benches. Cross your fingers- going to try to convince him to paint all the kitchen and front room walls white to open the space more while the boys and I are gone. 

Gotta go- quiet toddler with cell phone. I have a feeling he is calling China.