I love school supplies. Glue sticks, markers, #2 pencils; glossy folders with the pictures of the Beatles or Julius the Monkey; a fresh box of undented crayons with their waxy balm; and most important, Trapper Keepers (I miss those, are they still around?).
Did you ever watch You’ve Got Mail? At the beginning Joe Fox/Tom Hanks says: “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” The Fall DOES make me want to buy school supplies. When my children were just babies I would walk by the Target shelves that were specifically dedicated to a new school year and feel some major mixed emotions. I was so glad they weren’t at that stage of their life but still felt this incredible urge to buy new scissors, glue, and crayons.
I think school supplies are my only favorite part of the start of school.
So, with that said, enjoy some first day of school shots:
This is what dinner time usually looks like:
Tonight it didn’t. Tonight looked nothing like this. Too bad I don’t have a picture of it.
Today I was finishing up my shift at Herbally Grounded when El Jefe called with some news that he was D-O-N-E with the kids. He was motivating the Chunks to clean their room and he had had enough. “I’m done,” he said, “I’ve yelled like Chris Farley twice.” Like Chris Farley? I hung up the phone giggling. Which Chris Farley yell was it, I wondered?
I decided it was this one:
There are a few times in my life where I’ve looked back and thought “holy crap I didn’t know I had it in me.” It started, really, at child birth (uh, not the birth of me, the birth of my children). I didn’t know I could bellow like that. Barbaric really.
It’s like this: when I became a mommy, I also birthed a beast inside me. It doesn’t come out often. I swear. But there are points in motherhood where you try to stay calm and put all your energy to stave off that screech that is so angry and gutteral that it flexes your vocal chords so hard that you say “ouch, why’d I do that?” afterwards. But it still emerges. So suddenly, too. You snap. It’s just like Chris Farley and the french fries: voice is calm, calm, calm, calm then Raaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrr!
Anyway. Was that the yell, El Jefe? Or was it the other one, the more motivational one, where they’re gonna “live in a van down by the river!”?
By the way, you are still in the “Nicest Boy in America” Club and as well as the “Greatest Dad In the Western Hemisphere” Society~ I feel that needs to be reiterated here. (Note to reader: I find it a bit of an exaggeration to say “Best dad in the world” Or “Nicest boy in the universe.” Really, how could you know that? I find my titles for El Jefe are closer to the truth and therefore more fitting)
So, my Love, please don’t beat yourself up….
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, you shall begin it well and serenely.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Goodnight April 14th, 2010, I will let go of all my blunders, including the time that I lost my temper. I will remember the good things, like the exact moment, from my kitchen table, I noticed that my six year old can reach the kitchen sink to turn it on (when did that happen?) and how my 4 year old wrote a “book” about seeds that grew into flowers because “flowers are the best and rule the world.” I will remember that it was a sunny beautiful day and even though my back patio needs some major attention my children still had fun riding their bikes. Goodbye Today, thank you for your time.
What do your tomorrows hold?
Hmmmm, it would appear that I have not fully made a comeback because I have a hard time writing it….miscarriage….. Perhaps I should call this post “A comeback from ‘that which shall not be named'”. Or, I should just call it “Voldemort”. Yes. How I recovered from my “Voldemort”.
Perhaps it is the weight that this word carries. Its own definition says things like “expulsion” “non-viable” and “embryo”. These descriptions are cold and harsh (and kinda gross). Use them in reference to me and my body and, ya, I recoil, preferring to call the whole experience “that which shall not be named”.
But that is only part of its weight. There is some heftiness in this word that is not found in a dictionary. In fact, there are no words, I believe, but these lack of words seemed to linger, heavy inside me.
Nature has taken its course. And my brain must do a paradigm shift…again.
I think my main problem with the “m” word is that I want to move on and start fresh, RIGHT NOW. I don’t want to dwell on it anymore…but my body isn’t letting me do that. It keeps yelling at me like a sore muscle after a serious workout. I did not realize how long it takes to recuperate from a “mis” (part the word is ok).
There are ways to recuperate. Let me give you exhibit A on how NOT to recover:
- After a check-up, go to the mall to find a hair flower to cheer you up. Even if you think it’s not that far to walk, think again. Then, think again, again, because you will experience some serious cramping after your long walk.
- Spend most of the next day standing, while helping with an Easter Egg Hunt and then think it’s no big deal to weed the garden. Apparently it is a big deal…that night, your body will let you know.
- After said bad night, go to church anyway even though you committed in your head to stay home a relax.
- The next day, go to work and think it’s OK even if you are feeling light headed.
My sister said it best: “You’re not treating this like it’s a big deal….and it IS a big deal!” She knows when to speak and how to do it. So, I followed her advice.
Now, Exhibit B on one way to recover correctly:
- Watch Jane Austin movies, both modern version or BBC versions. As many as you want.
- Eat chocolate ice cream, straight out of the container. It’s more comforting that way. But don’t eat as much as you really want because you gain back the weight you lost in the “mis.”
- Read a good book- “Shakespeare’s Secret” (Apparently both Victorian and Elizabethan England are very comforting), and also start the Percy Jackson series…. Then dream of the days when you were an English teacher how fun it would be to use the first book in your mythology unit….then be reminded by your friend “Scott” that you’d never get to use it because you would have no way to pay for all those books for your students…..and then ponder the circumstances of our education and think about homeschooling…but I digress and you probably wouldn’t want to go on this tangent like I did.
- Update your blog.
- Play Sorry with the Chunks
- Get out that old instructional book and find the hidden secrets of Photoshop.
- Play Memory with the Chunks
- Take good herbs.
- Sleep some more and more and more.
I always thought that if I had to be put on some kind of bed rest that I would just lap it up. Ya, bring on the books, bring on the movies, bring on the lazing about. I thought that was my personality. Turns out I can only handle about a day and a half of that and then the crazy switch goes off.
OK, I don’t know how to end this post. So, instead…………..Tell me about your comebacks.
I am looking at a one of those Willow Tree statues. You know the ones. In their earth tones and antiqued textures, they capture life’s most valuable moments. To be honest I used to not really care for those statues. But, just like becoming a parent makes you change your perspective, you learn to appreciate things like Willow Tree statues.
The piece I’m looking at has a mother with a infant on her knee and a child by her side. Her arms are around both of them. The baby’s head is turned in towards mommy, and the young son, standing by her side, is looking up into her face. The mom is leaning in, holding, loving, enjoying her children. Is she looking away? Is she distracted by some kind of duty? Is she cleaning something? Is she looking at the clock? No, she is completely tuned in with her kids.
This statue brought up some feelings of what happened to me today…
This morning I woke up before the alarm, and the pressures of the the day, the week, were already trickling into my sleepy brain. I looked at the time, rolled over and tried to to get in those last 15 minutes . . . but I couldn’t. My thoughts started to fester and a haphazard list of my duties started popping into my head like those talking bubbles in a comic book: “Have to make 50 of mom’s homemade rolls for early Thanksgiving Dinner this weekend…. have to finish washing the clothes from the camping trip…..it’s like a never ending mountain…have to get the dryer fixed! …Have to hang out all those clothes to dry…maybe I should just burn them….have to rearrange conflicts in schedule this weekend…have to clean the kitchen….I swear I JUST mopped that floor….have to make more food…..that apple pie takes 1 1/2 hours to bake but it’s Jeff’s favorite….and mine….why did I sign up to make Grandma’s famous stuffing?….no it’s not stuffing it’s dressing my mom would say….you don’t stuff it in the turkey, it’s on the side….whatever, it’s still a lot of work….have to exercise!”
These were just some of the things going through my head. These were the “Have To’s.” Then there were the other things. I promised Chunk #1 that he could ride his bike to school today. Then there’s Chunk #2’s music class that she loves. These things took time: Chunk #1 needed my company as he is only in 1st grade. And then Chunk #2’s class was clear out in Summerlin.
I didn’t want to face the day. I let the alarm ring at 7:00, 7:08, 7:16 and then, after really not sleeping, I rolled out of bed to face my duties and attempt the juggling act. Then something started repeating in my head: “I’ve got to get all my ducks in a row. I’ve got to get all my ducks in a row.”
That’s a funny phrase. Why was I saying it? I don’t know, but I kept repeating it like a broken record (or for my younger readers, a damaged mp3 file).
My brain was overwhelmed with this haphazard list of “To Do’s”. I needed clarity. I needed to stop festering. I needed to just start doing something. I tackled the kitchen while Chunk #1 bathed. I brought in some clothes off the line and hung the next batch that had been waiting since last night. I groaned at the idea of really having to finish the mountain of laundry this way. All the while, my brain kept repeating, “I need to get all my ducks in a row.”
“Shut up!” It was only 7:30 and I was losing my mind.
So I stopped right there in my family room, dropped to my knees in front of the couch, and started a prayer. My spastic pleading had words like “help” and “organize” and “slow down time” and “maybe while all this gets done could you please finish the house?” and then more “help”. I closed my clumsy prayer and immediately the thought came: “Just enjoy it. Just love it all.”
Enjoy hanging out laundry?
Enjoy making rolls and stuffing/dressing for 50 people? (and not just any rolls or stuffing. These are moms special recipes. They need to taste like hers did. THAT’S A LOT OF PRESSURE!)
Enjoy trying to juggle these things while trying to make life fulfilling and happy for my children?
The answer was “Yes. Just enjoy being a mom.”
So I did it.
I got up from the floor and I put on my running clothes. While Chunk #1 rode his bike, I’d run Chunk #2 in the stroller. #1 gets the joyful experience of being a big boy and riding his bike to school and I get to exercise. Two birds. One stone. Yay.
Ok what about #2’s class? I needed to shower! …Or did I? We got home, I changed, cleaned up best I could and then plunked a turquoise flower headband on my head. It looked fabulous. This would be my happy flower. And away we went.
I was especially aware of my attitude change the rest of the day.
After music class we ran to the grocery store. I complimented Chunk #2 on her big help rather than saying “walk faster!”
Later, since Chunk #2 had such a good time in music class she was content to draw while I started the rolls and pie. Once I got going and she was bored with drawing, I slowed down to let her work the appler/corer/slicer/peeler. A real treat. She added the ingredients to the Apple Pie. She felt big. I relished the look on her face rather than rushing through, thinking, “I could do this so much faster all by myself.” A thought I am guilty of on many occasions.
Other dilemmas arose. The rolls had to be shaped before I went to get Chunk #1 so there would be enough time to run there and let him ride his bike. The dough wasn’t rising fast enough as I could hear the clock tick. What to do, what to do? Drive there, tell him he can ride home another day? It would make life easier, and yet, how could I make this more fun for all of us?
Of course. My bike almost called to me “Hello! I’m right in front of your face!” It’s true, it sits right in the courtyard in front of our Blue Bungalow. I beat down the dough in the trusty Bosch and hoped it wouldn’t overflow by the time I got back. I pumped up my tires while answering a phone call (needed to make cookies for this Sunday…the proverbial rain was pouring here), and hooked up the trailer. #2 and I rushed out the door and headed for the school.
Why was I doing this for the boy? I’ll tell you why. It’s because I say “No” so much to my kids. Why not create more “Yes” opportunities when possible?
I especially enjoyed running and riding behind my son today because I felt like those moments were a bit symbolic. Him, eagerly moving ahead, Me, trying to keep up, yelling directions on where to go and when to stop or suggestions on handling the busy road. All I could do was hope he was listening to me rather than the noise and traffic of the world.
But I digress….
As we walked in the door I could see the bread dough over flowing from the Bosch. Great. “Enjoy it” returned the thought. Yes, it was funny. Sticky, but funny.
The kids helped me make the rolls, I almost lost my patience….but I didn’t. El Jefe got home just in time. Just in time for what? Oh ya, did I mention that I forgot I had Visiting Teaching? “When will I shower!?” I thought. More importantly, “What will the family eat for dinner?”
My VT companion picked me up. I shouted out baking instructions for the rolls as we ran out the door and got in her truck. Just as we were about to leave I saw #2 standing on the sidewalk crying for mommy. Again, I vacillated between annoyance and enjoyment. We were in a hurry, but no. There is time to console my sad daughter, my daughter who loves me and doesn’t want me to go. I carried her into the house with kisses and squeezes, showed her to El Jefe who didn’t know she left and looked at the clock.
“Oh no! I have an hour til writing class!”
“What?!” says he.
“I’m sorry, the day got away.” Meanwhile I’m figuring the dinner menu.
“Well, just go. Don’t worry about us.”
I bounded down the driveway for a second time and jumped into the truck. Away we went. We refilled our spiritual cups for about 45 minutes. Refreshing.
I came home, burst through the door to find my husband unloading warm rolls onto cooling racks. What a man. Seriously. I didn’t tell him how much in love with him I was at that very moment. As I gathered up my purse and pen and saw #1 and #2 savoring a roll, I announced, “Warm rolls and cold cereal for dinner!” Perfect.
Actually the day was not perfect at all. As I sit in this class, reflecting, I realize that I didn’t finish cleaning the kitchen, in fact it got worse. I didn’t figure out my schedule conflict for the weekend. I only hung out a few more loads of laundry and only folded half of that. I didn’t do a LOT of other “Have to’s”. But what’s a “have to” compared to my kids and their experiences today? The Chunks will remember #1’s first bike ride to school. #2 will remember “Going on a Bear Hunt” and “Albequerque Turkey”. My kids will remember my positive reinforcement (though sometimes given through gritted teeth) of being such wonderful helpers. Have to, Shmave to.
Thank goodness for stopping to pray. Thank goodness for for my positive reinforcement from up above (is it, too, given through gritted teeth?) as this child learns her place as a mother. Thank goodness for this writing class so I can pause, reflect and write about how I enjoyed being a mom today. And no, I never did shower, but, in case you’re wondering, the turquoise flower in my hair still looks fabulous.
My in-laws are in town and last night they took us out to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. In spite of the novella which one has to read when choosing what to eat, I like that place. The company was even better. As we drove away El Jefe made a sharp turn and I could hear our boxed up food shift in the back. I heard El Jefe jokingly cry “Oh no, the cheesecake!” to which I quickly responded and unbuckled myself to scramble through the seats and over the back to check. “Not my Key Lime Cheesecake!” I thought. And no, I wasn’t joking.
The food was fine, so I plunked myself between my two little chunks in the back seat.
“Mom, are you gonna sit with us?” came the excited voices.
“Yes!” I smiled.
I nestled between them and immediately felt one warm arm slip around my left arm and one cold hand holding my right hand.
I propped my bare feet on the arm rest between the seats and listened to the tunes of Jeff Buckley on our car stereo. At each stop light El Jefe reached over and gently tickled them (I know I have previously mentioned my “feet touching” issues, but with El Jefe they don’t exist).
After awhile Chunk #1 took a rare moment to actually tell me about things going on at school. Then Chunk #2 sang another rendition of her song “Mommy, I la-la-la-la-lo-o-ove you! Do do do do.”
Perhaps it was the music, perhaps it was the warm little bodies of my favorite boy and girl sitting next to me, perhaps the Cheesecake Factory injects something “special” into their food… but I noticed myself pressing pause on life and just feeling the moment and loving the fact that I am a mommy and have a wonderful husband.
So I spoke: “I’m having one of those ‘It’s good to be alive’ moments.”
Chunk #1: “Ya, me too, but sometimes I wish I were a dog.”
Judging by El Jefe’s laugh, I think he agreed with me.
Deep down inside, I strive for grace.
Yet, there are only a few times in my life where I’ve been referred to as “graceful”.
My mom said I was graceful in my ballet classes. She told me that my long arms and legs gave me an advantage. I think she was trying to make me feel good about my awkward body, but it still worked. I remember with each pose, as I would execute ballerina hands, looking up my long lanky limbs thinking, “mom says I’m graceful”. Don’t worry reality would kick in. I’m sure it was just later that day when I got home and my brother Guy would pull up his pants real high and say (in his best nerdy voice): “Hi, I’m Laura, I have long legs.”
Sister Marshall said I was graceful when I would do back flips off the rope swing at the old Warm Springs Ranch. This warmed my heart because earlier that summer I spent more hours than necessary in her backyard pool trying to learn how to do a “one and a half” flip or a “gainer” off her diving board. What a joke. I’d like to think those “graceful” back flips could replace the countless mangled (again, with the long limbs) face flops. Thank you Sister Marshall, wherever you are.
Other than that, there are no other outstanding moments where I remember be called graceful. I’m not completely inept of grace, it’s just not one of my outstanding attributes.
Well shoot, while I’m on the subject, there are times where I also lack social grace. My hubby and I call them typical Laura moments.
Example- Many people in our church are in the same situation as us: we are all fixing up old houses. On one occasion I remember commiserating with one lady about our projects. We talked about drywall. We talked about bathrooms. We talked about frequents trips to the nearby Lowes. She went on and on about one specific employee of Lowes who was so helpful to her every time she went in. I didn’t pay attention to her description, probably because I was thinking of another guy who I thought was totally unhelpful and we would avoid him when possible. When she was done singing his praises I told her about my guy but left out the description of him because of a cautious glance from my hubby. The conversation ended, she got up to get some food (Mormon gathering you know) and El Jefe explained his look:
El Jefe: “You guys were talking about the same guy.”
La: “We were?”
El Jefe: “Didn’t you hear her say how he was in a wheelchair?”
La: “No, I missed that part.” (Yes, this unhelpful character happened to be in a wheelchair)
El Jefe: (Chuckle mixed with unbelief) “You were about to describe him, that’s why I stopped you.”
La: “Oh, how embarrassing.”
El Jefe: “No, it’s just a typical Laura moment.”
Thank goodness for El Jefe who can step in every now and then.
So, back to the point of this blog…
Today, in church I had an ungraceful mommy moment. So many moms can relate, I know, but I can’t help but blame these things on my own personality defects, oh, and my long lanky limbs.
Chunk #2 was coloring and the prayer was just about to be offered. Usually I can just whisper “fold your arms,” and she obediently complies. Today she was determined to finish coloring the whole bear before she had to fold her arms.
“Fold your arms!” I hiss more urgently. “NO, I’ve got to finish this!” comes the whisper of a determined 3-year old. “Here, give me the marker,” I say wondering why I just said that. The prayer starts. We begin a tug of war with the marker. I try to be quiet and reverent about this whole ordeal but wonder what has come over me to engage in a power struggle with my 3-year old! Somehow, as I pull hard, she also happens to jerk her hand even harder and nails me write in the forehead with her bright pink marker. And it’s not where my bangs can cover it, it’s right where my part is. The prayer is still going on but I don’t care. I grab El Jefe’s arm so he can assess the damage. He starts the hard silent laugh. The one you have when someone is praying and you don’t want to be caught being impolite or irreverent (He’s famous for those, you know). The prayer ends. I turn to Chunk #2, still coloring that stupid pink bear to show her the damage. “Look what you did to mommy’s forehead!” I breathe. I get an unsympathetic glance and she returns to her task at hand. All the while I wonder why I’m even trying.
I turn back to El Jefe who is still shaking with laughter and say, “Just give me a cat bath will ‘ya?” He tries to suggest taking an appropriate time to sneak off to the restroom. In my head I think of how close we are to the front of the chapel and how many people I’d have to pass by with the huge pink slash on my forehead. “No, just lick your finger and wipe it off please.”
Such a kind and flexible husband.
After this encounter, the anger eased out of me and I was able to laugh a little. I thought of how it was all really my own fault. I replayed in my head the image of us wrestling. Wow, how graceful I am.
Next time I need to remember the first line of this entry: “Deep down inside, I strive for grace…”
I’ve been going through some of our old pictures and trying to organize them. It’s funny how, when you look at different stages of your life, old feelings and emotions seem to tickle the back of your brain and say “remember?”
I love this picture, but when I think my state of mind during that time period, I cringe. I don’t like to dwell on it too much because I have since come a long way. I know that on one hand I felt gratitude and relief because I was blessed with a fat and happy little boy. But on the other hand, I was still filled with doubt and fear that seemed to sweep upon me the first time I held this boy in my arms. Motherhood was a difficult transition for me because I just really wanted to do it right. But the responsibility was daunting and I didn’t quite “cowgirl up” at the beginning of this journey.
Each time I became a new mother, I grew a whole new heart. That first heart? I resented it a bit. Not the boy. No, I did not resent him. I resented all the new emotions and fears that came with him. I saw the world in a different light but I was focusing on what a scary place it can be. I didn’t remind myself of the protection I could be. Instead I felt weak and overwhelmed and scared.
I have sobered up since then. I now choose Strength over weakness, Love over fear, and Faith over doubt. It is also good to remember where we can turn to for strength when we feel weak as a mother or worried about our children. I love this quote by Abraham Lincoln: “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
So, this fat one volunteered to be my first guinea pig. He has taught me much. And I hope my prayers cling to him throughout his life.
Tonight Chunk #1 was seriously not happy with me. He wanted to go to Golden Spoon. He wanted to play games on pbskids.com. He wanted to go with Daddy. Unfortunately, the answer to each was “No.”
“I don’t love you mommy!”
“That’s too bad, cause I love you.”
“I’m not going to love you forever and ever.”
“Well I’ll love you forever and ever.”
“No you won’t. You don’t love me!”
And then I said it, something my mother often said to me: “I went down in the Valley of the Shadow of Death to bring you forth. Don’t tell me I don’t love you.”
I walked away thinking how often I heard her say that. But now I know, what she really wanted to say was:
“It was a painful experience bringing you into this world you little…
Because of that I love you and I will always love you. Now shut your face! I LOVE YOU!!!”
I think that’s what she really meant.
OK, so we know that the job description of a mother can get long…
Teacher, Nurse or Doctor (not that I give stitches or anything), Mediator, Lawyer, Judge, Jury, Executor, Storyteller, Dance Instructor, Maid or Janitor (whatever your mood. I associate Maid with Laundry and Windows, Janitor with Barf and Bathrooms), Accountant, Alarm Clock, Hair Dresser, Cook or Chef (again, depending on your mood), Coach, Counselor, Psychologist, Decorator, Fashion Consultant, Pillow, Jungle Gym, Cheerleader, Sheriff, Body Guard, you get the picture.
But, I did NOT entitle today’s post “I. Am. Awesome” because I supposedly do all these things. No, not even close. No, “I. Am. Awesome.” because this week this mama was a PLUMBER. I’m not talking about Drano plumbing. I’m talking about getting under the sink, taking apart the “U-bend” thingy (I don’t need to know the lingo) and inserting the long twisting steel thing (I believe it is called a “Cobra”) and running it through the pipes until the dang clog is gone. I ran it through 3 times for good measure. That drain now runs faster than the others. Ergo “I. Am. Awesome.”
Please pardon my shameless patting of my own back, I get that way when it comes to home projects and/or maintenance.