Saturday, March 30, 2013


We leave today for a family spring vacation.  Our last vacation was in July--our road trip to Floyd Fest.  That was our FIRST vacation just the four of us. 

We are all packed.  Carry-on bags only.  A suitcase per kid and one for Tad and I to share.  Tad and I each have one backpack and we'll tote the booster seats.  Not bad, really.  My bag is filled with coloring materials, coloring books, kids books, pipe cleaners and other craft supplies.  I remember when my travel bag used to simply have a book and magazine for me. 

We fly out of Chicago so we'll drive there, eating lunch on the way--Coen and Lucy are very excited about the prospect of LUNCHABLES. 

We are going to Portland, Oregon to see my very dear friend Jen and her husband and children--one of whom we have not yet met as he was just born this month!  And as it turns out, I have two other friends in Portland, so this trip is very exciting for me!

What is funny, to me, is the trip preparations.  Tad is concerned about whether or not to bring the baseball gloves in case Coen gets bored, or winter coats (which I very much protested to)
My prep, however, involves mostly the running out of food in our house.  Coen wanted cereal yesterday and as he went into the kitchen, I yelled after him, "Only if there's an open box! You can't open a new one!!!"  I have had it down to a science, planning and shopping around it for the last two weeks.  And I feel quite successful, if not a little weird.   We have nearly empty cupboards except for the stuff that's always in there--grains and olive oil and extra peanut butter.  And the fridge is empty save the Lunchables which will be coming with us, one grapefruit and two yogurts which I require Tad and I to eat for breakfast. 

So it is with a happily emptied refrigerator, and packed bags that we embark on family vacation number two. I shall let you know how it went when we return.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Somebody's Someone

Yesterday I was at a particular MPS school all day teaching about healthy relationships and abuse prevention.  These kids are tough to teach already, given their life circumstances and emotional/behavioral diagnoses.  But yesterday was also the full moon and it added a little WILD into the mix.

The way these kids behaved was so out of bounds I couldn't even get mad.  I just stood there and laughed.  In one of the groups, kids were picking up metal folding chairs and pretending that they were going to hit each other with them.  One boy slammed a girl up against the wall by the throat as she maintained a grin on her face and kneed him in the groin.  Immediately he ran from the room and returned, not five minutes later suddenly wearing a big fuzzy hat and a pair of sunglasses. 

Security was called, but I tell you, even with three guards in the room---big dudes in security vests--not one iota of the behavior even changed.  They just challenged the security officers.  The groin knee-er turned around and shouted "You keep your hands off me boy!" to a man twice her age and thrice her size and then turned to me and said, "Go ahead, Red. We're listening."

I am not kidding you.  This all really happened.

As one of the boys read aloud my Teen Dating Violence Quiz in a theatrical game-show host voice at the top of his lungs and a teacher threatened to take them all back to class, I persisted.  And we managed to get through it. And amid the chaos and insanity, they did discuss the topic at hand with surprising insight and thought. 

At the end of the third session, one of the teachers said something about the possible poor parenting of these students and one of the kids became irate that his parents would be insulted so.  So I stole the opportunity and as I spoke, the wildness calmed and I saw them actually listen to me.  What I said was this:

"You guys probably want to know why I would stay and teach you when you're acting like this.  Why I would even bother.  Why should I care, right?  You got so angry about your parent being insulted... Well guess what.  I'm somebody's mom too.  Every teacher in this room that you are disrespecting, every peer in this room that you're threatening...They're somebody's child.  Somebody's mom.  Somebody's family.  The reason I'm staying in here is because I know that someone loves each one of you as much as I love my own kids.  And this is important information.  I would want my kids to hear it. And I want you to hear it.  Just remember that, when you go back out into these hallways.  Every person in this school is loved by someone.  Every person is someone's child.  Or someone's mom.  Or someone's dad or grandpa or uncle or aunt or whatever.  Everyone deserves your respect." 

They listened.  Listened.  Even after the bell rang for their lunch, they stayed seated until I said, "Have a good spring break. See you in two weeks."  I kind of couldn't believe it. 

But it's true isn't it?  I think it's a good thing for all of us to remember.  Everyone is somebody's someone.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What might Jesus Say (a guest post)

This is a guest post (The Author wishes to remain Anonymous)

I want to say this as a preface, about marriage.  I married Tad because he is someone with whom I can very happily, comfortably and beautifully spend my life. Because he is a good match for me and he is my friend.  Not because he is a man.  Not at all.  But because I fell in love with Tad...well I don't know because I somehow magically, spinningly, seemingly supernaturally fell in love with him. And I married Tad because we legally could do so and it seemed the most convenient thing to do in order to share our lives and our child and small details like our school loans and our tax returns. That is why. And that is all.

The below is simply fiction, creative writing.  I hope it won't offend those of you who have reverence for or belief in Jesus as a manifestation of God.  It's just something imagined and I like it. So I'm sharing it in honor of the discussions going on about Marriage Equality this week in the Supreme Court.  Enjoy.

What might Jesus say?

  • A mock interview conducted by a leading sociologist/theologian with a hypothetical Jesus Christ

    Jesus, there are many people these days who love each other. many of them are of the same sex. For example, men fall in love with men and live together as lovers. Woman and woman fall in love, live their lives together. What do you say of this?

    I ask if their love is kind, faithful and respectful?

    Let's assume that it is.

    I ask also is it in accordance with the law of the day?

    In America and other countries, yes. In other countries, no.

    May they become wed?

    Only in certain places where the law allows.

    Mmm. Is the love they share violent or disrespectful to others? Is it hateful, spiteful or hurtful to each other?

    No, the love shared between two men or two women is quite the same as the love shared between a man and a woman.

    Yes. I am not aware of laws against love. You say certain countries or states have outlawed love?

    Well, not exactly. Though they have legally prohibited marriage between 2 men or 2 women by declaring marriage to be exclusively for a man and a woman.

    I see. So the leaders of the day have taken an interest in love.

    Yes, very much so. It seems to have quite an impact on the people who vote.

    Of course. The changing seasons of the fickle crowd. I was exposed to that in my time, as well. The crowd is very strong and those in power are often instruments of the crowd's will. Pontius Pilate comes to mind...[small chortle]

    Jesus, what I'd like to find out, is your opinion on love and to whom it applies. Should men be able to love men and women be able to love women?

    Yes, love is all there is. Above it there is none other.

    I agree. But do you think it is wrong for a man to love another man, physically?

    The physical manifestation of love is but an extension of the spiritual and emotional love people have for each other. To express this love is natural, beautiful.

    And what do you think about women expressing love physically with one another.

    Again, this is a natural, earthly extension of the love two people share. As long as the love is shared with respect and gentleness, all love is good.

    I am a little surprised.

    Why, my son?

    It sounds to me that you believe that love is love. And it does not matter if both people are male or female.

    Of course it matters not, as long as love be patient, kind and in peace. And between two willing adults.

    Right. Wow. I guess my last question is, how should we approach people who believe love is wrong between two men or two women.

    They should merely follow the examples of those who love best. Nothing has changed since my times. Love is the answer. The law of the day is man's law and man is fallible. But the law of love is eternal.

    Thank you for talking to me.

    You are most welcome.

Social Hierarchies and Frozen Yogurt

Me and my friend Verena, senior year of high school, 1993

Over the weekend, I was at YoMama getting some frozen yogurt with Tad and Lucy while Coen was at a sleepover.  As we ate our treats, we observed two groups of high school kids.

One group was clearly picking on some other kids. There were two girls and two boys.  They were on their phones, calling and texting and making remarks about kids they saw out the window. I was watching them, whilst trying to look like I wasn't watching them and trying to figure out if they were being mean...or just playing. 

Then a group of high school boys came in.  They said hello to the other kids who just laughed and then took a seat not too far away.  Fascinated, I watched them interact with each other, trying to figure out the dynamics. 

The boys that came in seemed like they were really smart, just by the way they were talking and the words they were using. It was clear that the first group was laughing at them.  When the first group left, one of the girls shot back over her shoulder as they exited, "Don't stalk us!"

One of the boys said to his friend, "I'll give you a dollar if you follow them out."  He did.  Shortly after, he came back in for his friends and all of them left. I saw them walking in separate directions, clearly calling things out to each other as they walked away.

I wanted to run out there and say to the smart boys, "Don't worry! This stuff goes away as you get older!"  I told Tad that I wanted to do that.
"Go ahead!" He said.  "They'll laugh at you." 
"But they'll still hear me." I added.

And I thought about how both those groups of kids--all the kids in them--are probably just struggling to be accepted, trying to be who they are amid a sea of insecurities, popularities and general confusion about life.  And how much external an internal pressure they're under to fit in, to do well in school, to be "cool". 

And if I did go up to them and tell them that they're just in a phase of life that will eventually end, would they even believe me? When you're in high school, it feels like your whole world, past present and future....  When my kids are in high school, how will I be able to validate their experience, while promising them a future away from it?

I remember after high school was over, how relieved I was.   I thought I'd go to college and go to grad school and then go on and do a doctoral thesis on the system of social hierarchy in high school, what it means and how it plays out as we enter our adulthood.  I'm still fascinated by it.  High school was such a hard time in my life, but a period of such growth. 

And as my twenty year reunion comes up this summer, I can at least look back at my sixteen or seventeen year old self and say, "See?  It did get better."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Socialist Egg Hunt

Today was our second annual neighborhood egg hunt.  One of our neighbors is gracious enough to open their home to all of us and the fifty-five children that live on our block.  I love this egg hunt and the people that are a part of it.  My neighbor made the rule that each child will get the same number of eggs. I love this rule.  I guess I have always had an inflated sense of justice, but it seems only fair that each child get a proportionate amount.

Tad joked as he walked down the block, the children, grouped by age running to find their eleven eggs, and called it "The Socialist Egg Hunt".  People laughed.  But as I watched the children, I started to notice something.

The toddlers and little ones, ambled down the block, content to find one or two eggs and sat on the sidewalk, happily opening the shining plastic orbs, and immediately eating their contents.  But the older children--the ones who had fully or mostly developed senses of reason made me take notice.

Some of them got their eleven eggs and cheerfully cried out "I found all mine!" and made their way on to the party to sit and half the plastic shells to find chocolate and jelly beans inside.  Some of the children cried in frustration, "I'll never get all eleven! The other kids are finding them all!" And their parents would point out eggs for them or even the other children who were finished would helpfully call out "There's one!", pointing at the pink and blue eggs peeking out of the snow.  Some children would dismiss the eleven-egg rule entirely filling their baskets to overflowing.  I even heard one child yell "I won!"

This made me start to think. Is this a microcosm of society?  Is it fair to divide the eggs evenly among all the children?  Or should the strongest, fastest, and most determined children get as many eggs as their hearts desire? But what about the two year old who can't move that fast?  What if there was a child who was blind who couldn't see the eggs? Or a child using a wheelchair who couldn't reach for the eggs as easily or as quickly.  Do we set aside eleven eggs for that child and not even let them participate in the hunt?  But I know this: We ALL want to participate in the hunt.

And then I thought of the question that would inevitably be asked: What about the child that's just moving slowly down the block not even really trying to pick up eggs? Does that child get eleven eggs too? I suppose the child would actually have to make the effort right?  But what if all the eggs were gone by the time that child got to them?  We would say, but that child is lazy. He's not even trying. Why should my child get less eggs just so that kid who isn't even working to get eggs can get his share? And isn't the kid who's a little small, but still getting all the eggs he wants just pulling himself up by his bootstraps to get them? I hear that question. It's being asked all the time. Just on a larger scale.  And that child who's not really trying? Maybe she just doesn't know what to do because she's never done an egg hunt before.  Maybe that child is just so terrified to fail that he doesn't even know where to begin to look for eggs. Maybe the child who seems so lazy grew up in a place where he NEVER got the egg and has begun to believe he doesn't even deserve one?  So what to do?  I don't know what the answer is.

I do know that my child arrived late and had trouble filling his basket, as people pointed out the leftover eggs on window sills and in hidden corners.  And I felt so frustrated for him, wanting him to have the same amount as the others.  As I dug in a hard-to-reach spot to get him an egg, one child said to me, her basket overflowing "I got here first!" And I wanted to say but you have enough. He hardly has any.  So maybe I am a socialist. I don't know.  But when I looked back at Coen he said, "Mom. It's okay.  I have enough.  I got here late anyway."

I told my children they could each eat the contents of one of their eggs and then go find some real food. They did and I placed their baskets up high and joined the party.  But later when it was almost time to go, I went to gather their baskets and found Coen's had been knocked to the ground. It's contents torn through and mostly eaten all up. By other children.

For a moment I got mad and went into the house like some sort of deranged maternal Robin Hood, rifling through full baskets to take back candy for my child.  But then I reconsidered. I mean, how did I know if the people to whom these baskets belonged were the ones who took Coen's candy. And what did it matter anyway.  I took my children's baskets and divvied them up between them--coming to five eggs apiece.

And it's only an egg hunt.  My kids have enough candy.  More than enough. They won't even make it through all of it anyway.  But still, I can't help wondering what the solution to all this is in our larger world.  I can't even imagine where to start.  Well...I guess knowing when I have enough is a start.  And then when I see my friend with only one or two eggs, I can give her one of mine.

I know it's not that simple. But I hope that someday we live in a world where we all have, at the very least, enough.

Friday, March 22, 2013

We belong

There is nothing like the feeling that you belong. 

Standing in the foyer of my childrens' school this morning, drinking coffee, talking to other parents and laughing about our children's melt-downs and funny questions and wonderful quirks....  I got that warm feeling of belonging. 

I remember as a middle schooler as my friends began joining different groups, the beginnings of the social stratosphere of high school just being created...standing outside of a circle of girls, wondering how I could just get in the circle...feeling like I didn't belong. 

And then I grew up and grew into my own weirdness, my own particular psyche and realized that it didn't matter...those circles I couldn't find a way into were never mine to begin with.... 

And I went to college and advertised my weirdness in my clothes, my demeanor, the way I talked, the way I walked and I found friend and places to belong. 

I have this wonderful memory of a weekend night during college, over at my friends' apartment.  There were about six of us there singing Pat Benetar's We Belong at the TOP of our lungs, just enjoying the sheer joy of the music and each other's company. And the police came because a neighbor had complained about our noise level.  He heard us singing from the street and came to the door, smile on his face.
"I'm not going to ticket you ladies." He said. "But don't quit your day jobs."
We laughed when he left and turned the music down. 
But it didn't matter.  We did belong.

And so back to this morning, standing in the foyer.  Knowing that my children BELONG there. And that I BELONG there.  And seeing Tad come down the hallway, returning the breakfast cart and stopping to give me a hug...he BELONGS there too. 

It really is a nice feeling.  Happy Friday. Here's a link to the song, if you're so inclined.

We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words we've both fallen under
Whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better
We belong, we belong, we belong together

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More adventures in going to sleep and waking up

Coen went to bed on Monday night after three days of laying flat on the couch.  Remember those days, as a kid, when you'd go to bed the first night you felt 100% healthy after being sick, and you'd lay there wide awake?  I remember those nights. And that is what happened to Coen.

Backing up, let me say, that I'm pretty sure that I screwed up his ability to go to sleep by himself completely.  He was my first born.  My mildly colicky baby boy.  I rocked him ALL THE WAY to sleep until he was two.  And then at two we began the training of getting him to bed on his own.  And he would cry.  Oh how it would break my heart while I waited five minutes before going to him, then ten, then fifteen until he was finally lost to slumber, his chubby little cheeks red with pre-sleep fury.

Lucy, on the other hand, was the second child.  Oh second (and subsequent) children who's parents are so much calmer, more relaxed, less terrified.  And Lucy would nurse and I would plop her in her crib wide awake.  And she'd go right to sleep.  Even when I tried to hold on to her longer, loving the warmth of her tiny little baby body, she would roll away from me, arms reaching toward her crib as if to say 'put me down. I would like to go to sleep!'. 

Lucy still goes straight to bed and we don't hear from her until morning, save the odd bad dream or loud noise in the night.  Coen, on the other hand, still wakes and calls to us at three in the morning to be tucked back in after using the bathroom.  He still struggles to go to sleep and most nights we still keep up the routine of the five, ten, fifteen minute checks before he's finally sleeping.

So the night of his first healthy bedtime, he was so upset that he couldn't sleep, long after Tad and I had gone to bed.  Finally I got up and went upstairs and lay down with him, telling him about nights when I couldn't sleep as a kid after having been sick.  And then I went and checked on him in five, ten and fifteen minutes, reading a book on the couch in between.  At the last check, he was asleep.  11:30 p.m.


We woke with a start the next morning--7:10 a.m. nearly an hour and a half after our usual wake up time.  Tad jumped in the shower while I went up to tell the kids that we were late, they'd need to get dressed and we'd have oatmeal bars in the car on the way to school. 

Coen was quick and coming downstairs with his clothes on in five minutes saying to Lucy over his shoulder as he descended the stairs, "You have to get dressed FAST, Lucy."

I went up to check on her and found her flailing on the ground, tights in one hand, shirt in the other winging them around wildly.
"What are you doing?" I asked her.
She stopped and looked at me, tears in her big brown eyes.
"Coen said we have to get dressed FAST!" And started to cry.
I explained about how we woke up late and that she doesn't have to get dressed fast, just get dressed without sitting around.
"Well everyone keeps talking to me and I CAN'T get DRESSED!"
"Okay, I'll go downstairs; you get dressed. It's okay!"
I did not mention that flailing about on the ground isn't going to get her dressed any faster. I didn't think that would go over well.
At any rate, Tad and the kids were minivanning down the alleyway at 7:25 and I was on my way to work.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Can I drum in bed?

Coen was in bed and called me to come upstairs. 
"I have a quest." he said (short for question).
As I got to the landing, he stepped aside and pointed into Lucy's room.
"Don't worry. She hasn't been doing that for long." he said.
I looked at Lucy who was furiously drumming on her pillow, thrashing her head from side to side, making a tried and true rock and roll face.

Earlier, before actual bedtime Coen was drumming on his tummy and then on the stool in Lucy's room.
"Can I drum in my room?" he had asked as I escorted him back to his room.
"Well, it's really reading time but if you're going to drum, drum on something soft like your bed."
"Can I drum in MY room?" Came Lucy's call?
So I had given them both permission to drum as long as they drummed on their beds. Why my children wanted to drum during their reading time was their business.
So back to Lucy, drumming on her bed...

"Lucy." I said, amused.  "It's time for bed."
"I'm IN bed" was the reply.  "But I need another book."
She jumped from her drumming perch and started leafing through the books on her bookshelf loudly stating each title.
"Honey, that's too loud." I said.
"Was I too loud?" Lucy yelled, like a game show host, out to an imaginary audience.  Then in a voice an octave higher, "NO! You weren't too loud!"
"Hop back in bed, honey." I said, laughing.
"Okay! Watch this!" She said, hopping onto her bed and then continuing to hop.
"You SAID 'hop back in bed'!" she said, laughing uproariously.

A page from my copy of A Light in the Attic from my childhood.  I felt it was necessary to add to the illustrations.

Monday, March 18, 2013

And also a more patient patient

Tad and I had a big date planned for Saturday night so I was not at all surprised and a little dismayed when Coen plopped down on the couch next to me on Saturday morning and said, "My tummy feels a little weird."

After Lucy's bout with a stomach bug, I had been worrying about one of us getting sick in time for date night, but I hadn't thought it would be Coen!

I remember when I was in my twenties and every night was just another night out. Every concert was just another concert. Every party or planned activity was just one of many.  So missing one here and there was not so horrible.

Nowadays the nights out, the parties and most especially time alone with my partner is fewer and farther between, making each one seem like a BIG EVENT.  This night's BIG EVENT was a concert and hotel stay, so it was not only a BIG EVENT but also an expensive event.  And I felt like I would be crushed under the disappointment of cancelling this night.

I called my parents, who were slated to have the kids overnight and told them what was happening.  "They are staying here no matter what" my mom said. "We can handle a sick kid!" 

Too true.

And handle they did.  Coen, after throwing up for the third time, while my mom was getting him settled back on the couch again, put his hand on her face and said, "You're such a good Baba."

He was happy to be cuddled and coddled and and unlike his little sister, he soaked in the sympathetic looks.  I was feeling guilty for leaving him with the stomach flu but he didn't seem upset about it.  "Baba and Papa can handle me when I'm sick." He said as I stroked his hot little face.

So they did.

And Tad and I had a lovely long drive, a wonderful sushi dinner, a delicious ice cream dessert and a fantastic They Might Be Giants concert.  Not to mention a night in a hotel.  

And when we came home, Coen was no worse for the wear.  He cuddled up on the couch for the rest of the day and I took him to bed and read him to sleep at 6:00 in the evening.  After a nice, long day home with his Daddy (who also got sick yesterday), he''s heading back to school tomorrow.

My favorite band of all time rocking out at the Vic in Chicago

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Not so patient patient

Sunday night I said to Tad, "You know? I'm actually looking forward to going to work tomorrow.  I have no appointments.  About a hundred new consumers to file paperwork for and new songs on my ipod."

Monday morning Tad woke me up and said, "You shouldn't have said that you were looking forward to your workday.  Lucy threw up last night."

The bad news was that my little girl was sick and I needed to take a sick day.  The good/interesting news was that I had missed out on all the middle of the night sick action.

Tad was up with Lucy when she threw up twice, changing her bedding...twice.  He was up again after he'd put her to bed in Coen's room and Coen called, wanting to know why she was in there.  He was up again when Coen called, not happy with her in there and afraid she'd throw up in his room.  I slept through this whole thing.   Tad said he wasn't mad but after the third time up, he could not believe I was still sleeping.  To my credit, I did do all the vomit laundry in the morning.

So home with Lucy I was and she is not at all a patient like her brother.  Coen, when he is sick, wants to be cuddled and when I make a sympathetic glance his way, he just cuddles all the closer.

Not Lucy.

When I cast a sympathetic glance in her direction, even laying flat out on the couch, she'd look at me haughtily and say, "WHAT?"
When I reached out to rub her back, she'd stiffen and pull away from me as if to say sympathy? No thanks!

My favorite part of Lucy's sick day, however, was when she wanted to watch Dora three times and proceeded to make fun of Dora three times. 

Dora: What do we need to find our way somewhere?  Everyone, say MAP!
Lucy: (dull droning voice) BACKPACK

Dora: Everyone say 'Swiper! No Swiping!'
Lucy: Say it yourself, Dora.

Dora: Do you see a cornfield?
Lucy: I see a BANANA field!

It was great.  I kept her home again today as she stayed on the couch yesterday for 10 straight hours and ate no solid foods.  But she's watching old-style Sesame Street as I type and eating cereal.  So I think we're on the up and up.  She even just let me rub her cheek!

Sunday, March 10, 2013


This morning I let the kids watch a little extra TV because last weekend and yesterday we had to get out of the house early for different events. I was trying to even things out.

But it turned out to be too much TV in the end as they kicked at each other, complaining about not having enough room and who was on who's particular side of the couch.

Waiting for Lucy's friends to arrive for her play date and for it to be time for Coen to leave for baseball, my two children just bickered.  Coen, bored, got in Lucy's face about things until she became upset.  Lucy, annoyed, refused to let Coen watch her clean her room for her play date until his feelings were hurt.  I started getting mad at both of them. 

Tad took me by the shoulders.  "Go outside for a little while.  Go for a walk before we have a house full of girls.  We need an energy shift in the house."

He was right.  I drove to Grebes bakery and bought six frosted cookies.

I came home with a changed attitude and tried to be the scale tipper in the household energy supply.

And it is nice to have a partner who recognizes when I need a break, even when I don't.  And for our kids to have two parents, each who understand one of the two of them a little bit better.  And to have balance.

Work and play
Tad and me
Coen and Lucy
Inside and outside
Exercise and ice cream
Zoning in and zoning out

Trying not to tip too much in any one direction.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"I'm just not that happy"

We're riding in the car tonight and Coen says, "Mommy?"
"I'm just not that happy. Like I just don't feel that excited right now."
Tad makes a fake sympathetic noise and I know he is about to make fun. I feel protective of my son and I grab Tad's arm and look at him warningly
"What!?" Tad says. "I was just thinking about something else"
I give him another look
"I was just thinking" he goes on, "about this boy I know who is homeless and hungry."

I get his point.

My child is like me. He thrives on connection with other people. He looks so forward to events, parties, gatherings and the like that when they are over, he feels an extreme let down.  So the week before last we had the Kalahari. And then a crazy week with Monday off and a Wednesday snow day and an ACTION PACKED weekend.  Now it's Wednesday.  Not a whole lot is going on this coming weekend. And he's feeling the let down. I get it. When I was a kid, the night after a party, I distinctly remember lying awake in my room, feeling empty and sad.  It was like I could feel the ghost of the fun that was had there before.  So I get it.  But it's hard, as a parent, when your child says something like that.  When he's just finished going out for dinner with his parents and sister and gone swimming and soaked in a hot tub....  Yeah, I get Tad's point.

And you know, I thought I would feel some sort of let down after the 40 under 40 dinner was over.  But I haven't.  Maybe I'm just grateful for some normalcy.  Which is weird.  Have I become a grown-up without my knowledge?

I went up to tuck Coen in and turn his light off for the night. 
"I just want to show you something." he said.
I sat on his bed.  And he proceeded to go through his ENTIRE Star Wars pop-up book and do some funny voice for each page. Most of them beginning with the phrase "Oh YEAH" said in a scratchy low voice.  It took more than ten minutes, and all I wanted to do was go downstairs and cash in on the back rub Tad promised me and watch something mindless on TV.  But he's my boy. He needed to connect with me by making me laugh as he had Yoda dancing with the Emperor via the pop-up book, saying "Oh YEAH. Do the Jibby."

Fifteen minutes later, I just went up for a final tuck-in and he asked me to cover him halfway with the blanket.
"No, not my bottom half" He said as I pulled it up on his legs. "Actually HALF of me."
"Half your body?"
So I covered half his body and laughed as I went down the stairs.   

I understand him, mostly.  Well, maybe HALF.  And I love him. All of him.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A very large 48 hours.

 So, it's been a very large 48 hour period for me.  If you know me at all, you know I have no trouble with being in any sort of spotlighted position and that's what this past two days has been about.  I feel a little weird sharing this with you all but I'm going to anyway because I've been asked to blog about it and I blog about everything else, don't I?

So Sunday IndependenceFirst had its Stride and Glide which is our annual 5K etc.. fundraiser. I was in charge of coordinating the kids activities so after bribing a very cranky Coen and Lucy with some Cranky Al's doughnuts, we got ourselves to the Zoo at 7:00 in the early morning hours.  My parents met me there to help out with the kiddos and Tad's whole family came too.  Lucy and I got our faces painted like butterflies and while Coen went to see the primates with his grandparents, Lucy got to try out zumba with the other set of grandparents.  Watching my dad zumba might be one of the highlights of my exercising life.

After a brief intermission of activities (during which Coen went to baseball practice with Tad) my family headed over to the Bradley Center for the Admirals game.  The giveaway item was the coloring book that my girls groups were part of creating thanks to a graphic design intern at IndependenceFirst a couple summers ago.  I was thrilled to advertise it by getting interviewed on the Jumbotron.  And I even washed the butterfly off my face before I went!  One must retain some semblance of adulthood, you know.  However, being on the jumbotron is a big thrill for me, (the bigger the spotlight...) so this was positively MAGICAL.
Then last night was the 40 under 40 dinner.  If you didn't know this already, I was nominated by one of my coworkers for the Business Journal's 40 under 40 and I was, much to my extreme excitement and surprise, chosen!  So last night a group of my coworkers, and my parents, and Tad went to the celebration and had a lovely dinner.  When it was my turn to go up on stage to receive my award, I thought I shouldn't dawdle...not wanting to keep people waiting.  Once I got up on stage the award presenter whispered to me "Wow, you got up here fast!" as my introduction was being read, "She's called a energizer bunny, a tornado...." He smiled at me, clearly amused. "Indeed." he said. 

One highlight of last night was that my therapist was there.  She found me and gave me a hug and told me how hard it is to not say, "I KNOW her!" because of course she can't tell people HOW she knows me.  Not that I would mind as I tend to blog about all things in my life and mind and don't really have any secrets, but STILL!  What was most wonderful about that is that I have been working hard on myself personally and I've also been working hard professionally and last night's award was really special to me and my therapist telling me she's proud and being able to see where I came from and where I am now in that way was pretty cool.

Anyway, enough of this self-promotion.  I shall return to my normally scheduled programming now.  But I did want to share.  And thank you. For reading. Or being present with me. Or being my friend. Or just generally being around, someone in my life, who makes it better.  By doing so. That is all.

Monday, March 4, 2013

This has been a test

This morning I was at my desk and my phone started honking at me. I looked at it and it said there was a tornado warning for my area.  My coworker and I started laughing and I was like "Stupid phone! First it doesn't have a camera and now its sending me fake weather alerts!"  But a moment later another coworker approached us and said "Did you guys hear about the tornado warning? I just got kicked off a statewide conference call because of it."

I guess a lot of people got it.  And it was just a test.  I thought they should send another one to call it off, lest people were in their basements with transistor radios and canned goods.  Curiously pondering the clear skies.  Waiting for further instructions.

I remember when I was a kid and we would all go in the basement when there were tornado warnings.  I remember my mom would tell us that a tornado sounds like a train coming through and the we'd hear the train whistle and freak out.  "No!" She'd say, "Not like a train whistle.  Like a train" One time I remember the storm came up so quickly and our front window blew in. And my sister was terribly afraid of tornadoes and had torn down into the basement .  My parents were trying to push the window back into place against the torrents of rain and wind coming into the house and getting soaking wet and laughing and laughing. My sister was already down in the basement yelling "Come DOWN here! The TORNADO  is coming!!" I didn't know whether to watch my parents or to join my sister and I think I just stood there yelling "Hurry up! Hurry up!" Which of course only added to the hilarity for my mom and dad.

So anyway, another friend told me that many phones have those alert systems and you can turn them off.  I started thinking about how nice it would be if your phone would send you little useful alerts. Like:

or an alert for someone at work who's in a bad mood that day:

or even one I could have used from my phone back in December
I really could have used that one.


I think all those would be really useful, don't you?  I'm glad there's not a tornado though.  I'd hate to spend this nice day in the basement.


Friday, March 1, 2013

This girl

Last night Lucy was rather an emphasized version of her five-year-old self. 

I could tell she would be more Lucy than usual by the way she was in her brother's face after school, trying to tell him something about her day.  Her story became a bold fonted shout an inch from his face until he focused only on her.

At home, she and Coen settled at the table with the library books I'd brought for them.  Coen offered to read hers to her.  Happy at the harmony, I went into the kitchen to start dinner.  Not too long after, there was a blood curdling scream from my youngest child.  I joined them at the table and asked what was happening.
"He won't read to me any more!" Lucy sobbed.
"Mommy. I was reading to her but it's a long book and I got tired. And then she hurt my feelings."
It was a long book.  
"What did you say to Coen, honey?" I asked.
"That he stinks!"
"And that hurt my feelings!" Coen added.
"Oh." I said. "Sweetheart. I'm sure you heard that at school, but that's not a nice thing to say."
Her tears started again. "It just means I don't like something that's happening!"
"I'm sure you heard that from kids at school but it's not nice to say to someone honey."
She screamed, "NO! my TEACHERS say that!"
Coen and I exchanged a glance. "Your teachers say 'You stink'?"
"NO!!!!!" she wailed.  "They say THAT stinks!!!"
"OH!" I said. "Well, yes, that stinks means that you don't like something.  You just shouldn't say 'you stink'." 
God, how confusing.

So we sorted that out. And after dinner. And after Lucy dramatically gagging her way through her broccoli and the children claiming that they were "still hunger" after dinner, I offered grapes.  Lucy threw herself to the floor. "I HATE grapes!"
"Lucy. You haven't tasted grapes."
Coen offered to make her a tasting chart, which he did, and wrote broccoli on it.  Then he proffered her a grape.  She licked it.  And then she gagged.  "I don't like it!"
"But Lucy!" Coen said. "You have to taste the inside. The juice part!"
He bit one in half and handed it to her.  She licked it.  Nodded.
"You like it?"
Another nod.  "But I don't like the mushiness.  I just like the juice."
"Lucy!" Coen said excitedly. "Want me to squeeze you some juice into a cup?"
They ran together into the kitchen to get materials. I heard another blood curdling scream.  Coen talking. Another scream.  Coen came running into the living room, Lucy hot on his trail.  "Help!" Coen said.
I wasn't sure what Lucy was going to do when she got him but she was gaining on him. I caught her and we all sat on the couch.  "What happened?" I asked.
Turns out Coen accidentally shut Lucy's thumb in the drawer and she just wanted him to hear that.  He had already apologized and didn't want to hear about it anymore. 
"Coen." I said. "She just wants to talk about what happened."
Lucy cried behind the couch, unwilling to accept any offers of hugs or kisses. She didn't even want to be looked at.  I told her that she's like her daddy. 
"And I'm like you." Coen said. 
That is true.

After that, we had some time to calm down.  And we headed up to bed.

And I thought about my daugher who is just like her daddy. Headstrong and brave and serious and silly.  She doesn't want any sympathy when she's hurt or sad and she does not share herself with you until she's good and ready and then, when she is, LOOK OUT.  I love her. And I feel honored when she cuddles up to me. And I know she's not going to have any problems taking care of her self when she gets older.  And when she's a teenager, I shall send her to Tad for counsel.  I have a feeling we'll be butting heads.

Before I went to bed, I pulled the covers up over both my children and kissed them and whispered "Sweet Dreams" as I do every night.  When I pulled Lucy's cover up over her shoulder, she wriggled away from me in her sleep, indignantly shouting "HEY!" Pulling the covers over her shoulder HERSELF. in. her. sleep.

My little wild child.  Awake or asleep she is in control.  And even though I don't always understand her...and sometimes look at her and marvel at how seperate she is from me, how different. I am so proud to be her mother.