Monday, September 30, 2013

The line between respect and indulgence...

Effing picture day. 

If you recall, last year at picture day, they almost had to call me to come and help at school because Lucy was having a picture day breakdown.  The photographer said, "Smile!" And Lucy felt that she did smile.  But she was urged, cajoled and asked again and again to smile.  Resulting in her breaking down into tears and her teacher jumping to her aide.  At the end of the whole thing, it resulted in the above photo once they got to the group shot.  Which I will treasure forever.

So, leading up to this year's picture day, Lucy has been pretty high anxiety, asking, "What if they tell me to smile and then they don't think my smile is big enough."  I told Lucy that it was her picture and that her daddy and I are paying for it and we're fine with whatever face she wants to make.

This turned into her making a lot of pretty crazy practice faces, leading into the picture day.  I started to worry--will she roll her eyes?  Will she stick out her tongue?  I mean, I really am fine with whatever face she makes, but I don't want her to seem disrespectful either...   I told her that I talked to her teacher, wrote on the picture order envelope that she can smile however she likes...  She talked about picture day all day yesterday and into the night.  Obviously her anxiety around this is real.

But I wondered, am I indulging too much. I mean, when it comes down to it, it does seem a little ridiculous. Who cares?! Just smile for the picture for crying outside!  But my girl has boundaries and while she is a loving, smart, funny kid, she does NOT do things that don't feel right to her. 

This morning, she chose a red velvet Christmas dress to wear in her picture.  Then she asked me to cut the white fleece Santa Clause cuffs off the arms.  Fine with me.  She even brought a brush downstairs and asked me to help her comb her hair.  Then off we went to school.  As soon as we got to her coat hook, her friend came up and said, "Lucy! I don't understand why you don't just smile pretty in the picture like I'm going to!"  Tears immediately sprang to her eyes.

Obviously this is a big deal to her.  I kind of wanted to just agree with her friend, but I also was just beside myself that we had finally made it to picture day, she was feeling fine...and now we were in tears again.

Anyway, I got her situated in her room, and she clung to me and didn't want me to leave.  I knelt down by her and held her hands and looked into her eyes and told her that everything was fine and that picture day would be fine and that I'd come back and get her at the end of the day and she could tell me all about it.  In the end, her teacher had to come and hold her arm so she would stop clinging to me and I could leave.

Man, it's hard to be a mom sometimes.

And I had to wonder....where is the line between indulging her and respecting her very real and very powerful feelings of anxiety?

I know that people would have opinions about this from one end to the other.

But the truth is, I'm Lucy's mom. And I'm doing my best.  And I can only hope I'm doing right by her, respecting her fears, feelings and wishes...and pushing her to do her own thing.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Communication, force fields and marriage.

I wrote a blog post last month called working on my introvert care skills and I really have been.  Working hard on them.  That is.

Since my introvert partner is a teacher, I know that he has to spend his energy on at least thirty other people all day long. And then come home to be a parent to two more people and a partner to one.  Since I'm one of the only adults in this scenario, I try to make sure that when his energy reads of inwardness to me, that means he wants to listen to music or watch sports or read without me and my rays of loud energy that want constant reverb, playback, trampoline it what you will....So, I've been going into our room to read when he's on the couch clearly relaxing.  I've been trying not to take it personally when he just wants a little quiet and peace in the house. Event though I might want some togetherness and noise.   It's been going well...leading us to more understanding I think.


The other night, Tad sat on the couch, turned on music and seemed like he wanted to talk.  So I came in to join him. 
"SO!" I said. 
"I'm just turning some music on here." He said, smiling. 
So I joined him and started talking about my day.
Like this...

And he was listening as he drank his tea, relaxing, and the music played but I just got mad.  I didn't want him to listen to me with his eyes closed. I wanted him to lean forward in rapt attention! I wanted him to ask me really interesting and probing questions.  I wanted him to not look tired.  Or even be tired. I wanted him to find me so fascinating and enthralling, that it was like he wasn't even teaching all day long without any breaks! 
And frankly, I was very impatient. I didn't even wait more than thirty seconds into telling about my day before I sort of stormed off..  I was imagining the scene more like this:

Exploding onto Tad's force field of calm and tranquility. 

So when I went into the porch area to get some sewing supplies together and then knocked fifty drumsticks on to the ground with a lot of loud clattering and then walked back through the living room without looking at him, he said, "Hey. What are you doing?"

Turns out, he did want to sit and talk.  He did miss me.  He was just tired and happy to sink into the couch and relax while we reconnected.  Perhaps he could have opened his eyes and looked at me. But he didn't know how important that was to me.  Perhaps I could have waited thirty seconds longer and he would have reacted more how I wanted him to. But I didn't know that he actually did want to hang out. 

So funny how with just a little more communication...
Like if Tad had said, "Hey! I want to hang out with you tonight"
Or if I had said, "Do you want to hang out, or should I give you some space?"

We would have had a situation much more like this:

Like, I think, we both wanted in the first place.
Ah, what a lovely bunch of life lessons marriage can give us.
That's the sound of me making a loud, obnoxious noise.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Tonight at dinner Lucy was expressing concern about what one of her classmates said.
"She said I'm weird." Lucy said. "And she said I'm gross."

Tad and I immediately jumped to her aid and defense.
"You're not gross!" 
Tad got up and hugged her.
"But you are weird."

Lucy started to protest.

"That just means you're not like everybody else." Tad said. "You're weird.  I'm weird.  Your brother's weird!"

"Yeah!" Coen chimed in.  "Me and my friends are like some of the weirdest kids in the school!  At least that's what we're trying to be."

"Tell me about it." Tad said.

Lucy still looked a little unsure.

"Your mommy's the weirdest woman I ever met!" Tad went on. "Kids in high school used to tell me that I was weird when I was just walking around the halls, doing nothing!"

"Lucy" I said, taking her little hand, "It's wonderful to be weird.  You're wonderful and weird. And we love you."

Tad picked her up and tipped her upside-down. "You're a wonderful, weird girl!"

Lucy started to laugh.  

"We're all weird."

And this is where we belong.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Terrified...or how I just want everyone to feel good all the time.

We had four boys overnight this weekend for Coen's birthday.  This brought me a lot of anxiety.  First of all, Coen chose four boys for this endeavor.  I kept suggesting other boys to invite because, I worried, their feelings would be hurt were they not invited.  Coen wanted only four.  He's an introvert, like his Daddy, and he knows the number that will work for him.

"But it's an uneven number!" I said to Tad, still rallying for an extra kid.  "Uneven numbers are trouble."
"Maybe for girls." Tad said, "But for boys, you're fine as long as you have three or more. Three is the magic number."
"Man." I said. "Three girls at a sleepover spells DISASTER!"

But Saturday came and Coen's four friends arrived.  I could barely contain my buzzing nerves.  I was endlessly thankful that Tad is my partner. Tad, who is a teacher and handles 28 kids (more than half of them boys) every day.  Tad who is really really good at talking to kids reasonably, taking into account that they are human beings, but still getting them to do what he wants them to do.  Tad who is entirely even tempered and can laugh thirty seconds after reprimanding someone for saying "Shut up." to someone suggesting, that a person could--if shutting up were their aim--just ask the other person nicely to stop talking...

The other thing that stressed me out was that our neighbors were over when the party started and I was just so incredibly freaked out about hurting the feelings of the kid who was not invited to sleep over, though he joined us for dinner and left after.  I wanted to go knock on the door of his house and talk with his parents for thirty minutes about how much we like him and how much I am worried that his feelings were hurt...  Tad suggested that might be unnecessary. 

Tad and I stood in the kitchen talking while the boys ran up and down the stairs, laughed with each other, talking and playing...
"I'm like...terrified of them."  I admitted.  "What's wrong with me? I feel so incapable!"
"You're not incapable." Tad laughed. "It's a bunch of boys.  It's just boys.  Anyway. I'm just doing my part. I mean, you almost fainted when I mailed a letter the other day.  You do plenty around here.  I can handle this."
I thought about that.  That was true.  I spent the day prior cleaning out the basement, taking stuff to goodwill, trimming all the weeds and errant saplings around our yard.  I manage our household.  And for heaven's sake, I teach teenagers about sex for my job. 

Is it really that I'm afraid of these kids? No, I know each one of these boys, have known most of them since they were three years old.  They are sweet kids.  They are goofy kids.  They're not much different from my kid.  

So what am I afraid of?  What is it that gives me such anxiety, that keeps me from volunteering to take a group of kids in my son's class on an outing? That makes me so glad Tad's there to help during a sleepover? 

I all comes down to this. I don't want anyone to have hurt feelings.  That's why I wish we could have invited everyone in the world overnight so no one was left out.  That's why I felt nervous at the group of them. I mean...what if someone is mean to someone else? What if someone gets bullied?  What if I have to tell someone to stop being mean to someone else and that makes them feel bad? Oh my gosh, it's ridiculous! 

I mean, in my very smart brain I know that sometimes people just have to feel bad. It's a part of life.  To learn how to get through feeling bad and then feel good again.  But I just don't like having to tell someone to stop something or that they can't have something or just saying no to anything at all.  I know. It's completely silly.

I've been working on my practice for YEARS of being really nice to people--without being a doormat.  I totally can do it.  Anyway...that's just the truth about me.  I get nervous about having to do anything that might make someone feel bad in any way..  That's just me! Don't look at me like that!

Oh, I'm sorry! Did I hurt your feelings?  Oh my gosh, I didn't mean to. Here. Have a box of cookies.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thanks Louis C.K.

Tad and I watched Conan the other night and Louis C.K. gave this wonderful speech about cell phones.  If you don't want to click on it, I'll tell you.  Basically he said that he's not letting his kids (who are 8 and 12) get cell phones.  Because they don't need them yet.  Because why rush the inevitable time when they'll live, not in the moment but in the constant checking and texting and facebooking moments so many of us live in now.  Because his job is not to make them happy, or do things he doesn't believe in for them just so they don't feel weird.  His job is to nurture the adults they are going to become...

I loved his rant.

I'll tell you why.

What he said rang very true to me.  Life is sad.  Life is so incredibly sad. And sometimes you just get hit with the realization or the thought or the feeling that you are just so very alone.  And that is terrifying.  So we text someone or call someone or go on Facebook to see other people so that we don't allow ourselves to feel that sadness. Or feel that loneliness.

Yesterday I had to go to a breakfast event and as I pulled away from my house I realized I had forgotten my phone.  And at first, I was like...should I go back and get it? But I kept driving.  And I parked at work and walked to the breakfast event (about a mile away).  And on my way there, I just looked at the city, coming alive in the sunrise and sort of just felt it breathing.  It made me want to yell "GOOD MORNING!"  And I was wearing my tennies, my fancy shoes tucked inside my purse to put on when I got there.  That made me feel like a real business lady!  I smiled most of the way there.

And had I remembered my phone, I would not have felt anywhere near that alive.  Because I would have called someone...or texted someone...or just looked at it to remind myself that I could connect with someone...anyone else.  But instead I connected with me.

And then, after the breakfast event ended, because it was supposed to rain, my coworker offered me a ride home.  I looked out the window as we left and said, "No. It looks like it's not raining yet. Thanks! I'll walk back."  And then I got outside and it was raining.  I guess looking out the window into an enclosed courtyard is not a good indication of whether or not it is indeed precipitating.  At any rate, I walked.  And I kind of grinned at people around me and not once but TWICE different business men offered space under their umbrellas at the corners.  And finally it was just me, walking in the drizzling rain and feeling wide awake and happy. I smiled at everyone I passed (and people either smiled back or avoided eye contact with me--really a pretty sane response either way!) 

I stopped and took a picture of my city, glistening wet in the rain and waking up.

And you know, I've done that before,  walked like that, only when I was feeling sad and let that feeling wash over me too. And I have cried like a big buffoon, just cried my eyes out for no good reason at all except that I just felt so tremendously overwhelmingly sad.  It it felt lovely.  How good it feels to feel!  So thanks Louis C.K. for the sentiment.  I want to crash through all the joy and grief and pain and love in my life and really let it in.

And I want to teach my kids to do that too. And I would change one thing about what you said.  I would say that I am nurturing not just the adults that my kids will become but simply the human beings that they are now, from whom they have grown and that they will be.  And do my best to teach them how to be alive.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The earth went around the sun ten times: Coen

 I went in for pre-op testing in January of 2003, the day before my ear surgery. 

"Any chance you're pregnant?" The nurse asked me.

"Absolutely not." I said. I was using birth control. I had returned from the Peace Corps only eight months prior.  Tad had just moved back to Milwaukee.  We were in love and just finally in the same country again.  Both of us making roughly $12 an hour.  Things were in flux.

That night, Tad and I watched a movie, trying to calm my nerves before my operation.  Then the phone rang.  I picked up. It was my ear surgeon.

"Alie." He said. "I am sorry but I can't do surgery on you tomorrow."

"What?!! Why?" I said in alarm.

"You're pregnant."

I fell to my knees.

After I got of the phone, Tad joined me on the floor, next to the phone.  I looked up at him.

"I'm pregnant."

The rest, as they say, is history.

Well, we called my parents for council and they came over and talked us through our panic, our alarm, our shock.  And they left telling us they would support whatever we chose to do.  I am not ready for this. I kept saying in my head.  But I looked at Tad who was remarkably calm and assured.

"We would have done this eventually." he said with a wry smile.

I called my parents back.

"Congratulations." I said. "You're going to be grandparents." 

And ten years later, I have this boy.  He is sensitive and wise and hilarious.  He can sing perfectly on pitch and hit a home run in one swing and draw the most amazing pictures that come from his own mind. 

He spontaneously grabs my arm and kisses it, looking up at me with his warm, hazel eyes, saying "love."  He changed my whole life around in the one, tiny, unexpected spark of his existence and I am so glad he did.

Coen.  Happy birthday.  This kid was meant to be, and I believe he'll make his mark on this world.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Joan Baez, music, and longing...

Three years ago I wrote this blog post about Joan Baez. 

Last night Tad and I were looking for a documentary to watch and he suggested the Joan Baez documentary that inspired the above blog post.  I told him no.  "I feel a terrible longing when I watch that one and I don't feel like feeling like that." I said.
Tad looked at me.  And wisely said, "Well if it's that strong, then you should do something about it."

Damn it.   I know he's right.

So here's the thing.  If you don't feel like reading the above link... I thought I'd be a singer and an activist in much larger fashion than I am currently.  But what I am, larger than life, is a mom.  And I have absolutely no regrets about that.  And my career has taken me down a path that is amazing and exciting and suddenly I'm a sexuality educator for young (and not so young) people with disabilities.  And I am honored and thrilled to be doing that.  But I'm still not making music.  Since I wrote that blog post and declared I needed to go to an open mic night, I have performed exactly once.  At a farmer's market.  So what gives?

If playing music makes me happier than almost anything, why am I not doing it? 

What is it that makes YOU feel wildly alive and full of joy?  Do you do it as often as you would like?

What keeps us from doing things that make us blissful?

I have an incredible job out in the world at IndependenceFirst.   I have an incredible job at home raising Coen and Lucy.  I'm very's just that something's missing.   
I still get out my guitar twice a month or so and play by myself or for my family.
But I feel like a I lack a community of people who want to gather and make music together...though I know I could create it if I tried or find it if I looked....

So how to find those people and get them together....

I know I need to do this. Tad's right.  If I can't watch Joan Baez without aching for a regular experience making music with others...then I need to do something about it.

Now, I just have to do it so I don't re-read this in three years and realize I didn't.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rummage sale rant

First of all, there's this sign.  I mean, come on!  No kids allowed at a dinner party? Fine.  A wedding?  Sometimes I'm okay with that...  No more than two kids at a time in the convenience store?  I was probably part of the reason that rule was made.  But at a rummage sale? What gives?! 

So we went to this rummage sale on Saturday. And it is, make no mistake, a GOOD rummage. It's the Greendale annual (maybe even bi-annual) rummage sale held at the high school. There's tons of stuff and it's good stuff. 

But aside from the fact that people without childcare, and people who just might want their kids to try stuff on or at least be part of the choosing process can't even come in until after 10 kind of was strange to me.  And to my kids--see their faces?

Second of all, they close from 11-12 a.m.  I mean, what are they doing in there from 11-12?  Are they cleaning up? Straightening the piles of clothing? It's a RUMMAGE sale!  What do you need to do in there for an hour?  It's a big pile of used clothes! Come on!

So anyway, Tad and I got there to meet Tad's parents with the kids.  We arrived at like 11:30.  There were six people in line.  We went for a walk and came back at quarter to and there were like forty people in line!  Tad and I started making jokes about door buster sales, but no one really smiled at us. Can't say I blame them.  But we were thinking...why get in line for a rummage sale? Everything's all piled up on rows and rows of tables. It's not like you're going to get a better deal than someone else. What's the rush? I mean, you wait in line for half an hour just to go to the same section of table at which number 43 in line can go right next to you.

Thirdly, at Noon, it becomes a 1/2 price sale. Except for the items with red stars.  Those items do not go down to 1/2 price, no sir.  Because these people who have red-starred their clothes believe they are truly worth the full price (AT A RUMMAGE SALE!!!!) and if they don't sell for full price, they want their stuff back. 

Come on!

And don't worry!  I'm not ripping on Greendale. It's the same thing at the other neighborhood and community rummages.  I just feel like if you're rummaging your stuff, why try to make a bunch of money? It's stuff. Stuff you don't want any more. Because you're selling it!  I just think it should all go to half price at noon.  Your daughter's Christmas dress that she wore once is going to go to a good home...probably to my daughter who will wear it, like, fifty-nine times.  Just let us have it for 1/2 off. 

We did well, nonetheless.  I refused to buy any full--price items just on principle. Oh except for the book Coen chose since it was his only buy at the sale. Of course, later we found some child had cut multiple pictures out of it.  FULL PRICE! Hmph.

And the best part of the day was that we left, $45 later with lots of books and Lucy's fall/winter wardrobe.  And got lunch with their Nana and Grandpa.  At a restaurant. That allows kids. Open to close.

Friday, September 13, 2013


It's funny how you'll find yourself doing something just like your mom.  You know? And you're just struck by it.  What?! I sound like my mom. How did this happen?

My mom and I had a bet when I was a kid.  I didn't like it when she said "Because I said so" in response to "WHY?!"
"I'll NEVER say that to my kids." I said to her.
"Oh. Yes you will."
"I won't!"
So we bet a dinner on it, I believe. 

Fast forward to me as a mom.  In fact, just the other night Coen was asking me if he could have tea in bed.
"NO!" I said.
"Absolutely not!  We don't eat or drink upstairs and it's late and it's a school night. No."
"Daddy let me once. Please?"
"Oh, Coen! Because I said so!"

And that's not the first time I said it.  Nope.  I think I still owe my mom that dinner.

But there's other stuff too.  The way I wake my kids up in the morning is exactly how my mom woke me up. I turn their lights on. I sit on the edge of the bed and rub their foreheads and say "good's time to wake up." That is exactly how my mom did it. And I didn't do it consciously either.  I just realized one morning that it was the same.

I notice it with my own kids too, already.  Lucy makes the exact same faces as I do.  The other night when I was shaking my butt at myself in the mirror and making a face, (Yeah, I do that. Don't judge me.)  Tad walked in and shook his head. "That is exactly what I found Lucy in here doing like two hours ago."

Coen requests time alone, or time for introspection, same as his daddy.

Here's another example of some commonalities among parent and child.  Happy Friday.

My dad and his sand man.

Me and mine.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I may have been a deranged squirrel in my past life

I'm weird about a lot of things. I mean, aren't we all? Don't we all have quirks that a lot of people find completely strange and annoying but maybe one or two people like our moms or our partners or our best friends just think are the cutest thing ever?

Here's one of mine:

I save things.

Not in the nice way, like I have mounds of my kids' artwork in large Tupperware containers. No. I'm pretty brutal sorting that stuff out.
Tad will be like "Oh, we have to save this one!"
And I'll say "No WAY! She made that with stickers! That's not original at all!" And chuck it in the recycling. 
Or he'll hold up one of Coen's and say, "We have to save this one. Look at this monster he drew!"
And I'm like "Absolutely not.  He traced that!" And out it goes. 

No. I have this weird thing about saving other food, household energy... And saving uses of things.

Like when Tad changes the sheets on the beds, like he did last night and I feel it is not soon enough to change them.  To me it's like wasting a use of both the washer and dryer! The sheets don't NEED to be changed yet!  Now we're using our appliances and we are just ONE use away from TOTAL BREAKDOWN!  The sheet washing thing has become such a joke in our house simply because of my insane reactions to seeing the "dirty" sheets tumbling down the stairs and marching up to rant and rave about how it's too soon. Now every time Tad changes the sheets, the kids yell jubilantly, "Mommy!!! Daddy's changing the sheets again!!!"

Also, I get insanely mad when someone opens the electronic minivan doors if it isn't necessary.  Seriously. That. is. weird.  I mean, I will go to such lengths as opening the back hatch and crawling through to the front to avoid opening the electronic doors, like I'm afraid of wasting one of the opens.  Like there's a limited number and I don't want to run out. I'm the same with the garage door.  I get SO mad when Tad closes the garage door and I'll be leaving soon.  YOU WASTED A CLOSE! I want to scream down the alleyway.  But I'm pretty sure I have a grasp on how that might look so I refrain. 

I have a cupboard in my house that is filled to the bursting point with back up boxes of cereal, crackers, granola bars, etc...  I'm not one of those emergency preparedness people either. I mean, if the world turns into a Margaret Atwood novel, I will be one of the first to die, I assure you.  But I just have this thing about having back ups.  But then on top of it, I get annoyed when someone in my family opens the back up box of Mini Wheats when we already have three perfectly good boxes of cereal ALREADY OPEN.  It sends me to the boiling point.  What is that about?

For example. This morning, I was in the shower and I could hear cupboards opening.  It entered my mind that Tad was probably looking for things for the kids for breakfast and I already knew what I wanted them to have.  I rushed through the rest of my shower so I could get out, to make sure he gave them the zucchini bread and not the oatmeal bars. (The zucchini bread was home baked so it has a shorter shelf life than the oatmeal bars which are store bought, so OBVIOUSLY, we should eat the home baked stuff first) So deeply I held this belief that I  practically ran, dripping, from the shower, hair still soaking wet. I saw the oatmeal bars on the counter and quickly swapped them out with zucchini bread. 

Later in the morning, when we were all getting in our cars, ready to go to work and school, Tad called out to me, "Alie. I promised them oatmeal bars and thought I packed them but they aren't here. Can you go get two?"
"I packed zucchini bread instead!"
"They don't want zucchini bread, Alie. They want oatmeal bars. I promised."
I tried to suppress my weird rage as I stomped back to the house to get the oatmeal bars, stopping only to say, "Are you guys sure you don't' want zucchini bread?"  Solemn head shakes were my answer.
"What a waste!" I muttered as I returned.
"It's not a waste. I'll eat all the zucchini bread myself." Tad said.

As they pulled away I thought, what the heck is my problem? I mean, who gets this mad about saving things? I decided I must have been some sort of backward squirrel in real life. Like maybe I was a squirrel in the Great Depression and I hoarded newspaper clippings instead of nuts and all the other squirrels told their children to stay away from me.  Probably.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Own it.

Children can smell fear.

You know they can.

When I've volunteered to take a group of children at my kids' school on some kind of going out, I have been terrified and they know.  They do! And they tear you from limb to limb.

Just kidding. These guys are harmless.


But my point is, they know when you're unsure.  It goes WAY better for me when I'm strong and confident and stand my ground with a group of kids than when I am terrified of them.

When my kids ask me a question and I am in any way not quite sure if I stand behind my "no" they will climb me like Mount Everest until they get a yes. 

But when I stand by my answer... When the NO is a resounding NO.  When I take a breath and think about how I may not know everything and I may not even always know what's is ME raising these kids and when I say no I mean it.

And they're like. "Okay mommy."

When Tad and I were on our date night in Florida and we rented bikes to ride across the beach, Tad's chain fell off.  We pulled over and I was like "Don't worry. I got this." And I put the chain back on for him.  Tad was impressed.
"I didn't knew you knew how to do that!" He said.
I didn't.
I had NEVER put a chain back on a bike before.  I just pretended like I knew what I was doing and it turned out, I DID!!!

Even when I was in grade school. I remember my friend saying that she loved Belinda Carlisle and I didn't really like her or know her music but I wanted my friend to like me so I was all "Oh, I really like her too!" And then when she asked me my favorite song, I couldn't remember and said "Ummm...that Heaven one?" And she could read me. She knew I didn't love Belinda Carlisle. And then she said that she didn't like Journey. I totally did but, afraid of her not accepting me, I said "Oh, yeah, me neither...." She knew.  But another time in grade school when we all though we were growing out of toys, I proudly announced that I loved to make snow caves for all my Smurfs. I owned it. Yeah, I played with toy Smurfs in the snow.  And the next weekend two kids in my neighborhood came over to do it with me.

It seems like if you just own it, people are way cooler with it.

So whatever it is for you, something you're nervous about doing or don't think you can do.  Parenting issues.  Something you like that no one else likes....  Just own it.

Confidence. It sort of overrides all kinds of other qualities and things about a person...

Even when you're about to go Governess for the Von Trapp Family.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Everything and nothing

Fall is setting in.  This means a big schedule change in our household and in households everywhere.  It means going to bed and waking up earlier. It means less time with my family. It means ramping up for new programs at work, the school year starting, lunches to pack.  It means being tired at night. 

And right now though my body is drooping by 8:00 at night, my brain is going a million miles an hour.

I want to do so many things.

I want to finish this novel I'm trying to write
I want to start working again on my sewing projects
I want to play my guitar and write a new song
I want to sign up for another hula hoop class
I want to make some travel plans for the upcoming years

But by the time my kids are finally sleeping and everything is finally organized, what do I do? I watch the end of the Brewer Game while I look at Facebook and then turn on Conan O'Brien.  It's hard to be ALIVE all the time.  Sometimes I just want to be alive, breathing, zoning out. 

And then I'm just mad at myself for wasting the night away.  But is it really wasted time?  I tell myself, Well Alie, Gosh! You're a mom, a mom with a full time job besides and it's just a busy time of year.  This is LIFE! 

Which of course brings me to the age old question...what IS life? 
I mean, I think about the animal kingdom.  They just go through day by day, doing the same things.  Eating, sleeping, raising their babies and sending them on their way.  Trying to survive as long as they can.  I guess that's part of what humans do! 
And humans like me with full time jobs and full time kids and house with a mortgage and bills to pay...sometimes want to watch Conan, read the next chapter of their book and fall asleep.
But I only have roughly 50-60 more years on this planet and in addition to surviving as long as I can, I want to write a book, perform on stage, raise my kids, do good work, travel the world some more....  

It's a funny balance, isn't it?  Some living mixed in with some LIVING.  And I'm just trying to mix it right.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

4th grade

Today (as widely noted by smiling sisters and brothers, only children, multiple children, little ones and teenagers alike--their pictures all over the Facebook-iverse) is the first day of school. 

And my baby is in fourth grade.

FOURTH grade.

I don't know about you, but for me (and Tad says for him too), 4th grade is a pivotal year.  For me, fourth grade, age ten--that's the year I broke through and entered the consciousness in which I now reside.  Age ten was when I started my first diary, and never have stopped journaling since. Fourth grade is the place where friendship, real friendship began to mean a real lot to me.  It is the time that I remember exactly how I felt about my parents, about my sister, about the world.

Fourth grade is it, man. It is on now.

 This boy spends hours drawing intricate pictures.  Reads novels through parties and baseball games.  Talks introspectively about his reaction to something, his feelings about it. 

I see him look at himself in the mirror and I know he's communicating with himself.

It is amazing.

He is also wild and silly and full of goofiness and energy that sends him flopping all over the couch, his bed, his friends.

He has dark, angry moods yet still he slips his soft hand into mine and asks me why he is so annoyed with his sister, why he feels so angry and can't seem to stop it.

This boy is in fourth grade.  He will be ten years old in two weeks.  I'm proud of him and excited to watch him keep on growing.

But fourth grade--it's a big year.  He's coming into his own now.

Me, circa 1985.  4th Grade.