Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chocolate Bunnies & Cosmic Do-Overs

A friend on Facebook recently posed the question, "If you could go back in history, what would you do or change?"  This question has been swirling around in my brain ever since.  Some wrote of preventing global atrocities or witnessing an important event in history.  But my response was much more selfish.  I would stop my cousin from driving home from the lake, get my grandma to see a doctor before her pains grew so great and basically break all rules of time travel attempting to keep those I love safe & alive.  But for my own life, I realized that there is not much I would change.  Other than pure vanity... as in keep exercising, floss every day & save more, spend less... I do not have many regrets in life.  Every skinned-knee, broken heart & mis-step has led me to exactly this moment.  And this moment, my life right now, I would not change for the world.

Each generation tries to make life a little better, a little easier, than the last.  We don't always succeed, but we try.  In the past I think this meant working hard so your children could go to school, to make more money, live bigger lives in bigger houses.  But I like to think that my generation is trying to do better in other ways... by spending more time, listening more, hugging more, expressing more.  Learning from past mistakes, making better choices.  There is so much out of our control - but maybe, just maybe, recognizing the gift of a new day, trying to make a difference for someone else, is what can help change occur.  Maybe changing the past is not such a good idea?  It may seem naive, but economic crises & lost jobs just might be the priority shift that helps our future selves live better.

The realization that every morning we wake up to a new chance of re-birth, of resurrection, is a powerful one.    What do I want my 50 year old self to think of the me today?  What regrets might she have that I currently hold the power to prevent?  That this might be the morning I wake earlier than my boys & go for that 2 mile walk?  (Ha!)  Or the day I skip dessert? (Double Ha!)  Maybe someday I'll finally get that part right.

Or maybe, if I am very very lucky, this might be the day I help shape two little boys to become great men.


We are not exactly religious people, so Easter in our house has more to do with chocolate bunnies than anyone rising from the dead.  Our leanings are more in the agnostic/buddhist/spiritualist realm, preaching kindness, tolerance, forgiveness.  But this time of year the idea of resurrection is kind of hard to avoid.  With the natural world springing to life, new beginnings are all around... in flowering trees, baby birds & tomato starts lined up outside ready to be planted.

The boys enjoyed their egg- hunts this year.  Remy's strategy is to find an egg, open it, eat contents, look for next egg.  While Quinn preferred to fill his basket to the brim, not really caring about what is inside, more interested in the act of gathering.  After all the chocolate faces were wiped, toys gathered & sugar highs descended, it was a very fun week.

Thank you Jim for passing on your giant bunny tradition!

We also got to enjoy a surprise visit from cousins.... one of the many perks of living close-by. 

We might not ever get the chance to go back & change the past, but we do hold the power to make today amazing. 
Or as Quinn would say, using his new favorite word, to make it "awesome."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hello Steve

Scene 586
INT Minivan - Morning

3 year old:     (pointing out window) Mommy what is that black bird?
Mom:            That's a blackbird sweetie.
3 year old:     No Mommy.  What is that bird called?  The black one.
Mom:            That is called a blackbird.
3 year old:    (screams) NO MOMMY!  WHAT IS THAT BLACK BIRD CALLED?!?
Mom:            That bird is Steve.
3 year old:     Oh.  Okay.  Good morning Steve.

Three year olds are fun!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rockin' the Random

Is it weird that sometimes I click on my own blog & think "Darn, no new post"?
There is some tiny part of my brain that actually believes it is possible for this to happen without me knowing about it.  Like maybe a little blogging elf could have gone through our photos & composed a little something to go with them?

Yeah, I know.
A little weird.

Have been caught up in a swirl of doing a lot but not doing much outside of our routines.  And I find myself surprised that I am absolutely okay with this.  I used to dread the idea of ever having to do the exact same things every-single-day, but somehow I find it comforting at this point in life.  I know my boys won't always need me in the ways they do now.  Am enjoying being the center of their world for this brief moment in time.  Soon enough my kisses will no longer have magic healing powers, but instead will be a source of embarrassment in front of their friends.  My oh-so-beautiful singing voice will no longer soothe & entertain, but will also induce instant mortification.  This occurred to me during the morning drive to preschool.  Quinn & I rocked out to Katy Perry's Firework as Remy begged us to stop.  (Yeah, I know, but it is a totally fun song to go crazy in the car to!)
No deal kid... morning rock-outs will continue.

And now for something completely random...
Remy is a supermodel.
Once upon a time our very talented neighbor, Katrine, took some fun pictures of young Remy making a mess with blueberries. 

©Katrine Naleid Photography
Fast forward a year & a half and little mister is being PAID for two pictures that will be appearing in a cookbook for La Leche League. 

©Katrine Naleid Photography
Oh yes, he is on his way to fame & fortune.


A couple of weeks ago we planned a family day at the beach.  It stared out as a windy, foggy spring day... but as we got closer to the coast, the fog began to burn off & we lucked into an empty beach, bathed in sweet sunshine.

Boy + stick = happiness!
Watching the coolest formation of flying birds that I have ever seen.

Dewey breaks his "I don't do sticks" rule & enjoys a bit of fetch.


Last week's adventure was to the free-range dog park... and Costco... woohoo!

Who's hiding in the jungle?

A wild Remy!

At the end of the walk everyone wants a ride.


Saved the most exciting update for last...
Quinn is reading.
Yes, READING!!!!!
He started seeing a reading tutor about a month ago... she is amazing.  One of the tools we use is to make our own little books.  Quinn gets to pick from several different pictures, glues them to a page, we write a short sentence & voila... his very own book. 

I see Quinn.
Reading.  So very cool.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On Friendship

One of the qualities I admire most in my husband is his ability to strike up a conversation, and often a friendship, with just about anyone. This is one of the first things I learned about him -- he makes friends easily and with a wide variety of people.  On our very first date we were accompanied by four of his friends.  An eclectic group that I would never have imagined went together.  But somehow, with him as the center, they made sense.  Some friendships last, some fade away, but his talents for finding commonality and easy conversation, skills cultivated growing up as a Navy brat, have served him well over the years.

William, age 8... I can see so much of Remy in this picture.

My own friendship style is much more subtle, quiet & gradual.  School & work set the stage for the majority of my relationships to develop.  I don’t let people in easily, but once established, my loyalty runs deep.  I met my first friend from childhood more than 38 years ago & she is still a very important part of my life.  I talk several times a week with the best friend I met on the first day of junior high.  My cherished girl’s night out dates are with a group of women I have known since freshman year of college.  Facebook often drives me crazy for its ability to suck time, but I love how easy it is to stay in touch with friends around the globe. We may all live far apart & have our own busy lives, but it is these connections that help keep me going on the toughest days.  The comfort & company of people who know me, helps me re-charge, fueling me to be a better mother, wife, and person.

Becoming a mother forced me to find a new way of developing friendships.  With the absence of school or work to provide the framework, I have had to come out of my shell and actively seek new connections.  It is really humbling, as a forty-something, grown-up woman, to realize how hard it can be to make new friends.  Some days I long for the simplicity I remember from childhood.  When all you had to do was say, “I like you.  Do you want to play?”  Bonding quickly over sparkly bike seats & crushes on cute boys & which flavor of ice cream is the best.  Sometimes I wish it could be that easy as adult.  To be able to meet a mom at the park & say, “I like you.  Want to get a coffee?”  without sounding too desperate, or like some kind of freaky stalker.

In the early days after Quinn’s birth, I would often watch groups of women at the park… talking, laughing and fluidly caring for each other’s children.  I longed for this sense of community.  For the feeling of having someone local to turn to, helping to guide me in the confusing, sleepy fog of new motherhood.  For some reason being a part of this kind of group felt out of reach when I first entered the mother-hood.  My shy nature & unique child made me hang back even more.  Afraid to reach out for fear of rejection… rejection not just of me, but of my child.  I can see now that I was the only one holding myself back.  That the bulk of my insecurities stemmed from the inevitable shift that happens in new motherhood.  But at the time, I blamed Down Syndrome.  Once Remy was born & those feelings were still kicking around, I began to take responsibility for my own experience.  Realizing that having my own friendships is as important as caring for my family.

As Quinn gets ready to leave the softly feathered nest of pre-school & its closely-supervised interactions between the kids, I worry about him making friends in Kindergarten.  About the wide gap between his level of social skills & those of his future classmates.  Part of the reason we are pushing for him to start K this fall is to have a “practice” year.  A year of social learning to prepare for a more academic focus the next.  It all sounds good in theory, but like so many things, only time will tell.

I can already see that Remy is more like his Dad in this department, so I tend to worry less about his ability to make friends.  At the tender age of 3, he will go up to kids of all ages & say “I’m Remy, what’s your name?  Do you want to play with me?”   I do worry about how easily his feelings are bruised.  He has perfected the hurt look, his head hung low, mouth a classic pout, arms held straight against his body.  His emotions are mercurial and run close to the surface, changing direction quickly.  I am hoping this has more to do with being three than a sign of his future temperament.  

Watching my boys learn how to make friends, how to be a friend… these are skills I hope to teach well.  To lead by a good example in cherishing my friendships. Making new friends as a mom is tough.  Orchestrating schedules, adjusting to non-linear conversations, navigating play-date etiquette… just finding the time to get to know one another… are all big challenges.  But as I have found, so very worth the effort.

Caught this brief expression of brotherly love driving home the other day.  The boys had been apart most of the day & were so glad to be together again.

To me, the mark of success in life is knowing that if I really needed something, there is a long list of people who would drop everything & come to my aide.  A long list of people that I would do the exact same thing for.  
And that, is a pretty wonderful feeling.