Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Smoke Signal to You

We had our Christmas Eve service yesterday evening, which ended with singing "Silent Night" by candlelight. After everyone had extinguished their candles and left to finish last minute wrapping and cooking (at least that was my plan), Savannah came up to me holding her candle.

"Mom? If I blew out my candle and lit it again, is it still holy?"

"Sure," I responded. I couldn't see how her intentions would be anything but.

"Good. I want to take it outside and blow it out and send the smoke up to Jesus for a present."

She touched my heart and I'm sure put a smile on the one who came to us as a baby many, many stars ago on this day.

I'm sending out a smoke signal to all of you; you who still come to see what I have to say despite my absences.

I hope you have a blessed and joyful Christmas and a happy and safe new year (but I plan to talk to you again before then.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

City Woman

Savannah is crazy for animals. She is a sweet and gentle soul who loves all, er…most animals. Her goal is to become a veterinarian, animal shelter owner, grunt, or volunteer – however she can get in the place - or a marine biologist.

Oh yes! Or a singer!

Pretty hefty goals if you ask me, and I know she can do any of them.

Of course she has the typical love for dogs, cats, and birds. But she goes crazy for dolphins and horses. Unfortunately, there are no dolphins close by that we can introduce her to, but horses are another story. At least that’s what we recently discovered.

There is a very cool couple in our church, Angie and Frank, who own two horses. Frank grew up with horses, but four years ago Angie discovered them for the first time and fell in love. They ended up selling their house along with most of their possessions inside, bought their horses and built a barn with part of it being their home. They literally built it with their own four hands.

Talk about living your dream! They discovered what they wanted and went for it, no matter what the sacrifice. They’re my new role models.

It’s a shame I didn’t get pictures of their home. It’s absolutely beautiful…and very small. I think Pat and I would kill each other in a month’s time.

They invited us out after church yesterday so Savannah could be with the horses. It was wonderful watching Savannah sit atop Sundance, a beautiful creamy Quarter horse. And he was so sweet with her. Angie said he’s usually easy to get along with, but not as calm and mild as he was with Savannah. I think he knew what kind of person he had on his back: 1) a brand new rider, and 2) one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. I can’t believe she came from me sometimes. I’m foul mouthed, impatient, hot tempered, and…

definitely a city girl.

Now I spent time in the country growing up. My family comes from the piney woods of East Texas. We chopped down our own Christmas tree behind my grandmother’s house and we listened to Willie Nelson. If that doesn't make you country, I don't know what does.

Plus, when I was around eleven my father moved back to East Texas from the city after my parents divorced and I spent every other weekend and many summer days poking around with cowboys and my very country kin. I’ve always prided myself that I could switch from city to country in the 3-hour time period it took to go from one to the other with a stop at Dairy Queen on the way.

Yesterday, though, I realized just how long it’s been since I’ve been, well, countrified. I got dressed for church that morning, keeping in mind that I would be going out to see horses later. When it came time to walk outside with the Quarter horses and our gracious hosts, I looked down wondering why I was having such a hard time. Hmmm…I wonder why I thought leopard print flats would be good for the dirt and sand. Plus, my open-holed crocheted sweater didn’t do much to keep the cold wind out. Oh! And I held a baby wrapped in a “I’m a Rock Star” blanket.

Then there was Savannah. She had on Levi’s – very appropriate - with a beautiful, thin blouse – not so appropriate, but luckily she had her hoodie to keep her warm – and her Ugg wanna-be boots. Not appropriate at all! And we had Sarah running around in a dress and keds.

They wouldn’t write a country song about us. We would be the Lifetime Channel movie about the family that takes a trip to the country and all mayhem ensues. I don't think I could have convinced anyone I've spent time outside the city lights.

But the cold wind and the sand in my shoes were all worth it. Savannah couldn't keep the smile off her face, and Sarah was in complete awe of the mighty creatures. We managed to get her up on one for a short while before she wanted down, but Savannah stayed up as long as they would have her.



That's Angie with the girls sitting atop Sundance.

Look at that blue Texas sky! You don't always have that in the city.

I still can't believe I wore leopard print flats. Good grief!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Attack

I’ve been the victim of a hideous, senseless, moronic, and immature crime.

My computer was slammed, crashed, and broken down by a virus!

Melodramatic?

Maybe a little.

Pissed?

Oh yeah!

Everything came to a halt...my work, my writing, and most importantly, my surfing.

What I don’t get, though, is what gain do these anonymous attackers seek? I realize some are after money and try to hack in to your bank or credit accounts, but all this particular virus (and I’m told it was a nasty one) did was tie up the screen and then it went black. So what does that get them?

Satisfaction that someone has been inconvenienced?

The pleasure in knowing someone’s work has ceased?

You know that last one isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you work in the corporate world. I know I enjoyed my 36 hour break.

But seriously, what kind of person works to make others miserable? It’s very Grinch-like if you ask me. I envision a pear-shaped man with bird legs sitting in the corner rubbing his green hands together with a creepy smile slinking up his face.

Dude, get a life!

It’s really a sad existence when you think about it: living just to make others miserable.

After the smoke cleared from my ears and I rode out the frustration, I started to feel sorry for whoever is responsible for my computer’s illness. I didn’t lose any documents or important photographs – at least not this time. I just went technology-free for a while. I even took the day off from work yesterday and spent it hanging out with my husband and two younger kiddos. We had some great Thai food and a few laughs together, and I was able to relax for a little while.

Maybe I should thank this bird-legged Grinch. His work to inconvenience me just gave me a little breather I needed.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eva

My niece Eva turns 21 today.

Twenty-one!

That makes me the aunt of a legal drinker. Egad!

Eva was the first baby I ever cared for. I was in awe and completely smitten from day one. She was my original Little Buddy. We tore all around town causing all kinds of trouble together. She was with me when I ripped the pump off the gas tank. But that’s a story for another time.

When my sister, Valarie, returned to work after some time at home with Eva I was working part-time in a retail store, mainly evenings. So whenever she needed someone to care for an ill baby or toddler I was available. That’s when I learned how to hold, feed, bathe, and shower a young one with love and care. I also learned how to make a child tardy for school. I guess you could say that was the start of my bad mommy ways.

When Eva was in Kindergarten both of her parents had to be at work, or at least on their way, before the start of the school day. My apartment was on the way to work for her dad, Rick, a.k.a. Dren, so he would drop her off at my place before the sun came up. I don’t remember what he was doing at the time. I just remember he had to be somewhere at an ungodly hour.

Dren would knock on the door and I would answer it, taking Eva’s backpack and clothes for her to change into and we would both fall on the couch or the bed (depending on whether or not Pat was in town) and we would be out as soon as her head hit the pillow and my arm wrapped around her. Almost every morning I would wake up and look at the clock and that would start our harried routine: fling back the covers, yank off her pj’s, throw on her clothes, rake a comb through her hair, disguise my pj’s in whatever was near, and run out the door with breakfast in hand.

We were late…again….and again….and again. I don’t think Rick and Val were too happy when they got the report listing the number of tardies Eva had at the end of each semester. Oops! That’s what you get when you leave your child in the hands of an immature twenty-something who stays up until two or three in the morning.

I don’t think those Kindergarten tardies hurt her, though. She’s now a junior in college with an unbelievable GPA and has been accepted to study abroad next semester. She leaves for Botswana, Africa after the new year. I don’t see her near as much as I did when she was a little one, but thinking of her half a world away still hurts. I may have to snatch her up during the Christmas festivities and take a little joy ride with her.

Maybe we can vandalize another gas station.

Happy birthday, Eva!

I love you so much and I’m so proud of the young lady you’ve become.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Sin I’ve Committed

I‘ve been careless.

I’ve been way too hasty.

I’ve been wishing for something that I truly don’t want to come.

The problem is I’ve been so caught up in myself that I didn’t stop to think about what I was doing, or thinking, or wishing.

You see, I feel run down. I’m working full-time in a stressful and toxic environment. I’m also a full-time mom, a wife, and a housekeeper. I’m probably not much different from many of you.

At the same time I’m trying to work out a risky career change and singing at church part-time. I’d say I have more than a full plate. It’s more like a buffet table. Instead of picking and choosing from my custom-made buffet, I tend to pile it all on and stay stuck in the mode of How am I ever going to get this all done?

So today I worked on my weekly schedule, because a buffet needs A LOT of planning. Each week I try to find time for some exercise, cleaning, researching, writing, and, oh yeah! There’s the kids. And, I’m embarrassed to say, it never fails…I end up thinking to myself, Man, I can’t wait until they can bathe themselves, or feed themselves, or entertain themselves.

Right after I printed out my schedule with a heavy sigh and an overwhelmed feeling, I saw a video of a woman whose daughter is getting married. A sad look came across her face and she said, “You just don’t think when your child is small that in just a few years it’s going to be completely different, and you look back and say where did that time go? It goes by fast.”

This hit me so hard I almost fell to my knees. I felt like I had committed the mother of all sins. You can take that literally. I’ve been wishing away my kids’ childhoods.

But what does any of this matter without your kids? What if I do get that dream career one day, but they don’t want to call or visit me because I was always preoccupied?

What if I have a clean house, but they feel like I’m always yelling at them for leaving out toys or crumbs on the table?

What if I have all the time I want to sit and brood about what all I have to get done, and I forget that my first priority is enjoying every minute I can with my precious, aggravating, loud, and beautiful kids, as long as they’ll allow me to hold them, snuggle with them, run and play with them, or just lie with them as they sleep?

It’s time to repent and ask for guidance to get back on the right road. I need you guys to remind me if I start to stray again.

I still have a schedule because I’ll forget what’s coming up if I don’t, but I’ve changed it to be more lax. It reads, “Things to Do If There’s Time.”

I’ve got more important things to tend to.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's All in the Mind

I’ve been in a baking kick lately: gooey s’mores bars, moist banana muffins, and my awesome chocolate cream pie. Ok, the last isn’t baked, but it’s a treat so I’m counting it.

So earlier this week I found a fantastic recipe for red velvet cupcakes (Thank you, Paula Deen!). As I was pouring the finished batter into the muffin tins Savannah came in. A little late, I might add. She usually runs in as soon as she hears the mixer running, but she strolled in rather nonchalantly this time.

“Wha’cha making?”

She looked a little confused when she first saw the red batter and then her eyes grew big with excitement.

“Are those red velvet cupcakes?”

“Beet muffins,” I responded.

“What’s a beet?”

“It’s a vegetable. Wanna try a taste?”

She looked repulsed when I held out the spatula to her.

“Just try it,” I encouraged her.

She got a very small dot of batter on her finger and tasted it, then stuck out her tongue.

“Yuck!”

“Are you serious?” I said stunned. Yuck wasn’t quite the response I had expected.

“I don’t like it,” she said with a slightly disgusted look, yet there was still something on her face that told me she wasn’t sure she believed she had just tried beets.

“I can’t believe you don’t like this. Try it again.”

With a little trepidation she took a bigger bite of the batter and with all the drama of her sister she protested, “Oh! It’s horrible!” and ran out with her head thrown back and her arms flying behind her.

Oh the horror of supposedly trying a new vegetable!

A red one at that!!

I finally confessed when Savannah found Pat and me sharing the very tasty leftovers in the mixing bowl and a laugh that our oldest, hater of all things good for her, had immediately hated it just because she thought it was a vegetable.

It’s amazing what we can keep ourselves from enjoying just because of our thoughts….and fears.

Just a little food for thought.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ghost Stories

Do you believe in ghosts?

I don’t.

I don’t think.

I laugh when I hear stories and secretly hope they’re not real.

I’m fascinated by ghost stories, though. I watch paranormal shows and movies like The Others and What Lies Beneath while the hair on my arms stands up and I constantly look over my shoulder.

In the last couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to travel to two “haunted” hotels through work. I was excited about the trips. I thought maybe this would be my chance to see if there is really something to the tales, although I didn’t really believe there was. But the whole time I was there, both times, I was on edge for fear that maybe there was some truth.

My first trip was a conference a couple years ago. Pat and Sarah, a baby at the time, traveled with me to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. The Stanley Hotel is the infamous hotel where Stephen King came up with the idea for The Shining while he was snowed in doing research for another book. It’s been featured on Ghost Hunters on the Sci Fi channel.

Even though I was creeped out during my stay, I never experienced anything except for jumping when I saw my white shirt hanging in the closet while I was getting ready before the sun came up. Those early morning conferences will make you hallucinate like that.

Two ladies from work traveled with us. One, we’ll call "T," was originally placed next door to Stephen King’s room. He claimed to hear children playing in the hallway at all hours and other experiences in his room. She asked to be moved to another room. The next morning when she told me her new room number I didn’t say anything, but as soon as she walked away I looked at my other co-worker, this one we’ll call "J." Our eyes grew and we immediately reached for the computer. Sure enough on the Ghost Hunters website, there was T’s room, jumping table and all. We kept our mouths shut until we arrived back home. She said nothing happened until her last evening.

T was sitting on the bed working when suddenly there was a knock at the door. She said she had an immediate uneasy feeling. Then there was a little girl’s voice, “Mommy, let us in.” Another knock. “Mommy, why won’t you let us in?” And then it stopped. No footsteps. The story is that a woman drowned her two twin girls in a room on that floor.

*Shiver*

J claimed she also had an experience. She had stepped out to take a breather on a balcony that was next to her room. She heard footsteps coming down the stairs above her and then footsteps behind her, but she never saw anyone. She turned to see if anyone was there and saw a black shadow moving down the hallway. No shadows on the walls, just a dark figure walking down the middle of the hall.

I must place a disclaimer after this story. J frequently came to work smelling of alcohol, and this conference was no exception. She no longer works for my organization.

T was creeped out by the entire trip. She thinks the General Manager was a ghost. I have to admit he was a little creepy and loved to tell ghost stories. For instance, every New Year's Eve they close all the blinds and lock the doors to one of the ballrooms so the past employees can have their own party. He claims you can hear them talking and laughing and playing music.

My second trip to a “haunted” hotel was just recently in mid-October. I attended a conference at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, D.C. I had completely forgotten there were ghost stories about this hotel until I had breakfast with co-workers that had come in before me. T was one of them again, and believe me, she hated being there. The General Manager had taken all three of them up to the “Ghost Suite” the night before and tried to call the ghost out. T said they all had sufficient wine in them to allow them to laugh their way through, but she didn’t want to go back.

My last day there one of the ladies came into our onsite staff office completely freaked out. She said she had placed her shoes beside her bed before she went to sleep. She claims her closet light turned on and then off again in the middle of the night, and when she woke in the morning her shoes were in the closet with the heels lined up at the threshold with the door closed.

*Skin Crawl*

Later that afternoon the General Manager came to tell us that one of their housekeepers had just quit when a porcelain lamp went flying across the room in the Ghost Suite. I think she just didn't want to pay for the lamp.

Did I have an experience this time? I washed my face in the bathroom sink and when I looked up in the mirror a saw a figure behind me. A figure that turned out to be from the picture on the wall that had reflected just right in the etching around the mirror. I had let out a scream, though, and ended up doing my make up backed up to the headboard of the bed and it was done in record time, thank you very much.

I have another conference coming up there in a little over a year. I’m going to have to get Pat to go with me because I know my mind will play tricks on me.

So, do I believe in ghosts now? I still say no, and I’m still fascinated by the stories. I’m watching ghost stories on television as I type this. Also, I think General Managers love to scare the crap out of their guests.

What about you? Do you believe in ghosts?

Happy Halloween!

Booo-wah-ha-ha-ha-ha! (That’s supposed to be a spooky laugh.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

10 Years

Today marks 10 years since my father passed.

10 years.

That's a long time to be without a father.

And an even longer time to miss someone like crazy.

This is an article I wrote about his death that was published in the United Methodist Reporter a few years back. I don't really have any words to describe how I feel about the significance of this day, so I thought I'd use this once again.

"A Holy Death"

It had been just a few months since my father’s death when I sat in a pew listening to my sister, Valarie, who was at the time the Associate Pastor of my church. The title of her sermon was, “The Divine Argument.” I could feel my husband’s hand squeezing mine as she described the pain and frustration my father and the entire family went through as he neared the end of his days. I’ll never forget her words: “This was a holy death.” I sat confused. I was still grieving. I still felt an ache in my chest every time I thought of him. I was still unable to eat a full meal knowing I would never sit at the table with him again. I could remember his anger as he lay dying. The pain from the loss of my father was palpable, and now my sister called it a holy death?

Our father had fought cancer for several years, always winning the battle, at least for a while. But in February of 2000 it was announced that the cancer had found its way into his bones. When they tested his bone marrow for a possible transplant, they were unable to remove a drop of liquid. The cancer had ravaged his body and was determined to win this time. Our father was only expected to live for a few months, so Valarie and I began making several trips from Dallas to East Texas to spend as much time with him as possible. In late September of that year he was placed in hospice care when his body began shutting down. Valarie and I took off work to be with him. He wasn’t expected to live longer than a week. We sat with him for three weeks and watched him hallucinate from the morphine.

Daddy had been a Minister of Music in the Baptist church for several years and was very skilled in woodworking. I sat next to his hospital bed in his favorite living room chair and watched him build things in the air. His hands gripped an imaginary hammer and nails, using the level to be sure everything was set just right. He also conducted his church choir. Though no music played, I could hear it in my head just by watching his movements. The most difficult thing to watch, however, was his argument with God. He wasn’t ready to go, and couldn’t understand why his time had come. He was only 74 and felt he had more to do, most importantly, watch his granddaughters grow and mature. He wanted to see where life would lead them. My father, a devoted Christian who held a Master’s degree in religious education, was pissed off and I was afraid he would never make peace with the inevitable outcome. I wanted to curl up next to him in his bed to comfort him, or maybe comfort myself, but I was afraid I would hurt his now frail body that was in constant pain.

My sister and I stayed in that house with our step-mother as we tried to tend to his needs, keep him company, and let him know he was not alone. The world stopped for us. Nothing else mattered during these three weeks. The house was like a cocoon, guarding us from everything outside those walls during this precious time.

During out third week with Daddy he experienced a second wind. His appetite returned, he could sit up a little higher in bed. He wanted to try to stand up and see if he could walk. We all knew he couldn’t, but we felt relieved to have him back, to hear him talk to us as Daddy always did. “Pass me the sugar, Sugar,” he would say with a twinkle in his eye. That night there was suddenly no anger and he wanted to begin his funeral preparations. Valarie sat right next to him writing down every word he said, wanting to be sure his wishes were met. I, on the hand, sat in the corner. Daddy’s bargaining with God may have stopped, but I wasn’t done with mine just yet.

No one knew just how long Daddy would hold, so Valarie and I worked out a plan to take turns going back and forth between Dallas and his house in East Texas. When my turn came to return to Dallas for three days, Daddy and I had a fight just before I was to leave. I ended up walking out of the house without giving him a kiss or an “I love you.” I just threw a goodbye at him and walked out the door. I was fuming. I had to stop for gas before I could begin my three-hour drive, so I pulled over at the gas station just behind his home. As I stood outside the car, the cool, autumn wind gently blowing, something told me to go back. It was as if the wind had whispered to me. I walked into the house and headed straight for my father’s bed. Leaning down over him I whispered, “I love you, Daddy,” and laid a kiss on his forehead. I can still remember how soft his skin felt. He looked at me with his crystal blue eyes, and what seemed to be relief, and said, “I love you, too Sugar.” I drove back to Dallas in peace. At 6:08 AM two mornings later I received a call from my sister. “He’s gone,” she whispered in the phone.

It has taken me a few years to understand what my sister was saying in her sermon. Now when I ponder the question if Daddy’s was a holy death, I think, yes. It wasn’t pretty like the images this term conjures up. A holy death is not a stream of light falling down around the dying as you sit next to them, your hands cupped under your chin. A holy death is feeling tired and broken, but you stay beside them. A holy death is cleaning the disease, like used coffee granules, from their chin with a soft touch. A holy death is being given the gift of time as you sit and watch their bodies shut down. It’s being given the nudge to go back and say goodbye.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Letter to Pace

Dear Pace,

You turn 5 months old today. It’s going so fast. Too fast really, considering you’re my last.



Honestly, I’m a little sad and relieved at the same time. I’m getting too old for the late nights and early mornings, but I’ve loved watching your sisters bond with you. Each in her own way.

I’ve always known that your oldest sister, Savannah, has a kindness about her. A warmth that can settle your soul. When I’m not around she’s the one who can calm you when nothing else seems to help. She holds you tenderly and rocks you while speaking in a soothing voice. If I or your father need someone to take care of you for a while, she’s right there. When you’re older and you need someone to talk to or just sit with for a reprieve during rough times, Savannah will be the one to call. She’ll be your rock through life.

And there’s Sarah. Before you came home from the hospital I worried that she would have a jealous streak. Some of the attention she was used to getting would be given to you, and believe me she LOVES the attention. You’ll discover that. But Sarah showed an immediate interest in you and has grown to love you fiercely. And I do mean fiercely. She gets right in your face and sweetly says, “Ah-goo” a few times and then she shakes with such an intensity. I don’t think she knows what to do with the strong feelings she has. She may wear you out, always on the go and craving the spotlight, but you’ll never doubt her love for you.

I pray that the three of you will be a tight unit, able to help each other, laugh and cry with each other, and keep the family bond intact. Encourage each other to work toward your dreams.



And always remember…

Mom loves you.

P.S. So does Dad.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Room to Breathe

The last couple of weeks have been unspeakable.

The last couple of weeks have been unbloggable (as you can tell from my absence).

The last couple of weeks had me gasping for air, literally. I found myself trying to catch my breath a couple times while just sitting on the couch.

I’ve wanted to curl up in a fetal position and sleep until everything cleared itself up. Fortunately, I have kids that don’t allow me to check out like that or believe me, I would have stayed in bed for days.

Today was the first day I felt like I had some breathing room. During a lull in the afternoon I put on one of my David Gray cd’s, picked up a book I’ve been wanting to read, and eased back in the recliner ready to zone out for a while. Sarah came up asking to sit with me. I pulled her up thinking I could read with her snuggled in my lap, but she kept throwing Ziggy, her prized stuff animal, down to the ground.

Over and over I picked it up.

Again and again down he went.

Finally, I announced I was done with this “game.” She slid off my lap onto the floor to pout. Normally I would let her pout and just ignore her, but today it didn’t feel right. I spied one of her books on the coffee table and picked it up.

“Do you want me to read to you?” I asked.

A huge smile lit up her face. Without a word she climbed back up in the chair with me and I read the book, silly voices and all. Half way through I felt Savannah lean on the back of my chair listening. I guess they were glad to have Mommy fully engaged again. Not that I haven’t been engaged, but I haven’t been a lot of fun.

That reading time gave me a little breath I’ve been lacking. The smile on Sarah’s face, my voice luring Savannah in, a little music in the background; they may not have resolved my problems, but they were the fresh air I needed

Sometimes when things get bad and we feel stifled or hopeless, we just need to remember to give ourselves a little room to breathe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Memories of a Miracle

I was the recipient of a miracle one night last week.

I had all three kids showered or bathed, lotioned, teeth brushed, read to, and in their beds ready for sleep by 9:00, and I was in bed, also showered, read, and relaxed by 10:00!

I felt like the heavens were shining down on me.

Begin the Hallelujah chorus please.

I keep trying to make that wondrous event happen again, but alas, at least one of my kids goes to bed stinky, or refuses to sleep, or I’m dragging my tired, stinky butt to bed much later than I’d like.

Ah well. At least I can hold memories of that one magical night.

And now cue Barbra Streisand singing The Way We Were.

Yes, I like to talk about my life in soundtrack.



Look at me! I actually learned how to post a video to my blog! I might be catching on to all of this techie stuff.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Soliloquy

I’m just going to be honest with you.

I’m pissed!

And yesterday I couldn’t think of anything else but why I’m pissed

So I didn’t write anything

Because I didn’t want to think about it

But I could think of nothing else.

Does that even make sense?

I woke this morning still pissed.

But I want to write

Because I enjoy it

It gives me a release

But I don’t want to write about what’s on my mind

Which is what I normally do

Write about whatever’s there

Hanging around in my mind

No matter how dark, sad, or silly.

I’m usually very honest

To a fault sometimes

But today all I’m going to say is

I feel like I have no options for things that are bothering me

I just have to sit and take it and try to make the best of it

But I’m not happy about it

I’m pretty tired of it, actually.

And I’m pissed!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sarah

Today is a big day.

Three years on this day, just before noon…



Sarah was born.

And she met her sister for the first time.



Sarah has added a little more light to our home.



She’s easy going.



She’s got a great sense of humor.



She loves her sister



And her brother



And she’s incredibly cool.



Happy birthday, Tugar.

I love you so much.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Update on Savannah

My baby has had two days at her new school.

My baby, though initially scared, had a great first day.

My baby made friends on her first day of school.

My baby looked confident and happy when she walked out of the school.

My baby was eager to tell me about her first day.

My baby followed me around the house to talk about her second day.

My baby is happy.



My baby is 11 and in middle school.

My baby is not a baby anymore.

She’s grown up on me when I wasn’t looking.



She took on a major change with poise, grace, and determination.

She maneuvered the hallways and portables of a much bigger school with ease.



She has crossed over from girlhood to teenager.

And she still greets me with a huge smile and even bigger hug.

She gives great hugs!

I’m so proud of her.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Savannah on My Mind

I’ve got Savannah on the brain. She started her new school this morning complete with a new uniform, lunch box, and a stomach full of nerves.

When we pulled into the parking lot Savannah let out one of those nervous stretches. You know the kind. It’s shaky and tight and you take in a deep breath and let it out in a last effort to get out the butterflies, but it just pumps the adrenaline more.

I told her we could sit in the car for a little bit, so we sat together listening to her new Camp Rock 2 CD until she said, “Okay. Let’s go. Now.”

It was toward the end of first period before we had her registered and a class schedule worked out. I was fine with the delay because it gave me some extra time before I sent her out into the great unknown. She’s going from a school of 300 to a school of 1000. BIG change for my timid girl.

An eighth grader gave us a tour of the huge school…that is until it was time for second period to start. Then she took off leaving Savannah and I staring at each other.

“Well, I guess I should go,” Savannah said trying to look confident. Then a scared look came across her face, but just briefly. I laid my hand her arm, “You’re going to have a great day.”

She nodded and walked toward her class, shoulders back, and head held high.
I wanted to reach out and cling to her. I wanted to take her back home and fill in for her until the school day became routine and I had landed a friend or two, then she could drop back in and take over for the rest of the year.

I stood in the hallway and watched her walk away until I couldn’t see her red curls anymore. Then I turned and cried as if I had just dropped off my five year old for her first day in kindergarten.

I am the epitome of an overprotective mom. I admit it. Maybe it’s because I remember what it’s like to be awkward and eleven. Or how it feels to be shy and have to start a new school without knowing anyone. I attended five different schools in six years, and each time I was terrified.

I’ve been watching the clock all day.

Savannah’s in choir now. That will be a nice break in her day.

Oh God. This is probably her lunch time. I hope she finds a place to sit.

She’s in her last class right now and I’m counting down the minutes until I can give her a big hug and hear how her day went.

I hope it was good.

I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Bedtime Story with Sarah

I try to read a couple books with Sarah most nights before she drifts off, which lately is about three hours after I’ve put her to bed. She likes to burn the midnight oil.

Our reading time usually goes something like this:

Me: Said the mother hor…

Sarah: MOMMY, LOOK! HORSE!

Me: Yes, Sarah. To her ch…

Sarah: NNNEEEEIIIIIGGGGHHHH!

Me: That’s right, Sarah.


*Give up and turn the page.*


Said the mother b…

BEAR, MOMMY! BEAR!

Yeah, it’s a bear. To her chil…

GGGRRRRR!!

Yeah, ggrrrr. I love you as mu…

LOOK! I COLOR!

I know. You colored the page.


*Give up and turn the page.*


Said the mother cam…

OOOOH! CAMEL!

Yep, camel.


*Pause this time and wait for it.*


*Silence.*


What does a camel do?


*More silence.*


LOOK, MOMMY! I COLOR!

That’s right. You colored the page.


*Chuckle, give up and turn the page.*


Said the mother du…

DUCK!

Uh-huh. To her child…

QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!

I lov…

QUACK! QUACK!

You as mu…

QUACK! QUACK!


*Sigh, give up and turn the page.*


Said the…

SHEEP!

Mother sheep to…

BAAAHH!

Her child…

I COLOR!

I love y…

MOMMY!

As much…

MOMMY!

As the grass…

MOMMY!

What?

SHEEP!

Yes, Sarah. It’s a sheep.


*Sigh, give up and skip to the last page.*


Now sleep…

BABY!

Child of…

IT’S A BABY!

I lov…

I COLOR!

A mother…

RREEEDDDD!

Can love. The end.


*And close the book.*


This is when Sarah sticks her thumb in her mouth and sinks down next to me….ready to read a book.

Can you guess that book?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes

This week has been trying.

This week has been frustrating.

This week has been sad, mixed with anger, mixed with hope.

This week has brought out the lioness in me like no other.

We had… let’s call it “issues” with Savannah’s school this week.

“Issues” that resulted in us pulling her from school.

Pulling her from a school she’s attended since Kindergarten.

I was so angry at the administration of this school.

Then I felt completely broken at the loss…for me….for Savannah.

Now at the beginning of her sixth grade year she will need to start over at a new place, with new kids, new teachers, and the semester has already begun.

I find myself holding my kids, especially my oldest, closer than ever and growling at anyone who dares to come near.

But then a little hope emerged when Savannah and I toured schools together, and we felt ourselves getting excited about one. I swear I saw a future friend walk by. She had the same curly hair as my girl pulled back into a ponytail and she looked at us with a shy smile as she walked by.

This morning I picked up Savannah’s information from her old school for the transfer to become official. As I stood at the office window the Kindergarten class walked by in a single-file line and I could see Savannah, five years old, walking with them. Then the Science teacher Savannah had been looking forward to having this year walked out into the hallway, talking to the kids as they walked by. My heart sank and I could feel the tears well up.

We’ve been a part of this school for over six years and they’ve been a part of us, frustrations and all.

As I turned to leave the office manager said, “Tell Savannah I love her and I’m going to miss her.” I could only nod.

In the car I wiped my eyes and drove away.

We’ve made our decision…

And there’s no looking back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl3vxEudif8

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A New Chapter

Before the summer began I added a new chapter to the bad mother saga.

We know that I don’t swaddle.

I’m not available to my kids.

And I cuss.

Like a hell of a lot.

Let’s call this addition “Tacky.” I’m blaming this incident on pregnancy hormones because it makes me feel better.

Before I get into it I’d like to give you just a little back story. One of Savannah’s classmates since first grade, we’ll call her The Girl Who Shall Not Be Named, is rather, let’s say, snooty and manipulative. She has said and done some things to Savannah through the years that has made me not a fan. For instance, she likes to come between Savannah and her best friend.

I’m a protective mother.

OVER protective mother.

FIERCELY over protective mother.

You don’t like my kid? Then I don’t like you. Hmmm…I could stop the tacky story right there, couldn’t I? But, oh no. There’s more.

I was seeing Savannah off at school for her fifth grade trip last spring. I was big, pregnant, and miserable. The Girl Who Shall Not Be Named had heard that we were naming our new baby Pace. She looked at me and said rather sarcastically, “You’re naming your baby after the picante sauce?” She then looked at another girl and laughed.

I mimicked her laughed and matched her sarcasm with my best, responding, “Yeah, we just looove it so much.” Then I added rather pointedly, “No, we’re not naming our baby after a picante sauce,” and rolled my eyes. I glanced back at her and she was staring at me rather stunned. As if my head had just spun around and sprayed her with pea soup.

I immediately felt horrible and petty, and afraid that I had just given her more ammunition to try and ostracize my girl. When the time came for the bus to leave, there sat Savannah…alone. She gave me a wave and then smiled with excitement as the bus pulled out. When she returned four days later she reported that she had had a blast. I breathed a sigh of relief. Her mother’s tacky, immature behavior hadn’t damaged the trip she had been looking forward to all year.

I told Savannah about my run-in with The Girl Who Shall Not Be Named tonight at dinner. She laughed hysterically. I asked her, “Do you think it’s a blog post?”

“Oh yeah,” she giggled.

Can you tell me how a tacky, foul-mouthed, sometimes clueless mother can have such a sweet, laid back daughter?

When I stepped away for a moment while composing this post I came back to find this message,

“Hey mommy! Love ya! – S”

I love my girl.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love with a Side of Guilt Please

I read Eat, Pray, Love and really liked it.

No, let me rephrase that…

I DEVOURED Eat, Pray, Love and absolutely LOVED it.

I was pulled in by Elizabeth Gilbert's writing, captivated with her travels, and jealous of her ability to take a time out…..for a year! Of course, a hefty book advance helps.

My love for the book made me want to share it, so I loaned the book to my mother who has been holding it hostage for a while. I believe we’re on day 526, but I’m not counting. When hype for the movie started, I asked mom if she ever finished it. She admitted that she had barely cracked it and wasn’t sure she wanted to. When I asked why I could tell she didn’t want to tell me, but after a little prodding she caved.

She didn’t have a problem with the eat (Italy) and love (Bali) sections necessarily. It was the prayer section that gave her cause for pause: Elizabeth Gilbert’s time at a meditation center in India.

“How,” my mother asked, “can you go to India to find God, peace, or religion, and not talk about the immense poverty all around you? How can you turn a blind eye to the suffering and just focus on yourself? I think it’s selfish. And you don’t have to go to India to find God or religion. You can find it right here, wherever you are.”

My mom gave me food for thought. Actually, she made me feel like a heel. Not on purpose. She didn't talk down to me or tell me she didn't raise me to be selfish or unaware. I did it to myself. Why hadn’t I realized there was something missing in that tale of self exploration?

I haven’t stopped thinking about it since our conversation. On the one hand I could relate to wanting to drop it all and go. To focus on nothing but self care and exploration. What makes me thrive? What revives me? What could I accomplish if I didn’t have the daily grind to tend to?

But on the other hand…

This weekend at church our pastor played a video that brought this all home for me. I had heard of TOMS shoes before, but I wasn’t aware there was a mission behind the company. Founder Blake Mycoskie traveled to Argentina in 2006 to play polo, drink the wine, and basically have fun. He and his friends were staying close to a poverty-stricken area where none of the kids had shoes. None!

He came up with the idea for TOMS while he was there. With every pair of shoes he sells, he gives a pair away. They sold and gave away 10,000 shoes that year. This year they plan to sell/give 300,000.

Blake took this opportunity to open his eyes and make a difference, not just close them and keep the focus inward. What really got me, what had tears form in my eyes - they don’t just drop off the shoes and go. They're not a hit and run charity. They place the shoes on the children’s feet.

That’s true ministry.

You can watch the video about TOMS here.

You can also purchase a pair of shoes here. They have really cute wedges for this fall.

Side note: I wasn’t asked by TOMS or any company or person to post this. Their story moved me enough to want to share it.

Also, I’m still going to see Eat, Pray, Love. Just with a little more awareness.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Many Faces of Pace

Pace has become a very complex person in his old age. He goes through a wide range of emotions whenever I have to wake him.

I know, I know. You should never wake a sleeping baby, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Like when you’re running late for work, AND your office is right next to your boss, AND you still need to feed the baby before you can walk out the door, as in this morning. It was a very harried morning.

But back to the subject…

When I lay Pace down on the changing table he likes to show his range of emotions. He goes from frustration to confusion to pure happiness.

First he furrows his brow, rubs his fists all over his face, and stares me down.

“Dude, what’s the big deal? I was sleeping, man.”

Then he lifts his eyebrows.

“Wait a minute. Where am I? Who are you and what are you doing to my pee pee?”

And then comes my favorite part. A grin spreads across his face and turns into a huge, open-mouthed smile.

“I know you! You’re Mommy....Dairy Queen....The Boob.

FEED ME!”

He’s three months old and he’s already acting like a teenager. Jeez!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yoga Makes the Family Come 'Round

I love Yoga.

Yoga has kept me flexible as I’ve aged.

It eases the lower back pain I developed after carrying Sarah.

I even found a routine that alleviates menstrual cramps all day without having to take a single Ibuprofen.

And when Pat was traveling while Savannah was a toddler, it gave me respite from her terrible two’s.

A few years ago after Savannah got over those terrible two’s, my sister Valarie, a Yoga enthusiast herself, gave Savannah her very own Yoga DVD complete with a mat. Savannah and I spent many weekends with our mats next to each other, leaning on one another during Tree Pose, laughing until we cried doing the rocking Beetle Pose, and I frequently ended up in Corpse Pose, my favorite of all poses (Duh!), with Savannah sitting on top of me giggling. It didn’t have quite the calming effect on her I hoped it would, but we had a blast.

Now when I exercise at home Sarah waits for me to finish and then asks me to put in that same yoga DVD.

“Lay down, Mommy. Lay down,” she says and I go through all the poses once again with a different child, and she doesn’t lie on top of me in Corpse Pose. She’s too busy talking. Again, not quite fulfilling the purpose of Corpse Pose, but I enjoy it.

Corpse Pose is meant to give you total relaxation, a meditative moment at the end of your practice. You lie on your mat, eyes closed, hands open, and let the relaxation come.

The power of Corpse Pose came to me not long after I began practicing Yoga on the weekends. It was the week after my father died and I had been back at work for a couple days. I had a gym membership through work and they offered a Yoga class every Friday during lunch. I decided to take advantage of it to see if I could get any relief from the grief that completely consumed me, if just for a moment.

I had never taken a Yoga class before. I had only used videos and books. The instructor announced we would be concentrating on our feet that day. Interesting, I thought. And then we spent the next 20 minutes looking at, stretching, and massaging our feet.

Interesting, turned to, This is just weird.

Finally, about half way through, we began doing the traditional poses and ended with Corpse Pose. Aaahhhh! I sunk down into the floor, took in a deep breath, and closed my eyes. I hadn’t been too impressed with the class, but I was ready to just be alone, away from work, away from the phone, and even away from family.

After a couple moments the instructor’s voice faded and I felt like I was in my own cocoon. Suddenly I found myself in my father’s living room. He was lying in the same hospital bed the hospice care company had set up for him 3 weeks before he died. During those 3 weeks I had wanted to lie down next to him so badly, but he was in so much pain from the cancer, I was afraid of hurting him. He seemed too delicate.

But that day, in that Corpse Pose, in that imaginary cocoon, I walked to the bed and laid down next to my father. His arm, attached to many tubes, wrapped around me, and we clung to each other in silence.

I don’t know how long I stayed that way before I heard the instructor’s voice call to me. I was the last one in the room. Tears were streaming down my face.

“You okay?” she asked kneeling beside me. I just nodded and wiped my face. She helped me fold up my mat and put my things away, and we parted ways with a smile to each other.

Yoga has continued to be what I turn to when things get to be too much, or I feel as though I’m sinking. I’ve tried to make time for it while working through this postpartum funk. Three kids don’t allow a lot of free time for a full routine, but I try to sneak in a Corpse Pose every once in a while, even if it’s with a babbling toddler next to me and a sleeping baby in the swing. It still gives me just a moment.

Namaste.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Word

Pace asked me to pass a message on to everyone....



"Ah-goo," spoken with a little drool.

His vocabulary's a little limited.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Little Lift

I finally gave in and tried an exercise routine yesterday. I've done a little walking with Leslie Sansone and some postnatal ab work with Erin O'Brien, but for the first time yesterday I pulled out a cardio and toning DVD: Buff Moms Beyond Baby Workout.

It whipped my butt! But with Savannah's encouragement, "Come on, Mom! You can do it," I made it through.

And you know what? I felt fantastic afterward! I felt like the fog had lifted and I could think a little more clearly. It's carried over into today, too.

I need to follow my own PPD description and get that exercise in.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Snakes Everywhere!

Have I told you I'm terrified of snakes?

I have no idea where the fear came from, but it’s there, and it’s BIG. I can’t even look at a drawing of a snake without freaking out. And lately whenever my husband surfs through the channels, there’s something about a stinking snake.

Or the news shows a picture of a snake curled up in someone’s washer.

Or a snake appears in one of the children’s books. (I’ll come back to that one later.)

OR, and this is HUGE, Savannah’s new homeroom teacher has one in a cage right beside the door. And it hangs out right there...right beside the door.

Right. There.

I felt very uncomfortable in that room on Meet the Teacher Night earlier this week. I literally sat there watching the clock over the teacher's head mumbling for him to hurry up. I’ve heard it all before: No late papers. No tardies. No gum. Not much homework but lots of group work. We’re all in this together.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, Dude. You’ve got a snake by the door. Let me out of here!

I can still see it’s grey and black skin lying against the glass.

A shiver just went up my spine.

I can’t believe I haven’t scarred Savannah and Sarah yet. I’ve had freak out moments with both of them. Once during reading time with Savannah I threw a board book across the room when I turned the page and saw a coiled snake. It didn’t matter that it was a book about mothers’ love for their children. It was a snake.

And poor Sarah. She had an animal book that had a HUGE snake taking up 2 entire pages. For some reason she thought I liked it. I guess because I just kept muttering, “Snake. Snake. Snake.” I was trying to keep my cool, but then she picked up the book to give me a closer look. When I took off running she came after me holding the book open. “Look, Mommy. Snake!” I started yelling at her to get it away from me. Seriously. I was yelling at my 2-year-old. She didn’t understand I was scared and kept chasing after me with that damn book wide open to the snake. We literally ran around the family room a few times like that until she started crying. That’s when I finally sucked it up, went to her and pitched the book across the room. Then I gave her a huge hug. Later that night I threw the book in the trash. Yes, I’m a bad mommy with serious issues.

Oh! And I’ve already laid down the law with Pat. Pace will NOT have rubber, plastic, or stuffed snakes in this house. And he knows this is NOT a joking matter.

Have I told you I'm terrified of snakes?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Absentee Y

I’m sorry I’ve been absent for a few days. I’ve been overwhelmed, tired, and honestly, still fighting some depression.

That last little nugget came to me yesterday while sitting in a meeting and I suddenly felt tears welling up in my eyes. Granted, the meeting was pretty gnarly and full of changes that none of us want to make, and there were a couple venomous people who love to point fingers, but there was certainly nothing said or done that should have caused tears. I think I disguised them pretty well. I acted like I had something in my eye, which I did….mascara. Man, it burned, which caused more tears.

I won’t get in to the nitty gritty about my past week, but I do have a few posts saved, so keep checking back. I have a few things I want to share with you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm a Loner, Dottie. A Rebel.

I love that line from "Pee Wee’s Big Adventure." That’s how I felt in the first years of my marriage to Pat.

Being a professional musician, Pat traveled a lot and was sometimes gone for up to 3 weeks. Being the “loner” I am, it didn’t bother me. Well…the 2 and 3 week trips were difficult, but the long weekends apart didn’t usually phase me. That was my time to recharge and regroup, which basically meant I ate a lot of salt and sugar, watched a buttload of chick flicks, and managed a little shoe shopping in between.

When Savannah came along I still snuck in my recharging ritual, it was just scaled down quite a bit and happened after she went to bed. Then Sarah came along, the music business took a dive, and Pat stopped going out on the road. We became a regular family of four and I had to let go of my rebel spirit. But, oh, how I looked forward to those evenings when Pat was invited to meet up with some friends for a jam session. I’d walk him out with blessings for a great night, wear out the girls so they’d go to bed early, and pull out a favorite movie, a great pint of ice cream, and a little pink polish for my toe nails. Would I be showing my selfishness if I said I lived for those times?

So tonight Pat has a gig. As he walked out the door I got really excited because I haven’t had one of those loner nights in ages. Then I walked back into the living room and saw my evening sitting in front of me. It was Savannah sitting on the couch, her eyes glued to the Wii game while she yelled at Sarah to quit jumping on her; Sarah giggling in response and continuing to jump. Pace was lying in his swing crying to be held. I then remembered that Sarah’s not falling asleep until late at night since we’ve moved her into a big bed and Pace is wide awake until at least 11:00, at which time I fall on the bed and shut my eyes whether or not I’ve had time to take a shower or brush my teeth.

As I stood at the door listening to the crying, the yelling, and the giggling, I realized that my sugar eating, movie watching, toe painting night wasn’t going to happen. Maybe in a year or two I’ll be able to recharge again. Just think of me when you’re watching "Eat, Pray, Love" on DVD in a few months; maybe with a glass of vino and some cheese or the latest Ben & Jerry’s flavor, but never both because that would just be overkill (wink, wink).

I’ll stick with my 30 second YouTube videos for entertainment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKLizztikRk

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Heavenliest "Wip-Thick"

Sarah likes to go through my makeup while I'm getting ready. She rubs my blush brush on her cheeks and combs her eyebrows. Then she likes to top it all off with a little lipstick, or "wip-thick" as she calls it, and looks in the mirror and says, "That's Sarah!"

Tonight she was going through lipsticks I have stashed away and never use. The first one she showcased was really beautiful with her skin and hair. If she was older, I would have told her to start wearing it every day. Or if she was a beauty pageant toddler, to wear it for the big competitions. But instead I thought Hey! I bet that would look good on me!

I looked at the name on the tube and realized why it looked so good on Sarah and that there was no way it would look half as good on my foul lips. The name?...

"Angelic"

All at once now....

Awwwww!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tale of the Projectile Poop

Yes, that's right.


I got hit.


With poop.


All down my shirt.


It was that lovely, stinky, runny breastmilk poop.


Yeah, so, um....Happy Breastfeeding Awareness month. I know I'm certainly more aware.


And, no, this isn't really a tale. It's more.....let's call it sharing an experience.


So Mommyhood really CAN be the shits sometimes.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Guest Blog

My Aunt Peggy (You can read about her here.) sent me an email about my weight gain post. It reminded me so much of the weekly column she wrote for more than 30 years, I asked her to be a guest blogger. Enjoy!


Your mother read me your blog about your post-Pace weight gain including the comment from one of your Facebook friends about how having babies ruins one's body. It reminded me of my friend, Dora in Baytown, in the 70s. We worked at Good Will together.

I was from East Texas and she was from New Jersey,and although she was about 40 years my senior with a bit of dementia setting in, we became very good friends. We talked a lot as we worked, often bemoaning our fate: I was a recent TCU grad and she was an uppity lady from the east coast; how had we landed here?

We'd be elbow-deep in bin work, sorting through someone else's discarded clothing when suddenly she'd look up at me and ask, "Pegs, did I ever tell you I could have been a Rockette?"

I would want to reply, "Yes, about 400 times." But I didn't. I would try to work my voice up to a surprised and interested level and respond, "Oh?"

"Yes," she'd say, enthusiastically. "It was back when I was young. About the time I married, and before. From my home in New Jersey, I went over to New York City a lot. It was just across the river. You know, I was married to the man who was the staff organist at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. I was very pretty with a lovely figure -- just the kind they wanted for the Rockettes."

There would be a pause then and she would sigh and say, "But I got pregnant and had those kids and it ruined my figure."

Her head and shoulders dropped low as she remembered. So low, her face was buried in the clothes she was sorting. It sounded like she was sobbing. In a few seconds, though, her head came upright. She'd have a blouse or a similar article of clothing in her hand. Shaking it like a Shih-Tzu with a chew toy, she would say, "Two of them I had, a boy and a girl, and where are they now?" (Her son she lived with was at work and her daughter was in New Jersey being a mom herself.)

She would go up the aisle muttering, "I coulda been a Rockette...."

Some years later after I had come home to Crawford Creek and was out of touch with Dora, I was watching the evening news around Christmas time. They said this would be the last season for the Radio City Rockettes. But there they were then: shapely legs kicking. Off to one side, a woman stood by herself watching the show. She was wrapped in warm winter clothes as an old woman would be. I imagined it was Dora taking one last look, mumbling to herself, "I coulda been, I coulda been."

At 5:30, when her middle-age son came to pick her up, from the enthusiasm with which they greeted each other, you would never know he was one of the kids who had spoiled her future.

"Ma, you look like a million dollahs," in his suave east coast accent.

I hope her son or daughter was there to take her home from that last Rockette show.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Mother's Lullaby

I wanted to share a song with all of you today. Though I’ve never been the biggest fan of her music, I’ve always liked Sheryl Crow, especially as we’ve aged. I try to forget that she once dated Kid Rock. We all have questionable taste at times.

I was checking out tunes from her latest CD on You Tube when I found this one from a prior album. It’s a song she wrote for her son.

“Lullaby for Wyatt”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHZi9qJsxvw&feature=av2e

The lyrics, the music; it’s all beautiful. The third verse is what really jumped out at me and made me stop everything to write this piece:

I have held you close
And breathed your name, my dear
I was with you then
And will remain, my dear


As I listened to those lines I had visions of holding Pace late in the night while the rest of the house slept.

All is quiet.

It’s just me and Pace.

I hold him close while he eats or I breathe in his scent while his sleeping head lies on my shoulder. I whisper in his ear, “Mommy loves you,” and I snuggle a little closer.

I had this experience with all three of my kids and I will always cherish the warmth of those memories, no matter how far they may roam.

How do I keep you from losing your way
Hope you will find love like I did some day
But love is letting go
And this I'll know

Cause you were mine
For a time


I think that’s every mother’s unsung lullaby.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Breastfeeding Story

Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Month!

And Phhttttttttttttttt! to all those people who shot me looks whenever I fed my babies in public.


(I have no idea who this baby is. I found it on the web.)

I ask you people: Would you rather listen to a crying baby or see feet sticking out from under a blanket and maybe hear a little contented gurgle? That's what I thought.

I thought I’d share a funny breastfeeding moment with you guys today in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness. There may be more to come throughout the month, but who knows. I'm spontaneous like that.

When Pace was just a few days old I was feeding him on our bed, one of my favorite spots. It provided direct cold air for the hot flashes I was having and lots of pillows to keep me propped up when I wanted to sleep. Sarah climbed up next to me and noticed that I had a baby attached to me. Out of curiosity she leaned in close, investigating the scene. She looked up at me with a confused look.

“Juice?”

“It’s milk for the baby,” I replied.

She tilted her head and gave me her best you-can’t-resist-me-look and said, “Weeth?” Translation: Please?

Luckily I was too tired to laugh, although I did manage a chuckle.

Watching me feed Pace has become boring for her now, but she still loves it when I break out the pump. She likes to watch the milk shoot out and sometimes hits my boob like a ball to help it come out. She gives a whole new meaning to word the dribble.

She's Mommy’s little helper!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes

There is a quote by Kelly Ripa of “Live with Regis and Kelly” that has stuck with me for a couple years. In an interview with Fitness magazine she said, “I never want my daughter to hear me say ‘Do I look fat in this?’” This came back to haunt me yesterday in a dressing room at Target, except it had a different angle.

I took Savannah clothes shopping. I was also trying on a few things myself in an effort to cover up my “post baby bump.” I was a little frustrated that the items I liked didn’t fit in a size I was comfortable with and made my boobs look like I’m the ice cream replacement at the local Dairy Queen. I kept telling myself that the sizes ran small and the next store would be better.

But while we tried on clothes together at Target Savannah hit me with something that I needed…a dose of reality.

“Wow, Mom. You’ve got a lot of fat now.” She was completely stunned to see me this way. When she saw the look on my face, which was probably mortification, she quickly said, “But you just had a baby and it’s empty in there, so it just looks fat.” No, Sweetie, it doesn’t look fat. It IS fat. I was so embarrassed. I've always wanted to be a role model for my kids, especially my girls, but there I was struggling to button some pants with my daughter staring at my belly. What a great role model, huh?

Yes, I realize I just had a baby nine weeks ago and I know it’s too soon to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but the scale has gone up the last three weeks while I validate my extra snacking with breastfeeding and my lack of exercise with fatigue and needy kids. So I’ve decided to put it all out there, despite the embarrassment.

You see, I feel this is worse than all the other bad habits I’ve admitted to on this blog. This involves my health and confidence, which affects my family, and kids learn by what you do, not what you say.

My blog won’t turn into a diet and fitness blog, but I will keep you posted on how I’m doing through my tears, frustration, and, hopefully, my accomplishments. Maybe this, and Savannah's occasional slips, will hold me accountable.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

G-ma

This is my grandmother, also known as G-ma.



She was born 110 years ago today. She died at 98 while I was pregnant with Savannah, her namesake.

Whenever I would be on my way out of the house, to work, to meet with friends, or just go to the store, she would always have the same offering...

"I have a dollar in my purse. Do you need it?" And if her purse was sitting next to her, she would be reaching in for her billfold before I had a chance to say no. When she died my aunt gave me one of G-ma's billfolds. I put a dollar in it and tucked it away.

There's another memory I have that reminds me just how deep her love ran. I was in fifth grade when my parents separated. My mother drove us to the Piney Woods of East Texas where we lived with G-ma and my Aunt Peggy for the next nine months. That first month was rough. Daddy would call most nights to check in with me and by the end of the call he was struggling to keep his composure. I would hang up bawling. G-ma would draw me a bath and sit on the commode while I cried, my head resting on the edge of the tub. Afterward she would sit beside me on the bed and rub my back until I fell asleep, no matter how long it took.



Thanks, G-ma, for getting me through the rough patches...

And being a bad ass domino partner.

Happy b-day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Confession of a Bad Mother

We all know I have parenting…issues, shall we say?

I don’t watch my mouth much. My two-year-old’s cussing can attest to that. I do have one good thing to report, though. She’s stopped saying shit. Although she did say dammit yesterday. Hmmm…not much better.

I also don’t pay much attention to my kids, seeing as how my tween fell and split her head open just seconds after I dropped her off to school LATE and hauled ass out of the parking lot.

I've come to accept that I'm not your average, good natured, attentive, saintly mother. I mean, sometimes I give my kids gummies for a serving of fruit. Oh stop your sneering. Welch's gummies are made from real fruit. It says so on the box.

Anyway, I follow the blog of a woman who had her son two weeks before I had Pace. He's cute as can be. She appears to be big on swaddling. This lady even swaddles her son on the beach!



I just let Pace hang out; arms dangling, legs hanging. I also heard you're supposed to watch the neck, but I figure what the heck. I bet it feels good to roll all around like that and let it pop back from time-to-time. (You know I'm kidding, right?)

My babies have all felt so warm I've actually been afraid to swaddle them. Not to mention the claustrophobia they must feel with their arms tied down by their sides.





I feel your pain, son.

I was told about a book called “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Dr. Harvey Karp, which I obviously haven’t read since bad mothers don’t read books like that. According to him swaddling is key to having a happy baby.

Pace… the unswaddled baby…the boy who has never spent a day swaddled…the one with the clueless, unattentive mother...looks pretty happy to me.



Look at him hanging all out there. Be free, my son! Be free!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Erased Memories

I had a scare this morning. Pat called to tell me our desktop computer at home crashed. This is the computer that houses Pat’s music for his students, my various writing trials, and most importantly, pictures of our kids.

I’ve been working to back up these photographs, but I haven’t made it all the way through yet. And the really sad thing is that this happened to us previously. The hard drive crashed and took Savannah’s first and second grade years into a black hole with it. Why the hell do I not back up my photos on a daily basis?

Maybe it was the fatigue or the rough weekend I'm still trying to get over, but the thought of losing all those pictures broke me. The tears streamed while I quietly cried into a napkin trying to keep my co-workers from hearing my sobs.

Thankfully, Pat called back in a little while with the good news that he was able to turn the computer on again. “Don’t touch it!” I barked as I dried my tears. I want everyone’s hands off of it until I can get home this evening and get those photos saved elsewhere.

We’re talking about this one…



And this one…



Oh! And this one…



Yes, memories stay with us in our hearts and minds, but there’s something about viewing them on the screen or holding them in your hands. Seeing the light in the eyes, or just how the hair curled, or how the hand rested on my shoulder, brings it all back so much more vividly.

And warms my heart just like this one that sits beside me at work for those days when I miss my kids so much it hurts.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Le Artiste

I do believe we have an artist in the family.

Last week we were all stunned to see Sarah's drawings.



Pretty damn good for a two-year-old, right?

Or are we all just that bad? I mean, that picture above looks like my Frankenstein drawing from when I was ten or something. Ok, I was younger than that, but I certainly wasn't two!



Sarah calls this one Me-Tow (like "ow!") I have no idea who Me-Tow is.



This one is a drawing of me! A little thick around the middle, but she got the bird legs right.

Savannah thinks Grandpa Ralph taught Sarah how to draw when he visited her in my dream.

I think that's a pretty cool thought.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The End of Privacy

Privacy no longer exists in our house. Sarah can now open doors.



God help us all.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Dreaded D-Word

Yes, I’ll say it. It may hurt, but here it goes...

DEPRESSION.

More specifically, Postpartum Depression.

There. It’s out. And it didn’t hurt too bad.

I thought I was fine, but I think it keeps creeping up like the co-worker you try to stay away from. You dodge them every time you see them coming and then while you’re getting a Diet Coke from the machine you turn around and there they are staring you right in the face. I think I’ll call her Debbie Downer from Saturday Night Live. That seems appropriate.

Except Debbie Downer isn’t staring me in the face. She’s hiding out in the dark corners of my mind. I don’t think about her until I find myself tearing up for no reason at all.

Or I realize that I’m snapping at my kids for no good reason.

Or Pat and I fight over the most minute things and can’t seem to get along.

I keep telling myself that it’s the fatigue. I’m tired, therefore I’m cranky and eating all kinds of crap to comfort myself, therefore I’m gaining weight instead of losing it, and therefore I feel even worse.

I think it’s more than exhaustion, though. I have feelings of despair, then it turns to rage, and a little hopelessness comes in for good measure. There’s some light, too. Pace melts my heart frequently, Sarah makes me laugh, and Savannah gives me these great bear hugs. Maybe they should call it Postpartum Bi-Polar Syndrome.

I feel so hot and cold, up and down, and all around. Three kids with a full-time job has turned out to be a little daunting. I’m also aggravated that I can’t be home with my kids. I had really hoped that I would have worked out a work-from-home plan by now, but it just never came to fruition. And here come the feelings of hopelessness.

I really don’t want to be Debbie Downer...



...so I’m working out a holistic plan, rather than medicinal, that includes a little yoga and meditation, a grateful list most nights along with more blogging, and cardio with a baby strapped to me – that will at least help with the weight issue. Maybe I can pop myself out of this. I know my family will be happier.

I’ll keep you posted.

If any of you ladies have any suggestions for me that worked for you, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, July 19, 2010

He’s Definitely a Boy

Pace will grunt and grunt and roll himself into a ball while grunting and then there’s a long, loud….

**FART**

Then he smirks.



Yep, he’s definitely a boy

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dr. S.

Eight weeks ago yesterday Pace came into the world. Eight weeks, and I still haven’t said anything about the man who delivered him.

Dr. Schermerhorn has been my doctor for 20 years. He’s the best. Really! He’s been voted the doctor with the best bedside manner (or something like that) several times. And he knows his stuff. Pat has said, “I’m not worried about you if I know he’s taking care of you.”

He’s encouraging…
When the complications during my pregnancy began to ease up he kept saying, “You’re doing great. Just keep doing what you're doing.”

Calming…
I was beating myself up in the hospital the next morning for getting an epidural. He sat with me and explained why, in a way only Dr. S. can, I shouldn’t worry about it. “That transition period’s a bitch.”

Consoling…
After I lost the twin he took the time at every appointment to make sure I was dealing with it okay, including my postpartum check up. He likes the fact that I’ve named him and even wrote it down in his file so he would remember.

And funny…
“You’re a champion pusher!”

He’s the best and I’m proud to say he’s delivered all three of my kids.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

D-Day

Monday was D-Day, or more commonly known as my first day back to work.

A little melodramatic? Maybe.

I’ll tell you, though, when I walked in that building I felt the weight of the world on me, or at least the weight of a new mom re-entering the workforce. I had my lap top bag on my left shoulder, my breast pump on my right shoulder, my lunch bag hooked to my left arm and my purse hooked on my right. Plus, I was dragging my feet because I had been up since 4:30 that morning and don’t forget….I REALLY did NOT want to be there. I was sooo not ready to go back to work and leave my kids behind.

The fatigue didn’t help at all. I was sitting in a meeting at 9:00 – Can you believe they had me in a meeting by 9:00 on my first day back? Geez, people. Whatever happened to bring’er back in slowly? – So I’m sitting there trying to focus and listen and someone says, “What do you think, Yvonne?”

** YAWN **

And it was a big one.

“Huh?” was my response.

A bad omen of things to come.

Afterward it was time to pump a little breastmilk. I returned to my desk, took out my pump and realized it felt different. I open it up and what do you know? No accessories to do the pumping. I rolled my eyes at my forgetfulness and then let out a slight smile. I got to go home for lunch!

While I'm home I decide to call our insurance company to see if they cover nutritional counseling. When the guy came on the line I couldn’t think of the proper words to ask my question. What came out was, “I need, uh…do I have…I mean, can I….um…Nutrition. Talk. You know, food help.”

Ok, I’m exaggerating a little, but I'm not far off. I was completely embarrassed and tried to explain why my use of the English language was at a pre-school level.

“I just had a baby, you see. I’m tired.”

“Uh-huh,” was his response.

After I finally managed to get a logical question out and end my call I had to quickly feed Pace so I could get back to work for, yes, another meeting. This is where the heartbreak of a working mom comes in. Instead of eating he wanted to smile at me. And smile again. And smile some more. It was so sweet and I had to keep rushing him. Sarah overheard me saying I needed to go and she then sat next to my feet and said, "No, no go, Mommy." And my heart broke some more.

And now that I’ve written all of this out I realize that I've combined the past two days in my head.

Good grief. I need a nap!

And totally off subject, Pat was able to catch Pace smiling with the camera. Here's a pic to brighten your day...and mine.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Seven Weeks

Pace turned 7 weeks old yesterday.



He’s smiling now and trying to coo. Sometimes he’s successful.



My little man is growing up and it’s going way too fast.

Pretty soon it will be the first day of school

And then we’ll be going to his football games…

or baseball…

or basketball…

or maybe to watch him dance???

Just kidding, Pat.

Then he’ll be leaving for college and Pat and I will have a lonely, quiet, empty house since Pace will most likely be the last to go.

*sigh*

And I go back to work this Monday. The time has gone way too soon.

Does someone know how to stop time for a while?

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Meeting

I lost my father to cancer the morning of October 24, 2000. My oldest daughter Savannah was just 18 months. There was 180 miles between my and my father’s homes, but when we realized that previous January that the cancer had come back with a determination to win, I made every effort to visit my dad every other weekend with Savannah by my side. She doesn’t remember “Grandpa Ralph” today, but I'm glad he was given time to be with her during those last few months.

Seven years after his death I had my second child. A couple years later my third came along. It has disturbed me that I have two more children that my father has never met.

That is.....until now.

Stay with me here. I’m not necessarily a believer in the paranormal, but my husband and his sisters shared a common dream after their grandmother’s death that gave me chills. I myself had a dream of my father a couple years after his death. I walked into the convenience store I stopped at each morning on my way to work for my AM caffeine hit. I stepped up to pay the same lady who was there every Monday – Thursday and then I heard his voice behind me: “Hi, Sugar.” I turned to see my daddy smiling at me. I threw my arms around him and we hugged each other tight. To this day I believe that was him coming to say hi.

And I believe he came to meet Sarah last night. It was another vivid dream. I walked into the living room to find him sitting with Sarah on the couch. They were drawing together. (Daddy had a talent for art. I have one of his paintings hanging in our family room.) Sarah was chattering away while she colored. Dad looked up and smiled at me. I took the drawing pad from him. He had drawn a field with one tree, but it was blurry. I said to him, “Daddy, this isn’t how you usually draw.”

And that was it. I woke and couldn’t hold it back. I sobbed. I knew he had come to see the granddaughter he had never met. It was good to see him.

Now I’ll just wait for his meeting with Pace.