Wisdom Comes Suddenly

The Vicarious Half-Birthday North Of The Equator

January 27th, 2015 · 2 Comments

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My children know all-too-well that I do not acknowledge half-birthdays. Do not expect to wake up to balloons and circus monkeys, sky-writing your name above the house. Having me as a Mother is like a lifelong party, so sistas’ please…I simply cannot theme one more day of your lives.

However, as both of my daughters have summer birthdays, I do respect the mid-winter school birthday treats. You’ve seen me break my half-birthday rule here, over here, once again here…oh wait…here too. These girls are starting to figure out ma’ WAYS. Kelly, in particular, is one helluva a negotiator. Knowing I’d be unlikely to agree to a “store-bought” treat, she started the bidding high with Ding Dongs. That’s right…Ding Dongs. Smart girl earning herself an automatic “no” from The Momma. She turned down all of the usual homemade suspects, such as Oreo Truffles and Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches. Kelly strung me along, day after day, like a 5-star deal-maker. Knowing I was in the midst of finishing a quilt for the school auction, she knew I’d plain run out of time. Well-played Bunny.

We searched for some easy ideas, and came with up with candy in portion cups with tiny stickers. So even though the sun had fallen, off to the candy store we went, and here is where our twin-like nature collided. I’ve often asked my parents if it was hard to hold a conversation with me as a child. Their response was something along the lines of, it took all the energy they had to follow my random train of thought, usually ending in them giving up and walking away.

Turns out, this word-salad conversation thing is a genetic trait. It’s ugly when it’s amplified x2 in a cold minivan the week a large project is due, and the embroidery shop still has 5 of my quilt blocks on their stitching machines:

Mommy: Kelly, I don’t want to just hand your friends a bunch of candy at lunch. We should put in a little rhyme about saving some for later. What rhymes with the word “later”?

Kelly: Equator.

Mommy: We’re supposed to work the word “equator” into a short rhyme about your half-birthday candy?

Kelly: “Save some for later, because Kelly’s half-birthday is occurring north of the equator.” See? It totally works.

Mommy: OK, let’s go a different direction. What rhymes with birthday?

Kelly: Earth Day. Again…total winner. Oh! I know what works! “Beware, this candy is tart, and it might make you fart!”

Mommy: No bodily function rhymes.

Kelly: So “We picked this out for you, and we hope it doesn’t make you poo” is not good?

Mommy: NO.

Kelly: What is a bodily function?

Mommy: Anything your body does.

Kelly: So no rhymes about breathing?

Mommy: KELLY!

Kelly: OK, OK. It’s not like I’m asking you to rhyme “orange”. (Insert her hysterical laughing.)

Mommy: Is there another word for “later”?

Kelly: Future.

Mommy: Suture. WOW. We are REALLY bad at this.

Kelly: I think we are SO GOOD at this! Hey! You know a great word? Vicarious.

Mommy: And WHAT rhymes with vicarious?

Kelly: HILARIOUS!

Mommy: Do you even know what vicarious means?

Kelly: No, but I can spell it.

Mommy: Of that I’m sure. OK. Let’s start over: “Don’t eat this candy all at once…”

Kelly: Or you’re a DUNCE!

Mommy: OH MY GOSH! Let’s just go into the store now. “Happy 7 1/2 Birthday Kelly”. How does that sound?

Kelly: Perfect.

And THAT is a how a top-notch negotiator convinces her Mother to forgo homemade treats, overwrought with miniature, personalized flags on toothpicks, in lieu of a bag of candy. Advantage: Kelly. But I should rest up, because Sara’s 1/2 birthday is next, and as Kelly’s opposite, you know she’ll beg me to make a buffet of desserts, all shaped in the letter “S”, in a array of colors not naturally occurring upon this earth. “I hope we can keep it simple, because so much sugar can cause a pimple…”

 

 

 


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Things Covered In The Brochure

January 26th, 2015 · 2 Comments

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The girls receiving their Troisine blankets on Christmas Eve. Big hit. BIG.

Kelly didn’t get the part of the Semicolon, which was actually a very good thing, because she was cast as “Quotation Mark #2″ instead. It’s a wonderful Groucho Marx-themed duet, absolutely overflowing with possibilities.

When Kelly opened her casting assignment with tears, I was so very grateful to finally be experiencing a moment from a Brady Bunch episode. I often joke in this space that most of parenting challenges weren’t in the brochure. As someone raised by The Brady Bunch, I sometimes find myself a bit short on skills. How naive was I to believe parenting would only involve Tiger hiding Kitty Carryall in the doghouse? I did. I swear…I really thought I’d have a spotless house full of kids who magically got themselves to school every day, and then one day, Greg would hide cigarettes in his pocket, and we’d KNOW our storyline just got REAL.

When the Brady kids got bad grades, it was because Greg was in love with his teacher and Jan needed glasses. Do you ever recall Mrs. Brady trying to juggle 5 other kids while getting Cindy to speech therapy to help her lisp? Nope. They got her a book to practice rhymes, and she learned how to handle a bully. All in 30 minutes…GOD! I miss the Bradys!

So when Kelly looked to me for advice on being Quotation Mark #2, I was ready. It’s a part she can really sink her teeth into. She’ll be less afraid on stage because it’s a duet. She’ll make a new friend. We can really have fun with matching costumes. Let’s put in the soundtrack and start practicing! Kelly was so excited after singing “Marks, Marks” 5x in a row, that she forgot about ever wanting to be a Semicolon. Demarcating repeated speech IS WHERE IT’S AT, FOLKS!

I’m so grateful for the parenting moments I recognize as easy. I was fully present in our 30 minute sitcom last week. Sara forgot her Ukelele, and was rescued by Momma. For an ADHD kid who keeps a spotless desk and rarely forgets anything, I was thrilled to rescue her; she’s earned it. Kelly’s Duet Partner invited her out for a fun event on Sunday, bringing my suggestion at making a new friend into a beautiful circle. Life wasn’t perfect last week…but it was overflowing with events fully covered in the brochure. A whole week without being sideswiped by life; what a treat.

I wish for you the same this week. I wish for you squabbles over sharing the “house phone”, siblings competing against each other for class president, diaries accidentally getting donated to charity drives, insect collecting boyfriends named Harvey Klinger, talent contests secretly entered by your children (who are stunningly able to make their own costumes), balls thrown in the house, and a trip to Hawaii filled with intrigue and tabooed artifacts.

May you have a brochure-like, Brady-esque week! Godspeed!

 

 

 


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For The Warrior Moms

January 21st, 2015 · No Comments

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Yesterday, I put on my Warrior Mother hat, and did some research on Dyscalculia (pronounced “dis-cal-cool-ee-a”, or any old way you want, because almost no one has it, so there aren’t experts to correct your error). Strike that: there are experts who could correct you, but they only speak French. Maybe I shall call and ask for advice, using my rusty, high school French:

Me: Bonjour.

Expert (speaking in French): How may I help you?

Me: L’eglise es la gauche de la rue? (The church is on the left side of the street?)

Expert: Pardon?

Me: Je suis Lori. Ma dau…um…Mon daugh-tere (not a word) no ablo…MATH.

Expert: Pardon?

Me: The church is on the left side of the street. Sorry…that’s the only thing I can remember from French class. WAIT! A midi ou a minuit, il y a tou ce que vou voulais, aux la Champs Élysée! YES! A midday or at midnight, there is anything that you could want on the main road that runs through Paris! CHECK IT! I totally ACED French.

Expert: [Hanging up phone, cursing under his breath that Americans are idiots. And we are…just a little bit guys, you have to admit it.]

Greg sent me a funny picture of how he sees me when I’m trying to be “Sara’s Mom”. Dude! I’m awesome! As a kid who regularly flunked gym class, this photo-shopped image is the closest thing I’ll ever have to a sports team photo. If I ever do figure out how to throw that ball into the basket, I’m going to do it as Xena. I’ll bet Xena didn’t flunk her basketball unit in the 7th grade and had to do a report on Babe Ruth in order to pass gym class. Babe Ruth was a drunk. MAN! Another point for the American Education System! I’ll take French Folk Songs and Shakespearean Flawed Sports Heroes for $1000, Alex.

So today, I’m giving a shout out to Warrior Mothers everywhere. You know you who are: Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital just lost your son’s lab results. And an even bigger shout out because you’re coordinating care at not one, but TWO pediatric hospitals. Shout out to the Mom who spent today on the phone with the insurance company, and a double shout-out to the Mom who got onto Seattle Children’s waiting list when Autism was ruled out. Suspecting something was missed, your Momma Warrior gut braved out a second opinion from the best and the brightest in the field. You were right. The Mother Warrior often hopes to be wrong, but rarely is. Shout out to the Mom doing pick up at the Developmental Preschool this morning, while juggling a phone call from a teacher because your “healthy” kid is acting up in class in order to get attention. If you are trying to figure out a dinner plan around a late afternoon Occupational Therapy appointment…I feel ya’. IEP meeting coming up? High-fives! You can DO this! You held your breath while hitting the “confirm” button on another summer at Juvenile Diabetic Sleepover Camp. You just signed up for the Valentines Party, for the 5th year in a row, so you could make sure with your own eyes that nothing has peanuts in it. In fact, you haven’t missed a class party…ever. When food could kill your child, the Warrior-mode never turns off.

Yes, I see you. I probably see you differently than you see yourself. You see yourself as a rolling circus of bags and snacks in yet another waiting room.  I see Xena, the Warrior Momma, (graciously) knocking down walls and (lovingly) toppling through challenges. I see women I’m proud to call friends. And when I tell my friends I’m going to try a Math program developed in France to stimulate the growth of Sara’s intraparietal sulcus, my friends won’t laugh. I know exactly what they’ll say: “Good idea. Let me know if that works. Send me the link. How are Sara’s migraines? Did you read that link I sent? I hope it helped. Did the switch to stimulants go OK? Let’s get some coffee and swap ideas, but first, give me a hug.”

You see me too, and that has made all the difference. I’m so blessed to have you witness my journey, and Godspeed, my oh-so-brave-and-awesome friends. Godspeed.

 


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I’m Calling My Agent

January 19th, 2015 · 2 Comments

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Good Evening. My name is Cyrus Johnson, and it’s lovely to make your acquaintance. Please accept my apologies if we’d held conversations before tonight. I have a terrible memory for humans because, A) I’m a cat, and B) I’m a terrible drunk. Sorry, that was an inappropriate joke, considering we may/or may not have just met. I’m really not a drunk, except on kitten food, and let me tell you…I’ll go to GREAT lengths to steal kitten food. I’ll cut you if I have to.

Why, as the Court Jester of this house, am I looking so serious? Well, if you have a moment…take a glance at what lies behind me: that’s a S#*&-Load of cats. What has gotten into me tonight? I’m cursing like a Pit Bull. But I can’t help myself! A) I’m terribly high on kitten formula, and B) That’s just a CRAPLOAD of cats, people!

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When these infants arrived, I expected a renegotiation of my contract. The care involved with these 2 is astronomical. I have to teach them how to clean their ears, how to use a litter box, how to flip litter all over the floor, how to attack feet while hiding under beds, how to do a 3 am human breathing check, and that’s not even TOUCHING on the Gym Classes. I’ve taught them Hide-and Seek, Soccer, Karate (in our studio in the sitting room which the family has respectfully left void of furniture so I can conduct proper lessons), King of the Stairway, and Playing Dead by the Fire. I am exhausted! And what is my new compensation? Nothing! Nada! I tried to even the score by taking some liberties with the kitten formula, and I was scolded. I EARNED THAT FORMULA.

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And who do you think does the babysitting around here? Sydney? You must be joking. That fat-old lady is available as a pillow, and very little else. She’s happy to nap with these squirts, and if she’s feeling generous, she’ll help me out with an occasional bath. If I ask for REAL help, she pulls the, “What did you say? I can barely hear you now that I’m a Grandma. Have I shown you pictures of my grandbabies? They are amazing!” So actual CHILDCARE? That’s all me. The humans take off for school, work, errands…not even so much as a, “Hey Cy! Mind watching the babies? Could you keep them alive while we’re gone?” I’m chilling in the basement, minding my own business, and the next thing I know, the kittens have knocked every candle off the kitchen table. A heads up would have been great HUMANS! An extra can of tuna for my troubles would be REALLY great…HUMANS!

Look, it’s not that I mind the company. We’ve done a lot worse in the cat department (i.e. Dagny, but that’s just gossipy, and again, my apologies). It’s just that I was hoping their appearance would come with a little extra something for me. OH. Wait just a second. One of the babies just woke up….LOOK! He’s stretching! He’s JUST THE BEST LITTLE STRETCHER IN THE WHOLE WORLD! Come here Baby! You woke up from your nap?! Do you need a cuddle? And a kiss? You took a GOOD nap! Yes you DID! I wub you Ruffio, yes I DO! YES I DO!

I’m sorry. I was distracted for a moment. What were we talking about?

 

 


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I Want To Be A Semicolon

January 15th, 2015 · 1 Comment

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Last night, I collapsed into bed and thought, “Ugh, I can’t take another day. Another day of Sara’s stimulant wearing off. Another day of Kelly clamoring for attention in the most awful of ways. Another day of deep-cleaning the house and the cats. Ugh…UGH-UGH!”

This morning I threw on my (filthy) coat/blanket/quilted parka, and begrudgingly got into the minivan. It was dark. It was cold. I forgot to make coffee. Kelly piped up and and started talking about her “Funny Bones” theater class, and how nervous she was about this afternoon’s cast selection. DID SOMEONE SAY “THEEE-AH-TAH?”

I’m in.

All the way to school we ran lines and played the musical’s soundtrack. How engaging is a musical about grammar? It’s ENGROSSING. I really can’t imagine anything cuter on this earth than a 7-year old with a tiny lisp hoping she lands the part of the Semicolon. These are the moments of Motherhood to be treasured. These are the moments which make the no-pay/no-benefits/no-decent-sleep worth it.

Personally, I would like to be the Capital Grammarosaurus, but I’m a limelight hog. In all honesty, I have no singing talent, so I couldn’t snag the Semicolon role, even on my best day. AND…I’m 42 years old. So. There’s that.

After 1000 hugs from the girls I caught up with Sara’s teacher to hear she is doing very well. As is the way with stimulants, they turn the ADHD-ship around quite quickly, and rather dramatically. It comes at a price (side effect city), but it’s a miracle for those who need it. I’m praying for this miracle with every cell of my being.

The Slog is a little less sloggy today. My 90 year old Grandfather is super excited because he got the motorized cart at Wal-Mart without having to wait, reminding me it’s the little things that matter. Here’s hoping your slog is less sloggy as well. And may the weekend greet us with open arms! And may Kelly not become a Method-Acta’ while imitating a Semicolon!


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The Slog

January 13th, 2015 · Comments Off

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My creative Sara. The camera is upside-down, but she is actually right-side up. How do I know? Look at her hair.

Gravity and the never-ending work of family life: 2 things you can really count on.

I wrote yesterday’s post knowing that by this afternoon, I would need it. I would want to re-read it, and remind myself that life is good. Life is blessed, even during hard weeks. Even when we drive an hour in the ice to a 6-month ADHD check-up, and find our appointment was inadvertently cancelled. Even when it took 2 hours during dinner time to work us back in. Even knowing this appointment MUST be kept because the medications MUST be switched. NOW. Living with this kind of impulsivity for one more day is not an option.

It’s a good life, even if I walk out in the icy dark with starving kids at 7:30 at night with a new prescription I’ve been told cannot be filled. The market is short of ritalin, thanks to insane DEA laws and a generic being pulled from the market. OH. I FILLED IT. My Doctor handed me the script and said, “If any Mother can find it, it will be you.” By 9:00 pm, I had it in hand, along with the realization that I forgot to tell Sara NOT to take her old medication before bedtime. Doh. Don’t worry…I blamed everyone in the house but me. And Sara. And Kelly. And the cats. OK, so I blamed Greg. That was productive (she says rolling her eyes, because no amount of crankiness will undo ADHD).

Upon seeing my emotional exhaustion and frustration build, Greg announced a “Slog Week”. A Slog is a week full of doctor’s appointments, and snow, and traffic, and unexpected financial costs, and wildly unpredictable inconveniences. “The Slog” is a rite of passage in family life, and must occur quarterly. Any less than a shit-week per quarter, and I can tell you…you’re doing it wrong. You’re not trying hard enough to be real, because in family life, this SHIT IS REAL, MAN. As in REAL SHIT. While Greg and I debated Sara’s next steps, I was on the floor digging cat poop out of the litter box to take to the Vet. One simply cannot appreciate the nuances of pet ownership until one has sorted through 3 litter boxes, trying to determine which turd belongs to which cat.

I almost tip-toed into the Vet, hoping Fate hadn’t noticed I got out of bed. She clearly had her coffee today, because the kittens are COVERED in fleas. I’ve bathed them 3x, and I didn’t see a single flea, but not today! Today, those buggers were jumping off them like Olympic Trampoline Masters. The fleas were a distant second compared to the sheer number of ear mites they have. They were apparently trying to start an ear mite animal conservation preserve…in their ears. After 2 hours at the Vet and a nearly $500 Vet bill, I will be treating 4 cats for a WIDE range of ailments, along with disinfecting my entire house. But first I have to drive back to the Vet, because I left all the meds sitting on the counter. SLOG, baby. S-L-O-G.

But it’s cool. We only have 2 more doctor’s appointments to go, along with one support meeting, a Girl Scout PJ Party, and a Swim Meet. I mean seriously, what could possibly go wrong from here?! Pancakes for dinner, a Prince Pandora station playing in my earbuds, and Godspeed my friends. Mucho, Grande, Venti-sized Godspeed.

 

 


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Here.

January 12th, 2015 · 3 Comments

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I stepped out into the bitter cold evening last week to call the girls in from sledding, and this view greeted me in my back yard. Wow. I’m just so happy to be here.

I felt the strong urge for a fresh start for what seemed an eternity. The wait made it so hard, and so sweet.

This past year felt like a trip that wouldn’t end. And yet, breathing in the 3 degree air, there was no place on earth I’d rather be, and the journey is just a memory now.

I clean the floors, and I’m happy to be here. I reorganize shelves for the 10th time, and I’m happy to be here. My fresh start is even better than I dreamed it would be, and I am changed by its arrival.

Life is the same. Sara is still just as challenged, and has good days stacked between bad ones. I’m starting to think her medical and educational decision making will always be the rock in my gut; there is always an issue needing a creative solution. Kelly is as stinker-y as any 7 year old could be, and no matter how hard I work at seeing her, it may never be enough. Greg works hard, and never stops thinking and learning. Sometimes I wonder if his brain studies in his sleep. Last week he taught himself a little computer engineering by ordering a kit and writing code…you know…in his free time. Just for fun.

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The family is the same, but here, I am different. I am lighter. I am more present than I felt before. I am far less bothered by undecorated rooms and empty mantels than I thought I would be. I am less encumbered by scattered worries and wasteful wishing.

Here, I feel more patient, more content. There is a slight return of a flexibility I had long ago. I feel…spontaneous and sure-footed. It’s like the Universe opened up a treasure chest of goodness and dumped it on my head. Winds have blown the cobwebs out of my emotional attic.

A wise counselor once told Greg I’m the type of person who strongly connects to a home, and I either connect wholeheartedly, or not at all. If I don’t connect, the only answer is to move. No amount of paint or remodeling will change it, and it has nothing to do with how large/fancy/ornate a home is. It’s simply a feeling. I wanted her to be wrong, but I knew she wasn’t. And every morning as I open the blinds, I feel it in my soul. And every evening, as I close the blinds, I know it to be true.

Here. I connected immediately to the feeling of here, and every breath feels aligned with the next. Do tell…are you the kind of person who gets emotional about homes? Or can you make anyplace you land a place of comfort? Godspeed to your week everyone! Share your thoughts…I’d love to chat!


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The Rainbow Glass Collection

January 10th, 2015 · 2 Comments

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I put off posts for SO long…waiting for a room to be TOTALLY finished, waiting for a collection to be COMPLETE. Always the waiting, and realizing that a home is never completely DONE. Life just keeps moving along, and me thinking I’m going to get a better picture of the glass when the sun is hitting it just right…Good Lord. We might be waiting a lifetime.

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I had no intention of making the finished attic a rainbow room. Don’t get me wrong, I love rainbow decorated rooms. I’ve been envisioning my all white kitchen with rainbow chairs at an all-white table since about 1979. But this room was going to be light grey with touches of cobalt blue and tangerine orange. Auntie Amanda gave the girls a few pieces of glass she had used at an Alice and Wonderland Bridal Shower, and as I unpacked my blue and tangerine collection, I realized we had glass everywhere.

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I don’t have that many horizontal spaces! What would happen if I grouped it all together? Would it be a mess, or just FABULOUS? Oh mighty-colors-I-love, it looked FABULOUS. We added just a few pieces of green and yellow to round it out. I’d like a vintage purple, and maybe a more traditionally shaped red…but it looks just fine as it is.

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So when Goomommy called to say she’d like to get the girls desk organizers for Xmas, and what color would match? We’re going RAINBOW baby! You can buy ALL the colors! You should see it with the window blinds open during the day (it faces east)! It lights up, making the fact that I only collect translucent glass really fun. Someday, I see built-in bookshelves surrounding those windows with these going across the top. Someday. Along with 2 more white desks, a round project table WITHOUT those pastel chairs…and on, and on, and on. Homes are never done, right?

In the meantime, I’m glad my neutral home has one room full of colors. Bonus, this room is already painted white, so…one less project there. Wow! Whatever will I do with that free time? Hahaha. Hope your dark winter is equally finding some bits of color to brighten your days as well!


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TIGERS IN THA’ HOUSE!

January 7th, 2015 · Comments Off

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I am the dreaded Tiger Ruffio! You can’t see me, as I’m cleverly hiding behind this house plant. Soon, very, very soon (and very, very often), I shall KNOCK THIS PLANT RIGHT OVER, and POUNCE through its shiny branches! I will LEAP THROUGH THE AIR as you are innocently folding laundry, and I will SWIPE at those exciting SPARKS flying off those sheets! Then, as you neatly stack the linens into that basket, I will get into a FIGHT TO THE DEATH with a rare black tigress! SHE WILL WIN, but I will put on a good fight; an honorable, clean laundry covered fight. We will have to be rescued from piles of cotton, but don’t let our 2 pounds fool you. We’re FEROCIOUS!

Quietly, I will skulk back to my plastic forest, and start this game over again. For I am Ruffio, and I strike when you least expect it! (As in, 2:47 am when I landed on my Momma’s face while rolling across the top of her bad with my best friend, Penny. PENNY! The TIGRESS QUEEN OF THE FOREST!….)


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The Teacher Menus

January 6th, 2015 · Comments Off

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This year’s Thanksgiving Place Settings

I received a few requests to post the menu and recipes I’m using for our holiday gifts to teachers this year. I’m excited that a few requests are rolling in, and I can’t wait to deliver them in my NEW, customized cake boxes! Greg knows how to give Christmas presents.

The teachers are able to choose from the following meals:

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya and Sweet Cornbread

Chicken Pot Pie

Tomato and Sage Ham and Beans with Sweet Cornbread (vegetarian version also offered)

Tuscan Mac & Cheese with a Mandarin Orange Salad

Ham and Corn Chowder with Sweet Cornbread

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup with Shrimp, Red Pepper, and Corn Salad Sandwiches

Ratatouille

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New Year’s Brunch Table

I wish for everyone a delicious start to the New Year, full of wonderful meals shared with friends and family. My dining room isn’t even half-way done, but I’ve already hosted 2 formal dinners within it. Fancy furniture is not required. My white napkins are showing their age, so I rolled them into roses to hide the stains! Fancy food isn’t obligatory either. Just real food, made with love;  that’s enough for anyone.

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Well…love AND supplies from an old Halloween costume you can repurpose into centerpiece. Even the candles were repurposed from the pulpit at our wedding. God forbid I ever throw away a craft supply. I might want to SERVE IT FOR DINNER someday….ai ye ye. Godspeed and good food, my friends!


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