27 May 2014

no candles here

I feel like this is a week where the phrase, "burning the candle at both ends" doesn't do justice to the level of crazy here.  How about, "throwing the candle into a blazing fire, and now there is no candle?" But it's all good, still.  I've had some of the best, sweetest days of my life this week.  And I think the deadlines and intense schedule and level of destruction wrought upon the house by my delightful toddler are all a super creative plan the Lord has for getting me emotionally through the last day of school.  Because like last year, I find within myself a deep pool of inexplicable grief at the thought of my son reaching the end of this grade.  How can this be?! This month he turns seven.  SEVEN, people. I don't normally look at him and think that he is a freaky giant with a mature, chiseled face.  But when I look at his first and last day of school pics side by side, it will hit me.  Stifling the ugly cry. Barely.

But like I said, things are also beautiful here.  Other than my youngest putting hand sanitizer, melted popsicle,  a hundred small beads, and his own pee (twice) on the floor in the span of a few hours, things are rosy. And when they aren't, I have found strange power to cheer me up, in watching the Jimmy Fallon/ Justin Timberlake History of Rap videos on youtube.  Seriously.  I never listen to rap, but I guess I did in the 90's, and that's all it takes to really appreciate what they're doing in those segments.  Awesome. sauce.  And yes, I dance around like a fool and wave my hands like I'm coordinated and cool and starring in a video being shot in Miami.  My kids are too little to judge yet.

Other things that have given me joy, in addition to 90's rap and my sweet children?  Making crostini (basically fancy buttered toast) with smashed avocado, lime juice, sea salt, and bacon on it.  Yuuuummmmm.  That's a lot of perfection.  In related news, my store was almost out of bacon when I went.  Of all the brands!  I swear it wasn't me.  Or at least, it wasn't all me.  Also, it makes me laugh, realizing I was probably in my mid-twenties before I ever tried avocado.  Poor young me!

Lastly, I'm 38 years old and still learning what makes me tick.  And it turns out that editing photos is one of my happy places. Hours fly by while I'm working on trying to get the best out each photo.  And it's easy when you're working with this adorableness:

What about you?  Are you dealing with the emotions of a season coming to a close?  What do you watch/ listen to when you need a boost?  And what are you eating or doing that is a good fit for who you are now?

13 May 2014

beautiful photos are memories... of tense moms holding cameras?

I can tell I've made it past the one-year mark as a blogger.  (Cue confetti! No? Okay then.)  I think of topics I want to write about, and realize I wrote about them last year.  Today is no exception.  It's early May, and in my little burg that means we just experienced Tulip Time.  To read my thoughts from last year, go here: so-this-last-week-was-tulip-time

The actual Tulip Time festival this year was so great, I felt sentimental about every little detail.  I was just a thin thread of emotional control away from hugging windmills, crying over the taste of poffertjes, and taking pictures of random tourists who were taking pictures.  Wait, I did that last one.  But only once! The only bummer was that my oldest got sick and had to miss out on much of the fun. I told him there's always next year, which I am in no position to guarantee since who knows what our career future (and therefore zip code) holds, but as I said I was already weirdly sentimental and I was offering the hope of next year's festival as much to myself as to him.  Which goes to show how much I love Tulip Time.

However.  My session taking picture of my children in Dutch costumes was not as smooth and painless as I'd hoped.  I know you are rolling your eyes. You mean suiting your children up into strange costumes and traipsing them around in a garden to get semi-formal pictures wasn't the best Friday night for all involved?  Really?! But, dear reader, this is my jam.  Photography.  My children.  Tulips. Weird seasonal traditions.  Just typing the words makes me giddy. And lots of people get a rush from things that nearly kill them.  This is my version of that.  (And you could argue that this time it nearly did kill me.  At one point my son complained that he hated the very sound of my camera going "click." How he- errr, I mean I- survived that comment is a miracle.

Seems I still have a little to learn.  But it wasn't an absolute nightmare, so I'll count that as a win and move on.  Each child contributed to the beautiful celebration of imperfection in their own way.  My daughter refused to brush her hair, or tuck in her shirt.  My littlest actually plucked several tulips from their stems- a huge no-no here.  (If you are from my town and read this, for the love please do not report us.)  Also, his neckerchief was missing.  My oldest son was so kind as to put on his own costume while I dressed the littles.  I was so grateful for his help!  Then we got to the gardens, and I went to tuck in his shirt.  I found he had left on his school pants underneath his costume pants... which were a full two inches shorter.  Ah, well.  That't the beauty of being a recovering perfectionist.  Learning opportunities come at you. every. moment.

Without further ado, my 2014 tulip kid pics:

Love the third child 'tude.  Plus, my oldest's pant situation.  And the soccer socks.  I can't even.
I love this pic so much.  But the pants...
What if they were this happy getting out the door in the morning every day? 

Hugs because big brother gave her the broken stemmed
tulip he'd found.
Those cute grubby fingers were in trouble for picking that tulip!
(But first I took the picture.)

12 May 2014

we could be in trouble

This week my son came home from school and asked if he could go to "Trudy's" house. Trudy is not in his class, and I don't know her last name or her parents.  In fact, I'd never heard of her.  Turns out my boy knows her from recess.  And so my hubby and I told him that it wasn't likely we could take him to Trudy's house to play that day.  He was not deterred.  He pulled out a piece of crumpled, folded paper from his pocket and boldly pronounced, "But I got her number!"

After my husband and I recovered from the fit of shocked laughter that struck us, we studied the piece of paper. Trudy had invited him over, and had written her and my boy's name on one side, and on the other, her street address.  

Anyone ready to walk me through this?  Thought I had a few more years to prepare up in here, before the little ladies started giving my son their numbers to stick in his pocket.  

I thought you were a toddler, like, yesterday.
At least Trudy has great taste in playmates, I'll give her that.

11 May 2014

mom, part two

Last year on Mother's Day, I wrote a blog post letter to my mom.  In it I wrote about little things I remembered from my childhood.  While I wrote it I cried, feeling such big feelings for my mom.  I wanted her to know that I valued her and my memories of her.  It was a sentimental and awkward attempt at a tribute.

Well, I reread that post today, a year later.  And it seems incomplete.  It's still just as true that I appreciate the pot roasts and the permission to make blanket forts, but there is a deeper layer of thanks that I missed.  Or maybe a couple.  And although I'm sure this will be incomplete, too, I want to try to do better. So here it is: more of what I learned from my mom.

My mom was patient with me, but when it came to me experimenting with being snarky, mean, or judgmental of my peers- well, she had no patience with that.  I remember writing a letter to a pen pal at a young age, and mentioning in it something about an annoying geeky girl in my class.  Well, my mom saw it and gave me a piece of her mind.  I would be rewriting that letter, thankyouverymuch.  My mom takes very seriously the axiom, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." And although she, along with all the female members of my extended family, loves a good bit of gossip- coffee and coffeecake optional- any stories of a person's misfortune were told in somber, sorry tones.  There was grace and suspended judgment even while heads were shaking back and forth, for all but the most heinous crimes.  Her attitude of grace and mercy is an example to me.

So what I'm saying is that Mom would get me to stop crying, and
Dad would walk me through how to best dig the grave. Hypothetically.
One result of that attitude, is that my mom is the safest person I know.  If I killed someone, and needed advice on hiding the body, I would ask my dad.  But first, I would call my mom, and tell her everything, and get her sympathy.  Once I knew she still loved me and understood, then I would tell her to put dad on the phone. When I need a listening ear, she's the person I think of first.   She is for me, in the best way possible.  And when we close our phone conversations, she says, "I love you," four or five times.  It's the best.

My mom is a "get it done" person.  Yardwork.  Housework.  Homework.  She tackled tasks and kicked their butts.  She would touch things in the sink with her bare hands that I wouldn't look at with both eyes.  Digging out dandelions.  Squashing spiders.  Holding garage sales.  Done, done, done.  She is still that way.  Having her physical presence near me is all I need to feel a burst of super-charged energy, and suddenly cleaning out the back of the fridge seems like a winnable battle.  I grew up seeing her get things done.

Along with most kids who grew up having a stay-at-home-parent, I assumed a lot about them.  That it was easy, that it was always what she wanted to do, that being with my exalted presence all hours of the day was enough reward for anyone.  Ahem.  Now I am in the trenches of that same gig- home with the littles, trying to mind the children, the house, the laundry, the shopping.  And I know that my mom must have sacrificed more that I knew- or know- for me and my brother.  She sacrificed the big- career perks of lunch with the girls, money, measurable and attainable goals.  She sacrificed the little- being able to have a couple moments of privacy to go pee, not having kids slurping on your (glass) bottle of Pepsi without asking, reading Ten Apples Up On Top ad naseum when you had a new Stephen King tempting you from the bookshelf.  But the beautiful thing- the amazing miracle of motherhood- is that as a kid I was oblivious to her sacrifice.  She was no martyr, no complainer, no bitter ranter.  Even as I got older, old enough for her to tell me that we couldn't afford whatever random Esprit or Benneton swag I was begging her for, she never breathed a word about her own sacrifices.

My mom loves others well.  All my growing-up years, she always made birthdays and holidays seem like days covered in fairy glitter.  She sends cards, gifts, personal notes.  I remember the lengths she went to, trying to get my grandma- her mother-in-law- the perfect gifts.  She prays for me, without fail.  She prays for my friends.  I've seen the patient brushstrokes that make the masterpiece of a wife's unconditional, unwavering love, by observing my parent's marriage.

I could go on, and perhaps next year- or next week- I will.  But the true letter to my mom about the fruits of her labor- pun intended- are my brother and I.  Our lives are not a nice and neat report card of her success and failure as a parent.  But, to really see how far the reach of her love extends, look at us.  Many of my stumbling efforts at being kind, patient, and giving, are echos back to what I grew up knowing.  So thank you, Mom. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

07 May 2014

risky business

My seasonal tree pollen allergies are kicking my rear end.  I am hunkered down in my sweet little home.  Actually, it isn't very sweet right now.  My two littles are attempting to cover every surface with loose toy parts and broken crayons and cast-off socks. Is there some kid-centered Guinness Book of World Records that I don't know about, fueling this toy and trash tornado?  Do they win some kid award for marking their territory and thereby wresting control of the house from the adults?


On a lighter note, while I had the house to myself yesterday I snuck a bunch of their old toys out to the thrift and consignment stores.  It felt very freeing.  See ya, gigantic Recue Hero firetruck that no one ever played with!  I'll take those inches of floor space back, thankyouverymuch!

So that there is some redeeming value to this post in which I complain about mess and allergies, I'm attaching a video that rocked my world.  This guy is doing a series of documentary interviews of dads, seeking to discover what it takes to be a good dad.  In this installment, he's focusing on the family of one of my favorite bloggers, Flower Patch Farmgirl.  She is rad, her husband is rad, their story is rad.  Whew!  I haven't used the word "rad" that many times in one day since 1992!  I'd better go rest now.

Oh but first- the title of this post.  Makes sense when you see the video.  If you are going to risk much, let it be by risking much on other people.  There is much to be gained, in that kind of risk.

Amen and amen!