Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seven

So many things swirling in my head. Kind of like the opposite of writer's block. So I'll take the easy way out with seven quick semi-short takes.

1. I'm a little bit borderline OCD when it comes to cleaning and tidiness and things of that nature. I don't vacuum every day. I vacuum four times a day. Not the whole house. But the kitchen and dining room at least. I proudly display my Electrolux stick vacuum in the corner of the dining room as if it were a piece of furniture.

I think when you're a stay-at-home mom and everything seems out of control you learn how to hold on to one thing every single day that makes everything seem in order. For some it's combing their hair or brushing their teeth. Maybe it's getting in a workout or maybe it's cooking meal. For me, it's keeping the kitchen and dining room tidy.

So you can imagine how I feel about my backyard currently looking like this.


That's right. It's so bad I had to take the picture from the safety of the other side of my screened window.

It's a means to much bigger and better end so I'm accepting it for now. It's only a week. Deep breaths.

2.
The state of the backyard is due to a rather large and still unfinished lawn project we are undertaking. As I mentioned in a previous post Saturday was demo day. Saturday also decided to be a downpour day. As in rain. And lots of it. We got the job done. But boy was it messy.

A huge thanks to these guys.


Is it just me or do they look pleased as punch to be playing the mud? Boys!

3. And then there's this guy.

My little brother. Or younger, rather. Not so much on the little anymore.

Somewhere in life he learned he wasn't good enough. Couldn't do it. The whole school/academia thing messed with his head.

But it was all a big fat lie.

He's been the number one project manager for our whole yard. Layout. Ideas. Equipment. Dos and Don'ts.

He walked in and told my husband, the guy he idolizes for career success, how to get it done. And we listened.

He put in double or triple the hours of anyone else. Including ourselves.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. He's the hardest worker I know.

Joey, you rock.

4. Speaking of careers and success did you happen to catch the Oprah episode about people with cool jobs? They spotlighted a J. Crew design lady, a cake baker, a flower artist for The Four Seasons and a stuntwoman.

The message was simple: Do what you're passionate about, find a way to get paid for it, and then success will be imminent.

I'm going to stick my neck out here and say: I disagree.

Now before you go getting all mad, listen.

Do you think there's anybody passionate about cleaning toilets? Do you think anybody dreams about growing up to sell car insurance? Or what about standing and holding a "slow" sign in front of road construction?

I'm guessing not. But I could be wrong.

Here's the thing, Oprah. There are mouths to feed and mortgages to pay. We can't all do what we love. But everyone can learn to love what they do. Everyone can see a job for the greater good. A way to buy that house you've always wanted. A way to have a big family and keep bellies full. A way to take that vacation to Europe you've always dreamed about.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's about attitude. Attitude leads to success. And attitude is always a choice. Even when you're scrubbing toilets.

OK, stepping down from my high horse now.

5. Yesterday Brian borrowed a wheelbarrow from one of our neighbors, Tim. We're still rather new to the neighborhood and this was the first time Brian had met Tim.

After dinner Brian went to go return the wheelbarrow to Tim.

"So Nick was saying...," Brian began when he got back.

"Hold on," I interrupted, "I thought you said his name was Tim."

"Yeah, I know. He clarified that for me."

"What was to be clarified? Either his name is Tim or it's Nick."

"It's Tim but it's pronounced Nick."

Got it, Brian. Thanks for that clarification.

6. I just realized I don't really have a number six. I keep racking my brain for something I'm forgetting. But I can't think of anything. And I hear a little Lucy girl over the baby monitor doing her best impression of Chatty Cathy. So, nope, there's no number six.

7. Homemade strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert tonight! What's cookin' in your kitchen?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

You

You have eyes the color for which there is no name.

You have eyelashes that appear to have been enhanced with mascara. But they're all yours.

You love to eat. Anything. All. The. Time.

You love your big brother. From a distance.

You play happily all alone. For hours.

You take killer naps.

You prefer to party in the middle of the night when the rest of the world is asleep.

You have twelve teeth. TWELVE!

You have dark hair that glitters red when you're in the sun.

You are afraid of no one and nothing. Except loud, unfamiliar sounds.

You would rather jump than walk.

You are a bit of a daredevil.

You love swinging super fast and super high on the swings.

You give kisses.

You say "hiiiiiiiii" in that sweet, high-pitched, girly voice.

You say "baby" and point whenever I feed you YoBaby yogurt.

You look at me and shake your head "no" whenever you are doing something you know you're not supposed to do.

You pretend to comb your hair when I say, "Pretty, pretty."

You can climb the stairs without so much as slipping a toe.

You love the water and don't care if you get splashed in the face.

You smile all the time and on demand, especially if a camera is present.

You were born minutes before midnight.

You were and are absolutely gorgeous.

You were the daughter I never knew I needed.

You are my little Lucy girl.

And today, YOU are one.

Happy birthday to my baby girl!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Man's Trash is Another Man's...Rock?

Do you see anything significant about this picture?

Me neither.

But let me tell you. This morning this picture could have won a popularity contest.

Brian and I are in the midst of a huge yard project. We're removing all of our existing landscaping material, mostly rock of all shapes and sizes, and replacing it with sod.

The project has been months in planning and in our research we were shocked to find out that the cost to dispose of everything will be higher than the cost to buy and lay black dirt and sod.

The disposal portion of the project will take place this weekend. Brian has ordered a skid loader and two large dumpsters. And we've tricked bribed begged politely asked some of our friends if we could use their muscle power.

But before we throw our money and all these materials away a thought lingered in my mind. I knew all this stuff seemed like garbage in our minds but what if someone else coveted the way our yard currently looks. What if they had a burning desire to use all this rock that we so desperately want to do away with? To each their own, right?

So I put an ad on Craig's List. I'm a Craig's List virgin in both the selling and buying department. To me it's too cluttered and I can never find what I'm looking for in an efficient manner. But I remember a good friend once telling me that there's always somebody willing to take anything especially if it's for free.

So I posted that picture with some ground rules:

1. Transport on your own.
2. First come, first serve.
3. Must be taken by Saturday morning.

I posted that ad at 9:30 a.m. Within 15 minutes I had seven emails requesting the location for pickup. By 10:30 every single rock was gone. After 10:30 I had to turn away 12 additional interested emailers. For rocks. Rocks that, previously, we were going to have to pay to get rid of.

Craig's List, I think you have a new fan.

Friday, April 16, 2010

For All The SAHMs

Have you all been watching "Parenthood"?

I know, I know. None of us needs another show to clog up the DVR but trust me. This is a good one.

I think the best part is that it's something Brian and I can watch together. We like it equally for it's comedic parts, it's sentimental parts, it's serious parts and, c'mon now, you can't have a great television show without some over dramatic parts.

This week there was a storyline involving a stay-at-home mom and a teenage daughter. The daughter chose to spend her career day with her high-powered attorney aunt who worked in the big city, wore expensive suits and ate lunch at the hottest restaurants.

The daughter was extremely giddy to get a glimpse into this exciting lifestyle.

And the mom was a little crushed. Having left behind her own professional career so long ago she felt unimportant and insignificant in her daughter's eyes.

Growing up I remember being that girl. Asking my dad, instead of my mom, to help me with all my tough math homework. Idolizing my professional working aunt. Dreaming of attending a university in the big city.

What the heck did my mom know about those kinds of things? In my eyes she knew how to make my bed sheets smell like springtime. She could make a mean goulash dish. She could clean a skinned knee without making it sting. And she knew how to pick out the best books to read just before bed. But outside the four walls of our house I wasn't sure what else she could offer.

But that was little ol' naive me so long ago.

I did attend that university in the big city. And I did become that super-important, all-knowing professional working girl; for a short time.

But now I'm here. Right where my mom was so long ago.

I don't know if my mom ever felt hurt by my adolescent feelings. Moms are pretty good at hiding that kind of stuff.

Maybe, when she felt disregarded, she just turned her head and smiled.

Maybe she remembered when she felt that same way about her mom.

Maybe she knew that someday I would be doing the same super-important job as her. You know, the washing of the sheets, and the feeding of the mouths, and the reading of the books and all that stuff.

Maybe she knew that someday, someday, I would realize that everything I ever really needed to know, I learned from her.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

With A Bow On Top

Together they ransacked her dresser drawers while I was cleaning.

And when I was finished I found her looking like one of those old grannies who walks around with curlers in her hair.

Only it wasn't curlers.

It was bows.


Lots and lots of bows.


Thanks, big brother.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Thing about Three

Here's the thing about three. Or, what I've learned so far since his birthday five months ago.

It makes you want to pull your hair out.

But then it makes you laugh your pants off.

And then after that you want to cry, because really, three is still small potatoes compared to what's coming down the road.

Last week, the following actions provided me absolute, one hundred percent just cause to pull out my hair without being labeled legally insane.

1. Laying completely naked on his bed for 30 minutes refusing to get dressed so that we could go to the grocery store.

2. Running out in the backyard crying and completely naked when I threatened to leave for the grocery store without him.

3. Taking a bite out of a red apple in the produce section at the grocery store.

4. Running out of the automatic doors and into the parking lot when he saw the look I gave him after he took a bite out of the red apple in the produce section at the grocery store.

5. Sneaking into his sister's room and waking her up from her nap ten minutes after she fell asleep.

6. Stealing his father's wedding ring off the dresser and hiding it under the covers of his bed thus forcing his father to go to a client meeting unwed.

But then God whispered to me. He said, "You still love him. He's your son. And let's face it, you and I both know this kid is a freaking riot!"

Do you think God uses the word "freaking?" In my head he totally does.

So then he turned around and said and did these hilarious things.

1. While picnicking next to the walking paths by the river he stood up and did muscle poses for every passerby. Bikers included.

2. Still on the picnic he randomly decided to start singing "Do Wha Diddy Diddy Dum Diddy Do" to a girl who was, well, walking down the street.

3. He asked a (presumably college) girl why her shirt was pulled up while we were walking on the walking path. Thankfully she didn't hear. Although part of me wishes she did. When I told him that it was probably because she was too warm he replied, "But everyone can see her belly!"

4. During church he suddenly exclaimed, "Daddy you bent my sticker!" But he quickly rethought his anger, "That's OK Daddy, I know it was an accident."

5. After church he ran up to our priest and said, "Hi, God!" He interchangeably calls God "Jesus", "the priest" and "God". Looks like he's got the trinity concept figured out. We'll just have to make sure the Holy Spirit gets a shot.

Then there was last night. After dinner we shuffled both kids out the door to the playground. It's staying light out later now and the air was oh so warm.

There was a Boy Scout troop having a meeting at the nearby school. We witnessed a small altercation in which two Boy Scouts threw another boy's bike lock up into a tree. The scout master was brought into the situation and seemed to be turning it into a teaching moment as a responsible scout master ought to.

I wondered, in six, seven, eight years, who will William be?

Will he be the boy being made fun of?

Will he be the teaser? The taunter? Or maybe the tattletale?

At one point one of the boys said the word "stupid." A blacklisted word in our home.

William got down from the jungle gym and came running to me.

"Mommy," he whispered, "That boy said 'stupid!'"

"I heard," I replied, "You should tell him what you think about that."

He ran back over to the boy who was at least twice as tall and probably four times his weight. He stood right in front of him.

"You don't say that word!"

"What word?" asked the boy, no doubt accustomed to saying that word in regular conversations just like the rest of us.

"You don't say 'stupid,'" William demanded.

"Oh," the boy said glancing over at me. "Sorry."

And I realized in that moment maybe everything is going to be OK. Maybe I am doing a halfway decent job with this three-year-old boy who drives me crazy and makes me laugh all at the same time. Maybe doing the best I can is the best. Maybe three is small potatoes compared to what's to come. But if he can already stand up for what he believes in, well, then that's a pretty good start.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Like A Bean Pole


Check out my vegetable garden! Patience does pay off indeed. And with Minnesota temps averaging 10 to 20 degrees above normal every single day, these little guys will be in the ground in no time.

But that's not the only thing sprouting up around here. Either that or there's a flood coming that I wasn't informed about.

I had William try these on the day before Easter. Yeah I'm real good at preparing in advance.

"They're perfect!" He announced, wanting to go back to sword fighting or muscle poses or whatever it was that I so rudely interrupted. No time for something a petty as an Easter outfit. Such is a boy's world.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I Owe William

With Lucy's first birthday quickly approaching I realized I had yet to complete William's third year movie.

I don't do baby books or scrap books. Those kinds of things are priceless but I'm just not artsy enough to spend a lot of time on it. So instead, I give my kids a movie of sorts on each of their birthdays.

William's birthday was in, ahem, November. Shoot. You know. There was that whole surgery thing and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas and, well, it just got away from me.

But better late than never. So here it is. My movie for William's third year. If the pictures look dated, it's because they are. It's everything from his second birthday up to his third birthday...five months ago. Mom guilt.

video

**Music by Paul Simon - "St. Judy's Comet"

The Rumor Mill

I'm conversing with William while he plays in the bathtub.

"How much do you think you weigh?" I ask, spying the bathroom scale.

"Umm...THREE pounds!"

"Three pounds?! You weighed more than that when you were born."

"But Lucy's a baby." (His conversations often tangent into something that doesn't really make sense.)

"Yes, but she's getting bigger. She's almost going to be one year."

"Maybe you can have another baby in your tummy."

"Maybe. Would you like that?"

"Yeah."

"Do you think you would like a baby sister or a baby brother?"

"Umm, a brother!"

"Yes, that would be fun."

I get William out of the tub and put on his pajamas. I send him downstairs and finish putting clean sheets on his bed after he had an accident during nap.

I hear William downstairs start to talk to Brian who is cleaning up the kitchen from dinner.

"Mommy has a baby in her tummy!"

"What?"

"Mommy has a baby in her tummy!"

Silence.

I smile. I know what's coming next.

Footsteps up the stairs.

Brian to me: "Ummmmm....what?!"

"Really?" I say, "You're believing a three-year-old?"

"Well I thought this might be your cute idea of telling me something."

"No, Brian."

He walks away. Probably a little disappointed.

And that's how we play that old telephone game in our house.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Finishing Strong

I had a tough time this Lent.

I'm disappointed in myself because I love Lent. It's what reminds me why I love being Catholic so much. A time to reflect, to be forgiven, to renew. Masses during lent are quiet and leave plenty of space to look within your soul. What do you want change? What do you like? What should you do more of? What do you dislike? Are there indulgences that are blocking your path to fullness?

Many times during the 40 days of Lent our priest would mention the common mistake of starting out Lent with too many promises. Giving up too much or vowing too much. It's similar to starting out a race too fast only to get tired and weary halfway through and end up finishing slow.

Certainly it's noble to try to take on so much suffering during Lent but we should all be reminded that it's not a contest.

I think I'm disappointed in myself not for starting out the race too fast, but for not starting the race at all. I feel like I never fully recognized Lent this year.

Like so many of us, I have a ton of distractions in my life and this year I let them get the better of me.

On Holy Thursday, the mass of our Lord's supper, I got a babysitter for the kids. Brian and I went to church alone. I may have still been sitting at the starting line, but I was going to give it my all and finish strong anyway.

It was the best Lenten gift I could give myself. Together we sat, hand-in-hand, and listened to every single reading. We heard every single sentence of the gospel and every single word of the homily. I sang every word of every song and, for the first time in a while, I knelt for the entire consecration. For a mom of two young children it certainly is a treat to be able to do this.

The mass ended with moving the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose. The lights were dimmed and the congregation left in silence. Brian and I sat in the church in adoration for some time. Although my offering was small the beauty of God is that He doesn't compare us.

On Easter morning we all woke up early. Brian and William donned ties. Lucy and I were in pure white, she in a beautiful dress. He had risen, after all, and it was time to celebrate.

Following mass we took our first family photo since Christmas. I downloaded those pictures this morning and they make me smile from ear to ear. Those pictures make me realize He knows where I am on my journey better than I do. He loves me no matter what. And Lent or not, it's never too late to try to do better.

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