May 31, 2012

Weddings, Airplanes, and Brown Paper Bags

My sister is getting married in less than two months.  I am so excited I have a hard time falling asleep at night.  Thoughts of flower girl dresses and wedding shoes slip between thoughts of what else we need to buy and pack.  (Yes, we have over a month and I am already thinking about packing.  That's how I roll.)

When I'm not occupied with images of clothes (the girls' and mine) and giddy with excitement to be in New York again, I have moments of panic.  You see, this three hour flight will be the first the girls will ride on a plane.  How in the world are we going to survive being confined in our seats on a loud and never-before-experienced airplane?  (And how in the world did my parents do it so frequently with my sister and me?)

While I am in the bed hyperventilating about the flight, Adam is next to me having nightmares about the wedding ceremony.  Because I am so honored to be my sister's matron of honor (even though I'm married I swear it sounds better to be the maid of honor), Adam will be stuck wrangling the two little flower girls who will most likely not be cooperating and sweetly walking down the aisle.  Also most likely not sitting quietly and ever-so-angelically through the matrimonial proceedings.

I'm sure that once we survive the flight (we will survive the flight, right?) my anxiety will transfer to the two-year-old's and four-year-old's behavior for the big wedding weekend.  (Because that's how I roll too.  What's next to worry about?  Got it.)  But I can't look that far ahead.  The flight anxiety is enough for now.

Mostly I'm happy to obsess about the details -- the clothes to buy, the toys (distractions) to bring, the fun to be had.  If you have any though, I sure wouldn't mind air travel tips with little ones.  Otherwise I'll just pack my brown paper bag.  You know, for breathing into as my children scream and cry and get us kicked off the plane.


May 29, 2012

The Tantrum

It was just supposed to be a drop-off.  To keep from increasing the two dollar fine already on my card.  But as with all things kids, it didn't go as I planned.  A visit inside to get a handful of books.  The space was filled with murmuring middle schoolers, busy librarians, and a security officer smiling at us, the little ones in the big space.

A few minutes later and there I stood trying to balance gentle holds while dragging two screamers in what is supposed to be the quietest place.  A fight over the stool, a rush to get out the doors, all leading to the increase in decibels of their voices.

I wanted to get them OUT, aware of only me and them.

But once we were out, the security officer who so sweetly smiled at the girls, hurried over to shut the doors behind us.  The slow movement used to avoid pinched fingers not nearly fast enough for the quiet that is needed from two shriekers.

We breathed it out.  My temper not flared.  My cheeks not red-hot.  A discussion of expectations, a successful reentry, and we checked out the books I hastily cast aside in the moment.

The most my children have ever misbehaved in public.  The loudest my children have ever misbehaved in public.  And me, desperate to get their limp bodies to a place they could safely be loud, desperate, but not embarrassed.  Surprised I am already able to laugh about it.

They look like non-tantrumers, yes?


***** Linking up with Heather for Just Write. *****

May 28, 2012

How To Get Out of Doing Yard Work

I was supposed to help with yard work today.  The hedges in our back, while lush and privacy providing, are also usually wild and out of control by Memorial Day.  This year was no exception.

Before: In desperate need of some TLC

However, instead of helping, as planned, I spent the afternoon on the couch, in and out of consciousness (okay, that's only because I fell asleep) and nursing a wounded hand.  It sounds weak and pathetic, but I swear I would never stick my hand in the path of a hedge trimmer just to get out of yard work.

Yes, while noisily humming away, the trimmer made contact with the top side of my hand.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while sharp and dangerous, the trimmer did not maim me, just caused a mere flesh wound.  A major relief being on this side of the accident.  In all seriousness, it does not bleed much and although seems really deep, I am fairly certain it doesn't need stitches.  (Pretty sure I'm in the clear, but I don't know when a doctor recommends stitches.  Any ideas?)

The Offending Tool

I have discovered, not that there was ever any question, that I could never be a doctor or nurse.  Every time I look at or clean the cut I am overcome with feelings of nausea and light-headedness. Adam rushes me to the couch where I can safely be on my back with my feet up.

Hence my afternoon spent in and out of napping.

You didn't think I'd provide a picture of the actual wound, did you?

Adam, for his part, feels terrible.  And, mostly because it's not his fault at all, I feel terribly dumb.

On the plus side, I did get out of doing the dreaded hedge trimming.  And, although my hand and arm feel weak, there's definitely enough strength to be typing and on the computer.  (Whew!)

After: Didn't Adam do a beautiful job?

While not exactly how I planned to spend the day, I am relieved it was nothing too serious, and simultaneously hanging my head in shame and embarrassment.  Kids, be careful around power tools.  Grownups, that goes for you too.

PS.  Happy Memorial Day to all!  Remembering especially those service men and women who have died.


May 26, 2012

Two Weeks in One

I missed Project 365 last week, not that anyone was complaining.  I don't think I was still too sick, or too busy, or too bored.  I think it just kind of slipped away from me.  In any case, because of that, here are a few glimpses into the past two weeks.  You know, ones that I may or may not have already written about or shown pictures from.

Week 20

Week 21

By the way, on our first day of the long weekend, Adam and I had a nice day-long date.  Painting the trim upstairs.  Two weeks worth of painting (if he does it alone during the week) done in one Saturday. A big Thank You to my parents for watching the girls all day.  And would you mind watching them again soon so that we can get another date.  Preferably, one that doesn't involve grubby clothes and house work?

Happy Weekend all!


May 22, 2012

I Can't Stop the Ache

I want to have another baby.  No, that isn't right.  I am aching to have another baby.

It's a tricky thing, this whole kids thing.  And if I'm being honest, for us it was a much bigger and more difficult adjustment after the second than it was after the first.  (Will I forever feel guilty about that?)  We struggled quite a bit.  Which is why my pregnancy last summer was such a shock and unplanned surprise.  I feared for our marriage.  (Will I forever feel guilty about that too?)

But even so, when we lost the baby I was devastated.  I should say, Devastated.  Because it deserves a capital D.

And now, I am Desperate for a baby.  (Because that deserves a capital D too, even though I am embarrassed admitting that.)  I feel like a crazy lady, how much I'd like another baby.  I don't know why it feels so important Right Now.  Why waiting a few years (like someone else in our family might prefer) seems so.very.hard.

One of my friends suggested that perhaps I feel this way because of the miscarriage.  Perhaps I am seeking closure.  She might be on to something.  Adam agrees.  He must be on to something too.

I wonder, would a new baby bring me more closure?  I don't know.  Maybe?  (Will I forever feel guilty about that?)  Not that it would replace the baby I lost, but might my heart feel more healed if I had a new baby here to focus on?  (Will I forever feel guilty for that too?)

I don't know.  I don't know.  I don't know.

All I know is, I want another baby.  It is aching in my heart.  And that's the truth.

May 21, 2012

Joys (again)

Last week I shared a few moments of joy brought to me by the girls.  And because these are sweet things that I want to remember, I want them to know, and I want to share with those who do not see us regularly, I am doing it again this week.


When Paige makes a request from Dairy Queen for "silly bars" (instead of Dilly bars).

When Hope asks to sit on my lap during their bedtime stories.

When Paige says, I like broccoli.  And proceeds to actually eat said broccoli.  (One of my children actually likes vegetables! Wahoo!)

When Hope requests my goodnight song while being tucked in.  (I made it up when she was a baby to sing away her cries.)

When every time we see an airplane Paige says, Ah-pane!  We see Auntie Liz, Mommy? Because she knows this summer we will be flying out and visiting her auntie.

When the girls wake up in the morning and Hope climbs into Paige's crib and they read stories together.


These are the joys that make my heart swell.  These are the joys that I feel like I will remember forever, but I know could be forgotten in the passing of time.

These are the joys that are mine.

Linking up for Miss Elaine-ous Monday.

May 20, 2012

Running Low

I am not in my happy place right now.  Except, I'm not even really sure what that means.

I have no reason to be anything but happy.  And I am.  Mostly.  I'm just not okay with the level of happiness right now.

At night I am in my bed and just want to crawl into bed with Hope.  Or grab Paige out of her crib and bring the two of them into bed with me.  But four people in our bed would never actually work for a night of sleep, even if two of the people are Littles.  I just want to be with them.  To see their bodies breathing and sweetly dreaming.

My energy tank is on empty, except the light isn't quite on...yet.  And I just want to feel better and be happier and spend the day giving my two treasures exactly what they need in a Happy Mommy way.

I know that a lot of it is because of this sickness.  It just.won't.go.away.  Even though I am feeling better than I was, I am not Better.  There is still too much TV.  Too many foods of convenience.  Too few moments of mommy play time.

I need to take better care of myself.  But I'm not sure what that means, either.

The truth is I know that this is nothing.  The down of today is so much littler than what it feels right now.  I'm working on trying to figure my way out of this funk.

May 18, 2012

The Busy and the Quiet

We stepped off the train and I felt the energy around me.  Not the city when I usually visit on a weekend, this city had a definitive pulse.  Alive with corporate lunchers, busy shoppers, and food vendors.

I could tell she felt it too.  Her eyes were wide and there was a skip in her step.  Which one is Daddy's?  I pointed and she smiled in awe.  That big one?  Wow.

We walked hand in hand.  She was light and happy, eager to make our lunch date.  And in the middle of the street her grin multiplied as he scooped her up into a hug.

Lunch, just the three of us, a rare and special occasion.  And then another treat, a stop at the candy store for some saltwater taffy.  Distraction for the trip home.

Back on the train, the hum of the city quieted.

Sometimes the busy is fun.  Sometimes it makes me feel Alive.  And sometimes I crave home.  Where the quiet can come.  The quiet makes me feel Alive too.

May 15, 2012

Joys from The Big One and The Little One

When the big one peaked her head in the door on Sunday morning and whispered, Happy Mother's Day, Mommy, and closed the door and let me sleep longer.

When the little one says, You Kiss-teen, Momma?  You Kiss-teen?  Yes Paige, my name is Christine.

When the big one put a stuffed animal in her bag and gave it to me as a gift (to borrow) just from her to me on Mother's Day.

When the little one wears her sunglasses inside: during church, or her sister's gymnastics, or class.

When the big one tells me, I will always want to sit on your lap, even though I know there will come a time when she won't.

When the little one lifts her arms to the sky and says, Stah-baaaah-dee and giggles.

When the little one called to her sister from the top of the slide, Catch me, Hopey!  And the big one held out her arms and said, Okay, Paige.  I'll catch you.

These are the joys that fill my heart.

May 12, 2012

Cough, sniff, ugh

I have been sick this week, as most everyone probably already knows since I have been croaking it from the mountain (read: whining) all week.  And it stinks, being sick.  But I also feel bad for my family.

I feel bad for my husband, who comes home from a long day of work to a house of chaos and hungry children.  But even more so, I feel bad for the girls.  My girls who love to be on the go, visit friends, and play outside.  My girls who have been watching all together too much TV (and don't even ask how much because I honestly haven't let myself keep track).

I have to say, I am very grateful and thankful for all the help this week.  My friends who got the girls out of the house, who brought over toys and movies for us to borrow so the girls would have something new to play with.  My friends who offered help and support.  And, of course, my family.  Who is always ready to do whatever they can whenever I need it.

Today I am feeling, not better, but better than I was.  At least better enough not to cry when Adam told me he was going for a run.

Or maybe that's just the DayQuil courage.  In either case, I'll take it.

May 10, 2012

The Day She was Born

Today is my mother's birthday.

I find myself really thinking about this day more now than I ever have in the past.  About my mother, yes, but also about the woman who brought her into the world.  Not the grandma from my childhood, but the young woman in the black and white photo on my mom's vanity with the color hand-painted on.  The beautiful woman with the pregnant glow, whose baby belly was not in the picture because that just wasn't done in those days.

And I wonder what she thought and felt.  An English teacher married to another teacher seven years her senior.  Who, together, longed and waited for a baby for five years.  This young woman who, at thirty-nine, was considered old to be pregnant.  Whose family did not believe her when she first told them the news.  Was she purely excited or did she feel any apprehension?  Did she feel supported or did she feel some judgement?

And when she went in to have her baby that day in May, was she scared?  Knowing that her petite frame could not handle delivering a full-term baby, did she worry about the possibilities or was she blissfully unaware, only focusing on meeting her new joy?

I see her, that woman from the photo, crying happy tears and laughing while she held her baby.  Smelling her daughter's sweet newborn smell.  And my grandpa, bringing in a handful of the last lilacs. A first gift to motherhood.

I don't know if I wonder these things because I now have children of my own, or if it's because I'm getting older.  But I wish I could ask her.  I wish I could hear the story of my mom's birth from my grandmother herself.  I wish she could tell me what she thought and felt.  Her hopes and dreams for her miracle baby.

Although I may never know these things, I know some of her feelings.  I know the emotions that overwhelmed her as she fell in love with her daughter.  And the love that grew and changed as her baby did too.

And I know that those hopes and dreams came true.  Because I know the beautiful person my mother became.  The beautiful mother she is for me.  The beautiful grandmother she is to my girls.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

May 9, 2012

I Send Out Love

With Mother's Day around the corner, I can't help but think of all the mothers who have experienced loss.  Mothers whose arms are empty due to miscarriage, stillbirth, death, or infertility.  Mothers who hold their children in only dreams or memories.

Mothers who suffer silently.  Mothers who move forward because of other children.  Mothers who might not look like a mother on the outside, but only because we don't know their stories.  Mothers who feel joyful for others while simultaneously sorrowful for themselves.  Mothers who are strong and courageous even though, to them, it might not always feel like they are.

And I can not forget the daughters.  Daughters whose mothers are no longer here.  Who have no one to send flowers to.  Whose mothers are not a simple phone call away.  Who can not receive unsolicited motherly advice.  Who long for just one more day, one more hour, one more memory to make with their mothers.

For these mothers and daughters I send out love.  I send out comfort and peace and hope.  I wish that I could give every one of you exactly what you need and just how you need it.  I wish I could take away the hurt and pain.  I hope that you have people in your life who do.

This Mother's Day I will hug my daughters, recognize my lost baby, and call my mother.  I will be ever-so-grateful for the blessings I have.  And I will take a moment out of my day to think about other women who just might be experiencing some difficult emotions because of the day.

This post is linked up with Shell for PYHO.

May 8, 2012

Sometimes It's Not About the Choice

You know when you have a choice to make and it doesn't feel easy?  Say, ice cream, for example: chocolate or vanilla?  Or wine: red or white?  I'm not gonna lie.  Some days it's hard.

But, actually, I'm talking about the big decisions that feel like they're so gigantic they stop you in your tracks.  The ones that can affect the outcome of future opportunities and the happiness of more than just yourself.

And sometimes it feels like there's a "right" choice.  We're always asking, Which choice is best?  What is right?  And while I think these are good questions to ask -- there is such a thing as a bad decision -- sometimes I don't think there's a right or wrong way to go.

Sometimes it's not the choice you make, but what you make of the choice.

Last night Adam told me, Maybe God isn't telling me there's a right choice.  Maybe He's telling me to make the best out of whichever choice I make.  And I was all, Amen to that!  Absolutely I agree.

(I may not have uttered the word "Amen", but I'm pretty sure it floated through my mind.)

There is so much we can't control in our lives.  But we can control how we approach our lives and our decisions, and what we take away from our experiences.  We can either jump in, get a feel for what works, adjust ourselves accordingly, and move ahead.  Or we can knock our heads against a wall, while bemoaning the fact that things aren't the way we want them to be.

I'm not saying there isn't room for complaining or sorrow.  All I'm saying is, when there's a big decision to be made sometimes there really isn't a right or wrong, a better or worse.  Sometimes the decision just Is.

It's what we do after that makes the difference.

May 7, 2012

An Old Glass

I have been feeling kind of homesick for Vienna lately.  Probably because my parents just got back from there, and I haven't been in over five years.  And my parents, sweet wonders they are, brought back treats from my second home, and I love them (my parents and the treats).  But, you know, they also remind me what I'm missing.

Visiting would not be the same, of course.  The last time I was there was for my grandmother's funeral.  But I wasn't there at Christmas to pack up her things.  And I haven't been back to stay in a hotel.

Yesterday I took out a glass of hers.  One that I kept from her home after she was gone.  I gently touched the edge, it felt so delicate.  And I remember telling myself, Be careful, Christine.  You would be so sad if this broke.  And I was.  Careful to slide an ice cube in, to set it far away from the girls' wobbly reach.

It sat in the sink over night, and today while I was putting away a pile of clean dishes, a bowl fell.  It broke the glass.

I am disappointed and a little sad.  But I know the things that I have of hers, while precious, are not what I need.  They will not bring her back to life.  They will not pay for a family trip to show my daughters my birth city.  They will not make my memories stronger.

But, it does almost feel like I let her down.  Or a memory was almost lost.  Which is why I can't bring myself to throw the broken glass away.

This pull between the logical "it's just stuff" and the emotional "it's a part of us" is what I struggle with.

Even though glasses and necklaces and dishes are just things, I struggle with remembering this and instead feeling like they are a part of me.  A part of my grandmother.  A part of our past.

Sometimes, it's just hard to say goodbye.  Even to a broken old glass.

Linking up with Heather and Elaine.

May 5, 2012

Sounds of Saturday

Sometime between the hours of Way Too Early and Sleeping In, noises from the room next door drift over to us.  A light clicks on, books are looked at, giggles are exchanged.

When Hope scurries to the bathroom, Paige becomes impatient, Get me out, Mom! she calls, stretching out each word.  After a few more beckonings, Adam rolls out of bed and I snuggle under the covers grateful for the thirty more minutes of rest he's giving me.

I hear them in the kitchen negotiating breakfast.  Chocolate gets traded in for some oatmeal perhaps followed by a pop tart or doughnut.  An after breakfast treat.

When I emerge from the room I find a whole set-up in the kitchen.  Animals and Barbies living among pop cans and oven mitts.  The girls huddled in their togetherness, happily playing.  I quietly step into the living room, leaving them to the world they are building.

I will gladly take a few more moments of me time before jumping into the day.  Sitting on the sofa, I sip my coffee, surrounded by the sweet sounds of a Saturday.

May 1, 2012

A Little Thanks

I think people need to feel appreciated.  To be Seen [with a capital S], to be noticed.  To be thanked and acknowledged.  To be told, "Hey, I know that sometimes parenthood/marriage/your job/keeping up/life can be hard, but damn, you're doing a good job.  And I see you.  So, thanks."

And people may argue that we shouldn't need acknowledgement or gratitude.  That we shouldn't need the appreciation.  Maybe they're right.  But it sure is a good feeling to receive a little bit of it, isn't it?  To be told, "Thanks for going out and getting the groceries, again."  or "Wow, the lawn just looks great."

Sometimes that one little acknowledgement can be enough to refuel, to reenergize.

Please don't misunderstand me.  I am in no way implying that we should be treated like princesses or princes.  Or that we need to give out medals and constant awards.  We do not need to clean the toilet, make dinner, and greet spouses at the door with a beer every day in order to show gratitude.  (Just as they do not need to provide a bouquet of roses and a shove out the door for a spa treatment every day to show theirs.)

I just think that for everyone -- especially spouses because somehow we get caught up in the day-to-day, the expectations, the to-dos that are not done, the never ending work that is family -- it is important to take the time and find the effort to express some gratitude.

So often I get stuck in my mind, spinning the wheel of look-at-all-I-do-and-I-am-doing-so-much-and-why-don't-you-see-all-I'm-doing, even though I know that he does so much too.  And when I get stuck, there is unhappiness and resentment and all the bad things that come with those non-helpful thoughts.  But I know that when I'm feeling that way, I'm less likely to show my appreciation because I'm so stuck in thinking about me, that I forget about him.

Just as I would sometimes like a little more gratitude, I'm sure he would too.  And I find that when I can break that thought and see all he does, really see it and appreciate it and show it, then things start to balance out.  We can let go of the competition of who's working harder, who's plate is more full, and just be grateful.  Grateful for the effort the other person puts in.  Grateful for the physical, emotional and spiritual work of being in a marriage, of being part of a family.  Grateful for each other.

Because I am grateful.  And I do appreciate.

And I need to remember, everyone needs that gratitude.  Everyone likes some acknowledgement.  And that "everyone"?  That includes my husband.

So, I today say this:

Adam.  I see you.  I thank you.  I appreciate what you are doing for us.  For our family.  For our life.  You work damn hard, you're doing a wonderful job, and I'm grateful.  Also, the toilet may not be clean, but I just might have a cold one waiting for you when you get home....