Friday, March 23, 2012

Our dancing bees

The front of our house is bordered by these bushes that attract an unseemly amount of bees each year when spring comes along. Coming in and out of the house is a mad dash to try to bypass the buzzing creatures. I cannot stand them. I know they do good work. I appreciate the hard work. I love honey. But I do not like bees one bit. This is where my 3 year old and I differ. He informed me today that he loves bees. He will stand at the storm door and watch them buzz about for long stretches of time. He will mosey past the bee laden bushes with a huge smile on his face, totally unafraid.

Today, I was busy doing some things around the house and I heard Charlie playing his keyboard. He had put it on the "demo" setting and had turned the volume all the way up. I wondered what in the world he was doing. I heard the storm door creak open and I walked to the front door. He was standing in the doorway, on the front stoop (where the bees like to congregate), just letting his keyboard play as loud as it could. I said, "Charlie, what are you doing?" He looked at me and said, "The bees are dancing. They like this song." It was like he knew a secret that I didn't. He was totally serious. Ah, I love that kid. I swear he says something so sweet it makes my soul smile every single day.

I am so blessed. And my bees are the happiest, danciest bees on the block.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ah, Spring...

Yesterday I looked outside my kitchen window and noticed that the two trees in my back yard were almost in full bloom. I'm not too sure what they are, some breed of cherry tree, but regardless of their name, they are beautiful! They are a welcomed reminder that spring is on its way.

The days are starting to stretch out longer... The kids are playing outside until dinnertime... The trees and flowers are blooming. Ah, spring. :-)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hard questions and lessons learned

I've been MIA lately, and I'm so sorry. It's been an odd winter here. Life has seemed scattered and unorganized, and so many questions have popped up for which I don't have answers. And, as a mom, aren't you always supposed to have answers?

I thought it hard enough that my fourth grader's math lessons had exceeded my knowledge, and I had reverted to the age-old saying, "Go ask your father." (Hey, I'm a word girl, not a number girl.) But this winter the questions became so much more profound than math. Too profound for this mom. So I just had to admit that no one, not even Daddy, had answers.

This past December, my oldest boys lost a school mate who died suddenly in an accident. The questions that followed were all too predictable, but I was unprepared. "Why?" There are no answers or explanations for that question. It's beyond me. So, my children were faced with the reality this winter that they were mortal. A little bit of their innocence was taken away when that poor child died. They barely knew her, but they were so strongly impacted by her passing. My oldest son still talks about her. He worries for her family. He knows now that we all have expiration dates ... some much much too short. It's a lesson I had hoped we could avoid. And so I struggle with the "Why?" just as much as he does. It's so unfair.

Two days ago I read about the passing of Britain's Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin. The journalist in me mourned the loss of a fearless reporter. She had just been interviewed on CNN a day earlier, and I was eager to see her last report. The report warned that it had disturbing images, but the journalist in me didn't care. War is disturbing. But I was unprepared for what I saw. Colvin reported on a toddler who had been injured in an attack. She was in the make-shift hospital when the child was brought in. The cameras captured the 2-year-old's last few breaths. And I wept as I watched. Oliver's question "Why?" still haunts me. Why in the world?

That same day a dear friend of mine mourned the loss of a family friend's young child who had died as the result of a brain tumor. Those parents grapple with the same questions.

I don't know why such horrible things happen. I know as a mother I mourn for these children because my heart breaks for their mothers who will never fill that void, no matter how many prayers or kind words are sent their way. My heart breaks for my children whom I can no longer shield from bad things. It makes me almost feel helpless.

But, as a mother, helpless is not an option. So I hug my children a little tighter every day, about a dozen times more than I used to. I don't let them walk out of that door without telling them I love them. I find the extraordinary in the ordinary moments.

Just yesterday, Charlie (who's 3) and I went outside to play. It was an unseasonably warm 75-degree February day. But the wind was so strong. As Pooh would say, it was a "blustery day." The minute we stepped foot outside, Charlie heard the rustling of our tall trees that have refused to relinquish their withered leaves. He smiled so big and said, "Mommy! The trees are talking to me. They're saying, 'Hello, Charlie!'" Normally I would have just smiled and forgotten such a small, sweet moment. But how can I now? Every time I hear the wind from now on, I will hear it saying hello to Charlie. I will treasure these small moments because the tragedies of this winter have showed me how important these moments are. They define the life of a mom. And I'm so thankful for them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hello again!

If anyone out there has been following my blog, I apologize for being MIA lately. Between school, homework, sports, housework and myriad other things, I've been so stinkin' busy! I kind of lost myself in the shuffle. But I'm back!

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I am a children's book author, or at least an aspiring children's book author. (See Operation Publication blog below.) I have sent my manuscripts to dozens of publishers, and I have been rejected dozens of times. Just when I begin to take it personally and start to question my work, God always gives me a nudge to keep me going.

Just today I started feeling a bit discouraged that I haven't heard back from the latest publisher. I started to fear impending rejection again. But when you're a mom, you don't have that much time to worry about yourself and your dreams. There was laundry to do, dishes to clean and beds that still hadn't been made. So I set to work...

I decided to take a break from laundry and sit down for a few minutes while Charlie was napping. I turned the television on and began clicking away, and I landed on Oprah's new Life Class show. Not anticipating sitting for very long, I listened for a few minutes. Oprah's message was to not give up on your dreams. She talked about truly visualizing yourself in the role to which you aspire and work hard to get there. I felt a tiny nudge from God at this point. THEN, Oprah showed a clip from her old show in which she was interviewing J.K. Rowlings. Rowlings said she was rejected many times before finally becoming perhaps the most well-known author of our generation and the generation following us. She said something that will stick with me forever, I hope... She said she never had much self esteem but she never questioned the fact that she had an important story to tell. This was a little more than a nudge from God... It was a bit of a shove.

So I'm taking His hint and I'm going to keep plugging away at it. I have important stories to tell. I am eager to have my work published eventually and I also am eager to write more tales... The best is yet to come. Operation publication continues.

The moral of this storyteller's story: Don't give up or doubt yourself. Know that you are destined for great things. :-)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mom guilt

When you get pregnant and unsolicited advice givers start spewing advice left and right, they never ever mention "mom guilt." I'd say it's the most prevalent, pesky part of motherhood.

When Oliver was born, I felt guilty for leaving him each day to go to work. I cried every day for the first couple of months, but it got a tiny bit easier every day. I say, to this day, that those years, while I was working, I had the most quality time with Oliver because I didn't take a single moment for granted. I lived for evenings and weekends with my little guy. He had my complete attention.

When Henry was born, I became a stay-at-home mom because having two children in daycare pretty much drains a journalist's income. I wasn't sad about quitting my job. I was so excited to stay home with my little guys and be the perfect mommy, but after having Henry, postpartum depression set in, and I was sad all the time. It wasn't at all as I had expected. I constantly felt guilty for not giving my children the best me that I could. Several months of medication and diet and exercise cured my depression and I was me again. And the guilt vanished.

Fast-forward nearly seven years... I'm still a stay-at-home mom. I now have three little guys to fill up my days. But I find myself oftentimes not giving them the best of myself because I'm too busy doing laundry or doing housework. And, oftentimes mom guilt sets in once again. I constantly remind myself that, when the kids are grown, they won't remember how clean the house was. They will remember their time with their mommy. So I try to live more in the moment. And, when I do, I feel guilty for letting the house go.

It's a vicious cycle, mom guilt.

Now I'm contemplating going back to work, either part-time or full-time. I'm petrified. I'm so scared of missing moments with my kids. I'm scared of the mom guilt that will ensue; in fact, it's already begun... But, as my kids grow, so do their needs, and I know that financially, I should contribute more to lift the load off my handsome breadwinner husband. I know that going back to work will fill a need within myself to practice my craft once again. I know that my boys will respect me for going back to my career. And I know that the whittled-down time with them will be quality time that I won't take for granted. I just wish my head would inform my heart of all of this. Instead ... I just feel mom guilt.

So, I'll let you know who wins out on this, my head or my heart. Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Well said

Children have such clarity. Their little minds can offer up the simplest, purest, most beautiful explanations that the wisest academic could never ever devise. I know I've written about my oldest child's very wise words before, but I have to share what Henry, my middle child said today.

Henry is a man of few words. He is my active child. Like Forrest Gump, he's always running... or climbing trees... or playing ball... or riding his bike. You get the idea. But when he does sit down and talk to me, I could listen to him for hours. He's still got what I refer to as the baby accent. I know he'll soon grow out of it, and so I savor every conversation. In fact, we changed our youngest boy's name from Ben to Charlie just one week before he was born because we heard Henry say the name Charlie one day while watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and we fell in love with the name.

Today we were driving to the store, and it started to rain big fat heavy raindrops through the sun. Charlie, who's 2, started crying and panicking. He hates it when it rains while we're traveling. (I blame my husband who took Charlie with him to a drive-through car wash one time and traumatized the poor little guy. To my husband's credit, most kids really love going to drive-through car washes. But I digress...) Charlie was getting increasingly upset, when Henry leaned forward and smiled at him and said, "Don't worry, Charlie. God's just splashing around in His pool and making drips fall down."

I can think of no better explanation for rain on a sunny day. Can you?

Friday, July 8, 2011


Tomorrow my two oldest boys will spend the night with my parents (Mee Mee and Gramps) as they participate in the third-annual mega-adventure, otherwise known as Gramps Camp.

For the past three years, my parents have invited all of the non-baby grandchildren for one weekend in the summer to participate in the highly anticipated Gramps Camp. They will get spoiled and sugared up ... They will have water-balloon fights, make ice cream sundaes, watch silly movies and eat popcorn, play hide & seek and have the traditional Gramps Camp scavenger hunt. And they will enjoy every single minute of it.

But, more importantly, my parents will enjoy it even more. :-)

When God blessed us with three beautiful little boys, I had no idea how blessed we actually would become. When our children were born, we not only became parents, our parents became grandparents. These aren't easy roles to fulfill.

I knew that Dave's parents would be wonderful grandparents because I had seen how they interacted with Dave's brother's children so patiently and lovingly. But Oliver, my oldest, was my parents' first grandchild. So I had the huge honor of watching them become grandparents for the very first time. Since that time, they have welcomed four more grandchildren (two belonging to my sister, Jennifer).

Both Dave's parents and my parents have completely amazed me. I'm convinced they are the best grandparents in the world. (Though I am a bit biased.) Each brings something special to their grandchildren's lives. My mother is extremely imaginative and creative . She is the reason I became a writer. She could spend hours telling the children wild and fantastic stories that she makes up as she goes. My dad is a snuggler. Give him a baby to hold and he's happy for hours. Not a visit goes by that he doesn't tell each grandchild how much he loves them. Dave's mother is kind and gentle. She can diffuse any situation with a kind word and a hug. I'm constantly amazed by this and always thankful. Dave's dad is quiet and dependable. The boys can count on him for anything always.

They say grandparenthood is a sort of second chance at parenting. As I putter along this path of parenthood, I am taking notes from these second-chancers. They have got it down pat.