Sunday, February 27, 2011

What do you do?

I promised myself I wouldn't over-think this post. But the truth is, I've been ruminating about it all week. Still, I will attempt to get it all out in one short BLEH, and be done with it.

Last week as I tucked my seven year old son in bed, he began to cry. Not a quiet, I'm-so-tired-cry, but a shoulder-shaking sob. Huge crocodile tears. "What's wrong?" I asked as I held him and tried to comfort him. "I want to be young again," he said between raspy heaves. I actually had to stifle a grin and keep myself from saying just wait until you're 37! But his genuine heartache was sobering. "Why do you want to be young again?" I asked.

"Because, I was happier then."

"What made you happy?"

"Staying home. Reading books. Snuggling on the couch. Going to the park."

"What was your happiest time?"

"One afternoon it was sunny. And Dad threw me up in the air again and again."

After some additional coaxing, comforting, and listening, I discovered something interesting. For all the family togetherness time we share, my son was missing individual time. And even though I'm at home all day, our life is far from peaceful. We are definitely busy. Busy with homework, busy with sports, busy with church, busy with CJ, busy with errands, busy with music practices and lessons, busy with chores. Busy with life.

I certainly can't turn back the clock. And pulling him out of school to do home school isn't an option for us either. He didn't want to cut out any of the sports, or music, or activities. But we did come up with a solution. It is quite simple. Very simple. Every day I will sit and read one book just with him. We can't count our evening chapter book reading. It has to be just me and him.

So that's what we've done for the last four days. And it's been lovely. To snuggle and talk together. To hear him laugh at the "Julius Baby of the World" book. To answer his questions about "Where the Wild Things Are." To hear him recite lines from "Peter Rabbit." In many ways, we have turned back the clock.

Is it crazy that I had to be reminded to slow down? Is it crazy that I had to schedule one-on-one time with my child? Maybe not crazy. Just necessary.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How did this happen?

...How did my daughter get old enough to be eleven years old?!

It was an unconventional birthday...which was fitting for my wonderfully unconventional girl.

She wore shorts on her birthday, because it was 70 degrees outside. Definitely a first for February.
She wanted to go roller skating, but ended up spending at least half the time playing four square and ping pong.

She wanted chicken kabobs for dinner...and she wanted to eat them outside at a park. By the time my husband met us and we picked up the food from our favorite Afghan Kabob place, it was getting dark. The playground was a black silhouette against the gray sky. But we set up our dinner at a picnic table and ate just as the stars started to appear.

After dinner, she wanted to run to the rocks and climb on them - never mind that it was completely dark. So we ran across the field. And we watched the giant yellow moon rise as we sat on the rocks before loading back up in the car.
She wanted blueberry pie for her birthday (a girl after my own heart), but settled for a flaming donut. The blueberry pie came a couple days later.

My dear dear girl. I love that you are free spirited. I love that you love to learn. I love that you love pie. I love that you're old enough to be a helper in our family and a good friend to me...but young enough that you still let me sing you a lullaby and tuck you in at night. I love that you can't get enough of reading. I love that you sit at the piano and play the "pretty" songs again and again. And though we butt heads occasionally, I love that you are opinionated and strong willed because it will take you far.

I love that you're my daughter. And I marvel that I am so blessed to be your mom.

Happy Birthday Madi!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Listen to the Swings Sing

A reprieve from winter.
The afternoon air is warmer than my heated house.
We shed coats, jackets, and sweaters in a pile and bare our arms.
I notice CJ's elbows are dimpled.

Race games in the park, one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand.
"Do I scare you?" my boy calls as he climbs to the highest point (not meant to be climbed) of the playground equipment.
We swing. Our legs stretch with pumping.
The chains creak their rhythmic song. Back and forth, back and forth.
I lean back and listen to the swings sing.

We open the metal gate that seems to sigh.
We walk up the brown hill leaving the playground behind.
The grass is like straw that pokes our ankles.
We avoid the patches of snow that will surely melt.
Once at the top, we turn our faces to the sun like spring flowers.
Then CJ decides to roll down the hill, and thinking of the sogginess, I almost stop her.
But she laughs and her brother and sister join her.

And as I watch them tumble on the winter grass,
their laughter mingles with the soft wind that carries the swing's distant song,
And the music is lovely to my ears.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A tooth and a dance

It started with Madi's swollen gum. She showed it to me last week after school. It wasn't painful, just strangely puffy. So we made a dental appointment just to be safe. We arrived the next morning at the dentist's office for what I thought was going to be an easy fix. But it turned out to be an infected tooth that needed to be extracted. Extracted. As in, pulled out! Oh it still makes me cringe. I nearly passed out when the dentist brought out her huge tooth (with the long root parts) in a plastic bag. Madi was a trooper. She braved the experience all by herself while I entertained CJ in the waiting area. She stayed home from school and ate lots of yogurt and jello.

We are both grateful for modern medicine and Tropical Cafe Smoothies.

Then there was a Valentine's Dance Saturday night with a live Big Band and dance instruction for the first 45 minutes. Now, my husband isn't what you'd call a dance enthusiast - but he took me, and we danced the night away.

It has been years since I've been to a real dance. In fact, I think the last time I graced a dance floor, I was single. Here's what I loved: I loved that I didn't have to wait uncomfortably on the sidelines to be asked to dance. I loved that we laughed at ourselves--a lot. I loved that by the end of the night we actually could do a couple swing dancing tricks (but only a couple). I loved that we enjoyed sitting next to each other eating chocolate covered strawberries almost as much as dancing.

I didn't love that we had to end the night early because the kids called with an utter breakdown at home. But I loved going home with my sweet heart.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Turning 37

It's official. I can no longer say I'm in my mid-thirties (unless I stretch the truth a bit) it's a good thing my 37th year was a good one.

It was the year I taught my first summer course, it was the year I agreed to be the drama camp director of 42 kids (and survived!), it was the year I decided to take a break from teaching for the fall semester so I could be more present for my family, it was the year I took my first cooking class and learned how to make apple fritters, cream puffs, and use puff pastry (happy family!), it was the year I attended my first writer's conference...and it's the first year in a long time that I've felt truly content.

It was a year to be celebrated...and thanks to my wonderful friends and family, I celebrated! Here's my delicious birthday lunch at Karen's house. And here are some of my favorite birthday wishes: "Sometimes I dig deep and find my inner Holly" (Jess).

"I'm so glad you were born." (Magen)

"Attention Ladies and Gentlemen, and now the moment you've all been waiting for, the birthday crown!" (Joseph, pictured below).

"I remember taking you to dinner for your birthday 21 years parents drove us." (Brad on facebook).
"At least you only look 33 Mom." (Thanks, Madi)
And my personal favorite: "You make 37 look good." (Whether it's true or not, my sister, Katie, always knows exactly what to say to make me smile.)
Next year...I'll be celebrating my birthday in Indonesia! Crazy, I know.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Afternoon

Ahhh, Sunday afternoon...
Sitting on the couch next to Madi reading scriptures.
Journal writing.
Letters to Grandma, Nana, and Aunt Jen.
Listening to Leasie read books aloud to CJ.
A fire crackling in the fireplace.
A quick trip over to Karen's house to borrow lemons and powdered sugar.
A luscious nap with CJ.
Board games on the kitchen table.
The girls and I slipping and sliding in our nylons and tights on the wood floors.
Putting an apron over my dress.
Making dinner with Madi: salmon, cranberry muffins, broccoli, and spinach sausage pasta (it was a fast Sunday feast!)
Lemon bars for dessert.
Listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Watching CJ play make believe with a purple sun hat and stuffed whale.
Snagging a quick hug with my husband in the kitchen before he starts tackling the huge pile of dishes.
Family videos and lots of belly-laughs.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I was not a very nice big sister. And I'm pretty sure I've confessed this in a blog post before. There was the time I promised Jen that she would be able to fly if she drank a special potion I made. The concoction was a blend of orange juice, milk, mustard, ketchup, and small chunks of peanut butter sandwich. She drank it (or more accurately, gagged it down)...and, of course, she didn't fly.

But that was nothing compared to the way I treated my baby sister, Katie. There were times when I was just plain mean. I called her names, I made fun of her, and tried to embarrass her when her friends called on the phone. The sad thing was, no matter how mean Katie tried to be in reciprocation, it never worked. With six years difference, it was impossible for her to hurt my feelings.

Once I left for college, and "grew up," my sisters and I became good friends. Thankfully, they have forgiven me, and now we laugh about my legendary big sister mistakes.

We can always hope that our children will turn out better than ourselves, right? I guess I've been thinking about these things lately because of all our close-quarter snow days. Sure, there have been brawling moments when I have to be more of a referee than a mother. But it warms my heart to see the friendship that is flourishing between my oldest daughter and my youngest daughter.

Here they are on one of our snow days, pretending the fruit rolls are long tongues.
Madi and CJ (we've graduated from Baby C). Their personalities are frighteningly similar. Both are high energy, both thrive on a certain amount of silliness, and both love to laugh. It is not uncommon to find these two wrestling on the floor, crouching in a corner to hide from monsters, or snuggling together on the couch with books piled up around them.

I hear Madi practicing the piano now, and I can hear CJ's tiny voice asking her to play.

One can always hope...right?