Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Um, Well...

I volunteered to make cookies for a Cookies for Kids Cancer bake sale at our elementary school.  Meems has two friends who have been battling neuroblastoma since they were little.  What am I saying, little, what I mean is littler.  We're talking elementary school here.

I may be in over my head.  

Because this.

womp womp.

Seriously, what's wrong with me?  I feel I am a relatively accomplished person.  But wow.  Baking cookies is not my forte, clearly.  Most of these are overdone.  Some are overdone on the edges, yet raw in the middle.  Some are broken, my thumb went through one of them and none of them look very appetizing.  

I have to package these bad boys up and offer them up for sale.  Yum, right? 

This is what my children will remember about their childhood.  This is what my cookies usually look like.

#momfail

The over achiever in me says start over.  The realist in me says you're out of sugar and the roads are icy and this took FOREVER and do you really think you can do better than this?  I mean, really?

The realist in me knows me too well.

I will package up a few of the prettier ones and call it a day and hope that no one is keeping track of the cookies too closely.  I baked, I packaged and now we'll try to keep this as anonymous as possible.  Surely there will be a bazillion chocolate chip cookies, right?  

The rest of these will go in my kids' lunches.  Because they actually are super excited about the brown, crunchy ones.  I am a hero for baking enough cookies for them to have some too!  Which makes me happy and sad all at once.  Poor Little Meems won't even know to be embarrassed about turning these in because she thinks that's how cookies are supposed to look.

#cookiefail  #crunchycookiesarethebest  #childhood memories  #itsforagoodcause

#ohwell

Monday, January 12, 2015

15 for 2015

God is good.  I have no complaints about my life.  That doesn’t mean I don’t complain sometimes about little things, but I am fully aware that I have a wonderful life.  I just need to appreciate it more. For 2015, I'm offering up 15 things that I want from this year.  Most of these are goals for myself, there are a couple "wishes" and there are a few reminders.  It's like I tell my kids -- make a list.  A list of all the things ever.  Anything that's on your mind.  Your goals, your dreams, your groceries for the week.  You'll be glad you did.

The first thing I want?  To appreciate my life more.  Every little bit of it.

2.  Connect with the people I love.  Not electronically, although that makes it easier to connect with the people that I love that are far away.  I mean connect, face to face, hug to hug, laugh to laugh.  My husband, my children, my extended family, and my friends.  I’ve been mired down for years in the daily whatever of my life and I’ve especially sacrificed time with friends.  This is the year I will reconnect and enjoy who I am when I’m not being mom, wife, daughter, employee, short order cook, maid, chauffeur, tutor, etc.

3.  More quality time with my children.  I’ve never been a believer that I have to entertain my children all the time.  Does that mean I have sacrificed some potential bonding moments with them?   Possibly.  I’m sure there are parents who would say definitely.  But the goal here is to instill independence and self-reliance.  I know 10-year-olds that can’t tie their own shoes.  My husband and I have both experienced the parent of a potential job candidate reaching out to us on their child’s behalf.  I don’t want to do everything for my children, nor do I want to do everything with my children.  But when I do, I want to make it count.  I want to find that one-on-one connection I believe every child needs with their parents.  I want to better understand each of my individual children.  I want to make special memories for us both.  Even if it’s just running errands together and grabbing hot chocolate.

4.  Health.  This goes without saying.

5.  I want to be less critical.  I got together with my girlfriends the other day and I wasn’t very successful at this, but I want to be.

6.  A new kitchen floor.

7.  To be more decisive.  Little Meems makes me crazy with her indecisiveness, but she gets it from me.  The funny thing is, we’re both good about helping others make decisions, but are terrible at making decisions for ourselves.

8.  Speaking of Little Meems, be more gentle.  We are on the cusp of puberty and middle school and hormones and straddling that line between kid and teen and not knowing which foot should be where at any given time.  Many, many days are fraught with emotion (hers) and anger (mine).  I remember what it was like, how I just wanted someone to understand and not get upset because even though I was upset I wasn’t really upset but I didn’t know what to do or how to control the things coming from my mouth and oh crap now I’m crying and I don’t know why and just be patient with me because in a few minutes I’ll have it all together but first I’m going to need to stomp off screaming that you just don’t understand and slam my door and I need you to just let me.  Then I’m going to need you to act like nothing just happened so I can get over my humiliation.  Little Meems, for all her sweetness and light, has always been my biggest challenge.  Things have been bumpy for us at times.  I have not always been my best self.  I know for the road ahead I need to do better than she’s expecting me to.

9.   Growth spurts for 2 of my 3 children.  Big, giant ones that force me to buy all new clothing.  Being a late bloomer isn’t that much fun.

10.  For my husband to travel less.  I know it’s beyond his control, but I can wish for it anyway.  He’s missing too much.  In 2 years we will have a child who drives and in another 3, he will leave us for college (God willing).  It’s time to take it all in, every last little bit of it, as much as possible.  You can’t get it back.

11.  To blog more.  I don’t know what shape this will take.  My goal has always been to just get my memories down.  To share my stories, in all their imperfection.  I want, someday, for my children to read this blog and laugh and cry and shake their heads and remember and be reminded and know that I’m not perfect but my love for them is and has always been.  Would I like to share more?  Yes, but I’m not one to market myself.  I have dreams of turning this all into a book one day, but I haven’t really sat down and made a list of goals for me to this end.  Maybe I should start with that for 2015.

12.  I want my some of my children's goals to be realized.  And I want them to realize that it's up to them to make that happen.  Right now, it's simple:  I want for Will to make the lacrosse team he has his eye on, I want Little Meems to nail her back handspring, and I want Tate to play more than 7 seconds in a football game. You know, just little humongous things.

13.  To get through the winter.  I hate winter.

14.  To have all the laundry done, folded and put away AT THE SAME TIME as the house being clean in its entirety.  All the house things, all at once, done.  Just once.  Then I would pour myself a glass of wine and enjoy a magazine and silence and solitude, because everyone being gone is the only way it's going to happen, or last for more than 5 minutes.

15. See #1.  To love my life.  Every minute of it.  Can't stress that one enough.    

Thursday, December 18, 2014

TBT

Since it’s Throwback Thursday on Facebook, I thought I’d do a little throwback myself here.

This.



Quite possibly my favorite Christmas photo ever.

Will was 3, Little Meems 17 months.  Every time I got ready to snap the photo, she’d pull her dress over her head.  Every. Stinkin. Time.  All I wanted was to get the perfect photo of my perfect children for my perfect Christmas cards.

I did finally get a good photo, but upon further inspection realized Meems’ nose was running and crusty and Will had a scratch down his cheek.  So I Photoshopped them to perfection and sent the card.  Big sigh of relief.

That was relatively new mom me.  That was the girl who used to stress because she didn’t have all of her good china or any chafing dishes (seriously??!!) and her daughter’s tights got a snag in them right before the photo.  That was the girl who had the perfect family and the perfect house and the perfect job and the perfect life.  Babies napped, no one talked back, happiness was a trip to the playground.  Happy, happy, happy.  Perfection, perfection, perfection.  That's what I wanted to believe (and wanted you to, too).

A third child came along and my attitude completely changed.  Nice and tidy and perfect became "it is what it is" with a healthy dose of humor and humility.  I realized perfection was too stressful.  My children are older now and there is never a shortage of stress, some of it BIG stress.  Perfect Christmas cards can no longer compete.  Nor should they.

I look at this photo and I admonish myself for not just going with the flow and having a sense of humor.  It is what it is.  The way they belly laughed every time she did this – that’s what I remember when I look at this precious photo of my precious babies.  She was so impish when she was little and this photo portrays her personality so precisely.  And she was full to the brim with personality.

I’ve learned, in those many years since then, to let go of that picture perfection.  Or rather, to try.  My years of holiday cards are a testament to that.  I look back and in nearly every one, Meems’ personality is on full display.  Mouth open, smiling with her whole face, her whole body and being.  Kids’ hair needs to be cut, shoes are untied, brothers are making faces, mouths have food in them, someone is throwing a temper tantrum, someone has a neon green cast, Tate is even wearing gogo boots with his jeans in one.  Because Tate.  Because of course.

Better than perfection?  Joy.  Happy, laughing children.  Letting go.  The giggle-laced trips down memory lane.

My life isn't perfect.  My home isn't perfect.  My kids aren't perfect.  What you see on my cards is what it is.  That's life with these munchkins folks.

And, to me, that's perfect.

Friday, December 5, 2014

O Holy Night

I am not by nature a sappy person.

My husband is.  My kids know this and we all giggle about it sometimes.  But he has an open, warm heart, and I love that about him.

That's not to say I am never sappy.  We all have those things that just slay us.  For me, this morning, it was Christmas music.

There are three Christmas carols that get me every time:  Silent Night (especially sung a capella by candlelight after Christmas Eve service), O Holy Night (because the words, have you ever really listened to them and thought about them?), and White Christmas (specifically, the Bing Crosby version because it was my grandmother's favorite and she adored Christmas and it makes me miss/feel her spirit).

This morning, on the way to school, amidst all the holiday cheer on the radio I was blindsided by Josh Groban singing O Holy Night.

O Holy Cow.

Out popped the tears.  That song is so powerful, and coupled with his voice, I find it so, so moving.  Achingly beautiful.

It started with teariness.  Meems noticed I had stopped singing (I was verklempt y'all) and then, upon hearing a sniffle, asked me if I was crying.

"Yes, honey.  Just a little."

Alarmed.  "Why?"

"Because it's such a beautiful song.  It moves me so much."

By this time I'm full-out bawling.  Alarm gives way to shock and horror.  We are pulling up to her school.  I'm trying to pull it together.  She lays her hand on my shoulder, and says, ever so gently, "it's OK Mom."

And just as I'm thinking about what a sweet, caring heart she has and what a gift it truly is to be her mother she adds...

... "you can just let me out here."


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Grace


Today, my Little Meems is trying out for honors chorus at her elementary school.  If you recall, this is the child who puts the “noise” in joyful noise.  But she loves it, and because of that, will go after every singing part ever, but will probably (if she’s lucky) be relegated to the chorus.  Which would make her happy too.  Because she’s singing.

I am worried for her.  I am nervous for her.  I have been praying for her.  She has been practicing.  She thinks she sounds better if she adds some vibralto and sings through her nose.  She is confident.  Unafraid.  Hopeful.  Excited.

I am scared to death.  That’s my little girl and I don’t want to see her fail.  I want to encourage her to go after all her dreams, not just this one, but I’m a realist and have the wisdom of age and experience, and that makes it hard.  She is so innocent.  We all have a story of when we went for something we were totally not cut out for – it’s a rite of passage and provides us a knowing chuckle as we age.  It’s an invaluable life experience, regardless of how painful or wonderful.  I’m hoping for the best outcome to this situation.  Whatever that may be.

I’m proud of her.  She’s one courageous little thing.  What’s more, I admire her. 

Today, this girl with her courageous heart is my hero. 

If you’re reading this, cross your fingers, send up a good thought or give her a high five.  Or pray.  Pray for a clear voice.  Pray for confidence and strength.  Pray for courage.

Most of all, pray for grace.  I think that sums it up best of all.