Friday, January 20, 2012

Not Fair

Life.  Is not fair. 

As I'm basking in a post vacation appreciation for my family and my life in general other peoples' hopes and dreams are crashing around them. 

So many times I sat down at the computer to write about it but words fail me.

36 years old is just too young to die.

Tomorrow I will go to my friend's funeral.  Though I have not seen her in a couple of years I will always think of her as a close friend.  Steph and I were introduced in third grade and immediately liked each other.  When we found out we only lived two blocks from each other that friendship grew even more as we would run over to each other's houses every day.  The walks to and from school that I used to dread had become full of laughs and fun.  It was a beautiful friendship.  The kind of friendship that changes you.  Helps you become who you are.  I am forever indebted to her.

High school came and inevitably we went our separate ways as we discovered different interests.  Still, we were always happy to see each other.  Once in a while our group of five close girlfriends that we had in grade school would get together in our adulthood and marvel at where life had taken us all.  We really haven't been best friends since middle school but every time I saw Steph in recent years the bond was still right there.

While I was visiting my best friend, Sarah, in Oklahoma last week we talked about Steph.  We wondered how her health was holding up these days and hoped that no news was good news.  The night I got back from Oklahoma I had a dream about Steph.  In the dream she was tall and slender with long blond hair.  I marveled at how beautiful she was, her hair pulled back in a stunning ponytail.  She practically floated as she ran and danced around.  She looked better than I had ever seen her.  I was so happy.  Over and over again in my dream I said to myself,  "Yay!  She must be completely healthy again!  I am so happy for her!  She looks absolutely amazing!" as I watched her rejoicing.

I woke up from that dream a little worried.  I don't recall ever dreaming about Steph before and the fact that she looked so much like an angel in my dream made me wonder if she had passed away.  Two days later I got the message that she did pass away (the night I had the dream).  I don't know if that dream was God's way of comforting me.  I don't know if Steph was trying to tell me how happy she is now.  But I really feel it wasn't just a dream.  I think I should be happy for her.  But it is hard.

Steph was married to her dream man.  She had the family she has always wanted.  A 9 year old boy, a 6 year old girl, and a little 3 year old boy.  She was ecstatic about her life.  The only thing that keeps running through my head is that horrible scene in Terms of Endearment when the mother is saying goodbye to her children in the hospital.  Oh God.  How?  Why?

Steph kept telling everyone that God has a plan.  We may not know what it is, but God has a plan.  I know that is true.  But it sure is hard to accept. 

I also know that God didn't give Steph cancer.  I know that God does not bring bad things to us.  Bad things happen because this is an imperfect and sometimes really crappy world.  I know we are all here for a very short time.  But still.  I am just so sad. 

Please pray for Steph's beautiful family that God is there to comfort them and bring them peace.  Pray for Steph's husband that God gives him strength to get through and many shoulders to lean on when he needs them.  Pray for Steph's children to feel her near them all through their lives and always know her love for them.  Pray for Steph's mom who will be missing her best friend.  Pray for Steph's dad and brother who always admired and adored her.  And pray for all Steph's friends who feel the void. 

Pray.  That's all we can do.  Pray and hug our loved ones tight every chance we get.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Home Sweet Home

It was a wonderful trip.  The kind of vacation that leaves you with a total of 8 hours of sleep for three nights kind of wonderful.  The kind of trip that isn't overshadowed by the cancelled flights, delayed planes, and nasty flight attendants.  The kind of trip where hanging out with your best friend in the hotel room laughing until your face hurts is just as much fun as going dancing and to karaoke and shopping at a mall for the first time since you can remember.  The kind of trip where you talk and laugh and shout over loud music so much that you loose your voice.  The kind of trip that makes you cry as you board your plane because you realize just how much you are going to miss your best friend.

And yet the best part of the trip turns out to be the realization of how much you truly love your life.  I guess that is why going away once in a while is so important.  If you never go away you may never realize how good it feels to come home.  Being able to come back to my family makes me look back on my younger, wilder days fondly, and not wistfully.  This is a good life.  And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I walk in the door and see Grace sitting on the toilet.  "MOMMA!!!!!!!" she squeals at me.  She nearly falls off the toilet as she reaches out for me.  All three of the boys hear Grace and come running into the bathroom.  There the five off us stand, hugging and kissing and jumping up and down, Grace bouncing on the toilet.  Todd comes downstairs from vacuuming and wraps me up in his arms.  The first thing out of his mouth is, "I do not want your job."  I laugh because I feel so lucky to have my job back again.   Home, sweet home.

As soon as my bags are brought into the house presents are handed out to the kids and they go about playing with the little airplanes for the remainder of the night.  It is manic.  They are running and screaming and laughing and chasing.  I can tell Todd has had enough of that over the weekend but the noise is music to my ears.  Sounds of home.  Ever so often one of the kids runs up to me and tells me again how much they missed me and how glad they are that I'm home.   Home, sweet home.

Now here I sit in my bathroom watching Grace splash in the oversized tub.  She sings along with the radio and tells me silly stories.  I keep my eye on the clock to make sure I give myself plenty of time to pick Ben up from school in this crazy snowstorm we're having, and make plans for hot chocolate and a nice fire if swim classes are cancelled tonight.   It is my mission to make home as sweet for them as they make it for me.

Home, sweet home.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just Write- Leaving

It was never what I expected when I pictured being a mom.  Every one I knew had girls.  All my dolls growing up were girl dolls.  I babysat for girls.  My sister had three girls.  I never imagined boys in the picture for me.  Then one after another, boy, boy, boy. 

Three boys.  I never imagined it, but it was the most amazing surprise. 

I think finally having a girl made me even more awed by and thankful for my boys.  Is that possible?  I think so.  And I mean it in the nicest way possible.  It's hard to explain.

Before I had my girl I pictured myself as a mom with three boys.  I would watch them follow their daddy and take interest in every little thing he did.  Todd's little shadows.  These little men, so different than what I knew before.  They were a mystery to me.  I felt a little left out at times.  Now I have a little one following me around, watching my every move, and it helps me to appreciate the connection my boys have with Todd on a different level.  And it also helps me see the unbelievably deep connection I have with each of the boys too.  Having my girl now enables me to see how truly wonderful having boys is.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my girl.  You all know that.  She is my soul mate.  She completes me.  I've dreamed of her all my life. Without her, I just don't know.  But these boys.  They love me so completely.  And without condition.  It is unlike anything I've known before.  And now having my girl in the picture allows me to sit back and really drink in these wonderful little men that surround me.

At the end of the night I have these three boys piling on top of me.  The four of us sitting in the recliner.  All of them telling me I'm beautiful.  I'm "the best mommy" they've ever had.  The most beautiful lady they've ever seen.  Their love and devotion to me is unfathomable.  All the times I think back and remember how I've failed them.  How I could have done better.  How I know they deserve more. And yet, they love me like this.  These boys of mine.  So protective.  So forgiving.  So unconditional.  How do I deserve this?  "Somewhere in my youth, or childhood, I must have done something good."

Surrounded by these fantastic little men and a fabulous little lady.  Never in my wildest dreams did I see this coming.  Yet here I am. 

Grace comes trouncing over to the recliner that is already overflowing with mommy and boys and insists on joining us.  I fear the chair may break, but we help her to climb up with us anyway.  The boys get frustrated as elbows and knees jab here and there and one by one they slide off onto the floor.  Soon it is just Grace and I on the chair.  I think this was her intention all along.  She takes her sweaty little hands and places them on my face and yells, "Lemme kiss or cheeks!" and lays a big, wet smooch on me.  Then she looks deep in my eyes and whispers to me, "You are da mos pecious mumma, eber!"

Tommy cries when he remembers I am going on a trip and will be gone for a few days.  It takes me aback because he is the biggest daddy's boy of them all and I know he will relish the alone time with Todd.  Still, he is the one throwing fits, begging me to stay. He wants me here and wrote me a letter while he was in school telling me how he will miss me.  I wonder why he loves me so when I look back on my nagging, crazy, nonstop mothering.  But he loves me.

I don't dare tell Grace I am leaving.   She doesn't even like me to run out and get the mail without her.  She is her mama's girl and I fear how this trip will affect her.  Deep down, I know she will be okay.  My girl.  And my boys.  I never imagined I would be this lucky  They love me.  Unconditionally.  And sometimes, undeservedly.  But they love me.  And it makes me want to stay...

(Realize that I was supposed to link up on Tuesday for Just Write but I didn't make it in time.  I wrote it late on Tuesday night, so that should count for something.  Either way, this is my Just Write post, a day late.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review and Giveaway

I can't remember if she found me first or if I found her.  All I know is that I was immediately impressed.  A Packer loving, eco friendly, Wisconsin mother of three boys.  She is Melissa from Green Girl in Wisconsin.

The more I read her blog the more she inspires me.  She is such a wonderful mother.  Outdoorsy and fun, involved and strong.  I love reading about her wonderful boys and their adventures in the woods behind their house.  And I'm always awed at all of her efforts and ideas on how to save the world.  I have her to thank for getting me to buy my favorite reusable grocery bags.  Such a little step, yet I am grateful beyond belief.  She has me thinking about gardening and composting in ways that I never had before.  More, I can do that, rather than, that is cool for everyone else.  And for God's sake, she is a freaking 2nd degree black belt in karate.  A serious ass kicker.  Could I be more envious or impressed?  I love her.  And guess what else she did.  She wrote a book.

Of course when I heard that I wanted to be one of the first to read it.

Whipped, Not Beaten is such a fun, witty book.  I wish I would have saved it for my trip to Oklahoma.  It is the perfect book to read on a three hour layover in Chicago, but I just couldn't wait that long to crack it open.

Sadie Davis is craving change. Recently dumped and working for a boss she despises, she is determined to shake up her life as a single woman in the city of Madison. She takes a side job as a home party consultant selling kitchenware, hoping that it will be the spice that turns her life around. Through failed recipes and cold ovens, Sadie works to create something that’s a bit sweeter, a lot richer, and oh, so very delicious.

A book about a single woman living in Madison?   I can relate to that!  There were so many parts of the book that I just said "YES!" to, remembering my single days in Madison.  I love the mention of specific bars and places I went to and places I'd loved.  It made me feel I was in the story.

I am so proud of Melissa.  She is such an inspiration in so many ways.  Every time I read a book like this I think, "I should really write a book!"  It inspires me.  It drives me.  Then I realize I don't have a storyline.   Or anything to write about.  Or anything witty to say.  Or a writing degree.  Okay, forget it.  I won't write a book.  But it is still inspiring.

If you are looking for a fun, witty book to read pick up Whipped, Not Beaten.

And if you want a FREE, fun, witty book to read just comment on this post.  I have a copy of Whipped, Not Beaten that I am giving away.  And if you absolutely can not wait for me to get back from vacation to draw your name for the giveaway go to Whipped, Not Beaten  , and order your own copy.

Way to go, Melissa!!!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Taking Turns

Tommy has been waiting for this for a long time. 

Patiently, Tommy stood by and cheered Joey on through all three of his Student of the Month awards.  Now that Tommy is a big 'ol first grader he can receive the prestigious award as well and he has been doing all he can to achieve it.  So careful in his work, trying his best, a flawless attitude. 

Today it was Tommy's turn to receive his Student of the Month award.

Today it was his turn to get the applause and pose for the picture.
Today it was their turn to cheer him on. 
Way to go, Tommy!  I knew you could do it!  Congratulations!

Soon I will be taking my own turn as well. 

For the past few years Todd has been the one to take little trips and getaways.  A few hunting trips.  A visit or two with friends.  Each time he would come back home, thank me for the time away, and urge me to take a mini vacation of my own.  It just was never that easy for me to get away.  I have a few close friends but they all live far away.  If I wasn't pregnant or breastfeeding a baby than my friends were.  The last time I was away from my family (it was just for one night) was three years ago when my best friend and I went to a concert and I was pregnant with Grace.   It has been a while. 

On Thursday I am flying to Oklahoma (all by myself) to visit my bestie.  Our lives have finally synced up and made it possible for a little getaway.  I booked a hotel for two nights so that she can get away a little bit too.  I am so excited.


I am nervous.  I used to love flying.  Now it just seems like another way to leave my beautiful children motherless.  I know I am in more danger driving my car to the airport than actually flying on the plane (trust me I thought about car accidents too much as well) but I am still paranoid.  It is a wonder I am not a shut-in with all the craziness that goes through my head. 

And, (don't yell at me) I feel guilty too.  I know it is silly but I feel guilty for leaving Todd with the kids for four days.  I know that is crazy.  He just went hunting and was gone for a week.  And he is thrilled that I am finally getting away.  But I still feel guilty.  I know it is "our" money but the fact that I don't physically make any money makes me feel especially guilty spending it this way.  Again, Todd would roll his eyes and tell me that is silly but that's how I feel. 

Mostly, though, I am thankful.  I am thankful that I have such a capable and willing partner that is excited to give me this opportunity for a little me time.  I am thankful that I will get to spend time with my oldest and dearest friend, to see her new house, meet her new friends, and hang out with her and her family.  I'm thankful that I know my kiddos will be in good hands and that I will not have to worry about them at all.  And, I am thankful that I have such a loving hubby who is more than happy to take turns.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bad Baker

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In our old house, in my tiny kitchen, I would bake dozens and dozens of cookies every week.  My boys would position themselves on the stools around the counter, one or other of my babies playing on the floor under my feet, and we would make cookies together.  Now here in the new house, with my spacious kitchen and counter space galore, I've made cookies only a few times.  I don't know why. 

Inspired by the new year I decided to start baking again.

All the boys were at school when I called Grace to me to assist in the cookie making.  Thrilled, she hopped up on the stools and began mixing the cinnamon and sugar for our Snickerdoodles. 

"Gentle, Gracie!  Gentle!  Don't spill it all over the floor!" I sweetly warned again and again.

"Kay, mumma." she would reply.

"Careful!  Don't squish the dough, honey!  Roll them gently!"  I repeated as she dragged the doughballs through the sugar.

"Kay, mumma." she kept answering patiently.

"NO!  Don't poke your finger in the cookies!  We don't want big holes in them!"  I scolded.

"Sowy, mum." Grace apologized.

"ACK!  Don't cough on the cookies!  You have to turn your head sweetie!  If you are gonna make cookies with mumma you have to be very careful not to cough or sneeze on the cookies!"  I protested.

"Uh-huh." Grace said absentmindedly.

"Grace!  Stop smashing the cookies!  I don't want you to do that!"  I said for the fifteenth time.

Grace paused and furrowed her brows.

"You sassy, mumma!"  Grace wagged her finger at me finally having had enough.

"What?" I asked taken aback.

"You sassy when you make cookies." Grace told me.


Maybe that's why I stopped making cookies. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Just Write

Today is the coldest day we've had so far.  It has been a mild winter making today's 16 degrees seems even colder.  The furnace turns on often to keep the chill out and the sound of it makes me so sleepy.  So comforting.

The two littles are still napping and I curl my feet up under me in the chair, pull the blanket up under my chin, and stare at the colorful lights on the bare Christmas tree.  Feeling motivated and energized the kids and I took all of the ornaments off both of the trees yesterday and packed them away for another year.  But when it came time to take the trees to their resting place I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  The glow of the lights  just too inviting.

Normally by this time I am itching to get my house back to normal.  Not only would the Christmas trees be packed away but my winter decorations would be down to the bare minimum as well.  This year I am hanging on just a little longer.  Enjoying it just a bit more.

Soon the boys will be home from school.  Homework will be done.  Snacks handed out.  Then off to swim classes we'll go.  Ever on the move.

For now I sit in my chair enjoying the glow.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Starting Out Right

We celebrated the New Year Eve with:

appetizers and juice in wine glasses
comfy clothes
skipped naps
favorite movies and home movies
a roaring fire
dancing to New Years Rockin Eve
toasts to health and happiness and peace
four sweaty kids racing around the living room on a sugar high 
stuffed bellies
shirtless kids crashed out on the floor (and in bed by 9)
kisses at midnight

We celebrated New Years Day with:

no hangovers
large (multiple) cups of coffee
a fresh snowfall blanketing the grass
huge snowflakes whirling in the air
cinnamon rolls for breakfast
playing with LEGOS
a brisk winter walk
a pizza party at our house
a very tense but rewarding Packer game
more skipped naps
time with family
early bedtimes

I love New Years.  I feel it is important to celebrate it. Celebrate the hope that a new year brings.  Celebrate making it through the previous year.  Celebrate the triumphs and let go of the sorrows.  It is about constantly moving forward.  Trying harder.  Being better.  Doing more.  Striving. 

So much can happen in a year.  Life can really change.  It is so exciting to think of all the possibilities for a new year, and yet a little scary as well.  You never can tell what will be thrown your way.  Good or bad. All you can do is hold on tight, hang on for the ride, and pray for strength to get you through whatever you may face.  But no matter what happens you keep going.  Another year.  Another day.  Another chance.

Here's hoping for a peaceful and joyful year, and the strength to get through challenges that will surely come.

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson