Archive for the ‘BN Channel Family’ category

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Killing Fairies

Family Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Halushki.}
first appeared on Blog Nosh Magazine on August 6, 2008

One of the most important responsibilities – nay, obligations – of any parent is, I think, to encourage our children’s daily awareness of all that is magical and mysterious in our great, big fantastical world.

And, yes, I am a hippie.

To point our children toward a sly glimpse of the crystalline fairies in a drop of dew….

To wonder in awe at Titan voices booming across the evening sky during a summer thunderstorm….

To marvel at orchestras captured on silver discs, musicians trapped like microscopic genies to be released in song only at the listener’s wish and command….

Ah bliss! Ah joy!

To support and stimulate their creative selves and thusly nourish their hearts and souls with the food of poets and saints!

(And I’m not talking cigarettes and day-old baguettes.)

But, as a bittersweet fact of life, every day my children grow a bit older and, so too, a bit too wise for the world’s magic.

Mostly, I blame science.

(That honeymoon was over quickly.)

One golden-hued afternoon, my girls are sitting on their bed happily naming the angels they insist they can see dancing on the head of a pin. The following week, they’re discussing the atomic force microscope and how the sharp point of the carbon nanotube would determine once and for all whether and how many angels were actually boogying down, even though the super sharp point would probably poke the bejeezus out of most of the angels such that from thence forward, angels would stay the hell off pinheads altogether and begin dancing on clouds, where they belong. Although, then they’d remind me that in their lesson on the weather, they learned that clouds were made mostly of condensed water droplets and could probably support the weight of a few very small celestial beings, but not an entire host of seraphim because, c’mon, six wings each? The whole shebang is becoming suspect.

It doesn’t matter when I point out that no one actually knows how heavy a seraphim is: my kids are on a quest to figure it out.

And somewhere, someplace, a fairy sheds a tear.

I could tell them, warn them, implore them – Don’t look at the man behind the curtain! Don’t figure how Santa gets to every house in the world in one evening, even after adjusting the formula for Jewish kids and cranky anti-consumerists! Don’t stay up late and try to catch the Tooth Fairy in her bathrobe and Pond’s facial cream masque! Don’t question the lack of causation and faulty correlation between mommy’s big tummy and large white birds with messenger caps! Keep the magic! Vive le mystery!

But the little stinkers are like curious cats batting Tinker Bell’s tiny body across the kitchen floor – a soft, sad jingle barely audible as she rolls under the refrigerator and her limp little arms and legs come to rest against a dust bunny and a dry noodle.

The shame of it all is that I was just getting good at being their Field Director of Whimsy. Prima, my oldest daughter, would write a two page letter to the Tooth Fairy asking what she looked like, what she did on her days off, and most importantly, what the heck did she do with all those teeth? And the Tooth Fairy would reply with photos and gilded pages and purple prose printouts explaining in detail all the magical happenings in Fairyland – how Prima’s first lost tooth would be used to crown the newest fairy princess baby; how other teeth would be polished and fashioned into lanterns and bells for the autumn harvest festival; and, how in Fairyland, Prima and her sister were known each by their own fanciful fairy names – Juniper Icedancer and Feather Elfdancer.

One night, the Tooth Fairy forgot to make her visit and a tooth was unexpectedly found the next morning still under the pillow. A note later appeared explaining that because the family cat was reclining on Prima’s bed, the Tooth Fairy couldn’t retrieve the wee lower incisor. And the reason she couldn’t go into the room to grab the tooth was because, evidently, when a cat sees a fairy, the cat begins to sing. Loudly.

And because waking the entire house with a singing cat just wouldn’t do, the Tooth Fairy had to abort attempts to retrieve the package and try again another night.

My daughters believed.

The next night, the cat was locked in the basement.

And the Tooth Fairy arrived as originally planned and finished the job at hand.

That’s not to say that as they wield their microscopes and telescopes and subscriptions to National Geographic Kids and copies of It’s So Amazing to debunk their own childhood illusions and denude one apple tree after another, that they aren’t at the same time beginning to occasionally take a glance backward with — if not quite regret — then their own bittersweet understanding that they are propelling themselves through realms of reality, barely slamming one door closed as they race through the next. That they can’t stop themselves. That they shouldn’t stop themselves, but that at the same time, when they do now go searching for fairies and even monsters under the bed, the sightings are becoming a little more infrequent.

Not impossible to track and stalk…but…tricky.

I do my best to manufacture a little magic in my own way. Keep them guessing. Keep them on their toes when they get a bit too sure that they know what’s around every corner, what’s through the next door. Just to keep their poetic toes a dancing. Just to help put a drag on once in a while lest they suddenly find themselves too soon too grown-up with a job and a mortgage and not a whole lot of free time left to track fairies.

Sometimes I need to get creative.

“Mommy, how do you spell parallel?”

“P-a-r-a-l-l-e-l. Hey! Did you know that double l’s in parallel are parallel. They could go on forever and never touch!”

“Yeah. I knew that.”

“Did you know that parallel can refer to two actions happening at the same time?”

Roll eyes. “Yeah. I knew that, too.”

“Did you know that the German for parallel is parallel?

“Yea…uh…well….”

“Oh no!”

“What?”

“Oh no oh no!”

“What? What?”

“I completely forgot.”

“What?!”

Sigh. “That part about the German for parallel being parallel…that was the last thing I was supposed to teach you before you turned 18 and were ready to leave for college. Drat.”

“Nuh-uh.”

“Uh-huh. That was the last thing on the list. I guess you’ll have to skip middle school and high school and go right to U. Penn next fall.”

“Nuh-uh. There’s no such thing as a list.”

“Oh sure. When you were born in the hospital, they gave me a list of things I was supposed to tell you and that the teachers wouldn’t cover in school. I was supposed to refer to list and go in order. They were very specific in telling me I had to go in order. Oh well. You’ll figure out canasta and how to separate reds and whites when doing laundry on your own.”

“Really? Did they really give you a list?”

“Absolutely. The last thing I checked off was ‘Teach your child how to make toast.’ Remember? We did that last week.”

“Really?”

“Oh. Sure.

“Really, really?”

“Sure. Now just don’t tell your sister about parallel. You’re going to love college. Eh-hem.”

“I’m going to ask Daddy. That doesn’t sound right.”

And somewhere, someplace, a fairy heaves herself off the floor, brushes the cat slobber off her skirt, and flitters away with a sly smile…and a jingly jangly flip of the bird.

Editor’s Pick by MommyTime at Mommy’s Martini. As “Killing Fairies” suggests (read the original post and comments here), Jozet’s writing at Halushki is by turns lyrical and incredibly witty, and if you stick around for a while, you will find her musing, reviewing, critiquing, and commenting on almost any topic you can imagine.

My favorite part about her blog is that even when she starts with a simple incident of preschool humor, she spins it into a beautiful and thoughtful tale like this one that goes far beyond simply reporting a snippet of funny conversation. Even more rare, she pulls off funny fully as well as she manages musing: you will find yourself reading her in wonder, or reading her in hysterical laughter, but never reading her without a deep-down response. I urge you to add her to your reader now. You won’t be disappointed.

5

The Hope of Magic

Family Blog Nosh Magazine{by Jennifer from Playgroups Are No Place For Children}

One of my children’s favorite books is The Polar Express. They’ve been begging to have it read to them nearly every night since the first Christmas commercial was broadcast back in October. I also love this story, it’s beautiful illustrations and the reminder about the true magic and spirit of Christmas.

On the other hand, BAH HUMBUG.

I think I first began to lose the magic of the Christmas season the first December after Tate and I were married. Instead of looking forward to all the merriment and celebration, it started to feel like nothing more than a to-do list.

1. Attend the same Christmas party that had been cranked out every year before.
2. Fret and stress over over every gift purchase.
3. Travel long distances home for the holiday and bounce from one relative’s house to another, trying to keep everyone else happy.
4. Unpack 1,000 ornaments out of their boxes to decorate the tree, only to have to repack them three weeks later.
5. Hear the same sappy Christmas songs on loop, no matter your location.

And the list could go on and on. So for the past several years, I’ve invited Scrooge and all his angst into my heart to endure the purgatory of December.

Since having our kids, I’ve really have tried to feign a festive spirit during the holidays. Carson and Ella at least deserve an attempt at a joyous holiday. We’ve spent time drinking cocoa by the fireplace, baking cookies, and building gingerbread houses, all while wearing Christmas aprons. FESTIVE, I tell you! Both of the kids so young, I had no idea if my artificial attempts and creating an atmosphere of magic had made an impression on them.

It was Carson’s reaction to our preparations for this year’s holiday that started to replace the Scrooge in my heart with the magic that I’d lost. Now that he’s four-years-old and starting to understand the true meaning of Christmas, the baby Jesus, the giving to the less fortunate, and not just the gifts and goodies, I can see that my faux holiday joy in the years past has made a difference.

Before decorating our Christmas tree last weekend, I complained to my mom that I was really dreading the whole process of decorating and artificial holiday spirit.

“You’ll enjoy the holidays again, because your kids will start to love Christmas,” she told me, wisely.

As we took the 1,000 ornaments out of their boxes, Carson, studied each ornament with wonder. He held them carefully in his hands, his eyes opened wide in amazement, as if welcoming home a long lost friend. Each ornament was carefully placed on the tree. It was, dare I say it…magical!

Carson has also started to repeat some of my jolly holiday phrases that I’ve been saying each December since he was born. My favorite thing he’s said so far had to be, “Why don’t we get some hot chocolate and go sit by the fire to warm up,” he suggested after breakfast one morning.

Each morning Carson has a new holiday activity planned. The first order of business everyday is to plug in the Christmas tree lights. We simply cannot even think of eating breakfast without the glow of Christmas tree lights! Once we’ve eaten, he’s suggested we bake some cookies, wear Santa hats, or make that house thing with the candy.

“Remember, Mommy? We made that house thing and put candy all over? We used icing to make snow all over it? Remember that, Mommy?” And of course I remember the gingerbread house from last year (that I secretly had to glue together when the kids weren’t looking) and I’m actually looking forward to decorating one again this year.

I’m finally starting to get that feeling of holiday merriment back, thanks to Carson. He’s given me loads of hope that I that the holidays can be fun and full of magic again. It is such a cliche, but seeing Christmas again through the eyes of a child has reminded me that the holidays aren’t about the neverending to-do list, but about the traditions and magical spark in my children’s eyes.

Magic

This post is part of a special holiday Blog Carnival hosted on Blog Nosh Magazine and this post was sponsored by the Tide Loads of Hope program. This incredibly worthy cause, travels to people displaced by hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters and washes clothes for them. Imagine not even having clean clothes! Thanks to Tide Loads of Hope for offering such a glimmer of magic to people in need.

You, too, can be a part of this fantastic carnival that supports the Tide Loads of Hope Program. Please consider writing your own post about what brings you “loads of hope” during the holidays.

Also, please follow along with us on Twitter on Sunday and Monday, December 13 and 14, as we share stories from people in New Orleans, still living in FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina. You can follow the hashtag #loadsofhope and Tide’s account, @TideLoadsofHope.


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Jennifer writes, photographs, and shares her life and sense of humor on her personal blog, Playgroups are No Place for Children. Her blog is a mix of parenting trials and tribulations, recipes, and a battleground for resolving marital disputes. Blog Nosh Magazine is also proud to have her as their Managing Editor. Subscribe to Jennifer’s blog so you won’t miss a thing and while you’re at it, follow her on Twitter.

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Loads of Hope for the Holidays

Share your own stories of hope, along with Blog Nosh Magazine, Velveteen Mind, and a gathering of inspiring bloggers, and enter your own post link in the blog carnival below. Explore featured bloggers as well as three featured posts selected from carnival participants listed in the linky (that could be you!).

Learn more about how you can extend hope to families affected by disasters by visiting http://tideloadsofhope.com

Blog carnival hosted by Blog Nosh Magazine, sponsored by Tide Loads of Hope.

How do the holidays fill you with loads of hope?

3

How the Holidays Fill Me with Loads of Hope

Family Blog Nosh Magazine

{by Julie Pippert from Julie Pippert:  Using My Words}

I was standing outside my house, directly under my children’s bedroom window, in what passes for cold in Bay Area Houston. In my hands I balanced a big boom box, Say Anything style, except it wasn’t blasting music. It was blasting the sound of reindeer hooves on a roof, including snorts, and the jingling bells of their harnesses.

That’s when I knew it.

No, not that I had lost my mind; I knew that I had finally gotten my holiday groove back.

I knew that come what storms may, we could weather them, and when you have a chance to stand outside in what passes for cold blasting sleigh bells on a boom box to bring a little magic to kids, your kids, who still believe in, well, the everything sort of possibilities…you go for it, big.

This marked a huge change.

I’ve spent my life trying to find my footing during the holidays. My family had the general traditions – ham, pie, gifts, visits to family – but nothing terribly consistent. My parents had barely settled into our immediate family’s ways when they got divorced, then we had to transition into juggling two (very competitive) Christmases. That was barely settled when each got remarried and then a whole new set of traditions and expectations came into play. By the time I left home and married my husband, I was more a little confused about the holidays. I was, in fact, completely cynical.

I remember all the craziness and competition, but I also remember being in the bell choir and making beautiful music for the Christmas Eve candlelight service. I remember the year I got to be the Angel in the Nativity scene. I remember my grandmother making chocolate silk pies with whipped cream topping, just the way I liked it – and saving the first piece for me. I remember being bored one afternoon with my friends and sister and masterminding a caroling outing. I remember the man who cried when we sang, and who could barely express how much our song had meant to him.

Our neighborhood wasn’t the nicest, not even during the holidays. Nobody put bows on street lamps, and decorations were few and far between. It wasn’t the sort of place that had carolers. But that afternoon, some little girls, eight-ish and ten-ish went around to sing because we loved Christmas. The man told us we brought him joy. And hope.

That’s the magic of kids, you know? They live in a world of magical realism, impossibility, and belief. They hope. And why not?

That’s why – despite the past and the last five years – I found myself standing outside my girls’ bedroom window adding to the myth.

The last five years have been a mess: two hurricanes, both damaging; a lost job; three pet deaths; a cross-country move; losing the vast majority of all we owned in a flood; fighting two major and serious diseases; losing several friends to cancer; and more.

It’s taken a toll on us, the adults, and by virtue of that, on our kids. My older daughter is old enough to remember Before, but this life, the one we lead now, is all my littlest one knows of our lives.

For a long time, I’ve been telling myself a lot of shoulds – how I should be, what I should do, what the kids deserved and how I should fulfill that — all of which increase in volume and frequency this time of year. I know that when you’re tapped out on so many fronts, every little extra effort seems beyond your ability, even if it’s for good. Still, I put on a front, for the kids. Because I should.

But sometimes, that fake it until you make it has a way of working out.

Last year, we laughed with true glee as we spread reindeer feed in the front yard. We laughed even though our yard hadn’t recovered from the hurricane and we still had two holes in our roof and our budget was missing in action because the insurance settlement barely covered a third of the cost. We laughed because we had a reason to be happy – we had our home, we had what mattered. We had each other.

I stood outside with those recorded bells jangling that Christmas Eve night, and I shook not with cold but with excitement and suppressed laughter.

This year, I pulled out my holiday shirts. All of them. The St. Patrick’s one, the Easter one, the Fourth of July one, the Halloween one, and yes, even the Christmas one. This year I decked the halls for every season. This year, as soon as we put the Thanksgiving décor away, we started pulling out the Christmas things.

Our house may not have lights strung all over, but it’s got two little lighted Christmas trees in the front flower bed and a homemade by children wreath on the door. My kids may not remember the individual gifts they get, but I hope – I hope loads – that they’ll always carry memories of the special times we create every year. I hope they’ll remember the night they heard Santa’s sleigh and knew his reindeer ate their feed. I hope they remember how mom cried at their Las Posadas program and tried to tell them how much it meant to see them dressed as little angels, singing about the real reason for the season. I hope they know hope, always.

How do the holidays fill you with loads of hope? Respond here, or on your blog, but please come join the carnival of hope!

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Julie Pippert has described herself as “passionate, liberal, and a lyrical voice.” She writes about life, issues, parenting, and causes she advocates on her personal blog, Using My Words. She has been blogging for over four years and has contributed her political voice to to MOMocrats.  Get to know Julie, subscribe to her blog and follow her on Twitter.

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Loads of Hope for the Holidays

Please join us at Blog Nosh Magazine as we share stories of hope this holiday season in support of the Tide Loads of Hope program, a mobile laundromat offering laundry services to families affected by disasters.

Share your own stories of hope, along with Blog Nosh Magazine, Velveteen Mind, and a gathering of inspiring bloggers, and enter your own post link in the blog carnival below. Explore featured bloggers as well as three featured posts selected from carnival participants listed in the linky (that could be you!).

Lend your voices now, then participate live during a two day event in New Orleans, Sunday and Monday, December 13 and 14, as we tweet stories of resilience from laundry recipients and volunteers on the ground. Follow along on twitter via #loadsofhope and be sure to follow @TideLoadsofHope.

When you join the carnival with your messages of hope, be sure to invite your own readers to participate in this online event by linking to the chocolate-covered center of the carnival here at Blog Nosh Magazine.  You are invited to grab any of the Tide Loads of Hope graphics you see here, including the tee shirt badge below (linked to http://tideloadsofhope.com), as all proceeds from sales of Tide Vintage Tees support the truck and keep it on the road, ready to help when disaster strikes nationwide.

Blog carnival hosted by Blog Nosh Magazine, sponsored by Tide Loads of Hope.

How do the holidays fill you with loads of hope?

2

Of Dreams

Family Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally Published on Collecting Raindrops}

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp-or what’s a heaven for?”
-Robert Browning (1812-1889)

I was nine, living out the unfortunate fashion legacy of the 80′s, on any given day sporting Jams and jellies or leg warmers and Keds, and devouring Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret when no one was looking. I was ugly and I knew it, like an English Bulldog puppy. The kind of ugly that tugs at heartstrings and causes onlookers to want to scoop her up, fix her a cup of cocoa, swipe the smudges from her pink plastic glasses, and entertain her wild ideas.

A fair amount of my time was spent watching surgeries/procedures, studying oddities that my Dad retrieved from the stomachs of his equine patients, and exploring the barns and acreage around his veterinary clinic. I enjoyed the dual citizenship extended in childhood, dividing my days between reality and imaginary worlds that spun themselves into convincing, more entertaining versions of the truth with colorful landscapes and curious culinary creations.

I was an odd little girl, (which may be the most redundant phrase ever uttered, following the previous paragraphs.) I wrote myself into mystery stories. I concocted ridiculous diary entries that chronicled the life of a more ordinary and attractive girl. (If someone were to find that little diary, some day, which is hopefully decomposing nicely in a landfill somewhere in Oklahoma, they’d be bored to tears and think I lived a very different life…with platinum blond braids.) That was the year I decided on my career path: I would attend Harvard Law School followed by a brief, but spectacular stint as a lawyer before being appointed to a judgeship which would of course, lead me directly to my seat as Chief Justice of The Supreme Court. I was nine–where are the dizzy daydreams of riding unicorns over rainbows (both of which enjoyed popularity in the 80′s thanks to Rainbow Brite, The Care Bears, and Hippies having children) or wanting to be a Marine biologist and work at Sea World when I grew up?

My Mom and Dad encouraged this phantasmic life plan. I was really good at Memory so, you know, I was already qualified.

It never occurred to my adolescent self that I might not be the Chief Justice, or attend Harvard, for that matter. These things were guaranteed because in my other world, my imaginary world, I had already lived them.

My imaginary world was as easily accessible as my back yard. It wasn’t until I was fourteen that it started to crumble. Reality came crashing down and the pillars of my youth showed deep and unsettling cracks. I began to question everything. Pragmatism emerged as an important ally in the days after my Dad left and my Mother couldn’t stand up underneath the sadness that enveloped her. Dreaming, planning, writing, inventing, creating, were dismissed (by me) as childish and I no longer had the luxury of being a child. I locked the door to that world of dreams and tossed away the key.

A recent commenter on Jen Lemen’s All That Glitters… post said this about dreams, “Perhaps the greatest threat to our dreams is what we do with them when they do not pan out…”

I have thought about this for a number of days now. I’ve thought about it in the context of my own life and how it applies to my daughters. I want my girls to wander through these adolescent years, unscathed by fear or pain.

But the idea that there is no pain and fear associated with dreaming is obviously absurd. Dreams and hope are as linked as fear and hope. Fear being a rope that binds, strangulates; dreams being the breath of inspiration; and hope the common ground between the two.

I want my girls to entertain dreams as possibilities. I want them to embrace potential and to understand that when a dream changes shape, it is not a death.

To reach, to dance, to follow the white rabbit, to collect keys to unknown doors, to dare, to imagine, to dig deep, to get dirty, to peel back,to question, to seek, to know…

And then I think of the odd little girl I once was, riding fences through a wilderness of infirmities, and I wonder why I did not volunteer those same ideals to her. Perhaps it was because she and I had not lived through the pain of hope differed. Perhaps she and I mistakenly thought that disappointment meant the blanket eviction of higher plans and not merely the restructuring of them. Perhaps she and I were naive in thinking that dreams are aspirations, goals to be attained, when perhaps they are meant to be forshadowing chapter titles in the unfolding story of who we are becoming.

I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re going and hook up with them later.

-Mitch Hedberg (1968-2005)

Editor’s pick by Jennifer at Playgroups are no place for children.  There are some people that just are, are writers, that is.  Emily is one such writer, having that much coveted ability to artfully weave words into written tapestries.  Her essays seem effortlessly written, with the humor, wit, and storytelling sensibilities that just are.   You can read this post, Of Dreams, on her personal blog, Collecting Raindrops.  Nose around at bit while you’re there and find out for yourself the beauty of Emily’s writing.  Subscribe to her blog here.

4

Swing Away

Family Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally posted on Whiskey in My Sippy Cup}

I’ve talked before about the craving we as parents have to mold our children into little mini-mes, to see some glimmer of ourselves behind those big, beautiful eyes.  I’ve talked about how hard we both have striven to avoid doing just that thing, for the sake of our kids’ sanity.  We were both pushed and pushed perhaps a bit too hard as children.  We both spent most of our lives trying to live up to some unattainable ideal of perfection that our parents had laid out for us.  We both had an absent parent who we alternately tried to garner the love of and spite with our over-achievement.

We both have parent issues.  We try to not share them with our kids.

For me, not pushing them to be me is simply a matter of not letting them slit their wrists and not pushing them to get straight A’s all the time and reading them something other than Douglas Adams.  For The Donor, it’s a bit more complicated.  He was that kid.  I have scrapbooks on scrapbooks full to the brim with newspaper clippings and accolades.  I have cases of ribbons and pins and trophies in my basement.  I have a wall full of plaques and a closet full of uniforms waiting for a child who needs them.  For a child who will follow his father’s footsteps.  And I have a very tired father here, too, one who never got his childhood because he was too busy being pushed to be the fastest, the hardest, the leanest, the best.

And so I’ve read them other stories (thank you, Dan Brown) and he’s let them dip their foot in a pool with an instructor rather than with him, and he’s put them in soccer lessons with any other coach, and he’s sat back and waited.  I’ve seen him dream.  I’ve seen the hope well up inside of him like a fire and I’ve seen that flame extinguish time and time again, mostly because he’s an athlete and I’m a nerd and nerds don’t push their kids to hit balls for a living and athletes don’t buy their kids Mensa Mind Challenge books for fun.  Our kids will be neither of us, it seems.  At least not by our doing.

He’s actually been trying his hand at their sports of choice a little lately, and let me tell you that a 37 year old man on a Ripstick is damn near the funniest thing you’ve ever seen in your entire life.  Especially when he does a double-backwards-aerial-somersault and lands flat on his ass.  That man was never a cat, in any life.

Our boys are both athletic in their own rights.  1of3 was born with Perfect. Fucking. Balance. The kid walked at 8 months and rode a 2 wheel bike, without training wheels, at 2.  Not kidding. 2of3 has an arm, oh my god does he ever.  He’s buoyant enough to swim well, but not focused enough.  1of3 is like a brick in the water, just like his momma.  They both love to skateboard and ride BMX bikes and I think one of them may be eyeballing motocross, which should make their godfather about explode with pride, but none of that does their father a whole lot of good.

See, I think dads really crave that thing they can share with their kids, maybe more so than moms do.  My bond with them is easy; I can close my eyes and still feel them stir inside of me, I can feel the measure of their brand new bodies wrapped around mine, suckling themselves to sleep, if I just concentrate enough. But it’s not so easy for their dad.  He didn’t carry them and he didn’t nurse them and now that they are growing away from us, now that we’re struggling to hold on to the last little bits of them before we are gone and they are complete, I see how he yearns for something of them them, something uniquely theirs, something he can share with them and give to them and be with them.

And then this happened:

Good Form

They’ve always played golf with him.  They’ve always had clubs and they’ve always gone to the range with him and they’ve always watched the Master’s in his lap, but they’ve never truly learned to play his game before.  And it just turns out that my little 2of3 has found his authentic swing.  He is a golfer.

The Donor was there with them for the first half of their lessons, and I met him at the course for the second half. He kept saying to me, “Honey, just look at him.  Watch this…” and I saw the flame begin to spark in his eyes.  I watched my 2of3 focus, I watched him swing away and I knew that he’d found something that spoke to him.  This is kind of a rare thing in his world.  Before his dad left us to head off to work, he leaned into me and whispered in my ear with stifled excitement, “He’s our golfer.”After The Donor left, I was busy chasing 3of3 on the other side of the fence, trying to watch my sons and failing miserably.  I mean, really, can you blame me?

Lost

And then I heard it.  I turned and looked through the fence and I saw his teacher, all of his fellow golfers, his brother even, and they were all silent and still. The sound was still resonating through us, and for a moment we were all speechless, helpless against it.

I don’t know if you follow golf, if you play or watch or understand it at all, but there’s a point in everyone’s golf game when you find it.  Yourself.  Your core. There’s a point in your game when you let yourself go and trust your own intuition and you swing that club and it hits the ball exactly perfectly and you feel it like lightening running through you.  You feel your center.  The sound the ball makes, the sound the shaft of your club makes, it’s not just impact…it’s perfect balance.  It is a sound that anyone who is near you when it happens feels, too.  The vibration, the wave, the ping, it comes from inside of you and for one perfect second, time stands still as the ball soars out from you.

If you think I’m overthinking things slightly, you’ve never hit a ball like that.  Try it.

Seeking

We all stood and watched my son’s ball tear though the air.  It was like watching Monet paint, or Beethoven compose, but mostly it was like watching my husband swing his clubs.  And my son, he felt it.  He turned to me with his mouth wide open in awe of himself.  His instructor looked at me, looked at him and just said, “Wow.”  And all I could do was smile.  My son, he has it.  He has a piece of his father, a piece unique to them that none of the rest of us truly have just yet.  It’s the most beautiful thing in the world, seeing the man you love in the child you love.

The next day, the two of them sat outside together, just the two of them, and they talked as they scrubbed their clubs.  They came upstairs a whole lot later and together they barbecued for our whole family.  My son forgot his DS for the day, my husband forgot his Sunday afternoon Sports Channel shows, and they remembered each other instead.  Later that night, 2of3 came up to me and said, “Mom, me and Dad cleaned our clubs together all day today, just us!”  Even later that night, as The Donor and I sat on the porch in the dark of night, he looked at me and said, “I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted something of ours, something to share with them.”

And what I didn’t say is that I couldn’t tell him how much more it makes me love him to see that now he has it.

Editor’s Pick by MommyTime at Mommy’s Martini. Mr. Lady can be relied upon to be hilarious, irreverent in all the right places, provocative, and witty — as the title of her blog, Whiskey in My Sippy Cup, suggests. It’s not often that she chooses straight-up serious, but when she does, she invariably knocks it out of the park. I love her easy, gutsy style; I admire her ability to think so deeply about what it means to parent; and I am in awe of the posts where she is not afraid to put it all on the line emotionally. Mr. Lady’s eloquence is rarely matched, and I’m sure, if you subscribe, you will be as inspired as I am when you read her. And if you are interested, you can read the original post, with comments here.

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September 14, 2009 | BN Channel Family, Featured 2, Monday 2

Old-Fashioned Fun

Family Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally posted on The Hip Mom’s Guide.}

When I was a girl, I used to spend a couple of weeks each summer with my grandparents. Most mornings, after making me breakfast, my grandmother sent me outside to play while she began her daily chores. It seemed like she was forever folding laundry and vacuuming her living room floor. There weren’t many other children in the village where she lived, so I spent long hours figuring out how to amuse myself. One of my favorite activities, on a hot summer afternoon, was to gather my books from the library and read in the shade beneath the giant oak tree at the entrance to her neighborhood. I loved to watch the cars go by; I remember wondering who all of those people were and where they were all going. Did they wonder about me, too? Thirty years later those memories are strong: I can still feel the cool grass under my bare little legs and see the sun peeking through the thick leaves above.

By the time my children came along, kids’ summers were filled with camps of every sort. Basketball camp, swim club camp, any-activity-you-can-name camp. What startled me about all of these choices wasn’t really that they existed, but how many children were enrolled in them from the youngest of ages. At first I resisted the peer pressure, partly because in addition to my three-year old, I also had an infant; partly because these camps cost a lot of money; and partly because it just didn’t seem right to book my three-year old son’s summer chock full of organized activities. Didn’t he get enough of that during the pre-school year?

But slowly, and surely, I started down the slippery slope of enrollment. “Oh, what’s one little camp,” I thought. “His friends are all doing it; he’ll love it.” And he did. But one camp turned to two, then two kids turned to three, and before I knew what hit me I found myself living out of a mini-van and shuttling three boys from ocean camp to soccer camp to crime-science investigation camp. A mini-van was most definitely not where I wanted to spend my summer.

And so I decided: our summers will be different. They will be slow. My children will be bored. They will have to learn to play b-o-r-e-d games with one another, even though the youngest can’t add yet and the oldest insists on proper rules. And I will have to practice patience, again and again, while explaining once more why they aren’t enrolled in the Greatest Camps on Earth. But the trade-off is that they get to enjoy summers like I did: figuring out fun for themselves. They get to take long walks in the woods, check out hundreds of books from the library, and gorge themselves on s’mores roasted over the firepit during our summertime outside movie extravaganza.

And why? Other than long walks and s’mores by the fire, what do we gain from my insistence on this slowed down pace? Oh, the benefits are so very hard to articulate, but they are so very evident, so tangible when I see them. Let me try.

Time. The hours in our days fly by during the school year, filled with classes, sports, and extra-curricular activities. During our summer the clock slows down. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Sunny days are filled with time to explore dunes at the beach, play a game at the local tennis courts, and lie on the hammock.

Quiet contemplation. Without the constant distractions that define our “regular” life, there are whole spaces of time without noise. We go our own ways, in the house and in the yard, and find time to think. This benefit alone is worth everything. To watch my boys process their thoughts, to see their wheels turning, with the only computer available—their mind, is priceless.

Problem-solving skills. Despite the peaceful sounding nature of the previous two benefits, downtime isn’t all fun and games. It takes a while for kids who are used to soccer practice and football games and piano recitals and friends–constant friends!–to figure out what to do with themselves. Watching them create new games, listening to them plan and plot with their brothers, these are truly treasures.

Rapport. Every minute of every day isn’t filled with familial harmony. Creating new games, for example, brings new rules, and rule changes. You know how that turns out, right? But the consistency of this time—the long days, the nights by the fire, the not-in-a-hurry-to-get-anwhere-ness of it all—creates an environment of togetherness that is difficult to create during the hustle and bustle of everyday life. When we take this break, this extra breath, really, I see all of us respond to one another in kinder, gentler ways. And I like what I see.

When the school year rolls around yet again, and the scheduling and carpooling begin, we are rested. We are ready. We have played, and thought, and explored. Now we find a new rhythm and enjoy the busyness of classes and practices and friends. And we look forward to the next summer, the one that’s coming quickly now, when we will once again hear the slow tick-tock of our clock.

Editor’s Pick by MommyTime at Mommy’s Martini.  Kirsetin’s post perfectly captures the spirit of the childhood summers I remember so well.  (You can read the original and its comments here.) I admire how eloquently has been able to express precisely why and how a little unstructured “boredom” is not only good for kids but essential to helping them rejuvenate.  Kirsetin is a great, creative mother of three boys, one who really thinks about nurturing every aspect of their lives as well as pushing them to think on their own too.  I admire this piece for the same reason that I admire so much of what I’ve seen on her blog: she is  extraordinarily thoughtful.  If you are looking for a great new read that will help you remember the value of slowing down and savoring things, you couldn’t do much better than to subscribe to The Hip Mom’s Guide.

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Growing Pains

Family Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Just Another Mama Blog}

We had a couple of rough nights around here. Two nights ago, Luke was tossing and turning and moaning with a high fever for much of the night. He came up to our bed and I didn’t sleep much. And last night, Henry came upstairs crying around midnight because of a leg ache. I ignored him for a while due to my exhaustion from the night before, but finally, I had to attend to his pain.

Two nights ago, when I was awake with Luke, my nighttime despair began to creep up on me. For a period of time when I was a child, I used to hate nighttime. I had an overactive sense of guilt and at night, I worried a lot. I dreaded nights. And more than anything, I hated spending nights away from my parents. I usually avoided these situations, but if that was impossible, I often spent the night nauseated and restless. While I eventually grew to love sleepovers by my teenage years, I still often struggled with waking in the night in a panic. Now, sleepless nights sometimes bring on a bit of this fear.

As I was feeling a little panic two nights ago with Luke, an airplane flew overhead, and at that moment, my worries abated. My maternal grandparents lived near an airport, and when I spent the night with them, the sound of the airplanes flying over me all night long helped to soothe my worries. Something about being tucked away in their little guest room under the rhythm of the jets overhead made me feel that the world was an orderly place.

And last night, as I fixed a heat pack for Henry’s leg, I was transported back to the days when my own mom fixed a hot water bottle for my own growing pains. In my memory, I am lying on the couch in the dim midnight light, knowing that relief will come, listening to the sound of the water running and running as it gets hot enough to fill the bottle. My mother’s calm, measured actions, performed so many times, took on that same soothing nighttime quality as the jets.

Part of growing up for me was learning to fear the night less, learning to let go of my strange and overactive senses of worry and guilt. It has taken me a long time to learn to be peaceful in the night. I have suffered many growing pains over the years, in my legs and in my heart, and always at night.

I wonder, in the dead of the night, what growing pains my children will face. Just as I have overcome some of mine, theirs are beginning. Just as certain aches of mine fade away, I help to soothe theirs. And I can’t know which of these things they will carry with them into the future, as memories, as part of the rhythm of their beings. I hope the moonlit shadows, the warmth of the heat pad, the murmers of comfort in our bed, are enough.

Editor’s pick by Amy Turn Sharp of Doobleh-vay: I love Ser’s blog. She is a smart mama living in Ohio that I love. She has been published in Literary Mama and will make you wish for a childhood like she had! Please visit her blog today!

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And I held fairies in my hands

Family Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally posted on Poot and Cubby}

Dear Elliot,

One day when you are older, I will tell you about the day I rode the subway with tulips in my arms.  I will tell you how people gave me sideways smiles thinking that someone had bought me flowers.  But they couldn’t know what I really held in my hands – that I was carrying fairies to my four-year-old.

A few weeks ago you told me that a fairy lived inside every tulip.  And that if you placed the flowers in your room and made a wish, the fairy would grant your wish while you slept.

So today, I brought you fairies, believing that you were incapable of coming up with an ungrantable wish – that anything you muttered before you said goodnight would be chocolate-related or something equally easy.  Instead, you told me you were going to wish for wings.

In the morning, I will wake up holding my breath.  I will hope that the absence of wings sprouting from your back won’t convince you that beside your bed stand ordinary tulips.  I will tell you that the fairies are so magical, that they gave you the power to imagine your wings as if they were really there.

Then we will look into the center of a flower and if we squint hard enough, we will see one.  Tiny and covered in glitter.  Able to hear only the voices of children who might wish for wings or candy or decent splashing puddles.  Her ears too small to hear the too-big wishes that someone older might have – to reverse the irreversible.  Cure the incurable.  Create the uncreateable.

I know the fairy won’t grant my wish – that you will always see a world of possibilities inside the smallest thing.

But in the moment, I’ll thank you for inviting me into that world.  A world where only we can see that flowers are not really flowers and where little girls can grow wings in their sleep.

Love,

mama

Editor’s Pick by MommyTime at Mommy’s Martini. Andi at Poot and Cubby is relatively new to me, but I was drawn immediately to her delicate way with words. If you liked this post on mothering an imaginative child, you will also love her beautiful take on mothering a boy. In addition to these older children, she has twin nephews that she adores, and so has scaled back her blogging a little bit in recent months. But her three years of archives are rich, and you will not want to miss anything new she posts. So, subscribe already! You’ll be glad you did. And if you want to see the comments on the original post, you can find it here.

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Just Suck it Up, Not In

Family Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Mayberry Mom}

Yesterday afternoon my kids really wanted to go to the pool. Since I was already feeling peevish and whiny I refused. We actually have a really nice community pool here. It has an enormous shallow end with lots of fountains and sprayers and other fun stuff; it has two water slides, a huge grassy area, a big sand play area, a snack bar, and halfway decent locker rooms. It’s a five-minute walk from our house. Of course, the kids love it (anyway I think that’s a Little Kid Law, to love any and all swimming pools).

But yesterday I just wasn’t up for changing the clothes and slathering the sunscreen and packing the stuff and blah blah. And I especially wasn’t up for the post-pool herding of two children into the showers and back home (where I’d immediately have to move right into Dinner-Books-Bed mode).

So I brought out all my home-based water ammo: Let’s play with the volcano sprinkler! How about you guys can spray each other with hoses! I’ll blow up the little pool! They grudgingly agreed to the little pool. Which I then spent TWO HOURS trying to inflate with a bicycle pump. (Two hours, because I had to keep stopping to a] prevent myself from keeling over and b] check what mischief Opie was up to wandering around the house/yard by himself. Apparently, according to my husband we do have some kind of electric pump but all I could find was its tormentingly empty box.)

Of course the kids lost interest way before the pool was ever inflated. And my arms fell off and now I really don’t look good in a bathing suit even if you do overlook my stretchmarks and smushy belly.

And so the moral of the story is I should have just taken them to the pool that didn’t require inflating, mommy suit and all. Especially after last weekend’s visit to The Waterpark Capital of the WORLD (where people wander all over wearing next to nothing and believe me, some of them need just a little more something), I have come to terms with my tankinis and swim skirts. When I go to the pool, I accessorize my post-kid body with a couple of cute kids and that means a lot.

suited_up

Editor’s Pick by Amanda from The Wink. I don’t write about it very often on my blog, but like most women, I have swimsuit trauma, pool time agoraphobia, if you will. Any chance to find a bit of perspective on this is a great thing in my book. I loved Mayberry Mom’s revelation about putting fun before fear. This isn’t her only post I’ve enjoyed, with her direct words and open approach to writing, her posts are always a bit like chatting with a friend. Here is the post in its original home. I would encourage you to do two things, hit the pool without fear and visit Mayberry Mom with frequency, she may be in Mayberry, but her writing is in a class of its own. Here is the feed for Mayberry Mom, more than worth your time.


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Oh, Shit!

Family Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Maine-ly Megin.}

So my darling Lucy is usually good for a 2- 3-hour nap each day. Imagine my surprise when I heard her today 50 short minutes after putting her down for a nap. Shock! Horror!

I listened to her delighted babblings for a while and knew she was chatting with her babies. I was cautiously optimistic that she might doze off again… and then I heard it… “Mama… I pooped.”

So, clearly she wasn’t going back to sleep. Shucks. I open the door and there’s my girl reaching out to me. Is there a better sight in the entire world as this beautiful child reaching out to me? Wait… what’s that she’s holding? “Look Mama, I pooped.”

Oh, yes. She handed me poop. A little shit from my little shit. Her diaper was folded- clean and neat in the corner. When I lifted it up thinking it might be full of poop she laughed and told me that her buty (translation- pacifier) was in there… sure enough, it was. So, in summary: diaper- clean and folded in the corner, poop- on the hands, on the belly, all over the crib, the sheet, the dress, the 4 stuffies, 2 pillows, 2 blankets she insists upon sleeping with each night, and… on the *gag* face.

Today’s lesson- Lucy is still fascinated by her ability to remove her diaper. This means that even though she fell asleep in the car and you’re worried she might not fall back to sleep if you take the time to throw some shorts on under her dress, you hafta take that risk. It just doesn’t matter that you were up with her for x hours during the night and the idea of “quiet time” is as appealing to you as crack is to a junkie. You hafta take that risk.

Oh, shit.

Editor’s pick by Catnip at Catnip and Coffee. This post just cracks me up because I think all of us parents have been there. We so desperately want them to take that nap, even if we know it’s going to screw us! I had the pleasure of meeting Megin in person at BlogHer Boston 08 and we’ve been friends ever since. Not only does she have her personal blog Maine-ly Megin and a her photography site, Through Meg’s Lens, but she also writes at and is the brains behind the fantastic community blog GNM Parents!  Get to know her better by subscribing to her feed and following her on twitter.

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