Tag Archives: family

My Parents

I am thankful for many things, but one thing in particular lately: my family.

I was raised by a liberal Democrat and a conservative Republican. My mother is a teacher and my father a chemist. My dad is a well-known musician (the best… better than Trent, guys) and my mother is a creative and crafty genius and a verbal and literary wordsmith.

My mother taught me how to be a mom. I started realizing this once I married my husband and gained a stepson, and it really set in once I had two children of my own. A house full of boys. My mom, whether she or I ever realized it or not, prepared me from the time I was young to be a woman, a mother, a forgiving and thoughtful person. When I cuddle with my boys and pull them close I remember my mom doing the same. The boys bring me books to read or toys to play with and I do the special voices, follow our playful routines (and of course change things up constantly) just like I remember my patient mother doing. I look at my boys and can’t figure out how to not grit my teeth with the abundance of love and emotion I have for them, and I remember seeing the same emotions in my mommy’s face. I lose my patience with the boys sometimes, and hide in my bathroom or cry and try to explain to them what its like to be stressed and overwhelmed and then I remember that they’re kids… and I’m taken back to moments when I’d hear my mom sigh or see her frown and I know she was stressing about adult things, but she was still my mother. She still took care of us and loved us, and when I feel like I can’t do it anymore I remember these moments when she did keep doing it. Some of my favorite memories with my mom involve us going to school with her in the summer to work in her classroom. My sister and I would roam the hallways and explore the old historical original Hall School building. Afterward sometimes my mom would take us out to eat and before we got out of the car she’d ask us, “Do you want to bring in books to read, or do you want to talk?” Often we would all bring in our own books to read and we’d spend time together silently reading for part of the time and talking about the literary worlds we were currently living in the rest of the time. One of my favorite visual memories of my mom is from a family video in our first house. My sister, mom dad, granddad, and a few family friends and I were in the yard at the farm watching a litter of puppies play. My mom was taking a bucket of feed to the chickens: smiling, working, joking. Watching my sister toddling around and laughing at us while we chased the puppies. She’s wearing a skirt and its summer, or maybe spring. She was sort of like a hippy, care-free (seemingly) and laughing and outdoors-loving and just beautiful. When people tell me now that I look like her I take it as the biggest compliment. I hope I can be like her.

My dad taught me how to analyze things and how to be attentive and notice details. My dad has shown me that your plate can actually never be too full, you just have to learn how to rearrange things and ask for help and forgiveness from people. My dad taught me that things can be beautiful and relaxed and worthwhile even when you feel like you can’t go on and don’t have the space or time for things. My dad has shown me that you can make mistakes and be upset about things, and that’s okay, but then you have to pick yourself up, consider what went wrong and how to repair things, and then do it. My dad (and my mom!) showed me how to be an independent woman. Gender never got between things he did with or showed me or my sister; we learned how to properly use guns, how to hike and fish, how to make a plan and build things, how to take care of a yard and house and garden. Growing up we all did those things together; there weren’t different roles for different people. My dad showed me that one can have conservative beliefs but not be stifling.

Maybe I was just lucky to have parents that are completely different and capable of being independent. Maybe that’s why I don’t have trouble sorting out my feelings about current events and political issues, because it is possible to be a Democrat or a Republican and not be outlandishly opposed to everything the other side has to say. It is okay to question things and to push for answers, and it is okay to fight for what you believe in… once you figure out what that is.

Oh yeah, and Atticus and I set all the egg timers at Meijer in Plainfield last Friday afternoon at 1:05. I really hope someone heard them all go off and laughed and didn’t get upset because gosh I feel guilty about doing that.

Thanksgiving, Just Late

This year Nate and I wanted to try to host Thanksgiving at our house. We also ambitiously decided to make the meal ourselves. What were we thinking?!

It ended up going really well, with only a few hiccups. Ever the procrastinators (how did we end up together?) we started everything the morning of… cleaning, the turkey, prepping, etc. Everything. I guess we both work best under pressure. We were lucky to have grocery assistance from both sets of parents plus my sister, and my sister came early to help entertain the boys and prep food. We had one casualty… one of our favorite kitchen tools, our Deep Covered Baker, broke in all the hustle and bustle. But, lucky us, we just got a bunch of free and discounted Pampered Chef stuff, including the RockCrok and a mini Deep Covered Baker, so I think we’ll survive.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal, and we were lucky to have all five boys together at once, a rarity these days. Everyone stayed afterward and relaxed, napped, played video games, laughed, and just enjoyed our time together. It was a great day!

One thing I always struggle with is using leftovers creatively. I don’t mind reheating things myself for lunches and for dinners when Nate isn’t home to cook for me, but sometimes having the same meal more than three times in a row gets really boring. I asked around my friends and moms groups about using Thanksgiving leftovers, and found some great ideas. A friend a fellow blogger shares a ton of great ideas here, and she inspired me to try a few things myself.

Everyone knows I can’t cook… I’m not joking.

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Here are some pancakes I worked really hard to ruin a few weeks ago

So the first thing I did was totally easy because, ya know, it has to be for me even attempt it. I have been totally digging this Stoneware Microwave Egg Cooker I got from Pampered Chef recently. I’ve used it to cook actually decent pancakes and have been using it to cook scrambled eggs in nice neat patties for Atticus and I. Friday I made eggs with leftover ham and green pepper, and we both loved them.

Last night Nate and I made cheesy turkey and ham pockets and they were fabulous!

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We used:

  • some chopped turkey and ham
  • 2 packs of crescent rolls
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • some shredded cheese
  • some chopped onion and green pepper
  • some melted butter
  • seasonings

It made 8 pockets.

We divided the cream cheese in half, melted it a little in the microwave, then added turkey to half and ham to the other half. Then we added a handful of shredded cheese and a handful of chopped onions and green pepper and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.

We separated the crescent rolls into rectangles of two crescents attached together. Then, we scooped a few forkfuls of the mixture into each rectangle and folded the ends of the dough over to make pockets. I melted some butter and sprinkled some garlic powder into it, then brushed the butter over the pockets. We baked them at 350 for about 20 minutes.

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Delicious! What didn’t get eaten was wrapped up so I can take them for lunches and freeze some for later meals.

How did your Thanksgiving holiday go? Did you spend good times with family or friends? Any leftovers?

This is my new beginning

Please bear with me, as this is really hard to write. My life is going to change, starting now. 

On Monday I had my yearly doctor’s appointment. I stepped on the scale, as I always do, and couldn’t believe my eyes. I wanted to die. 

I have gained about 25 pounds in the past year. I am heavier than I ever have been (and I’ve been through two pregnancies). I surpassed the 200 lbs mark.

I’ve never been satisfied with my appearance. I’ve had moments where I think I look great, moments where I don’t care what I look like or what others think, moments where I’m comfortable… but none of those feelings come naturally to me. I’m not a confident person, and I’m not typically content with myself. 

In high school I hated my body. I wore a size 9, weighed about 125-135, and was (still am) 5′ tall. I did marching band (and don’t you dare tell me that isn’t considered a strenuous workout) and ate poorly, but I maintained my weight, mostly, though I wished I had been about 110. In college I was closer to 140, and after I got married I was around 160. I don’t remember what I gained while pregnant with Trent. With Atticus I got to 199. After I had Atticus I lost more than I had gained while pregnant… so I was around 180. That means that in the last 18 months I’ve gained 35 pounds.

Here is a picture of me a year ago, about 25 pounds lighter. I can’t wait to get back to that, and eventually even past it.

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My weight isn’t a surprise to me. It winds me to walk up my stairs. It hurts my feet to stand up and take the first few steps after sitting for awhile. My knees pop more than they used to. My boobs choke me when I lay down, and it’s a workout to clip my toenails.

It’s depressing when I realize that the reason I rarely take my kids to the pool is because I’m humiliated to be in my suit. It sucks to have to avoid skirts and dresses because my thighs rub together. It’s embarrassing to walk up the stairs with someone at work and be noticeably breathless. And worst of all, I hate that I’m not as active as I could be with my children. I want to sleep better, feel happier, play harder and look sexier.

And I’m going to. Starting now. This is my new beginning.

I have an appointment in three months to get back with my doctor and evaluate things. My goal is to have lost 15 pounds by the time I see him. That’s 5 pounds a month, and just about 1 pound a week. I can so do this! Once I reach that goal I’ll set another. For now I want to take small, reasonable steps by creating realistic and attainable goals. I’ve started using the My Fitness Pal app and have also begun using the Pacer app. Pacer will track my steps and link the info with My Fitness Pal. I’ll log what I eat and my exercise in My Fitness Pal and keep track of my progress there.

Yesterday was day one. I stayed under my calories for the day and did some activity. I plan on eating healthier meals and smaller portions while being realistic so I don’t get discouraged. I’m hoping to start walking for 15-30 minutes at work as I’m able via my breaks, and I’d like to walk with the boys when I get home in the evenings also. I think I’ll get the wii fit out again and try using it to keep it fun.

I want to look at gym memberships and see if I can make something work with my schedule and the fact that I am basically operating as a single parent most of the week.

I’ve talked to some of my closest friends and to Nate and I already feel very confident that I’ll have ample support. I’ll be tracking some of my progress here. I can’t wait to see what the next few months holds for me and my health.

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Ramblings from a good terrible mom

I am the best bad parent. Because I admit it. I’m currently lounging outside my toddlers bedroom door after putting him down for bed, listening to my 4 year old play xbox downstairs while I’m up here mostly naked, poking around in my phone. What kind of mom would admit that? Me.

I just nursed Atticus until he was sleepy, then lay (lie? laid? layed?) him down. He whined a little, so I posted myself outside his bedroom to make sure he is ok with me not being there. Because I love him, and don’t want to make bedtime hard for him. Trent is downstairs but within clear hearing distance, playing a kid-friendly game (Disney Infinity) for a little bit before bedtime. He’s talking to the characters and also about me. I bet if someone walked in here it would look like I’m pretty lazy… and I sure am, but I’m also a pro at balancing pleasing my kids and giving myself a little post-work break.

I had a conversation with two currently-childless friends recently. They talked about not being sure about their desires to have kids, and I sympathized. I was there once. Then I had some, and I can’t imagine my life without them. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Surprisingly, they both told me I’ve influenced them positively in their consideration. I was baffled… I see myself as a hot mess. I’m always behind at work, I cry a lot, one of my kids is a nervous wreck like me, I spoil my kids, my house is a mess, I’m unhealthy, and I can’t keep up with housework or finances.

But I love my kids. And my friends pointed out to me that priorities are different and don’t make you a bad person, and that enjoying my kids and being myself makes me a good parent.

My house might be messy, but it’s filled with memories of good times, my lovable husband, kids and dogs, and the things we all enjoy together. I might have crap all over the place, but I’m too busy making memories with my kids to notice most of the time. I would love a clean house, but I would be really sorry if I missed a good photo opportunity of my kids because I took too long cleaning the background behind them first.

I might sit around lazily on my couch sometimes between work and bedtime, but I’d be a nutcase if I didn’t do it a little. For example, today after work I played with my kids in the children’s area at the library. Afterwards we went to Starbucks for some refreshments (for them too, I promise) and I surprised Trent by letting him pick out a new Disney Infinity character. When we got home I took care of some things, then put Atticus to bed, and am currently taking a quick break before heading down to interact with Trent. I feel guilty that I’m not always 100% present, but what parent is? My time with him in just a few minutes is going to be quality, like my nursing and cuddling time was with Atticus. I refuse to let me desire to have some alone time make me impatient or short with my kids. So I’ll help myself to both alone time and quality kid time.

I once read a blog post about two words the writer said they would never again say to their kids. “Hurry up.” It talked about how kids stop and enjoy the little things, and maybe we shouldn’t be in such a rush through our lives all the time; maybe we can take a cue from children. When I’m running late for work sometimes and trying to get the kids to daycare before I head in for a busy day, I’ve found myself telling Trent “hurry up, I don’t have all morning,” while urging him into his car seat. But I try to take a step back. He pokes along the stepping stones in the yard, pointing out interesting rocks or squatting to pick a a dandelion for me. Instead of hurrying him along I try to chill. It means I’m late to work (all the time, really a lot), but I love the little extra moments we have, and he’s teaching me to be more patient. Just the other day he picked a white, fluffy dandelion. I told him to make a wish and blow the feathery seeds away. He thought for a second and said “I wish I had one thousand mommies.” At first I was a little sad at the potential competition, and I asked him after the seeds had scattered if he wanted lots of different mommies. He said no, lots of me. It’s awesome to know how much he loves me, and hopefully it means I’m doing something right.

To know that I’ve made some people more strongly consider having kids is one of the most flattering things I’ve ever heard.

Now, excuse me, but I have some Disney Infinity to play with my son.

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Daddy, Bluegrass, Nickel Creek, And Aging

Well, last night was interesting and fun. And it has left me thinking about a lot of things today.

Nickel Creek played live at the Murat theatre last night, and because my dad is awesome he bought four tickets. Nate and I and my friend Courtney went with my dad, and Lindsay and her sister Meagan met us there as well. A fun time was had by all.

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I have tons of memories of my childhood, and in many of them I can hear my dad in the background playing his fiddle of mandolin. I can remember laying in bed with my sister struggling to go to sleep and listening to my dad walk around the house, armed with an instrument. He would often make his way into our bedroom and play in the doorway for awhile; it was soothing and always left me feeling happy when I fell asleep. Playing outside in the summer my dad would either be working hard in the yard or wandering around making music to the trees and the grass and the birds and us. In the evenings when I was older I can remember sitting at the bar doing homework or at the computer chatting with friends and listening to my dad in the living room or basement playing his bluegrass. He’d wander around and often eventually go outside for awhile. As younger kids he would play “Pop Goes the Weasel” on his fiddle and my sister and I would pluck the strings when it was time for the pop. I had my own tiny fiddle when I was a kid. Now Trent has his own, and I can’t wait for him to make his own music. Music, particularly bluegrass, is just part of my life.

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While we were eating and drinking before the show last night it struck me that my dad was older than everyone else with us, but he doesn’t act it. In fact neither of my parents seem old. I always get comments about having “cool parents.” Yeah, I know they’re cool. My dad doesn’t seem to act any differently… he doesn’t try to act young or change his views or opinions. He tells stories that are just perfect for the situation, shared his thoughts, makes people laugh, and treats people with respect. It’s hard not to want to be around him. When I was young at a music festival I can remember a family friend commenting that wherever Donnie goes others will follow. He has a natural charisma. He makes people happy and comfortable, and it’s hard not to want to be near him.

I sat next to him during the show last night. I had mentioned to him beforehand that I remembered being at a symphony concert with him during college and when someone got a wrong note we had given each other a sideways glance. He and I have pretty strong ears when it comes to things like that, and it’s like a secret we share when we notice wrong notes, strong improv, and other things. I love it. I looked sideways at him at one point last night and noticed he wears a nearly unnoticeable hearing aid. For some reason thinking about that right now makes me cry. I think of my dad the way I remember him 15 years ago. He doesn’t seem old to me. And neither does my mom. When people ask how old my parents are I immediately think 40-50, because that’s just how I think of them. I want my dad to be able to hear the music that’s made up his life just as clearly now as he always has, as clearly as I can still hear it in my memories.

I really struggle with the idea of mortality. The alternative isn’t too appealing and I know that, but getting older and seeing the people I love age along with me is really hard for me. Sometimes I wish I was still 9 or 10. I love my life now. I love my family and my boys and my job and the things I’ve experienced and accomplished. But I store miss being young and just having my mom and dad and sister around me all the time sometimes. I miss the innocence and wonder. I miss trotting around with my sister and the other bluegrass kids at festivals while my mom and dad played and listened to music and chatted.

Getting older and watching those around me age is one of the hardest things for me.

Figuring out what to plant

How do I know what to plant in my garden? It seems like each summer at the end of gardening season I have several thoughts that I swear I’ll remember next season. What did I plant that for? Why didn’t I plant that? Who knew caring for this plant would be so time-consuming? I think back to my first years with my own garden and wonder why I planted some things. Luckily, this trial and error process is a good thing, I’ve come to realize.

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A few questions I try to ask myself when planning my garden:

  1. Will I use the produce? I try to ask myself if we will eat or use the harvest immediately or at all. My stepson asked last year to plant carrots and corn, which I wouldn’t have chosen myself, but I thought of ways I’d use the produce and have decided to grow them again this year. Win!
  2. Will I know what to do with the produce? I typically keep my herbs in pots because in the past my garden space has been more limited. I got a dill plant at the beginning of the season last year but we didn’t use it at all and it outgrew the pot and just died. Now I know a few things: we likely won’t use it early in the season, it doesn’t work well for us in a pot, and it went to seed quickly. Knowing those things will help us this year.
  3. Is it possible to preserve the produce of I don’t use all of it? I experience to more and more with preserving each year. I’ve received a few preserving books as gifts from my awesome mom and so I have new ideas and things to try. Some years some plants produce a bumper crop and it’s hard to figure out what to do with the produce. I try now to think ahead about how I will preserve the produce of each thing I plant of that happens.
  4. Will I use the preserves? After determining if I can preserve extra produce I try to ask myself if I will use preserves in that way. I have long been tempted to make mint or mint jalapeño jelly but I just don’t foresee us using it, so I never have. On the other side of that coin, however, if it’s something I want to try and I have the extra produce, why not? I might find we really like it.
  5. Will it grow in my garden? I was dead set on trying to grow artichokes last year. I craved them at the end of my pregnancy with Atticus as well as after and I still love them now. I know they aren’t easy to grow in Indiana, but I really wanted it to work last year, so I tried. And I failed. Lesson learned. But again, no harm done. Will it work in my garden? Probably not without some serious accommodations made for the plant. Will I try it again? Not any time soon, I don’t think… But you never know.
  6. How easy will it be to take care of? One word: artichoke. I wanted it to work so much, but seriously… I learned that the plant can take up lots of room, is a perennial that would need to be covered and protected in the winter in my plant hardiness zone (which is 6a), and can take a few years to produce. Is it worth it? Oh, God, how I would live to have fresh artichokes… but no, it isn’t worth it at this time.
  7. Is it appealing to me or my family in at least one way? My dad (gardener extraordinaire) often tells me I should just plant flowers in some parts of my garden, and it used to baffle me. Why plant something that doesn’t give me something? But I’m realizing he might be onto something… My parents have lots of different flowers on their property and I get totally jealous. So this year I think we will put some focus into flowers! After all they do give something: they give my parents happiness, and they surely will us, too. My mom often walks me around the yard at different times in the year and tells me about how she plants different things, what they’re called, and what memories they invoke for her. I want that in my life!
  8. Have I tried growing it before, and if so how did it go? Artichoke. Okay, okay… I’ll give another example this time. I do peas sometimes, but they never do much. They take up quite a bit of space in my raised bed, which is what I primarily use with spring plants, and they only produce a handful of pods a few times before they’re done. However, Trent loves to pick and immediately eat the fresh peas, and they’re fairly easy to take care of, especially the varieties that don’t need support to grow. Will I grow them again? Yes. Because Trent loves them it’s worth it to me, but I plant to do them differently this year. Nate has finished putting up the new perimeter garden bed and we just need to get compost and topsoil mix for it. With the extra space the peas will be worthwhile.

I used to get frustrated with my garden all the time. When things don’t work, when I don’t use all the harvest, when I want to do something particular but don’t ever get to it… all of those things frustrate me. However, I’m learning that gardening is about more than just the produce. I have fun working on my garden with my family, and we love watching the plants grow and produce. Nate and I enjoy talking about and planning for the garden. We love figuring out what we will use in different ways, and we love experimenting with different things since I love canning and preserving and he loves cooking. When we fail it’s ok: it teaches us what works and what doesn’t and what to do differently. Plus, working together as a family outside makes it all worthwhile.

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Starting our spring garden

So much going on right now. I have had no energy to write.

Gardening season is upon us! Nate and I took all three boys to Cox’s Plant Farm last Saturday. I wore Atticus on my back in the ergo and he just loved walking around and looking at all the flowers and plants and watching his brothers run around the greenhouse. I love being able to wear him.

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We picked out our spring plants and got some soil to add to our raised bed. Nick and Trent (and Nate and I, if I’m being honest) love playing Plants vs Zombies, and Trent wanted to buy sunflowers and peas. He looked for some of the other plants from the game, but got distracted easily. The boys had a great time.

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One half of our fenced backyard has planting space around the inside perimeter, but the other half doesn’t… yet. Nate got lots of wood on sale for a really good price and build up another layer on the existing perimeter bed, and plans to do the other perimeter bed hopefully this weekend. This will almost double our planting space!

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After our Easter family dinner we took Nick back to his mom’s house and the younger two boys fell asleep. It gave Nate and I time to plant our carrots, radishes, onions, and lettuce in the raised bed. I potted the lemon balm, spearmint, and lavender we bought to keep around the pergola. They all smell wonderful! I also repotted what was once a tiny aloe baby but is now 4 larger aloe plants. The roots were all balled up tightly together, but I’d let the dirt dry up enough that they were easy to separate without damaging. I plan to give one to my friend Courtney and possibly one to my other pal Sara. I’ll keep the other two. I’m actually glad I finally repotted the aloe, because I burned my arm cooking Sunday afternoon and was able to use one renegade piece of aloe that did come off to help treat the burn that still hurt 5 hours later. It helped a ton.

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Hopefully Nate is able to finish the rest of the perimeter bed this weekend, so I can plant a row of peas. Then, in the next month we can list and plan our other plants. I know we will do pickling cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, green and hot peppers, and a variety of herbs. Not sure what else. So glad the season is finally here!

Did You Ever Know That You’re My Hero?

I learned via Facebook that today, apparently, is National Siblings Day. Who knew? Everyone is gleefully posting pictures about their awesome siblings. They only wish they were as lucky as I am, though, because my sister truly is the best. She’s perfect! Perfect to me.

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Surprising no one, I’ve known Rebecca all of her life. The first memory I have of her is of me looking over my left shoulder in horror as she bit what seemed like the largest possible chunk of skin off of said shoulder. In reality I’m sure she didn’t even break the skin. But only because at the time she was surely not even a 2 year old and simply wasn’t yet capable of such a thing. Oh, but she would become capable. I can clearly remember being about 14 years old and having her curl or straighten my hair. I wouldn’t hold still enough to suit her so she tapped me with it. No, it didn’t hurt, but yes, I probably peed my pants in fear. When we travelled to Germany a few years later we got into some stupid sibling argument that lasted about a day. I asked her to French braid my hair once we got over it and of course she did so without hesitation. Those braids never stood a chance of falling out… and my scalp was sore for days afterward.

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Rebecca is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever known. Need a hand with something? She is the first to offer help, even when it means making adjustments to her own life, and she has usually already helped you before you even realize you needed her. When I was in the hospital after having Trent she raced over as soon as she could get away from work. She brought a care package with comfy socks, lotion, and other goodies. She massaged (she’s a professional!) my feet, then lotioned and socked them. She talked to the nurses about my care and made sure I had everything I needed. Between my mother and her I was set! Upon bringing home baby she came over breathing more gifts, including nursing mothers’ loose leaf tea, a steeper, and an awesome mug that I still use daily. With Atticus it was more of the same. She was there when I had a postpartum breakdown, helping me with meals and reminding me that life wasn’t over and that there wasn’t any reason it should be. She kept Trent several times when Atticus was a newborn to give me space and time to relax. When I returned to work a peace lily was delivered with a card from her wishing me luck on my first day back How would I have made it through that time without her?

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How would I have made it through anything without my sister? I wouldn’t have.

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Rebecca and I used to bicker a lot when we were younger. I can remember my mom getting so annoyed at us and I just didn’t understand why she couldn’t see how annoying it was to have a younger sister. When Rebecca and I would fight and my mom had had it with our arguing she’s often say “One day you’ll need each other and you’ll look back on this time and wish you hadn’t treated each other like this.” Oh, how right she was. I would do many things to take back some of the arguments we have had. I think frequently about how my mother lost her older sister early and I hope and pray that Rebecca and I don’t lose each other any time soon. She’s my cheerleader and my best friend and I love her.

It’s awesome to know that someone can be so thoughtful toward others when they have been through difficulties themselves. Everyone has rough times and everyone has bad luck, but my sister never fails to draw the short straw. Amazingly, she always perseveres and stays positive and comes out on top. She never stops working hard and puts everyone before herself– everyone. She’s my hero.

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She’s one of the best parents I know. She loves her boys so, so much. She is successfully raising two of the coolest boys. Watching her be a mother is so awesome; she’s a natural and always has been. Her boys are well-behaved and polite, but hilarious, active and creative as well. And like their mother, they are lovers. While I ask my own mother for advice on parenting, I watch my sister parent. She’s perfect. Have I said that already?

If you haven’t taken the time today to tell your brother or sister you love them, please do. I’m about to.

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Love is Patient, Love is Kind

Trent just amazes me every day. Actually all my kids do. I’ve mentioned before that Trent is very passionate; Nate and I talk about it all the time. When he’s mad everyone around knows about it, but when he’s happy it’s as if the sun will never stop shining again. When he gives he gives everything.

Like many kids do, Trent had a hard time when his brother Atticus was born. He always had a hard time sharing; Nick is older and isn’t around every day, so Trent never minds him, and in fact looks forward to giving Nick his everything. Atticus, however, was a different story. Sure he was cute when he was born, but for Trent having a baby around got old fast. Don’t get me wrong, Trent never seemed to strongly dislike his new brother, he just got frustrated by him easily. And often.

Trent nursed until he was just over 2 1/2, when I found out I was pregnant with Atticus. I was so worried about how Trent would react to someone else taking over that territory that had previously been only his and mine. Oddly enough Trent was totally done with it and in fact even thought it was cute. When Atticus cried it was the first thing Trent suggested. “Mommy, Atticus is crying. He needs boob.”

What Trent did have trouble with was Atticus taking all of the attention that had previously been focused on him, and once Atticus grew a few months older Trent no longer thought it was cute when we would hand Atticus a toy. “No, that’s my baby book.” Or “Hey, baby Atticus, give me back that ball!” While the items in question were often things Trent hadn’t cared about in months, he didn’t want his baby brother to have anything to do with things that were his. Old baby toys suddenly became valuable in a way they really hadn’t ever been to this boy.

When Trent got angry at Atticus it hurt me. I’d never felt that kind of hurt before, and I remembered something my mother would tell my sister Rebecca and I when she’d had it with our arguing. “One day you’ll need your sister.” I brushed her comment off until her own older sister passed early in their lives. I’ve since come to appreciate my own sister enough that, while we still don’t always get along, I always want, love, and need her.

In the past 4-6 months Trent has developed a lot of patience with Baby Atticus. One afternoon Nate heard Atticus crying from his crib, having woken from his nap. When he got to the doorway of the nursery he saw Trent, who was quietly calming Atticus, unaware that he had an audience. “Shh. It’s ok Baby Brother.” When Nate made his presence known, however, Trent ran away saying, “Be quiet, Baby!” When Trent realized he could pick Atticus up and carry him he became slightly more tolerant. He’d carry him over to the toy box so they could pick out a toy together. Slowly but surely he’s come around.

It isn’t unusual these days for Trent to suddenly ask, “Hey, where’s Baby Atticus?” I’ll tell him he’s taking a nap and Trent will request that I get him up so they can play together. When Atticus cries Trent no longer tells asks us to make the baby be quiet because he’s bothering him; now he wants us to fix the problem so his brother won’t be sad anymore. Atticus will do something silly and Trent says, “Look at Baby Atticus!” Or my favorite: when we pretend to nibble on Atty Trent exclaims “Don’t hurt my baby brother!”

Tonight at the dinner table all three boys sat with me and ate supper. Nick and Trent had personal pizzas, while Atticus had fruit and cereal. Atticus loves the pizza crusts. Nick eats his, but Trent doesn’t. Atticus pointed to Trent’s crust and politely requested the leftovers with his Neanderthal-like grunt. “No, they’re mine!” Trent said he wasn’t going to eat the crusts, but that he didn’t want Atticus to, either. Nick grinned at me and said, “Trent, can I have a crust?” Trent happily passed one over. A few minutes later Nick gave it to Atticus. While some things never change all my boys were happy. They love each other and take care of each other, and that’s all that matters to me.

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My Mommy

I got to spend a good portion of my day today with one of my favorite people: my mother. Mommy texted last night and asked if we could visit in some way/shape/form today and I texted with an enthusiastic “yes!” We’ve both been very busy lately… her with her school’s play and me with my library’s arts gala event (let’s face it, we’re both super-important people), and we just haven’t had a chance to see each other.

Today she came over to visit me, Nate, and the boys (minus Nick, who was at his mom’s this weekend). She bought stuff for Nate to cook us dinner (bacon hamburgers on the grill with an assortment of cheeses and a super-duper garlic dip!) and even bought some extras… strawberries for Trent, single-serve ice cream cups for all of us, a special Girl Scout thin mint creamer for me. She brought over Frozen, which she surprisingly purchased recently, for us all to watch together. We ate until we were sick-full and had garlic-dragon breath and watched the movie which was really awesome, and we played with the boys. Then she and I chatted about mom/daughter things that didn’t involve kids and husbands, just ourselves. It was heavenly. I kept asking if she wanted coffee or tea, somewhat because I always offer several times to all my guests, but mostly because I didn’t want her to go.

When she’s not around I miss my mom. A lot. I love her. She’s the best teacher I’ve ever had; my greatest mentor, most gentle critic, and most dedicated fan. She asks a million and one questions when I want to talk gossip or speculation with her. She asks no questions when I come to her after an argument with Nate. She knows what I need to hear when I need to hear it and she knows how to issue the best kind of comforting silence when that’s all there is for me. She never criticizes me too harshly but doesn’t ever let me settle for anything that isn’t my best. She’s encouraging in the most upbeat, funny, and gentle way. I love her.

I’ve said this before, but I don’t tell people I love them enough. I feel weird saying it, and I don’t know how to fit it in without it being awkward. I need to tell Mommy, and everyone, I love them more often.

I have a handful of friends who’ve lost a loved one. My best friend lost her dad very unexpectedly a few years ago. My other close friend lost her mom unexpectedly almost 5 years ago. I don’t know how these friends make it through without their parents. I don’t know what I would do without mine. I know some people have rough relationships with their parents, but other than the normal angst-ridden teen moments where I flung myself around and whined and cursed about how awful they were to me, I’ve never had a poor relationship with either parent. I think about these friends of mine who’ve lost a piece of their lives and dread that feeling. It consumes me more than I like to admit. Gah! I’m crying about it now.

I guess what I’m saying is this: my mom is my best friend. She’s a mother and a teacher and a critic and a friend. She’s taught me everything I know. I feel like I’ve turned out pretty nicely, and it’s because of her. I follow in her footsteps in nearly everything because I look up to her. I want her to know that every day forever.

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