Tuesday, December 17, 2019


In Kindergarten, my daughter's teacher read them "The Kissing Hand" on the first day of school. From that day on it became our ritual to kiss her hand before she said goodbye at the door. She even asked for an extra kiss for her hand at bedtime. Today, before walking across the bridge to middle school she holds out her hand for me to kiss. It gives her that extra little sense of security. It also has become such a habit of ours, that it has  become second nature now.

My two kids are at a great age right now. We are out of the baby phase. We can pretty much pack a bag in a few minutes and take off to go anywhere. The kids are easy to travel with, they are adventurous diners, they like to hike and bike with us, and they can have a great conversations now. Sure, occasionally there is a meltdown, even I have them now and again, but the kids are generally much easier these days. We are having a lot of fun together as a family in a way that I have been looking forward to for quite sometime and I am grateful.

Recently, the kids and I went on a bike ride with some friends. There were three other moms and nine kids. We rode for about ten miles and I was so impressed how well my kids were keeping up. There was no complaining, whining, or tears. Granted, there were other kids watching them, so having a freak out is far less likely when you are with your peers, but I was still proud of them. My friend and I talked about the kids ages right now and how much fun we are having, then we allowed ourselves to get a bit nostalgic about when they boys met back in preschool. We can't believe how that phase is just over. She mentioned this book that acknowledges the "lasts" of parenting and how so many people focus on the "firsts" but the last diaper you change is certainly worthy of celebrating.

There are so many little rituals that we have in our family. Some of which are phasing out naturally. We used to sing the same three songs to our first baby and when she grew out of lullabies we passed them on to number two. Quite a few nights have gone by without the bedtime singing ritual. My son doesn't sit on my lap for a bedtime book anymore either, but instead sits beside me while we read on our own. I miss holding him, but I love the new rituals too.

There are no more nap times, high chairs or onesies at our house. There is a baby gate up though and a small puppy who isn't quite potty trained yet. When I get impatient at how many accidents she has, I remind myself how very quickly each phase goes and that she won't be this small for long. Before I know it, we will be all be missing this sweet puppy time and marveling at how big she has gotten. So for now, I will enjoy all our rituals before it morphs into the next phase.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

December 1st

In my early twenties I moved out here to Los Angeles. I found what I thought to be an amazing housing situation with two roommates on the bottom floor of a beautiful Spanish duplex. I found out about it from the woman who was moving out. That alone should have tipped me off, but the rent was so inexpensive and the place so nice, I couldn't see beyond those details. The two women I moved in with had zero social skills and rarely came out of their rooms. When they did though, our interactions were always so uncomfortable. I ended up staying there way longer than I should have and began planning to move out when things went from weird to worse.

There were some bizarre things going on in that house.  It was hard enough having to share a kitchen and bathroom with these two, but when they brought home men it got even stranger. There was a very nice elderly man who lived next door with his quiet wife. He was friendly and would always say hello in the front of the house. One day he came in to spend time with one of my roommates and not long after, he was frequently staying over. I believe he was in his eighties and if I am not mistaken my roommate was under thirty. It is not my place to judge, but it was time for me to go. I gave my notice and my move out date was December first. The series of events that happened in that last month were so odd that I wrote a play to help me countdown the days. Performing and hearing people laugh about it, was imperative to me to be able to make it to move out day. The play was called "December 1st."

It took me another few apartments and another roommate situation to learn I really just wanted to live alone. I found a great bungalow and lived there for a few years until moving in with my now husband. I loved my apartment and was so happy to have my own space.When we decided to get married, we were looking for a date in November. We had our hearts set on a certain venue and the first available date that worked for all of us was December 1st. We took it and began planning our wedding. It wasn't until I made up save the date cards that I realized that the date was familiar. It made me happy to know how far I had come away from that period of time in my life. So much so that it took me so long to remember the date had any significance to me in the past.

Our wedding date arrived on a crisp cool day. We gathered with friends and family to share our commitment to love one another. We welcomed our daughter within the year and a few years following we had our son. Two years ago we celebrated our ten year anniversary by renewing our vows with our children. Our life is full and every year is a gift. We just celebrated our twelfth anniversary! This year has had many challenges which we handled with the kind of partnership I thought might not actually exist in real life, but I'm glad I was wrong. I got a good one and I am looking forward to many more years with him. Which is in some ways surprising because I swore off ever having another roommate and now I have three. He was worth taking another chance on, but I do wish he wouldn't leave his socks everywhere. Our daughter does it too, so it must be genetic.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Personal Day

Things have been busy lately. Between my kids schedules, new puppy and my husband being out of town for work, I have felt spread a bit thin. My husband finally came back this past week, but got stomach flu and was sick on the whole flight home. We set up a room to quarantine him at home and did our best to stay away. I began fantasizing about what a day or two alone would feel like. A vacation would do me good. One night at a hotel to read my book uninterrupted sounded lovely. I am pretty sure, before I could imagine how I would swing a solo day, I was interrupted by one of my children asking me for yet another snack. I let the idea go for the time being.

After a weekend of running around to birthday parties, tennis practice and puppy training. I was happy to sit and have dinner with friends one night. It was fun to catch up and I of course stayed too late. I started Sunday tired and decided to lay low. My husband was feeling well enough to come out with us for a bit so we got outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. For the first time in a few weeks I felt a sense of relaxation and normalcy.  It was welcomed.

We went back home to get ready for the week. We have been trying to have dinner early enough on Sundays that we can also have a bit of a weekly game night. Even if we only end up playing a few rounds of a card game, it would be fun to start that tradition. Of course, a new toy as well as a food coloring experiment were to blame for not giving us enough time for a game. My husband and kids settled for a quick wrestling match before settling down to read. It was about that time that I felt chills and needed to lie down.

My husband, who fortunately is in town and available more this week, is feeling well enough to be available for the kids. He made sure they got to bed, fed them breakfast this morning and got them to school. I now have the stomach flu. It is horrible, gross and exhausting. I am not in a hotel, and this is no vacation, but everyone is leaving me alone. My book is next to me and I plan to read some when I can lift my head again. Not quite what I was picturing, but at least it is quiet.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

What Others Think

My sister in law does a mean impersonation of a monkey. It's loud, funny and is incredibly authentic. When my daughter was two or three, she was so entertained by it. Eventually she was imitating her Aunt and making some impressive monkey sounds herself. One night we were leaving a restaurant and our daughter started making her monkey sounds. We had her do it again so we could video to send to her Aunt. She did it once and then we asked her to do one more. She started and mid-monkey — she stopped, looked around and said "I don't want to do it again, because then the people on the street will say 'why is that little girl making monkey sounds.’ That was the first time we recognized her awareness to what others think of her.

When I was little, my mother, a pianist, had me do recitals with her. I had a pretty big voice for a little kid and I loved singing. We performed once for my grandmother's senior center and someone made me a gown to wear. I walked out onto the stage, my mother played the first few notes and I began to sing. As soon as I did, the audience began to laugh. I was only three, but I knew then that I did not like that they were laughing at me. My mother later explained that they laughed because I was so little, and that they were laughing because they were happy. I felt like unless I was making a joke, it didn't feel good to be laughed at.

We all want our children to be those confident kids who don't care what anyone thinks of them, but most kids really do care how others perceive them. I think my two kids care a bit more than they should sometimes. There are times that their concern with how they look or what their will friends say matters too much and can get in the way of them getting out the door in the morning. If something doesn't look or feel just right to my son, he gets really upset. He is more opinionated on fashion than I think a seven year old should be. Both kids are very particular about their clothes and shoes. It can feel impossible at times to find them clothes they will actually like and wear. Suddenly, I have a new found respect for schools with a uniform policy in place. If only I could buy my kids two outfits, and those were their only choices each day.

The seemingly impossible notion of balance keeps popping up. I am honestly not sure that balance is attainable, but I keep trying for it anyway. My goal as a parent is to acknowledge my kid's feelings when insecurities show up, while encouraging them to be who they are and own their choices. This has not yet been fully successful and my kids see through my plans most of the time, but never the less she persisted. I don't give up that easily. If I can get my daughter through her teens years with even a trace amount of self esteem left, we will have accomplished something major. I am hoping for more than just an ounce of confidence, but it's a jungle out there.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Wait For It...

Patience is not a skill that I have mastered. I have improved greatly since living in New York, but I still struggle to let things happen naturally. I hear "be the squeaky wheel" in my head and I can't help but react. It is not easy to know when to sit back, and when to take action. I am learning though where energy is wasted, and where it is helpful. I get irritated when I am standing in a long line at the grocery store, or when food takes a while at a restaurant. I get antsy sitting in traffic, or watching the spinning wheel on a computer screen. I know though that these situations are out of my control. The time is not going to magically reappear so acceptance is my best option.

Being patient is having the ability to remain calm when there is disruption, a disappointment, or distress. When patience is mastered it has a positive side. I've read that the more patient a person is the more sensitive and empathetic they are to those around them. That part makes total sense to me. If I am waiting behind someone who can't find their wallet and needs a few minutes to regroup, I can throw my hands up in irritation, or I can observe the situation and understand that the person in front of me is having a hard time. It could easily be me on a different day, so understanding that helps me take a deep breath and maybe even smile to show that person a little compassion.

Aside from the day-to-day minor irritations, patience is required when in conflict with others. When I am upset or arguing with someone, I still need to hear what they have to say. It can be challenging to resist the temptation to interrupt or to even walk out of the room. At some point or another, lack of patience when upset has occurred for all of us. A few years ago after snapping one too many times at my son, I researched keeping calm in trying times of parenting. I landed on some article that explained that when your child is upset, getting upset with them sends them into a whole other level of upset. To some degree, I agree with that. If my son is sad because someone was a jerk to him, I'll be responding with patience and understanding. If a child was a jerk to my son and then my son is a jerk back, I am going to get upset. This article was saying keep your cool no matter what. I didn't last very long following those instructions. When my buttons get pushed my patience runs thinner.

Of all the times that require patience in life, the most challenging for me is during life's hardships. During major changes, being in the middle of a project that I am struggling with, losing a loved one, are just some examples of when I feel most impatient. Sitting in an uncomfortable moment in time can make me impatient. I am learning, ever so slowly, that it is okay to be uncomfortable sometimes. My tendency is to want to get through the hard parts fast. I like to figure out the quickest way out of discomfort and the reality is sometimes life is sad, frustrating and unclear. My daughter was so unhappy the first few weeks of middle school with not knowing her way around. At some point we all get lost, and that is the way to learn your way back.

I am a little lost these days. Our family has had a few hardships and it is not the easiest time. We are getting through it together, but it may take us all longer than we want it to to feel a sense of normal. I am feeling more patient with myself than I have ever felt before. I see that it is possible to learn skills to be more patient and I am applying them whenever possible. I am also ok losing my patience once in a while. As long as I can find it again.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

This Phase

A little over a year ago when my mother in law passed a way, I was in New York with the kids and my husband called to let me know. No matter how aware we were that this was coming, we were still unprepared for the actual moment we learned she was really gone. My kids were being entertained by cousins in another room, so I sat down to take in the news. As my husband and I cried we felt a depth of pain we had never felt before. I told him that I can't believe that we have to go through this three more times. This is the way life is supposed to go and if we are lucky our parents live a long life and then we have to say goodbye. It doesn't ease the pain though. Loss hurts!

Together with his sisters, my husband is about to go through this pain again. My father in law has Parkinson's and when his wife died he began to rapidly decline. Over the last year there have many close calls, where my husband would get in the car and drive down to San Diego thinking it would be his last chance to spend time with his dad. He has been able to be with him week after week for a few days each time. Some visits he has been lucid and talkative. Other visits he hasn't done much more than sleep. The last few weeks though, it has become obvious that the end is near. Once again, my husband and his sisters surround the bed of their dying parent. I am not positive this time they will all be together for his final breath the way they were when their mom passed, but they have been able to be together for so much of this and that is a gift.

Each drive back to LA from San Diego is like a wave breaking at the shore -- it pulls a piece of my husband back with it. He comes home exhausted and emotionally spent. The time he spends with his siblings in the house they grew up in awakens more memories each time he is there. When he leaves and sees people outside in the world going about their day it becomes clearer that this amount of sadness he is living with is heavy. It reminds me of that drive we took to the hospital when I was in active labor. I saw people having coffee outside and didn't understand how they could just be so relaxed and normal, while I was literally exploding. In times of great sadness it is difficult to walk around while your heart and head are screaming and just pretend to be okay like everyone else.

My friend's sister is about to have a baby and she is past her due date. When I called my friend a few days ago to ask if there was any news, she said no and that she was on baby watch. I put down the phone and thought about the similarities and the differences we are both feeling while we wait. One of us for death and one of us for new life.  When the real call actually comes in the reactions will hardly have any resemblance though. No matter how prepared we are to hear that someone we love is gone, it is still a kick to the gut. The finality, the goodbye, the knowledge that you will not lock eyes or arms with that person again is shocking. My father in law was the definition of a gentleman. He was smart, caring and loving. He was a successful engineer and a dedicated family man. We bonded over chocolate and all things Italian. I always learned something new from him. He always made me feel a welcome part of the family and I loved him. The world loses a good man when he goes, and he will be missed.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Juliette Binoche says to Daniel Day Lewis, "We should get a puppy, it will make us happy" in "The Unbearable Lightness Of Being." My husband and I saw the movie together when we first met fifteen years ago, and we quote that line often. We joked about it all the time, but we never got a puppy. That is, until this past weekend.

My husband and his family have been having a hard time recently. There has been so much loss, illness and sadness. It has been a dark time so when my daughter and he called me from a pet shelter to tell me they found "our" puppy. I didn't say no right away. We knew we would always get a dog at some point, but we thought maybe in the next year or so when things settled in with middle school. We were planning on taking a few months to travel this spring and considered getting a dog upon our return. I wasn't quite expecting this call because my husband doesn't normally call and say he would like to add a new family member, and also because we have had so much on our plates. I trust him though and if he says this is the dog we were waiting for, then bring her on home.

I have never had a puppy before, and I have heard it is hard. I have heard it is like having a baby all over again. Sleepless nights, accidents all over the house, furniture damage, and a constant need for supervision. My husband keeps reminding me that it is all worth it, but we have only had this dog two nights and I have already cleaned up so many messes and done so much laundry. I had a mini meltdown last night and I am a bit terrified about what we just got ourselves into. Having a puppy is also expensive -- between the gear, the adoption costs, the food and if I do it, the puppy training class.

This puppy has grabbed hold of our hearts already though. We are in it now, so I need to figure out how to make it work. Our children are in love and hearing them giggle with this sprite little prancer is a wonderful thing. I am the slowest in this house to embrace this addition. I wasn't quite ready and I am definitely not prepared.We have spent the weekend trying to find a fitting name. We are all smitten by her green eyes, so for now we have landed on Hazel. I have a lot to learn about having a puppy, but what I was least prepared for was while I held her yesterday, I kissed her head and said "I love you." That was fast!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Middle School Just Stole My Little Girl!

The jump from elementary school to middle school is seemingly bigger than I anticipated, and believe me, I anticipated. First off, it is so much larger in size than elementary school, like more than three times the size. Secondly, the expectation that the kids handle responsibility themselves is much bigger than it has been up to now. It is called middle school, which implies that it is in between elementary and high school, except it so far resembles high school much more than elementary. From the first day at drop off, it was apparent that a parent is no longer welcome to walk their kid into school, which I completely get, but it still felt jarring and abrupt. At pick up, there were still so many other kids around that there was no reunion hug, but rather a cool nod hello.

More than anything else, my daughter cares about what her peers are doing. She will have no part of any activity that doesn't involve a friend. She cares so much about this that it dictates her decisions about things she loves, and causes her to forgo doing those things if a friend isn't with her. She cares more about what other people think than she did a week ago. She suddenly has an interest in certain types of clothing, not because she likes it, but because so many people are wearing that kind of shirt at school this week. I understand that peers play a huge roll at this age and I know this is a completely natural phase, but I want to make sure her own opinions about herself and who she is, don't get tarnished along the way.

This is quite possibly the most uncomfortable age physically and emotionally. Hormones and body changes are not fun. Feelings are bigger than they used to be, yet the expectation to play it cool and be chill are also bigger. Drama is bigger too. Whether it is a bug bite or confusing homework assignment, the reaction is catastrophic. I made the mistake of trying to lighten the moment the other day and instantly made it worse. I am trying to be patient and kind, but sometimes it is challenging for me to abstain from saying what she is going through isn't that big of a deal. I need to remember that it feels big for her and that being neutral and calm will help shrink the size of the problem sooner.

She seems to be pulling away from me more and more, on a daily basis. After school, she walks with friends while they all wait for their younger siblings to get out of elementary school, and they hang, buy blended drinks at the little cafe on the corner, and play on their phones, that a few of them have. I want to give her a bit of rope, but I am unsure just how much to give.  I am of course concerned about the content they are looking at on the phones, and I wonder when I see them taking photos of each other where those photos will end up.  I am also feeling such a loss of influence, when I see her buying junky after school snacks so she can eat the same things as her friends. I’m hoping that a healthier afternoon plan will begin when the school library is open for them to do homework in, but for now, I am giving her rope quite a bit of slack, while fighting my own urge to grab on tighter.

There are two very different kids I’m getting to know these days. One is the kid who gets worked up about what to wear to school, when she’ll get her own phone, and doesn't hold my hand as much. The other is the child who is

still a child, runs back to me in the morning before drop off to get one more kiss before anyone sees, or cries to me at night because she misses her old school, and still crawls into my arms asking me to cuddle her. We both have our feet in two different worlds right now and that feels pretty unstable. Middle School is called Middle School for a reason, but I hope and pray that getting her footing doesn't take all three years. I know the kid I sent off to the first day is still in there, but I miss her already.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Take Heart

With the rush of the morning routine, two different pick up times and demanding homework, it is ever so clear summer is over and the school year is in motion. We are not all ready to call it our new normal, but we are getting closer. This year's changes were bigger than most, so it is taking us a little bit longer to get comfortable. Change has never been my strong suit so I am striving to see the bright side of it. In the past, I viewed change negatively, and then a close friend reminded me that we are changing everyday. With that knowledge, I am looking for the positive changes I am seeing in my family right here, right now.

My son is becoming a kid, and not as much a little kid. He still cried on the first few days of school, but was the first one to get himself acclimated. He speaks up for himself more now. When a classmate asked him why always cries on the first day of school, his response was "Why do you have to be so rude?" I was pretty impressed with his quick comeback and after that the boy never said anything again. He is also learning so quickly now, and I love how much he loves reading. He has a solid, kind teacher and is really happy about school. That makes me happy.

My daughter's whole world was rocked when she started middle school. She went from being "home" in elementary school, to literally getting lost every day in middle school. She is being so brave and with each week that passes, she is a bit less scared of going to school. She is navigating a lot more independence and friendships remarkably well. She is learning that not every teacher or adult is kind and figuring out when to not let it bother her. She is faced with situations and dynamics that I still haven't faced. She may not want to admit it, but she is liking things about her new school. I bet with a bit more time, she might feel comfortable enough to say she is enjoying it.

My husband is impressive. He is producing a television show, and this is pretty new to him. He came up with the concept, built the team and kept working until it got picked up. This is the second version of his show that is being produced and it is pretty magical to see it come to life again. He is an inspiration to me on all lessons of hard work paying off, believing in yourself, and try and try again. He manages this while he cares for his ailing father, mourns his mother, a supportive brother to his sisters, and a present father and husband.

As for me, I am soaking it all up right now. I am not sure what exactly is next on the horizon work-wise, but I continue loving my part time work with senior citizens. I love witnessing my children take care of each other. This morning I overheard my son check in on his sick sister before going to school and he was so genuinely concerned with how she felt. I am grateful for the privilege of being their mama. I love being connected to my family in NY, visits to them and from them, and daily phone calls. Change is inevitable and while I can try to settle in, the next change is on it's way. For now, everything is just as it should be. I will keep taking inventory and taking heart.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Fear Itself

On my last solo hike that I took, I heard a girl screaming. I was already at the top of the mountain, and began to stretch, when I heard a very panicked cry for help. I was surrounded by other people, who were stretching as well, or talking to friends, but no one was reacting to the cries. At first, I thought well if no one else is alarmed, maybe I shouldn't either, but then I thought, what if no one is helping this person? I looked around to see where it was coming from, and located the sound from the behind the bushes. There was a hedge and then a concrete platform, and so I walked over to the other side of the hedge so I could see who was crying. When I got there, I found a woman in her twenties standing up and screaming in fear. I looked to see who was with her, and down at the bottom of the lane from her was a man. I asked him if she needed some help, he smiled, said thank you, but that she was just afraid of those two. Then I looked where he pointed to, and between him and her, halfway up the path were two sweet cottontail rabbits.

This was a pretty humorous sight. The girl was a larger girl, and the rabbits were so little and innocently minding their own business. The man with her smiled as he tried to calm her down, and tried to reassure her that they would not hurt her. He encouraged her to just walk around them, but she was petrified. I saw him walk up to her, and then she begged him to please hold her hand and stay between her and the rabbits to get her down. I suddenly didn't think the situation was funny anymore. In that moment I realized that fear is fear, no matter what brings it on, it is horrible. For that woman, those rabbits caused her to freeze in terror.

The other night, my husband and I were at a party. My husband started to talk to someone he only met once before briefly. Perhaps the man was a bit intoxicated, but in what seemed like a normal banter between two new acquaintances, moved to a very uncomfortable cross examination, about what in life my husband fears the most. It went from my husband saying he hadn't traveled somewhere to be questioned about what was holding him back. There is a time and a place for this kind of conversation, and of course a level of trust before people can talk freely about the subject, but this party wasn't it. It did start my head going on the subject though, and Roosevelt's quote, "Only thing we have to fear is fear itself" started ringing true for me again.

There are so many times that I feel fear, without even being sure of why I am afraid. For me, this physical feeling proves that anxiety is chemical at times. Sure, there are real life situations that cause me fear, but a lot of times, it just creeps in there uninvited. It is interesting what fears people have that are socially acceptable, and which ones aren't. I have two friends who will not go skiing with their families because they are afraid of heights. I have another friend who is afraid of flying. They can get through life and they never have to face their fears if they don't want to. After my car accident, I was afraid to drive again. Terrified, but I had to pick my kids up from school, and it would have affected my day to day and everyone around me if I didn't get over my fear.

Walking down the hill on my hike that day, I could not get that girl's panicked face out of my mind. Even if everyone around her thought her fear was irrational, her fear was still so raw, and so raw to her. I could feel it, and wished I could hug her and reassure her that Peter Rabbit and his bunny friend would not hurt her. She would not be comforted though, because fear is a fast burning fire, and once it ignites in you, it can be very hard to smother. For those out there who haven't felt it at it's most aggressive, please be kind. What you fear the most in life is not light party chatter. Also, rabbits can spread rabies and their teeth do look kind of scary.

Photo by Michael Roubos on Unsplash

Friday, August 30, 2019

Bright Sides

Light-headed, the inability to eat, and overthinking everything are only some of the debilitating signs of anxiety for me. Green Day have a song, "Wake Me Up When September Ends". I wasn't a big follower of that band, and doubt they were writing about school starting and the end of summer, but when I hear the chorus, that is what I think of. Anyone who knows me well knows I have anxiety. They also know that it rears its head most ferociously at the start of the school year. As a parent, I do everything I can to hide my anxiety from my children, for my children. When all of us are anxious together though, its palpable.

A new approach to anxiety is for people to look at the upside of it. It can protect you, it means you feel deeply, it provides you the built-in ability to be prepared, and it also means you are capable of being a very empathetic person. Most of the time, I can help myself and my kids with mindfulness tools I've learned. We practice walking through a situation mentally, before physically in preparation for an upcoming nerve wracking day. I usually find that the anticipation is far worse than the actual situation itself.

This week that wasn't the case. My children went back to school and it was a big change this year. They weren't together in the same school anymore, and my daughter started middle school. Each child had their own swarm of butterflies taking flight inside them. My daughter asked me if she was sick. She said she felt warm and couldn't eat. I explained that what she was feeling was nerves and we head off to school. My son who was so excited all morning on the way to second grade, got much quieter on the walk to school. We found some friends to walk to the middle school with and then catching me off guard, the goodbye was briefer than it had ever been in elementary. There was no walking in, and too many other kids around for a big hug and kiss. Just like that, she was off, and as soon as I saw another mother crying, my eyes spilled tears like hers.

I pulled myself back together and headed hand-in-hand with my son next door to the elementary school. I didn't let him see me cry, and I was going to handle his familiar school goodbye like a pro. We waited for the bell to ring and said hello to friends, we walked down past his first grade class and onto the second grade rooms. He found a hook for his backpack, and looked up at his new teacher. She said hello and he turned into me and began to cry. He has many friends in his class and this school isn't new to him, but the teacher, the classroom and the absence of his sister on campus are. I held him and once again cried. I kept my sunglasses on and tried to keep it together but I couldn't. He grabbed my hand and said, "Mommy, please don't leave me." More than anything in that moment, I wished I could honor his wishes, but I couldn't. This felt harder than I anticipated. He eventually went in, and likely recovered quickly, but I didn't.

Another benefit of anxiety is that it can change your perspective. It provided you with the ability to focus on what is important in your life. I felt that so clearly that first morning of school. I love my children and I love summer with them. Sending them back to school is a loss of all that time together and a loss of a sense of freedom with them. I struggle with how quickly time is passing and that middle school feels like a huge leap into independence. The change from elementary to middle is massive and for all of us it will be uncomfortable for some time.

I'm trying to feel those bright sides of anxiety and also the bright sides of this big change for all of us. I do feel that the flip side of anxiety can be excitement and that glimmers to the surface for us now and again this week. The nerves are winning out over excitement so far, but I believe that will change very soon. I am looking forward to that change. After all, breakfast was our favorite meal, so it will be nice when we can all start eating it again.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Loving It!

In second grade, I found my best friend. She had a Superman lunch box, a center part with a low ponytail, and the most unique sneeze I had ever heard. From the minute I saw her, I was intrigued. She was the first real nonconformist I had ever met. We began getting together to play after school, then our mom's became friends too. It didn't take long for us to become inseparable. For the rest of elementary school, we were side by side.

We drifted apart a bit through junior high and high school, but began college together until we both  transferred to different schools. We never fell out of touch and began growing closer and closer from college on. We both lived in Manhattan together after school, and began adulthood on either side of Central Park. She was on the East side and I was on the West, and it was just a short bus ride to each other's apartment.

She went on to get her Masters, and I moved to California. Out lives took separate turns once again, but we remained close. I pursued entertainment, and she entered the world of business and journalism. We both had daughters around the same time -- while I put my career on hold, she learned to juggle both identities. She has managed quite well, and I view her as once of the most successful women I know.

After visiting NY a few weeks ago, I came home with a bit of an identity crisis. I felt like it was time to go back into some sort of career. I had so many ideas, but I felt like I was standing at the bottom of the mountain, uncertain of which path to head up. I called my friend in NY and told her what I was feeling. Through laughter, frustration and near tears, she guided me to some clarity. She slowed me down and asked me first and foremost, what do I love. She reminded me that there is so much pressure on women today to be successful at everything we do. Despite the juggling and balancing acts we think we see some women manage, we don't see what they have to sacrifice. We also aren't always privy to the fact that having that much going on can make one feel like they are in the circus.

She helped me catch my breath, and to take one small step at a time. Once she said that I realized how many ideas I had at once, and that they were causing my head to spin. She helped me make a plan for that night, the next morning, and the rest of the week. She reminded me that although life seems to be going super fast these days, our careers still have a lot of life left in them. After more than an hour on the phone, I felt so grateful. I know what I love to do, and am going to stay clear to follow paths that remain true to that passion.

As both of our youngest children second grade this year, I can't help but feel giddy at the idea that they could be in class with a friend that they will still call a friend in their forties. I'm excited to see what happens in the next few years, for the kids, and for us.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Making Choices

Decisions are hard. I don't know much about astrology, but I do know that I am a Libra and I live up to that supposedly indecisive trait. I am constantly weighing things out in my mind. At a restaurant, I'm usually the last one at the table to order food. If a waiter looks at me first, I'll ask that they go around the table the other way. Dessert is another story. Chocolate is the only answer. No questions there. All other aspects of life though require major thinking for me. Procrastinating is something I think I am quite good at. I realize that while I love my life, I have made some choices that have kept me from moving forward in some areas.

Three years ago, having already started a few programs at my children's school, and having taken on being room parent for every grade level my kids were in, I also then took on VP of the PTA. After a year of that, I stepped up to President, and then my co-President and I decided to do one victory lap together and here we are, three years later. I like what I've been doing, and love working with the team of people I get to work with, but it is very much time to move on. That position has taken so much of my time, and it has been at the cost of me making some big life decisions. I have put creative projects on hold, career changes on hold, and even just time for myself on hold.

There have been so many pieces I started writing, or project ideas that I began but never followed through on. There are so many things I would love to do, that I can't even decide where to start. I do know though, that I have to clean my slate a bit and with summer coming, I can do just that. I have amazing follow-through for others and their needs, but it is time for me to pick a goal for myself and see it all the way through. I've wanted to take tennis lessons for a few years now, or even try a new Pilates class. But I've been so busy with school stuff, that the dentist for my kids has been on the back burner for too long, booking flights and travel plans have been on hold, and a night out with my husband has happened, but way too infrequently lately.

For the past few years, I've said to myself that next week will be a bit easier. When this event is over, I will come up for air, or I will take some time for myself when... So without further ado, I am making a list of things I have put off. I will take a tennis lesson, I will take a nap. I will go out for dinner. I will write more. I will take my kids to the dentist, even though that is fun for no one. I will sit still more. First though, I just need to make it through the next few weeks.

Sunday, August 11, 2019


It is summer, and I have a rare few hours to myself. My kids are making up for lost time with friends they only see twice a year. After weeks of spending every minute with at least one of them, I am not quite used to this much quiet. We are in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, where we come every summer. We come for about two weeks in the summer, and if we are lucky a visit in the winter too. It is never enough time for me, and I always wish we could spend the whole summer here. We swim at the lake, we hike, we go to the river, we boat, we listen to outdoor concerts, we see fireflies, we go to town for ice cream, we see friends, and we get lots of mosquito bites. That last one is pretty much the only negative thing I can think of about being here. We spend a concentrated amount of time with my parents, which we don't get throughout the year and other than the noise my kids make and the noise my parents TV makes blaring the news each day, we get along in one house okay.

Each summer we come, my husband can only come for part of it, due to work commitments. We always beg him to come on the back end because it is so much harder to say goodbye to him here, then it would be to come on our own and welcome him here. Last year he couldn't make it at all because his mom was so sick. She passed away two days before we left here, and despite his sadness he asked us to finish out our trip and come home two days later. It was a painful few days waiting to hold him. He had asked me to keep the news from the children until we were all together, and it was so hard to feel his pain and pretend everything was okay for the kids. When we reunited back in LA, my husband picked us up and took us to the beach to tell the kids the news. The ride next to him from the airport all the way to the sand was so painful. I was holding in my tears and so badly wanted let him fall apart in my arms. When we finally sat down to talk to the kids, my husband couldn't get the words out without crying. He asked me to help and together we explained to the kids that their Mimi had died. Both children reacted differently, we tried as best as we could to process this together, and then a dog came running by our blanket and we couldn't help but focus on that. The dog brought a few more dog friends and it was almost comical how interrupted we were by all the dogs running around us, but it was also exactly what we needed in that moment.

Today is the one year anniversary of my mother-in-law's death. Again, I am not with my husband and wish I could hold him again. He wants to be alone today and is taking time to himself to reflect in the desert. It has been a painful year of mourning for him and his sisters. A year of firsts without the matriarch of the family. She was not only an attentive mother, caretaker, and adviser to her four children but I can safely say that she was each one of their best friends. She was always there for them and honestly available to anyone who needed her. For years she worked in a women's shelter volunteering to help women in need. When her extended family needed help she housed their children. She privately paid for medical support for her children, their spouses and for grandchildren when it was out of reach for them. She has left behind quite a legacy and although I am not with my husband today, he asked that I remind the kids today just how special their grandmother was. 

What my husband doesn't realize is how much he is like his mother (or maybe he does, but he is humble like her too). Both last year and this, he asked us to keep vacationing and having fun together and put his needs last. Last year his mom didn't even want her funeral to happen until all of her friends and family had completed their vacation plans for the summer. When my sister-in-law suggested she cancel her trip to Hawaii, her mom insisted that life comes first. Today I will honor you Barbara Andreone, by teaching my children all you were and all you still are to all of us. You are the kind of mother I am hoping I am an ounce of to my children. I would consider myself lucky if they continue a friendship with me that goes beyond just mother and child. I will teach them to look out for others the way you spent your life doing, and you have my word that I will love your only boy for all time. You made a great one and I am so grateful to be part of your family. I love you, and per your advice, we are going to go off today and enjoy this beautiful place and live life up to its fullest.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Play Time

It's mid-summer and each day, I try to find fun and adventure for my kids. I try to do this throughout the year as well, but summer's long days and warm weather allow us so much more freedom. In getting caught up in planning activities for them, I sometimes forget that playing isn't only for kids. That's not to say that I haven't enjoyed all the fun I've had so far this vacation, but I want to remember the specific things I love and make sure they don't get lost on the bottom of the summer list. So, without further ado, I will make sure the rest of this summer has some playtime in it for me too. After all, its halfway over. 

I love the crisp cold chill that you get when you dive under the surface of the water for the first dunk of the day. I vow to swim anytime we pass a lake, ocean, or pool that allows swimming (barring we are not in a moving car speeding on a highway, I want to stop and swim). I love seeing friends and spending hours together talking, laughing and sharing meals. We all have to eat everyday, so if we can do it together with friends, it's even better. Hoping for more family meals with friends where we cook together, play and eat. Enjoying the weather and being outside makes me happy. Whenever possible, I want to read outside. I want to take long walks. I want to lose track of time.

Thinking back to my own childhood and what things I loved to do as a child, I don't think that my ideas of fun have changed all that much. I used to play outside with friends and reenact our favorite shows. I still love the theatre today. Games were a favorite of mine, and I think I want to play them more than my kids sometimes. I still love watching movies. My movie choices have expanded, but with kids in tow all summer, I feel limited to G and PG rated films. Hopefully, I will get to a grown up movie in the theatre at least once this summer. In the meantime, my couch will have to do. Friends were important to me then and now. I wish I could see more of the close ones from growing up. Often, the nature of the pace of summer allows me time with friends I don't get to see much throughout the rest of the year. I treasure time catching up with old friends and making new traditions.

So, while it is still summer and with just a few more weeks before school starts, I hope to keep the fun flowing as long as possible!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Self Care

Last week, I had lunch with a friend whose husband is ill. She is now his full time care taker. I listened to how her days are filled with caring for someone else around the clock. I asked her if she has any time for herself, and she said that everyone keeps asking her what she is doing for her. I responded by saying that we are sitting having lunch together, and that is something. I read an article about how self care sometimes can actually be the thing that gives us even more stress, because there is this pressure to cut out time for ourselves, and sometimes the circumstances of the timing in our lives doesn't allow much time for crocheting, sushi making, or silent retreats, just to name a few.

I have many things I would like to try. I have many classes I would like to take. I have many movies I would like to see, but while my free time is filled up, I want to concentrate on how to spend what time I do have wisely. I have been reading up a lot lately on relationship drama on elementary and middle school between girls, and our school even held a workshop for parents on the subject. After learning tools to support my daughter with difficulty in her friendships, I began to look at some of mine. I thought about the language I learned to give my daughter to use, and realized that I don't have these tools in my arsenal for myself. I have relationships with some people, that drain me, and I don't deal with them well, or sometimes, I don't deal with them at all.

I went away for the night with two long time friends this week. We were away together for less than 24 hours, but it was so refreshing. The three of us have known each other for so long. We have all gone through so much, and have a level of comfort with each other that only comes with time. We talked about how our circles of people in our day to day lives has changed, making it harder to see one another as much. We made up for lost time, and covered a lot of ground in this visit though. I value the friendship with these two women so much, that it was hard not to see that a good friend should really make you feel a certain way when you are with them. I came home evaluating other relationships, and that in conjunction with the tools for how to deal with friendship hiccups, made me feel well aware of the contrast between friends that fill me up, and friends that deplete me.

No one friend is going to be everything to me. I have friends that make me laugh. I have friends that I always learn something new from. I have friends whose drive inspires me. I have friends who know how to party. I have friends who are incredible artists. I have friends who only fall into one of these categories, and some who fit into all. When other elements to friends show up, that don't make it a comfort to be around, I need to take pause. Just like I am learning tools to fill up my daughter's arsenal, I need to fill up mine a bit too.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


Every single one of us has hang ups. We have our idiosyncrasies that can make the people who love us crazy. My seven year old son sees one injustice from a peer and he wants to write that person off. If someone tells him they can see his arms in a tank top, he won't want to wear it again. If someone says his eyelashes are long, he thinks he is being made fun of and thinks that person is mean. My daughter and I were talking to him today and trying to explain that everyone does annoying things. No one is perfect all of the time, and you just have to allow people to have their annoying qualities.

I have my annoying qualities that I am learning to allow myself to accept. For example it is 11:30pm right now, I am leaving on a 7 am flight in the morning and have to be up ridiculously early, so I just finished cleaning the house. I have a very strange sense of timing, but I got a bee in my bonnet that the house needed to be clean before I left for two weeks and there is no way for me to talk that bee out of my head once it starts buzzing. I am happier when I have a clean house when I leave. I am also happier finishing this post than leaving it hanging before I get on a plane.

My daughter just turned eleven and doesn't pick up her room. She keeps papers, knickknacks and every book she has ever read. She seems to have an emotional attachment to any items she accumulated in her eleven years, while my son loves throwing things out, giving them away and keeping order in his room. She forgets to turn out lights when she leaves a room and needs to be reminded to use utensils when eating. She is still an incredible human that I love, and yet it is challenging to allow her space to grow out of these behaviors.

Accepting and allowing differences in spouses is also difficult at times. I love that my husband and I both have such a passion for living and always want to be out and about. We want to try new restaurants, new neighborhoods, new hikes and adventures. Neither one of us is a homebody, but every now and again on a weekend, I just want to hang at home and I don't know if he is able to do that. His cabin fever gets hotter much quicker than the rest of us in the house and if noon comes around and he hasn't left the house yet then he will leave without us.

None of these quirks are hurting anyone else, so there really is no need to change them up anytime soon. I would love to learn to change my inner clock to have a better sense of how long things take, but I seem to think I am so much faster than I am. I was in my twenties when my close friend reminded me that "things take time, leave enough time for things," and here I am in my forties, still not getting that. I allow that part of me to be there, but I do not accept that I can't get better. I am not even half way through my forties, so there is still time. In the meantime, I will try to do a bit less,  maybe sleep a bit more, and let my house get dirty once in a while. Who am I kidding? No I won't.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Big Week, Big Feelings!

It is not surprising that I cried during the fifth grade culmination ceremony. My sweet girl was chosen to read a speech that she wrote about her elementary school experience. She was keeping it a surprise, and a surprise it was. Her writing took me back through every step of her growth, and the way she read it with so much poise, made it impossible for me to deny how mature she is now. What I didn't expect from that day was how emotional it would be, not just for me but for she and her friends. At the end of the ceremony I got on stage with the rest of the fifth grade committee and we thanked the teachers and principals. When it was my turn to speak, I was holding it all together until I saw that her teacher was also tearing up. When I found my daughter afterward, her face red from crying, I grabbed her and held her. All I could tell her was how very proud of her I was.

After the ceremony, we took her for lunch, and we also stopped by at a friend's house where they were having a little graduation party. It hadn't sunk in though. I was still processing how much bigger the culmination was than I had imagined. The kids put so much time and practice into the performances. Every single child sang, danced, and was highlighted. It was quite impressive. When it was all over, all the students were signed out by their parents — and just like that, they were done with elementary school. I didn't feel celebratory as much as I felt full of emotions. I kept waiting for the excitement to kick in, and I hoped that my melancholy mood didn't take away anything for my child's big day.

We all went to the beach in the afternoon, and the mood lightened as everyone relaxed in the sand together. We had friends to be with and we stayed for hours. That night when this very full day was coming to a close, my girl came into my arms and started to get sad. She realized that her week long sleep away camp was starting only a few days later. She said she was sad to leave so quickly, and scared of going away for the week. This is the third year for her at camp, but the timing of this was overwhelming.

The night before camp was so hard on so many levels. The butterflies in her stomach seemed to multiply. She couldn't stop the tears, and even after saying goodnight she came back downstairs crying. I ultimately fell asleep in my clothes next to her around midnight. She needed so much reassurance that if she needed us, we would be there for her. We promised that if it was bad enough, she could come home. We promised we would check in, but no matter how many times we promised she kept needing to hear it.

The morning of, she woke up, got dressed, but couldn't eat. On the car ride to camp, she began to cry again. She asked me to feel her head, and asked for more reassurance. I turned around and reminded her that we promised, and to stop asking. I explained that her head was thinking in circles, and that it is making her even more nervous. I explained that she had the power to replace some of those fears with excitement. I reminded her that when the repeating thoughts came in that she should imagine a big stop sign, to stop the thoughts, and then change them with something positive. I also told her that the build up to the actual drop off was probably worse than the actual drop off, and that she would likely be okay once she got there.

All of these tools that I passed on to her were taught to me over time. I have not mastered them myself. I certainly did not succeed with many of them when I was her age. In fact I wouldn't dare tell her that I was never quite able to reel in the big hysterics I had at camp when I was a kid. Nor would I share that I couldn't get to the other side of my fears and that I had demanded to be picked up, because I did not want to be at camp. I knew in my gut though that she would be okay. She got out of the car to walk up to sign-in and saw a counselor from last year -- her face changed immediately. She had such a friendly confidence suddenly. When in line to check in a new camper was in front of her. The mom explained to us that it was her daughter's first time, and right away my suddenly happy camper chimed in with, “Oh, you are going to love it, it's great!"

Once she found her group, she bravely hugged and kissed us. She said she would see us Friday. And that was that.

What a whirlwind! The week was so full, for her and for me. She experienced all these new accomplishments and experiences, and I experienced them from the mother perspective, which I think is almost as scary as my first time around. I am so incredibly privileged and grateful to have her as my daughter, and so very happy that she can already apply these coping skills for her fears now. I'm still working on them.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Chill Out

Now that the school year is over, and my big work responsibilities are behind me, it's time to relax. I don't know how to, though. I feel the need to busy myself all day, every day. I am a bit better about doing less on the weekends, but still I can't be in my house without seeing things I need to do. I once read a quote about how we are not defined by how many items get checked off our to do list, or something like that, but I can't even remember it. My to do list is everything. If I check things off it, I should be able to something relaxing at the end of it, but I don't feel very successful when getting to that part.

One of the things that I love to do the most is the first thing that takes a backseat and that is reading a book. If things are busy, I don't get to read. I try to make time for it, but I don't stick to keeping it a priority at all. I am so grateful that both my kids love to read and that my little one now reads independently. One of my favorite things to do with my daughter is read our own books side by side. When too many days pass between doing that, I realize I am not slowing down enough.

My husband and I both are not homebodies. We both itch to get out most days, but the kids crave being at home and not being rushed out on days off. When I see them both struggle to motivate on the weekends, I wonder what I am teaching them about relaxing. Just like the distraction of TV or phones, one could argue that keeping children busy all the time doesn't breed creativity either. I am sure I am not leading by example on the benefits of boredom, if I never let any of us get bored. I am a little concerned that if we had a day at home with no plans, that they might not even know what to do. They would both read a book, then I bet they would ask for a bunch of snacks and then the next question would be, "What are we doing today?"

Over-planning a day is a great skill of mine. The lack of hours in the day gets me all the time. I want to stuff more and more in a day, because I have too many things I want to do. Life is short, so I want the most juice for the squeeze. I do not think I am going about this the right way though. I do believe I am doing my kids a bit of a disservice by not giving them more downtime. There is only one way to find out. Summertime and all the downtime that comes with it. If staying home means I have to make more snacks, quell more arguing and fend off begging for TV, then I am making plans. Big plans.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

You Are On Your Way!

As my girl's fifth grade culmination rapidly approaches, there are lots of feelings in this house about it. She told me yesterday that she is beginning to get sad about saying goodbye to elementary school. This has been her home away from home, longer than any has been to or will be again. It's the end of a sweet chapter and the beginning of new adventure ahead.  I am also sad, happy, proud and terrified all at the same time.

In wanting to remain positive and excited for her, I will be there at her promotion with smiles, hugs and a card with lovely words of praise.  However, this is the letter I really want to give her, but have decided can wait just a bit until I let her read it:

Dear Sweet Girl,

Congratulations on finishing fifth grade. You have come so far and I am so very proud of you. I love watching you navigate academics, friends, and fun during your years in elementary school. You have been so successful, and have participated in so many wonderful opportunities through these years. You put yourself out there for the Spelling Bee and for Student council President, and even though these two things made you afraid, you tried your best. When these things didn't go your way you took the losses in stride. You have also accomplished so much, from winning art contests, writing contests, being part of student council for three years, to singing in the choir and performing all through school. I love watching you grow, and I love seeing how happy you have been at school.

You also had hard days at school. Days when you cried when I tried to say goodbye to you in the morning. With each year you attended school, you got more and more comfortable, but back in Kindergarten you had a hard time saying goodbye through April. In first grade it took you until Thanksgiving to say goodbye without tears and in second grade, it only took until Halloween. Some days you would cry when you got home from school, because of issues or misunderstandings with friends. Sometimes you would get sad if you didn't do well on a math test, or on the rare occasion that you forgot something important at home. Overall, you have been so happy at school, and it has been so wonderful watching your confidence and spirit soar high.

I love you so much, so I feel the need to explain that this may feel like its all about to change. I will do everything humanly possible to keep your confidence high, but it is not all up to me sweet girl. Middle school can be rough. You will see things, hear things, and experience things that you haven't before. You will be curious when all your friends ask you to join them in trying new things.  It will feel exciting, and thrilling to break the rules once in a while. I will not get angry if you do, but please listen to that voice inside you that will scream to you if something doesn't seem right, when something (or someone) doesn't feel right. You may not always want to come talk to me, you don't have to, but please talk to someone you can trust who is older and wiser than your friends.

You will be part of a much larger group of students next year. You will make new friends and have new opportunities. You might feel for the first time that school work is challenging and it might overwhelm you. Its okay to not get great grades, its okay for you to fail a test, its okay to feel like its too hard. Its not okay for you to give up though. You have to ask for help before it gets to hard, and there will be so many people you can ask. Please do not think this makes you look like you're not doing well, because if you're asking for help, you're doing great. Students around you may make school work look easy, please do not waste too much time comparing yourself to others. Its human nature, but we really all learn things at different paces. You will get there.

Friends that you know and love now may change over the summer. You may change over the summer. Physically and emotionally, you will see changes all around you. Kids can be mean, and they might be mean to you. I will never tell you to ignore them, because it isn't possible. People will hurt you in your life and that pain might be deeper than any pain you felt before. You may not understand why, and they may not understand why either. Surround yourself with people who take care of your heart and fill you up. You can always come to me and say you need a hug. If you don't want to talk about anything you don't have to, but please let me hold you when you need. No questions asked if you don't want. You have my word.

With all these people you meet, you will likely have a crush on one or two of them. Please don't show them all your cards. Be discreet because you may change your mind and you don't need everyone you are crushing on to know you like them. Be yourself around them. Giggling, and talking really loudly around them isn't being yourself. Keep your feet on the ground, take a deep breath and try to think about what you're going to say before you say it. People are attracted to calm, articulate people. You are very articulate when you are calm. You do not need to ask or tell me anything when you want to kiss someone for the first time. Just keep in mind that it is very different from what you see on T.V.  Both people kissing need to participate and it may involve
using your tongue. If you don't move your tongue around, the other person might just stick their tongue in your mouth, resulting in you gagging. I know from experience that this could make a nice experience not so nice the first time, and it may take you a while to get it right. Do not do anything if you don't feel ready to. Not everything is comfortable the first time, but it is a lot more comfortable with someone you trust. You are not missing out if you walk away from an experience if it doesn't feel right. You are the first person you need to protect at all times. Listen to that big voice inside you again, and if isn't loud enough, take a moment to yourself so you can hear it. Its called your instinct, and its never wrong.

Next year you will come to me and ask me for new things. You will want a phone, a new pair of shoes, and a cool backpack and other things that a lot of kids around you have. I will not get you all of those things. I can't afford to and you will not need them all. Please do not beg me for them. If you really want something, I will help you figure out a way to make enough money to buy them for yourself. Having those things will not make you happier. Having things can sometimes make you feel more included, but if you can't have what everyone else does, you will survive. If someone doesn't make you feel included because you do not have what they have, then they are not a good friend. There will always be people around you that have more than you. There will also always be people who have less. Be aware of our differences and then look past those differences and find the good in your friends.

When you were a baby, I went on a hike with you in a pouch strapped to me. I saw a friend and told her that I loved having you as a little friend to hike with. She warned me to never think of you as my friend, and that my role to you is your mother. I agree that I will always be your mother, but I will also always be here as your friend. I am quite skilled at wearing different hats. I can wear one or two hats at a time. I will have times where I have to choose one, but if you really need me, I can wear the one you need.  When people hurt you, it may change you, but when people love you it may also change you. You changed me and opened my heart in a way I didn't know possible. I love that it was you who made me a mother. I am so lucky to get to be on this adventure with you. Please do not grow up too fast!  You only get one go around with childhood, so please take your time.  Sweetness, here's to you! Well done! Take my hand and I will let it go whenever you want. You're going to be amazing. You already are.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Be Prepared!

Summer is on it's way, and I am so excited to not have the typical school schedule for my kids. I happily stop making lunches the day before, we eat dinner when we want, and bedtime becomes more of a suggestion. We have a few organized weeks of summer camps, but the rest is pretty relaxed. I only work a few days a week right now and my kids can come with me or go to friends, so I have the luxury of not needing to over-plan. Summer for me is mix of some schedule and much more wait-and-see adventures. I know that for some people the last part is not enjoyable, but there are pros and cons to not having a plan all the time.

When we leave the house as a family, most of the time, I grab water bottles, food, sunscreen and whatever supplies we need for the day. When my children were small, I always had spare clothes, and diapers in the car. I still carry wipes with me, now used for sticky ice cream hands more than anything, but I have them if we need them. This weekend though, we all left the house, drove all the way to ride ATVs for my husband's birthday, and when we got there, it was so windy. I looked around the car but I didn't have any sweatshirts for us. Knowing the ride would have been miserable in the wind and cold we drove all the way back to the house and got them. Either I was in vacation mode, and so I was more lax in my parenting preparedness, or my kids are getting older and so I feel less responsible for their wardrobe. I think it was the former though, because I too walked out without a sweatshirt. 

A friend of mine once told me that lazy people are actually among the best people to hire. He was lazy and so he always was careful with how he spent his time. He was effective and efficient because he didn't want to waste any extra time if he didn't have to. Now, lazy and unprepared are two very different things, but I wonder where I land between those two sometimes. Admittedly, I do not like sitting still very long, so I do not think I am lazy, but I do know how to procrastinate quite well. I don't enjoy sitting down to a pile of work, and yet I don't like avoiding it too long either. When I think about my work ethic, and what I will do as my children get older, I have trouble picking a lane. I love so many things, and yet some of those I love don't make great careers. Then I have some things that I do well, but don't love, and those do make great careers.  When I sit with that, I end up sitting in neutral, and sitting isn't great for someone always on the go.

Looking at what I prepare for and what I actually move on, has been interesting. I don't think I have any one consistent pattern with this, and that is probably why I have so many new things I would like to try. I will pick a direction at some point, but for summer I am steering clear of drawing any lines in the sand — unless they are made with a sand bucket and shovel, since we will definitely be going to the beach this summer. There is no dragging my feet to go there.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Sweet Life

Sitting in my apartment years ago, I would wonder, day dream really about starting a family. I didn't even have a boyfriend at that time, but I hoped I would one day meet someone that would share my enthusiasm for starting a family. When I met my husband, the very night of our first date he was honest about his hopes for starting a family. He didn't know then it would be with me, but the fact that he came out and said what he wanted made him that much more appealing to me. We spent a few years together before getting married and having kids. Not necessarily in that order, but three or so years after that first date we welcomed our very wanted daughter.

Those first few months, I was in heaven. A new reservoir in my heart opened that I didn't know existed before having a child. I was so proud of my new role. For the years prior to holding my own baby, I'd witnessed that club of mothers, a club I was desperate to be in. Though my husband and I went through some infertility issues, pregnancy illness, miscarriage and even some postpartum depression, we persevered together as a family. Three of us became four, when we welcomed our son into the mix.

"Living the dream" is an overused mantra, and even though my friend has this tattooed on his arm, it seems more like a commercial tag line than fitting for real life. However, I have moments where no other words seem to work as well. My days are so full lately. I'm dizzy trying to keep track of the balls I am juggling, but I had more than a moment this weekend where my feelings were full. I felt almost intoxicated with how happy I am to be in the life I have. Packing lunches, wiping bums, or doing fifth grade math with a frustrated ten year old were not what I was daydreaming about in my apartment years ago, but still I couldn't have imagined how much my children would mean to me. I get so busy driving them to activities, or remembering teacher breakfasts, that sometimes I need to stop and realize what my life has become and how meaningful it is. I am reminded each time I walk with my children holding each of my hands on either side of me, just how grateful I am. I am not sure how people do it with more than two kids, but having my hands literally full with their palms against mine gives me the most joyful wave of love.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Just Keep Breathing

When I had my son, my second child, I wished I could have been a second time parent, first time around. I was so much more relaxed about everything second time around. With my first, everything was so precious, there seem to be a jarring difference between right and wrong, and everything was so important. The organic mattresses, BPA-free bottles,  Egyptian Cotton onesies, video monitors, the softest changing table covers, and of course the Orbit stroller I just had to have. I read way too much, listened to advice way to much, purchased way too much. My head was so full by the time I had the baby that I lost feeling of any confidence or instincts that I had left of my own.

When I brought her home from the hospital, my husband thought I was nuts. I wanted to give her a tour of her home and then read her a book. He played along, but in reality both of us in that moment were making it up as we went along. When we went to sleep that night we put her in the bassinet, co-sleeper basket between us. She slept more than both of us put together. We were both so aware she was next to us, and we were afraid we were going to disturb her, so we just didn't dare move. The next night we moved her to a bassinet beside my bed, and we all slept a bit better. That night though, I got up a few times just to confirm that she was still breathing.

We all hear or worse know stories of babies who die of SIDS, so there was really no rest for the weary new mom. Then you hear of the random stories of children who make it past infancy and something happens to them. I have now made it to 10 and 6 years as a parent and I still check to see if they are both breathing before I go to bed for the night. I don't do it every night anymore, but if it pops into my head, I run into their rooms to check. I know it is magical thinking, but I worry that if I don't do it, something could happen. Rational or not, whenever I get into their rooms, I am always glad I peeked on them. I absolutely love watching them sleep. I don't stay long, and I always give them a gentle kiss on their foreheads, and then I just look. I watch their chests rise and fall, I watch their peaceful facial expressions, and I just admire who they are in the silence of the night.

When I look at a pregnant woman who is about to have her first baby, I know she too might hear a lot of noise about the wrong or right way to parent. I know that she will probably worry that whole first year about this and that, as well. She might even buy an alarm to go in the crib, or a onesie that has a heart monitor. I don't judge. If it makes her feel better, she should buy it. If given the opportunity to speak to a new mother, I would tell her to so whatever makes her rest easy, even if it is just marveling at the sound of her baby breathing in the middle of the night. Our kids get older, but watching them breath doesn't. If it gives you some peace, then by all means.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

So Long, Six!

Tomorrow my baby turns seven! As I tucked him in tonight, we said goodbye to six. That moment next to his bedside wasn't nearly enough time for me to properly say goodbye to six. When I asked him what he would miss most about being six he said "not really anything, because it is just a number." I am grateful my kids are not as sentimental as I am, or else we would have a real weep fest for every milestone around here. I kissed him goodnight, and thought about what I would miss most about him being six.

He is not a little boy anymore. He is a kid, kid.
He lost his two bottom teeth.
He doesn't know how to not do cartwheels everywhere.
He learned how to go down the biggest ramp at the skate park.
The way he crawls on my lap facing me, and then nuzzles his face in my neck.
The puppy dog smell of his downy hair.
First grade.
His friends and how much he loves being with them.
How carefree he is about being naked.
The way he adds an extra ed to words that end in d. "Stoppeded"
The way he still needs a hug and a kiss at the door of his classroom each morning.
That he still loves being read to.
Monster trucks and Matchbox cars.
The way he wears two different shoes -- just because.
His sense of style.
Discovering handball, hip hop and "Dog Man" books.
Reading menus, and ordering food on his own at restaurants.
He still likes to be held, and when he is picked up he tucks his arms in.
He still pulls my hair out of my ponytail, because he prefers it down.
Unsolicited kisses, and"I love yous"
His cheeks.
Pizza and candy.
Riding bikes, especially to school.
The beginning of his sleeping in my bed whenever daddy is out of town.
The way he snuggles and wants my arms around him when he sleeps. Heaven!
Discovering pop radio, then making up his own words to songs, when he can't get the real lyrics.
Daddy dates.
Growing a sense of humor.
His giggle, and his laugh.
How soft his skin is.
When he wants a hug to make him feel better, and it actually works.

Most of these things are still present in our lives, but some are fading away faster than others. I love this boy so very much, and I am happy to be celebrating him. He was born on a Saturday and then the next day was mother's day. He was the best gift, but that day we were both so exhausted, I don't think we opened our eyes much the whole day. This year, we will celebrate mother's day and his birthday together. This time with eyes wide open. I don't want to miss anything, since eight will be here before I can blink.