My latest music track list includes Avicii’s “Hey Brother” — and the lyrics have made a permanent dent in my mind. I think it has something to do with these two little sisters that we’re raising….
Hey Sister! Know the water’s sweet but blood is thicker
Oh! If the sky comes falling down
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do
As life moves along at seemingly warp speed, it is sometimes a challenge to be thoughtful about the important things in life. The to-do list, carpools, homework, and deadlines take precedence over reflection. I am certainly very guilty of glossing over things just to cross another thing off the list. I am not sure if this post is any different, but here’s a little compilation of what’s on my mind right now with a slight scratch of the surface:
Dizzy Dog: My sweet Bloomy has vertigo. After a terrifying couple of hours in the emergency vet this weekend, with symptoms consistent with a stroke, we learned she has “Old Dog Vestibular Disease” – doggy vertigo. It will self-resolve in days to weeks, but in the meantime her head is tilted to the right, her eye twitches wildly, it is very hard for her to walk, and when she walks she looks like she’s been overserved at the bar. It’s tough getting old.
Painting: Maybe it is the paint fumes, but I’d like to think that my little painting projects are a source of zen for me right now. What started as wanting to just repaint one room in the house has changed to repainting every room in our house, save the basement. I have even painted a couple of pieces of furniture. Time and patience, which until this fall have been in short supply, have allowed me to systematically knock out room by room. I still have a few more to go, with the goal of finishing before Thanksgiving guests arrive. I am enjoying the quiet and mindlessness of it, which gives me plenty of time to think or just space. The feeling of accomplishment at the end is amazing, a feeling I often miss with work or other projects.
Homework: Remember the days when if you forgot your homework at school, you were stuck? You just had to deal with the consequences in the morning? Well, those days are gone. I chuckle at the occasional text from a friend (or from me to a friend) requesting photos of the evening’s homework. A few quick clicks, and the homework forgotten at school is magically printing at home. I have to wonder, though, if this is okay? Might it be better to suffer the consequences once, and hopefully not repeat the problem?
Sandwich: No, not the kind you eat. Rather, that generational situation in which many of us are finding ourselves. A dear friend and roommate from college recently told me her dad has an inoperable brain tumor and has just weeks to months left. She is out-of-state with a husband and two young girls, and her parents are here in the Bay Area. Hard to make sense of it all.
There you have it. Now, I must run and cross a few things off the list before school pick-up…
I bookmarked this article a few years ago citing the 50 things children should do before they turn 12. Research indicates that less than 10% of today’s children have played in the wild compared to 50% of my 40-something generation. As a result, the National Trust brainstormed a list of 50 things that kids should experience to encourage families to get outside.
Some of these seemed odd (had to google “abseiling” and “sledging”). Many we had done (canoe down a river, fly a kite, catch a butterfly in a net). But one of these seemed like a basic that we had not explored….climb a tree.
I suppose it was due to my over-protective nature and my belief that a safety net should be below all children more than 3 feet off the ground. However, I had great memories of climbing giant oak trees in Southern California and scaling the roof of our childhood home (crazy to think that Child Protective Services wasn’t called?!?!). If my brother and I could walk away with just a few scrapes and bee stings, I’m sure my daughters would be just fine.
So off we went to find a “safe” tree and stumbled across one at our local pond, about a quarter mile from our house. The kids were eager to climb and with a few lifts and pushes, they made it to the first few branches (and if truth be told, they *might* have been wearing bike helmets for that first climb).
Fast forward two years and that tree is still a favorite. No longer do I stand underneath waiting to catch free-falling limbs; nor do I require bike helmets. In fact, you will usually find me lying on my back in the grass with my eyes closed, listening to the sound of 7- and 9- year old chatter.
I think we can officially check “tree climbing” off the list. Next up, snail races!
My younger son and I were recently looking through our bookshelf and I happened upon one of my favorites. I received “Charlotte’s Web” for Christmas when I was eight. I loved it, so much so that I’ve kept it for a long time.
Finding it again was like being reunited with an old (old!) friend. My son had no interest in reading it on his own, but begrudgingly agreed to let me read it to him. Cracking open those old, yellow pages transports me to those carefree days of being eight and truly warms my soul.
What were your favorite books as a child, and have you reread them as an adult? Does it bring you back to your youth?
Our family dynamics shift so much when he is gone. Bedtime is strictly at 8pm, dinners have known to include a quick run to Panera Bread, and three of us are known to curl under blankets for a good 3pm movie.
When he is home, however, we follow a different routine. Family dinners with questions about our high/lows/good deeds, snuggles before bedtime that can linger until the Mister falls asleep at 8:30pm, and family game night of Catan Junior or Sorry.
I always enjoy a good “girl time” week, but nothing compares to the sight of him walking through the door, suitcase tossed aside, giving giant bear hugs to the three of us. And as you can tell from this photo, we just can’t seem to get enough of him.
My oldest will be ten (!!!) in November and we offered to re-do her bedroom as a milestone birthday present. Her current bedroom has a fairy bedspread, ”cow-jumped-over-the-moon” lamps and other decor that reflected her interests at age two.
Now at age ten, I suggested we make some updates for her room she could grow with until senior year (gulp). I was envisioning a room where she could have trade secrets with her bestie during sleepovers, curl her hair as she gets ready for prom, and spend hours listening to music to soothe a broken heart. THIS would be the room where she would visit during college vacations – a safe refuge from the barrage of mid-terms and papers. I had high expectations.
My daughter was initially excited as we poured over pinterest and landed on this image by Emily Henderson for inspiration. She wanted turquoise walls, lots of pillows and a pinboard.
Lots of research was spent online looking for floral or medallion prints with a rainbow of colors that would compliment a turquoise wall. We found a few things, ordered a few things, tried out a few things…but nothing brought an overwhelming sense of excitement and joy. And then we figured out why this weekend:
We weren’t ready to say goodbye to her childhood.
The yellow walls with crayon markers, the fairy princess bedding with faded bloody nose stains, the silly fairy-tale lamps that don’t even work — they all represented safety, familiarity and comfort. This room represented the first half of her childhood. And the decision to not move forward with the re-design symbolized that we both weren’t ready to begin second half.
So this weekend, we scrapped the re-design plans, cancelled the painter and sent back the pillows. A weight was lifted off of both our shoulders — no longer doing what seemed like the next step for a ten-year old, but instead doing what felt right.
And in the meantime, I’ll file away those fabric and paint samples until that moment when she will boldly ask if we could hide those fairytale lamps in the basement. I know that moment is coming, but am not going to rush it.
I’m not feeling 100% right now due to some combination of poor sleep, a slight cold, and a flu shot today. Not bad enough for me to cancel things or stay in, but not good enough to take on my to-do list with gusto. As I was scrolling through my pictures, avoiding said to-do list, I found this little lovely.
We went to Ann Arbor, Michigan over Labor Day weekend to see a University of Michigan football game, reconnect with some family, and pay homage to my husband’s grandfather – Opa – and his love of all things U of M. The day before we left, we visited Opa’s hometown and the cemetery where he and his wife now rest. Dinner was in Chelsea, Michigan, at one of Opa’s favorite restaurants.
Walking back to the car after dinner, this pretty scene caught my eye. Looking back at it now, it brings back fond memories of our trip, warm and happy thoughts of Opa, and the hope that one day I may be able to plant and maintain something as gorgeous as this.
Weather: Predicted to hit 80 degrees here! A true humid Indian summer day. We’ve had a gorgeous fall with few days requiring a jacket.
What’s Keeping Me Up at Night: Logistics! We are soon to get the Nutcracker rehearsal and performance schedule and I’m bracing myself for the logistical chaos that will ensue to get my oldest to the city for 11 performances and umpteen rehearsals. It will work itself out….it always does….but the planner in me wants to have everything mapped out for the next few months!
Exercise of the Day: I’m finally back to running after an 8 week hiatus, due to the oh-so-clumsy broken toe mishap. My post run self was tired, with aching knees and a throbbing toe….it might be time to hang up my running shoes for the season.
Dinner Tonight: Leftovers….my favorite. I made Giada’s macaroni and cheese cupcakes last night which were a hit with the young ladies in the house. Wednesdays are our crazy days with school ending at 3:50 and a 6-7:30pm ballet class…so not a lot of time for homework, dinner and downtime. This meal makes my Wednesdays easier.
Travel Plans: My youngest and I are off to Florida in a few weeks! With Big Sister tied up with Nutcracker obligations, I wanted to make sure Little Sister was getting some special attention. The trip requires a tiny plane….gulp….but I know we will be all over the warm beach weather.
When my boys were in preschool, one of my favorite songs they sang was “Four Hugs a Day”. While I can’t remember all the lyrics, the refrain was
“Four hugs a day,
that’s the minimum,
not the maximum…”
All the mommies loved it, and it always ended with lots of hugs.
I recently stumbled on this blog post, “10 Habits to Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Child”. It’s a great post with 10 seemingly simple and ways to be a better parent, including play, turn off technology, connect before transitions, snuggle at bedtime, and aim for 12 hugs a day. The preschoolers were off by nine, but they had the right idea!
Now, I’m off to snuggle with my little buddies before they fall asleep. Have a great day and start counting those hugs!
This past week has been an emotional roller coaster for our oldest daughter. The week started on an incredible high when she received news that she had been cast in Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker (more on that in another post). However, the glow quickly faded when she learned her best friend would be switching schools at the end of the week. It was a week of smiles, squeals, tears and sadness.
Life is full of highs and lows, ups and downs, good news and bad news. I remember when my oldest daughter was born the day after Thanksgiving and holding this new life with awe and love. My post-partum self was full of happy tears –only to be replaced by sad tears when I learned my favorite uncle passed away from a heart attack two days later. A life added, a life subtracted.
No matter how big the high or how small the low — the song “Joy and Pain” seems to make its way to my conscious during times like these. Remember the lyrics by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock?
Joy and pain are like sunshine and rain
Over and over you can be sure
There will be sorrow but you will endure
Where there’s a flower there’s the sun and the rain
Oh and it’s wonderful there both one in the same
Whether you are 11 or 40, these up and down experiences are all part of life and growing. They remind us of us that life can be beautiful, ugly, sweet and unfair all at once….but there would be no flowers without rain.