Monday, January 31, 2011

You like me! You really like me!

We are luxuriating in a glorious stage of parenthood right now. Our daughters, at 6, have decided that they want to be near us, entangled with us, forever holding on to us, and heaping adoration at our feet.

I know how it sounds. You're wondering if this can be real, or you're waiting for the punchline to the joke. I know.

But it's true. Honest.

And we're loving it.

We've emerged from the battle zone that is twinfants and raising twin toddlers, and we're finally past the debacle of tantrums that defines "Twin Preschoolers".

We have schoolagers, albeit new ones. Still sweet ones.

It's a razor fine edge between them being cute and them being drama queens, and one misstep can sway the whole day in the wrong direction. But right now, at this moment, they want us. They are independent, or as much as one can be at 6 when the world is your own, if by "world" you mean "your house"; yet they still choose to be around us.

"Mommy, I just want to keep you," smiles Ashlyn as she wraps her arms around my neck in a tight embrace; my heart on my sleeve.

"Daddy, I will hold you tight so you're never afraid," declares Caedance as she attaches herself to her Daddy's leg; a curly haired attatche' case.

I know this won't last. I wish it would, but I know it won't. I know that the razor edge will continue to sharpen and it will be harder and harder at times to keep them on the friendly side of it. And I also know that is part of their growing up.

But right now we have them. And they have us. And, as it happens, they want to keep us. And I'm going to let them. For as long as they'll have us, (and long after they don't feel they need to anymore). Even then. We'll still love them. Always.

"Mommy, can I keep you forever?"

Oh my dear, I so wish you would.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Building a Better Bug...

We had a "First" for us today.

 A First School Project.

The assignment (which we chose to accept) was to create a "Litter Bug" for the school science fair. It had to be made out of recyclable materials (think bottles, jars, boxes, and let your mind roam in the trash), and be able to be hung up for display.

Being the eager beaver that I am, I began hoarding a stash of trash in the laundry room several weeks ago. Bottles, cans, boxes, straws, K-Cups: all were cleaned out and put aside to serve as Potential Bug Making Gear.

I've watched my stash pile grow to alarming and unstable heights until this weekend, when I could take it no more. It was time to reclaim my dryer. It was time to make the darn bugs.

We gathered the girls to the table and I unceremoniously dumped the trash in the middle. They were instructed to choose the body and we'd work from there.
Ashlyn chose an empty bread crumb can with a plastic lid while Caedance went for the empty milk carton. We then had the girls draw and color a picture of what they wanted their bugs to look like.

We had our plan. Ashlyn's would be a caterpillar; green with rainbow stripes and funky legs. Caedance would have a Ladybug, complete with a baby lady bug flying nearby.

Dan and I were surprised that, (another First), they did most of the work on their own. They traced, cut, glued, thought of the next step in construction. And..even more surprising..the kids have good ideas. I mean, really, they had actual coherent ideas that were helpful and not ridiculous.

In the end, we had two fabulous bugs and a smaller heap of trash to take out. They had fun creating them, and Dan and I had fun watching and guiding in the process.

And my laundry room is a trash free zone again. And I like that. A lot.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Two Plus Two Equals Poo. (A Memory of a saga...and a drama)

Every now and again, I feel the need to look back on the journey we've completed so far with the girls. So much as changed that it's hard to recognize those two little sprites in the faces of our Big Girls now. But they're still there, peeking out at endearing (and usually frustrating) moments. Here is a memory my mind pulled up today. They were about 2 years old at the time.

 Ashlyn & Caedance were enjoying some much needed playtime in the family room. They had invented a game where they would pull off the cushions of the Big Chair and pile them on the floor, stand on the chair and then fling themselves onto the pile with a heartfelt squeal of "WEE!" They could do it for hours and not get tired of it.
On this particular day, I took advantage of their preoccupation and was tackling cleaning duty in the kitchen. After a few minutes, it occurred to me that I should probably check on know..just in case. Walking into the family room, the first thing that stopped me was the mess around Caedance's mouth. What was that? Mental images were passing quickly through my mind; a mental "Mom Check" for what that smeared mess could be. Lunch? No. Candy? No.

My eyes then shifted to the chair they had been playing on. It too was splotched with the same stuff. WHY would the mess be there too? What could she have gotten into? More Mom Check. Crayons? (No, they'd lost crayon privileges due to a Picasso incident that had happened a few days previously). What could it be?

Finally my nose tuned into the drama. And I smelled it. Poop. Who pooped? Then, I got it. Belatedly putting the pieces together. A light bulb. Oh!......Ohhhhhhhh. Two and two equals poo, my friends. I then noticed the lovely mess coming out of Caedance's diaper and leaking all over her shirt, her hands, my furniture. (I didn't want to even THINK about the mess on her face, so I'm just letting that one go).
"Mi-Nommy, I poop". Ya think?
"Yes dear. So I see." (and smell...oh...yuck).

The clean up on her was extensive. And gross. But after a lot of wipes and a slathering of lotion, she was
a-okay again. Clothes were whisked away to be scalded in hot water with lots of baking soda added in.
Then I moved on to the furniture. furniture. Poop. Who would ever guess that the stuff is so very much like glue and paint at the same time? It was reluctant to leave the fabric to which it was clinging, and it tried to dye the upholstery there as well. It took elbow grease, shoulder grease, and probably knee grease to get it "cleaned". Although, despite my best efforts, there were still ever-so-faint marks on it.

And so that was the drama. For that particular day. I remember Caedance being tickled pink because she was allowed to run around in her "diddies" (diaper), which was her preferred state of attire at that age. She scuttled around happily, free, and (one would imagine) feeling a bit lighter. And I found myself thinking about inventing a new type of "Training Pants" that were literally pants with feet attached (and possibly suspenders) so that little "events" like this ceased to occur.

And for the furniture......

As soon as they were officially potty trained, we chucked those pieces and purchased a new set for the family room. Microfiber.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Memories in the corners of my mind..and cookies too.

I feel like most of my memories are comprised of sights, feel, and smells. And I have to agree completely with the studies that link the 5 senses to our abilities to form and access these little stored gems from the old grey matter atop our necks.

For good and for bad, those 5 senses play a huge part of what I hold most dear inside my brain. A certain slant of light will transport me; a smell remind me. It's all there. Waiting to be triggered. Waiting for its turn to float to the surface and be remembered for a few moments.

One of my most fond memories of childhood is probably our  family Sunday afternoons. We always began our Sundays going to church. I despised getting up early (my parents helped coordinate the Nursery, so they had to be there earlier than my classes), but I loved the fellowship and fun I always experienced once I was there.

On certain Sundays (and there was no rhyme or reason to it) we'd go to Quaker Square, just down the street. How I loved that place. We'd always always always have brunch at The Depot, then spend an hour or so looking at all the trains which my brothers loved. (I did not). After the obligatory trip to choo-choo-ville, we'd go over to the actual store-complex at Quaker Square. I remember rambling through that old building and its stores like I was just there. The fun shops. The sights. The people, most of them in Sunday finery (and HATS!), strolling along. The occasional "In Character" person walking through in a vintage Victorian era gown.

But most of all, the smell.

Any of you who have been to Quaker Square know that there was only ONE true smell to that place. On solid, defining smell. Oatmeal cookies. That was it. Simple. Pure. True. And oh-so-good.

Besides the smell, I was drawn by the lack of a then enemy of mine: raisins. I adored that they had only one tiny raisin on the middle...and nowhere else. Nothing to pick around. Nothing to spit out. Just one offender to remove. Gone. And then pure yummy for me.

I had thought that those cookies were just a memory. Quaker Square is a shadow of its former self, with its quaint boutiques changed over to more and more office space, and dorms for the university.

Then today, a break through. I came across the actual recipe, as submitted by the good people of Quaker Square. Found again. I immediately baked up batch. Waiting patiently for the first tell tale wisps of that smell. And then,......yes! There it was. Then a taste, could it be the same too? Yes! Oh joy. The same.

Memories. Lovely lovely memories. Thought about again.

Quaker Square's Famous Oatmeal Cookies
3/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
*Cream together shortening, sugars, water, egg, and vanilla. Combine rest of ingredients and add to wet mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.

Bake. Taste. Enjoy. Remember.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Grunge Routine

My morning routine is quick. Concise. It is a lean 15 minutes, giving me just the amount of time I need to get ready in the morning before having to get my kiddos up and at 'em. It's a schedule that allows for the most possible sleep, with the least possible chance of running late. It's a tight schedule with few "extras". Sure, I'm showered (usually), and certainly I'm in clean clothes (most of the time), but after this scant absolution, there are no remaining minutes for hair or make up. Nope.

And I was okay with that. It's just dropping the kids off, after all. It's only walking them to their line and waiting with them. How glamorous do I need to be for that, right? I mean, really.

I wish had enough self confidence to be my grungy self without any complications. But, alas, once a doubter, always a doubter.

There is a mom there. A tall, lean thing who looks as though she may have walked straight out of some fantasy-world. White blond hair, precise features; an easy beauty. A Nordic beauty. And of course she is able to go grunge for the morning: Yoga pants, sweat shirt, and pony tail. The difference is she somehow makes this Stay At Home Mom uniform look ready for the runway. I, in comparison, look as if I just went dumpster diving. And there she is, glowing away in the morning sun. My hobbit to her Elfin Queen.


There was about 10 seconds today when I let this actually get to me. (Maybe 90 seconds; I lost count after I happened upon my actual reflection and saw my own sorry state). But here's what I've come up with. No, I'm not any sort of Swedish beauty. But I've got some happy Polish going on that works for me. And my hair may not be long and nearly pure white, but golden highlights aren't so bad either (even if I do have to occasionally "brighten" the effect). And my 5 foot 6 AND 1/2 isn't so bad, really. I won't be slam dunking any basketballs, but I'm tall enough to reach high shelves without a problem. Very practical, truth be told.

So I've got that. I've got me. And I like me. Even when I'm grungy. Even when I'm roughing it without make-up.

And that's a good thing, really. I'm me and I highly doubt I'll morph into some other thing any time soon. So being comfortable with it is a good place to be. And of course, true beauty is on the inside (and I never, ever have to put make-up on THAT or worry about the hair or clothes on my soul). 

I'm just little old, slightly grungy, maybe not as polished as others, Me.

It's a good thing.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Badges Of Courage

Let me begin by saying this: I have stretch marks. I do. Lots and lots and lots of them. And nearly all of them are in a place that is noticeable and, thus, quite inconvenient. And they're permanent. With me for good. I could lose tons of weight, and they'd still be there, reminding me in their silent voice, "We're still here".

Now let me share something else: I like them. I do. Each and ever single one of them. In the annals of history, perhaps no one has ever embraced her stretchmarks quite as I do. I celebrate them in the way some celebrate a personal accomplishment, because you see, these lovely marks are my personal accomplishment.

My accomplishment was 3 fold, really.
Firstly, I achieved pregnancy; which was something my doctors weren't sure I could do. Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease has a funny way of being easy to spot yet tricky to work with. Medicines either "work", meaning you ovulate and thus have a chance of getting pregnant. Or they "don't work" and you scrap yet another cycle while gearing up for next month. Because "Next Month" this will all work. Because if you don't think this way, quickly moving on from one gut punch to brace yourself for a possible follow-up, you'll lose your nerve altogether.

Secondly, we survived pregnancy. I mean that literally. We survived it. Me and my little passengers. Gestation was never "typical" for me. Even before we discovered that we had a Thing 1 and Thing 2 in there, I was on the High Risk list due to blood pressure issues. Which only got worse. And worse. And worse. Blood pressure, gestational diabetes, toxemia. None of these make for a cozy cocoon really. But by God's grace, our precious cargo grew, and despite being born early, still thrived.

Thirdly, we made it through the gauntlet that is Twinfancy. The nights that blurred into days that blurred into nights and back to days again. Eyes burning. Mind so fogged over with fatigue you can barely put 2 coherent words together. At one low point, we were making a venture out for errands. Two tired parents and a pair of crying twinfants. Dan was navigating the narrow hallway that led to the garage, one baby carrier looped on his right arm, the other being held by his left hand. Making his way to the open door, unable to see the path before him. Bringing up the rear with the Baby Paraphernalia, I saw that he was headed right for a pair of shoes left in front of the door. I saw, in my mind, his tripping over the shoes and my babies sailing through the open doorway and into the garage. I had to stop him. Had to alert him in some way. But my brain wouldn't work. No words came. Nothing. Quick! Quick! I chided myself. Every second he inched closer to the danger of those shoes. Those stupid shoes! Who put them there? Don't think about that now! Warn him!! Tell him!!!
Then: "Dan! Fa-nah-nah-nah!" (Yes, read that again.) That's what my brain was able to send to my mouth.
It worked though. He stopped just short of the shoes, looking at me with curiosity.

Fast forward 6 years, yada-yada-yada, and here we are today.
Each stretch mark is a moment of triumph for me. A blessing. An answered prayer.
I wouldn't erase them for anything. And I am blessed to have a husband who feels exactly the same about them.
My Badges Of Courage which I wear with pride.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just like him.

"Mommy, when I grow up to be a daddy, I'll shave my beard too". Says my 6 year old daughter to me one day.

We'd had "The Talk" before; the one where I explained the anatomical differences between a boy and a girl. And yes, my twins were the ones who, at their well visits when the doctor checked their nether-regions, exclaimed, "Oh my, the doctor's looking at my vagina! Ha-ha! My vagina indeed!"

So I'm not sure where this question came from. (And I certainly hope that she won't have a beard to shave).

Does she think that the parts switch or change? No, I'm not going to go into the "surgeries" that one might have to change parts. We're keeping thing au naturale at our house for the time being.

Then it occurred to me to look at the daughter asking the question. Caedance. Also known as Daddy's Girl. This is the child who will run to get a screwdriver so she can "help" Dan whenever he may be doing manly fixes around the house. Tool in hand, she'll squat down next to him and say, "What are we looking at here, Dad?"; her face a model of serious contemplation, brow furrowed and ready to come up with the best fix.

This little girl will fling herself to Dan from heights unknown, just to be near him. At any time. At any place. Without question.

Daddy's Girl.

Watching him shave. Watching him style his hair. Watching him put on the vestments of "Fatherhood" in her presence, then bend down to gather her up in his protective arms for a cologne-scented embrace. It is comfort to her, being in the hug of that wonderful man.

Why wouldn't she want to grow up to be just like him? To bring some of what he brings to her to the family she'll one day create? At these thoughts, my heart melted a bit.

Sure, I still reminded her that she'll grow up to be a Mommy, but knowing where her feelings are coming from makes it all the more precious to hear her words.

I want to be just like my daddy.
(A very good goal indeed)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An Apple A Day...keeps curiosity at bay?

A trip to the grocery store today gave me something to ponder. I was in the juice aisle when I cam upon a bottle of Apple Juice. Scanning over the label, I was intrigued by the following information:

100% Juice
(with added ingredient).

Not, Added Ingredients, mind you.
No. Just one ingredient.
Something extra tossed in. Just for kicks and giggles.
Something more for you.
Something special.

The question is, do I want that extra ingredient, whatever it may be? Perhaps I would prefer the product without it? My instincts told  me I probably would prefer my juice sans any factory additions, so I steered clear of that particular bottle.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Visit From Captain Obvious

It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


There are many ways I know this:

The calendar tells me so. (See, right there. Martin Luther King Day).

My girls are home from school today because of it. (I even got to make them breakfast this morning, giving them a break from Pop Tarts).

My husband is off of work (Keybank) because of it. (And look at all the little home projects he's been able to get through).

We're able to do errands as a family because of it.(Always a pleasure to have another set of eyes to keep the kiddos corralled). 

And yet.....

Does this stop me from going to the bank and trying to open the door (while looking straight at the closed sign?)


Nor does it stop me from venturing out to the mailbox, opening it up, and frowning when I see there is no mail there today.

Hello, Captain Obvious.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Denim Dilema

I don't know "who" they are designing jeans for these days, but I am fairly certain it is not for me. This makes me sad.

Today was a Look For A New Pair Of Jeans Day. There was a time when the very thought of this day, lurking somewhere ahead on the calender, was enough to give me an anxiety attack. Dread. Dread. Dread.

I'm better about the event now. But I do have "qualifications" for any pair of jeans that I buy:

First, I'd like my stretch marks to be covered, thank you very much. I view them proudly as my "badges of courage", but somehow I do not think that John & Jane Public care to see them. No low risers for me. However, in saying this, I am NOT saying that I want my pants to come up anywhere near my arm pits. So let's find a happy compromise.

Second, although I am rather pleased with my derriere, it is another body part that I'd prefer to keep under-wraps, if we could. I know what you're thinking: nothing says, "I'm a modern mother in the prime of her life" quite like bending over and showing "butt cleavage"; but I'm just not that girl, I'm sorry to say.

Third, no bedazzling, please. Don't get me wrong, sparkles are pretty, and I like to wear jewelery. Just not on the outer seams of my pants, or lining the pockets, or in a fanciful butterfly decorations on the rear pockets. I'll have to pass on those too, please.

Three things. That's a short list. And yet what a tiring hunt these three tiny qualifications make buying jeans. Too gap-y. Too low. Too high. Too....shiny. It's enough to make me want to create a "Yoga Pant Only" rule.

In the end, after some careful searching, much trying on, and some minor concessions, I had some denim success. And the hunt did not get the best of me. I still left the store with a smile on my face. Success was hard won, true; but it was won just the same.

A Day Off.

Yesterday was an unexpectedly blissful day.

I so like it when those pop up, don't you?

A day that started out with an impromptu family breakfast and then morphed seamlessly into a Dinner & Movie & Night Off for Dan and I.

Who couldn't love that?

Dan's mom took the girls with her on an adventure shopping. This is something which they joyfully like to do, so long as they spend at least 10 minutes in a dressing room, hopping off the benches while watching themselves in the mirrors.

You read that right. My twin 6 year old ladies actually Like to roam the stores for a nearly endless amount of time, looking at clothes for others. AND they love waiting while others try things on.
Awesome. Rare. Really cool.

They then joined the raucous crowds at The Winking Lizard, and added their high pitched voices to the low, rumble-y ones in the cacophony of noise cheering for The Big Game. (There is almost always a "Big Game", isn't there? Is every game Big?)

Dan and I took our departure from the norm as a time to see a movie (The King's Speech) and have dinner (Pizza; cause we're cool like that), and then have a Dexter Marathon at home.

Perhaps not up to par with another's grand plans of Evening Freedom. But it was an unexpected break from our "norm". And welcome.

Most, most welcome.


And today I miss my girls. My ladies. My little loves.
I'm refreshed and ready to greet them; those shopping savvy doves.

And begin all over again.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Will you have another baby with that?

"Are you going to have more kids?"

I get this question a lot. I don't know why people want to know if we plan on reproducing more offspring. I suspect that it's either out of polite "golly I don't know what else to talk about but since you're a woman in her reproductive years this could be a topic" conversation, or just an odd fascination and curiosity with the whole thing. I'm not sure.

The question comes to me politely enough. Most women (and the occasional man, which is weird in a way) will say, "So. You have twins. How nice! Are you going to have any more?" There is, however rare, the other faction who will phrase it less as a question and more as a statement; nonchalantly and as if it's expected. "You'll be having more children.(?)" This makes me think of the polite hostess leaning over your empty cup, teapot in hand, spout tipped and ready to pour into your cup. "You'll be having more tea?" It isn't really a question, is it? She's there with the pot. Your cup is empty. You'll be having more. They'll see to it.

The response always ready at the tip of tongue is "No". (For those polite "hostesses", I feel inclined to say "No, thank you. I'm good.")

It's not that we don't love being parents; we do. Nor is it that I don't cherish being a mother; I most certainly do. It's just that "Dickinson,Family of Four" has an enchanted ring to it at this stage in our lives. Right now.

I will say that I loved being pregnant. I loved the entire process that carried me from that first pee-stick-positive-test all the way to sleepless nights spent with squalling twinfants. (Even though that pregnancy was fraught with a squajillion complications). I loved that. A lot.

But I'm content right now. Family of Four.

And when people ask me if (or WHEN) more are coming down the pike, I can smile and say "We're happy. This is us right now. It's good."

And it's true.

All good.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Learning new words....

At least we know they're really learning at school:

The four of us were gathered around the table, eating dinner. (It was soup night Chez Dickinson, in case you wondering). "Dinner Conversation" takes on a new meaning with kids. When they're babies, you can say whatever you want and not worry about the uncomprehending faces staring at you; they're more interested in making messes at that stage. But when they get older you develop a code of sorts to skirt around the things that those little pitchers just shouldn't hear. You might spell words, or talk out of the side of your mouth, or perhaps lean in for a whisper. Whatever works for you to get the point across.

Dan was retelling his annoyance at the spell check on his Blackberry. He'd been trying to send out an email to a recipient who was burdened with an exceptionally long name which, somehow, condensed down to the nickname of "Pern".

Dan composed his email and, being that it was a professional email to a fellow businessman, wanted it to be professional. So he spell checked it. That spell check did not like the name "Pern" and it kept insisting that he change it.

Dan looked at me and said, "You can imagine what they wanted me to change it to." "Oh, yeah...sure. Pervert? Perineum?" All annoying titles to a man, I would think. Dan looked at me incredulously. "No. Seriously. You KNOW." There was a push here, I know, but I couldn't get it. "No, Dan. Sorry. I guess not. What was it suggesting you to change it to?" "Manda," he stared at me, "what other words are like p-e-r-n?" My mind simply wasn't working. I drew a blank. "Nope. Sorry. Could you just tell me?"

"P-O-R-N, Amanda. That's what it wanted me to type."

I shrugged. Okay. Porn. Ha-ha. We went on eating dinner.


"PORN!!" Caedance had been working on that spelled out word very carefully. And she finally got it. And she liked it. A lot. "PORN PORN PORN PORN!!" (Apparently Porn is a funny word to say at the dinner table in front of your parents and twin). She began laughing hysterically and Ashlyn joined in. Both of them were laughing and yelling out their newly learned word with enthusiasm.

Oh dear.

How to get them to stop this without drawing attention to the fact that it's not really okay to go around shouting out Porn? As soon as they know it's a "bad word" it will be on their go-to list, of course. Think. Think. Think.

Problem was, it was funny to us too, I'm ashamed to say. Quite. Dan and I had our heads buried in our arms, trying to control the laughter as we admonished our children that Porn was a grown up word for grown ups to use only. Needless to say, our laughter did not help, so it took some time to get everyone back on track.

But we did.

The conversation was left with Ashlyn saying this, "Okay mommy. Porn is a grown up word only for grown ups to say. When we're grown up, we can use porn too." (gulp).

Oh dear.

We'll be revisiting this subject again at a later date.

(And, just so you know, when I spell checked this very blog, "Pern" was not ignored. The suggested changes were: Peen, Pren, Pen Peron, and Perm. No porn here. So Dan's blackberry just has a dirty mind, I guess. 

Baby it's cold out there.

It's freezing in the house today. It seems that the frigid air of the outside has seeped into every crevice (no matter how well sealed) and refuses to get out. A most unwelcome house-guest. Salacious in its unwelcome and unappreciated attentions.
Sitting on the couch, I have the thermostat yanked up to a freakishly high number, warm air blasting out of the wall registers. Humming with comfort. While curled up under a puffy blanket, I also have the gas fireplace on and cranked up to high. Its light hissing sound is in direct competition with the constant yawn of the furnace.
And still I am cold.
Bone cold.
So I sit here on the couch. Cold. I'm reading several books, picking one up and skimming several chapters before putting it down and picking up the other. Then switching again. My mind, affected by cold, cannot seem to focus.
During one of the book switching moments, I noticed some smallish grease spots on the leg of my jeans.
How did those get there? Could have been any number of things, I guess. It bothers me. Not the not knowing, but just that they are there.
Irrationally. I'm bothered. So I draw the blanket more over my legs. I could change jeans, obviously. But that would require a trip out of this cocoon of heat and a pilgrimage upstairs, where I think I may have opened a window for some fresh air. Too cold up there.
So here I sit. Surrounded by heat, but almost untouched by it. Shivering. With grease stains on my jeans.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I never knew...

I didn't know how much I longed to be a mom until I became one. Nothing in your whole life can ever prepare you for the daily joys and sorrows that this 3 letter title can give you. Mom.
And I never knew. I had no idea.
But I wanted it, as it turned out. Badly.

I have the joy of being home with my girls, and that is a privilege for which I am thankful every single day. We've had 6 years of togetherness, they and I. 6 years to create a daily pattern that has its ebbs and flows, like anything else. Our good moments are golden and our bad ones can be frightful. In the end, it all works out.

Today I found myself squished on the couch between them: each of us with a book in hand, quietly reading away a few minutes of the afternoon. And it caught me off guard, this moment of peaceful bliss. It was a portrait of who we are as Mother & Daughter: Comfortable. We can be together. Just like that. Be. I love it. I love this.

Like every moment, it passed too quickly. The timer went off on the oven sending me into the kitchen, and I came back into the family room to find my spot on the couch taken over by a large pile of Care Bears who were being lectured by two little girls waving their books around with a flourish. "Honestly, Cheer Bear! I don't know what to do with you," exclaims Ashlyn. (Cheer Bear, for her part, looks dejected). "OH! Share Bear. THAT was certainly a very bad choice, don't you think? I think you're going to bed right now," declares Caedance, "Bad choice." (I don't know what Share Bear had done in my absence, but I can say that she did not look apologetic about it. Whatever it was.

And so we go on about our day. We've had 6 years to perfect this. 6 years to go along and get it right, get it wrong. But to be together.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mr. Crow Goes To School.

An odd sight today, taking the girls to school.

The walkway leading to the school was empty of all the usual suspects: kids running to the building, parents frantically dropping off science projects (which probably represent more of their efforts than those of their student), and the occasional teacher running "just a few minutes late" and hurrying to get to the classroom before their charges arrived.

Empty. Clear. Quiet.

Save for one crow. A large specimen, even for his species. Shiny and so black that he was almost blue in color. Practically iridescent. And this crow was walking away from my view and towards the doors of the school.

He was walking to school.

Perhaps it was the extra jolt of coffee I'd had that morning, but I found this sight to be extraordinary in nearly every way. My mind's eye flipped through multiple What Ifs of this scenario in rapid succession, and I found myself completely transfixed by it. What if this lovely fellow went to school? What would he do in there? Did he know he was heading to school or was he being dared by some bigger crow bullies who were off in the field watching him. Was this a crow initiation of sorts, perhaps? Or did it mean, (as is most likely the case, I know) absolutely nothing at all.

And still I wondered. And thought. And watched.

In case you're wondering, and I have to assume you must be just a bit curious since you're still reading these words, he made it all the way to the door. And then stopped and turned around, and headed off to the field. Perhaps he 'Chickened' out? (Can you use other members of the aviary community to describe the actions of a crow?) Maybe at the very end he decided, like any kid might do, that he just didn't feel like going to school today after all. Maybe he went back to home sleep. Maybe the bully crows in the field pecked at him for failing the initiation. Or maybe he was just being a crow, doing what crows do, and his curiosity ran out and he flew off.

I don't know. Never will.

But if I had to put a writer's spin on it, I like to think that he was tired of doing 'the same old thing' and was ready for a new adventure.Just for today.(Ever felt that way?) But when he got there, he hesitated, as we all are known to do. There is comfort in the familiar. He left that path, and headed back to his routine. His adventure put on hold for another day. Later. Next time. Someday. Maybe.

Perhaps I'll see him another day. (I find myself silently cheering him on).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Parenting 101: Don't Push Your Kid Into The Mud

Last week, while walking my darlings to the car after picking them up from school, I accidentally (remember that word...accidentally) bumped Ashlyn.

 This happens. It's bound to. On one hand I have a leader (that would be Caedance), yanking away with an impatient, "C'mon Mom! Let's GO"; ready to put as much distance as possible between her and "That Place". On the other hand, walks The Thinker (Ms. Ashlyn), dawdling about with lingering thoughts of the pleasures and sorrows that can occur in 2 1/2 hours. Mind wandering. Thoughts meandering.

Bump. (That would be my hip).

And her foot slipped into the mud puddle that has been conveniently growing on the side of the sidewalk. Hello, Mr. Mud. How you doing? Meet Ashlyn's foot.

A big deal? Nope. Not at all. No falling. No mud bath. Just a muddy shoe.

But such drama. Oh. Such. Drama.

"MAMA! You pushed me into the mud! Oh! Why? WHY?! Into the mud, where it's dirty. It's so dirty, Mama! This is not a good day at all. Ruined. Oh, Mama."

I stand corrected. It was a big deal.

I apologized. (Remember that magic word, "Accidentally"? It didn't mean much to her.)

She was cleaned up. (Rather, the shoe was cleaned up). The day went on. And the next. And the next. So on and so forth.

This week, the saga continues. As we walked the path away from Franklin Elementary, Caedance fleeing the scene of apparent crimes unknown, and Ashlyn tra-la-la-ing away, we passed The Mud Puddle. "Mama? Do you remember when you pushed me into the mud? Right there? THAT mud puddle? You pushed me. You sure did. I remember it."

Hmmmmmm. I see you do. With some embellishments added, I see.

So. There it is.