Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

Tomorrow I will spend Father's Day with my dad.  I don't get to do this every year, so I find it to be most special. It seems that each time we come to visit, I become more reflective and let the memories of times growing up flood my soul making it hard to leave when it becomes time to say goodbye.

I love you Dad!
This time is different as there is change.  My parents are retiring and although you know something is coming and it is in your head, your heart doesn't always catch up at the same time.  

On Friday, we spent the day celebrating my mom.  Her school planned a wonderful celebration of her time as their principal.  I was beaming with pride as my heart and eyes overflowed and glowed as they spoke about how much she has meant to them.  She and my dad got to sit on two chairs like King and Queen.  One woman told a story of how they had recently presented a gift to her and told the story of the how the woman it represented was one who never took the role of a flower that takes center stage. This struck a place in my rang true.  My mom is a strong, passionate leader, yet is always looking to make sure others are cared for, loved, happy, shining and being the best they can be.  She always has done that for us.  She will make sure we have what we need to shine, and be there cheering us on.  It was pure joy to be there as she was center stage, the one shining in the spotlight, the one being loved so much.  I wish I was strong enough to have said how much she means to me in front of all those people. Tonight as I read stories to Ellie at bedtime, I could barely make it through the end of our new one, Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran. It was an end of the year gift that Ellie received from her teachers. Each time I read it I just marvel at the joy and play and the end gets me every time, much like good ol' Tough Boris by Mem Fox. This one is deeper though.  Layered with so many connections. Ellie always comments when you read how they sucked honey from the flowers in spring, just like she does at preschool.

At the bottom of that page it reads, "And so it went. The seasons changed, and the years went by, Roxaboxen was always there."  You turn the page and it gets even harder to read. Especially when you are in the midst of helping pack up precious memories and prepare as your heart catches up to your head and you realize that change is coming. 

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your ONE wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver

I think about my parents as I have spent time today exploring their life's collections and treasures as they pack them and organize them.  My brother and I laughed and joked. Grandparents were spoken of, stories were shared, and my heart feels full. I love hearing about our wild and precious life and daydream of what's to come. My heart also feels a bit sad, just as it did when they moved from Heathcliff Drive and New York. Just like in Roxaboxen, the kids grow tall and move away, and "you might think that was the end of Roxaboxen - but oh, no."  They don't forget.  Memories live on in their hearts and in their stories and in the treasures still there. 

It's like my dad always shows us that no one will forget, because we will tell stories and hold onto the memories with the special treasures we hold so dear. Today, as I touched the delicate crocheted pieces my grandmother made, I thought about her and heard her voice. 

Even though our next set of memories together may not be made in this home, the ones we've made here will remain in our hearts and in our stories. I love you Dad.  Happy Father's Day!  Thanks for marrying my wonderful mother and bringing Chris and I into your "wild and precious life!"  

I love you Mom!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

When things play out similar to how they are in your imagination...

I was driving to the local store today to buy something glamorous...yep, toilet paper, and trying to complete the errand before our guests arrived. I was driving solo, listening to music and thinking away. Thinking of all the bits of wonder and magic that I have been hearing lately.

"Thinking is stabilizing." 

A perfect truth.  It is also empowering, especially when that which you are thinking somehow plays out right before your very eyes.  This week was filled with time spent with friends, old and new. An ending to January and the holiday season that overflowed with family time.  Family and friends, oh how I cherish both.  I can indeed be a bit of a hermit and become engulfed with the busy of our little life here on the Big Brown Farm and relish in the joys of it, but this week was a beautiful reminder of how glorious friendships are.

"If I really want to become good at something, I look to people who are experts at those things and watch closely.  What do they do? What tools do they use? and so on..."

It all began Tuesday with a visit from a rowing friend and her husband. The night before their arrival, the kids helped me scurry around and swoop away piles of costumes, random bits of creations and I don't even know what.  Unearthing benches and seating to welcome our friends. Mason organized the art shelf all on his own, taking pride in our space.  I cannot seem to figure out how to keep a clutter-free, clean home.  In my brain it works, but in reality, hmmm....maybe I need to be around some sort of expert.  To know me, is to know there will probably be piles of stuff swooped away into my room to make room for you when you come over.  I sometimes feel like "when I get things clean we can have people over".  I have given up on this as I have discovered I would never have anyone over while waiting, and it isn't worth missing out on.

Mysterious discoveries are the best
Tuesday evening was a bit of magic.  An awakening of sorts. A remembrance of times past.  A reminder of the time in my life when I began to become a stronger me.  Physically, academically, emotionally, socially.  A time when I was surrounded by strong women and men. When you are surrounded by strength you discover that even the strongest of people (physically) still have doubts and uncertainties, but they have strength in numbers. That power and sense that you can conquer fears and doubts in many forms.

Today as I work toward different goals, hopes, and dreams, many of the things I learned from that time still empower me today.  Their look is different, but the drive is the same.  I discover that although I must work to better myself, strengthen myself, I need my team.  I need to continue to surround myself with people that help push me to become the most powerful me I can be.  Sometimes it takes a visit from your friend to help you realize that what you do is the bit of magic that you were originally drawn to.

"You learn about cool things and share them with kids."

"Yeah, when I think about it, I learned the most from really cool teachers."

Didn't we all? Some of those teachers might not have had that official title, but it is when we learn the most. Those people that venture into our life and help us become better people for knowing them.  The people you are willing to let see the piles of mess in your room because the time you spend with them is more important than them knowing you don't really have everything as together as you wish.

"It really helps to have some people around who encourage you to be the best person you can be. Thank you."

Friday I chose to paint. I started my lesson telling the kids how I LOVE to paint.  I shared how an art teacher once taught me the importance of changing how we create art.  Most start with forms and then add color.  He challenged us to start with color and then create forms. As I taught my students, and took on the craziness of bringing paint out with 30 eager 4th graders, I unlocked something powerful. Just as the room was about to erupt into chaos, I successfully swooped away tools and kids relished in the fact that their hands were covered in paint. "Who knew art could be SO fun!?!" "Art is so fun with YOU!" "Who knew you could mix so many colors with paint?" "This was more fun that a field trip!!!!"  My heart soared and ached at the same time.  How is it that 4th graders are just discovering this?  Better late than never.  It was so telling of what I must bring.

We ended the day creating a collection of all the things we love about coming to school.  These ideas will be on our class banner, "erupting" from our painted collage volcano.  The class chose the name at the beginning of the year.  The Erupting Volcanoes, because we are erupting with ideas they told me.  I fell in love with that analogy.  I told them Friday that I loved it because it is how I feel most of the time. If only there was enough time to enact all the ideas I have. I suppose we just have to become more clever with how we use our time.  Mason counted all the ideas after school and there were 42 on the list.  I reread it and's true.  I get learn about cool things and share them with kids.  It's a pretty cool gig.

That night we had dinner with friends and today we welcomed more friends into our home - inside and out.  Our kids played and we shared stories.  The joy they have is contagious and it makes me happy to know they are around at Ellie's school when I can't always be there. The piles in my room will still be there tomorrow, but the fun memories we are creating overshadow them for sure.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

"Maybe they're at the beach!"

Rolling with new adventures
Thursday we took our first family bike ride.  All four of us on our bikes. We set out to OSH hardware store in search of hooks for Josh's new tool shelves.  (Man oh man it feels good to be getting that garage organized.)

So there we were embarking on first venture and we had our water, snacks, Kleenex box for my girl's epic runny nose, yep we were ready.  The sun was bright and the air crisp. I was so excited to be back on my bike. As soon as I hopped on I realized how much I love to ride it. Riding as a family was oh so fun and offered yet another opportunity to take things slow and really notice the beauty of our little neighborhood.

Riding with kids gives you joy as:
* you watch the sunlight dance through new streamers that Santa stuffed into Ellie's stocking,
* they stop to take another drink of water from the super cool water bottle mounted to your big bike,
* you get a peek back from your daughter saying, "You right behind me mama?",
* your son slows down to say, "I want to ride right by you.",
* you notice an egret and pair of ducks in the creek that you didn't remember was even there,
* you stop for another drink of water from that cool water bottle,
* you stop to share some crackers you packed in your bike basket,
and the list goes on.

Our quick trip to the store was a grand day out and I just loved it.

The way home was a challenge for my girl.  She had pedaled her little legs off and was wearing down.  Daddy and Mason's lead stretched out in front of us until we could no longer see them.  Ellie informed me that we should have just walked because her legs were too tired.  Could I just walk her bike for her?  She began singing as she skipped along and then would find a burst of energy, hop on her bike and pedal like mad until, "I am done riding."  And off she would go singing, imagining, announcing, "When we get home will you help me find my doggie ears? I am a doggie now."

As we made our way along, she announced, "Where are Daddy and Mason? Why don't they come and pick us up?"  We decided to take a picture and send it to them and ask them where they were.

"Hi Guys, where are you?"
The sent us this back.

Ellie looked at it and said, "I think they are at the beach. That picture looks like they are at the beach. Come on Mama, let's go see." And with that, (and the lack of awareness that although we once bought surf shirts with our town's name on them for our east coast friends for laughs, we live nowhere near the beach,) we rode like the wind to find our boys at the beach.

To her surprise we didn't find them at the beach, but we did find them waiting for us at good ol' Mr. Pickles.  Our friendly neighborhood sandwich shop and landmark extraordinaire. So although it wasn't the beach it was a gem of a place in her eyes. We caught them and Ellie announced, "One home is a rotten egg."

It wasn't long before I was strolling with two bikes and watching my little doggie skip merrily along. I won the prize of rotten egg, but it is pretty grand!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

I hope this feeling lasts...

Mason's artwork for our Healthy New Year Breakfast display.
Kicking off the new year right with a little "Like Cupcake Wars" breakfast!

Love you dad!

The girls -  Love you Mom!
As this break began we were greeted with far away family members swooping in to join our local crowd and it was one celebratory gathering after the next in a whirlwind that seemed to be leaving as quickly as it came.  My heart was happy to have everyone near, and aching all in one as it realized the time I had so been looking forward to, had fluttered by in the blink of an eye.

Micah and Maddie traveled the farthest!

Walking to see the lights. They were beautiful and I was glad I went even though I was freezing and not feeling good. 
Hey babe, we actually did get a family photo!
Amidst all the festivities was a wealth of germs being lovingly passed from one another and somehow still lingers in my wee little girl.  Tonight she cried as her ears were hurting and my heart felt her pain as I have suffered through many an earsplitting ache!  I am guessing she must have an ear infection, but my last visit to the ER as I was wakened in the night with stabbing pain a few years ago the doctor told me it is best not to go on antibiotics if you can stand the pain for a bit.  I can tell she is not always feeling her best, but she is not one to simply rest. Luckily, she was able to hang in there and is sleeping the night away.

I love you guys! Hope you are feeling better.
With Ellie not feeling so well we have tried to stick close to home and are trying not to do too much.  Usually when the break comes I am thinking of all the things I want to accomplish and have my lists in my head.  Those first few days of break I realized how many things I had not done on my mental list.  I had so many ideas, creative ones, that sat there as just thoughts and what ifs.  What if I had found time to pull it all off?  Luckily, most don't know the ideas I have in my brain or I would have worried about how I had let everyone down.  Mostly I wanted this time of year to be magical for my kids.  With all the items on my lists, their items can't be overlooked.  Pieces of them perhaps, but the parts that really matter must complete their journey to reality.  The rest can wait.

Somehow today as I was sweeping out the leaves from the patio room and moving bikes around.  I realized how peaceful I finally felt.  I was cleaning and there was tons to clean and organize and make, but somehow it wasn't weighing me down.  I somehow found this feeling that I was being productive and I was okay.  I could stress about all I "should have, would have, could have" been getting done these past few days or making lists of all to do before next week, but I didn't want to.  I didn't feel the sense of urgency to.

My sister-in-law stopped by yesterday and said, "Yeah, I haven't done anything on my To Do List, but I have just been having fun hanging out with these guys." I agreed.  I had been doing the same.  There are so many times I try to get stuff done and end up feeling frustrated that I didn't get it all done.  I read or hear people say it doesn't matter if your house is messy and such, the kids won't care, they really just want you.  I know in my heart this is true, but sometimes I just want things to not feel overwhelming to me.  I want to be able to enjoy my time with my kids and not feel like the mess is closing in on me.

Today somehow I found it.  Perhaps it was the reenactment of "Like Cupcakes Wars" this morning as we made smoothies and egg tarts.  The playfulness overlapping the "have to" kinds of things.  I gracefully wove "mom time" into the "have to" time.

Our winning display complete with egg tarts and smoothies.

I cooked, did dishes, exercised as I walked and they biked around the town.  Mason took us to the nearby elementary school parking lot because "there are no cars and there are downhills that are really fun".  I sat on the curb a minute in the cold, sunny day and looked out on our little town from a new perspective.  Places I usually only see from the car on the road, I saw in a new way, from a new angle.  I thought how we should do this more.  Take time to see our town through their eyes.  Find the best spots to be.  To let the wind fly through your hair. To sing "The best part of life is LOVE" as you ride your bike with a smile from ear to ear.

This afternoon after a late lunch we made time for some "have to" stuff.  I swept the patio, mowed the lawn, filled the green waste bins with whatever else I could, and enjoyed the feeling of not worrying about all that was still looming.  I almost don't want to type that.  I don't want it to vanish.

Tonight I cooked and baked.  I don't normally do these things.  It feels good to be creative.  I watch a lot of cooking.  I eat a lot of things and admire the artistry, time, and love that allows it to be so satisfying, but today I embraced the art.  As with any art, it had its ups and downs.  To get to the ups though, one must take risks.  Last night as I jumped in head first to play with making those Peaches and Cream Cupcakes I found myself letting go of the stress of it all.  In what could have been my demise...the challenge of creating under pressure.  The playfulness of it all, the silliness of it all allowed me to let go of the worry and be open to the journey.

Maybe that is the feeling I think I may have found.  I have known it before. I have found it before.  I recognize its beauty.  It is the journey. Sometimes it is hard to see it because you are too far in it. You have to step back and take a look at the map, turn it a new way, and then get back on your path.  A stronger, more confident YOU leading the way.