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Showing posts from 2015

Last Christmas

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Thanksgiving Day 2015

A few weeks ago we headed out to hunt for our perfect Christmas tree. It was sunny and warm (normally I am not a big fan of the snow ... but I find myself missing it this season) with a brisk wind. We never look for a traditional shaped tree, we like them tall and slim, with lots of shelves for ornaments to hang on. We don't like them trimmed to the "perfect" Christmas tree shape, preferring a natural chaos ... limbs sticking out here and there. The hunt usually takes several hours -- and we have been known to abandon tree farms that don't have what we want -- sometimes visiting three or four before we hit pay dirt.

Aiden's requirement is that the tree farm have hot chocolate, horses are a plus ... he wants to see and hear and feel Christmas. Jackson usually picks a Charlie Brown tree that pulls at my heart strings. Coop is usually impatient -- impulsive being that he is, he wants to find the perfect tree and get it done. Eric and I - we jus…

Words for my Son on Year 18

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When I first looked into your eyes, I expected fireworks. I mean, how else does it feel when you meet the soul that has made you a mother for the first time? The moment was still, and quiet. There were no fireworks, just a gentle connection as our eyes met. I searched your face for familiarity ... I had worked so hard to bring you safely into this world (you hadn't made it easy) ... I was so sure I would recognize you.  Could I see your dad's soulful brown eyes? My long lashes? Did you have your great-grandpa's dimple in your chin? I couldn't recongize you as I thought I might.  The one thing I knew was that you were uniquely you, and that I was in love with you at first glance.

Eighteen years later, I still search your face. I look for the glint you had in your eyes when you had a plan for mischief. I look for the mud on your cheeks from an expedition in the woods. I look for the tears in your eyes that only I can soothe. I look to see what kind of day you had, how p…

Pine Tree Drive

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View from my walk ...
For my entire life my grandparent's house was a cozy, blue, wood-sided ranch nestled in a bed of pine tree needles, pachysandra and ivy, protected by the sentry pines that dropped their leaves in soft, velvety piles -- fragrant enough to make you believe it was Christmas in the heat of July. I have many memories of that house: my aunts and uncles laughing around Grandma Rachel's yellow dining room table, swimming at the neighborhood pool, learning how to make the perfect grilled cheese (making sure the butter crisped the edges) and eating made-to-order omeletes by my grandpa's hand ... reading books and sitting by fires, opening Christmas presents in their basement, watching the rainbows float from my grandma's glass paper weight collection. And buckeyes, always there were buckeyes.

Today, I was walking with Luna--my two year old silver Lab--opting out of the gym and enjoying the last promises of 70 degrees and sunshine that only October offers. …

Other People's Kids

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A few months ago Eric and I were having dinner with Aiden at Cugino's -- our favorite hometown restaurant. When we walked in -- there was a wait per usual -- Eric scanned the crowd looking for familiar faces. A woman caught his eye as she sat and chatted, waiting for her table. A minute later they were smiling and hugging, she was holding his hand and her eyes were wet with tears.


She was the momma of one of his best friends growing up -- a woman he hadn't seen (he guessed) in 15 ... maybe 20 ... years or more? She and her husband were seated next to us and we continued to chat for the evening--often she apologized for interrupting our meal, he was quick to let her know she could never be a bother, that he was enjoying the reunion as much as she. They caught up on the past two decades, where people were living, what jobs they had, how old their kids were. She marveled at how much Aiden reminded her of a young E ...  I mostly listened, smiling, watching the tide of history co…

And then I second guessed myself ...

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I'm trying to find balance.

I'm trying to find a place where hanging on and letting go can play nice in the pool.

I called the high school guidance counselor this morning. Cooper filled out several college apps over the past few weeks--I have done little more than proof read for him. He has handled it, finding web sites, making decisions, gathering information. He ran into a glitch with his Saginaw Valley app. The college's website was causing a few errors in the submission process and he was hesitant to send it in. I offered to call for him and help him get it settled.

And then I second guessed myself.

After all it was during school hours. He can't call then. And it needs to be done. We need to cross it off the list. I called. They were wonderful, helped us -- me -- figure out the issue and even waived our application fee for my trouble.

And then I second guessed myself.

Should I have let him call? He would have had the feeling of gratefulness that I did. He would ha…

Energy Flows Where Attention Goes

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Energy Flows Where Attention Goes

While preparing for savasana in my yoga class on Monday morning my instructor quoted one of the seven Hawaiian--Huna--life principles for us to meditate and focus on during our corpse pose relaxation/meditation.  My practice that day had been a struggle--my back was giving me fits and I was ready to settle into my mat and not move. I heard his words, "energy flows where attention goes" and while they struck me in the moment--which often happens for me and words--I was tired. I was discouraged. I was hurting. I filed them in the back of my mind and settled into a restless savanna.

Today, his words came leaping into my mind as I headed out the door for my walk. I quickly googled the phrase before I left--there are many interpretations--and repeated it over and over in my mind trying to solidify its word order, so that I could ponder its meaning.

As I walked down our road I veered off and into the…

The Sweet Spot

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Photo Credit Linda Swantek

When I was younger--perhaps 13 or 14--I vividly remember walking out to our mailbox, giddy with life. I was happy, skating was good, my friends were good, my grades were good, my parents were good.  The sun was warm on my shoulders, my heart was light.  Life was good that day. The memory coats my heart like thick honey, not so much for the steps I took toward the mailbox, but rather the comfort I found in finding--the sweet spot. My worries were nil, my small, young life was in a place where I was comforted by what was around me, not anxious or worried or sad. 
For years after that, I used that moment as a litmus test--a measuring stick of sorts--how happy am I now compared to the day I walked to the mailbox? I would check in, was I that happy again? Most days never measured up; always something to mar the peace. I remember laughing to myself -- hoping I hadn't had the best day of my life as a young teen! I looked forward, expecting my life to give me ma…

The Ugly

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Parenting magazine used to come to my house. A monthly edition - right to my mailbox! Any downtime I had was spent reading tidbits that applied to my new role as momma. From that magazine I got the idea to stow away a small disposable camera in different areas of the house - so that I would always be ready to snap a photo of my boys milestones. No missing Jackson's first steps because I couldn't find my camera! Can you imagine! It seems archaic now - with a smart phone in every pocket of jeans walking around this house - that I would have ever feared missing a first word, a first step, a cute pose. 
If social media had been around when the boys were little I would have been the first to post the photo I took of them out in the front yard - naked except for cowboy boots - covered in mud after an excursion of frog hunting ... "Look at my crazy boys!" I would have posted. "I wouldn't trade them for the world ..." I would have added. I would have posted vi…

Seeing Me

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Sleep was hard to come by when my boys were little. Not always because their little motors wouldn't idle, often because mine would cease to rest. My fears, bite size during the day, became larger than life when dusk turned to night. Resting my head on my pillow signaled instant panic, my eyes stretching open to grasp any ray of light, my heart pounding. My nightly safety rounds, looking in on each little body, laying a hand on their chest to be sure their quiet breath was still rising and falling, did little to abate my anxiety. I took to laying on the floor next to their beds, traveling under the darkness from room to room. Laying in wait for the danger in my mind to explode into my life, hurt my boys and destroy me. 
My anxiety was particularly difficult after Aiden was born - I struggled with post partum depression featuring anxiety and panic attacks. My lack of sleep fed my demons, the more tired I became the larger the dangers would loom. As day broke, I could find my fears …

Hindsight is 20/20

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Last week I saw a woman walking through the grocery store - dragging her tired two year old behind her. He was protesting, she was insisting. It was late. He started crying. Momma lost her patience and picked him up scolding him for his meltdown. Her cheeks were flushed, she was embarrassed. He screamed and arched his back, begging to be put back down. Her toddler acting up in isle 3 at 9:00 at night felt like a clear reflection of her expertise as a mother.

The voice in my head kept saying, "Just take him home.  Wrap him up in his favorite blankie, snuggle him till he falls asleep in your arms. A heavy, sweaty, snotty nosed, dirty pile of heaven." I didn't say anything. I just smiled and sent her all the patience I had to spare.

I remember so clearly, being her. I remember dragging the boys through Kroger, the task of grocery shopping sucking the life out of me. I wish I would have known then what I know now.

I wish I would have known that eventually I could send them …

Slow My Roll

"My Bible study question talked about the country of Israel needing rest from war injustice, spiritual turmoil, etc. Then asked what kinds of rest I need. For some reason I thought of you and am hoping you are getting the rest you need."

I was sitting in the Meijer parking lot collecting my purse and thoughts when this text chimed through. As I read, my eyes filled with tears. I am so tired. I do need rest.  More so my tears came because I was so grateful to have a friend in tune enough with me - and God - that she reached out. Loving me from her words. I was physically stricken when I read it. How did I not realize how tired I was? How did I not know that putting one foot in front of the other had become so difficult.

I cried for a little while in my car alone. Sunglasses on. Overwhelmed with my list for the day, the gravity of some parenting choices I had made lately, pondering a few situations and wondering how I could have avoided or changed them. I gathered my worn out …

Stop telling me this is easy ...

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One of my favorite pictures of my boys ever ... 
Last week at lacrosse practice with Jackson I was chatting with a gentleman who I hadn't met before. His son is on the younger team, we were making small talk before practice started. As those conversations do, it wound its way to how many children we each had. And as has happened countless times in the last 18 years - I heard the same response to telling a stranger I have three boys.

"Cross your fingers and pray to God thank you that you don't have any girls.  Boys are so much easier."
This time, I stopped him as he crossed his own fingers and tipped his head back with closed eyes to implore me to thank my lucky stars that God did not give me a daughter. "Yes, I know. Girls are so much harder. I'm sure the 18 bones my middle son has broken was a piece of cake to handle compared to the life you live." I couldn't believe it came out of my mouth, actually. I often think it, the off handed comment he mad…

You are not amazing

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(Photo credit to Lisa Broyles)
Everyday my boys do something that amazes me. From the beginning - lifting their heads up the day they were born (all three of them did!), rolling over, walking, talking, running, learning, reading, biking, hiking, throwing, batting, shooting - they amaze me. But the fact of the matter is, they aren't amazing. They have never started a charity to end world hunger, it's not likely that they will cure cancer or lead the free world. They are good kids, with good hearts who work hard and screw up from time to time. They aren't perfect, amazing, unbelievable or astounding. Their momma thinks they are - but they are in fact - not amazing.

When the boys were little I remember reading an article in Parenting magazine (back when I had a subscription of the paper mag that came right to my mailbox!) regarding praising children. The article focused on toddlers and preschoolers and praising them for every day accomplishments. It urged parents not to tell …

An Ordinary Life

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I saw this quote a few weeks ago and have been ruminating on it ~ rolling it over in my mind and listening to its message ever since.



“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonderand the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.”―William Martin,The Parent's Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

The extraordinary will take care of itself. I love that line. Preparing our children for greatness seems to be the mantra of our time. The best is what they deserve, they must work harder to be more successful, to earn more, to have a higher standard of living than we do, ACT scores must soar, college applications must be full of extracu…