Thursday, May 24, 2007

Happy Birthday, Luke!



Today is Luke's 14th birthday. It's a double milestone because tomorrow he graduates from 8th grade!

This picture says it all. He has been a Ram's fan since the age of 6, much to the chagrin of my father-in-law, a die-hard Broncos fan. We have no idea where the allegiance to St. Louis came from. But it is deep and unwavering, ever typical of Luke's solid and steadfast loyalty.

And, for him, baseball IS life. From the time he was a toddler and threw a beanbag the length of our living room and bulls-eyed a picture over the fire place, he's had an amazing arm. I don't know who was more surprised, me or him, but he was most delighted at what he'd done. I still haven't replaced the glass in the picture.

As my second-born son, I thought I was well-prepared for what another boy would be like. I remember the first time I held him and he looked back at me with a steady gaze. I have to admit I was a bit perplexed, because something was different. My friend, the mother of five, came to see him when he was a few days old, and as though reading my thoughts, she said, "I remember when my second baby was born. You just expect them to be a little miniature of the first, like having the first baby all over again. Which is ridiculous, because every baby is different. And I looked at my second baby and said, 'I don't know you! But I know I love you with all my heart.'" And I knew that I couldn't wait to get to know my new little boy. And he has taught me so many things.

Besides teaching me everything I know about baseball, he's shown me how fun it is to have a favorite sports team. When I couldn't come up with one on my own, he found one for me (the Green Bay Packers), and now I have a favorite baseball team, the Colorado Rockies, of course. He's taught me that strong, determined, head strong little boys also have the softest and most loving hearts. He's taught me that people can be total opposites, but still look up to one another as a hero, the way he looks up to his big brother.

There are some things that I just don't get, but I've learned to accept. Why would you slide into a mud puddle, on your stomach, just for the heck of it? And how is that someone who is so meticulous about his food, who can spot a foreign speck of seasoning from a mile away and won't eat anything that his brother or sister have even looked at, will sleep with a big, black dog who sheds over every inch of his bed? How is it that he can make a 3-point basket, but can't get his socks in the hamper? And how is it that he loves scarey, crash and burn movies, and yet can make me a cup of tea with just the right amount of milk and sugar so it's just the way I like it, and it tastes better than something I would be served at a high tea.

When I see him laughing and joking with my daughter, it reminds me how much fun it was to have a big brother. Big brothers have the best sweatshirts to borrow. They'll always protect you, even if putting you in a wrestling hold is their idea of a good time. They may gross you out, but they know the funniest jokes. By having a big brother my daughter will grow up without the starry-eyed illusions that a lot of girls have about boys. She'll be wise that way!

So, to my 8 lb 1 oz baby boy, who now stands past my shoulder and wears a size 12 shoe, and has an even bigger heart, Happy Birthday, Luke! I love you! xoxoxoxo

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday musings


Yesterday's post was all about whining. Or, worst yet, wallowing in "poor me," which is a total lack of faith. I was brought up short by a very loving and caring comment posted by Becky, one of my first friends in Blogland. She left a comment on my Art Benches post, because, oddly enough yesterday's post had the "comments" turned off. I swear, I didn't consciously do that -- but, I was feeling very much like writing and running, so I'm glad Becky caught up with me.

One of the things I love about blogging, and that came as such a surprise to me, is the number of people I've met who are able to witness their strong faith in God. I admire that, and am drawn to those blogs where faith is so much a part of people's lives, that witnessing in their blog is as natural as breathing.

My faith has always been a big part of my life -- well, sometimes not so big, but God has always been there for me. I am a Catholic. It's only been in the last 20 years that we've been told it's okay to sing really loud in church, and in the last ten years that we hold hands during the Our Father. Some of us are still rather stoic in our worship.

The interesting thing about yesterday, is that after I posted, I read a chapter from Joanna Weaver's Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. It was all about this lack of faith that I was feeling yesterday. The chapter is called, "Lord, don't you care?" and she talks about the 'three deadly Ds'. How distraction from God, leads to discouragement which leads to doubt. I shoulda read the book, before I wrote the post, but you know what? That's what blogging can be all about. I pour out the yucky stuff sometimes, and I get wonderful, heartfelt comments from a friend, who also put me on to another author in Beth Moore.

When I started blogging, it didn't occur to me that God would slip into it and use it as a tool for me to know him better, and to keep nudging me to keep him front and center in my life. It is not by accident that my blogging friends are such God-filled women. I seek them out and I want to learn from them. And when they respond with such heartfelt thoughts and caring, I know I'm in the right place.

One more thought, before my family yells at me one more time that it's time to leave. I wish I could remember the exact quote and reference, but it goes something like this: A sign of true character is being the same person with everyone you meet. I find myself meditating on that a lot lately. I'm tired and weary of hiding my light under a bushel basket. Perhaps that is where some of my frustration has been. More on that later. I hear car doors slamming and they're going to leave me behind!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Art benches







This morning, Abby and I took a walk to some of the art benches near our house. A couple years ago our town commissioned artists to design benches for about a dozen locations throughout the area. The results are spectacular!

Here is a group of three and the theme is music. All of the benches are meant to be used, as in sat upon, so that makes it even more fun. If I had any artistic ability whatsoever, I would choose to be a sculptor. It is so amazing to me how someone can take a piece of rock or slab of clay and make it into something brand new and life-like.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Parking

My husband has one of those "Blackberries" that he wears on his hip, and whenever something comes to mind he needs to remember, he'll say, "Let me park this thought," and the right index finger flies over the keypad while he makes a note of whatever he doesn't want to forget. I used to be able to do that mentally, and then retrieve info as needed. My brain just doesn't work that way anymore. I try, but it's like my brain has become one of those multi-level parking garages with sections labeled A through double ZZ. When I try to find the thought, I find myself driving around from level to level, going up and down ramps and spiral exits, and when I arrive at the cashier, I've usually lost the ticket I need to get out.

Looking ahead to the next three weeks, we have three "last days of school" for our family. Middle-boy-child finishes a week from tomorrow. The following week, youngest-girl-child finishes her school year. And finally, the week after, oldest-boy-child finishes his junior year of high school. Then it's time to get girl-child ready for camp, followed by oldest-boy's trip to Japan for six weeks, and various and assundry activities for middle-child. I try to wind down my at-home job a bit in the summer, and this year that is complicated by the fact that one of my clients is retiring this month, so there's some added stuff there.
In between there are field trips, school programs and 8th grade graduation activities. And, unfortunately the ordinary, everyday stuff still needs to be done, like laundry, meals, shopping.
Then, we'll be planning for some vacation time at the end of July and early August. By the time we get back, school will begin right away, due to a change in the start date for next year.
I don't have a Blackberry, and I don't trust my parking garage brain anymore, so I'm making lists. And more lists. And somewhere on one of those lists, I need to remind myself, that approaching are the "lazy days of summer," so don't blink, or I'll miss them!



Thursday, May 10, 2007

A survey of my interior



I want a cinnanmon crunch bagel with hazelnut cream cheese from Panera. I want a maid. I want a weekend away with my husband. I want my kids to stop bickering. I want a day back with each of my kids when they were 4 years old. I want my memory back, so I won't keep forgetting things like dentist appointments and mailing in camp registration forms on time for my daughter.

I think crocs look really silly, but I wear them anyway. I think I was born 100 years too late. I think kids today have too much to say. I think I sound more and more like my mother each day. I think I need to get some highlights to cover my gray. I think I don't even know who Paris Hilton is and why does everyone talk about her?

I need to lose 25 lbs. I need to tweeze my eyebrows. I need to make an appointment for the dog's shots. I need to groom the cat. I need to weed the rose garden. I need to pay bills. I need to finish the photo collage for my 8th grader's graduation. I need to finish cataloging books for the Parish Library. I need to RSVP for a graduation party. I need to clean off my desk. I need to reschedule a dentist appointment.

I dream about living by the ocean. I dream about not being so scattered and harried. I dream about finding my gifts and using them as God intended. I dream about my children being grown, and my husband and I traveling. I dream every night and remember a lot of my dreams.

I love Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream. I love the smell of lavendar soap. I love teapots, chocolate and shopping in antique shops. I love to buy pocketbooks. I love books. I love my dog. I love getting into my pajamas early in the evening. I love my son's dimples, my daughter's full lips, and my other son's hair when it gets long and curls at the ends. I love the sound of my husband's footsteps coming in the door at 5:00.

I hate portabello mushrooms. I hate spending an hour and a half getting my hair highlighted. I hate the sound of whining children. I hate teacher inservice days. I hate political ads on t.v. I hate having to (try) to explain school shootings to my kids.

I like the checker at Target who reminds me of my grandpa. I like watching all the credits at the end of the movie. I like Scrabble and helping my son with his vocab lessons. I like looking at other people's family photographs. I like to sleep in.

I dread cholesterol tests. I dread report cards. I dread cleaning bathrooms. I dread ever having to pack up and move from this house.

I need to finish this up. I need to drive my friend to Greeley today. I need to call the pediatrician's office to see if my daughter's camp forms are ready. I need to quiz my son for his religion final. I need to quiz my son for his social studies final. I need to go to my brother's house to cut some fresh lilacs. I need to go for a walk. I need to do laundry. I need to write a book review. I need a cinnamon crunch bagel with hazelnut cream cheese from Panera.

Mothers & Sons

Yesterday, I spent some time at one of my favorite places for R&R. They have ergonomically correct loungers, serve unlimited beverages and snacks, and make such a fuss over me. All for just the cost of a couple pints of blood.

My technician yesterday was Crystal. We struck up a conversation and by the time she was ready to poke me with the needle, we already knew that we both have three kids and while mine are 2 boys, then a girl, hers are 2 girls, then a boy, and much younger than my three.

She commented that she and the baby boy have already formed this incredible bond. "Do you think that's possible?" she asked. "I mean, he's only a baby, but he looks at me like I'm the only one who can protect him from all the world. We just KNOW one another. It's different from my girls."

I know just what she means. There's a unique bond between moms and their sons. My sons show me a loyalty that feels warm and cozy like a blanket. Let's face it, girls never forget. My daughter remembers my misdeeds from 1997. She loves me and I adore her, don't get me wrong. But, even at a young age, the relationship between us was volatile.

My boys may get cross with me and I with them, but five minutes later, they're all about, "Hey mom, where's the sports page/milk/my socks." If I mention the upset, they more often than not look surprised that I'm still thinking about it.

My 13-year-old son, without fail, after we say grace at dinner will lean over, give me a kiss on the cheek and say, "Thanks for supper, Mom." First he thanks God, then he thanks his mother. A Jewish mother couldn't feel prouder than I do, at that moment.

My 17-year-old son confided in me that, "You have no idea how much I depend on you. You are the only person in my life that I know will never, EVER, let me down." Wow. "That's a tall order," I said. "But your dad and I will always be here for you."

"Mom." He looked me square in the eye. "Last weekend, Dad did the laundry and when he put it away, he put half of Luke's underwear in my drawer and the other half in your drawer. That's scary. First, that he thinks you and I wear the same kind of underwear. Second, that he thinks we both wear underwear that's the same kind as LUKE's." (Luke likes boxers with crazy prints.)

I think that moms are the only people in boys' lives that they can show their true vulnerability. From the time they are babies, we tend to their needs, soothe their hurts from scraped knees to bruised feelings. From diaper rash to jock itch, as they grow up, they turn to mom to help them through uncomfortable moments. They have to be tough for everyone else. Even when other women come into their lives, they feel they must be the stronger sex. But, as a mom I always see the little boy. Not just the chubby baby, but the young boy who suddenly grew a few inches and more lean, and whose hugs became more "awkward and elbows." I remember how sweet and vulnerable the back of their necks looked after a hair cut or as they knelt down to look at a bug on the ground or play with their toy trucks. The crooked, scrawled letters on a Valentine, professing their love to me.

My articulate, eldest son is very open and we've never had a problem wondering what's on his mind. His younger brother is somewhat quieter. But it's the non-verbals that more often than not just make me thank God for these young men He's placed my life. One day, I overheard my husband talking to his parents on the phone. I was suddenly overwhelmed at how much I missed having similar conversations with my mom. As I worked alone in the kitchen, I found myself crying. Without a word, my two boys appeared, one on each side and just wrapped their arms around me. Finally, Joe asked with such tenderness, "Mom? What is it?"

"I just miss Grandma," I said. And they hugged me tighter.

Yep, they're my boys.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

More about me

Today, son #1 is finished with his university courses for the semester. He still has high school classes to attend in the mornings for another month. He's on a "high school/college concurrent" program. He is breathing a sigh of relief to have only one set of classes to focus on. I was, too, for him. However, upon exhaling I stopped mid-breath and my cheeks puffed up like a blow-fish and my eyes began to bulge, as I realized what this means.

We'll be spending the afternoons together here at home.

Yes, this is the same boy that I lauded yesterday as becoming quite the conversationalist. He is. (And, more often, quite the soliloquist.) But, it's not just that. You see, I work from home, and my routine is fairly well set, as well as my environment. I like quiet. Sometimes, I'll have the radio playing softly. But mostly I work in my office, to silence, with the door to the outside open when the weather permits, so I can hear the "quiet" of the outdoors through the screen, and feel the fresh air.

I don't like to watch Judge Judy during lunch. (He does.) I don't keep my computer sound on so that it cues me in to websites, new e-mails, and people coming and going with the sound of a screeching door. (He does.) Which brings up another point. The kids' computer is just a few steps away from mine. I'm not used to having office mates during the day. Well, I do have two, but one snores at my feet and the other sleeps on my daytimer, and they know their boundaries.

About mid-afternoon is when my work time ceases, and I do my "other stuff". Start preparing dinner. Throw in some loads of laundry. Do a bit of housekeeping. At this time, I may have my little kitchen radio tuned into my favorite country station. I can understand that not everyone likes country. But I do, and it's my kitchen and my radio.

Sometimes, I take the time just before the kids get home from school to do some reading and have a cup of tea. It's my time to rejuvenate for when the house is full of people again, and buzzing with activity.

Sometimes I think I missed my calling and should have been a nun in cloister.

Is this what retirement will be like?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tulips


It's nice to be missed. You know who you are!:) I haven't blogged in a few days, because 'things' have been kind of busy around here. But I do miss it and find myself writing posts in my head as the day goes on. Today, it's an odd mixture of thoughtful, reflective stuff, and a mix of silly stuff.

It's been seven years ago today since my mom passed away. I thought of her all day -- not a day goes by that I don't think of her. My aunt took me for a belated birthday lunch and we were walking the outdoor mall in Boulder. Every planter was bursting with tulips -- all colors and varieties. It was so wonderful to see. My mom LOVED tulips. I think because they made her think of Holland and she always wanted to see Holland. She said her fascination with the country began as a little girl when she read "Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates." She liked everything about the country, especially the Blue Delft china that was made there. When I was growing up, our kitchen was done in blue and white, with a Blue Delft clock that hung on the wall. Through the years, Mom collected assorted pieces of Delft and she displayed them on a knick-knack shelf that my dad made for her. I have several of the pieces now, and get a warm, comfy feeling when I look at them.

This afternoon, son #2 had a baseball game. Girl-child and I went to watch. Our chairs were set up next to two couples who were sharing just 2 chairs. For the first five innings, the women sat and talked. I learned more about their families, jobs, friends, feelings, joys -- probably more than I should have as they confided "the dirt" about various things going on in their lives. They left the game early and their husbands took over the chairs. I kid you not, for two entire innings they talked about THEIR LAWNS. Crab grass, aerating, mowing, weed killer, pee spots, watering, fertilizer. They would talk a bit, watch the game, talk a bit more. Always returning to the same subject. Kinda funny.

We had a large brick planter put in the front of our house last summer. I put in a couple shrubs, not sure what to do with it. Now, I wish I had filled it with tulip bulbs. This must be a good year for them, because they have just livened up our town, sprouting great splashes of color in the parks and in yards and gardens. I think I'll yank out the ugly, thorny little bushes I put in and fill it with violas this spring. And then in the fall, I'll plant some bulbs.