Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Race for the Cure

Since I've started running more regularly (still a little afraid to admit too loudly that I'm training for a half marathon), I've decided that I can definitely run in the Susan Komen Race for the Cure on May 13th. It will be hard for me, emotionally, but Chris has decided to join me and I'm sure that will help. I wish it wasn't on Mother's Day weekend, but a part of me knows that it probably couldn't be at any other time.

If you're interested in donating to try and fight this awful disease, check out my side bar. Thanks to my talented neighbor, I now have an easy link to help me collect donations.

Monday, April 24, 2006

...first star I see tonight...

I heard a rustling in the next room around 2:30 AM. Harrison was getting out of the top bunk to use the bathroom. I got up to help him get back in bed because the ladder isn’t there and I worry about him climbing up the back of the bed in the dark. He’s fine, but complaining that it’s too dark – the lights were too dim for him.

About an hour later he is rustling again. Then at 4:00 AM he’s wandering outside our door. He’s awake and ready to start the day. We ask him to crawl in bed with us and try to sleep. The kicking and squirming go on for about 50 minutes until we can’t handle it anymore. He’s awake and now we’re all grumpy and irritable.

He can’t verbalize why he is awake and somewhat agitated. This has always been an issue for him. He’s upset about something, but can’t seem to tell us. When he was little we called it “colic”, now we call it “a pain in the ass” with an edge of “game playing”.

I worried all day about his poor sleep affecting his behavior at school. A friend of mine, who volunteered in his room and had him over for lunch, was kind enough to call his behavior “out of sorts”. When I picked him up from his preschool, the teachers said that he had been a little “aggressive” today and for the last two weeks or so. “Ella? Oh she’s such a doll.”

I truly love my children equally. They each have their assets – Harrison is intelligent, a great artist and funny. Ella is flexible, smart and very social. They each have their faults. Harry has a negative outlook on life at times. He’s not very adventurous – likes routine - and has a short temper. Ella demands a lot of attention, is a hypochondriac and is probably one of the whiniest individuals I’ve ever met. That said – Harrison is more difficult. I have never thought of this as a gender issue. It’s just a difference. As their preschool teacher said to me tonight, “They are little tiny people with fully-formed, large personalities.”

After thinking about Harry’s horrible behavior the last two weeks, or so, I think that it all comes down to simple love and attention. When Harrison feels secure and has strict routine, he behaves better. There is nothing routine about our household, and I’m sure he can feel less than secure, at times, when his two full-time working parents are both working lots of hours (as we have been lately). Throw in a visit from Grandma and Bumpa (last weekend) and I’m sure it’s enough to throw his little brain, heart and body into a tizzy.

What is it about the bond between parents and kids that can literally turn your insides upside down? I worried all day about his social interactions, his teachers and their impressions of him, his behavior (would he get in trouble – or worse, hurt someone?) and his heart. I ached for him and the anxiety that woke him and he couldn’t tell me about. I think if I had a magic wand, or could make some wishes, I would wish for Harry to be able to tell us his feelings more often. I don’t know if that is the answer, but I think if I understood how his mind worked better – I wouldn’t get so impatient with him.

Chris and I were both busy all day and only had a minute to talk. Harrison was the topic of our conversation. We need to devote more direct attention to him, and his sister. Our weekend was filled with togetherness as a family, but most of it was yard work, performed by Mom and Dad, with little ones in the wings. There were trips to REI and Shopko, but no trips to the park. We went to two soccer games, but those are really more about rushing around, to get to the game on time, with a lot of coaxing and bribing for them to play the whole game. I truly think we need to consistently plan for more child-focused activities each week.

I know my kids, for the most part, are well-adjusted and happy. They love their schools and have accepted that their mom works outside of the home, while most of their friends’ moms do not. They enjoy the variety of activities and people that they experience weekly. And so do we. But life is unpredictable. It throws curve balls. Our job is to not only notice the curve balls, but to act on them. This morning was a curve ball.

When my mom died it was more than a curve ball – it was the wake-up call of my lifetime. I have spent the last four months thinking of life with her, and without her, daily. I remember her as my best friend and mom, but lately I have been analyzing her as a parent. She wasn’t perfect, but her love for me was something I never questioned.

We will spend this week and weekend focusing more on our kids. Planning kid-centered activities that force us to ignore the lawn mower and pay more attention to Harry’s second loose tooth and Ella’s ow-ies with more sympathy. I’m not really worried about how my kids will remember me – I have no doubt that they’ll know they were loved. What I worry about is me. I want to look back knowing that I did the best job at this parenting-thing that I could.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I go through stages when I love blogging. Other times I tolerate it. Lately I've been struggling with subjects to write about. I think it probably is because I've been reading some really great posts lately. People have been writing about politics, body image issues, role conflicts as women, religion, name it.

I have tons going on, but can't seem to figure out how to get it on "paper".
So when Chris posed the "Dino" chicken nuggets and told me to "get the camera", I obliged.

Yes, this is how we party at our house. A nice Cabernet, salsa from Costco, processed chicken and pizza with cube shaped pepperoni.

This should keep my readers on the edge of their seats. Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 14, 2006

Fitting In

Throughout my kids’ lives, we have moved them in and out of several childcare settings. Harrison especially. About two months ago, we made yet another mid-year switch due to my dissatisfaction with the preschool they were in. It was called “Montessori blank blank”, but really it was a traditional day care with a few wooden manipulatives tossed around the room. The director was very loving and caring, but plagued with financial difficulties and health issues that kept her from fully teaching the Montessori philosophy. A TV/VCR was moved into the school a few months before we left and that was when I started to really question what my kids were doing all day (Harry only in the afternoon). Long story short – I made the difficult decision to uproot my babies from their comfort zone and friends and move them ten minutes further away.

The new school is truly run as Maria Montessori would have wanted it. The atmosphere is cheerful and bright and the teachers are caring and sensitive. The curriculum is well planned and there are even extracurriculars taught – dance, music and Spanish. Still, I have questioned how they were doing there.

Ella immediately seemed to enjoy it, but often mentioned a few of her friends back at her old school. It was a really small place and each individual was an integral part of the community. This new school is much larger. Two big classes of kids – about 40.

I worried most about Harry. The second afternoon he was there, a kid on the playground threw his hat over the fence. We have yet to find it. I wondered what kind of “big” kids were at this preschool. They have a whole group of full time Kindergarteners and I worried if they would accept him into the fold. He never complained. He never tattled on the boy who threw his hat. He seemed to take it all in stride only occasionally requesting that he be able to go back to his old school and see D – the boy from hell who would tattle on Harrison constantly and provoke him only to blame Harry for everything. This boy was whom Harry loved. Again, I think it was because the community was so small and Harry and this boy were two of three big boys at the school.

Since the new school is near Chris’ office, he does a lot of the pick up and drop off. Even though that makes my life a whole lot simpler, I miss the parent/teacher connection that you get with that duty. The little bits of information they throw you as you are getting their coats on. I just don’t feel any large connection with this new place. I still feel like we are outside of the clique looking in.

Thursday, though, it all changed.

Two things happened. One, I got to pick up the kids and as we were packing up several of their classmates started to spontaneously say “Bye Ella!” “Bye Harry!” My somewhat anti-social Harrison just ran out to the car, but people-oriented Ella basked in it and made it last as long as she could. “Bye A! Bye I!” And then, as we were going up the stairs I heard one girl yell, “I love you Ella!!” It was so sweet and made me feel that she really has fit in just fine.

The second thing was experiencing the school’s version of a spring recital of sorts that night. We almost didn’t go. Harrison didn’t want to sing or dance, and Ella is painfully self-conscious and didn’t want to be on stage. The location was pretty far away and we were supposed to bring a dessert or appetizer. I had about 60 minutes to feed them, get to the store and drive the 20 minute route. Getting in the door and preparing dinner took about 30 minutes. Calling a neighbor to steal her unopened Oreos took about 10 minutes and yet we were still 5 minutes late.

Neither of my children has been on a stage before and this was a real stage. The “big” kind in a gymnasium. There were lots of families in the audience and most of the kids were all dolled up for the big event. Not mine. Harrison had on a wrinkled garage sale shirt that I put on him in the car seat after I discovered a dried booger on the shirt he wore all day. Believe me – it was large enough that someone may have noticed it from the back row. His jeans had a large tear across the knee. I call it his Huck Finn look. Ella wore a long sleeved corduroy dress with sneakers. It was 77 for a high this day. She looked a tad out of place amongst all the shimmery, sleeveless Easter dresses that most of the other girls were wearing. However, they pranced out onto the stage and danced their hearts out. I even saw Harrison’s mouth moving, while swinging his hips, during BOTH songs they performed. Ella didn’t adjust too well after the dancing portion. Something about standing in front of a 150 or so people bothered her. The minute she found me and caught my eye, she lost it. She has a classic move. Her lip quivers and then she extends one of her arms straight out as if she’s making a right angle with her body. This then leaps into the whimper, full out cry and audible, “Maaaaammmmaaaa.” It was so pathetic that I almost ran onto the stage to save her from the unbearable pain she was in, but one of her teachers beat me to it. She kneeled behind her and hugged her. Ella calmed down immediately.

As I stood alone in the back waiting for Chris to arrive, I talked with one mother I just recently met who lives in the neighborhood. She has a girl that Ella loves and a son also in Kindergarten. After the show, I met another mother of one of Ella’s other good friend. Both sets of parents are originally from the Midwest and we had so much in common. It was easy conversation and the kids all got along. We are even trying to arrange playdates. This is big for me. I’m not much for lots of coordination – my life is complicated enough.

As I watched the dancing preschoolers and chatted with new comfortable people, I realized that I finally felt like we fit in. That our kids were not only welcome here, but accepted. The feeling is strong enough to erase the guilt of moving them from their old school and maybe even strong enough to erase the guilt of putting them in full day preschool to begin with! Well…maybe not that much, but I do really like this place.

P.S. I have set up a donation page for the Race for the Cure. I would be grateful to any of you who feel compelled to donate. I don’t exactly know how to direct to this page yet (I’m SO computer inept!!), but will get that info out as soon as I have my neighbor explain it to me!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

why don't we dance more?

Driving the kids home from school tonight, I opened the sunroof and their windows. The wind was blowing and the stereo was blaring a great blues tune. Ella started movin' and shakin', "Mama! my WHOLE body is dancing!!" Even Harry got caught up in the beat. It was a terrific moment. Posted by Picasa
We are hanging on desperately waiting for Spring to fully bloom and for Summer to arrive. The grass is green and the tulips buds are forming, but heavy snow fell as recently as last Thursday. Our weeks are beginning to become a project in resilience.

Soccer has begun for both kids – two games each Saturday. This is Harrison’s third “season” and he finally seems to be finding it agreeable. Ella has played twice and does pretty well, but thinks that playing “Ring Around the Rosie” with her teammates is much more fun.

Sundays are for skiing. We only have one more week before most of the resorts close.  This means that Easter is close and I need to plan a dinner.

Ella’s birthday party was a huge success and Harry is anxiously waiting to pick out his cake for his party next month (he currently wants a cake with a golfer on it – no, not in honor of Phil Mickelson’s win, but because he knows Opa (my dad) loves to play golf.)

Last Friday was my high school’s prom. Our school is so small and intimate that it was fun to see everyone dressed up. Unlike most traditional proms when cliques form on the outer edges of the room, and no one wants to risk dancing in front of their peers, our prom was amazing. We had a wonderful sit down dinner, in a beautiful room overlooking the entire Salt Lake Valley, before the music started. Once the plates were cleared, the volume went up and the kids flooded the dance floor. All of them. It was really fun.

Chris and I have made some big goals lately. One, we have started Weight Watchers – AGAIN for me. During early winter, I decided not to care about the eight months of hard work it took to lose 24 pounds (and maintain that loss) last year and gained it all back fairly quickly. It was kind of like the icing on the cake after the loss of my mom. I have been back in the saddle for about three weeks and am losing much more slowly this time. I’m sure my body is freaking out. On top of the changes in our eating, we have decided to train for a half marathon. It’s a distance I’ve run before – ONCE about nine years ago– but regardless it seems somewhat attainable. The race is on June 3rd, but I will be running the Susan Komen Race for the Cure before that. Last year I wore a paper on my back that honored my mom and her struggle with breast cancer. This year I will get a special one, again with her name, but in honor of her death. It makes me tear up to even think about it. I can’t even imagine running amongst all the other people who will be running in honor of their mothers, sisters and aunts. Although it will be hard, I feel a need to be there.

So we will muddle through the end of the school year. The weeks will hopefully pass quickly and we can get to summer. I cannot wait.

(Now remind me of that last paragraph when I’m bitching about being with the kids day and night in late June!)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Working Mother Dilemma #4,193

I cannot imagine being a single parent full time. The emotional and physical demands are astounding even when I have “back-up”. Lucky as I am to have a partner in this child rearing job I’ve been blessed with, I am currently on my own with the kids till about midnight on Wednesday. That’s only three days, but it’s enough to crush me!

The main reason that this overwhelms me is because I am not built to be organized. I try. Believe me. I have been known to hang all of my clothes on hangers, put them in my closet and then color and item coordinate the clothes. I did this last summer and now most of my clothes sit on the chair next to my closet. Why? Because I can’t keep up with it. The minute I hang a black sleeveless shirt with the black long sleeved shirts – I know I’ve blown it and I just don’t want to do that. So I ignore it. And the pile on my chair is almost to the ceiling. Seriously.

Dishes and mail are other things that deteriorate the clean counters that Chris often leaves for me. Growing up, we put dirty “hand wash” dirty dishes next to the sink, not in the sink, and there were many rules for what was hand-washable. Wooden spoons, big pots and pans (they took up too much space in the dishwasher, it was considered wasteful), all plastic left-over dishes, etc. I have managed to break free of some of the constraints my mother placed on me, but it’s still very hard. So unless I wash dishes after every meal, and load the dishwasher, the piles become pretty large. With limited counter space, mail and school paperwork fill up any remaining empty spots. For the life of me, I can’t come up with a way to organize all the paperwork. We have tried baskets, standing file divider thingys, etc. No matter how hard I try, I end up piling. I am happy to report, though, that we are down to two main pile areas.

My kids are pretty patient with all the disorder in our home. They seem to enjoy life with or without clutter. My husband, on the other hand, can’t handle it at all! He feels that he is the only one who cleans and organizes. I beg to differ, but have to admit he’s much more likely to be cleaning dishes than relaxing reading a magazine. Whenever it becomes an “issue” (my polite way of saying “fight”) I bring up the “P” word – “priorities”. Cleaning and organizing are just not priorities for me. I can look past clutter easily whereas he cannot.

M, my wonder therapist, suggested that we hire a nanny part time to help with our morning routine and at other times when we need to clean or just have a date. Chris is all for it. I am not so sure. I spend so much time away from my kids as it is – how can I justify this? M and Chris say it will help our sanity. The kids get to stay in their own home and we get the support we need. We’re both professionals…we can’t do it all. I have a hard time with that, though. If there are thousands of single moms doing EVERYTHING, including working full time, how can I not handle half of EVERYTHING?

I’m pretty sure I was Catholic in another life because this whole nanny thing is making me feel very guilty. And I haven’t even done anything!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Thank you, sweet Jesus!

Saturday 9:50 AM

Ella: Mommy? Can I please have a salad?

Me: Ummm. Ok. (really wanting to say, “HOLY SHIT! Are you for real???”)

Saturday 9:57 AM

After being distracted by something on the way to the kitchen to prepare the breakfast salad…

Ella: Mommmmmyyy! WHERE IS MY SALAD???

Saturday 10:12 AM

Ella: Mom? Can I have some more? And don’t forget the tomatoes.