The state of the world…

by sarah on April 17, 2014 · 0 comments

Augie and Meret Egg Hunt1 Augie Egg Hunt image (2) Augie and Meret Egg Hunt 3 Augie and Meret Egg hunt 2I’m in one of those times where I am going through the motions and getting it done. It’s not at all that I am not appreciating the journey; it’s just that the time to stop and smell the roses along the way is written into a schedule and then given a check mark once it’s completed. Life is busy. Life is good.

As with life anywhere on the planet, ours has been dealt some ups and downs lately.

Up – My kids are growing like little weeds. Vocabularies are blossoming. Meret loves to say “booof booof” every time we pass a dog and her “bye bye” is the sweetest sound my ears can hear. Augie is cracking himself up daily (sometimes hourly) with hilarious phrasing like calling me “shamPOO” … with added emphasis on the poo. He’s four. Nothing is more hilarious than the idea of saying the word poo.

Down – My 33-year-old cousin, John, passed away in March after suffering a series of strokes. It was sudden, it was unexpected and it is still very sad. We had a wonderful celebration of his life last Friday. People say it every time it happens, but it’s really too bad that it takes a funeral to pull all the family together at the same time. Nonetheless… it was wonderful to see so many loved ones at one time.

On a related note — a little story. The night of John’s Memorial Service a group of his cousins and his brother, Grant, went out to toast John at his favorite local bar. We sat around sharing stories and laughing. I think he would have enjoyed it.

John and I disagreed on any number of topics, but we always loved each other. One area we definitely did not share a position on was politics – ever. So, we are at the bar and wrapping up the evening when I go to pay for part of the tab. I reach into my wallet and the first bill I pull out has a little note written on the bottom (I love finding bills like that!). I start to read…, “A dead Reagan is better than any living Democrat. Reagan 2012″. BAM! John did it. Even in his absence he had somehow made his presence known. That Republican heavy dollar bill had ended up in his liberal cousin’s wallet — one last nudge. It made me smile.

Up – We have SPRING! I won’t lie, this winter really hurt my spirits. It turned into a day by day survival plan for me. I don’t think I have seasonal disorder… but I definitely don’t have winter happiness affliction. So to see leaves and flowers popping up has done my heart a lot of good. We even had three trees planted! My dad gifted us some wonderful trees as a Christmas gift this year (awesome gift by the way). I went out last week and picked them out at the nursery and they were installed on Monday. They are evergreen trees and they are wonderful.

Down – Money in, money out. That is how it feels. Doesn’t it feel like that for everyone? In two days I have spent over $400 on doctor bills knowing that more are coming. It know things in the world aren’t free. I am grateful we have such wonderful medical services to benefit from — but it still pains me every time I have to hand a card over to swipe away they money… for things I never want to go through in the first place. And I feel like they always happen at the beginning of the year. I seem to have medical procedures done in the early winter and spring (probably not helping my loathing of winter).

Up – It’s Easter! While Thanksgiving and Christmas (nearly tied) are my favorite holidays to celebrate, Easter is my favorite holiday for WHAT we are celebrating. It’s been interesting watching Augie pay more attention to the meaning of Easter this year. It’s a hard concept for adults to really wrap their heads around, so I can only imagine what he is taking in or missing at this point. We celebrate the Easter Bunny in our home, but he doesn’t trump Jesus and the price he paid for our lives.

Last Sunday I paraded around the sanctuary of church with holding Augie’s hand while he waved his palm branch. And this Sunday I look forward to singing with my kids as we celebrate the gift of life that Jesus gave us. Easter is a definite “Up”.

Down – … Oh who needs more downs…

Up – I get to work from home most of the time for the project I am currently completing for work… which means that bathroom breaks and making lunch and any time I want, I can pop my head out of my “office” (read: bedroom) and give my kiddos a hug. While this also has it’s down side, I like to look at it as a huge positive. Plus they are getting some great bonding time with my mom right now while she babysits them. They love their Grammy.

The truth is life is always full of ups and downs. Sometimes it’s so easy to get sucked into the whirl of negative and sadness, but there is always an up somewhere. I am incredibly thankful for my ups today.

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Life in pictures… March

by sarah on March 19, 2014 · 0 comments

image_20 (2) image_22 (2) image_18 (2) image_16 (2) image_10 (2) image_11 (2) image_14 image_15 image_8 (2) image_7 (2) image_6 (2) image_5 (2) image (2) image image_4 (2)

 

The truth is I am juggling lots and writing little (far less often than I would like) these days… but life is still happening – and I have a camera in my phone to prove it!

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Besides an allergy to listening-to-his-parents, Augie has made it four years without having an allergic reaction worth noting (he is allergic to some dogs… but not allergic enough to make a fuss about). So imagine my surprise when I fixed the kids scrambled eggs for lunch one day and glanced over to see Meret goofy-grinning herself through a rather obvious rash on her face.

Meret's face showcasing her allergic reaction to eggs :( Meret’s face showcasing her allergic reaction to eggs :(

After snapping the picture (because that is what Mom’s do these days to secure proof for doctor visits), I pulled the eggs away and tried to calm down the wild rash that was spreading all over Meret’s sweet face. Thankfully there wasn’t any other kind of allergic reaction taking place (breathing was normal, no food came back up, she seemed genuinely happy).

The nurse at our pediatrician’s office consulted with the doctor and sent us for some blood work. Now any parent of a small child knows it is nearly impossible to get that small child to sit still for a period of time. Try sticking a needle in her arm and expecting her to sit still! Luckily the pediatric nurses were pros and we didn’t suffer too long. I came prepared with one of Meret’s soft blankets (she LOVES blankets) and held her close as they poked and prodded. It seemed to do the trick (and muffle the screaming).

After waiting a few days, it was confirmed that Meret has a slight allergy to egg whites (just whites… OK). I feel like we were really lucky with that result.  And, the test was able to rule out allergies to wheat, peanuts, milk, etc… the other common allergies in young children.

So we wait. At Meret’s 18 month appointment we will be back in for more testing to see if there has been any change. As with so many elements of childhood, kids can outgrow allergies. I am hoping this is the case with Meret. Who doesn’t like a nice omelet now and then?

The truth is we ARE super lucky that our kids have, so far, skirted major allergies. I feel for my friends and their children that deal with the daily threat of common foods like peanuts. If Meret’s burden is skipping eggs during brunch, we can handle that.

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That Dad in the hall

by sarah on February 25, 2014 · 1 comment

Augie’s preschool has strict drop-off and pick-up procedures. I am sure, to some degree, this is necessary to accommodate so many little kids running around. But often times it feels like organized chaos with a side of wasted time.

In the mornings you have two options for dropping off your child. 1) You can sign up for a drop off program. You pull in front of the school and take your child out of the car to be handed off to another parent who shepherds to his/her room. Now, to do this, you have to volunteer your time to be the shepherd and your child, and any other children you may have, need to be able to sit quietly by themselves inside during the drop-off period (read: not going to happen with a 13-month-old). Or, 2) You can park in the back parking lot and walk your child into his/her classroom hallway, wait for the teachers to open the classroom and drop off your child. Because this is, really, our only option, we do the car seat shuffle with two kids every morning…. then wait in the hallway for the teachers to open the door (it’s never more than five minutes before class — this is part of the rules).

Now in the afternoon EVERYONE has to come into the school (parking in the back parking lot). The same car seat shuffle takes place (usually with a somewhat sleepy toddler by this point). And then ALL parents have to go stand outside the door of their children’s classrooms awaiting dismissal (where each child’s name is called out for release). These hallways are tiny and crammed. Mothers with multiple children on their hips exchange short conversations while trying not to bump into other parents doing the same. There is a fair mix of nannies and devoted grandparents thrown in as well. All eyes are on the prize — grabbing your child, their backpack/coat/hat/gloves/artwork and racing to your car to escape the craze of the parking lot. And, just like the morning wait for the door to open, the class release is also full of suspense. The door is never opened early and often opened a little late. There is no wiggle room for picking up your child — so every parent is dutifully waiting at the door as it opens.

It is in these end-of-class waiting sessions that I have had the chance to share in short conversations with the dad of one of Augie’s peers. Knowing very little about him, I understand that at least part of his work takes place in the evenings and on weekends — so he is the primary pick-up person for his son. When I first realized that this dad was the preschool point person for his family I thought it was really cool. How many dads get the chance to be so plugged in to their children’s daily early education. It’s not a choice (or opportunity) that most families make. But here was this dad doing just that.

Then I started listening to this dad. First, he doesn’t smile. Ever. It’s like there is a permanent bad day taking place around him. His child happens to be one of the happiest, smiliest, cutest little boys I have ever seen — but this dad is all grumps- all the time. And when this dad chooses to contribute to the mom small talk taking place while we wait, it is always, ALWAYS, to assert his family’s stance (THE stance) on a subject.

For example, a number of us were discussing the homework our kids are given (worksheets — nothing grueling by any measure) and how hard it is to get them to sit and complete it. While the moms all chimed in with sympathetic agreement that it can be hard to get a four-year-old to want to do homework, this Dad quickly jumped in to say that “We do work all the time at home. We only use preschool for socialization. We do a lot of education in the home.” Um, oooooooK then. As opposed to, what? The rest of us neglecting our children and holding them back from learning in our homes?

These unfriendly contributions to the chatter happening in the moments before dismissal are consistent. The topics may change — Valentine’s Day week (“We make our own Valentine decorations. I won’t buy that stuff.”), Reading (“My kids learn to read at an early age.”), etc. but his US v. OTHERS stance never does.

I don’t actually care that much about what this dad has to say. His borderline rude comments turned me off from valuing his opinion awhile ago. Now I am to the point where I feel a little bad for him. Does he really think we are all buying what he is selling? He skips out on trying to join the camaraderie of parents of preschoolers. He is missing out on the chance to relax in the comfort of other parents who are all facing the same challenges with their preschoolers.

I don’t buy for one minute that his children are little angles all the time — no preschooler is. And I know they aren’t any smarter or better than mine, or the others in the school (they are all in the same — normal child program). So I am not really sure what the push is for his desire to set apart instead of joining in.

The truth is I am not a fan of this style of parenting– the one-upmanship is annoying and kind of gross. And, for the record, his kid brought in store-bought Valentine’s for Valentine’s Day (just like nearly everyone else).

Parent however you see fit, but don’t publicly pretend your path of parenthood is without bumps. I enjoy my hallway mom banter. Who knows. Maybe someday he will find it in himself to enjoy it too.

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I disobeyed the swimming instructor

by sarah on February 24, 2014 · 0 comments

I disobeyed. If you know me, you know that is NOT something I do. I am a rules follower. Perhaps it’s the oldest-child coming out in me, or maybe the German heritage — but I feel that rules and orders are there for a reason. Follow them and you will do well. Disobey and you will… well, who knows!

I wish it was something dramatic and crazy I had disobeyed doing, but it was just swimming lessons. You see, recently Augie wrapped up a session of lessons. I have a hard time calling them “swimming” as there was splashing, playing and moving in circles, but definitely no swimming taking place. Anyhow, Augie showed up to his classes where he stood out as one of the big kids. He was clearly older than many of the other children, but still new to the swimming world. This was probably his third or fourth swimming class session. The problem is that we never do them back to back (or at the same facility). Months go by in between them and that always leaves us starting at square one — the class where kids get comfortable in the water. Augie is WAY comfortable. But we had to put in the time (and money) and pass the class to move on to the next level.

So, imagine my surprise when, after approaching the teacher post-session to ask which group Augie should sign up for in the next session, I was told that he would need to repeat the introduction to water (not the name… but the gist) class because he didn’t follow directions. I smiled, thanked the teacher and left the pool. All I could think was that my child would permanently be in the shallow end… grasping for pool rings and pretending to be a crocodile.

Now, admittedly, Augie did his fair share of following the other little boy in the class instead of following his instructor. But following directions is a life skill we are working on ALL the time, not just in a 45 minute swim class. To place my child in yet another round of blow-bubbles-splash-the-teacher class felt like a giant waste of money to me. I can only pony up $30 so many times before I will actually expect my child to SWIM in swimming lessons.

So, after debating whether to pay extra and go through a private swim club for lessons or stick with our own city’s pool system — I made the call and signed Augie up for the next level. You may be thinking, um – who cares? But you see, I DO. In the back of my mind I had this belief that Augie’s old instructor was going to show up and pull him out of his new class. Would we be banned from all future swim lessons (I mean, Meret is only in the Little Nemo’s… will she ever see her day in the real pool)? But Augie walked into the pool this morning registered for “the next level”.

I glanced around and didn’t notice the previous instructor, so I began settling into a sense of calm. And it was in that two seconds of calm that my child sensed my weakness and did his darndest to prove his old instructor right. Augie refused to enter the water. He screamed and begged to leave the pool. He wiggled out of my grip and the grip of the sweet new instructor. He’s four-and-a-half … it was embarrassing. FINALLY, after I handed Meret off to another mother and gathered the instructor’s book, she was able to wrangle Augie into the water and calm him down. And the rest, as they say, was history. Augie fell right into line. He followed direction (about 80% of the time without having to be told twice) and genuinely enjoyed himself.

It’s just swimming lessons. I didn’t steal a car or tear labels of mattresses ;) … but I went with my gut and disobeyed the swim instructor. And it paid off.

The truth is I know my child better than all of his instructors, teachers and leaders. I am his MOM — it’s my “thing” to know my child. I want him to thrive as a swimmer and I know that part of that is pushing him to be better (behavior and skill set). We have more classes to go … but I am glad I disobeyed this time. I’m sure I will do it again.

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Lessons to teach… and not to forget.

by sarah on February 12, 2014 · 0 comments

A friend from growing up passed away on Sunday. Beyond Facebook messaging and replying to each others’ status updates, we hadn’t been in touch in probably a year and a half. Regardless, he was my friend, somebody I respected, enjoyed and really always assumed would be around in some capacity. But life is delicate and often, too short.

When I think back over the years (I met him when I was probably five or six) I have some really wonderful memories of my friend. While this makes it harder to say a final goodbye, it also makes it that much more wonderful that I had the chance to have him as part of my life. As I think back over some of these memories I am reminded that some of the lessons he helped me learn over the years are important, kind of really important, for me to pass along to my children.

I want to share just a couple here:

1) Don’t let ANYTHING hold you back.

My friend was deaf, since birth. I don’t ever remember this being something that seemed to bother him — though I am sure it could be annoying to have those of us not knowledgeable in ASL needing an interpreter (or TTY/relay service) to talk to him. And I definitely don’t ever remember his lack of hearing keeping him from doing anything. Quite the opposite, he did EVERYTHING. He was the ultimate in exploring life, taking on new challenges and enjoying the experiences along the way. 

2) Everyone is NORMAL.

My friend was the first deaf person I really knew. At t-ball practice he taught me my first bit of sign language, “shut-up”. Hilarious, yes. But it also challenged me, as a little kid, to understand how it was he was communicating. What was sign language? I headed immediately to my elementary school library and checked out a sign language book. I taught myself the alphabet (which I still know). And it was during this exploration of somebody a little different that I started to realize that we are all normal – different is normal. We all have things that set us apart — I wore glasses, that kid needed insulin, another child didn’t have a dad, that little girl was very short, this little boy had a religion that didn’t let him celebrate parties… But, there was nothing so different about us that we couldn’t find common ground — that “normal” place where we could connect.

3) Having a good HEART and KIND spirit matters most.

My friend had friends, lots of them. I am sure many, including myself, were intimidated by the interpreter that followed him around the hallways of school. But five minutes in a room with this guy and you wanted him to be your friend. He was hilarious. He was smart (really smart). He was outgoing. And ALL of these things were not at the expense of something, or somebody, else. My friend was kind and friendly. He would catch your eye across the crowded school hallway and give you a giant wave. He would time a joke perfectly to erupt a classroom of nearly-sleeping high schoolers into fits of laughter. And he had a big heart. He gave me my very first real Valentine our freshman year of high school. I will never forget it, because it was the nicest thing any guy did for me in high school. It wasn’t required. It wasn’t expected. It was just really, really nice. That is how my friend was — and he made you want to be that way too.

4) ENCOURAGE others.

My friend was a life explorer. He seemed to be constantly embarking on a new adventure, big or small. And no challenge seemed out of reach. But he recognized that others might need a little more encouragement. He often included others in his plans, and it was a genuine invite. He really wanted to share the experiences he was having. When I was pregnant with Meret my friend started a yoga class in the park and invited me to join. He created the format as a way to encourage deaf and hearing participants to come together, in one class, and enjoy yoga in the great outdoors. It was actually fantastic! He taught the class and had an interpreter there to speak the instructions he was giving in sign-language. It was the first time I had ever taken part in a class like that. His encouragement to try something new was appreciated.

There are so many other lessons my friend helped me learn along the way. And thankfulness is the last he will leave me with. I am reminded how thankful I am that I had the chance to know such a guy. He was a ornery little boy who grew into a thoughtful, outgoing and genuine man. I will be lucky if I can teach my children these lessons he shared as well as he was able to impart them on me.

The truth is my friend will be missed by many. I say continued prayers for his family and friends who loved him so much — and surely learned all of these lessons and more along their life paths with him. Be in peace, my friend.

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We ALL have those parenting moments when it is all we can do to hang our head in shame, praying the minutes away, while our child plays out the role of “THAT KID” in front of a public audience. More often than I would care to admit, I am THAT KID’s mom. I am the one desperately pleading with my child to behave, stop, just-listen-for-once!

So today, when my kid was being actually quite good (even beyond four-year-old standards), I want to extend a giant THANK YOU. THANK YOU to all the Moms of kids who are acting sh*tier than mine today. You deserve my gratitude because NOT being the one receiving sympathetic stares (or worse… judging ones) is a relief. I feel for you (hence my sympathetic stare in your direction), but I know that the bad ju-ju of preschool aged children will surely be back in our vicinity again soon. So thanks for baring the brunt today. And thanks for the reminder that yes, it (little sh*t-acting children) does happen to everyone. Every. Single. Parent.

I’m sure typing out these words has released the luck of my morning streak of kind, well behaved children… but I wanted to get out that thanks nonetheless.

The truth is I love my children when they are royal darlings and when they are royal pains in my … well, you get the point. And, I know you do too, Mom of that crazed-dramatic-ornery-disruptive-loud-rude-angry-sad-child. ;)

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When Brrrrr turns to Aghhhhh!

by sarah on January 28, 2014 · 0 comments

News to nobody, it’s been freaking COLD here lately. I believe my car read -9 this morning when I was driving to a meeting downtown — and that was before windchill. It’s the kind of cold that takes your breath away and then slaps you in the face to really drive home who is in charge. Winter, you win.

Like most weather related whining, I could some how muster the strength of will to overcome the chilly temperatures if it wasn’t for two things — my children. When you have little ones running around, unable to leave the home (for fear of frozen phalanges and impending shock), the walls start to close in on you. Day one of frigid weather feels almost a little like a vacation day. You throw in a movie or two, you stay in pajamas a little later, you pop some popcorn… nice day, really. Day two of this same weather seems a little boring. We already saw that movie, yesterday, I want to wear shoes, popcorn make the house smell. By day 10 (or more) you are a caged animal. Primal screams emerge without warning, clothing seems mismatched (if not optional), food comes in two groups — available or not.

Here is an example of what we have become in my home. Augie has a nasty cough/cold. His snotty face has worn the same pajamas three days in a row — because I can’t muster the care to make him feel that he needs to wear something different for a change of pace. And at one point today I looked over and Meret was dancing to the sounds of Augie running in circles around the living room. He was quietly screaming while running too. I guess I should be grateful that it was quiet screaming… but I was really just more concerned. WE NEED OUT OF HERE!

School was canceled (again) tomorrow. I completely support little kids not walking to school in these temperatures, but I also completely support somebody else taking my children for a day or two– or an hour or two.

OK, the truth…. The truth is I am incredibly thankful that we have heat, warm clothes, plenty of food, cars that run and an attached garage. The other truth is I am a human who has spent too much time indoors and I need a break. I would LOVE a break that involved 72 and sunny… but I would be nearly as thrilled with a day where my kids could exit this home and receive the blessings of fresh air and running through a yard (regardless of temperature). Until that day arrives (and I check the forecast nearly hourly) I will try to hold on to those first truths of thanksgiving — because I am aware that not all of us can claim those blessings.

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More Birthday… in pictures

by sarah on January 19, 2014 · 0 comments

The pictures are here…and they are lovely. I know I have written about how much I love Grogan Studios before, but really, I think the pictures speak for themselves. Alison Grogan does such a wonderful job of capturing those little moments, the looks, the things I love experiencing but never quite get in pictures myself.

So here are some more pictures of Meret’s Golden First Birthday.

meret1yr004 meret1yr006 meret1yr009 meret1yr010 meret1yr011 meret1yr014 meret1yr018 meret1yr023 meret1yr035 meret1yr037 meret1yr040 meret1yr049 meret1yr057 meret1yr060 meret1yr062 meret1yr065 meret1yr079 meret1yr080 meret1yr081 meret1yr086 meret1yr097 meret1yr110 meret1yr111 meret1yr112 meret1yr116 meret1yr120 meret1yr122 meret1yr125 meret1yr127The truth is it was an awesome day!

 

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A GOLDEN Birthday

by sarah on January 14, 2014 · 1 comment

Meret turned one. 1 on 1/1… a Golden Birthday. It will only happen once in her lifetime and I wanted to make it special (even if she will only remember it in pictures).

My sister, Tess, and I have been planning her party for months. It’s not that we put a ton of money (very little in fact) or energy into it. It is more that we always had our eyes open for that “perfect” touch to add to the day.

Gold and blush pink — fitting colors for a one-year-old’s golden birthday. And it was beautiful.We borrowed fabric garland used at a friend’s wedding and a glass drink dispenser that looked beautiful glowing with pink lemonade. Target’s dollar bins came through with fantastic pink and gold containers and ribbon. And I looked to Party City for pink utensils, pink and gold candy and pink stripped straws (Target carries gold striped ones). It was fun discovering all the elements that would go into one perfect little birthday party (Do you know they make gold spray paint for cake icing? They do! I used it. It was fun!)

We had both sides of our family over to celebrate. And, I had our good friend and crazy talented photographer, Alison, shoot professional photos of the day. The photos will serve as Meret’s one-year-old pictures too. I will be sure to post them when I get them!

But for now you will get some fuzzy ones I took :)

Meret 1 - the drinks Meret 1 - the food Meret 1 - the cake Meret 1 - snacks Meret 1 - more food Meret 1 - golden dress Meret 1 - 1 cake Meret 1 - Augie celebrating Meret 1 - cake eating

The day was wonderful. My “baby” is ONE! She’s full of spunk, giggles and intense observation. She is wonderful.

The truth is I am blessed beyond measure with this little one. And her Golden Birthday was just the icing on the cake ;)

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