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Category Archives: family

Five

I never thought we’d be here. For so long, the days and months and years stretched before me, in all their glorious infinity. And then today I looked up into my sweet boy’s face, his big, blue, five-year-old eyes, and died just a tiny bit.

Five weeks to kindergarden. It makes my heart lurch every time I say it, think it, pass by school supplies in Target. Five weeks to the end of glorious infinity, endless days of story time and science center and play groups and trips to the zoo. Five weeks until my sweet peanut, with his quick smile and gentle heart, will sit at a desk for six hours a day. Alone. Without me.

Breathe mama, just breathe…

I’ve been fortunate to have a job that has allowed me the flexibility to keep T at home. He’s never gone to pre-school but is well traveled, well spoken, well socialized. He is just as comfortable (at five!) running around in his underwear (he is a boy) or wearing a tie (sometimes simultaneously). And yet I struggle with not just the idea of our flexible lifestyle changing – no more mid-week trips to the beach or spontaneous outings to Philly or NYC- but also with the question of whether our neighborhood school is even a good choice for a boy who sits still exactly zero hours of the day. I want him to love school, to enjoy learning, and my heart hurts just thinking about his natural energy and curiosity being stifled. And of course the pink elephant, my baby is growing up.

Breathe mama, just breathe…

Five more weeks. Five weeks to spend at the pool, watch movies outside, and lunchtime soccer games followed by pie. Just a tiny bit more time to sleep in and go to bed late, take a week or two to visit Grandma, or meet me downtown for lunch on the days I need to go into the office. Only five weeks left to be my baby, before becoming my kindergardener.

Fly, my son. I’ll be here when you land.

 

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Pie for lunch? Thanks, Mom!

 

 

 

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It’s a Sports Life

One of the many things we love about living in Baltimore is the wide array of sports – everything from Preakness to Orioles magic to professional soccer, even a few runs of the Grand Prix.  As I write this, I’m sitting with my boys watching a pre-season Ravens game.  Obviously I’m not the football fan in this family.  But I’m willing to make the sacrifice of a few hours out of a rainy Saturday evening for J, T and their dad to spend some quality time together.  J starts his junior year of high school in a few days and is, each time I see him, that much closer to becoming the man we’d hoped him to be – kind, compassionate, hard working.  And to see T emulate him, cheering on the good plays, shouting encouragement on the bad, makesi me proud for the part I’ve had in raising someone who’ll be another strong role model for T.  Just one more reason that, for us, sports matter.

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Brotherly love...

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2014 in family

 

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Spring?

Man I hate winter.  The cold, the snow, the slippery roads, taking an extra thirty minutes to get out the door because of all the layers, not being able to open my windows or dry my sheets outside without losing an eye on their frozen corners.  Ugh.

T and I were looking at some pictures on my phone the other day and I realized that, the day we hauled the wagon full of stuff down to the Toys for Tots donation spot (in December!) we were wearing sweatshirts.  And shortly after that, the deep freeze set in.  Ugh again.

But today…Today was glorious.  Foggy at first, then sunny warmth that invited a long walk with the dogs and many trips down the slide.  T got a bike for Christmas and, except for the day he decided to ride it down the stairs, it has mostly collected dust over the past few months, waiting for just the right moment for him to make it FLY.

Just a few more winks...

Just a few more winks…

So I take this day, the first of Spring, to declare the end of my annual hibernation.  Sure, the next few weeks could bring more snow and sleet.  But I’ve had just enough sweet air to get me over the hump and my loving husband just brought me a Bud Lite Lime Mango-Rita (seriously – it’s a thing!).  So suck it, winter – there’s a new season in town.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in family, Remember

 

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Three!

My sweet son –

Happy birthday! You turned three today…it hurts my heart a tiny bit just to say it. You are tall enough now that I can rest my hand on the back of your head and kind enough to permit me to do so. You are changing so fast, every day brings something new – words I can’t fathom how you know, skills I can’t believe you mastered so quickly, and play I can’t figure how you imagined.

I’d like to tell you every day is perfect, but you are old enough now to realize that’s not true and tell us when you are hurt or scared or mad, and acknowledge when one of us feels the same way. There are moments of incredible frustration, like when Daddy and I took you to the National Air and Space Museum to see “rocketships” but you were having none of it, pitching a fit on the floor while school kids milled around. But those times are balanced by moments of such gentleness and love; one of my favorite times of the day is when you first wake and come in to snuggle with us, smelling like lavender and sleep. We yell and cry, and are by no means a quiet family. But there is love to spare and you are so quick with yours that it sometimes takes my breath.

You’ve accomplished so much in just one year. Within weeks of turning two you Houdini’d your way out of your crib, grinning at us as you monkey-climbed down the other side. You learned to ride bike, made friends at the park, spent hours reading to yourself and us, helped mommy cook, discovered a love of superheroes and baseball. And your language….one day during the summer I found myself staring at you, trying to decipher your baby tongue, only to realize you were speaking in entire sentences. You have such a way with words and I am so proud to see you try them out, it sometimes looks as if you can almost taste them on your lips. You take on each day with bright eyes and infectious spirit, and I find myself inspired.

As I tucked you in the night before your birthday you pulled my hand down and whispered “You make me happy.” You have no idea, my son. No longer a baby, my heart will not yet allow me to call you a big boy. But you are, without a doubt, my Sweet Boy, and I wish you the happiest of birthdays.

Happy birthday Sweet Boy!

Happy birthday Sweet Boy!

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in family, Parenting, Remember

 

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Joy

Christmas is always a hectic time of year in our house.  Even when it was just me, and then me and DH, our families live in different states and I don’t recall a holiday in nearly two decades for which I was not in a car, airport, bus terminal or train station.  Until last year, when we shook things up by announcing we were staying home and all were welcome to join us. Needless to say two sets of parents and siblings, not to mention hosting friends and extended family on Christmas Eve, leads to a lot of work and a very full house.

This year has turned out to be nearly the opposite of the chaos of Christmas past.  My parents decided to head to Mexico, and for the first time we won’t be together to celebrate.  I’ve been pretty down about it for months, to the point of dreading Christmas even more than I usually do. To make matters worse, work has been ridiculously busy but the timing of the holiday brought the benefit of a pre-celebratory three-day weekend to unwind and prepare.  I spent two days baking, which may sound awful but is cathartic and as close to zen as I’ve permitted myself to get.  Rolling dough and measuring ingredients takes just enough attention to keep my ADD from kicking in so I walk off to start something else, but not so much that I can’t let my mind wander.  Ten dozen cookies leaves plenty of time for thoughts.

He's got an eye like his daddy!
He’s got an eye like his daddy!

T’s first gift to me came in the form of a stone. It was during our family vacation last summer and we had hiked quite a ways, especially for someone for whom bipedal mobility was a fairly new accomplishment. There, in the middle of the Pisgah National Forest, my sweet peanut bent down to examine the trail and after several minutes looked up and offered me his find – a nondescript piece of gravel that may have meant nothing in a different time and place. But the smell of the forest and the blue of his eyes looking into mine, the feel of the rock and the sound as my breath caught as he placed it my hand, are burned forever into my brain.  Each time I think of that moment or spy my treasure sitting on the dresser my heart melts in what can only be described as Joy.

We moved so much growing up that most years it was just me, my brother and parents. I cannot recall specific holidays when there were more or fewer gifts, although I’m sure they existed. I remember putting up the train and hearing it clack and clang around the tree; cinnamon rolls baked fresh on Christmas morning; my brother and I testing out our new sleds in the crisp new snow.  Simple memories of love and family and togetherness, rather than feelings of dread over too much money spent, too little time to prepare, too many people who don’t get along having to share the same table over a meal it took too long to make and too little time to enjoy.  I think that’s why, as an adult, I’ve struggled with Christmas as a holiday and tradition; somewhere along the line everything else started getting in the way.

I definitely missed spending this time of year with my parents, especially since we see each other only once every several months.  But they gave me the unexpected gift – the chance to start new traditions, ones I hope T will remember as I recall those from my childhood.  I want those traditions to be based on the sights and smells, sounds and tastes of home, family and love, all the ingredients for a holiday filled with Joy.

Happy holidays and best wishes that you will find your own Joy in 2013.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2012 in family, Remember

 

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Aftermath

My Dad taught me at an early age to appreciate the sheer awesome power of Mother Nature. As a kid growing up in a nomadic family, we practiced all manner of weather and emergency drills both in practice and out of necessity. Over the years we learned to seek shelter from a tornado while on a camping trip (seek the lowest ground possible, preferably in a ditch or ravine, and lie flat), how to stay safe during sudden rough water while boating (fasten life jackets, stay low and center, point the bow at a 40 degree angle into the wind, reduce speed and head toward the nearest coast), and what to do when caught in a blizzard (seek shelter, making a snow cave if no other option, get/stay dry and stay hydrated but do not eat snow). Since then I’ve encountered earthquakes, water spouts, crazy thunder storms, a mud slide and hurricanes, plus a few other non-weather emergencies.

Last week, as we were hauling home sandbags and strapping down the yard furniture, we reviewed our emergency and evacuation plan and double-checked our stash of supplies in preparation for Sandy. While federal and state governments have spent millions (billions?) on ads encouraging folks to have an emergency plan in the aftermath of Katrina, DH and I came up with one years ago and review it twice a year. Each time, we’re surprised at the small (and sometimes big) changes that we make – tweaks we feel make it faster, safer, and easier to remember, important to us given the age of our kids. So while everyone else in our neighborhood was looting the grocery store for TP and water, we popped some corn and watched a movie, catching storm updates on the weather radio.

The worst of the carnage from three days of wind and rain could be found in our living room.

Obviously preparation can only get you so far; in my experience, it’s often the kindness of strangers that makes up the gap. We were fortunate to come through the storm unscathed, and my heart goes out to those in New Jersey and New York who were not as fortunate.

Do you have an emergency plan? How often to you revisit and/or practice it?

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in family, Parenting

 

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What’s in a Year?

My husband has a terrible memory.  TERRIBLE.  He makes all kinds of excuses as to why (insomnia, too much youthful partying, yadda yadda) but I really think he was just born without attention to detail. Which is especially sad for me today since his inability to recall even the tiniest detail has resulted in the loss of my camera.  The one with my pictures on it.  ALL of my pictures.  Because the roof of the car is the only place to put a camera before you get into it and then drive down the highway for 40 miles going very fast.  But before I start making a list of places to stuff his body, I thought I would take a few minutes to recap the year in pictures.

T’s first birthday, St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival, trips to the zoo and the super cute pic of T and daddy feeding the giraffe (his favorite animal).  First steps.  Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Sailabration.  First artwork – chalk marks on the sidewalk- and riding his little car on the sidewalk in front of the house.  J’s graduation and pics of him and DH working on the house.  Our vacation pictures including 4th of July and T’s first fireworks, plus a great pic of the four of us standing on the mile-high marker at Grandfather Mountain.  Playing in the fountain downtown. Eating corn on the cob.  Our trip to the fair last week. Progression on changes we’ve made to the house.  Photos of grandparents, great-grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles we rarely see.  Random cool stuff, like the 200 year old farmhouse down the road from my parents, the double rainbow we saw one day, and the water tower in the shape of a giant butt peach.  All the evidence I’ve gathered in my quest to rid the neighborhood of permit parking.  And who knows what else is on there?  I’m surprised I remember that much.

Yeah – I’m pretty sure it’s not in there.

I almost feel sorry for DH, he’s feeling pretty bad and spent two days driving up and down the highway and passing his business card out to the construction guys along the way.  He actually found the case, minus the camera, and there was a spark of hope that someone had picked it up and just ditched the case.  And miracle of miracles, someone called and said they found it!  Unfortunately is was pretty obvious it got run over by something pretty big and of all things, the memory card and battery were missing.  So close, and yet so far.

Great news, I just realized that the memory card was new just before T’s birthday.  That means I’ve only lost six months of unrecoverable memories, hooray!  I’m still a little sniffly but I’m pretty sure DH didn’t get a chance to close up hole where we were working on the ceiling so I’m off to find a tape measure.

Photo Credit: Anne Taintor

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in family

 

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