Sunday, August 27, 2017

Growing Pains

We moved.

Are moving?

We have lived our new house, just up the street (1.7 miles to be exact), for almost three weeks now.

We are STILL cleaning stuff out of the old house. And no, we haven't listed it yet...

This last month has been rough. And 90% un-fun. It has been majorly un-fun for the children, which compounds the un-fun for the adults. We were all ready to be finished with the moving process about three weeks ago. AND school started - which just means less time to tackle the slowly diminishing mountain of stuff to sort through.

Tonight, after a particularly un-fun time trying again to finish cleaning out the basement, Michael said to me, "You know what I wish? I wish this was all a bad dream and I would wake up and we wouldn't be moving and I would be in our old house. This house does not feel like my home."

Ouch. That was a bit of an emotional sucker-punch for me. As an adult I can rationalize that three weeks is not very long and I know that we will make many happy memories here and it will feel like (and be) our home. For Michael this past three weeks has been an eternity.

There's no bigger message here tonight - just a reminder to myself that the things that feel overwhelming/uncomfortable/un-fun to me, feel the same way multiplied by about 1,000 to my children.

I also wanted to get these words down so, in the future, when we are all happy in this home, I might be able to remind Michael about how difficult this transition was for him. Maybe remembering/being reminded of that, when everything has turned out just fine, will help him face other difficult transitions.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Two Weeks Later

Summer camp, in particular Camp Minikani in Hubertus, WI, played a huge role in my childhood/young adulthood. Outside of my family, camp was the primary influence in my adolescent years. It is no exaggeration to say that attending (and eventually working at) camp was life-changing for me. Attending summer camp has always been a gift I have been eager to give my children.

This year marked Harper's third summer at the camp of my childhood. When she was 10 she attended a week of day camp. Last year, at 11, she attended one week of overnight camp. This year she went overnight for two full weeks. We pick her up tomorrow and I am jumping out of my skin.

Outside her two-week summer home.

I am 99% not worried about Harper at camp. My 1% of concern comes from the fact that it is not a completely nut-free environment, though it's as close as just about any other public place she frequents; and a little from the fact that girls can be mean. Since we drive from Ohio for Harper to attend camp in Wisconsin, she does not attend with any of her friends from school or dance. Now you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who is more of a friendship-building expert than a well-trained camp counselor, which Minikani has in abundance. Yet I also know that, despite the best efforts of caring counselors, there are sometimes kids who just don't connect with other kids. Harper is not usually that child, but you never know. 

Two weeks is a long time to not know what your child is doing or how she/he is feeling. Matt received two brief notes from Harper. In the second note she said she cried when the one-week campers left (including a girl she became friends with last summer) and that she missed us, but was excited for the next week of camp. She's probably fine. She's probably better than fine. But, ugh, the line about crying when her friends left made my heart hurt for her. I really hope she's also made some friends in her cabin - all of them are staying for both weeks. 

Tomorrow morning Michael and I will pick her up and I'll get to hear all about it. Maybe camp won't turn out to be the magical place for her that it was for me and that will be ok. But I can't help but hope that she's had a great two weeks and has been too busy having fun to write and tell me about it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Perhaps You've Seen It?

I saw an image on Facebook the other day that I want to share, but now, of course, I cannot find it. I can find things which are close to it, but not enough to satisfy me. At any rate I'm going to attempt to recreate the wording for you...


❒ clean house
❒ happy kids
❒ exercise
❒ strong marriage
❒ strong friendships
❒ well-rested
❒ healthy/homemade meals
❒ sanity

(pick two)

If I were personalizing the list for myself I would add time to write, time to read, and promptly answering texts/emails to the list and still only be able to pick two. Sure, it's a bit of an exaggeration, but it is the best way I've seen recently to describe what life feels like right now. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Internet Things That Have Made Me Smile

This is a fairly random assortment of items, but here we go:

  • I stumbled upon a "kitchen hack" that I have found particularly useful. I make several chicken dishes that require me to either chop up or shred cooked chicken breast. Now shredding chicken is not that difficult, but I read that you could use a hand mixer to shred chicken and it works! No more burning my fingers trying to do it with my hands or messing around with forks. (Ok, that sounded like a bad infomercial, but I truly disliked the job of shredding chicken, and I do it often.) I like the pieces of shredded chicken to be small and the hand mixer does that very well. There are usually one or two chunks that I end up pulling apart as I'm emptying the bowl but overall it is very easy. And it's been a fun way to psych out the kids who think I'm baking and then realize the mixing bowl is full of chicken. 
  • When I was a child, one of the best parts of being home sick from school was getting to watch game shows. I still kind of love them and I get all choked up when people win. It seriously makes me cry, happy tears of course. One of my current favorites is Celebrity Name Game - locally it's on in the morning so I only catch it when we have time off school. If you are in a bad mood, I suggest getting online and watching clips of people winning this show. Instant mood lift.
  • If you are looking to punish the back/knees of someone you know who has small children in his/her life, have I got a product for you! You will think this is a joke, but it is not... you can procure a saddle designed to be strapped to an adult, making it easier for a child to ride said adult like a pony. Don't believe me? Check out the Pony Up Daddy, because who wouldn't love a daddy saddle?

Thursday, March 09, 2017

For Michael, At Nine

Dear Michael,

I just tucked your nine-year-old self into bed. As I turned off your overhead light and went to switch on your radio (you listen to game broadcasts, or sports talk radio at night) you asked me to wait a minute. Then you said, "Will you please sing Happy Birthday to me one last time?"

Of course I obliged. And I sang it slowly - drawing out that tender moment. I know you like the way I sing. I also know you're likely to outgrow that opinion soon. So, for now, I will sing to you anytime you want.

Despite the fact that your birthday fell on a Thursday, you managed to have a pretty great day. "Best birthday ever!" you said, more than once. Your day began with a giant Rice Krispie treat for breakfast. It was cut to resemble a slice of cake. I put a candle in it and we sang to you around the kitchen table at 6:45 this morning. Not a bad way to begin your day.

As you and Harper get older, I find it a little more difficult to write these birthday notes. I still want to celebrate the person you are, but I also find myself a little sad about how quickly it's all happening. At dinner tonight Daddy kept showing me old photos of you on his phone - I had to make him stop before I drowned my food in a puddle of tears.

Don't go so fast.

There are two things I've noticed recently that I've sort of saved up to comment on, on this birthday. You are not perfectly behaved, far from it, but you have such a gentle spirit and such a kind heart. As you get older it only become easier for me to see this side of you. I offer you a couple of examples:

  • Our dog, Rebound, is getting very old. He'll be 14 in April. Some days you decide to leave your precious "blankie", the one Auntie M made for you when you were born, on the living room floor - just so Rebound can rest on it when we're all gone during the day. And he does! More than once we've come home and he's been happily curled up, sleeping on your offering. 
  • Every morning we walk down the sidewalk to your bus stop. This is the first year you've ridden the bus, so everything about that has been a new experience. There is a kindergartner, who lives on the next street over, who is also at your bus stop. On the first day she rode the bus, you offered to sit with her (such a gentleman!) and then took it like a champ when she turned you down. To be fair, she's half your size, so that offer may have been a little intimidating. Recently I realized that no matter where we are standing, no matter what the weather is like, you always, ALWAYS wait for the little girl to get on the bus first. Sometimes you are closer to where it stops, sometimes she needs an extra moment to say goodbye to her mom, but you never jump ahead. I know that I never told you that you should let her get on the bus first, maybe Daddy did, at the beginning of the year? I just know that it warms my heart a little each morning to see that you wait for her. 

You have an instinct to look out for others, Michael, and it is one of my favorite things about you.

Nine is a great age and I'm looking forward to all that this year has in store for you. I love you Michael. Happy birthday.

Love always,

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Tale of Two Photos

Recently one of my internet friends, Heather, posted a couple of pictures on Facebook... one was a shot of a happy couple on vacation: the second, wider, shot showed the same happy couple, but also their boys who were tussling a few feet away. It made me smile because we all do that, right? If you have ever posted on social media it's likely you've cropped something or used a filter that makes your dirty floor less obvious or adjusted the lighting to minimize the blemishes on your selfie... I appreciated her honesty.

I can't say that I fault anyone for putting her best foot forward, publicly. We do that in a hundred different ways on a daily basis. We care about the impression we make. It's the same kind of motivation that keeps me from showing up to work in sweatpants. Except on pajama day, I'm ALL IN on pajama day...

Last night I had a small melancholy moment in my inner dialog. It was only Michael and I for dinner - Matt was running a basketball tryout and Tuesdays are one of the nights Harper eats at the dance studio since she's there 4:45 - 8:15. We have several nights on the schedule this week that timing dictates we grab dinner on the go, so I cooked a decent meal, even though there were only two of us. Dinner was rice, green beans, and lemon garlic chicken. I only prepared three pieces of chicken: one for Michael, one for myself, and one for lunch leftovers. Only making three meant that I could use my small dish and I had a mental flicker of the future when I'd someday only be cooking for Matt and myself again. For some reason I decided to document the small dish:

It's not a professional food photo, by any stretch, but it doesn't look bad right? You can probably picture Michael and I sitting down to a nice dinner together. 

What you can't see in that first photo was that, since only two of us were eating, I didn't bother to clear the previous day's Costco haul of batteries and light bulbs from the table. The second photo also gives away the fact that Michael won't eat rice without a sprinkle of shredded cheese on top and we just plopped the bag right down on the table. In fact the only thing that was in a nice dish was the chicken - and even that was the dish I baked it in and not a platter or something. 

I don't mean to get preachy, but it occurred to me that there are probably many moments in life when what we observe of others presents only a small part of the bigger picture they are dealing with. It's not a bad thing to keep in mind, the fact that there's almost always something else outside the frame. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


This past weekend, as I was running some errands, I caught a few moments of NPR's This American Life. The show was full of people's stories about coincidences and, even though I only heard a portion of the show, it made me think of coincidence in my own life and it reminded me of a strange thing I hadn't thought about in many years...

In early 2000 (there's evidence of the date below) I had just graduated from college and was living in Wisconsin, spending my days substitute teaching. I had a decent amount of free time on my hands. I don't recall how I came across the website, but I ended up online, answering some questions, getting a prediction of the date I'd be married by. 

I had not moved back to Ohio yet, did not know I was going to do so, and had not met Matt. I have no recollection of what kinds of questions were asked. But when I got my "results" I decided to print them and save them. I tucked them away in a drawer or notebook and promptly forgot about them. Below is the paper with my results printed on it:

I don't recall exactly when I found that piece of paper again. You can see that I'd printed it on February 9, 2000. The date it said I'd be married by? Well that turned out to be my actual wedding day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Reentry, Again

As often happens after participating in National Blog Posting Month, I reach the end of November and I am done with all the words. Then the holidays happen and I come up for air and realize that January is almost over.

I don't recall whether I already mentioned this in the blog or not, but, back in October, I joined the editorial board of Literary Mama. Taking on that new (volunteer) role has provided a good challenge. I am still working on seamlessly (ha!) integrating those tasks into my daily routines. Fortunately I have patient co-editor who is walking me through the steps.

I'll be writing more soon, but in the meantime please do check out the new issue of Literary Mama. While you're there you can subscribe to Literary Mama blog posts, subscribe to the newsletter, or follow/friend us on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or Pinterest!