Thursday, April 29, 2010

I have Moved...

Hey All!

Guess what - I am moving!!! Or I have moved already. Well, I am trying to move but I am somewhat of an idiot at anything technical.

Anyway, I bought myself(well, at least my domain name) and my blog is now cleanly and simply and I am now on Wordpress and have NO CLUE what I am doing. (shocking)

Come visit me there - I am still under construction, but can now post and the rest of the site will come this week thanks to my amazing and very patient designer and website goddess. You can find her here.

(and if you already follow me - I guess you will automatically still follow me on the new blog -it is like you have no choice...eerie - I guess that is why they call you a follower)

Anyway, thank you for following me over to my new digs. ..and let me know what you think of the new design!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mean Girls...

I have been thinking about Phoebe Prince a lot. It scares me to think that bullying can go this far and have this consequence. Mostly I am scared for my very accommodating, just like their mother, daughters.
It was a hot summer evening and I was walking with my friend Misty on the dusty paths of the County Fair. It was a typical Friday night at a small town County Fair in Indiana. Expensive games with cheap prizes, stale popcorn, rides older than my mother, gawking carnies, and teenagers primed with hormones just looking for trouble. It was totally my scene.

We were walking and talking, checking out the fair, as well as the talent when someone pushes me hard from behind. As I turned around she then hits me and shoves me to the ground, yelling at me to get up and fight her. I evidently "took her man" and she was pissed and out for blood. But I stayed on the ground and told her no - I had no interest to fight(knowing full well she had 30 pounds on me, more raw physical strength, and a mean streak that frankly scared the shit out of me) and to just leave me alone. I don't clearly remember everything that happened, but I am sure I cried.

And for the life of me, I cannot remember that boys name that caused this incident when I was 16.

I have never in my life hit, pushed, whacked, or purposely physically tried to hurt someone - even in self-defense, and frankly am not sure that I could.

In the 6 years I have been going to day-care and preschool conferences, every teacher has told me the same thing about my daughters. "They need to be more assertive!"

Even as toddlers, they would not dream of taking a toy from another child, physically touching another child except for a hug, or if another child took their toy-they would watch it go and choose something else.
They don't fight with each other and have never taken something from their sister, and if their sister asks them nicely to use the pink marker they are currently using, they hand it over and grab the purple.

I don't remember ever teaching them any of this and believe it is somehow just inherent to them as now I see their baby sister being a real pain in their rears as she will TAKE EVERYTHING they own.
As sweet and innocent and seemingly polite this lack of assertion was in preschool, it is not serving Eloise well in school. She is in a class was some brilliant kids, who know what they want, get what they want, are quite independent and well, bossy. So she accommodates them all and then comes home in a puddle of tears quite often. How she "never gets to play what she wants to play" "never gets a turn" "is never picked for pairing up" "last picked for teams" "plays alone on the playground" "sits alone in the lunchroom" ...mean notes have come home in her backpack.(the note has already been addressed with the school/parents)
She is a sweet, kindhearted gentle soul with infinite patience. But it is all wearing thin and frankly I am feeling helpless. I lift her up trying to give her the confidence she needs to just be comfortable with who she is, but she is trying desperately to fit in with the "cool crowd" even at 7 years old. I totally understand, as in school, you are sadly measured by the friends you keep. I don't even want to have a conversation with her that some girls are just simply mean. I have a hard time swallowing that pill myself and want to believe in only inherent goodness in the world.
So I ask of you, how do you teach your daughter to be assertive, yet not aggressive, still be lovely and not loose her innocence of knowing their are "mean girls" out there? How do I not be a protective mama bird and just let me little girl fly on her own? How do I keep from going to the school and kicking some first grade mean girls asses myself?;)


Monday, April 26, 2010

The Bright Side of Laundry...

My dryer broke 9 days ago.

Which hasn't been horrible as our weather has been unseasonably nice and since we live in the city, there are no pesky ordinances against hanging my underwear outside.

So for over a week, we have hung our socks and underwear, sheets and jeans outside for the wind to dry and our neighbors to admire.

We seem to air our dirty laundry enough, so it was a nice change of pace to just air our clean skivvies.

Then it rained this weekend, causing my living room to become a laundromat.

What started as a chore though, has become something more...something more "my glass is half full" -esque. It has brought back memories...
-of my grandma hanging everything out on the line, even jeans when it was 30 below zero. I remember handing her clothespins to make quick work of the chore.
-Clothes hanging in our home in the Winter to keep the air humid.
-Playing fort and hide-and-seek between the sheets on the line - running through the clothing tunnels on a bright sunny day.
-Folding clothing brought in that was warm for the sun and fresh from the air.

Perhaps I am a bit sad that my own girls won't have these memories of simpler times and hard work.

Perhaps I will ask Jed to string up a permanent line for us out back and we can bring this household chore back in fashion?

I just better go check with my neighbors first.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Stroke

I remember quite vividly the visits to my great-grandmother's house. I was little - 3,4,5 years old and we went to visit her often. I hated those visits. It was not a fun thing to do, so why did my mom feel so obligated?

Her house smelled like old lady. Or what a 4 year old would define an old lady smell as. Urine, cigarette smoke, dust, sickness. She was paralyzed from her strokes and disfigured from her mouth cancer. She lived at home with her aid. She was either in a hospital bed or wheelchair.

This was not a grandmother to me - she didn't give hugs or smiles, she didn't dig in her purse and give me a 1/2 stick of double-mint gum - or juicy fruit if I had been especially good. She was sick, sad from losing her husband so suddenly not too long before, and she was miserable.

I didn't want to hug her. I would spend my time playing with her little figurines in the windowsills and upon the shelves or I would hope my Aunt Gail would visit with us, so we could play together in the stairway landing of my great-grandmother's old duplex.

I would hope we wouldn't have to come again, but we always did. And I would pass the time as best I could while my mom gently did her grandmother's hair, chatting about the latest news and neighborhood gossip, making a meal, and mainly just spending time with her knowing her time was short in this world.

I am sure my mother explained to me what had happened to great-grandma at the time, but I don't remember that. I just remember being 4 and going to a scary house and visiting a scary old woman that I did not recognize.


This January, my daughter's grandmother suffered a massive stroke. Their grandmother that they see the most, who lives in town and treats them to warm hugs, days of coloring, lunches of their choice, and unlimited M&M's.

When they walked into her hospital room on that January evening, I really thought they would go running towards her and into her warm embrace. But instead, the room went uncomfortably quiet as they stood frozen. Their young bodies were completely and unnaturally frozen as they stared and tried to see their grandma in the woman in the hospital bed - whose eyes were distant, body immobile, and words delayed. Instead of running towards her, they fled to the hallway - leaving me tearful and helpless to explain as my own childhood memories came flooding to the surface. As they rushed to the hallway, I went to my step-mom's bedside and held her hand.

Eloise silently sobbed when we left saying "I didn't think she would be so sick, it didn't even look like her. Tell me she will get better."


And she is getting better. Therapy is intense. Progress in slow. But my heart is warm and happy to see the hugs and kisses return. To see the girls look forward to the visits, to enjoy driving her wheelchair around, making her pictures to bring sunshine to her room, sharing their tales of the week and bringing treats.

We are mortal - it is not a secret we need to keep from our kids. It is so important to teach our kids what love is like when it is easy and we are healthy and strong, but also how important love is when those who love us need it most.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Astrid 9 Months

No matter the crying, time is flying by. I find myself grasping and holding tight to your babyhood, trying to slow you down, trying to make it last. How can you be nine months old. Wasn't it just yesterday I first saw your sweet face for the first time.
It was different with your sisters. I wished their babyhood away and applauded each step they took towards being a toddler, a preschooler, each step towards more independence.
But you, you, I need to stay a baby a little longer. Please stop trying to only feed yourself, please stop the CRAWLING, please stop asserting your newly fierce independence...but it is okay for you to keep babbling "mum mum mum" at me. That I could listen to

I run my hand along the pretties in your closet, already sad that this Summer will be your only opportunity to wear ruffles on your butt, as is evidenced by the 85 sets hanging in your closet. The sweet dresses from Europe - the ruffles, the smocking, the bows, the delicate lace. We don't even have 85 days of Summer in Minnesota, so perhaps this years early Spring was a blessing for us in many ways.

You are giving kisses and sharing your food, you mimic and clap and sing. You have already eaten mud and hit your head on the sidewalk. You need to slow down - you have a lifetime to enjoy, learn and experience all that Summer has to offer. Why must you already try to keep up with your sisters.

I see now that you really are the baby of the family. How you have assumed this role so easily and stolen our hearts. We give you everything you desire, and then some. You are sufficiently spoiled and I am smitten for life.
I love you baby girl.
xoxo, mom

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day


Earth Day

by Jane Yolen
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Each blade of grass,
Each honey tree,
Each bit of mud,
And stick and stone,
Is blood and muscle,
Skin and bone.
And just as I
Need every bit
Of me to make
My body fit,
So Earth needs
Grass and stone and tree
And things that grow here
That's why we
Celebrate this day.
That's why across
The world we say:
As long as life,
As dear, as free,
I am the Earth,
And the Earth is me.

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