I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

from Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day"

Saturday, September 15, 2012

This one

I know I've mentioned a time or thousand that Will has a more difficult (to put it mildly) temperament. And he does. There's just no getting around it. He's so intense and feels every emotion so deeply that it's hard for him to deal with all those feelings. Sometimes it gets to be too much for his little body and mind and bad things happen. He yells, he gives the dirtiest of looks you'll ever get from a five-year-old. He stomps around and growls and groans and generally acts like the world is the most unjust of all realities.

But the flip side of this is that his excitement and happiness are almost real presences when he feels them. I watch him skipping down the sidewalk on our way to school, waving to neighbors and calling out "Hi!" without a moment's hesitation, and I'm kind of envious that he can feel one emotion so purely and in-the-moment-ly. 

I don't know if it's my imagination at work or what, but he's suddenly so into how everything is spelled, what letter everything begins with, finding "solutions" to problems both large and small, and "talking things over" that it's like he left for kindergarten last Thursday morning the preschooler I'd grown used to and came home that evening a bona fide elementary school-er. And while I still worry about his behavior and most especially his tendency toward being a little impulsive, I know that intellectually, for his little spongy brain, sending him to kindergarten was the right decision. Being around older students (as opposed to another year of preschool or Pre-K) seems to be benefiting him already. I know it's only been a week, and things could really go awry in the next few months and weeks in various ways, but for now, I feel good about kindergarten.

And while I don't think sending kids on to school (as opposed to keeping them out a yea)r is always the right decision for every child or every family (obviously not, as it's such a personal, almost agonizing one to make), I have a feeling that Will is going to flourish this year. It's almost as though he senses this greater responsibility  we're giving him as a sign of our confidence in him. And he'd be right.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  I don't know what this kid's going to do with himself, but whatever it is, I'm glad to be along for the ride. Loud, bumpy and (sometimes) scary though it may be. 

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I know. I'm an awful parent. It's taken me almost a full week to write about Will's first day of kindergarten. But what can I say? I'm really trying to take full advantage of the time that Will's at school and Laura's napping. I have to say that having this time in the afternoons is something that I will definitely get used to (and something that I'll never take for granted, ever again in my whole life).

Back to the topic at hand: Will and starting kindergarten. His first official day was last Thursday (his phase-in day, where he went with one-third of his class) and the entire class went starting on Monday. And I hate to say this, but it was kind of . . . anti-climactic. I was fully expecting to be way sadder than I was but it never really happened. I had a moment of "Crap! We're not really leaving him" panic when we were crossing the final street to the school but once we got closer and kids were everywhere and it was a little chaotic, I got over it pretty quickly.

Will, as expected, never thought twice about leaving us, but this comes as no surprise at all, seeing as this is the same kid who never batted an eyelash when we left him for preschool and who has stayed away from us for more than a week without so much as asking for us. We got him situated with his teacher, I gave him a hug and they went inside (we were running a little behind schedule) and that was that.

And I only took one picture at school (with my phone, no less):

So, four days later, he seems to genuinely love it. He's a huge fan of eating in the cafeteria and says that gym is his favorite class. I, on the other hand, admittedly spend a lot of my time here wondering if he's behaving, which is my primary concern with him. But his teacher is good (really good) and she has a reputation for being good with young, impulsive boys, both of which Will is. So I'm going to try to stop worrying and remember that things will be fine. Things will be fine. If I repeat it enough, things will be fine. Right?

Also related to school, walking to and fro is a big hit with all of us. Laura loves getting in the "cool" stroller (?) and I like that Will gets to burn some energy first thing in the morning. An added bonus is that we've already met a few other families out walking their kids to school, which is nice. I read somewhere that at some point (maybe in the '50s?), 51% of kids walked to school, while only 13% do now. (I thought 13% seemed high?) I know in a lot of cases, like where I grew up, it just isn't possible, but it's beyond me that people here who live within easy walking distance to school (which would be most of the people here, since it's a small town) would choose to drive instead of walking. But that's neither here nor there.

And speaking of walking to school, it's time for me to start thinking of heading that way after cleaning up a little around here. But before I go, I'll leave you with Laura's sweet little self, lest she go unrepresented here today.

I know. When did she become a little girl?

More soon!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Love the one(s) you're with

Since you've not seen my children in quite some time, I thought you may have forgotten what they look like.

This was taken yesterday morning, on our last pre-before-Will-goes-to-school-playground outing. He starts tomorrow and I guess this, coupled with the fact that they're both starting to look so much older, has me feeling a wee bit nostalgic. And more philosophical than usual. What? Don't laugh.

We met Will's teacher last night and I know he's in very capable, experienced hands. The thing about being a teacher myself is that I have a great, great, great (can't emphasize great quite enough) amount of respect for other teachers. Sure, there may be some teachers here and there who aren't exactly inspiring or lack some quality that the more stellar educators have, but I know in my heart of hearts that the vast, vast majority of teachers are worth their salt and more. The school district is one of the (many) reasons we moved to this neighborhood, and I feel good about our kids' chances in life after working their way up through the system here. So, yes, I'll be anxious when I drop him off at his big (new! super nice!) school but I know they've got it covered and then some. Deep breath. One foot in front of the other.

What I'm not exactly prepared for is how both Will and Laura suddenly seem light years older than their beginning-of-summer selves. Will's obsession with the Titanic (?) continues, among many other curious interests, and Laura suddenly seems to be talking (loudly!) in long, well-formed-James-Joyce-style paragraphs. How this happened, I do not know. And the funny thing is, as parents, you'd think we would have figured this out long ago, that children age huge spans of time in minutes, and that you age right along with them on that same crazy timeline. But it always catches me off guard, this strange and illogical sense of their development being a little bit impossible within the confines of the space time continuum.

I guess I'm also feeling nostalgic because, in the words of Carroll's immortal Walrus, "the time has come to talk of many things." The many things, though, don't involve shoes, ships or sealing-wax, but babies and strollers and maternity clothes, all waiting to be boxed up and donated to someone excitedly awaiting a little one of their own. Because we've finally made our decision: we're a two child family and that's what we're going to stay. And while I wasn't ready to give all of this stuff away a year ago, on the off chance that we would someday have a third, I'm ready now. 

It's a complicated decision and it wasn't exactly an easy one, but I feel good about it now. Yes, there will always be a part of me that would love to look at a just-born baby with the lightning-bolt moment of you're-really-mine clarity, to hear a hungry baby down my "baby milk" like it's his or her job, to watch another set of tiny feet make those first crazy, wobbly steps. But there's also another, larger part of me that's already moved on, that's looking ahead to what the two crazy kids we already have are going to do, who they're going to be, the lightning-bolt moments I'm sure they'll provide along the way.

The fact of the matter is that I think two kids are really all I should do. I wish that I were the kind of mother (like my sister, who's a month away from having her fourth) who has a big family and does it with ease and grace and a sense of humor. But I know my limitations. I could have a third, I know. I have no doubt that I could take care of three, keep everyone fed and (reasonably) happy and make it to everyone's checkups and activities mostly on time. Living away from our families for my children's entire lives has taught me nothing if not that I'm capable in this capacity.

But somewhere in the middle of all that, I know that I'd get stressed out and crabby and yell at the kids far too often. Because I know myself, and I especially know my faults. Dealing with stress is not what I do best. And just thinking of another baby kind of makes me break out in a sweat. Will and Laura deserve a mom who's not always in a rotten mood, and Jamison deserves a wife who's not completely wiped out at the end of the day after the kids are in bed (although I'm still working on this, even with just the two.)

So while I sort through the old baby gear and clothes, I know that I'll be sad. It's hard to say goodbye to that part of your life, the part where you met your babies. But it's time. The silver lining, though, is that I do the two kid thing well. Not perfect, by any means, but I'm confident in my (our) ability to raise the two I've been given. I'm going to enjoy them for who they are and not think too much about tomorrow. I've been given two incredible little gifts and it's time to soak them in without trying to picture us with or without another little gift.

Deep breath. One foot in front of the other.

(More post-first-day-dispatches coming soon. Wish us all luck.)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The past few days

Here's a little of what we've been up to this week:

Mom and Dad brought Will back home Sunday evening after eight (!) long days in WV. Our house was eerily quiet and remarkably clean while he was gone, but I always breathe a bit easier when we're all under one roof. Will had been home all of 18 hours or so when we found ourselves at the pediatrician's for another ear infection. Apparently it was another bad one (Will seems to get fairly severe ear infections for some reason or other) and he was pretty miserable, especially since it kept him from going to zoo camp on Monday. But all is well now and he's back to his usual hijinks, driving us crazy in the process.

Will went back to zoo camp Tuesday morning and Laura and I resumed our usual errands/playground routine. (Exhibit A.)

Exhibit B. (The playground isn't in the picture but this was taken just after we'd wandered off from the playground proper into the area nearing the nature trails [trails that, incidentally, are new to us, as this isn't our neighborhood park, so we're eager to hit these trails this week while Will's camp-free and it hopefully isn't too excruciatingly hot out].) This picture looks like what being a child should feel like, I think. I'm lucky in that both of the kids enjoy being outside wandering around, since I think it's something that's sorely lacking in lots and lots of American childhoods.

Exhibit C. And for our third and final playground jaunt of the week (I just realized that we really do spend a whole lot of time at the playground, as this is a fairly typical week for us),Will joined us for an impromptu session that we squeezed in before it started raining. Both of the kids were sweaty, tired messes, so it was a morning well spent. (Especially since we all were a bit on the grumpy side. Playground romps can eradicate grumpiness pretty quickly.)

In the week's most exciting news, we pawned our children off on the nice ladies at the gym for Kids Night In (a gift from the babysitting gods) for a few hours while Jamison and I went on a date! For three whole hours, it was just the two of us alone, which is such a treat that we still aren't quite over it. We had a nice dinner, devoid of the usual being stressed out about our children being too loud or spilling every liquid within reach and inhaling our food to make the experience as short as humanly possible. And then we saw a movie! It was a really, really nice evening. And we won't wait two and a half years or so to do it again.

We've started our weekend off right, with yoga for me this morning and extended pj/storytime this morning for the kids. Jamison is putting up beadboard in Will's room, and I've spend the morning cleaning out and reorganizing all the drawers and cabinets in our kitchen, so we seem to be finding that delicate balance between relaxation and productivity so far. For now, I'm ignoring the fact that our yard and landscaping haven't been touched in far too long, but I'm sure the kids and I will be spending some quality time outdoors  this week since Will doesn't have camp for two weeks. Just one more week of camp and then school starts, somehow!

Speaking of school:

Laura and I spent part of a morning at Target this week, picking up Will's school supplies. I've always loved school supply shopping but this one wasn't my typical supply-stocking-up. I tried to just throw everything in the buggy as quickly as possible without forgetting anything because I'm still kind of in denial that I have a kindergartner now. It gives me heart palpitations just thinking about it, so I have to stop this train(wreck) of thought before it spirals out of control. 

Finally, I forgot to mention in my last post that I had also read Wild before The Art of Fielding, et al. It was another good book, even though memoirs aren't usually something that I read all that often. I'm reading Midwives now and I like it fairly well so far, too. If I end up sticking with it and actually enjoying it, I believe that will add up to an almost-unprecedented five in a row that I've both finished and liked. There may be something to this Good Reads thing after all.

Happy weekend! Go see a movie and/or have dinner with your sweetheart, why don't you? It's good for your soul.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Where to start?

I've fallen behind my self-imposed goal of posting something once a week. The problem with that is that now I have eight million things I could write about but I'd rather not write something that's going to take very long since we're a man down around here (Will is in WV this week) and I'm trying to put every precious second while Laura is sleeping to good use. Or reasonably good use. I feel scattered and very here-and-there mentally so how about a list? Or bullets? Or some combination thereof? Or do you really care?

1) We met Jamison for lunch today. I know they say that daughters love their daddies more than their mothers. This picture might just prove it.

2) I've finished a record amount of books in the past few weeks, starting with The Art of Fielding. I was a little hesitant to read it because I feel kind of indifferent towards baseball in general and sports books in particular but I'm so glad I put my personal bias aside. It was, and this is something I don't bestow upon many books, exquisitely written. That's all I'll say about that because I want each and every one of you to read it and then thank me for recommending it. Then I read The Dirty Life (don't get your hopes up, it's about farming) and liked it as well. And, finally, I finished The Law of Similars late, late last night and it was also a solid book. It turned out to be more engrossing than I had thought, which explains why I stayed up so late reading. Three (fairly) good books in a row. I hardly know what to do with myself. It's very, very rare for me to start and finish three books in a row, let alone three books in two weeks! 

I should also add that I discovered Good Reads and I highly recommend it if you're struggling to choose what to read next.

3) I want nothing more than a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich for dinner this evening. Too bad Chick-Fil-A and I are no longer on speaking terms.

4) I've been doing a little sewing here lately and am knitting a blanket for our couch. Because nothing says "Time to knit a blanket!" like heat advisories and mid-90s every day, you know.

5) Will starts school in a little less than six weeks. Thinking about it gives me heart palpitations so I'm just going to pretend he's going back to preschool for another year.

My allotted time is up, so the list will have to end for now. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What they remember

I always wonder what, exactly, goes through the kids' minds at any given time. What they notice, how they (and by "they," I guess I mean Will) arrive at the questions they ask, where their attention lies. It's no secret that kids have no problem at all with stopping to smell the roses (and smell the roses and smell the roses and so on...) but I've been trying this summer to not get so frustrated with all the rose-smelling that Will and Laura so love to do. I tend to look ahead, to think about what's next, anticipate any roadblocks or potential meltdown triggers, and part of that, I think, is just being a mom. But another part of it, I'm afraid, is my own personal tendency to not always notice what's happening right now.

And what's happening now is that my children are becoming bigger and bigger fans of summer by the day. Will is enrolled in camp every morning this week at our gym and he LOVES it, in no small part because he gets to play in the pool for a whole hour and a half every day while he's there. I love the fact that there's nonstop action and activity, which means that he's napped every day after he gets home (!). And Laura loves that she gets me to herself for five hours every day. Win-win-win, as far as I can see.

We've spent a lot of time in our yard, doing the usual summer stuff. The kids seem to play better outside these days, which allows me some time to fit in some yardwork here and there. And while I can't believe how quickly my children have grown, and a lot of times I wish that the crazy fast-forward march of time would slow down just a little so I can enjoy this part of their lives, I will also be the first to admit that their increasing independence and ability to entertain themselves without me is incredibly nice. (Tangent: one of the things that bothers me most is when I see parents making suggestion after suggestion after suggestion as to what their child should or could do next and then look exasperated when their child returns in .05 seconds for some more ideas.)

Anyway, here are some things we've been doing here lately.

We went to a brand new park downtown this past weekend and it was the neatest park/playground that we've ever been to. The one downside of our excursion was that it was 900 degrees out and we didn't get to stay long. However, we plan to go back soon when it's not as hot out and when we're more prepared with digging toys and bathing suits to take full advantage of everything the park has to offer. It's located in an area that borders on the not-so-nice part of downtown, so hopefully this is a step in the right direction for the area.

Will and Laura both love the slip and slide. It's $10 that I will never regret spending.

Laura got another new bathing suit. It's my favorite yet. Target really has the cutest little girl bathing suits this year, in case you're in the market for one.

Laura and I spent a few hours at the park Monday morning and it turned out to be some of my favorite time I've spent with my best girl all summer. Actually, my favorite time I've spent with her, ever.

After swinging and sliding and running around, Laura and I did a little exploring on the nature trails.

While I'd been down in this area of the park several times, I actually took a second to read the plaque on this little building. (Mariemont is a hotbed for stuff of the "historic" sort, as it is one of the very first planned communities in the US, so I tend to kind of look past the million or so historic markers scattered around everywhere here.) Turns out this little structure was a boathouse for the lagoon that was once here. Kind of romantic, huh?

Laura was a pretty intrepid little trail walker, despite her Crocs not being exactly ideal footwear for the task.

While we were walking, we stumbled on this little stream, which I had no idea was there. If I had hurried her along or steered her to the shorter path to the sidewalk like I'm apt to do, we would never have seen this and Laura wouldn't have had her 15 or so minutes of fun splashing in the water here. Lesson learned. It was really pretty and peaceful. So much so that it was kind of an adjustment after we climbed back up off the trails and onto the sidewalk next to the street, close to traffic and construction noise from the nearby new school.

I know she probably won't remember this particular morning, but I will. Just like how I'll remember how excited Will is about camp, about his very first field trip tomorrow (without me!), about his very first bus ride.  I just hope that someday when they look back on this time, maybe when they're spending time with their own kids doing similar things, that they remember how delicious summer was. That they remember that and also how very much they were loved, at camp and on the trail and at home. After all, what more does anyone need?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Free your mind (and the rest will follow...maybe?)

To add one more thing to the ol' to-do list, I've signed up for this. I've never actually jumped on the meditation bandwagon, except for the guided meditations I've done during yoga classes here and there. But I'm interested to see if all the benefits of meditation that are espoused by so many actually exist. So, just wanted to share since I thought a few of you might also be interested. (I've made up with yoga again since my disappointing class Tuesday after this morning's class with my favorite teacher. All is well again, except for the soreness that I'm sure will come tomorrow.)

Anyhoo, nothing all that exciting to report otherwise. It's hotter than hot should be here and our dumb asses still did some menial outside tasks this morning while the kids slipped and slid and baby pooled it again. And now we're worn out from very little exertion. The joys of home ownership, right?

Happy weekend!