The construction site that is my house.

The construction site that is my house.

I need to work on my flexibility.  Not just my physical flexibility (although I think I hear creaking when I fold into a forward bend), but flexibility in making my way in the world.  You see, I’m a bit of a control freak.  As in, if I were named Queen of the World, I’d sigh with relief and get down to business.  Unfortunately, my crown has yet to arrive in the mail, so I keep learning to bend.

Luckily(?!?), I’ve had plenty of opportunities that have forced me to stretch (that whole sepsis thing was a pretty good lesson in not getting my way), but even with some serious practice under my belt, I’ve struggled this summer.  We’re in transition around here, and even though the the vast majority of new things rolling our way are really good, whenever there’s lots of change, well, it makes me twitchy.

Right now our house is in a state of flux.  And I’m not just speaking metaphorically.  We’re finishing the basement and so have been living in a construction zone.  Routine is nonexistent as we navigate workers and dust and deliveries.  In an effort to stay out of the way, we’re constantly on the fly, and so my little homebodies and I are waaaay off our game.

Then there’s KJ who starts kindergarten this fall….a big change!  And I get the feeling she’s anxious about it.  Either that or she’s planning to crawl back into the womb.  Apparently, there can be no. space. between. us.  Yup, my normally chill kid now hyperventilates if we are not in constant contact.  I’m doing my best to help the dear little worrier, but it’s difficult when she is glued to my face.

And now there are professional changes on the horizon for me.  I’m getting back in the swing of things after a prolonged time out for sickness and kid wrangling, and I am alternating wildly between gleeful anticipation (I almost typed emancipation…Freudian?) and impressive bouts of panic.

Soooo….I guess I’m saying, I’ll take that Queen of the World crown now please.  Let me lay down some serious rules (I decree all basements must be finished on time and under budget!), otherwise I’m stuck with this “go with the flow” nonsense and seriously, I’m just no good at it. Well, not right not now anyway, but I might, sort of, maybe, be getting a little bit better…..

 

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I’ve talked about my summer slackitude…the lazy pace, the long days at the pool, the rampant pajama wearing….yet, there is one area of my summer-time life where I am on it.  I read.  Voraciously, guiltlessly,devotedly, I read.   I’m hazardous in my reading, sneaking in pages as I cook and peeking at my book while stopped at a red light.  I stay up late reading, then wake up early to read some more.  It’s a problem.

There are so many books I’ve read and loved and lost hours to this summer…..Michael Pollan’s new book Cooked, which reaffirmed for me that cooking at home is a political act.  The Fault in Our Stars, a young adult novel that was clever without being snarky, life-affirming without being trite.  Sharon Olds’ Stag’s Leap was elegant and almost unbearably intimate.  Beautiful Ruins and Where’d you Go Bernadette were books so gorgeous and sweeping as to be deemed beach reads, but so smart I’d proudly read them poolside.  And the Mountains Echoed was poetic. Period.

Now I’m diving into another YA read, The Graveyard Book.  Waaaay different from my usual stuff, but I’m finding it darkly fascinating.  And I’m into The Age of Miracles right now, too, and David Sedaris’ hilarious Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.  And there’s a stack of library books on my nightstand just waiting….what a delightful problem!

What about you?  Reading anything delicious this summer?

Oh! And speaking of reading, you might want to check out this piece I did for LiveWell Moms.  It’s how I trick, I mean, encourage my kids to go hiking with me……

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One of the great things about hanging out with my kids all summer is the unfettered access I get to their delightfully strange brains.  They are so fun, and never fail to make me laugh, like cheek-ache, sore-stomach laugh. And while I feel like I have not had a complete thought in quite some time, they seem to have had plenty, and have felt weirdly compelled to share most of them.  Here are just a few, some funny and some just plain disturbing……

In the car

KJ: Mom, I made up a song!
Me: Great!  Let’s hear it
KJ: Can I have your underpants? Uh-huh!  Uh-huh!
Oh you can have my underpants! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!
Me: …………………

Before my first cup of coffee

Liam: Mom, I had the best dream!
Me:  Ooooh!  What was it about?
Liam: I stabbed a bear!
WTF?!?!

Driving through town

Liam: Be careful of veterinarians.
Me: Veterinarians?
Liam: Yeah, they are everywhere!
Me: Veterinarians?
Liam: Yes! They’re crossing the street right now!
Me: Oh! Pedestrians! On it! 

One afternoon

Liam: Mooooom! Yoda bites me when I pet him!
Me:  He does!?! (time passes) Wait, where are you petting him?
Liam: In his mouth.

And perhaps my personal favorite

KJ: Oh mom, I love that bathing suit!
Me: Wow! Thanks KJ!
KJ: Yeah, it makes your butt look soooo big!
Me: Um, thank you?

Any gems from your little ones you’d care to share?  Love to hear them!

The dynamic duo headed to camp!

The dynamic duo headed to camp!

This week my kids were at sports camp during the day.  It’s held on the college campus here in town, and campers do things like take field trips and swim at the pool and play games on the sprawling sports fields. The participants are supervised by a slew of exceptionally kind, gangly teenagers (who, by the way, are far more interested in each other than in the campers they are supervising).

Here’s how it goes down each day….

I drop the kids off each morning into a swarm of knobby-kneed, sunscreen-soaked children ranging in age from five to…get this…fifteen!!  There’s no formal check-in process, so the kids all hover under this giant outdoor tent and wait for their particular activity to be called. When they hear their camp name shouted above the roar, they line up behind some athletic, adorable, oh so very young counselor who leads the random gaggle of children somewhere (!?) on campus.  The campers (those lucky enough to have actually heard the announcement) trundle after the counselor, weighed down by backpacks bursting with towels and swimsuits and snacks.

At this point, there is nothing left for parents to do but wave and hope our kids return in the afternoon.  See? Terrifying.

However,  I am happy to say, each afternoon I have found them again among the hundreds of other sweaty, red-cheeked campers, and each afternoon, I have been flooded with relief that they weren’t left behind on a field trip or abandoned in the pool.  They are tired and hungry and ridiculously happy.  Both are a little bit in love with their counselors, and on the way home they brag about the goofy jokes they heard and the mad dodgeball skills they witnessed.

They feel very grown up and worldly and really quite proud.  See? Awesome.

It’s been crazy exciting and the tiniest bit heartbreaking watching them become so independent.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m happy to say goodbye to the physically demanding days of infancy and toddlerhood, when I felt like a weird combination of pack mule and cruise director (I’d plan the all activities and lug all the gear).  I’m thrilled the kids are holding their own in more ways than one.  I mean they’re fun, and brave, and curious, and carry their own shit?  Hallelujah!

But they’re moving into that next phase, developing these full, private lives that are way beyond my reach or my understanding.  Now, they’re the ones leaving me, to do things I’ll never know about, both safe and unsafe, wise and just plain nutty.

They’re growing up….and it’s terrifying….and awesome.

What about you? Any little campers at your house?  Or memories of your own camp experiences?  Feel free to share them below!

Photo by ShedBOy^ via flickr commons

Photo by ShedBOy^ via flickr commons

I love summer.  I love the heat, the long days, the lazy pace.  There are pool adventures and bike rides, long hikes and picnics.  The kids and I lose track of the days.  We stay in our PJs until it’s time to put on our bathing suits.  Then, we stay in our bathing suits until it’s time to throw our pajamas back on.  We eat our meals at a shabby table under big trees in our backyard.  We tumble into bed far too late, a little grubby, a lot exhausted and seriously happy.

It’s just about perfect.

These lazy summer days inspire many things, but diligence, well, it’s not one of them.  As a result, I’ve been terribly lazy about keeping up with posting here.  I promise to do better.

In the meantime, why don’t you head over to the LiveWell Moms Blog and check out a blog post I wrote for them?  It’s about finding my yoga groove even when littles and Legos are lolling on my mat….

More to come soon.  Can’t wait to tell you about my kids’ wonderful, awful camp adventure…..

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It’s been a bad scene.  Full on end of school year madness. I’ve been treating coffee like a food group, losing my phone with alarming regularity, and mainlining Mad Men episodes at ridiculous hours of the night.  It hasn’t been pretty folks.

I’m off my game, and it’s not just schedule craziness that’s to blame. I’m suffering from “when things settle down” syndrome.

When I’m stuck in “when things settle down” mode, I put off the things I know make me happy and keep me healthy until, well, things settle down. I find myself saying things like, I’ll workout tomorrow when I have more time (do I need to say it never happens?).  Or, as soon as the school year ends, we’ll eat something other than grilled cheese.  Or when I finally have some time, I’ll start that project, or get back to that yoga class, or read that pile of books, or ease up on the espresso action….on and on and on…..

But here’s the thing.  Things never settle down.  Some new freight train always barrels through the calendar…whether it’s soccer season or a basement remodel (more to come there) or a big fat health crisis.  There is no giant pocket of uncomplicated time waiting just around the corner.

I know this, and yet, here I am, sitting with Don Draper (although worse ways to go, no?) waiting for the stars to align before I get back on track….

Why the stalling?  Because it’s inconvenient and often just plain difficult to squeeze in the stuff I know keeps me sane.  But you know what’s harder?  Waiting for things to settle down.  When I’m stuck in that particular limbo, I’m prickly and distracted and maybe even a wee bit resentful.  It’s ugly.

So not just for my sake, but for the safety of those around me, I’m going to make time for some good living today.  It will be far from perfect (I’m just saying that espresso may have to stick around awhile), but it will be a start, and for now, that’ll do……..you know, just until things settle down.

 

couldn’t find a credit for the image above…I’d love to recognize the artist, feel free to pass along the info if your detective skills are better…

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I am so excited to be a part of the LiveWell Moms Blog.  Click here to read a little something I wrote for them.  Then, hang out on the site for a while and checkout the amazing things LiveWell Colorado is doing to promote healthy eating and active living.  It is one impressive organization!

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A while ago I read this great article called The Language of a Marriage. It talks about how couples develop their own private language, sharing in phrases and sayings that are loaded with meaning for them, but are incomprehensible to anyone else.

I thought of the article this weekend while at a get together with friends. I was hanging with a crew that is bright and funny and generous. Conversation with them flows easily, and I was yammering away about something and inadvertently threw out a phrase from our private couple lexicon.  The strange looks I received compelled me to explain what I meant by a “Special Gordon.”

You see, Special Gordon was my son’s beloved toy, a small train from the Thomas the Train tv series.  (It was a great day in our house when Thomas finally fell out of favor.  I found the whole show depressing.  It is sad indeed when the highest praise one can receive is to be “very useful”.  And don’t even get me started on the railroad’s abysmal safety record.  And I swear Sir Topham Hat has a drinking problem…but I digress.)  Our turtle boy loved this toy.  He carried it with him everywhere.  It slept with him, ate with him, bathed with him, rode in the car and the stroller with him.  It was his most special thing.

So of course Special Gordon joined us on our family road trip.  And it only makes sense that Special Gordon accompanied us into the terrifying gas station we stopped at out of sheer desperation.  And naturally, my son carried Special Gordon into the grubby restroom inside said gas station.

All was well, until the unthinkable happened.  Somehow, Special Gordon plummeted into the scummy toilet.  My son actually swooned.  He dropped to the filthy floor and howled.  He wailed so loudly my husband could hear the bellowing from the parking lot.

And my friends, what did I do?  I rolled up my sleeves and went after Special Gordon.  That’s right.  I fished that damn train out of toilet. Then, I scrubbed myself and Special Gordon like a scene out of Silkwood.  If I had a steel wool handy I would have used it.

From then on my husband and I have used the phrase Special Gordon to describe something or someone so loved, so treasured, that you would willingly do anything for it, no matter how grand (or apparently, repulsive).

Now how about you?  Do you have a private language you use with those you love? How about your own Special Gordon?  Lucky me, I married mine….

Snuggling with the boy after getting home from the hospital.

Snuggling with the boy after getting home from the hospital.

Today is the fifth anniversary of my shit pickle (thanks Kris Carr for the perfect phrase).  Truthfully, by now I had hoped to be profoundly changed by the whole experience.  I’d glide through my days, ethereal and wise and patient.  I’d radiate grace and wisdom and probably glow a little bit too, and maybe float, you know, only when it wasn’t too show-offy.

But sadly, that hasn’t happened.  I’m the same old self.  The stuff that bothered me then still bothers me now.  The wonky insecurities that took up space in my head before I got sick, still camp out there, and I’m prickly and impatient and snarky far more often than I’d like.  I guess I hoped all that nonsense would get eaten up by sepsis too.  Really, it seems only fair, it took toes and teeth and time, you think it could gobble up a little ego….

While it is disappointing that I’m not levitating yet, I did get something out of the mess.  You see, when I was in the hospital I didn’t worry about the cleanliness of my house, or the size of my rear end, or the fact that I usually forget to bring the preschool snack when I’m supposed to.  It was the people I adore that filled me.  They crowded together in the grooves of my brain handing me the responsibility of their sadness if I didn’t get it together.  It was the people I love that pulled me back into my life.  

Thanks to the muck, I am excruciatingly clear about what’s important to me…my relationships with the people I love.  And this clarity is a little patch of light,  like a nightlight I guess,  that I turn to when I’m stuck in murky places (places usually of my own making, mind you).  Yes, I still find myself fumbling in the dark, worrying, comparing, beating myself up over ridiculous stuff.  But now, when I feel all sweaty and panicky and start believing things are real when surely they aren’t (all my problems would be solved if only I did more toning exercises!) I stumble towards that light, and remember that in the end, it’s being here to love the sweet people in my life joyfully, unabashedly, that really matters.

So today to celebrate my fifth anniversary, I’ll hug my babies, smooch my hubby, tell the people in my life how much I love them, and try to let all the other stuff go.  And while it’s a far cry from enlightenment, it’ll do just fine.

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Here’s a pic of my exhausted class rebel.

Perhaps you’re thinking I incurred some sort of brain injury or had too much wine one night,  but for a time I really did think that it would be good idea to take a seven year old, a five year old, and a 12 week old dog to a puppy kindergarten class, at 7:00, on a school night, alone.

Let me be clear.  It was not a good idea.

There was whining (my daughter) and wrestling (my son)  and weeping (my daughter and my son…ok, and me).  It was a bad scene.  I wish I could say the dog redeemed us with his focused training prowess, but he too was a whining, wrestling mess.  I feel certain the instructor spent most of the class trying to find ways to kick us out.  She might have too, if we weren’t constantly providing the class with examples of what not to do.  She seemed more than happy to use our shame to enhance her lesson plan.  Meanwhile, the other participants just shook their heads solemnly, lamenting our inevitable fate as Cujo’s owners.

When we left the place we were exhausted.  Our hands reeked of dog treats and our clothes were covered in puppy hair.  I was beyond done. And yet, despite the grumbling (son and daughter) and the constant peeing (Yoda, thank goodness), when I glanced in the backseat, my kids had these ridiculously huge smiles on their faces. And the dopey dog, who did not sit or stay once during class, was happily snuggled in between them grinning too.  My daughter played contentedly with the pup’s tail, and my son kissed him on the head and said dreamily, “I love you, Yoda.”  And my secret plan never to return to puppy kindergarten fizzled.

That’s right.  Next week, much to our instructor’s dismay, we will pile into the car for another long hour of chaos, and sucker that I am, I’ll do it just to see that backseat full of sloppy grins again.  What about you? What tortuous events have you endured to see your loved ones beam?

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