Posts Tagged With: children

A Celebration of Family

It’s Gratituesday! I’m feeling incredibly grateful today for my oldest daughter and her husband.

They found each other a few years ago and their friendship blossomed into a family.

Photo By JAKeeran (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

The historic Pioneer Museum of Colorado Springs. Photo By JAKeeran (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

The two of them invited friends and family to a wedding celebration this past weekend that they put together themselves. They wanted to share the incredible joy they’ve experienced! What a great job they did in communicating that exuberance.

Few things feel as good to a parent as seeing their child loved and cherished and happy. I saw that in phenomenal ways during the reception as friends and family embraced, literally and figuratively, this generous and loving pair.

Two extended families, his and hers, radiated and received love. In addition, the unique family that close friends become also encircled and shone, illuminating clearly what kind, caring, fun, generous, smart and wonderful people my daughter and my son-in-law are.

I feel honored and blessed to be part of the intersecting circles that bind and surround and enclose them. I feel even more blessed because their union has brought me a joy-filled granddaughter with an endless smile, who adds meaning and wonder to my already overflowing life.

Family brings a sweetness beyond imagining.

Family brings a sweetness beyond imagining.

To make the weekend even better, as if that were possible, my other three children and their spouses and children were all there as well. Knowing it’s the last time in a long while that our entire family would be together like that, I basked in the glow like a sunbather on a beach. I found myself soaking in the goodness of every moment, every laugh and moan, every child’s cry and whine,  every inside joke, every bit of family angst and craziness. It felt so perfect. Even the two granddogs and the grandcat were around for some of the weekend’s plans, if you can imagine that.

Happiness overflowed and leaked out my eyes for days. Who knew joy was such a messy, handkerchief soaking thing?

Thanks Jen and Jef for a phenomenal weekend. You are so loved! You’ve blessed my life immeasurably!

~~~~~

“A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.”

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Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Tiny Toes and Sticky Fingers and The Best Snuggles Ever

It’s Gratituesday! It’s been a day where I couldn’t narrow down just one thankful thing. The day simply felt abundant and overflowing.

But then, I had some company for the evening. That helped me focus on my best thing for today, or most days for that matter.

Tiny toes, big energy.

Tiny toes, big energy.

See these little toes? They’re attached to a bundle of mischief and non-stop energy. It’s almost miraculous that I’ve ever captured a picture of them at rest. They belong to my favorite one-year old.

She and her sister spent a few hours at my place while their parents took a breather. MSH played his jazzy stuff on the piano while they danced and I looked on, loving their creativity. Then I suggested we trade places so he could see what great dancers they’ve become. They know how to move like you wouldn’t believe. But, sadly, I don’t play the fun songs you can dance to. I play the kind of songs kids sing along with.

The one-year old climbed up on my lap and helped me play the piano, just like her mother used to do at that age. As I turned the pages of the songbook, the Big Yellow Songbook, and played and sang, I realized I’d come full circle again.

You see, my mother used to play those songs for me on the piano while she sang and I looked at the pictures. Then I played for my daughter. And I played for her oldest daughter and tonight I played for the youngest.

I wanted to freeze the moment, take a forever photo. But the one-year old got squirmy and climbed down and the moment slipped away. I suppose an image and a feeling mentally stored is the best I ought to hope for.

I know I’m lucky to get to experience such a collision of past and present. I’m grateful I noticed when it happened.

Life doesn’t usually morph into slow motion complete with background music at the important scenes. Sometimes we don’t have a clue that we just witnessed a pivotal interaction until much, much later. They don’t usually arrive on holidays, or at orchestrated photo sessions, or during recitals or at organized events.

Most of the time the important stuff occurs without fanfare or fireworks.

Thankfully I had a chance to watch dancing and sing songs and, (here’s the important part) I paid attention. Lucky me.

Now my heart is dancing to the music.

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeing Through the Eyes of a Child Circa the 1960’s

By Noël Zia Lee (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Noël Zia Lee (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Do you remember how exciting December was when you were six or seven years old? Not quite old enough to stop believing in Santa, and still young enough to take in the fun, food and crazy excitement in the air. No pressures, just sheer anticipation and a long month of counting down ‘how many days left until school let out for the holidays.’

I loved going down town in our little city and walking the slushy sidewalks, seeing and hearing the bell ringers on the street corners, peeking in the windows of the shops. My feet still remember that sudden whoosh of surprise at catching an extra sloshy pile of snow and having it slip inside my shoe. I’d stand at the corner, my gloved hand in Mom’s, stamping my foot while waiting for the police officer with his whistle to make certain the road was clear before we crossed the street. I loved the crowds of people, the decorated light poles, the bustle of it all.

The Five and Dime store held my interest even more than the candy counter and the elevator at the department store during that time of year. Slowly making my way down each aisle I’d look at all the treasures I could possibly buy to give as gifts to my siblings and parents. I imagined their surprise at opening up a wrapped package with such wonders tucked inside. I pictured their happy faces and knew I’d absolutely have to buy this item or that trinket. At least, until I happened upon the next perfect gift. Choosing among such possibilities seemed beyond my abilities at such a young age. Back then I think I’m certain that price held little meaning and the decision process probably involved my mother ruling out the overpriced items.

Occasionally I’d see some toy that spoke to my soul. I knew I’d stumbled on the gift that surely Santa would leave for me under the tree. I didn’t always tell Mom about it, though, since I didn’t recognize her important role in making certain Santa knew what I dreamed of receiving.

By Dough4872 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Dough4872 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We’d also make a separate trek downtown with the entire family to visit the Christmas Village with those traditional lighted walkways and glittering trees. It seemed as though nothing ever changed; the same lights and displays in the same place each year lent continuity and stability to my young life. And, of course, it seemed we always picked the coldest night of the year for this endeavor, for no amount of bundling kept me warm enough. Fortunately hot chocolate waited for us in a thermos in the car and sleep usually overtook me on the drive back home. Is there anything to compare with being carried inside from the car to the bed, sleep barely nudged by the removing of boots and gloves and coat? I think not. I felt so very loved in that act.

I also recall walking door to door with a small group of neighbors, carrying plates of goodies and decorated boxes filled with fruit and treats. We’d stop at the homes of mostly widows and elderly people. We’d sing some Christmas carols, with me mangling the words as I tried my best to sing along. As we’d leave each house we’d belt out “we WISH you a merry Christmas” which I knew well and could sing loudly and with confidence. I don’t recall feeling particularly cold, in spite of trudging through snow, while singing and treating. I think being in a group kept me warm, but it could have been some warmth within from the joy of it all that kept me toasty.

Dave Hitchborne [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Dave Hitchborne [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

On Christmas eve we’d ask Dad (since he had the biggest foot size) if we could borrow one of his socks to set out for Santa to fill. We didn’t have a fireplace, so we set them on the floor next to the furnace knowing full well that we’d find an orange, some nuts and some candy plumping up each sock.

I’m sure I’m idealizing what I remember. But isn’t that what we do with our childhood?

Or maybe, just maybe, I’m remembering it all exactly as I experienced it. After all, I didn’t have glasses yet and the world still came across as a bit hazy and foggy. My focus, being nearsighted, always zeroed in on nearby and up close things. The rest of the world melted to the background while I lived in a bubble. What a wonderful world, too!

I like to imagine I could put all those memories in a sort of snow globe that I shake up several times during the month of December. The flakes fall around that idyllic distant scene and I look on with child-like yearning for a Christmas long past.

Categories: Holidays | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

What Ghosts Really Long For

Friday Letter to My Kids – 9/26/14

Dear J, J, L and L,

They don't make them this tall or out of metal anymore.

They don’t make them this tall or out of metal anymore.

When telling stories or when remembering the past, the spectacular, fabulous, extraordinary and unusual stand out the most. Those stories get told over and over, those memories revisited again and again. If I’m not careful it’s easy to believe those out of the norm things represent the norm.

Really though, the normal, everyday stuff of life doesn’t usually get woven into a story we tell our kids or friends. The daily waxing and waning of life rarely gets a mention when the memories surface.

I wonder if some of the most precious of daily moments end up lost in the excitement of the rare odd encounters. I hope not. I came across this quote and let myself wonder about it for a while:

“It occurred to me that if I were a ghost, this ambiance was what I’d miss most: the ordinary, day-to-day bustle of the living. Ghosts long, I’m sure, for the … most unremarkable things.” ~ Banana Yoshimoto

I’m sure I have a few million of those daily moments pinging around my brain, waiting to be noticed, recalled and relived, however briefly.

I mention a few here:

"Skysof" by sof from Toronto, Canada - Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

“Skysof” by sof from Toronto, Canada – Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Shooting hoops on the driveway with Big J might not merit a long story, but those sweet HORSE playing times still feel priceless. Closing my eyes I can almost picture specific shots you made and I attempted. Never did get my lay-up mastered. You, however, grew much, much taller and could make any shot you want to now.

Seldom do I see a slippery slide without recalling climbing over a ladder full of kids waiting for their turn so that I could rescue Little J at the top. I smile as I remember your eyes bigger and legs stronger than your bravery at two-years old. You pulled that stunt more times than I remember. Your body kept growing and finally caught up to that daring spirit in you. Now I hear about you jumping out of airplanes just for fun and I’m not the least bit surprised.

By DavidMaisel (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

By DavidMaisel (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

Big L and Little L, could you guess how many times we ventured into the “woods” in Oklahoma to that odd little park hidden in the middle? It was like we were the only ones who knew it existed. That’s where we found that hunk of fool’s gold and invented a story or two about it. How many times did one or both of you puke from spinning on the tire swing too long and too fast? I can practically smell that sticky sweet sweaty kid scent on your tan little bodies if I think back on those ordinary days we shared. Now each of you have spun off into your own worlds of insanely busy lives that seem to you mundane and yet make up the stuff of memories and stories you’ll cherish.

Waking from bad dreams and middle of the night snuggles, countless bowls of cereal and plates of scrambled eggs, finding shoes and tying them, making and packing up peanut butter and jam, tunafish, or bologna sandwiches, thousands of cloth diapers and thousands of disposable diapers, laundry and dishes, tacos and spaghetti, chili and chicken pot pies, cookies and brownies and scotcheroos, TV transfixed or Lego obsessed, baby dolls and Barbies, balls and blocks, forts and fights, homework and housework, chores and board games, fireflies at dusk, picnics with ginormous squirrels, bath times and story times and bedtimes by the thousands, and so much more filled our ordinary days.

Rebecca Palmer. Crazy Quilt, 1884

Rebecca Palmer. Crazy Quilt, 1884

And yet, looking back from a distance, each day now seems extraordinary and magical and exhausting and exhilarating and boring and exciting. Those tiny scraps of daily this and that, threads of nightly here and there, became the cloth of our stunning, breathtaking, wonder-filled, average family life.

I like to wrap myself up in it some days, when life feels questionable or queasy or tired, and simply feel love.

Always loving you,

Mom

"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

 

“To be really great in little things, to be truly nobel and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

Categories: Family, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Naked Crayons and Other Sunny Things

By Simsala111 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

By Simsala111 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

Spending time lately with my favorite three-year old I picked up on some of her personalized words and phrases. She’s smart! And I’m not just biased.

Here’s proof.

I mean look at this first word. She says:

Hanitizer” instead of hand sanitizer 

That makes perfect sense and in fact ought to replace the two-word equivalent, don’t you agree?

She hasn’t quite mastered the art of “f” and “v” so she uses an “s” instead.  So, when she asks:

“Please can I have some Sruit Snacks?”

I try to remember to add an “f” or a “v” in place of an “s.” And, voila’ I know she really wants Fruit Snacks.

I think, again, she’s stumbled on something brilliant, since those little bite-sized pieces of candy-like substance have about as much to do with fruit as her version of the word does.

One of her favorite pastimes is watching videos or:

Mooies” also known as movies.

At my house she gets away with watching more than she does at her own house. I’m thinking of hiding “Aladdin” and “Bug’s Life” because I can’t seem to get them out of my head.

By Glamhag (Glass slippers) [CC-BY-SA-2.0]

By Glamhag (Glass slippers) [CC-BY-SA-2.0]

Oddly, she refuses to watch “Cinderella” or as she calls it:

“Cindergrilla.”

Sounds like a Planet of the Apes version of the glass slipper story, doesn’t it? It once served as her Mom’s favorite movie as a kid and led to the naming of a semi-adopted cat named “Suffer” (another appropriate word-twist.) Someday I’ll convince her to watch it.

When she colors with crayons she prefers the newer ones that haven’t had the paper wrappers ripped off of them. When I recently handed her an orange crayon without the paper around it she laughed and then she said:

You want this book!

You want this book!

“It’s a Naked Crayon!”

Then I laughed, too. Her Mom said she probably got the term from a book they’d read from the library called, “The Day the Crayons Quit” by Oliver Jeffers.

You’d like the book, too, even if you don’t hang out with three-year olds. Drop in to the library and look at it sometime, or buy a copy for your own favorite three-year old. And then next time you pick up a naked crayon, you’ll get to laugh as well.

What a great sense of humor this particular three-year old possesses. I’ve learned to see things with a twist when get to I spend time with her. When she thinks something’s hilarious she even says so:

“Haha, that’s sunny!”

Then I remember to replace the “s” with an “f” and I know she’s found something funny!

Funny and sunny definitely seem related. The more sun I include in my days, the funner my life feels. Likewise, the more fun I remember to schedule in, the sunnier my days.

See, isn’t she brilliant? I sure think so.

Naked Crayons!!!

Naked Crayons!!!

Categories: Family, Humor, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

At School In Your Underwear?

“Always follow your dream! Unless it’s the one where you’re at school in your underwear during a fire drill.”

~Friday Letter to my Kids~

Dear J, J, L and L,

That joke illustrates how I feel about advice. I’ve never liked the one about following your dreams especially. I have some pretty bizarre dreams!

When you started fleeing the nest I promised myself one thing:

“I will not give my grown children advice.”

Maybe, if you asked for it, then I would venture an opinion. Maybe. Otherwise, my lips stay sealed, my tongue unmoved, my pen silent.

If my parenting served you well at all, my advice got hardwired into you as you grew. Any nagging, suggestions or ideas I might throw out at this point in the game act as so much dust on the wind.

Honestly, y’all outdo me so far as parents, as spouses, as decent people in general. By time I was your age, clueless and flailing best describe how I navigated life. Scary thought.

What little advice or tidbits I’ve gleaned and could pass on over the years hang on the walls in my house or I simply live it.

(Except for the bit about you getting adequate education and being fully prepared to support yourself and your family, male or female. Maybe you learned that more from life’s hard knocks. I’m certain I also hammered it in verbally during particularly trying seasons and episodes of our ongoing dramedy.)

Y’all already get it. I think I just need to reassure myself that I actually taught you something. So here’s some of the advice I’m hoping you learned before rocketing into the jetstream of adulthood, in no particular order:

Non-Advice Advice

  1. Laugh every single day if you can.photo 5 copy 3
  2. Sing often and off-key if necessary.photo-26 copy 2
  3. Kindness matters more than you know.photo 2-2 copy 19
  4. Back door friends are the best and necessary.photo 3-4 copy 10
  5. Learn to say no if you need to, and yet…
  6. Pay attention to and follow that gut instinct you get about certain things.photo-24 copy 23
  7. Say yes when you can…photo 1-4 copy 17
  8. Mom loves you forever and always.photo-24 copy 24
  9. Family comes first.photo 2-4 copy 2
  10. Count blessings daily.photo 3-5 copy 3
  11. Learn as much as you can.photo 2-5
  12. Read, read, read.photo 1-7
  13. People outrank stuff every time.photo 1-5 copy 5
  14. When you’re lost or uncertain, look at a map.photo 1-6 copy 2 
  15. Love much and deeply.photo-25 copy 5

 

I’m glad you’ve busted free of some of the not so good behaviors (i.e. bad advice) you could have picked up from growing up as a child of mine. For instance…

You’re all waaaaaay better than me at:

  • living organized
  • having less clutter
  • managing your money
  • getting educated
  • making friends
  • working as a team with your spouse
  • kindness and generosity
  • being like a duck (little things stay little things)
  • sticking to your goals
  • stability
  • optimism

Basically you’re exceeding my wildest hopes and expectations. I couldn’t be prouder of or happier for each of you.

You make my promise to never give advice an easy one to keep. You don’t need any advice. You’ve got this. No worries.

Love ya tons,

Mom

"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

 

 “I always advise people never to give advice.” ~ P.G. Wodehouse

~~~~~

 “The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.” ~ Douglas Adams

~~~~~

“I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.” ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Categories: Family, Friday Letters, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“They Say It’s Your Birthday”

Birthstone bracelet with all four of you.

Birthstone bracelet with all four of you.

Not Just Another Friday Letter To My Kids

Dear J, J, L and L,

It’s my birthday today, which I’m not much thrilled about. I don’t mind adding another year to my rap sheet; it’s just that I don’t like all the hullaballoo and attention.

Sounds contradictory coming from a writer, who’d really like to have her work read and noticed and published. But that’s different.

Big J

Big J

I used to make a big deal about your birthdays when you were younger, remember? Nearly always the streamers would go up after you’d dropped off to sleep. Balloons festooned the room and maybe a little confetti. Sometimes I’d even decorate your bedroom door so the first thing you’d see in the morning was evidence that you were loved and cared about on your birthday. Always, always, a homemade birthday cake with some sprinkles and candles at the very least, or Lego men rappelling at my most creative and silly.

I know since you’ve gotten older I’ve really slacked off on the birthday recognition department. It’s important that you know that no correlation whatsoever exists between how important you are to me and if and when you get a gift or card or even a call on your birthday.

Little J

Little J

You see, here’s the thing. Those four days in my life, the days each of you came into my life, top the Best Days Ever Chart.

Absolute truth.

I can think of little else that tops the days each one of you were born. Felt like Heaven landed in my arms each time!

Makes my heart race just thinking about it, even this many years later.

No one else quite understands the priceless and precious quality of the day of your birth quite like I do. Even your Dad doesn’t get it like I get it.

Big L

Big L

You each made me a mother. You’ve each made me into the slightly crazy, laughing maniacally, tender-hearted, sarcastic, praying, sleep-deprived person that I’ve become. For that, I thank you.

Can’t imagine life without each one of you. Can’t imagine a life without you having graced my days and laced my nights. “Blessed am I among women” to have the privilege of mothering you.

Little L

Little L

So, sure, today is the day I was born a zillion years ago, but your birthdays, oh my. Your birthdays are the days I really began to become who I am. Your lives have brought me joy unmatched. I celebrate you!

Today I want you to know you are loved and cherished. You are each the best gifts I ever got, hands down!

All my love,

Mom

photo-23 copy 5

P.S. Today’s title was borrowed from a Beatle’s song which I, sadly, never introduced to you as children. Here, to make up for my indiscretion and for your listening pleasure is a classic birthday song everyone should be familiar with. Enjoy!

Categories: Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Little Nonsense Now and Then”

Friday Letter to My Kids – August 8, 2014

“Time is a game played beautifully by children.” ~ Heraclitus 

Dear J, J, L and L,

Good times, good times. That’s what I mostly remember.

Oh sure, I have my regrets, quite a few, but I choose to keep those filed away in a locked cabinet somewhere to the left and south in my head. There’s not much I can do about the not so stellar moments and coulda, woulda, shouda things. I prefer to recall the fun stuff that made us laugh.

Homemade sidewalk chalk in process.

Homemade sidewalk chalk in process.

Seems like we did more than a few projects.

Remember making homemade sidewalk chalk? More vibrant than the store-bought stuff, those chunks lasted forever no matter how much you colored, drew, scraped, mixed with water and rechalked. Watching your artwork blossom on the cement as your knees and hands and clothes got covered in colored dust made me smile.

Not quite as creative, but still a grand idea, that four by eight foot white board Dad brought home and set up kept you busy for hours. Pretend school, artwork, self portraits, math homework, countless hangman games, it turned out as a smart and fairly inexpensive investment.

Photo by  Chris Barr from the valley, bat (IMAGE_359) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

A basic blanket fort. Photo by Chris Barr

I’ve never seen blanket forts as great as those you all constructed. Seems like I recall a huge one in the living room at the Saint Elena house. Didn’t it have several “rooms” and small hallways? I think you might have even slept in that one. And the nook at the top of the stairs seemed designed specifically for building blanket forts. I still run across a blanket or two now and then with a few holes strategically cut to fit over posts or some other “construction” idea you had as you built your hideaways.

I had a friend growing up whose brother built a tree fort that you guys would have loved. My friend Jori and I spent time up there when we could get away with it. What a perfect way for kids to spend a summer day. I feel all relaxed and young again just thinking about it.

The “sunroom” in the Oklahoma house served a similar purpose. Seems you spent time out there year round despite the fact that it got almost no sun except about an hour in the morning. That screened in room saw every kind of sport imaginable reinvented by you and your friends. The tent even got set up out there to dry off after a couple of rained out camping trips.

That whole house, with it’s strange added on section and odd closets, was a weird crazy hide and seek haven which you made full use of. Now there’s a game you never, ever tired of. Whole boring afternoons could pass in one ginormous hide and seek game. You got pretty good at squeezing into the smallest most unsuspecting spaces and staying incredibly quiet.

Pretty and yummy!

Pretty and yummy!

Rainbow Jello keeps popping into my head. An all day project that I’d never attempt on my own, one of you kept at it every half hour for five or six hours, mixing and adding each layer as the last layer set up. Tasted great and got made several more times after that, a work of love and art all in one.

One of the best birthday parties ever happened at the Saint Elena house. We filled a zillion water balloons and tossed them in the pool. It looked like confetti in there. The nine-year-old party guests had a riot. And just before getting out of the pool for cake and ice cream all the balloons got tossed at targets sidewalk chalked on the cement brick wall.

I’m sure if I thought longer I’d scrounge up more good times. Shoot me an email or a text with other fun stuff you remember. It’d be nice to compile all of them. I don’t want to forget a single memory or happy time we shared.

Thanks for the laughs and giggles. Thanks for sharing your joy with me.

I surely do love you,

Mom

 

photo-23 copy 5

“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.” ~ Roald Dahl 

~~~~~

“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Categories: Family, Friday Letters, Fun | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wisdom from an Almost One-Year Old

photo 4-3 copy 4

I could do this all day. That’s my plan.

I spent some quality and quantity time recently with an almost one-year old. I recommend it to nearly everyone. I learned some profound and not so profound lessons I think I could apply to my life, if I’d just loosen up a little bit.

  1. Water is JOY! Put it in a plastic five-foot circle, a sippy cup, a bath tub or running out of a faucet or hose. It’s the best toy ever! It surprises, cools, splashes, runs, makes music I can dance to. It also has the magical ability to clean everything or transform it into a giant mess
  2. I’ll stop everything if there’s an animal to observe.
  3. Except eating, I won’t stop for anything if I’m in the middle of eating. I probably wouldn’t notice a Tasmanian devil and an animated rabbit in the room if I had food in front of me. I want it. I need it. And I need it fast! Don’t be lollygagging around once you’ve decided it’s time to eat. Oh, and what I loved yesterday, or even at lunchtime, I might turn my head away so it ends up in my ear.
  4. I just need one little foothold to expand my play space from the floor to everywhere else. Chairs, pillows, toys, people, all count as legitimate means to upward mobility and access to all things taller than me. You’ve been warned.
  5. If you want an honest, unrestrained belly laugh just tickle me under my chin. Or kiss me there.
  6. Clocks – schmocks. Nonsense.
  7. I’ll insist I’m not the least bit sleepy even when every indicator for exhaustion is blinking red and making warning noises. If someone can just help me slow down long enough to pay attention to the tired meters I’d probably start snoring before my head reaches the pillow. If you want to hum a soothing tune or gently brush your hand across my forehead for a few minutes I might just fall asleep in your arms. I’ll try not to drool.
  8. Dirty toes, sticky fingers, splotches on my face and spills on my shirt mean I’ve simply been exploring, learning and having an all around lovely time of it.
  9. My smile is all about you and has very little to do with me. I’m happy to see you, I love being in your company. As much time as you want to hang out with me, I’ll take it. All I have to offer you in return in my undying devotion and this smile.
  10. When you go away, even if it is just down the hall or into a small square room with a lock on the door, I’ll feel forlorn and lonely and think the world has come to end. At least temporarily. I’ll probably cry, loudly and with gusto. But when I see you again, all is instantly forgiven and life is good.
  11. My big bulging belly is part of my beautiful physique. It isn’t who I am though. No matter how much exercise I get, or how healthy I eat, my belly insists on being a prominent part of what everyone sees.
  12. I want to move to everything that sounds like music. I may break into dance without any warning whatsoever. If I’m moving around in silly ways that not everyone will interpret as dancing, you’re welcome to move to another part of the room and pretend you don’t know me, or you can laugh. But please, don’t try to video the experience because it’ll just ruin my groove.
  13. I love being snuggled, and held, and hugged and patted on the back. But I need my space. Don’t crowd me. How will you know when to hold me and when to let me go? I have no idea. Go with the flow and take a chance.
  14. I’m going to fall down a heckuva lot. It’ll look like failure, but it’s not. I may whine and cry about it. But mostly, I’ll just get myself up off the floor no matter how awkward it might look, and, if I can remember what I was doing before I fell, I’ll try again. Obstacles abound. Oh, well.

That’s not everything I learned. But it’s a piece of it.

Toddlers. Who knew?

Those little people possess a boggling amount of wisdom for having just barely learned to walk.

Midnight? What's that?

Midnight? What’s that?

Categories: Fun, Happiness, Humor, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Who-Hair and Other Facts of Life

A few of the Who Ville folk.

A few of the Who Ville folk.

Friday Letter to my Kids

Dear J, J, L and L,

I love your Dad. Three decades plus of being together grows Lego-like connections that only fit each other, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, mentally. I can talk to him about ANY thing and he doesn’t go ballistic or get out of whack. He’s a great listener and so very caring and concerned and generous.

MSH, also known as Dad or Pa at our house, loves you more than you can ever know. It’s one of those things you only understand when you’re halfway through your life and have gone through a few things. So just trust me on this one.

I preface today’s letter with those reassurances for lots of reasons, some of them having to do with thongs, hair brushes, speedos, who-hair, corduroy, delegation, advice and perfectionism. Not necessarily in that order. It’s all kind of a twisty mess.

Dad's alter ego?

Dad’s alter ego?

Yes, a twisty mess, kind of like Dad’s hair. I affectionately call it “Who-hair,” as in Dr. Seuss’s amazing little creatures. When your Dad wakes up who knows what his hair will have formed itself into. Bedhead hair is normal for most people. The name who-hair stuck because he so often simply doesn’t bother to comb his hair at all. That’s one of those benefits/dangers of working from home most of the time. All day long he sports a pillow-designed coif, answering the door, sometimes running errands, looking every bit like he just woke up. It’s kind of endearing, don’t you think? A little Einstein-ish.

Funny thing is when I met your father he, quite frankly, was a little vain. He took a lot of pride in how he looked. Always had a comb in his pocket. Checked the mirror frequently. He had this brown velvet jacket that he looked stunning in. Oh my! Takes my breath away even thinking about it this many years later. Yes. Your father cared how he presented himself to the world. I’m not sure when that changed, but it surely did, from day to night. I will add, the corduroy pants have been and will always be part of who he is.

These particular footwear were known as thongs (made in the 70s and 80's)

These set of footwear are called thongs (made in the 70s and 80’s)

That said, he doesn’t change very much. Doesn’t want to. That’s a big part of why flip-flops, those sandal-like shoe things we wear on our feet, will always and forever be thongs in his vocabulary. Known as thongs back in the day, he will call them that to his dying breath. Ironic that his one surviving pair that he loves are, yes, rainbow colors. I find it sad that the world has changed so much that basic innocent words and other things have taken on such odd and disconnected meanings from their origins.

Here’s two things you must remember. And this isn’t just your Dad, it’s most Dads.

Advice = Love

You need to… = I love you

When a sentence from his mouth begins with the words, “you need to,” just know those are really the three little words everyone longs to hear, just in Dad language.

All Dads see part of their role as a fixer, a repairer and an answer man.

If you actually ask for his advice on a topic you’ll make his day. You’re light years ahead if you can simply accept his advice knowing that it really means that he loves you. You don’t have to go along with the advice, but thank him for it, sincerely.  Appreciate the meaning behind what he says. I know that’s a really tough pill for some of you to swallow, but truth nonetheless.

The other Dad-unique thing he’s done is spend time with us watching TV or movies. Just being in the room together, sharing some popcorn or a snack, for him says Love. Dad isn’t  alone in that. I’ve heard of other men who are the same way. It’s not a disconnect in their minds, it’s an indirect way of sharing time and space. And shared time and space equals Love.

Shared Time and Space = Love

One of my most cherished memories is of Big J as a three-year old coming out of your bedroom after an hour of pretend sleeping. Dad would say, “do you need some time with your Dad?” And J, you’d say, “yeah,” in your sleepy voice, trying to hide a grin.

Best reruns ever.

Best reruns ever.

So Dad would break out the chips and salsa and the two of your would sit on the ugly orange plaid sofa munching while watching M*A*S*H reruns. Then you’d snuggle up. Dad would be in his classic pose of lying sideways, legs taking up most of the room on the couch, and Big J would perch on top of him in perfect imitation and fall instantly to sleep.

If that wasn’t love, I don’t know what is.

And girls, those times when your Dad went along with your idea to play beauty parlor, shows his sense of humor as well as his love. He even posed for photos with those bobby pins, barrettes, curlers and bows all over his head. Yet another example of his looking every bit the part of a Who from Who Ville. What a good sport he was. And still is.

I’m rethinking sharing the speedo and hairbrush stories, for now. And the delegation, perfectionism and creativity can wait for another day, too.

If I could sum up your Dad, it’d be in an equation that looks like this.

Dad = Love

It’s true. He’s not like any other Dad on the planet or in the galaxy. He hasn’t ever been a sports dude, or a nine to five guy, but he’s got a ton of love for each of you. More than you’ll ever know. Believe me, that’s the reality of it.

Tons of Love from,

Mom

and

from your Dad

photo-23 copy 5
“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” ~ Umberto Eco

 

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Friday Letters, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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