Seasons: A Valentine to My Spouse of Many Years

6330037_Valentine_banner Trickle Charged Love

There’s a deep, bitter chill, and for me there’s a thrill
In hearing the battery start.
The car engine purrs, the heater fan whirs
And thaws out my middle-aged heart.

I’m not blaming Cupid for being so stupid
To flash his wee bum in this cold. Continue reading Seasons: A Valentine to My Spouse of Many Years

When you just didn’t know it would be that hard

IMG_1064When my daughter was 5, she visited the barn where I work. She watched in awe as the horses walked around the ring, and asked me question after question about each horse. Then the gate to the ring opened, and the horses passed us. She got a good look at the riders, and then started to cry.

“Those kids are small like me! I can ride! When is it my turn to ride?”

This question came up several times over the years. When I would tell the kids I was going to work, or to the barn, my little girl would pipe up, “When is it my turn to ride?”

As anybody who has spent half a second in the horse world knows, horses are expensive. We aren’t a family who can just go out and buy a horse, and my daughter isn’t allowed to ride where I work. When she first starting talking about riding, lessons were definitely out of our price range. But right before she turned 7, my husband got a raise, we looked at the budget, and decided we could afford horseback riding lessons. On her 7th birthday, I told her we were going somewhere special, and surprised her by pulling up to a horse barn close to our house for a birthday riding lesson. She was ecstatic, and chirped happily as the instructor taught her how to put the saddle and bridle on her horse. And then she got to ride! Happy day! Glorious fun! Of course she wants to do it again! Who wouldn’t!

Then the fun wore off, and reality sat in.

Riding a horse is hard work. Continue reading When you just didn’t know it would be that hard

Crappy Birthday to You

A couple of months ago, my daughter Maren turned nine. We were going to be on a family vacation for the big day, so I threw her a birthday party that wrapped up with minutes to spare before we headed for the airport. On her birthday, she ate breakfast at a fancy restaurant where all of the waitstaff sang to her. She opened presents, including most of what she asked for and even a few things she didn’t know she wanted. Then she spent the day bodysurfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, and building sandcastles with her brothers and sisters. She even rode a water slide. But when it got dark that evening, she clutched my hand as we walked along the beach path and sobbed. “We didn’t get to do everything I wanted,” she said through her tears. “We didn’t have shave ice. I miss my friends.”

My first reaction might be similar to what you’re thinking right now. “What a brat,” I thought. “I can’t believe she’s throwing a fit after she had this perfect day.”

We walked in silence for a while, and eventually the lightbulb went off in my brain. “You don’t want this day to end, do you?” She nodded and cried some more. “I don’t want to wait another whole year for my birthday.” I hugged her and we walked back to the hotel room, past the shuttered shave ice stand, and her tears subsided.

I get it. When I was a kid, my favorite day of the year was January 20th. I had to share Christmas with everyone I knew, but I got to be the center of attention on my birthday. My mom always went all out— homemade cake, treats for my class, beautifully wrapped presents and super creative parties. I never wanted my birthday to end. Continue reading Crappy Birthday to You

Seasons: #momfail

11.6.2015 Me, messy hair and month old foster son (he’s since left us) in front of my plate collection.

I did it again today. #momfail. Forgot to check the school calendar to notice the kids didn’t have school today. Yet, I hustled them out the door with a hastily counted 100 day collection of buttons from the jar, bellies filled with mandatory breakfast,  and reminders to please stay for reading club. Dropping my four year old foster daughter off at care for the day I get the overdue notification that drops like a rock.

“Mom, the bike racks are empty.”

Oh. no. 

I’m due at work in 30 minutes, a 20 minute commute, and two kids who now have nowhere to be for the day. I thought the scrambled 100th day of school collection was my mom fail of the day. Ha. This is now it. #momfail

I’ve always been prone. Often been guilty. Locking the keys in the car.  Locking myself out of the apartment while the toddler was napping inside it. Locking the keys and the baby in the car while it was running. All fine moments in my parenting career, but hardly the pinnacle. I’m reaching new heights all the time. I’ve seen some mothers recklessly tossing around the term to describe baked goods that didn’t rise. Entry level, folks. These greenies are hardly reaching their potential. There’s so much more to come. Forget to feed the kids, instead of forgetting the baking powder and then we can talk.  

I’m not a bad mother, nope not at all, but sometimes there are a lot of plates to spin. Some have been handed to me. Some others I’ve freely selected for myself. Big and little, fanciful and hefty. I have quite a collection. I’m willing to stretch, to contort myself to try and keep them all going. Dropping them occasionally doesn’t mean I can’t balance: it’s evidence I’m still learning. Realizing that maybe I need a little more practice and preparation to keep my act together. Or maybe if I can’t manage it comfortably after all, to scale the show back.

So what if my kids see me falter? They sure aren’t seeing me fail. I can’t be deemed a failure when I’m not failing in the long term.  I’m still getting up and going. Maybe I forget a few things, but I’m not finished off.

My kids won’t recall all the days I remember it all, hot breakfast, homemade lunches, and helping in their classrooms. They will remember these chaotic moments and how we dealt with them as they inevitably come; how we laughed and picked up the dropped plates together.

That’s just the season I’m in. It’s busy, it’s chaotic, and it’s really wonderful.*
*At least that’s what the notary public who visited my house last week told me. Walking out the door with my 30 year commitment in her hand, she wistfully smiled at my life, my fails and wins, and plate collection display that reminded her what she once had, and begged, enjoy it.  

Go ahead and share your best attempts that fell flat. Make me laugh, that’s the best remedy for this “seasonal” syndrome. 

Peculiar Treasures: Barriers? We Don’t Need No Stinking Barriers!

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A 7 year old boy found his neighbor’s sister – lost for 65 years! – using his mum’s ipad and facebook account. Huzzah for technology bridging the divide!

What happens when a town gets together to talk silently to a guy in his own language.  Loving ads put to good use, in breaking down barriers.

President Uchtdorf shares his memories and experiences with being a refugee, and urges compassion for (and by) all, regardless of borders.

Stuck facing the same old bedtime books or recommendations roadblocks? Break the field open with great reads for the little people in your life (and you!) with NPR’s Book Concierge, a brilliant resource (and help to add to your TBR pile) of all the best books of this and past years.

What’s the time where you are? Go left of normal clocks, or the erratic sundial, with a clock that tells the time using flowers.

Groundbreaking publications by women in the Church History Department, all starting with the intriguing job described as “a unicorn in their field”, is cause for celebration and study.

Upping the ante somewhat from what your skull shape or handwriting says about you (or someone you want to know better), copy in text and get an analysis of their personality. (I admit, I did it about myself, using my own blog posts – it was right in some things, including that I am unlikely to click on ads!)

If one day you’re going to write a book, create that website, design that dress, make that bookcase, one day… then you’re in serious idea debt. You’re not alone though, and you can pay it off.

First Draft Poetry is by Kel this week, inspired by the flower clock.

Meadowsong

I have no green thumb

no inclination to grow one beyond

a love of mint and chives…

But I tell the time by the things I have tended

To love deeply

(Quarter past 2, my knobbly, freckled adoration of my gaptoothed neighbour)

To cry over

(17 past midnight my first dog, buried, 1:47am the plot twist I didn’t see coming)

To learn the hard way

(cracked hours pass without a heartbeat, centuries in the pauses, people suck and kindness burns)

Crops and harvests and sowings

(giants newborn to always)

That I tended there,

Then,

Now,

Still,

Breathing deep,

Fresh mint on my fingers and tongue.