Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Confessions of a Mama

Winter brings out the truest form of the trees. The beauty and foliage of spring and summer and fall no longer hide all the imperfections that the stark nudity reveals. All of the odd shaped bumps and crooked limbs are glaringly exposed. You can see where the tree has been wounded and healed, the empty abandoned nests. Nothing is hidden anymore. I think crises are like that for people. A sort of winter where our truest forms are exposed.


10 years ago, I was 4 days past my 21st birthday when I first held my son in my arms. And I fellhopelessly in love, and then all over again when Chloe was born. I admit to being a bit of a mother bear. Fierce at times, ever protective, and reluctant to have my littles out of my sight or my arms. When Chloe and a friend were threatened by another kindergartner who told them he was going to kill them, she reassured her friend that "God would protect them, and I'm gonna tell my Mama". (Imagine a bit of a southern, Texas drawl because that's how it came out). Rolled up into that sentence was the absolute trust and confidence that Mama could, and would, fix it.

In 2 days, I'm going to hand my little man over to people I don't know so they can cut open his arm and re-attach his bones. I don't even let my kids be babysat by people I hardly know. And the amount of control I have over this situation is zero. I know as far as crises go, surgery for a broken arm is way down on the list. But this is MY crises and MY kid. So my world became suddenly very small. I confess that in the last few days, I couldn't have cared less about the starving in the horn of Africa, or somebody else's troubles. (sorry.) My only concern was for the health and well being of my only son. In the midst of feeling completely exposed and vunerable as my selfishness and lack of trust reared up; I can find hope in the words of Richard Foster who writes that the winter is when true growth occurs. It is when the tree focuses all of its energy on putting down deep, life substaining roots that will prepare the way for the beauty of spring.


Friday, August 26, 2011

More Oregon Pics

I absolutely love rituals. Not the kind of rituals that you HAVE to do like make dinner, clean the bathroom and sweep the floors. But the little rituals that stick a marker in the sand saying that this is a special moment-pay attention. Like a cup of tea and a chocolate muffin break after a morning of running errands. Or the certain way I tuck my kids in every single night. Or the noisy discourse of the school day over an afternoon snack.

When we went and visited Oregon early this summer, the kids and I decided that this was a ritual worth making a marker of, and repeating over and over again. The days were filled to the brim with coffee, exploring, rocks, sand, rivers and cousins until finally spilling over with exhausted little bodies heading to bed. (The coffee was so that all of the adults could make it through the day of adventuring) The goodbyes were sad and lingering, full of promises to do it again next year.




Happy adventuring to your own special rituals.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

...the "true" story of how I broke my arm, as told by Aidan to his soccer team...

Well, there I was, 20 miles from the nearest cilivilization. Don't ask me how I got there because I have no idea. But anyway, there I was, out in the woods looking for a good place to go to the restroom. When SUDDENLY, a ginormous black bear leaped out of the leafy wall and attacked me. Now I put up a good fight trying to escape, but I was no match for a black bear. He grabbed my arm in his mouth and snapped the bone into bits, breaking the bone and dislocating my shoulder. He finally lost interest. I looked down at my arm and saw the bone poking through the flesh by the elbow. Blood was gushing everywhere! I just barely managed to one-handedly crawl 20 miles back to civilization while leaving a trail of blood everywhere. The people saw me and quickly rushed me to the ER. The people at the ER were BARELY able to save my arm from being amputated. But the gave me hypnotic medicine so I don't remember any of the process. So don't ask. The End.


Our planned Friday night camping trip was eclipsed by a trip to the er. Aidan broke his arm in rather spectacular fashion which is not really conducive to backpacking in the mountains. The pile of backpacks, sleeping bags and tenting equipment stayed in a pile on the living room floor in favor of a marathon Spongebob session on the couch.


One of our sweetest friends, who is a NP in the urgent care we went to and a wilderness medicine instructor/guru, came and spent her day off keeping an eye on Aidan and sassing the nurses if they didn't perform to her standards. We are so thankful. Apparently the chances of Aidan avoiding surgery were much smaller than we had gathered from our talk with the orthopedic surgeon. We stood in the hall while they were working on the reduction and asked our Great Physician to line those bones up. The surgeon was very excited when the xrays showed both bones in alignment although the ulna was only 10% on. (They were again surprised on Monday when the bone had moved over to about 50% aligned.) We are very thankful.

We celebrated with a backyard "camping" experience. No sense in letting all those smores and hotdogs languish away in the fridge.



And at least we got to go inside when it started to rain.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer feels like it's almost over. The kids are back in school, the geese are beginning to wind their way south, and the mornings are chilly enough for a sweatshirt. Aidan and Chloe gathered our little neighbor for his first day in kindergarten this morning and walked him to the bus stop. Then they will take him to his teacher to make sure that he avoids any anxiety getting to class. Chloe loves to be in charge. She's like me in that she loves things to be in order and people to be doing what they are supposed to. The youngest child doesn't often get to set the boundaries for the others, so she relishes the opportunities with other kids when she gets to play big sister.


She plays the teacher/mom role very well. (Although her charges are not always as eager to obey as she is to have them obey.) I can remember when she was just a wee little thing in diapers trying to spoon feed Bubba her oatmeal; and washing his hair in the bath while he just continued whatever game he was playing with water and suds running down his face. We took her to try out a new Tae Kwon Do place last night. I think I might have chaffed under the amount of procedure and protocal that needed to be followed. Chloe loved it. She stood straight and tall with a barely repressed smile when she got praised for listening and following orders. (Now, how on earth do I get her that excited to obey at home?!)


My sweet little girl is gonna make a good momma some day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to schoolness

There are lots of things that I love about back to school season. Not actually the whole school part, but all the lovely things that go along with it. Like chilly mornings, and school supplies. There's something completely wonderful about those boxes of sharp crayons. They really make me happy. (I used to have a key chain that said "not the brightest crayon in the box, are we?" before my younger self decided that that wasn't the sweetest thing to go around flashing at random people. I was thinking it was kinda like running around sprinkling The Finger on whomever happened to glance my way. ) I splurged this year and added a pair of pink scissors for me to our overloaded cart. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had bought an extra pair of erasers and colored pencils. I happily tucked them away in my desk drawer to go with my scissors. I just need an angry birds notebook and new lunch box to complete my happy going-back-to-school-without-actually-going-back-to-school feeling.

We had a little trouble with our first day of school pics this morning. Chloe was irritated that Aidan kept holding up the inappropriate number of fingers to match his grade:


Okay, now we are all happy, but somebody was avoiding the eye of the camera:


Now everybody's looking but that devious look on Aidan's face is freaking me out a little:

Finally we have the appropriate emotion for first day of school pics. But the photographer really should have moved the dog brush and hose. Sheesh.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


We started off Aidan's soccer season with a tournament this weekend. The morning was chilly enough that I wished I had brought a sweater while snuggling up in my chair with a cup of Starbuck's bold coffee. Aidan was rocking a new haircut and jersey. Chloe spent the game with a gaggle of other little sisters organizing umbrellas as tents and mothering the small herd of stuffed animals that was brought to the game. I bummed I didn't get a pic of it.




Friday, August 5, 2011

Tomatoes and cukes and other sorts of things

I don't have many memories of my early years in Oregon, just snatches here and there. But certain smells bring me back. Tomato plants smell like summer to me, and transport me to running barefoot around the farm and playing hide and seek in the corn...walking with a brother to feed the pigs and watching in amazement as he swings the bucket over in a arc without spilling a drop. When our little plants started growing, I pulled Aidan and Chloe over so they could sniff the vines with me. "It smells like my childhood," I told their obedient, but confused, faces. Sometimes a certain plant brings me memories that my heart knows, but my mind doesn't have pictures for. Rectangular hay bales all arranged in rows across a field bring me memories of hay forts and swinging legs off the back of a pickup while older brothers heaved bales into the bed. A friend gave me bunches of garlic just pulled out of the dirt, and I was nearly giddy with excitement. Sherry Lou is to blame for that as many memories are swirled into the images and smells of braided garlic and onions hanging in rows from the ceiling in her kitchen. Fresh cucumbers are an incredibly happy scent and there is nothing bought in the store that can compare with that taste. I remember my mom canning oodles of pickles and the steamy way the kitchen felt in the already hot summer. But there were jars and jars to show for her effort. Dill was my favorite and sweet was my sister's. Laura Ingalls is certainly in part to blame for my romanticism. With a steady diet of Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, and some Pollyanna and Annie mixed in for good measure, there is not really much hope for me to have my feet firmly grounded in reality. Lots of things tend to have a little halo of sunshine mixed in. While the truth might be that it is considerably easier (and more cost effective) for me to buy butter and jam; I was inordinately pleased to serve my family a breakfast of homemade scones made with my buttermilk, currants picked off the bush, and topped with freshly made butter and raspberry jam. Although I'm not sure that my family entirely soaked in moment properly, Laura Ingalls would have been proud, and Anne would have been in rhapsody... And maybe some day, the smell of scones will take my kids back to a small, cozy kitchen and a quirky momma who delighted in the small things.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's freaking huge

A friend gave me a zucchini. And it was freakin' huge. Epic even. It was catch your eye and startle you big. So I made a ginormous batch of zucchini bread and froze the rest for more lovely things as soon as I can think of them.

Check this bad boy out:


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On to the beach

I think that getting to stay home and be a mom is the best thing in the whole world. Sometimes my days get wrapped up in laundry and dishes and cleaning up another mess-trying to bring something like order to my surroundings. But the moments that really make me breathe deeply and inhale are all of the magical little moments that I would miss if I was more focused on the order and less on the joy in the chaos.


My sis and I had not packed towels, or swimsuits, or anything really, to deal with 4 soaked,sand covered, and shivering children after a dip in the Pacific Ocean. Did I mention this was the first stop of a day in the car? I didn't think they would get in because it was cold-I was cold! But I should have known better. The allure of water, waves, and sand is too strong of a siren. (flashback to a sunny November day a few years ago in Colorado when I went out to the backyard to discover a 20 gallon trash can full of leaves, water, and two children in their underwear!)


Aidan told me the other day that when people ask him on the playground why he tries such daring things, he tells them it is because he doesn't want to be safe, he wants to be alive, to experience life. (my paraphrase)



I hope this day brings you moments when you can take a break and breathe in the joy in the midst of the mess.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Oregon Pt. 1

Stumptown coffee in Portland; this was our second coffee stop in a couple of hours. When in a town with the quality of independent coffee shops that Portland has, it is entirely necessary to throw any sort of caffeine regulating out the proverbial window.

(The kids were also sharing my coffee...can you tell?)

Onward to the beach, but not quite there yet:


This was the point when Aidan was seriously beginning to fret that "I was going to spend ALL of our Oregon budget on coffee".