Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thanks Cal!  
As a kid I adored the Calvin and Hobbes series of comics.  I could identify with Calvin's vivid imagination and general cluelessness regarding parents.  Besides that, it was funny and unexpected and more often then not, touching.  As a biblio-addict mother and recovering English teacher, I look for every literacy related opportunity I can for my own children. 

Please don't think I have surrounded them with phonics flashcards, quotes from Nathaniel Hawthorne and copies of the Constitution.  My theory of building literacy in kids is simple-marinate.  A piece of meat absorbs all the flavors and nuances of what it sits in.  The longer it sits, the deeper the flavor.  If the boys are surrounded by all kinds, levels and topics of reading materials-they too will be influenced by them.  

So it was with relish, and after a good long read whilst standing in the aisle at Barnes and Noble, that I purchased my 8 year old's first "Calvin and Hobbes" book as a Christmas gift.  In my head flashed Mommy-Tube videos of us chortling at the antics of that little boy while my son greedily consumed every word.   As with most things Mommy related, it was slightly less than that and more than that at the same time. 

It became the middle of January and he hadn't so much as opened the book.   I was bummed at my crushed expectations and decided to see if I could introduce them myself.   I have learned a direct frontal assault doesn't work with my little negotiator, so I snuck it up on him. 

I began to read the book and laughed aloud.  He looked up from his 3DS to see what was up.  I flipped the pages and kept laughing.  I told the 4 year old how funny the Calvin was and, wasn't it cool he had a silly Tiger named Hobbes as a friend?

The 8 year old then lumbered to settle on the floor beside us.  He reached for the book and thus began the magic.  It wasn't long before he showed me a page where the Mother was drawn closer to a crack addicted banshee then parent.  He giggled and said,  "Mom, that's what you look like when you are mad!"

I took the insult for what it was-a compliment and a personal connection to the written word.  Am I saying this book is the reason he will read the rest of his life?  Maybe, maybe not.  It is a reason to celebrate as we made meaning from the written word.  We also made another Memorable Mama moment.  Thanks Cal!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Brotherly Love

I have two beautiful boys.  Four years and two weeks apart, they are as opposite as day and night.

Ian Second Grade Dude
My Ian is cool as a cucumber.  We like to say that he is an an Accountant with the soul of a skater kid.  He's pragmatic, verbal, smart and has an opinion.  When he wants affection, he is all in, folding his skinny, bony self into your lap like a giant red haired origami project. 

Caden Preschool Prince
My Caden is a firecracker-loud and sparkly.  At 9 months he screeched so loud in a Baskin Robbins all the other patrons cleared the place.  In one sense he is the easiest kid.  He nursed successfully 20 minutes after being born and hasn't stopped eating since.  He sleeps well.  He's sweet, kind and loves babies.  He's affectionate and loves with his whole heart, soul and body.  When he hugs you he wraps himself completely around you.  He's also very messy and most days-spends more time in his imagination then reality. 

The two can play beautifully.  Rumbling and tumbling about the house, they are peas in a pod.  Then the storm clouds hit.  Screeching, screaming and additional syllables ("Leave me a-looooooo-n-uh!") peel the paint off the walls.

Today however, I heard an exchange which I will carry in my heart forever.

We were discussing the, "Sleeping In Protocol".  (Sleeping is as defined by anything past 7:00 a.m.)  I had snacks and breakfast shakes poised and ready.  The remote was handy for their toons.  We were set.

"Now, Caden, if you wake up before Brother, please play quietly until he wakes up too!" Shake of the head in affirmation, though Caden regularly tortures his brother by turning on the light the minute his own eyes open. 

"And brudder," Caden says affirmatively, "No kissing my head!"

Ian turns red and hurriedly walks out of the room.   

No kissing my head? I think.  What?

I ask Ian about it.

"When I get up, if he's still asleep, I kiss his head so he doesn't get scared if I leave."

My stoic Ginger haired boy kisses his little brother on the head so he isn't scared.   Now that's brotherly love. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mommy Interruptions

I was ready.  And I mean, READY.  Folders created.  Agendas solid.  Technology charged and ready.  It was the first time I was going to work side by side with my husband in our growing political consulting business.

Then the call came.  Delightfully quirky, and kind Mrs. Marks called to say Caden was sick.  And, flush.  All my plans went straight down the toilet.

So, I sent my husband off, arms full of folders, his ears ringing with my admonitions: "Action Items", "Branding" and "Messaging".

Later, as I sat across my four year old and shared the merits of pooping, I had to smile.  There was a time in my life when I was defined completely by work.  Work was good.  I was good.  Work was bad.  I was bad.   My identity was tied to work, how much I made and what I was doing. 

In the past three years, how things have changed.  My identity is a work in progress.  However, it's no longer tied to work.  (Helps that my work has dried up, changed and flipped around more than a flapjack at a fundraiser).

Today there is no place I would rather be than with my four year old.  Seems I am ready for more than just a meeting, or building a business.  Seems I am ready to be a Mom.  It's about time.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Oh Holy Sheep

Willow Tree figures come from Hallmark.  They are meaningful in that Nana Joyce, my beloved Mother-in-Law, collected Willow Tree Angels.  She bought me my first.  It sits beside my second WT called "The Boys".  They join my son's first sculpture, of a turtle, and the card from the last bouquet of flowers my husband surprised me with.  They reside on my kitchen windowsill-where she kept hers.

Since the critters consumed my ancient nativity set, I have been on the search for a new one.  I fell in love with one immediately.  Of course, it's from the Willow Tree line from Hallmark.

Even with a generous employee discount from working at Hallmark, the slim holiday budget did not allow for me to buy it for myself.  While making a pre-Christmas visit at Nana's, heart aching from her absence and shoulders tight from the effort to keep from crying, I opened a large box and the tears were loosed.  My father-in-law purchased it for me. 

I immediately set it up in the living room.  Apparently, my four year old felt it needed a little enhancement.  Take a look at the sheep staring adoringly up at Mary and baby Jesus. 

Reminds me, in the midst of sadness, to smile.  To take a minute to giggle and say, "Holy sheep that's funny!"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Miracle Over the Meatballs

I make the world's best meatballs.  No, really I do.  Not that I have asked everyone in the world their opinion (because who speaks Mandarin other than John Huntsman?).  I just know that I do.

My problem?  I never make them the same way twice.  So, they are always the best meatballs of that batch.  Someday I will write down the recipe and actually measure.  My friend Beth makes magical soup using the same methodology-lop in this, lop in that and voila!  (She once made a truly transcendent brew with tomatoes and oatmeal and other stuff...I kid you not.  I was afraid then full as I ate the whole bowl!)

Irrespective of the grandeur of my Italian beauties, a miracle happened today.  Please refer to my previous blog, Happy New Year , to catch up on my misanthropic outlook on 2011.  On this second day of 2012 I have marinated in the positive.  Positivity potion is practically pouring out of my cup.  Actually, I just decided to take a deep breath, give myself and those around me a break and make some meatballs.  It wasn't earth shattering, but it has been one of the better days in recent memory.

Whilst elbow deep in pork/beef/sausage goodness, I played Jesus Culture radio through Pandora on my iPhone.  The song, How He Loves Us, by the David Crowder Band came on.  (Aside from Michael Gungor he is one of the most talented song writers and musicians in Christian music).  The song is a popular one.  Every church sings it, even my little staid Methodist outpost.  I too sang along, once I found the key, while rolling meatballs.  It was a quadruple batch so I had a lot of rolling to do-which is good because the song is over 4 minutes.

There was one line which made me stop.  I don't have time to maintain these regrets-when I think about the way HE LOVES US.  Regrets, I realized, are my jurisdiction alone.  Sure, there are those who would love nothing better than to point at my failures and remind me if I just did what they told me my life would have been different.  However, they are no longer in my life, and probably never will be again.  Regrets are anvils with handles I choose to pick up-if I allow myself to think about them.

When I do think about the way He loves me, the way my kids love me, the way (when I am not a female praying mantis about to take off his head) my husband loves me-I don't have time to pick up the regrets.  I have time to be thankful and be whole.  I have time to breathe. 

My life is challenging.  After this revelation over the meatballs, it still is challenging.  However, I can choose not to maintain these regrets and instead think about the good things, the great things, the tasty things-like my miraculous meatballs.