I am home with four kids - two girls, two boys - ages 14, 6, 5 and 3 (and when I started this blog, just a little over two years ago, I had an infant, a 2yr old, 3yr old and 12yr old - feels like a lifetime ago, but it wasn't ;-). Until about four or five years ago, I worked in marketing. I have been and done many things - dancer, magazine "multi-tasker", advertising copywriter, gymnastics coach, resort town waitress, grad student, etc. Now my areas of expertise are different and diverse. I am savvy, efficient, patient and earthy (like it or not). I am a better cook, an Ok herb gardener, an impressive artist to my kids, an active and prolific photographer, a childrens' clothing stylist (in my head), a manager of all things "household" and a news enthusiast (from politics to celebrity). I am more cynical though less of a worrier / hypochondriac than I used to be. I am increasingly proud of what I do with kids, family and home, but I do still present myself as a "freelance writer".
So far so good - attended one pumpkin carving party, have dealt with a couple of late-breaking costume changes, got our own pumpkins carved, had Thriller Thursday at school plus a really cool costume parade (even our two and three year olds participated), our oldest daughter's soccer team won the championship after a pretty muddy battle (five year old finished his season happy with Coach Daddy), Made a food, diaper and money donation to the Foodbank (they are in select grocery stores until 8 Nov, so.... grabbed some extra food and nappies while I was shopping plus threw in a few dollars from my wallet), have had the appropriate amount of balmy, windy, leaf-blowy type evenings out with the neighbors and kids ..... Looking forward to more (and have a cauldron full of candy to prove it)! Still have potluck with the neighbors and trick or treat......a little rainy, but...
My two youngests are, admittedly, rough kids. I mean, how many times a week do I leave preschool or kindergarten pick-up in shame - kids fighting, screaming, swinging their jackets at the kind teachers trying to help, yelling at other parents who hold the door for us??? Years ago, I would have chastized the parent who let his / her children behave that way.... Now, however, I know there is nothing to be done. Discipline, love, daily routine - every child is different ;-).
On these days, when the three of us are alone together, I try to roll with it. They are, of course, also picky eaters - plus one wants to go upstairs - one wants to be down - both want to be right on top of me all the time. So... lately.... I have begun taking short walks around our little block - sometimes with tricycle and doll stroller - sometimes with the big Radio Flyer wagon. This week, umbrellas, rainboots, jackets and lots of fallen golden leaves to slosh through on the sidewalk. This tames them, and I love it - fresh air - my little cupcakes sweet like they usually are - no tantrums - no stares from disapproving peers. When we come in, I pop popcorn and we sit and watch Noggin. Paradise.
... in cleaning the house, BLOGGING my mag, shopping ahead for frugal but tasty meals, getting a jump on Christmas shopping (oh yeah - I'm serious - I'm really becoming this domesticated and boring - this is what's important to me ;-), but.... I do KNOW one thing (or a couple....). After a chilly, sleepy, trying night in the hospital, it feels SO good to shower, put on my old plaid pj bottoms and college sweatshirt, bathe my poor little guy and put him in his cozy, favorite pjs (when we FINALLY got to our room at Children's, my little sweetie, who is usually a little combative but was so cooperative, scared but brave and just all around "good" all night, said softly, "Did you bring my pajamas, Mommy?" And - of course - I hadn't - had run out of the house with our jackets and shoes and one pull-up - which all looked so lonely and sad sitting on the chair in our empty hospital room), THEN... eat a big plate of pasta (or - for my little guy - pop some popcorn and let him indulge in his favorite ice cream with sprinkles or grab him some waffle fries on our ride HOME!!) and settle onto the couch or the "big bed" (our kids' word for Mommy and Daddy's bed, which they frequently visit :-) for a movie. We both slept so well once home :-).
So - one trip to the cardiologist last week for my 5 year old. A minor heart murmur (or two, rather - both common in children his age - I'm learning a bit, I guess, as I tackle these minor issues with my kids). A few days ago - an overnight visit to the ER with my 3 yr old (we were actually admitted to the hospital for observation - or, of course, I mean HE was admitted :-) for some Croup-like symptoms that escalated into a dramatic struggle for air (I drove him myself - in hindsight, should have called an ambulance, but... we made it..).
So my youngest turns two tomorrow. I still feel like she's my baby. I don't mind that she won't kick her bottle habit - or that she still fusses at night on occasion, making it necessary for me to take her downstairs where I sleep on the couch, and she lies on a little round cushion next to me on the floor all snuggled in comfy baby girl blankies (we call this her "dog bed":-). I don't mind her odd little grazing eating habits or that we can't quite understand her yet or that she still has dramatic sobbing, lie on the ground tantrums (usually - mostly, I like how she "makes up" with me - head on my shoulder, patting my back). I really don't mind how clingy she is with me (even though dinner prep or just walking out the door to get something from the car can be difficult when she's experiencing her separation issues ;-).
I sat with her tonight - warm fall evening - leaves blowing - wind chimes on the air - faint sound of neighbors voices down the street - smell of a nearby barbeque. I watched her play in the crunchy leaves, stare down the light up Halloween ghosties in the front yard, pat all the pumpkins, jump in our leaf pile - just play like a little girl - but a baby too - still a little unsteady, awkward, silly. I mean, watching her brought back all sorts of memories from this house - this neighborhood. I remember our first Halloween here. We had just moved in - my oldest was 7 - we were just getting to know our new area. I remember walking at night when I was pregnant with my now 5 year old - loving all the old houses, the treelined streets. I remember seeing the 3 yr old - way back when he was an infant - playing in his exersaucer - the former neighbor, now long moved away - talking to him. I REALLY remember two years ago, sitting up until late at night, feeling contractions, knowing my c-section was in the morning - knowing I would soon meet our new little one. It was rainy - windy.... nice night like this one.
So.. tonight, as it got close to bedtime, my baby tugged my arm and said "C'mon, Mommy." She wanted to walk. It was bedtime, and I had back packs to unload and repack, dinner dishes to do, homework to check, so... after some thought and a look up and down the dark street, I gently brought her inside, soothed her and put her to bed. But ...I should have walked with her. I need to live in these moments more. They really don't last, and they're just so great. I'll miss when I don't have someone tugging my arm for a walk. I should focus on that more - what I'll miss - what I need to cherish.
Omigosh .... all my bitching and one of my friends just sent me a sunflower picked from some pumpkin farm today (my 13 year old happily handed it to me). Just couldn't let that go unsaid. You know - sometimes it takes more than the "little things", but... not today.
.. but I keep messing up. I started today in a great mood - woke snuggling with my non-snuggler, started happily organizing "stuff", was hanging out with my kids, had breakfast and lunch under control, was not bothered by laundry, had some great baby and preschool friendly art projects going, got everyone occupied and playing.....
Ugh - I think I'm trying to pat myself on the back, and I shouldn't. See - I screw everything up. Lately, I say the wrong things all the time to the people closest to me, and... what's worse is.... I don't even realize I'm doing it...... I feel a distance like I haven't felt in a long time, and... what's pathetic is.... I wander my days trying to be a good wife and mommy (daughter, sister, friend, etc.) yet I spend huge amounts of time worrying and trying to make amends (no one is ever interested). Maybe I'm trying too hard.... I do get freakishly tense lately.....
So - anyone? Or is this just "me" :-(. I feel um ... not bad... not inadequate.... can't quite find words for this place I'm in ..... I mean... maybe I'm looking in the wrong direction. Maybe it's connections I'm missing - maybe I'm just bruised because I'm not the type people reach out to - maybe I am reacting appropriately (saying things that should be said but maybe not with the best of timing or verbiage).... I don't know. This is a comprehensive thing lately - not one person - not one situation - just that "operating in a vacuum" feeling again....
I wish I had fruit trees in my backyard (have great memories of pitting sour cherries for my Mom's pies or climbing these great gnarled apple trees in my backyard as a kid then eating the small, tart, green apples off the ground with my friends... good pies there too).
I wish I was still a vegetarian (some days - other days, not so much - having some chef aspirations).
I wish I was 30 lbs lighter (not because I want to be a size 4 or 6 like I was 5 years ago, but because I need clothes that fit - I am beyond "frugalista" these days).
I wish my husband and I had families that actually spent time with us and with our children (and liked it - cuz... holidays, birthdays, etc. would be so much better...).
I wish I could still talk to my Dad - just once a week (I do talk, but... now that he's gone, he doesn't answer, and I wish he would :-).
I wish I had some sort of contributing income to the household (still looking...).
I wish I had connections in the fashion industry (on a similar note, I also wish that my kids and I .... and my hubby - if he wants - all had walk-in closets!).
I wish my house wasn't so cluttered (toys, clothes, towels, snacks - all necessities, right?).
I wish I was first or second on someone's list to call for a quick lunch, a movie, a retail therapy outing - whatever (besides my husband's, right?)...need a couple "girlfriends" a la Sex in the City ;-). I'm not very good at making friends, so... maybe that's the core wish - to be better at that :-).
I wish I had time to take daily walks or runs in the park or down my neighborhood's pretty tree-lined streets - maybe through the little section of town with the bakery, the yoga studio, the corner store....
AND ... OK this goes beyond 10 .... I wish for peace, but... not in the ordinary sense or the "what you probably think I mean" way.... I wish that people would find peace within themselves and learn to appreciate what they have - the people around them, their kids, their homes - whatever - lives in general. I think, in that way, that maybe people would treat others better, learn not to begrudge others what they have - reach out a bit to those in need. I mean.... maybe.... it's one of my absurd wishes today anyway....
So - today is a good day (and this will be rushed because I don't want to break momentum with my rhythm with kids, kitchen, outdoors, etc.). I have a happy, happy kindergartner - a mature, communicative 8th grader enjoying herself AND getting very good grades - I spent quality time with both my 1 yr old and my 3 yr old (who now, apparently, LOVES preschool). I had a yummy coffee today - got a healthy fantastic smelling slow cooker dinner going - got some planting done - exercised - am OK with how my clothes fit, what my hair did (trivial but important for mood and self -esteem :-), etc. A far cry from the miserable, gray, rainy day a few days ago when everyone was cranky - one kid was sick (and I was too) - we were bogged down with homework - and my 5 yr old had to get shots and a referral to a cardiologist for what appears to be a minor heart murmur - AND I lost our library card, zoo membership card, insurance card - just a total mess (couldn't find a bunch of stuff in my kids' rooms like their medical info - old ultrasound pics, etc.- which is odd - just where did I put all that stuff???). Anyway - hubby had a good meeting this am - another successful project this afternoon - my preschooler is singing - my little one is napping - I get to be good Mommy and pick up the other two from school (kindergartner loves his tennis class - 8 th grader all caught up in school elections, friends' birthdays - just fun).
So... I've been thinking (and this is my request), and... while I love it when all my friends chat with me in person about my blog, my ideas, their input, etc.... I would like it if everyone would contribute comments and get some nice discussions or info. sharing sessions going. I promise to revamp the layout so we can all see comments, etc.
....which brings me to my announcement..... The magazine girl in me wants to keep doing a bi-monthly or monthly magazine-like forum (like I did a few weeks ago - recipes, tips, etc.). After some thought, it looks like ONCE a month is going to be best - on or around the 15th.
OK - so.... I do have a photo today (me on my b-day this year - June 2009 - with all my kiddies - in keeping with the happy vibe)... Don't forget to get in sharing / chatting mode, all!