Friday, May 18, 2012

Summer Bucket Lists

“...summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. for those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool gives you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. you can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. summer just opens the door and lets you out.”
-Deb Caletti 

August’s Summer Bucket List
*Swim in the lake—a lot
*Practice juggling daily
*Play baseball
*Have water balloon/gun fights
*Practice martial arts
*Exercise more often
*More Ukelele lessons with Dad
*Play tag (sponge tag, flashlight tag)
*Camp out at least once
*Have friends over for a “Water Day”
*Do more stop-motion animation
*Do science, everyday
*Write some stories
*Write a song
*Practice reading
*Work on Cub Scout activities
And also
*Look for pamphlets describing my new adventure story series, which will include adventure, romance, and danger…

Aidan’s Summer Bucket List
*I would like to form a club with Bud and me
*I would like to build cool things like gadgets and objects for underwater exploration
*I would like to exercise more in order to build up skills
*I would like to become more flexible by doing yoga regularly
*I would like to think about getting some new pets
*I would like to learn magic
*I would like us to have an outdoor Olympics
*I would like to make a comic strip
*I would like to make a trip to Kansas City, Missouri to visit all of the fountains
*I would like to go to Six Flags over Mid-America
*I would like to go bowling
*I would like to go swimming
*I would like to work on Webelos Activity Badges
*I would like to learn more about cooking

Oh my goodness these boys never cease to surprise me.  Give them a blank piece of paper and a few months of wide open space and they go places you would never have imagined.  Both boys were bemoaning their fates...that they had so much that they wanted to do and not enough time to do it in (*news flash boys: it only gets more so!).  I suggested that they just take some time and get it all out of their heads so that they weren't bearing the weight of it all the time.  I know, for myself, that if I get all my thoughts and expectations out of the black hole of my mind and down onto something more grounded, like a piece of paper, then I am much more apt to actually accomplish one or two of my goals.  

So, now that they are free from the burden of carrying around all these incredibly awesome ideas, they can get down to the business of being fully present.  We'll let you know how it goes.

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” 
-L.M. Montgomery

Thursday, May 17, 2012

these are the days I hope they will remember

"You're writing the story of your life one moment at a time."
-Doc Childre and Howard Martin

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My angel mother

I wake to the pattering of feet above my head.  I am in the basement, on the pull-out bed, wrapped in the quilt made by a crazy old lady from Mississippi.  I see the sun brightening up the room...I watch as the beams break into a million pieces of color as they hit the patterned glass and I think about how I feel so grounded in this moment because my mom is walking up above me. 

How every morning of every day I have ever known,
I have opened my eyes and have set myself aright, resting in the peace that comes from knowing that my mom is near. 

To know that she is alive and kicking...
and dancing...
and singing silly songs...
or cooking brisket...
...that she is getting onto my dad about what he has forgotten at the moment...
or pumping her fist into the air upon learning that her blood numbers are going up "like they are supposed to"...
...that I can call her just to hear her voice say, "Hi, darlin!"

these things, these snippets of time and essence...
all these things
keep my world spinning on its axis.

Because I know that she is there.

And then I think about my family and friends who are waking up this morning, seeing the same sun as me, whose minds will slip also into those familiar paths but, rather than gently settling into their skins, will find themselves, instead, falling into a sunken place.

A place without their mothers.

I scarcely can imagine that place.  Whenever my mind wanders to a future in that vacant space I have to catch my breath, hold something to steady myself, find something fixed to focus my gaze.  Because I have never known myself or my world without my mother in it.  I am here, because of her.  I am who I am, because of her.

And I want to always live in a world that has my mother in it.  Because how can I exist without my mother in the world? 

But then I see those that I love, those who have lost their mothers in the last month, the last year, the last decade...
and somehow they are still walking and talking and breathing.
I know that, some days, those basic acts are all they can still hurts so much...

There is still life, despite the loss.  There is still love in the world, despite the severing.  There is still light, despite the darkness.

And I have hope.

Because, if it is true, that we are who we are because of our mothers...
it means that this whole dance,
all of the goodness and light
spun dizzy
with all of the defiance and angst
...all of it
gains momentum by touching another life.

Through loving and singing with our own children, by partnering with kindred souls or living alongside people that challenge us...
all of it
ripples on

and people are continually made and remade
because we are in their lives...which means that our mothers live on.

And so, just maybe, I will always, every day that I will ever know, wake in the morning and find myself grounded in the moment

because my mom is walking above me.

Friday, May 11, 2012

{Mother's Day Week} Letter to a friend

To my dear sweet friend,

Have I told you enough how very excited I am that you are going to have a baby?  I'm continually amazed how, whenever a close friend of mine finds themselves with child, I feel a familiar stirring deep in my marrow...a longing, of sorts, to share the experience, once again.  Oh how wonderful it is to grow a life...a life whose very genesis was sparked within the depths of love and connection.  You are living a miracle, friend.  I hope you realize that.

And have I told you how, even though you waited longer than most of your friends to get married and start a family, that you are doing things exactly the right way, for you? Because I know you.  I've known you since kindergarten.  And in the years that have spanned from those early days in Mrs. Krueger's class to now, I also know that you doubt yourself.  A lot.  You absolutely love life and all of its promises and possibilities but you also fear that one decision might thwart a different experience so you can get stalled out in the inbetween places.

This baby business, with all of its pastel colored fabric and fluffy stuffed pillows and hip accoutrements, is really wonderful stuff.  Really. Wonderful.  It's exciting to imagine swaddling your newborn babe, staring lovingly at her button nose or his already evident cleft chin.  And, even though you've never done this before, I'm sure that you believe that you can do this baby thing.  And that, my friend, is what I want you to remember, more than any other thing that you might read or hear or see between now and forever...

You need to know
you can do this.  

I feel that I need to tell you this, brand it on your heart, even, because much of what you might read may insinuate that, perhaps, you might not be able to do this just right.  There are a gazillion books on the market and they all have a lot to say about this mothering business.  A. Lot. To. Say.  Understand this though: it won't be that they come right out and say that you aren't fit to parent or breastfeed or soothe your baby.  That's not how it works.  Instead, methods and prescriptions and directives are offered as the path to enlightened parenting.  "Follow these steps and your baby will perform as desired."

Except when your baby doesn't behave as expected.

And that is when the seed is planted.

A little seed of doubt will slip from your spinning, sleep deprived head into the fertile and emotional ground of your heart and something in you will slip a bit.

The bliss that was yours from the moment you first laid eyes upon your sweet baby's face will wilt, just a wee little bit.  Not because your dear babe has done anything wrong.  No.  No.
Rather, you will just start to think that you are doing something wrong.

But what those books fail to communicate is how very much you were made to do this.  You were created for this very babymoon.  And You, my friend, are the perfect mama for your baby.

Those books are helpful for many practical things, especially when you aren't close to family and friends to come alongside you and help you navigate those early days of mothering.  All of us appreciate tips on handling diaper rash and what to pack in your diaper bag and when to know that your baby's fever is too high.

But the absolute necessities, the things that will nurture and grow your baby in love and all things good, all of that is already inside of you.

I promise.

You are smarter than you think.

So, when you finally get to hold your precious babe, to drink in his delicious smell or nibble on her tender toes, that stirring deep within, the one that fits your skin just right and doesn't pinch in the hidden places...

that is the source of your mother wisdom.  

That place births its own miracles and that place can be trusted.

Those early days will be challenging, for sure.  My desire is not to sugar coat this motherhood thing into something else equally unattainable.

Mothering is the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life.

But I also believe that it has shaped me into a fuller, richer and more colorful version of myself.

So, on this, your first Mother's Day, step into the wonder that is Motherhood.  Know that this beautiful dance has been twirling since the dawn of time and you are being welcomed into its circle.  Turn your ear to its strain and you will probably find

you already know the words by heart.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

on beginning again

Discouragement can find you in the most surprising places.

Like the moment when a friend succeeds and you swell and burst right alongside them and then you go home to find yourself now less, somehow.
Or the moment when your child is playing with abandon alongside his buddy and you smile at their joy and their innocence, but you are quiet down deep because you notice the differences and, deeper still, you note their importance.

But discouragement can also be the elephant in your heart, taking up all the important space and crowding out the truth...seeing snapshots of moments and mistaking them for ironclad declarations when they aren't anything more than images on paper, yellowing and curling.

Discouragement has lurked long and quiet in my house and I, like the dysfunctional mother that I can be, have secretly slipped it food and shelter, thinking that some small act of servitude was, at the very least, deserved, if not warranted.  I've accepted this entity and provided it safe harbor.  Not unlike the obnoxious, insensitive relative who comes to visit without warning and then proceeds to speak too big and walk too loud and, as per the usual, I haven't been bold enough to put an end to it.

But I find that the time has come for some tough love.

I need courage in this life of mine and I'd rather not cohabitate with the force that strives to deprive me of it.

So, how then shall I live?

If discouragement is the strong arm that has taken away my guts, then perhaps my only choice is
to choose  to live  in courage.

That's right.  In + Courage = place where one is heartened, supported, spurred on...
I want to live in that place.  I want to build community in that neighborhood.

I need to stop looking for the glitches in the matrix and start looking for what is at hand.
And what is at hand

Because at the end of my fingertips are little boys who are quickly becoming bigger boys and, yes, they are at my side, every.waking.moment...but it is all so good.  And where they are, there is inspiration.

And before there were little men, there was the man and oh, how I love him!  He, who works for far less than he deserves, just so he can be with us more.
He, who is brilliant in mind and heart and never, ever lets it shine brighter than those he holds dear.
He, who sees me in the night and reaches for me, still, in the morning light.
Oh, how good that is!

I need to stake my claim in the land that builds me up and makes me stronger.  In the place where
real people choose to live...

among whom are:

friend people, who see me at my darkest and choose, not to snuff out my smoldering wick but, rather, to relight my candle...

joy people, who know that happiness is not a destination or even a goal but more, a by-product of a life focused on people and gold-laced sunsets and crisp apples and the sound of gravel underneath tires...


love people, who make it their business to clothe me in undeserved fidelity and, by so doing, whisper secrets onto the wings of butterflies and, thus, forever change the spinning of the world.

Yes.  I will choose to live inside of courage.

And I will wear a cape.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


"The day the Lord created hope 
was probably the same day
 He created Spring."
-Bern Williams