Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dear Kids

Check the date. You'll be surprised to note that I'm writing you before any of you were even born. But you were thought of -- often. Now I'm preparing. I'm preparing to meet your father and preparing to be the best possible wife and mother I can be for my family. Sometimes the void in my home, arms, heart makes me think I'm impatiently waiting for people who will never come. I become distressed and depressed and I have to force myself to remember that there are many things in life that are within my control and many things in life where the lesson of patience lands me face planted into a brick wall time and time again.

I have yet to learn it, which means I would be unable to teach you. And I lack the compassion to forgive, which means you'd all be fighting with one another and I couldn't show you examples in my life where I had been wronged and decided to let the anger go. I sleep in -- til the afternoon when I can because I stay up so late and my body needs the sleep. Yes, I'm ready for you but I'm not quite ready for you. My time, my precious time is mine to squander and I need to start disciplining myself with it now before you arrive so that I don't feel overwhelmed with the endless responsibilities of motherhood. Yes, I'm ready for you but I'm not quite ready for you because I don't like cleaning up after people and I need to see the role of servant as a loving act of service -- which is not at all how I feel about it now!

Yes, I'm ready for you! But in the way that a 15 year old looks forward to having his/her driver's license. Teenagers view driving as freedom, independence, self-reliance. It's all of those things and a whole lot more. It's responsibility. It's not choking under pressure in the exact moment you need to perform well. It's being aware of every single possible danger and knowing how to respond accordingly. After a while, it's just an act we do from muscle memory and yet our minds still need to be focused on the task 100% because accidents happen. Driving isn't just about the license or the brand new (to me) car in the driveway on a celebratory occasion. It's about the pulsing anxiety that floods your body when you're driving on a six lane highway at 1 am and you're stuck between the median and a tractor trailer truck. And it's pouring. And there are people in the car -- not just you, other people you love. It's about staying the course even when you're so tense and afraid and you want to pull over and quit or stop and quit but you can't. Lots of things in life evoke these same kinds of feelings.

I don't envision motherhood the way a teenager would. I've matured enough to know that children take more than love than they ever give back. But I'm also smart enough to know that good parents learn and grow as much as their children do. But I also know, there's no way real way to prepare for driving in the storm other than lots of practice of driving when it's sunny. The confidence we gain from the tiny triumphs build up and we feel confident to take on the greater challenges. Which is why I feel ready for the next phase of my life even though it's quite clear God has not brought these blessings into my life.

Remember that. When there's something you desperately want. A career. A family. A driver's license. :) A boyfriend. A new pair of skinny jeans. A better life. Remember that they're all blessings from God. Remember when you start to fret about anything that waiting isn't the same thing as preparing. Remember that feeling isn't being. Remember me. Remember me at this point in my life where I'm faced with lessons of gratitude and patience so that I can prepare myself for motherhood.

(Not that you can ever really be ready for driving on the highway at 1 am in between two tractor trailer trucks during a hailstorm with a screaming baby in the car. But you can get pretty darn close!)


Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Special Post for the Birthday Boy

Allan turned 5 years old today and I'm bummed that I missed his birthday party. I also feel like a bad Titi because I was a little absentminded last week and completely forgot to shop for his gift. Luckily, anything I would have purchased would have paled in comparison to what his mommy bought him -- a PSP!

Allan is such a sweet little boy and I'm so glad he's a part of our family! Those two boys are so completely different from one another -- in every conceivable way. Allan is full of energy -- my mom says he's "wide open" and I never really understood how she came up with that one -- but it's definitely true. Sometimes I call my mom on Thursday or Sunday nights -- her grandma duty days -- and it sounds like there are two dozen kids running around the house, and not just two. Allan is also super smart. He picks up on things really easily and is genuinely interested in learning. He loves being destructive, like any boy that age I suppose, but he's also really into singing songs, practicing his ABCs, practicing his Spanish, and he loves when someone reads to him! Jay's the exact opposite! Even as a toddler and young boy, he didn't enjoy story time and tried to weasel his way out of it.

What I like best about Allan is -- it may be too hard to just fine one. Allan is really honest. Sometimes, I'll ask him if he's been behaving badly and he'll admit to it and then cry that he doesn't want me to yell at him or send him to time-out. But I love that he knows not to lie. (Although that may be because both he and Jay said when I'm angry it's really scary. That actually made me kind of sad and I thought maybe I was yelling, but Jay said it's not that I'm yelling, it's just that you can tell I'm really mad and I make really mad faces!) Allan also reminds me a lot of myself (when I was a newly turned 5 year old, that is.) He loves his big brother so much and looks up to him. I know what it's like to be the younger sibling and crave attention from your big brother/big sister. Hopefully, as he gets older he'll develop his own interests and friends and won't feel so slighted by his big brother. And hopefully, his brother learns to be more patient and loving with him.
Allan is by far the pickiest eater I've ever met, which is saying something because I'm pretty picky myself!

He pretty much only consistently likes grits and cookies. Can't say I blame him. Sometimes my sister will call and I can hear her begging him to eat a chicken nugget or to take one more bite of pizza before he has cookies. Or sometimes I'll call and not know they're in the middle of a meltdown because my sister baked cookies and Allan wants to eat them ALL. Again, can't say I blame him -- but maybe he'll start to like new things as he gets older and his taste buds change. It didn't happen for me -- but we can all hope.

It's great having two nephews. I'm forced to love them differently because they're so different. Jay's generally really introverted and likes to stay home, so it's nice that we've bonded over movie nights and cooking meals together. Anytime we've been outside, other than a park, it's been because I initiate taking a hike or going for a swim. I have a feeling, Allan would much prefer to be the kind of boy who wants to be outside roughing it out. It's these relationships that make me change my expectations for all interpersonal relationships. It's not that I don't have expectations from either of my nephews -- because I do. I expect them to be obedient and kind, generous and thoughtful, respectful and loving-- oh and hardworking. Anything after that kind of falls into the category of not important. Do I want either of them to grow up to be neurosurgeons? Nope. I want them to grow up knowing that the world is full of endless possibilities and that if they work hard and cultivate a passion for their work, then they can make whatever dreams they have for themselves come true. I want them to take the best of their relationships with their parents, siblings, extended family and try to give that very best that's in each of us and give it back to the world somehow. I hope they'll be be loving and attentive fathers someday -- when they're much much much much much older (and married!) I hope they'll be respectful and loving to their wives, that they'll practice what we've been preaching for the past 5 (and for Jay 10 years).

Love you, Al!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grade 4

Hey 4th grader!

I know today was your first day of school. I'm a little weepy because I can't believe you're old enough to be in the fourth grade. I think I'll get over it because we have at least nine more years before you go off to college and leave us!

I'm sitting here with Chewy enjoying the slow morning in Boston and hoping you like your teacher (and that he or she adores you -- how could anyone not?) I hope you've been practicing your multiplication tables, learning about the U.S. Presidents, and writing in your journal in your free time.

Here's what I wish for you for your fourth grade year:

1. A great attitude
2. The desire to do well in school and the work ethic to make sure you do
3. Many friends
4. Teachers who get you excited about learning
5. A good amount of homework that challenges you but doesn't drive you or mommy up the walls
6. Amazing field trips
7. The cutest picture day picture
8. The ability to voice your frustrations without letting it get the best of you
9. Kindness, service, and honesty both in and out the classroom (and most especially with Al)
10. Focus. Your brain is super active! Try your best to focus on the lesson so you can learn as best as you can!
11. Hugs! Everyday, hugs.

I figured I'd give you ten wishes for ten years but I got a little carried away. I know I speak for everyone when I say we're super proud of you and can't wait to hear about all the cool things you'll learn this year.
I'm giving you an air hug right now.



( me a favor and write in your blog about how your first day of school went! I'd love to read about it!)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Friday morning my sister woke up before 7 am and consequently everyone else had to wake up too. But that's a good thing because it means we made the most of our time.

A few pics before we left for Winthrop.

 We're both sporting our Harvard T's!

 What a great nephew! I'm so lucky!

These two look just alike.

First stop was Winthrop Beach which I absolutely love. It's close, it's not too much of an attraction because there's no "boardwalk" like at Revere Beach and I love the little pockets and coves there. We had breakfast at a tiny breakfast place there. Bacon, egg, and cheese on bagels and we all had coffee drinks, even Jay because they had extra of the frozen mocha drink and I said he could have a little taste. He loved it! He's been asking for coffee since NY when his aunt let him try some.

 There were hundreds of hermit crabs. We got there at the peak of low tide so we couldn't even walk to the water without stepping on them.

 Jay was holding a hermit crab here and refused to look at the camera. So we both said, "JAY! Look at the camera." Guess we didn't tell him to smile though.

 Jay letting his mommy rest on his shoulder. Ain't he the sweetest?

 My partner in crime -- we even have our own dap greeting.

Me and my sister -- all smiles because I don't know yet that I've been towed.

It's almost over...

Jay's mom flew up Thursday night and the two of them returned to North Carolina Friday afternoon. Six weeks have since passed since I went to pick him up in New York. Feels like he's been here much longer and it also feels like we didn't have enough time.

Wednesday we went to Castle Island for one last Boston funsie. My GPS couldn't find Castle Island and I only knew that it is located in South Boston. So I drove around and finally found it after about 25 minutes of cruising around the city.  We stopped by the ice cream shop there and got a couple of soft serve cones. I picked vanilla (my favorite) and he picked chocolate (his favorite --along with strawberry). The amount of ice cream they gave us was honestly downright ignorant. I scooped two thirds of each cone onto the ground (no trashcans) and Jay held a mini memorial service for his dessert. I don't think he knew I was going to discard so much but even after all of that, neither one of us finished eating what remained.

Castle Island is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that Jams and I are going there after we rescue her car from the tow lot and have breakfast. Fort Independence is on the island (or what used to be an island) and it's a pretty cool location. Other than the fort, there's a playground, and the flight path of landing airplanes at Logan Airport. The backdrop of the city across the harbor provides the most magnificent view and depending on when you get there, how far you go out, and how keen your eyesight is, you could find lots of crabs.

 The sky was so blue and the sun was so bright that I had to take a picture. Magnificent, isn't it?

 We found baby crabs! Or baby something. It certainly looked like a baby hermit crab but with a completely different shell. Maybe they outgrow these shells and find much uglier rock looking shells for adulthood.

I wasn't really going to drop that crab down his pants. I just wanted to hear him scream!

 Jay learned how to skip rocks and is really excited about going home to skip with his dad, uncle, and cousins. I'm hoping he teaches Al, too.

 Staked his claim at the fort. Now the property of Jay and Titi. Not that I mind. It might be cool to live in a fort. Not so cool to have tourists playing in our backyard though.

He looks ridiculously grown up here.

I miss him so much already. I can't wait to see everyone again in November.

Thursday morning we drove out to Rockport, MA. A really good friend of mine who lives in VA has a family vacation home there and we went up for the day. We arrived just before noon and didn't leave until 830 pm (not at all in enough time to pick my sister up from the airport but she didn't have to wait too long.)

We went for lunch in the downtown area -- ate the freshest crab ever. The kids played on the beach for almost three hours and Jay's little Southern blood managed to stay in the freezing ocean for most of that time. I was absolutely shocked! But it was great. My friend and I were able to catch up because we hadn't talked in a really long time but it was so easy to jump back in into the swing of things. Then we went home, showered and walked back into town for a quick dinner and ice cream. No pics. :(

Rockport is beautiful. I'm absolutely going back again THIS summer. There's no way that little piece of wonder can be only 35 miles away from Boston and I miss out. I love quaint towns with charming shops and really friendly people. It's expensive to live there I'm sure -- but it absolutely reminded me of Bar Harbor. Especially the ice cream!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And I was starting to think it would never break 100 degrees in Boston

We were supposed to go to the zoo but it was over 105 degrees one day. So instead, we played in the spray bed at the park and painted watercolors!

This one is mine. I love it. I'm a little disturbed that the only image I truly captured is Chewy. But to give myself a little credit, I don't walk around with an image of myself in my head all day. I do, however, see Chewy because he's literally always in my face. I think Jay's photo looks a little like him. His face isn't quite so round and it's a tad bit longer IRL. That figure on the left though? Not at all any resemblance to me. A little sad that I couldn't capture my own likeness.

Jay's rainbow. Really nice. I love the use of almost all the colors. I especially like what's going on around the rainbow tornado. Like is it also raining blue and red? :)

Jay moved on from his first watercolor [not yet pictured] to the one above and finished with this number. Meanwhile, I was still working on my one and only. I love the purple here. And I'm drawn to the deep red in the center. Maybe someone has a natural talent.

Not really sure what was going on here. Maybe that's the ocean. Who knows. But he wrote our names (in watercolor) on the picture so it might represent friendship.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Day in Maine

Friday morning Jay and I headed up to the Bridgton Lake region in Maine and spent a lovely day (yes, only a day) with my dear friends. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures. Jay took a couple of pictures from the car but deleted them to make room for this video.

I think what's happening here is pretty classic. Jay and I treated ourselves to candy bars because I was falling asleep somewhere on the back roads of New Hampshire when I stopped to get gas. Chewy took a nap on the plastic bag and melted his Hershey bar into a type of matter that I won't bother to describe. My Baby Ruth went unharmed. Well, kind of.

I usually take Route 1 to I-95 N but decided to avoid the heavy weekend traffic and opted for I-93 N through New Hampshire and we had a nice long road trip through the White Mountains. Spectacular.

But I'll back up because our morning out was a little rough. I had to finish a load of laundry which already had me behind schedule. So imagine my frustration when I hop out of the shower ready to go when Jay reveals that he has yet again stepped in dog poop while taking Chewy for a walk. Since I wasn't waiting at the door like last time, I wasn't able to stop him dead in his tracks and prevent him from tracking the mess all over our living room and kitchen. Needless to say, I was livid. And it took me a while to understand that he didn't really mean any ill harm and it wasn't that he wasn't thinking -- just that he was thinking only about cleaning his shoes so that I wouldn't be angry. It obviously backfired because he cleaned the mess in the kitchen sink!


He's such a wonderful child. He played so well with my friend's four daughters and was really sad to go. I hated to only spend one night and day with the Reed's but Jay has his duathlon tomorrow morning and I reasoned that it made more sense for us to drive back Saturday night than early Sunday morning.

I think we maximized our time there as much as anyone could. Friday evening we had dinner, played old school Nintendo and then I stayed up late having a really interesting discussion with my friend's brother. Saturday morning we had a yummy breakfast, the kids played outside, drew pictures for me and then we all headed out to a nearby lake for some fun swimming. I had to coerce Jay into jumping into the lake from the docks and it took about twenty minutes. I knew after his first jump he'd be hooked and he totally was. We went to a Mongolian BBQ for lunch with their church family, then went to a carnival in a neighboring town.

[I didn't take a single picture in Maine. Honestly, I've been a little slack on the pictures for the past two weeks. It feels good to just watch the moments unfold and not spend the time behind the eye of a camera. But now I regret that decision. The little Reed girls are so darned cute and our trip to the lake was picture worthy! I guess we'll just have to hold those memories in our hearts and double up on the photos next summer!]

Jay's pooped. So am I. But he still stayed up for the first two hours of the ride back to talk with me and it was the best part of the trip in my opinion.

I'm trying not to freak out about the fact that he's leaving in less than a week. 5 whole days left. He leaves Friday afternoon with his mother who's flying up Thursday night.

He said today in the car that he'd like to spend another month :) and that warmed my insides because I know he's incredibly homesick. He even saved his generic brand Axe spray because my mom bought it for him a while ago and it said it reminds him of home. I know he's ready to get home to see his brothers and parents but he's already talking about having his Uncle E drive him up for his spring break.

He's a keeper.