Friday, July 30, 2010

When God Speaks

You open your heart and listen.

A 76-year-old man sat down on the bike next to mine at the gym this morning. He struck up a conversation that started with "you're going too fast, you're making me look bad..." And we soon found ourselves keeping good company as our exercise time flew by. He flattered me sweetly when he asked if I was in highschool or college and when I told him I was 8 years out of college and married with 2 children he began to dole out some advice. Married for almost 55 years to his highschool sweetheart, I figured he had a thing or two worth listening to.

"I don't know what it is," he said "but still, after 54 years, there's nothing better than coming home to her... she's still the love of my life."

I didn't want to be so stereotypical and ask the obvious "how did you do it?" and fortunately he went there anyway...

"Some people ask me... what's your secret? How did you stay with just one woman for so many years? And I tell them... I pray. That's right, no matter how things were going in my marriage, all I had to do was pray that they would get better and they did. That right there is how you make it work."

He had the sweetest smile and I'm sure I did too as I stepped off my bike and thanked him for the conversation (which lasted a good 20 minutes and included so much more.)

"It was all my pleasure" he said with genuine sincerity. And I walked away looking upward and whispering a soft prayer of thanks.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Little Girl

She's the reason I question my sanity on a frequent basis. But she also reminds me what being a mom is all about. The trials and tribulations can melt away when she wraps her tiny arms around my neck and says "I yuv you mama..."

Almost 20 months old, rapidly approaching the age of 2. I've quickly come to realize that the "terrible twos" has nothing to do with actual age and everything to do with entering the phase of independence. Whoever created the term simply had a child who accomplished that at age 2. For us? It started at 18 months. She's got a temper, an attitude, and a strong opinion and she's not afraid to express them on a regular basis. But that smile comes out and it melts your heart. It's impossible not to love that sweet face.

Signs Point To...


As in left handed.

As in the hand she chooses for the two main life tasks that generally require handedness. Eating and writing (and occasional nose picking.)

Is this something to be worried about? Of course not. Is it remarkable? Hardly. Would I have posted if we realized she was right handed? Nope. Is it possible that she will change from left to right? Sure.

Just taking a moment to treasure a child's uniqueness.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Year Goes By

(Summer 2009)

(Summer 2010)

*Just realized while posting this how similar the poses are in both pictures... totally unplanned!

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Boy and His Teddy

Teddy has been a very special part of this family for nearly three years now. Brendan was skeptical about him when we first brought him home but the soft and cuddly bear became his constant companion and there wasn't a night he would close his eyes without Teddy by his side. He tested a few other options... Geoffrey his stuffed giraffe... Tessa his other smaller bear... Freddy the frog... but no one compared to Teddy. This bear was so loved that the stuffing in his neck began to wear thin as a result of a little boy's hugs. His soft velvetty coat turned into a lovingly worn type of comfort. Brendan talked to him, played with him, slept with him and loved him as if he were truly his most cherished friend. So as silly as it sounds, his disappearance came with a huge sense of sadness and loss for all of us.

My search efforts were unsuccessful as I promised my sweet boy that I would continue to look as I tucked him in for bed. I opened cupboards and drawers, looked in closets and under beds and came up empty handed. As I kissed him sweetly on the cheek before I went to bed, he opened his eyes and whispered softly "did you find him mama?" and my heart began to break. "No sweetheart, but I'll keep looking..." as he replied a sweet "OK" and closed his eyes. I would not be going to bed... I would spend the next half hour searching in places I hadn't covered and would still be unsuccessful...

In the morning I felt a soft tapping on my shoulder.

"Mommy? I really love Teddy but I just can't find him" as he fought back tears. I HAD to figure this out. So we searched together and failed yet again. I pondered all the places he could be, feeling 99% sure that he never left the house. And as I reassured my boy that maybe Daddy would be more successful once he got home, I knew in my heart that Teddy may be gone forever. So I had to break it to him gently.

At the breakfast table I said "sweetheart, I think Teddy may be... gone..."

"Gone?!" he cried with a terrified look of horror and sadness that was quickly being accompanied by tears. "But mommy... Teddy is crying and he misses me... he needs me to find him."

And there it was... my heart was broken. I couldn't bring his teddy back.

Joe was sure that I just wasn't looking in the right places. But after a couple days of his return and hard searching we were baffled as to where he may have gone. So I took the last resort and ordered a brand new Teddy. I felt a strong sense of sadness as I knew he would never be the same. How would Brendan feel about replacing his very best friend? So the day he was being delivered I wondered "is it wrong to tell a tiny lie?"... I had an idea...

"Hey buddy" I said that morning, "I think I know where Teddy went."

"You do?!"

"I think he's not missing, he just went to get washed up for you and he's coming home today!"

"He is?! Silly Teddy, we thought he was missing but he wasn't! I'm so excited!!"

That afternoon as we began our trek upstairs for naptime, the doorbell rang and I sensed Brendan's excitement.

"Mama... I'll bet that's Teddy! Do you think that's Teddy?! Oh I hope that's Teddy!!" as he jumped up and down.

"Teddy?! Are you in there Teddy?! Teddy... come out!" I cried in semi-mock excitement as I ripped open the box.

Brendan grabbed him from my hands and wrapped his arms tightly around the bear's neck crying "oh Teddy... I missed you so much, please don't ever leave me again!"

And when I watched him fall asleep, clutching Teddy with a smile on his face I thought "no harm done in telling a tiny lie..."

We love you Teddy and we're so glad you're back :)

Green Peter Camping

We were invited by some friends to join a larger group of friends for a weekend of camping at Green Peter Reservoir last month. It happened to fall on the last weekend of Joe's annual training which created a situation in which I packed up all the gear and the children (while slowly coming down with what would be a bad case of laryngitis) by myself, drove 2 hours to the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, met with the group, unpacked and set up camp, made dinner and got the kids to sleep while trying to keep it all together. There were more than a few moments when I questioned my sanity. Had it not been for the several other husbands present and willing to help me pitch my gigantic 3-room tent, I may have tossed in the towel and driven to Albany to sleep in the comforts of my parents home. But by the time the kids were asleep in the tent, the adults were crowded around the campfire and I had a roasting stick in hand (s'mores were on the horizon...) I felt the stress of the day release and was glad I had made the decision to go.

Joe joined us on Saturday and we were fortunate enough to experience a tour of the lake guided by our good friends and their boat. The weather was beautiful and the water a bit chilly but that didn't stop me from throwing caution to the wind and jumping in full force. Who needs a wetsuit?! I donned my bikini and a life jacket with my feet strapped to a wakeboard as I attempted something I assumed looked easier than it really was. I had no idea what I was in for as I failed each attempt with a face full of water. So after 6 attempts and 1 ALMOST success, the teeth chattering chill was more than I could bear. I headed back to camp feeling defeated but not for lack of trying.

After 2 days and nights without showers or baths we packed it all up and made the trek back home. The van was unloaded in record time and everything was unpacked, put away and laundered in just a couple of short hours. The kids were bathed, the adults were showered and we all slept well in our beds with wonderful memories of a fantastic weekend.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lessons Learned

We've always thought our son must have been born with a love of books. From the age of just one year, he would sit contentedly flipping through books for what felt like hours on end. At 18 months we would leave a board book or two in his crib for him to "read" himself to sleep. This habit continued to the present time where he now surrounds himself with at least 2 or 3. It is not unusual to find half of the contents of his bookshelves buried in his covers.

So it should come as no surprise that the library is one of his most favorite places to visit. We visit less often in the summer months than in the winter simply because we can't pass up the opportunity to be outside. But it doesn't stop his amazement at the prospect of "borrowing" books... enjoying them for awhile and then trading them in for more. And every trip involves a walk down the "truck book" aisle where we've probably checked out every single book on the subject at least two or three times (garbage trucks, fire trucks, diggers, dumpers, loaders, monster trucks... they've got it all.)

And this love for books has given me the greatest opportunity to teach him about caring for the things we enjoy. He knows what it means to destroy property, especially property that doesn't belong to us. There are consequences that come with ripping the pages... ultimately at least one night without the comfort of his page turning obsession. So when I found the remnants of a hardcover book about firetrucks I was deservedly upset. A small part of me felt like I had failed at getting through to him and I wondered why he would have done such a thing. The pieces of binding and torn pages were hidden beneath his bed while what remained of the book was shoved beneath the mattress. Evidence of a young boy who knew what he did was wrong.

I explained that the book didn't belong to us, a fact he already knew. The librarian would surely be sad and we would have to pay for her to buy a new one so that other kids could continue to enjoy it. And so we headed off to the library. I prepped him once, telling him that he needed to apologize and explain what he had done and we set off to face the consequences. As I stepped up to the counter I explained, rather ashamed, "we need to pay for this book... and this little guy has something to tell you..." I lifted him up to her level...

He made eye contact but spoke softly "I ripped this book and I'm very sorry..."

The look she gave instantly put me at peace. She smiled kindly and said "I hope that you're able to enjoy many more books here without ripping any more... how does that sound?" While she looked at me and whispered "we don't get that very often... so wonderfully said... good job" and she smiled again.

We paid $12 for the book and my job was done. Will he ever rip a library book again? I can only hope not. But as for a lesson, I think he truly learned...