Wednesday, December 28, 2011

that little voice

My New Year's resolution is to not listen to that little voice. You know, the one in the back of your head that tells you all sorts of nasty things. That you weigh too much, you're not cute enough, that you're just not good enough for a million and one silly reasons. Why are we our own worst critics?

That little voice nearly got the best of me on Tuesday when I headed into a heavy snow to run. By the second mile, I was miserable. My shirts were soaked through with snow, it kept getting into my eyes, and I was worried about my phone getting ruined with all the moisture. But the worst part is that I wasn't listing off these reasons in my head. Instead I was thinking, "This is so dumb. I'm not even a real runner. Only real runners should be out in this. I'm just pretending." And so on. It was awful and dumb. I ran past the gas station and people were looking at me like I was nuts, and I thought, "They're totally like, 'that girl is so slow. who is she fooling?'" And yeah, they WERE thinking I was nuts, but I'm sure they weren't thinking it like that.

I finally stopped and ignored the little voice. Partly because I was three miles from home by that point, so I might as well just keep running, but partly because I forced myself to ignore it. Even if I'm not a real runner, even if I really didn't HAVE to go out and run Tuesday morning, I did. I dodged snow plow spray and stuck to sidewalks to avoid fishtailing cars. I had so much snow on me that I had top and brush off my fuel belt every mile or so. My hair was soaking wet by the time I was finished. The tracks I left at mile one were almost filled in by the time I ran back past them at mile six.

Mile seven put me right in front of my house, and I was so glad to get inside and take a hot shower. But more than that, I'm glad I ignored that nasty little voice.

Tell me, what does your little voice tell you? I bet it isn't true.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Light for the Holidays

Hi everyone, meet Lux.
I have a very special Etsy shop to share with you today. My bestie Leah created Vintage Lux a few months ago, in memory of her sweet kitty Lux. 100% of the profits of her store are donated to the Humane Society in her home county, which is desperately in need of a new facility after a fire damaged the shelter. Lux was a rescue kitty herself and probably one of the sweetest cats I've ever met. The last time we visited Leah, Lux was in heaven cleaning up the floor beneath my two very messy boys. She went for everything, even pieces of lettuce! The boys thought this was great and Luke still asks about Leah's black kitty. Unfortunately, this was the last time that we would get to see Luxy while she was still living, but I'll always remember her eating all the little dropped pieces of food.

Leah's shop is pretty cool. I'm personally digging this milk glass cookie jar, but this blue mason jar is pretty neat too. Leah has generously offered to give away a vintage Lux tote bag for the holidays, a perfect, eco-friendly way to carry Christmas presents, library books, or even groceries. All you have to do is visit Leah's shop and tell me which vintage, reclaimed item you like the best. And if anything catches your eye today, Leah has also offered up the code 'peace' to receive 10% off your purchase.

Giveaway will run until Friday, 12/16. Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

this history

I've been thinking a lot about history lately, since Victoria came to speak to my students.

I wonder sometimes what sort of history I'll have to pass on to my children. History, the real, deep parts of history, is becoming more distant. I've never lived through anything that's worthy of a chapter in a history book (not that I'm complaining because the things worthy of a chapter in a history book are usually big and scary). I've become more cognizant of what history there is around me, what things I should ask about and talk about, things that are big but maybe aren't in a history book.
Like how both of my parents had their blood types tattooed on them during the Cold War. Apparently blood type tattoos were done in the case of a nuclear attack from Russia, but--understandably--it was not widely done. They had it done during elementary school, walked down as a class and given tattoos. Can you imagine something like this happening today? My mom jumped, so hers is a blur, but my dad still has a clear, though faded, A+ tattooed on his side.

My mom is a polio survivor. She has this amazing collection of dolls and as a child, I remember learning that she got them when she spent a long time in the hospital as a child herself, with polio. I remember learning about Franklin Roosevelt in school and asking her later why she wasn't in a wheel chair or crippled in any way. She explained that she had the form of polio that attacks the respiratory system and showed me the dimple in her throat from the tracheotomy. When you look back at pictures, those were the kids in iron lungs. My parents both talk about what a scary time this was, because no one knew how polio was spread and Jonas Salk hadn't yet created a vaccine. There were quarantine signs on houses. People were afraid to let their children go public places. Can you imagine? I can't. This isn't my history, and yet, it is.

Back to this powerfully tiny woman...

You're probably tired of me talking about her, but I can't help it. I've been irrevocably changed by the depth of the lessons she taught me and my students. Again, there is the history that you read in books and then there is history. When she came last week, I introduced her to a colleague who teaches history. She said, "You teach history. I AM history." She is. I remember reading Night for the first time at fifteen and putting down the book and bursting into tears at his description of how the SS men threw babies in the air and used them for target practice. It was a moment of knowing but not knowing. I knew the horror of the Holocaust was extreme, but this was a level that I didn't know and then I did and it was almost too much to handle (yet, out of respect for those who LIVED it, I had to read it--I had to know).
It was like this with Victoria. I knew the horrors. In the years that have passed since reading Night, I've read countless books and watched countless documentaries on the Holocaust. I knew.

And yet, I didn't. I didn't know what it was like to watch the eyes of a 90 year old woman cloud with tears as she talked about watching an SS man take a crying baby and throw it into a wall and then, when she fainted at the sheer horror of it, she was beaten. I didn't know what it was like to watch the tears blink away, her voice thick with anger as she explained, "Because I was supposed to CLAP for him, because I was supposed to applaud him because everything they did was right. NO." I knew about the selection process at concentration camps, but to hear her talk with shame at having to take off her clothes while the soldiers stood around and watched and told them Polish people were dirty and still all these years later, she feels she has to explain, "We were not a dirty people, this was not true." To bite my lip against the tears as she tells how the old women and children under seven went one way, while she went another way and they never saw those women again. Just like that. I knew this, but I didn't. Because this is her history. It's written down in books, but it isn't. The words in the books aren't the same as looking into the bright green eyes of someone who lived it, someone who faced these atrocities and is not afraid to stand up and say how they were wrong and how it taught her to channel her anger into good. imagine, learning a lesson from the hurt. We could all use to do this.

Just when I started to think I couldn't be more in awe, Victoria came back to speak to the rest of my students on Thursday and handed me a Christmas present. I didn't understand. I stood there dumbly, because why was SHE giving ME something, when it was me who owed her so much? She said, "Open it, tell me if you like it." I pulled out a beautiful table runner and again, stood there dumbly as her daughter said, "She made that for you." This. She made THIS for ME.

I don't know what I did to deserve it and looking at it makes my heart twist in a million ways, ways that I can't even tell you. We have the perfect table for it, too, but the words are failing me. She gave herself in so many deep, raw ways to myself and to my students and yet, she went home and crocheted me a table runner, like she had to give more. The lump in my throat grows each time I look at it.

I don't have history of my own, but I have this table runner that was made by the hands of a woman who survived the Holocaust and kept with her a spirit that refused to be broken. I have the words to teach my children when they're older, to share her history with as much depth as I can muster. It's not written in a book. Instead it sits on my table, it lives within my heart and mind and my promise to never, ever forget.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

her hands held history

When I was 16, I went to Europe on a school trip. I got my first job at 15 to pay for this trip, so badly I wanted to go. One of the events on our trip was a visit to Dachau--an event that I looked forward to, in a weird sort of way.

I remember this day so vividly. It was a grey, overcast sky with a chill in the air. The perfect weather for something so somber. I remember the way the gravel crunched beneath my feet as we walked around. It wasn't a guided tour, we just walked and looked at everything. The barracks, the piles of shoes, the crematoriums still with soot marks on the bricks, the THOUGHT that those soot marks were once human so hard to comprehend all these decades later. To imagine the atrocities that went on in the very place where we now stood. The mass graves, the barbed wire, the sign that claimed that work was freedom. It was and still is one of the more poignant events of my life.

Today a Holocaust survivor came to speak to my students. I've been trying to arrange this for years, because my students struggle with understanding that these were real people, people just like them with hopes and dreams. She is so tiny. 90 years old with wispy white hair. I asked if she wanted to sit, she said, "No. I MARCH, so they listen to me." And listen they did. She told of the Germans coming silently, like thiefs in the night. How they took the religious men first, then they took the teachers. She told them that history always attacks the teachers first, because the teachers make you think and make you aware. She told of how all the teachers had to dig a hole and then one by one, the Germans shot them and buried them in the very grave they dug. She told of how she was arrested. A German soldier lifted up her skirt with a bayonet, and she smacked it away. She was beaten for that. How her brother was killed in a concentration camp. How her mother died from the operations done on her in a concentration camp. Of being placed in closed trucks and starved and afraid for her life and of working in a German military hospital because she could speak German. She talked of the Americans liberating and how all the German soldiers, the ones who weren't wounded, disappeared again like thieves in the night. How when she learned of liberation, she ran up and down the hall shouting and banging on things and celebrating and you could see it, this 90 year old woman, you could see it in her eyes how it must have been.

She spoke of so much that I can't even really put into words, not quite, how deeply moved I am, how my eyes clouded with tears at the pain and somehow, beauty of it. She told my students, "You might say, this couldn't happen to me. I said that once, too."
My students didn't want to leave the room even when I told them it was okay to go. This never happened. They lingered, some staying behind to hug her and say thank you. She asked each one their full name and delighted at the Polish last names.

We hugged tightly before she left. I gave her the cookies I made and said, "I know this isn't much of a thank you, but I hope you like them." She clasped my hands in her and told me she would enjoy them so much, that she loves cookies. My hands smell like her soft, powdery perfume as I type this. I can't quite tell you the strength and power held within that moment, sixty years between us--her surviving untold atrocities, me this morning, worrying about how my students would behave for her--yet somehow connecting in that single handheld moment over a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

linking up with Just Write

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Beginning To Feel...

A teeny, tiny bit like Christmas. A very tiny bit. Actually, scratch that. I keep forgetting it's December. Saturday, I ran past a sign advertising a pancake breakfast for December 4 and I thought, "That's weird. Why would they have that up so soon?" Then I ran about a half mile and interspersed with my usual thoughts of wondering why the hell I punish myself by running, I thought, "Wait! December 4 is TOMORROW."
I'm really feeling very challenged by the calendar lately. Part of my confusion has to do with the lack of snow and fairly mild temperatures. THIS IS NOT A COMPLAINT. I do not need snow, no, I don't. But at the end of October, I bought a ton of cold weather running gear to prepare for running right now and so far, I'm just wearing tights and a long-sleeved shirt. And by the end of the first mile, I've pushed up my sleeves.

We don't yet have our tree. We get a real tree and usually wait until mid-December to cut it. I hate when the needles dry out and fall on the floor. We'll get our tree Saturday and I'm pretty excited. We have lights up outside the house and have since December 1st. I love how they brighten everything.
Yesterday, I put up the Fisher Price nativity set. I hate the Willow Tree nativity set and spent years building up to the full set. We used to place it on a table in our living room, but Tommy is very much at the age where he likes to smash things, so this year, we put the plastic nativity set in the living room. This morning, he went barreling at it full speed and knocked over the camels and the shepherds. I said, "Watch out, Bethlehem. Here comes the Tommy tornado."

We do, however, have our Willow Tree set up downstairs. Actually, it stays up all year long. Someone (who is related to me by marriage, but that's all I'll say) made fun of us for having it up in June, implying that we were lazy and hadn't yet taken down our Christmas decorations.

Not so. Regardless of what you believe or don't believe, isn't it simply a message of hope? Even if you think the Christmas story is just that--a story--thematically, it's a story of hope and don't we need hope year round? Not just for a few weeks in December?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Because.... why not?

Four day weekends are so my friend. By the time Saturday rolls around, you mostly have your work done and you don't have to rush around like a usual Saturday because you've already had two days off. Four day weekends should happen more often, if you ask me.

Alas, no one really asks me, so they don't happen very often. Still, we did our best to make it good. Friday night, Luke's cousin spent the night. We were a little (okay, a LOT) unsure of how this would go, worrying that we'd end up driving her back to grandma's house at 3AM. Fortunately, she adapted and fit right into our little circus without so much as a sniffle or a homesick word at all. The kids had so, so much fun. Grandma came to get her Saturday morning, after a delicious breakfast of make your own crepes. After she left, we decided to show our support for Small Business Saturday by heading to one of our favorite local stores (Lifestyles). I love, love this store because they have the neatest things, plus even though it's a store filled to the brim with expensive breakables, they never, ever act terrified when you walk in with kids, instead they're super welcoming and even have a little play area set up for kids. How great is that? Anyway, Shane picked up a couple of presents and Luke and I picked out a bag of Jelly Belly's. On the way home, we drove past a miniature golf course. Luke and Tommy were both in awe of the giant dragon and Luke asked if we could go. My knee-jerk reaction was, of course, to say, "No, not today." Because it was almost Tommy's nap time. Because I had laundry to fold. Because I wanted to get home and put on my yoga pants.

But seriously, those are just reasons and none of them very good, so as we drove past, I turned to Shane and said, "Do you think that counts as a small business?" He said, "Do you see any cops before I do a u-turn?" We pulled in the parking lot and Luke said, "Wait. Where are we?" His excitement at realizing that yes, we WERE going to go mini golfing today was totally worth it.

We were the only people golfing on this Thanksgiving weekend.
Luke couldn't quite hold his club the right way and Tommy threw his ball every single time. We never had more than two putts on any hole because Tommy would helpfully collect and hand us all our balls back as soon as he could reach them.
They both attempted to climb the dragon.
And then because we were already there, we figured we might as well stay for pizza.
Of course, once you have pizza, you pretty much have to play a few games of skeeball.
We missed Tommy's nap time. He fell asleep in the car and counted those fifteen minutes as his nap. Unfortunately, this made folding all that laundry a little more complicated, but I got it done.
When I asked Luke if he had fun, he said, "Oh, a LOT of fun!" That right there is enough to convince me that every now and then, we need to say, "Yes. Today."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Perfect Ten

This morning I left the house at 6:20. On a day that I didn't have to work. Dumb, right? But do you know what you missed if you were still in bed at 6:20? Well, you missed my angry seething rage at every house that I passed that was still dark and looked like it contained sleeping people (because of course, the tiniest person in my house thought 4 was a totally acceptable time to turn on his light and start playing with his trucks this morning oh, and EVERY MORNING THIS WEEK), but you also missed how the sky was this really cool dark grey and how over the next two hours, it slowly turned from dark grey to light grey with various shades in between.

I forgot how utterly quiet the world can be on a weekend morning before 7. I saw no one, aside from a group of guys in orange hats carrying guns into trucks. I hope they were hunters, otherwise I witnessed the forming of an early morning militia.

And then lost in the peace and quiet of it all, I ran this many miles...

Since I haven't begun my half-marathon training yet, I never really set out with an exact mileage in mind. I give myself a few different options, then just see how I feel. Today I felt great. At two miles, I thought, "Hmm... could I?" And I did. At 7 miles, I thought, "Just a 5k left!" Traffic was blissfully light this morning, so I managed to cross roads without having to stop, until I hit 8.5 miles. I lost my stride a little bit after that, but I still managed to finish at a sprint.

Today as I was running, I was thinking about how in gym class, I never even ran a mile (actually I was thinking about a lot of things, like how the Burger King sign was advertising cheese fries and how good that sounded or how warm my head was thanks to the magical Mizuno headband somehow turning my sweat into heat, magic, I tell you). In gym class, I walked a slow fifteen minute mile, running only when a gym teacher would glare at me. Part of that, I think, is that I don't remember them conditioning us, I just remember them being like, Okay, today we're running a mile. I never had a chance to prove to myself that I could run a mile, and I certainly never even let myself try, instead saying that I couldn't run. Plus I was intimidated by the boys who could run a five minute mile and man, gym class was DUMB. I do not miss that aspect of middle and high school at all.

But it's interesting how you can convince yourself of something for years and years, like that you can't run, and then one day, you decide to stop convincing and start doing and hey, imagine that. You can do it, after all.

Monday, November 14, 2011

in the quiet

Some of my favorite memories with my children are when they're sleeping. I don't mean that it's a favorite because they are actually quiet and not asking a million questions (although sometimes these moments are a blessing), but a favorite because when they are sleeping, I can just hold them close and be in the moment.

Like this moment... one of our first, as I held Luke close to me and he drifted into a heavy newborn sleep, his skin against mine.
(please ignore my double chin, thanks.)

Or this moment with Tommy, when the calm finally settled over us after his tumultuous birth.
(please notice my lack of a double chin, thanks.)

I remember just holding them, feeling their skin against mine, and marveling how they were mine. How did they come to be mine? How did I get so lucky to be matched with these babies who were so exquisitely, perfectly mine? I remember just holding them and not wanting to put them down, even when it was obvious that they were deeply asleep. I remember drifting off to sleep next to them and waking up before they did and just gazing at them, drinking them in.

Now that they're bigger, we don't have those quiet sleep moments as much. Especially since one of them doesn't really like to sleep. Or be quiet, for that matter. I still steal those moments when I can, though. When Shane has a late meeting, Luke gets to fall asleep in our bed while I put Tommy to sleep. Sometimes he's still awake when I come in and we cuddle until he drifts into sleep, his cold feet pressed into my belly.
I treasure those moments. It's hard to move him into his bed, because I just want to keep him next to me so warm and alive.

I don't rock Tommy to sleep at night, but on the weekends, I rock him to sleep for nap time. I miss him so much using the week that these moments are really nice. I just hold him for as long as I can.

These moments are just us and the world could stop spinning while we're in these moments, but I don't think I would notice. I don't think I would want to notice.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Write Run Think

I’ve felt the urge to write more lately. I’m not sure why. My students are working on essays currently. A day after I gave this assignment, my third hour class begged me to write the next essay with them. Not really with them, but they want me to write an essay response to the topic, too. They made a big deal and said that it had to be a good essay, and then they made me sign a contract promising that I’d do it. What they don’t know is that I love writing essays. I love the beauty of a good, quality attention grabber in the introduction and a solid thesis. I love tying outside references to literature and making a connection. Once I wrote a paper on Dracula and how he represents all parts of the human psyche, but especially the id—that part of us that wants only pleasure without caring about what it takes or about decency or morals. I was really proud of it. My professor wrote a note on the bottom that said, “You speak the truth… I’m a little jealous of Dracula, myself” and put a smiley face next to it. He gave me an A+. I miss that so much. My senior year of college, I took five English classes at once. At any given moment, I was working on an essay and I adored it. I had a post-it note on my computer with each essay and as I’d complete one, I’d cross it off and add a new one to the list. I managed a 4.0 that semester. No fluff classes, no field of studies unrelated to my major, just all 400 level English courses (I’m sure I had an education class in there, too). I miss it.

Last night I ran eight miles and when I run, I usually write essays in my head. It passes the time. I wish there was a brain to computer app where I could actually put these thoughts onto paper, because by the time I’m done they disappear.
It looked like this on most of my run, so my internal essay was about how weather sets the mood.

I was pelted by little balls of snow and ice. I stuck out my tongue and caught snowflakes and thought about how crazy it was to be running in it. I passed one man on a bicycle who was so bundled that I could hardly see his face, in stark contrast to my long-sleeved shirt and tights. I waved and he shouted, Keep it up! The next mile after that was the fastest mile of my run. Funny how an encouraging statement from a stranger can do that.

When I got to the sitter’s house to pick up the boys, Luke, Tommy, and the two other children there hid behind the couch. As I walked in, they all jumped out, yelling SURPRISE and came over and hugged me. I could write an entire essay about how sweet it was, but I’ll spare you. Their sitter asked if I saw the snow. I laughed and said I was running it. I told her how it started when I was four miles out and I was afraid it was going to start hailing. She said, Wait, how far are you running? I said, oh, I went eight miles today. She gasped and said, so you’re running running?! I’m not sure what she thought I was doing before this, but it made me laugh.

I could write an essay about the funny things people say to me in the course of a day, especially the days that I spent with 8th graders. Could I ever! I wonder how your thoughts form in your head? Are they haikus? Pictures? Or do you write in thesis statements and body paragraphs like me?

Monday, November 7, 2011

In Wonderland

"If I listened earlier, I wouldn't be here. But that's just the trouble with me. I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it."

When I was little, Alice in Wonderland was my favorite Disney cartoon. I was never much for princesses, but Alice. I loved Alice in her pretty blue dress and her blonde hair and her confused, yet tenacious attitude in Wonderland as she chases the elusive white rabbit. As I grew older, it surprised me to find that everyone didn't love Alice as much as I did. That some people found it scary. Others found it weird. Even more wondered if the Disney producers were on acid (okay, we've all wondered that) at the time of production.

I still love Alice in Wonderland and as I grow ever older, it seems so much like the life we live is in wonderland. The number of times I've felt so very small or the number of times I've cried enough tears that it seems that surely there must be enough of them to fill an ocean. The days the beautiful flowers I once admired turned ugly and mean and made me feel like a weed and people's faces shifted into unrecognizable masks and they disappeared from my life. The growing pains between childhood and adulthood (and wondering why I'm 29 and still feel those growing pains somedays).

So maybe I love it because I identify with Alice and sometimes I spend days wondering if this is a dream or if this is real life. If I'm asleep on a river bank somewhere and just dreaming the hard days, if I'll awake in a start and walk off to afternoon tea shaking my head at the silliness of it all or if I really did fall down a rabbit hole and if I did, how do I get out?

Tonight I'm not Alice. I set out my clothes for work tomorrow. I won't be wearing a blue dress with a perfectly fashioned white apron; instead, a long grey skirt with a purple top and a black shirt to layer beneath because it's always so cold at work. I peeled a sucker off the carpet and no one was around to hear me wonder how it got there. I made the coffee for tomorrow morning. I took a long bath and fell into a good book instead of a rabbit hole and this isn't Wonderland, there is no caterpillar smoking a hookah to offer me sage advice, but tonight before bedtime, we galloped around and around and through the kitchen and living room each of us with a laughing, shrieking boy on our backs having our very own caucus race and it was more magical than any river bank dream could ever be.

linking with Heather of the EO's Just Write

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Will Run For Chocolate

Yesterday, my friend Sarah and I ran the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k. Our day started bright and early (okay, it actually started dark and early, REALLY early). We ended up getting to Chicago before most of the race participants, but that was okay, because guess what? We were first to use the port-a-potties.
See how early it was? Also, I'm wearing 5000 layers and I was still SO COLD by the time the race started that it took me until almost the two mile mark before I could feel my toes. It's very disconcerting to feel your feet slap down on the pavement, but to feel only numbness in response. As I was waiting for the race to start, I kept questioning what sort of stupidity led me to willingly stand outside in the freezing cold.

Sarah ran the 15k and I only ran the 5k. Next year, I'm definitely going to do the 15k. While I felt that I could've done it this year, I also wanted to enjoy myself and my longest distance is still just eight miles. At any rate, I loved running throughout the streets of downtown Chicago. It was pretty cool to run right below the Sears Tower, look up, and watch it stretching into the blue sky.

My only frustration was the sheer amount of walkers who felt it necessary to line up in the 10-11 minute pace area. I have no problem with walkers or with people who might need to walk during a race, but I spent a lot of time dodging around people that it made it difficult to set a good pace. Overall, I finished in 32 minutes, which isn't bad considering the aforementioned dodging. However, the 5k race was apparently longer than 5k due to a reroute, so once they post the adjusted route, my pace might change. I did feel like I pushed myself every time I had an open stretch, so I'm pleased with that.

While I was waiting for Sarah to finish her 15k (she is very fast, so I didn't have to wait too long), I drank my complimentary hot chocolate and sat on the bricks in front of Buckingham Fountain. It was still cold, but I added an extra layer of pants and a headband and let the sun warm me. Mostly I just soaked up the view.
I've lived within an hour of Chicago my whole life, but I never fail to be a little awestruck by its beauty. I got home with just enough time to shower, change, and go meet my parents to celebrate Shane's birthday. I had the best morning running with Sarah and laughing over dumb things that we (mostly me) managed to do, and I had a great afternoon with my family.

Today Luke and I mostly haven't budged out of bed the whole day. I'm doing laundry while we snuggle beneath the covers. He's playing learning games on my phone and I'm playing a game on my laptop called, "Please Erin, stop trying to right click on your new MacBook and for the love of God, quit trying to use the Ctrl+C command to copy!" Tonight we are going to Shane's parents to celebrate his birthday. I am pretty tired from a long week and from getting up at 4AM two mornings in a row (thank you, time change. you suck.), so a low key day today is just what I needed.
I hope your Sunday brings peace as well!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Head Hurty

Today I missed school because of a migraine. This is dumb on so many levels. One, migraines are stupid. If you've never had one, pat yourself on the head and tell your body what a good soldier it is. If you have had one, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I would, hands down, much rather birth a baby than have a migraine.

My migraines have been so much more manageable since I've been seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis (shout out to Corrin for directing me to the best chiropractor ever), so having two in the past few weeks is not cool. Not cool at all and as soon as I find out why they're happening, I'm going to fix the problem. Even if that means cutting off my own head, because seriously, I can only imagine that decapitating myself would somehow be preferable to a migraine.

Anyway, it's also dumb because I really, really did not want to miss school today. Last year, I had a lot more migraines and missed a lot more school because of them. Aside from the intense pain caused, I didn't mind it so much because it meant a day away from my students. Yes, that's awful. I know, but I didn't enjoy my job very much last year.

This year, though. I couldn't believe it this morning when my first thought was, "But I can't miss! I really want to finish The Landlady with them. I can't miss out on their reaction when they find out what the landlady does." In spite of the fact that I felt like someone was jabbing an ice pick into my left temple, it was a good realization of how much more I love it this year. How my students this year asked how my Halloween was and wanted to know what my kids dressed as, while my students last year didn't so much as acknowledge anything like that, ever. Not even when I was gone for a whole week when Tommy started having seizures.

I hate to categorize students like that, because of course I had good students last year. There are always good students, just like there will always be kids who make me want to tear out my hair. But what a relief it is to feel differently this year, to really start to enjoy and embrace teaching again, because despite the headaches that 8th graders cause (and boy, do they), they can also make you laugh and on occasion, make you feel like you're doing your job right.

That said, universe, next time I have a happy realization, I'd like for it to NOT be caused by a migraine. Thanks.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

+alternately titled: The lamest Halloween blog post title EVER.

I love Halloween. Really, really do. I trick or treated up through my senior year of high school, because you could not convince me that I was too old. I mean, really. Free candy. What's not to love about free candy? The answer to that obviously rhetorical question is that you should love everything about free candy. Even those crappy weird peanut butter-ish things that come in the orange or black wrappers. I mean, sure they taste like weird peanut flavored wax, but they're FREE.

My love for Halloween has multiplied since having kids (except for the part where they were so freaking hyper all day long because they could not wait for trick or treating--that part sucked). I love that Luke is old enough to choose his own costume and I love that instead of being a superhero or a monster, he chose.... well, you'll see that his costume is pretty obvious.
A UPS man. Yes, that's right. Of all the costumes in the world, my four year old chose to be a UPS man.
But isn't he the cutest UPS man you've ever seen? I think so (unless your child also dressed as a UPS man, then I will contend that it is a tie).

And Tommy who didn't really get to choose got to be a bird, because it's a nice warm costume. I realize that this is probably the last year that I'll get to choose for Tommy. I'm not really sad about that, instead I'm pretty excited to hear what he'll choose next Halloween.
His bag said bird seed on it. You can't see because he was busy practicing flapping his wings in this picture. Only Tommy.
We had such a great night trick or treating. Luke said thank you at every single house and Tommy perfected standing there sweetly smiling in such a way that he somehow got extra candy placed in his bag.
These guys. When did they get to be so big? Luke directed all of us to stand at the end of each driveway, while he held Tommy's hand and helped him up to the door. Last year, I had to walk both boys up to each door. What a difference a year makes.
(Shout out to my mom who made both boys' costumes.)
I hope your Halloween was full of smiles and candy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Brilliant Feet

For the first month or so of school, I ran every Tuesday and Thursday morning before work. I liked waking up a little eariler and getting my run over and done while the rest of my house was still sleeping (well, usually--often times, Tommy would be standing at his gate as I tried to slip downstairs to run). I liked being able to just go straight home after work and not have to worry about where and how to fit a run into my day.

But as it got darker and darker out in the mornings, it became more complicated. My runs were erratic because I ran the first half mile so fast, trying to get out of my dark neighborhood and onto the brightly lit, heavily trafficked main road. The last time I ran in the morning, I ended up freaked out because a van pulled into a side road directly in my running path. I am certain they were probably doing something completely normal, like delivering a paper or picking someone up for a carpool. But with it still so dark outside and no one else around, I ended up turning around and doubling back because, yes, I am quite paranoid.

After that, I started running on the bike trail near my work. I've learned a lot since I've started running this area. Only crossing the road once, two miles in, is great. I don't have to worry about traffic or a car coming up behind me. I can just run.

I've learned to tell the difference between twigs and snakes. It helps when the snake is moving or in a decidedly un-twiglike shape. Still, there are times when what I think is a twig will suddenly dart into my path and yes, it startles me.

I've learned that when a faster runner passes me, it's okay to acknowledge that they're much faster than I'll ever, but that doesn't make me any less of a runner. I've learned that I will almost always be jealous of bicyclists, with their easy ways to store water. Runners, suggestions for fuel belts or do I need to just suck it up and start carrying a water bottle in my hand? I really don't like to have extra things, but I was pretty parched after seven miles today.

I've learned that because the trail has slight inclines and many curves, I never quite know what's up ahead. Each further run takes me to new sights. The first time I went seven miles, I discovered this bridge just after the 3.5 mile mark. Because I run out and back, my feet haven't taken me beneath this bridge just yet, but I am certain they will.

I've learned that no matter how I run, the half mile between my car and this bridge always seems so short on the way out, but SO LONG on the way back.

I know my car is up there, but I always feel like the end of the trail is moving away from me as I'm running and no matter how fast I go, it keeps getting further away. It's like some sort of horrible optical illusion, until I finally round the corner and see my car. I probably look like some sort of deranged maniac when I come bursting out of the trees and leap into the waiting driver's seat of my car.

Mostly, I can't believe I'm saying this, but mostly, I've learned that I love running. There were times early on when I hated it. I hated every single second that my feet hit the pavement. And don't get me wrong, there's still a huge internal struggle between lazy Erin and running Erin every time I have to go for a run, but these last few weeks, I've noticed the slow drain of stress out of my body when my feet first hit the pavement. I never thought I'd feel this way, but I'm so glad I do.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Muddy Good Time

Saturday morning, Sarah and I ran the Monster Dash mud run and obstacle course.

First of all, can I just say that we rocked our Team Sparkle skirts?

I learned a few things about mud runs. One, the walls were just as difficult as I thought. I made it over one, but not without quite a few bruises and scrapes. I counted one as a victory and skipped the other two.

Two, swinging across a creek via rope is actually not as easy as it may seem. In fact, my train of thought went something like this, Whee! I got this, I got--uh oh. SPLASH. I also learned that rope burn on the inside of your thighs is maybe not ideal.

Climbing a cargo net was pretty easy, but getting to the top and realizing that the way down involved a steep board with two small planks stretched across? That was a little terrifying. But I did it!

And last, I learned that if you crawl through a water-filled tunnel, it will be cold and disgusting. So cold that I got down in it, felt the water go into my shirt and up and around my back and froze, thinking, What am I doing here!? Then my common sense kicked in and I realized that sitting there questioning what choice in life led me here was not going to get me out of the cold, wet tunnel any faster. Not surprisingly, the majority of the mud on my body came from this obstacle.

After the tunnel, the next mile was pretty much all running in mud. It was fun. And squishy. Sarah and I both ended up with trashed shoes.

Mostly, though, I learned how much fun this is compared to a regular 5k. It wasn't about the time it took or keeping a steady pace, it was just about being there, doing the obstacles, and having fun in the meantime. I can't ever see myself doing Tough Mudder because that scares me, but maybe something like the Down & Dirty Mud Run will be on my calendar for the next year?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

He is, I am, We are

I hate being repetitive. Thematic. I tell my students, Vary your writing. Don’t get stuck on one topic. Don’t be afraid to explore.
Yet here I am, stuck on one topic. Predictable. Boring. Thematic. Blogging about seizures again. Still, epilepsy in its nature is not predictable and maybe that’s what makes it so hard. That a child can be just fine one second, playing with a ridiculously huge collection of Thomas trains and in the blink of eye that same child can fall and start seizing in the middle of his trains.

Because of course, this was my evening last night. The same as other evenings. Did you know that his seizures almost always happen at the exact same time of night? We could set a clock to them. But different, because it’d been so long since he’d had a true grand mal seizure that those little seeds of hope starting to sprout.

Last night was more painful than other nights because Luke was the one who found Tommy seizing. Shane and I were in the kitchen. Luke was on the couch with his Leapster, Tommy on the floor with his trains. A four year old can be often dramatic, yelling and hollering like his hair is on fire when really he only wants to get my attention to ask me why clouds are white. But last night, as he came running into the kitchen, shouting my name, I knew. The fear in his voice was so real, so tangible, so much more than I ever wanted to hear in my four year old’s voice. He drug me into the living room and I had that horrible moment that always happens during seizures, where my brain forgets itself for just a split second and I feel like I’m above my body and I think, What is happening? Why is his face like that? Why are his arms twisted and his lips blue? And then I zoom back into my body, scoop him up, and talk to him. Tell Shane to look at the clock. Comfort Luke. Praise Luke. Calm myself internally. Hold my shaking child, exhale when the tremors stop, when he sighs, his eyes flutter open, then close and he drifts into that post-seizure state of unconscious, pale-faced sleep.

He’s so verbal these days, so aware of what words mean and how to answer questions. Last night I held him and said, Were you scared?

He nodded his head two times. Yes. Yes, mama.

linking with Just Write

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall(ing) In Love

I really do not like autumn. I try, because it is pretty, but all I can think about is how winter is coming and I hate, hate winter. Still, I can’t help but have a little soft spot in my heart for this time of year, because it all seems so vivid. The air is crisp, the leaves are beautiful and everything seems to have a sharper quality.

This weekend was very much an autumn type of weekend. Friday, we went to a hayride put on by Luke’s school.

We thought Tommy would go crazy for the hayride, but in typical Tommy style, he panicked last minute and refused to go anywhere near it. Of course! So, he and Shane stayed behind by the bonfire, while Luke and I went on a long, dark hayride. The sky was clear that night and we could see so many beautiful stars.

You can have bonfires in the summer or spring, but doesn’t it seem like the wood smoke always smells a certain, different way at this time of year than it would in July?

I’m not sure why that is, but it just seems like the smoky smell that might be annoying at any other time of year actually smells good in October.

Saturday night, we went to a Halloween party. I was too lazy to get the boys costumed up, but I was able to break out this awesome monster hoodie that we’ve had since Luke was a little guy. My friend Ashlee made it and we still get so many compliments on it.

The boys loved the bounce house and okay, I did too. I’m not the only adult who still loves bounce houses, am I? Bounce houses were not really a huge thing when I was a kid. In fact, I only ever remember one called the Moon Walk that was always at my town’s Octoberfest. Otherwise, there weren’t bounce places and certainly no one rented them for parties. I had such a deprived childhood, clearly!

Sunday morning, I snuggled on the couch with my two favorites boys. All three of us had hair that smelled like a bonfire. I tried to breathe in their scent, holding onto it before the cold winter months that will make me hate fall again. But right now? I kind of like it. If only we could just skip the snow and go straight to spring.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Love Notes

On Luke's first day of preschool, I wrote a note and put it in his lunch bag. Feeling sad that unlike some kids, he'd have to stay four hours after preschool, I wrote a note on an index card telling him how I loved him and how I couldn't wait to hear all about his big day.

He can't read, of course. I was worried that he'd be too shy to ask someone to read it for him, but I was wrong. In the car that afternoon, he told me that he asked his teacher to read it and she did.

I kept sending him notes, but somedays, I'd be in a rush and forget. Somedays I'd be too tired at the end of the night to even think about it. One day, I picked him up early after a doctor's appointment and his extended care teacher told me how the notes I send are so sweet. She said every day after washing his hands, he retrieves his lunch bag and very shyly brings the note to her. She told me she reads it to him and he smiles. She said often times, he puts it in his pocket, then removes it during quiet time and looks at it. Once, she said, he kissed it and laid it next to his head. She said, "You can tell he really loves you."

I haven't missed a note since then. The other night, I asked Luke what he wanted me to pack in his lunch. He said, "A turkey and cheese sandwich, carrot sticks, and a note."

Always, buddy.

Linking up with Just Write

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In A Year

I don't remember what I had for dinner two nights ago. I might be able to tell you what I wore two nights ago, but only if I dig through the laundry pile. Even then, it's iffy.

But I can tell you what I ate a year ago. I can tell you what I wore a year ago. I was wearing black yoga pants, an orange top, and a black sports bra. My customary post-work comfy clothes. We had spaghetti for dinner. We ate the spaghetti on yellow plates. Vividly, I remember this, yoga pants, uneaten spaghetti, yellow plates. The way the fork scraped across the plate as I cleared the remainders of dinner from the yellow plates into the garbage. The weather, eerily like today. Indian summer, blue skies, changing leaves and sunshine. Those stunning moments of clarity, broken by my husband shouting my name from the other room.

In six years of marriage and two kids, we don't use each other's names as much as we should. Him shouting my name should have been the tip off that something was wrong. My even-keeled husband raising his voice. I'm the shouter, the one who gasps with excitement, yells when startled, when I see a big spider. That's me, not him. Then there was the sound of his voice. Fear. And beneath it, an undercurrent of grief, of helplessness.

I froze for a minute, blinking like it was a dream. "I think he's choking!" And on the floor, a silent child with closed eyes, blue lips, and a pale face. On the floor, the scariest sight I've ever seen. Holding him, yelling for my husband to please call 911. Holding him, looking out the window like help would come dashing through at that minute. Holding him, in that one terrible moment actually thinking he was dying and wondering, wondering how on earth I could possibly go on. Then as teeth clamp down on my shaking finger, my finger trying to clear an already clear airway, the sudden smashing flashback to a red class cross, the instructor saying, "Never put your finger in the mouth of someone having a seizure. They'll snap their mouth shut on you." The purple-red angry teeth marks on my finger as I pried it out, "I think he's having a seizure, he's breathing, he's breathing, thank God, stay with me."

And he keeps breathing. Sometimes seizing. Mostly untroubled by being an epileptic two and a half year old. He'll never remember that night. Still, our lives changed, maybe just because we've never been so scared. Maybe we'll tell him about it. Maybe he'll outgrow all of this and we'll never have to tell him. But in my heart, I know that no matter how old I am, no matter how many troubles and losses I live, I'll never forget spaghetti on yellow plates.

Linked with Heather of the EO's Just Write

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just Breathe

Oh, life. You cruel tease. Just a day after I blog about how this October will be better, you send us back to the hospital almost a week to the day of our last hospital stay.

Not with seizures this time, because those? Whatever, we handle seizures these days. Instead, a case of bronchitis that came on so quickly that we had no idea he was even sick, let alone THAT sick. The magic word to get squeezed into an overbooked doctor is wheezing, by the way.

Two breathing treatments later and his pulse ox was still low, so he sent us to the hospital. And I started crying, embarrassingly enough, because I kept thinking of last year. I apologized for crying, all the tears I couldn't and didn't cry when he had his seizures last year. His doctor is so sweet and handed me Kleenexes and took me to a quiet room where I could use the phone, because of course, my iPhone is out for repair at the worst time ever.

Then off we went to the hospital. I was at a light next to a van that said Emergency Home Repair on the side and all I could think was, but is there an emergency heart repair? as I listened to the ragged breathing of Tommy and fought back a tide of tears.

A night of every 2-3 hour breathing treatments, plus steroids, and he's running around the hospital room like he's hardly sick. Last night, we had the same nurse we had the night we were in here for his seizures. He remembered us and at midnight, brought Tommy a little stuffed puppy dog.

I don't want to be here, but I didn't want to be at home with a boy whose breathing was so loud that he sounded like a truck idling, with a pulse ox lower than it should be. When they brought in seizure pads for his crib last night my heart skipped uncomfortably and I promised that it was okay, that he doesn't have seizures in his sleep. But how I still hate that in the midst of normal, medical problems we still have the seizure shadow following us around.

He's breathing better this morning. Running around like a maniac, hiding from the nurses, dancing and yelling about the school buses he sees outside the window in a voice that sounds like a baby Barry White. His heart rate is elevated from the steroids and me? My heart is a little fragile this morning, but as always, we'll be fine.

I just hope that he doesn't decide to make this whole fall hospital stay an annual thing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Clearing Cobwebs

As we tiptoe up on October, I'm trying to shake my brain free of all the cobwebs that built up over the last year. I still remember the weather early October of last year. It was bright sunshine, blue skies, and warm. It never seemed to make sense to me that the weather was so beautiful while a storm was raging inside my head.

I suppose that's a blog post for another day, though, because I can't quite think of that anniversary yet. Instead, all I can think about is how my mind is finally clearing. I never, ever gave less than 100% in the classroom last year, but it was hard. 8th graders aren't known for empathy, so when I came back from a week of hospital visits, tests, and no real answers, one said "We thought you got fired." Another said, "Finally, you're back. What'd you do, go on vacation?" And my personal favorite, "We thought you were gone because you killed yourself." I know that 8th graders are tactless and I'm pretty good at reminding myself that their cognitive reasoning skills haven't fully developed yet, but to my heart that was already broken in so many ways, each of these hurt and irritated an already so fresh wound. So I had a school year where I gave my all in the classroom but hardly had a relationship with my students. I hated it.

This year is already better. I'm redoing my short story unit plans in a way that is tedious for me but is very beneficial to my students, especially those who struggle with reading. It's been good to see the lower readers really grasp the concept of a story. And yes, it's been good to form relationships with the kids and know that they'll last.

I'm shaking off things in other ways, too. I've been struggling with running lately, but finally, this last week, I felt myself getting stronger. It's been so long since I've had that feeling that I embraced it cautiously. When I set out for a run yesterday, I told myself I had to go two miles without stopping. I made two miles and felt fine, even after conquering a big hill. I told myself I'd run until I reached the main road, then I could stop if I wanted. I reached the main road and didn't need to stop. I kept going until just after mile three when I had a nasty cramp in my leg. I stopped for less than a minute to stretch and shake it out and thought, "This is it. I'll end up mostly walking from here on out." Except that I didn't. I took a new route and enjoyed the sights. Before I knew it, I was at four miles and didn't need to stop. I felt strong and for the first time in a long time, I thought, "10k? I can totally do a 10k!" I pushed myself to a faster pace for the last half mile and ended at five miles out of breath but smiling. Running is so mental. I knew I could go five miles without doing intervals, I just needed to clear the cobwebs and forge the connection between my mind and my body.

This October is going to be good. I can feel it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hallelujah, By and By

Once I went to a candlelight vigil for survivors of rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. It was powerful in ways that I can't put into words, men and women holding white candles sharing stories and tears. Only four months gone from from my own hurt, still needing pills to make it through the daily heart squeezing panic attacks, I sobbed with my head on a friend's shoulder.

Somehow something overtook me and I shared my own story. Or I tried. I mostly choked words out through sobs and said how it'd only been four months and how I was so scared all of the time, scared of the dark, of men, of my own shadow, but everyone's stories gave me such strength.

The vigil finished and a girl came up to me. She told me that she was a rape survivor, too, and she'd never told anyone. She thanked me for my bravery, for showing her that it was okay to speak. And then, we held each other and cried on the shoulder of a stranger. It was only a few minutes. I didn't ask her name, she didn't ask mine. We never saw each other again, but in those few minutes, we shared a moment more intimate than most of will ever share with best of friends. Every so often, she crosses my mind and I pray that she made it through the pain.

This is the intense power of the human spirit, made of thin glass and bordering on fragility. We can be hurt. We can be broken, badly. We can be violated in the worst ways imaginable, bruised and left feeling so dirty that all the scalding hot water in the world will never fix us. But somewhere in the deepest corners of our hearts and spirits, we cannot be broken beyond repair.

Linking again to Heather of the EO's Just Write. Take a moment to read her words. You won't regret it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tea [Collection] For Two

We are blessed because, aside from essentials like underwear and socks, we don't really buy a lot of clothes for our boys. The parents of the older boys at the sitter give us bags of clothes each season, which is such an amazing gift.

Still, I sometimes drool over clothes and wish I could justify buying them, especially clothes from Tea Collection. I've always drooled over their super cute and fun graphic tees, so when I received an email asking if I'd be interested in reviewing a few things, I literally jumped at the offer. Actually, I think I texted Keli and our conversation went like this: YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHAT I GOT AN EMAIL ABOUT! OMG, YOU GOT ONE TOO?! And then we held hands and jumped up and down yelling. At least, as well as one can via text message.

When the clothes actually came, I did some more jumping. I ordered both boys shirts from the Mercado Mexicano collection, because they were too cute to pass up. I also ordered Luke a pair of jeans and Tommy a long sleeved purity tee to layer and extend some of his short sleeved shirts throughout the winter.
My first thoughts upon actually having the clothes in my hands was how soft they are, especially Luke's jeans. If my jeans were that soft, I'd enjoy wearing them more! My other thought was how bright the colors are. We've worn them a lot since receiving and after three washes, the colors and the softness still remain, which is a huge plus to me. The biggest plus for me about the jeans is that they have an adjustable waist, which is huge. Both of my boys are super narrow in the hips and waist so finding jeans that are long enough but don't fall off is a nearly impossible feat. Being able to adjust the jeans to fit Luke's waist made both of us happy. He actually pointed out that it's the only pair of jeans he has that don't fall off when he runs. I see more of these in our future!

I do mean a lot when I refer to how much they're worn these clothes in the last two weeks. They've been worn around the house.

To parades

They've been worn mini-golfing, where someone got his first hole in one.

And in my personal favorite, they were worn to take family photos. You'll see that Tommy is wearing the purity tee underneath his Dia de los Muertos tee. How cute is that?

[Photo by Beth Fletcher Photography]

Although I enjoyed picking out clothes for the boys, it was really a struggle to not get a few clothes from myself, as I learned that Tea Collection also carries women's clothing. How super cute is this Kahlo tunic? I want. I am definitely going to be shopping Tea Collection again soon!

Tea Collection generally provided the clothes for this review, but the opinions and mad love expressed in this post are all mine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a working mom's grace

I try to stay out of the mommy wars debates because it’s just not worth it. As long as your child is fed, clothed, and happy, I don’t really care how you raise him or her. But there are certain issues that get to me. When someone states that they stay home because they don’t want someone else raising their kids, something inside my heart wrenches and I coil up like a snake ready to strike. Because it’s untrue. Because it’s not fair. Yes, someone else watches my children when I am at work, but my husband and I are the only ones raising our children. I am certain—hopeful and na├»ve, maybe—that this choice of words isn’t meant to hurt, isn’t meant to make those of us not fortunate enough to have the choice to stay home hurt so deeply, but it does and I often wish people would be more cognizant of their word choice because of course you want to stay home to raise your kids. That doesn't mean that I'm not raising mine.

Still, I’m mostly okay with wearing the (uncomfortable) shoes of a working mom, because I know my children are happy. But I worry about little things as they get older. Since he was six months old, Luke’s gone to an in-home sitter where he interacts with the children of other working parents. As far as he knows, everyone has a mommy or daddy who has to drop them off with someone else during the work day. Until he started preschool and I knew that it wouldn’t be the case. I’ve been waiting for him to notice that not all of his friends from preschool go to extended care before or after school.

Finally, he asked. “Mommy, my friend Cade’s mom picks him up after school every day as soon as school is over. Why?” I explained. Some mommies are very lucky and can pick their kids up right away, but some mommies, like me, aren’t able to do that because of work but I pick him up as soon as I get out of work. Then I cringed and waited for the guilt to wash over me, for his hurt to be evident.

Instead. “Oh. That’s too bad for them because you know what? After we leave preschool, we get to eat lunch in the cafeteria and then we watch a movie and then we get to play outside again!” Thank you, Luke, for your four year old grace, for knowing that I do the best I can at raising you and that when I can’t be there with you, all it means is that you get more time on the playground than other kids.

Linking up to Heather of the EOs Just Write

Monday, September 12, 2011

School Days

Last spring, we had the worst time finding a preschol for Luke. We needed one with before and after school care to fit with our schedules and that was surprisingly difficult and frustrating. Finally, a friend recommended one with before school care that began at 6:30. And bonus? I drive right past it on my way to work.

Although I know Luke would've been fine without preschool, I knew that it would be good for him. And it has been so good. I love his school. I pick him up and he's bursting to tell me everything that he did. I get to dig through his backpack and see his papers from that day, then we go to pick up Tommy.

The unexpected joy in all this, though, has been the gain of a carpool buddy. I'm new to this. Shane has always been in charge of drop off. I do pick up most nights, but the sitter lives only eight houses away from us--truthfully, in the time that it takes me to buckle them into their car seats, we could've walked home.

On the days that he goes to preschool, we talk about everything. What he's going to do that day. What he hopes to do that day. Whether he thinks recess will be inside or outside. He tells me about his friends at school and his teachers and what someone brought for snacktime. We talk about how pretty the sunrise is. On the way home, he tells me he's hungry and sometimes we stop and pick out a snack at the gas station. Last week, beef jerky was buy one get one free. These are the things I missed out on when I only drove myself to and from work. Sure, my carpool buddy never offers to drive or pay for gas, but I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Light and Sound

For the past two years, a rainbow sighting makes me think immediately of sweet baby Joel and his mama. Because life is unbelievably sad and sometimes so hard for us to understand, I now think of baby Delia, too.

Delia breathed her first and last breaths on the same day, her mama a high school friend with a heart so kind and pure that you can't imagine why such pain would be brought to her. It was, though, and on the day that Delia went to Heaven, the sky was painted with rainbows. We saw one, people in many other states saw one. Delia's earthly life was short, but she left her mark in so many ways.

Leaving the house yesterday morning, I saw this rainbow. It stretched from one end of the field to the next, so perfect that we could see each end touching down in the field. It was so big that I couldn't fit it all in the viewfinder of my phone, fumbling to hurry and snap the picture before it was gone.

By the time we got in the car, it was gone. Then, ten minutes into our drive, it was back. Stretching across the road, ends shimmering in the tall fields of corn. Breathtaking.

I know the science behind rainbows, of course. I know the explanation and yet. This world is so filled with sadness and a lack of understanding that the simple fact that something so beautiful can exist, can arch and paint the sky with colors gives us the freedom to suspend our beliefs. To believe in the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, to know that a hand that never held a brush on earth holds the brush in Heaven and paints the sky for everyone who was left behind. Simply, to hope.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh Boys

I never envisioned myself as a mother with sons. Even in high school when we did the project where you pretend a bag of flour is a baby, I was excited when I drew the slip saying that my bag of flour was a girl. I didn't even want boy flour.

But now? The only girl I've birthed weighed five pounds and was later made into cookies. And the boys I've birthed have caused me to say things I've never imagined. Like, "Stop hitting your brother with that rolled up yoga mat. No, I don't care if he's laughing, that doesn't mean you keep hitting him." or "Keep your hands on your own parts. I SAID ON YOUR OWN PARTS." or "Yes, burping is funny, but if you keep trying to do it, you're going to injure yourself." or my personal favorite, "If you want to talk about things that happen in the bathroom, you may go sit in the bathroom and talk to the mirror."
What I really never imagined, though, was how much I'd love this, how much they'd complete me. How could I have ever thought that I didn't want them?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Put Your Smile On

Luke was super excited to go to church with Shane yesterday morning. We asked him if he remembered what to do when it was time to pray and he demonstrated. I asked him if he had been praying in school, he said no. I asked if they say grace or a blessing before they eat and he said, "Yes, we say, thank you Grace for our food and then we thank our teachers, too!" I'm not sure who he thinks Grace is, but that's a pretty awesome answer.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Making the Grade

In my seven years as a teacher, I've graded a million papers. Made smiley faces. Check marks. Plusses, minuses, and all the letters from A to F (minus E, of course). At this point, it's all so routine that I could probably grade papers in my sleep.

Still, nothing prepared me for the way my heart would swoop when I pulled my big boy's first ever graded paper out of his backpack.

I think I'll hang onto this, to soothe my soul ten years from now when he brings home an F on an English exam.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Small Style

Shane color coordinated Tommy's shoes and socks to his outfit the other day. The cute was overwhelming.

MLB Cubs gear
Stride Rite shoes
Old Navy socks
linking with Mama loves Papa small style

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

School's In

Luke's first day of preschool.

Tommy attacked the door with sidewalk chalk because he thinks it goes on everything but the sidewalk.

Sad that I couldn't be there to see him off, but blessed that my parents could.