Friday, September 28, 2012

Hand Holding

The girls have been in school for four weeks now and something has become painfully clear... there is a huge shift in the parent/child relationship once kids hit middle school.

This is how parenting feels to me right now...

I picture myself standing in cement.  My feet are firmly planted and cannot move.  While my girls were younger, I held them in my arms or held their hand as they stood next to me.  I have held little girl hands for nearly 12 years now...

As they hit Kindergarten (Wren is now in Kindergarten), they take a step away from me.  I can still hold a hand, and it's not a strain to do so because they aren't so far away from me...just a step.

Then there's third grade, which Ella started this year.  It feels like she has taken maybe three steps away from me.  I can still hold her hand, but it's hard to do for a long time because she's nearly out of reach.  Unless she reaches to hold my hand, it's nearly impossible to get ahold of hers.

And now there is middle school - Abby started 6th grade this fall at a 6-12 integrated school.  It truly feels that she has taken so many steps away from me, that there is no way I could ever hold her hand unless she turned around and walked back to me.

This is not to say that she is "out of my reach" or that she doesn't need me or that I don't know what is going on in her life.  And I am not necessarily is my job as a mother to grow them up to be independent and self-confident.

But it is odd bittersweetness that has been driving me to sit with Wren in my lap more than I used to or to grab Ella's hand as we walk to the car.

I remember the last time I was able to visit my Granny Lil.  It was Easter and I went with my mom.  Her sisters were all there too.  Grandma had a hard time remembering who I was on and off, but every time I sat next to her, she reached for my hand.  And every time my mom or one of my aunts sat next to her, she reached for their hands.  She passed away last fall.

So we start holding hands and we end holding hands. 

And in the middle, we need more hand holding... even if they think they're too old for it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Speaking of panties...

I am nothing if not a practical kind of girl.

That is why when The Butcher and I were getting married 15 years ago, all those fancy see-through babydoll top and panty sets went straight into my underwear drawer (folded neatly into one corner - ok, the back corner) only to be seen on birthdays (his) and sometimes an anniversary... or maybe when I'd had a bit too much wine.  I had a friend in college who was working her way up the Victoria Secret retail ladder and I'm pretty sure she gave all my other friends deep discounts the week or so before the shower they threw me.  So I ended up with quite a few of these types of things... all folded neatly and placed in the back corner of the drawer, as I said.

As the years passed, my mother got into the habit of purchasing underwear for me wherever she went.  I'm not sure why exactly.  But trust me when I say, I ain't hurting for underwear.  But they have all been very practical, no-panty-line, full-coverage type things (as you would expect a mother to supply).  And these take prominence at the front of the underwear drawer.

And so, with each move (this being our 8th), the drawer has been pulled out while the dresser was placed in some moving truck and promptly put back in.  For 15 years I have had no need to go through this drawer... or at least the things folded neatly in the back corner of this drawer.

Until our last move...

In trying to figure out how to get everything into Ella's room (bed, desk, dresser, side table, and on and on), we decided her long but short dresser was not going to fit.  It would, however, fit perfectly in our room where my narrow but tall dresser would have trouble backing up to the pitched-ceiling walls.  So we swapped. (A bonus of not having matchy-matchy Pottery Barn type things - finally, a small bank account pays off.)

This was a great idea and I set Ella the task of emptying my drawers into a basket and taking the contents up to my room to put (dump) neatly on the floor (middle of the floor).  She is the kind of kid that needs a task or she feels left out.  This was working wonderfully until I noticed she was nearing the top (underwear) drawer and so I took over and carried the contents of that drawer upstairs and placed everything (discreetly) in a corner.  (I'm beginning to think I have a thing with corners.)

The next day, I set to putting all of my things into what was Ella's dresser.  Trust me when I say it is hard to change things like "where my socks go" after 15 years of them always being in one place.  Anyway, in putting all these things away, I was confronted with the "back corner of the underwear drawer" items.  I have three children... I work two jobs from home... I like to fall asleep by 9:15... don't judge me...but these things had not been gone through in a long time.

And that is when I found the blue and white polka-dot panties.  I pulled them out and held them up and realized that perhaps elastic is not meant to keep its stretch for 15 years, or just maybe I lost 300 lbs since I was married??

Truly, all three of my kids can fit into these...and the (evil) cat.  They are wider than my toaster oven and my computer (yes, I have been carrying them around comparing their size to household items).

Are you ready for a size reference?  Those who are easily offended may want to skip this part.

They are longer than my (evil) cat.  (And yes, I did for a bit contemplate if I could get them on him to prove my point...I need to get out more.  Good thing no kids are home.)

I am not intrigued with how big they are.  I know there are big panties out there... or at least I hope there are for bigger people.  It's that they were once smaller.  And how many years have I been carting around these panties that truly will no longer stay on my hips?  I like getting value out of things, but my God, do I need to hang on to things for so long that they morph and (quite possibly) disintegrate?

But, I am a practical girl... 

...and while these won't fit me anymore, I do see a potential Halloween costume for The Butcher...

(An apology to my Instagram followers... yes, I did Instagram a few pictures of these panties... solely for artistic purpose.  Hope you aren't/weren't offended.  And you blog readers should be happy I chose to stick with just this one picture.  The one of the panties on the toaster is truly disturbing.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

To panty or not to panty... that is the question

This is truly my fault and I take full responsibility.  But I thought I had fixed the problem...

I learned this weekend that I had not.

The problem is this: when to wear panties with tights and when NOT to wear panties with tights.

It all began when each of my girls started taking ballet lessons at the ripe age of 3 (ish).  As someone who has spent most of my life traipsing through ballet studios, I sent each of my toddler dancers to ballet class without panties on.  Gasp if you want... how crazy of me...

I have been in enough classes and taught enough classes and sat through enough dance recitals, that I didn't want my girls strapped with the shame of trying to hide pink polka-dot panties by hitching them up under their leotards when they should be dancing.  And what's a little pantilessness when your young and at ballet class?

Inevitably, each girl would go through a Sunday morning (or two) of confussion about whether or not to wear panties.  "I am wearing tights to church, therefore I do not wear panties..."  WRONG.  It became connected in each of their minds that if they were wearing tights, they didn't need panties.  But I truly feel that things like church and school and birthday parties require panty wearing.

So the lesson became "Always wear panties with tights unless you're going to ballet."  And I thought they got it... truly.  For awhile we always did Sunday morning panty checks.  Things seemed fine.  Panties were always on.

When Ella started gymnastics, I kind of felt the whole panty thing was similar to ballet.  I'm not sure I'm right on this, but all the giggles that occured when gymnasts tried hiding panties during floor routines at her first meet led me to believe I was right.  Although I'm still not sure...

And so, I thought I was safe and out of the woods about the whole panty issue.  But this weekend has taught me I will never be safe on this panty issue...

Ella's gynastics team was to walk in the local parade with the theme of "Remember When."  Each of the girls was to dress in 80s garb and I thought we pretty much nailed it.  Neon green shirt off the shoulder, fluffy net skirt, neon pink tights.  We even faked crimped hair by braiding it the night before.

Cute, no?
As I left her with her group of neoned friends with ripped T-shirts and side-ponies, I thought we were all set.

We sat and watched the parade go by and cheered Ella's group as they passed.  A few of them did cartwheels and front walkovers.  80s music was blasting from their float.  It was great.

On the way home, Ella mentioned that there was a hole in her new pink neon tights.  I didn't notice any hole, so I asked where.  "On the butt."  Well... of course...

And The Butcher, remembering our panty problems from their youth said, "At least you had your panties on."

At which point Ella admitted that, no, she was not wearing panties.  "You're not supposed to wear panties with tights.  That's what you taught me," she moaned from the backseat.

Luckily, she only did a few cartwheels on the parade route because they were behind some horses and some goats.  It's also a good thing that not too many people know us here... if it had been SJ - oh my...

And now, I guess, we are back to panty checks... (sigh)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One year...and counting

It has been one year and three days since we loaded up my friend's minivan with suitcases, my kids, and my parents and headed to Midway Airport.  It has been one year and three days since my kids ooohhed and ahhhed over the "fancy" hotel Grandma booked for the night before our big trip, trying calamari at dinner.  It has been one year and three days since Wren had a panic attack at the security gate and almost vomitted all over TSA while trying to wave goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa.

One year and three days...

At the beginning of April I had grand plans to mark the one year anniversary of our arrival in Washington by taking the girls to the same restaurant we visited after climbing off the maybe have a deep conversation about how they were feeling with the move, the things (and people) they missed, the new things they loved...but it just didn't happen.

No one took notice.  The girls played.  The Butcher and I worked in the yard.  We went about our day in total obliviousness to the anniversary - which is probably a much better way to mark such an anniversary.

We are setting roots here.  We have bought a house - that I love and dream of growing old in (I will figure out the stairs, Mom, I promise).  We have set the kids on some great paths for school and they love planning the next steps.  We are getting involved in activities, making friends, setting memories...

Which doesn't mean that we don't have those days when we are so lonely for the people and places we love so much in Michigan.  Ella keeps talking about wanting to get married in Michigan.  Wren, out of the blue, will say, "I miss Sudzy" (her best friend and neighbor in Michigan).  Abby doesn't say much about Michigan, but writes lovely, touching poetry about her friends there.

I'm not quite sure how to end this post.  I just wanted pay homage to one year and three days.

One year and three days...

I'm truly looking forward to the next year and three days...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pork Chops

Look at those little legs at the top of this page... aren't they the cutest things?

That picture is from about two years ago...maybe more.  Those are Wrenny's tan legs in her brand new pink shoes that she just had to have (they are long gone).  And I love those little legs...

Somehow a game formed between the two of us...I started grabbing her thighs to tickle them and called it "checking her pork chops."  This poor child is going to start Kindergarten in the fall and, when the teacher asks "what are these called" while pointing to her legs, Wren will yell with all her might, "PORK CHOPS!"  I already blame myself...

But I love her pork chops!  There is something about chubby little girl thighs that just wraps up the whole joyfulness of toddlerhood.  Maybe it's the last bit of "baby" that hangs on in a body quickly turning into a "girl" and no longer a "baby."

One of Wrenny's pork chops has a birth mark (so adorable) which we talk about a lot because I have one too and I don't want her to feel about hers the way I felt about mine as a kid (I used to ask my dad to cut it off...what's funny is it's on my butt - who sees it {but The Butcher...maybe}?)

I love to squeeze them and watch her wiggle and giggle with glee.  I love a good "pork chop check."

Check these pork chops from last summer...
Her pork chop cup runneth over...
or - pork chops in a bucket...

But those pork chops are disappearing.  It makes me sad.  She is fast approaching 5 and a half... Kindergarten in the fall... starting to read books...  no longer a baby, for sure.

And she's been doing gymnastics which is making them disappear even more quickly.

What am I gonna do without those pork chops?  (sigh)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Color Therapy

A year in a rental house with white walls is too much.  At least, too much for me to handle.  I would sit on the couch and stare at the white wall and think of all the colors it could be...if only I had the time, money, and inclination to waste all three of these on walls that were not mine.

It is hard to tell the passing of time with a white wall...the sun looks the same shining on it coming up as it does going down. 

It says nothing...conveys nothing...adds nothing to the mood. 

Have you tried enjoying a glass of wine in a white-walled room recently?  I barely survived.  I had to choke it down in ambiancelessness...(I am a trooper though)

So when we were under contract for this house, I started dreaming of colors...and spending a stupid amount of time on Pinterest pinning any color combination I liked.

Until one day when The Butcher and I were walking through Target pricing vacuums (stinkin vacuums - still mourning my Dyson) and we passed a KitchenAid stand mixer in orange.  And an off-handed comment of "I really like this color for some reason" has turned into this...

"Donald Orange" it's called - and yes, we did find it in the Disney color section at Home Depot (however, "more saving" my butt).

And I paired it with a lovely grey, which is now looking a bit blue to me...

What do you think?

(and yes, those shoes - or a combination of shoes - are always in the hallway - and usually many more than this...)

But it's not that the color is looking blue-ish that bothers me... it is THIS:

Now, please don't start in on me...I know that I should mix two gallons (if using two gallons) so the color is consistent - but honestly, I have NEVER, NEVER done that before and things have always turned out great (and I have painted a lot of walls).  Until yesterday...

And after a weekend of busting my butt to get it all done (and asking my 11 year old to make her 8 year old sister's birthday cake so I could just keep painting), well, I'm just really pissed...

But on the bright side - I now have something new to obsess over, proving once again, I am my mother's daughter.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Birthday Gifts

The problem is this... I have great expectations.

Years ago, before kids, when time was our own and so was the money, we created The Birthday Extravaganza Weekend (or week, depending on how the bank account was).  We went out to dinner, we went to shows, we went shopping, we spent a weekend at the coast.  We did what we wanted and didn't pay too much attention to the details...

But change is inevitable... and change is good.

And now, a story in which I look like a selfish child (and I was, for a bit on this day)...

Friday was my birthday.  It hadn't quite dawned and the evil cat was up to his chirping, scratching, and general PIA tricks.  Immediately I thought, "It's my birthday.  Certainly The Butcher will jump up and toss this stinkin cat in the laundry room (latch problem solved, by the way) so I can sleep in a bit."

But The Butcher didn't move... or make any noise, by the way, so my next thought was "Great, my husband has died on the morning of my birthday," only to be greeted by the softest of snores escaping from his mouth.  And the evil cat continued his antics.

So then I thought, "Wait a minute... I went to bed before The Butcher did last night and he certainly can't really be sleeping through this cat's noise, so maybe he left me a gift downstairs and he's pretending to be asleep so I'll find it."  There's nothing quite like thinking there's something good waiting for you to get you out of bed.  I grabbed the cat and we started down the stairs.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I scanned the kitchen.  Nothing on the table.  Nothing on the island.  But wait!  It looked like there was a box placed next to the coffee maker!  How brilliant of The Butcher!  He knew that's where I would head first.  And as conflicting thoughts ran through my head (a small box!  Wait, we can't afford things in small boxes!), I made my way to the coffee maker to discover it was not a small box.  It was a small sponge Abby had left out from her science fair project... sigh...

And then I felt sorry for myself... enter the selfish child.

Because as each person woke up that morning, they brought me an offering... nothing huge and extravagant, but heart felt...

Wren drew a picture of me blowing out candles on a cake and woke up early to slip into Ella's room for help with a bracelet.

Ella made me a card and wrapped one of her hard-earned dollars in toilet paper, placing it in a small box and then wrapping it with a picture she'd painted.  (And later, she asked for the box back... and a little later, she asked for the dollar back...sigh.)

And Abby made me a card too, declaring in it that I "work too hard."

And The Butcher handed me a card with a promise for dinner at a restaurant I've been wanting to go to.

But it wasn't just these things that were Birthday gifts to me.  My weekend was filled with small moments, and if I just looked at them for what they really were, I could see that they were all gifts...

On Friday night, we went out to dinner with the girls... a rare treat.  And not only was that a gift, but so was the fact that there was no sister fighting or complaining, or 18 trips to the toilet with Wren.

And then when I was tucking Wren into bed, she asked what she always asks, "What's tomorrow?"  So I explained that Aunt Caryl and Aunt Cheryl were coming for dinner and cake.  Wren asked, "What kind of cake?"

"Plum Pretty Cake - like Daddy makes me every year."

"What's Plum Pretty Cake?"

"It's red with a yummy frosting.  My Granny Bert used to make it.  I love it.  And you will, too," I answered.

"Granny Bert?  Who's Granny Bert?," Wren asked.

"She was Grandpa's mommy.  Her name was Bertha, but people called her Bert, so we called her Granny Bert."

"Oh, so 'Bertha' is a lot like 'birthday' and that's why you have the Plum Pretty Cake?"

Wow... how, in 14 years of The Butcher making me this cake for my birthday, did I not see what my five year old saw?  And my eyes welled up... what a wonderful gift she had given me without even knowing it.  And while I have always thought of my Granny Bert when the cake is made, now it's even more special to me.

The gifts continued with a full weekend of sun... SUN!

And a great dinner with great friends...

And awesome, powerful Easter worship at church... with tears in my eyes.

And playing in the dirt with The Butcher as we "surveyed the land" and got dirty and finally declared it Miller (Lite) Time so I could sneak in a tiny nap before a wonderful, memory-invoking dinner of leg of lamb, potatoes, and spinach (just like mom's!). 

I am truly blessed... thank you for everything on my Birthday.

Granny Bert's Plum Pretty Cake