She's All That

We are in the local supermarket and I have a large grocery list. Hours ago, in a burst of inspiration, I took out our kids cookbooks and chose about 10 recipes to tackle together this week. We need projects. Big time. Hannah is sitting in the back of the cart. I have filled the little shopping cart seat area with fruits and vegetables and I've got eight more aisles to go. My time is running out. There is limited space in the cart and Hannah's expiration time is uncertain.

"Hey, Mom, let's get Mango Tango!" Rachel says, staring over at the Odwalla juice display.

"No. It's too expensive." (We sometimes buy it at Costco, where it is about half the price.)

She thinks for about four seconds and then asks enthusiastically, "But, what if it was on sale?"

I feel myself getting irritated. Here we go again. Rachel's mind-numbing reasoning. Her ace negotiation skills.

"We're sticking to the list," I say firmly, not even glancing at the Odwalla stand. The girl had a valid point. I could have checked if it was on sale, but damnit, I just wanted her to take no for an answer. Just once.

This time the conversation ended there. No more questions. We moved on. On other days, it's an exhausting game of mental gymnastics. The girl is smarter than me. I'm more powerful and ultimately win, but if our sport had a panel of judges, I doubt I'd be so lucky.

It always baffles me a little when a parent describes a child as easy. Maybe I just haven't had an easy child yet, but my girls are challenging.....easy in some ways, hard in others. Very different from each other, but not opposites. And in no way easy. Rachel was never one to throw public tantrums, but could throw a good one at home. She slept through the night eventually, but not early on, and not when she was sick or teething. She was work, and each age has had different challenges. And rewards.

I'm always asking her to stop complaining-sometimes her whining seems endless--but at the same time, the girl is an incredibly positive spirit. She was so excited last week when I unscrewed the top of an old IKEA baby dresser and turned it into a small bookshelf for Hannah. She placed the books beautifully on the shelves and was so excited she said, with no sarcasm, "This is the most exciting time I've ever had with you two!" (Stop laughing. We DO get out.)

There are other frustrating paradoxes. The girl is a fantastic older sister. I mean, it's a beautiful thing. But at the same time, the buttons she can push. Oy. She is constantly telling Hannah she is wrong about something and I am constantly telling her to not correct Hannah--to just let her say what she wants to say. Perhaps it is the younger sister in me. I don't know. But I do know how many conversations end in a battle between older and younger sister of "yes", "no," "yes," "NO!" "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah." Too many.

My point is, this girl is good. She is fantastic, really. But I am constantly on her case. Sometimes I need to be. And sometimes I need to back off. It's hard to get it exactly right.

The other day we couldn't find her swimsuit. I had looked for over a half hour and was irritated at her for not helping me look. Okay, she gave a feeble attempt for five feet or so and then collapsed on the floor in a heap. So I went on strike. I told her if she could find her swimsuit we would go and if not we wouldn't. Then I went downstairs and left her in her room to think it over. I wasn't convinced that this was fair of me. I listened to her cry, but I was too tired to get up and keep looking. She stopped crying. She shouted down to me a suggestion about wearing one of Hannah's swimsuits. I hollered back up without listening very carefully that, no, it wasn't appropriate. She couldn't wear a swimsuit that was too small. She protested. I got irritated. She cried. And when she came downstairs and we talked a bit more I understood what she was suggesting. She wanted to wear a bikini top under Hannah's one-piece swimsuit. Hannah's suit was only slightly too small. It was brilliant suggestion, really. The top didn't match the one-piece, but together they looked fine really. We went swimming.

One afternoon last week--perhaps it was the same day we went swimming, I'm not sure--Rachel was having trouble listening as I was putting Hannah down to nap. We butted heads. And then after a while I went into her room and suggested she come lie down in my bed with me, because I was tired and so was she. She whined a little, because she was over-tired, but then she joined me.

She lay in my arms as I drifted in and out of sleep. I had flashbacks to when she was two and I had to lay down on the edge of the bed with her to keep her from climbing out of bed. I remembered how I used to have to turn my back to her so she wouldn't get distracted and try to get me to talk or laugh. While my back was turned, I would hear her talking to herself in a two-year old babbling sort of way until she finally fell asleep. Now here she was, such a grown-up, really. And on this afternoon last week, after we had shut our eyes long enough to feel rejuvenated, we looked into each other's eyes and kissed and swooned at each other like lovers. We whispered into each other's ears how nice it was to have this time alone to cuddle.

And when we got out of bed it was like we were refreshed and reconnected again. Rachel later told me how much she enjoyed that time together. I could see it in her eyes. It was like her spirit was revived.

Do you ever pay attention to how much time you spend each day making eye contact with people? I'm asking because I forget to, and when I do it makes such a difference. I read somewhere that all a dog needs is five minutes a day of intense attention with an owner. That if you lay down on the floor with them and give them five minutes of complete attention, they'll get the connection they need. I know there are a lot of studies out there talking about how important this kind of intimancy--this connecting-- is in a romantic relationship. And with yoga, I am learning the importance of and joy in re-connecting with my body.*

Some things really are easy in the end.

I said, SOME things.

(I'll actually be back on Tuessday for the Perfect Post Awards and other honorable mentions.)

*Psst....I can do the full wheel now. Hee-hee.

I found Neverland

I just finished watching Finding Neverland for the first time. Why did you not tell me this movie was so breathtaking? Why have I never really taken to Peter Pan before? Why did Crash win the Oscar and not Neverland? Why does Peter Pan usually look like Sandy Duncan and not Johnny Depp? Why can't I live in England and look like Kate Winslet? Why do I suddenly want to have boys, lots of boys.

I'll have to read the play and see if makes more sense to me now. To be quite honest, that play always confused the hell out of me.

I finished setting up bloglines. Please don't tell me I didn't have to manually enter each link on my blogroll. I don't want to know. If you do, I'll knock you over. Or maybe I'll just throw a tantrum. Which one will get me into more trouble?

See you Monday folks. I'm back to my regularly scheduled program.

And this is a message to my own Johnny Depp. We miss you! Our windows are open awaiting your flight home.

Progress is progress, right?

Hello again. It's been so quiet here lately. It seems like half of you are on blog vacations, or semi-vacations, and the other half are whipping out hot posts, really sizzling brilliant ones. And here I sit, having a month of "Gee, I really need to get that done" posts.

Do you know what I love about you? (and I am laughing to myself as I think about it.) Every time I have a "oh I am so boring post" you come and pat me on the head and tell me "oh, you are not boring" and it's like I'm having a party and most everyone has left because the party is REALLY slow, except for a few old friends and they are patting me on the head and telling me what a great party I'm having, And I feel like the luckiest woman alive because of it, and it makes me want to laugh.



Will you go give a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY, to my very dear friend, MommaK? Her birthday is on Saturday, but she'll be on vacation. Catch her before she goes, if you can. Happy Birthday K!! You are the Mary to my Laura, the Juliet to my Anna, and a cherished internet sister. Hug. Now go enjoy your vacation.


Progress Report

*Still working on setting up bloglines. If only it didn't involve work.
*Office looks worse than it was, but is actually close to being done. The piles that exist now are meaningful.
*Laundry--(ditto from above)

What else is going on? I painted an old weathered wooden bench today. I love this bench because it glides and at the same time, looks simple. I painted it sunshine yellow and did just a bit of stenciling on it. It has a shabby chic look, which was not intentional, but I'm going with it. I'm starting to get my head into my landscaping and am even playing with the idea of doing a lot of it myself in the fall when I'll have my mornings free.

I'm getting ready for a girls night out.....except it's really a girls night in. My friends are coming here! Hee-hee. We are ordering Thai and drinking wine. This means I don't have to cook or drive home. It also will be great to be able to move around, mingle, play games, etc. This is my oldest mom's group. A wonderful group of women. I still remember the first time we got together and thinking I didn't really belong there, and I remember my first impressions of people. So funny how first impressions are often just wrong.

I've decided to go back to posting only on Mondays. So, meet me here on Monday. I'll have lots to say about my girls, and will give you highlights of the sizzling posts I've been reading. I have a post about Rachel brewing in my head, but it's not quite there, so I'll save it until then.

A Slice of Our Day

I'm sitting in our family room watching my girls dance to the Music Man soundrack. Hannah is dressed in a swimsuit and a tutu. Rachel, who is usually the first one dressed in the morning, is still in her nightgown. They are running in circles, holding hands and swinging, until they fall down laughing. I'm getting deja vu. I have vague memories of falling down and laughing so hard my tummy hurt while my Dad played the accordian, or piano. But now, here I am, throwing things out like, "Not so fast! Someone is going to get hurt." Yes, I need to relax.

These days we are living in a bizarre little world of Music Man references. The other night, during dinner, as my husband and I were trying to follow Rachel's train of thought as she babbled on about something (non-stop talker that she is), Hannah, out of the blue said, "What da ya talk?" And we are perhaps the only family that listens to the Music Man enough to even understand that reference. And proud of it, baby!

I announced this morning that we would stay inside all day. I'm not sure if it's going to happen, but I made my point and set my intention for the day. After two days of running around to parties and such in 110 degree heat, I am craving a day at home. I am, at my core, a homebody, though I try to stretch myself and get out as much as I can. On a normal day, we're out and about by now. But today, I am indulging. I stayed in my pajamas until I digusted even myself. I did manage to clean the kitchen, water the plants in the back, and make playdough while wearing pajamas. Now you know why I was disgusted with myself. That's a little too much activity for fun pajama wearing. We don't want to sweat in our pajamas do we? When you've crossed that line, it's time to move on.

I am dressed now, sitting here, thinking of all I could be doing; laundry; sorting out the piles of papers, scrapbook scraps, and bills in my office; finishining clearing the garage out so I can park my car in it instead of letting it sit in my driveway and turn into a mobile sauna; figuring out bloglines so there is a method to my blog-reading and I don't leave anyone out; sorting out my e-mail inbox; doing some yoga. But here I sit, staring at navel, waiting for the next breakdown. But, hey, remember, my kitchen IS clean, my plants watered, and I'm dressed. Where's that medal when I need it?

If you know me well, you know that I am continually having a mental, when not physical, battle with the clutter in my office. My husband and I have the same battle with our garage. I find it interesting how much joy Rachel gets out of the very same clutter. My office is like a big treasure box to her. Stickers, pencils, paper, photos. It's all quite wonderful to her. To me it just looks piles of crap. Well, that's only partly true. There is a part of me that is in love with my office, too. I am mostly in love with what it could be, but also a little in love what it is, crap and all. I would trade the latter for the former, though. I do strive to be Flyofficelady. It could happen, right?

I'm sitting here now talking to Rachel. She wants to have a tea party. I've never had one before. Hmmmmmm. Parenthood does stretch a soul, doesn't it?

And that's my day, folks. There have been a few breakdowns, whining fests, and such while I've written this. Music Man is still blaring. Rachel keeps turning it louder.

"Lida Rose...oh won't you be mine....."

I love that song.

What's your day like?

Mid-Summer Night's Ramble

Hello! I said my hiatus would end about now, but once again I've got nuthin'. A few of you expressed eagerness to hear about my "project" once it was completed. Sheepishly, I must tell you, there is/was no project. I was taking as intensive class. Did I tell you that my full name is Raehan Perpetual Studento? No?

Anyway, the class is over now and I would seriously bore you to death if I even told you the title of the course. Just know that it excited me. And now, it's summer once more for me.

The girls have spent these two weeks in camp, and after tomorrow will be home for the rest of the summer. I've started focusing on my yard and landscaping, and getting the garage in tip-top shape. I have this sudden urge to organize the house to the bone. I don't know if it will happen, considering tomorrow is the last day of camp for the girls.

Hmmmmmm. I feel very boring.

I have two more things to say. The first I'm hesitating about.....because it's really so.....(yawn). It's this. My girls are getting along so well this summer. The extra time together has made them the closest of friends. (knock-on-wood). It is so damn sweet. They do fight, but much less than usual, and they are so loving with each other. I love it. One of the teachers at the camp made a remark to me about it. Being a big sister herself, she loves watching Rachel with Hannah. Every morning, without any prodding, they hold hands while approaching the other kids/teachers, and then continue to look out for each other throughout the day. I wish there was a way to describe it to make it funnier, or less saccharin, but it just simply is truly a beautiful sight to behold these days. There's not to much more to it than that. I'm sure the dynamic will go through some changes when school starts again.

The other thing I want to talk about is limits. What are your boundaries when it comes to your blog? I know I try not to write about anything I'm going to regret in the morning....or that would make a friend or a loved one feel uncomfortable...or that could conceivably hurt someone. What I write is absolutely the truth, and comes straight from the heart, but it is from a "big picture" standpoint. This blog is my oasis. Where everything comes into perspective for me and I can find some zen. For others, blogging is a place to vent. I find those blogs helpful, too. It's fascinating to me, though, how we all have different rules and boundaries.

For me, anonymity is crucial. If I ever got an offer to get paid to write about my family life and the condition was that I had to use my real name, I wouldn't do it. But many writers that I admire are not anonymous. How does that impact their lives? And why is it so important to me that blogging doesn't have a strong impact on my real life? I don't tell friends about my blog because I don't want it to affect my relationships in any way, even positively. I just want my life to go along its natural rhythm, whatever the heck that means. I mean, really, it is somewhat silly, but not to me.

Some bloggers don't feel comfortable writing about their children. Right now, my kids really the only thing I do feel completely comfortable writing about. Why? When my kids get older and it is not as fair to spill their lives out here, what will I write about? My dog? (Who is lying under my desk and is having "digestive problems." Holy moly. If Hannah were here, she'd say, "I smell skunk spray." And you see, I'm back to talking about my kids again. Comfort.) Anything, but me. I'm not saying I don't write about myself. I'm just saying I am more comfortable talking about my kids. It feels like safer territory to me.

What are your boundaries? I probably have guessed already, but indulge me. I'd like to hear it from you.

Another hiatus--shorter this time

I have to put myself on another hiatus. I am in the middle of something that is overwhelming me at the moment. In a good way. Sort of.

No need to comment here. I just wanted you to know. I'll be back in about 10 days or so. Let's say, a week from Friday.

I will be catching up on your posts in my breaks. If you are behind on my writing here, you can relax.

Ahhhhhhh. Put those feet up. In fact, take a snoozer.

My Old Flame

I don't know how many of you know much about my life prior to kids--professionally, I mean. I don't write about it much here because I like to keep my personal and professional lives separate. Ha-ha-ha-ha. Let me qualify this. Theoretical professional life. I really can't say I have much of a professional life. There are other factors that keep me from writing about my past life. Since I'm anonymous and want to stay that way, I deliberately choose to be vague about certain details. Also, it's painful for me to think very much about my old passion.

Let me try to be a little less vague. I was a historian, working for a doctorate and a tenure-track position. I got the doctorate. At the very same time I had a baby. At some point in my first year of motherhood, I knew it wasn't going to work for me to have a baby and have a tenure-track position. I also knew if I took myself off the market and took a break in my career, the opportunities to jump back in years later would be slim to none. I chose a part-time job at a museum, so I could relax and focus on motherhood, and then with my second child, I decided to stop working.

I love my life. I love having time for my kids. I am not bored in any sense of the word. My kids keep me active and happy, and to keep my mind and resume active, I am reinvintng myself professionally, studying to become an archivist so I don't have to give up history altogether. No regrets at all. I live a joyful, interesting, challenging, fulfilled life.

There are moments though. I imagine it's a bit like being happily married and running into an old flame. I'll turn a channel and see a documentry that falls into my area of expertise. Or I'll see an historian that I've met, or studied under being interviewed on c-span. My heart quickens. My mind scurries around nervously. I may watch for a few minutes and then I change the channel because it hurts, and I feel a panic, a feeling of unpreparedness. Being friends with this old love won't work, my feelings signal. I move on. I choose comfort, new challenges that take me in different directions and don't hurt. I run away because it feels safer.

Last night I had dream that I was attending a conference. I was supposed to present a paper there but I had no paper written. I was sitting at the table in front of the conference room and searching through my laptop trying to cut and past things togther so I'd have something to present. I woke up and had to reassure myself that it was all a dream and there was nothing to worry about.

Here is the punchline. I'd like to become casual friends with my old flame again. I want to open my heart to it again. No, I don't want to pursue a teaching job. I've moved on, and am excited about my current direction. It's just that I don't want to run away from this old passion of mine anymore. I want to be able to bump into it in a coffeeshop and say hello and embrace it, rather than running and hiding in the toilet stall. Maybe we can even have a hearty conversation at times.

I picked this book from the shelf in my nightstand yesterday, and yes, as I am reading it, I can't look at it without my heart beating faster, but I'm going to work through it. I'm going to breathe my way back into this old love of mine again.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

What's your old flame? Are you friends with it? Do you want to be?