Sunday, October 27, 2013

Another quick wink

I never thought I'd get to a place in life where I would be exceedingly pleased with a gift of holiday-themed kitchen towels.  But here I am, and there it is.  I suppose I'll probably be wearing collared sweatshirts with chickadees on them before I know it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Because I really want to know

Does a houseful of girls involve as much wrestling, screaming, war-whoops, hollering, running, fighting and jumping as a houseful of boys?

Friday, October 18, 2013

A few notes

I'm posting with a babe snoozing in my sling and three brudders playing beautifully together by my side (knock on wood!).  Loudly, with lots of screeching and bombing noises, but playing together nicely nonetheless.

I divert to a list-post:
  • Eliah is the sweetest thing ever.
  • He loves his big brudders.  He watches them and is extremely entertained by their activity, whether they are specifically paying attention to him or not.
  • Diego has become extremely re-interested in Eliah in the past couple of weeks, probably due to his increased interaction and interest in his surroundings.  He loves to hold him and play with him and would cart him all over the house if I allowed it.
  • I was definitely calling Jamie "Schtinky" by 4 months due to my inability to keep the funk out of his neck rolls.  I couldn't keep up with it.  But Baby Eliah?  No problem at all.  Every time I check his little neck rolls, they are as dry and sweet-smelling as ever.  I wonder what the difference is?
  • Diego's current obsessions include Legos, ancient Egyptian history, and the 1991 cartoon series of Tintin.
  • Truen's new favorite "snee-ack" is eggnog.  He makes it himself with my loose supervision and assistance, eyeballing the ingredients.  The other brothers are big fans too.
  • Blaine has been on a reading binge the last few years.  Recent titles include The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, and The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams.  He's reading 'em cover-to-cover.
  • I get book reports every night, which is extra super-duper wonderful given the fact that I have very little time to read at this point in life.  It is so nice to have some fresh ideas to ponder.
  • I've been very moved by poetry of late.  The snippets of time I do get to read are very far and few between and poetry is the perfect remedy for a starved soul.  It packs a literary punch, with big ideas and emotion in such a small and beautifully composed package.  I am savoring it.
  • Annnnnnnnnnd . . . . Jamie got a haircut.  Surprise!

Truby made a magnet monster
and Jamie got a haircut.

I know he's an aside in this picture, but it will just have to do.  I haven't any time to take anything off my camera, if I even had something adequate.

 At 3 months shy of 3 years old, this is the latest "first haircut" we've ever given.  Even so, I was very sad as I lopped off that pony-tail, much more mournful than either of the other first haircuts, and realized it was because of the blonde.  It still shines light in the sun, but it is nothing like that that blonde shaggy mane.

I cut it a couple of weeks ago now and I must say, he was downright tame compared to Truen even last year.  He did very well.  My tactics?  Plop them down in front of the television and offer sweet treats for sitting still.  I've also learned to do an overview of the clippers to familiarize them with their benign-but-scary loud buzz.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Staying present

Dare I try to post something?

The days are full.  The older boys are outside with the neighbor boys right now, playing.  The younger ones are sleeping.  Mt. Saint Laundry Pile sits in a giant heap behind me, a remnant of September madness.  You should see the kitchen floor.  It is, literally, quite disgusting.  Toy piles in the living room.  Book and magazine piles in the sunroom.  The never-ending mess.

As for me, I'm doing fairly well.  I'm focusing on being a calmer, more "present" mother.  I need to revisit this every so often, to remind myself that "the days are long, but the years are short".  All I need to do is scroll through our screensaver slideshow to get a handle on that.  Yeesh.

I want my fellas to remember a mom that helped them work through their troubles (whether "just" getting along with each other or "just" the frustration of getting a shirt stuck on their head while trying to put it on).

"Just" because it isn't an issue for me doesn't mean that it isn't a big problem (and thus a big learning opportunity) for them.  I can help them work through it, especially if I am not distracted or irritated.  And most importantly, when I recognize it for what it is worth: the opportunity to learn.


Question: "What do we say instead of hitting/biting/kicking/screaming....?"
Answer: "Please stop.  I don't like that."

Question: "If he is hurting/bugging/irritating you, what is the best choice?"
First answer: "Say, 'please stop'!"
Second answer: "Walk away."

Question: "When I ask you to do something, what do you do?"
Answer: "Say, 'Yes, Mama', and do it."

Question: "If you want something and another brother has it, what do you say?"
Answer: "Can it be my turn next?"

These are the question-and-answer games that I spiral through all day long on a daily basis.  It is amazing.  They know the answers and how to do it, but in the heat of the moment it is hard to remember.  The best times are when I hear them doing and saying exactly what they need to, without my supervision.  That is when I know there is hope, that they are slowly gaining the skills to make it happen without a director (me) standing over them.  And it does happen.

More often than not, they need my guidance to work through these issues.  I can do that, very well indeed, but not when I am not "present".  When my mind is not here.  When I am struggling to remember why I am doing this.  When I give credence to the idea that my life is a swirling eddy of child-induced irritation and pay more attention to the burn than the bright-eyed boys all around me (and it does burn).  All the typical "grass is greener" crap.  And what it worse, their troubles tend to downhill fast when I am not fully present.  It's like putting another log on the fire.

Can I do it?  Yes I can!  (I'm my very own "Bob the Builder" cheerleader.)  How will I do it?  Through habit and attention.  And I am doing it.  Sometimes it is hard, sometimes isn't.  All that matters is that I keep on track and remember.

Remember.  The days are long, but the years are short.

And I don't want to miss any of it.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Read, read again, stare, then read again

The Happiest Day

It was early May, I think
a moment of lilac or dogwood
when so many promises are made
it hardly matters if a few are broken.
My mother and father still hovered
in the background, part of the scenery
like the houses I had grown up in,
and if they would be torn down later
that was something I knew
but didn't believe. Our children were asleep
or playing, the youngest as new
as the new smell of the lilacs,
and how could I have guessed
their roots were shallow
and would be easily transplanted.
I didn't even guess that I was happy.
The small irritations that are like salt
on melon were what I dwelt on,
though in truth they simply
made the fruit taste sweeter.
So we sat on the porch
in the cool morning, sipping
hot coffee. Behind the news of the day--
strikes and small wars, a fire somewhere--
I could see the top of your dark head
and thought not of public conflagrations
but of how it would feel on my bare shoulder.
If someone could stop the camera then...
if someone could only stop the camera
and ask me: are you happy?
perhaps I would have noticed
how the morning shone in the reflected
color of lilac. Yes, I might have said
and offered a steaming cup of coffee. 

~ Linda Pastan
   Good Poems for Hard Times