Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I've already forgotten her...

that girl from summer

the one who didn't take herself so seriously
the one who didn't care if her jeans were a little too tight
or if the kids were up too late

The one who smiled
and laughed

a lot

How could I have misplaced her
so quickly?

I miss her.
I think everyone else does

Monday, August 30, 2010

Visiting a friend with a tribute to Ms. Bradshaw

Simone, at The Bottom of the Ironing Basket, invited me over to guest post on her amazing blog, which is always a parade of beautiful images: celebrities, fashion, landscapes, quotes...
A click over to her always make me feel inspired or relaxed, or both! Check out my guest post over there (it's a recycled one but one of my personal faves and perfect, I though, for her site), and then dig around her in her laundry basket...I'm sure you'll love what you find!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What the hell am I gonna do when they go to college?

I have been a teacher for 14 years.
I have been a mother for 5.
This week, my 2 selves collided in a way I couldn't possibly understand until now.
I think I'm a good teacher. For the most part, my students have always liked being in my class. I've always tried to be kind. I've always struggled to teach my students to the best of my ability. I have always been in it "for the right reasons."
I thought I really "got it"...the power of a teacher.
14 years, 4 different grade levels, 2 schools, and probably 400+ students later, I really "got it."
But my professional epiphany had nothing to do with my job.

On Sunday night, I lay in bed, trying to sleep, looking forward to the school year ahead, and thinking about my boys. Ben would start his first day of VPK with 2 certified real-deal degreed teachers and weekly homework (!) that Monday morning. Aidan Kai (my little rambunctious just-turned-two baby!) would be starting his first day of "school" in the "baby class" at his big brother's school that Tuesday. And as I lay there, I realized the amount of hope and trust I was placing in these teachers, these women who would be helping to mold my little boys over the next year. I was excited for my boys. They would learn and play and jump and laugh and cry and push the limits with these teachers. And in that moment, in the darkness of my room, I realized that, most likely, in many homes a few miles away, there were other moms (and probably dads) thinking the same thoughts and having the same feelings...about Me. Those parents were probably also laying in their beds, wondering what would be in store for their children when they entered my classroom the next day, hoping and trusting, too.

That was the moment when I truly realized the importance of my job.

And the incredible amount of gratitude I feel towards these teachers when they show an extra moment of patience or tenderness or understanding with my boys.

Lesson learned.
* * *

Ben's been attending his school for 2 years. He started 2 days a week when he was three. Last year he increased to 3 days a week. Monday he started "official pre-k"...5 days a week, full time. He was excited and happy.

Each afternoon, he's worked on his homework for this week.

Sometimes, it's like pulling teeth:
"C'mon, Ben, focus." "No, Ben you have to do some of the writing yourself." "Ben! You know what a letter M looks like!"
Other times, it's mommy ecstasy:
"No, Mama, I want to write that part myself." "Let me show Daddy." "I know that Aidan's name starts with a letter A."
I can't quite believe I've arrived (so soon!) at the point in my parenting career where I have to come home (after an entire day of working with 52 kids) to patiently and lovingly teach one more kid.
* * *
Last school year, whenever we went to pick Ben up from school, Aidan Kai was the one who'd pick up his brother's lunchbox from the cubby and carry it to the car. He sometimes even asked to stay. So we decided this year, a full year sooner than Ben, we'd start him out at the same school 2 days a week for half days. Although I knew it was the right thing for him at this point, I was a wreck.
The morning went so smoothly that I was sure all hell would break loose at any moment. He ate his breakfast, he helped pick out his clothing, he picked up his lunchbox, and was ready to go. When we arrived, cringing that surely at any minute he'd start his usual schtick of "Up! Up!" and cling to us, he instead insisted on walking himself down the hall to the front door.
That picture?
It's the one that made me cry when I looked at it later as I pulled into the parking lot at work.
* * *
I feel like we've started a whole new chapter in our parenting lives. I'm excited and proud of our boys, but I'm a bit melancholy and emotional about the days we're leaving behind. The feeling I've been walking around with today is one I can't even put into words, which is probably why this post has turned into more of an account of the facts than one with a point. I just feel emotionally full and emotionally spent at the same time, and I knew I had to chronicle this event, because it's yet another in which I realize there are some things you can't understand until you're a mom.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Real life ain't sexy

There's a reason couples have more sex while on vacation.
Vacation is sexy.
Real life? Not so much.
On vacation, there's no laundry piles, lunchboxes, piles of unopened mail, alarm clocks.
The only To-Do's are sightseeing, eating, shopping, sleeping, and romancing.

We've only been back to our Real Life for a week (and it hasn't even been the full-blown version, since the boys haven't started school yet), and already some of the friskiness is gone.

During the summer, it was all about "What do you wanna do tomorrow?" or "Do you wanna open a bottle of wine tonight?" or "When can your mom have the kids again overnight?"

There were full days on the beach, Just Us, with picnic lunches, cheesy magazines, lots of sunblock, and even more vodka.

There were nights of getting all dressed up: over-the-top smoky eye and glittery liner, patent leather red stilettos, and way-too-short-for-a-mom-over-35-mini-skirts...and then dancing the night away.

There were early evenings conspiratorially rushing the bedtime routines so we could then sneak into our loft, with red wine and cheese and lingerie and John Mayer.

But now?

Now, the luxury is pizza standing up at the kitchen counter (only 2 small slices...I know, I know, I've gotta lose those summer pounds!), Blockbuster rentals, and 2 exhausted back-to-work teachers/parents trying to get back into the routine, snuggling into bed to actually sleep.

I've read it a million times: when you're married with children, you have to schedule sex.

Yeah. That's real hot.

So, yes, I know, my last few (and I do mean "few") posts have all been about how great my summer has been and how lazy and indulgent I've been, and now, here I am just complaining and whining about it being over. I know most of you are thinking I'm a spoiled ingrate who does not even appreciate the fact that she has the 2 months off with Hubby ever year.

But I'm not really being whiny, and I'm not an ingrate. Just the opposite. I'm incredibly grateful for the past several weeks, and am actually feeling like I'm almost back in the swing of things with work and life in general. I'm not even pouting about it (too much) anymore.

But the fact is, I miss my sexy summer life...where the freedom and sun and frivolity and extra babysitting contributed to my libido.

So back to my last post and my new (school) year resolutions...
I've got to find ways to sneak in the sexiness. Somewhere amidst the Lunchables and the lesson plans and the 5:00 a.m. alarms, I've got to make an effort to remember the heat of summer.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Summer of Salsa and Chips

If you ever watched "Seinfeld," you may remember "The Summer of George."

I, once, had a "Summer of Liz." I don't really remember what I did with it, or why I needed it, since it was back in the days of "Before I Had Kids."

Being a teacher, I have had the luxury and blessing of having the summers off. And being Type A and slightly neurotic, I have spent most of those "doing" something.

There were a couple of "The Summer of Pregnancy."
There was "The Summer of Home Buying."
There were quite a few "Summers of Slimming Down."
One way or another, summer was always about doing something.

This summer, we ate a lot of salsa and chips.

We drank a lot of beer.
And wine.
There was lots of wine.
No, wait, maybe there was more beer.
Yes, definitely The Summer of Salsa, Chips, Beer, and Wine.

I went away one weekend with my girlfriends to sit on the beach and laugh.
I went away with Hubby a few times for overnight getaways.
We slept in when we could (once, we even hit 9:30!).
I finally tried stand up paddle surfing (twice!).
I watched "Blue's Clues" and "Scooby Doo."
We went dancing.
We took the boys on mini-adventures (one ended up as an adventure all on its own at the pediatric E.R., but that's for another post...or perhaps no post at all, since I want to forget the whole thing).
We went to the beach.
We went to water parks.
We went nowhere.
I gained weight.
I got almost nothing accomplished.
But I was happy.
Really, really happy.

The school year starting (for all four of us) will definitely require routine, discipline, and scheduling. (And my barely-fitting-jeans will definitely require my old eating and exercise habits.) And I do know that routine brings a certain amount of ease and organization and calm, especially when dealing with two small children. But I don't want to go completely back to the person I was before this summer. As much as I need (and want) to go back to healthy, planned eating, to the 5:00 a.m. gym visits, to the hyper-scheduled bedtimes, I want to keep this sense of "Who cares?" and "Why the hell not?" As the summer has steadily dwindled down to its end, I've come to the realization that it is not the free time I am panicked about losing.

It's my attitude.

So I've made a few new (school) year's resolutions:
~Crack open a bottle of wine with Hubby if we feel like it, even if it's a Tuesday
~Skip a gym workout if it's a beautiful afternoon and hit the beach with the kids instead
~Not have every second of the entire week planned and written in stone
~Go on more bike rides around the neighborhood, even if it means we have dinner an hour later than we're "supposed" to
~Not care all that much and truly understand that yes, the closet that needs organizing and the photos that need arranging will all be there...tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day
~Laugh as often (or nearly as often) as I did this summer

Sunday, August 8, 2010

No matter how many times we told you not to bite the candle, you just didn't listen...

Dear Aidan Kai,

You were born 2 years ago today. It was dramatic, your entrance to the world. It was so silent, that moment when they took you out of me, and we couldn't see you or hear anything, and from the other side of the blanket, we heard your shrill, powerful cry. I looked up at your Daddy, and his face crumpled in a way I had never seen: fear, stress, joy, relief. "He's got red hair!" the nurse pronounced, and I wondered: 'Where the hell did you get that?!?' but I didn't care. You were okay. I was okay. We'd be okay.
Then...and here's where it can get kinda funny...not funny in that ha-ha way, but funny in that ironic kinda way...that shriek we were so excited to hear when you were yanked out of me so violently became the soundtrack of our day-to-day for the first four 1/2 months of your life. And that is only a very, very slight exaggeration.
No reason, apparently. You just cried. All the time. It makes sense to me, now, when I look back on those early weeks, and I see you now, the little boy you are turning into: you cried because you could, because it drew attention, because you have a flair for the dramatic, because it matches your personality, which is big and loud.
You are an incredibly funny kid. I don't think too many people know that about you yet. You tend to be somewhat reserved around people, and you can be pretty stubborn in your anti-social behavior when you want to be (hmmm..wonder who you get that from). But you are hilarious in a way that I didn't really know toddlers could be. It's a subtle, clever humor, with a bit of "stick-it-to-ya" mixed in there for good measure. Your Daddy and I like to think of ourselves as pretty tough parents...consistent and firm with high expectations...but you...you have managed to pull all kinds of stunts and then get yourself out of them with this sly, dimpled grin and these squinty, knowing eyes.
If the methods you and your brother use to get out of trouble are any indication, he will grow up to be a lawyer and you will be a stand-up comedian. You manage to answer our rhetorical questions with the most unexpected answers, like tonight, when you bit me playfully and I said "Hey! Are you a dog?" and you immediately responded with "Yes" and then proceeded to show me your teeth, make biting noises, and go straight for the sofa. Never in a million years did we ever think we'd find ourselves saying the sentence: "No biting the furniture!" Of course, all such behaviors are punctuated with a wide grin on your proud face.
It's been an interesting couple of years, to say the least. We're still waiting for you to "get easy." We joke that perhaps you're getting in all your punches now and in a couple of years, you'll become the Easy One. You just never stop moving. You wiggle off the chair in sushi restaurants and manage to hang off the edge of the table going "Monkey! Monkey!" before we have a chance to put down our chopsticks and lunge at you. You fall off bar stools and practically bounce right back up onto them. You make your swim class teacher carry you around the pool on her back while she works with the other kids, because when she'd put you on the step to wait your turn, you'd run out of the pool, indignantly stomping "All done!" You stand at the edge of our own pool at home and put your head straight down on the concrete, insisting you can "Flip! Flip!" like your brother. And you would, if we'd let you.
It's been an interesting couple of years, to say the least. You certainly wear us out on a regular basis. But you're special, in a way that, I think, only your Daddy and I can truly understand. You make us laugh, a lot. You are silly and goofy and we can already see that you don't take yourself very seriously. You've brought an energy and life to this house that we didn't know was missing, and you've completed our perfect little family.
Happy Birthday, our littlest boy, the last baby, our fireball...we love you. Thank you for picking us.
Love, Mama

Monday, August 2, 2010

Find your joy and you find your Self

"Celebrate we will
for life is short but sweet for certain."
~Dave Matthews, "Two Step"

DMB concert 2009 photo collage courtesy of www.gilcelia.com

A year ago, Hubby and I went to a Dave Matthews Concert with friends. The skies poured down for hours before the show and turned the open-air lawn into a muddy, slippery, soggy mess.

It was the first concert I'd been to in a long, long time. I stood there, listening to my favorite band, Hubby swaying behind me, his arms wrapped around my shoulders.


That night was a turning point for me. It was the first time I felt like Myself after having had my second child. Standing there, high on the music and the beer and the company, I was happier than I had been in a long time. It was like I remembered...

I remembered who I was.
I am not sure why, but I can tell you I felt Free.

Fast forward to this past weekend. We went back to see Dave in his Summer 2010 Tour.

As much as I had been looking forward to the concert, I was a bit worried that I'd be disappointed. I didn't think it would be possible that I could feel "that" again. I thought, surely, it had been a product of a weird time in my life, a time when I was just coming out of a year blurred by colicky cries, sleepless nights, and postpartum weight.

And maybe, just maybe, I had thought, I had even been a tad bit drunk last year.

But no.

There it was again: the feeling.




Again, brought upon by the music, the lights, the night, the company.

It's easy to pass on stuff in life. When you have small kids and large bills, it's easy to say: "No, we're not going to do that right now, because babysitting is tough/we really can't afford it/it's too far/it's not necessary/we're too tired/too busy/too everything."
But then you forget. You forget who you are, what you love, what makes you feel most like You.