Sunday, December 12, 2010

O, Christmas tree

Every morning when I get my baby girl from her bed and we go out to the living room, she says, "Oh! Christmas tree, Mama!"

And every morning then, I plug in the three strands of lights and light up that big tree we chose ourselves.

We got the tree last weekend from a tree farm called Santa's Woods. It was low-key and awesome, though bitterly cold.



We took a tractor-pulled hayrack ride out to the trees and then another smaller one pulled by two Clydesdales out to more trees. We chose as quickly as possible, mainly because it was so cold. I'd bundled Paige up in layers and joked that she was like the little boy in "A Christmas Story" who can't put his arms down.



It must not have been enough, though, because she still started crying from cold out in the field.



We sat by a campfire for a few minutes after choosing the tree and got mini candy canes from a friendly Santa.

They strapped the tree to the top of my car for us and away we went. Rye and I decorated it the next day, while Paige took her nap.



The best part is how much my kids love this Christmas tree. It's already got me worried about how I'll soothe their sadness in a few more weeks when it's time to throw the tree out.

Oh well. Until then, we're enjoying it to the fullest.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I ran 7 miles through the November cold WHY?

This is why:



This was me at the end, fingers frozen like Popsicles, feet numb like nubs.

HAPPY.

You can see it, right? That smile is the look of accomplishment, of "Holy hell, I just did that. And I did FINE!"

The idea of running Living History Farms each year scares me to death. Seven miles of running, NINE creeks to cross. Many hills to climb. Lots of mud. 8,000 other runners - many in costume and whooping and hollering.

This was the second time I've run it.

I enjoyed this time more than the first, I think. It felt, somehow, easier. Somehow, I was tired at the end but not at exhaustion. Never did I think, "I can't finish."

Instead, I dove straight into that frigid water up to my thighs at some points and trudged across those creeks. I let complete strangers help me up the muddy embankments a couple times.

I did it.

Just do it - the Nike slogan - used to be one of my mantras during my jock-ish years of jr. high and high school.

I think it's one we can live by our whole lives.

Check out these legs:



Now, who wants to run with me next year?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy 1/2 birthday!

It wasn't difficult.

It didn't take much time, money or advance preparation.

But the half birthday celebration I put together for my babies yesterday was well worth it.




We had store-bought pizza that I cooked in the oven.

We had a bouquet of balloons that cost $8 from the grocery store's floral department.

I made cupcakes, from a box and a jar.

I gave some to Rye to bring to Paige's daycare as a treat. He said, "Thank you, Mom!" as he carefully carried in the covered Tupperware container after school.

Paige and Rye had cupcakes there before coming home to our little party here.




I bought candles for 88 cents.

Grandma and Aunt Ashley and Uncle Justin came over.

We sang "Happy half birthday, Paige and Rye" and afterward Paige quietly sang "Happy birthday!" to herself in the long, drawn-out way toddlers pronounce their words.

It was genuinely fun.

Here's to celebrating half birthdays. Because they're only a kid once.

(Afterward, Paige took all the candles that'd been thrown on the table and stuck them into her cupcake, wick down. Loved it!)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Beer and Bagel 2010

I ran the 2010 Beer and Bagel Run this morning. It was awesome!

I did not have any beer afterward, but many of the nearly 1,500 runners who finished the race did. What can I say? I didn't feel like drinking at 9:30 on a Sunday morning. Honestly, though, I almost went to get a glass, just to mark this particular running milestone off my list. If I wasn't going home to take care of a toddler and a 5-year-old maybe I would have.

At any rate, the race was at Quarry Oaks Golf Course near Ashland, Neb., a four-mile run on a perfect November day. I was so cold at the start that I was shivering, but I quickly warmed up, and my legs felt good.

Much of the course was on a trail through the woods, some of it was on the golf course itself. There were many hills. I quickly remembered that this girl hates uphills, loves downhills. Why doesn't everyone just fly down the hills? That's how I make up time after my abysmally slow climbs up. Or that's what I tell myself.

I finished 377th out of the nearly 1500 runners. Not too bad. My time was 35:40, also not too bad for a true cross country course and my first race since January.

I'm glad I did it. Though my legs might tell me otherwise tomorrow.

And, boy, could I use a nap right about now!

(Wish I had a picture, but, alas, still no camera).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween


Look at that kitty and her big brother, Donatello.

Trick or treating was fun last night.

But I'm pretty sure Mommy loved it more than the kids.

What can I say? I like dressing up. I like trick-or-treating. I like hanging on to every last second of October.

November came anyway, though. This morning. Here we go, winter. Bring it on.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Growing up heroes


I just found this Web site, Growing Up Heroes.

It's awesome.

And so simple.

Superheroes. Pictures of real people dressed up as superheroes, long ago, when they were kids. There is such a fun, vintage feel to this site.

I mean, look at this. How great is this Ewok picture?



And this?


Love it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I smell MEAT

We stopped at Hy-Vee after school yesterday and driving through the parking lot, Rye said, "I smell something."

I looked around. Yes, he smelled meat on the grill. I told him that.

"Oh," he said, "what kind?"

Sausages, hot dogs and ribs, I told him.

"But what animal is it?" he said. And I was proud.

"Pigs," I said.


Silence.

I could tell he was thinking about this, about the fact that people eat animals.

As we got out of the car, he asked, "But not all animals are killed, right? Some animals get to just live, right, Mom?"

I told him that, yes, some animals like cows and pigs and chickens get to just live but that most of them are raised to become food.

We passed the giant grill with the racks of ribs and fat sausages sizzling. We both looked and then went on our way. What else can we do?

We will never, ever live in a world where animals are not killed for meat. I know this. My wish, though, is that we could get to a place where those animals are treated humanely, where they are not raised in pens too small to walk, where they are not overfed and pumped with hormones, where they do not live in their own feces, where they are not tortured.

I don't think that's a lot to ask.

I didn't tell my 5-year-old all that. For now, I'm OK with the fact that he understands why we don't eat meat. Simply, in his mind, because we don't think it's a nice thing to eat animals.

It feels like heresy sometimes in the heart of the Midwest, in an agricultural stronghold like Nebraska, to oppose eating meat. But it also feels like the right thing.

So that is the path we will continue on.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This morning's moment

I was eating Frosted Mini-Wheats, legs crossed on the living room floor this morning, while Paige danced to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on TV and Rye sat nearby on the couch.

It was the time between the rush to get everyone ready for the day and the rush to get out the door.

Rye said, "Grandma Hazel is 91."

I have no idea what made him think of this at that moment. Perhaps, Mickey and friends had just counted by 10s to 100.

I nodded that yes, she is 91.

He said, "She says she's getting old. She already is old!"

I called her just Hazel. He questioned that. "Hazel?"

Her name is Hazel, I explained. He furrowed his brow. "Oh, I thought it was Grandma Hazel."

Well, you call her that, baby, I said, because she is a grandma. She's Daddy's grandma. She's your great-grandma."

And then it was silent for half a minute.

Rye said, "Do you have a great-grandma, Mom?"

And isn't this sad? I had to think about who that would even be.

"No," I said. "I don't."

I don't even know my grandma.

And so I'm thankful again this morning that my babies have extended family who love them, that my son has a great-grandma who he's seen and hugged and knows, that he has grandparents who care.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Today's wisdom

"I saw that pain is part of beauty - that inside of all that music, all that love, all the moonlight and sunlight, are shafts of pain, and we are meant to bear it all."

-- "The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder" by Rebecca Wells


In this scene, the girl's mother is dancing in the moonlight with her husband and her children. She is frail and just about all the way broken. Her hair has fallen out and her breasts have been ... removed.

Though it is January, she is barefoot. So that her feet can touch the cold ground, so that she can feel alive.

Pain and all.

One last time.

Perhaps the pain that is all too true in this life makes the good times, the beautiful, pure and true times, all the sweeter.

That is my wish.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My favorite movie EVER


I was 5 years old and couldn't sleep. Outside my bedroom door, I could hear the muffled voices of my parents and the hum of the television.

It was too much for me to resist, for some reason, on that night.

I went out to the living room. Immediately, I saw the plate of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, a treat we never had, on the coffee table. My eyes were fixed.

I really wanted one.

My parents gave in, and I snuggled onto the couch between them, the frosting too sweet for words.

Five-year-old me couldn't have asked for anything better - until she realized what was on TV.

I didn't know what it was, but just as instantly as my tummy had rumbled for those cinnamon rolls, my mind (my soul) was glued to that television.

On the screen, a teenager was driving a DeLorean at 88 miles per hour through a mall parking lot.

A wild-eyed scientist had just been shot. "Run for it, Marty!" rang in my ears.

Yeah.

This was my introduction to "Back to the Future." And I was head over heels in love.

I still am.

The movie that captured my heart 25 years ago turns 25 years old this year.

To celebrate Marty McFly's trip back in time to 1955 (where he accidentally meddles with his parents' romance), the flux capacitor, Doc Brown ("Great Scott!) and all other things "Back to the Future," Omaha's Film Streams theater is showing the movie for almost two weeks.

Starting tonight.

Yeah. I'm going to need to get a babysitter for this one.

Soon.

And maybe multiple times.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

School crushes


He's only 5.

He's only in kindergarten.

Yet, a few days ago, Rye had a note.

From a girl.

I saw him smirking in the backseat after I picked him up from school.

"What are you smiling about?" I asked.

"Nothing," he said, and quickly pretended like he hadn't been staring at the small piece of paper in his hands. In fact, he tried hiding that piece of paper, as if I hadn't already seen it.

I couldn't see what it said, though, and this really got me. Oh, how I wanted to see what was on that tiny rectangle!

I let it go, though. I'm trying to realize that my kids are their own people and they are allowed to have feelings (and all sorts of other things) that they don't have to share with Mommy.

I didn't say I like this very much, but I do realize it's the case.

Later that night, after dinner, Rye was lounging in the living room, watching a movie. I noticed he was holding onto the same small piece of paper.

My curiosity got the best of me.

I pretended to be cleaning up the living room. Really, I just wanted to see what was so important about that note.

On one side, someone had drawn stars and smiley faces. On the other side, someone had colored and written her name:

Chloe.

I smiled.

And I bit my tongue.

Even though I desperately want to know who Chloe is (and what her parents do, if she has blonde hair like Mommy and how this relationship began - recess? gym? hand holding during story time?), I let it go.

I chose instead to be happy for my little boy, that he had a new friend who liked him well enough to draw him a picture.

A picture that made him happy.

Isn't that what we all want ultimately? Happy kids?

Right now, it's enough for me.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Moments to hold onto


I bought the box of Cheerios months ago for my daughter, who is now 15 months old.

She never really wanted any. Yet, still the box sat, largely untouched in the kitchen pantry. She might change her mind, I thought. Better keep it.

When I began packing for our move a couple weeks ago, that box of cereal moved to a Rubbermaid tub on the kitchen floor. Paige has enjoyed the new "toys" that have surfaced on her level in that tub. There, she discovers such treasures as pens, flour, half-eaten bags of tortilla chips, aluminum foil and cereal boxes.

Last night as I finished dinner, Paige was playing in the kitchen.

I heard it first. The sound was a bit like sand being thrown onto the sidewalk or rice being shaken in its container.

I turned my head to see Paige, upended cereal box in hand, several Cheerios on the floor.

I had plenty of time to react. To yell, "No! Paaaige! Don't do that!" (Can you almost hear me saying that?).

But I didn't.

I laughed.

And then she dumped the rest of the cereal out.

All of it. All over the floor.

And as those tiny circles of cereal that I don't blame her for not liking rained down on my floor and scattered throughout the dining room and the kitchen, I laughed even harder.

This moment, for whatever reason, I chose to enjoy. And it wasn't a conscious decision either. It was just what came out.

I loved it.

And as I sat there smiling, watching the crumbs stick to my daughter's feet as she ran across the field of cereal she'd planted on my laminate, her laughter was the sweetest sound I'd ever heard.

I realized that these moments are worth laughing about.

I realized that these moments will be gone too quickly.

I realized that before I know it my babies' evenings will be filled with things like baseball practice and homework and phone calls or (dear God help me) Facebook.

These babies might not always want Mom around to laugh with.

I realized, as I stared at all that cereal, that this was a moment to hold onto. Like that lock of hair from their first haircuts.

To keep in my memory as not a mess to clean up but a time we all laughed together with nothing else alive in that room but each other.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm famous, part II

The Today Show chose to post my blog about filling Rye's backpack on their Web site!

It was published there yesterday. My thanks to BlogHer for pitching it to them.

Please check the post out and consider leaving a comment.

Copy and paste: http://community.todaymoms.com/_news/2010/08/30/4993456-hes-starting-kindergarten-what-i-really-want-to-put-in-his-backpack

Or click here.

I could get used to this.

What else should I write that others will really like? I'm taking suggestions. :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I shouldn't need a husband to buy beer


I just needed strawberries.

So I stopped at Hy-Vee, on my way to get my little all-grown-up-all-of-a-sudden boy from school.

I went in, skipped the shopping cart and found the strawberries (for Paige and Rye). I also decided to get fruit snacks (a treat for Rye) and Corona Light (a treat for me).

My hands full, I went to the cashier with the shortest line. I was happy she was older, so we wouldn't have to bother with a manager coming over to scan my beer and take my money.

The woman in front of me was paying when I came up and set my items on the conveyor belt. She had a daughter about Paige's age in the cart who I suppose was cute. But she wasn't as cute as my kid, and the cashier was ALL OVER HER.

Even after the woman had paid and was on her way, the cashier who I was waiting patiently for wanted to know the little girl's name.

Come on, I was thinking. I have three things. Just let me pay for them. I don't even need a bag. I checked the time on my cell phone. 17 minutes until school was out.

Finally, the cashier pulled herself away, saying, "She's a CUTIE!"

I sort of nodded.

Ring me up, I pleaded silently.

I pulled out my credit card, ready to swipe it through the machine when she read my total.

The cashier rang up the strawberries and the fruit snacks and paused when she got to the Corona. She leaned over the counter in between us and looked at my left hand.

Then she looked at me.

"I'm going to card you. Do you have your ID?"

Yes, I did, of course.

"I'm 30 years old," I said, and handed her my license.

She scanned the beer and gave me back my license. I slid my credit card and put it away.

I was in a hurry to go. The cashier held onto my beer.

"Do you need one of these?" she asked. She was holding Hy-Vee's Wedding Essentials magazine.

Are you kidding me? I thought. Uh, no, I don't need your magazine filled with overpriced bridal gowns, flowers that only die and rings that cost way too much. I'm completely over centerpieces and tuxes and glasses etched with the couple's name, too. And if you had any clue what the last year of my life has been like, lady, I sure hope you wouldn't be flashing that magazine in my face.

"Nope, I sure don't," I said. "I just got divorced."

Now, give me my groceries and let me leave, I wanted to add.

She smiled sadly at me, judging me, it seemed, and finally let me go.

Tip number one, Hy-Vee cashiers: A ring on my left finger doesn't prove I'm old enough to buy beer. If you're going to card a customer, please base that decision on her face, not her marital status.

Number two: Please, please don't assume a ringless finger means a woman wants to think about marriage. Trust me: Brides will find your magazine if they want it.

Just scan my groceries, and take my money.

That's all I need you to do.

There are plenty of others in this world to make me feel bad about things. I don't need you added to that list.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'm famous

I'm on the front page of BlogHer today!

Check me out there, and leave a comment please! Thank them for posting me. It's called SYNDICATION.

I'm excited.

Click here to read me there.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

He was fine



I told you he would be.

I knew he would be.

Still, I had to see it for myself. I had to see him come striding out of those doors after the first day of kindergarten ended yesterday with a smile on his face, a sort of pride in his step.

About lunchtime, I started counting down until I could go get him. One hour and 15 minutes.

It wasn't soon enough.

I'd done fine dropping him off. I'd actually loved the whole process. We all woke up as usual, had breakfast and got dressed. I was careful about making his lunch. I wanted it to be perfect.

I made sure he knew how to open the plastic sandwich bags I'd put his peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sliced strawberries in.

I made sure I packed the right kind of fruit snacks. I discreetly cut a small piece of construction paper into a heart, decorated it with an Iron Man sticker and wrote, "Rye, I love you! MOM." I stuck it in his lunchbox, too.

It was the second thing he told me when I picked him up from school. It was a, "Hey, you surprised me with that, Mom! How'd you slip that one by me?!" sort of comment. I loved that he loved it.

The first thing he told me: "We had TWO recesses today!"

That's my boy.

Before the end of the day, I learned he and the other kindergartners had been loud at lunch, a boy in his class named Simon had gotten hurt but no one knew what happened, his teacher had read a story about going to kindergarten and he'd had graham crackers for a mid-morning snack. Oh, and they counted to 10.

But he didn't learn anything new. Not yet, he says.

Still, he made it. He did it. He was fine. He liked it.

Kindergarten schmindergarten.

And you were worried.

And he's off


Today, my baby went to kindergarten.

And in 51 minutes - yes, I am counting - I can go get him.

I can't wait. I need to make sure he was OK. I need to ask how lunch went. Could he get the baggies holding his peanut butter and jelly and strawberries open? If he couldn't, did he ask for help? Did he do alright in the bathroom? Did he make a friend? How does he like his teacher? Did he learn anything today? When is P.E.? What about music? Were the kids in his class nice? How was recess? What did he play with? What are the names of the kids who sit at his table? Did his teacher read any books? What did he do with his school supplies?

Did he miss me?

What anxiety?

Hey, I haven't even cried today. (That's because I cried for hours last night. I wish I was kidding.)



I go back and forth between knowing that my child is nothing but ready for this next step in his life, that it's exactly what he needs to continue growing and thriving AND from feeling like I want to cling to whatever strands of blonde hair I can grab ahold of to keep him from growing up - and away from Mommy - any faster.

What can I do anyway, though? Except cheer him on as he goes out into this big, wondrous world.

Here's to you, my baby boy. Go get 'em.

Re-introducing Veronica Daehn


Getting divorced is not an easy thing.

Every aspect of it actually is awful. Emotionally, it's the hardest thing I've ever done. It's not what I set out wanting. It wasn't ever part of my life plan.

But it is done now, and I want you to know the girl who came out on the other side.
Her name is Veronica Daehn. She is a mother of two beautiful, smart, charming, fun children who she wouldn't trade for the world.

She is a journalist. A friend. A daughter. A sister. An aunt.

She is the owner of one cat, who is not for sale. Ever.
She is not the Veronica Daehn who graduated school with a 4.0. Nor is she the Veronica Daehn who won awards for things like hustle and spirit in athletics. She's not the Veronica Daehn who couldn't take a joke. She's not the Veronica Daehn who tried hard at everything she did.

She's just not that girl anymore.

She is changed.

This Veronica Daehn is older, wiser, less naive, more realistic, more understanding, a better friend - and she's working on her patience.

She is less involved in things that don't matter. She's stopped trying to impress people. She's working on not caring what others think (this one is hard).
She has regrets.

This Veronica Daehn knows we don't always get what we want - and she's stopped striving for that.
She is working on forgiving herself. She is working on forgiving others.

And overall, this Veronica Daehn is happy to be back, as a hybrid of the girl she once was and the mother she now is. She's paving her path as she goes, a bit more carefully this time, much more wisely, she hopes.

She's taking things as they come, perhaps a bit more skeptically.

Perhaps a bit more happily.

She hopes.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

These are the things I'd really put in his backpack


My son starts kindergarten in less than two weeks.

I won't even get into how fast the time has gone, how I can't believe he'll be in school, real school, not just preschool or daycare.

Instead, I'm trying to focus on looking ahead and being excited about all the amazing things he's yet to experience.

This weekend, I plan to take him to buy school supplies. The school provided a list. He is to bring:

- 4 boxes of crayons
- 1 pack of Crayola markers
- 2 boxes of tissues
- 6 white glue sticks
- 1 plastic school box, no handle
- 12 #2 pencils, sharpened
- 1 bottle of Elmer's glue
- 1 pair of headphones
- 1 large backpack

We'll get those items, of course, and I'll help him fill his new backpack with them. Then on the morning he leaves me for the first real time, I'll help him get that heavy backpack on his shoulders.

I'll walk with him into school. I'll make sure he finds his room, meets his teacher.

And then I'll leave.

I don't even like the way writing that sentence feels.

While his backpack will be full of crayons and glue sticks and markers and tissues - the things we were supposed to send with our kids to school - these are the things I really want to send with my first-born, my baby:

-- Confidence. The gift of believing in yourself is bigger than anything I could ever wrap and put under the tree.

-- A sense of humor. Things don't always go the way we want. This is hard to accept, especially for us first-borns. But it's good to be able to laugh them off.

-- Courage. My biggest fear is that my little boy will need help and will be too scared or too shy to ask.

-- At least one friend. Please, God, let him make him a friend. None of us deserves to be alone.

-- Love. If I could, I'd stuff all the love I have for him in a little Ziploc bag, seal it tight and put it in his pocket to carry forever.

-- His blankie. It's the best substitute for Mommy. And it actually would fit in his backpack, if he'd let me pack it.

-- Curiosity. I want him to know everything there is to know about this world. Not just reading and math but about faraway places and great leaders and big ideas. I want him to ask questions. I want him to get excited about learning. I want him to be smarter than me.

-- Me. If I could, I'd smoosh Mommy up into a tiny action figure version and I'd slip myself into his other pocket. I'd be there just to listen or give him a little hug when he needs it.

But I know as well as you: He won't need it. He'll be just fine.

Also find this post on momaha.com

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beep beep


One of the cutest things my daughter says now is "Beep beep." Try imagining a 14-month-old just learning to talk saying this phrase with an upward inflection at the end, almost as if she's asking a question.

"Beep beep?"

It's what she calls her belly button.

And I LOVE it.

A few weeks ago, I touched her belly button and said "Beep, beep!" She giggled. So I did it a few more times.

And now it's stuck.

"Paige, where's your beep beep?"

And she immediately looks down to find it and push a chubby pointer finger into it. Often, she'll say "Beep beep?" and then look for mine.

Today, we went swimming and she got a little frustrated when her one-piece suit did not allow easy access to the beep beep.

(The other really cute thing Paige says now is, "Rye Rye?"

Her brother. She's almost always wondering where he is. It's like he's her north. Without knowing exactly where he is, she isn't quite complete.

Also love this. How could a mama not? )

Saturday, July 3, 2010

At least I'm second


Today, my 5-year-old said, "Blankie is my favorite person."

He's had this blanket, which is now much more of a thin, well-loved piece of cloth than an actual blanket, since before he was born. I bought it on clearance at Target for something like $8.99.

Who knew then what an investment I was making?

Five years later, he still sleeps with it. Every. Single. Night. (The picture above is what his blankie looked like before he loved it to death).

So he tells me his blankie his favorite person and I say, "What? More than Mommy?"

He smiles that smile and says, "Yep!"

Of course, I asked him where I rank.

He told me I was next, and I'm OK with that. At least I'm the first real person, right?

Rounding out the list is, in order, Paige (his sister), Daddy, Grandpa, Grammy and Papa (they go together), Grandma, Ashley and Justin (his aunt and uncle, my sister and brother), Daphne (our cat) and finally our house (which we are selling. Awesome).

I didn't realize he had a list of favorites, but I suppose we all have people or things we enjoy being around more than others.

He's lucky he has such a list of people (and one very important thing!) to love.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Moving is about as much fun as ....


feeling fat, being sick, having to work late?

None of that is fun, surely not moving.

Though I don't know when exactly we'll move, I've already started the awful process.

Packing.

It's harder than you think to take everything you own - EVERYTHING - and put it in a box.

I can't do it without going through my things and deciding what I no longer want or need. We just started this process a few weeks ago and already a quarter of my garage, at least, is filled with things I'm going to sell or give away.

Purging feels great.

But there's so much still to go.

It's overwhelming.

Yesterday, Rye and I were downstairs in the basement and I just looked around said, "Wow, we have so much stuff."

He looked at me and said, "I know."

Wish us luck.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday mornings

How awesome are they?

The kids and I have just been hanging out. It's great because we're each doing our own thing, but we're all right next to each other. And our things will intertwine. Rye will show me something and I'll listen. Paige will bring me a book and I'll read it. She'll find a ball and we'll throw it. Rye will tell me a story and I'll listen. Then we'll go back to doing our own things for a bit before our moments intertwine again.

I am tired but content. We woke early today. I got coffee. I made the kids breakfast. They each had two chocolate chip waffles. Throw in peaches for Paige.

It's so nice to not be in a hurry. I spend so much time running around. I long for more simplicity. Today I'm getting it.

And even if it's just for one day - or even just part of a day (we do have to go to one of the big-box stores later today for things like diapers and milk) - I'll take it.

***

Do you like my blog's new look? I do! It needed a change.

***
Product reviews. I'd like to start doing them, from time to time. What products would you like to learn more about?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

And, yes, Paige had a birthday, too...


(So I'm a little late with Paige's letter. Two kids on back to back days is a lot to ask for heartfelt letters. Anyway, here we go.)

Dear Paige,

You are simply the sweetest child.

You are quick to laugh, to smile, to make me smile. I seem to love you more every day, if that's even possible.

I always wanted a girl. I wouldn't trade your brother for ANYTHING. But my life wouldn't be complete without you.

Who else would I play dolls, house and dress-up with? What other little girl's nails would I paint? Whose hair would I braid? What little girl would run and play and spin and look up at the clouds and dream with me?

You will.

There is just something about little girls. And you, sweet Paige, are as sweet as they come.

Sure, there are times when all I want to do is put you down. When my arm aches from holding you. When it'd just be so much easier to put butter on Rye's waffle with two hands. But then you tilt your head to the side and look at me with those big blue saucers and I melt.

And then you ask me to turn on the music and I do and we dance. Music has always calmed you. As a newborn, you liked loud and rockin' Pink. I loved that. The music and the bounce in my arms would put you to sleep in minutes. We'd spend many evenings dancing in the kitchen, me holding my little baby, while your brother and your dad played in the other room.

And now in the car when there's music you toss your head from side to side, that silly look-at-me-mama! smile on your face the whole time.

I love it.

You are brave and curious and questioning everything. "This?" you say and point. And then I tell you. "This?" And so on.

You are also sensitive. Airplanes scare you. You don't like loud noises. You don't like strangers. You like things as you know them. I don't blame you.

You're empathetic. When Rye cries, you know something's wrong.

And there is so much more, sweet girl, that makes you who you are. I can hardly believe that your first year has gone by so fast.

Hold on, mama, right? I certainly don't want to miss it.

Happy first birthday, my sweet baby! I'm so lucky to be your mom.

I love you!

Mama

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On your fifth birthday...


Dear Rye,

I remember those first few weeks after you were born. The long nights. The quieter but equally long days. The endless breastfeeding. The crying.

The complete newness of it all.

I wasn't sure either one of us was going to make it.

I remember thinking, "This, too, shall pass" and "It's got to get better. Someday, he'll be 2. And that will be fun." I may have even spoken those sentiments out loud, to your dad, to convince him. And me.

But it got better. Of course, it did. I got better at being your mom. You chilled out a bit. And then my whole world revolved around you. I thought about little else. I did little else. I always wanted to be with you. Every second.

I took you to the Children's Museum and to the zoo. We played in the sandbox in the backyard. We went for long walks at night, all three of us. You were silly and crazy and in love with construction trucks and macaroni and cheese and "choo-choos" and The Wiggles (OK, I might have forced The Wiggles on you, just a bit).

Every time you were sick, I wished it could be me feeling miserable instead. When you ran into the corner of the upstairs bathroom door on your first birthday and split your forehead open, I felt AWFUL. And when you had hand, foot and mouth disease on your second birthday, I felt almost sick myself. I remember finally getting you to eat a very soft waffle, toward the end of your party. Those ulcers in your mouth looked awful.

I've smiled with you more times than I've cried, of course. I've laughed at you, with you, tickled you, held you. When we made light sabers at your third birthday party and superhero capes at your fourth, it was so special to see you with your very own friends. Somehow, my baby was old enough to have his very own friends.



Last week, you turned 5. I can hardly believe we've come this far.

You are simply so grown up. You are sensitive, you aim to please, you are the most empathetic kid I know. I'll never forget when years ago you cried when Clifford had to move to the country to live with Emily's uncle (we loved that book) or when Jackie Paper stops going to play with Puff the Magic Dragon (even I cry at that part of the book/song).

You have been my helper this year with your little sister. You realize when Mommy needs something and most of the time you just do it.

You are absolutely Paige's favorite person in the world. No one can make her laugh or smile like you.

You are kind and thoughtful and articulate and intense and emotional. A bit like someone else I know...

Rye, you will always be my special boy, my sweet boy, my first baby.

Even when you're more grown up than you are now.

I love you, my baby. Happy 5th birthday.

Mama

Monday, April 26, 2010

If I could be ... all the time

The courthouse is an awful place.

I decided this today as I went through the metal detector to stand in the center of a tall, square, bustling room with courtrooms on each side, a stairway at one end, a hallway at another and no clear sign telling me where to go.

Eventually, I found it. I went up and looked around and then asked for help.

Finally, I handed over my papers, my hands shaking, and I tried to offer the woman a weak smile. Really, though, I looked everywhere but at her. And I tried not to lose it, right there in the middle of a normal afternoon for everyone else. But an absolutely abnormally awful afternoon for me, no matter which way I keep trying to twist the kaleidoscope.

Filing for divorce costs $157. I made a photocopy of my Wonder Woman check before I turned it in. I don't know why. I don't ever want to look at it.

I tried to listen as the woman told me to hang on to certain papers I'd thought I needed to turn in today and I tried to look at her as she told me where to go next - but it involved more than one step and I had to ask her to repeat the directions and the name of the place and even then I'm surprised I remembered.

I thanked her, quietly, and then I walked away, out of that dreary, cubicle-laden, messed-up customers office. And I went downstairs, papers all out of order now, took a left as she told me and found another office with another office worker who I also couldn't look in the eye.

After 15 minutes with her - and her supervisor, who maybe could tell I was just about to lose it - it was all I could do to make it to the bench outside the door without my grief escaping in guilt-ridden sobs.

And then I couldn't move. The people - the lawyers in suits, the elderly woman in a wheelchair, the tattoed black man, the women who passed as if they didn't care nobody ever noticed them - moved quickly past me, in both directions. Time, for me, seemed to stand still. It was one of the most surreal moments I've ever had. It was as if I was in a dream, or that I wasn't actually even me.

I went home, and the house smelled like cat pee. For the first time ever. I don't know what to do about it.

I went to the gym where I went through the motions of a workout. I never found my groove.

I went to Hy-Vee where a man was cleaning the carpet in the entryway where the carts live. The smell was pungent and harsh, and I held my breath on the way back out a little bit later.

At home now, there is too much quiet. Rye is with Dane. Paige is asleep. Every now and then, her breath catches tiny, soft moans. Right now, the sound of the portable heater is hissing through the baby monitor.

Daphne is sleeping next to me on this old, tattered couch that I wonder if I'll always have.

I am so tired. And so is my broken man. Now, he says, he can find happiness.

I hope - someday - I can find peace.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

All dressed up

Just because, Paige got to wear this pretty dress the other day.



And the sun was shining, so what better excuse?



I think she likes it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Why is show and tell only for school?



This blog originally appeared on momaha.com, the World-Herald's Web site for moms.


Last night, I helped Rye assemble an all-about-me package for preschool today.

We looked through old pictures and thought about what toys or objects were most meaningful to him. We also answered questions like "When I grow up I want to be ..." and "I'm happy when ..."

He ultimately chose four pictures, which we glued to a piece of brightly colored cardstock. They are photos of his family: Mommy, Daddy, Paige and the kitties.

And he chose to bring a little bouncy ball that he really likes (I questioned this choice, but hey, what do I know?) and a rock that he got while hiking with his dad in Colorado last week.

He debated bringing his blankie, which let's be honest if there's one item that means the world to him, it's that tattered piece of fabric. But I understand why he didn't want to bring it. It's almost too personal, in a way.

This activity, of course, made me remember how excited I was the few times in school I got to bring items for show and tell.

And as we answered the questions, it made me think how I would answer them. Why is it kids are the only ones who get to participate in all-about-me days?

So here we go. Play along. Humor me.

1. I'm happy when ...

2. The funniest thing I ever saw was ...

3. When I grow up, I want to be ...

4 I like ...

5. My hope for the future is ...

6. Items I would bring to show and tell:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I like these



Jenny took these. Because she's awesome.

Ah, they are 3 and 4 ... KISSING?! At preschool?



Just when did preschool turn into "Melrose Place"?

Seriously.

Rye, who will turn 5 in May, goes to preschool three mornings a week. Also in his class are two friends from daycare.

They have known each other most of their lives.

Last week, though, all heck broke loose. Rye has a girl kissing him. At preschool. ALL OVER. Or so I hear.

One of his daycare friends can't marry a girl at daycare because last week it was decided he would marry a girl at preschool instead.

This boy also isn't allowed in the club started by two other boys at preschool. A clique? Already?

And Rye and his other friend from daycare officially last week broke off their friendship.

What is going on? Seriously! I remember a girl in my preschool class taking a bite out of my thumb once, but I was not engaged to be married, nor was I kissing on a hot 4-year-old!

One of the other moms last week said, "Are you as intrigued as I am about the social goings-on at preschool? Each day I can't wait to hear the latest. It's so funny, but I have to act serious, you know, because to (my son), this stuff is really serious."

I only hope it all stays in check. They've got so many years ahead of them where things will seem serious!

Rye, for his part, has announced he's going to marry the most beautiful girl in the world: His baby sister.

This post originally appeared on momaha.com. Click here to read more from me and other mom bloggers.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Loveys

Paige will be 10 months old on Thursday.

This week, I'm pretty sure she found her first "lovey." This is my friend's name for the stuffed animals her sons love best. They are the ones they take to bed with them and in the car on trips. They are the ones that make wounds heal faster and tears dry quicker.

You all know what I'm talking about.



Rye has a blankie. I put it in his crib with him when he was a baby and he latched on. The poor blanket is thin and ripped and probably on its last days. It has been everywhere with us - on road trips, on airplanes, on hikes, at restaurants, to the movies, you name it.

The blanket even apparently has its own gender. We forgot to bring it to daycare earlier this week and when Rye realized it in the car, he said, "We forgot Blankie!"

I told him we weren't turning around to get it. And Rye said, "But I need him."

Him. It's like they are friends.

So Paige has fallen in love - and fallen hard - with our cat, Daphne. Anytime the cat walks into the room, Paige makes this sound of excitement and hurriedly crawls over to her. Daphne is the nicest cat ever and just lets Paige hug her.

The hugs lately, though, have become tighter and longer. I'm careful to make sure my baby isn't hurting my favorite cat, but still, a few times I've been surprised Daphne tolerates all that attention. Why don't you just walk away, cat? I sometimes wonder.

After letting Paige hug and squeeze and kiss (yes, I know) the kitty for about 10 minutes the other night, I had an idea.

I opened the toy box searching for a small, soft plush kitty Rye had abandoned long ago.

When I found it, Paige's eyes grew wide, she smiled that toothy grin and she immediately put that stuffed animal to her left shoulder and tilted her head to give it a hug.



I melted.

It was the most adorable thing I've ever seen. And it was the first time Paige has shown much interest in a toy.

She didn't let go of that plush cat either. Not while I gave her a bottle and not when I laid her in her crib.

I covered her up and watched as she snuggled her head into what I'm pretty sure will be her lovey.

This post originally was published on momaha.com. Click here to read more mommy blogs by me and others.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Laughter in a bottle

If I could bottle this laughter and let it out in small doses as I need it over the years I would.

How precious is she?

How soft is that sound?

If only she could always laugh like that, even as life hurls itself at her.

Friday, March 5, 2010

BFFs

Growing up, I had many friends.

But I had one very best friend.

Her name was Jenny, and I would have lived at her house if I could. We had sleepovers. We watched movies. We tried to save the princess. We went to Girl Scout camp. We worshipped the same boy band. We rode our bikes to the pool. We played kickball in the street. We once attempted to break the Guiness world record for time spent on a teeter-totter (yes, I was inspired by that episode of "The Brady Bunch"). We did EVERYTHING.

These are her kids. How precious are they? (Jenny, by the way, is a photographer based in Seward, Neb., who takes BEAUTIFUL pictures. Click here to go to her photography site).



As we got older and entered jr. high, we started to grow apart. I was into sports and being involved. She was more low-key. We started circling in different groups.

By the time we got to high school, we never hung out. There was no ill will; we just didn't spend time together.

When I moved to Omaha in 2005, I was 25 years old. I'd just had a baby and I found out that Jenny lived just down the street. I also learned that she was pregnant.

We reconnected, and it was so nice.

Was it the same as when we were kids riding our bikes to the pool or playing soccer in the street or telling ghost stories in a tent in her backyard? No. But we had all that to draw on, to base our grown-up relationship on.

Read more about female friendship here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Believe it

It's Feb. 15, the Winter Olympics are going, Valentine's Day just passed and it's snowy and cold and awful outside.

My babies are with their grandparents until tomorrow (that will be FIVE days they will have been gone. Ugh), and there's still so much change.

But I think for the most part I'm happy.

How about that?

There's more work at work than I have time to do and there's more work at home than I have the energy to do.

There's a book club book I haven't started.

I still haven't learned how to cook.

Christmas lights are still up on the house.

The cats need rabies vaccinations.

We're almost out of diapers AGAIN.

And I let myself get stressed with all this more often than I should.

My car is nearing 73,000 miles (yikes! Really?! Didn't I just get that car?) and I'm more than 1,000 miles overdue for an oil change.

It's been since Wednesday that I've worked out already.

And it's been how long since I've posted here?

It's all going to be OK, though. I always say that.

But now - at least this morning - I believe it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sleeping in Mommy's bed

So everyone knows the change we're going through at my house, right?

Daddy's gone.

A roommate and her son are in.

For the most part, the transition is going smoother than I ever thought it would.

While things aren't easy, we all seem - dare I say it? - happy.

Rye smiles, laughs, plays. We snuggle. He helps out around the house. He is just a good, nice, beautiful boy.

Until bedtime.

It's not like he gets ugly then ... he just gets needy.

And he has come up with a million reasons why he can't sleep in his bed.

More times than I am proud to admit lately, I've caved and let him sleep with me. Last night, he said, "I promise this will be the last time ever that I sleep in your bed."

Uh, yeah, right.

I've been doing blog entries just about every day on momaha.com. I wrote about this topic there, too, today and asked others to share their stories.

What are your experiences with this? Leave your comments here! And check out momaha.com here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Look how beautiful she is

Have you ever seen a more gorgeous baby?



I mean, really.

Look at those baby blues.

I see her everyday. And still. Looking at this picture takes my breath away.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Not my neck of the woods


I spent much of my day at Regency Court, a high-end shopping center where I do not belong.

The stores there are places like Pottery Barn, Ann Taylor Loft, White House Black Market and Anthropologie.

The merchandise basically rocks. It's high-quality, stylish, trendy, nice stuff.

But I could never in a million years buy any of it. It's not just kind of expensive. It's super expensive. Like $900 for a twin bed at Pottery Barn Kids expensive.

Also, the clientele? I don't look like those women. Those women push designer strollers and carry shopping bags from places like Borsheim's and Williams and Sonoma.

(An aside: Anthropologie totally and completely rocks. Today was my first time there, and oh man. That I loved it all so much makes the fact I can't buy anything there all the more painful. This afternoon, for example, I found a cute, vintagey orange dress. Loved it. Price tag, however: $90 - and that was the sale price. The dress above? $158.)

So while the shopping center is way nice and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to promote momaha.com (the World-Herald's Web site for moms of which I am in charge) there, it will be better for my bank account if I stick to places like Target and Kohl's.

But I can keep dreaming about those dresses.