Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Strong Medicine

I have a cough.  A deep, raspy, wet cough that has settled down into my lungs and has no intention of leaving any time soon, thank you very much.  As a consequence of hacking up my toes several times a day my throat is just a wee bit sore.  Which is neither here nor there, except that it precludes me from singing lullabies to my children before they go to sleep.  Yes, we still do this every night.  Sometimes I dread it, but mostly it is a time of the day that I cherish. 

I was rocking with Jack the other night and explained to him that I couldn't sing him a song because my voice was hurting.  He took his blue blanket and wrapped it around my throat saying "Here mama.  You take this and put it on your voice and it will feel better.  Blue blankie makes everything feel better."  

And you know? It kind of did.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mother's birthday, so I thought I would dedicate a post to her to let her know what a wonderful mother she was and continues to be and how much I love her.  

My mother is independent.  She does not like being told what to do.  She passed that love of autonomy to her children, even though it probably made raising us a lot harder.  She let us make our own decisions, even when they were bad, and even though it meant that she had to sit back and watch us take the consequences; I never appreciated just how hard that is until I had children of my own.  It is torture to watch them suffer; but if they don't get to make their own mistakes they never really learn.  

My mother is brave.  She takes risks.  She taught me that sometimes you have to have faith in the Universe, hold your breath, and jump!  Chances are things will work out; if not as well as you hoped, then at least not as badly as you feared.  And you will probably gain a new perspective along the way, which is always a good thing.

My mother is kind.  She believes in being nice and treating other people well.  She assumes that everyone is intelligent, decent and has good motives, which means that she is constantly shocked when they turn out to be assholes, or selfish, or incredibly stupid.  But on balance, I think it is better to think everyone is great and be surprised when someone isn't, rather than assume everyone is a jerk and be surprised when someone is nice.  Maybe that makes you gullible or naive, but it also makes life a lot more pleasant.  Also, niceness breeds niceness, a lesson from which the entire world could benefit.

My mother loves her children.  Sometimes she didn't like us, but we always knew that she loved us.  She told us over, and over, and over again.  She showed us in the way she cared about and for us, our happiness, our place in the world.  Of course she made mistakes, of course she was imperfect.  Aren't we all?  But knowing that she loved us so very very much - that is an important thing to a child.  Knowing that someone loves you so completely and truly tells you that you are worth it.  That you are worth knowing and loving and that you have a right to be here.  That is a powerful thing.

So happy birthday, mom!  Despite all these wonderful things you have given me I still can't manage to get a card to you on time, but I suspect you will forgive me.  Besides, it's coming in a box with some other cool stuff.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Little Slice of Heaven

Brian has won my heart all over again. "How?" you ask. Let me tell you: he found a new mulch for the yard. Yes, you heard me. A new mulch. "What is so great about that?" you say. Again, let me tell you: it is made from cocoa shells.

He spread it over the back yard this afternoon and then watered it down according to the package directions. People, my yard smells like chocolate. I kid you not. I am literally having to actively suppress the urge to eat my lawn.

Brian wants me to point out that it is an improvement over the old redwood mulch because the cocoa shells do not produce splinters (which were always getting into the kids' feet). Whatever. MY YARD SMELLS LIKE A GIANT HERSHEY BAR.

Que sera, sera.

So Ava was playing a game on the LeapFrog Clickstart computer thingy; one where you use the mouse to click on a bunch of bouncing balls, causing them to *splat!*. She's clicking away, and then suddenly all the splats slide off the wall and the game is over. For a second it is not clear what has just happened, and then we hear the overly cheery voice of the program saying "Congratulations! You beat the level!" and then there is applause, etc. etc. Great. So then she starts playing another similar game, involving splattering balls, but just as she begins Jack calls her from outside to come look at something. Apparently it is something important because he keeps yelling, louder and louder, until she jumps up to go look at whatever it is. (A ladybug? Something drowned in the swimming pool? A chewed up toy?). Cate and I are hanging on the couch playing the "Can I Have Another Gogurt?"-"No." game (great fun) and I'm listening to the computer program valiantly encouraging no one to "Click on all the PINK balls!" "Click on all the RED balls!". I'm wondering just how long it will keep this up before it realizes it has been abandonded when Ava (the abandoner) returns. She plops down in front of the key board and starts clicking on the balls. She only gets a few to splat when all of the sudden the balls and splats disappear again. We wait, but this time there is no cheery voice forthcoming, at which point Ava turns to me and says "Mom, I think this time the level beat me."

Sometimes you're the fly, sometimes you're the windshield. Might as well learn now.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter in Five Acts

Act One: Easter egg hunt at school (Friday)

Cate finds the GOLDEN EGG.  Jack is very, very, VERY disappointed.  There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Act Two: Easter egg hunt at Kris and Nathalie's (Saturday)

No golden egg, just lots and lots of eggs chock full o' candy and treats.  Despite the ridiculous number of children present, all baskets are literally overflowing.  Much sugar-induced merriment.  Hats off to Nathalie and Kris, and here's hoping Gabe and Jayden have recovered from the sugar high.

Act Three: Easter egg hunt at church (Sunday morning)

After much diligent looking (and maybe a teensy hint from a parental unit) Jack finds the GOLDEN EGG.  This turns out to be a life-changing event, as our formerly shy son begins approaching every single person on the lawn to share tales of his good fortune.  Again, such an over abundance of treat-filled eggs that the challenge is not so much *finding* the eggs as it is *not stepping on them* and even the non-golden-egg-finding siblings are content.

Act Four: Easter egg hunt at Amelie's house (Sunday noon)

Danielle has thoughtfully put out a quantity of eggs that is divisible by four (and no GOLDEN EGG).  I add my egg-offering and completely change that dynamic (pats self on back).  Regardless all the kids have a blast actually having to hunt for the eggs.  Children consume chocolate in various forms while the adults enjoy a magnificent lunch.

Act Five: Easter egg hunt at Chris and Dawn's house (Sunday afternoon)

Because we still have not had our fill of easter egg hunting, we conclude with a final hunt with cousins Malcolm and Xander.  The dads hide the eggs while the moms occupy the kidlets with decorating real hard-boiled eggs and dyeing their hands in a veritable rainbow of hues.  Once the hunt begins we see that the dads have done a good job of making this a challenging event, and it takes the kids a while to find all the eggs.  Towards the end Cate finds - you guessed, THE GOLDEN EGG!  She turns with glee and who is standing right in front of her?  Ava.  Of course.  I am standing on the patio with Dawn, watching this all unfold......Cate turns to Ava, victoriously holding up the golden egg and yells "Look!  I found the Golden Egg!  Again!!" and Ava responds "Yay!!! That's GREAT Cathryn!  Look mom!  Cate found the golden egg!!". 
OK, can I just tell you how differently this scene would have gone down if the positions had been reversed?  I love all my children, and I think they all have the makings of excellent people, but that Ava.......I hope she never loses that ability to be truly, genuinely happy for other people, 'cause that right there is a gift.