Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Word of the year: JOY

I'm learning to let go, to delegate to my girls and to be OK with things not perfect. This article spoke to me today. It's old, but it's what I've always been about but just never knew it.

More later on my identity crisis.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Joy to the World

Dear Joy --

I lost you somewhere along the way. I lost sight of your face and the sound of your laugh. I gave way to the unauthentic kind of happiness that shows up in photographs and videos and blog posts and facebook status updates. I surrender. That joy is lost on me.

But, I am renewed.

I'm determined to find you again, to see your soul and feel your warmth. It might be snuggling with a good book on a Sunday afternoon while the girls sleep and the husband naps and the crockpot makes dinner. It might be dancing the morning away to a CD I love with the girls at my hips, shaking their booty along with me.

It might be dropping everything to just sit and be quiet and still. I think I need this joy most of all. The joy of no obligations, no responsibility, no to-do list and no, above all, NO pressure that I've placed on myself, this day, this moment.

Yes, joy, I'm all yours for the taking and I"m smiling as I tell you this. It's not about the perfect moment-to-be, it's about the moment that is right now here in front of me, at my fingertips, on my lips, whispering in my ears. Now. Now. Now.

I want to be your friend again, Joy. I want to know you like I knew my best friend in high school who I miss dearly. I want to feel your breath on my neck and I want to know that you are squishing deeply between my toes like the sand on the beaches of my youth.

Even as a mother, I must allow you, more than anything else, into my life. I must put you before the meal planning, the 40-hour work week, the gossip of others, the wants and desires of the future I dream of and even before my children on the days they are most cranky.

You are a wish I dream of every moment, of every day and yet I never even knew it. Until now. A little light sparkled in front of me and I followed it and I now realize what has been missing all along.

Joy, stay close. Hold my hand when times are tough. Stick by my side and hold me when I am weak. Hold me up when I am happy, too. You mean the world to me and to my family and I realize that now. My Joy is the difference between a good day and a great one. Why haven't I known this until now?

Whatever, it doesn't matter because I'm letting go of all guilt to make way for more joy. More joy in coffee mugs in the evenings, more joy in a wine glass in the bathub, more joy is cupcakes for breakfast and more joy in prepared foods to carve out more time for joys like writing, and creating, and ... dreaming on the stars.

Welcome, Joy! Welcome home. May you find enough peace here to stay forever.


Joy-filled.p.s. Happy Everything, everyone! I love you all.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

25 Days of Christmas

Much like last year, we're using our mini stocking advent calendar to fit in some truly fun and memorable activities this holiday season. It makes me realize that I'm a much better mother when I'm organized and full of activities in my pocket ...

This year, still trying to find ways for the girls to not compete against each other while also building their self-esteem, we're doing two activities a day. Each girl pulls a paper from their stocking. They love listening to me read what their activity of the day is and, even more than that, they love doing them. They do everything with such enthusiasm!

Here's the list:

Here's the list real quick.

1.Make list -- sing carols
2.Look for color red -- dance party
3.A joke -- city light up night
4.decorate the doors -- visit santa
5.movie night -- make cookies
6.paint nails red and green -- make gift tags
7.play with cookie cutters -- mail cards (trace cutters, cut out playdoh and paint) we haven't done cards.
8.hang candy canes -- snowscapes with shaving cream
9.find the color green -- camp under the tree
10.drink hot chocolate -- read around the tree
11.count the red lights -- christmas magic
12.family tree activity -- make cards for teachers
13.make homemade gifts -- be an elf for the night
14.Santa's helper/wrap a gift game -- create gift kits
15.make choc. covered pretzels -- make seating cards (this tiny tumbler's and MNO so ... ??)
16.pin the nose on rudolph game --write a Christmas story (and what is left from above)
17.make ornaments/wrap gifts -- red and green snack
18.spa night -- light a candle in memory of dog Prince
19.put on a christmas play -- eat dessert first
20. Create a winter alter -- jingle bell dance around the tree
21. Winter Solstice celebration -- star gaze
22. wear red and green -- eat breakfast for dinner
22.Jingle bells dance -- make sugar cone trees
23. Hand out gifts to teachers -- star watch
24. set out cookies and milk -- sprinkle reindeer food outside

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Monday, December 7, 2009

A mother's brain cracked open

From the Archives of Between the Lines

Motherhood is ...

Wow, they're sleeping in today.
Oh, goodness, the whole day will be ruined because they're sleeping late.
They're crying; they're hungry.
No, they're not hungry.
Yes, they are hungry.
Must fix something healthy.
Nothing easy is healthy.
Who am I kidding? They won't eat anything healthy.
I want them to eat well.
Is it wrong to give them all sweets for breakfast?
Yes, it's wrong.
Let's eat!
Are you done?
Stop playing with your food.
Are you done?
Just take a bite.
Are you done?
I'm not making anything else for you.
Are you done?
We're done. Go play.
Just shoot me now. They never want to eat anything anymore.
Let's go in the playroom.
No, don't take out all of the DVDs.
Let's play with toys.
No, we're not going to jump on the cushions at 7:45 a.m.
What was their father thinking to start this tradition?
They're crying; they're probably hungry.
Try eating something for breakfast next time.
What's wrong?
Are you tired?
Are you hungry?
Are you thirsty?
Are you a Republican?
I'm sorry. I don't understand whining.
I have an idea! Let's go outside.
Yay! We're outside.
No, don't put flowers in your mouth.
No, don't put mulch in your hair.
No, don't throw grass at your Mama.
Hey, let's go inside and see if the mail came?
Let's watch Baby Signing Times!
Let's jump on the cushions!
Let's destroy all the DVDs so long as you aren't crying.
They're crying; are they hungry?
Should I give them a snack?
No. No snack. They must learn to eat at meals.
Aw, but they're hungry.
Aren't they?
I think so.
I don't think so.
Well, it's only 10:30, but let's try having lunch. I think you're hungry.
What? You're not hungry.
How about a nap. I think you need a nap.
Yes, let's take a nap. Shall we?

This post is in honor of Mamablogga's September writing project.

Now that you have some insight into how my brain works, and how much stress I cause myself, I hereby am taking a much-needed break away from this blog. A week of silence shall prevail here. Please leave me a comment if you participate in this writing project because I will stop by for a visit. Perhaps some solitude will come to my mind in the next several days. If not, our 4-hour drive to the beach and our first night away from home -- and cribs -- should make for some interesting posts next week.


Monday, November 23, 2009

What's Cooking?

In an effort to revive my blog, my writing self and my soul, I'm participating in Menu Planning Monday today. It's a small step to mixing my busy life with blogging.

We've moved into a new house less than a month ago and while we're feeling settled, there's still a lot of unpacking and organizing going on. That means I'm still not writing like I would like.

Go here for more menus.

Monday: Pizza Bagels (The Dad is cooking since I have a meeting)

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Perhaps dinner out with visiting family

Thursday: Baked French Toast for breakfast

Thanksgiving, which will include these fine recipes:

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Sweet potatoes -- Toss in cup of butter and a cup of brown sugar and saute on stove top until softened.

Turkey -- My grandmother is bringing this along with the stuffing

And a bunch of other things. Naturally.

Friday -- We're going anti-shopping this year and I plan to make Artisan bread from this book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes. We'll eat leftovers, of course.

Saturday -- Pizza day! I'll make pesto and goat cheese pizza for me and traditional for the rest.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Monday, September 28, 2009

When all is Found

Our home has finally sold after two very long, excruciating years of a terrible market. In that time, much has changed within these walls and beyond. And we are ready. More than ready.

We are leaving our urban neighborhood where we can wander along cracked sidewalks and littered streets all while listening to raw, thumping music and curse words waft through the air like smells of Arroz con Pollo.

Leaving is such a harsh word for such a harsh place. It wasn't always this way. In fact, it was nothing of the sort then -- before kids. And yet by leaving we will still be just two minutes away. Two. That's it.

Now, we're packing and sorting and Purging in a great way for a house that lives in harmony with the Earth with just the right sunlight to warm its bones during the winter days and sunken into the dirt to cool it in the summers. It sits on nearly two acres of land with near two dozen lovely trees for me to rest my eyes on and sit my dreams on and escape under. On our recent visit, we weren't the only ones visiting: a fox and a groundhog trotted in the backyard and we watched from the sunroom.

It took six years living here to know who we were as a family, to know what we needed and wanted and longed for -- peace, quiet, balance, nature.

A month seems so far away and yet I can't sleep at night at the weight of it all. The mounds of stuff I honestly can't remember why we need. The fear of too much stuff and not enough truck or hands or able bodies. The change from lights 24/7 to darkness and perfect vision to the stars and a moon to go to sleep to each night instead of, well, some more negative things.

We have been blessed to live where few middle-income Americans have lived, and experienced a life some could not even imagine. We have learned about real people living real lives in poverty. And I'm not just talking about the monetary sense of that word.

There's too much to do, too much to remember and not enough time to mess with it all. Because we have a life too full of beautiful nows to live. The precious sleep in a room down the hall. The house is a true disaster.

And we could not be any happier.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Soul letters -- letters to my daughters

A long time ago, I had this little idea to preserve my thoughts now for my daughters later. You know, that was a damn good idea.

Dear girls --

A man should want to listen to you and hold your hand without any other intentions. He should be smart and sexy but not too much of either because it can go to their heads in one way or another and that leaves you feeling bad about yourself. You should be able to be yourself – boldly, daringly. You should be able to wear what you want, go where you want and believe what you want. If you can’t, than the relationship is not right for you. Granted, none are perfect, but these are good starters. If they have this, you can live with a little Sports Network now and then – and tell him so, too. Appreciate the men you find who are like this. Above all, though, nurture yourself and the woman you want to be.



Anyone else care to chime in here??

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What gets me writing

There's been one clearly defined reason for why I'm writing in my novel more this year than in all the 10 years past.

I'm not writing as much.

Ironic, right? I am writing more because I'm not writing more.

Yup, you're not seeing things incorrectly. Nope, you don't have to read between the lines. Not even here.

I spent 10 years as a journalist -- writing.

I spent two years home, as a freelancer -- writing.

I spent those same two years blogging -- which meant more writing.

Now, I'm just writing -- in my novel. It ain't much but it's more than what I had been doing.

My job has nothing much to do with writing and it feels WONDERFUL!

I'm so in love with NOT writing that I'm LOVING writing, again, for the first time.

I will never quit blogging. I owe so much of my life to the friendships and friends I've made and all that I've learned from all of you and all of the blogosphere, in general. It's been awesome.

But, if you wonder what I'm up to, you'll now know and understand.

This novel will be finished this year. I have no doubt for the first time in my life. It may not be perfect, but it will get done. Only motherhood could give me that kind of clarity, by the way. But, I'll save that for another post.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Are you here?

Blogging, over the course of the last year, has become so hard for me. I can't decide if it's the sharing of details of personal matters or if it's just boredom. I have no words for this blog and when I do I have no time to write them.

You can find me here every other Friday. You can also find me as betweenthelines -- or Shawn Fink -- on Twitter and even on Facebook. I'm there all the time these days.

And, you should know that by not blogging, I have been spending more time writing.

In fact, I am so excited about writing my novel right now I can hardly stand to talk about anything else (other than politics, of course).

I worked to line up a press conference for the governor today. Wow. Crazy stuff.

But, I'm writing. Just not here. But, I have lots of things to share -- if you are still here, that is.

Are you here? I know I dropped a lot of readers in the last several months. That's depressing! I need to know some of you are here. What's your Twitter name -- leave in comments!!

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One minute: Take Action

If you work, do you spend a lot on child care? Are you a stay at home mom because child care was going to cost too much or not be of satisfactory quality?

If yes to any, or if you know someone who can say yes, take just one minute to make an impact today.

Go here and speak up.

Thank you.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

How Daring Can you be?

My last post was a true confession about how hard it is for me to let go of the girls and start letting them learn for themselves the consequences of life's challenges.

I am committed to doing that.

But, I'm equally attracted to offering them as many educational and cultural experiences as possible. Just yesterday I was telling them hello in six different languages and playing Spanish music. I want, for them, many of the things I didn't have as a kid.

I was recently honored to be asked to participate in a blog book shower for the next awesome book by Andrea L. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz. Last year, I wrote a review of their first "Daring Book for Girls," which I have proudly displayed on a shelf.

Now, I'm even happier to display next to it the next volume: "The Double-Daring Book for Girls."

For this shower, we were supposed to actually DO one of the activities. Well, I didn't want to just do it myself so I had to find one that was good enough for the girls, now 3, to do as well.

I chose rock stacking. I've been wanting to do some rock activities lately because there are so many of them out there circulating the blogs. I'm sure I played with rocks a lot as a kid but I don't recall ever stacking them like blocks.

We first went out with the girls' little pink wagons and collected some rocks in the back, backyard. They enjoyed that part alone.

Then we took them to the deck and just started stacking them. They lost interested in about five minutes but I kept stacking and stacking. I thought it was a ton of fun. I didn't realize the challenge it would be to make them stack higher and higher.

I was able to stack 8 rocks at the most. Can you beat that????? I'm supposed to challenge my readers to be my performance so if you have any luck, let me know in the comments, please!

Rock stacking a great multi-step activity to do because once you gather them, you can wash them and then paint them. Once painted, you can add pictures on them to depict story characters to tell stories outside (or inside on a rainy day).

And, if you want more cool things to try that are new, that might inspire you in some new way today, pick up the Double-Daring Book for Girls today.

It does rock. You'll be smarter for it, too. Just don't let your kids knock them over too soon.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On Writing and Motherhood

It's 6:15 a.m.

There are times when I realize that I could let them go a bit more, yes. But there are other times, especially lately, when ...

Hey, Mommy, Liana said next week about a movie and she got in my face.

I realize that this is my life, the constant interruptions of one or the other or this or that even when I do try not to intervene.

And so ...

Mommy? (Yes Liana) I want to wear my blip on my belly. What?

As I was saying, I am trying to ...

Mommy, I want to get a movie, too.

actually write and complete the novel that I have been ...

Mommy, I can get a movie; I want a movie.

working on for 10 years. I never finished it because, well, as a single woman and then as a childless wife suffering through infertility, I never had time.


Funny, that concept of time, isn't it? The best time lately for writing has been right around bedtime. I'm tired as all get out, but it's the only hour I have that's uninterrupted and quiet. The man is on the couch, watching TV, and the kids are USUALLY sleeping soundly.

Blaahhhh! (Jadyn pushes Liana)


And I wonder now what I was so busy doing way back then when life wasn't crazy like this?

Then again, I have more drive now than ever to finish it and I think it could be because of them.

Other things have helped me reach the 50,000-word mark as well lately. More on that later. Gotta be mom now.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Mothering? Or Smothering?

As my little babies turn, gradually, into little girls, my helicopter parenting skillz are apparent. They've always been exaggerated. We got to the part of the bike trail that overlooks a lovely, but roaring creek and I cringed telling them not to climb on the very large, very high metal fence. A foot could get stuck. They might fit through the two-inch slats. What if they do fall? They'll drown in the knee-deep water. (It was easily a 20-foot drop, by the way).

Part of the problem, I know, is that I was a news reporter. I wrote about a 14-year-old girl that was sucked under by an Amtrak train and killed. I wrote about the 4-year-old boy who was sucked down by a swollen creek after a hard rain. I interviewed many families who lost loved ones who were shot, stabbed, drowned, pushed down to their death and, yes, abused.

It's no wonder that I'm smothering. Or circling. Or hovering. Or standing too close. I've seen death at too many doors.

But, I'm trying. Always, always trying.

This week's inspiration will take you to two links: The Washington Post column I just read, and the author's blog as well.

It's a very good discussion. Makes me want to let my girls roam -- to the fenced backyard by themselves (while I watch from a window).

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Candles of Sharing -- A week of links

As I continue my journey to figuring out what I'm doing, I realized recently that while I love to surf the Internet, I rarely share any links anymore. I'm sorry for that.

For the next couple weeks, I'm going to light a candle for all of the inspiring posts I read and want to share. These will be on anything and everything that make me smile, or laugh, or just make me get up and start doing something new.

Here's a link for you to relish in all day, bathe in all week and perhaps dream about all year.

Thanks, Jena!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Worlds Apart -- A confession

Shh. I'm at work today and it's quiet and I'm alone. Everyone's out, busy, gone and not bugging me with insanity. And I'm taking it easy. Real easy.

Which means it's time to confess something to you.

I've been cheating. I've not been reading your mom blogs. Well, not much of them.

For the better part of the last two years, I've been reading and enjoying a whole other set of blogs that for the longest time I always admired from afar.

While being a mom is still prominent in my head, it's not what I am interested in writing about on this blog anymore.

The truth is that I am considering a change. A big one. And so, while I'll wait for this change to express itself to me, I'm leaving some space here. A pause.

Sit still with me for a while.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

What's your cause

I have always had strong opinions.

Really strong.

And, none of that has really changed much since I became a mother a little more than three years ago.

If anything, motherhood has helped me own my opinions even more, anchored them inside me and led me to feel pretty confident about some things (more than others).

Lately, I've realized I've been on a little advocacy kick.

I've had a few over the years. My first big thought was how my town NEEDED a cafe that was infant-friendly. You know, take out at the curb that wasn't McDonald's. Tables with lots of space for two car seat carriers, two high chairs and lots of room for bags of stuff. And, above all, open to families with crying babies. I had this place all picked out from the menu to the open play area that was age-divided so that parents could, ah, breathe and eat for just a few minutes.

Yes, I was dreaming a lot in my sleep-deprived days.

Lately, my kick has been something pretty expensive and dramatic and for the better of my community. A children's museum. A hands-on museum. Our city is pretty historic, but it's also faced with a plethora of issues, none of which I care to drone on about here but all of which are why we have been trying to sell our house and move to a less depressing neighborhood.

I tell everyone I meet in meetings, who is trying to better the city, that we need this museum, that it would help revitalize the downtown.

After all, I know plenty of moms who are, let's just say, EAGER to find things to do during the week and currently travel far and wide and pay $$ for these kinds of venues in other towns nearby.

I know, I have been one of those moms.

What's your cause? Anything you're working on either by word of mouth, or blogging or maybe even writing your State House of Representatives about??

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Scarlet "M"

For a long time, during my fights for the disadvantaged, I spent countless hours advocating for the underprivileged who were black, Hispanic, and poor.

I still make those same arguments now, in the working world, but I've added in mothers, too.

I wear the Scarlet M. Do you?

Where ever I go, it's there sitting on my chest. It's in my clothes. It's in my walk. It's in my head. Following me. Pulling me. Holding my hand.

Everything from automatic flushing toilets to the way parking lots are configured are clearly inventions and creations and engineering constructed only by men who were not fathers, or were fathers who were too busy creating a life outside of fatherhood.

And the paternalistic attitudes. I've seen them a lot lately. I've fought against them. I'm trying to tell the powers that be who are aging yet still full of cash about what they're missing. Of course, I'm doing it nicely, womanly, sweetly as possible. We're a new generation of mothers. A new generation of women.

But inside I'm angry, filling up with anger and ready to send outbursts into the air that say something like girls matter, women matter, mothers matter and what the hell are you thinking?
We're mothers; not poison, not caged animals. Not covered in snot. Not germy. My kids scream, so what? My kids cry, a lot, so what? I deserve to eat out, too, you know. I can't afford a babysitter for that stupid event. (And, hey, my girl twins are now peeing on the potty, ya'll!)

I'm on a destiny to change everything related to mothers and women and raising girls right now. Something's gotta give.

I wear the Scarlet M. Do you?

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Don't sweat the hard stuff/It's all hard stuff

I keep coming back to this thought about parenting. I imagine that for some people parenting (ie: handling the crying, choosing rewards over discipline and managing the minor stresses of how and when to roll over, stressing about the health and safety of it all) comes easy.

I would not be one of those mothers. First, I take everything too seriously. Second, I take everything too seriously.

I know this and have known it and yet I can't seem to find a good place or age when it just starts getting easier for me. Sure, 3 is easier than that first year. It's still easier than the second and third years.

Now, I realize that having two of the same age intensifies this feeling. And, I also know that since I'm dealing with the first born times two that I don't get that natural take-it-easy approach that usually tags along with the second and third borns. For us, it's all the first time and it's a bit frustrating that there are so little books for parents of twins dealing with discipline vs. rewards. You can't honor one and not the other without someone having their feelings hurt.

There are things about 3 that lead me to wonder ... is parenting always going to be this hard for me? Will I ever get to feel relaxed again? Stop worrying? Stop having to intervene.

It's been three solid years of changing diapers, worrying how to get them back in bed when they wake too early, trying desperately to get them to settle down for bed at bedtime in their shared room and making sure they get a healthy diet that does not include too many sweets.

I'm fairly sure that they are happy and smart and that we've done a great job thus far. But, I'm also fairly sure that I've made some bad mistakes, things I wish I could do differently -- for them and for myself.

Does anyone else feel this way? Not necessarily regret, but remorse.

Since I will not be getting a second chance at parenting a second born, I am going to dedicate this week to my advice for new mothers, especially new mothers of twins and how to deal with issues of rewards and discipline.

Because, seriously, we can't always sweat the hard stuff in parenting. Because it's all hard stuff -- if you ask me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bedtime Woes

When I started blogging, I had so much free time it was ridiculous. First, the girls napped twice a day. Then, as they got older and started taking just one nap, they were so enamored with their daddy that when he got home he consumed most of their bedtime routine, especially bath.

For the last several months, he has not been enough and my free time in the evenings has been zapped.

Bedtime woes, in fact, have been tormenting us lately though I think we've finally passed that stage and it's getting easier. I received lots of insight from people and never followed any of it.

We just rode it out because we're those kinds of parents. We've always done this the hard way -- the long way around. We'd rather sit in that chair and ride out the tantrums than leave and teach them a good lesson. (Though, secretly we complain the whole time that we need to teach them a lesson.)

I've written so much on this blog, but never our bedtime routine. It has changed over time, but mostly it's the exact same as it was when they started having a bedtime -- around 10 months or so. We've recently moved everything up by 15 minutes because we felt it was part of the problem and that did help a good bit.

Dinner at 6
Play until 6:45 (used to be 7)
Bath or wash up
Drink smoothie (eat snack if we're having one)
Read 2 or 3 books. (I'll list our favorites right now at the bottom)
Brush teeth
Blow out the light by saying 1-2-3 and blowing. (Twice for twins)
Turn on Turtle and Ladybug lights; play quietly for 5 or so minutes.
Turn them off, get in bed and Jadyn usually requires time in chair with us.
Snuggles and kisses
Asleep by 8:15 p.m.

This is usually when she fights or tantrums but has stopped that and is now sleeping through the night again! Whew!

Our favorite books lately have been these:

"Llama Llama Red Pajama," by Anna Dewdney"

"Are You My Mother?" by P.D. Eastman

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ten minutes to write

My brain is too cluttered to write anything coherent here. Am I writing for me, Shawn -- the one I've known forever? Am I writing for me, the mother? Am I writing for you? Am I writing for the new me, the working mother who's finally getting it together? Or, am I?

I haven't a clue, which is why I haven't been writing.

Not that I don't have anything to say; I'm just not sure how it fits. Or, perhaps, when I'm downstairs in the kitchen and think, "Wow, that's a great blog post" I'm often instantly sent in another direction to answer a question (because that's what it's like now) or to reason with a 3-year-old. And then my mind forgets the good idea. Or, I walk to the computer to write and then I get stuck on Facebook, which reminds me of the past and soon I'm walking down memory lane and getting stuck. And then tired.

And, where was I?

Lately, my good ideas have been centered around the me I am now, the one I've talked about lately -- the one closest to the everyday me.







Breathe deeper.

Let your ears fall away from your neck.

Hug your husband.

Giggle with the silly girls.

Write with no strings or purpose. Just do it.

Be patient with yourself.

Be even more patient with others.

Lower your expectations.

Forgive yourself. The things you've said. What they're saying now.


Stay awake.

Create. With your hands.


Find peace. Know peace. Hold peace.


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Monday, February 16, 2009

The image in the mirror

I've looked long and hard at myself lately in reflections in the microwave or the dirty car window and even in the mirror. I'm surprised to see myself there because I hardly recognize the person in front of me.

She has lines of aging and sagging skin around her greenish brown eyes that used to be the highlight of her face.

Her teeth, more yellow now than ever, have shifted in their roots and are now crooked where they never were before.

She's heavier. Her clothes hardly fit. Even the new, bigger ones.

The sight is not pretty, and it leaves me wondering where did I go wrong? All of this has happened in the last three years. Some, in the last year or two.

Is it too late to reverse the signs of aging, I wonder?

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Thursday, January 29, 2009


Dear Jadyn and Liana:

Don't ever accept less. Don't ever give up. You're worth full price. Always. Even after 180 days or a 180 years. Even if it isn't convenient for employers. Even if it will make a few overpaid thinkers whine. The world sides with you today.



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Sunday, January 25, 2009

The anti-parenting world we live in

I've been lucky that my job is very flexible toward the fact that I am a mother first and foremost in this life right now.

That does not mean that I haven't had to make some very tough decisions, mainly regarding how to leave a meeting late and still get to the girls somewhat on time. (You see, I start to stress that they are sitting in the dark center alone, getting scared and worried that I'm not coming for them. Yes, I have issues.)

Truthfully, I do worry about running late. I worry about how to get to the car out of the garage and not get stuck in the rush hour traffic, then hurry to pick them up and rush home to also make dinner as they starve and cling and cry at my legs. In fact, that last hour before dinner is often my most frantic and stressful. Even when I'm not late and mostly prepared.

Some days are worse than others and leave me wondering about who sets the agenda:

  • 7:30 a.m. meetings.
  • Working sessions at 3:30 p.m. that last two hours, and include dinner.
  • Non-child friendly venues like ballrooms instead of ball parks.
  • Evening invitations. Period.
  • An inauguration that outlawed strollers.
  • Bathrooms without diaper changing areas.
  • Restaurants without kids menus.
  • Diapers and milk buried at the BACK of the stores.
  • New Year's Eve celebrations that don't include families with children.
  • Happy Hours.
The other day at the dinner meeting in the middle of the afternoon, an old acquaintance who saw I was not eating asked me if I cook dinner every night.

"Um, yes," I wanted to say. "Isn't that what all mothers do or should do or try to do?"

"Yes, I try," I said to her.

She shook her head in disbelief.

Perhaps the bar, even for myself, is to high, I thought as I was stuck in traffic afterward, stressing about how I'm already late to get them and don't have anything really easy planned for dinner.

I experienced a slight epiphany as the setting sun burned into my eyes.

I need to relax.

So, I'm declaring this week as Mama's Week Off From Cooking. The dinners are so easy they can practically make themselves. The agenda is to have fun and be healthy -- without eating out, without spending a fortune and without a bunch of fuss.

And, of course, still be Mama -- because I can't be anything else right now.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

There are no words

Thank you. Thank you for this day. It's a new day. A new path. A new light.

It's your turn.

It's our turn.

Onward with peace, prosperity and fairness for ALL.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


One of the most peculiar aspects of returning to work after just two years is the fact that I see people I haven't seen in years at meetings.

And we look at each other. I know them because they haven't changed, for the most part.

Me? I've changed like a dozen times -- all because I'm a mother now. I don't see things the same. I'm in a different crowd. Instead of bars and fancy restaurants, we can be found at Target, Lowe's and the local grocery store on a Saturday evening.

So, it's been interesting watching people's reaction as they realize that first I was gone from the scene for a while and now I'm back.

But it's nice having a voice again. It's nice being heard. Listening. Solving problems more complex -- but twice as easy as -- than helping two preschoolers share a new birthday toy or convincing a 3-year-old not to get out of bed and yell for us five times in one night.

It's still true that there is no harder job than being a mother -- a parent. At least, not in my experience.

That makes working again kind of difficult. It's hard for me to take anything too seriously. It's hard to watch people with minor problems freak out. It's hard to see single people call themselves busy. It's hard to see why the childless can't get stuff done.

Still, my inability to take command of my parenting skillz is nothing compared to the problems we deal with in this state government job. It's really easy by 4:30 to drop everything and rush to pick up my girls, knowing that at the end of the day, that's the highlight, the prize, the pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow.

OK, not a pot of gold ... a couple cranky 3-year-olds who make me chase them around the school before I have to pin them down and force them into their winter coats, gloves and hats, and then shove them out teh door to the car, where they cry all the way home and cling to my leg until I get their dinner on the table and then they just shove it away and cry some more and I start to want to pull my hair out and start feeling despair and frustration and vowing to never, ever, ever, ever make another meal again.

It's right about then that I start thinking, "Oh, good, I work tomorrow."

It's not perfect, but it's my life.

And, in other news, I'd like to thank Kisatrtle for honoring me with a One Lovely Blog Award. That just rocks ... it's been a while since I got a blog award.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Six Surprising Things

After missing all of last week due to Jadyn having a very bad sinus infection that wasn't diagnosed for treatment to start until New Year's Day, I had high hopes for Monday. The Highest.

Here's what I didn't expect:

  1. That I'd wake Monday morning with a half-closed left eye and two swollen, red eyes.
  2. That I'd end up at the doctor's office, for myself, not once, but twice this week.
  3. That I'd master putting eye drops in my eyes, and still dread each one.
  4. That I'd use this opportunity to stop and write, even when I could barely see the computer screen.
  5. That my daughter would, after many near-misses, actually leave her bear blanket at school accidentally. Oh, the heartache.
  6. That nearly all of our 20 invitations for the third birthday party have been accepted!
And, what I did expect was this: To order cupcakes for the party. And, then I haven't gotten to do that yet.

So, this puts me right around ... oh, shoot mode.

Still, not caring because my girls are turning 3 and some fantastic friends of theirs -- and mine -- are planning to attend. And, since my vision is clearing up, I just might see them.


And, here's Six Surprising Things that comes along with two 3-year-old girls.

  1. Jadyn leaning on the wall, quietly, talking to a pretend person about her day. Visions of teenager-hood snapped me awake.
  2. Here Mommy (as Liana proceeds to hand me everything I don't need and do need even when I don't need it and yet half the time she's right and I'm wrong).
  3. Pushing (up the stairs, at the counter, to get to me, etc.) and fighting (still!)
  4. "I'm not talking to you, Mommy." (OK, whatever!)
  5. "I'm talking to you, Mommy"
  6. Fights over still wanting to wear Pampers diapers -- with Elmo on the front, not just the back.
Ah, the drama. I love it!

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Letting the chapters flow

If I wish it enough. If I long for it enough. If I will it to come my way by whispers and desires. If I dream it. If I survive it. If I wake up day after day with the same nightmare -- that I didn't achieve it.

If I weren't so tired. If I didn't have dishes to wash or lists to make.

After I work out. After I make the bed. After I drink my coffee. After I gather our things.

Once I start, I'll begin. Once I start, I'll know. Once I start, it will come.

Just sit down.

Just sit down and type.

Just sit down and type what comes and eventually the words, the dreams, the ideas, the creativity will fill me up like a balloon.

I can't live without blogging.
I can't not write for me, for you, for us.
I can't live a life without words drifting effortlessly, endlessly, ungrammatically, on these pages.

This is about finding soul and passion again. This is about reaching inside and turning a life of routine and office cubicles and constant emails on its side and starting again.

Again. Again. Again. So many agains.

Happy Writing, my friends!

Photo credit: Katarina2353

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Transitions and drama

Later this week, Jadyn and Liana will turn three.

They've been three for a while already with their demands and wants and emotional dramatics. At least that's what I've been telling myself, hoping that this phase will end.

While I've been busy being their Mama, I couldn't help finally take some time to reflect on last year and what it meant to me. On one hand, it was crazy dealing with two little girls. On the other, I did manage to meet some goals and accomplish something other than a diaper change.

(Potty training was NOT one of those accomplishments, unfortunately).

In fact, if you look at my list of goals for 2008, I think I did OK. The truth is that once I was published in a national glossy magazine -- and then two more -- I felt I had reached a true milestone. I also doubled by freelance income for the third year in a row.

And then I took a job I knew little about and the story has changed dramatically.

I've been thinking about that decision I made and wondering if it was the best for me.

I'm not sure. There's parts of the job that fit me well; there are others that leave me unsettled. For one, I am not the star and never would be. That's hard for me to admit, but it is true. It's hard to aspire to be your best when often you're just an afterthought.

Still, I like it enough and the boss is cool. I think I'll be able to rebound this week with a yet another evolved MamaWriter, someone who knows that writing is her truest path. That is what I have to do and even when I have other things to do.

I didn't write 2,000 words a month let alone a week last year. I didn't produce an ezine. I didn't send out one query for my novel. I didn't even finish my novel. Though, I did get an agent interested in reading it. Shame on me for not staying up late at night to finish it.

When I'm ready, I'll do it. When it's in me, I'll exhale it out.

For now, I'm still Mama to two very sweet, very demanding little girls who couldn't care less if their Mommy writes a book or not.

So long as I read them a book, it's all good.

And, really, that's enough for me.

Most of the time.

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