Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Biker Babe

The indecisiveness gene runs rampant in my side of the family much like skin that doesn't tan well, long eyelashes, and the ability to stand on one leg at the kitchen counter while resting the other foot on the inner thigh of the standing leg--just a little trait that I've inherited from my mother and grandma.

Kate has inherited the inability to decide what she wants and so when Mike's mom handed her a wad of cash to buy herself a bike for her 4th birthday present, Kate deliberated long and hard.

Every store we went into for the past month she has tried out the bikes, riding each and every one. In the world of bikes, especially those designed for children, there really isn't much variation, but apparently Kate was holding out for the one that had a massaging seat, a microwave and surround sound.

It wasn't until this past weekend that she finally purchased the bike and that was only becuase after we left church I announced, "Kate, today you are buying your bike." At this point it was like the heavens opened for her declaring it THE DAY to buy one and she exclaimed loudly, "Daddy! Take me to Toys R Us!"

For the 900th time in the past 30 days, she rode each and every bike in the store that was designed for small people. She zoomed around the bike section with ease. I was ready to urge the purchase along when her father who thinks it's perfectly fine to do dangerous activities like fish on a dock with no lifejacket, eat hard candy, and ride BIG bikes when you're 4 years old, said to her, "Hey Kate...look at THAT bike. It's princess and it's BIG. You're a BIG kid and you can ride a BIG bike."

Insert gasps of horror here from my mouth. I protested! She couldn't ride a big bike! She would fall! She would break a bone!

She did though. She zoomed around the bike section like she was on a tricycle. And later, once it was home and put together, she zoomed down our driveway, breaking like an expert.

With her helmet on, her tennis shoe clad feet peddled away from me quickly. She laughed as she rode off laughing at her silly mother who was trying to jog to keep up with her in Birkenstocks.

"Stay to the left!" I cautioned.

"Don't turn too fast!" I warned.

It didn't take much watching to realize that she didn't really need me to bark orders. She was good. My baby was taking off with one more step towards independance.

Today it's riding with training wheels. Down the road it will be riding bikes to Dairy Queen with a friend. Then going to a school dance...then a date...then college.

She is my baby and when she hopped on that bike I realized that although I've known she isn't a baby anymore, she really isn't even a toddler anymore, either. She's a little girl. And she's growing up...too quickly.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


There are a few constants that I've always known about my mother.

1. She never likes to go anywhere without full hair and makeup done.

2. She's a vitamin, organic, anything health related fanatic.


3. She cannot swim, is terrified of water, and can barely stand water on her head in the shower.

So, imagine my surprise yesterday after I told her we were going to go swimming at our neighbor's pool, she said, "I think I'll come with you."

Now, our neighbor's pool is all one depth across. The water only comes to my mom's stomach, but last summer, this caused her great anxiety. The kids even tried to reason with her that should she accidentally be put under water SHE COULD STAND UP. This did nothing to console her.

And if the fear of water isn't enough, my mom worries about sunscreen, sunburn, the kids needing a snack, the kids needing a drink. Making sure the kids don't swallow pool water, making sure I know that The Early Show told everyone that showering immediately after swimming in a pool is a necessity because of all the chemicals that are on your skin.

Hello, anxiety personified!

This summer L and O have become very comfortable in the water. They're always jumping in and have almost gotten the hang of swimming underwater. They also like to get on rafts and then fall off and bob back up to the top. This all causes my mom to hyperventilate at the sight since she knows that she would drown if she were pushed off a raft...you know, because she'd forget to stand up.

Olivia was floating along on a tube and was near the ladder. My mom happened to be standing next to the ladder and Olivia flipped herself over off the raft. Half way across the pool, I had Kate on a raft pushing her around. She saw Olivia fall off and started screaming because Kate isn't a fan of going underwater and so she thinks everyone else must be afraid, too.

Suddenly, my mom slips into panic mode where she says, "Oh my gosh!" and then throws her hands up in the air. I'm still trying to figure out why my mom is freaking out when she reaches into the water and pulls Olivia out of the water by her hair.

Um, really? Is this how the Red Cross wants people to save swimmers? Hair pulling?

Olivia came out of the water SCREAMING because her grandmother was pulling her hair out by the roots.

Trying to figure out what was going through my mom's head at this point, I ask her why she would pull Olivia's hair and she answered, "Because Olivia was screaming for help. She was drowning."

I pointed out that Olivia had fallen off on purpose, was underwater on purpose, and wasn't screaming. If she were screaming, would we have heard her? The screamer was her sister who decided to be terrified for no reason.

My mom's reply? "Ooops."

That's all--just ooops.

Ironically, with all this fear of water, my parents live on a lake. I don't know how she lives that close to deep water every day. She says it's peaceful. Go figure.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

36 years

Tomorrow is my 36th birthday.

It may sound cliche, but I truly do not feel 36. I don't know what age I do feel exactly, but in my mind it's a lot younger than what I am. Most of the time I forget how old I am until one of my kids ask me, or if I'm at the doctor's office and someone asks me.

This birthday I'm feeling a bit melancholy and it's not because I'm getting older. I'm dreading this next year, but it isn't because it brings me one year closer to turning 40. I'm just afraid that this next year will take people away from me that I love--specifically my grandpa and my best friend, Julie.

As I write this, my grandpa is in the hospital with a heart condition that so far hasn't been brought consistently under control. He is 83 and I know that is a very long time to live, but it isn't enough for me. My grandpa has always been there first for my mom, then for me, and now for my kids. I want to hold on to him and I want him to live forever. When I think of the future, I don't picture him not there for my kids' graduations, their years of college and their weddings. In reality, I know that the odds of him being here for all of that are slim, but it hurts my heart to think of a big family event happening without him. I am praying hard that God will just give us few more years with him.

My friend, Julie, is fighting cancer right now with every inch of her being. Today we celebrated her daughter's birthday and while I was enjoying the day, the shadow of cancer was ever-present in my mind. Will she be here next year to celebrate another birthday? Will her husband and daughter be forced to go on without her? How will I go on if she isn't here? I feel like cancer is slowly taking her away from us. It consumes her thoughts, it consumes her emotions, and it has very unfairly decided to consume her body. Every minute with her is precious. I've gone through this cancer journey with her for the past 2 years and until today, I have never thought about how I will react to her not being here. She can't leave. I feel like shaking my fist at God and screaming, "IT'S NOT FAIR!"

But, life isn't fair. Nobody gives us any guarantees. I'm so blessed with my family and with health, but I know now more than ever what I've been given is fragile. I know I don't appreciate it enough and I know I can never fully express to God my thankfulness for it all.

My prayer is that my 36th year is filled with good things. I want to bask in the joy of my life more. I want to stop and look with wonder at my children and how they're growing into wonderful people. Most of all, I want to keep everyone that I love in my life circle. If one of them were to be gone, it would leave a giant hole that I could never fill.

Monday, February 2, 2009

When I took a CPR class, I really never expected to use it. It's kind of like an insurance policy that you have just in case, but hope to never actually need it.

Today was a hectic day. Landon and Olivia don't go to Kindergarten until noon and today we'd had a very unstructured morning. These are great in some ways, but in others they can be bad. I end up puttering around the house like a turtle and don't realize that I need to get my rear in gear.

At 11:25, I was rushing the kids to finish their lunches, brush teeth and get dressed for school. I wasn't really paying attention when Olivia asked if she could have a "peppermint". I thought she was talking about the Hershey kisses we still have from Christmas time that have little bits of peppermint in them. What she was really talking about was a hard, round, peppermint.

I called her into the bathroom to do her hair and heard something rattling around in her mouth. I asked her what she was sucking on and she opened her mouth to reveal the slobbery white disc. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I don't let my kids have hard candy. Seriously, Jonah will be 12 in 10 days and I just started letting him have hard candy about 2 years ago. It scares me.

I almost made her spit it out, but figured she was being careful. She was standing in front of the mirror explaining to me how she'd like her hair today when suddenly, her mouth opened wide and she looked like she was trying to scream, only nothing was coming out. Then she pointed down her throat. I realized she was choking on the candy.

My brain when all fuzzy and crazy and I did the first thing I remembered from CPR which was smacking someone on the back. Later, I realized this is what I learned for INFANTS who are choking and not 6 year old children, but it didn't matter. I whacked her on the back so hard I'm surprised I didn't leave a bruise and the candy went flying out of her mouth, hit the bathroom mirror, and fell into the sink.

Her eyes were watering, she started to cry and I couldn't stop asking her if she was o.k. I was a mess, but she assured me she was fine and then said, "Please stop talking about it. I don't want to think about it anymore. I'm done with hard candy."


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

You gotta have goals in life

The other day as we were sitting in the parking lot at Jonah's school, Kate began counting school buses. She counted them about 5 times in a row and then declared, "When I grow up, I want to be a beautiful princess and a bus driver. I will drive a bus and wear huge panties."

I guess all that constant sitting on the bus causes your butt to get large!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just a week

It's unsettling how fast things can change in just a week.

Last Wednesday, I was at home trying to entertain the kids while we the first of 3 in a row snow days. Things were right in my world.

Within 24 hours, it was like someone put me in a blender and messed everything up. Thursday night I found out that on of my best friend's cancer has returned. She was diagnosed almost 2 years ago with breast cancer and with her usual determination, kicked it rather easily considering all she had to go through. And now, she's facing an even bigger challenge and is fighting for her right to watch her daughter grow up.

I've gone through all sorts of emotions and feelings and thoughts and what keeps coming back to me is, "How to I cope with losing someone who has been a constant in my life for the last 11 years?"

I hate cancer. I hate what it does to people and I hate how it hurts families. I hate it so much that the other night I was alone in my house and I screamed and cried so long that I didn't really have a voice anymore.

I've always known that life is fragile, but this has made an impression on me that will never go away.

Today, her church as declared to be a "prayer vigil" for her. Please pray for Julie. She needs a miracle.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Today it really hit me that my kids have no idea how good they have it. It's not that we have a lot of money, or that they get every single thing they could ever want because that is not the case. What they don't realize is the reality of how so many other kids in the world--kids that they go to school with, have to live.

On more than one occasion recently, I've been talking with two of my friends about how sad the conditions are for children who live literally right under our noses. All I have to do is walk into my children's school and the reality hits me like a brick.

There are kids who are dirty. These are little kids who don't know to hop in the tub or shower on their own. They're at the mercy of their parents who don't make sure their hair and bodies are clean and don't worry about washing their clothes. There are kids that are hungry whose families don't have enough money to buy food.

One friend of mine was telling me about the living conditions of a little girl she and her husband had befriended because this little girl just seemed sad all the time. Her living conditions were despicable...trash everywhere, dishes everywhere, constant lice, and only a bare mattress and pillow with a wadded up blanket to cuddle with at night.

What kind of future do kids who have to grow up like this really have? Can they possibly ever get ahead in life? It breaks my heart that at such a young age their futures are bleak.

I'm not saying that these kids aren't loved. Many times the parents just don't know any other way. It's sad that the cycle seems to continue generation after generation.

Tonight when I tucked my kids in and said prayers with them, I asked them, "Do you know how blessed you are to have a warm, clean, cozy bed?" They told me that they did, but I don't really know if they truly get it. Their innocence, in some ways, is keeping them from realizing what life for some can be like.

So, I guess in many ways, I am torn. Do I want my children to fully appreciate their lives and be thankful? Yes. However, do I want to remove the veil of innocence from their eyes so they can truly grasp what life can be like? No.

In the meantime, I guess I'll just have to keep giving them gentle reminders to be thankful and be ready for questions that I really can't answer when they wonder why someone has to live like that.