Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tis' the Season to Remember The Special Moments

Reminder to self: in all the chaotic busyness of the holiday season, tis' the time to enjoy and embrace those moments that truly make the season special...

My son and his Kindergarten class singing holiday songs to a group of senior citizens at a senior residence.

The boys keeping track of the days until Santa comes with the Advent Calendar.

Watching my oldest son decorate the tree with his Dad while Christmas music plays in the background.

The Baby's first Christmas stocking. This is Baby's First Christmas, after all.

These special moments are truly what this season is all about.

Of course, I may just have to print this blog entry and carry it with me to remind myself as I'm speeding through the Home Goods store picking up last minute Christmas gifts...

What have been the special moments for you this holiday season?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'll Get To It Next Tuesday...

No really, I will. I promise. I have every good intention to get to those things I promised I'd get to. Such is my life. Between daily school pickups and baby holdings - the little now 9 month old wants to stand now more than anything, which he can't do by himself so I'm constantly holding him. Between nursing sick kids and running to the supermarket. Between typing up PTA minutes and cleaning house. Not to mention writing book reviews, doing laundry - loads of it - and working on my Great American Novel that will bring me a six-figure advance and make it so my hubby can retire and spend more time with me and the kids...

This is why our roofing project is taking months to even begin. As the roofing guy calls me every other day inquiring, I've constantly found myself thinking over the last several months as I'm scurrying around fulfilling the daily duties, "I'll get to it. I promise. By next Tuesday - the latest." Of course, next Tuesday comes and goes. And so does the Tuesday after that, and so on. And next thing you know it's been four months. Waiting for the check from the insurance company, finally getting the check, set to hand it over a week later to our roofing company when I glance at said check and it has the wrong information on it (why didn't I notice this two weeks ago?) so we have to send it back to the insurance company in order for them to reissue the check. More weeks of waiting as the roofing company guy calls in every two days. The check finally arrives and we have to get it endorsed by the bank that our mortgage is with. Unfortunately the only office that exists in Colorado that can do that is about 90 minutes south of us. And it goes on...a roofing project that was set to begin in early summer still hasn't begun. Now I've got to find the number to the roofing guy - it's been awhile since he has ceased to call me. He might have given up on us.

Between all of that...there are the details of daily life. Only so many hours which is why things take longer to do...not just the roofing project...but the clothing project - whereby I gather all the clothes in our house, organize, launder and give half of it away...and the garage project - whereby hubby and I go through the "stuff" in our garage to make room for the car to actually park in it - what a novel idea?...the painting project - whereby we paint our living room the beautiful light gray color we've chosen 5 months ago -- the gray sample is still painted on one wall surrounded by the original color...and the PTA minutes that were due two weeks ago...

And now the holidays are looming...with an additional set of tasks to do... and people are threatening to visit...I really don't have the time to wait until next Tuesday, even though the To- Do List hasn't gotten any shorter.

Ah...if only Santa could come to our house so the kids can sit on his lap while Santa's assistant snaps a picture for the grandparents as we go shopping for holiday gifts and the tree right in our garage next store and decorate the house full on and send those recently purchased gifts to family far away at the post office next to our garage (I can only wish!), and hire a chauffeur to pick up my kids from school, and an assistant to help me manage the family administrative duties, there's a good chance that I could possibly get things done by next Tuesday...

Ah...I can dream can't I?

Okay...please share...how do you do it all?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Be Still...

"Can't you just be still?" I ask my 5 year old as his legs swing back and forth in a frenzy as he sits on the couch. His feet are hitting the bottom of the couch as I lean against it and it's driving me a little crazy. This is not the first time I've asked him to be still. When he's running (or galloping) back and forth from the family room to the dining room for what seems like the hundreth time, I ask him the same thing. The constant, sometimes frenzied moment drives me a little batty. I can't concentrate. Too many movements going on.

It's like he can't help it. In different moments when I ask him, he just gives me this look as his arms are swinging back and forth or he's twirling in a circle, as if to say "I can't help it. I can't be still."

I will sometimes even test him. "Can you be still for a moment? Let me see you be still. Let's try it." And he tries it, but he can only hold that body of his still for a minute, before his arm starts to twitch or his head starts to move up and down again.

The rare times that he is still? When he is watching something on t.v. that he is really interested in or when he is concentrating on a task that he is working on. When he is focused.

The same applies to my 3 year old.

As I watch both their constant, frenzied movements today -- I think of myself. Though physically I am still for moments throughout the day, even a couple of hours as I sit on the floor with my 8 month old or while I'm driving back and forth in the car, I'm not still, really. My mind is constantly racing and my emotions are going as fast as my mind as they spike up and down as I react to the different situations that I find myself in.

I am reminded of a biblical scripture. God talking to his people and telling them to "Be still and know that I am God." The implication (in my mind) being that He is big and can handle anything, from the simplest of your worries to the grandest of your problems. Be still and reflect on me. The solution will come. The very act of reflecting requires focus and in order to be truly focused one needs to be still.

It dawns on me that I am not still enough to be focused. Maybe when I'm writing my blog or updating my Facebook page or writing an email. Basically, when I'm writing or posting on my computer. That is when I'm not just physically still, but mentally and emotionally still as well because I am so focused. And yet I that's not truly still, is it? True stillness requires a little bit more, I believe.

I think when I am reading a book, I almost reach that place of true stillness because I am the most relaxed and the most content.

Is God looking at me like I look at my two older boys? Does he wish to say "Too much movement, Melanie. Just relax."

The difference...my boys are kids with boundless energy. They need a couple of outlets. Also, it's joyful movement in opposed to my frenzied movement which can stem from worry or just "doing, doing, doing" all the time. The city girl in me expects to be in constant motion. After all I grew up in an urban surrounding of constant movement (i.e. rushing people, speeding subways, etc.) Not that there's anything wrong with "doing" or moving. There's a sense of accomplishment when we're doing the tasks set before us on a daily basis, and completing them.

Yet, there's an amazing benefit to just being still. In a relaxed way.

There's that laser focus one gets to partake in. You get to witness and see what's really before you (or within you) when you are still. In my case, I get to connect with my surroundings, with words, with others, with myself, with God. I get to experience contentment.

Moments of stillness can be so good.

Right now I'm picturing those moments when we, my family of five of are lying cuddled against each other in The Parents bed on a Sunday morning or when I'm just sitting on the back patio, surrounded by quiet, looking towards the mountains.

Perfect, utter stillness.

Feels so good even in this moment as I sit here on the floor...

...moments before the 5 year old gallops by me being pulled by the 3 year old from the family room to the dining room.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Spontaneous Moment

This past Friday night, hubby and I and our oldest son - the 5 year old - were playing around, trying to sit on each others laps. Hubby sat down on chair in front of computer, I sat on hubby and then our oldest sat on my lap. We were stacked like a couple of blocks. I then thought wouldn't this make a funny picture but I couldn't get to my camera, being "stacked" between the boys as I was. Looking at the computer, I realized that it had a cool feature called "Photo Booth". So I activated it, and using our Macbook's built in web cam, starting taking pictures. My 5 year old thought that this was the coolest most hilarious thing because not only did the computer "take" our picture (with virtual flashbulb), after each picture you could see the actual photo taken, like in a real life photo booth. And so my 5 year old went crazy and pushed the button and the Macbook took picture after picture...and of course we started going a little nuts striking poses and making faces. Who cared that we weren’t prepped to take photos with our wild, mussy hair and extremely casual clothes. We even pulled the 3 year old son into the fun. And few seconds later, I stepped out and then came back with our 8 month old son, and the fun continued and would have continued if it hadn't been time for bed. It was such a good time.

There was lots of laughter and funny faces, which in the moment warmed my heart because I realized that for the last several weeks had been a mostly stressful, serious time for our family. The 5 year old has been dealing with rejection, teasing, meanness and loneliness at school while I've been dealing with being overwhelmed and tired with all the motherhood and household duties along with financial stresses and school worries (due to my son's stresses) and dear hubby was dealing with the same issues as me just replace family business with with heavy work responsibility. A mainly serious time marked with anxiety, short tempers, frustration and a bit of crying (from both kiddos and The Mommy).

That moment - our “photo session” - was the first time in awhile that wasn't marked with worries, frustration or discouragement. A pure fun time. Just 5 minutes of stress-free pure happy.

So much fun to hear sincere, boisterous laughter coming from my 5 year old and to see my 3 year make the funny poses (he was cracking himself up) with his magnetic school box and to see huge grins on the faces of The Parents (as seen through the photos we took). Mommy and Daddy are smiling. Really, smiling. Wow! The little 8 month old just took it all in stride, as he usually does.

In the midst of the serious busyness of our life we had a spontaneous five minute moment of pure, unalduterated joy.


Here’s hoping for more of these moments. We need them.

Have you had any spontaneous moments of joy lately? What were they? Please share, because I would love to hear them. Mine warmed my heart, I’m sure hearing yours will do the same.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Keeping Up with My 365 Project...

Funny how time just flies.  And how challenging it can be to keep up with a project you've committed to.  My 365 Project continues (I'm impressed that I'm still hanging in there)...below are a few new favorites that I just posted to my 365 album on Facebook.   More "beautiful accidents"...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Softie With An Edge

Today, my 3 year old son looked at me with doe-like eyes and asked "Mommy...can i have more cereal?" He had already had 3 previous helpings so the answer was clearly "no", especially since it was the cinnamon/sugary kind of cereal.

I responded "Yes, but this is the last portion you are going to have of cereal. Okay?" He nodded his head enthusiastically and ran to the table. Of course I said that the last time he asked for cereal for the third time (a half an hour before).

When did this tough city chick turn into a softie?

My hubby jokes with me every now and then, stating "You've lost your edge. That urban edge in you is gone." The edge being that urban "toughness" that I grew up having. The one I acquired while living and growing up in New York City. It's not a rudeness, just a tough, "I don't take no stuff" kind of attitude. One that tells others, "Don't mess with me. I know what's going on." It's a form of confidence that sometimes is acquired after having navigated your way through city living for many years -- whether you find yourself walking down a sketchy street in the middle of The Bronx (or Manhattan or Brooklyn, take your pick) or as you're pushing your way through the throngs of people you're surrounded by on your way to work. There is sort of a facade you acquire in order to handle the throngs of pushy (sometimes rude) people and the speedy cabs/cars that are constantly "almost" hitting you while you cross the streets on the way to work, home or whatever destination you're headed to.

After 4 moves in 6 years -- each move taking us futher away from living in the city, hubby delights in taunting me (in a lighthearted way). We've lived in two small towns and now a bigger, college town so it's been awhile since I have lived in the city. My many years in the Bronx seem almost foreign to me. Though it's funny, when I go back to visit, I go right back to having my tough edge (with a few holes in it).

"No, I haven't!" I say back defensively . "Never. I'm tough, city girl. You can take the girl out of the "city" but not the "city" out of the girl."

Except when I look into my son's eyes (any one of the three sons at any given moment) or I get the sweet request for a third glass of chocolate milk or a snack from their favorite fast food joint (I actually go out of my way to get them those mandarin oranges from Wendy's upon a moment's request!).

Am I a softie or is it a mama thing?

Right now my 3 year old is laying on me, insisting that my arms be around him as he watches his favorite t.v. show. I give in and put one arm around him as I decide to continue to type this blog entry with one hand (no easy feat for me). A few years ago, the person who wanted my affection in such a moment would just have to wait until I was done. Not anymore, I guess...

Ah...what birthing three babies has done to me (and possibly all those years living outside of the uban jungle). This tough, no-nonsense city girl is putty these days.

Maybe I have lost my edge?

Okay, I wouldn't quite say "lost".

Just call me a softie...with an edge.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A New Love

As a writer, I have an extreme love for words. They are my passion. Letters make me smile. Film is a close second.  I love seeing images on the big screen (and small screen).   My heart warms when I see the open credits of a movie. I can't help it.  I wait in anticipation to see what's coming up next.  I have a deep love and appreciation for both. 

Photos are great too.  I could look at photo albums all day -- mine's as well as other people's.     Recently, I have embarked upon a personal 365 photography project, an idea I stole from my dear friend Gina, at The Daily B.   Commit to taking one photo a day, for 365 days.  I'm not a photographer by any means, and was attracted to the idea because of how I could chronicle my year in photos, one day at a time.  And I was curious as to what kind of pictures would come from me - a little personal experiment.   What kind of eye do I have?  Do I even have one?

Well, to my huge surprise, as I embark on this project, I find that I am developing a deep love and appreciation for photos.  Like with words and moving pictures.  Who knew?  As I chase my kids around the house with the camera, I realize I am so excited.   I found a new love. 

Below are a few of my favorites from my 365 project -- I call them my "beautiful accidents" because there are days where I just luck out and get a cool photo:

Have you found a new "love"?   A hobby or task that just excites you?  Please share.  Would love to hear about it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hello, This City Girl's Glad to Read You

I read an article this week, thanks to Gigi over at Kludgymom.com, on 10 networking tips for new bloggers and what stood out to me was the bonus tip which suggested you read 2-3 blogs for each follower that you have. That excited me because I'm a reader. As I live and breathe, I also read. Truly. It's why I write book reviews for a national magazine and it's why if I do nothing else in my day besides take care of the kiddos and the hubby and check in on Facebook, reading is definitely what gets done. It even comes before my writing sometimes, I'm almost ashamed to say, and writing is up there on my list of the top three things I'm passionate about.

So seeing this tip, I thought, I can definitely do this and I went about setting a goal. Based on my 11 followers it would mean reading between 22 and 33 blogs per week which equates to about 3 to 4 blogs a day. Something I can actually do while holding my baby, who refuses to be put down for any reason whatsoever, and feel like I'm doing something productive (not that holding the baby isn't, of course). At the same time, I get to enjoy my favorite pasttime. Not to mention getting some adult interaction. Being with my three adorable boys all day limits my conversation to "more cheese crackers?" and "how many stars is Dora holding up now?" I look forward to adult exchanges, via email and blog comments. I think too, what a great way for me to connect with my fellow bloggers, especially since I still feel so green within this new blog world I'm in.

And I get to leave comments on the blogs that move me, another favorite thing to do of mine's.

I'm excited for this goal. Excited to expand my network of blog friends. Excited mostly to meet and get to know new blog friends. The idea of "networking" doesn't move me but meeting and making new friends within the blog community does which will make the networking thing eaiser to bare I suspect.

Even as I write this, I feel that excitement rising through me. I can't wait.

I take out a sticky note and write down my goal. I stick it to a spot on my laptop.

Here I go.

Yes! I look forward to reading (your blogs) and meeting you all.

Friday, September 24, 2010

More From My Butterscotch Babies...

Noah, Rhys & Owen: Grabbing At Straws (and other things...): "I grab at straws and the remote and the spoon The Mommy feeds me formula with and The Daddy's glasses. I like The Daddy's glasses. And I li..."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cool Blogger Gadget: How To Cook Anything

So as I was browsing through widgets and gadgets, I found this nifty little gadget called "How To Cook Anything". For those of you who are cooking challenged (that would be me), consistently running out of ideas for meals or find yourself in a quandry because you have various ingredients in your pantry but don't what to make out of them (me, again) and you don't have time to go to the store to supplement, here is a quick way to get recipe ideas in the moment with the ingredients that you have on hand. All you need to do is plug in the ingredients that you want to cook with and this gadget will lead you to some mouth watering recipes. At your fingertips.


Feel free to use mine's or you can find it through Blogger.com in their gadgets section. If you have a blog through Blogger you will find it on your Dashboard, under "Design". Just click the "Add gadget" box and it is under the section labeled "More gadgets."


Friday, September 10, 2010

The Resident Grouch

I hesitate to write this.  Even to admit to this.  Okay, here goes. 

Every day at around 4:30p, the resident grouch comes to visit me.  Actually, it takes over my body and stays until about 6:30p/7:00p or until the children go to bed.  Its visits are pretty consistent these days, especially after a long day of driving (2 kid pick-ups) and time out and about with the kids.  

Funny thing is, I'm fine throughout the day.  A mostly perfect Zen Mama is who I am.  Milk spills, I'm cool.  The cheese crackers fall on the ground, I'm fine.  The baby is screaming at the top of his lungs while driving back to pick up my oldest from school, I'm good.  Even the mini-tantrum that my 5 year old might try to pull after school to get his way.  I'm calm as I reach out my hand to take his, and speak soothingly to him about not always getting his way all the time.

Then once I'm home and have sat down for about fifteen minutes the grouch comes to visit. She's cranky and snippish and selfish.  She's tired of serving her hungry boys snacks and growls that this is absolutely the last helping of cheese crackers they are going to have before dinner. She's quick to send one son or the other to his bedroom, the second they gripe or complain or scream in protest.   She gripes at her husband (via email) when he mentions he has to work later than his usual time (this scenario is pretty much an every day thing this week).  She lets the baby cry and fuss just a bit longer than usual because she doesn't feel like picking him up and holding him in the moment.  This resident grouch pulls no punches.  

I'm not proud of the grouch.  I sometimes wish she would just not show up.  No visits, please.   I want to be peaceful, loving and kind all the time throughout the trials and tribulations of family and life.  But, with a consistency that matches the rising of the sun everyday, the grouch comes to visit.   The grouch wants nothing to do with anyone in the moment.  Sometimes the grouch just wants to curl up in a comforter and sleep.  Worst of all, it's not hard to see the grouch.  It at times makes itself crystal clear to the husband and kiddos.  Not my finest moments, I tell you.  

When the husband is finally home and the house is quiet and the older boys have been put to bed, then, only then, does the grouch decide to leave.  The zen mother sort of returns.  You see, the grouch doesn't really thrive in quiet, calm, non-stimulating places.  It rears its ugly head only during times of loudness and stress, after a long day, when the demands from the kids seem to supercede my quota of patience (not that there should be one, ever).  Ahhh...

The grouch is kind of hanging around now yet not so grouchy as I write this.  As my baby fusses in the other room and my middle son asks me to read him a book,  there's a war going on within me: resident grouch vs. zen mother.  The grouch is taking a stand - doesn't want to be bothered; needs to not do anything but meet her own needs.  Yet the zen mother is pushing back harder.  After a few minutes of fighting, zen mother has won this battle as I go to end this post and see to my crying baby.

The resident grouch concedes.  For now...  


Monday, September 6, 2010

Why Do I Obsess Over My Wood Floors?

Two years ago when my husband and I first looked at the house we live in now, what we noticed first was the endless stream of beautiful hardwood floors.  The flooring runs throughout the entire house like a main artery connecting our boys' bedrooms at one end of the house to the foyer and living room and onward to the master bedroom, the family room, dining area and ending in the kitchen.  I was smitten.  From the time my eyes laid upon those floors, I felt the house speak to me.  

Fast forward to the present and these smooth, hardwood floors are full of dents, nicks and (gasp!) a few small holes due to the endless dropping of toys and heavy objects by my two older boys.  Everything from the big dump truck to the small wooden trains to small chairs being toppled over, to a standard sized bowling pin (don't ask!).  I cringe as I'm writing this, remembering the scuffed white bowling pin being dropped on the floor by my then 2 year old. The sound of the pin hitting the floor felt like an explosion to my ears as I thought of the mark that would be left behind on the precious floors.   I just about died inside.  I know I blacked out for a moment. 

These smooth floors have now gained "character" my husband tells me.  I get that he's trying to make me feel good.  Put a positive spin on the situation. It's not quite working.  

Trust me, I'm not the materialistic type.  Really I'm not.  I don't need to have the latest of anything whether it's clothing or shoes or appliances or furniture.  I'm still trying to wear several clothing items that I obtained back in college twenty years back.  Items I should truly let go of and replace, especially since my body has changed due to having birthed 3 children in six years.   I just like having a nice home.  A neat, orderly, clean and beautiful oasis that we, as a family, can step into and breathe a sigh of relief.  One that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and inviting to all, friends and family alike, who walk into it.  

To me our dented wood floors are symbolic of a bigger issue and begs the question I often ask: can I have an attractive looking home while raising three children?  I've been told not to expect much now that I have kids.  To get used to the sticky walls, the rooms cluttered with toys and other bric-brac, the crayon-marked curtains, the scuffed floorboards.  To not even think of getting new or nice anything: furniture, art, appliances, until the children get older.  Really?  Do I have to wait more than a decade before my home is house beautiful again (my youngest is only 6 months)? Ten years feels like a long time. 

Honestly, I'm not looking for magazine house beautiful just a beautiful home.  I really believe I can have it, still.  Am I crazy to have that belief?  Am I holding onto a pipe dream?

If any of you have any advice or feedback, I gladly welcome it.

In the meantime, I'll continue living for the dream, as I run my finger over another gash in the floor.  Now where did this one come from?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Mother: The Past and Present Reminder

This past Monday, my mother arrived in Colorado to visit with us for week.  The two older boys are loving her being here.  So am I.  She has been my constant companion as I began the season of my life where I am dropping off and picking up my sons from school.  Since they both get out at different times, it has in moments felt like a private taxi service with me being the driver.  Not complaining of course, because since I am a fairly new driver, I need all the driving time I can get to become one with the vehicle and the road.  At least that's my thought.  It's working.  My turns have been less on the wild side lately. 

As I've been driving along the roads of Boulder to and from school, the mountains on all sides of us depending on which direction I'm driving in, it has been nice to have her sitting in the passenger seat next to me.  She is the Bronx to my Boulder (though I have to admit I'll always be a Bronx girl).  I realized today she represents my past...the life we both shared when I was growing up.  She is a die-hard city girl like me, having been born and raised in Manhattan. She moved to the Bronx when she was in her early twenties, when her family decided it was time to own their own home.  And now at seventy, she's still there.

She's the past to my now present.  

I left the car to pick up one son two days ago, with the radio channel on the mainstream/alternative music station playing songs the likes of John Mayer and Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty.  When I returned, she had switched the channel to a station playing Motown/soul to the likes of Marvin Gaye and the Stylistics.   Music that I grew up on. That I remember singing the words to when I was four years old walking around our two bedroom apartment that overlooked a major highway in the Southwest Bronx.   Along with old school hip-hop (she had that channel on previous to the Motown/Soul one), this was the music that became part of my DNA as I grew up.   It's been a long while since I connected to that music and other things that were a part of my growing up in New York City, specifically in the Bronx.  

I am a mother now too just like her but living within a different context.  I'm raising children with a husband in a city by the mountains while my mother raised me by herself in an urban metropolis filled with subways and endless, moving people everywhere you went.

Two different worlds.  

She's unfamiliar to my new home now.  Would I be unfamiliar in my old home when I went back East to visit her next time?  A home that was as familiar to me as my own name?

What's that saying?: "You can never go home again"

While driving today I found myself trying to remember the days and years I lived (and worked) in the Bronx.  That was fifteen years ago.  

Though I love my new world, I honestly hope I can go home again as I try to hold on a bit to it through my mother and through my old friends/classmates (and now Facebook friends) from my high school back in the Bronx. 

I am thousands of miles away from that home and yet, I don't want it to be too far from me.  
In my heart, at least.  

Thankfully, I have the living reminder that is my mother.  

How many of you are living far from the hometown you grew up in?  Do you still feel a connection, and is it through family or friends that still live there? Do find yourself remembering your past life there or is it just, in the past?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Bit From My Butterscotch Babies...

Yes, they have their own blog.  Feel free to take a look...

Noah, Rhys & Owen: Brotherly Love: "Owen from his first smiles, would look at Big Brother Rhys and grin widely.  He was captivated by his big brother with the wild c..."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stuck In the Land of P (For Strong Stomachs Only)

I'm surrounded.  All around me, I am truly in the land of P.  There are two things that start with the letter P that surround me all the time: pee and poop.  Both have been a constant since I gave birth to my first son over five years ago with the addition of my middle son three years ago and now with my latest son who was born this past March.  It's not like this surprises me.  I've surrendered to the fact that I'm going to have deal with these two elements for a good seven years, at least.  It just that these days I really feel it because both have taken on various different forms and its just so constant.   

With my 5 month old, I've got the usual baby pee and poop in which the poop ranges from every shade of green and yellow, from the seedy to the clay varieties.  And depending on what the baby takes in whether it be breastmilk or formula, it's anyone's guess what will come out of him, though I've notice the poop stench is much stronger when he drinks in formula.  

Then there's my 3 year old whose pee is pretty standard, though his poop is pretty intense and atrocious, most times.  Not to mention, the amount of it just astounds me and my hubby and anyone who has ever changed a poopy diaper of his in the past.  The amount of waste he ejects can rival that of any adult male.  I'm not kidding.   Now he's potty training and so the pee and poop are no longer in his diaper but in other places as well.  When it ends up in the potty, it's a truly joyous moment.  Especially the poop.  He gets 2 cookies if he poops in the potty, 3 if he doesn't need me to prod him to go and goes all on his own.  Not only as a form of encouragement to say "please, please, continue to poop in the potty like a big boy" but also as a form of gratitude to say "thank you for sparing me the job of having to clean up the floor or bed after you."  However, there are those moments when I am on my knees wiping up the floor or pulling off the latest bedsheet. Like at least once every other day.

I'm surrounded. 

Then there's my 5 year old whose pee and poop, I technically shouldn't have to face anymore since he is using the toilet in the standard way.  However, many a time, in his haste to get back to the latest road he's built out of tracks and blocks or the show he was watching on t.v., he forgets to flush the potty.   Hence I end up walking into the bathroom, a good two hours later and smelling the most horrible of  stenches.  Looking in the toilet bowl, I find the culprit: my kid's latest dump which has been "stewing" so to speak.  Not to mention the countless times I'm pulling off or drying bedsheets from his latest nighttime overflow.  He still hasn't mastered staying dry at night consistently.   And that's okay.  I'm here for him and will be until he does, whenever that will be. 

I really am surrounded.  

Throwing away a diaper or trainers (i.e. pull-ups) at least once/twice every other hour.  I looked in my trash can the other day and these items made up most of the trash.  Not to mention the baby wipes I use to wipe those precious bottoms. 

What's amazing, though there are still those yuck moments where I get really grossed out by what I see, is how much I can tolerate the constant pee and poop.  Now honestly I couldn't tolerate it if I had to do it for a living.  I truly admire nurses and caretakers.   And I definitely couldn't tolerate the sight of pee along the wall of a building or poop on the sidewalk or in grassy, weedy places (as you well know about me from my previous post).  Yet somehow, I can tolerate it when it comes out of my children.  Unlike my hubby, who gags pretty much every other time he has to change a diaper or deal with an "accident", I face the Ps head on with a cool, almost professional-like detachment.  Is it because, though the waste product can be nasty and downright horrendous, my little creatures who emit them are so amazingly adorable (a mother's bias of course)?  How can I stop my heart from melting from the sweet smile that crosses my 3 year old's face as the pee shoots out of him or the toothless grin from my 5 month old as the last of the poop leaves his bottom during a diaper change?

Besides, with every pee and poop I face, am I not building character or at least fortifying an already strong stomach?  Hey, if I can stare down the sometimes green-black goo that comes pouring out of the bottom of my 3 year old (what did he eat??), I can face just about anything gross can't I?  Except, fungus/mold, maggots, slugs, pink vomit...anyway...

I'm not complaining.  I embrace my duty.   I'm just amazed at the endless pees and poops that I'm experiencing in every way shape and fashion these days.  I know someday this will all be a thing of the past that I will look back on with fondness, right? 

As I'm typing this, I look up and see a huge stream of pee coming from my potty-training 3 year old, spraying out like a fountain and covering an area of my dining room the size of a standard welcome mat as he stands staring in amazement.  He looks just as stunned as I feel.  And then I just sigh, quickly getting up. 

It really is like 24/7. 

"Potty!" I say.  "Potty. Go to potty now.  Sit.  Sit!" as I point him over to the little red potty seat by our fireplace.  He runs his little wet feet over to the potty as I inwardly cringe at the footprints he's made.  As I side step the huge puddle of pee, I notice he even got some on the play mat.   Okay.  Such is my world...

All I can say is, thank goodness for hardwood floors, heavy duty paper towels, sweet smelling antibacterial soap, and silly after-pee/poop smiles as I brace myself (yet again) to face the pee head on.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What's In My Backyard??

Two Saturdays ago, I decided to help my hubby by going out to our backyard and cutting down our extremely tall weeds. It was the first time this Bronx girl has used a weed cutter and I was brandishing it back and forth, knocking down weeds left and right. As I worked in the hot sun, I thought about how therapeutic this was for me. It allowed me to let my thoughts wander without interuption from little hands and big screams.

I thought to myself. Here I am surrounded by green stuff. Nature. Grass and weeds and dandelions. I grew up in a concrete jungle of sorts. The backyard to my house growing up in the Bronx was made up of mostly concrete with weeds growing through the cracks. The parks near to my house were mostly playgrounds with a tree or two growing in them surrounded by massive concrete. So walking among grass and trees or even being surrounded by grass, bushes and trees only occurred when I visited the big parks in the city: Van Cortlandt, Pelham Bay, Central Park.

Since my exposure was limited, foilage was somewhat foreign to me. I would wander among the grass and bushes and wonder what was there. Poison Ivy was definitely the main enemy. I can recall several times when classmates would end up in an endless state of itching because they had wandered into a patch of poison ivy. Poop in various forms (i.e. dog, goose, rodent) was enemy #2.

Even now, when I go out to the backyard I wonder what's within those weeds and thick grasses. Poop? Something worse? And what are those leaves? And are they poisonous? Or worse, are they poison ivy or poison oak?

When my boys run through the grass, I have to force my voice to be still since I am so tempted to yell..."Watch where you're running!" or "Be Careful where you step!" In my own backyard.

When we go to the grassy park two doors down from our house, I'm constantly on watch for the  hidden dog poop and something else icky that I don't have a name for.

I have to confess, I'm more at home walking on the concrete sidewalks here in downtown Boulder, than in the plains and grasses of rural Boulder where I live. I barely check where the boys step when we're on the sidewalks, unless they're stepping off the sidewalk and into the street. Then it's a quick warning to them to get back on the sidewalk where it is safe.


Sidewalks. Concrete equals safety to me. Grass, weeds, plains equals mystery. The great unknown for my feet. You can't see what's in grass sometimes. You can see practically everything on the sidewalk. Even the stuff you don't want to see. Memories of me in the back in New York City sidestepping the grimy gobs of dirty pink bubblegum, the remnants of someone's leftover pizza, the dark, unrecognizable gooey spots stuck to the sidewalk enter into my brain in the moment.  Gross, yes but familiar. Safe.

So there I am on that Saturday, brandishing the weed cutter. Chuckling about my paranoia of all things grassy and weedy when I look down and see within the tall weeds a dead animal face looking up at me.  Of course, I scream and run away from the thick mass, leaving the cutter on the ground. I'm breathing heavy. This is so not cool. Not cool at all as I stand there taking in big gulps of air and shaking. I look towards the closed patio door.  No one's there.  My family did not hear my piercing scream and are oblivious to my fright.  I look around to the other backyards surrounding mines.  Hopefully my neighbors were just as oblivious as I was just beginning to feel a little foolish.

After a minute, I shake my head and take off  hubby's garden gloves. I walk towards the house. I'm done for the day. I'm completely done with that overgrown weed patch. What else would I find if I continued?

Minutes later my hubby who grew up surrounded by nature in the Pacific Northwest and has much more exposure to green grassy things and trees nods his head in sympathy. I don't have to touch that weed patch again. I could attempt the weeds in the front. I nod and shake my head. I could. Okay. I grab the weed cutter and head towards the front of the house with determination.

I find after a few swipes at the tall weeds by the side of the house, I can't continue on any further, the image of the dead animal still in my head. So I head back to my concrete porch.

Where it's safe. 

Maybe I'll tackle our overgrown yard another time. Then maybe not.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Things That This Bronx Girl Holds Dear, Or More Specifically, Can't Get Out of Her System

I have to confess. The subway sign in the photo is in my home in Boulder, Colorado. It's hanging on the wall in the little mini hallway between the boys' bedrooms.

No, I didn't steal it. I bought it for a nominal price at the Target Store in Boulder. Yes, Boulder, Colorado of all places. It was one of a kind - stashed in between two other works of art - one depicting Wrigley Field in Chicago and some other baseball stadium I can't recall in the moment. Okay, actually I can: Fenway Park in Boston.

That precious piece in the photo. My Subway Art. It actually is art. A painted replica of a symbol that I hold dear from my past life growing up in the Bronx.

I spotted it by accident when I was flipping through canvases. When I saw it, my heart started racing and I became giddy all over. The same reaction some people would have seeing their favorite celebrity in person. This familiar symbol from my past was staring back at me in all its gloriousness. You see, I used to pass that specific subway sign (s) growing up in the Bronx. Often without thought as I rushed down the stairs and into the subway station on 161st street and River Ave. Not only coming from several Yankee games, but from friends' houses, from the Bronx County Courthouse where I was summoned for jury duty, from the public pool a couple of blocks over from Yankee stadium or from the big movie theater with the stadium seating. Or most frequently, when I was transferring trains, going from the D train to the #4 train. The sign became a part of my existence. The same D and #4 trains were the trains I was most familiar with because they stopped at the subway stops near my home. The road (railroad, that is) that led to home everyday was past 161st and Yankee Stadium.

This sign said "home" to me. For others, it might be an ice cream shop that they used to visit while growing up or a park of some kind that was played in frequently. For me, it was this subway sign.

So, in all my giddiness that day, I ran out to the car that my husband was waiting in with the kids and sent him into Target to look at it. I wanted him to spend his hard earned money on that sign. Where else was I going to find something that so represented home to me in a place such as this, the Mountain West?

I saw the discovery of this sign at Target as a beacon of encouragement. An actual kiss from God. That I would find something so familiar in this different place I had moved to. It's not like I'd find the subway sign from 161st in the Bronx in stores wherever I went. I was a happy girl that day.

It's fun to see people's reactions when they see it hanging on our wall. From"Really? A subway sign?" (in other words: "that's not art") to "How cool! Did you steal it and bring it back with you from New York?" to "So sweet of you to get that for your boys."

Yes, a subway sign and no, really, I didn't steal it. 

And it's all mine's (okay, the rest of the family's, too)...my precious work of art.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Butterscotch Babies:There's Beauty in the Mix

I sit and watch my sons play. The oldest, my 5 year old is pushing a toy car transporter around while my second son, who is 3 is putting plastic vegatables into a sand bucket with a toy shovel. Meanwhile my youngest who is 4 and 1/2 months is playing with a cloth book. As I watch, my mind wanders back to a time over a decade ago when I was visiting Denver, Colorado for the first time. I was standing with my friends after a church service, and across the way I saw a girl of about ten years old talking and laughing with her sister. She had skin the color of butterscotch candy, light brown fine wavy hair and light colored eyes. She was gorgeous. During the moment while I stared, something inside me stirred and thought, I'm going to have children that look like her one day.

How did I know? There wasn't any physical evidence pointing towards that fact. I wasn't dating anyone at the time and I was (and still am, of course) an African-American woman with dark brown skin the color of milk chocolate, loose coarse wavy hair (when not chemically straightened) and dark brown eyes. But something within me told me that the possibility was pretty strong.

Now I'm not claiming to be psychic. Far from that especially since I believe that there is a God and he is the higher power and has his hands in all things, most especially the aspects of my life. But here it is years later, and I'm staring at three little boys who resemble that girl I saw years ago.

Yes, I have my own butterscotch babies now (having married a man who is Caucasian). Apparently and ironically it was part of the Master Plan that is my life.

It was very clear that this girl of years ago who was stunningly beautiful was a product of an interracial coupling. I just remember thinking that she was beautiful because she was a blend of two overt races (white/black) and possibly a few covert ones. With a mix, came beauty.

I look at my own and see beauty too. Not in the sense of them being more beautiful than other children but just in the sense of how they were created - with their own unique set of features: my oldest with skin the color of butterscotch candy, light brown loose curly hair and eyes the color of caramel. (Pardon the candy references.) My middle with the same skin complexion as his brother yet with darker hair with tighter curls and eyes the same caramel color as his brother. Yet his eyes appear lighter because of his dark hair. And my youngest, who has slightly lighter skin than his brothers with brown hair (straight for now) and gray colored eyes. What makes each of them individual makes them beautiful.

I believe the same applies to children with parents who are of the same race. Unique features from each parent are passed onto the child to create one beautifully blended individual. A combination of distinct features joined together makes each child lovely in their own right.

And to think there is so much prejudice in the world with all this beauty around.

Which all the more convinces me that what makes people ugly is due mainly to what we look like on the inside and not out.

Right now my two older butterscotch babies are playing well together creating their own race car world while their younger brother sleeps on my shoulder. There's peace in our world...

...for now, anyway. Until they both want the same race car...;-))

Monday, June 28, 2010

City Mice Vs. Country Mice

From time to time, the scratchy, scurrying sounds within the lower cabinets in our kitchen drive me a little crazy. The one comfort being that the 13 pound family cat that is Chelsea in all her beautiful caliconess, is stationed outside the lower kitchen cabinets standing guard like a vigilant sentinel. It's her pleasure. Though it's not mine when she captures them and plays hockey with them (the mice being the puck) through our small kitchen and dining room. Fine, the mouse is caught but still to my stomach, not so cool. But what really is not so cool is that a couple of weeks later, after said mouse has been played with and disposed of, there are more scratchy, scurrying sounds.

Where are they coming from?

It brings me back to the days when I lived in New York City. The Washington Heights section of Manhattan, which is the northern tip of the island. The first home that my husband and I lived in as a married couple. Our cool apartment with its hardwood floors in a pre-war building. In this place, we had little furry gray visitors too. They'd come through our hall closet and make their way in. It was the reason I was able to convince the husband that we should take the then 10 lb feline in. And she earned her keep. She caught two the first month she lived with us. But then there would be a drought for awhile -- like 8 months or so before we saw another one, maybe two. Here in Boulder, they seem to just keep coming.

Field mice, I've been told. We live in a neighborhood surrounded by wide open space on three sides. Nothing but fields and grass as far as the eye can see with a few houses dotting the landscape. We really are in rural Boulder. As we drive down the road towards downtown Boulder, we're often passing cows and sheep along the way. We're also passing mice. Little field mice we cannot see but appear in our kitchen with a consistent frequency that astounds me.

The good news is that they are not living in the walls or the attic of our house which means that they are not right under our noses. They make their homes in the beautiful open space that surrounds our neighborhood. That's nice. And far away. The bad news? That in this expansive field utopia they flourish. They breed and increase, then come into our homes like we go into the nearest restaurant to find food and partake of it. They nibble and leave their mouse droppings and go. Then return the next day, and the day after that to continue the feast until they lose interest or they are being swiped around like a hockey puck by a 13 pound cat. At least this is the case in our home.

What's better? To jump and screech every month or just twice a year?

In my opinion, neither one. But then I guess anything is better than their city rat cousins that are four times their size and scary looking. They live beneath the ground, more than often frequenting the trash bag piles above ground that line the sidewalks. And there isn't an equivalent of those here in rural Boulder - thank God.

Nor of those stubborn city cockroaches...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Being Older and Not Having a Driver's License Doesn't Make Me An Alien, Just A Native New Yorker...

"You don't have a driver's license?" That was from a 12 year old girl years ago when I just moved to Central New Jersey. The response was one of disbelief but her facial expression? Priceless. She looked at me as if I was an alien that just landed in Central New Jersey from the planet Mars. I have to say hers was one of a couple of reactions like that from people 18 and under in response to me not having a driver's license. There were plenty more reactions to that known fact about me that came from people 25 and older who I realized later were from non-urban backgrounds.

"You're over 18 and you don't have a license?" The expression that accompanies that phrase is usually one of mild shock or disbelief. Followed by an unstated "How do you survive?" as though I've been living, trapped in my house for the last forty years.

Before I moved from the city, having a license was a rare thought in my head. Sure when I was 21, I took several road tests and failed them all because I thought I was ready to drive, when I wasn't - but I didn't need a license to get around. It was optional. A preference. A choice.

I didn't realize the significance of having one until I moved out of the city. In a lot of places in this country of mine's, driving is the only choice. This girl was used to hopping on subway trains and hailing yellow cabs (of which there were plenty) daily to get around. I didn't realize the uniqueness of that situation. Didn't most people do that? Everywhere? No?

Uh, no. That was part of urban living and only in select cities: Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, where you could exist generally without needing a car because of the comprehensive public transportation system. It was not the norm.

It was then, I had my epiphany and realized I was just as guilty as my license-driving friends who got their licenses at 17 years old and assumed most everyone, everywhere had done the same thing.


But really, I am not an alien or someone who had her license revoked. I'm just a native New Yorker born in a city where taking public transportation was/and still is as normal as breathing in air or say, driving a car?

And truly, I'm not the only one.

Footnote: This city girl's working on getting that license now. Once I get it, I guess I'll truly have options...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Subway Love - Is it Genetic?

While watching t.v., a shot of a NYC subway train came on and both my oldest and middle sons (5 years old and 2 years old, respectively) screeched "Subway Train!" to which my husband replied: "That's the "R" train." The boys screeched again in excitement. They wanted to see the subway train again. We hit reverse, then pause on the remote and the boys just stared at the frozen train in fascination which made this Bronx girl's heart turn to mush. They knew the R train, and the N train, as well as most of the other NYC train lines.

The fascination with the NYC subway line began about a year ago for these boys, maybe a bit longer for my oldest. It started with the number 4 train -- which they were introduced to while we were visiting NYC over a year ago, and it has grown since which is wild since we haven't been back to NYC since then. From the 4 train to the D train to the B and it goes on. It really does give them great joy to see the subway trains racing along their tracks. The last subway sighting on t.v. was when the NY Yankees were playing the NY Mets in a recent Subway series...ESPN showed a good amount of footage of both the #4 and #7 trains racing along their tracks. Talk about much joy to be had all around the house by both the boys and yours truly. The subway trains are a cherished memory for this native NYC girl now living in Colorado.

I had the same joy while growing up in The Bronx. I always felt a little rush or high whenever I saw the #4 train speeding by on its elevated line. There was a park right in front of the elevated line and whenever my Mom took me and I got on the swings, I would pump even harder to go higher as the #4 train went speeding by. It was exhilarating. I was too lady like to scream out loud, of course, but watching the boys react now, I remember feeling the same excitement as I watched the trains go by.

The closest these boys come to a subway on a daily basis in Boulder is the bus, and when we're in Denver, the light rail -- which excites them too but not like the NYC subway train. There's nothing like a NYC subway train for them.

Is it genetic or just a love of trains moving fast? Hmmm...this city girl would like to think it's the former.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

East Meets West

I always thought "transplanted" is a good word when it comes to describing me.  East meets West.  2 years and 10 months from the time that I moved from the East Coast to the Mountain West.  Seems like forever ago.  And yet I still miss the city and home.  Different worlds.  At least to this Bronx girl.  From the Bronx to Boulder.  New York to Colorado.  Yet both places - as different as they can be - are home to me.