Tuesday, December 21, 2010
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
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
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
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
Friday, October 22, 2010
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
Saturday, October 2, 2010
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
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
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
Monday, September 6, 2010
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.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
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.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
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.
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.
Maybe I'll tackle our overgrown yard another time. Then maybe not.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
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
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
"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
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.