Thursday, October 27, 2005

I Finished My Book!

After thinking about it, worrying over it, reading it, reviewing it and let's not forget writing it for 6 years, I have finally finished my book. Well maybe finished is too strong a word, I have finally taken all the details that were being held in my grey mattered-squash and got them into a computer. (1st draft)

I printed out all 159 pages and I am currently reading it all together for the very first time.

What a relief to finally get it all down on paper.

But-cept Your-chothers

My youngest has two phrases that I will miss when she starts to grow out of her preschool age, But-cept and your-chothers. I love it when she says, "I'll eat all my soup but-cept the mushrooms." Or when she says, "You love your-chothers." Once or twice I found myself correcting her. But I won't do it anymore. Such innocence.

My other two had similar phrases I swore I would never forget, but I have. It's sad that life's too many details clog my brain. The sweet memories are shoved into the darker recesses of my grey matter to make room for school and car pool schedules, playdate details, quick food shopping lists, or the latest most sought after birthday present must have.

Hopefully they're not lost forever. Perhaps when I am much older, and more forgetful my heart will be warmed by them. How could it not?
Just say, "You love your-chothers." Doesn't it put a smile on your face?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The End Is Near

I dusted today. I won't say just how many swiffers I went through. Let's just say it a good thing we shop at a warehouse store.

Dust is a constant. I dust one day and the next day it's back. So I wait a week or two or three or more before dusting again. Why rush there will just be more the next day. I call it job security.

That and dishes. Mary the Good Fairy does not come to this house. If I leave a dish in the sink when I go to bed, it's still there in the morning. I think dishes could fill the sink, spill out on the floor and no one in this family would notice until they blocked the tv or got in the way of the hottest and latest craft project.

Its almost inspiring when I'm picking up after the troops, after all to justify the mess there has to be more than 5 of us in this house, and I get asked if I'm busy. I must be projecting an image of lounging on the couch eating bonbons.

I could do that; especially if I just dusted it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Forgotten Holiday

On a child-free trip to an oversized discount store I decided to take a look through the seasonal aisle. With Halloween a week away I was hoping to grab up some good buys for next year. To my shock there were maybe 6 or so seemingly discarded ceramic pumpkins, and a few Fall throw rugs being pushed to the side by several tons of Christmas "must haves."

I shouldn't have been shocked. Afterall every single store I've been in recently, with children in tow, was bursting with Christmas. Even so, I wanted to scream, "WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THANKSGIVING?"

What has happened? If there are no gifts, no material gain to be had, does a holiday simply disappear?

Thanksgiving is my all time, every time, favorite holiday of the year. Years ago the tradition to gather with my Mom's parents for the feast was started. Their tradition to escape the northeast in winter meant they would leave for the Sunshine State the weekend after the big Turkey event and return sometime after Easter. So if you wanted to see them before their sojourn, this was the family event to be at. I can still remember waking up in my Aunt's old room with the smell of turkey and fixing already wafting upstairs. Nana ruled the feast and proudly cooked from dusk till dawn the whole week before.

When my Grandparents grew too old to host, and for that matter, to travel to FL, we all gathered at my Aunt and Uncle's. Marriages and childbirth had increased our numbers, and the gathering became even more special. We are a close family by most standards but when do most families just stop and visit for 3 days? No school, no work, no sports to run to, no mounds of ironing or mending calling out to be attended to. Just a pure and uninterupted visit full of family.

The one feast that will always stick out in my mind is the last Thanksgiving my Grandparents were with us. My Grandmother's health had been failing, my Grandfather somehow knew it would be their last. After that wonderful meal, when we were all pushed back from the table making room for our expanded waist lines, my Grandfather, with tears in his eyes, proposed a toast to his family and then gave us all our Christmas presents, a card with a check for the children. In was the following Spring that my Grandmother left us, and shortly afterwards so did my Grandfather.

I miss my Grandparents, but I miss them more at Thanksgiving. However, when I am chilled by the November air, I reach into my Aunt and Uncle's hall closet and pull out one of Grandpa's woolen shirts. I am warmed two fold. Once by the wool and once again by the spirit of my loving Grandparents.

The tradition to gather at my Aunt and Uncle's home still stands. But new traditions have started. We all contribute to the meal. Instead of a turkey being the center of the meal my brother and I plan and prepare a turducken. It is a turkey, stuffed with a duck which is stuffed with a chicken. And layered in between each bird is a different flavorful stuffing. We start the planning sometime in late September. We discuss who will bring which bird. Who will do the deboning? (My brother is much better at this than I am.) Which stuffings will be made, and whos meat thermometer still works.

We gather at my Aunt and Uncle's home on the Wednesday evening before the big day. The stuffings are made, the birds laid out, the assembly completed; a turduken. The masterpiece must cook for 11 to 13 hours in low heat, so it goes into the oven between 11 p.m. and midnight.

My husband and I get the family room sofabed by the wood stove. We are lulled into a fitfull sleep by the aroma of wood burning and are awaken by the sweet smells of turduken. I've never asked, but I am sure that everyone else has the same sensual wake up call, for soon everyone is in the kitchen with their noses pressed as close as possible to the oven window.

Midmorning my brother takes over the watch. His cooking skills far out weigh mine and I leave the finishing to him while I turn to help with the side dishes that will complete the meal.

For the whole three day holiday there is no fighting. The children play games, or knit, or sew, or read. There are usually a few of us now adults that hit the road for a mile or two, trying to ward off the Thanksgiving Ten. It never works. During the big day the parades and the football games are on in the background, at night we watch movies. On a few occassions my sister-in-law and I have been moved to sing the Turkey Song. And of course we give it the dance movements it deserves. On these occassions I am very thankful no one in the family owns a functioning video camera.

There is always food out for snacking.

So, all you oversized discount stores feel free to miss the best holiday of the year. You would probably try to spoil it anyway by suggesting we all become involved in a mass marketing frenzy of having to buy gifts for all our family and friends instead of enjoying their wonderful love and company.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Swimming Part 1

My Mom told me that before I could walk I loved playing in the water. The story goes, on my first family vacation she sat for hours in her beach chair, at the shore, holding my hands so I could jump up and down in the water. As I grew so did my love of the water. At Girl Scout camp I was always the first one into my swim suit and lined up for the pool. In high school when I had knee surgery and had a year of swimming during gym for PT there were no complaints. And in college I when I tried to squeeze in some exercise I'd swim a few laps, in between classes and experiments.

Then life dealt me the "NO SWIMMING" card. Oh sure, we had the prerequired paddling pool in the backyard. You know the one that looks olympic sized in the store. However, once set up and filled in the backyard, shrinks to the size of a thimble.

And when my oldest lovely was big enough for swimming lessons at the town lake, the second lovely was a mere few weeks old. My time was spent sitting on a shaded bench making sure one didn't drowned while the other slept in her car seat or stroller.

And when the third lovely came along I was twice busy watching my eldest fish dive and swim, and convincing the wader not to test all the theories concerning near drowning, all the while holding the wee one in my arms. Still no swimming for me.

This past summer, all my lovelies swimming, with our without a bubble, I entered the water, just for me, once again. There is a such a sense of freedom when I'm gliding through the water. The laps quickly float by as I dwell on the sound of my breathing, the way my hands push through the water, the fact that I could be kicking more, my writing, what we'll have for dinner, how it is easier to swim in cooler water, and of course the girls.

At the beginning of the summer, the girls played together in the shallow end of the local neighborhood pool, waiting for me to finish so I could take the little ones into the deep end. They were becoming as much of a fish as their older sister.

As the summer heated up an amazing thing happened; the lovelies started swimming laps with me. First the oldest. On many occasions she stayed with me for a half of a mile of more. At the lap ends, when I would check on the wee ones, I'd proudly watch my partner take the turn and start her next lap. Like most things she does, she's a very good swimmer. Her stroke is smooth and steady, as she seems to cuts effortlessly through the water.

Then the little ones started their own type of laps, always wanting to race, always winning and always laughing and smiling when they touch the wall before me.

And now that Fall is here, and the pool is closed, I find myself dreaming of the next pool season when we will once again swim in our own family school.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fall and Winter Morning Gifts

I love waking up at 4 AM. It's a gift of 2 hours of quiet mommy time. Two hours of solitude to write, or read , exercise, get lunches ready, or God forbid, dust.

As I am a slave to day light, in the summer, its easy to get up early. The sun and the birds do most of the hard work and the floors are never cold. But as winter draws near, and the days squeeze down to nothing, getting up early almost never happens. Where most days, I get up well after my dear husband's 6 AM departure, but thankfully prior to when the girls need to get off to school.

But these sleepy winter mornings have their charm as well. For there are very few things that can compare to waking up and finding one or even three blessed bundles peacefully lying next to you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I'm going out a limb here. I'm going to tell the truth, "I hate soccer."
I am the anti-soccer mom. Mind you I love to watch my daughter play. She plays well, and she loves the game. So, she plays, and socializes and has a great time.

But I hate, no despise, the fact that once a game is missed you can expect that email from the coach stating that the make up game is on such and such date, at such and such time, and, oh by the way, have your daughter there 45 minutes early. There goes the daily schedule and I start the blood pressure raising task of getting everyone where they need to be a la soccer.

If the email would come with the sentence, "I hope you all can make it" or "I know this is short notice, but it would be great if we could all do this for the greater glory of the game." But, there are no hopeful statements, just the daunting task of schedule rearranging.

I will say this year's coach is by far the most understanding coach she has had to date. Prior years, family events, like going away to Florida for April Vacation, were met with statements like, "Can you leave on Sunday instead of Saturday so she won't miss the game?"

So, I count my blessings, and try to focus on the facts that she absolutely loves the game, enjoys her team mates, and all the schedule rearranging is good mental exercise.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm a writer... or maybe that's a writer wannabe.

I have been working on the same book for 6 years. Not constantly, but enough so when I run into friends they ask, "How's the book is coming?" Well, on a not so recent "addition-forced" trip to the laundromat I penned the final chapter. The next day, I announced to my writing group, even buying a round of coffees, that it was finished. And now, for the last 8 weeks, maybe more, I have been trying to squeeze in the time to move it from my notebook to a hard drive. Preferably the one that already holds the previous 33 chapters.

Why is it taking me so long? Am I afraid I won't know what to do with myself when its done?

One reason for the lag is the addition, and the painting I refused to pay someone else to do. There have been days when the first thing I do in the morning is paint and the last thing I am doing before bed is still painting. Still, I would rather be several several thousands of dollars not in the hole and dissatisfied with my own lack of painting skills than poorer and have a constant source of complaining due to someone else's. So the addition work drags on. This week I polyurethaned the new steps, if the weather improves I'll finish painting the outside steps and then next week it will be tackling the entry way and kitchen. Maybe I'll be done in time for Christmas.

And I could lay blame on the lack of book work on the kids. Afterall my schedule can only be laid down after I know theirs. And when I find I have time on my hands it takes almost a full hour just to get used to the peace and quiet. The silence is almost deafening, almost.

But the truth be known, or for what I take to be truthful, the book writes itself. And we are at a standoff. I sit here and type, and the characters tell me that there has to be more. The ending is not complete. There has to be closure and I have to let Sarah and Martha find their own peace. So maybe in this peaceful quiet morning, filled with no arguing, no tattling, no whining, it will be quiet enough for me to listen to my long time good friends and finish their story.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Like a was saying before, I never know what is going to happen during a day until it is over. Today is case in point. My youngest, She-Who-Will-Rule-The World, SWWRTW, is staying home from preschool. (All you Moms with kids in the same class can thank me for not spreading the bug. Of course, she probably got it there.)

Anyway, SWWRTW has had this cold for a few days now. Usually in the mornings it is worse, and by 9 AM, too late to go to school, she has a miraculous recovery. But I have been fair warned...

This past winter she had a similar cold for a week, okay 10 days. Finally when one of my other daughters, there are 3 remember, got an ear ache I decided that majority rules... off to the Drs we go, for both of them. Well SWWRTW had double pneumonia. No fever, no complaints... except for me to carry her in hip deep snow, because she was tired, just the morning cough and runny nose.

I'm giving her until tomorrow morning to have a full recovery. Otherwise it will be off to the Drs.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Last spring Didi lent me her copy of Simple Steps. In ten short weeks, if I followed their guidelines, I would have a neater, thinner, more orgainized life. I read the book, cover to cover, in two days. Basically, your make a few (maybe 4, if I remember correctly) changes each week and in the end you are a new "thinner" person. That said, I made a valient effort for a few weeks and then quickly fell off the bandwagon.

Maybe it was the chaos of the addition (new kitchen, roof, siding, and all that goes with it), that way laid my intentions. Maybe it was just laziness. Whatever it was, I am trying again to bring order into my life, and to loss these extra pounds I seem to have collected over the years.

So I drink plenty of water, take a multivitamin, walk on our dusty treadmill for 20 minutes a day, try to clean up some extra clutter for 10 minutes each day, make a to-do list for each day and make my bed. The bed making is key. Supposedly, when you make your bed, before doing anything in the morning, you have already accomplished something. The pressure is off. A task has been brought to completion and you should feel fullfilled. I try to tell myself that as I pull up the sheets and covers. But still I find myself stressed about getting "things" done.

That said, today I started to tackle the lack of filing that has been taking place for the last 8 years. Three hours later, I had gone through two mountains of papers, and a good size box of papers. I can actually see the dust that blankets the top of my desk. This in itself is a miracle.

Maybe tomorrow I'll dust.

Friday, October 14, 2005

I'll be 45 soon. In a few short weeks. I have 3 girls and an advanced degree in biophysics to show for all my years. However, the days pass like clothes through my washer. I often say I don't know what will happen in a day until its over. It is so true, trips to the ER, runs to the store, impromptu home improvement projects... after a miraculous finding in the toilet. Does anyone have any idea how the lid of the water bottle found its way in there?

Even worse, my baby just turned 5. Time slips past each and every day.My oldest daughter's cousin, and one of my dearest friends, recently blogged about embracing today for tomorrow is not certain. I have to agree with her. Each and every day is a gift.

Do you wonder how a dear friend can be my daughter's cousin? Well actually, she is related via my X. But I am so thankful for her. We met in the cry room at our church and over time she discovered our relationship. Who said you can't be friends with your family.