Blog Archives

Boob Milk is Best

August 2, 2013

boob milk is best, national breastfeeding week, august breastfeeding week, world breastfeeding weekIn support of World Breastfeeding Week, I’m re-posting a favorite breastfeeding story.

Sitting at the dinner table, our youngest, Anna, asked me why she’s the only one without allergies, and the first answer (as a doula and lactation counselor) was, “Because I nursed you for two years.” “Huh?” she asked.

So I dove right in, “That’s what boobs are for,” she giggled, “for feeding babies. Cow milk is for calves, goat milk is for baby goats and human milk is for …” I paused to let her answer, “Human babies!” Her eyes twinkled, and at her age of increasing modesty and bodily awareness, she giggled and challenged, “Boys have boobs… and pecks.” I responded, “They have nipples, too, but can’t feed a baby.” The word nipples was also met with a chuckle.

We’ve talked about breastfeeding before many times, as a toddler she used to put her dolls to her breast routinely and if she ever used a play bottle, she’d tell me it had breastmilk in it. This discussion reminded me that in parenting, things need to be repeated and not just the pick-up-your-towel repeated, but relearned in new, age-adjusted ways. She was revisiting this topic with some more life experience under her teeny belt.
sleeping baby, baby sleeping on mom's chest, mom and baby sleeping, flavors of breastmilk, tasting breastmilk, milk supply, fenugreek and nursingShe was fascinated as I explained that breastmilk changes it’s flavor and content from day to day, feeding to feeding, during the same meal, and year to year. Your body even knows if the baby is a boy or a girl (Moms nursing boys produce milk that is higher in fat content). Breastmilk is the perfect food for human babies and as we chatted, it just popped out: “Boob Milk is Best!” She completely cracked up. I joined in and we were laughing as Anna repeated, “Boob Milk!”

Top Mommy Blogs

August 1, 2013

top mommy blog approved, top mommy blogs, mother's circle blog, blog directory, mommy blog directory, Top Mommy Blogs is a directory of Mommy Blogs that are ranked, categorized and rated. They boast over 4500 blogs in 30 different categories. I’m a member and that’s the huge number of blogs I’m competing with! :-)

I am currently ranked #4 in the Family Life category and #25 overall. I’ve been as high as #19 and I’m working to break into the top 15.www.motherscircle.net, parenting, VBAC, doula, childbirth, breastfeeding and fenugreek, parenting advices, smart parenting tips, practical parenting, mommy blogs, top mommy blogs

Here’s my shameless plug for votes!

As a Mother’s Circle reader, I hope you’ll consider voting for me, your vote will count once in every 24 hour period, so if you’re really enthusiastic, please click every now and then! Every click helps me! And clicks from different IP addresses are terrific if you happen to work and live using different IP addresses. (Now I’m really asking a lot of you!)

Reflections on a High School Reunion

July 30, 2013

high school reunion, thinking about high school, old high school friends, preparing for high school reunion, going to high school reunionMy voice is hoarse and crackling, my face is sore from smiling and my heart feels a little fuller after a weekend spent among classmates from another era. As my daughter plays and romps in the years we reminisced about, I marvel at the passage of time even as it seems to stand still.

A High School Reunion can let us revisit, for a short time, our younger selves from the secure and steady position of our adult selves. It can give us a glimpse into the relative naive innocence of our teens, or put a new perspective on an experience from a parent’s point of view.

I felt the joy of reconnecting even if simply to hear where someone is living and where life has taken them. We share a history, however loose or strong, while having been absent in each others’ lives for decades perhaps.

Vivid, crisp memories, mixed with blurry-edged ones. Memories nestled down and hidden from view were pulled out like a favorite old album from an attic chest; dusted off and given light, once retrieved, they were clear again. How had that moment, that nugget of my life, that sliver of friendship been forgotten? I felt gratitude as those nuggets were passed around, shined up and brought back to me to hold again.

Math Kisses

July 23, 2013

Math kisses, bedtime math, teaching kids math, learning math with fun, fun ways to learn math, fun ways to teach math, making math part of your day, math routines, how to teach math, ideas to teach young kids mathMath kisses grew in our family from a song that a babysitter when I was about eight years old first sang for me.

It’s a silly little ditty:

“Good Night, Leah,
Good Night, Leah,
Good Night, Leah,
It’s time to go to bed,
Boop Boop!”

And the babysitter accented the “boops” with her hips as she left my doorway.

When Ali was little, I sang it to her and soon it was a regular part of our bedtime routine. Over the years and through three children, the song has grown, changed and evolved.

Each child has added his or her own individual enhancements. A second verse bloomed, “I love [insert kids’ name here], I love [kid sings Mommy/Daddy as parent sings kid’s name], I love [you get the idea], it’s time to go to bed, boop boop.” bedtime mathMichael now says “wee-ooo” instead of “boop boop.” Another addition, we sing the names of everyone in the family (and our bird, Piper) and new phrases have crept in, too, (“I love Ali, so much, I love Michael, so much…”)

As the song has lengthened, perhaps initially to delay the actual bedtime, it has remained a special part of ending the day. I don’t know how or when, but years ago, Anna began giving two kisses in between each phrase and instead of the boop boops. One night I realized she was counting the kisses on her fingers, we would end up with 16 kisses and run out of fingers, and then we always had to kiss four more times to get to an even 20.

I suggested she count by twos using one finger for each pair of kisses, so Anna started learning and practicing counting by twos. We added a challenge and I’d give her one kiss before singing and she’d need to count by twos on the odd numbers. Without knowing, we had fallen into a special bedtime routine of math kisses.

Favorite Books For Book Clubs

July 12, 2013

favorite books for book clubs, book club recommendations, what to read this summer, best books for book discussion, suggestions for book clubsI love to read so I’m happy to share with you some of my favorite books. It’s nearly impossible for me to give a limited list because there are so many books I call my favorites, but I’m going to name some top reads.

Right now, I’m in four book clubs, two women’s groups and two mother-daughter book clubs, one with each of my girls. Shout out to my book clubs: the Panera Book Club (we close our local Panera once a month as we’re deep in chatter) and Reading Between the Wines.

Squeezing in the time to read can be difficult with our busy schedules but it’s something I value and love, so I make the time. The deadlines of book clubs are the perfect thing to keep me going and to compel me to do something I care about.

Here is a list of some of my most favorite books in no particular order. Well, they may in fact be in the order of what I’ve read most recently first since that’s how my memory seems to fare best. Images and links to all of my book recommendations are at the end of this post.

All of these are terrific for book club reads and rich discussion. Please, take a moment to share some of your favorite books in the comments – perhaps you agree or disagree with some on my list!

The Meaning of Independence Day

July 4, 2013

meaning of Independence day, watercolor flag, painted flag, declaration of independence in full text, proud to be an American, American independence, teaching kids American historyToday, reflect for a moment on the meaning of Independence Day. Think about the reasons we can luxuriate at picnics, beaches and parades today and throughout the years; the reasons we can share our thoughts freely, speak out against our own government, and practice any religion we choose.

I’m a patriot, I love our country and deeply believe it’s the best place to be in the world! I believe in teaching my children, and America’s children, about our founding and guiding documents, these are what make us The United States of America.

So along with watermelon and hotdogs, this year we’ll be reading and listening to The Declaration of Independence in our family as the beginning of a 4th of July tradition.

The meaning of Independence day starts here, with The Declaration of Independence. Click here to listen to celebrity reading of The Declaration of Independence. I am proud to be an American and hearing this is moving and powerful.

Today, I wish you a “Happy Fourth of July!” and I’m remembering what it really means.

The Meaning of Independence Day – The Declaration of Independence

A Thank You Note to Dads

June 14, 2013

thank you note to dads, note to fathers, fathers day notes, fathers day thank you, thank you letter to dads, letter to father, hand written notes, importance of hand written letters, handwriting,One of my more popular posts is A Thank You Notes to Moms. So for Father’s Day, here is A Thank You Note to Dads, but this thank you note has a twist, it’s not from the kiddos, it’s from Mom.

Dads, one day years from now, perhaps you can imagine your children being grateful, sincerely grateful, for all you do for them. One day they may write their own thank you note to you, but this is a thank you note to dads from us, your loving wives and partners in parenting. A note you can appreciate now before you take a nap, go golfing or crack open a beer for Father’s Day. Yeah, go ahead, you deserve it!

We Moms admit, that far too often we take you for granted; we’re too quick to huff or point out something you haven’t done or something you’ve done “wrong.”

In the hectic pace of the days, the blur of weeks and the racing into months, we forget to slow down and recognize all the things you have done. We can forget to acknowledge all the many things you do right and well. So here is a big thank you for all you do for us and our families.

Gardening With Kids and a Groundhog – Part 2

May 31, 2013

This is the second part of Gardening With Kids and a Groundhog.
Click here to read Part 1.

[caption id="attachment_2693" align="alignleft" width="230"]Gardening with kids and a groundhog, groundhog home, gopher home, how to get rid of a groundhog, groundhog eating garden, Caddy shack gopher scene, bill murray caddy shack, Our groundhog’s home.[/caption]

New growth came from the healthy young plants trying their best, and then they were snipped to the ground again. I blamed bunnies, tried to match footprints and searched online for answers. We finally saw him: a lumbering, well-fed, brownish-reddish groundhog. We didn’t know where his home was so we needed another solution (since them, we’ve discovered his abode seen in the image to the left).

I got a Havahart trap and filled it with all the greens and lettuce a groundhog loves. Soon after, we spotted the trap door closed. “We got him!” I thought, but no, we got a possum. We let him free and filled the trap again. A day later, we caught a possum, we let him free again. In the pecking order of smarts, it appears groundhogs are smarter than possum. On and on it went, we had no success through the fall and then it was hibernation time.

The groundhog had won round one.

I mourned the loss of my garden, I truly felt sad each time I wandered to my fruitless garden beds. [On a side note, groundhogs (or maybe it’s just our groundhog) don’t like peppers and despite the disappointing season, I was grateful to at least have gotten something out of our garden.] new plants for garden, plants from seeds, turgor pressure, cucumber seedlings, squash seedlings, image of cucumber plant, gardening with kids

Growing new shoots from tiny seeds and watching them sprout then flourish into real plants makes me happy. Gardening with kids makes it even better. We chat while we work, about school or friends, and things spill out as we work the dirt. They also ask questions about each plant and begin to learn to identify them by their leaves, picking between a weed and a “real” plant. They learn basic biology, and about Turgor pressure and plant divisions, about bulbs, tubers and roots.

One of our favorite family lore stories is “The Cucumber Story.”

Gardening With Kids and a Groundhog Part 1

May 30, 2013

gardening with kids, gardening with kids and a groundhog, groundhog in garden, chicken wire fence, building a chicken wire fence, will chicken wire keep out groundhog, Gardening with kids is an opportunity ripe with lessons. I love gardening and through the years have had lush flower gardens and plentiful vegetables and I’ve struggled against beetles, deer and other critters. When we lived in New Jersey we had literally a dozen deer in our yard at a time (and lots of incidences of Lyme disease). We had sweet spotted fawn following their mamas and we witnessed full out buck fights, horn-to-horn only yards from our back door.

This overpopulation of deer chewed on everything except for the 5 foot tall weeds in our woods. They ate every “deer-resistant” shrub we planted. The garden center guy would say, “Well, they’re not supposed to eat holly [or this or that],” and I’d say, “Well, our deer do.” There wasn’t a purchased plant that was safe (unwanted weeds were untouched, of course).

I’d read at the time that dirty diapers outside keep the deer away from flowers and bushes; I had two young kiddos still in diapers so I rolled them up and put them around the garden beds. Yes, I know, in writing this it sounds as ridiculous as it was.

My Story of Lyme Disease

May 22, 2013

my story of lyme disease, deer tick, image of deer tick, tick on leaf, headaches and lyme disease, acupuncture for lyme disease, acupuncture, symptoms of lyme diseaseThis is my story of Lyme Disease. It was June 2007, I was on my way to New York City for a doula training. Arrangements and “spreadsheets” for the kids’ schedules were taken care of and I had three days to immerse myself in something I love. I had dinner plans to visit friends in NYC and was happy to be staying with my brother and sister-in-law.

The first morning I woke up stiff and creaky and moved myself through some yoga poses and stretches to relieve the pulling. I just felt “off” and tight with underlying soreness through the day, as if I may have been about to get sick.

The second night, I woke up in the middle of the with painful aching all over. What I’d put off as stiffness from an unfamiliar bed didn’t fit with this growing pain. Yet, I stretched in the predawn hours and again after halting dozes. I got through another day, still enjoying the training but increasingly distracted from my achiness. I met a friend for dinner, excited to see her I didn’t want to cancel, but I was struggling.

By the third night, barely sleeping, tossing in pain and sweat and chills, I really knew something was wrong. That day a woman in the training did reiki on me, another massaged my back, the trainer (my dear friend Debra Pascali Bonaro) suggested I lay down on the bed in the room adjacent to the training where I could listen from a horizontal position.

I vividly remember the emotions I had sitting in Penn Station alone, waiting for my train. I felt grateful that at the last minute, I’d decided to take the train instead of driving. I couldn’t believe how dramatically different I felt with each passing day. I hunched on a bench rocking myself and trying anything to distract myself from the pain. The train ride to New London where my Dad met me was excruciating; I curled up and tried to be still, tried to rest. I don’t know how I drove the last leg of the trip to get myself home.

On the Flip Side

May 17, 2013

on the flip side, father and daughter, father and teen daughter, father hugging daughter, kids leaving home, empty nestersWe’re on the flip side. We have fewer years left with kids in our home than we’ve already had years with them.

I recently realized that we have only nine more years until we are empty nesters. It doesn’t seem possible. Looking at my sweet young kids, none driving yet, how can it be that Nick and I will be on our own with everyone graduated or away at college in fewer than 10 years?

Like a surprise party, somehow we’re on the flip side. It’s the trick of time. Amazingly, as I only recently “figured this out,” we’ve actually been on the flip side for a couple of years already. It went unrecognized as we romp through our daily life.

My feelings all swirl together like the colors in a carnival spin art craft. Joy, sadness, hopefulness, disbelief, worry, unpreparedness. I’m not ready. Not even close to ready now. Nine years is not enough time with my kids living right here, under my wings. Yet, like the mother of a two year old who laments having a teen, I know that as the minutes build into years, I’ll become more ready.

How is it that we only have four years to teach our daughter about boys, relationships, and life? Only four short years to impress upon her the warnings about drinking, the weightiness of foolishness, the exponential exposures of social media, the jumble of joys and dangers of choices …

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Teen

May 10, 2013

sarah cynthia sylvia teen, sarah cynthia sylvia  stout, shel silverstein, shel silverstein drawing, shel silverstein death date, bio of shel silverstein, poems by shel silverstein Today marks the 14th anniversary of Shel Silverstein’s death (September 25, 1930 – May 10, 1999).

I grew up treasuring my “Where the Sidewalk” ends book and I wrote poems inspired by his style and quirky subjects. I wrote about shaving cream, making friends with seaweed and other questionable poems as I emulated the master poet and artist. Read a biography of Shel Silverstein here.

I’ve read these poems to my children for over a decade, they’ve been the center of school poetry projects and my old “Where the Sidewalk Ends” book has been well loved; the book jacket tinged yellow at its edges.

One of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems has always been “Sarah Cythia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out.” (I also love the the King and his Peanut-Butter Sandwich, the Magical Eraser and my kids crack up at the Invisible Boy and Warning – the one about the snail in the nose.)

Since this poem rattles around in my head from time to time, in my frustration at my daughter’s messy bedroom, I began composing this poem. It’s based on my beloved Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout and here I present it in celebration of Shel Silverstein’s life.

Happy Mother’s Day

May 9, 2013

Happy Mother's Day, daffodils on red ground, flowers for mother's day, mothers day flowers, daffodils for moms, cream daffodils, spring flowers in vase, Happy Mother’s Day! I love the idea of slowing down to think about motherhood in both directions: about my own Mom and about what it means to have my children in my life.

Since I’ve become a Mom, I’ve thanked my mother for all the unseen sacrifices and her unending love, support, guidance and cheer leading throughout my life. I’ve apologized to my Mom for my fresh back talk, for saying hurtful things in angry bouts and for taking her for granted.

My Mom was and is always there for me. When I got home from school after holding in tears all day, when I had a teen drama at the dance and couldn’t wait to be home, when my babies were born and I needed mothering, when I need advice on how to manage these slippery night sweats that have crept into my life.

My Mom was a good Mom and raised me with loving discipline; I always knew I was loved. As an adult, she is my friend, and I’m so deeply grateful for that.

With my kiddos, I’m still in the active parenting stage and not yet at the best friend phase. Though, I recently realized with shock that we are on “the flip side.” We have fewer years left with kids in our house (only nine short years) than years we’ve had kids in our house (over fourteen years). Our children are part of us, entrusted to us to love, nurture, teach and cherish and it feels like not enough time left with them in our home. (Okay, yes, I know they often come back, but we’re brainwashing them with the expectation of getting a job and their own apartment after college, I’ll let you know how that goes.)

The Beauty of Humanity Movement

May 8, 2013

the beauty of humanity movement, camilla gibbs, vietnamese art, read across rhode island 2013 book, rhode island center for the book, reading across ri,I was so moved by The Beauty of Humanity Movement and it’s author, Camilla Gibb.

As I got onto Amazon months ago to purchase this year’s Reading Across Rhode Island book selection, I gasped aloud as I saw the cover image. Artwork of a Vietnamese woman standing in a boat peered out at me.

I attended the May 3rd breakfast with some members of my book club, Reading Between the Wines, and I brought my Mom.

Last year, my mother and I spent an amazing 20 days in Vietnam and it is a place that is now a part of me. Wherever I go, I hold that place dear and take a piece of it with me, but there is something different about Vietnam. Some stronger hold that country has held on me. It felt like serendipity that this year’s book was about Vietnam – I couldn’t wait to read it.

As I savored this story and its rich imagery, the tastes and smells of Hanoi pulled me back to the other side of the world. I craved a bowl of pho and felt a special connection to the characters and even to the author. I was intrigued to learn her story and how she came to write about Vietnam since she is Canadian. It seemed that Vietnam had captured her spirit as it had mine.

Anna’s Birth Story

May 6, 2013

38 weeks pregnant, picture of pregnant woman, anna's birth, birth story,

A birth story makes a mother. Or grows a mother along her motherhood journey. In honor of Mother’s Day and my baby Anna’s birthday, here is her birth story.

Anna’s birth story is of the birth I had envisioned, the birth I had tried to have twice prior. Anna’s birth story is of the birth I had always wanted. “Third time’s a charm,” they joked while I was still in the tub. She was my VBAC waterbirth.

I wasn’t due for two more weeks, I didn’t know about the changes in the hospital VBAC policies only a day before my water broke. When you hear about someone’s “water breaking” it’s the sitcom scenes we visualize – the embarrassing splash, the unmistakable gush – but more often it’s kind of a question mark. Did I just pee or did my water break? I’m old enough to know how to go to the bathroom, but what is this?

It was 12:30 am, I got up, went to the bathroom and got back into bed. As I settled in, I had a tiny, throat-clearing cough and that’s when I felt it. A little warm, a little wet. I got back up and went to the bathroom to test things out. Hmmm, I think my water broke. Even the third time around, there can be uncertainty, it hadn’t happened spontaneously with my first two births so I had no personal point of reference either. Excitedly, I put on a pad and climbed back in bed planning to get some sleep before things kicked in.

Stuck in Columbus with my New-Old Friend

April 25, 2013

New friends, new-old friend, fast friends, friends at first sight, smiling sisters, kappa sisters, KKG sisters, leadership academy Being stuck in Columbus, Ohio wasn’t my plan. When my kiddos were younger, a little time alone in a hotel would sound dreamy, but I wanted to go home to my kids who would be in school all day after I returned. While I’m disappointed and missing my family after three days away, I’m making the best of it and I am thankful for my “new-old friend.”

I came to Columbus for an inspiring leadership workshop. It was a refreshing weekend that afforded me the time to reflect, plan, and define my visions and goals for not only myself and my life but also for the organizations of which I am a part. (Stay tuned this week for leadership skills for Moms.)

I feel invigorated and centered. I’ve filled myself up and I am energized to go home and shine in my roles as a Mom, wife, friend, writer, business owner, volunteer, educator, doula…. I couldn’t wait to get home and hug the kids and Nick who would be waiting for me at the airport! My head and heart were happy to be going home – but they’d have to wait.

Top Mommy Blogs

April 12, 2013

Top Mommy Blogs is a directory of Mommy Blogs that are ranked, categorized and rated. They boast over 4500 blogs in 30 different categories. I’m a member and that’s the huge number of blogs I’m competing with! :-)

I am currently ranked #15 in the Family Life category (#69 overall) and I’m working to break into the top 10 in my very populated category. I would appreciate your votes!

As a Mother’s Circle reader, I hope you’ll consider voting for me, your vote will count once in every 24 hour period, so if you’re really enthusiastic, click every now and then! Every click helps me! And clicks from different IP addresses are terrific if you happen to work and live using different IP addresses. (Now I’m really asking a lot of you!)

All you need to do is click on one of the Top Mommy Blog images
in my side bar or at the bottom of my blog posts and
once you land on the Top Mommy Blogs home page, you’ve voted!

Thank you!

This is one time when “vote early vote often” is actually legal! Click once in each 24 hours and it’ll count!

top mommy blogs, vote for me, mom bloggers, mothers circle blog, top mommy blog voting,

I know you’re a busy Mom and I thank you for taking a moment to vote for Mother’s Circle on Top Mommy Blogs! I’m so happy and grateful to have your support!

Happy Friday – Have a wonderful weekend!

xo
Leah

 

Expecting More Than to Coexist

April 3, 2013

tree with blue sky, white tree, white tree on blue ground, winter tree, leafless tree, birch, tree of life, humanity tree, coexist, You know the “Coexist” bumper sticker? It bugs me. I think it’s simply setting the bar way too low.

We already live together with people of all different backgrounds, philosophies, theologies, colors of skin … shouldn’t we want more than to simply be able to be in the same space together?

In teaching our children about life, the tippy top lesson is really all about LOVE. Love yourself, love your neighbors. Manners, household chores, siblings, homework, athletics … it all boils down to love. Simply love. Coexisting isn’t loving, it’s eeking by. It’s occupying space side by side.

To be clear, I have nothing against the Coexist Foundation or their mission or work. There are so many organizations of good in this world, the generosity is breathtaking; I simply argue with the word “coexist” as being too weak and diluted.

Words like tolerance come to mind when I see the coexist symbols. Does anyone want to be just tolerated?

I see it as an issue of an open heart and an open mind, welcoming and accepting and cherishing each individual. We’re not going to bond, hit it off or even like everyone we meet but I live my life and teach our kids to live being kind and acting with love and respect toward everyone they meet. And everyone they don’t meet. Disagree, sure. Do it with respect and kindness.

I Wanted To Be A Writer When I Grew Up

March 25, 2013

This week’s prompt: What did you want to be when you grew up? Do you still harbor a desire to be that? When did you realize your dream was or wasn’t possible?

cursive writing, learning to write, spiral bound book, silver pen, writing hand, remembering your dreams, how to interpret dreamsI always wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

I wrote all the time as a kid; poems, stories, letters, diaries and even a chapter book which I boldly shipped off to one of the major publishing houses when I was in 5th grade. I took creative writing classes in high school, filled over 100 journals and submitted poems to contests and for publication (I did get something published in the yearbook!)

I always wanted to be a writer but life got busy and took me a different, more “practical” direction. My writing in college was grounded in academics and drifted away from creative pieces. Then graduation planted me in my beloved New York City at a face-paced job in retail buying and then public relations where my writing consisted of proposals, market research reports and press releases. The ideas were still jumping around in my head, waiting to be released.

Then came my sweetheart, then my baby, then more babies and my writing life recorded their activities and their quips, their firsts and their funnies. I have journals and letters to each of them. We moved a few times, I dove into a career in all things babies and birth and grew my expertise and knowledge along with my business.

Now, in my forties, I’m coming back around and making writing a priority in my life. Almost a year ago, I began this blog and it has helped me get disciplined about writing and I’m loving it! All those lists of book ideas, it turns out they’re actually perfect blog posts!

Music for Newtown Auction

March 22, 2013
[caption id="attachment_1994" align="alignleft" width="300"]3 doors down, 3 doors down and music for newtown, 3 doors down donations, image of 3 doors down Beth with 3 Doors Down who donated an autographed guitar to the Music for Newtown Auction.[/caption]

 

The list of heavy hitting stars donating to the Music for Newtown Auction keeps growing even as the auction date is three days away.

Jack Johnson, Taylor Swift, Elton John, Tim McGraw, 3 Doors Down, The Eagles, Eddie Vedder, John Mayer, One Direction, and Rush to give you a teaser.

I have an “in,” so keep reading for a new item announced here first!

Happy Spring Equinox

March 20, 2013

spring, spring flowers, spring equinox, vernal equinox, happy spring, signs of spring, spring is in the air, daffodils, narcissis, trumpet flowerSpring is my favorite season and even though we welcome this year’s spring equinox with snow-covered ground, there is sunshine and green buds are poking through. Robins are hopping around and I feel excited by the season of new beginnings. Bring some spring indoors and force forsythia with the kids.

Seasons change because of how the Earth orbits the sun and the tilt of its axis, it’s determined by shifting sunlight. Today, the vernal equinox, both night and day are both about the same length of time. In Latin, equinox means “equal night.” Also on the spring equinox, the sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west.

A few weeks ago, I cut some forsythia branches from our bramble of winter forsythia bushes. I brought them in to force and today I’m enjoying the yellow spring flowers in full bloom. This is a fun activity to do with children of all ages.

Up close, you can see that the branches that look bare and sleepy are actually full of buds. Since forsythia grow and multiple heartily, it’s okay to allow children old enough to manage clippers to cut some with your guidance. Simply cut branches then clip off any short pieces that would be below the water line of a vase. Then give them a fresh cut at an angle and because they are a woody stem, I also use the shears to cut UP the stem separating it vertically to give more area to absorb water. Another option is to give a fresh cut and then crush the end of the branch with a hammer. (Any kid would love to help with that part!) Then wait a few days and you’ll have spring indoors!

forcing forsythia, vase of branches, red dining room, red walls, forced forsythia, yellow flowers, forsythia in bloom, how to make forsythia bloom, when do forsythia bloom, yellow flowers of spring, spring flowering bushes

 

To the left are the plain branches waiting to open. To the right, the blooming branches to enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t like to throw any away so these in the blue vase are the tiny off shouts that I cut from the large branches. These make great smaller arrangements to put in bathrooms, kids rooms or on your office desk to cheer you!

Childhood Pets

March 14, 2013

This Week’s Prompt: Did you have a favorite childhood pet? A crazy one? What were their names? Tell us a story about your animal companions or lack their of.

[caption id="attachment_1921" align="alignleft" width="250"]cats, black and white cat, tootsie, pet named tootsie, deaf cat, mites in cats ears Beth took this picture of Tootsie. I think he’s sleeping in a dress-up cheerleader pom pom.[/caption]

I’m allergic to cats, really allergic, but we had a cat for most of my growing up years. When I went away to college, I realized how much better I could breathe without cats. Coming home for holidays I had to be out of the house for chunks of time, the cats got to stay, I went out for air. Yet thinking back, I truly have fond memories of our childhood pets. Somehow, dumb as it sounds, I don’t really think we credited our kitties with how bad my asthma was, or we simply loved them too much.

Before the cats, there was Nicky, a husky, a sweet dog who would come to my grandparents with us sometimes, he was well-behaved and knew he wasn’t allow to leave the kitchen.

One day Nicky snapped at our neighbor, a boy my age. It was hot and he was throwing rocks at the dog, but after that incident, we had to give Nicky to another family with no children. My sister, brother and I spent many weekends at my grandparent’s house, and one day a dog that looked so much like Nicky showed up in the back yard. The details are all fuzzy, but my grandmother invited the dog in for a treat and he wouldn’t leave the kitchen! We were amazed, apparently the new family lived nearby and we were able to see Nicky a couple of times after he moved away from home.

Then the cats. We never had more than one at a time, yet since we had several through the years, apparently we didn’t have very long-lived cats. There was an orange cat named Ginger, I can’t remember his story at all, just a picture in my head and his name. Then we had a sweet black and white cat who we named after a favorite childhood story book character: White Faced Simmony. It comes from Master of All Masters, a book memory that makes me smile.

Parent Child One on One Time

March 12, 2013

yellow plane, rhinebeck, ww1 planes, father son camping, boys weekend, One on one time with each of your children is worth scheduling. It’s can be such a valued tradition for each parent to carve out a special time alone with each child throughout your week. What you do doesn’t matter, what matters is that your child has 100% of your attention with no distractions.

It doesn’t need to cost money, take all day and it doesn’t even require leaving the house, but adding in special occasion one on one time can build cherished memories.

I still feel cherished and special when I think about some one on one time I had with my parents growing up. There was the time my Dad took me, just me, to go horseback riding. It wasn’t a habit and didn’t become a thing, we only went once, but it was a new experience and I did it with my Dad. I was the center of his attention the entire time we were together. Another time, we went hiking in the woods. On the day I was alone with my Dad, my Mom would take my sister somewhere just for her. On one of our days, my Mom let me choose what to do, I picked going to a Hallmark store! Truthfully, I still love gift shops and sending cards.

Finding time alone with each of your children isn’t always easy, but get creative and I’m sure you can see opportunities in your day to give even 15-20 minutes of concentrated attention to each child. Can you do a puzzle or craft with your 4 year old while your toddler naps? Can you go for a treasure-hunt walk through the yard or neighborhood when grandma comes over to stay with the other child(ren)? How about making the usual bedtime or bath time routine dedicated time to a child?

Childhood Sick Days – Soap Operas + Chicken Soup

March 8, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.
See the Mom Before Mom category for more of my posts in this series:

How did you get your name?
How did you celebrate childhood birthdays?
What was your childhood bedroom like?
What was your favorite home cooked meal?

The Family Car

This week’s prompt: Who took care of you when you were sick? How did you spend sick days? From soup to ointments to old wives tales, how did your family teach you to heal?

childhood sick days, soap operas, chicken broth, before I was a mom, childhood asthma, kids throwing up, freezing chicken broth, homemade broth, Soap operas and chicken soup. That’s what comes to mind first when I think of my childhood sick days.

In the days before DVR, DVDs, On Demand and a zillion channels to choose from, we had the basic channel numbers up to 13 (PBS), and some were only static. So being home sick meant getting to stay in my parents bed or on the couch and watch daytime television between naps.

Sip some flat ginger ale, watch As the World Turns, choke down dry toast, flip to Price is Right, a slug of fuschia Pepto, now it’s time for Hollywood Squares.

I have memories of both of my parents, and both of my grandparents caring for me at different times, in different ways when I was sick. Daytime, home-from-school sick was solely my Mom’s gig. She took care of me and my Dad would come see how I was feeling when he got home form work.

There was a holiday we hosted one year when I was sick enough to stay in bed. I remember a haze of visitors to check on me, to slather me anew with Vick’s Vap-O-Rub, to take my temperature with a glass thermometer that stabbed under my tongue and always crept out toward my teeth.

Still Not Rhode Islanders …

March 1, 2013

Welcome to Rhode Island, the Ocean State, Welcome sign, living in Rhode Island, most liberal state, blue state, Seven years ago today, we closed on our home in Little Rhody and began our lives as Rhode Islanders, or so we thought.

We’d moved from Sparta, NJ, a town where we knew people everywhere we went, which I loved! Popping into the library with hellos, grocery shopping and chatting while selecting tomatoes, pushing a swing at the playground and calling out to a friend entering the gate. I loved the feel of the TV-perfect-small-town-charm. Little did I know that Rhode Island would be like moving to a large town where everyone is joined to everyone by a mere tethering thread.

Almost instantly, we discovered connections to both my hometown and my husband’s, weekly, new small world stories unveiled themselves. That know-everyone feeling we’d left behind was rebuilt amazingly fast in our new town and we quickly learned the state-wide personality and the typically Rhode Island quirks.

Officially, we still have decades to go before we’d be considered Rhode Islanders, and frankly, I kind of take pride in not being “official.” Though it shocked me one day to realize that my children are growing up here and will be true Rhode Islanders!

The language took some adjusting to, I couldn’t understand what a bubbler was, (pronounced, bubbla and means water fountain everywhere else). I nearly fell over when I was quizzing our second grader years ago: “Spell, ‘idea.’” He proudly replied, “I – D – E – R.” His teacher’s thick RI accent was affecting his learning and I quickly composed a song, the first in a repertoire, to counteract the dialect: “There is no ‘R’ in idea! There is no ‘R’ in idea!” Over our years here, there have been many times when one child will call out about another child, “Mooooom, we need to move! Anna said ‘Ka,’” Of course the offending child always vehemently denies any such swap of ending sounds, even if it may have slipped out.

KOTO – Know One Teach One

February 18, 2013

koto hanoi, hanoi restaurant, paper lanterns, white paper lanterns, globe lightsA year ago this month, my Mom and I took a trip of a lifetime together to Vietnam and Cambodia.

Before the trip, my daughter selected the book Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke for our mother-daughter book club, it takes place in Hanoi. I read it before leaving to be sure I could bring back relevant details and photos for the girls. KOTO is highlighted in the book and it was on my list of places I had to go to.

In one of those law-of-attraction moments, on our first night in Hanoi, only hours after landing, our guide gave us a run down of the next day. Quang told us the itinerary has “lunch on our own” scheduled but he hoped we didn’t mind that he had made a reservation for us all to eat together at a place called KOTO. My jaw dropped, I gasped and I flung my head to look at my Mom who understood my excitement.

Perfect! I would be taken directly to the one place not on the official tour that I wanted to see.mother daughter traveling together, traveling with your mom, vietnam tours, odyssey tours, southeast asia travel, visiting vietnam,

Celebrating Childhood Birthdays

February 8, 2013

This is my fourth post in the Mom Before Mom series started by Carla at All of Me Now.

This Week’s Prompt: How did you celebrate your birthday?

Happy Birthday Leah, Birthday cake, decorating a birthday cake, kids birthday cakes, pretty flowered cake, peach flowers,Like in last week’s Mom Before Mom post about favorite home cooked meals, my Mom was central in making birthdays special growing up. She baked, decorated, planned, wrapped, hostessed and cleaned up after.

Most of my memories of my earliest birthdays are from faded square pictures. My friends and I all dressed in frilly pink party dresses, a cardboard throne decorated for the birthday girl, streamers, balloons and presents.

My birthday is in early November, so as I got older, I often had Halloween-themed birthday parties. Decked out in costumes, my friends would arrive and between autumnleah's birthday, 1970's birthdays, old birthday photos, pink party dress, birthday girl games, my Mom would lead us through a mini haunted house in our finished basement. We loved the nervous feeling and giggled nervously as she told us a legend, blind-folded, and we had to step over imaginary creatures, touch unknown brains and we somehow ended with our face in a plate of flour, I wonder if she remembers how the story went.

Even for my sleepover parties, my Mom planned games like dressing up relays. One year, I remember my Dad getting angry because some of my friends dressed my little brother up as a ballerina and then tied together the pink tights at his feet. I got in trouble, but it still makes me laugh!

As a Mom, I really don’t love slumber parties, but for my birthdays, just like my kids now, I always wanted to have a pajama party. My friends and I would line up in our family room and do the hustle to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. (Can you guess how old I am?)

Favorite Home Cooked Meal

February 1, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.
Carla explains the idea behind Mom Before Mom: “So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first?
My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me.”

I’ve accepted her invitation, this is my third post in the series.
Last week’s post: What was your childhood bedroom like?

This week’s prompt:
What was your favorite home cooked meal as a child? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.

salmon with asparagus, salmon dinner, kids eating fish, getting kids to eat vegetables, healthy snack ideas, healthy dinner ideas,My Mom cooked homemade meals every night. We ate at the table my Dad built. My parents, my sister, brother and I each had our own spot at the table, literally and figuratively.

We had our seats, but we also had our say. More than the food, I remember the discussions, the laughing, the problem solving, and the sharing that happened around that table. We devoured side dishes of daily check ins, gobbled up glimpses of business decisions when my Dad purposefully told stories from the office. We were fed lessons from the news along with our green beans and explored family values and decisions.

On the nights when my Dad was on a business trip, we would get visits from an imaginary Italian woman, Granny Fanny Nesserole. My Mom would slip into this persona and accent while we tumbled into fits of laughter.

My Mom made dinners special. It was usually our job to set the table, but some nights, she would set the table in an extra special way, with flowers, candles, pretty china and she would serve an appetizer before the main course. On Valentine’s Day, we would come to the table and each find a card and small package wrapped in green salad, wooden salad bowl, family dinner traditions, pass the salad, tomato salad, mom before mom, pinks and reds.

We always had a salad with dinner. My Dad would ask for the salad bowl when we were all done and he’d eat the rest right out of the serving bowl. Sure, we learned manners at the dinner table, but that was his thing and we thought it was normal. One night, I remember my Mom was serving liver (back in the 70’s when it used to be healthy) and my Dad, before taking a bite announced, “If that’s what I think it is, no one touch the salad!” A bit of family lore.

What Was Your Childhood Bedroom Like?

January 26, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.
Carla explains the idea behind Mom Before Mom: “So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first?
My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me.”

I’ve accepted her invitation, this is my second post in the series. Last week was about how I got my name.
This week’s prompt is: What was your childhood bedroom like? Give a tour. How did it change as you matured?

[caption id="attachment_1549" align="alignleft" width="231"]sisters dressing up, kids playing house, girl dressing up as boy, sisters getting along, sisters laughing, siblings playing, pink suitcase, A favorite activity, Beth and I dressing up. I was 7, she was 5.[/caption]

I lived in one house, in one bedroom for my entire childhood. Until my later years of college, I even came home to that bedroom from school. (It was fair that I eventually got bumped, my brother had grown up with the booby-prize of a bedroom.)

Birth Hill Road in Newtown, Connecticut. A white colonial up on a hill and my bedroom was in the back corner, facing “the Big Rock” in the woods. My sister, Beth, and I shared that room when we were little, my Mom painted Raggedy Ann dolls over our beds in place of head boards. Each doll held a flower and faced the other.

Once, years after the Raggedy Anns were painted over, when we had redesigned the layout of the room and had our beds meeting in an “L” shape, our little brother was running from tip to tip of each bed and then tripped, perhaps on a sister’s foot if memory serves me, and launched into the corner of a windowsill. Hospital. Stitches. Angry Mother.

I’m not sure how old I was when Beth moved down the hall. Her new room was very cool. My Dad built cabinets and shelves out from the wall so her bed nestled into the wall. Book shelves and curtains made it a cozy nook.

My memories of when I had the room to myself are of tons of matching furniture, my parents had bought a double set for when I had my roommate. On my own, I loved organizing the shelves and my closet, I was neat and savored having my own space. I had forgotten until writing this, I had a bunny collection on one of those shelves, various ceramic bunnies in all sizes and poses, wonder where those are now.

As a teen, I got my own phone in my room for Christmas, it was just a house phone, connected to the one family phone number, but it was MY phone, in MY room with privacy! It had a really long cord and no cradle, it was 80’s hip and could be hung up on any of my many dresser surfaces.

I didn’t have much input into the decor or scheme really, which didn’t bother me, but I loved arranging the things I had and keeping my space organized. The colors were peachy and a green shaggy kind of rug, evidence of my 70’s childhood. The dressers had hutches attached to most of them and there were sweet little apricot flowers and a basket weave-type pattern in them. Not my style now, but I loved them then.

Over the years, it changed and my Dad even put in another window facing the woods in our back yard. He was always an awesome builder and woodworker but my Mom would attest (and complain) that he wasn’t big on prep or clean up work. He loved the demo part of the job and cut the hole for my new window without putting down a drop cloth. For months and months after that job was done we heard pieces of sheet rock going up the vacuum (remember, it was shag carpet, lot’s of room to hide plaster chunks!)

That room framed my ordinary everyday life: Late nights of homework, sleepovers with friends, talking with boys, posters on the back of my door. And that room framed the extraordinary life moments: Primping for dances, gowning for proms, talking with boys.

Years after I moved out, my bridesmaids and I stood in my old bedroom in front of an air conditioner in the no-longer-new-window, lifting our dresses to the cool breeze on that scorching July day. I was so thankful that Nick, my husband got to know the home and room I grew up in, but my kids never did.

When my parents sold the house and moved out not long before our first baby was born, the whole family was together and we walked room to room and everyone shared a memory for each room. Laughter, tears from laughter, tears from sadness, sadness from good-bye. Nearly three decades of family memories lived in those rooms, so many of them in my corner of the house.

Thankful Thursday

January 24, 2013

Fellow Rhody Blogger, Joanna at Baby Gator’s Den, began a Thankful Thursday post series. This week, I’m jumping on board. I believe that gratitude is the key to happiness and while it’s an active, conscious process, I work hard to count my blessings all day long, every day.

family, thankful for family, smiling family, happy family, thankful thursday, secret to happiness, THANKFUL

T – I am thankful for time. Today I had time to have breakfast with friends and read for my book club tonight. Time to myself, time with my kids, time with my friends. Treasured time.

H – I am thankful for heat. The warmth in my home, in the hot shower, in my car, the scarf around my neck.

A – I am thankful for aspirations, for goals and dreams and things to look forward to.

N – I am thankful for Nick. Nick, my dear, sweet, catch of a husband. My true companion, my knight in shining armor (still not even tarnished after almost 19 years of marriage!), my very best friend.

K – I am thankful for my kitchen and kisses. As in most homes, our kitchen is our center. Family dinners, mobs of friends, spilled drinks, dishes of food, laughter overflowing, scribbled homework, and free-flowing kisses. Romantic kisses and kid kisses. Good bye kisses, welcome home kisses. Smooshy kisses and quickie kisses. Kisses on the head, kisses on the cheeks, kisses square on the lips. I’m thankful for our kitchen and kisses.ukulele, green paisley uke, bohemian rhapsody on ukulele, musical giftedness, thankful thursday, green paisleys,

F – I am thankful for family. The top of my gratitude list each and every day, each and every moment. My greatest joy, my deepest love.

U – I am thankful for ukuleles. My daughter picked up a ukulele in the music store and instantly plucked out songs. That year, Santa brought her a cute uke covered with green paisleys. She has an impressive musical gift and listening to her compose, sing and create music with her friends and father makes me smile and brings me joy.

L – I am thankful for life. Thankful for another day. THIS day. I embrace it, welcome it and cherish it.

Today, I am Thankful.

 

How Did You Get Your Name?

January 17, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.

The idea is that our children only know us “Mom,” “Mommy,” or “Mama” but don’t know who we were before we had that name. Each week, Carla will provide a prompt which will result in a collection of stories from me to my children, giving them a glimpse into me, before I was their Mom.

Our first prompt: How did you get your name? Did you always love it? Have you ever wanted to change it?

leah name, cut out letters, ransom note style words, collages, magazine letters cut out, meaning of Leah, Hebrew Leah, crafty name,

I don’t think my parents had a reason for naming me Leah, except that they liked it and the second runner up, Jennifer, had just been used by my Mom’s friend. My middle name is Jane, after my mother, which is special to me now, though I’m not sure I appreciated that when I was younger.

Growing up I looked my name up in a baby name book for it’s meaning: the weary one. Seriously?! For someone who loves the meaning behind things, this was a bummer, and anyone who knows me will confirm that I tend to have a lot of energy. A-Lot-Of-Energy! (Over years of my overachieving ways, though, I have over-committed myself at times and have felt weary.)

I’m not sure I prefer the more modern meaning: delicate. I’m pretty bold, self confident and consider myself a strong, passionate woman. However, when I really consider the meaning, I think my heart is empathetic, open and honest, and so it can feel sensitive and fragile. I hate feeling misunderstood – I’d never make it in politics!

As a kid, I was the only Leah. There was another girl about six years younger than me, who spelled her name Lea, but until college, she was the only other person I’d ever met who had my name.

Generally, I liked being individual and having an uncommon name, but I craved something personalized. Other girls had signs on their bedroom doors announcing “Carrie’s Room” or had stickers, hair clips or jewelry labeled with their names. Nothing ever had Leah on it. Nothing.

Knitting Lessons

January 9, 2013

sisters knitting, kids learning to knit, red yarn, ann hood's knitting circle, Knit wits, knitting groups, learning to knitMy grandmother taught me to knit when I was little. I started knitting lessons with the ugliest (I liked it then) bright purple yarn with silver flecked in it. I was knitting a scarf for my DAD! I just kept knitting it longer and longer, I didn’t ever finish it but I loved doing it. I especially loved doing it with my grandma.

In the years since, I did a lot of needle work, embroidery and cross stitching but haven’t done anything at all in close to a decade (can it be?) Life just took over. I used to stitch while watching TV, but now if I ever get to watch TV, I fold laundry, and more laundry, and, yup, you know, more laundry.

I’ve recently been thinking of asking my Mom to reteach me to knit, but I figured I’ll ask when I have more time to devote to relearning it. Then, I found really pretty yarn on sale – only 29 cents each! I scooped up two skeins and took them to my parent’s house.

Talk to Connect

December 18, 2012

This post appears on The Communication Blog, the blog by Dr. Joseph A. DeVito, Hunter College professor and author of multiple communications textbooks and articles. I thank Dr. DeVito for allowing me to guest post on his valuable blog.

[caption id="attachment_1107" align="alignleft" width="240"]talking vs technology, social media, connecting through technology, facebook talk, criticized for talking, judged for talking a lot, talks too much Talking is still the most intimate way to connect.[/caption]

I like to talk. I talk to connect and get closer to people. What I’ve realized is most people like to talk – and talk a lot. People talk. A lot. Connecting is human and talking is still our most genuine way of connecting. In a world with changing personal contact, where interactions through technology reign, talking is still a precious gift to join hearts and minds with others.

Over the years, I’ve had to grin through painful comments about my talking, sometimes disguised as jokes, other times delivered more directly. Some close friends may comment endearingly but I’ve received critical, judgmental and hurtful remarks. Yet, as rude and cutting as it feels, such frank statements make me think.

Praying for Newtown

December 16, 2012
[caption id="attachment_1163" align="alignleft" width="300"]painting of Newtown, praying for Newtown, growing up in Newtown, blue and gold Watercolor painting by Jane Bogdan of Newtown, CT[/caption]

Along with the rest of the country and people around the globe, I am praying for Newtown.

I have wondered what to write, how to say what’s in my heart, or if I should write anything at all; but I am moved to acknowledge this painful tragedy and to raise my voice and share my love with my hometown community and with grieving families all over.

I grew up in Newtown. This is my town, the town of my youth, my teens, my memories. I learned to drive on Newtown’s roads, watched $2 movies at the Town Hall, and ice skated in Ram’s pasture. I grew up at the Ice Cream Shop, the Pizza Palace and Blue Colony Diner. I went to preschool at Trinity Church, returned from college breaks to my childhood home and got married in the white steepled church in the center of town.

Newtown is a part of me and that makes this hurt in another way.

Old friends are reaching out to one another, seeking others who understand this feeling and grasping connections to home. A need drawing us together again. Tears coming freely, frequently, openly.

No matter where this happened, the pain and suffering is unimaginable. Our hearts swell and we cry for the children, families and community. We cry for the world and humanity. We question, doubt, wonder, fear.

How? Why? Questions that can never be answered. Or explained to our children. So we pray. We hold onto faith and pray for Newtown.

Thank You Note to Moms

December 14, 2012

A Thank You Note to Moms

I was sitting and imagining what it would be like to receive a thank you from my kids.

We don’t become Moms for recognition or acknowledgement, we do it for the relationships we build with our children. We do it from a place of selfless, boundless love.

But we deserve to be thanked for our tireless, passionate, endless work as Moms. We don’t get sick days, personal days and we really don’t even get Mother’s Day off, do we?

So here is the thank you note every Mom should get. This is for you!

Never say you’re “just a mom” and know that your work is the most important there is!

mom and daughters, two girls, sisters, thanks Mom, appreciating Moms, Mother's Day, ideas for thanking Moms, raising children, disciplining kids, Dear Mom –

Thank you for all you do for me and our family.

Thank you for picking up my socks, my Legos, my bouncy balls, my crayons, shoes, towels and cars, my books, my crafts, my underwear, my DS games, teddy bears, magic markers, my pajamas, more Legos, my Play Doh, my Squinkies, my hair clips, my slippers and all the things we leave in a path behind us everywhere around the house.

I know you spend a lot of your day just picking up the things we left around between coming home from school and going to bed. I just wanted you to know I appreciate it!

Thanks for cooking for us, it must really take a lot of work to plan meals, to go to the grocery store, to read labels and pick the best foods to keep our bodies healthy. It must take a lot of time and energy to put the food into the cart, out of the cart to pay, into the cart, out of the cart to the car, out of the car, into the house, out of the bags and then into the pantry; all before you cook us dinner. Great job! (I’ll try not to say, “Eww” or “Yuck” anymore.)

Mammograms During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 5, 2012

This post was originally published May 31, 2012, I am reposting it in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Take care of yourself!

mammogram recheck, breast cancer awareness month, pink ribbon tree, There was a message left at 1:27 pm yesterday, the day after my mammogram, “Please call us back.” Call them back? What about just waiting for that nice letter that arrives next week to tell me everything is okay?

Hours had passed and kids swarmed the kitchen as I listened to the message. I waited until I dropped them off at afternoon activities, I was alone in the parking lot and I clutched the note paper with the number of the Anne Pappas Center scribbled on it. The woman who answers is so busy she needs to call me back. “Breathe,” I tell myself and I wait. At 4:55 pm, I worried that I hadn’t heard and that they’d close for the night, I couldn’t wonder overnight, so I called back apologizing for my repeat call. She was very sweet, just very busy and promised to call me before she left.

True to her word, she called me reporting that they want to do an ultrasound, we were able to schedule it for the next day, today, two days after my original mammogram.

I have had mammograms for several years now starting with a diagnostic check of a lump in my right breast, everything has been fine with that year after year. I wondered if something had changed. I prayed. I thought of my friends who had fought and are fighting breast cancer at a young age, at my age. I thought about how the kids have giggled at me crying to the Martina McBride song, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.”

I’m not in a high risk category; I have no family history, I had my first full term pregnancy and birth before age 30, I breastfed three kids. Breastfeeding has a cumulative protective factor and I’d nursed two babies for over a year each and my third for two years (a long time from our culture’s viewpoint, but in my doula-ing-breastfeeding-birthie world, not long enough. I digress). I’m not high risk, but, really, I know that doesn’t mean I’m not AT risk as a woman with boobs. mammogram call back, spot compression mammogram

Nervous all morning, I distracted myself by watering my vegetable garden, vacuuming, organizing my desk and making hard boiled eggs. My calendar alert nudged me to my car, I was suddenly very jittery and the drive to Providence seemed longer than normal.

The Importance of Grandparents

September 14, 2012

My Grandmother would’ve been 100 today. We had a special connection, my grandma and me, a deep and spiritual bond, a unity of our hearts. My Gramps, too, was a main character in the scenes of my story. My life, and the lives of my sister and brother, were immeasurably impacted by our relationship with […]

Big Sister, Little Sister

August 20, 2012
[caption id="attachment_521" align="alignleft" width="250"]sisters Our first meeting[/caption]

 

I met my Little Sister when she was seven. We sat in a booth and started to get to know one another over chicken with broccoli. I remember she politely made sure to empty her mouth before speaking or answering any questions. We were both hoping to make a good first impression, and even more, a lasting connection.

When I toasted, “Here’s to new friends!” this sweet second-grader looked up at me and corrected, “Here’s to sisters!” She has been a part of our family ever since.

Boys and Bruises

August 2, 2012

Boys and Bruises, climbing a palm tree | MothersCircle.netI remember a time when Michael was little and always had a bruise, or two, or three somewhere on his shins, his forehead, his knees. Some of them had hurt, others just seemed to appear. His bruises were badges of his explorations and were part of the process of him learning about his body in space.

A social worker friend once told me that a sign of abuse is a person having bruises in all stages of healing, but that described my non-abused, well-loved little boy and he had made the bruises all on his own. He was 100% rough and tumble boy from his earliest days.

He bumped into tables when he learned to walk and got bruised. He tipped back in a chair at dinner as a toddler and got bruised. He balanced himself to go up the slide backwards and he learned. Experimenting with body mechanics and spacial relations is all part of growing up, and for many boys, it seems they do it with more energy, more gusto and more brute force than girls (though girls get their fair share of bruises, too!).

I Live You

July 16, 2012
[caption id="attachment_340" align="alignleft" width="250"]Family love I Live You![/caption]

We’re a family who uses the words, “I love you” very generously. We’re affectionate, we kiss, we hug, we snuggle and we say, write, text, email “I love you” all the time. For the last few months, either from my fingers or my autocorrect, whenever I try to type “I love you” somehow, it’s coming out “I live you.” I thought about that, and actually, that’s true, too!

At first it was a joke, my daughter and husband would text me back, “I live you, too,” but now they know that “I love you and I live you!” I realized that there are so many ways we live the ones we love.

We live them in their daily habits, in their nuances of behavior, the way they tilt their head, puzzle their eyebrows or jiggle in laughter. We know our loved ones intimately and we barely recognize how much we know their familiar responses, their subtle mannerisms, and how we feel their presence, or absence, in a space.

What Makes A Good Mom?

July 13, 2012
[caption id="attachment_321" align="alignleft" width="250"]Good Moms, a good mom, what makes a good mom, am I a good mom?, how can I be a good mom? My Mom and me – Good Moms![/caption]

What makes a good mom? Do we project our own definitions onto other mothers? Do we have standards so high we set ourselves up as failures? Isn’t it really true that we are all good Moms, barring situations of neglect and abuse.

You’re a good Mom. We all mother in our own unique way, and we’re all fallible. We are Moms who mess up at times, we raise our voices (okay, yell, scream and shout), forget to return the permission slip on time (if you haven’t yet, just wait), or worse, forget to put money under the tooth fairy pillow (that one required very creative story telling).

I think back on my happy childhood and don’t recall my Mom being ever-present at our schools, did she ever chaperone a field trip? I still felt completely cared for and content. One winter, my brother called as I watched my young children play in the snow on our deck, I muttered something about feeling bad for being inside and not out with them, my brother commented, “Leah, when did Mom ever come out to play in the snow with us?” He was right! I didn’t feel slighted one bit by that, plus she was waiting inside with hot chocolate, she showed us that she loved us in little and grand ways all the time without constantly guiding our activity or playing with us.

My Mom and I were recently talking about my grandmother and how by today’s standards of a good Mom being on every sideline, volunteering in every corner of the school, attending every in-school event, that her Mom wouldn’t have been considered a “good Mom.” Yet she was an incredible Mother and Grandmother and we always felt loved and cherished. She was full of wisdom and epitomized unconditional love, did it matter that she had no presence at her daughter’s school?

[caption id="attachment_323" align="alignleft" width="250"]mother and daughter, generations of moms, grandmother and great grandmother, good moms, My Mom and her Mom[/caption]

I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t get involved in our children’s schools and extracurricular activities, but I am a big believer in balance and in guilt-free parenting, so if you’re not mothering in that way, it’s okay and you’re a good Mom, too!

Memory Scars

July 2, 2012

horseshoe crab, creating with horseshoe crab, creative bucket, homemade basket, boy on beach, blue shirt, carrying shells, beach treasuresScar. The word feels negative, ugly, damaged, but our scars tell stories of our lives, they mark our bodies with visible memories. The life events that engraved themselves upon us in scars are not usually positive and pretty, they can represent deep pain and profound endurance, but they can also remind us of our gifts, our strengths and our humanity.

Growing up, we tritely feel and behave as if we’re indestructible, but as children, our scars teach us about our bodies in space: how high can we climb, when to release on a rope swing, the importance of knee pads. I have two skid marks 20 years after my first attempt at rollerblading. (Lessons: don’t wear roller blades 3 sizes too big and don’t ride through the sandy spots.)

My perfect little boy’s face has a small stripe across the bridge of his nose. In a creative spurt, I made a scavenger hunt for my daughter and son (then six and four) and while searching for a bug, they discovered a hidden shovel that a contractor had left behind. As I turned to look, I saw my daughter try to maneuver the too-big shovel, slip it off the hard ground and strike my son’s face as he leaned over inquisitively. (Lesson: hmmm, move fast if you see a small kid with a big shovel.) Michael’s nose scar is a part of him now, it’s more subtle as the years pass, but sometimes we remember the day when “Ali hit me with a shovel.”

cupcakes, blue and yellow cupcakes, flower cupcakes, flower baking, beautiful cupcakes

p-_j53ayb9sRH9s