Monday, April 27, 2015

The Awakening

As a child, I ran through life and all of it's seasons: sticky summer days of sweat and popsicles, crunchy autumn mornings and refreshingly cold snow angels.

As a child I never longed for Spring. Of course I was out running around barefoot and coatless the first chance I had, but Spring came when it came, and always arrived before I had a chance to miss it.

In fact, the first time I consciously remember longing for Spring was the winter after Mark and I married. We were living in the charming, Chardon, Ohio at the time. In an area called the snow belt. We'd had 151 inches of snow that year. (To compare, on average, Chicago gets just under 40 inches.) 

I was living in a snow globe. A snow globe that some toddler never tired of: one who shook and shook my world over and over again, covering it in snow.

There was a tree outside our kitchen window in that house, that I became slightly obsessed with. I looked at it every morning in April, looking for little green buds-- willing them to come to life. I watched that tree slowly awaken, at its mesmerizing, leisurely pace.

That was the first time I reveled in the awakening that is Spring. The tiny changes every day: the crocus, the daffodils, the buds on the trees... It taught me a special kind of patience.

Since then, I examine every day of the Spring. I find myself studying nature and looking for those tiny changes: listening for the birds and frogs, watching the grass get greener, noticing the color coming back into the rose bushes. 

The world is quite remarkable when you take the time to notice. And this year, as the world is awakening, it seems: and so am I.

The inspiration to this post came from a charming piece from a cousin (in law) of mine: Katie McMullen. In this post, she wisely points out, "My garden rituals remind me that waiting is good, and I can't control much." 

Which is exactly how I feel about Spring. Midwestern Spring certainly takes its sweet time, but the waiting and the anticipation can be a stunning experience.

What's your favorite sign of Springtime where you are located?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Beautiful Day

I knew going into parenthood, that it would be my job to teach my children. Teach them their alphabet, teach them to share, teach them right from wrong, teach them compassion...

Teach them, teach them, teach them.

Everyday. Because there is so much to take in, and so much to learn in this world.

What I didn't realize going into parenthood, is just how THEY would teach ME. And I'm not just talking how to change a diaper. I'm talking about serious life lessons.

Every day when we walk outside, Henry declares its a beautiful day. But not every day is the same kind of beautiful.

Yesterday Henry declared. "What a beautiful, bright, sunny day!" I energetically agreed. 

But then, this morning I was putting on a sweatshirt, a little irritated that the weather was under fifty degrees. It's supposed to be SPRING. I want a sunny, sixty degree day, with blue skies and white fluffy clouds.

So when we walked outside and Henry declared, "What a beautiful, cool day! This rain will help your garden grow!" I laughed. Because he's SO right, isn't he? Every day is beautiful in it's own way. We need the rainy days, to enjoy the sunny days filled with flowers. We could look forward to that sunny day, or we can enjoy this day we have now. 

My children are just so very present in every moment. Something I am striving to be. I need to spend a little more time in their world. A world that's new and wondrous, every single day.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Oh, Henry.

I'm quite convinced that if Henry had a camera crew following him around, he would be an instant hit. Every day his wit surprises me, and most definitely makes me laugh.

The other night I went to play trivia with a friend. When I got home Henry was still awake so I played five minutes of trivia with him before he went to bed.

"How many fingers on one hand?"
"What color is the sky?"
"What letter does Helicopter start with?"
"H. Like Henry."

While we were on the trivia kick I thought I might gain some insight into the world of Henry by throwing in a few opinion questions.

"What's your favorite sport?"
"Being naked!"
Today I was threatening Henry with a time-out because he wasn't doing so well in the listening department. Lately he'll say "Shhh... don't talk!" when I'm scolding him or telling him not to do something. Since I continued with my threat he yelled, 

"I don't like you!"

Which is the first time I've heard those words from him. (Surprisingly, this didn't hurt my feelings quite as much as I thought it would.) I took the opportunity to say we shouldn't talk like that to anyone, it can really hurt someone's feelings and we can't take words back. He looked me straight in the eye when he said:

"When I don't like you, I still love you, Mama." I should note that he says "wike" for like and "wove" for love. Which only makes this 3 year old's piece of wisdom cuter.

[I laughed but I surely hope he remembers this wisdom when he's a rowdy teenager.]
Easter really resonated with Henry yesterday. He hasn't stopped talking about that bunny which he calls the "Oyster" Bunny thanks to a Bubble Guppies Episode. Today while I was finishing up lunch with William, Henry snuck away with a bag full of Reese's Pieces. I'd promised him candy after lunch, so I pretended to look the other way. He then snuck by me again (hand shielding his eyes-- the classic if he can't see me, I can't see him toddler logic) to get a basket full of empty eggs.

He was being awfully quiet in the play room (which is the first sign of trouble) so I peeked in to check on him and he immediately screamed, "You can't look at me! I'm the Oyster Bunny with a special treat for you! But you can't see my hide the eggs!" So I went back into the kitchen (I can see him from there, he just doesn't know that. He proceeded to hide the eggs and then hop out of the room. And if you know Henry at all you'll know what a hugely sweet gesture sharing something with sugar is, as opposed to just eating it all himself.

"Otay, Mommy! The Oyster Bunny is done! Go find the eggs!"

I literally couldn't find the eggs, so I loudly proclaimed, "Wow, this Easter Bunny did a great job! I can't find the eggs anywhere!"

"Maybe you should look in the toy box!"

Moral of the story is I really need to clean out the toy box because I still can't find the eggs.
"Henry, do you know what Daddy's real name is?"
"Yes, Mark!"
"Good job! Do you know what Mommy's real name is?"
"Yes, Babe!"
As my first child, experiencing Henry grow up has been nothing short of wonderful. When they are babies it's magical to see all of the firsts and have that cuddly little bundle need you so much. Then they hit one and two, and you're amazed by how much they learn and take in every day. They start walking and talking... and talking... 

And now we are well into three and I'm beginning to glimpse the person Henry will be. His big personality shining out of that little body. 

Sometimes these little things accumulate and hit me all at once in a heart-bursting moment of profound happiness. 

And I think They are only three and one. Think of all the adventures that await 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Guest House

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, 
who violently sweep your house
empty of it's furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out 
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
Because each has been sent 
as a guide from beyond.

-Jelaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


I read this today and it resonated with me:

Always leave people better than you found them.
Hug the hurt.
Kiss the broken.
Befriend the lost.
Love the lonely.

We can all make a difference: one small, kind gesture at a time.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Frosty the Snowman

It's no secret that I learn more every day in regards to what it takes to be a boy mom. In most cases, I still don't "get it," but rather go along with it.

For example: a little boy's need to build things just to knock them over.

We'll spend a half hour building a beautiful "house" (I prefer to pretend it's a castle.) And as soon as the final block is in place, Henry's happy to make it come crashing down.

And the same goes for William. If anything gets to be half his height or above within his line of vision, he turns into Babyzilla. He'll come crashing into whatever it is, roars included.

And trust me I didn't teach them this. If I spend my morning creating something in the play room, ideally it would last at least until dinner.

Take today for example. Henry and Mark went out to play in the snow. And created this little cutie:

I mean he is adorable, right?? Henry named him Frosty, and I was already excited for him to hang out on our property for a few weeks. I loved this snowman. (I remember when I was young building snowmen with my brothers and going inside to ask my mom for the carrot, and something for the eyes. So it was so sweet when Henry came into today asking for a "carrot nose, eyes, mouth and hat, pwease. For Frosty.") So about three seconds after Frosty is complete I hear:

"Otay. Now let's knock him over!"

Which turned out to be more difficult than Henry thought.

That's about as "full speed" as Henry gets with that much gear on, and giant boots in a foot of snow. And so instead? We'll just eat his carrot nose.

And take a bite of his... ribs?

And leave the hard work to Daddy. I keep forgetting that dads are still 50% little boy on the inside. And  Mark totally gets my boys when I  clearly do not.

RIP Frosty.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Laurealism Library: Volume 3

My previous two Laurealism Library posts were very well received, so I plan on continuing to share what I've been reading with you. Here are ten of my recent reads, in the order that I read them.

For reference, the rating scale:
1- So many grammatical errors, I couldn't get past page one.
2- Skip it. I likely didn't finish it.
3- A solidly good book. If this is in a category you usually like, read it!
4- Must-read in your lifetime list.
5- All time, personal favorite books.

I also started including how the books rate on Goodreads, which may sway your opinions one way or another. Also please note, while this post contains Amazon Affiliate links, I purchased, borrowed or read every one of these books, and ratings are my own.

Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
Pick this up if: You need an easy-to-read, innocent love story.
Similar to: The Fault in Our Stars,  The Perks of Being a Wallflower
My Rating: 3/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.17/5
Notes: A sweet story, with good writing, but for me: not life-altering.

The Aviator's Wife, Melanie Benjamin
Pick this up if: You devour historical fiction.
Similar to: The Other Boylen, The Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Paris Wife
My Rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.86
Notes: I vaguely knew the story of the Lindbergh Family, but this book frustrated me because of this woman's relationship with her husband (though I realize it was probably common for the time.) This was also hard for me to read because I have a baby at home, and well, you know the history of the Lindberg baby, right?

Middlesex, Eugene Jeffries (Laurealism Book Club Pick)
Pick this up if: You need an eccentric literary novel to really delve into.
Similar to: I literally have nothing to relate this to (which is uncommon for me!)
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.94/5
Notes: This was a beautifully written book, and very intriguing. I highly recommend if you haven't picked it up yet.

The Thirteen Clocks, James Thurber
Pick this up if: You want something that you can enjoy, but also read aloud to your kids.
Similar to: The Princess Bride
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.08/5
Notes: This is a non-sensical story which requires imagination, but is written wonderfully. It was a lot of fun to read.

The Husband's Secret, Liane Moriarty (Laurealism Book Club Pick)
Pick this up if: You want a bit of dramatic chick-lit.
Similar to: What Alice Forgot, The Vacationers
My Rating: 3/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.88
Notes: Liane Moriarty is amazing at creating characters. Every single person her novels, you'll think you know in real life!

A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness
Pick this up if: You like a good fantasy novel, with a pinch of historical fiction
Similar to: The Magicians, Twilight
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.98
Notes: Witches, Vampires, Demons and time travel? Yes, please! I listened to this on Audible and was thoroughly entertained. Plus, this is sort of a book about a book, which is my favorite genre.

The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
Pick this up if: You want a longer read to really dive into, with very well developed characters.
Similar to: The Red Tent, One Thousand White Women
My Rating: 3.5/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.98/5
Notes: I think I would have come to like this book more if I'd had someone to really discuss it with, which is why it falls between a 3 and a 4. It was a little hard for me to get into, but complex and emotional. Which would likely be the same way I'd describe picking up and moving to Africa, so I suppose that's fitting.

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness (Laurealism Book Club pick)
Pick this up if: You like books written in a child's perspective.
Similar to: The Glass Castle, Room
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.25/5
Notes: This was a completely creative book. I want to call it fantasy, but it was more dream-like than fictional. A quick, but meaningful, heartfelt book. And slated to be a movie, so you better pick it up before it hits theaters! Warning: Have the tissues nearby.

Pick this up if: You love historical fiction or you're looking for something for your book club. This book is so much better when discussed, because there are likely things other's would have picked up on that you missed.
Similar to: Hansel and Gretel, Book Thief
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.24/5
Notes: I tend to shy away from war-related historical fiction, but I ended up reading this for a book club I belonged to. I liked it well enough, until we discussed it... and then I loved it. This book has so many facets, so much depth and so many connections. It might even be worth a re-read.

Pick this up if: You like historical fiction related to art.
Similar to: The Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Swan Thieves
My Rating: 3/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.64/5
Notes: I wanted to read more Chevalier because The Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of my all time favorites. This didn't impress me as much, but it was still an imaginative book, that was easy and enjoyable to read. It's always interesting to imagine the story behind the art!

Sadly, there were no 5's on this list. Here's hoping I find a few more for next time! What have you been reading? Would you recommend it?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Books is my friends

Henry and I just had the most adorable conversation.

He snuck into our bed after we tucked him in. 

"Oh my there's a Henry hiding in my bed!"

"Hehe, yeaaaa... I'm sneaky like a ninja turtle."

So I walked him back to his bedroom. 

"Can we read a book?" he asked, a question I decided years ago I would never say no to.

And so we read The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which my mom gave to us for the holidays.

I've recently decided that my favorite genre of fiction is "books about books." And a children's book about books? Even better.

After we were finished I said to Henry, "I really liked that book. Did you?"

"Yes, me too."

"I really like to read too. There are so many good books in the world, how can we read them all?" I asked him.

"First, we can put them in a pile," he told me, "Books is my friends."

Books is my friends, too, kid... books is my friends too...