Thursday, May 21, 2015

Musings From Natalie #113

Natalie: Mom, I want to have 4 children.
Me: 4?
Natalie: Yes, twin girls and twin boys...and we'll live in a camper...parked right next to your house...Nah, we'll just live with you...I hope they aren't fighters.

2nd Grade Poetry

Today was Natalie's last day of 2nd grade.  She cleaned out her desk and brought these treasures home.

Wet clay feels like a mushy banana
It looks like gray wool
It sounds like a tin can
Wet clay smells like a toilet bowl.

The stars are shining
Twinkle twinkle
They are very high
Twinkle twinkle
They come out at dark
Twinkle twinkle
They are as white as the moon
Twinkle twinkle
Good night stars

In fall the trees are like rainbows
In winter the trees are like skeletons
In spring the trees are like cherries.
In summer the trees are like hot blurs

I am a gorilla!
Oooh, ooh,
I have black fur
Oooh, ooh,
I eat bananas
Oooh, aaah,
I live in a nest made of green leaves
Oooh...I am loud!

Wolly and the Bully
Hi my name is Wolly
I have a big dilemna
I have a bully
His name is Solly
He tricks me and hits me
I don't know what to do!
But one day I said
Hey, Solly wanna play hide n' go seek?
Sure, he said.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Capturing Time

The other day while running errands, I caught sight of my sleeve and realized I was actually sporting my 11 year old’s denim jacket instead of my own. 

Where does the time go?  It seems like only yesterday my life revolved around pushing strollers, wiping bottoms and cutting solid foods up into minuscule pieces.  It got me thinking about all the cliches we use in our everyday life to express how quickly…how precious time truly is – it flies, it never stands still, it cannot be rewound and once it’s gone, you can never retrieve it.

When our kids were babies Steve and I took enough pictures of them to create a stop-action movie – first smile, first wave, first crawl and first walk.  I scheduled photos sessions at one month intervals – “because they change so much”.  Once they hit school-age, we, like many families, defaulted to relying on school photographers to capture our children’s images.  Unfortunately, they aren’t always the best representation.  Oftentimes their posture is rigid, smiles are forced and their hair is misbehaving badly.

Now that our son is nearly a teenager, time is beginning to feel like the enemy.  While his freckles and baby blues remain virtually unchanged, he’s now nearly eye level with me. I’ve noticed his passion for Star Wars and LEGOS now has to compete with his added interest in music and girls. His wardrobe of screen-printed comic t-shirts is slowly being replaced with denim and khaki. His once short, auburn hair is now a thick curtain that must be tossed every few minutes in true pop-star fashion.  Last week his dentist told us it was time to get braces. There are so many changes happening inside and out and I want to be sure I have these in-between stages documented. I want photos with and without his adorable little cross-bite.  Likewise our eight year old daughter is beginning to outgrow her fairytale dreams and is developing her own sense of style.  My days as her hairstylist are numbered – braids will soon be replaced with a bob and bangs.  
Time can wreak havoc on memories – vibrancy replaced with dullness.   And, while my children have long surpassed the developmental milestones documented in most baby books – there are plenty of changes I wish to record before they leave for college.  So, although time refuses to be bottled, with the help of a skilled photographer, it can be captured and transformed into something timeless.

Photo credit: Natalie Ulrich Photography

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hindsight is 20/20...Sometimes Literally

If you'd asked me on Mother's Day if I was having a good day, I probably would have said, "not so much." Ask me today and the answer would be much different.

My morning started off nice enough.  When I awoke I discovered Steve had gotten up early and not only emptied the dishwasher (so sexy, I tell you!) but had picked up bagels for all of us from St. Louis Bread Co.  -- a real treat.  He also had a steaming mug of tea waiting for me to enjoy. After breakfast the kids were dying to give me the gift they had fought so hard to find in the crowded malls filled with men and their children in the day-before-Mother's-Day rush.  I had an inkling it was a tea kettle as I had been sharing my outrage upon learning all these years of microwaving water, I had been drinking sub-par tea.

While the kids encouraged me to close my eyes, Steve fetched my gift from the car.

"Okay! Now you can look!" they cheered.

The moment I spotted the posh bag emblazoned with the Teavana logo, I froze.

Next, an onslaught of excitement from Natalie "Open it Mom! Do you like it? I picked it out! It has fish on it! I can't wait for you to try it. Can I have some tea?"

Oh boy. Not only had they spent way more than our budget, but I was going to have to break it to them that the cast iron pot they bought could not even be used to boil water.  It was designed solely to steep loose leaves. 

Crushed but determined.  Steve insisted on leaving the house that very minute in order to buy me a whistling kettle.  Though I tried to assure him it was not necessary.  I only wanted us to have our picnic and enjoy the day together at Castlewood Park - he would not hear of it. Ninety minutes later, he returned home defeated and aggravated that after five stops he still could not find one. By this time I had packed our lunch and had the kids ready to go.

But then... Mt. Steve erupted.  Frustrated that he couldn't afford a pot (certainly not a teapot from Teavana) to piss in and he was tired.  Tired of working two jobs. Tired of working over-time. Tired of living in cramped quarters. Tired of not being able to give me what he thinks I deserve. He wanted me to have that fancy schmancy pot and a dang whistle kettle, too. He wanted everything to be perfect for me.

My heart ached for this man who desires the best for me and the kids and often accepts only scraps for himself.

In the end, Steve chose to stay home.  The kids and I headed out to my aunt's house for brunch with my mom and extended family.  While apart from Steve I felt sorry for myself a bit over our financial burden...weighed heavy by our commitment to give Noah the specialized education he needs to succeed.

After brunch my mom and I took the kids and their cousins to the park.  I sought to change my attitude and threw myself into enjoying the outdoors with my kids.  Natalie and I began playing Frisbee, but after a few throws she alerted me to the state of my jeans...or rather what was left of them.  Apparently, I had split them and not even realized it.

Par for the course.

But, rather than disrupt the kids' play, I tugged at my shirt in an effort to hide my exposed rear while Nat walked behind me until I could find a place to sit down.

It was the best decision I made all day because it forced me to sit and really think. It was only then that I received clarity.  My thoughts turned to women struggling with infertility, those living with the loss of their own mothers.  I was also reminded of my cousin who will never have the chance to celebrate Mother's Day or any other day with both of her children.  Suddenly, worrying about money seemed not only wasteful, but hurtful to God and His promise to take care of me and my family.

Today I'm thankful I stayed at the park, split pants and all and enjoyed the sunshine while watching my kids play - another day with my kids is such an extravagant gift. I'd gladly choose a dozen bad or imperfect days to no more days with my husband and kids. Steve asked for a do-over.  I don't think I need that.  I just need him to keep doing life with me.

Because hindsight really is 20/20...sometimes literally.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Digging into History

On Saturday we spent the morning at Jefferson Barracks for this month's St. Louis Children's Garden Club meeting.  We met at the Old Ordnance Museum where the exhibit Courageous and Faithful: The Cavalry is on display.  Through several hands-on, interactive displays, the kids learned about the men who served and the contributions they made including the Buffalo Soldiers. Outside the building the kids had the opportunity to plant a subsistence garden similar to those the soldiers would have planted. Afterwards, the folks from Wiethop Greenhouses sent us home with several varieties of tomato plants and marigolds to begin our own garden at home.  I can't wait to make salsa and tomato basil pie and more! Send me your favorite tomato recipe.

Noah and Natalie plant corn
Garden Club founder, Doug Wolter, has the kids smelling and tasting fresh dill