Monday, November 29, 2010

A prayer for mercy...

Dear Lord,

Today, I ask you to be merciful. I know that I have some bad karma coming to me for years of giving homework to countless students, invoking the same misery I am experiencing right now to hundreds of parents over the last sixteen years. I know I have it coming. Times three.

Tonight, as I am sitting here writing in order to distract myself from my middle child, I pray for either strength or a quick death. Frankly, I cannot take anymore of the whining and complaining or inability to find anything in the book bag that is remotely related to homework. If it is death, please, make it happen NOW. It has been slow and painful enough.

Lord, if in your infinite wisdom you enlighten modern science in the cloning of humans, can I please be first to have one? So I can send her to drop children at tennis at differing schedules? So that I can have another making a dinner that my children will inevitably hate? So that I can perhaps get a massage, or, at the very least, a decent haircut and color? Right now, I would settle for a decent night's sleep or a solo trip to the bathroom.

And while I have your attention, did the garage door really need to cease functioning today? I mean, it has been nearly 12 years since we got it, but did it have to go today? When the entire week is filled with mindless and meaningless things that MUST get done...and when I have trash that needs to go out and have no other way to get it out? Since it's already busted, can I, at the very least, get the earliest, most convenient appointment for repair, without paying an arm and a leg?

Please, dear God, I know that the events of the last few hours are minimal compared to the crosses some people have to bear. Please, let my love for my children overcome the frustration and the feeling of wanting to pull out my already thinning hair straight out of my head as I am carried away to the funny farm. Let me remember how much I love them and so wanted to be a mother. Let those thoughts carry me through the next 14 years of schooling that lay before us.

Thanks for your time. I know you are Almighty. I know that you have my back. Just send me a sign so that I know that I am already on the life raft on this turbulent sea of motherhood.


Friday, November 26, 2010

A day of thanks and family...

A moment for reflection and gratitude.

To give thanks for so much:

People, big, little; sharing our journey

Creatures great and small that uplift.

Things simple, grandiose that provide backdrop.

Joyful, sorrowful memories, fueled by love.

For these, our blessings in life,

That should be on our minds

All day, each day, all year.

Near or far, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Random thoughts at 4:30 a.m.

Why did I decide to wear a skimpy yoga top and these really old biker shorts?

Please, right leg. Don't complain. Don't cramp. Just run.

Why did I decide to train for this half?

Don't those stars look bright this morning?


The extra ten seconds of running seemed like a better idea when we weren't running.

I need to get Susan's birthday present today.

Need to get the ingredients for flan.

When am I going to have time to make flan today?

Full moon. No wonder the kids did terrible on their assignments yesterday.

I can't believe my leg isn't bothering me!

I wonder why the HOA decided that palm trees and snowflakes went together.

I need to finish putting away laundry.

I need to pick up for the cleaning ladies tomorrow.

I love my cleaning ladies.

The clouds look like cotton candy against black velvet.

I wonder what happened to my velvet overalls.

I wonder what possessed me to buy velvet overalls.

Boy, I am glad that I wore this top and shorts.

I wonder what I should wear to work.

I need to take out the trash.

I am so happy that Thanksgiving is this week.

I can't believe I am doing a 5K on Thanksgiving morning.

I need to go Christmas shopping. Ugh.

Oh my goodness! My inner thighs aren't rubbing together!

There is nothing better than this.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Home is where my hearts are...

Home is wherever you are, love. 
Deep within, where your heart lies.
Where your smile greets me warmly,
Where your voice rumbles, quietly; lovingly,
As you hold me close, dear.
Home is loud, scattered, messy, full.
Full of boys, love and warmth.
Home chronicles where we have been.
Home holds everything dear to us.
Home is where we belong, together.

Always, forever. You. Me. Us. We.

Where is home?  What makes you feel at home?
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Hand in hand...

As my husband and three children piled into the pew at Sunday morning Mass, I recognized an older couple who had renewed their vows after fifty plus years when we renewed our vows after thirteen. We had a magical evening that night two years ago, thinking back to the night we said "I do" and relating the story of us to our three children.

This Sunday, this couple sat a pew in front and to the left of us. The husband, after helping with the collection, came back to sit next to his wife. He promptly took her hand into his own, laid it on his knee, and with a single stealth move, covered it with his own.

My heart stopped.

I looked down at my own busy hands, intermingled in those of my youngest sons. I saw my husband's hands, they held the hands of our older sons. My heart ached, just a tiny bit, in longing for days gone by.

Days when it was my hand that was nestled in his, fingers intertwined, palms inseparable.

Those days gave way to days of holding newborns. Soothing their frantic, hungry cries; rubbing their bottoms to ease away gas, wiping dirty behinds and running noses of restless toddlers.

Now, these hands fold laundry, check homework, write checks for tennis lessons, afterschool activities, school fundraisers. These hands make dinner; whether a thoughtfully put together menu, or a quick warming up of the potluck of leftovers in the refrigerator. These hands wash dishes, load the dishwasher; clean up after the bounty is consumed.

These hands have held the hands of the sick as they recovered. These hands have held the hands of loved ones as they passed from this Earth. They have wiped tears of those who needed comfort; large or small.

They have been involved in covert operations: wrapping secret Christmas presents for their beloved, surprise birthday presents for sons who may have thought that their hints had not registered. They have addressed envelopes for invitations to share in joy, in sending well wishes to those far away in distance, but close in spirit.

These hands have seen so much. They have changed from those of a pudgy child, to those of a thin, well manicured teen. They have proudly worn a plastic promise ring, and have been graced by a hard-earned, modest engagement ring. They are slightly more wrinkled these days; desperately in need of a good manicure and pampering.

They treasure the moments in which they can be useful to someone. They are happy to lend themselves to whatever task lays ahead of them, to better a little corner of their world. They work tirelessly at whatever is there to be done. Filing, grading papers, praying, typing, washing hands, cleaning fish tanks, making beds, paying bills, bringing in groceries. So much to do. Only two of them for so much to be taken care of.

The biggest reward are moments like the one in church early Sunday morning. In feeling my youngest son's small hand within my own. Of seeing the remarkable growth of my middle son's hand as compared to my own. Of witnessing the gentleness in which John's hands held our oldest son's, with such ease and familiarity, that it made my heart break just a little.

And yet, as my eyes moved forward, back to that older couple, I got a glimpse of what lays ahead for us. Back to the days when there was no one else but me for him and him for me. When there was no race to see who would hold whose hands and the inevitable fight over who did. Back to just the two of us.

I suppose that there will be other little hands to take the place of those that are so rapidly growing. More little people to soothe, but in a different capacity.

But, what I most wish for is my hand on his knee, his protective, loving hand covering mine.

As it once did. As it will again.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Finding inspiration: everyday, all year long

Eager, bright minds

Behind smiling eyes.


What's your inspiration these days?

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The road to hell....

The saying goes that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I should know. I think I have paved that road EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. OF. MY. LIFE.

And since becoming a mother, I would say that I have been working overtime.

In the last four days, I have seen the best intentions get feelings hurt, words misspoken, leaving people frustrated, angry, sad.

The intention was to be helpful. The intention was based on assumptions.

We all know what happens when we assume. You make an arse out of you and me.

So the question becomes, once you are witness to someone's frustration, and their subsequent feelings of defeat and receive an apology that you don't think you should have gotten (because we are ALL human), what do you do?

Do you email the person and attempt (with the best intentions) to cheer up the person?

Do you just let it be?

For once, I am going to keep my mouth shut. I will not call or email. I will not Facebook or text. I will give that person space. I will not, with even the best intentions, make the situation worse.

This is difficult. I am never short on words. I always have something to say. But, in this case; as I am guessing, is the case many a time; I will not say what will make me feel better, momentarily.

Because, inevitably, I will feel worse. Because the reaction will probably not be one that I anticipate.

Because most people need their space.

Furthermore, I think I have done my time paving that road.

I don't think I need to be told where to find it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chilly weather, a good cry and a bowl of chili

We had our first cold snap this weekend. For Floridians, the first sign of cold weather sends us into a frenzy. We blow out our arsenal of winter clothes at the first drop of the mercury. We are convinced that the colder weather will decidedly bring on pneumonia in our children, therefore, they walk around closely resembling Ralphie's little brother from A Christmas Story.

Seriously, folks. The low was 55°.

I was finally beginning to feel better after the crud, but I had not trained during the week because I had been feeling so lousy. Saturday, I feared, was a day of reckoning. And cold weather to boot.

For the most part, the run was good. It was short by weekend training standards. Only eight miles compared to the 10 of a few weeks ago. It was cumbersome to run with a light jacket wrapped around my waist, but I was okay.

Until the last 2 miles. My right hip started acting up. I don't know if it was the cold, the lack or runs during the week or if I hadn't stretched enough. We had a slight wind going on the way back on our route, so it felt as though I was working harder to move. I was miserable. I ran, but at shortened time intervals. I finished, happy to be back to doing something I never thought I would enjoy and stretched out, thinking about all the stuff that was waiting for me when I returned home.

On Saturday mornings, after the group reassembles upon returning from our run, our team captain holds a clinic about upcoming topics related to training. We go over our fundraising efforts in our fight to cure Lymphoma and Leukemia. We also have a Mission Moment, where a survivor comes to speak to us about their story in fighting blood cancer.

The Mission Moment did me in this week. This man had fought Lymphoma for four years. When he was diagnosed, he was at Stage 4, and given less than two years to live. As he related his journey, and his medically impossible recovery, the tears were flowing.

The whole weekend, I was in a heightened weepy state. I don't really know why, but this man's story, his subsequent recovery and renewed sense of his life's purpose was the catalyst for many a tear shed this weekend.

Today, even bigger news. Our friend's daughter, who has been battling an incredibly rare brain tumor reached another incredible milestone. Her MRI came back clean. This precious three year old has endured brain surgery to successfully remove the tumor, months of chemotherapy, weeks of relentless radiation and her miraculous recovery continues.

What do these two stories have in common? Incredible human warrior spirits and immeasurable faith, in the face of insurmountable circumstances.

It was a welcome change to go back to work today, after the amount of exercise my tear ducts got this weekend. Somehow, working with my students, hearing their chatter, helping them through their obstacles is a really good way to get through whatever ails you. After a long day, I headed home to the cacophony of tennis lessons, cooking dinner, trading children in said tennis lessons, homework, antibiotics, baths and bedtime.

On the menu for dinner tonight? Turkey chili.

Because, sometimes, "chilly" weather, a good, long cry and a bowl of chili makes everything okay.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Embracing the constant change parenthood brings

Growing children;

Mellowing parents.

Cherished changes.

What do you do to handle changes these days?
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

How getting sick can bring you Intentional Happiness...

As many of you know, I have been out of whack this week. Apparently, the crud that I had been fighting off finally kicked my ass this past weekend and made me take a serious timeout. However, I am a firm believer in a silver lining in every cloud, regardless of how congested and feverish it may be.

Here is a brief synopsis of how getting sick can bring on Intentional Happiness:

1. Finally admitting you are sick is very liberating, and limiting. It immediately invokes a "stay away from Mom" mode amongst your older children, who have had vast experience with sick doctor's visits. Translation: Your kids stay away...Mom gets some quiet.  Maybe.

2. While you are sick, you should not engage in strenuous physical activity.
Translation: Don't run, don't clean, don't fold laundry, don't go grocery shopping. Assisted handstands in Yoga are optional, however.

3. Hubby automatically goes into Emergency Drive. Meaning he makes all kinds of efforts to help or take over tasks so your downtime is minimal.
Translation: Hubby is scared crapless. He will sell his soul to not have to take over all Mom operations for an extended period of time.

4. You must rest, because if you don't, you get worse. This, however, does not mean you actually take off from work, because, really, what teacher takes off on a Teacher Planning Day?
Translation: If you have to take off from work, do it on a day on which you have no special areas.

5. Sometimes, you need medication to help alleviate the symptoms of a particularly nasty cold.
Translation: Nyquil is a wonder drug. Comatose sleep for the weary body and mind. Drug induced sleep + tired, sick mom= fuzzy headed but rested mom tomorrow.

6. Soup cures all that ails you.
Translation: Soup=yummy goodness and a full tummy.

7. Your friends and coworkers are sympathetic to your cold and offer messages of getting well soon. Translation: Your friends and coworkers want no part of your crud. They want you to get better so that you don't spread the yuck around anymore.

As you can see, the crud has helped me realize that while you may be down, you are not necessarily out.

A little behind on the Intentional Happiness? Check out Momalom and Bad Mommy Moments for the scoop on all the happiness you can behold!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A handstand, in spite of the crud....

It's official. I can now say with certainty that I am sick. I have been in denial for weeks, making excuses for the scratchy throat, the itchy nose, the watery eyes. But yesterday, I could no longer ignore the aches and pains. I had an earache.

On Halloween night.

Right before trick or treating.

I would have been perfectly content with staying home, curled up in bed, watching some sappy movie (I watched My Sister's Keeper yesterday afternoon; a sure sign of impending sickness...). But, alas, I have children. Boys who love to dress up on Halloween, and beg for candy that they don't eat, but will inevitably make my ass larger than it needs to be.

I downed two aspirin and went trick or treating with Buzz Lightyear, and two Harry Potters.

The only treat I wanted was my bed and Nyquil. Not necessarily in that order.

I survived. I came home. My husband took one look at my pathetic carcass and commanded me to get a shower and go to bed.

Since he rarely commands me to do anything, I did just that and collapsed until this morning.

Flash forward to this morning. Body still aching, but not quite as bad, I decided to go to work. It was a Teacher's Planning Day. John suggested I stay home.

My husband doesn't understand the finer points of teaching. You NEVER take a day off on a Teacher Planning Day.

I went to work. I went to yoga. I did my first ever, assisted, hand stand.

Me. The girl who could not roll on a mat in elementary school because I would get dizzy.

Me. The girl that can run nine miles in under two hours.

And I can't wait to do it again.

By the way, I feel so crappy that I actually went to one of those clinics within the Pharmacy. And while they swabbed and tested, I do not have anything that antibiotics can cure.

Just plenty of fluids, a decongestant, aspirin every six to eight hours and rest.

The yoga class and an assisted handstand count, right?