Sunday, May 31, 2009

eat, pray, rhubarb...

After further review into my own "domain"'s gonna take a wee bit of time for me to "build it so you can come!!!!" I am caught between wanting to post pictures and do all this cool stuff to this blogspot site and yet feel it doesn't make any sense and I should spend the time on my website. My friend Martine has a blog that looks great and has all these cool pics and gadgets. (Check it out for cool dog lover stuff! I am not much of an animal lover now that I have my own two real live human babes, but it's worth a look-see to check out her coolness factor! So bear with me, as I continue to write and not worry about the "look" of my blog! The writing is really the heart here. It has reconnected me to what I really love.

So my thoughts today are of rhubarb. Rheum is a genus of perennial plants that grows from thick short rhizomes. The genus is in the family Polygonaceae, and includes the vegetable rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum or Rheum x hybridum.) The plants have large leaves that are somewhat triangular shaped with long fleshy petioles. The flowers are small, greenish-white to rose-red, and grouped in large compound leafy inflorescences. A number of varieties of rhubarb have been domesticated both as medicinal plants and for human consumption. While the leaves are toxic, the stalks are used in pies and other foods for their tart flavor.

Okay, okay...too much information! But on my recent trip home to Marinette, Wisconsin, I cut some rhubarb with good intention to make pie. My entire life was spent growing up, growing apart and coming back to this house, street, and country-scape. Our neighbors across the street have recently moved. This is a big deal for all of our family members, mainly my mother. The house sits empty like a shell, FOR SALE sign in the yard, devoid of any love or life that was so vibrantly bursting at the seams just a short period of time ago. It just doesn't seem right. But this is how life sometimes unfolds. Unexpectedly causing us to adapt to change once again.

For at least 50 years or so my mom has lived across the street from Mary and Jake. They are truly some of the finest human beings you will ever meet. Honest, hard-working, salt of the Earth...the kind of neighbors you dream about. They looked out for my mom and helped her out after my dad died. Mary and Jake came to America from Poland after experiencing a work camp set up by Hitler. They are Polish devout Catholics. Mary had a stroke last fall and is now living in a health and rehab facility. Her husband Jake moved to assisted living. They live apart after a lifetime together. Jake is in his early 80s and Mary is a bit younger. Jake has a small wood-working shop next to his house and several rhubarb plants grow behind it.

I took several walks while visiting my mom. A walk without pushing a big stroller is delightful! Returning to my mom's driveway I spotted the rhubarb. I picked enough for a few pies and only upon my return home did I feel the connection and love as I prepped the rhubarb pieces for my pies. I had an overwhelming connection to these incredible people.

I am not a baker in any sense of the word. I much prefer "cooking" as I can experiment and do nothing exact! Baking is a science and I never did like that subject. Ha! However, in my most basic attempt at these pies I felt the years of time spent with Mary and Jake. I remembered the many years their youngest daughter Janet baby sat me. She taught me to ride my bike without training wheels and told me that if I cried too long my tears would dry up and I wouldn't have any left. I thought about the giant lilac bushes in front of their house that I would pick and put behind my ear while I waiting for the school bus. I thought of the numerous times Mary would bring over strawberries, asparagus, cucumbers, Polish ham, paczkis, and any other homemade or garden delight.

The big asparagus plants have been dug up and moved by the children of Mary and Jake. A few random stalks made their way up and I cut them and ate them with my mom. It was like the last of a good thing before you feel acceptance and move on. So when I bit into my strawberry rhubarb pie, I felt connected to the past and in honor of these people. It is a rare and beautiful thing when you can call neighbors family.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Magnifying my bros toes...

My daughter is constantly picking on her bro. Picking out lint in-between his toes, checking out anything crusty behind or in his general.....pick-pick-picking at him. So tonight as Evan was swingin' away content as all can be, I thought Lauren was picking on him (per usual) and I said (or rather yelled) "Lauren, quit picking on your brother." To which she promptly replied, "I"m not picking at him, I'm magnifying him." OMG. Once again I need to hide my face as I want to laugh hard and fast and loud. Yes indeed she was "magnifying" her bro. She got a magnifying glass on our visit last year to the Adler Planetarium. Well, what could be better than magnifying your bros toes? You gotta love it!

I've been a mom now for 3.5 years and the high high entertainment factor never ceases to amaze me!!!!! And for the love of sweet baby Jesus it is bedtime. My husband's business trip to North Africa was de-railed due to engine problems after sitting on the runway for a few hours. (Um, yeah, that's a good thing!) He then decided to go on the previously planned camping road-trip with his father and nephew to the Black Hills, Custer National Park, etc. that he was invited on.

If you are a mom you can only imagine the concept of a week vacation without the kids or your spouse! I was supportive in the beginning and now as day 11 draws near I may want to kill him. And let's not even talk about Tues-Thurs. biz trip that follows his return late late late Sunday night! Thank god for pinot grigio my friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And, I do have a fab trip to Napa/Sonoma planned with my best gal pal for my 40th. I don't care if it is two years away, every dog-gone day since it's dream inception, I think about the plane ride, the luxurious accomodations, the wine tours, the spa treatments, the lunch after the spa treatments overlooking the wine valley, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......

Rock on Moms. You gotta speak the dreams into existence. Now, what to do about that tummy-tuck and boob-lift! But alas, that's another post!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

you were only waiting for this moment to arrive...

So my precocious little red headed completed her first official "season" of pre-school. It was a great learning curve for both Lauren and mom. What began with tears, break-downs, teachers calling me for an "early pick-up" and stress between school days now ends with an independent, happy child who has her own little world apart from mine. Only a mom would understand how 2.5 hours away from your child is like the wizard of oz!

So along with pre-school comes artwork and projects by the truckload. Enter mommy dilemma number 52,498. Now, I'm the kind of mom who displays, frames, scrapbooks, saves, sends to all known relatives and even turns the art into cards. HOWEVER, a piece of white paper with a swash of color paint across it does not equal "worth saving." As my friend Kelly told me...."kids bedtimes are for tossing the crap artwork so the kids can't see." Well, Hello! Got it! I completely understand now!

Pre-school ended with a big construction and crepe paper wind sock. Super cute. Super cute at Grandma's house. I apparently made my comment about disposing of kids artwork at night a little too loud and one of the mom's said..."Oh, I keep it's all sooooo cuteeeeeee." Good luck with that. I'm keeping only the creme 'de la creme stuff and it's accumulating beyond my control. And really what becomes of this stuff in say, 50 years? Does anyone really want it?

Alas, it is "summer break" and I'm gonna miss those mornings apart. Motherhood is one of those crazy juxtapositions in life. You don't want them to grow up so fast and yet a full day at school seems like opportunity on overload for you! (I'm thrilled with 2.5 hours right now! What am I gonna do with a full day....oh, wait....I had another baby.)

***Mommy tip: I haven't purchased store bought cards for anyone since Lauren could hold a crayon or a marker! It is a good recycler of artwork and a big money saver. I give her stickers, stamps, paints, glitter and let her go to town. I write the greeting on the front and inside the card and tell her those are the only areas off-limits. The receiver of the card is incredibly happy and the overall impact is worth so much more than $4 at Hallmark.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If you build it they will come....

Well folks, I've got big news! I am officially the proud owner of my own domain! That's right! will soon come to life! I feel all official and stuff! ha ha. So now I need to use my mommy brain (scary) and find a little extra time (ha!) to use the tutorial and build the my very own website. So someday in the future this blog 'o mine will be directly from my website. Woooooo Hoooooo.

I'm off to Wisconsin for a week where my mom lives and it's kinda like the early 20th century there. I have access to the telephone and, yeah............maybe a text or two. That. is. it. folks. My mother has no computer or internet. YIKES! Can you even imagine? At least she has a dish for some decent T.V. So if I get motivated or bored (both highly likely) I can skip to my lou to the local library and use the computer and update you on mommy-hood from the home-land. Very precious moments for my children to experience grandma, great-grandma and various aunts. (very few male family members still living!)

I will have many tales to tell of how I travel alone with a 5 month old and 3.5 year old. I will admit that my first solo trip with the new baby was scary. But again, Ikea or a 5 hour road trip gives you great confidence and despite the multiple "reach-backs, " candy treats, DVD changes one handed, or pit-stops, MOMs rock and we can do anything. Our brain is wired for this activity! (male, not so much!)

Talk to you soon! : ) Enjoy your long weekend holiday...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ikea Sherpa

Sherpa: A member of a traditionally Buddhist people of Tibetan descent living on the southern side of the Himalaya Mountains in Nepal and Sikkim. In modern times Sherpas have achieved world renown as expert guides on Himalayan mountaineering expeditions.

Think "pack horse." Think of me as an expert guide expediting through a Swedish Wal-mart from Hell. Here is a visual for you: two kids, one stroller, three floors of massive superstore called mom. I am woman hear me roar!!!!!!!! Before you have two kids you wonder how a mom can do it. After all, you are living in the "one kid bliss" zone where anything that seems remotely difficult is nothing compared to the change that takes place with two. But you adapt quickly or you don't leave the house or have a life! It helps that Lauren can walk, talk and get in and out of her car seat by herself.

So thanks to Ikea's marketing whizzes who came up with the great idea to put the tea lights on the third worked! I shopped your whole entire giant superstore of disposable furniture and cute kids stuff and gadgets that just look better in your retail lighting. All I needed, wanted and came for was as many 100 packs of tea lights I could fit in my big blue re-usable Ikea shopping bag and under Evan's stroller. Well, you had me when I couldn't remember which floor the tea lights were on. (another Ikea marketing tactic....move stuff around....surprise them....change up merchandise to new floors for fun) So, all three floors un-intentionally shopped later...I had a stroller bogged down, a small child whose head I could only see peeking out around items and another blue bag purchased. Also, please note I am also wearing a baby backpack. I may be sweating. This is a new occurrence what with the two kids.

Yes, I get sucked in by the 100 packs of tea lights for $3.99 or some cheap price. However, I come, I stock-pile and I don't need tea lights for years!

So in some weird way, I climbed a mountain! I conquered said superstore with two kids, stroller, baby backpack and two shopping bags. Lauren thought she was at Disney World! If you have never been to an Ikea, they have special carts that click into a special escalator while you ride the people escalator down and meet your cart as it pops out of the gate. The first time you do this you are scared! But they are geniuses and it works great. I was officially an Ikea Sherpa!

If I can pull off three floors in Ikea then I am capable of much much more! Look-out world! So go out there and try to pull it off when you think you can't Mom's! The more you go, the more you do, the more accomplished you are and the more tricks of the trade you have to share with all of us.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Four Eyes....

So not writing a blog since last Friday has created a few things in my life: another little voice in my head saying "gotta write the blog, " lots of new things to write about (apparently I do have a life and things to say! Ha!) and a strong desire to share the knowledge that quickly comes at you when you are a mom. Knowledge that you acquire in a week or two!

Rip my heart out and stomp on it....My ridiculously adorable red-headed, freckle-faced, curly-haired, blue-eyed first-born got glasses today. OMG to the highest power.

It all started with a $5 vision and hearing screening at her preschool. I was then handed a "your child didn't pass" letter and $500 and 3 visits to the eye doctor later and I stand at this new threshold in motherhood.....sucking up the tears so she doesn't see and being less brave than my 3.5 year old! Why did I want to cry you ask? Well, it sucks that she needs to wear glasses. period. But really, who cares in the grand scheme of life and potential illnesses and sicknesses, etc. But we want our precious little beings to remain in our self-imposed cocoon of wonderfulness and innocence. And to be honest, (cuz that's all you are gonna get in this blog!) it is really just another thing for ME to deal with!

I took Lauren to get her bangs trimmed tonight after we picked up her glasses and they are cut a bit too short and I can't decide if she is a complete geek with short bangs and glasses or ........No, I'm her mother damn it and she's quite possibly the most perfect creature I have ever witnessed.

We have a black and white photo on the wall of my husband at the age of two, sitting on his grandfather's lap in a diaper with black horn-rimmed glasses on. Just quite possibly the second cutest thing I've laid eyes on. So yes, with giving birth to children comes the risk of passing on any, some, or all of our "stuff...." Whether it be bad eyes or a quick temper or small obsessive compulsive things like organizing a closet or lazy susan and being really really excited and happy about the task. But we are all doing the best we can day to day....and that is all we can do.

Thankfully, because her pre-school did this screening and we caught her left eye problem so early she may only have to wear glasses until first grade or worse case scenario, wear one contact lens for the long run. So what I learned is that it is really important to get a vision exam long before kindergarten because with small children eyes can be corrected if you catch it before the age of 5 or 6. So all the money we spent on pre-school was worth every penny. Thankfully we live in a county/state that still some-how has funding available to do these tests.

So as my mother said to me when I went back to my "dream corporate job" (HA!!! what little I knew!) 18 weeks after giving birthing Lauren and I was a wreck...."Tricia, this is the first of many firsts and you need to accept that and it will get better." I thought of those words as I pulled away from the eye doctor and kept looking in the backseat at this being that owns my heart and that I live for. I know I'm going to look back at this "first" someday and think it is really no big deal!

So schedule your eye exam for your child today!

Friday, May 8, 2009

To Mulch or Not Mulch on Mother's Day....

So get husband deserves to have all his dirt out here for all the world to see....Is it NOT Mother's Day on Sunday? What does this mean to men I wonder? After my "girl's get-away" last weekend and his whining over "I got nothing done" (something getting done in his world meaning: garage, lawn or basement) he is in full gear this weekend.

Now, I am fine with going outside doing a little gardening and problem. I feel good getting dirty and feel connected to the earth and all those who worked this soil before me. (even the woman who used to live in this house...kinda cool....she did the bulk of the work) We purchased the bulk of our garden veggies to plant and a few flowers this week so I don't have a problem with doing that this weekend. However, I do draw the line at "I was gonna order the mulch for this weekend." What? Do you have a brain cell left in that head of yours? OMG. I said, "Tell me you did not order the mulch." Please note this is a 1/2 truck load of mulch to be delivered on Friday to cover a large chunk of my driveway and it is like a 2 day job. I told him the only way for him to get out of a proper gift, card and flowers would be for me to not help what-so-ever with the stinkin' mulch. "But I really need your help. It doesn't matter if it's this weekend or next" he said. Again....searching, searching for brain cells.

It is now Friday night and no, there was no mulch delivery. Quite possibly because of my threats to his genitals or he simply forgot to place the order. I am not gonna lie....I simply do not have any interest in the god-forsaken mulch project. I really thought 2 kids would get me outta some of this work. I have a week to plot how to get out of mulch-a-mania next weekend.

So to all you mothers of human babies, animal babies, relative babies, etc. Happy Mother's Day! You are the greatest creatures on this planet! Mothers ROCK. (so hard) I salute you. I share your joy and pain. I stand tall and proud with you. This is the most amazing job I have ever done. Even without so much of a thank you from anyone on some days, I still go to bed (really really tired sometimes) and feel this weird sense of calm and peace and contentedness I have never felt before. As lame as it may sound, this was my true calling in life and this is my dream job.

Monday, May 4, 2009

My so-called Ordinary Life...

Well, I'm still alive after "Girl's Weekend '09"!!!!! Wow, I thought I was ready and I think I hung pretty well, but it's Monday late afternoon and I'm still feeling a little foggy! Whew! Remember in college when you'd go out on Friday and Saturday night? (if you weren't extremely hung-over?) I guess after the age of 30 something it's rough to drink and stay up late TWO whole nights in a row! And let's not even get into the rounds and rounds of "shots." When was the last time you did a shot? Oh my goodness! When was the last time you slept until you woke up on your own? Wow!

I am glad to report that what I did get out of the weekend was a very much needed and appreciated break from the kids/house/husband/ordinary routine! What a nice feeling to wake up Sunday morning (one eye shut, one eye open...huh, what? where am I? Oh, hotel, girlfriends, what is that taste in my mouth?) and think..."I can't wait to see the kids today!" Delightful!!!!!! Moms really need a break....and I mean an "away for the weekend" break. Someone once said to me that when a mom returns from even a short amount of time away the kids act like you were rescued from the Bermuda triangle! It's even better now that Lauren is such a talker and filled me in on all the weekend details. (She said to me, "Mom, you do everything for me! It's hard with Dad!") Ahhhh, love it!

It's also about giving up control of how Dad is going to do things all weekend! I knew they'd be unharmed, but it's also nice that Dad can bond in a different way with the kids doing everything I normally do. I have to say I was pretty impressed with the condition of kids and house.

Many thanks to all my lovely gal pals for a fantastic weekend, so many laugh attacks and for helping me to feel young again....even if we never need to go to a college town bar again!
Oh, and now I have an "instruction" sheet for the kids that I made up for the weekend! So see how easy it will be to go away again?!!!!