Wednesday, June 19, 2013

take my picture

i like to take pictures of you guys. a LOT of pictures of you guys. almost to the point of being annoying. tonight, as i was putting jack into bed, he asked me to rock him and i jumped at the chance!

its rare for me to have one-on-one bedtime rituals but this week jack is attending vacation bible school so he got home late and the girls were already in bed. we brushed your teeth, trimmed your nails and talked about what you learned tonight. you learned that the united kingdom existed and you marveled that your parents went there on our honeymoon. we started for your room and a quiet, teary, tired voice said, "mommy, will you rock me?" i had just thought to myself, as i hoisted you to the bathroom sink, how big you had gotten and how sad i am that one day, you will be so big i cannot pick you up. naturally, i was excited for the opportunity to have this alone time with you. the thing about you and i, jack, is we've always had each other. you were my first and at one time my only. you taught me how to be a mom. vivian has her pink bunny, eleanor has bunny foo foo and senor frog; but you, you've always had me. i love these night time moments with you.

i sat down and you tried to assume the normal position, but you have grown and we had to worm our way around until you fit on my lap. your long legs hung off the side of the chair and you had one arm behind me, one around me. i rocked and you snuggled in. i leaned in and nuzzled my nose against your forehead. you smelled like only a little boy does in the summer; of sweat and dirt, fresh cut grass and popsicles. i breathed you in. it was this moment that lump in my throat developed and i had that thought again. . .

"you will never be this little again!" 

that bittersweet feeling i have from time to time, when life slows down enough to catch it. i tried to take it all in, how your body felt, the sound of your rhythmic breathing, the softness of your hair.

and then, i panicked.

how am i supposed to remember all of this? how this feels? how can i capture this for eternity and never forget?

and i started thinking back.

back to when you were smaller. an infant. a toddler. a four year old! like something that sits on the tip of your tongue, i could remember it but not see it fully. i remember the feeling, the feelings, but its become more fragmented and less vivid.

this single moment was a reminder of why i take pictures and why i should continue to do so, even if it is annoying. the pictures help piece it all together! it feels like life is moving faster than my internal shutter can capture it, and i am so grateful to have all of these photographs to help remind me.

thank you for asking me to rock you tonight, pal, and making me slow down to enjoy little five-and-a-half year old you. maybe daddy will get us a bigger rocking chair.

"could you take my picture,
'cuz i won't remember
could you take my picture, 
'cuz i won't remember, yeah"

filter, take my picture

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

isn't it ironic?

i remember, on more than one occasion, my mother saying to me, "i hope you get one just like you." i let this statement go in one ear, and out the other, usually accompanied by an eye roll or tongue out behind her back. i've always suspected my mother of being a witch or having some sort of supernatural powers, but how she willed me to produce a child exactly like myself is beyond my comprehension. 

oh, my mini me. 

my vivian. 

sugar and spice. bittersweet. my angel and my devil. all rolled up into one tiny, little miniature look-alike version of myself. 

is she my karma? my penance? my joy? my pain? 

in the last few weeks, you have changed again, little miss. every day you become smarter, faster, more agile, leaving me scrambling to try to stay ahead of you. hell, most days i would even settle for just keeping up. 

you are a whirling dervish, no doubt. the blonde flash.

a couple of weeks ago, eleanor and i were out tending to our new asparagus patch while you and jack were supposed to be picking up the play room. i heard you snicker and turned to see you sneaking back in to the house. i gathered eleanor and came in to find you. as we walked up the stairs, me bitching about your stuff every where, jack says to me, "mommy, vivian brought a dead bird into the house." 

it was one of those moments where time sort of froze. i paused for thought, mouth gaping open, because as much as i didn't want to believe this to be true, i knew that it was quite a possibility. 

i looked to you and asked if you did and you got a cheshire cat grin and said, "uh, huh. yes, i did." 

"where is the bird, vivian?"

"well, its on the trampoline," you said. 


on the trampoline! in the playroom! in the basement of our house! why the hell not?

i sat the baby down and grabbed you by your arm and whisked you down the stairs. you happily reached into the trampoline and pulled out the bird. the bird was dusty, covered in bird shit. it had been dead long enough that its eye balls were semi-missing and its head bobbed to the side of your hand from its broken neck. 

bird in one hand, brushing your hair out of your eyes with the other. you looked at me inquisitively, curious about what i would do next, but you also seemed quite proud of yourself. at this time, moments of my life seemed to flash by, recalling every critter i ever drug home, both dead and alive. at 36 the idea of grabbing a dead, shit covered bird seemed less appealing than it did in my youth, so i grabbed your other arm and marched you outside and made you chuck it over the fence. 

there were lots of "what were you thinking?" questions popping out of my mouth as we walked inside and all i could do was imagine the baby crawling into that trampoline days later, without my knowledge of said bird and her chewing on it. siiiiiiiick, vivian. thank God your brother is a tattle tail. 

this was one of those parenting moments that left me bewildered and uncertain how to respond. obviously, i entertain your curiosity as my mother entertained mine, but i prefer we leave rotting corpses outside of the house. 

the following week was your very first dance recital. you could not have been any less enthusiastic about it. there was some excitement when audrey showed up to bring you flowers with a "break a leg" note attached; but mostly you were just excited about getting to wear makeup. you looked so beautiful!

we got to maryville and you only wanted to go see bobby bearcat, eat pizza and get your picture taken in your costume and then go home. i am happy to report that you didn't freeze up as much as i had anticipated you to! you and the girl next to you were copying off of each other and doing a completely different thing than the rest of the girls. it was awesome and so cute! the dance recital was a very painful three hours long, but these are the things we do for our children. 

we came to pick you up back stage at the end of the show, your dad had flowers for you and i said, "hello! you did such a great job!" and you screamed at me, "I NEED A DRAAAAANK!" 

oh Lord, you are my child. after enduring those three hours, i needed a drink, too.

as we walked to the car, i said, "you did great, wasn't that fun! do you want to do it again?" you promptly and loudly replied, "NO! i want to go back to 'nastics." fair enough!

the day after your recital was mother's day. i got a sinus infection and a trip to "crab lobster." i really wanted to stay in bed all day but you were bound and determined to take me to red lobster. apparently so you could order macaroni and cheese and touch a live lobster. 

this was at the mother's day tea at jack's school. in the event you forget some day, the darling girl to the right of you is preslie, your first crush. you talk about her all of the time and when i asked what you liked about her, you told me "she wears awesome cowboy boots and plays skylanders!" 

the following week, we had dentist check ups. jack has the misfortune of having an enamel deficiency probably as a result of my never ending morning sickness and the medicine i took to help cope. we are hopeful that the next set of teeth will be in better shape than your six year molars. 

jack had two cavities that got fixed the following week. we opted for the mild sedation route as to not traumatize you your first run in with a dentist and his drill. it was going really well and then you told everyone in the room that your mom collected monster high dolls and "it's nothing to be embarrassed about mommy." suddenly, i couldn't wait for the sedation to kick in. 

you were a champ! we had no problems although you were very freaked out when you woke up and couldn't feel your tongue. 

yesterday was vivian's last day of preschool and today was jack's. another school year comes to an end. another year of smarter, faster, more agile. if irony is just honesty with the volume cranked up, i know what i am in for, and it scares the living daylights out of me. i know the maneuvers i pulled to try to stay ahead of friday and i fear that carra 2.0 is going to give me a run for my money. fortunately, i also think the witch blood is strong, the vodka even stronger, and i may ride my broom long enough to see karma complete its circle. (if vivian doesn't give me a heart attack before hand)

this is lincoln roske, your "boyfriend" that you talked about all year and called by his first and last name!

Monday, April 22, 2013

rainy days and mondays

it's a dreary, rainy monday night, the kind of monday that prompts pajama pants and an ill-fitting bra. i have been pouring over news headlines the last 20 minutes, reading about the latest terrorist attack on our country. by the time you read this, the boston marathon bombing will be a story some where in your virtual history text book; but it just happened a week ago today. it was a bloody mess. people lost limbs, four innocent people were killed, and once again we are all on edge. those radical muslim terrorists have managed to frighten us once again, but americans have been able to rise above and pull together ONCE AGAIN. its really been just awful, i've had a terrible feeling in my stomach the last week and i hate it. its like a public reminder of how the world is changing and puts a face on evil. i'm trying my best to march on and be resilient but i haven't been able to stop thinking about the 8 year boy that was killed in the blast. how he could have been any one's child, my child. there is nothing sadder than the loss of a child and my heart absolutely breaks for that family. so much senseless violence in the world.

there was a quote from mr rogers that has been viral the last week, and as your mother, i feel its my obligation to share it. its also my obligation to try to make you feel better in times of unrest and i thought this was so poignant coming from a friendly neighbor.

just remember in times of great fear and uncertainty to look for the helpers. or more importantly, BE one of the helpers. 

heavy sigh

that's all i have got on that. i am emotionally spent and heart broken even thinking about it. 

on to happier things. . . 

a few weeks ago, while daddy was at the final four, we made our way to springfield to visit grandma and grandpa. uncle tim came along with us and had talked me into running my first ever 5K. although i have run a bit from time to time for exercise purposes, i am not a runner. but when your brother, who just had his second kidney transplant six months previous, asks you to run, by God you run. i agreed to it, to be his cheerleader, all the while knowing there was a good possibility ol' quad kidney was going to kick my ass. we did it with the ingersols and as soon as the race started tim and ross took off leaving the girls behind. i didn't see tim again until almost the finish. i am proud to report that i ran about 95% of the race. . .  and i didn't die! (i did sweat a whole lot!) it was the color run so every mile they threw colored cornstarch at us. (yes, we paid to do this!) tim and ross waited for us at the end so we could all finish together. i was thrilled to complete but the best prize was seeing how stoked my brother was. he was not tired at all, not sweating at all and seemed more "normal" than he has in years. i do believe he is turning the corner. 

your dad said the final four sucked but hillyard was an official sponsor this year with their magical floor mop. the "official floor mop of the ncaa" very fancy stuff. he came home before the last game but saw the usual suspects and had dinner with norm stewart. although we are ku fans, norm is a delightful man and his wife, virginia, even more delightful! i was bummed to not go this year and already have grandma on the books for the trip next year. i do love march madness! 

grandma made the trip back with us after the color run and we spent the next week putting our house back together and preparing for a big party for grandpa. my mom is a slave driver. she had me unpacking boxes of things i haven't seen since september! she made me polish silver until 11:00 pm one night! i do not know where she finds the energy or motivation! obviously she never had three small children.

all the slave driving was much needed and the party ended up being great motivation to get some projects wrapped up around here. nothing like inviting 70 people to your house to make you want to put the air return vents back up! ha! my dad knew we were having a party for him, because his schedule is so tight we had to do some prearranging; but what he didn't know, was who we were inviting. i do believe this made him quite anxious knowing something was out of his control and in the hands of me and your uncle tim.

he also didn't know that i had been working on an even bigger project for him! i have been secretly plotting and planning his birthday gift for over a year! my goal was to get 60 memories, from 60 different people, in 60 envelopes. i sent out the original note late february and then turned into the biggest, nagging bitch ever! (your dad might argue that point, i'm pretty good at being a nagging bitch) i can hardly believe how difficult it was to get people to send me something! anything! but i poked and prodded enough that two days before i gave it to him, i had enough to fill those envelopes!

once again, per dave's crazy schedule, i had to pin him down to be able to give it to him. tim came over and we put the kids in bed, poured dad a big vodka tonic and presented him with the box. envelope number one had the letter we sent out to everyone and his face was equal parts intrigue and concern when he read it. an interesting possibility, 59 letters and 60 years. he opened them one by one and read them aloud. 

i thought that i knew a lot about my dad before i started this project but i can't tell you how many surprising things i learned about him through this process. imagine my shock as one letter started, "i still remember you walking down the halls of central high school with your long hair, pukka shell necklace and bell bottom pants." 

what. . . the. . . hell. . .

his sisters managed to give me some really good dirt on him, how he had the opportunity to go to arizona state, paid in full by his aunt, if he would cut his hair. he did not. he also quit a job because they wanted him to cut his hair. this would have been pretty critical information for me to know in my twenties! many times that s.o.b. gave me grief about my hair! if only i knew!

i learned that my father has stayed in two separate nursing homes that framed themselves as "hotels." there were many, many stories involving my daddy and a horse, none so great as the time my parents were dating and a horse shit all down the side of his leg at an auction and they had to ride home with no heat on in the car because it was the middle of winter and it smelled so terrible! it also turns out my father is a little bit stubborn! my nickname growing up was "coconut" and now i can clearly see now, the coconut doesn't fall far from the tree. 

it was a really great project, albeit stressful. so fun to learn so much about daddy and to hear different perspectives on legendary stories. during the course of reading a few of the letters from his twenties, my dad touted that a lot of his friends were "old" and "liars" but more importantly that most of them have "terrible memories!" very good times. he's has 60 very well spent years! 

we spent the following day preparing for his party and trying hard not to let on how big it was going to be. he was just anticipating his regular crew and some family. true to form, he spent most of the day bossing us around, telling us how to "properly" ice down a cooler of beer and reminding me that this would have been much simpler to just go out to dinner. by lunch time i'd had enough of him and sent he and randy out to fix the swing set. geez. he's such a micro manager, another trait i must have gotten from him! 

i do believe he started catching on to how big it was going to be when we pulled all of the food from the downstairs kitchen! shortly there after, the guests started arriving and he looked more and more surprised with each persons arrival. all of the usual suspects were present and it was like walking down memory lane for me! he was most surprised to see their local best pals, the lee's, had made the journey from springfield! and even more surprised when life long friends, the trippensee's, showed up from jefferson city! penny park won the award for furthest travel coming in from houston! it was such a good time, although it went too quick. it was one of the few times in my life, i can sufficiently say i shocked him in a GOOD way! :) 

i have managed to write myself from sad to glad in the last hour! looking through these pictures and thinking about all of those stories reminds me how precious life is and how important it is to live it to the fullest. those cowardly terrorist want us to be fearful and to retreat; but we can't. we have keep on, keepin' on. keep making memories. keep inching our ways towards a life well lived. keep moving towards that 60 year mark. 

"although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it." helen keller