Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Girl Next Door

So, a few nights ago we returned home from the Snow Shack to find a lovely plate of peanut butter cookies left on our front porch. Home-made I might add. I'm a sucker for home-made cookies. Attached was a little blue sticky note that read "Hello from your New Neighbors! Love the XXX Family."

I quickly set my slushie aside and poured a glass of milk so I could enjoy this unexpected surprise. As I chewed, I pondered..."shouldn't it be me who leaves a plate of cookies on the porch saying "Welcome to the Neighborhood."? The cookies were good and somehow that made me feel even more guilty. They were soft, warm even, and had just the right amount of sugar dusted on top. Geez...not only can this new girl cook, but she's completely on the ball. I mean really, who has time to bake home-made cookies just days after moving in?

Here is where I mention that the first time I met my new neighbors I was snooping through their house. This house has been under construction for over a year and I had never, NEVER walked through it during construction. Finally, one day my curiosity got the best of me and I headed over. Imagine my surprise when this cute young family shows up and starts looking around as well. We made small talk and when I mentioned that I hoped the house would sell soon, they politely told me they had just bought it. Yeah! A young family! Yeah! A daughter Rachel's age! Yeah! They're putting in a yard. All is well on Mickelsen Place.

But I digress. So now two months later, they have finally moved in and instead of rolling out the welcome mat, I've become the nosy-neighbor-who-snoops-through-your-house-and-doesn't-welcome-you-with-a-plate-of-cookies, guilt-ridden-girl-who-lives-next-door. Great.

I hope I can make a better, second, first impression. She makes really good cookies.

Lucky Me, Loving You

Dear Coley,

Last week as I was leaving the house, rushing out the door for an early morning meeting, you came running down the driveway after me.

A bit impatient, I rolled down my window and inquired "What?". You quickly jumped up on the running board and threw your arms around me through the open window. "Hugs!" you simply exclaimed. Do you know that you made me smile all day.

Today I had yet another conversation with the mother of one of your friends. She told me how much her son enjoyed you, what a good friend you are and how she hoped you two were in the same class again next year. I think I've had this same conversation with 4 other moms in the past two weeks. And I'm proud. I'm proud that other parents who I respect, and who are raising good kids, think you are as great as I do.

I love that you easily show affection to your siblings; I love that your teacher emails me to tell me how much she appreciates your sense of humor; I love that you sing in the shower and lolligag in the morning, even though it drives dad crazy; I love that you remember to bring in the garbage cans without being reminded; I love that you wake up happy and that you ask for "mom dates" when you need a little attention.

So often, too often, I fail to tell you what a great kid I think you are and what a fine young man you are becoming. There are so many things you do that make me love you just a bit more each day, if that is possible. And yes, there are a few things you do that drive me crazy too. But I just wanted you to know, I guess I needed you to know that even though I don't always say it, I'm always thinking it, and you kiddo, make me proud.



PS. Sorry if this is a bit squishy---I know you're kind of getting too cool for love notes from mom.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

True Blue

It's do or die for the Jazz tonight and the media is in a lather about the poor sportsmanship of Jazz fans at Monday night's game. Even Coach Sloan has gone on the record saying he was disappointed in the atmosphere at the ES Arena.

Typically, the ES Arena is considered one of the toughest home courts, especially during post-season play. Our fans are loud and intimidating, involved in every possession; they have the unique ability to actually influence the game.

Unfortunately, the play-offs can bring out the worst in people. The intense excitement heightens emotions and anxiety. Monday night I witnessed two grown women nearly come to blows over possession of a mini-ball that was thrown into the crowd. At an earlier game, Cole kept complaining to his dad about the foul language he was hearing from the lady in the adjacent seat.

I, for one, am just happy to be there. I love watching Boozer smile on the court. I love the way AK protests every call against him. I marvel at D. Will playing through the stomach flu and a sprained ankle. I love watching Fisher, already a three time champion, calmly sink three's as he guides this young team to victory.

But this is nothing new. I grew up going to games at the Salt Palace and cheering on the likes of Ricky Green, Adrian Dantley, Thurl Bailey and Mark Eaton. I fondly remember the glory days of Stockton, Malone and Hornacek.

Admittedly, being in the play-offs is a wonderful and exciting experience. It brings the community together, my kids get to stay up way past their bed time to cheer on the home team; even those who can't get their hands on tickets journey downtown with lawn chairs to watch the game on a big screen outside of the Arena. Everyone is in a celebratory mood and talk runs long and deep of strategy, big plays and game winning shots.

I love the Jazz. I had a great time Monday night cheering on those boys. I shared a Diet Coke with my best friend, giggled at the 85 year old lady doing splits on the court, checked out Eva Longoria and her entourage, and of course yelled and screamed and soaked in all of the craziness that is the Play-offs. Yes, there were some questionable calls; yes there were some rowdy fans; and yes that Tim Duncan is as good and as frustrating as they get. But I'm happy I went, I'm grateful for the experience, and delighted we have had so much post-season success. So win or lose tonight, I'm still True Blue.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Mental Break

When I was a little girl, my father used to tell me that he was only as happy as his most unhappy child. This was his way of telling me that when I was hurt or troubled, he felt it too. Now that I am a parent, I understand his perspective all too well. However, I never expected, that I, being part of the sandwich generation, would feel this same way about my parents.

It is an interesting time in my life to be caring for parents at the same time that I am caring for children. I worry over them as I do my own flesh and blood. My dear old dad is sick and he is never far from my mind. He is always there, he is with me wherever I go, whatever I do.

I in no way am his primary caregiver. I simply play a supporting role, and yet the worry of him, of his hurt and trouble, weighs heavy on my mind.

Last week my friend's sister was diagnosed with leukemia. Still in a state of shock, she questioned how one lives with cancer, how do you go on after the diagnosis. I suppose I have grown accustomed to this aspect of my life having witnessed cancer in both of my parents. I couldn't even articulate to her what to do, how to press has become so much a part of me that I am on automatic pilot.

Oft times, I find tears sliding down my cheeks as I do the dishes, or fold the laundry. I cry happy/sad tears when my children make me proud...happy that they are so amazing to me, and sad that my dad will miss so much of their lives. Sometimes I am quick to anger, my patience runs thin and my fuse is short, and I simply don't know why. And then I remember. I am so used to carrying around this stress that I forget how it wears me down.

My dad is on vacation for a week and my mind is at rest. For while he is away I do not have the same worry. I don't have the constant nag in the back of my and check on dad, I wonder how his night went, how his pain is; maybe I should bake some cookies today and drop them off, and so on. Sometimes it is hard to play the supportive role, always on the peripheral wondering what to do and how to help. But when he is away, my mind is at ease, for I know the only thing I can do for him is love him. And maybe that is enough.

Unexpected Joy

Today my heart felt light. It has been exactly one week since I learned my father was facing a terminal illness. A one week block of time and a wild swing of emotions. None of them being joy. Today the joy came back, it snuck into my heart and spread a smile across my face when I least expected it.

On Maui, on this beach which has become ours. The sound of the waves is cathartic and the lift of tension is palpable. Sneaking a peek under the blanket, I am greeted by the cross eyed grin of my youngest son. He coos out to me and squeals so loudly he startles even himself. I laugh and it feels good. My laughter causes him to squeal again and the cycle repeats itself over and over again.

How I wish I could be as carefree as my children as they dance in the sand and chase the waves. Their joy rises above the crash of the surf and for just a moment in time I feel it too. These three little children entrusted to my care, and all of them, so full of happiness. They are exuberant and it is contagious. I tuck this memory securely in my mind so that I can revisit it from time to time.

The laughter of my children is like salve for my weary soul. There are many days of doubt and darkness ahead, of this I am sure. But for today, for this moment, I am grateful for the joyous reminder that life goes on.

Written February 18, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Time Well Spent

In today's Salt Lake Tribune, syndicated advice columnist Carolyn Hax answered a letter from a reader who was upset that her friends with children didn't have time to hang out, call or e-mail once they became mothers.

Carolyn Hax answered "When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of check-out line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15. It's constant vigiliance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time."

Bravo to Carolyn Hax for a succint answer for every mother when they are asked "What did you do all day?". However, Ms. Hax failed to mention the most pleasurable part of my day, that is those moments I eagerly and greedily spend watching my miracle baby just be. I love to watch him sleep, I love to trace the swirl of new hair on his head, to smell the freshness of Baby Magic on his skin, to count his tiny toes and let him wrap his fat fingers around my own. I watch him with wonder and amazement, I try to drink in and enjoy every moment of his infancy. Sometimes this really is all I accomplish in a day and that, in my opinion, is a day well spent.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Note Fairy #1

We have a note fairy residing at our house and her name is Rachel. She often sneaks around leaving colorful drawings and extreme expressions of her devotion to us. She uses lots of exclamation points and makes it clear that she loves us soooooooooooo much. I'm one of those moms that doesn't allow her kids to use tape on the posters on the bedroom door, no school projects tacked around the walls. I admit it, I'm a bit protective of my paint job. But when Rachel tapes a love note to my closet door, I cannot, will not, could not think of removing it or disciplining her. I may be nuerotic about my paint, but even I realize this phase of adoring admiration and affection from my Rachel is surely fleeting. I like to think that when she's a teenager and filled with attitude and angst, I can pull out my stash of notes and remember these sweeter moments of tender communication.

Today I opened her closet door to grab her dirty clothes and found last night's gym clothes on the floor, and....a note: "I do not know where to put these close. PS. They are clean."

I giggled as I grabbed my camera, anxious to preserve the moment when she actually cared about leaving clothes on her closet floor, about keeping her room clean. Unfortunately, I am confident this phase will also pass.

Monday, May 21, 2007

My First Post

I'm a bit of a blog junkie. I have a few blogs I like to peruse. Some of them make me laugh, some of them inspire me, some of them awe me with writing that is profound and beautiful. I've always thought I should create my own blog, but frankly never had the gumption to actually do it. Who would read it? What do I have to say? Isn't a bit narcisstic?

Last week my friend Gina announced that she was starting a blog. She was so matter of fact about it, so confident in her purpose. Yesterday my friend Brooke told me she had a blog as well. Sometimes when I talk to Brooke I feel like I must have known her in a past life....she reminds me of me, she loves so many of the same things that I love.

These girls give me courage. It seems silly to need courage to simply write what is in my heart. But a blog seems so "out there". Nevertheless, here it is. Stories of my life, maybe a recipe or two, a few cute pictures of my kids. Nothing fancy, but a blog of my very own. A simple accomplishment, but an important one to me.