Random good stuff on a Monday

Now and then, I like to share some new favorites. You can never have too much wisdom. And isn’t it nice that so much of it is captured in pithy quotes?

We’ve all had a piece of heaven, but how many of us knew when we had it in our hands? ~ Anonymous

“Love is a meeting of two souls, fully accepting the dark and the light within each other bound by the courage to grow thru struggle into bliss.”  ~ Lovendar.com

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.  ~ Mary Oliver

“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” ~ L.R. Knost

A girl once told me to be careful when trying to fix a broken person for you may cut yourself on their shattered pieces ~ Ruthtattooideas.com

Shortest horror story: Monday

I saw this little bit of joy recently, quite possibly the best advertisement I’ve seen in a long time. Could not resist sharing! I just try to imagine the story behind this:

“I’m quite sure that most of you have seen the rather large green dragon that has been flying…for the better part of a week. I am looking for someone to: lure said dragon away…to a more rural area. Force said dragon to land in rural area. Slay said dragon in whatever way you see fit.

No pay, dragon slaying is its own reward.

Please note that I am not talking about the red dragon that frequents the area from time to time. He and I have an agreement.”   ~ http://i.imgur.com

Here’s to slaying your dragon this week…and make sure you target the right one.

In defense of Pinterest

It seems there’s a lot of strong opinion out there about Pinterest and its impact on everything from use of time (aka waste of time) to fueling competitive birthday parties to adding new musts to the already jam-packed to-do list of the average American woman. (Notice I’m confining my opinions and observations to the narrow borders of my own country…I haven’t been authorized to speak for all women of the world just yet.)

I was going to be productive today...

I was going to be productive today…

No doubt many of the criticisms are justified. I’ll admit it’s addicting and time-consuming to scroll through my favorite Pinterest theme pages. However, I am still in control of the clocks at my house, and that super power extends to my keyboard as well. So it is within my ability to set an alarm and limit the time I spend on Pinterest.  A little Pinterest surfing is often my reward for finishing a project or task. It doesn’t have to gobble up whole evenings or weekends.

One of my favorite things about the site is the at-a-glance appeal…I only check out a recipe or project if the image is appealing. I think this is an enormous time-saver. After all, if the finished product doesn’t look enticing, why would I waste time trying to duplicate the taste or the look? And I love the links that give great step-by-step instructions with photos…no guessing about how to do the tricky parts!

Often when I’m looking for a recipe or product I begin with Pinterest. I’m rarely disappointed…much quicker than checking out links through Google.

As to feeling that I have to decorate amazing cookies or have elaborate theme parties…well, I get to make these decisions too at my house. I understand peer pressure, and I’ve had my share of mom-guilt motivation. But I’m also able to appreciate good ideas and copy what will work for my needs without feeling that I must do everything to the nth degree. I like to think of Pinterest as an engine to fuel my creativity. Actually, a site like Pinterest is perfect for me because I have almost NO inherent creativity. But I know what I like when I see it, and I can copy like a pro! Knowing when to stop is up to me.

I read a post today about the increasing tendency to turn events into spectacle: gender reveal parties, theme parties, holiday celebrations, and biggest and most intimidating of all, engagements and weddings. No one can use every great idea, and few parties are perfect. No one needs the pressure of one-upping or living beyond means to achieve. That’s no fun at all. When the details of the party become the focus more than the birthday child, or decisions about wedding arrangements create stress and tears, something is certainly wrong.

I’m all in favor of reflection, introspection, and honest confrontation here. I’ll admit, as a mom, as a wife, as a woman, I’ve sometimes been guilty of acting out of pride and perfectionism. But the scenario I picture in the planning stage doesn’t always hold up in the light of reality.

Hopefully I’m wiser as well as older now, and I’ve pretty much given up pursuit of perfection if it includes humans of any sort. And now when a dinner flops in a spectacular way, or my holiday dazzle doesn’t quite achieve the double spread gloss of a Southern Living magazine feature, I’m still content. I’ve learned to value the heart beyond the image, and to know that trying and intention count at least as much as any result I could pin on a Pinterest board.

Naughty, naughty!

Naughty, naughty!

So, to my fellow Pinners…let me encourage you to be mindful about this amazing tool. It can be a wonderful source of inspiration and delight. But remember, if you are fortunate enough to live with other humans…short ones, tall ones, young or old…they’ll likely derail your carefully laid plans, and your photos may not be perfect either. You’ll likely not finish all the crafts you plan for the holidays; your amazing new dish may look nothing like the exotic photo you tried to copy.

Never mind: all is well! It’s all about learning from others, enlarging our creative borders to try things we hadn’t thought of for ourselves. And it’s about coming to terms with messy reality: looking around at the kids you love; the person who sometimes is your soulmate and sometimes is just a fellow warrior in the battlefield; the home that isn’t perfect, but is yours, warts and all, and knowing that you love it anyway.

Not sure how to capture that image for a Pinterest pin, but that’s the one I would be most proud to share with the world.

It’s the small victories, really!

This week I had a minor triumph. For the first time ever, I had a $0.00 fuel oil bill.

I’m still kind of in shock.

Now you may think it odd that I would even be thinking of fuel oil bills…home heating oil bills…in early September, especially as I’ve been bragging the past few months about the amazing weather we’ve had all summer. I mean, I’ve wondered if SE Alaska has suddenly migrated over toward Hawaii, such has been our good fortune. This is the forecast I saw for this week:

September sunshine!

September sunshine!

Pretty sweet!

We get automatic fuel oil deliveries throughout the year. They’re scheduled to come every other month and top off the tank. Summer, even cooler summers, costs are lower. But with a furnace that runs year round…I don’t understand these intricacies, but apparently even when the thermostats are set to -10, the furnace kicks on to keep water in the boiler “pre-heated.” You know, in case the temperature suddenly drops in July, and we need to warm up immediately or something. This is what I gathered from the plumber/heater guy who understands these things…the one I hired to service the furnace back in June, and then asked to TURN THE MONSTER OFF! I figured if I couldn’t trick it into hibernating by turning the thermostats down to nothing, I’d pull out the big guns and just unplug.

The service guy warned me that we might see some leakage…apparently boilers…furnaces…whatever the monster in the basement is called…don’t like to go quietly. But I was determined to be free from heating costs, at least temporarily. So after the annual service, we took a deep breath and flipped the power switch.

Silence. Blissful silence! I love the sound of nothing running!

And no leakage. Not sure why I hadn’t thought to do this before. But so far, seems like we’re ok. We just stopped feeding the pig.

The real payoff came this week. I came home yesterday to find a little love note from the oil company on my basement door. That’s how it always happens. I’m having a normal day, feeling fine, and suddenly, POW! I see it. That little envelope that tells me the truck has been here. Stopped in front of my house, delivering fuel. Just when I’d gotten over the trauma of the last bill, they’ve done it again.

I say “trauma” because:  you never know.

Sometimes when the tank is filled, the bill is $400. I’ve seen it run $500. I think the highest love note I ever got was in the $800+ range. But I’ve mostly blocked that one from my mind…too painful to revisit with any regularity.

Mind you, these prices are just for the fuel oil. Electricity, water, sewer…those are all separate little joys that have their very own monthly bill. Not that I have a problem with that. I understand how utilities work. I use these services every month, I pay every month.

That’s what’s been so galling about the fuel oil bill…I don’t really use the furnace in the summer…so why have I been paying?

Well…the only answer I’ve come up with is that the boiler runs all the time, unless you turn it OFF. So now I know. This is the first house we’ve had with this type of heat, and you would know it would take me four years to figure this out. To be fair, several of the summers here could have passed as November, so probably not altogether unreasonable that we’ve had year-round heating costs. But still…fuel oil in July? That’s just wrong!

So yesterday…my little triumph:




Sure hope it comes back up in October when I flip the switch. But for now…aaaahhhh…just enjoying the sight of those little zeros! And best of all…the handwritten note on the side that says, “tank is FULL.”

Fresh from California

Biscoff spread. Has 5g of sugar so it's out of...

Biscoff spread. (Photo credit: programwitch)

So here I am, back in Ketchikan on Labor Day Monday, ready to work the rest of the week. My end-of-August flirtation with California sun and big beach hats is done, and I’m moving into work mode.

I got home today to find that summer is still here. That was a surprise. I haven’t seen the weather forecast for Ketchikan the past ten days, and I figured we’d used up all the available sunny days we’d be allotted for the season. But not true, there are several more on tap this week. I rode across on the airport ferry standing outside the cabin…that doesn’t happen often. My car was delicious, the warmth causing it to release its lingering new car smell (after 4 1/2 years…that should tell you how much this vehicle is used!) My house was roasty and welcoming in the afternoon light streaming in the big front windows.

And to add to the summer temps lingering a little longer, I imported seasonal flavors to enjoy the next few days. We took frozen salmon down with us to grill while we were camping, and I made use of my emptied fish box to bring back tomatoes, corn, squash, peaches, and a jar or two of Biscoff Spread. (No, no, that’s not produce…just an item I can’t find in the local market.)Would you believe the last time I bought a jar of this delight and tried to bring it back with me in my carry-on luggage, TSA took it from me?!  This stuff is definitely not a liquid. I was assured that the staff can’t consume anything they confiscate, they’re required to dispose of food. That’s almost worse than thinking of some stranger eating my Biscoff. Seems like a waste all around!

Of course I can buy all the fresh produce in Ketchikan. But the charming thing was that I bought it yesterday at a farm stand in California. Whenever I have the option of buying produce from a roadside stand, I’m drawn like a moth to flame. What is it about the farming heritage that makes produce at a farm stand more alluring than neatly stacked fruits and vegetables in a lovely market setting? I always think it’s my grandmothers’ farming blood singing in my veins. Although I’ve grown little beyond tomatoes and rhubarb and flowers, I like the idea of farm fresh. Never mind that I have seen enough of the work side of gardening to know that it’s not the glamorous occupation it’s cracked up to be!

So, when it occurred to me that I could dine on home-grown tomato sandwiches all this week, I couldn’t resist the temptation to bring up just a few things. A couple of guys at the airport this morning saw my fish box and wondered aloud why I was taking fish to Alaska. You see these iconic cardboard boxes all summer as tourists and fishermen take home their catch, flash frozen and ready for travel. Well hey, I figured if the styrofoam-lined box can keep fish frozen on a trip down to the lower 48, it could keep veggies in good condition to travel back up. And I’m happy to report that I was right. All produce survived amateur transportation. My sandwich was delicious! I know I’ve waxed eloquent about my favorite summer feast before…just can’t help myself. A sign that I’ve had almost enough tomatoes is that I begin to get mouth ulcers from all the acidity after overindulging. But I’m not even close yet. Maybe after this week. It’s a painful condition for a day or two, and I’ve never been successful at timing…I only know I’ve had too many tomatoes when the little ulcers begin to appear. But this is my dedication: I’m willing to suffer for the mayonnaise-and-tomato-on-soft-white-bread symphony. Especially when the best flavor is only a summer treat.

We went to a huge flea market last week. Found a beautiful straw hat, very Audrey Hepburn style. I loved the hat so much I wanted to bring it home. But that seems a waste as it’s likely to get more wear when we’re RVing. Not really much occasion for Audrey big hats in Alaska.  Well, this is not exactly how my hat looks. But it is lovely, take my word for it, and big enough I could have sailed a small vessel with it. Very useful for shading small countries that are lounging at the pool and have forgotten sunscreen.

15 apr 1963

15 apr 1963 (Photo credit: fred baby)

I also found a couple of elegant glass bottles for holding sparkling water or juice…whatever…really the contents don’t matter. My clear glass fetish kicked in and I was compelled to buy these two lovelies. Rob just looks at me like I’ve grown a third eye or something equally hideous. He cannot understand my need for clear glass objects. Most of the time I control it very well. But let’s just say one day I’ll have a thing or two to leave some like-minded clear glass aficionado. You know who you are. I think I raised one of those people, so that will probably work out to be my son-in-law’s storage issue eventually.

So, home, treasures unpacked, and a few eaten, and on to next. September and pumpkins and all things fall. I had a maple latte at the airport this morning. Aaahhh, it begins!

Just the facts, ma’am: audible answers to unspoken questions

My husband and I have very different communication styles. I’ve posted about this before. It is an ongoing thorny issue. He tends to approach conversation like a quiz: here’s the question; provide the corresponding answer and you get a star on your chart. I tend to wander a bit in my conversation. Often, when I answer a question he poses, I’m really answering the next question that I assume will follow the one he just asked. Because often, I know where the conversation is going. (Example: He asks about something we’ve planned for later this week. But my answer is about how those plans have shifted to next week, because I know that change impacts the information he’s seeking.) But he’s not ready for the second answer…he’s looking for the answer to his first question. And sometimes I get it wrong…sometimes I don’t know where he’s going, and answering a second, unasked question takes us in a completely different direction. Not that he’s in charge of all conversation in the house. But obviously, the person who poses a question has the right to an answer before the other person takes off on a tangent.

Are you confused yet?

Is this a Mars/Venus phenomena? Is this a personality type difference? He works in clinical healthcare, and spends his work hours seeking information. He’s programmed by career to look for the straightforward response…yes; no; something definite. I’m programmed, apparently, to a more round-about style of conversing. I’m not intentionally with-holding answers…just arriving at them in a very different fashion.

A few months ago we began writing out questions and answers when we were dealing with some personal issues. That helped, and seemed to be a way for us to break this conversation cycle that we so often repeat. But with the busy summer and hectic schedules, we let that technique slide. Last night we got into another one of those verbal spirals…it wasn’t so much the information that was the issue; it was the way we shared our thoughts. He feels dis-respected when I leap ahead of him in conversation. I feel edited by his need to have “just the facts.” Does he have a finite number of words he can hear from me? I have sometimes accused him of having a private script in mind, and I often go “off-script” because I’m not inside his head, reading my next assigned line. That’s unfair to him…I know he isn’t deliberately setting me up. But sometimes it feels that way.

That’s part of the issue…when we go down this path, the words quickly become unimportant. It is the feelings that rise to the surface and take control.

After long years of wrestling with this, we at least know to stop the escalation. Usually we give some quiet and space to each other. This morning, I’m going back to the writing tool. When I answer a question in writing, it forces me to slow down, to be deliberate in my response. My thought processes move quickly, sometimes too quickly to respond in the best way. At the risk of sounding sexist, based on personal observation, I think this character trait is more common to women than to men. But probably it is also a trait of personality style. Regardless, it causes friction in my relationship. And here’s the really thorny issue…on good days, I can hear the criticism that I am racing ahead with my answers. That I need to slow down and be fully present in the conversation as it happens instead of moving to where I perceive we are heading.

On a bad day, I feel personally affronted. Why can’t he just accept me for who I am? Why do I need to be edited, changed, filtered…(insert your own word here)?

But then I have to ask myself, honestly…how does this help? What is the point of the exchange? Do I have such a need for self-expression that I can’t alter my style to be more effective? Is this style so ingrained in me that I can’t change the way I speak?

Filtering through the lens of “how does this help?” always helps. Always makes me step back and see the bigger picture. The picture I want to see is one of effective communication. I want to be mature. I choose to change, even if the change is a struggle and one I’ve attempted, off and on, for many years. The reality that change is difficult and slow in coming doesn’t alter the reality that it is needed.

I wish I had a magic wand to wave when we get into these cycles. You would think by now we would be experts at talking to each other. We’ve practiced for nearly 32 years. But no, what we’re experts at is pushing each other’s buttons.

And so, back to the writing tool. I don’t expect to use this for every question/answer exchange we have…not possible! But it is a visible and physical reminder to me to slow my words, and so I’ll try to write, as I can, to work on this behavior again. As the wise say, you cannot change someone else, you can only change yourself. And with that acknowledgement comes acceptance. This is not about either of us being perfect or being right. It is about me becoming a better version of myself…more deliberate, intentional, and focused in my responses.

So here’s my call to action: am I alone in this? Does this happen to anyone else out there? Is my instinct that this is a bigger issue for women correct? And last, if you have any wisdom to share on this subject, please do!

I saw this on Pinterest recently…aahh, someone gets me!

My mind at work...

My mind at work…

“M” is for Melting

This post is brought to you today by the letter “M,” a seemingly random alphabet selection, but actually quite relevant, as it represents my current body condition. Yes, I’m melting, just a few seconds at a time. At the youthful age of 52, I’m experiencing hot flashes. And let me tell you, for the first time in a long time, I want air conditioning! Not constantly, of course. I’m coming to know the sensation of a slow heat infusing my skin…really an interesting feeling, especially as I’ve been chilly most of my life. I’m the one with a light sweater when most of the rest of the world is ready for short sleeves. My last office was nick-named “the womb” because I kept it oh-so-toasty with a little space heater. Well, I do live in Alaska. And even in the southeast rainforest part of the state, there is a lot of chilly weather here. You don’t have to live in the Arctic to be cold in Alaska.

But that may be changing…who knows if my own personal summer will outlast the calendar pages? (Borrowed that phrase from a friend…the best description I’ve heard for this experience!) Well, it’s about time. I’ve been waiting for this…and now it’s finally happening. And I have to acknowledge: I’m just a wee bit sad…a little nostalgic. Not for a monthly event, but for what it represented. And even though I haven’t been able to kid myself for a while that I’m young, somehow, this transition seals more than just a chapter. Like the passage from full and busy motherhood to empty nest, something has changed, gone, and I won’t get it back. I can’t recover the time of life, the physical part of myself that is changing, literally moment to moment.

So I read about this phase of life…should I be taking hormones? Or look for natural supplements to mitigate symptoms and support good health? I have a nightly rhythm with my sheets…on, then off, then on again. Oddly, one of the biggest impacts I’ve noticed, aside from the actual sensation of the flash of heat, is the disruption to my sleep cycle. Hard to sleep soundly when I can’t decide: cover; no cover; cover; no cover. NO COVER!

Most houses in Ketchikan do not have air-conditioning. Just not necessary. And normally I would agree. Except that it’s June, and we’re having a real taste of summer here. Doesn’t happen every year. Some summers whiz by on a Tuesday, and if you’re stuck in a meeting, or out of town that day, you could miss the whole thing. (This has actually happened to me…pretty much went four seasons in a turtle-neck a couple of years since we moved here.) Well, this summer we’re doing a little better. And I’m thinking of where I can drive myself each afternoon when it really warms up. My car has air-conditioning. Safeway has air-conditioning. Wal-Mart is air-conditioned. I’m sure you see a pattern here. I’m looking for a little relief from the heat. Can’t believe those words just typed themselves onto my screen.

So far, Rob is still intact. I haven’t dissolved in a heap of emotion. I haven’t turned into a raging maniac. You hear stories about this transition. I don’t want to spin out of control, to feel I’ve unleashed the Kraken. Mostly I just want to be myself, the me I’m familiar with, good and bad, warts and all. I don’t want hormones, or lack of them, to define me. Can I be bigger than menopause? Ah, another use for the letter “M!” Well, you might as well have two for the price of one! And the alliteration is good. Melting menopause. Menopause melting. Works either way.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go stand in front of my fridge. It’s the best I can do for air-conditioning at this time of night when my retail options are closed.

Going to a wedding

So, we have a family wedding coming up in a few weeks. First, a disclaimer…I’m absolutely delighted for the bride and groom. Happy to be attending, and really, I’m very supportive of everyone involved!


I’ve been in pre-wedding mode for weeks now. Never mind that the spotlight is on the bride. What am I going to wear? And do I have time to diet away my ever-present five ten seven pounds that tend to show up in the least desirable places? Wonder if I could do it in an intense weekend of air and water? (You know, that’s the diet plan heavy on the air, light on the water.) I’m not worried about healthy…this qualifies as an emergency diet…just going for effect here. I always think I’m going to start this process well in advance, but as time dwindles down, I begin to make bargains with myself…I’ll workout EVERY day. I promise. I’ll skip ALL desserts. I promise. I’ll eat ONLY protein, no carbs. Well, there’s obviously a pattern here. Probably should have started this last year. Clearly, I need a personal trainer who will stand over me and take the chocolate from my hand. Who says it’s easy to lose five ten seven pounds? Hardest thing in the world if you ask me! It’s stressing me quite a bit already, as you might imagine. But I figure…I can accomplish a lot with two weeks of being strict with myself. Right now I’m in pre-diet mode. Contemplating it. Thinking about it. Looking at my favorite Pinterest food pins to sort of get it out of my system. Because once I start down the path of air and water, (no chocolate!) I have to maintain it pretty much throughout the event. You don’t want to have a premature launch when you’re facing that kind of commitment.


Here’s the likely picture of the big day. Riley is the flower girl (Stephanie’s hoping that isn’t a mistake…you know two-year-olds…could be a lovely showing, or a meltdown that would frighten the Huns). That means Stephanie will be focused on Riley, and that leaves me with Jack. (Matt is staying in Seattle, happily sadly not getting to attend the out-of-state event. I think he’s just pleased that he’s not going to be flying with a toddler and an infant, but maybe I’m misjudging.) Rob prefers to do his bonding with kids once they can walk, so I’m guessing I’ll be holding the baby, and he’ll be standing just far enough away to miss any potential splatter impact. That’s ok with me…if I position Jack just right, I may not have to worry about that pesky dieting. Regardless, I can see it now. I should choose a dress that goes well with baby formula. I already know I’ll be wearing it at some point.


Rob says the main thing is to witness the event, smile for the photos, and deliver the gift…I think I can do all that without a problem. Got the gift, and I’ll be smiling. Now I just need to find a dress…hmmm…shoes…jewelry….jacket? Wedding’s in March. Purse? Appointment for hair cut…Good thing I’ve got a few weeks yet. Or maybe I’ll just go shopping for an oversized baby blanket and Jack and I’ll wear the same thing. That’s the plan…a soft baby blue for the two of us. Nothing like babies and weddings, huh?

Uh oh…

Now this is a sobering thought…may need to reconsider my dieting plan…this would be just my luck!

When we lose twenty pounds… we may be losing the twenty best pounds we have!  We may be losing the pounds that contain our genius, our humanity, our love and honesty.  ~Woody Allen

Riley’s table

Riley, two-year-old princess and budding dictator, came to visit at Thanksgiving, bringing her parents along. Believe me, a two-year-old is always the star of the show, whatever the personality or parenting style may be. This is not to say that she is intentionally allowed to run wild, or take over…there’s a lot of effort going into training, molding, shaping, squashing, and occasionally silencing the little angel. I say all of this with a smile on my face and a wealth of love in my heart. She is a joy, and a bundle of energy, and a two-year-old. I know, I already said that…but it bears repeating.

So on her visit to Gram and PB’s house…she had been to Alaska once before, when she was about eight months, but she wasn’t really mobile yet, so that hardly counts…she explored a bit…got comfy with all the rooms and beds and spaces under the breakfast bench in the kitchen, and craftily hid small toys in places that would take me months to discover. I like to think that we’ll be fully recovered before her next trip.

Her most lasting gift, other than the photos we took, was a small inscription on my pine coffee table. Now, I’ve had this table and some matching pieces since the early 90s…these are classic, traditional Southern-Living-look pieces that have served me well, and migrated about the country from Michigan to Colorado to Alaska with scarcely a mark. But now, the coffee table has met Riley.

On the afternoon of Thanksgiving, I was doing something in the kitchen (my native habitat), when I heard an outburst of “NO RILEY, DON’T DO THAT!” coming from the living room. I rushed in to see if she was ok…not really concerned about anything but her…and saw that she had very thoughtfully been signing the coffee table with a blue ball point pen. This is her handiwork:

Riley’s signature

And although I immediately (truly!) recognized that it was her toddler attempt to leave a memento of her stay, and I also (immediately!) realized that the table just grew in value to me…after all, it was only valuable to me anyway…I must admit, I did give it a good polishing with a variety of products, hoping to at least remove the blue from the marks…I knew those were carved to last.

Well, I didn’t get the blue out, and now, as I look across the surface, that’s pretty much all I see anymore. But it’s growing on me. I’ve already decided that Riley will inherit this piece…whatever else I have to leave to her, she’s getting this table. It’s solid, and it’s hers. She put her stamp on it. And I’m ok with that.

Joking aside, it’s really a great metaphor for the experience of parenting (and now grand-parenting) in general…These little people mark on your heart, little knowing or understanding that they’re leaving a permanent imprint of themselves in your life. Some marks are more on the order of medals, others are definitely scars. But the surface and the marks are unique to the parent and child. (Or grandparent…I keep forgetting I’m in the second category now.) I’ll never look at my coffee table without a reminder of the little girl who signed it. And truly, even though the marks are blue, and don’t really belong in my color scheme, because she put them there, they’re right at home in my space, and in my heart.

If you had an essentially happy childhood, that tends to dwell with you. Tracy Kidder

In the thick of it

I sit between two rug rats (Rob’s term of endearment): a 2 3/4 year-old, and the two-month-old infant, in the back seat of my daughter’s SUV. Two car seats with me in between. I’m holding a bottle for the baby, and searching for the sippy cup for the toddler with my other hand. As we drive, Riley, the two year old, is getting grumpier. She’s mercurial, sometimes fun and sunny, but in typical toddler fashion, when tired, pretty awful. At this moment, she’s awful. Rob is in the front with Stephanie. Did I mention I’m in the back, between two car seats?

We’re trying to change the mood. Pep up the two-year-old. Rob begins to be a two-year-old; now he’s on her level. He’s distracting her, making her smile as he mimics her words, her grumpiness. Slowly she’s coming around. Stephanie hears the change in her voice, and she begins to ask Riley…”did you crack?” She means her smile, which Riley’s trying to hide. She wants to smile, but she wants to maintain her mood…impossible to do both. Before she knows it, she’s charmed right out of herself.

Sad Riley

Sad Riley

Bribery and a little clever humor work wonders. She’s laughing, and peace is restored, at least for the moment. We don’t kid ourselves that it will be lasting. The most we’re hoping for is the garage. Just pull in with no crying, no screaming. Just unload and begin to comfort, change diapers, find snacks, distract. That’s the job of the parent, or parent-stand-in, sometimes known as a grandparent.

I watch Stephanie and Matt, trying to hold their own against the needs and demands of the two small people they birthed. They’ll never make it, any more than we did. It’s a losing battle. A small human can overwhelm an adult with hands tied…not even a fair contest! The best you can hope for is survival, and growth. They do grow, and part of the process is they grow on you. As much as survival, the other key is falling in love. You get so caught by the spell these little beings weave that you become a willing prisoner to their smiles, their moods, their needs. And by the time you realize it, their work is done, and you’re hooked, body and soul. Well, maybe it has to be that way. Who would sign up for the craziness if they understood the commitment up front?




Stephanie sees me smiling at the scene after dinner, a little crazy, a little chaotic. She says I’m laughing at them, and I say no, just laughing. Not at them…just appreciating the scene, in all its joy, at this very moment in time.

This is just the age-old ah-ha that all parents experience. Only now, I’m experiencing from the second row of seats. Let me tell you, the view is pretty good from where I sit. I’m close enough to lean down and be in the game, but just far enough that most of the sticky bits miss me.

“We never give up wanting things for ourselves, but there comes a day when what we want for ourselves is someone else’s happiness.” ~ Robert Brault



   Ah, a little humor! Couldn’t resist these! All borrowed / copied / stolen from   Pinterest.



Should have thought of this myself!

Should have thought of this myself!