Tag Archives: life

Have Kids, Will…Make a Fort (No Boys Allowed)

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Having a space of my own became an urgent priority a few years ago.  As the only female in my household for the past 20 years, I’ve desperately yearned for a place to call my own.  Our sweet little, old farmhouse only has one bathroom upstairs that we ALL share (go ahead, ladies, gasp!).  So while I’ve semi-patiently tolerated all sorts of bathroom issues that come with five males peeing all over the one toilet that I, too, have to use, I hit a breaking point when I was trying to work/write from home.  Having a home-based business has many upsides, but too many distractions for this lady to function well.

Much too long after man-caves became a “thing,” women have now been allowed the same accommodation… a little escape from the shared household spaces.  It never did seem fair that the fun, casual drinking spaces were reserved for the guys–a space that didn’t need to be cleaned very well or used to entertain guests other than more guys who also sought refuge from those damned feminized rooms within the home.  I like drinking and relaxing as much as the next guy (or gal) but I needed a space that didn’t require me to look around and think, “Oh, so-and-so didn’t put his laundry away.  I’ll just do that before I get to this article.”  Or, “Gosh, those dirty dishes in the sink are going to stink if I don’t load the dishwasher before I work on this floor plan.  Better take care of that.”

Obviously, if we’re only working with one upstairs bath we also don’t have a spare room to use as an office.  Eventually, I was able to wrestle this space above my garage into my own private fort.  Or, as one of the boys calls it, my tree house.  We painted the whole thing glossy white to maximize the light that comes through the fabulous round window that a client couldn’t use.  Then, I found these great light fixtures from Cedar and Moss, a lighting company in Oregon.  They’re way cool and great quality!

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Even though the furniture is all upcycled, repurposed, and second-hand, it came together nicely to provide a very comfy mom-cave work space that I absolutely love.  And it has a bathroom!

 

 

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Have Kids, Will…Parent an Adult

Unbelievably to me, my oldest son just turned 18.  This is a huge milestone, mostly because he’s now legally an adult.  An adult!  He can join the military, buy tobacco products, get arrested and put in regular, adult jail (scary!).  He can vote, make a will, sign contracts, get sued, and is eligible for jury duty.  Basically, he now has the legal right to do everything (within the law) except purchase and consume alcohol.  Amazing.  Didn’t I just bring him home from the hospital, in that little infant car seat with the teddy bear print?  Wasn’t it yesterday that I held his chubby little hand as he enthusiastically ran through the doors of his preschool and learned how to count?  And I swear, it was just last night that he cried out from his crib because he had gotten hold of the Vaseline jar from the changing table and smeared it all over his face, the walls, and into his soft, auburn hair.

Having a baby at 22 was the single scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  I wasn’t ready.  I knew I wasn’t ready, but…well…these things happen.  And for that, I will be eternally grateful!  He unwittingly introduced me to the art of parenting and, through the ups and downs of being my guinea pig, has been a beacon of light and the source of some of my greatest joy, frustration, and pride.  He is, and always will be, my baby: my sweet, raspy-voiced, precocious, nature-loving, little boy.

As we’re looking at colleges and talking about the next chapter in his life, I can’t help but to become a little wistful.  All those times I felt completely spent after long, exhausting days cleaning up after an active toddler who refused to sleep past 5 a.m., and some older person would see me, haggard and drooping, with my little firecracker in tow, and say, “Enjoy him now.  It goes by quickly,” I would think Yeah, right.  You just forgot how hard this is.  Well, I’m here to tell you, it does indeed go by quickly.  The days are often long, but the years just fly.

I love all my boys more than I ever imagined was possible, and Eli continues to be the guinea pig for my parenting, but what I’ve come to learn and really appreciate is just how fast time does go and how finite our time is to do the best job we can in raising our children.  Being a mom still scares me sometimes, but the love that causes my heart to swell for these wonderfully sweet, funny boys of mine, is so worth that occasional discomfort.  And now that my oldest is an “adult,” I catch myself admiring the young man he has become and think, I did okay.

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Have Kids, Will…Turn the Big 4-0!

I’ve put off writing this post since celebrating my birthday two months ago.  I wanted to give it some thought.  I wanted to marinate in being 40.

Leading up to this age, turning 40 seemed like SUCH. A. BIG. DEAL.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t.  It’s an age I’ve been almost looking forward to.  It’s solid without being weighty.  It’s mature without being old.  It’s middle-age.  But isn’t that the best part of a jelly doughnut: the middle?

To kiss my youth goodbye is a little sad, but the riches I’ve gained through experience and meaningful relationships is what makes getting older golden.  I love my family with a ferocity that I never knew existed until I had kids.  I love and respect my friends for all their differences, their strengths and weaknesses,  their struggles and successes, and their willingness to love me back.

I can’t really write about turning 40, or aging in general, without acknowledging some of the things my girlfriends have said since sliding (tripping?) into middle age, things they never would have uttered at 20:

  • “Is there a bar in this strip mall?”
  • “We need to find a bathroom!  Now!
  •  “I might have to go into that Five & Dime and buy some pants in case I pee mine!”
  • “My butt cheeks are sagging.  I need lifts everywhere.”
  • “Is anyone else finding gray pubic hairs?”
  • “It’s 11 o’clock.  Let’s get a drink now and take a nap later.”

So, in appreciation for all the humor, joy, kindness, and love that are yet to be enjoyed…Cheers!  Here’s to turning 40!  I’m happy to be in the middle of my story because, God willing, I’m just getting to the good part.

 

 

 

Attend a Funeral.

Yes, that’s right.  This is not a funny post.  I had to attend the funeral of a former classmate today.  He was 40 years old.  At the funeral, the priest talked about our purpose in life.  Sometimes we’re called “home” before anyone else thinks we’re ready, and sometimes we live agonizingly long lives that can’t end soon enough.  It’s usually not up to us, but it’s how we live that matters.

In this one short day I’ve realized there is something terribly wrong with how we, as a general American population, are living.  I’m not talking about the shallow made-for-TV-crap that we can easily remove ourselves from.  I’m talking about the day-to-day chaos that I, at least in this moment, am completely overwhelmed by.  Without much notice, it sneaks up on us in the most insidious way.

I attended today’s funeral and visited with some old friends afterwards.  I really wanted to enjoy catching up with people I haven’t seen in ages, but while doing so, I ordered Dominos pizza to be delivered to my boys at home and made sure they weren’t killing each other.  Then, I filtered through no less than 13 group text messages that had to do with sledding in this morning’s snow fall.  On top of that, I had messages coming in that the candy I donated for this weekend’s play was MIA, as was the payment for the “love note” I sent in for the play’s program.  I was also sent a reminder that both my 2nd and 4th graders had “snow day” work to turn in tomorrow–because kids just can’t have snow days anymore.  Then, a friendly request to see how pictures were going for the school fundraising auction, which includes coordinating pictures of some 65 sets of elementary and high school siblings during snow days, exams, field trips, confessions, play practice, sports orientation, and more….has sent me over the EDGE!

Tonight I was talking with people about a mutual friend who has completely removed herself from society.  We talked about it like it was the weirdest thing in the world, and the circumstances surrounding her decision are kind of weird, but really–who can blame her?  Shit piles up on us before we can even think to say “no”.  Our friend died at 40.  How many times did he think “I really wish I was doing something else right now”?

I’m not about to remove myself from volunteer work, or helping a friend in need or attending to my family, but sometimes–just sometimes–I would like the rest of the world to disappear and let me enjoy a moment.  Without anxiety.  Without requests.  Without demands.  And just be.

Have Kids, Will…Seek Solace in a Roasted Red Pepper!

It’s a dreary day and I should be doing any number of things, but I’m not.  Instead, I’m indulging my funk.  I’m feeling a little worn out. There are mountains of laundry molding away in hampers, dirty dishes crusting into blocks of concrete, wilting plants that need to be put into the ground, and a pair of legs that will be expected to run 13.1 miles this weekend.  I’m not taking care of any of them.

On days like this, when I don’t know what to do with myself because I don’t want to do the things I should be doing, I cook.  And I don’t mean cook in terms of mixing up some mac n’ cheese or heating hot dogs in the microwave, I mean cook cook.  In the winter I’ll make enormous cauldrons of soup…enough to feed my family of six, freeze in multiple containers, share with friends, and eventually, throw away.  Now that it’s warmer out and the farmers’ markets are up and running, I turn my attention to all those deliciously fresh fruits and vegetables.

This morning, after attacking my fridge with the voracity of a starving jackal, I pulled out some berries and rhubarb, red and yellow bell peppers, and a few languishing tomatoes.  The tomatoes went out to the chicken yard as compost.  The rest, though, have served as my salve, my drug, my relief from the monotony of household chores.  The berries and rhubarb made a nice crisp for dessert, which is a treat since we don’t often have dessert at home (yes, I’m one of those moms). The peppers, though, are vegetables that my kids won’t touch but I absolutely love.

As I was slicing into the peppers, especially the red ones, I was struck by how gorgeous that rich, dark color is.  It’s the color of the organs that pulsate inside of us.  Removing the inside membranes and seeds revealed a finely textured surface with just a little bit of juice gently dripping off the edges.  It was downright pornographic! Why are oysters given all the credit for boosting sex drive when they’re gray and slimy and ugly?  Red peppers are where it’s at!  I was a little sorry that I had to pop those luscious gems into the oven.  They went from being smooth, perky 20-somethings to squishy, wrinkled middle-agers.  The solace I found in this analogy for aging is how damn sweet those roasted red peppers taste!

Now I better go for a run.