Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Mommy moments

Since I was a child, I've always wanted to be a Mom. I imagined myself with a house full of happy, creative children...inspiring them, teaching them, loving them. And while life doesn't always pan out the way you imagine it will, I feel like I have a large piece of that dream...I have a happy, creative child and the privilege of being able to be with her full time. But I don't always feel like I do the best job of appreciating this great gift.

I don't know if it's the fact that we're stuck inside a lot or that I have a houseful of small, demanding, diaper-wearing people to care for five days a week...but I feel like I spend a lot of my time feeling frustrated and stretched to the limits of my patience.

I'm sure part of this comes from the fact that Olivia She is always thinking, doing, talking, running...always on the move. She is so smart. And if I can devote all my attention to her, she's typically an absolute angel. It's the moment that I am distracted (which is often...hello, I have three other kids here during the week!) that she pursues trouble, and she doesn't stop until she finds it.

Occasionally, I need to do something important like fix dinner AND keep Olivia out of trouble at the same time. I'm getting better at it...I can anticipate trouble based on the level of activity or silence in the background. But I really need to sprout another three or four pairs of eyes to keep on top of her activities all of the time. It gets better and worse as she gets older. She's getting better at listening to instructions, but she's also getting more creative at her trouble making when she decides to ignore the rules.

Recently, though, I've started to take notice of certain moments when I am reminded of the special blessing of motherhood. Like when I wake Olivia from her nap and she's not quite awake, so she likes to snuggle on my lap for awhile. Occasionally during the day she'll bring a book and sit on my lap to read. Or she'll offer a hug or kiss and say, "I love you so much, Mommy." And I remember just how blessed I am to be a Mom.


We got a little gift from the Spring fairy this weekend...the weather warmed up, the snow melted, and it was actually warm enough to play outside for a good deal of the weekend. We took full advantage of this little glimpse of Spring. Olivia would like you to know that she had a very, very nice weekend.
See you next week!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nothing gets people in the pews like...

Ash Wednesday. It is a draw, people.

Today is the third consecutive snow day here. Even though the snow stopped falling on Monday and all the main roads are clear, there are apparently several rural school bus routes that are still very slick and treacherous. So the schools are still calling off classes.

We took advantage of the clear main roads and our day "off" to go to a noon Mass for Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation in the Catholic Church, and yet Catholics who consistently ignore other holy days (including many Sundays) will bend over backward to make it to Ash Wednesday Mass. This is a celebration that marks the beginning of the season of Lent and during which we reflect on our sinfulness and our need for God in our lives.

So today, standing in the back with about 150 other latecomers in a very large, very crowded Church, I reflected on this phenomenon of attendance at a mid-day, weekday, optional Mass. Why do so many people brave the snow and cold and crowds to get to this Mass?

I think the answer lies in our deep hunger for God's presence in our lives. No matter how people are living or how much they neglect their faith, deep down people KNOW that there's a God-shaped hole in their hearts that needs to be filled, and Ash Wednesday just has a way of calling them back to fill that hole.

During Lent, many people do some sort of penance, or "give something up". The purpose of this is to remove some of the distraction of our lives that gets in the way of our relationship to God so that we may grow closer to Him. Giving up something helps remind us, in a small way, of our dependence on God. Every time we want that thing that we gave up and deny ourselves, we remember that.

Part of my Lenten penance is to stop complaining so much. My life is so blessed that I have really no reason to complain, so I need to stop. I like to use this forum to complain (which is probably why I don't seem to have any readers), so I'm limiting my blog time to once a week. When I do blog, it is likely to be a little more interesting and thoughtful and not so much complaining about the snow. And by the end of Lent, the snow will (please, God!) be gone for the year, so we'll just call this the end of our litany of the evils of snow.

Happy Lent!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter, I am through with you.

It snowed again today. School was canceled again today. I had to shovel the driveway again today. Olivia has a cold again today. We are struggling with a battle of the wills again today. We are feeling the cabin fever again today.

I am so over winter. Have I said that lately?

Winter in these parts usually means cold, wet and mushy. It usually rains a lot and is muddy a lot. We usually get two or three "snow events" in which the snow is heavy enough to accumulate and cause some school delays or maybe even a cancellation or two. But it doesn't last long and is washed away in a couple of days when the weather warms up just a bit and it rains and makes everything muddy and ugly again.

But this year...this year we have had snow on the ground for more consecutive days than I can ever remember. We have snow falling on top of snow, which almost never happens here. And I'm sure that the schools have already used up their allotment of snow days and will have to push school another week in May/June...or more. Which means MY summer vacation will also be delayed (self-centered much?). Oh, and today? It is President's Day...a built-in snow make-up day which was supposed to be used to make up for a day they already missed. But instead it is a snow day.

The snow is pretty to look at and preferable in that way to the rain and mud. But all things considered...I'd rather have the rain and mud.


Olivia got a sleeping bag for Valentine's Day. Last night, she spread it out on the living room floor and sat in her sleeping bag and read books to us. Gotta love that kid.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Who's afraid of the big, bad...butterfly?

I woke up around 1:00 a.m. to shouts from Olivia's room. "Aaaauugh! No! Stop!" I ran to her room and found her shaking and terrified. Of what? "That butterfly is going to get me, Mommy! Make it stop!"

The "butterfly" in question was the shadow of the ceiling fan blades cast on the ceiling by the faint light from Olivia's night light. It was, to her mind, terrifying enough to keep her glued to her bed and shouting instead of running to our room as usual.

Since Christmas, Olivia seems to have developed a fear of the dark. She's doing better at going to sleep on her own as long as we check on her frequently and keep the hall light on. But more and more she's calling us back to her room because of something "scary", including monsters. I don't know where she came up with the idea of monsters, but there it is.

I'm thinking maybe it's time to leave a lamp on in her room. But I don't know if that will interrupt her sleep. It certainly won't eliminate the terrifying "butterfly" on the ceiling...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Enough already

Sure, it looks fun.
But I, for one, am SO over snow.

Olivia and I spent a little time out today, but she was tired of the snow after about a half-hour and spent the rest of the morning doing this.

The problem with snow is that it screws up our routine and leaves us wondering what to do with ourselves. That's doubly hard with a toddler.

Plus, it screwed up my plans (again). I was supposed to meet with a high school friend tonight to work on plans for our 15 year class reunion. But, yeah, that will have to be postponed.

On that tangent...I was thinking about this particular friend yesterday. She lives in my old school district and her kids go to my old elementary school. We have another old friend who just moved back to the area, and her kids go to her old elementary school. Their kids will go to high school together. When I was in high school, I used to think it would be cool if my friends and I all had kids in school together and we could be Mom friends and hang out at ball games and swim meets. It's funny how time changes your perspective on such things. Not that I wouldn't enjoy hanging out with my old high school friends on occasion, but I think we'd be stuck talking either about the kids or about "the good old days" of our high school years. We've all changed so much, and our experiences are so different. We've lost that natural rhythm that comes with growing up together.

I'm not much into class reunions, to be honest. I helped organize the 10 year, and I spent most of the time at the reunion looking after details. I just didn't have much in common with most of the people anymore. And now that I can reconnect with nearly all the people I ever talked to in high school just by logging onto facebook, it seems like the whole reason for getting together has been removed. I don't seems like the people who want to stay in contact have already done that, and they spend most of the reunion talking to those same people that they call or email on a regular basis. So what's the point?

But, the reunion coordinator was a best friend of mine in high school and needed help. And that's just what you do for old friends. Even if I will spend all of my time at the reunion talking to the four or five people I email on a regular basis and making sure the caterer brought enough chicken. That's just my role.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I take it back. February is JUST as dull.

Last month I posted that January was the dullest month of the year. But now I've decided that it's a tie. February is at least as dull. I was thinking that it was a step above January because it has Valentine's Day and groundhog day and a couple of presidentially-inspired holidays. But now I realize that just throwing a few largely-ignored holidays and a bunch of sappy red hearts into a month do not make it interesting.

I don't know. I think I just have a REALLY bad case of cabin fever. Or maybe I'm seasonally affected. I hate these months that are cold, cold, cold and always dark. There is occasionally time to do something in the evening after the babysitting is over, but it's so depressingly dark that it's hard to get the motivation. And this year, mother nature has handed us more than our fair share of snow and wet, dreary days, and I'm saying ENOUGH ALREADY. Can we please proceed to Spring now?

I'm the type of person who needs something to look forward to. Having fun plans for a weekend will make my week SO much easier to handle. And there's precious little in the "fun" category to look forward to in February.

March, on the other March we have Spring Break. There is a whole week where all three of my babysitting charges are "off" (a benefit of babysitting only kids whose parents are teachers). I'm disproportionately excited about that week. We don't even have any real plans yet. But there is SO. MUCH. POSSIBILITY! Plus, once we hit March we are on the downhill slide toward warmer weather.

Until then, I'm trying to keep myself busy with the exercise challenge and a lot of books. I've gone through three library books in the past week. I'm on my fourth. If I didn't have my books, I'd be on the internet all the time searching for warm vacation destinations that we can't afford and driving myself crazy. It's escapism, I know, but it's cheap escapism and it gets me through the week.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A post about nothing

I don't really have much to say today. So here are some random thoughts.

1. Olivia woke up with a raging cold, so I hid the play kitchen, play food and anything else the kids regularly chew on and pass around in order to minimize the chance of passing it around. (Ha!) So they found a bunch of "Little People", which each have a little hole in the bottom so they can be attached to the various cars, buses, tractors, and such that come with the "Little People". And they turned the people upside down, pretended that the knobs on the filing cabinet were drink dispensers, "filled" their people's little cavities with pretend drink and proceeded to suck on the end of them and pass them around.

I'm already planning to stock up on extra tissues for the inevitable outbreak.

2. I think I mentioned that I'm doing this lifestyle challenge thing for our health insurance discount. I've been on the elliptical machine for at least 20 minutes every day for the last ten days. I consider this a huge accomplishment. (And I've already lost 3 lbs!)

3. The snow from six days ago is finally disappearing. Winter is moving way too slowly for me. I'm ready for Spring. The sun was shining on our backyard playset this morning ('s been mostly cloudy today, blah), and for a brief, shining moment I imagined that it might be warm and we could go out and play. And then the moment was gone. I think cabin fever has set in.

It's almost Friday...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Peace with this place

On Saturday, we were outside shoveling the latest round of snow off of the driveway (we don't usually get this many episodes of snow in a season...), and I chipped some concrete off the driveway with my shovel. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the little bits of concrete had been chipped out of a crack that, before the recent freezing and thawing precipitation, was little more than a hairline in the pavement. Now, it is quickly becoming a big, ugly fissure in the driveway.

My first thought was, "I sure hope we move before we have to replace the driveway."

We've been back and forth with talking about moving for years. It's actually a rather painful discussion for me, as I've reminded my husband...not because I'm against moving, but because I'll fall in love with a house that he found while "just looking" online, and over and over again I've had to talk myself (and often him) out of bothering to pursue it. I know that he has different career aspirations and would like to find a job in the near-ish future in or near our former city. But to move before the job is acquired would certainly be putting the cart before the horse, especially since it would add 40 miles or so to his (now) relatively short commute. Not to mention the fact that we haven't even thought about putting OUR house on the market.

Yet, I know that it is out there...we will eventually move away from here. Of that I'm fairly certain. We want, ultimately, to be in a more diverse community for Olivia's sake, so one day...

But as I look out my window at the (currently snow-covered) landscaping and the play yard we built for Olivia, I know that when we do leave here, I will miss this place. I will miss the comfort of the yard that we put so many hours and days of work into making beautiful and fun for our little girl. I will miss our rooms, with the hodge-podge of colors we painted on the walls as we were making the house our own. I will miss our screened-in porch, which has become a favorite room during the temperate months of the year. I know that a new house will bring new opportunities to be creative in making it our own. But this will always be our first house...the one we shared when we first got married and the one where Olivia spent her first years. Even though I get so tired of stepping over toys all over the floor and our constant battle with storage space, I will always love this house.