Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's About Life

I was going to post about something completely different this morning, but instead I need to write about life. I found out yesterday that a friend of mine, Ann Baker, had been involved in a very serious car accident. She is now in ICU with a head injury and all kinds of machines hooked up to her waiting through the first three days to see the extent of her trauma. I have worked with her husband, Dan, for probably over a decade now and he's become a great friend. They have two autistic children who require tons of extra special care.

Oddly enough, I had received Ann's (belated) Christmas card letter earlier this week in which she shared her journey over the last two years of dealing with the diagnosis of autism, depression, quitting her job and moving to a new house. But in the end, she had such joy. God had brought her through a season in which she learned to trust him more and learned to feel his presence in a new way. In fact the family photo enclosed was an imperfect one, but one that fully represents their life right now...Dan with a funny look on his face, Adam running out of the photo, Ingrid not looking at the camera and her nightgown askew, and Ann with her head thrown back laughing at it all.

That photo and letter had been on my mind all week even before news of her accident. How often in our lives do things shove their way in that we don't want and never asked for in life? What is our reaction? Do we take it all in and accept it or do we move through it kicking and screaming? In this case, I feel like kicking and screaming, but somehow I know that in the midst of those times in our lives, God understands.

I cannot stop thinking and praying of this precious family. I fully believe in the power of prayer and know that there are hundreds of people lifting Ann up before their God.

But it breaks my heart...

A young mom should be home with her babies and the love of her life. Not in a cold hospital room waiting for a miracle.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Why do things always have to turn into a battle with you?"

I remember these words coming out of my dad's mouth often in relationship to my sister and I as we were growing up. And now, I am wondering the same thing with my son.

It was an exciting day. We found out that Z was chosen to be in the spelling bee next Wednesday at school. He even got to call me from school to tell me at work. Such a big deal! And I made a big deal of it then and on the way home from school, asking how he was chosen, what he had to do on that day, wondering who else was on the team, etc. When we got home the conversation, I immediately turned to practice and how he would get prepared for next week. He said that he had already read parts of the spelling bee book when he was at his Before and After Care program at school and studied them. That he would study the whole book like that. I told him that when he works on his normal weekly spelling list, he writes them all out, and we usually ask them out loud. That he remembers them better that way. Simple statement.

And then a NO from him.

Let's try again. Z, you do better at your spelling words when you actually say them out loud and at the spelling bee that is how they will test you is to speak them. With your voice. Standing straight up and looking them in the eye. And yes, you will practice them out loud tonight and every night. We need to help you prepare for this and you may not do it all alone.

Another NO. And then a battle and long conversation about attitudes. Then I called a restart. I had him apologize to me (something my dad made me always do that I hated!HA!) and then I grabbed him by the hands and danced around his room, yelling and laughing and celebrating that he'd been chosen to be on the spelling bee. We talked about other things for awhile as he put away his clean clothes in his room and calmed down together.

Then we had the discussion again about practicing and doing your very best especially when you have been chosen for a specific job. That his team would be depending on him, etc. I made him (and me) talk as the ideal situation would have been when we arrived home and it went much smoother that time and later when we practiced words aloud, there was not one issue. And we had fun doing it.

Ah, the preteen years are upon us. The struggle to be independent and do it the way you want to do it, if only to be opposite of your parents viewpoint on a situation. I struggle so much with being the squawking, yelling mom when he gets in that mood because I want him to just listen to me. LISTEN, kiddo. Most of the time I am on his side and we really are saying the same thing, he just doesn't hear me. Oy.

He was agreeing that he needed to practice, and I was, too, but not in the same way. He heard me say that he was a failure, but I was saying that a different style of "training" would be necessary for this biggie. He was hearing that he wasn't good enough, when I was saying that he absolutely could do this, but that he was not perfect and still needed to practice.

I told him tonight that I was going to be hard on him for these kind of reactions, because I did not want us to begin habits of communication that follow him as a high schooler. But I also need to not let my perfectionist and firstborn tendencies push him, push him, push him. He wasn't ready for the conversation of how to prepare right when we got home from school (gosh, isn't that some kind of freak example from Dr. Leman's Firstborn Advantage?!)--I think he had only wanted to celebrate with me and be excited for awhile longer before I brought up the subject of work.

Deep sigh. Parenting is tough and I have a feeling that it won't be last time our personalities clash. I'm wondering more and more if it's because we are so alike...

Hmmm...nah, couldn't be!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

In search of the perfect pair of jeans...

Jeans. A simple word that evokes images of pure comfort, a lovely shade of blue and durability. Many women cringe at the thought of replacing that one pair that so perfectly fit your body (oh, be honest, they don't really fit the way that they should, but you like them enough). And in fact, the search for the pair of jeans for a woman is tough and often involves tears and throwing things in fitting rooms. Both Oprah and What Not to Wear have devoted entire shows to the process of what to look for and, of course, what not to put on your body type. But since I am short the $200 requiring me to find that perfect pair, they shall never touch my body.

The jeans that I speak of today, though, involve a certain young man who will be 11 in a month. This dude is anti-jeans and has been since he was three and announced to me (while screaming) that "they hurt me!!!!!") and refused to wear them since--it was the seams at the waist that bothered him. I would pay Dr. Leman to fix that.

Okay, I will admit that there are many things in life that we can coerce, force, bribe and uh, force, our children to do, but wearing jeans was a battle not to be won. And I have tried. Even if he would have worn them, after the age of three, finding jeans to fit that young skinny body of his was impossible anyway, so I do feel for the guy. It's been a life cluttered with the frustrations of long mall trips trying on several thousand pairs with the promise of ice cream afterwards, but ending in yelling and swearing (by mom). When the adjustable waist craze arrived, I was the first in line, but even with a slim--they would fall straight off his waist. Friends, I have gone through every brand in America...I SWEAR TO YOU...and there has been only one kind that finally fit my child that he would wear. Lands End. $20 per pair. Elastic waist slims, with ugly reinforced knees.

No, they are not going to win a fashion show, but they have been worn and I thought the battle had ended. Sigh of relief. Then, he got taller and skinnier and white socks came into my vision over the past month as he has gotten ready for school. Gosh, I never wanted a geeky kid. In fact, I always wanted a smartly dressed one that you see in the Pottery Barn Teen catalog that looks and acts like my Zach.

So off we went to the mall today with the goal of making Zach look cool. He was not happy about it one bit and slunk around between the racks, trying to ignore the fact that his mother was insistant that he find a real pair of jeans. In and out of the fitting room, he modeled each pair for me with a look of disgust. WHY OH WHY do the people who design clothing not understand that pre-pubescent boys have no waists and no butts???? Someone must think that they all wear "husky" as there were about 10 racks of those, but slims were hard to come by. Finally after about 15 pairs, we found four of them to take home. Two each of two different kinds, but they look cool and fit for the most part.

Now, the true test will be Monday morning as he gets ready for school...will they mysteriously not fit? Will they be worn all day and then be declared itchy and rub his side raw from the seams? Will I need to hire a seamstress to remake a pair of jeans from the top down to fit my boy?

I think maybe I shall become a clothing designer when I grow up. I could become a billionaire if I only knew how to sew...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Of New Year's Resolutions and food

Okay, so my friend says that you must blog on the first day of the New Year, even if it's boring stuff. Well, I seemed to have missed the first day of the year with all the craziness at my house leftover from the night before. Kidding. New Year's Day brought Dan watching football and me escaping to Alpine to find the bargain love at Target, Marshall's and T.J.Maxx. But that little venture left me depressed as I realized that the weight that I had lost in the fall was back, with friends, I think.

And so, I proceeded to further feed my love of food by picking up a book on food to read last night...Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell. I have had this for several years now--isn't that always the way with books? We are so excited to get them, and then we banish them to a bookshelf to wait for a brilliant discovery years later. Poor things. Anyway, the book is about this...Julie Powell's life was falling a bit out of control when she picked up her mother's copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking while visiting home. She decides to cook her way through the book, her husband tells her about this new thing called blogging...and the rest is history. She got a stinking publishing deal out of it--wow. Anyway, as I read Julie's entries, I realize several things: 1) aspic is disgusting, 2) I would have gotten bored after the first ten recipes, and 3) I will never attempt to take bone marrow out of a cow's leg.

That said, the book is humorous and has some great lines including this one:
"...That's what's so great about blogging--people, some of whom you've never met and know nothing about you, pay inordinate attention to you, and pretty soon you are convinced that you're clever or crazy or daring or cool or whatever it is you'd like to convince yourself you are. Which is also, of course, the downside of blogging. Because you probably aren't."

And speaking of food again...I go now to my New Year's Resolutions. Brilliant, isn't it that a total of 5 people read my blog and now will be able to hold me accountable to them? And one of them is my husband? Dan, you may stop reading now.

1. Stop eating. Okay, that's not a good start. How about this? Get back on the Bob Greene plan and eat more fiber, excercise every day, drink a blasted amount of water, eat those salad greens and stop snacking on all those sweets. Amen. Did I mention that I promise to exercise? Okay, we're good starting Monday.
2. Write more. As in, get off your butt and blog, woman! And from that shall come forth words upon words upon words that maybe could be used on other projects.
3. Quality time is important with Zach and Dan. Laugh together, play together, and hug them more times a day than you can count. With a certain 10 year old turning 11 in a month, remember that time's a fleeting. And for that matter, Dan is not getting any younger either. HA!
4. Get that Photoshop Elements book out and practice (because it's a really cool book and you paid good money for it). Besides continuing to take pictures as often as I can, figure out the camera more and then learn how to photoshop the end results to make them BETTER. Technical techniques are not my forte so this will take awhile to accomplish. Just guessing on that.
5. Be grateful. I do have so much in my life to be happy about, but yet I constantly forget to tell myself what they are. I have a Gratitude Book that I've been writing in and it's a nice way to mini-journal, but also to keep a running list. After reading that John and Kelly Travolta's son passed away today, I realize more and more how precious life is.

So, there. The second day of January and words upon words upon words have been written. Gotta love that. Here's to 2009...what can we dream it to be?