Friday, January 23, 2015

Five on Friday: Mom* Moments

(*Yes they could very well be Dad or Any Other Adult Dealing With Children Moments. But I'm a Mom, they happened to me, and I like the alliteration.)

1. Remembering to bring a plastic bag in the car in case mopey kid vomits.
2. Nearly crying when she did not use it and indeed vomited.
3. Asking which block towers were too important to knock down and then vacuuming around them.
4. Having to uphold my end of the consequence discussed with child about behavior. I hate being the bad guy.
5. Feeling like I get more done before 9 am than some people do all day.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Five on Friday: MLK Day of Community Service (pic heavy)

On Monday I'll be running my 12th Annual MLK Day of Community Service. The first one consisted of kids coloring pictures in my dining room. Now we're outgrowing the gym we've been using for the past nine years. I did not start planning in November like I swear I'm going to do (every damn year) but it's all coming together nicely anyway. For today's Five on Friday, here are some pictures and memories from past Days of Service.

1. I don't have pictures of that first year in my dining room, but this was the second year in a local coffee shop:

 and for comparison purposes, this was last year's event:

2. This is not a great quality picture but this is me directing someone at the 2009 event, baby strapped to me as they were for so many of these days. I hope when my children think back on their Mother as a younger woman, one of the images they conjure is something like this:

3. Did I mention a local Natural Medicine and Rehabilitation Center sends someone to give free five minute massages to adult volunteers? And this year for the second year we'll have free mini-acupuncture sessions too! I can't wait . . . .

4.  Looking through the letters written to soldiers last year, I found very sweet notes like this:

5. And in the pile of Valentines for Veterans, I found this from a boy who mistakenly thought the Valentines were for friends. And that Kristina was spelled like this:

Here's to another successful day filled with community building, serving others, massage and acupuncture, poignancy and hilarity!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Five on Friday: Firsts

I'll be participating at another local storytelling event at the end of the month. This month's theme is FIRSTS. I've been thinking of a few ideas and have narrowed it down to one of these five. Can you guess which one I've chosen?

1. First time I tried to really freak my sister out but it ended up turning into a game that we then played frequently.
2. First time I met my husband in freshman choir and how he gave me his school picture (even though I didn't ask for it. He denies this.)
3. First car I purchased for $200 from my High School boyfriend (not husband) and a few of the adventures I had with it.
4. First time I left the hospital with an infant and thought to myself, "they just let me LEAVE with this baby?" and how I had the same thought each of the four times I left hospitals with babies after that.
5. First time I almost got into a fistfight in the supermarket parking lot but wisely convinced myself that it wasn't worth it.

(*Locals: come hear me and the other storytellers, too!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hey Baby (Short and Sweet Letter to My True Love. Maybe Not Who You Think)

(I was recently invited to submit an essay to a brand new collaborative blog called The Original Bunker Punks It launched this week and here's the essay I shared there, in case you didn't see it.)

Hey Baby,

Did you know--I have honestly never been loved before the way that you love me.  That’s not to say I’ve never been loved or even loved deeply before, I have. There were a few that came before you; you know that. Poems have been written—you might not have known about those, but I guess you do now. Poems that made my heart leap and my spirits soar. Poems that were opened and refolded so many times the creases began to threaten . . . okay, I’ll stop going on about the poetry, maybe that’s not fair, I know you can’t write.

In spite of the poetry--in spite of the paintings that have been produced (some of me, some for me) . . . I still can say I have never been loved like this before.

Declarations have been made; photos have been slipped into small places for secret glances during absences. Promises have been whispered, countless late night and early morning snuggle sessions took place before I ever even met you.

Yes, there were boys before you: three of them . . . and that one girl. They loved me intensely, surely, but not a single one of them wrapped themselves around me and shrieked when I tried to drop them off at preschool, day after day and week after week. None of this sobbing, “BUT I LOVE MAMA BEST” while Daddy peeled you off of me so I could get to a meeting.

Daddy, he loves me. Your siblings, they love me. I have the poems and paintings and declarations and memories to prove it. But only you put on a spectacular show whenever I part ways with you (and keep it going for exactly how long it takes for you to be unable to see me anymore--5-10 seconds, max. I’ve timed it.)
Why do you do this? Why now, when you’ve already successfully gone to preschool and also love your Daddy so much? You can’t explain it. Neither can I. But one day, hopefully soon, you’ll stop doing this and leaving you with someone else will become easier. One day you’ll be ten and we’ll laugh about it together. One day you’ll be fifteen and maybe disinterested in spending time with me and I’ll tease you about these earlier times or, who knows, maybe I’ll even miss them. One day you’ll be grown and your deepest love will no longer be reserved for me.

But right now, my baby, you are four, you are my fifth and you love me fiercest.  

In that way, you’ll always be my first.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Five on Friday: Resolution Time Capsule

It started with two simple drawings made by my four and five year old children on December 31, 2005 depicting their wishes for the upcoming year. I didn't realize at the time we were starting a tradition.

That first drawing by my daughter said she was going to ride a bike to kindergarten. She did start kindergarten that year but took a bus there. This year she's looking forward to starting High School (and, in fact, riding her bike there). Now our youngest daughter, whose existence we never even imagined back in 2005, will be starting kindergarten in the upcoming year. As I reflected on these facts I realized just how much of a time capsule these resolutions have become and how much I value them.

So I took them out of the ripped and folded envelope I had been storing them in, smoothed them out, put them in chronological order and put them into a binder. I'm so glad I had an empty binder and sheet protectors on hand (I knew saving those used but good condition school supplies would come in handy some day!) as we're all going to treasure this for years to come.

Here are some gems:

1.  One word. "Playgrawnd"

2.  Not 'til your ten, son.

3. Who really likes sports? (Not to mention hanging with Daddy.)

 4. Dream big, son.

5. On the back of someone else's resolution, this little mysterious note:

Friday, December 26, 2014

Five on Friday: Holiday Highlights

1. The boys got some small bottles of cologne on Christmas Eve. Twelve year old G said, "I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do with it," until he read the back label and said, "Ooh, it's flammable - now that's intriguing!"

The next day he said to his brothers, "That cologne we got last night? It's flammable. So would you rather smell like an old candle or make a really cool video of a car on fire or something?"

2. Four year old A on Christmas morning wanted to know if she could have one of the tic-tacs from her stocking. "Pleeeease, Mommy?" she asked and then sing-songed, "The red ones have Vitamin C in them!"

3. Homemade gifts from the kids. Gift certificates, a peace sign decoration and a flower hair clip:

4. Six year old Z: "I feel bad for Grandma, she had to spend like almost all of her money to buy everybody gifts."
Me: "Should we bring them back to her so she can bring them back to the store to get her money back?" (thinking of course he'd say no)
Him: "Okay."

5. Snuggling in my bed this morning, four year old said: "I'm tired of opening presents."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Five on Friday: Mollyisms

Molly is the seven year old daughter of one of my very best friends. On Friday afternoons she gets off the bus at our house and plays for a couple of hours. She's sweet and fun, gets along with all the kids (and adores a certain fourteen year old girl over here) and comes up with some really funny things.

Here are five recent Mollyisms that make me smile (with big thanks to that aforementioned 14 year old for coming up with this idea and helping me compile the list) :

1. Me: "So what are you guys doing this weekend?'
 Molly: "I'm going to a birthday party for one of my best, best, best, best friends."
 Me: "Oh yeah? What's her name?"
 Molly: "I forget."

2. "Freaky Friday is really funny. It's about these two teenagers and their Friday is really freaky." 
(I found out later she's never seen it.)

3. One week she got off the bus with a brace on her wrist. I asked her what happened and she said,    "I was chasing a ladybug. And then fell off of the kitchen table."

4. " None of those presidents smile in their pictures. Did you know why? They all have wooden teeth! I mean, plastic teeth. Both wooden and plastic!"

5. Last week she came bearing gifts of little paper wallets for each of the kids. Her brand name? Wallet is Molly's, but with her misspelling it's even cuter (and SO fun to say. Try it, you won't be able to stop)

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Peaceful Plea

(I was asked to speak at a candlelight vigil last Friday night sponsored by the newly formed Anti-Racism Coalition. The following is what I said.)

I wanted to tell you tonight about a few things that I love.

First of all I wanted to tell you that I love the Police. They are in my extended family, they are in my circle of friends, and they are members of my community. I have personally called on the Police in times of great crises and they have always helped me.  I love safe communities and so I am thankful for them.

I love my children. Two came to me biologically and three by adoption and I love them all so much. And I want you to know, they are all really, really cute. But ever since we adopted our youngest three, parents who know firsthand what it means to raise Black children, the boys in particular, warn me that they will only be adorable to the outside world until age twelve. Around that age Black boys transition from cute to threatening in the eyes of strangers.

Age twelve: the age Tamir Rice was when he was shot and killed when playing at a park with a fake gun.

Michael Brown made it until eighteen.

Trayvon Martin made it until seventeen, a menacing Black boy threatening the safety of his community by walking home with a Snapple and a bag of Skittles.

Oh but those cases were far away, that wouldn’t happen here in our idyllic county! I’d like to believe that that is true. But then I see something like a post on the township’s Facebook page in a discussion about public safety, a warning: “I saw a Black couple outside the pizzeria yesterday afternoon. They just seemed out of place—no offense.”

Will my children be perceived as a threat worthy of shooting dead if, in a few years, they are walking with a Snapple and a slice of pizza here in our small New Jersey town? If they’re wearing a hoodie? While Black? I want more life than that for my kids.

My children are not a threat. But they will be threatened.

I love the Police. I love my children and I love your children, too, so I love communities that are safe for everyone. I don’t know how to make that happen, but I do know that all my private crying and hand wringing isn’t going to do the trick. It’s time for education, open dialogue and community action. It’s time to move forward into a future where I don’t have to worry about some of our children more than the others because of the color of their skin.
 It is time.
Photo courtesy of Maggie Cooke