Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I'm waiting for the pendulum to shift, for the tides to turn, for life's equilibrium to balance itself out again. I'm waiting for February to end, for sick children to be well, for parents to feel the weight of their worries become lighter. I'm waiting for good news, for laughter, for joy and celebration. I'm waiting for the color and life to return to the gray and tired landscape of our home and our hearts.

I am tired of waiting.

In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, there is a character, May Boatwright, who is the very essence of compassion. When the burden of other's sorrows becomes too much, May heads to a wall she has created, her very own "wailing wall." There, she commits her worries to ink on paper, and buries the tiny scroll in a nook or cranny in the lengthy wall of stone. She sings, she prays, she meditates, and eventually, she seems to heal.

I think of May Boatwright when the burdens become too heavy, when the pendulum seems to be stuck. I think of her wall, a place for her to lay down her sorrows, a ritual for sadness. May discovered a powerful tool to express her burdens, but she never discovered the antidote. Because she, like Atlas, could not unyoke herself from the weight of the world, she eventually drowned in its sorrow.

And so I seek the antidote. I cling to whatever promises to keep me afloat for the day. Yesterday, it was the simple pleasure of sharing iced coffee with Leo, only Leo, in the quiet moments after his nap and before Pax has awakened and Aidan has returned from school.
Today, it is this photograph, taken about a week ago on a day I was clinging to a different promise - the sunshine, the unseasonably warm 60 degrees offered in the middle of the gray and tired days of February...

...because it is in the smallest pleasures that we find the antidote to carry us through, t0 shift the pendulum and bring the sunshine to our backs, the warmth to our hearts, and the laughter to our faces.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Philosophy of Parenting

I am completely cheating here. This isn't a real blog post. But I was utterly captivated by this website I stumbled upon on one of the endless pages of Facebook. The juxtaposition of philosopher and comic strip is both transparent and opaque all at once. I absolutely love it - but why? I couldn't even pick a favorite to permalink; you'll just have to "refresh" for yourself and find your own Niche....(get it??... like find your own Nietzsche??...)

It's the philosophy. It always is. I've forever had a love-hate relationship with Family Circus. The kids annoyed me to no end, yet occasionally Keane's strips were downright poetic, prophetic, poignant. Paired with Nietzsche, it is beautiful. Nietzsche lends credibility to Family Circus, and Family Circus likewise illustrates, in plain view, Nietzsche's profound thoughts.

Parenting is an art, much like philosophy. Seeking answers to elusive and impossible questions, these are disciplines that even the most experienced, wisest students cannot fully master. And yet they, philosophers and parents alike, persevere, day after day after day after day. Love of Wisdom - Love of Children.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love and Kisses

On Valentine's Day of our first year of marriage, I typed out 100 things I love about Jeff, printed the list on card stock, carefully cut them apart, and hot-glued each one to an individual Hershey's Kiss (having already removed the Hershey's paper). It was a fun gift to make, and one that he enjoyed long after the chocolates had been eaten.

We decided to do the same for our children this year for Valentine's Day, because although we say a hundred times a day "I love you!" we realized that we wanted to tell them just why, exactly, we love them so much. Fearful of what 100 chocolates would do to some already very energetic little boys, we limited ourselves to 25 for each boy...

1. I love how you are such a good brother - you play so well with Leo and you are sweet and tender to Pax. They are so lucky!!!!
2. I love the stories you tell and how you remember lots of details about events that have happened.
3. I love that you NOTICE EVERYTHING - like when Mommy cleans the house or hangs up a new picture - you notice!!!
4. I love how hard you concentrate on things that are important to you, like karate.
5. I love how you invent all sorts of creations with anything and everything you find!!
6. I love how playful you are.
7. I love how curious you are about everything, and how much you love to learn.
8. I love the jokes you invent - even if I don’t get them.
9. I love watching you act out scenes from movies like How to Train Your Dragon
10. I love how thoughtful you are, like putting out Mom’s coffee mug in front of the pot for her.
11. I love how you make connections between things that matter - for example, connecting Frederick to our summer memories jar
12. I love that you have such a great sense of smell!!
13. I love that you are willing to try new foods at the table, and you are enthusiastic about what I cook for dinner.
14. I love seeing you make faces at yourself in the mirror when you think no one else is looking.
15. I love how you draw me such sweet pictures, you are quite the artist.
16. I love that you play little tricks on me.
17. I love when you come up and hug me when I haven’t asked for it.
18. I love when you cuddle with the kitties.
19. I love watching you play, you have a WONDERFUL imagination!
20. You are always surprising me with how smart you are, I love that!
21. I love playing games with you, chess, nine man’s morris, cards, wii...
22. I love how much you are interested in science and how things work.
23. I love your jokes, you think of such witty things to say.
24. I love how you snuggle with Pax and Leo.
25. We love you SO much Aidan Paul! Happy Valentine’s Day!

1. I love how you sing songs all the time! I also love that you can sing right on key.
2. I love how you dress up in different costumes all the time.
3. I love how you talk to yourself, especially when you are convincing yourself to have good behavior.
4. I love hearing you laugh.
5. I love how you wear mismatched pajamas
6. I love the pictures you draw. You are such a good artist!
7. I love how well you imitate sounds you hear, other people’s voices, and even lines from movies.
8. I love how you are so articulate, how you are so expressive and you speak very clearly.
9. I love how determined you are to do things by yourself, and how capable you are.
10. I love what a wonderful brother you are to Aidan and Pax - I especially love how well you transition between being the younger brother to Aidan and the older brother to Pax. They are so lucky!!
11. I love what a good friend you are to your preschool buddies.
12. I love watching you run with a soccer ball and ride your two-wheeler bike. I love that you can ride a two wheeler.
13. I love how BIG your imagination is - like when you fly your guys all over the place.
14. I love how you are always thinking of next Halloween, even on Halloween!
15. I love when you dress up in lots of different costumes, then change in the middle of playing.
16. I love making train tracks with you.
17. I love when you sing sweet little songs, you are such a good singer.
18. I love to drink coffee with you.
19. I love that you are always thinking of some way to get me to buy donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts.
20. I love how you share with other people and think of other people.
21. I love that you try so hard to do thing for yourself and by yourself, it will serve you well.
22. I like that you say please and thank you a lot!
23. I secretly think it is funny when you wear your clothes backwards, I love that about you.
24. I love that you love to be so close to people and snuggle, you are a good snuggler.
25. We love you SO much Leo Gabe! Happy Valentine’s Day!

1. I love the funny funny faces you make.
2. I love how well you communicate, even though you only say one word and sign less than 5 words.
3. I love how you sleep through the night!
4. I love how you “hide” and pretend to be shy.
5. I love how you show us your belly!!!!!
6. I love how you scrunch your face up, for fun.
7. I love how you are a climber - even though it drives me nuts!
8. I love how much you love your brothers. I love that you make them want to have another baby, because you are so wonderful.
9. I love that you are such a wonderful companion, happy to ride in the ergo and take in the world, no matter where we go - the bus stop; the grocery store; a long hike in Shenandoah.
10. I love how you make me laugh all the time, especially when I am having a hard day.
11. I love how delighted you get when I sign to you “I love you!”
12. I love how you can use self-inking stampers, even if you insist on using the floor as your canvas.
13. I love how you insist on cleaning up messes you’ve made on the floor (like spilled Cheerios) and I especially love how much you love the dustpan and broom.
14. I love when we share cheerios in the morning when I come home from work.
15. I love how you have such a good sense of humor, you tell funny jokes.
16. I love how you are such a little guy that wants to be so big!
17. I love what a good helper you are - like when you went and got me my towel all by yourself.
18. I love your laugh when I tickle you.
19. I love when you think things are funny when no one else is paying attention.
20. I love the way you sing to music in the car.
21. I love it when you play peek-a-boo.
22. I love how you love to play with your brothers, even if it means jumping on them to get them to play with you.
23. I love how you love to take a bath and know what to do when we tell you “It’s bathtime!”
24. I love what a beautiful little person you are inside and out.
25. We love you SO much Pax Augustus! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Secretary of State....

Carrying on with the political theme here.... Pax is our resident Secretary. (of the State of Chaos, maybe?) Recent proof:

Last week, Pax was eating a snack in his high chair in the kitchen while Jeff vacuumed the other rooms. Jeff looked over at Pax at one point to see him staring directly at Jeff and pointing to the phone. Jeff turned off the vacuum and sure enough, the phone was ringing...

This week, I was anticipating a phone call but really needed to do a quick cleaning. I parked Pax in his high chair again in the kitchen and before I turned on the vacuum, I said, "You tell me if the phone is ringing, okay? Let me know if the phone rings." I went about my task, and about 5 minutes later when I came into his view again, Pax was staring at me and pointing to the phone. No way, I thought. Is this happening twice? But when I shut off the vacuum, there was no ringing phone. I went over to see if perhaps there was a message, but no, there was not. "You silly boy, the phone did not ring!" I said to Pax. In response, he pointed again to the phone. Skeptically, I decided to scroll through the caller ID (with time stamp). Lo and behold, not one minute before, I had received the phone call I had been waiting for!! Genius Baby! I called my friend back - "My secretary said that you called?"