Friday, July 25, 2008

It's in the Details

I began my first blog (and this only makes my 2nd -- I'm a blogging baby) in order to document my growing family's life. It's full of pictures and is shared only with friends and family. It's really a family album with narrative. When I began this little venture, I was clear that I wanted to expand my audience and that would mean figuring out what degree of privacy I would provide my kid-lets. Do I post pics of their sweet faces? Just pics that are more anonymous? No personal pics at all? I've even debated whether to use their real names or rely on nicknames as I see many other mama bloggers doing . . . It's surprising what a dilemma this poses. 

My other blogging dilemma is my desire to share it with friends but knowing if I do so, I open the door of this blog to all friends and family. Why, you ask, would I keep it a big bad secret? It's not like I'm writing shocking revelations (not yet, at least:). Allow me to digress a bit -- when working with teens, they often rail against their family because they have a particular conception about who they are and are reluctant to give it up. Their kids change, grow up, take up new interests and friendships and their family is simply slow to catch on. In the last several years, I've certainly "grown up" and my ideas and thoughts on things would be unrecognizable to some (though perhaps not as many as I imagine). I would like this blog to be safe, somewhat anonymous place to talk about whatever the heck comes to mind without the automatic censure that comes when I know my audience is my family, meaning extended family, religious community, etc. Some day, I hope to bravely present all the different and changing parts of myself and my life to my family but I need some practice first . . . 

A part of me has to giggle at the probable conclusions some of you may be coming to -- oh, she's going to confess to some sort of alternative lifestyle, strange practices or the like. I don't mean to sound so dramatic and interesting! I guess this is as good a time as any to give a little historical data by way of explanation. My family, for several generations, has belonged to a fairly traditional Christian denomination with various behavioral codes and expectations. Not only that, but when I began my first career as a high school teacher, I was the 4th generation to teach in our denominational schools . . . with all that entails. Then I up and pursued a dream of mine since childhood and attended a public educational institution for the first time and pursued a MA in Counseling Psychology, quit teaching in the church school and explored new ways of thinking and doing things. It's been a 6 year journey, some of which my family is aware of and some of which even I am still exploring. 

Tell you what, finding just the right way to end a blog entry is challenging! I feel compelled to pose a question or tie things up neatly. I'm going to fight that urge and say, more to come.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I'm generally not the superstitious type but after our recent trip and the various traumas we encountered, I'm reconsidering. Perhaps we were jinxed. I'll tell my tale and let you decide. 

My absolute dearest friend and her family moved out of state a couple years back and both our families make the trip for visits as often as possible. And so, this past weekend we made our annual summer trip . . . The "events" in order, are as follows:

1. Wild fire that leaped the freeway, closing it in both directions. This resulted in an understandable delay followed by . . . 
2. A major semi-truck accident where the truck and two trailers had flipped, spilling cargo all over the road. Likely, the truck was caught off guard when he encountered the slowed/stopped traffic ahead and took a header off the road rather than run over them. We saw rescue workers performing CPR. I was driving and commanded my husband to "distract the children." He was so successful that I'm not even sure they noticed the chaos at the side of the road. We finally arrived at our destination around 2:30am local time.
3. My son who at age 5 years has not yet learned how to swim jumped into the pool without his lifejacket necessitating this freaked out mama jumping in after (fully clothed) to pull him out. He had gotten out of the water to use the bathroom and in his excitement, forgot to put his lifejacket back on. There was lots of yelling (mine -- some swearing and general terror) and crying (both of ours) but then he was back in the water. (Interesting side note: I always wondered what I'd say when I thought I saw death peering at me. Apparently it's "God damn it!" -- repeatedly and VERY loud. Shame on me). 
4. Our friends' garage door was bent and rendered unusable as we backed out of the drive to take the families to the water park. 
5. While waiting for the daddies to figure out how to close the door so we could leave, tweaked my back, making carrying children rather uncomfortable for the rest of the day.
6. Finally, and here's the big one, at the water park, my 2 year old had an apparent seizure. Another freak out moment for this mama. We had our first ride in an ambulance and after several hours and blood tests, CT scans and urinalysis, we got the good news that nothing appeared wrong and that likely she had experienced a seizure. I don't know about you, that still feels really scary! Fortunately, shortly after arriving at the hospital, she perked up and by the time we left, it was hard to believe anything had been wrong. Except for the poor blown up veins in her hands and arms. This time, no swearing and shouting (score one point, mama!).

I suppose like all mamas, I have a real dread of any harm coming to my children. They are so vulnerable and the forces that could align to do them injury so numerous -- illness, random accidents, deliberate acts, etc. After my son was born, I remember watching the news/TV in general in tears because every story seemed to highlight the many ways that children could be lost or hurt in our world. And there was this sense that all children, in some mysterious way, were now mine to worry and care about. As if caring about the child taken from its parents across the country or the families lost in various natural disasters represented the vulnerability not just of all life but of my children's specifically. Does this make any sense? So this weekend was a triple punch to my sense of mortality and the fragility of my still very young children. 

I am a very careful mom, neurotic, really. My children rarely leave my sight when I'm home with them and my house is about as baby proof as it's possible to be and yet -- and yet my son would have/could have drowned and there was nothing I could do to predict or prevent my daughter's strange episode. It's enough to drive you crazy! This helplessness . . . 

Despite the traumas, the trip was still a success. What I had most looked forward to was time to talk with my friend, Dannie. And somehow we managed some quality heart-to-hearts in the midst of childcare, meal prep and general mayhem of 5 excitable, sun-weary children. I had gone to the hospital in the ambulance with my daughter, alone. And next to my husband, there is no one I would have rather seen walk into the exam room then Dannie. The doctor asked if we were sisters and commented on the similarities she saw in our expression which is funny as in many ways, we are physical opposites of each other but our hearts are quite similar. Ending a visit with her and her family is always hard, with promises of another visit soon. 

Jinxed? I don't know but my friend Dannie says that perhaps we were lucky, in an odd way. That if these things were to happen, they happened where we knew we could count on the love and support of our friends. The pic in this post is of a figurine by Willow Tree that Dannie gave to me. It sits on shelf in my kitchen, where I am reminded of our friendship often. 

I'm off to take my tiny tot to the doc to discuss whether more tests are needed. Think happy and safe and healthy thoughts for her! 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Testing out my "Green Thumb" and Creativity

Yesterday was one of those delightful and slow days of summer that can feel so refreshing. A mini vacation or in the current jargon  a "stayvacation." I began the day watering my flowers and pots. I always start with the best of intentions. I even keep up the daily watering for a few weeks but it never fails that by the end of August, I have dried up, withered little things begging to be put out of their misery. And that's just the potted plants! Reminds me of the movie, 28 Days, with Sandra Bullock. She's made to go to recovery and one of her fellow addicts is told that he can not pursue a romantic relationship until he can keep a plant alive. I swear, on that premise, I should not have children! My vegetable gardens, when I used to have them, would produce amazing, and by amazing I mean large, plants but my tomatoes would not bear fruit. That takes a special kind of garden disfunction here in the bountiful northwest. I consulted with a peer at work whose husband was a master gardener -- I bought this and that and brought samples of my poor wares to the nursery. (I should probably confess that a good deal of my troubles probably stem from my reluctance to come into ANY contact with a spider. And my gardens are nothing if not prolific breeding grounds for spiders of all sorts . . . yes, I know you braver gardeners are snickering at my silliness! I'm working on it. Sissy (my 2 year old) has recently developed a terror of all things insects. Can't imagine where she got that . . . anyway, moving on.) I've since given up vegetables and taken up purely decorative forms of gardening. I have four dahlias that are starting to put out blooms and I am overweeningly proud of myself! You would think I had done more than belatedly plant the tubers (June, I believe) and remember to water sporadically. I took a couple cuttings and put them on the kitchen table. They are sitting here in front of me while I type, listen to the chatter and occasional outbursts of  my children and try to string my thoughts together. 

I've noticed of late that blogging and gardening fill a similar need for creativity. The days that I am home find me repeatedly completing the same mundane tasks -- wiping up meal and snack time messes, endless loads of laundry, counter wiping, floor mopping and meal prep. Of course each day has it's unique challenges that require some ingenuity to handle.  I think the kind of generative creativity that blogging requires takes some practice. In my former life as an English teacher, I was accustomed to writing and critiquing writing. The intervening years and babies have taken their toll on my ability to allow my thoughts to express themselves in writing. This blog entry has taken me WAY too long.  I stumble along, testing each step as I go. Much in the same fashion as I've been approaching my attempts at gardening. Trying new methods, adjusting my expectations and appreciating the beauty when (if) it appears. 

How do you fill your needs for beauty and/or creativity? (Ahem, should mention that the roses above are not mine. But I did take the pic yesterday at the rose gardens:) 

Friday, July 11, 2008

Different Parts of Me

Boy, no pressure writing the virgin entry on a new blog! Yikes. Why am I doing this? To talk about the journey of mothering, of course, but also of self-discovery. I hope this will become a place to talk about all the different parts of me -- many of which have, for a time, taken a back burner to my roles of mother and wife. I want to give voice to the athlete, bumbling gardner, amateur photographer, feminist/social activist, spiritual quester and growing therapist that are all part of me. Oh, and dancer! I've always wanted to dance and never really have. Shocking, isn't it? Well, unless you count hopping  and prancing about with my two tots to They Might be Giants and assorted kiddie songs. The more I think about the things I enjoy or want to experiment with, the more that comes to mind. That's exactly what I hope for this blog. An opening up in my own mind, expectations and willingness to try out these other selves.

Let's get acquainted.