11.24.2012

Stationery card

Blessed Family Religious Christmas Card
Create personalized Christmas cards. at Shutterfly.com.
View the entire collection of cards.

11.13.2012

hear me roar.

i used to look at those women in a certain way. put them in a box. the mom box. with an awe kind of wonder, some wow, i couldn't do it-style respect, and, if i'm being truthful, a pinch of sympathy.

it has taken exactly 24 hours to realize that, despite sincere efforts otherwise, i have let myself go a little. not in the way i used to think that would mean (i.e. gaining weight by eating too many chicken nuggets, not working out anymore, not caring whether i'm put together when i leave the house), but i had begun to let myself go. my self. i had began veering just a little from me, a little more toward becoming that woman. and i suppose the lady at Trader Joe's who always stocks my daughter up on smelly stickers may just think of me in that way, too.

you've seen her: the woman with the ponytail and yoga pants, starbucks cup in hand. generally she's wrangling kids at the age where they're capable of sprinting in to traffic, with no sense to stop themselves. she colors her hair and wears mascara, because, let's be honest: she has to at least feel like she's still a woman, right?

and that's what brings me here. yesterday i kissed and hugged my kids about a thousand times, and blew super-loud kisses to them through the windshield as my father-in-law drove david and i to this little hotel in Scottsdale from their home about an hour away. once in our room, it took us about 10 seconds to begin smiling like a 4 year-old at Christmas.


i'll spare you the gush and fast forward to this morning. i woke at 7 to...wait for it...absolutely NOTHING. yee-haw! hear that? nothing. nada. n-o-t-h-i-n-g. i know i'm being repetitive, but i simply don't care. nothing! ha!

anyone with small kids has got to understand the incredible value in that early morning silence. i've been chasing it since emily was born. first, i started taking a quiet, hot bath after her 4am feeding. then it was taking the long way down the back side of Mt. Washington Drive to see the mountains at 6:30a on my way to the office. more recently as our little peanut started waking at 6a, i've been setting my alarm for 5a. seriously? 5? even the dog looks at me like i'm nuts before he goes back to sleep.

alas, i wake, make a cup of coffee, open my computer and get a head start on my day. in theory. some days...the pillow wins.


so if you think the smiles on the photo above were cheesy, you should have seen the toothy grin on my face when i woke to a bed i didn't have to make, a sunny day, and the knowledge that i woke on no one's terms but my own. bliss, people. total. flipping. bliss.

first i went downstairs and picked up breakfast. i brought it upstairs, turned on a totally un-kid-friendly show, and ate on the bed with a hot cup of coffee bedside. after the movie was over and i got caught up on draw-something, i unpacked. there were more heels than flats, more dresses than jeans, more dry-clean-only tops than cotton. i showered and dressed. and it took more than 15 minutes!

[by the way...if i ever run my own business again, i'm hiring a stay-at-home-mom part time. those women can get more done in 15 uninterrupted minutes than a CEO with a staff of assistants.]

i stood in front of the mirror, did all 3 pre-makeup steps, and even took the time to pick out my jewelry. i took the kind of time i used to take before i began waking to a sweet little blonde carrying her blanket and wanting to cuddle with her mommy.

i remembered packing for this particular trip. and the only yoga pants were paired with my razor-back tanks for the long runs i planned on taking. the dresses each have a wrap or button-up sweater, and matching shoes. with few exceptions, they all came straight to the suitcase from hangers. all i had to do was step out of my mom box and pack as though the only things i'd be keeping tabs on all day would be my purse and sunglasses.


what i realized is that, underneath the yoga pants and ponytails, i am still a woman. i may very well be as beautiful as my husband thinks i am. i am strong in ways that have nothing to do with the biceps i'm developing picking up my little linebacker of a son. i am feminine, and can wear soft, flowy clothes, and saunter. in heels. i can flip my hair, take a deep breath, and soak in the sunshine poolside even though a bikini will be no where in my future. and i am ok with that.

i am not Emily's mom, Ethan's mom, or even David's wife. i am Amanda, and have an identity all my own. while i thought i had escaped the mom box, i think i must have let a foot slip in to feel out the water. but just 24 hours into some time alone in an environment just begging me to relax and recharge, i have revived something more valuable: myself.

and give me 3 more days of this? yes please.

10.19.2012

seasoning.

oh, blog. how i have totally not missed you.

what?

yep, i have not missed my blog.

it's time i come out with it already. it's been 4 months and high time i admit it in public.

i have a JOB.

yep, j-o-b JOB. and it's awesome. totally unexpected of typical Amanda behavior, i am the Director of Children's Ministries at my church. see? i knew you'd be shocked. i can see your face now. i bet you're checking to see if your webcam is running...eh? it's ok. i'll wait.

...

yes, i'm still a stay-at-home mom, but in addition to the contracting work i've been doing, i now am also in charge of the spiritual lives of dozens of children.

scary, right?

it's about 15 hours a week, 12 of which i can do on my time and from home (or Costco...or UVillage, much to David's chagrin): coordinating volunteers, curriculum, and putting my brain around how beanbags can be used to foster excitement about Jesus. the other 3 are Sunday mornings where, not surprisingly, i'm at church coordinating volunteers and filling in where i'm needed.

they even let me use a mic. in front of everybody.

sweet, right?

while you might have concluded that the reason i don't miss my blog is because i've been too busy, you'd be mistaken. i have been using all my creative energy and desire to communicate how freakishly hilarious my life as a mom is toward this ministry. i even started a newsletter that i do a few times a month, which includes a blog/letter/random thoughts disguised as wisdom section.

[can you seriously believe they hired me? yeah, me either. i even told them i had zero experience and they'd be nuts to hire me.]

for 4 months i've been doing this job, which has produced more blessings in my life than i can list, and i just realized this morning why it still doesn't feel like i have a W-2 on file somewhere accruing withholdings:

this season is preparing us for the next.

until now i was still befuddled as to why this perfectly competent panel of pastors and volunteers even agreed to interview me. seriously. i mean, i hadn't fashioned a resume in 12 years. i hadn't been an employee for 12 years. sure, i had a career, but i was self-employed for heaven's sake. i had to search a resume template online because i had absolutely no idea where to begin.

even more embarrassingly, i ran it by my husband before submitting it. not that he isn't qualified to review a resume -- he does so daily -- but i was at such a loss i wanted a second opinion.

but today, at MOPS, a woman quoted the above when talking about finding rest amid the business of being a mom, and how to find a rhythm and balance in your life. i realized that, by adding this job to a life that seemingly had no room for it, i had in fact found my rhythm. it's the broad net that snatched, all at once, the swarm of desires and abilities i had and wanted to find a use for.

the things i loved about real estate, loved about being involved with BCC, still love about design, love about writing -- i get to use them all. a handful of skills drawn from dozens of experiences over the years, placed in my back pocket, have been dusted off and put to use.

...and they let me use a mic. [nyuck, nyuck.]

8.13.2012

why wait?

if you google 'why wait?', you get references to some songs by Shakira and Rascal Flatts (who, until just now I thought spelled their name Rascall Flats...), plus some app about getting last-minute reservations at restaurants.

anywho, at my house 'why wait' took on a brand new meaning this evening. after a perfectly bbq'd turkey burger and some doritos (aaaand one, maybe two glasses of wine), i had a moment.

what were the dang moves from my high school fight song?

let's just get it out there. i was a cheerleader. shocking, i know. usually it's those perky types and i'm so completely calm and rational all the time. well, SURPRISE!

anyway, in my tank top and shorts, in our living room, in 90 degrees and the sticky Seattle humidity, i try and bust the Mt. View HS fight song i danced o'er and o'er again some *ahem* several years ago. complete fail.

and as i look over my shoulder to see if my 3 year-old daughter is *please, GOD* missing the spectacle, i realize she isn't. in fact, she has completely lost interest in the Lion King that's showing on the big TV for pizza and movie night, and is staring at my sorry 34 year-old-ness wondering how-the-what she ended up with a mom like *this* raising her at home every day.

is she qualified for this job? seriously, good question. goooood question.

and instead of shrinking down and doing some baking or housecleaning or something motherly and worthwhile to redeem myself, you know what i realized? why should i wait for my kids to be double-digits before embarrassing the bleep out of them? bwahaha...

MENU OF BRILLIANT MOMENTS OF CLARITY FOLLOWING EPIPHANY
  • embarrass often.
  • embarrass as much as possible.
  • when at home, feel free to embarrass yourself as well, as long as no one is filming.
  • dancing the Roger Rabbit to Ne-Yo is completely acceptable behavior.
  • embarrass a lot.
  • a little woop woop! is most certainly called for if/when you land the round-off (and, by the way, 'sort-of' sticking it totally counts when you're 34.)
    • and...if you don't land, bouncing back and doing a double 'ta da!' like the gymnasts do in the olympics is absolutely called for, regardless of what your husband says.
  • visiting www.travelocity.com in the evening will yield abundant search results to areas such as Fiji, Aruba and San Juan de somethingorother.
so why wait? there is no promise of tomorrow.

carpe diem!

8.07.2012

no, really...this is it.

my life is not like a box of chocolates. it's the tree that falls in the woods and wonders if anyone heard the thud.

some days are like chocolate and cherries.
kwachhuhwh! (sorry, i was choking on my own sarcasm.)

other days your 10 month-old gets your iPhone and your memory gets maxed out with photos like this.

most days my husband is working. but when he isn't, and he has the kids,
he realizes that i need a break more than he needs me to rush home.

nordstrom anniversary sale. happy moment.

flat tire. not a happy moment.

"i swear i burn water" husband cooks an amazing dinner.
i'd be uber-mad about the horrific lie if i weren't so busy stuffing my face.

we could totally be on a soap opera, right?!

at least they colored on paper this time.
  
about how i feel most days too, schnookems.

only miss jane can get us all smiling at once.

borrowing my clothes already.

not my clothes...

this batch of blueberry pancakes came with maple syrup and butter.
because the high chair needed cleaning anyway, and so did his inner-ears.

daddy-daughter-ness.

poser.

i'd like to say they're like this all the time, but i don't think
i could stop laughing long enough to type straight.

yoga.


go-fish instead of mickey mouse clubhouse. win!

seriously, siri...where do i hide the bodies?

just finished the naked-baby dance, now we're off to conquer the backyard.
that is, as soon as we run over our little brother with the babydoll stroller.

a. i get a lot done when the kids are away. like catching up on Days and popping bon-bons. *imeanworking...*
b. we had at least a dozen screaming fits today. hence, 'coming in hot...' top gun. tom cruise. not a coincidence.

and at times like this, one golfs indoors.


8.04.2012

rock, paper, scissors.

normally NOT the most progressive among my peers, i took pause just now to recall a moment where i was. i made a sincere attempt to go paperless while selling real estate in bend at my coldwell banker office. superior agents, management, facility, all of it. but everyone freaking wrote everything on paper before entering it in to the computer. several agents would even email, print out the email, and put it in the client file. what the what.

you know who you are.

so as i sit here planning a volunteer appreciation event i'm putting together one master list from several smaller ones i've saved in 'notes' on my iPhone. on paper....with a pen...inches from my computer.

doh.

oh well, i'm an old dog; and sometimes a girl just needs to pick up a pen and write it the heck down. besides, hitting select/delete just doesn't have the same satisfaction as actually crossing something out once you've finished it. you can't press extra hard on an iPhone to super-cross something out that has sucked the life out of you to complete, you know?

so while i'd like to tell my children i'm doing my best to save the world as i follow them around turning off lights, teaching them to turn off the faucet while the toothbrush is in their mouths, there are just some things that are here to stay--at least at our house.


8.03.2012

aaaaaand we're punchy.

my friend Adriel has developed this amazing concept for a blog. it's called 'click clink five'. basically, she takes 5 minutes and writes whatever comes to mind, unedited, and hits POST.

i'm punchy. let me frame it for you. i just had an MC Hammer and Rick James epiphany. followed by a dance party wherein i played Can't Touch This and Super Freak back to back several times to absorb the fact that they have the exact same backbeat. dude. total. vanilla. ice. moment.

and, by the way, i am a grammer snob and hate. fragmented. sentences.

but i digress...

there are moments in life where you are supposed to lift your pinky and use the right fork. and then there are moments like this. where the kids are headed toward an early bedtime, you're at home on a friday night with your best friend in the universola, and decide that wine and chicken nuggets are your very. best. friend.

again, with the fragments...what's. happening. to. me?

shatner. moment.

again, the digression...

so i lift my glass to you mamas, papas, and the mamas and the papas (to whose credit i actually couldn't name a single song, but it sounded pretty in my head).

happy friday.

yeehaw!

(also, i karate-chopped the babygate in the sliding glass door to the back deck and it totally backfired. basically, it flew out of the window, and when i tried putting it back together it came after me. true story.)

5.19.2012

flower girl.

I had a rough couple of days this week.

I drove to Eugene, met with Angie's defense team, slept, testified, and was home inside 26 hours. I hugged Emily so hard I thought she'd protest. But she didn't. It's like she knew Mommy needed an extra squeezy-squeeze. Just like she hugged me two extra times when I put her down for her nap before I left. I needed it then, and I surely needed it when I got home.

There are all kinds of thoughts still running marathons in my head from the trial: the testimony, the questions the prosecution asked, the faces of the jurors, the smile I snuck in to Angie as I lingered in the courtroom at break time.

But what I remember most about this week, and what I want to remember most about this week, wasn't the drive, the trial or the exhaustion. It was the next day at the grocery store.

Being slightly over-ambitious, I had planned on making my homemade berry shortcake for dessert on Friday. Not only would it be a nice thank-you to my Dad for watching the kids while I was away, but it would be a great opportunity for Emily and I to put on our aprons and get some eggy-flour on ourselves.

So we drove to Safeway where we always do our shopping to pick out some berries, heavy whipping cream and a few other things.

At this particular store, somewhere after picking up your cart but before arriving at the fruit and veggies, you pass the floral department.

"Mommy! We need flooooowerrrrrrs!", twirling with her head cocked to one side, arms above her head.

Yes, honey. We most certainly need flowers.

I asked her which flowers she wanted to take home; a job she took very seriously. So she crossed her arms and circled the display, heavy-stepping so I knew she was contemplating every option.

"Mommy! I want BOTH!"

"Both what?"

"THEEEESE!"

My perceptive daughter had sought out the only bunch of Gerber Daisies in the entire display. How did she know they were my favorite? That's my girl.

Patiently she waited until we got to the checkout line to hand the clerk her flowers. Without hesitation she whipped behind the checkout stand and took the flowers straight out of the clerk's hand as soon as she heard the scanner beep. Then, as if she were just handed the keys to the castle, she got on her toes and held up the bouquet to the clerk:

"Excoose mees? Would you like to smell my floooooowers?"

And who could say no to that. Tell me.

Instantly the woman was captivated. And so was every checker and customer within 20 feet. Everyone stopped. And Emily noticed.

"They're lovely," admired the checker. Emily sniffed them herself, smiled, and moved to the nearest person.

"Would yoooou like to smell my flowers?"

And so it began.

I counted 11 people. Eleven. Three checkers, four female customers, one older man who glistened long after his encounter with my Little One, two women entering the store as we were leaving, and finally -- the woman across the way at the bank. She approached each, one by one, and invited them to--if only for a moment--come and experience her world of flowers.

To see my child practically bursting to share the joy within her with everyone she saw -- was incredible.  And just what I needed.

Thank you, peanut.


5.09.2012

to my son.

Dear Ethan,

Mommy here. You're much older now, but when I wrote this you were not yet 8 months old. You love being held by your mommy. When I step out of view, you f-a-h-reak. You can still fall asleep in my arms, even though it puts mommy's biceps to the test. Today I had occasion to think about you as more than just a smiling baby; as a boy, a man, a husband and a father. So while you still look at every word I say wide-eyed, there are a few things I want to say.

I will make mistakes. There have already been several. But I grow a bit more patient every day, a bit more wise every day, and put the fruits of that growth toward being a better woman for you, Emily and Daddy. This doesn't mean, however, that I'm not going to royally screw the pooch on more occasions than can be counted. More importantly, though, you need to know it's okay to make mistakes. So when I make one, I will admit it. And apologize. Because the whole do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do thing never got anyone anywhere.

I promise to treat you how I expect your wife to treat you. Okay, mister. Head out of the gutter. I'm talking about respect. I promise to respect you as a man, even when you are little. I promise to love you so you know what it looks like, and don't chase the first pair of cute panties that comes flinging herself at you.

I expect you to open doors and stand when a lady leaves the table. Your Daddy has spoiled me, so you can blame him.

I promise to give you away (for reals) when you get married. I'm saying this now, when you're still learning to splash Sophie the Giraffe in your bathtub, and will continue to self-affirm until the day you say I do. It's going to take several decades to accomplish this, so I hope you don't plan on getting married until you're in your 50s.

I will never shame you. You can ask your Daddy -- I take this seriously. I believe the esteem a woman finds in her husband is the esteem the world finds in her husband. And the esteem a mom shows her son is what he will learn to expect from others. I want you to know that when your world is falling apart, you can come to me because I will stand by and support you. Period.

I love you.

The end.


4.20.2012

a letter to hilary rosen.

Dear Ms. Rosen,

You and I have never met. Allow me to introduce myself: I am a stay at home mom (SAHM, according to my iPhone auto-correct. Funny thing, it doesn't even capitalize Democratic Strategist...but I digress.)



I am an educated, independent 34 year-old woman. I am a parent, wife, self-employed part-time and, contrary to your comments, have most certainly "dealt with the kinds of economic issues that the majority of the women in this country are facing".


To be honest, I didn't actually see the broadcast on CNN where you made reference to Ann Romney's lack of connection with the modern woman because of two reasons: (a) I was working, and (b) one of the financial sacrifices we've made to (quoting you) "afford" me the ability to be a SAHM is to cut down our previously ridiculous cable bill to a minimum charge for basic network channels and internet. I did happen to catch a segment on the evening news that night, however.

I wasn't even going to write this letter, but alas, this pesky sense of you've-got-to-be-kidding-me has just won out. Plus, seeing as how I don't have a real job, I obviously have an abundance of time on my hands nibbling bonbons and sipping wine.

We all make assumptions about people based on past experiences. My assumptions, for instance, about siblings were limited to what I had observed in my friends' families  before I had our second child, seeing as how I was an only child. Likewise, my assumptions about you from the NBC news segment was that you were a single male. And from Mars.

When my husband corrected me from the living room, I was floored. Speechless. Because my assumptions about you couldn't possibly have been that wrong. Okay, maybe you weren't from Mars. But certainly you weren't a woman. And certainly not a mother.

Becoming a mother changed everything I thought I knew. I'll admit - before my daughter was born my perceptions of the SAHM were far different than those of the career woman. But not once did I assume it wasn't work.

One of your errs in this arena is that you have apparently confused parenting with being a SAHM. Those are two different roles. Everyone with a child is a parent. But while my husband is at work, my job is to be a SAHM. He is entrusting me to care for our children just as we would an outside caregiver if we were both working outside the home. I chose this career, and may someday choose to work outside the home again. But until then, my job is to guide our children on their path to becoming successful adults. You may want to consider coming into the 21st century and making that distinction.

Before I became a SAHM, we had a housekeeper. We ate out. A lot. When we didn't, we made almost daily trips to the grocery. We had an accountant. We had a CPA. We paid for childcare. I wore high heels. Okay, so that's beside the point. But you get the idea.

Now my job description includes making the most of every dollar my husband earns. It includes housekeeping, grocery shopping and meal planning, keeping our books, doing our taxes, and yes -- caring for our children while my husband is working. For us, it was a matter of re-organizing. It isn't for everyone. But neither is politics. Or real estate. Or any other of the thousands of careers out there. And just like any of these, if I don't perform, I'm out. If I sip wine and pop bonbons every day, I have no doubt my husband will fire my lazy buns and require I find other employment. Forget my husband, I'd fire myself!

Further, being a SAHM is no different than many other careers in that there are those who do the minimum and those who excel. There are those who show up late, leave early, take every break the law affords them and max out their sick days. And there are those who show up early, leave late, use critical thinking to improve the quality of their workplace and muscle through a cold. If the laundry is unfolded at the end of the day, how is it different than the untouched pile of papers on your desk? How is a rescheduled meeting any different than me also re-prioritizing my day?

One of your supporters, Bill Maher, furthered your comment by saying there is "a big difference between being a mother and getting getting your a-- out of the door at 7 a.m. when it’s cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace, where even if you're unhappy you can’t show it for 8 hours, that is kind of a different kind of tough thing". I'll refrain from sharing my thoughts on Mr. Bill's rant, but I mention it to show you the quality of person that agrees with you. [Seriously, though -- an 8 hour day? My husband works 60 hours a week. And so I work 60 hours a week. Someone needs to bring Mr. Bill to my house for some continuing education.]

The larger issue here is that of ignorance. You took it upon yourself to speak not only as a political strategist, but on behalf of the modern woman. Let me be clear: you do not speak for the modern woman. The modern woman is one of self-worth, confidence, style, direction and ambition. Who are you to say my self-worth is lost in being a SAHM? Or that my ambition is goes to waste?

I realize these mini TV debates that pit opposing sides against each other in a bullpen sort of environment are aimed to produce the sort of off the cuff and controversial comment you made, but have you stopped since to consider the ramifications? You not only alienated a segment of the population in an election year, but you've indirectly offended an equally large segment of the opposing sex: our husbands.

Consider for a moment the type of man who is married to this lazy, spoiled, "old-fashioned" women so out of touch with modern society. My husband works extremely hard to provide for his family. Is he wasting his money? Is he an idiot? Should he love or respect me less because I have "never worked a day in [my] life"? When did being a self-sacrificing man become a detriment to society? And if Mitt Romney respects his wife enough to ask her opinion -- and, further, mention that it in a political arena -- that makes him old fashioned? What would you have him do -- not ask her opinion, or just not mention it in public? You may want to reconsider who in this scenario is being old fashioned.

I am not a fan of Mitt Romney. But I am certainly offended and insulted by you. Which, by default, makes me think a little more of him than I did last week.

Get your sleep; I wouldn't wait up for that invite to the White House.

Sincerely,
Amanda Lenke


Hilary Rosen on AC360, 4.11.12

Hilary Rosen responds to backlash from her comments about Ann Romney, 4.12.12

3.30.2012

how the cookie crumbles.

You know the phrases: "you'll poke your eye out", "if you keep making that face, eventually it'll stick that way", and my all-time favorite, "in my day, we walked up hill, both ways...". While my parents surely meant well, those phrases eventually fell on deaf ears. Disguised as advice, they were phrases reaching for a comeback to a snitty teen who verbally cornered them into throwing the Hail Mary.

There was one I have remembered, however, and it's a good thing. It came in to great use last week:

It's up to you.

While that may look like a simplistic phrase, I assure you it isn't. It came with a tone and finality that made me stop and consider what it was I was about to decide. Perhaps it was because my parents were card-carrying control freaks, but for a phrase like that to be laid out made me feel as though I was being dealt the draw card while holding four parts of a Royal Flush. I was forced to consider the consequences right alongside the successes of my decision-making.

When I went home last month, my 2-week visit turned out to be about a week and a half too long. The second evening I was there I crashed my old Book Club. I could hardly stand to leave, but a girl has got to get her beauty sleep (those wrinkles aren't going to reverse themselves, despite the many benefits of the Lifestyle Lift). That night was followed by several others (thanks to my mom who made good on her annual Christmas gift of unlimited free babysitting) with really good friends. The kind of friends made over years of trials and triumphs, not to be taken lightly and mourned over when lost. Really good friends. And let me say, I miss them. So much.

David works really, really hard. He has experienced massive turnover, is going into his busy season, and is responsible for the guest experience at a hotel that has some i--i--issues. Good thing he's good at what he does, and is willing to dig in and git 'er done. So I didn't tell him about my epiphany-slash-meltdown. And we communicate about everything. Four days later and two glasses of wine into a late evening, I broke the silence. I said it once -- that's all it took.

There is exactly 1 position available in the Central Oregon area in hospitality management. My amazing husband had an interview for the position last week and they all but offered him the job. Problem is, it was a steep pay cut (steeeeeep, people--like Everest steep), and not enough to keep me home with the kids. So we began formulating. First we cut back. Then, my mom watching the kids one day a week while I work. Plus not save...anything. Plus no preschool, gymnastics, soccer or any extras for the kids. And while we can cut and trim, we draw the line at the kids. Which is where we realized putting me back to work had already crossed the line.

So David did what he always does in a crisis. He takes the reigns and makes the decision that we both know has to be made, but never will be if we continue manipulating the what-ifs. He respectfully declined the opportunity and focused back into his job of managing a circus of monkeys. Then he came home and told me.

We could be packing our bags and moving to Bend right now. We could be slipping back into the comfortable throws of good friends, comfortable routines and a town of angled parking (I loathe parallel parking this week, and no--I'm not saying why). We could be making plans, reconnections. And what's odd that instead of being sad I'm effortlessly relieved. We considered the consequences and successes, and it just wasn't worth it.

I look at Emily and wonder where my baby went. I squeezed Ethan today at least 34 times wishing he'd stay a baby forever. I struggle every day with redefining the image of the stay-at-home-mom into a bright, driven, capable woman who chooses to make her home her place of business. A SAHM is not better or worse than the working Mom. But if there is a way for David and I to afford ourselves the opportunity to make that choice, then we certainly aren't going to squander it. Even if it means not moving home.

And when my mom's group asked me this morning if I wanted to start doing girl's night, I was able to say yes. With a smile on my face.

As her grandpa says, "she's 2 going on Harvard".

Just look at that face.

3.24.2012

once upon a wasatumunga.

Imagination is a funny thing. We start out with tons of it, but over time chip pieces away with the knowledge and experiences we gain. I don't know how it is I'm just realizing this, but rediscovering my imagination is, to date, my favorite thing about being a mom. --Wait...there are the hugs. And make-it-better-mommeeeeeey-pleeeeeease! teary kisses. So maybe it's in the top 5. There. I can live with that.

We made the mistake a few months ago of showing Emily The Lion King. She was absolutely obsessed with the little orange box with the pictures of the lions on it, and in a weak moment, we gave in. It flipping freaked her out. Not only does the daddy lion die, but at his brother's hand. With fire in the background. And then "the not very nice lion", as he's now known in our house, orders a hit on the baby lion. Who eventually comes back to challenge "the not very nice lion" and nearly suffers the same fate. With fire in the background. And the "not very nice lion" dies. With fire in the background. Enough with the fire already.

In any case, we've been paying for it. Curbing thoughts, nightmares and 'games' of "fire and the burning and the fire", "the lions are going to eeeeeeat meeeeee!"s and the such. Awesome. I've damaged my kid forever, I've been saying to myself as my hand finds my forehead. Slap! Moreover, it's caused the early-onset of the big questions. What's death? Are you going to die? Awesome.

By no minor act of God, we've worked through it. Emily now realizes there are nice lions and not-so-nice lions. And yes, people die, but it's ok. Plus, lions are cool because they now live at the bottom of her bed and protect her from the alligators and monsters that come to, and I quote, "eat me all gooooooone!" at night. Slap.

What the bleep.

In all fairness, the alligators are kind of fun, because we get to eat Daddy, Uncle Gary and anyone else we want. And what do they taste like? Chicken. That's right. I have no idea where she got that...which is why I love my kid even more now that her imagination is catching up with her latest growth spurt.

And the monsters? They make for really great villains in stories about princesses. More specifically, the dragon-monster who lives in the forest outside Princess Emily Peanut Cinderella's castle, where she lives with Prince Ethan, King Daddy, Queen Mommy, and The Duke Bailey. [As a side note, every mom should be called a Queen at least once by their children. It's frickin awesome.]

And at least once every day, as I'm being requested to sing yet another rendition of The Grand Ole Duke Of York, followed by The Farmer In the Dell (sung to the same tune, so it sticks in my head until morning *thankyouverymuch*), I become a child again. Instead of the Farmer taking the wife, he takes the Wasatumunga. "Wasatumungaaaaa! Nononono, Mommy. It's not Wasatumunga! It's the cheyeuld!" And so it plays out. I act shocked. She corrects me. I try again. She corrects me again. We laugh hysterically and forget altogether what we were singing in the first place.

video
In case you were wondering, Baba is my mother in law, and Georgie is her stuffed monkey.

2.21.2012

and then there's the single mom.

I'm sure this won't come as a surprise, but I'm one of those people who needs sleep. And I'm not one of those people that can grab a catnap mid-day to catch up, either. I need sleep, and I need it at night. Preferably between 10p-6a. Right about now you're probably thinking one of two things: why did you have children exactly? or how's that working for you right about now? The answers are: because and great, until last night.


David left  yesterday afternoon for a business trip. Usually we're the ones leaving him. This is the second trip he's made without us since we've had children. The first one was before Ethan was born, and David's parents took Emily on a little vacation while he was gone -- so mommy also got herself a little vacation. This time is different. We could have gone with him, as it's just down in Portland, but my super-duper-friend Melissa is flying in for a week's visit before he gets back.

Last night was picture-perfect. We FaceTime'd with my in-laws, had a tea party, then another with extra marshmallows. Then we found some birthday hats and had a birthday party (where admittance required no less than 3 hats on your body). We colored some Disney princesses and had a dance party. Everyone ate all their dinner without complaint, and worked themselves right into a sound bedtime. I was on the couch with a glass of wine by 8:05. This never happens. I looked around the house with a ridiculous grin: it was clean, organized and free of to-dos. For the moment, there was nothing to be done but relax. I even had total control over the remote. Bliss, I tell you.

Then I began to bounce. You know, when your knee bobs up and down subconsciously. There was no husband to notice and tell me to relax or ask me if I wanted to talk about it. So I bounced for a while. Apparently a long while. When I looked at the clock it was 10p. And I was wide awake. Oh, hell. Not a good sign. For years I struggled with insomnia. I'd sleep great between 4-6a, but the other hours were a crapshoot. Sometimes I'd sleep, but more often than not I'd sit in bed wide awake.

11:55 was the last time I looked at the clock. Until 1, anyway. When I woke up to no husband in bed. I grabbed for his pillow and went back to sleep. At 2:18 I shot up with the notion that I had slept through one of Emily's nightmares, and that Ethan had grabbed his blanket and smothered himself. I got up, checked both kids and went back to sleep. At 3:26 I woke up frying hot, with the realization I had forgotten to turn down the heat. I got up, turned it down, and laid back down. I settled in with a happy-face because I knew that no matter what this was the time of night my body would get it's best sleep. At 3:37 I woke to a crying baby (who has been sleeping through the night for a couple of months). I scrambled in to his room and immediately knew what happened: poop. [My friends with boys have warned me about boys and poop. Apparently it's starting early.] I changed the diaper as fast as possible, re-swaddled the now wide-awake and smiling little man, and went back to bed. Upon which time I realized the white noise machine wasn't on. Lovely. I must have turned it on to 'timer' mode instead of 'stay-on-all-night-so-my-noise-doesn't-wake-the-baby' mode. I got up again, snuck in to his room, turned the dang thing on, and snuck back out.

For maybe the first time ever, I didn't sleep between 4-6a. I sat awake most of that time thinking about a friend of mine. I went back and forth between my silly nighttime struggle and what life must be like for her, the single mom. There's me...having one off night, and then there's the single mom. I can wake up tomorrow, put on the sweats and pour Emily some Cheerios and let the coffee slowly wake me up. And then there's the single mom.

She and I have shared really fun times, and some not-so-great lifetime experiences. Our lives forked one day when she found herself single and pregnant, at a time where I couldn't get myself pregnant despite concerted efforts.

I doubt she knows how often I think about her. I admire her for the genuine, lovely person she is. She runs her own business, has raised a sweet, strong boy, and maintains this smokin' figure. Those things are impossible enough with help. Thinking about her makes me want to be a better mom, a better wife. --And get my lazy buns into my running shoes every day.

I'm writing this so I remember to shake off my next self-pity-party and get the heck over it (and myself).

---


Deep conversation this morning while mommy sucks down a pot of coffee.


1.28.2012

the parachute.

In my family, you carry a parachute. My grandma on my mother's side, called Gigi now that we have little ones, is our card-carrying Parachute Club President. If you find yourself at lunch, for instance, and there's no sweetener, never fear! Gigi has pink, blue and yellow packets hidden in the bottom of her purse. Need a bandaid? Not a problem! A plethora of sizes awaits. Breath mints or gum? Advil or Tylenol? I'm certain the lost city of Atlantis is down there somewhere. Falling from a plane? Think nothing of it. She has a parachute in a side zipper pouch.

It's been a running joke in my family as far back as I can remember, but it wasn't until I was in my mid-20s that I conceded and became a member of the Club. I shelved my collection of cocktail-sized purses and graduated to the larger, more mature purse. It was a matter of necessity. I needed to carry more than 4 items, and it was time. The only time I get to dust them off and carry a lighter load these days is on date night. I fish out those 4 items and pretend for a few hours that's all I need [hardy har].

The problem with the mature purse is that there's always room for one more thing. And then that one more thing becomes a permanent resident. Confession time, people. You know you're right there with me. Even if you're a dude, you know you carry that gym ID card from 3 years ago you refuse to toss because you'd have to admit the only 6-pack in your life anymore is in the fridge.

The other problem with the mature purse is that without it, you feel naked. In-the-middle-of-Times-Square-without-your-pants naked.

On Monday I received the call I'd been waiting for. "We're going to call you on Thursday", she said. The woman wasn't talking about calling me for a chit-chat. She was referring to the witness stand. So the next day I packed for our trip to Eugene. David didn't even have to ask; he went out and brought me the big suitcase. God bless that man, he knew I was wound tighter than a top and needed room for the extra large parachute.

Thursday after a visit to a park not far from the hotel, I traded in my 'mommy' clothes for some sling-back heels, pressed slacks and a blouse. I had packed a purse, knowing the diaper bag would need to stay at the hotel with my mom and the kids. I set it on the table and moved over my wallet, lipstick, keys and phone. Then I stopped. It was practically empty. That wouldn't do. Some inner-compulsion led me to scour the room for more. I found a mini-lint roller, travel-size tums (maybe not such a bad idea), 2 pens (because you never know when one will run out), and a little bag of kleenex (also not a bad idea). I stopped when my macbook wouldn't fit. Seriously...there has to be some kind of 12 Step Program for this.

Because interviewing witnesses isn't an exact science, I arrived early so I wouldn't be late. I also wanted to be sure Angie knew I was there to support her, even though I wasn't allowed inside until I had testified. The witness before me was an expert, a Doctor. To be honest, I'm thankful I couldn't be there to listen.

Out came Gordon, one of Angie's attorneys. He's disarming in a wrinkled sort of way. His tie was crooked and the tail was tucked in to his shirt, the way a man does when he doesn't have a tie pin."You're up", he said, and kindly reached out his arm.

I was asked about my relationship with Angie; what she was like back then. What I remembered about the first time I met her, and how meeting her family changed my perception of what could be tolerated in this world. About the time I saw her drunk, and about the scars I saw on her arms. About the time she tried to end her life and how her mother petitioned the court to withdraw the subsequent court order for 24-hour adult supervision, because she couldn't possibly find the time.

Afterward I sat in the courtroom next to her brother Steve, who has driven over an hour each way from his home to visit her every week so she knows, without a doubt, she is loved. The witness after me was one of the two detectives that worked her case. He had 'interviewed' her. He had purposefully messed with her head and made her believe she had failed a polygraph when, indeed, she hadn't. He put words into her mouth she hadn't spoken and turned them into a confession. Job done. His file didn't contain half the documentation it should have and he appeared as though he took the whole of 5 minutes to review his file before entering court. It was pathetic. It was also good for Angie's case. We shall see.

I'm not sure when I'll stop crying. I feel as though I'm grieving for a 15 year-old girl who still exists in that stoic, sunken figure I saw in the courtroom. I'm grieving over the realization I should have been able to do more. I'm grieving over a baby I may never know ever existed. I'm not a 'cryer', but on occasion that's just really all you can do.

My pleasant life now seems astonishingly superficial. It makes me sick that I actually wrestled with the question of whether to buy new curtains for the living room a few days ago. I don't know whether I'll ever be able watch a news story reporting that so-and-so has been arrested for such-and-such as they display the person's mugshot and not lose an evening wondering what the person is really like. 

What I do know is that somewhere between Eugene and Salem, when I stopped to get Em a snack, I realized why I can't stop crying. I lost my parachute. I think I must have lost it a few weeks ago. I've been running on fumes, but didn't realize it until last night. Whether or not I decide I need to find it is a matter for another day.

1.03.2012

is "subpoenaed" even a word?

In high school, I dreamt of a career in litigation. Somewhere between Ally McBeal and Law and Order, I pictured my life a steady stream of challenging cases where, naturally, I'd maintain a strong winning record and make the 40 Under 40. Then came Willamette. A fantastic University with, not-so-coincidentally, a world-renowned Law School. As any overly ambitious Freshman with a pipe dream does, I declared first semester: Political Studies. My future was so bright, I busted out the shades.

Now it may have been the 200 and 300 level classes I insisted on taking in addition to the part-time barista job I needed, student government responsibilities, pledging a sorority, holding down a crazy piano rehearsal schedule to maintain a scholarship, and an admittedly demanding party schedule that, when added to the overwhelming amount of reading I quickly realized it would entail until I was successful enough to have a staff of paralegals to do the research for me, made me realize Law simply wasn't in the cards. At all. And besides, there was a really cute boy in my rhetoric class. Done! Second semester I re-declared: Rhetoric and Media Studies.

Now don't get me wrong--the few classes I took in formulating an argument, the mechanics of a speech and logic have served me well. I can win any discussion-slash-argument with my husband, even if I'm dead wrong. He'll leave the conversation scratching his head, undoubtedly asking himself how 'it' happened...again. Poor guy. But I never got to the classes that covered the actual trial. And I certainly never had need to spell the word subpoena.

And yet yesterday, in the midst of an otherwise normal day of princess tea parties and baby-coos, I was served.

If you've read this blog before, you may recall a post I made a year ago about a girl named Angie. If you need a refresher...


This is what the public thinks of her. The Saving Caylee website has a page about her case, as does half a dozen websites that refer to her as a selfish murderer. It may be because I know her as Angie and not Angelica May Swartout, but my opinion differs.

Which is why I'm now a defense witness in an Aggravated Murder Trial. In all honesty, I have no idea whether those words are supposed to be capitalized, but it seems to me they should be given the weight they carry.

So as I'm swimming through my days of tea parties and baby-coos, I am occasionally finding myself thinking about how soon I'll be trading in my princess dress for a suit, and my dress-up heels for something a little more grown up.

Wish her luck, and me some cojones.