Monday, December 29, 2008

The Good Cry

Re-reading my last post, it seems, well, downright depressing. I appreciate everyone’s comments and your non-judgmental ways. What you don’t know is, right after I posted it, I cried and felt a lot better. Sometimes that’s all you need is a good cry. We went on to have a good Christmas, albeit everyone in the house had a trip to the doctor at least once within the past 10 days. It’s been a hard cold to shake, considering I can’t just stay in bed and rest. (Ahhh, remember those days?) But, thinking back here on my lunch break at work, it was a nice 10 days with the family. All of our relatives were away at other places, so it was just the four of us for about 90% of the time. Lots of pajama days, careless hours building train tracks, long conversations, cookie baking, tracking Santa on Norad, listening and sometimes dancing to lots of music, and eating lots of warm, home-cooked meals. We did get out a few times; to a friend’s to play WiiFit, to the local bowling alley, to our Statehouse for a tour, and to visit the light display at the Columbus Zoo. The last two being some of the “must-do’s” on our list that I’m glad we ventured out to experience:

The Statehouse tour

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo

Look what Santa brought!

Baking cookies with my little helper

I think what strikes me more often than I want it to, is the eternal struggle with being something that I should be, rather than just being me. Flaws and all. But it begs the question in me, who am I really? I can’t seem to let the guard down long enough to figure that out. Dressing up in the corporate uniform in the morning and I need to shift my attitude to be one person, coming home at the end of the day I shift again to the mom, and then after bath time I’m trying to find the energy for one more hat: the artist. I know I am not the only one who deals with this. And I know this won’t last forever. And maybe I don’t hate it so much as I like to complain about it. Like I mentioned in my last post, I need the friction. Sometimes I feel like I need the internal strife to feel alive. Complacency = death.

When my dad died at 49, he was in the prime of his career as a packaging designer for Avon on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Even though internally his body was quite sick from hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis, he commuted 90minutes each way from our home in New Jersey (for years doctors wondered how he walking around considering veins were only giving blood to his heart at this time—any day now, any day now?). He loved his job. And he also sort of had a second job called Remkap Graphics, where he did freelance work for local clients on the weekends. He loved that, too. He was also a local councilman in our town. On July 2, 1987 my mother was away on a trip with her sisters in North Carolina, my brothers were already both living out of the house on their own, and so my dad and I were hanging out together that evening, and we listened to Paul Simon’s album “Graceland”.

And then on the day he died, he died in his bed, mid-morning, clutching his chest, having just combed his hair and brushed his teeth getting ready to spend a vacation day home from work on July 3, 1987. I found him at 3:30 in the afternoon.

I was never the same again.

We had a nice relationship. And it was over before it could ever get really bad because I was still a young teenager. So it will always be good whether it truly was or not.

I think the holidays are a good time to remember him since Christmas was his birthday, remember where I come from, where I’m headed and what I’ve learned from all these moments in life. One thing I do recall is that my father felt envious of my generation that we had so many choices, so many chances to do what we want to do with our lives. My parents both came from a small town and made their own way, without college degrees, without financial support from parents. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen anymore, and it’s because the world is a different place, not because my generation is a bunch of spoiled brats who can’t make it on their own, but because things are much more complicated.

So here I am, I’m trying to do so many things before my time is up. For me, it’s hard to settle on one thing. One goal, one ambition. Some people are born and know exactly what they want to do with their lives. I’m not that person. I have a lot of goals set out for myself this year, and I think I will be really psyched if at least one of them works out.

Everytime I reflect on my dad, and go through the lapse of self-pity like I did in my last post, I come around and realize that we’re all on this earth for a purpose, and we’re all here to live the best we can, to give what we can, to better the human race, to leave our mark as infinitesimal as it is on the lifespan of this universe. So here I am, leaping into another year with another to-do list I will probably not complete, but isn’t it grand that I can still complain about it? Isn’t it GREAT that I’m alive? Yes, yes it is!!!

Cheers to 2009.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mama Kate

Near the end of each year, I can't help but partake in a long bit of introspection. Thinking back to the year like one remembers a good book they just read, recalling the chapters and events that led up to the end of the story. So here we are, at the end of the story that is 2008.

Here today, on Christmas Eve, we eagerly await the arrival of Christmas tomorrow, with runny noses, painful ears and hacking coughs. As does seem to be customary whenever I take a vacation from work, I get sick. It started like clockwork at around 3pm last Friday, my last day there before vacation this week, and with many pills of echinecea, many hours of sleep (forced), on this eve I am starting to feel better. "Better" being somewhat of a loose term, but better nonetheless. I would prefer to grovel in my anger about how I haven't accomplished any of the things I set out to do while I have been off of work, or spent the kind of time with my family that I wanted; I could also be really pissed off that I spent last weekend in bed when I wanted to take the kids to various Christmas events around town, or not get that promised quality time with my husband that we had planned with a babysitter to watch the kids while we had an uninterrupted conversation over a bottle of wine. The bathrooms continue to be dirty, the laundry is piling up, and the art room has yet to be organized. So yes, I am pissed off. Pissed off, but trying to remain positive.

Work has been very difficult this year, and I've been telling myself for the past week to not think about it, but it is hard not to. Hard not to think about how my day job has quickly spiraled into a non-existent career, going nowhere and nowhere fast. Hard not to think about how I'm getting older, and need to have a career since I am the only bread winner in the house. And yet at the same time I am at odds with that job, because it's not what I really want to do, and what I really want to do doesn't put bread on the table and pay the mortgage right now. It's the unending paradox; I don't have the money to start the business I want, and I can't afford to quit the job I have right now to start living the life I really want to live. All of these thoughts swirling in my sick head over the week, while wiping other kids noses and wrapping gifts and trying not let on what is really bothering me. Trying to keep a smile on my face for the kids. I had been looking forward to this time off for quite some time, but my mind won't let it go. Christmas is not my favorite holiday. Never had been. And especially since the death of my father, whose birthday was on Christmas, it feels like something to feel sorry for myself about. Another thing hard to let go. But must keep trying for the kids! as I say, must not let them know the pain that is hard to conceal. Don't want to ruin their holiday over something they have nothing to do with or can relate to at all. Painful still after 22 years.

Oh God, this self-pity is too hard to bear; I can't imagine how it must be for you, the reader. But as I type this, it's been cathartic. Heather at Cool Zebras took a picture of herself as a study of a moment in time, a true self-portrait even if it were without make-up or a gratuitous smile. So I have attempted the same self-study, along with where I feel my place is in the world at this moment. I do know I have so much to be thankful for, and that most of this internal strife is self-motivated. But is it a crime to want to be your best as a human being? To make the most use of this little bit of time we have on this earth to accomplish our goals, dreams, and live the most satisfying life we want to live? It doesn't seem to be enough for me to just be a mother and a wife and a provider, I need something more. Something more personal. Something deeper that's been festering for years.

The good thing about the end of the year, is that there is always the next one. Each year I knock on wood that I get a next one, and with the next one comes the annual opportunity to be that better human being. Time these days to me seems so restricted between the day job, the kids, the domesticity of life on the weekends; there is hardly room for me to breathe. Everyone keeps telling me when Andrew gets older there will be more peace. Right now is tough with little kids to do anything but mothering. A little bit of time here and there to blog, to get crafty, to write, to draw, to photograph, to drink, to laugh, to talk, to paint, to clean, to shop, to reflect, to read, to just sit and be silent. These little bits I look forward to.

And between the little bits, there is the joy of mothering. True, I did not become a mother to just push them away and not spend time with them. This past year we have splashed in the Atlantic ocean, climbed the side of a cave, rode bikes, walked through the woods, traveled 1200 miles, wrote our names in the sand, planted flowers, made water balloons, built miles of train tracks, played endless hours of games and traversed the landscape of our city on blacktop, grass and dirt.

The endless internal fight between "me" time and "mothering" time. I can say with certainty it will continue as I look forward to 2009. But don't we all grapple with that? Don't all fathers and mothers undulate between their old selves and their new selves as parents? And so it goes. The wanting and the non-wanting.

But truthfully would I want it any other way? Probably not. I need the friction to survive.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good rest of the year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Mother's Son

When both my sons were babies most people would say that they were clones of my husband, their "father's son", with only slight variations of me, my mother, his mother, his sister, my brothers and so on. My mother especially loves to make comparisons about who my sons look like. She could go on a lecture circuit about how fascinating it is to her that my son Andrew has blue eyes like her when Dave and I have brown. He also has blond hair and fairer skin, which is like my husband's sister. Go figure DNA. All in all, my sons both have that distinctive shaped head, mouth and shape of face that is my husband. Yes, there is certainly no denying these sons.

A couple weekends ago, we visited a community holiday party with holiday crafts, carriage rides, live reindeer, and a Santa for free pictures. Much to my surprise, Andrew ran right up to Santa and sat on his lap. And then I snapped this picture:

Also, 36 years ago, one of my parents snapped this picture:

Beyond the cranium, the lips, the shape of his face, somewhere in there, in the expression or the eyes--I can't decide--there is me.

I have to agree, it is fascinating how DNA works. My sons could not have my eye color, hair color or skin tone, but in a quick moment there is a glimmer of me in a smile, a giggle, a frown, a curious look. How a person can look like 2 people in one moment, transcending one parent to another with the turn of the head, the blink of an eye, the quiver of a lip; it's genetics in motion, and it's a miracle to see.


A must not finish this post without a shout-out to my blogging buddy, Mayberry Mom, who graciously awarded me with this blog award:

As Mayberry explains, the award is defined as:

The recipients "are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!"

I'm totally flattered by its meaning, that I am "kind" and not "self-aggrandizing". (Hmmm, "kind." If only you knew me in the "real world" - ha! kidding. kind of.) And totally flattered that I received it. (*See me blush*) Mayberry is one of those tried and true blogging friends that I've been following almost since I began blogging. And she knows me well enough to know that I need a little attention right now. Thanks again, Mayberry! I plan to share with the peeps as soon as I complete my nomination list.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Guilty Free Christmas

Did I mention that I'm a procrastinator when it comes to Christmas? Oh, I skipped that part in my blogger profile? Well I'll go one step further and say that I am also a procrastinator for birthday gifts, cards, and cleaning out the cat litter.

It occurred to me today (as it usually does around this time) that I have bought jack sh*t for anybody. I'm finishing up the Christmas cards this week (which trust me, is HUGE---one year it was a "New Year's" card, not a Christmas card), baking cookies tonight and we've done a few things around town that could be called the gratuitous holiday activities:

A winter wonderland of holiday lights

Holiday party at the community center

But what will be different about this year is that I'm OK with all that. I'm not spazzing out right now about it. Not. One. Bit.

What's ironic is that I'm finally not procrastinating: I'm already starting one of my 2009 resolutions to stop worrying and feeling guilty. Ah, what a good feeling. For today that is.

Ask me next week if I stuck to it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Charlie Brown Christmas: Advertising Style

Too hilarious not to share. Especially for those who have ever worked in advertising.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

View from the rear

No, I am not posting pictures of my caboose, but I was thinking today of a post that my online buddy Heather at Cool Zebras posted several weeks ago about the view out of her back door. She has a great view, and so I thought I'd share mine in different seasons.

This one was taken last spring during a very foggy morning:

And then I took this one tonight:

A sort of Frat house draping, and if it weren't so damn cold I'd be out there with a fire pit and a hot totty.

Have some Christmas lights pictures you care to share?


Brace yourself, but I have actually won something. I got an email today from my fellow Columbus blogger extraordinaire, Christina, that I have won a free pair of Lee Jeans from the Mommy's Must Haves giveaway! Suuuuuhweeeeeet! I could use an early Christmas gift to myself. Hey if I could win something so could you! I think the last time I won something "Pour Some Sugar on Me" was #1 on the radio. While on the subject.... favorite 80s song anyone?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Of sleep and silence

Sometimes I think my days go rushing by and I don't take the proper time to sit back and reflect on motherhood. Usually the weekends are the only times I seem to catch little nuggets of tenderness because during the week, by the time I get home from work, eat dinner, clean up, get them bathed and dressed for bed, I'm done. I'm done with the world and the day. I just need that little bit of alone time. It's like medicine. It's all full of guilt and regret and selfishness, but I just don't think I could live without it. I've always said I would run a marathon with my kids during the day if only to ensure an hour to myself at night.

Which is why late at night, after the kids have finally fallen asleep, and I've had that much needed downtime, and I'm ready for bed myself, I go upstairs and stare at my sleeping kids to get one more glimpse of them. Under the soft glow of the nightlight, these are the types of moments I remember the most. It's like all is right with the world if you just get that chance to take a breath, ya know? The moment of silence is sometimes all you need. For all parents, the moment of silence comes with sleep.

Speaking of sleep, someone was talking about co-sleeping the other day and I have to share the most frightening experience I ever had with either of my kids. Both of my kids have slept with me as infants and toddlers and beyond, so it was no big deal when one night several weeks ago Andrew was fussing and I brought him in with me so we could both fall back asleep. It was during the time Dave was very, very ill and my stress level was high. I awoke sometime in the middle of the night and found Andrew wedged between my underarm and the pillow. And I could swear I did not hear him breathing. In the middle of my stupor, I lifted him up so I could see his face in the moonlight shining through the window and began to shake him, "Andrew, Andrew. Andrew! Andrew!" And he did not wake up. He hardly stirred. He was limp and silent. I continued to shake him and call his name until finally he let out a deep sigh. My arms immediately weakened from the relief that I nearly dropped him. I carried him back into his crib. I laid in my bed staring at the ceiling for at least an hour.

The sleeping hours. They bring with them peacefulness and sometimes grief. Like vomiting, sleep walking, exaggerated moments, dreams, and restless legs kicking you in the shins. Any unforgettable middle of the night moments you care to share?

Regardless of the snow we got this weekend, we made it out for a couple activities on Saturday. There's a really cute picture of Andrew with Santa.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Help Wanted: Tricks of the Toilet Trade

So Andrew is closing in on turning 3 in early January and it’s freaking me out. I’m totally psyched that he’s getting older because to me this is such a cute age. But there’s one part of it that I’m getting a total brain fart over and you would think I never had any children before him. I have completely lost my mind over how to toilet train him.

Me: “Would Andrew like to use the potty?”
Andrew: “No!”

Me: “Look, Andrew, see how CJ goes to the potty? Would you like to try that?”
Andrew, running away in terror: “No! No! No!”

Me: “Andrew, don’t you want to go potty like a big kid?”
Andrew, laughing AT me: “No, diaper!”

As I mentioned, he’s gone poopy once on the potty, and it was almost by an accident that I capitalized on. I hadn’t explained further that he happened to be in between diaper changes and was running around feeling the breeze for a bit until he said, “Poopy! Gotta go poopy!” I chucked the towel I was drying dishes with and ran over to him and carried him right over to the potty. We all clapped and cheered and I started a reward system that I hadn’t had to use with CJ, and that is M&Ms. So he got an M&M everytime he went, and he went pee-pee a few times more that day, and he got the hang of the pee-pee-means-m&ms trick pretty quickly. So I’m thinking, ‘ah, who was I kidding that I can’t toilet train this kid?’

And then as soon as it started, it ended that abruptly.

Me: “Andrew let’s go without a diaper for a bit, and then you tell mommy when you have to go pee-pee. OK?”
Andrew, screaming: “NO! DIAPER!”

Me: “Andrew, let’s try the potty again like you did the other day. Wasn’t it fun to go potty just like a big kid?”
Andrew, laughing maniacally: “Not!”

While I try not to compare the two, I think every parent compares the milestones between kids. I do know that by this age, CJ was already using the potty pretty frequently and already in pull-ups. He was totally toilet trained before he was 3 ½. How the hell did I do that? And I thought that was late! Here Andrew is almost 3 and he’s running in fear of the potty.

So with Andrew closing in on 3 years old, pre-school registration starting in a couple months, I’m like, ‘OK kid, I mean business.’

But I’ve totally forgotten all the tricks. Can anyone please remind me of the toilet training tactics they are using or have used, so that Andrew isn’t wearing diapers to kindergarten?


Looking for a cheap, but personal, Christmas gift? Check out the Tile project at The Revelry Blog.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Quote of the Day

From CJ, upon seeing me in my tights this morning while getting dressed: "Oh my god, those are HUGE socks you are putting on all over your body!"

Also, I'm on a blogging roll... yesterday it was Revelry, today it's Kids Events! Am I getting in way over my head here? Nah!

Um... maybe.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Do you love taking pictures?

Do you love doing crafts?

Do you love making your pictures into crafts?

Then you have to see what's going on over here....

(Yep, it's me)