Just remember in the Winter
Far beneath the bitter snow
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the Spring becomes the rose.
~ “The Rose”/Lyrics Amanda McBroom
The season has changed and Spring has finally found us. The promise of renewal, rebirth and hopeful thoughts surround us. The sun is shining warm again. Seedlings that were planted falls-ago have taken root over the winter’s long days and new life is emerging. Vibrant bursts of color are popping up daily. The unexpected is happening. Everywhere. Be alert with eyes wide open or be jarred, as I was the other day; halted by beauty; startled in an unanticipated moment, forced to pause and see the sweet rose that shot up before me.
How did this happen right before my eyes without me seeing it?
Parenting is busy, worrisome work. It’s constant, at times, all-consuming. It’s a life-long learning adventure. Like most things I become immersed in, the deeper I’m in it, often times, the harder it is for me to step out and back and linger in the minutes of the milestones and accomplishments of our ever-changing, day-to-day lives. Hours become days. Days extend into weeks which turn into months that become years. Even though I’ve been there all the while, the details are clouded and what seems like, in the blink of an eye, the bud becames a blossom and I’ve been caught completely off guard.
That sweet seedling that was just laughing-it-up in the park yesterday...
…has grown into a flower, more beautiful than I could ever have imagined…
… and is laughing-it-up on her way into the Spring Dance today, in concert with these other lovelies who are flourishing in their own beautiful gardens.
Take your sword and your shield
There’s a battle on the field
You’re a knight and you’re right
So with dragons now you’ll fight…
Fairytales live in me
Fables coming from my memory
Fantasy is not a crime
Find your castle in the sky
~ Dj Satomi
Nothing contents a mother’s heart like the distant sound of chatter or laughter coming from the place where her children are playing. And nothing jump-starts a mother’s heart like the sudden shriek of discord coming from the place where her children are playing.
Sibling relationships are complicated. Mysterious. Maybe that’s because most siblings are polar opposites.
So, while it’s true that the work of children is play, it may also be said that the work of siblings is rivalry.
In a loving way of course.
Because aside from our parents, they are our first introduction to love.
They’re also our first introduction to conflict.
They are our first playmates.
And our first best friend.
Yep. Since the age of dawn or shortly there-after, let’s say since the days of Cain and Abel anyway, sibling rivalry has been a mainstay in family dynamics. It certainly was in mine and it is for my kids. I’m always suspect when people tell me they never rivaled in some way with their siblings growing up. Really? I can’t imagine what that’s like.
It’s not a bad thing; sibling rivalry. It’s a natural thing. Siblings are practice people. They help us understand who we are and let us know how we’re perceived by others. They help us find our limits and our boundaries. And when they’re not rivaling with us, they teach us about friendship.
Siblings get the first glimpse of our future through the dreams we share with them. They are lifetime confidants, the only ones who really understand the inner workings of their unique family dynamic. It’s the bond that keeps them together and tears them apart. The relationship between siblings is fickle. It can be fractured by the slightest of provocations just as easily as it can be mended by a few soft-spoken, intentional words.
If you let them, they will build it.
They might even build it together. ~ Kavst
Little do they know, while it definitely gets easier as they grow up, it also gets harder.
Siblings. They are the keeper of each others’ secrets. The holder of one another’s dreams and may they always, always help each other build their castles in the sky.
Photo Credits #1-8: ©2013 KarenSzczukaTeich & Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com
One of the things that had a profound effect on me upon giving birth and becoming a mother, was the almost instantaneous and overwhelming feeling of love I felt within my heart, for not only my child but for all children. Within the first few weeks of my son’s life, I will always remember how it struck me that what seemed like all-of-a-sudden, children were my concern, all children. It’s a gift I think we receive innately when we become parents, so I don’t think I am unique in feeling this deep sense of caring for the well-being of children in general.
The tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday is simply incomprehensible.
Like so many other people, parents; moms, I am heartbroken. The magnitude of this loss fills me with pure, raw sadness. My heart is overflowing with deep sorrow and intense grief for the families and their suffering.
I am guilty of avoiding the internet and television in an attempt to circumvent reports and updates on this massacre. I desperately want to hide from the truth. I am too weak to find the strength required to stop, watch and listen to the details of what happened. I end up crying each time I try. I am afraid to hear the names; the children’s names. They have released the names of the victims and even though I am a complete stranger to all of them, I can not bear to hear their names.
I have no consolation for anyone. I feel foolish looking for something positive in this. I see no positive side, no possible reason for this happening. No matter how deep I reach, I can not find anything soothing to say. I have no consoling words that might help anyone and I don’t believe that in hindsight we will glean any kind of lesson or understanding from this event. There is no amount of human kindness that could come from this, that I could possibly use to make sense of this senselessness.
Each and every parent who sent their child off to school at the end of last week had every expectation that they would meet again at the end of the day.
This is not how I want to be reminded that every day we have with our children is a gift or that life is short — although like every other parent I imagine, I took a moment this weekend to hug my children a little harder and a little longer than usual.
When I drop my children off at school this coming Monday, it will be with a heavy heart and a slight sense of trepidation but at least they will return to school. I will think of them often throughout the day as I will undoubtedly be thinking of those children who will not be returning to school:
Charlotte 6, Daniel 7, Olivia 6, Josephine 7, Ana 6, Dylan 6, Madeleine 6, Catherine 6, Chase 7, Jesse 6, James 6, Grace 7, Emilie 6, Jack 6, Noah 6, Caroline 6, Jessica 6, Avielle 6, Benjamin 6, Allison 6.
And the educators who served them:
Rachel 29, Dawn 47, Anne Marie 52, Lauren 30, Mary 56, Victoria 27.
Photo Credit #1 ~ Google Images
This week’s re-post Diamond in the Rough is from November, 2011. I chose this one not only because it’s a favorite among readers but also because the beautiful journals that I mention below are very close to becoming a book. A Kickstarter Campaign has been started to help defray some initial start up costs. If you have a few minutes please visit
Diamond in the Rough
This week I can’t help but be thankful for the people in my life, my children and our health.
It’s a tradition in the school I work at, to celebrate each year’s accomplishments at a Stepping Stones ceremony in June. Throughout the year some of the faculty collect beautiful stones from a wide variety of places for each student to pick from.
A few years ago, one of our senior graduates turned the tradition around. He’d gone mining earlier in the year and instead of just taking a stone for himself, he gave each member of the faculty and staff a Herkimer diamond. It was a touching gesture.
He passed away a little over a year ago.
This particular graduate was an extraordinary human being. I knew he could write, memorize and recite complicated monologues. But it wasn’t until his memorial service that I discovered the breadth of his artistic abilities. It was there that I was given a glimpse into just how talented he was. I didn’t know he had such an incredible eye for photography or that he whittled the pieces of an entire chess set out of wood or fashioned a beautiful wooden flute for his mom. He also made grand bags out of leather and bark and created with glass. He made beautiful marbles and knives. He was quite the unique individual and his art reflected that. In this technological age of all things electronic, he was a breath of fresh air.
He was a diamond in the rough.
Recently, his mom who is also an artist, had an art exhibit entitled 100 Hearts in his honor. I have three.
I spent a few days with her this summer at our place in the woods Upstate. I read her beautifully drawn journals, the ones that try to put into perspective what her daily life is like now without her son, how her grief is endless and how grateful she is for the time she had with him. As a mother I am in awe of her strength sometimes and heartbroken by her loss, always.
Just before the Thanksgiving break, I was in her classroom and she handed me a small bundle of tissue. Beneath the folds of the carefully wrapped paper lay not one but two of the Herkimer diamonds her son mined that year.
One is clear and small. The other is larger and contains rare impurities. Both are beautiful in their own special way. Heart stop.
Needless to say thoughts of this young man and his spirit have lingered with me all week-long.
Gratitude. Be happy for what you have — right now.
This week in particular, I’m thankful for the people in my life, my children and our health.
Hug your diamonds in the rough today.
Photo Credit #1 Hearts By Goldy Safirstein/Going On- A Book About Life
Photo Credit #2 Gratitude
Photo Credit #3 Stones
Photo Credit #4 ©Karen Szczuka Teich & Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com
Photo Credit #5 Children
Photo Credit #6 Book Cover by Goldy Safirstein/Going On- A Book About Life
Many bloggers take a break in August and so too shall I. For the next few weeks, I’ll be Relaxing, Recharging and Re-posting some of what my stats say are YOUR favorite reads.
Here’s one from October of last year….
Just Another Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience
What constitutes a Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience?
I’ve been going back and forth on this for a while now, with my mom.….
…….and debated on whether or not to bring my kids.
But realized, this would be a Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience for them and me.
And my rather stubborn, 74-year old mother was not going to change her position anyway.
With or without me………………….
…………SHE was getting a tattoo!
Great job, Pepper -Thanks!
She – we, LOVE her first tat!
Not only did Pepper do a fantastic job on my mom’s tattoo. Everyone at Graceland was super nice to all of us. They let my kids sit on a couch close enough to be able to watch the process and they played Irish music in the shop while Pepper was inking Nana’s shamrock.
When I asked my kids what was going through their minds while Nana was getting her tattoo, my daughter said:
I was thinking, ‘Oh great, now mom is going to want one, too!’
So maybe that will make for two “Once-In-A-Lifetime Experiences.” We’ll see.
Have you ever taken somebody to get a tattoo?
Photo Credits: ©Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com
When I sat down Saturday afternoon to collect my thoughts and start writing, I realized after having been away all week, I hadn’t given the content of this week’s post much thought. Oddly enough, I wasn’t panicked either. It also occurred to me that even though there is still so much going on around me and so much to do, there is nothing pressing, nothing special, nothing terrible and nothing wrong, to write about.
It’s kind of nice when that happens. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it really is kind of nice. Fishing for something would be foolish. I truly appreciate being able to step off of life’s roller coaster every once in a while, for a while. Recharge. Regroup. Rejoice!
In searching my heart for what was tugging, I kept falling back to thoughts of this past week and smiling to myself.
Nothing brings more joy to my heart than seeing children happy.
And having a rather playful heart myself, I’m keen to the sound of mischievous giggles. When the laughter has an 11-year span in childhood and includes kids ages 2 to 13, conspiring in harmony, even better! Catching the moment on camera? Well, priceless!
This week was simple. It was joyful. It was Simply Joyful.
What brings joy to your heart?
Photo Credit #1 The Gift of Joy
Photo Credit #2 & #3 ©2012 Karen Szczuka Teich & Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com
Once you’ve brought your bundle-of-joy home and realized that the temporary sleep adjustment period is really sleep deprivation with staying power– like, a few years staying power — you barely catch a few much needed ‘ZZZs before you find yourself entering the realm of unnatural attachments; your child’s affinity for a favorite toy, binky or blanket perhaps, turns well, ugly. Your little tike’s obsession usually rears it’s head for the first time, when you forget, it, which is usually on a very long car ride and it’s usually, way too late to turn around and go back for it after you finally realize what it is, that your child is convulsing over in their car seat. It, you quickly learn, is the one and only thing that can make long car rides enjoyable or absolute hell, lest you forget it. Shortly after this stage comes the era of repetition which could last for several years. Be it a word, a song, a story, a movie or all of the above, moms have heard it, sang it, told it, re-told it and watched it, over and over and over again, a zillion times, all before their little one has reached the ripe old age of five.
Another truth: the myth that moms have super-powers, is not a myth.
There is a certain inexplicable, ESP-like knowing that comes with the insanity of motherhood that all moms possess in varying degrees.
My mother could see it in our eyes.
L – I – E, she would say, I see it right there in your eyes. Now, tell me the truth.
How could a kid argue with that? The jig was up and the truth was told. It’s all in the eyes and she also had eyes in the back of her head.
When my kids are in awe of, or aghast by, something I know that they thought was in their own little vault, I merely look at them and say,
Who am I?
Over the years, they’ve learned there is only one correct response to that question when I ask it.
That’s right. I am, The Mama. They know it and The Mama, knows.
It’s true, mom’s just know things, especially when their kids need them. There’s an instinctive inner nagging that just doesn’t quit when one of my kids is in need.
It’s a super-power that comes with giving birth; a natural brain-radar for knowing or being in the right place at the right time with the right people for finding out. It never fades either. To this day, when I‘m upset or in need or retreating and trying to hide from the world for whatever reason, I can be certain of one thing: my mom will call or show up or find me in my darkest hour. And no matter how much grief I give her or how much I lean or unload on her, she is ALWAYS there for me — still.
At 74, she continues to be an amazing power of example.
When I count my blessings and I often do, the fact that she is still with me and such an integral part of my and my children’s lives is right up there with my children’s health. Being a mom is not only a blessing in my life, it is the biggest privilege of my life, an honor that I don’t take for granted and am constantly working to improve upon. Motherhood requires insane amounts of patience, understanding and perseverance and all too often, I find myself falling short or being short when what was really needed was a little more time or just an ear and not an opinion. The beauty of being a mom thankfully, is that it is a lifetime gig with a chance to do better tomorrow.
Children are adaptable, forgiving and full of surprising, heartwarming rewards.
Recently, it occurred to me, that every time I make dinner for my 13-year old son, he “thanks” me before leaving the table.
Thanks for dinner, mom.
And the other evening, my 11-year old daughter didn’t want me to spend too much money on knitting needles for her. Knitting needles! I know NOTHING about knitting. I bought them anyway.
“Oh mom, these needles are so beautiful – thank you!”
Making dinner for my son is a pleasure and I was spending money on my daughter’s new hobby and passion for knitting, not playing video games, KNITTING!
It can’t possibly get any better than that.
Here’s to moms EVERYWHERE, their insanity, their super-powers and their blessings!
I have a standing dinner-date every Thursday with the same guy for the past five months.
Truthfully, I was the initiator. In fact, at first he resisted. I insisted. And although it started out a little shaky and often felt tentative right up until the last-minute, somehow, he always “showed-up“. In the beginning clearly, it was to appease me, more than likely out of a feeling of obligation. I understood. I gave him space. There was a lot of silence at the beginning too, not exactly awkward; more like “dead air”. I let him breathe and get used to the idea of spending time alone with me. I searched my brain for stimulating conversation and tried to bring up things I thought would interest him.
I have an amazing relationship with my daughter for which I am very grateful. My reluctant dinner-date — who also happens to be my 13-year old son — and I, have struggled quite a bit over the last two years. Living life on life’s terms and dealing with all that’s come with it, has taken its toll, created confusion, distortion and a disconnect between us.
Grappling with how to get him back, I tossed, turned and weighed many possible scenarios over and over in mind. I kept coming back to this weekly, dedicated time and space, this Dinner For Two.
At some point, you have to listen to your heart, trust your instincts and take a leap of faith. I had faith in him and me and the mothering and nurturing I’d done for the first eleven years of his life. And even though it was very difficult for the first few months, I never gave up.
Neither did he.
You can bore through hard things and get to the other side, as long as you don’t give up.
Patience and perseverance paid off. Time has healed.
It occurred to me this week, that now, it’s a given and there’s no doubt that we’ll have dinner on Thursday, just him and me. It’s become part of the schedule, part of the “routine” of our week.
It’s something I look forward too. It’s not however, something I take for granted — not for one second. I cherish and appreciate this time well spent; this time where I can just be my boy’s mom.
There are no more awkward moments of silence. Our discussions spread across a wide range of topics these days. I’ve learned a lot about various basketball, football and baseball players as of late. He asks me about my day and my interests. He’s forthcoming with the happenings at school.
It’s not perfect, nothing is but we’re connected again and I’m grateful.
“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” — Agatha Christie
Photo Credits #1 & #2: Google Images
While it’s absolutely true that a pregnant woman wishes only for a healthy baby at the end of those “joyful” nine months of having your body completely taken over by a foreign being, it is just as absolutely true that pregnancy does weird and inexplicable things to a woman’s way of thinking. Crazy thoughts invade an otherwise rational woman’s mind and have a way of resting there awhile – at least they did for me, anyway. During the majority of my pregnancy with my first child, I was convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was having a girl. I just knew it. There really wasn’t another option. No further discussion required — thank you. In my mind’s eye, she was going to be just like me. By the time I was rounding out my seventh month, I had her name and future completely mapped out in my head. I fantasized often about the things we would do together; what I would show, teach and tell her. It was a neat little perfect package, wrapped sweetly in pink, frilly, feminine love.
It wasn’t until much too close to the eleventh hour of my due date that panic struck one day while I was trying to picture what my baby girl would look like and imagine her holding my hand, when the truly frightening thought occurred to me…
What if it’s a boy? A boy?? A boy.
It couldn’t possibly be a boy. I knew nothing about boys –let alone caring for and raising one. I dismissed the thought, immediately.
What came next of course, was the blessing of a healthy, baby boy whom I instantly fell in love with. In addition to the miracle of birth, there is that instantaneous bond that forms the moment mother and child see each other for the very first time, it’s the bond that creates an unconditional love, forever. That once horrifying “what if” thought evaporated as if it never existed and the focus immediately turned to…
I love you and I will try my best for you — always.
That’s how it was for me anyway. And so, the journey began. Enter Spiderman, Scooby-doo, pirates, dirt and worms in my fridge; fishing camp, building rockets and traps, collecting bugs, catching frogs and conducting experiments. The journey is thirteen years in the making now and includes football, soccer, basketball and baseball too.
Between two kids and three teams, practice and games, I’m either on a baseball or a soccer field three or four times a week these days, not exactly what I envisioned when I first began to fantasize about my children, better for sure and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Besides, a few years after the boy arrived I found myself rounding out my seventh month of a second pregnancy, this time, fantasizing about the brothers that would build an empire. In my mind’s eye, it was a solid little package, neatly wrapped in bold testosterone.
I was certain of it.
Until of course, she appeared, all soft and sweet and smiling-like.
A girl! She was a girl! What on earth would I do with a girl??
Tell me, were you surprised or did you find out what the gender of your child would be?
This week my daughter turned eleven.
Last night she had her first ever,
awake-over sleep-over party.
Slipping Through My Fingers
~ Björn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson
Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch her go with a surge of that well known sadness and I have to sit down for a while
the feeling that I’m losing her forever
and without really entering her world
I’m glad whenever I can share her laughter
that funny little girl
slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
the feeling in it
slipping through my fingers all the time
do I really see what’s in her mind
each time I think I’m close to knowing
she keeps on growing
slipping through my fingers all the time
sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table
barely awake I let precious time go by
then when she’s gone,
there’s that odd melancholy feeling
and a sense of guilt I can’t deny
what happened to the wonderful adventures
the places I had planned for us to go
well, some of that we did, but some we didn’t
and why, I just don’t know
slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
the feeling in it
slipping through my fingers all the time
do I really see what’s in her mind
each time I think I’m close to knowing
she keeps on growing
slipping through my fingers all the time
sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
and save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers
Slipping through my fingers all the time.
Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile……………
The flip-side of last week’s post thankfully, is that there are many amazing teachers that devote their whole lives to educating children. These people influence who we are in the most positive of ways, for life. Children do not forget who they are. They too are remembered and cherished forever.
In the Spring of 2001, curiosity got the better of me. My quest to find the right preschool for my overly active, precocious, almost 3-year-old son, finally provided the opportunity for me to see what was really going on in the mysterious looking Victorian house that sits majestically upon a hill overlooking the busy-ness of Route 9D. Little did I know as I walked into the hallway that echoed with song and laughter, that in-between the walls of this house that was a school, magic happened.
We were met by the cheerful smile of a woman who greeted us in the same friendly way you might be greeted by a favorite aunt. She introduced herself as Diane. We later found out that she was actually the Head Teacher of the Downstairs Program and an Administrator. The Downstairs portion of the house belongs to the 3, 4 and 5-year old learners. Immediately after introducing herself, she turned her attention to her real interest; the fidgety, inquisitive, little person clutching my leg with one hand and squeezing my arm with the other. She positioned herself on bended-knee to meet my boy; to see him, face-to-face, and as soon as I witnessed this act of immense respect from an adult educator to a 3-year-old child, I knew we had just walked into a very, very special place.
There is something about looking a person in the eye when you speak to them that makes them feel like you are sincerely interested in who they are and what they have to say and she was. He could tell.
You can’t fool children. Instinctively, they know sincerity.
Diane wasn’t my son’s group teacher until two years later, but being the head of the Downstairs team, her influences and interactions were intertwined with all of the children. In his second year there, at age 4, having no trouble expressing himself verbally or physically among his peers, Diane “shadowed” Noah on the playground. Being the Child Whisperer* that she is, she followed him in his play, gently helping him choose kinder words and actions when he mingled with his friends.
Friends. That’s what Diane calls all of her students.
Okay, friends, it’s time to clean up the block room or Okay friends, we are going to get ready for lunchtime circle now.
Part of the school’s tradition was for the Downstairs’ teachers to make home visits to the children in their groups before school began in September. Twice we’ve been thrilled to welcome Diane into our home; once when my son was in her kindergarten group and again, before the start of my daughter’s first year at the Randolph School. Diane was her preschool teacher. She came bearing soft, freshly made play-dough to an unbelievably excited three-year-old fairy.
Talk about leaving a lasting impression!
This amazing teacher does not limit her generous nature to the children in her group. My daughter was struggling with writing in the second grade while in the Upstairs portion of this glorious house that is a school and where the older kids, first through fifth graders claim their domain. After asking me how Hannah was doing one day, I mentioned this to Diane who then took it upon herself to become her pen-pal that summer. Each envelope that arrived in our mailbox contained a hand written note and then some. Sparkly-feathery, sticker-y, lovely, glittery things would come pouring out before the letter.
The smallest act of kindness has the power to leave a very big, positive impact on a person’s life.
When my son was in kindergarten and told Diane he was playing the lottery for the first time, she told him to call her at home that night to let her know if he won. Had he won, no doubt, his reaction would have paled in comparison to the excitement he was overcome with when it came time to call Diane at her house and tell her he didn’t win.
Another time my son was scheduled to be in After-school but was the only child enrolled that afternoon. After bringing that to my attention the After-school teacher asked me if it would be okay to cancel. Since I only put him in because he wanted to stay at school, I agreed. This news was a huge disappointment to my little first grader and he through a massive fit on the porch of the school. That evening after speaking with him and hearing how much he was looking forward to being in After-school, I realized I had made a grave mistake by so willingly accepting the cancellation, simply because he was the only child enrolled. The next day, I sought Diane out and explained what happened. I asked her what the school’s policy was if there was only one child enrolled in the After-school program. Her response was swift and clear.
If one child wants to come to After-school, we have After-school. Now, she said, there’s one thing left for us to do.
With that, she called over the After-school teacher. The two of them went Upstairs, retrieved my son from class, apologized to him, hugged him and invited him to stay in After-school that day.
Whether it’s a tender heart that needs mending, a river that begs seining or a rocket that needs launching, Diane has been soothing little souls, helping them to feel capable and confident in who they are, what they can do and who they might become since 1978 at the Randolph School.
Don’t get your liver in a quiver she’ll tell them when they begin to fret.
A person who can consistently touch the lives of the people she comes in contact with, both big and small and make each one of them, myself included, feel special nearly every time she interacts with them has an EXTRAORDINARY gift. Truly.
That is Diane.
My children are better people for having been taught by Diane. I’m a better person for knowing her and having the honor of “over-hearing” how she speaks with and teaches children for the past six years while I quietly work across the hall from the Great Room where she spends much of her time with her friends.
A few months ago Diane announced that this will be her last year teaching in the big house that is a school and as inevitable as it was, the news has surely saddened many. No matter where Diane goes however, her influence, kindness and ability to make everyone she meets feel special will live on in our hearts, always. She is the teacher, the colleague, the friend that changes your life in the most positive of ways.
It is befitting that this weekend, Diane is presenting a workshop with a former student, who is now her young colleague and who is also bursting with similar magical qualities, at a conference in New York City entitled, In Defense of Childhood: Keeping the Joy of Learning Alive!
She’s been doing exactly that for nearly 34-years.
As my soon to be 11-year-old fairy who’s been receiving birthday and Christmas surprises from this teacher every year for almost as long as she’s been at this school would say so matter-of-factly…
“Mom. She’s Diane!”
Is there a Diane that has positively impacted your life?
Photo Credit #1 The Randolph School
Photo Credit #2-6 Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com
Title Credit: *Child Whisperer Thank you, Nicole for letting me borrow this description of Diane from you!
It smells like updog in here!
Oh, not much!
Come on, you know you’re laughing. Let’s face it, that’s funny!
That’s also the kind of humor you get
subjected treated to when you spend a long weekend with two teenage boys, a 10-year old girl and her 9-year old comrade. Oh, and there’s the girlfriend of the thirteen-year-old (yes, I said, girlfriend) who makes her presence known with the constant text-ing that is revealed through his ringtone which loudly and annoyingly announces:
“Excuse me boss, you have a text message.”
Every 5 to 10 minutes.
I truly feel like she came with us.
It started with a simple statement. Me, telling my kids I was taking them up to our place in the woods for this President’s Day long weekend. Before I could be consulted, a cousin was quickly added to the mix and then a friend.
It became the perfect blend of a very unlikely pairing of people.
It takes two-hours by car to go through the Catskills to get to our destination, a place I usually go to for serenity. The car-load spent their time partly singing Katy Perry’s Fireworks (over and over again) and partly playing Truth or Dare.
I love kids. They’re so honest, especially when they’re playing a game like Truth or Dare. They feel completely obligated to tell the truth.
It was basketball on the driveway. Tacos for dinner. A game of Striker on the ancient but still functional game-cube. Ice-cream at the Penguin. Man-hunt in the dark with flashlights, in the middle of winter, while it was snowing. Hot cocoa with whipped cream. Playing monopoly while watching Jeremy Lin magically maneuver the ball on the court against the Hornets and tea and cookies before bed.
These are the things kids’ dreams are made of.
It’s good to take a break from life, if you can. I’m extremely fortunate to have the place to escape to and these fabulous children to escape away with. I’ve been laughing-out-loud now for nearly three days straight. It’s a privilege to be the fly-on-the-wall, allowed to listen in to the lively conversations that span the wit and humor of the seven-year-age-difference between the youngest and oldest in this motley but most-loveable crew, thrown together by chance and circumstance. They’re truly making the best of it.
Sometimes, the best times are had with the least amount of planning.
It’s been an incredibly difficult time for my kids, in particular these past two years. There’s been lots of upheaval and turmoil and change and it has been a very long time since they’ve been in a relaxed enough environment where they can just have fun. It’s a joy to witness.
But it’s the never-ending laughter that I am so grateful to hear.
Seeing your kids laughing and happy is what parents’ dreams are made of.
It’s the middle of a strangely warm winter but nothing warms a mother’s heart more than to hear the echoing of her child’s laughter.
Photo Credit #1: What’s Up Dog Hat
Photo Credit #3, 4 & 5: Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com
“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” Elizabeth Lawrence
I love the ease that comes with the close encounters of a playdate-kind. The ones that are shared between boys and girls, say… before the age of twelve, before things start to get weird between the sexes. There’s something magical about the way they interact; without judgment or concern, self-consciousness or worry. They’re simply honest and fun-loving with each another.
I heard the laughter coming from the basement. It was a deep, it was loud. It was the kind that makes you run toward it because you want to be a part of whatever is causing such joy. My ten-year-old daughter’s happiest days seem to be when she’s having a play-mate over. She loves her gal-pals with all her heart but there’s something very special about spending time with the boy- friend who’ll explore the woods with her, go the distance in an Xbox dance-off or eagerly engage her in a round of laser tag. It allows for friendship which is what boys and girls share when they’re not trying to impress one another. It’s not like a brother or sister relationship either, there’s no jealousy or rivalry to taint the waters. It’s a bond that’s made to be cherished well into adulthood. It’s not forgotten.
My friend’s name was Walter. He gave me the most beautiful multi-colored, flowered-dress for my 10th birthday. One time his parents took me and him sleigh-riding Upstate. His mom brought hot-cocoa in a thermos for us. My love for Walter is genuine. It holds a forever-place in my heart and it has nothing to do with romance. In fact, it never really occurred to me that Walter was a boy. His gender was never on my radar and didn’t seem important when we played games, went sleigh-riding or explored the woods together. He was my friend and having been fortunate enough to have shared a friendship like that, it’s easy to recognize it now as an adult, when I see it.
There’s something very lovely about observing a friendship your child shares with a member of the opposite sex, especially at a time in their lives when they are exploring and experimenting with independence but are still young and naive enough to really enjoy one another’s company. It’s pure. As a parent, you do your best to encourage it, foster it, allow it to grow and hope that when those weird years arrive and they do arrive, somewhere in the back of their heads and hearts they’ll both remember, they’re just boys or just girls. Behind their new-found bravado and all the pretending not to care that comes with it,
we they all really want the same things, boys and girls that is: to be loved, to be respected and to be-befriended.
Do you have a friend of the opposite sex that you remember fondly from your childhood?
Photo Credits #1-4: Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com
I was elated when I signed the binder in August to unit #9 in the development I now live in. Aside from the surreal-ness of the event itself, I’d never negotiated the price of a home with a Realtor before and frankly, all things considered, I was quite happy with what we were able to agree upon.
There was just one, okay maybe two snags….
I was trying not to think about it but my 10-year-old conscience couldn’t let it rest.
I love it mom. I really do but I don’t really like the number nine. It’s awkward, nine. You know?
And there was the matter of the huge, electrical box that was smack-in-the-middle of the hallway downstairs. I guess I overlooked it in my excitement but it looked terrible.
The model didn’t have that.
“You can put a picture over it,” the Realtor said with a tooth-sparkling smile and a twinkle in his eye.
Yes, I was elated that night and I couldn’t sleep.
No matter how much I tried to ignore it, that damned electrical box kept popping into my head and let’s face it, 9 is an awkward number. Well, it’s not my favorite anyway. It just didn’t feel right for us.
It was the model that grabbed us when we first saw it on one of our many apartment hunting, house-dwelling-seeking adventures last summer. No one was around but the door was open when we stopped by, so we let ourselves in to explore and it truly was, love at first sight. It also seemed like a pipe-dream, an impossibility. But somehow, it came about. It was the model that we loved. It was the model that we wanted. So the next morning I called the Realtor and told him I changed my mind. I would not be taking number 9 but I would take the model with a few changes. Done. Number 9 was not meant to be. Number 7 was and number 7 happens to be my favorite number.
Native Americans believe that upon birth an animal’s spirit enters into that person and becomes their spirit or totem animal. This is the animal that is with you and guides you for life, both in the physical and spiritual world. Both of my children and myself in fact, were taught the process of finding our totems from a Naturalist who taught many kids at their school. He also taught them how to track people and animals in the woods, build a shelter from twigs, branches and leaves and camouflage themselves for protection. Not bad things to know, considering we live in the woodsier part of our state.
The duty of your spirit animal is to keep you strong and wise as well as to help you excel in matters of attributes given to that animal.
My daughter’s spirit animal is the Doe.
A Deer is an animal of love, tenderness and swiftness. The deer is a messenger of serenity, can see between shadows and hear what isn’t being said. They are a power animal, a symbol of gentleness, unconditional love, kindness and innocence. The deer teaches us to use the power of gentleness to touch the hearts and minds of wounded beings who are in our lives.
This doesn’t surprise me.
Two years ago I took my daughter into one of those “dark” shops in a small town, Upstate USA, where they sell black velor capes and you can buy mixtures of healing powders and herbs. A place where you can purchase all kinds of crystals and where they burn incense. We went for our first hennas and when the woman took Hannah’s hand to make the drawing, she seemed a bit startled and paused. She looked at Hannah and asked her if her hand always tingled like that. Hannah seemed surprised the woman noticed and answered “yes”.
The woman looked at me, smiled and said, “She has healing hands.”
Also, not surprising.
So what do I make of this? Well, maybe it’s a coincidence that my favorite number is seven and that’s the number that sits on our front door now. Or maybe it’s a coincidence that my daughter’s spirit animal is a Doe and the street we now live on has Doe in its name. And maybe it’s even a coincidence that the first evening we were here together we saw an actual doe in our back yard from our living room window.
Or maybe what’s meant to be will be, there really is a master plan and even if we can’t find it, it finds us.
What do you think?
Photo Credit #1: Google Images Number 9
Photo Credit #2: Google Images Lucky Number 7
Photo Credit #3: Google Images Spirit Animal
Photo Credit #4: Google Images Healing Hands
*The Doe as a totem: Source ~ Ina Wolcott’s Shamanism
My horoscope keeps telling me to go forth in the way I intend to be. It says with Jupiter in motion, I’m headed into the “luckiest” year in a decade, one that holds the promise of growth, stability and love. ~ Bring it on!
Even though I only blog once a week, the topic doesn’t always come easily or show itself readily. Sometimes it jumps out at me at the beginning of the week and by Friday, I’m in edit-mode. Other times, I’m at a loss. Lately, my weeks have been filled with events, expected and unexpected, and it hasn’t always been clear to me what to write about. When the topic isn’t clear, it often means there’s something tugging at my insides, gnawing at my thoughts, wanting to be recognized and released and for-whatever-reason, I ignore it until I find myself scrambling to put something together at the eleventh hour, a place I do not like to be but where I finally allow whatever it is to surface.
This week I felt stumped — again.
There is of course, the huge elephant in my room that I could write about. The senseless event that occurred at my new house, during the first week of my move that I can’t seem to find the meaning or message in. It’s so freakishly bizarre, that I can hardly process it. I can’t wrap my brain around it, let alone write about it –yet anyway. And, there are always those thoughts and feelings that linger in my mind that are too personal to reveal or express to the blogging world. Those are best kept private and close to my heart. I often struggle with not wanting to get too personal in my blog but needing to be true to whatever it is that I am feeling strongly about at the time.
When I finally sought advice from my ten-year-old editor, she told me to write about my birthday which was this week. She’s truly insightful although this seemed too simple. I rejected the idea until I sat down to see what words would flow.
She was right. I received so many warm, lovely wishes from old and new friends; people near and far who I often think about. I was surprised and touched by some. I heard from people I love and miss – a lot. I took a risk, spoke a truth and it was reciprocated in kind. It gave me pause and cause to think about my happiness, what I want, who and how I intend to be.
I had dinner with my family. We talked. We laughed. My kids came home and played Dance Central 2 on XBOX-KINECT. It was fun, a real treat for me to watch them dance, giggle and enjoy their time together. It was the BEST gift I could ask for.
It was simple.
Life comes with so many complications, trying to keep things simple, is my resolution this year. It’s the theme that keeps replaying itself in my head. My birthday and keeping it simple is what’s been strongly on my mind this week, that which would not go away, bringing with it messages that tugged at my heart.
There’s something to be said for the attitude we maintain and the thoughts we allow to occupy our minds. It takes effort to stave off pessimism and not wallow in the comfort of one’s own sorrows, the could-have, would-have, should-haves, that can easily take root and grow in our current state of being– if we let them.
At this end of one year and beginning of another, I can’t help but reflect upon what is now and the possibilities that can be. I’ve come to realize that choosing to create my own happiness takes resolve, hard work and starts with keeping things simple. I’m staying away from the could have, would have, should haves and going forward the way I intend to be, leaving nothing out of my realm or reach, becoming closer to the person I used to be; bursting with color, energy and excitement about the possibilities that lay ahead of me.
Photo Credit #1: Capricorn Woman-Google Images
Photo Credit #2-4: Karen Szczuka Teich & Takingtheworldonwithsmile.com