Archive

Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ Category

Full Plumage

August 19, 2013 10 comments

Bus2

I’ll leave an envelope in your mailbox with a letter explaining what this is all about, he said.

It’s hard to believe school starts again in just a few weeks! Where did the summer go?

Where did the years go?

During the school year, my kids are super spoiled fortunate to be driven to school every day. Not like the early years when they actually wanted to get up early and take the bus; at least Noah did. Gone too, are the days when I’d follow the bus, every day, ensuring that my son didn’t get abducted along the way OR so I could be there, just in case he needed me in some way along the route OR God forbid, there was an accident and I needed to jump into rescue mode for my little boy on the big bus. Nope, those hovering masterful parenting skills vital to ensuring my son’s safe transport to school, are no longer needed. Indeed, it is no longer required of me — by me — to make a mad dash to my car as soon as the big double-wide doors are pulled shut. Trailing, oh-so-not-discreetly, behind the big yellow boat carrying my its precious cargo is something I just don’t have to do anymore.

Bus1

September 2003 ©Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile

Back in the day and during his entire first year on the bus, I’d follow and then veer off at the corner of Dunkin’ Donuts and Route 9 while the bus would head into Princess Circle where a cluster of apartment buildings were. The apartment-pick-up allowed me just enough time to run in for a cup-of-Joe and be back outside standing on the corner, ready to catch a glimpse of my then 5-year old who’d be peering out of the window directly behind the bus driver. The bus driver would make him sit in the seat right behind her every day.

I make all the little ones sit behind me, so I can keep an eye on them, she told me one day.

Bus3

September 2003 ©Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile

Thank you, Jan.

An older woman with a big heart, there was no pulling-the-wool over Jan’s eyes. And instead of balking at my stalker-ish behavior, she’d honk the bus horn two or three times and I’d over-hear her through her cracked window telling Noah,

Look, there’s your mom. Wave to her!

He and she, would, as they rounded the corner from Princess Circle to route 9, every time.

It made my day.  Every-day.

And, to-this-day, if Jan sees me around town she honks her big yellow bus horn and waves to me with a big heartwarming smile on her face.

Thank you, Jan.

But, I digress.

My 5-year old is now going on 15 and he can sit where he wants to on the bus. Plus, these days, he has a companion. Well, sort of.  He and his sister take the bus home almost every day together. Although I somehow doubt they actually sit together. And they don’t always get off at the same STOP. But people know they’re siblings, including their current bus driver, who Hannah has had now for the past two years in a row.

It was the end of June, school was over when the man on the other end of my cell identified himself as “Vinny”, my kids’ bus driver. He told me he would leave an envelope in my mailbox explaining what the call was all about.

According to the letter, each year the Federation of Workers representing nine units (including bus drivers) in the school district we live in, take part in a program that allows for 40 out of the well over 65,000 children served, to be recognized for exhibiting outstanding behavior.

WCSD Letter

Accompanied with the letter were 4-tickets to a Renegades game; our local minor league baseball team.

If our name comes up, Vinny said, we choose a student that we’ve come in contact with during the year that has shown exemplary behavior.  We’re only supposed to pick one but I chose both your kids because they’re both great kids and really deserving. They never give me a hard time. They say hi and thank-you, are polite and Hannah helps me out with the little kids all the time.

Like a peacock fanning her feathers in full plumage, I could feel the pride swell inside.

peacock mama

Since my last post boasted the sibling rivalry that exists between my pair, I thought it fitting, to highlight their cooperation; even if they don’t always realize or recognize it; sometimes, other people do. Way to go Hannah and Noah!

Thank you, Vinny!

 

True Story

July 28, 2013 7 comments

In just about every family that has more than one child, I’ll venture to say, you’ll find some type of sibling rivalry. It’s a natural, normal part of growing up. Sometimes it even extends into adulthood, but that’s another post for another day. Maybe.

This post is about the sibling love between my kids. I’ve written about the dynamic between my son and daughter before. They’ve been playing and bickering together, loving and fighting each other since the day I brought my baby girl home.

August 2001 ©TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

Sometimes, I think my son was so sweet to his sister the day she was born because he thought she was going to stay there — in the hospital that is, in Poughkeepsie. He cradled her and sang “Rock-A-Bye-Baby” to her the first time he met her. Precious. Truly. Actually, even the first few days after she was brought home were filled with curiosity and a few tender moments. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, when he realized, this baby-doll was here to stay, that the two-year-old-tantrums began. Hey, it’s good to be the king! He had a good gig being numero uno for a while there before she came along. Can you blame him?

Mom!!

©TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

Twelve years later, it’s still sometimes difficult for him to accept that she’s not going away and the fact that she’s two inches taller than he is right now doesn’t help much either. Poor guy. He truly finds himself irritated by almost everything she does.

Just last week he came to me with this:

Mom!

She’s doing it again!

Who? What?

Hannah!

Good grief. What now? What is she doing? What is the problem?

Reading!

What??

Reading!

She’s reading again!

That’s when the dumbfounded, quizzical look appeared on my face to which he retorted:

I’m serious!

That’s all she ever does now and she’s wasting her life away reading!

mishmosh 003

And so she was,

is

and continues to do so — read that is.

Yes, she is “wasting her life away with it”.

Nine books in five weeks.

I’m just a mom striving to live life on life’ terms while taking my kids the world on with a smile

True Story.

Strawberry Fields…

June 30, 2013 15 comments

strawberryshortcake

“Let me take you down

‘Cause I’m going to

Strawberry Fields

Nothing is real

And nothing to get hung about

Strawberry Fields forever”

~ The Beatles

I love strawberries with fresh cream. I love my kids too. They do not necessarily love the same things I do.

It was the first weekend in June, last summer.

Even though I met with a fair amount of objections, I managed to persuade my kids that this outing would be fun. As we approached the annual Strawberry Festival at the waterfront by the train station in a neighboring town, we came upon a young police officer diverting traffic away from the train station parking area which was full. Ten minutes later we finally found a spot. This diversion along with a blazing, hot sun, hastened the regression of both of my kids to those early toddler-tantrum days. The sweltering heat which hovered in the mid-nineties that day didn’t help. It caused my kids to moan, groan, rebel and resist as we embarked on the half-mile decent from the very tippy-top of a winding hill. By the time we reached the entrance-way to the festival, my kids were toast; hot, sweaty and agitated to a point-of- no-return. That happens with teenagers sometimes and it was clear, no one was going to have a good time. I all but gave up trying to convince them they would. We decided to abort this mission and just leave.

Before making the steamy ascent back up to the car however, I needed to use one of the several port-a-potties lined up at the start of the festival.

Ugh! Gross! And Yuck!

I’ll be right out. I explained.

Three times in two minutes, someone attempted to enter the stall I was in, even though I’d made it clear that someone was inside. I left flummoxed and aggravated. When we were all finally back in the car my motherly instincts to try and salvage the afternoon kicked in and I declared that we would stop for ice-cream before heading home.

I can’t think of too many things that would be more embarrassing for an 11-year old girl and a 13-year old boy than for their mom to force bring them into a sit-down ice-cream parlor, chat-it-up with the new owner and then discover she had no money or credit card with her to pay for the three sundaes they just enjoyed when presented with the bill. That’s right, nothing. Not-one-penny did I have, despite the fact that I distinctly remembered putting cash, a credit card and my license into the back pocket of my jean shorts. ‘Gone’ I thought in a panic and Oh. My. God. there was only one place they could be.

We left with an I-OWE-YOU and headed back to the port-a-potty at the Strawberry Festival from hell.

This time when meeting up with the young officer directing traffic to the tippy-top of the hill half-a-mile away from the festival, I gave him that get-out-of-my-way-and-let-me-pass look that only a mother in distress, who means business can give. If you’pottyre a mom, you know the one. You know exactly what I am talking about. It’s the same kind of aura you emit when your child is in danger and the strength to lift a vehicle or move mountains automatically fills you.

With my son in the passenger seat and my daughter in the back, I rolled down my window smiling that no-nonsense-smile and before he could get a word in, I said,

I’m going down there with my car to get my wallet, drivers license and credit cards.

Without hesitation, he stepped aside and waved me through. 

Of course, there was no available parking in the lot by the entrance to the festival where the port-a-potties were, so I did what any other good, mortified mom in this desperate situation would do: I drove to the end of the lot and parked head-on at the wall, blocking in at least four parked cars, two on either side of me.  Then of course, I did what I’m sure every other mother in my sad and sorry situation would do: I left my car running with my two kids in it. The temperature after all was in the nineties.

Don’t move. I’ll be right back! I bellowed to the blank stares looking back at me.

Of course, I was not, right back.

How many embarrassing moments can happen in the span of one hour?

There was nothing to be found in the port-a-potty that three people walked in on me, in the span of 2-minutes nearly an hour earlier, so I did some inquiring and sprinted over to the “Lost & Found” booth at the far end of the park. In the middle of the park a stage had been setup for bands. One was getting ready to play. The pleasant woman at the Lost & Found table said nothing was brought over but,

We can make an announcement, she said. Come with me.

Unwittingly, I followed, passing all the luscious booths selling the strawberries and cream and shortcake in a variety of mouth-watering versions that I had come for but would not have that day. Instead, I found myself standing in the center of the stage where the band was setting up. The woman I followed stepped over to the microphone and in a very matter-of-fact motion removed it from its resting place and handed it to me. I stood bewildered until she snapped her head toward me in a, “go ahead” nod of affirmation. Startled and stunned, I stumbled over my words as feedback from the microphone penetrated the park and the hustle and bustle of the festival’s activities came to a screeching halt. All eyes curiously gazed upon me. I have no idea what I said. All I remember is that my mouth moved and words came out. When I was done, I bolted toward the parking lot where my kids were waiting in the running car.

Could there be any more embarrassment?

Of course there could. Indeed, there was a not-so-happy man trapped in his car as a result of where mine was.

Oh, my God, Mom! I heard as I jumped into the driver seat and proceeded to back my way out. That man is so frustrated. He kept coming up and asking us when you were coming back!

Uh-huh. That’s right. I left my kids in a running car where they were approached by a strange (aggravated) man more than once.

They were mortified. So was I.

The ride home was a quiet one. I kept trying to tell myself it could be worse, it was only money and a credit card and my license, all things that could be replaced. Once inside I retreated to my bedroom. Now, I was toast and needed to change into something more comfortable. When I opened up my closet door there was a pair of jean shorts laying on the floor, ‘right,’ I thought, the ones I had on first this morning and Oh. My. God.

…. the ones with the cash, credit card and license in the back pocket.

Life has a way of throwing a wrench in even the simplest of plans. As parents we try our best without a lot of training. For me, finding the humor is key. Thankfully, hindsight is a wonderful gift and today my kids and I laugh a lot and out loud about the calamities of that day.

 

Coming To A Rainbow Near You….

March 17, 2013 8 comments

Hrtlepp

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

 

An Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

hannah

lepp3

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

100 Days!

March 10, 2013 15 comments

Fun%20Children's%20Group

This week elementary children all over the country celebrated 100 days of school. Teachers asked students to show them what 100 looks like by bringing in 100 of something. 100 is a big number and it’s a big task for a 5, 6 or 7-year old. They spend a lot of time preparing; thinking, plotting and reminding their parents to help them find, make or buy 100 of something to show off to their teachers and classmates. In some cases like the school I work at (and the one my kids went to up until the 5th grade) exhibits are set up showcasing the creative way students bring 100 to the classroom. Always excited to see what they come up with, this year’s exhibit met the bar with such items as 100 colorful ribbons hanging from a branch, 100 Cheerios strung together on a necklace string, 100 pieces of macaroni spelling out a child’s name, 100 different Hot Wheels cars, beautiful buttons and gorgeous gems to name a few. It brought back memories for me from when my kids were at this school. That evening when I was telling my now 6th grader about the exhibits, it brought back memories for her too.

Do you remember what you gave me to bring in for my 100th day in Kindergarten? She asked.

Um, y-e-a-h. I said, like a peacock fanning it’s plume. “In fact”, I went on, “I think I still have that Tupperware lid that says 100 Kisses on it. I couldn’t help by pause to give myself a little mental pat on the mother-of-the-year-award back for the clever pun of sending 100 Kisses into her class. Hershey Kisses of course!

Those were the days when all I ever thought about was how to be the best-est mother ev-ah! Lost in my moment of motherhood glory I almost missed the scowl on her face.

What? Was that not the best 100 Days ever? Come on, I said. 100 Hershey Kisses! How clever?

Um, Mom, I don’t mean to ruffle your (peacock pluming) feathers but that was not my 100 days. That was Noah’s.

Don’t you remember what you did for mine?

cupcake holderI thought I had. Confusion set in. She was right though, that was for Noah and I was drawing a blank. I’m lucky if I can remember where I set my car keys down when I come home from work these days. Surely it must’ve been great, if not greater than the Hershey Kisses I quickly convinced myself and then a vague, blurred memory began to clear in my head.

Yes, I remember. “Cupcakes! I made 100 cupcakes for the whole school!” I said, beaming.

Mom! I was 5, so excited and that morning you must have forgotten. When I asked you about it, you went to the cupboard and took out cupcake holders. You gave me cupcake holders! You told me ‘No other kid will have these.’ 

Now it was all coming back to me — like a bad dream.

“That wasn’t even the worst part”, she went on. “I brought them into class and when Susan (the teacher) saw them, she told me to count them.”

There was only 54!

Okay, cupcake holders for the 100th day of school are lame and math was never my forte.  I guess I wasn’t the super-clever-mom my mind’s eye seemed to remember me to be either — that time.

What can I say? Parents try their best – always. Sometimes, we come up short.

Like, 46 cupcake holders short.

Sorry, Han.

Do you have a coming-up-short parenting moment you can share?

Fish Out of Water!

February 24, 2013 13 comments

caution-sign

Caution: Some of the images contained in this post may be considered disturbing.

Ever find yourself in a situation where you feel like a “fish out of water?”

Ever wake up in the morning to find your fish – out – of- water?

As a mother, my nature is to nurture. Once you have a child and start taking care of it, something happens within you and you start taking care of EVERYTHING that comes into your life or crosses your path; extended family members, friends, other people’s kids, pets and plants included. You can’t help it. Unfortunately for me, while taking care of my children and other human beings has always come easily & naturally, the taking care of plants and animals, not-so-much. Last winter however, when we moved into our new place, a neighbor welcomed us with a beautiful poinsettia plant that regardless of any amount of neglect I seamlessly bestowed upon it, it not only thrived but has managed to survive, to this very day. It’s even budding new red leaves.

Astonishing!

plant 001

So, when my daughter won two gold-fish at the County Fair last August, thrilled with both her achievement and the notion of finally having a pet, I had hope and thought, why not? Maybe like the rest of my life, I’m headed in a different direction here. We’ll give it a try and see what happens I told her. Being reasonably skeptical however, we hesitated to name them, referring to them only as “Fish 1” and “Fish 2” (just-in-case ) and never quite knowing exactly which fish was which. Not surprisingly, about a month later we woke up to find a pair of floaters in the fishbowl. As I set about the business of transferring Fish 1 and Fish 2 to their final flushing resting bowl, I caught a faint fin-wiggle out of the corner of my eye. Upon closer examination I could see Fish 1 was actually still alive! Sure enough, after being put into a small holding tank and fed, he began to perk up and swim again.

Interesting. I thought.

Fish 008

Sometime in December however, again, I woke to find a barely breathing “Fish” (which is what we were now lovingly referring to him as),  struggling to stay alive. Oddly, again, I put him in our small holding tank, fed him and voila! He was back to his perky self in no time and carefully transferred back into his fishbowl.

If cats have nine lives, how many lives do fish have?

Strange. I thought.

Alas, a few weeks ago, I woke to find an empty fish bowl. Gone, he was. Indeed, Fish, it turned out was out of water! Seriously, sometime during the night, Fish had somehow jumped out of his fishbowl and landed in the kitchen sink! (I know, EW!)

True story. And dead he was. Truly.

Or  so  I  thought.

I left Fish in the sink. This was something I thought Hannah had to see for herself. A few hours later, when she got up and after delivering the sad news, in ceremonious fashion, I awkwardly scooped up Fish in his little net and quickly tossed him into the big bowl that would ultimately carry him to fish-heaven, if you will.

Is there anything you want to say before we flush him Hannah? I asked.

She is after all, such a dramatic sensitive child.

She nodded negatively, peered into the big bowl, put her hand on the lever and SCREAMED…

Mom! Quick! Get the food I think he’s still alive!

Disturbing Image #1 ~ Fish & food in the big bowl.

Disturbing Image #1 ~ Fish & food in the big bowl.

Instead of full-on-mouth-to-mouth, I did what she recommended and sprinkled some food into the bowl. Why? I have no idea but she was right and there was movement. You could see the ever-so-slightly wiggle (again) of our Fish’s fin and his teeny, tiny black eyes peering up from the big bowl.

Indeed, Fish was alive! Again.

Disturbing image #2 ~ Indeed, Fish is alive.

Disturbing Image #2 ~ Indeed, Fish is alive.

For a third time, Fish had been snatched from the jaws of death, quite possibly even the jaws of JAWS,  not to mention a fatal flush. And once again, we placed him into the now, magical holding tank of LIFE”…..

Disturbing Image #3 ~ Putting a net in the toilet. Ugh!

Disturbing Image #3 ~ Putting the net in the toilet to retrieve Fish. Ugh!

….where amazingly, Fish instantly, began to swim! Again.

Good God! I thought, I couldn’t kill this fish if I tried!

Somewhat Disturbing Image #4 ~ Fish alive again!

Somewhat Disturbing Image #4 ~ Fish alive again!

I consider myself  to be more of a spiritual rather than a religious person. Clearly, there is a greater power at work here.

Early on in motherhood, you quickly learn not to question certain things. Count your blessings and be grateful. You take the inexplicable and otherwise bizarre happenings in stride and simply say,

Yep, that seems about right.

Bizarre Image #5 ~ Fish back in his bowl.

Bizarre & Disturbing Image #5 ~ Fish, alive, yet-again and back in his fishbowl.

Good night, Fish.

Castles In The Sky

January 27, 2013 18 comments

Castle1

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

Wasn't it just yesterday that they were building castles in the sand?

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.

love1

They’re also our first introduction to conflict.

playmate

They are our first playmates.

playmateB

And our first best friend.

July2005

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.

castle 001

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.

It’s complex.

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.

castle 034

Photo Credits #1-8: ©2013 KarenSzczukaTeich & Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

%d bloggers like this: