Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Slice of Suburbia

Jumped into my mama minivan this morning to take Audrey to school and forgot my cell phone. Ran into the house to grab it and retrieved a message from a client confirming our 10 a.m. interview with a local business journal editor. I was in a baseball hat & jeans. Thank God I had showered. I totally spaced about the appointment. I flew up the stairs and threw on a skirt and four minutes later we were off.

After the meeting I had to get to Olivia's class to edit scripts for the "Living History Museum." An hour & a half later I raced home to answer client email and tend to a handful of their needs. Then I grabbed the little signs I'd made for Audrey's class pic for her teacher's birthday celebration and raced to the grocery for ice cream cups.

All was well yet all I really, really wanted was something to eat.

Hooked up with Carrie at school pick up this afternoon and we decided to treat the kids to ice cream cones while we finally had a chance to get something to eat ourselves---yummy BLTs and avocado sandwiches, salads, and lemonade from Honey Bear Bakery. It was heavenly.

As soon as we arrived home the children were hankering to play outside in the wonderfully warm sunshine. They donned their swim suits and I filled up the kiddie pool. Moments later they'd grabbed beach buckets and were engaged in a full-fledged good old fashioned water fight. It was childhood at it's best.

Carrie had retreated to her household chores by now and I was applying the second coat of paint on our outdoor dining table.

The bustling energy of suburbia was zapped just minutes later as Audrey was yelping in pain and needed assistance which required tweezers, a steady hand, and a promise from me not to tell anyone why they were needed. Thank Heavens I managed to save the day...for just a moment.

Meantime, Olivia had come inside to get some shoes on and banged her head on the corner of the counter. She melted into tears.

As this went on inside, Alice the dog who was tied up outside, managed to get her lead wrapped around the gallon can of paint and dump the nearly full container on the lawn. On cue Frib traipsed through it and then bound into the house and onto our bed.

At this stage Audrey announces she'd just had an accident and needed my help (I wound up throwing the underwear out.. so need I say more about the severity of the accident?) Olivia's two friends were at the screen door calling for her because apparently she had just had an issue with them ("I will apologize to them but I will not tell you what it was about", she coolly commented to me.)

As I stripped the bed I tried to count my blessings. All I could come up with at that moment was, "Thank God all this chaos happened on a full stomach."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Parenting by the Books

A colleague and friend of Eric's was asking for some parental advice. Her daughter (also named Olivia) is apparently "spirited" as well. Eric suggested she read, "Raising Your Spirited Child". He came home the other evening and asked me if we still had the book to loan her. Above is just a sampling of the parenting books we own that I have poured over. I still have yet to find one that tells me why being an informed mama does not always translate to rule abiding kiddos...

Charm School

Olivia is "Star of the Week" this week. She asked if she could bring in sweet old Alice the dog. Of course, we told her. As someone who tries to cheer for the underdog I suggested she bring in Fribble as well. Eric reminded me of what a buffoon he is and what an awful idea that was. I told him if Frib got annoying I would put him back in the car.

Here is little Al sitting quietly and basking in the second graders attention.

Here was Frib lying next to me like the regal prince I was rooting for...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

An American Icon

I was very sad to hear of Sen. Edward Kennedy's malignant brain tumor. Growing up in Massachusetts, I was fascinated by the entire Kennedy clan from the story of Camelot to all the tragedy the family has endured. As an intern at WBZ-TV in Boston I recall seeing the news reel on the shelf that was created honoring Rose Kennedy to be played the day of her death (she was 100 when I was in Boston and would die four years later in 1995). As cub reporters Eric and I met Ted Kennedy.

Here is Eric interviewing him back in the early 1990's.

Here is a picture of Eric and me with our friends, John & Sean, on a boat chartered by The Kennedy's after a "Media Lobster Bake" at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport.

On an idyllic New England summer day we were greeted on the front lawn by several members of the Kennedy family (from Senator Kennedy to Eunice Kennedy Shriver to Joseph Kennedy II). The four of us spent the afternoon sipping cocktails and dining on little neck clams, chowder, and lobster. We toured the compound that day and will forever remember seeing the Kennedy's overnight bags in the summer cottages, smelling antiseptic as we passed the wing where Rose Kennedy resided, and what it felt like to shake hands with so many legendary Americans.

The Graduate

My fabulous niece, Alyssa, graduated from high school yesterday. She is articulate, strong, beautiful, bright, driven, athletic, spiritual, and confident. I am so honored to be her aunt. I vividly remember getting the call in my Beacon Hill apartment one snowy February evening that she'd entered the world. I recall my mom describing how pink and perfect she was and how my wonderful sister in law, Carla, was enjoying a chocolate eclair after months of gestational diabetes prohibited her from eating sweets! I called my brother the next day after running to the corner florist and ordering PINK flowers. They'd just arrived home from the hospital and my brother had sat her down on the living room floor in her car seat and asked my mom if she wanted to join him on the floor and just sit and stare at her a while. Of course she did.

Aly bounded into the world with bright blue eyes, bouncing blond curls, and a broad smile and big laugh. I remember her in a sweet little bonnet at my brother Tim's college graduation. She was as feminine as can be. Yet fearless as ever. My brother, Peter, was pushing her in her stroller and let it go as he ran along side her. The two of them laughed and laughed as my mom caught her breath!

One winter just before she turned two my parents babysat Aly in New England when her mom and dad went skiing in the mountains. Eric and I had the pleasure of spending time with her that weekend. She was chatty and happy and lit up the room as she played with our old childhood blocks and books!

When Eric and I would visit my brother and his family at his in law's Florida home we enjoyed play time on the beach as Eric and our nieces buried each other in the sand. We ate ice cream cones and dined out at yummy restaurants. Alyssa was always well behaved, polite, and engaging.

Here she is as our Junior Bridesmaid alongside her darling little sisters.

When we visited their Texas home and Missouri home we got to catch Aly in action on the soccer field. She was a star! She played Varsity soccer and field hockey and always had super grades in school (she received several special awards for both academics and athletics over the years!) She was Sports Editor for her school newspaper, had an equally athletic boyfriend, and always had a tribe of friends!

Here Alyssa is at her graduation with her wonderful parents- Peter & Carla...

On our wedding day we asked Pete & Car to read from Dr. Seuss' "Oh, the Places You'll Go". It was fitting on that day and it is fitting today as their daughter embarks on a new journey.

"Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done. There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be with the whole wide world watching you win on TV....And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS! So..be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!"

Good luck, Be well, & God bless.

I love you, Aly.

Your proud aunt~ Katie

Monday, May 19, 2008

Zen Gardens & Jackie Robinson

Upon picking Audrey up from her Montessori class the other afternoon she told me to please not speak to her just yet as she was going to a peaceful place and could not yet be disturbed. She was using a delicate little rake and forming patterns in pure white sand inside a small wooden box. She used the rake to make zig zags and circles around smooth stones. She later explained to me that she was concentrating on, "finding a happy place in her mind after a stressful recess". Thankfully, her time in the Zen Garden worked.

Today at school pick-up Olivia & Jewel happily bound into the car and announced whom they were "playing" in the second grade's biography project. Jewel is Pocahontas and Olivia---Jackie Robinson-- the first African American Major League baseball player. "He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, went to UCLA & was a big supporter of Martin Luther King Jr.," she explained. "How long have you been studying him?" I asked her wildly impressed. "I just chose him this afternoon," she replied. She will be the President one day.
A dear, dear friend of nearly 20 years wrote today and shared some fabulous insight. She is a mentor to me and Eric in the world of parenting. Mom of 4, sister to 5, foster mom, special needs advocate, teacher, and on & on. She had some amazing wisdom that I believe we can all benefit from. Here is but a glimpse of it...
"We think as moms we are required to always know the right move, and we automatically take the blame when things aren't going smoothly. I remember feeling total SHOCK when I realized that we ALL feel that way...we all think the other moms have it together, and we should, too. But ask ANY mom and they will say the same thing...we all fly by the seat of our pants. And we ALL are guessing. and we ALL are helpless and overwhelmed. These critters don't come with an instruction book, but they EACH come with a whole big set of challenges...ones we have never encountered and have no idea how to fix....It is okay to be guessing. That is all we have. Sometimes we guess right, and sometimes not. Sometimes we have to retreat to our own safety net: working on the computer instead of reading one more children's book, or missing a practice to go for a glass of wine with a friend. You would be doing them a diservice if you always guessed right. Imagine the pressure that would put on them when they are moms!" Amen. And does she totally rock or what? Thanks, B, for the guidance and friendship.
And now I'm off to order a mini Zen Garden. Liv informed me I have to create the outfit for her to wear in the Living History Museum play when she stars as Jackie Robinson!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Self Preservation

Eric turned 40 this week. For the most part his birthday was a usual Wednesday at Wilkinson Manor--school, work, tap class, piano lessons, & dinner. We did manage to squeeze in evening fun for presents, banana splits, and a wonderful visit from our dear neighbors bearing gifts, spirits, and much love. Eric received loads of calls, emails, and text messages and truly had a banner day. I had a poster created for him depicting our family. I found a great artist in Maine who did a fabulous job. You'll see below ~ Eric decked out in Red Sox gear and a Michigan State "crown". He's complete with his requisite shorts, Converse, iPod, and Utica Club beer mug from his home state of NY--Olivia hula hooping in her Cascade Elite Gymnastics leotard while eating an ice cream cone (complete with sprinkles!)--Audrey sporting her, " I Heart the Needies" t-shirt, Mary Jane crocs, along with her usual layered attire of a skirt and leggings and holding the conch shells which Eric uses to call them in for dinner--I am adorned in a replica of my Jessie Steele brown & pink polka dot apron and Alice the dog wears a matching bow. All the while Frib sits nearby looking like the goof that he is. We also gave Eric various home made cards, tickets to the Dad's Day beerfest, assorted goodies, a photo album reflecting the first 40 years of his life and a gift certificate for a 1.5 hour togetherness massage we were slated to cash in on yesterday. The day was to be spent at the spa before we checked in to the deluxe suite at The Westin Seattle where we were hosting a party for many of our wonderful friends. We had some great fun planned and everyone was doing their part to make it a personal, memorable evening. But, alas, we succumbed to the perils of parenthood. It was a particularly rough morning for Olivia. After a long winded meltdown, late arrival to school, & phone call from the principal--Eric called the whole deal off. I was crushed. For him. For our guests. For me. And someday I assume I will be for Olivia. It is still too fresh and too upsetting to elaborate further and not necessary either. I am still processing.

Today was a new day. It was very fulfilling and a welcome respite. One of Audrey's dear classmates had a birthday party and the four of us attended. The family is lovely, welcoming, and being with them is easy. Thank you, Mara, for a great day. You outdid your self again.

Tomorrow is Mom's Day (although Eric said we're celebrating next week since he works tomorrow). We usually celebrate the Saturday before Mom's Day since it falls on a Sunday and he works on Sundays. But a long time ago we'd planned to celebrate next weekend since today was to be spent sleeping in late at the hotel and then returning home refreshed from a night out with friends. But it did not come to pass. Thank Heavens today went smoothly. After hours in the bounce house, enjoying cake, ice cream, lollipops, & friends, Audrey fell asleep in the car at 6:30 and is alseep for the night. Liv came home and built a fort in the family room. I got lost in the book, The Glass Castle, and Alice & I joined Olivia underneath the blankets. At day's end I was very content and happy to be their mama. The tireless adventurer and sleeping beauty.

The stress and disappointment of yesterday after weeks of preparation coupled with some draining client and personal relations lately have left me feeling deflated. This week in particular I found myself avoiding addressing certain issues and not wanting to return phonecalls and emails. I told my girlfriend, Carrie, that I felt like I was avoiding confrontation and tackling issues. I am not passive aggressive in the least. I try to meet confrontation head on and I sincerely attempt to take it on with tact and respect and thinking about how the other person will interpret my actions. But this week it was a struggle for me. I felt like a coward--afraid of the bullies. Carrie said she did not think I was a coward at all but that it was about self preservation. I thought that was brilliant.

Eric is fast asleep next to me (yep, laptop made it back into bed), Alice is tucked in by his side, Frib has taken to his bed in the closest, Olivia & her buddy (also named Olivia) have settled into their sleepover, and thankfully Audrey remains asleep. As for me, I am going to close up shop, count my blessings and continue to self preserve. How freeing to give myself permission to not have to always explain, apologize, or attempt to fix everything all the time.