finding beauty in the fragments

April’s almost over, and I’ve felt a bit like I’m floating above the surface of things most of the month.  Not quite grounded, not quite flying, just a wee bit untethered.  I’m guessing it has to do with the recent possibility that we might actually be moving out of the city before the year is out.  Something we’ve longed for for years, but not found a way to accomplish until recently. 
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because parenting is about breaking AND building

the usual level of chaos in my boys’ room …The banner image above came from this lovely shot of my boys’ room the other day, as they were documenting the destruction of a large block tower.  Destroying it by shooting it down with a bow and arrow, or course.  They build, they destroy.  They build, they destroy.  It’s a pretty endless cycle, and one that drives my let’s-do-something-and- finish-it mentality right up the wall.  I don’t like mess and clutter, I never have.  Well, not since I had my own place anyway, don’t ask my mom about the state of my room when I was in my teens as you might get a different story!  It never looked like this though, I can guarantee that. 
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Boron, Silicon, and Carbon; patterning my week

Silly Putty, in case you’re wondering …“You’re never excited about ANYthing, Mom!”  His words hit me like a ton of bricks.  I don’t remember what they were a response to, it probably involved some comment I’d made sarcastically about being thrilled about some project I had to work on that related to him somehow.  I know, not a comment I should have been making in the first place, great way to make them feel like crap.
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Deciding what, and when, to eat ...

Some of my cookbooks … most often used are the binders at the left, full of internet-based recipes, followed closely by Nourishing Traditions and the New Basics Cookbook. I’m finally facing up to something that I’ve been avoiding for a very long time.  Many of the issues/confrontations/frustrations in this house are related to food.  Not specifically the kind of food (other than frequent begging for dessert which I don’t offer every day) but What to make for any given meal, and getting it made before everyone is too hungry to think or even get along at all.  I don’t plan ahead, or buy prepped food either, and it sucks for all of us.
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Q of the Week : How excited are you by back-to-school?

Image courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr.For NYC, it’s back-to-school week (and I know many others are in the same boat), while some of you have had it in session for a few weeks already.  We’re running a bit behind my intended start date of today, but I’ll have it put together in the next couple of days.  We started up morning Checklists again at least so there was some little bit of a return to routine this morning! 
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Finding a new rhythm

Backyard homeschool days … We’re about to start school up again here at home, and I’m of course not even close to ready.  I have to go through my resources this weekend, and see how they match up to the plan I’ve sketched in my head (sort-of) and need to put to paper so I don’t forget it actually finish it.  I looked at math workbooks in the dollar store today, and decided that wasn’t the way to make a decision, nor did it look like it was the right level for Douglas.  I’m not that desperate yet :). 
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Q of the Week : How often do you have dinner with friends?

The kids distracted by a movie during dessert …

At the beginning of our trip, the boys and I were invited over to an old friend’s house for dinner.  By old I mean we’ve all known each other since we were kids, and the stories are simply endless.  Between us we have 5 kids, and they all get along well so the adults actually had time to talk without interruption!  Reflecting on the trip, I realized that it’s been rather a long time since we’ve had people over, other than for a party. 

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I saw the tip of his shoe and it hit me ...

D took off on his camp adventure yesterday morning, and practically floated down the front steps on his way out.  I had to call him back to say goodbye, which made me smile, and felt just a wee twinge in my throat.  I’d been pre-mourning his going, as I’m wont to do, so the actual moment of separation didn’t really hit me emotionally.  I blew a kiss at the departing car, came inside with Fynn, and went back to bed to make up for the sleep I’d missed while getting the last of his gear labeled and mended and packed. 
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Q of the Week : What's the longest you've been away from your kid(s)?

D goes to camp this week.  Wednesday morning to be exact, and I don’t think it really started hitting me until about two days ago.  When I started getting his checklist of gear together, realized I didn’t have some of it, and started actually thinking about what was going to happen in just a few days.  How I’m going to miss him, despite the freedom of only having one kid at home.  How his banter will be missed, and, yes, even some of the blither.  His brother is going to be lost without him too.  They’ve become such incredibly good friends since I started homeschooling that they’re inseparable, unless D wants to get lost in a book, or build some very fragile creation of course.  

Three and a half weeks is a long time. 

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Slowing down and savoring

Fynn’s memories of the evening … complete with firefly catching, a bat, lying on the ground in the tennis courts to better see the stars, and chasing his brother. The purple tree is the linden that smelled delightful, and hung so low to the ground that he could walk up and sniff the flowers.

Edited to add a link to Renee over at FIMBY, a favorite blog of mine, as she’s doing a fun Savoring Summer series of posts … I’d already written this one but it fits the theme rather well, so go on over and check it out!)

I’m glad it’s raining.  The damp plants smell good through the window, the sound of the rain somewhat masks Fynn’s banging up in his loft, and Douglas’ burping practice, and I don’t feel guilty for not getting the boys outside yet today.  It’s also making it easier to savor the delightful two hours I spent with my family in the Park last night. 

We went there just before dark, to join in a Bat Tour of the park with a well-informed naturalist who lives in the neighborhood.  We got there right on time (a minor miracle) and had 20 minutes or so to relax before things started.  The tour guide started talking about what he was seeing, feeling, and hearing, what those signs meant for our chances of seeing bats.  The chimney-swifts were pointed out, and how that they came out not long before the bats, and the more of them there were, the more bats we’d likely see.  The humidity and temperature, the cloud-cover, the time of sunset, the types of fireflies and how they interact with each other. 

While my head started spinning a bit with information, my awareness of what was going on around me was heightened. 

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Q of the Week : How Fevered is Your Spring?

I tried to write earlier today, but realized I couldn’t put any coherent thoughts down until I’d spent some time in the sun.  I ditched the computer, went out for a run, and soaked up every ray that I could.  I’ve gotten a pretty good case of spring fever in the last two weeks, despite the freezing temps and bizarre thunder snowshowers we’ve had recently.  The birds and bulbs know better, and continue to do their thing despite the cold. I’m determined to join them!
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Q of the Week : What's Your Earliest Memory?

Image courtesy of quinet via FlickrI worry all the time that I’m ruining my kids.  That they’re learning bad habits, being turned neurotic by my parenting, or feeling misunderstood.  It’s part of parenting, and I know I’m not alone in it.  It still sucks.  I also know that I’m not my mom, nor are my kids childhoods anything like mine was.  This sometimes makes me ashamed, as I compare aspects of my past to their present, and come up wanting in the patience and calm categories.
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Q of the Week : Best part of January?

Fynn and SparrowWe had a great game night here last night, hopefully the first of many.  In an attempt to break up winter, and find other strategy-game-loving 8-year-olds, we put an invite out to the neighborhood at large, and ended up with two families joining us, toting 2 kids apiece.  It was a perfect way to start, and there was much laughter, some acting and thinking and die-rolling, and a very long wait for the pizza to arrive.  Once it came and we were all splayed across the floor in the front room (huge and empty as we’re in between tenants), one mom asked that we go around saying what our favorite part of the day was. 
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Q of the Week : What kind of planner do you use?

I know it’s Thursday, and the newsletter won’t go out till Monday now, but it’s a good excuse to talk about planners, no?  I might need a little help …

I just switched from a DayTimer to a Moleskine planner this year, and I couldn’t be happier.  Once I was out of the office and not doing as many appointments/coaching sessions, my days became less structured and the DayTimer just wasn’t cutting it.

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Q of the Week : How does your family communicate?

The Talking StickI grew up in a family that ate together, prayed together, and often worked together, so almost all our communication was in person.  It happened in the car, around the dinner table, or at the kitchen counter.  I honestly don’t remember my mom ever raising her voice either.  The subjects were rarely heavy, and hardly ever confrontational.  Unpleasant or difficult conversations were rare … they just didn’t happen.  Once I was a teenager, I would very occasionally get a note left on my desk that explained how my mom felt about some of my choices, referring of course to the things she didn’t like.  So there was a lot of conversation, and basic communication, but rarely on an emotional level.

My house is NOT like this.

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Tip Tuesday : Make time to talk

Image courtesy of bastet in the sky with diamonds via Flickr and CC. I don’t know about you, but finding time to talk about the big things is always a challenge.  It feels like there are so many other important things to do, that making time for something like talking has a lower priority.  It seems to get relegated to the rare date nights, which turns them into something more torturous than a date ever should be!  I find that heavy talks, or simply the painful “big subject” ones need a few extra things to make them work. 

  • Schedule the time and the subject
  • Grab a snack
  • Get your favorite drinks
  • Find a comfortable spot … bring your info to the bed or the couch or the back porch, someplace where you’re both relaxed.
  • Put on some music to keep the mood light.

Formalizing it does help in many ways, and is better than relying on a hurried phone conversation, or the 5 minutes when you’re both getting ready in the bathroom in the morning.  It doesn’t have to be long, but taking a few minutes to set the stage really helps the discussion along, and keeps it from muddying up the bed or the date or the morning routine.  Let me know how it goes!

Q of the Week : How much sleep do you get?

I think all moms are sleep deprived.  Darah wrote about it last week, I muttered about it recently too, and it seems to be universal.  Moms just don’t get enough sleep.  We can talk about how to be more efficient, drop the non-essentials, and slice and dice it however we please but there really aren’t enough hours in the day (and half the night) to get through the list of things we’d like to do.  Need to do.  Want to do. 
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How do you fit it all in??

I’m feeling a little stuck at the moment … I’m finding summer planning a particular challenge.  I’ve got a couple of big web projects going/in the chute, and the time they’ll require is significant and not entirely predictable.  I have both kids home, and don’t think I can afford camp (though there’s one possibility for my older one for July).  I’m marathon training again, and loathe to give that up just because it’s inconvenient.  It requires early rising (a 6:45 am start was too late today given the heat) and leaves me both tired and energized, if that makes any sense.  After a full day with the boys with errands, cooking, fight-settling, outings, etc, I’m done by 9pm (their usual summer bedtime) and want nothing other than a cold drink and a book. That’s just not possible though.
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