Wednesday, March 24, 2010

22 Things My Children Have Taught Me

At the suggestion of Stacy Julian, from her wonderful blog located at, I put together my own list of things I've learned from being a parent. This ties to a project created by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, which you can treat yourself to right here: -- go to her "small films" link, and select the film button with the yellow rubber duckies.

And please do watch her short film - it's lovely.

22 Things My Children Have Taught Me

1. How to teach kids to ride bikes

2. How to fix a dropped chain on said bikes

3. Holding two babies at once can be done

4. Feeding two babies at once requires dexterity and ingenuity

5. To trust my instincs about my child's health

6. Clean is great, but dirt on the floor proves we're playing in the yard

7. You can cook dinner, help with homework, feed the dogs and struggle to remember if you really did add money to the school lunch account, all at the same time

8. To listen with everything - my ears, my hands, my very skin - to really "hear" my kids

9. Bike helmets really DO prevent head injuries - but they do nothing for elbows, knees and shoulders - just ask my 12 year old

10. How to let my boys go - to daycare, to preschool, to school-school, to the 1st Homecoming Dance with the first girlfriend

11. How to be a teammate with my husband so we parent as a team and not as two visiting rivals

12. Caterpillars, earthworms, slugs and snails are to be "rescued", not overlooked or stepped on

13. Socks are only intact for about a month after purchase, because shoes are always apparently optional

14. Moo-ing can become a ridiculous funny family ritual

15. SpongeBob is actually NOT the crappiest show on television

16. 7-Up and saltines still soothe an upset stomach...or heart....or soul

17. Twins can reach higher than singletons because they see each other as ladders

18. Listen even when your ears ache from the constant input, because when kids know they can tell you anything, the payoff arrives when your "little one" is suddenly the 15 year old towering over you in the kitchen, telling you all the gory details of his day in high school - and you thank your lucky stars

19. Legos + Hot Wheels/Matchbox cars + wooden blocks = endless hours of play

20. Electric toy + batteries = interrupted play, while boy impatiently waits for parent to remember to buy/replace/locate the appropriate size batteries

21. Traveling as a family is just smarter, because otherwise you and your spouse spend the whole trip saying "Oh, I wish the kids were here to see/taste/smell/feel THAT!"

22. Life is better with my four boys in it

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New is not always better

Once upon a time, we lived in a house that we simply adored. It was a big, rambling Tudor, with lots of land, and deer who apparently thought the land was there specifically for their daily strolls. After three years, pretty much against our will, we had to relocate and leave that house, and we moved over 800 miles away to the sweet, smaller house that we reside in now.
So, here we are, four and a half years later, and our old house is up for sale. So I checked it out online, and found photographs. The photographs are significant, because the new owners "updated" and "modernized" the I looked at the pictures, and found myself so saddened.
The pictures show a house with extensive complicated landscaping, and a beautiful patio with a fountain and a pond. And the interior - the walnut tongue and groove walls are gone, the built-in bookshelves are gone, and everything is light and modern and...I looked at the pictures and felt like the soul of that house had been simply cut right out of it. It had been such a unique and lovely older house, and now, it looks like so many other big new homes, with little personality and lots of bells and whistles. And while the changes to the yard are pretty, and heck, we might have added a similar patio ourselves, many of the changes are ones that -again - are the sort of thing you see frequently in higher end houses, and they are hardly specific to this particular home.
I know how potentially idiotic it may appear to be, to be this affected by a home I no longer have any responsibility for. But you see, this house was what we hoped would be our "forever" house, where we would bring up our boys, live our lives, bury our family pets, run on the trails we built...and instead, we had to leave it. And now, someone has taken this grand older home and turned it into just another updated house.
Back in late summer 2002, my husband brought us to this house, so that we could see the house in person that we had looked at online for the last few weeks. We were moving from Colorado to Missouri, and we wanted to buy rather than rent, so this was our last chance to find a house. We literally just dropped into a realtor's office, asked to see this house - and this house only, which the realtor thought was just bizarre. So we opened the front door, my husband walked in first - he looked around the foyer, and as he turned to hold the door for me, he said "This is it." And so it was - just like that, we knew. This empty old house, which had sheltered the family that built it for their entire lives, opened itself to us and said "Finally! I've been waiting for you! Welcome home." -- and yep, we were home.
I've never felt that way before or since.