UPDATE TO Mrs. Flinger October 16, 2015
Because the Universe has a wicked sense of humor, after this delcaration, my blog threw up all over my last upgrade.
So I'm starting over using Craft. Turning 40 and kid entering Jr High next year, sometimes it's just time for a change. These archives will still exist in the way the last child goes off to college and their room is the same for 20 years, but it's just time to move forward.
Have a trashcan kind of day Mar 02, 2012
There’s something funny that happens when you have children. Well, there’s a lot of not funny things that happen, like gray hairs and stretched abdominal muscles, but there are non-physical benefits to keeping people with a very young sense of humor around: Lots of ordinary things are just .. not ordinary.
The other day when leaving the house the children noticed the trashcan had blown over in the wind. “WOW!” they exclaimed, “I bet he’s never been on his side before! I wonder if he loves it?”
Because seriously, where do they come up with this stuff?
Upon much discussion about the happiness a trashcan feels in his new position, experiencing the world through this new perspective, learning new things about the ground, tires, leaves, they decided today they, too, would have a trashcan day.
So it began that we wish each other a trashcan sort of day. May you find the world renewed through a different perspective. May you experience the ordinary with new vigor. May you find solace in the potentially devastating knowing all things happen for a reason. Or at least enjoy the wind.
The Standoff Feb 07, 2012
It’s not unusual to hear a “mommy blogger” talk about the inevitable morning from hell. In fact, I’m pretty sure both of you reading this could tell me you’ve experience this exact same morning. The difference? It happened to me. And this is how things shook down:
The 4 year old is in a particular nasty phase. It’s the morph between preschooler and “real boy” that mimics pre-pubecense with pee accidents. It’s a confusing time for everyone involved. This particular morning, the Boy couldn’t get a grip. He woke with a nasty case of being four. He sat, emphatically, at the table and stated: “I will not eat this cereal.” Now, in case there are any four year old’s reading this post let me explain a small known fact among all parents. The minute you state you WILL NOT EAT THIS CEREAL means you absolutely WILL NOT GET ANYTHING ELSE. Eat or don’t eat, we don’t really care. But that cereal? It’s all your gettin’.
When I tried to inform the Boy about this fact, he went in to hysterics. “I WILL NOT EAT THIS! I DO NOT WANT THIS! IIII HHHAAAATTTEEE PANDAAAAA PUFFFFFFFFS!!!!!” Logic doesn’t work on a four year old. It doesn’t matter he was the one that asked for the Panda Puffs in the first place. It doesn’t matter that he wanted to purchase them for six weeks until I finally caved. No, logic and four year olds, as yoda says, do not.
I calmly tell my son he can throw this fit in his room. When he refuses to move, I offer to do the heavy lifting for him. AKA: I pick him up and put him in the room and close the door. At this point sirens in china erupt from sound pollution coming directly from my four year old’s mouth. The Boy, he went mental. Screaming, begging to come out, yelling that he needs a tissue. The list goes on and the time slowed. Ten minutes later, he continued with his fit.
Around minute 18 my daughter turns to me and says, “Mom? That’s really annoying. I can see why you don’t like it when I do that.”
At minute 22, it gets quiet. The door cracks a budge and a small boy, my small boy, creeps out. “Mom?” he shyly approaches me, “I’m sorry.”
Twenty-two minutes of absolute utter chaos, hell, yelling, and testing. Twenty-two minutes of neighbors hating us, of passer-bys judging, of new gray hairs. Twenty-two minutes to prove a point that I hope he understands twenty-two years from now.
And, for the record? He did eat the Panda Puffs. Every soggy last bite.
Ode to the Office Jan 24, 2012
Ode to the cubical wall
so tall and so gray
It hides the world,
the sun, the rain,
life outside this day
Ode to the second cup of
coffee that so
quickly is out
You bring new life, energy
before leaving me without
Ode to the music of MOG
which plays in my ear
Knocking out sound
of others conversations
allowing me to disappear
Ode to the florescent lights
so nasty on my skin
bringing new resolve
and cut back on the gin
Ode to the coming paycheck
so sweet to my account
if it wasn’t for you,
dear bills and debt,
this life I could surmount
The Red Tent of Flinger-ville. Or something like that but modern and with less hay bails. Jan 03, 2012
It was a familiar feeling, one I can easily conjure up in my mind. Not until I was leaving did I realize how long it’s actually been that the four of us where together in the same house. What was it, 1995? Was I married back then? Did Dani have to wear a bra back then? Did Kim have kids? Was I battling gray hair?
My sister, my mother, my cousin and I sat drinking sprite infused juice (cough) while taking copious amounts of photos and rocking the baby to sleep. It was a familiar scene even though I can’t place when that would have ever happened. My sister lived in Tuscan Arizona five of the last six years. My cousin is only now old enough to be a “person” off to college. My mother lives even further, back in Houston, near the small town my sister and I grew up in. And I? Well, I tend to never sit still for very long. So when realization hits and I’m sitting there laughing about stories from childhood, I forget how rare this event truly is. Technology makes it possible to connect, airplanes make it possible to travel, time allows us the opportunity but life, that bugger, gets in the way so often. Tonight, not traffic nor rain nor deadlines could prevent what the long-over-due gathering of women: women from my family.
We laughed and joked about being parents, about marriage, about college and boyfriends and love. We talked about the children, about life. We called each other out on past mistakes and forgive when someone farts. The scene could’ve been straight out of the book “The Red Tent” but with less bleeding and less hay bails. I came to understand, during the short hour drive home, how precious that time was. How rare, how familiar, how ancient the gathering of women from a family. The miles and years that separate us hold little tenacity over the truth of family.
May your holidays be everything you asked for and then some Dec 26, 2011
I am blessed with people in my life whom I share traditions with. We watch our children grow together. They bring me joy well beyond a generic word like “blessed.” Each year, for as many years as my youngest has been alive, we gather at Christmas to exchange gifts and create christmas memories to hang on our trees. These memories: beaded off-center balls, reindeer with too much glue, pictures of children years younger under glitter and foam; are treasures of magnificence. We hang each on branches every year in prideful spots. These ornaments, complete with thumbprint-smeared reindeer heads, go in the front of the tree. We’re proud of our inability to craft at our house. To visitors it appears we’re all a bit special-needs with glue but we see laughter and disastrous glitter accidents and children aching to be with their friends.
This year I drew my friend’s seven year old son. This kid is an old man trapped in a young-person’s body. While my children run around in their own imaginations, this kid talks like an adult. Since I was completely stumped as to what to get a man-child of 70 trapped in a 7 year old’s body, my friend tells me to just get an iTunes gift card. It’s what he wants, she says. I’m thrilled. “You kidding? Easiest Gift Ever.”
On the way home, this quiet, polite young man opens up to my friend. He said, and I quote:
“Oh my gosh! Could you believe that she got me that gift card?!?!”
“I just told you the other day that I wanted that and she got it for me!”
“She must know me so well!”
“Well, we have known her a long time”
“Wait- do you think she’s a wizard??”
“Wizards know stuff- stuff that people don’t tell them”
“Oh no- she’s not- she’s a WITCH!” Witches are even bigger than Wizards and they are girls”
“Also- witches have balls- big balls that tell the future”
“I bet Leslie has a big future ball”
........Yep- she’s definitely a witch- which is weird because I have never even met one before”
“So I got a gift card AND I met a witch!”
And with that, I hope your holiday is as joyful, and as unexpected, as my friend’s son. May reflections on the year bring you happy memories and may looking ahead give you much joy for the future.
Thank you for reading all seven years running….
Picking your battles Dec 14, 2011
This morning my daughter came down decked out in layers of plaid skirts, short tights, polka dot socks and crocks. Her paisley purple shirt topped off the entire outfit with a proper bow at the neckline. She illuminated joy from every ounce of her 7 year old tiny body. “Wow, hon! You’re a party!” She beamed at this compliment from me and sat down all sorts of matter-of-fact at breakfast ready for the day.
My kid? She has the pizazz.
I remember someone cooing over her as a baby. “Doesn’t she just bring you so much joy?” It was an innocent question from a perfect stranger, but at the time she was a three week old leech taking every ounce of my sanity in chunks of 45 minute sleeping blocks. I looked up, bleary eyed, and tried to smile a genuine smile all the while thinking, “Mister, have you HAD babies?”
It turns out? He had. His kids were grown now and he was looking at my three week old baby girl with eyes of decades of memories. Memories like the one at the breakfast table this morning.
“Thanks, Mom,” she said to me when I told her I was proud of her for picking out such a great outfit. I looked at her, her seven year old self, blonde hair, blue eyed lovely. Joy? Yes. Happiness? Yes. Frustration? Yes. But love, oh so much love, beyond anything I can comprehend.
We ate, walked to the bus together, and there at the bus stop was our neighbor girl, a girl in the same class, wearing nearly the same outfit. Both girls smiled and giggled with shy confidence. My neighbor and I laughed as our daughters caught the bus, girls in mis-matched socks and polka dot skirts, skipping up the steps. “Here’s the thing,” I told my neighbor, “I figure I’ll pick my battles. Don’t do drugs, have safe sex, and bygod wear whatever you want.”
I hope she keeps this spirit about her. And I know one day I’ll lean over a ragged, tired mother, and ask with genuine knowledge, “Doesn’t she bring you so much joy?”
She does. Daily.
** Also, super big than you to Babble for naming me one of the top 100 mommy bloggers!
On darkness.. and light Dec 08, 2011
One of my favorite episodes of my favorite TV show ever is “Northern Lights” of Northern Exposure Episode 4:3. It’s an analogy of light within the depths of darkness.
Goethe’s final words: “More Light”. Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that’s been our unifying cry. More light. Sunlight, torchlight, candlelight, neon, incandescent… Lights to banish the darkness from our caves, to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the nigthgames at Soldier’s Field. Little tiny flashlight for the books we read under the covers when we’re supposed to be asleep.
Light is more than watts and foot candles. Light is metaphor. Thy word is a lamp under my feet. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom. Lead Thou [You] me on. The night is dark and I am far from home. Lead Thou me on. Arise, shine for thy light has come. Light is knowledge. Light is life. Light is light.
We’re entering the darkest time here in the Pacific Northwest. The time where the sunlight dips to unseen beds at 4pm and doesn’t rise again until 8AM. The hibernation of man becomes a reality and people in coffee shops talk about the endless darkness.
We are a collective bear’s den: Nestling down for the winter months, comparing caves and scarves and nuts.
It is during the darkest hours of winter that we seek the Light. To me this is found in humanity. In the imperfect solace of friendships, of community, of tree lightings and holiday festivities. Later we will find this in the houses of those we know: lights of comfort, of discussion: of future plans. This is the time of reflection, of seeking, of finding. And hopefully, as the new year comes upon us, even in darkness, it is a time of light and hope; however that may look in a different new year light.
On Depression and Darkness Nov 21, 2011
Events, months, season, holidays, years. Each one sliding by less influential each time.
The daylight ends so early now. Darkness chills the children as they walk off school busses.
Commuters rush in drizzle rain to the warmth and glow of home.
There is a place I dislike to go. My mind swirls with lonely thoughts. If I chat loud enough, I do not hear her.
I try to not hear winter breathing down my neck.
A year? Two? More? How long has this winter lasted? Why is she here again, so soon?
My children delight in the dark. “It’s almost Christmas! Mom, look!” breathless they point at the houses already lit with twinkle lights. I smile, aching for their joy. I hold them close, hoping by some tactile osmosis, their enthusiasm for life will soak in to my bones. I cling to them almost with unhealthy gulps. The very people who used to cause me such anguish, such uncertainty, are the very ones who seem to be saving me of myself. I curl up with them in their beds, listening to their breathing. I watch as they relax in to calm. I wonder if I will ever find that space again; the peace, warmth and hope that comes with innocence.
I reach out for familiarity. I find songs, blips of light from favorite scenes in movies, quotes in books. I revel in the colorful paintings my children proudly display for me. I work diligently to find the Happiness. And yet, here, in this space, the darkness is heavier than I expect. I try, I try, I try. And yet…
On fifteen minutes Oct 27, 2011
“Mamma, will you play with me?” There are three other children at school outside playing under the careful eye of their pre-school teacher. I briefly consider the deadlines, the emails, the phone calls. “Yes, Buddy, I will.” His face lights up and he runs to select a ball from the bin. We play “kick the ball” which could also be called soccer if we were a little more agile.
At first we are tame, kicking softly, rolling the light red ball across the cement in the covered area back and forth from my large feet to his tiny ones. One of us kicks it a bit too hard and the other laughs as the ball bounces off the divider and the wall. We kick with a twirl. We kick with both feet after jumping. We kick until the ball flies over our heads and we giggle. I am there, at the preschool, in the crisp autumn air with my son laughing while the inbox sits and the clock relents.
Finally it is time for me to leave. I hug, I kiss, I smother with so much love I hope he holds on to me forever. I pull away in my car and I see his small familiar face peering out from the fence. He waves, I wave, he blows a kiss and I blow one back. He signs I love you and as I sign it back my eyes fill with tears of gratitude and thanksgiving. Sometimes fifteen minutes can heal even the most busy of todo lists.
On #EECI2011 Oct 25, 2011
We are over Deluth. We are leaving the Big Apple behind in sunset lights and long shadows. I ponder the past few days, how a few days can be such a grand event, how every group of few days provides alternate versions of life. Carrying my camera down the streets of Brooklyn, watching with the eye of an observer, I pictured myself walking to the cafe to meet a friend on this sunny morning. I would know the cafe barista because this is what we do most Saturdays. I’m not sure if I own a dog, a small one, in this alternate life, but if I do, he walks with me as the kids run ahead. I can see this all through my lens, and my eyes tear up for a brief second with the thought of my children, how wonderfully in love I am with them, how deeply I miss them every single trip, and how desperate I am to show them these lives, even if we do not live them.
*I should always wear a Jenn Lukas as an accessory.*
It is not that I have such a wide array of worldly experience that these new places are becoming familiar. No, though I never travelled to Brooklyn or NY City before, there is an air of comfort to it. The subway is a strangely wonderful experience. The buildings are twice as tall as they seem on TV. The shops are so crowded, a way I only experience at holidays, I squeeze and bump body parts with several strangers in a stretch of three minutes. But they speak English, and for some reason this catches me off guard. The city, this experience, the bustle and tousle of humans in small spaces, the colors, the bricks, the small shops with outside seating: these qualities feel so European to me, my only experience in this environment having happened thousands of miles across an ocean or two.
*A Robert Eerhart and Louis sandwich, the founders of EECI.
No, I’m not sure if Brooklyn and New York feel familiar because of my traveling experiences or if they feel like home because of the people I see within moments of arriving. There is a band of brothers waiting for me at the nearest pub, ordering beer and waiting up well past the appropriate hour of dinner. There is greeting, smiling, hugging and limbs flying around necks. They are people I know beyond work, they are part of a bigger picture I can not possibly explain without bringing you with me. It is impossible.
*A few of the odd boys
As the MC of the conference, I take stage early on the first speaker day of the conference. I am nervous there, but in the crowd I see familiar faces. I remember something I read from Scott Burken, “Everyone in the audience actually wants you to succeed. They are breathlessly waiting for you to kick ass.” I’m not sure if those are his actual words, but those are the words that repeat in my mind as I introduce myself, welcome the crowd, and kick off the first speaker.
*Look! That’s me on stage! (I did that a lot)
It is this way for two days. The mic, the speakers, the people. It is a blur of puns and friends taking the stage next to me. We manage to make it to the second day, the very last speaker, a good friend of mine, and wrap up the event. It is a feeling of camaraderie, of faith in a community, of strengthening friendships and working relationships. Few conferences can compete.
*Brits who live in Canada still love to drink beer. This teaches us two things. 1. Brits who live in Canada like to drink beer and 2. So does everyone else.
So it is that I think of them as I fly over Deluth. My European friends. My colleagues on twitter. My peers from states and countries and time zones. We gather once a year, in different cities over the world. But we bring with us a sense of home, a sense of comfort, a sense of family. Because of this I know the next city I go to I will think fondly of taking the wrong subway or ordering the wrong menu item. I will laugh to myself quietly unable to explain an inside joke I share with a community thousands of miles wide. I will struggle to explain this to my children when they ask where I was. “I was at a conference, sweetie,” I will reply, “and I missed you very much.” It is that second part where they will hug me, waiting up past their dinner hour, with arms flying around necks. And I will know I am home again.