Tags: Children, Clutter, Collecting, Collections, Curiosity, Kids, Motherhood, Parenting, Trash, Treasure
We collect things. (And by “we,” I mean everyone in my house under age 6.)
It borders on obsession. (And by “obsession,” I mean, well, obsession.)
Rocks. Sticks. Seeds. Acorns. Leaves. Pamphlets from the doctor’s office. Bits of ribbon. Bits of bark. Paper scraps. Glue-sticks lids. Old keys. Lollipop wrappers. Junk mail. Junk-mail envelopes. Broken pencils. Barbie hairbrushes. Pony hairbrushes. Full Tic Tac boxes. Empty Tic Tac boxes. Full Tic Tac boxes that mysteriously become empty Tic Tac boxes. Bouncy balls. Straws. Take-out menus. Subscription cards from inside magazines. Flower petals. Yogurt lids (washed, of course … okay, mostly washed). Found coins. Business cards. Buttons. Toilet-paper rolls. Little circles from inside the hole punch.
The kiddos collect by day. And I discard by night.
With secrecy, stealth, nonchalance, and not a single ounce of Mommy guilt. Because, otherwise, I would be overrun by detritus, miscellany, and things that decay.
Occasionally, my ever-zealous Giggles will find one of his treasures that I thought I had tucked out of sight in the recycle bin — the cellophane address window from the weed service advertisement, for example.
“Mooooooooooooooooom! I was saaaaaaaaaaaaaving this. It’s important! Who. Threw. It. Away??” His words flick through the air like darts.
I do what any self-respecting mother who values clutter-free space and aims to minimize the time she spends vacuuming each day. I lie.
“I have no idea, sweetheart.”
And after he’s in bed, I sneak in and tuck his animal blankie up around his chin. I put his favorite stuffed mouse on his pillow next to him. I brush the soft blond tendrils from his forehead.
And with one deft, nearly invisible swipe, I take his treasure from wherever he’s re-hidden it. And I throw it away. Again.
Because there’s more treasure waiting to be discovered tomorrow. And the next day … and the next day … and the next day …
Do you expect to see your kids on Hoarders one day? How do you handle “treasure”? And what did you collect as a child?
Z is for my zealous hoarders. See more Zs at Jenny’s on Thursday.
Tags: Birthday, Boys, Children, Life, Milestones, Motherhood, Parenting, Smiles, Spain, Spanish
In Europe last summer, an orange crayon melted in our rental car. We may or may not have gotten a parking ticket in Madrid. And our youngest made many a Spanish woman weak in the knees.
With his blond curls. His chocolate eyes. His dimples.
Que guapo, el guapo bebé! we heard. Over and over. Everywhere we went. In metro stations, souvenir shops, park benches, hotel lobbies, Burger Kings with free wi-fi, museums, and mercados. Guapo! Guapo! Guapo!
We joked that we were lucky he was only 2 — at least all the attention wouldn’t go to his head.
Today mi Guapo is three. He’s more worldy. He knows being cute can get him things, like extra lollipops and stickers and cookie samples. He pitches fits. He throws important things in the trash. He hordes rocks. He sits on the dog.
But he’s still my handsome baby.
The one whose best friend is his stuffed giraffe. The one who is my alarm clock, leaning over his crib rails and yelling, “Mom? Mooooom? Moooooooooom?” until I free him. The one who adores poot nacks.
Last summer, when the mosquitoes gobbled up his sweetness and turned him polka-dotted, I had to explain to everyone: “It’s not chicken pox. Or measles. Really, he’s not contagious. They are just mosquito bites.” Just. He was so miserable, and he didn’t know how to make it better. I started scratching the bites for him, gently, barely more than a tickle, just enough to soothe.
Now, it’s our thing. He’ll crawl in my lap and point to an imaginary spot on his arm. “Keeto bite here, Mom. Will you scratch it for me, will you?”
And I do. And we sit there. Quiet, together, close. Him, eyes and little feet drooping. Me, wishing every trouble could be fixed so easily. But I know that’s not my job. I’m to teach him to scratch his own bites, fight his own fights, mend his own heart.
And, through it all, to smile that handsome, contagious, soulful, full-bodied, jelly-faced smile. Just like that, mi Guapo, just like that.
What kind of smile does your kiddo have? What kind of accidental rituals do you share? And have you ever had to convince people your child does not, in fact, have a communicable disease?
“Y” is for youngest … See more Ys at Jenny’s.
Tags: Bag, Children, Humor, Inventory, Kids, Motherhood, Multitasking, Parenting, Purse
I got a new bag. It’s big. It’s cute. And it was on sale!
It’s the kind of bag that looks like it might hold exciting things like designer lip gloss, breath mints in a fancy silver tin, an iPad, or a chic planner with entries like “Mani/Pedi” and “Drinks with J.”
But no. Not my bag. While stylish on the outside, inside it’s all business. Okay, it’s mostly business with a smidgen of chaos. Because my bag is a mom bag.
Here’s an inventory:
- 1 cloth sunglasses case with green marker stain (and, surprise, the sunglasses are actually inside!)
- 1 brown paper bag snagged from restaurant in case my sick child needs to puke in the car
- Girl’s size 6X red sweater
- Craft store flyer and coupon (Bonus: coupon not expired)
- Receipt from recent merchandise return stapled to original receipt stapled to temporary store membership card because real membership card is … not in bag
- Wallet (whose contents include a Romanian bus ticket, the Clean 15 list, a dental floss coupon, and a heaven-sent Starbucks gift card)
- 2 bottles hand sanitizer
- Tissues (unused, I think)
- Shout wipes (unused, I think)
- Fancy bottle of sunscreen from infamous weekend in Florence
- 3 tubes chapstick (Carmex, Blistex, and cherry-flavored)
- 1 large package baby wipes
- 1 pair 3T Thomas the Tank Engine undies
- 1 pair 3T Batman undies
- 1 set of instructions for a “Kids Herb Planter”
- 3 packages fruit snacks
- 1 empty fruit snack wrapper
- 3 pieces Super Bubble gum
- 1 rubber duckie
- 2 reusable grocery bags
- More keys
- Orange emergency whistle
- 3 Wendy’s coupons that expire tomorrow
- 1 “Best Smiles Dental” pen
- 1 rusted penny from the playground
- 1 rusted washer from the playground
- 1 cell phone, 14 Words with Friends games in progress, 20% of battery remaining
- 1 Sleeping Beauty cell phone with 3 dead AG13 batteries (Note to self: find and purchase AG13 batteries)
- 1 library book (Bonus: not overdue)
- 1 Sheriff Woody toy hat
- 1 green bouncy ball
- 1 Blue Bell ice cream lid
What’s in your bag? A puke bag? Thomas undies? Expired coupons? Rusted washers? And what else??
Tags: Camping, Children, Family, Fun, Kids, Motherhood, Nature, Outdoors, Photography
“Camping: The art of getting closer to nature while getting farther away from the nearest cold beverage, hot shower and flush toilet.” — Unknown
Camping is a mixed bag for me. Or should I say, a mixed sleeping bag?
I don’t like bugs. Or sweat. Or dirt. Or marshmallows. But my family does. So I go. Twice a year, as per a verbal agreement between my husband and me, I drag myself into the woods, along with three kids, a gigantic dog, an even more gigantic tent, sleeping bags, air mattresses, firewood, s’more fixin’s, peanut butter and jelly fixin’s, water shoes for 5, hiking shoes for 5, stuffed animals for way more than 5, camp dishes and utensils, paper towels, toilet paper, a hefty supply of hand sanitizer, and a thousand other things.
We spend the weekend killing mosquitoes, peeing in bushes, toasting droopy hamburger buns over a campfire that blows smoke in our faces, and getting dirt wedged semi-permanently into our fingernails and toenails. But we also fall asleep to a cricket concert and wake up to an avian serenade. We pick dandelions and track ladybugs. And with sticky, grape-juice-colored fingers, we steer matchbox cars through sand pits and stick tunnels.
So I go. And it’s worth it. Despite the 27 loads of burr-laden laundry that always come home with us.
Does your family camp? Got any favorite ghost stories? And marshmallows — yea or nay?
“X” is for miXed bag … See more Xs at Jenny’s on Thursday.
Tags: Challenges, Chaos, Children, Kids, Life, Motherhood, Multitasking, Parenting, Relationships, Sanity
It happens every day. At 2:42 p.m. Or thereabouts.
Mommy loses it.
It starts just after I pick up Lollipop from school. We pull into the driveway and tumble out of the car in various stages of undress. Because somebody couldn’t make it the three minutes home without shedding their socks. Or headband. Or pants.
We burst into the house like the prelude to a fireworks show. Pop! … Pop! … Pop! … Only instead of smoke and color, we leave behind backpacks and sticky lunchboxes. Torn wisps of a junk-mail envelope. Acorns. Shriveled dandelions. A collection of seeds and a few slimy tissues.
Then somebody wants a snack. Goldfish. No, Cheerios. No, goldfish and Cheerios. Not the Honey Nut kind, the other kind. In the green bowl. No, in the yellow bowl. The other yellow bowl.
Then somebody else wants goldfish and Cheerios and it’s not fair that he got them fiiiiiiiiiiiirst.
Then somebody needs a bottom wiped. Or a booger extricated. Or a mosquito bite calamined.
Or a Barbie dress buttoned.
Or a marble removed from a matchbox car.
Or a marker lid fished out of the dog water.
Or a sticker unstuck from the kitchen table.
Or a pencil sharpened.
Or the yucky brown spot cut off the banana.
Or some batteries replaced.
Or some pretend-cupcakes put in the real oven to pretend-cook.
Or a stamp for a letter that may or may not be a blank sheet of paper.
Or more goldfish and Cheerios in the yellow bowl (no, the other yellow bowl) that is now lodged under the couch. Between a giant dust bunny and the very last shred of my sanity.
And I invariably say something like, “Oh, for Pete’s sake, just go play outside!” Or “My ears can’t take it anymore!” Or “Mommy needs QUIET!” Or “Just go and watch TV and leave me ALONE for 5 minutes!”
And I think Did I really just order my children to watch television?
I hate that it comes to that. What’s more, I hate that it comes to that so often.
Tiny hands tugging on my shirt, always tugging.
Demands, some polite, yes. But some … not.
Shrill voices trying to out-shrill each other for my attention.
Tears. Fighting. Noise.
Laundry that’s fluffing. Again.
Dinner that’s half-cooked or over-cooked. Or PBJ … again.
Mommy who’s grumpy. Again.
By the time my husband walks in the door, I’m ready to lock myself in our dark closet and curl up with my son’s yellow blankie. I crave silence. Darkness. Sensory deprivation. Recharged batteries. Sanity.
Oh, sweet sanity.
Help Wanted: How do you negotiate the blessing that is a chaotic family? How do you keep a fingernail’s hold on inner peace? And how many times have you locked yourself in a dark, quiet room?
“W” is for Help Wanted … See more Ws at Jenny’s on Thursday.
Tags: Art, Children, Gardening, Kids, Motherhood, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Play, Spring
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Live in the question.” — Rainer Maria Rilke
What questions are you living in? How important are the answers? And don’t you wish they made grown-up-sized rocking horses?
“U” is for unsolved … See more Us at Jenny’s.
Tags: Children, Creativity, Family, Fun, Growing Up, Kids, Personal, Perspectives, Photography
“Why not just live in the moment, especially if it has a good beat?” — Goldie Hawn
How do you stop, or at least slow, the march of time? What symbolizes time for you? And don’t you wish you could pull off pink ruffles? (I know I do!)
“T” is for time … See more Ts at Jenny’s.
Tags: Bunnies, Children, Chocolate, Easter, Eggs, Family, Holidays, Humor, Kids, Siblings
March madness? At our house, it doesn’t involve basketballs or brackets or neon yellow sneakers. It’s all about the eggs. And the chocolate. And making sure your siblings don’t get one more string of crinkly fake grass than you in their baskets. Not to mention jelly beans.
The hunt for eggs is mostly complete before Mommy drags herself out of bed toward the gleeful shrieks coming from downstairs.
The dog finds eggs, too. And eats them. This does not turn out well later.
Small children devouring chocolate bunnies results in sticky fingers, chins, cheeks, eyebrows, elbows, nostrils, knees, toes, and ear lobes.
As if more sugar was needed, there is syrup for dinner. Oh, and, bunny-shaped pancakes.
But … No yucky black-licorice jelly beans enter the premises under any circumstances.
Three sets of small fingers search all baskets a minimum of seven times to ensure that tribute has been distributed equally.
The cat protests the bunny ears forced on his head by eating some faux purple fur.
No one falls asleep until at least two hours after bedtime. And, somehow, there is no leftover Easter candy for Mommy and Daddy to sneak.
If I get to the grocery store early enough Monday morning, there are always a few teeny-tiny bags of heaven-sent Cadbury mini-eggs hidden behind the giant generic chocolate coins on clearance.
And that one last dyed egg? Will just not be found.
What signals Easter at your house? How do your pets involve themselves in the celebration? And where did you find that last egg?
Tags: Baskets, Boys, Children, Easter, Eggs, Holidays, Kids, Nature, Outdoors, Photography
“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” — Ray Bradbury
What beautiful stuff do you see around you? What’s your best Easter egg hiding place? And what do you like to find inside those pastel plastic shells?
“S” is for “the beautiful stuff” … See more Ss at Jenny’s.
Tags: #26acts, 26 Acts, Books, Children, Kindness, Life, Perspectives, Poetry, Sandy Hook, Tragedy
Haiku Friday: Between the Lines
I’ve never heard echo through
tunnels in my brain.
James loved hamburgers.
Josephine loved purple, and
Dawn mothered five girls.
I’ve never heard sing me to
sleep on the dark nights.
Daniel played the drums;
Jessica was a cowgirl;
Jack loved his Giants.
you’ll never hear whisper their
names in these pages.
Any one of those boys and girls could have been my daughter, given slightly different geography. Perhaps that’s why the Sandy Hook massacre has weighed so heavy on me these last months. Every day since, I have sent a prayer of thanks to the stars, the gods, fate, that my daughter still comes home from kindergarten with tales of who brought chocolate pudding for lunch and what she worked on in art class. With ketchup on her sweater. With glitter in her eyebrows.
Every day, she comes home. And every day, 26 others don’t.
It’s impossible to comprehend. It wakes me up at night, and it pierces me in the heart when I’m shopping for juice boxes or fresh markers. I had to do something.
So I joined Ann Curry’s 26 Acts of Kindness movement. I pledged to donate one book for every Sandy Hook victim to my daughter’s school library. I read obituaries. I cried. I re-read and cried and re-read and cried. I researched children’s books and matched titles with hobbies — Vicki loved flamingos; Grace, the beach. I e-mailed authors, publishers, anyone, who might help with my project.
And I did it. We did it. 26 voices, 26 books. Lost, found, remembered.
How has Sandy Hook impacted you? And what acts of kindness will you pay forward?
Thank you so very much to these authors, illustrators, artists, and publishers, who donated their work to my 26 Acts of Kindness project:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Wong Herbert Yee