Tuesday, March 12, 2013


While I ate breakfast this morning, I thought about my mom.  Specifically, I remembered an afternoon when she took me to Myrick Park. She walked into the living room with packed lunches and asked me if I'd like to picnic in the park instead of eating in front of the TV that day.  Out of the blue. No special occasion. Just for fun. It was a surprise.

My mom probably doesn't even remember that day. I guess, truly, there was nothing extra special about it. I'd been to Myrick Park a hundred times before that day. I've  been to Myrick Park a hundred times since that day. Nothing unique happened that afternoon, but I remember having so much fun. It wasn't fun because of the park or the picnic or the escape from the living room. It was fun because it was a little surprise just for me. It was a spur of the moment thing. It was something that we did just the two of us. We went out and enjoyed something together.  That's what made that day so amazing for me.

After I dropped Oliver off at school this morning, I packed the diaper bag with his favorite snacks. I loaded the stroller into the car. I prepared the favorite DVD for the car ride. I made sure that we had mittens and hats and water cups and everything for everybody. As I put the key in the ignition to start up the car, I couldn't help but smile.

I picked Oliver up from school and asked him if he wanted to go to the zoo instead of going home. He was over the moon. We've been to the zoo many times, but today he was ecstatic. I let him choose which paths we went down. We stayed at the exhibits as long as he wanted. We sat up front at the bird show and he got to ask the zoo keepers a dozen questions when the show was done. I let him drop pennies down the big penny donation chute. We stopped at every single water fountain.

On the car ride home just before he fell asleep, Oliver said, "Mom, this is the best day ever."

When it's that easy to give somebody the best day ever, how could you not?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Adventures: Not something you can control or plan for, just something for you to enjoy.

Something I need to work on remembering is that I take on a lot of my stress by choice. I don't have to do all of this stuff. Most people don't expect me to be able to do all of this stuff. 95% of my to-do list is completely unimportant, except to me.

I was staggering under the weight of all ten million things in my life, but I realized something one night when I was up baking:

If I should screw up and drop all of the things that I'm carrying, I can pick them back up again.

It's no big deal.

There are people (strangers, even) who will help me. My husband does not mind picking up my slack in the same way that I sometimes pick up his when he needs me. My kids will get over the temporary disruption in their scheduled meal plan. My family and friends should understand, but if they don't? That's not my problem.

When I get upset and I'm having a rough time, I forget that we are adventuring. Not playing it safe. Not having it all under control. Not living in our comfort zone. Adventures aren't planned and perfect, black and white, cut and tried. Adventures don't have itineraries.

The point of adventuring is experiencing the surprises of uncharted territory.  Sometimes part of that experience is crashing and burning. Sometimes part of that experience is shrugging your shoulders when you screw up and still having the strength to try again.

I have learned this lesson before. I've learned it the hard way.

There were so many times when I was licked by something, and I didn't bother to get back up and try again. And do you know something about those times? Those times sucked. Those are all the worst parts of my life. Not because I screwed up or failed, but because I was content to screw up and fail. Almost every moment of my life that I'm embarrassed about is a point when things went south and I just gave up. I let inertia pin me to the couch with pints of ice cream and apathy.

This winter has been a struggle for me for reasons I can't put my finger on. I truthfully don't know why I've been having such a hard time. I really realized how much I was struggling while I was up making chocolate chip cookies, so I made a decision:

I was going to get back up and continue adventuring. I didn't need another time in my life ruled by sweatpants and laziness. I made a decision to actively change the direction I was heading. So I booked tickets. I boarded a plane. I rented a car. I drove 2 hours to the coast with the kids. I wanted to go see my mom for her birthday, so I did it.

Goodbye couch. Hello adventure.

En route to the airport, I flipped out. I admit it. I wasn't sure I could do it. Flying with two kids on your own is rough. When I walked down the gangway to board the plane, I had to keep telling myself a version of Home Depot's slogan:

I can do it, they can help.
I can do it, they can help.
I can do it, they can help.

And you know what? People did help. Strangers became babysitters and entertainers and bell hops for me. I navigated through the airport with two car seats, a suitcase, a diaper bag, and a stroller. Some people laughed a little, but do you know what most people said to me? They said,

"You're doing a good job."

They were right. I was doing a good job. I am doing a good job. I did something hard and it paid off. We all made it there. We all made it back. We've got one more story to tell, and it's a good one.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


They used to be best buddies. In the days before Colin started smashing Lego houses and toppling block towers and ripping the most beloved story books, they were mad about each other. They used to be stuck on each other like glue. They used to laugh and smile together a lot. Colin still adores his big brother, in fact. He adores his big brother too much.

But Oliver needs space from Colin now. I understand it. It's reasonable. I need space from Colin, too. Colin demands and delays and interrupts and destroys so much of what Oliver is working towards. It is hard to love Colin sometimes. He's a baby who has to know everything and do everything and get into everything and he's not old enough to understand that his rambunctiousness pushes his idol away. So, Oliver gets angry. I understand that.  I know how hard it is because I spend my days chasing Colin away from electrical outlets and admonishing him for pulling my hair and for trying to eat dirt and for playing in the dog bowl and and and.

There are so many times when Oliver has had enough and he shouts, "I DON'T LIKE YOU, COLIN! YOU MAKE ME SO MAD!"

But then I catch moments like this, when they're both absorbed by the view from our new hotel room:

These are moments where they are both enjoying the same thing at the same time in each other's company. When they smile at each other and share a simple common happiness.

 These are the rare times when Oliver's kindness towards his brother peeks through his aloof facade and he bends down to say, "Can you see okay, Colin? Let me help you. That's called the ocean."


For just a split second, I can see that they'll go back to being friends again, and that these last couple of months will be water under the bridge.

I can't wait to see them in action together. It'll make our adventure even better.