Thursday, December 2, 2010

When I Grow Up

"May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true.  May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you.  May you always be courageous, stand upright and strong.  May you stay forever young."  ~Bob Dylan

In preschool, there's a lot of talk about "what we want to be when we grow up."  I always hear the standard policeman, firefighter, doctor, but the ones that make me chuckle are the tightrope-walker, Barbie, super hero, coffee-drinker, and even an invisible dog.   Lately I've been thinking about what I want to be when I grow up.  Some would say I am grown up -- I have a career/job, a house, 3 grown kids, and even the required pets -- all things that I dearly love.  Yet, there is a difference between what I want to be when I grow up and being a grown up.

Please don't misunderstand me...I absolutely love how my life has turned out.  But a part of me, and this part has been nagging loud lately, has been asking "what if?"  What if...I followed my senses instead of my heart after college?  What if...I took a leap of faith and studied what I really wanted to instead of what was "safe?"  What if...I did what I dreamed of instead of what I excelled at?  All of this is moot, and I am the first to say it never does any good to play Monday morning quarterback.  Still...I think there comes a point in every person's life when those early dreams start to resurface.

When I was no older than 7,  I remember spending part of a summer on my uncle's farm in western New York.  It was full of farm animals, hay bales for jumping into from the top of the barn with my cousins, and an enormous vegetable garden.  I can vividly remember pulling carrots and thinking how much fun it was.  I loved the sound of the screen door being swung open and shut (a very satisfying "whack!") on the farm house, the glittering pond, the sun's heat, and the chickens running crazy-like all over the place.  So, why am I thinking about that now?  I think it's because I'm at that point in my life when it's natural to stop and re-examine life.  How many more years before retirement, how much I should have in the bank, how my portfolios are working for me...all leads to "is this is?"  In 2005, I told myself I would see my kids through high school, and then it was "my turn."  Now I see how ridiculous that thinking was, and yes, even a bit selfish.  At that point, it seemed ages until my kids were gone, and now the time-line is less than 2 years away.  Of course, the most sensible answer is that I am thinking about all of this because my kids are on their way out.  It is amazing to watch them grow and ponder about what they want to be when they grow up...

I have always loved the outdoors and living on acreage still appeals to me.  But to be honest, instead of a farm with animals, I see myself on a tiny, little vineyard tucked away somewhere with warm breezes and beautiful sunsets...see, there I go dreaming again!

So, what would it look like if everyone went after their dreams?  Would they be happier?  More balanced?  Have more fun?  Or maybe most people are already doing what they truly enjoy...what a refreshing thought!  Perhaps I just need to accept that life is full of mysteries and surprises and be content with all the riches that I already own.


But I won't stop dreaming...


Monday, March 8, 2010

A Forever Relationship

Oh, I know what you're thinking...another blog about someone's eternal love for their spouse, right?  That would be a little hypocritical of me, I'm afraid.  I do admire those couples, my parents being married for 50+ years.  But lately I've witnessed another kind of that is just as meaningful, or maybe more so in some ways, than marriage...the sibling connection.

I grew up with an older sister and younger brother, each of us separated two years apart.  My brother and I were very close as young children; the older we got, the closer my sister and I became, especially when we each started having children.  My youngest daughter and my sister's middle daughter were born on the same day...5 hours apart.  We affectionately call them the Twin Cousins.  My brother enjoyed his bachelorhood and didn't marry until he was in his mid-30's.  He was my rock when I was going through my divorce.  Now that he has young children and mine are (almost) grown, he comes to me with questions and asks for guidance.

We all live within an hour of each other -- my parents, my aunt, and my siblings.  Because of our busy lives we don't get together all that often.  My mom's kitchen is our place to grab some coffee and get catch up on what's going on in our lives.  We talk about the past, present, and future.  I know I can always rely on them to give me the best advice, a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen to, or to share a laugh with.  Always.

A few days ago I received an email from my mom.  We had all been at her home a few weekends ago.  My mother is such an incredible writer...she writes with elegance and style and you can't help but feeling all warm and cozy after reading her letters (now it's emails).  She mentioned how wonderful it was for her to see all three of her children in her kitchen, helping to prepare dinner.  My first thought was, "well, that's what we always do!", but then I thought about it from her vantage point.  Here were all her children, all sharing space and laughing and talking with one another.  What an incredible feeling for a mother!

And then I got to experience that same feeling this past weekend.  My middle child celebrated her 17th birthday.  She wanted her favorite meal (tacos and gourmet cupcakes from a bakery in town) and go to a movie.  So, my three kids and I had dinner, cupcakes, gifts, and went to see a movie.  The movie was average, but what fun we had!  The next day, my son took his sister to her first R-rated movie (she plays by the rules, this girlie of mine!).  He told me how cute it was when she whipped out her ID!  And the following day, all 4 of us played on the Wii and wrapped up the weekend by watching the Oscars. My son (who is in college) very easily could have begged off the family stuff, but instead wanted to stick around for his sister's birthday weekend festivities.

This morning was "one of those mornings," where it seemed the clock was going at warp speed.  As I dashed through the kitchen, I noticed a bag on the counter.  When I peeked inside, I saw enough food packed for several meals.  Of youngest had a lacrosse game after school in Colorado Springs (an hour and a half away) and wouldn't be home until late.  Her older sister had lovingly packed a lunch, dinner, snacks, and a water bottle for her.

At this point, I think I might just scare my kids if I called a "family meeting" to discuss how important their relationship with each other is.  How they will always need to rely on each other, use one another as sounding boards, to make decisions together regarding elderly parents, accept new spouses into the family, etc.  No, better to sit back and let them foster their own relationships.  They seem to be doing just fine on their own...

Me and my siblings in 1974.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ss is for...soft snake


My teaching staff is made up of some of the most incredible and talented women I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  I am in awe of them...truly. Over the past seven years they have made their classes completely their own.  Every one of them have talents and attributes that they share with their students.  Today in the 3-year old classroom something incredible happened...

Ms. Nancy has a little guy in her class who, in the past 6 months has made incredible strides.  She affectionately calls him "Monk."  For those of you who know this very funny TV show, you know Mr. Monk is only slightly obsessive-compulsive (ha ha!).  At the beginning of the school year, this little guy's mom warned told us "good luck, he's stubborn."  Well, he is one of the brightest little boys we've seen through our school, and yes, he is stubborn.  It took him a while to get on board with socializing, sharing, and playing with the other kiddos.  And now?  He is an absolute delight!  His mind is an amazing maze of wheels always observing and thinking and inquiring.

This week is "Ss" week -- everything Ss!  To encourage proper cutting skills, the 3-year old class was cutting snakes.  You remember, right?  Holding a piece of paper with your left hand and cutting a spiral shape with scissors in your right hand (or vice versa).  And then sticking googly-eyes on the Silly Snake...totally fun and cute!  Well, "Monk" finished his spiral cutting and then proceeded to cut snips all around his snake.  Listen to this...he told his teachers that he was making a "soft snake" (the fringe he was cutting around his snake was fur).  He was so proud and happy with his snake, and I just wanted to grab him and hug him, but that would have just pushed him over the edge, so I "high fived" him instead. 

It still blows me away...he made that connection -- he thought about what he wanted and acted upon it, all the while pulling from what he had learned during the week.  Nancy gives all the credit to him, and yes of course, children do grow and mature, but not without gentle guidance, teaching, love, and a whole lot of patience from dedicated teachers and parents. 


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cha Cha

Early this week my saint-of-a-brother picked up my daughter to tour a local university (CU Boulder).  Kelly is still only a junior in high school and already has her major picked, and her double major and minors.  Scouting out colleges is her new favorite pastime...

My sister-in-law is currently pregnant with their second child ("another princess" as my brother likes to say).  I asked him how she is feeling, and no surprise, she is very uncomfortable with only weeks to go.  The baby sleeps all day, lulled by her mama's activities.  At night, when my sister-in-law wants to sit down and relax, the baby is awake and active. 

The other day my almost 4-year old niece looks up at my brother and, very seriously, says "Daddy, I know what we should name our new baby."  For those of you who are into children's literature, you may be familiar with the silly book, "Cha Cha, The Dancing Dog."  Well, my unborn niece now has the name Cha Cha, The Dancing Sister!

As funny as that sounds, it does have merit.  My niece has made that one-to-one connection between fantasy (her beloved book) and reality (her new unborn and, unseen as of today, sister).  She has matured to that stage in life where she is drawing from her imagination into her very real life.

I love to see this happen!  With my own kids it was fascinating and unbelievable; with the preschoolers at my school it is still amazing.  It's the light bulb that goes off and you see the realization and wonder in the child's face..."Ah ha!"  There are not enough words to describe that deep feeling of satisfaction...

And something for my brother to think about -- there is a very real chance that whatever the baby's name is, her nickname will always be Cha Cha...


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Rug of All Rugs

There it is.
It's beautiful.
It's gorgeous.
It's amazing. 
It's my new rug...

A little over a year ago I took the plunge and bought new furniture.  It was a huge step for me.  Even now, my heart races a little when I think about making that decision.  Or maybe it was the amount of money I spent.  

It was more than just a decision to buy new was a decision to replace the furniture that I had bought with my then husband.  This time, well, I was going to get what I wanted and not what was neutral and stuffy and practical and boring.

I am still in love my red-orange (think cayenne!) leather totally rocks.  And the polka dot chair?  Love it!  And the white, shag rug?  Hmmm...what the heck was I thinking?!?!?!?!  It just looked sooo good in the store, but the store didn't have 3 teenagers with grubby shoes, 2 dogs, and a cat with claws that like to grip at anything and everything.

I want to still like the rug and if I close my eyes real tight, I can imagine what it looked like a year ago.  Now it looks like something Linus pulled behind him...dirty, well-worn, and just plain sad.  So, I "plunged" once again and bought a new rug.

The name of the rug is "Georgina" and boy, is it a beauty!  Swirls of poppies (which happens to be my most favorite flower...ever) mixed with warm hues of golds, browns, and cream.  I know people have mixed feelings about Pottery Barn, but I don't and that's where I ended up getting it from.  The rug arrived today and I can't stop looking at's perfect.

The problem is I can't bring myself to unroll the rug completely.  So there it sits, in a roll of plastic, waiting to unleash its beauty.  But I can't.  I'm thinking of grubby, stinky shoes, dirty bare feet in the summertime, 8 little paws, and a cat who has destructive issues paws.

So here I sit.  Looking at the fabulous rug, unable to make a decision...


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I *heart* Valentines Day!

I love Valentines Day, I really do!  And I know it's not for several weeks, but it just makes me smile to know that it is coming.  I love buying all the red and pink foiled-wrapped chocolates and candies and putting them in treat bags printed with cupids or hearts.  This year I bought my daughters each a little red leather coin purse, stitched with hearts.  Inside I'll tuck either a $20 bill or maybe a gift card to Chipotle.  As for my son, I'm sure an almost 20-year old guy would not appreciate a coin purse, so maybe just money or gift cards.

I'm a preschool director. That means parties...lots and lots of parties.  We celebrate the first day of school to end up the year with a big Spring Picnic, and every holiday and birthday in-between.  Kids love to celebrate, and really, what's not to celebrate?

I don't know when I started loving Valentine's Day...I think it slowly evolved.  To me, it's the day when kids can say "I like you" to their friends without feeling kinda funny.  Watching the children put their cards (Batman, Barbie, Sponge Bob, Scooby Doo, Strawberry Shortcake...) that they so carefully wrote their names on in the vastly decorated boxes, sometimes with a lollipop or a pack of Smarties taped on it...priceless.  And when a little boy shyly walks into my office with a red or pink flower (rose, carnation, even spray-painted daisy) and hands it to me, my heart melts.

So, enjoy your Valentines Day!  Whether you spend it with a honey, a friend, your kids, a bunch of girlfriends, in a preschool, or even by yourself, know that this special day was created for love and friendship.  And the best part?  Chocolate on Valentines Day has NO sugar or ENJOY!




Friday, January 15, 2010

Dinner Companions...

After an afternoon of shopping with my daughters (the Old Navy store by us is closing, and so we HAD to go) we stopped at Parkway Grill for dinner.  Always packed, always noisy, and always delicious food.  As the girls chit chatted, I sat back and relaxed, half-listening and observing my surroundings.  I almost felt like I was on the outside looking in...watching a movie...a very surreal feeling.

In walked two women, arms linked.  These were old women, in their 80's at least.  They were beautiful -- their hair was coiffed, impeccably dressed, wore their bling well,  nails done, the works.  Yet not overly done, almost understated.  They were seated a few tables away from us.  I had the side view of one woman, but I had a complete view of the other.  Her hair was the color of the purest white and cut in a simple pageboy style.  I imagined her name to be something vintage, like Virginia or Margaret or Rose.  They ordered white wine and it was a while before they ordered their meals.  Instead, they talked and laughed as older women tend to do, with one hand against their breastbone, the other hand sometimes waving in agreement or nonsense.

Every once in a while the one lady (oh, and she was!) and I would make eye-contact.  She would give me a slight smile, never breaking the beat with her friend.  And it struck me...I was looking at myself forty or so years from now.  I didn't have to imagine it...I could feel it!  And what a wonderful feeling it was!  To spend time with a bosum buddy (as Anne Shirley would say) and reminisce over good wine about "old times" -- what could be better?

Now, here is the best part about this saga...their meal came.  What do you think?  Dainty salads?  A bowl of soup?  Here we go...they shared the Macho Nacho Plate!!!!!  This plate of nachos is so huge, it's almost obscene!  AND THEY ATE THE WHOLE THING!!!!  No kidding!  It was awesome!  Can you just picture it?

And if you think I was stalking them, no worries there.  My daughters and I had a delightful time together.  They were thrilled to be finished with finals and we talked about what we were going to do this weekend.  As we stood to leave, I glanced over at the two women.  My "friend" looked up and I smiled and nodded, silently thanking her for letting me into her world, albeit briefly.  I received a smile in return, a genuine smile, a smile that reached her eyes.  Could it be that in some way me and my daughters reminded her of a time past?  I'll never know, but I know I'll never forget tonight's dinner companion.