Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Horsing Around -- Or Not

My daughter rides horses. Big horses that weigh hundreds of pounds more than she does. She has been riding nearly four years and is one of those people that has no horse fear and some kind of extra horse sense. Have you ever really realized how big their heads are?

One day at the farm, she was brushing a big horse, and she wanted to cross over to the other side, going under the horse's head. I watched her reach down and give the horse a little scratch on its front leg, as if to say, "I'm comin' under." That was the day I knew she was a real horse person. I probably would've taken a wide walk around the back to try to avoid getting kicked. Being kicked doesn't even cross her mind.

We have conversations frequently about whether she can have a horse. I'm not in favor of the idea, for I have no clue how to care for a horse. I'm sure her riding instructor Tina would board and deal with our horse, but I have enough other things to think about and pay for. I haven't completely ruled out the option of leasing a horse once Mia is able to work at the farm to help pay for part of the lease. But I've been waiting to see if her enthusiasm for horses holds tough once the teen years hit.

Today, that enthusiasm may have taken a ding. She fell off for the first time. On to her head, complete with a short blackout, which was a big area of concern for Husband and me, of course. When I picked her up from her riding lesson, she was sobbing and her head hurt. Tina said she thought the helmet took the brunt of the fall, but the fear of a concussion was real -- especially given all the media hype over the death of Natasha Richardson. Plus, a teacher at Mia's school recently died of head trauma after falling from a ladder in the auditorium. So our anxiety over head injuries is a little heightened.

More than anything, she was shaken that it had happened and already worried about next time. She did get back on the horse for a walk around the ring today, and says she'll go back next week, but not with the same certainty, I'm sure. I asked her what made her get back on, and she said it was because I've always told her that's what you have to do when you fall off. I wonder if that's really good advice. After all, it's the grandmother of all advices, isn't it?

We watched her all evening or any signs of a concussion, and I think she's fine. Not bouncing off the walls by any means, and she got herself emotionally worked up again before going to sleep. We will likely wake her up in a few hours to make sure she wakes up (advice from nurse grandma and doctor grandpa). I also asked that next time she falls, she sprains something and keeps her head out of the way. She didn't think that was funny.

(523 words)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

On Happiness

The Sun magazine publishes quotes on its back page every issue. The May issue's quotes addressed happiness, and I found a few I wish I had said:

"I have to tell you something. I cannot help being happy. I've struggled against it but to no good. Apart from an odd five minutes here and there, I have been happy all my life. There is, I am well aware, no virtue whatever in this. It results from a combination of heredity, health, good fortune, and shallow intellect." -- Arthur Marshall

"To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer, to not love is to suffer, to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy then is to suffer. But suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore to be happy one must love or love to suffer. Or suffer from too much happiness." -- Woody Allen

"It's good to be just plain happy; it's a little better to know that you're happy; but to understand that you're happy and to know why and how...and still be happy in the being and the knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss, and if you have any sense you ought to kill yourself on the spot and be done with it." -- Henry Miller

"Hoping to live days of greater happiness, I forget the days of less happiness are passing by." -- Elizabeth Bishop

(250 mostly borrowed words)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wild Pitch

After a late finish to a baseball game tonight, Will came home and went straight to his bedroom for PJs. I was in there already with Max, and with only one look at Will's face...

"What's wrong?"

He burst into big tears. "I was pitching tonight, and one of the other kids starting laughing at me....I pitched to two people didn't throw any strikes."

It was his pitching debut, and he took himself out of the game. I have a feeling he won't step up to the mound again. All because of an insecure little wiseass kid bully who needs to be hit by a good, hard wild pitch. Shit like this breaks my heart and does not take me to a place of compassion for those who need a solid infrastructure and positive role models.

I offered up the wisest things I could think of (when really I wanted to unleash some f-words): that kid's just plain mean, and mean people suck; that maybe Will's naturally a first baseman and not a pitcher; that pitching takes a lot of practice. Then Husband (who had no idea Will was upset during the game) pointed out that in the post-game relay race, the kid fell on his face and started crying because he lost the race for his team. That gave us a whole new line of karma material to work with.

I have half a mind to complain to the kid's coach about his player’s bad sportsmanship, but I won’t be a whiny, overbearing, overprotective parent.

The only thing I can do that makes any sense is to offer Will a place of safety, support, and encouragement where he's the greatest oldest son on the planet and can burst into tears and let it all hang out and still feel worthy when he experiences the injustices of being a kid. Still feel worthy. That's what I want most for my boy.

Tonight, I think we helped repair his hurt feelings with a warm shower and some apple strudel toast. Because I think the feelings may have been under some stress from being tired and hungry. Tomorrow, maybe we'll practice throwing wild pitches. (Kidding...mostly.)
(363 words)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Weighed Down

The Heavy

What happened to the purple finches that were building next under our second-story deck? Did the cat get them, as I figured she would?

If I were to raise pigs, would I be able to butcher them? Would I want that much pork in my freezer? Or should I just give up eating meat altogether because I don't really ever prefer it. Except for a Saturday lunchtime burger at Al's Frys.

When I eat a salad for dinner -- and relatively reasonable meals the rest of the day -- why do I weigh more the next day? (Maybe those Saturdays at Al's?) Do I really need to start running? Because I don't like to run.

I took the day off yesterday to work exclusively in my garden. I still snuck in every now and then to check email. Pathetic, really. This laptop needs to be put away where I can't see it sometimes. It's the devil.

I gave $50 to VPIRG (Vermont Public Interest Research Group) yesterday to support legislation for wind and solar energy projects instead of our aging and outdated nuclear energy plant that is falling apart. The nice kid at the door worked hard for the money. Husband made some unwelcome comment about the generousness of my generosity.

Time for summer vacation. Mia and her friends are ready to eat each other, and Will forgets everything at this time of the year.

The Light

Max thinks his bus driver's name is Puddin' Taine. And I can't convince him otherwise.

If I really think about it, this one Light weighs more than all the heavies combined. I love knowing a Kindergartner.

(270 words)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tell-All Pic

Above you see my three little darlings before we went to Mother's Day brunch today. I wanted to take this picture because their personal clothing choices tell you something about each.

Mia dressed like she would any day -- nothing out of the ordinary for her. PREDICTABLE.

Will (who likes dressing up) found some pants in the bin under his bed that were at least a size too big; "They're fine. I just put a belt on." Out of a favor for me, he also ran a brush through his unruly hair. ABSENT-MINDED PROFESSOR.

And Max just put the collared shirt over the tie dye. He doesn't like shirts with buttons or collars, so this was a real sacrifice for him. (He took it off as soon as we were seated at the restaurant.) PARTY BOY.

Funny little bunch.

Mother's Day Moments

Max's class made a Mother's Day cookbook for their mothers. Max's contribution was a recipe for Hot Dogs:

Hot Dogs
Hot Dog Buns

Directions: First you go to the grocery store and you buy the hot dogs and the buns. Go home and cook the hot dogs and the buns on the grill. When the hot dogs have black spots on them, they're done. Then you put the hot dog on the bun and eat it with ketchup and mustard.

Sounds about right. (Except that I don't eat hot dogs, but I won't tell him that.)

Mia gave me a gift that she had won at school. A speaker from The Wildlife Federation visited her class and gave prizes for answering trivia questions. The question she answered was "What absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere?" She correctly answered "trees" and won the grand prize of gardening swag. So I got the garden tools tote and a package of poppy seeds, which she was very proud to give me.

Will wished me a Happy Mother's Day when he woke up, hair going every which way.

Husband gifted me another tote with some L'Occitane soaps and creams in it, an Gold Box purchase. "It was a good deal." He said he'd give it to his mom if I didn't want it. Yesterday, he also followed through on "two roses bushes of the same color", a *hint* I dropped last week -- because I'd buy them anyway for two pots outside my garage.

Altogether, while the gifts are nice, of course, it's really the thought behind them all that... cracks me up.


My blog friend
Laura tagged me to write 5 things I enjoy about motherhood -- then tag five different mothers to do the same. But, other then Laura and Naturelady (who Laura also tagged), I don't really know five other moms in the blogsphere that I can tag; my readers are mostly anonymous (though I know who you are!). But if you are a mom, take a minute to think of one of two things that make it all worth it to you. Leave a Comment if you'd like, or just be indulged for the moment.

Here are my reasons:

1) I love reliving the kid stuff -- reading books, playing games, going to school, weekend mornings in your PJs forever, boxed mac and cheese.

2) I love that they think I know everything. "Mom, how can you tell if it's going to rain?" "Why do people have wars?" "What's the difference between baking soda and baking powder?"

3) I love folding their laundry, watching the clothes over the years go from the cutest thing you've ever seen to long and trendy.

4) I love watching at the three of them from a distance -- because they're funny and full of life and all mine.

5) I love it when my kids say things that show they have a clear and caring understanding of the world around them. Like, when Max (age 5) told me last week that he should take a shower instead of a bath because it takes 40 gallons of water to take a bath. Or when Will understands that a complicated plot in Star Trek involved a black hole and time travel. Obviously. Or when Mia knows that trees use carbon dioxide and give oxygen.

I love that somehow, this parenthood thing seems to be working...

(565 words)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Just One Small Act a Day

Saw the movie Earth today, a rainy Saturday, with Mia and Max. Husband took Will to Star Trek, which they both enjoyed, so us other three went on our own movie trek to a modern-day Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

The documentary is actually footage from The Planet Earth television series. It's edited to show the drama of the changing of the seasons in different hemispheres. Some of our most memorable scenes were baby Mandarin wood ducks jumping from their nest in a tree, a humpback whale baby and mother migrating to their summer feeding grounds, the tragedy of an exhausted elephant being attacked by a pride of lions, and cranes trying migrate over the peaks of the Himalayas. The scenery was incredible, of course, though I found the editing a little choppy. I spent most of the movie wondering how in the world photographers were able to get it all on film. It takes a brave person to film 30 hungry lions in the dark.

Another memorable moment: "Mia, is that a cheetah or a leopard?" I asked.

"It's a cheetah. Leopards live in the jungle and have rings around their spots."

She sure set me straight, but I was pretty proud of her for knowing something like that. Last week she also noted that an elephant on TV was an African elephant because its ears were shaped like the continent of Africa. Years of playing Zoo Tycoon, watching Animal Planet shows, and just paying attention to all things animal, I guess. I'm sure I learned these things at some point, but I think the part of my brain in which animal facts are stored must have been taken over by the ability to schedule things. Sadly.

A final point of interest from the movie: The boreal forest, where the northern hemisphere changes from arctic to forest is a nearly unbroken ring around the globe. It hosts something like a third of the world's trees and produces a whole lot of our oxygen. This one particular image -- of a ring of trees around the upper part of the planet -- reminded me of earth as an integrated whole. I'll avoid espousing about needing to save our planet -- we all know this. But I can't help myself in reminding that we're living in a time of change, and just one small act of care a day adds up.

(400 words)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The End of Busy

I ran into my neighbor at the grocery today. She's an older woman -- retired, kids and grandkids all living in other places. I've always found her very sweet, pretty, and friendly. She used to keep a garden across street at the end of our driveway, but it was a big undertaking so she's letting it go. I don't see her much since she doesn't work on that garden anymore, as her house is up a long driveway in the woods. In years past, we'd inspect the maple sap buckets her sons would hang from their maple trees in the spring, but they haven't sugared in a couple years. "The boys are just too busy with their families now," she explains.

She raised her three kids in our neighborhood, along with the people from whom we bought our house. She also worked at the high school for some time, though I can't recall what she did. Every time I do see her, she's always interested in what my kids are up to.

"How old is the baby now?" she asked me today.

"He's in Kindergarten, can you believe it? He is starting to get involved in things like tee-ball...complicates our schedule...". Yada yada yada.

Then she gets a sad sort of look on her face. Like she remembers those days so clearly and is really lonely without them.

I ask about her grandkids, and two are in Vermont (but not in our town) and two are in Georgia. She seems genuinely sad to tell me this too.

She has been watching for frog eggs in her pond so my daughter can collect the tadpoles when they hatch (and watch them grow [die] in a tank). She also mentions that she heard a bunch of kids playing/yelling in our yard the other day, and she thought it was such a wonderful sound.

I'm afraid of being her someday.

Listening to kids playing and wishing they were mine. Knowing that mine are busy with their own lives and not close by.

Clearly, I need to keep tabs on this fear so that co-dependency issues don't stunt either my "growth" or that of my kids. And clearly I need to keep blogging for the next 20+ years so I have something to fill my time in my golden years. Or there's always golf, knitting, and travel.

OK. So I won't worry about it. That's pointless. But I will aim to remember the look on my neighbor's face so that I can better "let it be" and not wallow in being "sooooo busy." In fact, I'd like to take that word "busy" out of my vocabulary because everyone is busy, and it connotes something frustrating and exasperating. And I'm not frustrated by being busy. I like it.

Sidebar: My great aunt Elizabeth's nickname was Busy. I think her parents gave her that nickname when she was young, and we never called her anything but. And from what I remember, she was indeed busy. She wore an apron a lot, so I've always assumed she was busy cleaning. Or playing her organ. Or traveling around the country on bus tours. I wonder if she liked being Busy. She died 12ish years ago, so I can't ask.

So tomorrow, I'll pack lunches, herd kids out the door, work a little, then fill an hour with a craft project in Max's Kindergarten class. Then more work for a few hours. William will be home with strep, so maybe we'll read a chapter in the Harry Potter book we're enjoying together. Then lunch and a long-overdue haircut. Followed by more work. After the bus drops Mia and Max off, we'll tackle homework and an early dinner then taxi to the horse farm for riding and the ballpark for a game. After bedtime, it's likely I'll work a little more. Busy? No. Well, yes, but let's go with engaged, complete, and happy instead.