Day 23 – The aftermath

Day after the snow day after the holiday after the weekend got me like…

Anybody else find it hard to get going today?

Day 22 – Snow day

When you’re an adult, winter snows are more hassle than magic. You find yourself thinking about things like shoveling the sidewalks and how much of a pain it’s going to be to put on your boots and coat to drag the garbage cans out to the curb. You dread driving, knowing that if school and work aren’t canceled, you’re probably going to count on your commute being doubled if you want to navigate the partially-plowed streets and get where you need to go safely.

Today, we got a rare snow day here in Lincoln, and without the usual pressure of actually having to go out and try to drive on the freshly-zambonied streets, I had a moment to look outside and appreciate the stark beauty of the freshly falling snow.

What always strikes me about a good snowfall is the silence–how the whole world seems to pause and hold its breath for those few hours, fat white flakes drifting down lazily from gray skies.

As kids, we lived for snow days. I remember how intently we used to watch the accumulation, how many nights we used to go to sleep quietly praying for classes to be canceled so we could spend the day out in it doing what kids do. The best years were when we still lived in Bird City, Kansas. The town was small enough that a healthy level of shenanigans were often tolerated. Packs of errant children traveled from house to house, building snowmen and forts, hurling snowballs at each other, and leaving snow angels in our wake.

The streets in Bird City were so wide that the snow was often plowed and piled high in the middle of the streets. Those looming piles served as sledding hills. They also became launching pads when we rounded up sleds and inner tubes and tied ski ropes to the back of someone’s pickup truck. One year, our babysitter Kaylee and some of her friends pulled us all the way out the Thresher Show grounds. The kids piled in the cab of the truck to thaw while some high school boy took his turn on the inner tube. I remember us all laughing as the driver spun doughnuts in the big empty field, the boy on the tube holding on for dear life as the tube slid and bounced and occasionally took flight.

I remember one year, when my family was still living in a small bungalow on Bird Avenue, the snow fell and blew and drifted so high that it reached the eaves of the house and garage. Lindy and I had finally reached the age where Mom was letting us stay home alone without a babysitter. My friend Mandy came over mid-morning, and we were having a blast trying to build a snow fort when I noticed a few of the drifts had gotten so high against an old outbuilding behind our garage that you couldn’t even tell where the tin roof ended and the snowdrift began. We could reach the edge of the roof by climbing the the gate of the dog pen and hoisting ourselves up over the edge. We spent an hour or so carving out a winding track from the peak of the roof to the edge, where we piled and packed a large wall of snow which we thought would keep us from flying off the edge.

I climbed to the peak of the roof, set my inner tube in the track, and launched myself down, screaming in delight as I picked up speed. It was the closest to an Olympic luge I will likely ever get and I loved every second of it, even when I hit the wall of snow at the roof’s edge and flew, inner tube and all, into the air. The snow below was so deep and powdery that it absorbed the shock from my less-than-graceful landing. I emerged from the snowdrift howling with laughter and scrambling, fast as I could, back up onto the roof to try it again.

We had a good hour or two of uninterrupted fun until my parents showed up to put a stop to it. Of course one of the neighbors had called them at work to give a full report of what we were up to. Typical small town for ya–doesn’t matter what you’re doing, good or bad, your parents are bound to find out about it within the hour.

And that was the end of it. I was banished to the house for the rest of the day and lectured on how I better just stay away from that old building from now on. It was bad enough that we’d spent the better part of the morning climbing up to the peak of what was probably a 20-foot roof. But worse was the fact that the building belonged to a gentleman named Edgar, who just happened to manage the bank where my mom and Mandy’s dad worked. like to think Edgar was amused by our ingenuity. He never came out and said anything to us, but he would always smile and wave a finger at us when we stopped by the bank after school to beg our parents for snack money. And he let us spend a lot of afternoons there, pounding away on the old typewriters in empty offices or sorting loose change in the old hand cranked coin counter.

Even now, that was probably my favorite snow day ever. Staring out the window today, I still smile just thinking about it. And you know what? I have zero regrets.

Day 21 – What’s for dinner?

The first few years of Cadence’s life, meal times were easy. The kid would eat anything. ANYTHING. Well, except for the six short months she loathed bananas to the point where she would start gagging if she even saw one. Other than that, we had no issues getting Cadence to eat (or at least sample) anything we put in front of her. And that lasted right up until she started going to preschool regularly and learned that there was such a thing as being picky and eating only peanut butter sandwiches and assorted snacks.

Henry, on the other hand, would survive on nothing but pancakes and plain pasta (flavored with a little butter and garlic salt) if let him. Meal times have been a battle since he started solids, and I have to admit, for awhile there we just got lazy. With work and life and everything else being crazy and hectic, we picked the 3-4 foods he would actually at and just went with it, figuring it was better for him to get something in his stomach before we put him in bed.

But we decided recently that we’d had enough. We were tired of the constant meal time meltdowns, and by God we weren’t going to let a 3-year-old beat us in what was becoming a sheer battle of wills. So, we started cracking down on snacks, limiting Henry’s milk intake to just a cup or two a day (because he would polish off a gallon by himself if given the opportunity), and putting the kids to bed if they protested the meal we put on the table.

Cadence was pretty easy to fall back in line. It took exactly two dinner time battles when she was a toddler to convince her that our rule of at least trying one bite of everything before you get to say you don’t like it was fair. With Henry, we definitely hit the double digits in the number of times he got sent to bed with his plate still full of dinner and then having to eat the leftovers the next day.

He is our stubborn, stubborn boy.

But like everything with Henry, it just takes a little extra patience. And we’re finally starting to get there. Tonight, he didn’t even protest. He came right to the table when it was time, sat down, and dug in. He at the entire serving of chicken and pasta and broccoli, headed upstairs for a bath, and then polished off two bananas and a cup of strawberry yogurt before bed.

And there was a moment at dinner tonight, listening to Cadence tell us about the sleepover last night at her friend Rowan’s house and Henry quoting lines from Bob’s Burgers (“You’re my family and I love you, but you’re terrible. You’re all terrible.”) and Superbad (“One name? Who are you, Seal?”), I found myself blissfully happy to be sitting at the table with three of my favorite humans on the planet.

What can I say? Life is good.

Day 20 – On soccer and kindness

We signed Henry up for Happy Feet winter soccer this year. Cadence was a little older when we first found the league. She was always the social butterfly and excited to meet new people and try new things, so she dove right in and loved it immediately. The winter league is awesome because it gives the kids an opportunity to run off some of the excess energy that comes from being cooped up in the house in the frigid winter months. And since Henry was finally old enough this year and has been doing so well with his swim lessons, we figured we’d sign him up.

We figured it might be hit or miss with H-man. He’s been kicking things around the house since he started walking, and even used to practice soccer moves with Cadence when she was still active in the YMCA league. But he’s also our shy guy–quiet, introverted, slow to warm up to new people and experiences. Technically, his first practice should have been last week, but he was down with the stomach bug. Today, he seemed excited when we got him dressed and grabbed his new soccer ball to head out the door.

 

We were excited to see some kids from school, and Henry was having a blast kicking the ball around with me and Cadence before all the kids arrived and the coaches called the teams together to start practice.

Our big mistake today was not getting H-man down for a nap. This dude is a rock star sleeper, and he still needs a little midday nap to keep him sane (to keep all of us sane). He definitely should have had one after being up late and getting so wound up with our dinner guests last night. At one point around midnight, he was talking in his sleep to Beebe. Then, he woke himself up, yelled for Stevie, and demanded a fresh cup of water. We heard him talking and meowing to his stuffed cat for 10 minutes or so before he finally fell back asleep.

But no such luck napping today. Henry’s game started at 2:00, and he had about 20 minutes of excitement in him. After that, he spent most of the time walking around the floor in a daze, occasionally kicking at the ball as it rolled by or taking off in a momentary sprint. But he’d get distracted every time the ball left his orbit or one of the other kids tripped and fell down on the floor. He spent half of the game hovering near his coach, occasionally holding her hand as they followed the ball and the crowd of other kids up and down the floor.

My favorite moment? When he saw one of his friends fall down and made a beeline over to help. Seeing Henry take the other boy’s hand and call over to tell us his friend was okay…this Momma’s heart melted. I honestly don’t care if Henry kicked that ball or scored a goal today. I don’t care if his team won. If he learned something, if he had fun, if he showed kindness to his teammates and respect to his coaches and opponents–that’s all that really matters.

It was a good day. 🙂

And next week, we’ll see what difference a good nap will make.

Day 19 – The family that you make

There was a time in my life when I avoided people, relationships of just about any kind. I’m an introvert by nature, but this was different. I didn’t trust people, and I was filled with so much self-loathing and self-doubt that I believed it was easier to just keep everyone at arm’s distance than to risk getting close and getting hurt.

During my years in therapy, one of the biggest challenges was for me to trust people, to let them in, because I had trouble matching up what other people saw in me with what I saw in myself. I had to spend a lot of time building up my own self-image, learn to love myself and let other people love me. One of the results was that I started to view relationships and human connection differently.

Letting people in. Trusting them. Connecting. Building relationships. Loving other humans. These things can be hard, but they are so worth it. They’re vital. They’re the reason we’re all bumping around on this blue-green planet in the first place. And the really beautiful thing that happens when you connect with other people is that just being in their presence, hearing their voices, spending an evening together sharing a meal sparks immeasurable joy.

Family is not bound by blood. Family is the people you choose to surround yourself with, the people you love and invest your time in. Stevie and I have loved ones spread all over the country–from New York to Arizona to Colorado and Washington state–and we do what we can to connect. We don’t do as much as we would like to, or have nearly enough time with all the people who mean the world to us. But sometimes there are moments like tonight, when we get a chance to spend an evening with some really beautiful souls. My home was full of love tonight, and my heart is too.

Day 18 – My unfinished story

In 2008, I sat down and started writing a story. My story. Bits and pieces of my childhood, my struggle through adolescence and my college years, my adoption and reunion. It’s one those projects that nags at me. It bothers me that I haven’t finished it. But it’s also one of those projects that I can only handle in small chunks.

There’s something about delving back into some of the worst moments of your life that really drains you. And even now, this far removed, with a whole lot more perspective and distance and wisdom, I prefer to take it slowly, wading back into the memories like a tepid pool.

But the reality is, it’s been 11 years since this project started, and it just might be time to kick it into a higher gear and actually try to finish it.

Plus, I’ve apparently got some readers who are finishing their edits. Nothing like a little accountability to light a fire under you, am I right?