Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I'm In A Mood To Share

Remember the Chore Chart?  Those pretty templates all tucked behind glass and mounted on barn board?  I've had some requests for them - perfect strangers calling out for a piece of the get-your-kids-working-for-you action.  And it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and pretty darn proud.

So...just in case you'd like to make your own version that's kind of like my version, I've tried to come up with a little something to help you.  This is not a template - you're going to have to do some work - but that way it will be yours..nobody likes a copy cat!

Don't be scared by the whopping $2 price tag - click the little green box...click the little facebook 'Like' button or the little Twitter birdie...AND 'for a limited time' you'll get it for free...just because I like you so much...

buy

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Guilt Is A Giddy Thing

My twenty minute commute is perpetuated by the wafting scent of fresh coffee and the golden tones of a can't-help-but-sing-along country music station.  There are day when I despise the drive but more often I count it as my singular piece of peace - my slice of tranquility pie - my haven sans chaos.

Unless that twenty minutes is spent eyeing the cruiser in the rearview...

He creeps up on me as I turn onto Highway 6, hugging my bumper like a hemorrhoid, so close I can see him adjust his aviators and chew his lip and I try to keep singing with Blake Shelton but I can feel my pulse in my neck and heat along my hairline.  Blake's keeping it 'real like chill' and I'm sweating my pants off. 

I'm not speeding...well, I am, by about five kilometers, but I'm just keeping with the Explorer in front of me, and he - Mr. Hot Young Cop - isn't letting me go and I know he'd pass if he could (because who drives 85 and calls it fast enough?) but there's too many curves and too much traffic the other direction and who designed this twisty road anyway?  And he's going to pull me over because he's annoyed at the 85 and there's nothing better to do and really, I deserve it.  Not because I deserve it but because my sweetheart of a husband has set me up...

I've been pulled over before.  Once.  It was late.  I was leaving one of Scott's gigs.  He smelled my breath and flirted a little and patted my roof and 'Have a nice night,' and I was on my way.  I've never received a ticket in my life.  Fifteen years of driving.  Not a one. 

It's August.  Our license plate sticker says June 2013.  Yeah...he's going to pull me over.

I start rehearsing.  I'll turn down the music.  I'll take off my sunglasses as soon as I lower the window.  I'll play it sweet and innocent and pretend I'm not dying inside.  "I'm so sorry officer, my husband assured me that he was taking care of it..."  And I'll see myself reflected in his Mr. Hot Cop glasses and I'll think about Jason Stackhouse and his Mr. Hot Cop glasses and I'll be beet-red in that reflection...

We're all the way to Allan Park and he's playing with me.  Holding back a little and then coming right back up against me again and I know he can see the sticker plainly and I'm not even trying to sing along any more and I'm so so hot and the air conditioner is as high as it can go and I watch him scratch his stubble and I'm pretty sure he's chewing gum.

Guilt is a giddy thing.  A visceral thing that heats and gnaws and justifies and blames.  And I decide I'll take it strong.  "Yes, I know about the sticker.  Yes, I'll take care of it right away.  Yes, I deserve this ticket.  Thank you for keeping me humble.  Thank you for your service to this great slice of the county."

And he hangs back.  And he flies up strong.  And this game he's playing is killing me and I want to pull myself over and save him the trouble.  And I want to call home and say, "Do you have any idea what you're doing to me right now?"

We're coming into Hanover and we're caught at a red light by Walmart and there's no way he's going to let me go now because now he's had a good twenty seconds to stare at that sticker - at that neon guilt.  He was just waiting for town - for the ultimate humiliation - I just know it.  And the light turns green and I'm easing forward and I can't stop checking the mirror for the inevitable kill-me-now lights and my heart is still in my throat and I hate stress like a nightmare.

And we're passing Canadian Tire and I move to the right lane.  And he stays in the left.  And he gives me a little nod as he passes and I'm staring out at him all stupid and agape and I actually say it out loud - "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

And I have just enough time to sing along with the last chorus of a song I don't even like - but goodness, I can belt it like an anthem!  And I learn to breath again and it is a sweet sweet freedom thing. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Liam-Shaped Hole

He's really just a baby, isn't he?  This small ball of terror, ripped through with muscles that came from nowhere and eyes that spark vile or glory depending on the moment...just a baby.  Too young to flit from my nest and rest his head on the top bunk of an all boys adventure camp for a whole terrifying week.

This is old hat for that eldest.  He's all 'whatever mom, see you when I see you'.  But Liam, oh that piece of me that smells like old socks and mud puddles and puppy dog tails - I miss him.  Desperately.  Like I'm incomplete.  Like I have a Liam-shaped-hole in my soul and it aches through my heart.

And I was SO looking forward to the break.  To the slowing of the laundry pile and the absence of complaining over dinner, a week without Playstation controllers on the floor and a hundred cups left around the house and time to just love on that little daughter of mine, freed from the pressure of boys and their crazy... 

And he's reigning down his Liam-version-chaos over there with bows and arrows and rope swings over the pond and I want that chaos right here beside me, driving me up the walls and exasperating me to the point of all get-out and drowning me in a swelling dam of love-mayhem and I think maybe I'm totally and completely C.R.A.Z.Y. because I know that the moment he's home I might wish him right back to camp again...

But the truth is this: no one loves like he loves and I never want to be far from it and I write all this to remember in the midst of the crazy just how dull my world would be without his fire.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Five Years Old

Five years.

It steals my breath and freezes me here to catch her before she's gone.

"Will you always be my baby?" I ask her almost daily.

"Yes."

"Promise?"

"Yes."

"Forever?"

"And ever!"

She is my heartbeat and her joy is my center.  Her laughter is easy and her spirit is light.  Her world is bright and simple and fireflies and shooting stars and I would give anything to see it always so.

Happy birthday, baby girl.  My heart is forever yours.

Monday, August 5, 2013

There's A Point When You Forget What Day It Is

It all blends and we don't know if it's day three or day five but we're still laughing and no one wants to go home.  We've weathered the weather and have enjoyed some much needed sunlight.  We've cheered through soccer games they shouldn't have been allowed to play - three on three for ages twelve and up and their oldest player is only eleven but they made every team work for their win.  We've eaten ice cream and chased the Tuck Truck and ridden the red trailer behind the lawn tractor.  We've seen the building of unsafe bike ramps and the riding of bike pegs.  We've seen fire and train tracks and listened to the voice of the speaker bounce off the high wooden beams.  We've built friendships and shared coffee with neighbors and slept until 10 am.  

We've survived.  

And we will do it again next year.    

And it was worth it.


It worked because I was organized and I was organized because I begged a veteran camper for her lists and built my own from them and now I pass them on to you in the hopes that they might help you in your quest for some low-key family fun...





                                 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Night Three [I Was A Forth Grade Prophet]

Thunder rumbled in the distance.  I lay awake in my bunk, listening to the first drops of rain fall onto the tin roof of the cabin...
                                Opening statement from a speech I gave in 1988 describing my first experience at camp.

There is some magic in the music of rain against tin - this lulling draw that tugs you to sleep and rocks you gently like a wagon wheel.  It was as we finished our dinner, rain drops splattering our plastic plates, soggy supper scarfed down and dishes washed quickly while drops drew rings in soapy water.

And then to sleep, perchance to dream, beneath this tin singing with rain song and I can't help but remember that speech I wrote when I was eight years old and how it's as real in this moment as it was back then and how my children rest their own ages around the border of my earliest camp memories and I'm giving them exactly what meant so much to me so long ago.

Hours of this pounding rhythm.  Hours of water that would wash us away were it not for this thin, loud tin above us.

"Mommy?" She's standing by my bunk and I can just see the pink of her flannel pajamas in the brief flash of lightning.  "Mommy, I had a bad dream."

And I pull her in beside me, her warm little body welcome in the chill of the storm, and she curls up against me and I kiss her hair.

"Mommy," she whispers.  "I dream-ded that Zander was a moose and he couldn't get through the door 'cause his horns were real big and he wanted to eat us!"

"Oh my," I say.  "It was just a dream though.  Go back to sleep.  Blueberry pancakes in the morning."

"Okay," and she's already falling.

"I love you."

"Love you too."

And we both drift off again to the same sounds I wrote of twenty-five years ago.

A trailer ride through the puddles on the next day...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day Two [Sweet & Sour Attitudes and Gratitudes]

{click here to read about our first day}

Time is different here.  Bedtime comes later and morning breaks weary and hidden beyond the curtains that mock our quarters with a feeling of predawn.  We stumble out and no one has ever had to use the bathroom more urgently - even with the (unfortunate) midnight sleepwalk pee that had me scrubbing a cabin floor and rinsing out pajamas at 12:30 in the morning.

Leave it to that middle one - that one hung between - to spread his heady grump out like peanut butter on toast.  Foot stomp.  Arms crossed.  Teeth clenched.  "WHY CAN'T I JUST PLAY IN THE PARK?!?  I JUST WANT TO PLAY IN THE PARK!!!!"  Because why should I ever suggest that while at Family Camp we spend any time together as a family???  Maybe me wanting a few moments to just be together is stupid.

He's wild and dirt spreads across his face like a proud tattoo of childhood and I've never seen fingernails more dirty.  "Let's try that again," I say after we've said grace and I've piled their plastic plates with crock-pot chicken and rice.  "Hey guys, after dinner I'd like to go for a walk together..."

He stirs his rice and picks at his drumstick.  "Where?" he asks and he grabs a cucumber from the red colander.

"Maybe we could go to the back field today," I suggest.  "There used to be a path back there."

"O...kay...and then we can play at the park?"

"And then you can play at the park," I assure him.  "Eat your chicken."

"This is disgusting!"

Sweet, sweet boy.

"No chicken.  No tuck."

"Well, I'm getting ice cream."

No chicken.  No ice cream."

"Oh."

He eats his chicken.

We go for our walk and find a fort built out in the woods.  Levels and ramps and tools left lying around.  He runs along a balance beam.  "I like it at camp," he says.  "We should always come to camp."

He wears tired like a badge in the heavy bags under his eyes and the way the blue of his iris' seem to reflect on the skin beneath like his own sky and sea.  "But, I'm not even tired," he said when I insisted on a half hour of quiet time after lunch.

"But you are, dear boy," I said as I slipped out to shower in the few minutes I could (hopefully) trust him to stay put.

Now it's so, so late and feet are as heavy as they are dirty but there's still the talent show.  And the ice cream.  And he did eat his chicken.

He takes his shiny looney and he marches against his weary and presents that ice cream lady with his coin and accepts his cone piled high with blue and pink like a trophy.  And sugar spins through his blood and his hair and his eyes are popped wide with a second wind and he sits in those hard, hard pews and claps his sticky hands through each and every talent.

We wash but aren't really clean.  They are tucked in tight and neat and hugs and kisses and Chapter Two of Percy Jackson (which is a little bit creepy but 'totally awwwesome!')

"Mommy, I'm not even tired."

"Yes, you are!"

"I'm not even tired a little bit.  I'm never going to sleep again, EVER!  I'm going to be awake all night!"

"Okay," I say.  "I love you.  Sleep good."

And I turn out the light.


{click here to read more about our camp experience}


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