where on earth have I been???

I really thought I would have gotten more done by now. My children have been in school for over a month now. All of them.

Aren’t they so cute on the first day?

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Today I took some time to review my last few posts here. I was reacquainting myself. Reconnecting with that woman who does her best to put her soul into words and claim it by writing on her little corner in cyber space.

That woman has still been musing, still been creating, still been learning and growing. Still writing even. Just less and not on here.

Not because I don’t love what here is, because I do. I am so grateful to have readers who meet me in this place, who see me for what I offer, who peek inside themselves and share with me that I am not alone.

But I also have some safety issues. I’ve alluded to them here and there. They pop their head up every once in a while and prevent me from sharing what I want to share on this particular blog.

My battle with them has been a bit more present than normal the last several months, if that makes sense to any of you. That’s the yuck part.

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The yay! part is that I have also been embarking on new adventures. “Digging in” was the main theme of the summer. The boys and I did not do all that much. We stayed home and were together a lot. We enjoyed a slower pace. We rested. We dug in to time at home. Insert deep breath.

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Mostly I loved it. Sometimes I had to fight the voices that like to tell me my value is in how much I am doing. That I’m “supposed” to live life at a fast pace or I don’t count for squat. I learned that living within my boundaries – not writing on my blog for instance because I simply can’t do it all – takes practice. So staying home might not seem like an adventure, but it was, and I think it was really good for all of us.

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I also dug into our Lego collection. I sorted them. I know. You’re right. I might be a little insane. I can’t really explain it other than I needed to. Sorting Legos was my cathartic way to process the fact that my children are growing up.

And staying home allowed for me to have time for working on my yard. And I actually wanted to, can you believe it? I’ve been working hard. Digging and pulling and clearing and watering and digging and digging. Our yard is a far cry from what it was back on my Insideout post.

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I have decided that pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are about the MOST exciting thing a new grow-er can plant.

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And I have been dreaming new dreams. I have discovered something in me that needs to be pursued. And that involves grad school.

Yikes.

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whistle baby!

Keep a straight face, keep a straight face, keep a straight face! The whole thing will be blown if your oldest sees you smirking.

He is sitting shotgun right next to me. And he doesn’t miss a thing. So if I and his younger brother, my middle son, are going to continue to enjoy this moment, I must keep from showing my grin.

I have no idea what it must be like to grow up in the middle of the family. My best friend growing up was the middle child and after watching how much she struggled with her place in the family I vowed I would never do that to someone.

Then I had a surprise that turned my baby into the middle child. And my heart has ached for this tension in his life ever since.

To be fair, sometimes I think I struggle more with Colby being a middle child than he does. He certainly loves his brothers with a depth I am not sure any of us can fathom.

But sometimes I can tell it wears on him. Someone always going ahead of him, learning everything first, excelling at everything he tries. And someone constantly behind him being cute and adorable and the youngest.

Then a few weeks ago, I realized I had been hearing a new sound. A sound I had never heard from a child in our home before.

Whistling.

Our oldest whistles through his teeth. It qualifies, I have reassured him, but there is not a whole lot of umph behind it.

I called the whistler over to me and said in a stealthy but clearly exuberant voice, “Colby! YOU are whistling!!!”

“I know.” His notorious deadpan.

I cup his face in my hands. “Do that again.” My eyes dance with delight as the air goes from his lungs and passes through his pursed lips, making a song as it goes.

I look around and then I say very quietly, “You know…..your brother doesn’t know how to whistle. Not like that.”

“I know.” His smirk and twinkle tell me everything I need to know. He knows. He learned to do something his brother can’t do.

I would love for my children to be satisfied in who they are without comparing themselves to one another. But the fight for alpha exists anyway. So I work with it and try to celebrate their individual strengths anyway.

So a few days later as we drive in the car and my oldest starts whistling in his own special way in the front seat and a minute later I hear a (real) whistle coming from the back, keeping up, fluffing his feathers, and I know it is completely intentional, my heart does a little happy dance.

This middle child now has one thing he did first. He can do better. And in his sweet little non-confrontational way, he is celebrating. And so am I.

And it’s our little secret.

As long as I can keep a straight face.

playing favorites

I was having a late-shower day. Generally speaking, those are not pleasant. Let’s just say if I am cooking dinner and have not yet gotten my shower in, no one wants to be one of my children.

Fortunately for everyone, the clock said 4 and not 5:30 so we were still good. But after the hot water reset me, I seriously wanted to put my pajamas on and call it a day.

Even though the temptation was strong, I withstood. I had a girlie party to go to. Seeing as how I live with a lot of testosterone, I try not to miss ladies nights if I can at all help it.

This was a “favorite things” party. Curious. Bring five of your favorite things costing $5 or under and go home with five of other people’s favorite things. I love it.

Let’s just say it was worth every bit of the inertia required to get there.

I came home with:

  • pumpkin bread mix from Trader Joe’s (already one of my favs – score!)
  • soap from Anthropology (nothing bad comes from that store)
  • insta-dry nail polish that is help-your-4-year-old-put-his-shoes-on dry in like 30 seconds flat (found at Target the wonderstore)
  • thank you notes (always handy)
  • special spices promising the world’s best guacamole (yet to try – I will keep you posted)

So fantastic right? I am totally stealing this idea. Someday.

There was much chocolate given at this party (I mentioned it was a ladies night right?). And almost all of it was the new trend – chocolate covered caramel topped with sea salted.

Call me silly, but everyone has read my potato chips and chocolate post right? I have no need for caramel.

I shared. Lucky boys.

I shared. Lucky boys.

But my friend Katie (who is known by me as always finding the “best” things – ask me later about Philosophy lip gloss) brought Godiva dark chocolate with sea salt. I was not one of the lucky recipients of such perfect sounding bliss, so today I went out and bought some.

Really I was intending to purchase Christmas gifts. But of course I had to get one bar for myself to make sure it tastes as good as it sounds.

Ummmm, yes.

Tastes just like it sounds.

 This shall be added to the arsenal of tools in my box of coping skills. Along with this month’s other discovery: cocoa drizzled kettle corn from Trader Joe’s. A buck ninety-nine for a bag of addictive joy is a good deal in my book.

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P.S. Since I know you are dying to know, the favorite thing I brought to the party was a new décor item in my home. Refashioned jam jars filled with split peas (green for Christmas and $0.89/lb at our local whole foods market) topped with a tea light (cheapest best ones found at IKEA). I love refashioned items because they are creative AND good for the environment. And this season makes me want to see candles everywhere I turn. Fabulous.

So what’s your latest favorite thing?

help

I had no idea the help I was about to uncover. I sat down with my husband’s homemade curry (I know right? I am so lucky – thanks Babe!) and my son’s iPod was sitting right there on the couch.

So I turned it on in an attempt to turn myself off. At least a little. Maybe just set myself on autopilot to detox from the post Thanksgiving shopping I braved earlier in the day.

I checked email.

None of my children were bothering me. No one was asking me questions. Sometimes I love technology. I know it is not always the best thing for my boys’ brains. I may simultaneously feel like a bad mom. I may pay the price later with overly-squirrelly boy energy.

But in the moment I feel a profound amount of relief and gratitude.

And because my children were all plugged in for the moment leaving me alone, I had time to chase some rabbit holes on email that mostly I avoid in an effort not to have hours of my time slip away into nothingness in the blink of an eye.

I read an interview that one of my friends did with another friend on their blogs. Leeana (www.gypsyink.com) is a talented author and Tina (www.winsomewren.blogspot.com) is a lifelong artist.

What I found was inspiration. Just enough to help me actually upload my last post. And then sit down to write some more. Sometimes help comes at just the right time, in just the right way.

What I was reminded of is how contagious creativity is. And while part of the reason my posting here has slowed is that life sped up; there is another element at play.

With the speeding up of life, I have found it harder to read my favorite blogs. I feel like I am just barely making enough time to write on my own blog.

And that is no good. Because creativity breeds creativity. If I want to be creative, write creatively, I have to make space to enjoy the creativity of others.

I was so encouraged by Tina’s “about” side bar. She is an advocate for creativity, and I love it. I need reminders of the importance of taking care of myself. Of nurturing the artist within. Of making space in my schedule and my heart for being creative.

I need reminders that it’s okay. That I am better for who I love when I have time doing what I love. And then I need to remind myself not to beat myself up for not having it all figured out.

Because life is often a dance. And when things like this happen – so serendipitous and perfectly timed – I am reminded to trust the dance of life even if I need help remembering the steps. 

lost

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I lost myself that day. I had been shoving aside my creative time week after week making room for the urgent. Life’s urgency can be that way from time to time, can linger longer than I intend.

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There was a school carnival to plan. Then there was the unforeseen enormity of a school carnival wrap up. Then there was Halloween costumes to put together and celebrations to be had. And of course trick or treating with The Grim Reaper, Robin Hood, and Bumblebee the transformer. That cannot be missed.

Then there was a sinus infection to recover from.

And after all of that, I came back to a precious Tuesday. Tuesdays are preschool days. Three hours doesn’t sound like much, but compared to nothing it can be the world.

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That morning my oldest complained that he didn’t feel good and maybe he should stay home. Back off buddy. I have been waiting for this Tuesday for a long time. You don’t have a fever. You’re not throwing up. You are going to school.

I landed at Balboa Park with my camera. I chuckled to myself as the compliments people have given me about the pictures on the blog floated through my mind.

Never in a million years have I thought myself a photographer. I just want readers to have an image with each post as a way to connect. So I try to capture one. Emphasis on try.

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And because I don’t think of my self as a photographer, taking pictures is an easy way for me to let go of the results and immerse myself in the process of being creative. That and the ease and affordability of digital images.

So immerse I did.

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Little did I know my soul was so dehydrated. My logic turned off and I listened to that little intuitive voice I talked about last post.

Go this way. Move in. Try. Try again. Move on. Over here.

Before I knew it, I was lost. Having an experience completely away from my normal life, my normal self. Being satisfied by something I cannot explain.

As I drove back to preschool I realized I was still sort of there, in the creative world. And I loved how it stuck to me and refused to be shaken off.

What was your last experience in the creative world?