Just Write {132}

April 22, 2014

Just Write, revisited. Just Write {1} We are driving along, just the two of us. I channel surf for tunes as Elsie Jane kicks and coos from her backwards position behind me. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun is where I land and I sing it at the top of my lungs, windows down. Somehow she loves it when I sing. The working day is never done, but girls, they wanna have fuhunn. I pass by a house with much recycling out front. Cans and cans and bottles and bottles and cardboard boxes. All from alcohol. I think about how that used to be my end of the driveway and how it didn’t take long to add up and so I’d try to hide parts of it under cola types of things. I think about how, with the boys, I had to pump and dump a lot and worry because it is very simple: I was […]

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Just Write {130}

April 8, 2014

This post was originally freely written about 6 years ago. I edited it for the now that I live in, but very little. It seems my heart is still there:   I want a cottage style house built by my Dad somewhere near water and so many acres of nothing but grass and dirt and trees. I want salvaged barn doors in that cottage somewhere, to pull to the side, heavy and creaking. I want built-in book shelves filled with colorful stacks and rows of books.  I want vintage things all around, from years ago and grandparents. I want a really big garden full of fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers. I want a cozy space for guests to stay and kids to play above the garage. I want all of that, and yet I still want the house to be small, holding us close together so there’s nowhere we can go to end up feeling like […]

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Just Write {128}

March 25, 2014

We drove to a town not too far out of Austin. It’s called Wimberley. Isn’t that just the most perfect name for a Texan town? It’s motto is “A little bit of Heaven” and I suppose that’s true. From the paths that stretch out of your eye’s reach along a curving stream, to the tiny shops and restaurants. It’s pretty heavenly with its beauty and vibe. Toddlers can poop even in heavenly places though, as you well know. So she did. And we went hunting for wipes because moms and dads can even forget things when getting ready for a road trip, as you well know. There was this little grocery store that had the wipes and the dude bagging at the end of the counter said, “Whoa, wipes and water. What a party!” Yes sir, I said. BYOW, that’s me, nothing but a party mom. He rolled his eyes. Then a lady […]

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Just Write {127}

March 18, 2014

The playroom is totally trashed again. Legos seem prone to the floor, all over, like a minefield. What is the Lego table for? I don’t know. To pile bricks on before tossing them to the floor. I told the boys it’s time to do another Big Cleaning and they fussed and whined. We still haven’t done it. Even though this is what my oldest wrote on the chalkboard right in that same room:   Hey! Practice what you preach, kiddo! (I can hear God whispering that to me today, too.) The rules my child wrote seem to cover all the rules for life. We seem to desire clean bodies, our hearts and minds both. It feels best to have no hidden darknesses. We are good-intentioned like that, picking up all the bricks and putting them away, neat and tidy. Not destroying, but building. Not messy, but clean. We want it, but we’re finding […]

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your hard is (still) hard

March 13, 2014

Before Asher and Elsie Jane came along, I was out with some friends and I was venting about a hard day with Miles. I was surrounded by mothers with more than one child and they rolled their eyes and sighed and looked at each other and started laughing. One of them said something to the other like, Do you even remember the last time you ever showered alone? Their reaction hurt a lot, as unintentional as that may have been. I got a message–they had it harder than I did–and in that moment I felt foolish for feeling tired or maybe even for having feelings. Today, just like that day around five years ago, two more kiddos later, I am exceptionally tired.  Is it different than it was back then? Yes. Do I look back and see how much “easier” it was when there was just Miles and Miles alone? Sure. Does that change the hard day with […]

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Just Write {126}

March 11, 2014

1, 2, fwee, 5, 1, 2, fwee, 6….9, 10!!!  this is the counting of a two year old, for hide-n-seek. She laughs hysterically when you find her, or she finds you. I can remember, vividly, the exhilaration of the game, as a little girl. Maybe that’s why, at 38, I still love playing this seek and find game with my three little hide and seekers. My Dad made this game so exciting for my sister and I. He’d be down on his hands and knees, hiding behind something and when we got juuuust close enough, he’d pop out, growling and roaring, or so it seemed to me. And we’d take off running, laughing hysterically and squealing with our hearts beating extra fast. Now Elsie does this with her Daddy, and it brings it all back. I listen to Ryan ROAR and my little girl squeals and backs up, shrieks and giggles. Her eyes […]

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Just Write {123}

February 18, 2014

Maybe he was just really tired, that’s what I kept telling myself. But he has been saying this off and on lately, with that same look in his eyes and the stubborn frustration in his little robotic tenor voice. You are always leaving! You haven’t been spending time with us! It was right before bedtime and my heart was breaking. Really? But I’m here, honey. Almost all the time. I’m right here. And it struck me then that he is right. Sure, he’s just an over-tired kid and he’s got really big feelings from his really big heart and sometimes that confuses him. And you know what? I’m not going to beat myself up or make this bigger because I know I haven’t been that detached. But I also know that when there’s a travels-for-work husband and the daily grind and multiple other extra life stressors like we all have, there’s often nothing […]

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Just Write {121}

February 3, 2014

He sat down on the top step and asked how he could be so tired when he slept all the way until 6:57am. And he’s right, that’s totally late for him. So it hits me that he keeps complaining of being exhausted, off and on lately. It hits me like a ton of bricks. So I finally stop what I’m doing, look up the number for the doctor and call, right then. He doesn’t want to go and I’m honest that yes, they’ll probably do a blood draw and yes, that sucks. Both literally and figuratively. He’s so grown up these days but later, when we sat in the lab at the clinic he reached for me like he used to and I grabbed on and we put our heads together as the tech said, 1-2-3 and his breathing was erratic and so I kept reminding him, deeeep breaths, you’re so brave, it’s […]

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Just Write {120}

January 27, 2014

Asher is blasting through age six, already more than halfway to seven. Seven. All these years, I’ve written about our happy boy and had the community of online mothers and other friends hold us up during the hardest times. He is doing so well and sometimes I catch myself holding my breath because of that. Like we’re playing Russian roullette, just waiting for one of these days to be the bullet. Hydrocephalus is like that. The odds are greater that something could go wrong, the longer it doesn’t. The other day I followed behind him, pushing Elsie in her stroller and trying to keep up. He got a scooter for Christmas, and he tells me he worked very hard at being able to ride it. It’s tricky, to balance, just two wheels. His brother has one too and he speeds on way ahead and we call after him, wait for us! Asher doesn’t […]

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Just Write {119}

January 20, 2014

Elsie leaned into my legs, heavy with sleepiness and trust. Put mine boots on, Mama. She puts one foot in the air, ready. I say, Wrong foot, and she switches quickly, her right foot up. I slide on the boot, trying not to get it stuck partway. Elsie lets out a little giggle behind her pacifier. She loves her cowgirl boots. I show LeeLee, she says, because I’m about to walk her next door, where LeeLee will help her take off her cowgirl boots and she’ll put her pacifier in her cubby and offer her something to eat. I walk back home after a hug and kiss and sit down to work, trying hard to focus, to make the most of the work time. I set up calls, take a call, type out email responses and fill my water glass over and over. I edit something that has been sitting in drafts for […]

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Free-writing is more about feeling than thinking. This post is freely written as a part of Just Write (see the square at the bottom of this post for more information on an online free-writing course with me, starting Jan 21.) I don’t know if this makes sense to very many of you, but I typed it out yesterday in a flash and moved on, “Watching videos of the boys when they were babies and I am sitting here feeling the weight of myself on this very chair and how I can’t stay here. I want to be heavy enough to stay here. I’m back there and trying not to go ahead and living in the now is hard, but please can I? Not really, because of time, and because I’m so slow to catch up. I’m far too busy reveling and all this time I thought I wasn’t.” Yes, a facebook status. I […]

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Just Write {116}

December 30, 2013

In a bookstore, I looked over the shelves, smelled the smell of all that paper all smashed together and couldn’t help witnessing what happened right next to me. A girl, maybe in her early twenties…(I guess this makes her a lady or a young woman, but I’m going with girl), she has long brown hair and a pretty face. She beams at the sight of her brother, another brown haired looker, coming toward her. He has a basked and it has about eight books in it. He smiles back and he says, with a silly voice, “Look at me! I’m a book bum.” She looks down at the basket and she rolls her eyes and then says, “You’re adorable.” I think he’s a teenager. He says, “It’s one hundred eighty three dollars worth…where’s mom?” They grin at each other and she points across some shelves where their brown-haired mother is looking at jigsaw […]

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Hey Mamas, Holiday vacation. Such joy and such strife, all at once! All the hours strung together like the lights, with bickering and whining and impatience and over-tired and over-sugared kids. Oh but then there’s the joy in their faces! At the mention of all the days off of school or a play date or another gift to open or treat to eat. Bliss. And the cozy under-the-blankets time together, the lack of the need for setting an alarm….Oh, and long mornings and afternoons in your pajamas while all the fighting and “I’m boreds” are going on. Such a mix of fun and not-fun. (I really hope those of you who work outside the home are getting some days at home, some days off, of that work.) (And those of you who stay at home with littles who aren’t in school outside of home, this is totally for you as well!) Vacations from […]

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Just Write {115}

December 17, 2013

Its leaves were an orange I’ve never seen, changing late for autumn. Procrastinator. It was gorgeous, this orange from the tippy top to about halfway down the tree. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw that not one leaf had changed on the other side of the three. Sneaky. If a person didn’t think to look, they’d never know, coming from the other way. The boys were quiet, on this drive to school. That pretty much never happens. But they loved the song on the radio and listened intently to lyrics. Lyrics being lyrical and all, have a tendency to confuse these young boys. Everything is still so literal to them. Poetic rhymes and illogical metaphors just make no sense to them at all. Sometimes I wish it were that simple for me, to just take the orange side as the only one. Never wandering around in curiosity, making sense of […]

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Sometimes I quickly jam out some ramblings about being a mom on The Extraordinary Ordinary facebook page and then people say OH I love it when you say this stuff. Because I still don’t have much of a filter and I love honesty like a best friend. Then I remembered that I used to write whole entire blog posts like that when I had more time to write whole entire blog posts like that. What are you doing with your time, Heather? Good question… This school year, life has been so different than the past eight years. Okay, Heather, but that doesn’t really answer the question… SEE? This is how it goes with my thoughts, my writing, my life…and apparently, answering questions I pose to myself to pretend to be you, on a blog. And I’m typing really fast because I have a lot of Other Things. Good Things. They gots to gets […]

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Just Write {114}

December 9, 2013

I was moving fast, around the kitchen, trying to get ahead, knowing that if I don’t, I’ll be even more behind than I can predict. It just always seems to go that way. But I felt calm, peaceful even, in the midst of the dinner clean up and getting lunches ready for the next day while the kids threw a small plastic ball around the living room and laughed hysterically. I was cleaning up after all of us as I went, trying to stay ahead of the mess too. I wondered, while the loudness of my kids overcame me, how I could be less anxious than ever. It’s certainly not always like that, but it is more and more. I don’t really have an answer, but I’ll take what I can get, that’s for sure. At 6:30 I told them, when I was done with all the things, that we should go upstairs […]

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smoke and olive oil

November 21, 2013

I felt myself going numb, shutting down, the thing I do with too much stress. I was driving the kids to school, and Miles had started a kitchen fire and we all smelled so much like a kitchen fire. Thank God nothing horrible happened, somehow he stayed calm and threw water on the fire. I was upstairs. What if, what if, what if…. I turned the radio up because it was U2 and also, I just didn’t want anyone to talk and talk and talk. I just couldn’t. Sometimes I feel like I’m being so dramatic. Like I can see myself in the song after the U2 song, like I’m in the video, with the sad and romantic lyrics and I’m so affected, seeking, philosophizing, Staring at the bottom of your glass Hoping one day you’ll make a dream last But dreams come slow and they go so fast I think that was […]

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Just Write {111}

November 19, 2013

Elsie was emptying all the cards and pictures from my Bible on the floor, away from the places I’ve tucked them, marking pages or time. Miles was on the bed with the rainbow loom next to Asher who was listening to me read. Ryan is out of town. I was trying not to lose my patience over chaos and how we’re always behind at bedtime but it felt like deep breaths were expensive. After we did so many things, the four of us, and they were all finally quiet with sleep, I sat stunned by the exhaustion and numb. There was more work to be done, lunches to get ready, dishes, laundry, writing deadlines… Then I put this note on Facebook – I wish there were some sort of motherhood gang sign, or a common phrase we whispered to each other as we walk by–in the store or on the street, at the […]

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Just Write {109}

November 4, 2013

I have vivid dreams, every night. I don’t know if they’re in black and white, like people say, about dreams and their muted tones. I don’t remember them like a movie, but a memory. I’m revisited by people from the long ago in my dreams. So often there are people I haven’t seen in years, interacting with me like we’re family. Their faces and voices and the stories we’re playing out are so vivid, I’d bank on neon colors over black and white. I talked with a friend, standing out in the sun, about watching old videos of our kids. Those same kids played nearby, the boys knocking each other down and laughing and Elsie Jane watching and shriek-giggling and hopping around them. Outdoor toys were scattered all over the driveway. My friend said that she had forgotten exactly how her daughter was at age four, but they just watched a video and her little […]

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I don’t need to tell you that it’s important to sit down together for dinner. Either we do it or we don’t, depending on our habits and schedules. So, right now, either you don’t feel guilty because you are sitting down together for meals as much as possible, or you do feel guilty because dinner has somehow become some sort of shifting chaotic short order cook phenomenon. Either way, I understand. We’ve done both over here. Life sometimes makes every hour of every day pretty messy, so go easy on yourself if you’re in the trenches. There will come a time when the baby is not crying and the toddler will grow into a child who sits still longer. I promise. That said, I’m sharing 5 things we do over here to connect (and stay) at the table:   QUESTION TILES: A couple of years ago I made a trip to speak at an event in Kentucky. While […]

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One Day, Elsie Jane

October 24, 2013

The closing keynote at BlogHer Pro was a singer/songwriter named Daria Musk. I had read a brief bio, but didn’t know much about Daria. So I sat back in my chair and learned…no, more than that, I soaked in the interview Elisa had with her. Daria is someone who has a beacon-like energy that I was drawn to for its light. She is joy embodied and said this is a decision for her–to have fierce joy, to live fierce joy. When asked about her perspectives on life and creating and building her empire (truly, an empire born on Google plus!), Daria frequently returned the compliments and insights back to her mother. She said that her mom taught her this:     Daria added (and I paraphrase) that if you pick a dream bigger than a lifetime, you have something to do for your whole life. With setbacks and fighting your way up and […]

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Just Write {107}

October 22, 2013

This morning waking up felt like it had something to do with quicksand. I made us run late, but just a “it’s going to be okay” from Ryan reminded me not to freak out about it. The boys helped get Elsie up and ready and that made me smile. I brought her next door and another mom was dropping off her boy and I told the room, “I overslept. LIKE A BOSS.” They just stared at me, and my bedhead and probably the lines still creased into my cheek. Okay then! SeeyaBYE! I’m still walking Asher in to school these days, it’s what he needs. But I wanted less people looking at my bedhead and creases, so I told Miles he would need to walk Asher today, down his hallway. He said yes without complaining, which made me smile. LIKE A BOSS. I am very sneaky and proud to have a backup plan on mornings […]

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Ready for Air by Kate Hopper

October 14, 2013

My love affair with Kate Hopper’s first book, Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers is clear–I mention it often. It is a book for every writing mother to carry with her through the years, a resource filled with valuable advice and encouragement. Now, Kate has released her memoir Ready for Air, and it is a beautiful example of what a mother can do when she “uses her words”.  Kate’s daughter was born prematurely and needed to stay in the NICU, battling for life. So many families have experienced this painful journey, waiting and hoping, fearing and waiting. Kate writes beautifully, with humor and candor, of her own painful struggle to accept life’s terms when it came to the wait; to motherhood’s harsh introduction. One of the gifts that Kate’s book brings is an opportunity for every NICU to carry this book, to give to parents who are sitting in the struggle, waiting, watching the monitors, […]

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At four days old, my good friend’s baby boy pushed away from me though in my arms, the first time I held him. With an arched back, he turned his head to the sound of his mother’s voice. His little mouth opened, bird-like, seeking her out. I said, Look! Look at him turning to you. He knows that voice. He knows what he needs. Mama. She beamed and the sound of her laugh was the last straw for him. He wailed for her as if he hadn’t eaten ever before, wanting his mother. We go on needing like that, always. We come to this world and whether we’re nurtured well in our youngest years or not, we’re needy and full of empty spaces and we stretch and turn, trying to get filled up. Then suddenly, almost as in a flash, we become teenagers, and there’s no more insecure and scary time of self-discovery […]

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7:18. (OMG HOW did that happen? Oh no no no….) I sit up fast and get dizzy, stand up, walk slanted to the bathroom. (Okay, I’ll call to the boys to get dressed while I get Elsie out of the crib and I’ll just bring her to preschool in her pajamas and apologize and I have to make coffee. This is Monday. I think.) Bathroom. No details needed. You’re welcome. (That was a weird dream. Why would I be dreaming about a grandmother sinking into a mud pit? She was one strong woman though, the way she pulled herself out of there. It’s too bad I was missing part of that Mumford and Sons concert to watch her…wow, I was really close to Mumford, and the sons, that was so cool. BIG BEARDS….dreams are ridiculous. But I must REALLY want to see M & S in concert…of course I do…) Rushing downstairs, apologize […]

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forgive yourself

September 4, 2013

“Take the long view, I reminded myself, looking out across the fields to our own long view. Life finds its balance. Children grow up. Second chances come along. In the meantime, I could choose to savor this moment.” – Katrina Kenison Can you forgive yourself for not living in the moment? When our babies are sparkling new and swaddled up we set out with intentions we can believe in, but we just don’t know. We are going to live in the moment. We’re going to relish these baby years, these elementary years, for we have been told time and again how precious it all is, and how fleeting. And intrinsically, we know it to be true. But, what we don’t know is that we are about to be swept up inside days and nights that bleed into one. And that our minds will fill with a sleep-deprived dense fog of anxiety and joy […]

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Just Write 99

August 26, 2013

We walked through the grass that’s getting too long again, across our yard and into our neighbor’s yard, cut through their driveway and stood on their shiny brown stoop. Elsie was in only a diaper because she was about to have a bath and get ready for bed when I realized we should visit her preschool (yes, at the next door neighbor’s home) before the morning since it had been a while since we’d been inside. She stepped confidently in, but then when the whole family was squatting down to welcome her and tell her all the wonderful things she’ll be doing, her face crumpled with overwhelm and she put her arms up to me, to be held. Home. She said. Bye. I consoled her and showed her toys. Our neighbor told her she could have pancakes or waffles in the morning. She just stared, her big blue eyes all wet. Home. We […]

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oh so very young

August 23, 2013

Our little acorn grew into a baby and then a toddler and now sometimes I think she’s fifteen, hands on her hips, shouting out orders. On Monday she will start preschool, right next door. The boys will begin school at their new school and for part of the day it will be me, just me, catching up on life and writing and other work. Tonight I tucked Elsie Jane in, several times. She was over-tired from a long day and couldn’t get to sleep. Her pink owl blanket was never quite right, according to her. It barely fits to cover her feet now and she calls Mama Mama Mama my bankie off! Before long it won’t go over her feet at all to cover them and I’m guessing this will frustrate her. Growth can do that, huh? I’m not ready!  Hopefully a new bigger blanket will do, until it doesn’t. Earlier today, we […]

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Just Write {97}

August 12, 2013

August 26th is the first day of school. 13 more days and we’ll be in a totally different stage of life, just like that. Today I was easily annoyed and trying to forgive myself. We moved, we’ve been Together a LOT this summer and it’s been so good, but still. Together. We’ve had a sick week and haven’t been able to do much of anything and I’m ready to knock some walls down, or something. Asher came up to me, looked at me with his Asherness and he asked if I would help him sort the Legos, by color. Really? I asked. All of them? YUP. We need to do that so then we can make a Lego city and be able to find all the pieces! Oh…okay, just let me finish my coffee and then I’ll help you. (My eyes were only half open.) I went to the playroom, still in my […]

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Last week, after my friend Ann wrote a hilarious school supplies list on Ann’s Rants, I left a comment on facebook for her, mentioning that I didn’t even have the school supplies list yet. This got me thinking something like, I should probably figure out how to get a school supply list for both Miles and Asher. Yeah, I’m quick like that. School starts August 26th here, and we have a couple of busy weeks ahead of us, so after Ann’s post reminded me to print out the lists, I headed to Target solo as soon as the opportunity presented itself. I love Target shopping alone and on this day I had a plan. I can do this quickly, I told myself. A kindergarten and second grade list can’t be that complicated…I know! I’ll pretend like I’m in a race! Super Target Sweep!  (Just so you know, before I started in on the […]

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