January 7, 2015
by Tricia
12 Comments

Again

sunset

And here we are again. In the car just after 8am, willing the warm air to push faster through the vents, our breath pooling in clouds in front of our eyes. “Do you think I remember how to get there?” I ask her. “I’ll help you!” she says. And off we go.

Here we are again, her small fingers wrapping around mine and clasping with surprising strength in the open gate of the school playground. She’ll go and be fine and won’t shed a tear. We’ve been talking about this moment for days and beneath the cold and the hesitation and the dreams still fresh in her mind of pajama mornings with waffles and Legos, she really wants to be here. But this moment is the hardest. So she holds on tight and I try to break free and I spend the ride home wishing I had just let her hold on until she was ready.

Here we are again, in the car heading backwards, away from her and it feels so strange. A man is pulling strings of white lights off a tree as we pass and as we drive the season is dismantled and tucked away. This is it now, we’re in it, the velocity of the routine will now carry us forward, feeling strange and awkward yet vaguely familiar and it’s that vague familiarity that will keep us moving though we’re a bit unsure and still wishing for Sunday.

Here we are again, taking off shoes and coats and settling into a house that feels just perfectly sized when we’re all together but far too big when it’s just us two. But we bustle about, cleaning up breakfast dishes again and pulling out toys again and trying to just keep moving so that we forget that we feel a little bit lost and that something is missing.

Here we are again and it’s not even noon and my sights are set on 3:00 because after that the day takes care of itself and she comes home and then he does too and we’re together again and I can forget for a few hours that we haven’t been lounging around all day. I can, again, move about to the cadence of playtime and dinner making and questions and answers. And just yesterday I was starting to feel ready, the questions and answers dragging on me and feeling heavy and oh the quiet, I want the quiet. But now I have it and I miss the noise.

Here we are again, starting another year and it’s only a matter of time before I forget about stockings and stars and twinkling lights as we find the groove and settle into it, prepared to take another year by storm.

~~~~~
Linking up with Lisa for her 1-word prompt challenge. Pick a word and join us!

January 6, 2015
by Tricia
5 Comments

The Yellow Living Room

fingers and door

Our living room was yellow. Not a bright, neon yellow. A sort of muted yellow. The kind that you might call cream in certain lighting. It wasn’t what we would have chosen but it wasn’t a bad color. It wasn’t offensive and it didn’t clash with anything we brought with us. Which is probably why it stayed around for so long.

We hung our pictures and artwork on the nails the previous owners left behind. And where our decor didn’t match theirs in size or shape, we improvised. We didn’t make choices or decisions. We simply hung our lives on the nails that someone else had put in place. The faded outlines of this home’s former life peeked out behind ours but we were moving so fast we barely noticed.

I was fine with the yellow. More fine than I should have been, probably. But, you know, there are other things to pay attention to. Lunches to pack and playdates to plan and forms to fill out and deadlines to meet. When you only breeze through your house, rushing from one thing to the next, the colors all blur together anyway. Who has time to think about the color of a wall when there are mouths to feed and crumbs to pick up and a life to live in between?

So it bothered him before it bothered me. But once he noted it I couldn’t help but agree. The yellow had to go. So we picked out a color and bought some paint and carved out some time in the long Thanksgiving weekend. And he pulled out the nails and patched up the holes and rolled a new shade of grey to cover up all of that yellow.

And suddenly, the room felt like ours. We decided and chose and made plans and we did it and it wasn’t as hard as we’d thought it would be.

Life moves and it moves so darn fast and it doesn’t stop. It will move you with it, just sweep you up and usher you along and you can ride the stream and float along, never once making a choice or planting a stake or picking a direction. You can live your life on the hooks that someone else has placed there for you.

I know you can, because I have.

But I don’t want to anymore.

“I want to be awake to my life.  Awake to my family’s life.  To the lives of all those I love.  To the world around me in all its wounded splendor.  If I am wide awake – not anxious, not fearful, not hesitant, not impulsive – through my open eyes I begin to see the paths of possibility, almost as if they were outlined in neon.”

~Dani Shapiro

My word for 2015 is “intent.” Because as my husband dragged a paintbrush across our living room walls, it became absurd to me that we’d lived with someone else’s choice for more than two years and hadn’t ever found it to be ridiculous. That we’d walked by nails sticking out of our walls for more than two years and never once stopped to so much as yank them out. And then I realized how often I am not awake to my life. How often I just jump from one hook to the next, delighted that someone else has already done the work, without ever stopping to pick up a hammer myself. I can’t complain about where floating along has taken me. After all, I’m right here and I like it here. But where would I be if I started to choose?

This year, we’ll find out.

In the meantime, I know we are six days into the year now and 2015 is already moving steadily along but I promised a new quote to begin the year, by the ever wise about New Years Neil Gaiman, and I intend to keep my promise (see what I did there?). So here it is. You’ve, no doubt, read it already as I’ve seen it in my feeds over and over but it’s a good one and if you’re starting your Tuesday and already feeling the drag of being back in the routine, then you need to read it again anyway.

“May your coming year be filled with magic & dreams & good madness. I hope you read some fine books & kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art (write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can). And somewhere, in the next year, I hope you surprise yourself.”

~ Neil Gaiman

 

December 31, 2014
by Tricia
5 Comments

I made my mistakes. I Did Something.

The house is still.

The kids are (finally) asleep. M is out with friends. The cats have even tucked themselves away somewhere. For now. And it’s quiet. It’s quiet like it is so rarely quiet. I can hear the soft sounds of our home, clocks ticking and air moving, the soundtrack I usually don’t even know is there.

When he reminded me this morning that he’d be out tonight, I looked forward to this moment. This moment of still and quiet. I crave this, usually, at this time of year every year. I want to pause and be still and reflect on a cycle of days gone, capture the good and quietly release the bad and ready myself for a new cycle to begin. I’ve sought this peace at the end of every year for over a decade and I’m almost superstitious about it. Though, if I’m honest, the ritual hasn’t always brought a good year. No, that takes other things entirely.

But this evening I lingered upstairs even after the kids had quieted down. I wandered around social media. I painted my nails a pale shade of gold, feeling more sparkly than introspective. I even woke my oldest to apologize to her for yelling at her earlier. I could have snuck by with the lingering and the reading and even the nail painting. But waking a sleeping child is the ultimate sign of avoidance.

Tomorrow we’ll have people over to celebrate the new year. It will be a small and early party, as New Years parties go. We all have small children and we wouldn’t dream of keeping any one of them up to see the clock turn. Though I did promise to wake my girl to wish her a Happy New Year in the moment. And I will. But our friends will all be gone long before the ball drops. And still, I spent my evening yesterday hanging glittery shapes from the ceiling. Because lately, it seems, that inviting people into our home means I must, first, hang things from the ceiling. And we just took down the snowflakes…

But the sparkles and celebration preparations are just further distractions. Like my nails and my apology. Distractions from what I know I must do and what I can’t seem to bring myself to this year. It’s time to pack up 2014 and begin again.

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boyatthepark

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And it’s a little bit silly because I know, logically, that January 1 will dawn just as any other day dawns. Eventually I’ll remember to write a ‘5’ at the end of the year instead of a ‘4’ but, otherwise, things will keep moving along. There’s no reason for my world to shift any more or less drastically as this week ends than it did before. Flipping to a new calendar doesn’t mean closing the door to all that happened in 2014. It really just means creating new space and more space to keep opening more doors. Breathing in a fresh sense of perspective and taking advantage of the energy of the new.

But I always have trouble saying goodbye to a good year. The good ones have a certain magic to them that I always worry will turn. I look back and I can still feel how 2007 seemed to pale in comparison to 2006. How 2009 felt dreadful after a sparkling 2008. How 2011 made up beautifully for a struggle of a 2010 but 2012 and 2013 were, once again, so so tricky. And so I worry that the wonder that was 2014 will turn in another 27 or so hours.

3 friends

This year changed me and my world in ways I could have never predicted, wasn’t even sure I wanted, and yet, now, I can’t imagine my life without.

This was the year I began living my dream. This was the year I began to take my writing seriously. This was the year I found my words in places I used to only dream about. This was the year I began working on the book I’ve been thinking about for years.

indigineous_selfie

This was the year she began Kindergarten and settled into hobbies and loves and passions that bring her joy. It was the year she began to read and write and I’ll always love this year for the doors it opened for her. This was the year he began to talk and introduced us to a new way of parenting because he needed a little something different.

boyhay

This was a year that tested and questioned and demanded. And through each test, we answered and tried and I feel good about where we’re landing here, at the end of it. This was a year that, mostly, we didn’t just let happen. We made it happen.

I began the year here with this Neil Gaiman quote. (I’ll begin next year with another later this week because Mr. Gaiman gets New Years). I didn’t look back on these words much after I included them but still, somehow, they came true for me. I made mistakes this year. I made new things, tried new things, and I lived and pushed myself and everything changed. This year I Did Something. And for that, I’ll never forget 2014.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing the things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

~Neil Gaiman

Happy last day of 2014 to you. I hope you have found a moment to reflect on all that was as you prepare for all that is to come.

December 29, 2014
by Tricia
2 Comments

The best Christmas yet

It’s quiet, save for the toddler’s light snoring behind me and the Jazz flowing from the speakers, the melodies that lull them to sleep. We’re conferring about directions in hushed tones and holding our breath each time we stop for fear of disturbing their dreams. It’s been a whirlwind trip and they need their rest. And I’m enjoying the quiet.

cloudysky

For the first time since baby boy joined us, we traveled for Christmas this year. I used to think of holiday traditions in absolutes. We either travel or we don’t. We pick a way and stick to it. I like absolutes for the way they can make decisions easier. I like certainty and predictability. But life doesn’t play by absolutes. So for a while we celebrated at home, just us, and this year we traveled and I’m learning now that we have no idea what we’ll do next year until next year arrives. And that’s not just ok. It’s perfectly as it should be.

This year we needed family. We needed the excitement and chaos of wrapping paper flying in a dozen different directions. We needed fancy dresses and Christmas sweaters and and a big meal with lots of laughter and love. We didn’t need it all because it had been a tough year. We just needed it. As I sit here now, still feeling warm from memories of yesterday, I can’t imagine staying home for a small holiday ever again. But who knows what we will need a year from now. That’s the beauty of not living in absolutes. We can decide when we know better what we’ll need.

christmasmorningmusic

In the meantime, I’m calling it. This was our best Christmas and holiday season yet. For all of the angst I felt at Thanksgiving, the visions that were so perfect in my mind and so grainy in real life, this season made up for it. It felt magical but not in a big dance of the sugar plum fairies kind of way. In the smaller way of real life. Because there were, of course, Thanksgiving-like moments. Activities planned to perfection in my head and already made into memories in my heart that looked nothing like my visions when played out in front of me. There were tantrums while walking around the light displays and drives to see holiday lights that ended in tears. There was a complete meltdown in the toy store followed by a very un-ceremonial drop of a toy in the box for tots. Christmas day, as any other day, was not without its bit of yelling, it’s drips of tears, its words that wished they could have disappeared the moment they were uttered. But in between it all were these moments that shine much brighter than the darkness could extinguish. The moment when all of us stood quietly pushing gum drops into frosting spread across a giant gingerbread cookies. The moment when we all sat on the living room, eating dinner on the floor by the fire and the tree. The moment when we all sat there on Christmas morning, little eyes in a permanent state of all lit up at each new surprise. The moment when I sat down Christmas evening, surrounded by some of the people I love the most, and all we could talk about is how glad we all were to be there.

christmasmorningdancing

The world doesn’t operate in absolutes but I like to think we set a new standard for Christmas this year. And it has nothing to do with the traveling or not, the things we did, the gifts that were exchanged. It has, I believe, to do with our approach. We wanted our holiday to be a certain way and so we orchestrated everything – our plans, our ideas, our wishes, even our moods, to make it so. And it worked.

I hope your holiday worked too. Wishing you a lovely last week of the year.

December 23, 2014
by Tricia
4 Comments

2nd annual Party at the North Pole

At 6:15 on Saturday morning she crept into my room. She sidled up to my bed, rested her hand on my shoulder and whispered “Welcome to the North Pole!” to my sleeping face.

northpoleplacesetting

I still remember the days when I would have to wake her. The excitement not yet completely absorbed, not seeping in enough to wake her earlier than a normal day. Realizations about the day ahead wouldn’t dawn without some prompting. I didn’t understand it at the time but I was living it for her then. Pulling her along, though she came willingly, she would have been just as happy for every day to be the same. But not anymore. And it’s just another reminder that we’re here. Right where the magic is, we’re here. She’s living it now for herself and she’s making it all her own and I never thought I’d want to share the reins but I really, really do. Because the sparkle she brings is far brighter than anything I could do on my own.

I hit my usual low point on Friday evening. You know, the one where I question why I’m doing this and what is it all for? With a throbbing migraine and the passenger seat in our car stuck in recline so that I had to ride home from dinner in the toddler’s lap and early worries about Christmas day weather and travel issues and a few work things that just brought me down last week, I was not in the mood. But I plugged along because, well, when you are expecting 7 pajama-clad friends to show up at your door the next afternoon, what else can you do? And on Saturday? Of course, the car got fixed and I let Christmas travel be another day’s worries and I was glad that I spent my exhausted hours on Friday evening plotting out how a five year old could make a rockin snowman ornament.

Because this was not to be missed.

snowman ornament

northpoleplacesetting

flying powder

reindeerfoodchaos

Last year, we had 14 kids. This year? 8 including my own two. I was serious about the word calm this year. No more chaotic parties in which I play traffic cop more than mom-creating-the-magic. This year I got in it. I got to watch her and her friends bounce from thing to thing. I got to watch him really start getting into it (that’s him, up there in the corner, with the silver glitter. His reindeer food is all glitter and flying powder which, of course, I love). I got to chat with other moms and just enjoy the moment, fun and magic and candy and cookies. Which is really what it’s all about. Is it really magical if the mama isn’t there to witness and feel the sparkle too? I think not.

cookietime

everyone knows a Lego ladder and dad’s blue glasses wine glass charm make a table setting complete

As always, it takes me a few tries to properly weigh the priorities. I’m proud to say that this year, when at 9pm Friday night, M suggested that he buy pre-made cookie dough the next morning, I didn’t white knuckle the baking duties. The kids don’t know homemade from store-bought. And maybe they don’t know ‘mom’s in the magic’ vs. ‘mom’s a ball of stress’ either. But I kinda think they feel it.

This year’s pajama party at the north pole was every bit the magical experience I wanted it to be. Next year will be different, with more 3-year-olds in the mix again and a whole different mix up of kids but I’m already excited. Somewhere between the snowman-making and the obligatory (and loud) child-led laps around the house, my migraine faded and I found my holiday spirit.

~~~~~

Want a piece of this magic? Here’s some of the stuff that made this come together. If you read last year’s how-to post, much of what I did this year was the same. In fact, as I joked to a friend, this party sorta came out of a box. I bought a lot of the ornament craft materials at Target and Michael’s on sale at the end of last year. I saved the reindeer food containers, signs, and labels and just brushed them off again. I even saved the food materials (glitter, oats, raisins, coconut for flying powder). So head back there for all that goodness, including printables.

Bingo cards I printed out from Crazy Little Projects.

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As for the nanny who wore her owl pajamas and agreed to be a toy owl who had come to life to read books to the kids during the quieter moments (backstory by my girl)? She’s one of a kind and all mine. But I hope you have such a person in your life too.

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