Saturday, October 29, 2011

Something More

We're full throttle into Halloween weekend around here. The pirate, Power Ranger, dinosaur and Mickey Mouse are all ready to go. I, Spider Girl, have a full slate of events scheduled this weekend, not only of the Halloween variety but of the wedding and baby variety as well. Joe Dirt is still out from last night's partying with the boys.

The pumpkins are carved; school parties are done. Now all that is left is a special family kid Halloween party and Trick-or-Treat. But along with that comes the opportunity to be something else, something more or something different.

And, after we're done with all of this, we get to enjoy November, a beautiful girl's 8th birthday and a gracious Thanksgiving celebration of blessings, family and food. And, oh yeah, after that it's a month of family, good food, shopping, friends, and some of the best days of the year at Christmas.

So it's no wonder that we love this time of year! Here's to fall and family and friendships and the act of weaving fun into everything. (Photos to come.)

Be safe out there tonight. Be yourself, but be something different, something more.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wine and the Written Word

This is one of those nights that confirms I made the right decision when I vowed not to make any major changes in the first year of having four children. My hormones are trying to square dance inside of me while my (im)patience tries to scrub the floor. And that fickle thing called hope is nowhere in sight.

I've got a glass of questionably old wine and the idea that I should be writing in my journal instead of typing on my laptop. There is a lot to be said for wine and the written word. Why, if I had the time, I'd sink myself into a bubble bath too. Sounds good in theory, right? But the water gets so cold, and I'm afraid I'll spill the wine or the bath on the paper.

I think I've got a case of the Mondays. And that's ok.

I had a teacher in high school that was incredibly quotable. He was grumpy and opinionated, and he favored students of one sex over the other. I was always up for a fight with him, but I respected him as well. The quote coming back to me tonight: "It won't be long until you want jingle bells; you gotta have jingle bells." It was about depression and coming out of it--somehow finding that thing to save you from yourself.

And so maybe that bath isn't a bad idea. Maybe that stroke of cursive "y" on fine paper with a roller-gel pen is what I need. If I'm really true to myself, I'll do the bare minimum and get to bed. I was up and up and up nursing a baby and smoothing back Lily's hair as her pneumonia cough haunted her slumber. This valley is very likely the result of the fact that I'm very tired and have been for a very long time.

A friend at work who has been feeling oppressed for many months was decidedly hopeful today. I saw her champion smile for the first time in a long time, and it made me smile too. I told her I'd borrow that smile and that hope, if she'd share them with me, and she agreed.

So tonight I borrow. I sip the wine and practice the written word. And tomorrow will be better. Because I'm blessed. And because, no matter the flood, hope floats.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Positive Change

Sometimes it feels like I'll never blog again. I've had an eight-day hiatus here, maybe my longest yet, but it isn't for lack of trying. The baby, beautiful boy that he is, is having trouble finding his happy place in the crib at bedtime. He's down, he's up, he's down, he's up, he's hungry, he's down, on and on... By the time I get him to sleep, I'm spent and half-asleep myself.

I think the hardest thing about my motherhood right now is feeling so behind all the time in spite of the fact that I'm always busy. I'm working, I'm thinking, I'm sidestepping disasters, and I'm trying to preserve my sanity. But I'm terribly behind on photo prints, scrapbooks, baby books and other things. I look at Luke and see that he's nearly nine months old and I wonder if I'm going to remember his babyhood at all. And I know his baby book looks bare compared to the others.

I still have hope that I'm going to catch up with all of this in true Erin fashion. I am pretty sure that I will; I just don't know when. Or with what resources. But it'll happen.

* * * * * *

I would be remiss not to write a brief statement tonight on how I'm feeling about the tragic loss of 50 exotic animals up near Zanesville, Ohio, about 50 miles from where I live. For those of you who might not know the story, see MSNBC.

I'm an exotic animal lover. I used to work at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and it was a magical place. During my relatively short stint there, I climbed into a pen with a Red River hog to interview its keeper, I got to pet the bridge of the nose of a male giraffe named Tsavo and I fed an elephant a "monkey biscuit" (no monkey involved). I had some amazing experiences. And I got to know some tremendous professional animal keepers who I'm sure are in deep mourning tonight.

The loss of animal life is terrible, but I'm in support of Sheriff Matt Lutz and his team for handing the situation with competence, urgency and confidence. The scene in Muskingum County could have been so much worse.

We can all state our opinions, conflicting though they may be, and attack one another for our differences. We can post the grisly, powerful image of the dead animals that escaped the scene and is now plastered all over Facebook. And we can think of the ways in which it might have gone down differently.

But, really, the only thing that makes a bit of sense is to take this tragedy and affect change in the way exotic animals are kept by individuals on private farms in Ohio. We can work together to influence positive change for both humans and animals in a state where, obviously, anything goes. We can be part of the citizenry that stands up for all beating hearts, whether they be human or animal, and for a better tomorrow.

Let's move forward from the horror of this day to make sure this never happens again. Not here. Not anywhere.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Forest

Colby and his buddy Brooklyn enjoy some downtime.

Earlier tonight I was feeling like the worst mother ever. I was home for less than an hour between working late and heading off to a league volleyball game. None of the kids were happy to see me go, especially Miss Lily, who was told weeks ago that she could come with me to watch me play a late game.

The time never seems right. This week she's recovering from pneumonia, and I knew I wouldn't be home until at least 9:30 p.m., a bit late when there are three days left in the school week.

It is hard to describe the guilt that comes with motherhood, especially motherhood times four. I decided to do this ten-week session of league volleyball for me. While I am enjoying it, I am learning that putting the oxygen mask on myself first, so to speak, also comes with pain.

I really do hate these times when I'm running like a crazy chicken with my head cut off. I know I am not alone in this, although sometimes it feels that way. There are millions of mothers out there trying to balance this crazy life and learning that, oh yes, it's true, that sometimes fatherhood really is motherhood without the guilt (and a million other things.)

As I drove alone to the game tonight, I found some solace on my iPod. I clicked on an oldie -- Bread's "Anthology" -- and it brought back memories of hours and hours spent "sitting on the wall" during my teenage years alone in my bedroom. I had the highest vertical jump in the history of my high school volleyball coach's tenure at the time. Every night I honed it by sitting on the wall and strengthening my quad muscles, sometimes for an hour at a time. Those days taught me tolerance and discipline. I learned a ton of albums, wrote in my journal, chatted on the phone.

Tonight, I got my $*^ kicked on the volleyball court. In spite of it, I left the gym feeling amazing. I had a great workout, an hour of physical play, good teammates.

And daddy handled bedtime, set the trash to the curb, and greeted me with a smile.

The worst mother in the world is feeling better, as one might suspect. Tomorrow is another day, another chance to get this right. If I can just keep giving my kids the right tools, they'll be stronger. There will be days when they have to go it alone, with mommy at work, on a trip, at a ballgame. But they'll be fine. And I'll give them kisses and cuddles every chance I get.

Balance is a beautiful thing. It's precious and it's rare. I just have to remind myself, often, to see the forest and not the trees.

Monday, October 10, 2011


In prepping Max for my cross-country trek, he was most fascinated by the idea of my flying on an airplane and wanted me to take pictures of the clouds. You got it, babe.

I had an amazing trip to Denver, Colorado. All of those fit, beautiful people out there are right: Denver is worth it! I didn't even have a chance to get into the mountains, but I know God treads there, in that beautiful city.

I did get to stay at a drop-dead gorgeous hotel. I met up with an old friend. I ate like a queen. I drank wine with some really successful, really genuine people. I visited with my "godbrother," and put that special time with him like a penny in my pocket.

It was amazing.

And, oh yeah, it was a work trip. The events went well, the meeting was productive. It was a pat on the back, a push to do more, do better, do right.

I called home to talk to the kids several times. They were in good hands, and I was so busy and gone for such a short time that I didn't long for them. Lily had been diagnosed with walking pneumonia the very afternoon I was slated to leave. My mom swooped in to help with her, and I am so grateful. Dave did an amazing job, and I came back to happy kids and a clean house.

When I left Denver, it was 34 degrees and snowing. Three hours later, I was welcomed by sunshine and 80 degrees in Columbus. Coming home was also a transition of the heart.

I am back to wiping noses, pushing swings, folding laundry, and playing chauffer. I'm back where I have found my place among my sweet family, my reasons.

The trip was a blessing, but it's a blessing to be home to this little man and his siblings as well.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wine a Bit

My life right now is one to-do list after another. I'm preparing for a trip to Denver and three special events at work. I'm up to my eyes in details and trying to fit so many tasks into the matrix. All of this, along with my life, is incredibly overwhelming.

But I'm hanging in. My car and my body are both threatening to drop out, but I'm forging on. A couple more weeks, and I'll be crashing.

The kids are all well. They got a brief taste of mommy being away this past weekend when I went to Pittsburgh to visit my best girl, Roberta, and celebrate her bachelorette status before she wills it away later this year. There were several bottles of wine, some really great margherita pizza, amazing line-dancing cowboys and laughs galore. Some rode bulls. (As in mechanical.) It was an enjoyable, memorable night. And I rocked it in a new dress from Target (that's tar-JAY) and my brown suede high-heeled boots.

Now I'm suffering from a really jacked-up knee. It's been whining for weeks and will no longer be ignored.

My goals right now: bed, accomplish a couple dozen major tasks tomorrow at work, possibly risk this knee further by playing my league volleyball games, pack for Denver, figure out how I'm going to fly with 60-plus ounces of breast milk and -- oh yeah -- leave my four kiddos for three days with a kiss and a promise to come home.

Taste the Rockies!

Whatever moments of utter relaxation I manage to find in Denver will be much deserved. I'm looking forward to long showers, plush robes and some great times with awesome people. But maybe not as awesome as this one.

So long for now...


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