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I love seeing how my kids’ answers to these questions have changed from time to time.

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?

K: I love you.
A: Be polite.

2. What makes Mommy happy?
K: Being with us.
A: Getting chocolate from Wendy.

3. What makes Mommy sad?
K: Us being sad.
A: Being away from us for long increments of time.

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?
K: Tickles me until I go pee.
A: “Behhhhd.”

5. What was Mommy like as a child?
K: Old compared to her brother.
A: Like me.

6. How old is Mommy?
K: 42
A: 42

7. How tall is Mommy?
K: 5 feet
A: 5 feet 4 inches

8. What is Mommy’s favorite thing to do?
K: Spend time with her family.
A: Go to Maine.

9. What does Mommy do when you’re not around?
K: Drink wine.
A: Book club.

10. If Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
K: Running for president.
A: Singing.

11. What is Mommy really good at?
K: Loving people.
A: Acting.

12. What is Mommy not very good at?
K: Giving Katie dessert every day.
A: I don’t know.

13. What does Mommy do for her job?
K: She does Congress.
A: Works on the budget for Congress, I think.

14. What is Mommy’s favorite food?
K: Pumpkin soup.
A: Belgian chocolate.

15. What makes you proud of Mommy?
K: She takes care of her younger brother.
A: She argues her point.

16. If Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
K: Snoopy.
A: Minnie Mouse.

17. What do you and Mommy do together?
K: Snuggle and I read to her.
A: Go on trips..

18. How are you and Mommy the same?
K: We’re related.
A: We could be identical twins.

19. How are you and Mommy different?
K: Mommy’s eyes are greener and I’m not married. I know that’s a pretty bad answer but its the only thing I could come up with.
A: I have a squishy nose and mom doesn’t.

20. How do you know Mommy loves you?
K: It’s in your eyes and your heart.
A: She tells me every day.

21. Where is Mommy’s favorite place to go?
K: Maine.
A: Home.

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Last Friday the 7 year old got “lost” while visiting my brother. I say “lost” because it was for such a brief period of time that she was the only one that knew she was lost. Does that even count?  To her, it does, I’m sure.  Poor baby had run out of my brother’s backyard to chase the dog [who was chasing a squirrel, who swallowed a cat to catch the bird…oh, wait…] wound up on the street behind Uncle Mikey’s house and got disoriented. So she approached a safe-looking lady and said “My name is Katie and I am visiting my uncle who lives near here but now I am lost. Can you help me find my Mommy?” So the nice lady called the police…  and 30 seconds later, three of us come flying out of the yard, shouting for kid and dog…and see them both 50 yards up the street… The neighbor explained what happened (minus the phoning the police part) and we said thank you, thank you, and started to walk home. So I was pretty surprised when a police car pulled up next to me to see if everything was ok. I said it was. You’ll be happy to know he didn’t just take my word for it, he asked my sister-in-law — who was standing next to me — if the child I was carrying really belonged to me. Anyway — crisis averted…yay for my nephew who came inside to tell us that Miss Dog had escaped and Miss Thing had run after her. Yay for Miss Thing for asking a safe-looking grown up for help. Yay for Miss Dog for coming back when she was called. Yay for Miss Thing for figuring out that next time she should get a grownup before chasing after Miss Dog [Because KC has tags with our phone number on it…but I don’t have any tags, right, Mommy?”]

It made a good story to share with DH later that night when we called to say goodnight (he had to work and couldn’t leave The ‘Shire.)   A few hours later I got an email from DH… it seems that he, too, is vying for the title of Poet Laureate of the family. He said:

Just in case our young Poet hasn’t yet begun to reflect on another weekend adventure…

Running running into the street
after the dog with fleet feet
Turn around and house is gone
Mommy?

It says a lot about my family that my brother, SIL and I all burst out laughing while my mom was appropriately horrified and said “That’s SICK.”

I am a writer who lost her muse. I am muse-less. In need of Muse.

I have spent the last several weeks looking forward to getting back to writing again. Writing for me, not writing for work — which I have been doing nonstop, to the point where it has sucked my life force away. On my blog, no one cares about whether I use Chicago style or not, or whether my comma usage is up to par, or whether I use words on the Naughty List [all of which appear in Webster’s, for the record.]

So when I finally found time to write, I have…nothing to say? Not possible. Me, who cannot shut up, ever, has nothing to say? How is this possible?

I look at my list of Blogs I Heart for inspiration. Nothing. I think about the days and weeks of “bloggable moments” — I know I had them but I can’t remember what they were. Ugh. Uninspired.

And then it occurs to me that he most inspired person I know lately is my daughter. What inspired her?  A tragic house and barn fire that we witnessed last Saturday. What did she do with her inspiration? She wrote a poem.  She is all of 7 and her way of processing scary shit is POETRY.  Awesome.

For background, here’s what happened…

On Saturday night we were at our friends’ house a few towns over for dinner. Just before dinner, the guys look out the window and say — about the house across the street —  “ummmmmmm, that house is on FIRE!”  HUGE flames were everywhere — I call 911, we instruct the kids to stay inside with the dogs, and the 4 adults ran across the street to see what was going on…the barn was totally engulfed in flames and it was moving to the house, quickly. The owners weren’t home but the guy who rents the back apartment had just come back from dinner with his two pre-teen kids… the kids were hysterical; we took them back to my girlfriend’s house to calm down and watch Harry Potter with our kids.  We went back across the street to help move cars out of the driveway, get the dogs to safety, move propane tanks and other things that could explode, save a baby goat, etc.  I attempt to move a dump truck.  [Go ahead, take a moment and picture that…and yes, I was as clueless as you’d think a suburban kid from Long Island would be. But I moved the stick shift car without stalling out.] It was a big deal (the fire – not me driving stick shift) —  very scary and lasted about 4 hours. There were easily 10-15 fire trucks from all of the surrounding towns in the Mutual Aid District. No one was hurt…most of the animals made it out of the house and barn  — they lost 2 goats but the cows, 2 dogs, and 1 baby goat made it. Half the house was saved but the barn and the back half of the house — including the poor renter’s apartment — were lost.

I’ve never seen anything like it — it was surreal, movie-like. The kids were fantastic and they are all processing through it in their own ways.  Katie had trouble sleeping that night and came into our room for the rest of the night, which she hardly ever does anymore.  The next night she had a nightmare but she says she can’t remember what it was about.

Her class has been doing a poetry unit since last week. I picked her up from school on Monday and she told me she wrote a new poem. She recited it for me in the car.

Fire

Blazing hot fire
Burning up my barn.
Run away, run away.
Burning up my house.
Run to the neighbors
Until it’s all out.

She made up new poems off the cuff all the way home, about the most random of objects — whatever we drove past on the way home, she was Miss Slam Poet of the Century. Trucks and Ducks (yeah, I was concerned for a minute for where that one was headed;) icy lakes and glittery rocks; barns; puppies…they just flew out of her, effortlessly.

I guess you find inspiration in the simplest of places.

More Perfect Moments

So much of enjoying life is about how you approach it. There are quotes and philosophies galore about that…

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

“Every day I have a choice to be happy.” – ??

“If you don’t get everything you want, think of the things you don’t get that you don’t want.”  ~Oscar Wilde

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”  ~Mary Engelbreit

We made a conscious choice to live in a “simpler place” — literally and figuratively — several years ago — a place where the car you drive matters less. Where kids can be kids, and unstructured playtime that focuses on being outdoors is the norm, not the exception. Where the line between Needs and Wants is clearer. Where family time is something you live, not something to which you aspire as you are racing to Yoga class to find a 45 minute respite from your over-scheduled life. A place where I consciously focus on the positive instead of dwell on the negative. The literal move made this figurative move easier but it’s not necessary to move house to gain clarity. The more important shift is in your head. Stripping away the extraneous bullshit in my life made room to appreciate Perfect Moments.

I wrote about a beautiful, happy one not too long ago. But Perfect Moments are not necessarily happy moments; they are moments when all is clear, when everything gels. They can appear, on the face of it, trivial, unhappy or even dangerous. I had one yesterday.

It’s late morning and I’m skiing with Danny and some good friends. The kids are off by themselves so it’s just the 4 adults. Conditions are horrible — golf ball and softball-sized icy chunks litter the slopes. Wind gusts so strong that the resort occasionally stops the main chairlift.  But still, we are enjoying the outdoors, are with friends, and are getting exercise doing something we love. And — every skiers Nirvana — there are no lift lines.  We’re halfway down an expert trail, on the steepest part. My friend stops close to the edge to rest. I stop alongside her. Or attempt to. I skid and slide on the ice, fall into a crouch and slow almost to a stop,  inches from crashing into her. “Whoa! that was close!”  I start to stand up. Still mostly crouched down, a wicked-strong wind gust hits me from behind and pushes me closer to the edge. I lose my balance, get blown over onto my back and gravity takes over. I slide downhill head-first, spreadeagled, half-laughing, half-screaming.  I pick up speed. I am off the groomed part of the trail, in the rough. I am not slowing down. This is kind of fun! My helmet is bumping over ice chunks. I try to turn so that I can see where I am going — I know there are boulders down here. A stream? Is there a stream on this part of the trail? I try to remember. Where am I in relation to the ski lift towers? I can’t turn myself. I don’t know what is behind me, what I might hit. Now am a little scared, but mostly it feels surreal. I feel the strain in my neck. “Protect my neck, protect my neck, protect my neck…” I clasp my mittened hands behind my neck. I do not know if this will help but I feel better doing it. I know how awful this fall must look to those watching…my waterskiing experience kicks in and I keep thinking ‘wave your hand when you stop to signal that you are ok.’ Finally I stop. I wave my hand. I can already tell I have another killer bruise forming on my hip. Seconds later, Kris is next to me, saying “ARE YOU OK?!” I sit up and see huge “rocks” of ice that I narrowly missed. I am (miraculously) not seriously hurt. I burst out laughing and can’t stop. I am laughing so hard my eyes are tearing. Danny and Kevin ski over to us and one of them says something like “We came over the headwall and saw you laying on the ground not moving. We thought you were paralyzed.” I am still laughing — adrenaline, I think. “BEST. FALL. EVER! I wish my brother was here to see it — he would have laughed his ass off.” It is a beautiful day, I am doing something I love, I am not hurt, I can laugh at myself, and I am with people I care about and who care about me. Life Is Good.

It is easy to celebrate the obvious good times, large and small — the birth of children, promotions at work, a good report card. But finding joy in everyday moments, in moments that are not inherently or obviously “perfect moments” — that is a true gift. And more and more, I find it is the key to my happiness. It is definitely the road less traveled. And yes, it has made all the difference.

The 2010 Christmas card, from Shutterfly

The Mommy Meme – Take II. I asked my kids these questions in March 2009 — it was fun to see which answers changed…and which stayed the same.

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?
K: Sweet dreams, Baby Girl.
A: I love you.

2. What makes Mommy happy?
K: Hugs and kisses with cherries on top.
A: Being with her girls.

3. What makes Mommy sad?
K: Having to go on business trips and leaving us.
A: Leaving us.

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?
K: Pretends to tickle me and I laugh, then she really tickles me and I laugh more.
A: Tickles me to death.

5. What was Mommy like as a child?
K: Sweet
A: Sweet

6. How old is Mommy?
K: 41.
A: 41.

7. How tall is Mommy?
K: 5 feet 2.
A: 5 foot 1

8. What is Mommy’s favorite thing to do?
K: Have fun with her girls.
A: Seeing family and friends all together.

9. What does Mommy do when you’re not around?
K: Work.
A: Work.

10. If Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
K: She’d get two trophies. Best singer and best mom in the world. But the specialist one is for best mom in the world.
A: Best mom in the world.

11. What is Mommy really good at?
K: Loving her girls.
A: Singing.

12. What is Mommy not very good at?
K: Standing on tippy ties without wobbling.
A: Nothing.

13. What does Mommy do for her job?
K: Goes on business trips and asks people questions, and figures out what to do, and tells the government how to solve problems so they make better rules.
A: Work for the government.

14. What is Mommy’s favorite food?
K: Grammy Pam and Gigi’s food.
A: Everything home made.

15. What makes you proud of Mommy?
K: You always love people and love us and love to cook.
A: Always does stuff to help us.

16. If Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
K: A puppy from veggie tales
A: A chef with big eyes.

17. What do you and Mommy do together?
K: Go to the movies.
A: Bike ride.

18. How are you and Mommy the same?
K: We have the same skin and hair and we both know how to read.
A: We look alike.

19. How are you and Mommy different?
K: I don’t wear glasses.
A: I’m not as great a cook.

20. How do you know Mommy loves you?
K: Because she comes up with great ideas and always shares her love with everybody.
A: She gives me hugs and kisses even when I don’t want them.

21. Where is Mommy’s favorite place to go?
K: Nonni’s.
A: Home.

Keeper Extraordinaire.

 

Napping.

Somewhere…

 

Hiking part of the S-R-K.

Jake-ology

You’re all tagged for Meme Thursday. Repost this as your name followed by “ology.”

FOODOLOGY:
What is your salad dressing of choice? oil and vinegar
What is your favorite sit-down restuarant? Buckhead Diner. Kinkaid’s.
What is your favorite fast food restaurant? gross – none.
What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of? Pasta, ice cream
What are your pizza toppings of choice? plain cheese; broccoli.
How many televisions are in your house? Two,
What color cell phone do you have? black with a red cover

BIOLOGY:
Are you right-handed or left-handed? Right
Have you ever had anything removed from your body? My wisdom teeth and my kids.
What is the last heavy item you lifted? About 30 pounds of bacon.
Have you ever been knocked unconscious? No
Have you ever fainted? Once.

BULLCRAPOLOGY:
If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die? No.
If you could change your name, what would you change it to? Molly, Kristin, or Tess
How many pairs of flip flops do you own? That I wear? 2.
Last person you talked to? my kids

FAVORITOLOGY:
Season? Fall or Winter
Holiday? Christmas
Day of the week? Friday
Month? October and December
Color? Red
Drink? coffee, red wine, seltzer
Alcoholic? red wine, though white is growing on me. Dirty martini. A really good G&T.

CURRENTOLOGY:
Missing someone? Yes.
What are you listening to? the stove fan.
What are you watching? Nothing right now
Worrying about? too much to do, not enough time to do it.
What’s the last movie you saw? Toy Story 3 in the theater. Infidel on Netflix.
Do you smile often? Yes.
If you could change your eye color what would it be? Blue, but mine have gotten pretty green/hazel over the years and I like them a lot
What’s on your wish list for your birthday? vacation.
Can you do a chin-up? exactly one.
Does the future make you more nervous or excited? excited.
Have you been in a car wreck? Yes
Have you caused a car wreck? No
Do you have an accent? depends on who you ask
Last time you cried? I laughed so hard this morning that I cried.
Plans tonight? no idea.
Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom? Yes. But clearly I hadn’t.
Name three things you bought yesterday? tea, breakfast, eggs
Have you met someone who changed your life? Yes.
For the better or worse? Better.
How did you bring in the New Year? Stupid, over-rated holiday. Best spent with best friends.
Would you go back in time if you were given the chance? Maybe.
What songs do you sing in the shower? I don’t.
Have you held hands with someone today? no
Who was the last person you took a picture of? my daughter
Are most of the friends in your life new or old? a mix
Do you like pulpy orange juice? Yes
Last time you ate peanut butter and jelly? a few weeks ago
What were you doing at 12 a.m. last night? Sleeping.
What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? Why the hell are my kids up at 5:30 on a day there is no school?

Perfect Moments

Yes, yes, I said I’d do Perfect Moment Tuesdays and it’s Wednesday. Bygones.

The Perfect Moment Project was started by two women who, after bitching and complaining about the state of the world and their lives, began thinking about moments when everything seemed right. When everything was peaceful. When there was clarity and mindfulness. My cousin Jessica is doing a version of this on Facebook – each day she updates her status with something for which she is thankful.

My Perfect Moment this week came today when, amid the morning before-school chaos, Bug handed me a homemade envelope. It had a fancy picture of…something unidentifiable on it. It was all taped up. She insisted I open it Right. Now. I set it aside to pour some coffee first. MOMMY! Here. Read.  She had opened it for me and inside was a homemade card addressed to Mommy, Daddy, and Anya. And inside the card, written in 6 year old phonetic chicken scratch, were the words to Annie’s Song. Annie’s Song is one of Our Songs. I’ve sung it to her since the day she was born, and of all three of Our Songs, it is her favorite. After giving her that song most nights for the last 6 years, she found a way to give it back to me.

Bliss.

Ga-ga for NaBloPoMo

Ra, Ra, ah, ah, ah
Roma, Roma,  ma
Gaga, oooh la la
Na Blo-oh Po Mo…

Yeah – I’ll tell you right now I am not going to make it every day in November (a prime clue being that my first attempt in November is on November 3…)  but I do promise that I will revive this blog. I know you’ve missed me. 🙂

Though I am at a loss for topics. I might have to tag-team my friend Wreke and just comment on her posts or steal her topics. I believe this month she’s doing “pet peeves” — and lord knows I have plenty of those (yeah, person who has to get on/in the metro/elevator/escalator before I get off/out, I’m talking to you.)

OK, I’m back. I know, you didn’t know I was gone… I was surfing my friends’ blogs looking for some way to organize my blogging this month — I need themes, I just work so much better when I am structured.  And I am shamelessly stealing from many friends… so far I have:

Pet Peeve Monday
Perfect Moment Tuesday
Free-for-all Wednesday
Meme Thursday
Photo Friday

OK, it’s Thursday. Here we go…

You.
Can.
Only.
Type.
One.
Word.

No.
Explanations.

Not as easy as you might think…

1. Yourself: Busy

2. Your partner: Funny

3. Your hair:  Shiny

4. Your mother/stepmother: creative/giving

5. Your dog: Soon

6. Your favorite item: Necklace

7. Your dream last night: None

8. Your favorite drink: Wine

9. Your dream car: Convertible

10. The room you are in: Livingroom

12. Your fear: Tragedy

13. What you want to be in 10 years: Happy

14. Who you hung out with last night: Friends

15. What you’re not: Mean

16. Muffin: Corn

17: One of your wish list items: Thin

18: Time: Speedy

19. The last thing you did: Read

20. What you are wearing: PJs

21. Your favorite weather: Cool

22. Your favorite book: Historical

23. The last thing you ate: Squash

24. Your life: Full

25. Your mood: Peaceful

26. Your best friend(S): Loved

27. What are you thinking about right now? Beach

28. Your car: New

29. What are you doing at the moment?: Duh.

30. Your summer: Fun

31. Your relationship status: Married

32. What is on your TV?: Office

33. What is the weather like?: Wet

34. When is the last time you laughed?: Tonight