If you buy a dragon shoes…

Any mother or father knows that getting out of the door in one piece can sometimes be a little tricky. I once remember a coworker telling me that, once I had made it to work after surviving the morning and dropping Harrison and Ella off at daycare, the hardest part of my day was over. And she was correct. When I became a stay at home mom, there were a few glorious weeks where I realized we didn’t HAVE to be anywhere on time, and I thought I was finally free from the madness that is leaving the house with toddlers in tow.

We couldn’t stay home forever, though. Eventually we made trips to the grocery store, and the gym, and to friends’ houses. Although we weren’t tied to a specific time line for these outings, I still had to manage to get both children dressed, groomed, packed (you know, because everyone needs a three course meal, a drink in their favorite cup, seventeen diapers and two changes of clothes even for a ride down the street) and strapped in the car before we could go anyplace. This can obviously wear on one’s nerves, but it is not an impossible feat.

The kids attend a preschool a half hour away from our house, so three days a week we pack up and go to school, with all of the aforementioned items tossed in the minivan. Some days it was a little hectic. Some days I almost just took of my shoes at sat on the couch, thinking it just wasn’t worth the struggle. There were a few days Harrison got in the car without shoes because he refused to put them on. There was one day Ella cried all the way to school because she forgot her blanket and wanted me to go get it for her. (After chasing her all over the yard to get her in the car, I didn’t have time to go get the blanket. And you know what? If she had spent half that energy she used running away from me to just bring her crap with her, she wouldn’t have been in that pickle.)

Since this isn’t my first rodeo, I try real hard to have everything packed and ready to go the night before. I TRY to foresee all complications and prepare for them. My kids, however, always come up with something they need to have or do before we leave the house, and there is usually some epic tantrum moments before we need to leave.

My favorite of all time meltdown happened on the second to last day of preschool this year. For some insane reason unbeknownst to me, my dear sweet son decided that his stuffed dragon needed shoes to wear to school. There are a few problems here. 1. Dragon is not enrolled in school. 2. Dragon doesn’t own shoes. 3. Dragon has very small feet, so none of the shoes in the house would fit Dragon. After explaining to Harrison that he could not put shoes that didn’t exist on Dragon’s feet, the screaming and crying and writhing on the floor ensued. Naturally we were beyond late at this point. I don’t remember exactly how I managed to get Harrison in the car but I am pretty sure I carried him there. And I am positive that after he yelled at me for being a horrible person and hit me that I did not allow Dragon to come, barefoot, with us. (Note: I was making a point to Harrison that he couldn’t get away with treating me so terribly. I actually have no problem whatsoever with barefoot dragons.)

My boy spent the entire car ride yelling, “YOU GO BACK RIGHT NOW AND GET DRAGON!! HE NEEDS HIS SHOES!” amidst sobs of disappointment and anger. I felt badly that I had made a show of throwing dragon in the house, and wondered if I had gone too far. I also remembered all of the endearing things Harrison had done the day before and worried if I spent too much time disciplining him for his poor behavior, and not enough time praising him for the good. I considered how endearing it was that he wanted to properly clothe his stuffed animal. This got me in my soft spot, and the guilt of perhaps going too far with my frustration of him sent me on my way…

After dropping the kids off at school, I was overtaken by the need to buy that damn dragon some shoes. I have a thing for footwear, so I can relate. And here I am relating to a stuffed animal. I’m pretty sure it all goes downhill from here, folks. Anyway, I made the trip to Family Dollar in search of shoes suitable for a dragon. My choices were slim, but I made do with what they had. Justin thought I was off my rocker, but I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last ridiculous thing I do to please my child. As a matter of fact, he asked me, after the delight of his dragon’s shoes wore off, where we’d be buying Dragon’s NEXT pair of shoes. IMG_3470

When You Know You’re Home

It’s been less than a year since we moved from Bath to Boothbay. That’s about a 35 minute distance, so the change wasn’t exactly monumental, however, I was  deeply attached to my social circle in Bath and I knew that some things were going to have to change if ever I was going to acquaint myself properly with our new residence. Last night, I realized with certainty that I’ve made the transition and I couldn’t be happier about our new home.

In the summer, Boothbay’s population explodes with summer residents clamoring to see the ocean.  They take boat rides along the jutted coast. They poke into souvenir shops, sample fudge, and indulge in gourmet popcorn. The restaurant selection goes from about three in the winter months to around fifty in the summer. It is a fantastic vacation spot.

We were warned that Boothbay was extremely uneventful in the cold weather season; many of its residents leave for tropical spots, and the remaining population of about 3,000 includes a lot of senior citizens. Although my bedtime says other wise, I am not yet a senior citizen. We have our two small children to entertain even when the snow flies, so I was a little concerned about how we’d fare this first winter in Boothbay.

As it turns out, we are in love. The benefit of being in a small town is that you see the same people over and over again. The man at the coffee shop knows immediately that I’m coming in for a raspberry latte, and he lets Harrison and Ella pay for their cookies with change. The bartenders make room for us at the bar when we come in for a drink. The deli workers at the grocery store come from behind the counter to say hello to the kids when we pass by. We’ve found other families with small children, whom we meet on occasion for play dates at the local playground. I’m part of a book club, I joined a workout class, and I started a child care program at the YMCA. I’d say it’s been a pretty good year. This community is really tight-knit, and I found out last night that they support their own through thick and thin.

Last night, I attended a celebration of life benefit for the son of a friend of mine. In a tragic scenario, Christopher passed away this week. Jill, his mom, is obviously devastated. This benefit was put together by the community, especially her co-workers from The Boathouse Bistro, where she worked as a server. That is actually where we met Jill, and we saw her there on a regular basis because we tend to eat out all the time. It was a beautiful event, overlooking the water on the second floor of a local restaurant, with great food and drinks, and tons of donations for a fund raising auction.

But the beauty went beyond that. What I noticed is that pretty much every person in town was there. Every person knew this family in some form and they all knew each other. It was the love that these community members held for Jill and her family at this time of need that made the place truly shine. The auction donations were from local shops. The bids went soaring high, not just out of pocket, but out of love. There was this natural coming together of people to make their weak one strong again.

I would never ever in a million years wish this experience on a person. But I do know that for any of us wondering, “why”, we might have been answered with a whisper in response: “Look what you can do for each other. Look what you can do together.” I never had the pleasure of meeting Christopher, and I sincerely wish I had, but now I can honestly say that he has touched my life because I see through him and his family what true community and belonging means.

In the past year, I have known that I want to become an active part of this new community, to give what I can, however I can. I have had a few opportunities to do some volunteering, and I love that I can contribute. At one point last night, I found Jill amidst the crowds, and hugged her real tight. She smiled and said, “Your blog has been keeping me going. It makes me laugh.” Dumbfounded, I looked at this woman, who was going through the worst thing imaginable, and wondered how she found the time to pass a compliment to me. But then I realized it wasn’t as much of a compliment, but more of a calling. Even though I haven’t been setting enough time aside to write lately, here is someone saying that my writing helps her. Of all people in this universe right now, I want more than anything to help her. And so I will write. It doesn’t matter if I am gaining readers, or going viral. It matters that I could give back to this community, to make someone smile (when they REALLY needed a smile). I went home knowing I didn’t make the biggest monetary donation, that I don’t know Jill the best, that I can’t fix what is broken right now. But I can help. Thank you Boothbay, for showing me that we all fit in here. And most especially, God bless you, Christopher.

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The Seasons of Change

It has been a long time since I’ve posted here, and I apologize for that. Not only to you, but to myself-this is my outlet and my safe place. I certainly should be making more time.

Each year, in the late spring, I kind of lose my self. We (Justin) used to attribute it to the change in pace. As a school teacher, the regularly scheduled programs come to an abrupt stop, and I’d be left to fill my summer days with new activities. People with anxiety sometimes don’t do well without structure, and my structure always went out the window with the last student’s gleeful cries of summer freedom. I’d spend the first few weeks with a workout plan and lunch dates. I’d make lists of books to read. I spent hours and hours in my classroom preparing for the next set of students. But after I realized that I was the only one who cared where I was or what I was doing, and all of the planning really wasn’t THAT necessary, I’d slowly unravel. The naps would be longer. The tears would be more frequent. I was full of energy and exhausted all at the same time. As a stay at home mom, things are a little different, but I can’t honestly tell you I’m any more sane than I was before.

This time, it’s the kids who are rounding out their school year at the end of this week. Now, I’m faced with two little sets of eyeballs, waiting patiently to see what Mommy has planned. They’re trusting in me that I will have days upon days of summer fun prepared for them, and I can’t lie: I’m a little nervous.

When it comes to television watching, I know we surpass the daily limit. But I do not want to go down that road this summer with all sorts of free, unplanned time, because I know they could sit there in front of the tube for hours on end, wasting all of the sunshine.

Right now, I’m penciling in story hours and play dates. I’m scheduling camp dates and writing lists of places we can get ice cream. We are also going to visit every playground in the Midcoast Region. It’s possible that we will have a nice list of new places to have temper tantrums by the end of this season. I want so badly to have an amazing summer with Harrison and Ella, and I’m a little afraid that I’ll unravel. But this time, it won’t be just me who is amidst a tangle of forgotten routines. It will be them too. They deserve a mom who can make this all work, and I hope I can be that mom for them.