Happy 7th Birthday Twinkle Toes

Dearest Twinkle Toes,

Our lilies started blooming this week. It seems fitting that the Black Eyed Susans are starting to peek their gorgeous faces out of their sacred leaf enclosures, too. Our fiery flowers, the ones so bright and powerful as they sweep around the parameter of our yard, are beckoning to passerby to recognize the sizzle and fire that lives in our dwelling. Those flowers, they are the embodiment of you, a firecracker of a girl so full of energy it amazes me that you only weigh 41 pounds. How that much amazingness fits snugly into your personhood is astounding. It is your birthday week and the earth took notice, turned on its powers of persuasion and had the most Twinkle-like flowers cascade their brilliance to announce the arrival of your seventh birthday.

This year was full of transitions, you saw the end of attending public school, the end of being bullied (forever, I promise, I will carry a sword into battle if anyone ever tries to hurt you again), and the end of wondering who you needed to become in order to be seen as enough. In the midst of so much ending it was also the most fabulous state of beginnings, too. It was the beginning of the time when your worth oozed out of every pore, seeped through every word and leapt from every newly discovered dance step. Finding a school and social circle where you were loved as you are gave you the freedom to blossom, and in that blossoming you have become more acutely aware of how amazing you are.

I never knew it was possible to genuinely enjoy hanging out with your kids. Sounds silly, but when I thought about being a mom I always pictured the way I would comfort you, or tuck you in, or feel when you won a spelling bee or were sworn in to a political office. Now that you are here, fully rounding into a person and becoming yourself, I genuinely crave your time and attention as much as you crave mine and daddy’s. I love when you read me stories, especially when you ask me if you “emote enough” to denote the characters in the story line. I look forward to when you wake up in the morning, still wiping the sleep from your eyes, dragging your teddy bear behind you, to crawl into bed with me and discuss our plans for the day. Your jokes have crossed the line into being actually funny 10% of the time, a marked improvement that makes me want to hear you always just so I don’t miss the one or two that really hit the mark.

We took you on vacation last week, somewhere new for all four of us, Niagara Falls. As we watched this wonder of the natural world together you were completely transfixed by the moment. Your eyes floated with possibilities, with questions of significance that just two months ago would have never occurred to you. I saw your world triple in size in that moment, saw the intensity of the water, the division of country, the language barriers, the art of the selfie taken by hundreds of people at once, all converge into your mind as you meandered with your hand in mine. My luck in that moment, being the one to hold your hand and guide you through this experience, was so overwhelming.

You drank in the scene of the falls, processing everything, reported back the exactly correct science behind the mist, the water cycle and the miracle of humidity, then you conjectured about natural barriers and boundaries between countries. Sometimes I pretend I don’t know the answer to your questions because your reasoning is so brilliantly perfect, so beyond the realm of my comprehension, that just listening to you work things out fills my soul with fire and reminds me three thousand times over that you give life to everything you touch, every moment you partake in and every person with whom you interact.

You are strong, you are smart, you are precious and you are perfect. I am so lucky to be your mom. Seven years ago today I had every intention of becoming the best Mom ever. I fail all the time. Thankfully you pretend not to notice, and you have spent the last seven years always being the best little Twinkle Toes I could have ever asked to raise.

I cherish you – every hair on your head, every silly question you ask and every moment of your life – I cherish you. Being your mom is always, always the best.

Love you to the moon and back,



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Pokemon birthday parties, end of year celebrations and so many Popsicle have littered the landscape of our lives lately. Overtime in the office has been plentiful for the first time in forever, which would usually cause me to groan, but on this day causes me to cheer. The extra money is financing an impromptu trip to Niagara falls this weekend. The planner in me, the one with the lists and the excel spreadsheets to curb social anxiety and stress, is being lured off a bridge by the parts of me ready to have campfires and show my children the biggest waterfall they can imagine. Plus, I have never been there myself, and living a short three-hour drive away makes that statement seem sort of sinful, if I believed in sin at least.

Summertime posting has been tough for me. We have a garden full of tomatoes, baby pumpkins, cucumbers, peppers, corn stalks and squash. I send the kids outside for kale to add to their smoothies in the morning, so the garden feels a little less Little House and a little more Suburban Hipster, but still good for the soul. Our blueberry bushes are each a single-stick and a hopeful flag of leafs after two months of careful twice daily watering. We have vegetables, though, and it feels like our family goal of ground to table eating is real now. Explaining that fertilizer is poop, then immediately picking food and eating it that night was a real breakthrough for Ninja, though, and he now really understands the importance of not eating food at the fruit stand before we take it home and clean it.

Twinkle wants a Dancing Bunnikins themed birthday party, which is a real stretch considering Dancing Bunnikins are a character crew that she made up herself. We will be building bunnies out of fruit, toothpicks, marshmallows and candy. We will play pin the cotton tail on the bunny and I will teach the children how to dance the bunny hop. Bunnikins are bunnies made of sugary treats that have human tendencies that also save the world, you see, so I so have a little something with which to work.

Here are the Pokémon cakes from Ninja’s party… a month later but still valid, right? He wanted his theme to be Pokemon playing LEGO under the sea – I tried to comply.

You can tell by the staging of this picture, the cleanliness of my table and the perfect lighting, that I am totally a perfectionist lifestyle blogger

You can tell by the staging of this picture, the cleanliness of my table and the perfect lighting, that I am totally a perfectionist lifestyle blogger




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My house smells of strawberries and suntan lotion. Our garden has the most beautiful, tiny tomatoes and peppers, promising deliciously silent lessons on the benefits of work and delayed reward. Our lettuce, kale and spinach plants are fantastic. Pumpkin and gourd vines are stretching towards the sun, reaching further into our tiny suburban plot of land each morning. Every day, adorned in my business clothes, I throw my briefcase in the car and take a walk around the house with the kids to survey our potential harvest before I drive off to work.

We spent the chilly morning hours of Saturday picking sugar peas and strawberries at an organic farm, then filled our kitchen with friends and fruit and made 17 jars of strawberry syrup for ice cream sundaes and 44 jars of jam. The second grader that lives inside my heart and wishes I was on the Oregon Trail (except for the dysentery, no one wants the dysentery) feels so at peace right now.

Like every little girl in the 80’s with a TV, I thought being a pioneer girl was the best, I knew Laura was the cooler sister and I knew that when I was a mom I could use Ma Ingles as inspiration. I wanted to be the mom who knew how to make cheese and jam, who cultured yeast in a jar for bread baking and had a spider pan. She could stop a wagon, look around and BAM, there was real food and merriment and music. When they settled down all it took was her little China Doll to be placed on a shelf for her to feel settled, perhaps a willow bough broom, and she would get to work making everything for her family.

Having my kids jump in to pick produce this weekend, having the eldest cut the strawberries around the table with the rest of us, watching the younger ones not really know what was going on but still want to taste test everything at every step of the way, it felt like I was honoring the eight-year-old me that always thought that doing things the hard way was far more fun than going to the grocery store.

I am always going to be the mom that has to go to the office 45 hours a week. I am always going to be the mom that has better intentions than I do actions – more plans than I do hours in the day. But some days, when my kitchen is filled with laughter, strawberries and covert lessons on taking the hard way to get better results, I feel like the other parts of me wash away and the mom that I want to be remembered as gets to take center stage for a few moments. I really like Saturdays in June.

Melissa K. Norris' recipe and instructions were used for our day of jam making. This is her collage and clicking on it will take you to the recipe we used!

Melissa K. Norris’ recipe and instructions were used for our day of jam making. This is her image and clicking on it will take you to the recipe we used!

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Happy 5th Birthday Ninja Boy

Dear Ninja Boy,

On the day you were born the universe whispered that the journey your Daddy and I started with a leap of faith and a first date five years, four months and ten days before had gained its final player. On the day you were born my heart rested, knowing that my body, bruised and beaten from the journey to bring us all together, earned a victory lap. On the day you were born we convened our first team huddle on my hospital bed, your Daddy and I vowing that the four of us were going to be the greatest team in the history of the world, first in loving unconditionally and without end.

You had an amazing year little one.Your gymnastics coach sees promise in your abilities. You can do basic tumbling and complete flips on the rings and bars already. Sometimes you scream out, “watch what I can do!” then leap off a piece of furniture, do a flip then jump back up to your feet. Besides the nausea induced trauma it causes me and the fear of furniture ripping it sends through your Dad it is amazing to watch your progress!

Your greatest love right now is Gabbi. You two plan to marry as soon as you graduate kindergarten. You sneak kisses to each other whenever you think you aren’t being watched. Sorry to tell you this but we see everything; the innocence of your love is infectious, filling everyone with nostalgia for a time when spending the rest of your life with someone was as simple as being empathetic, remembering your manners and sneaking smooches under the swings. The bond that forms in the years of early friendship is one you will remember for a lifetime. You are lucky that this bond is with someone so plucky, kind and special.

This month also marks your last year in public school. Next year you will join your sister at the Waldorf School, a transition you look forward to with such glee. I am more excited than nostalgic for this change, which surprises me. Even though you are my last baby, the last child I will usher through the passage from nursery school to full-time school, I see that this transition is one I can watch with a wink and a wave instead of a push and a hope. You are ready and we both know it.

Your favorite thing to do this year is to have morning snuggle time, where we set the alarm for 15 minutes before we have to wake up, then all pile into the bed together to hug and talk about our plans for the day before we get moving. I love that you still love this because it means the world to me, too. You also love family game night, which we are lucky enough to do at least one or two times a week. You are a master gardener, an excellent weed puller and a fantastically good sport during family activities. How in the world I was lucky enough to have you, a child with a heart full of love, hands ready for work and a spirit full of sunshine? I could not ask for better inspiration to be a better person each day than to be the sort of Mom you deserve.

You have a personality I understand and relate to on so many levels. You are so kind to other people you sometimes hurt yourself in the process of protecting other people’s feelings. You are always willing to put the needs of the universe ahead of yourself, and you rarely ask for things unless you really need them. You feel that the greatest gift of all is spending time with people you love, and giving love freely without expectation of return.

On the day you were born I realized that I was not only the luckiest Mom in the universe because both you and your sister made it here, alive and well, to be a part of our family, but because I was honored with the opportunity to watch you grow. Your heart is big enough to conquer the universe, and all I want to do is protect it from injury.

You will always be my little boy, and I will always love you. Never forget that on the day you were born your Daddy and I had our love grow so much it filled the whole universe, poking holes into the sky. You can still see them at night, twinkling and letting the sky shine through in the form of stars. Our love broke the universe for you, and now little aliens are feeling love waves, too, because one planet just isn’t enough atmosphere to contain this much feeling.

The world is a better place because you are in it – thank you for being my son.




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Bee-Bop Grocery Shop

I was walking slowly through the fruit market on Saturday, taking time to smell the produce, dreaming up recipes and luxuriating in my 85 minutes of me time disguised as errand-running. I was wearing a simple sun dress, one that has been in the summer rotation for eight years and shows it, pairing the dress with equally worn-out sandals and a face free from make-up. I arrived at 9:30am, early enough to beat the crowds on normal weekends, but just in time for the rush of a holiday weekend crowd. Having lost my sense of vanity around 2010, the birth of my second child having signaled the universe’s orchestra to play Taps as I laid down all attempts at looking appropriate when leaving the home, I was OK with my lackluster appearance in the crowd.

As I was sniffing around the fresh herbs I started determining our menu on the spot, pocketing my carefully planned grocery list in favor of living dangerously. A modern song came on over the speakers and I started humming along. Without really realizing it  the humming intensified and I started singing quietly. I started to feel less old and weird than usual — I knew a song the youths of today know! The words make sense and I know them!

Then I realized something critically important, I was singing along to music in a grocery store. I had become the unkempt middle-aged woman who bobs her head while singing songs considered appropriate enough for public consumption through a loud-speaker at a local market. I am the person I would look upon and feel sorry for when I was younger. Not only that, but the modern song I was jamming to? It was at least 7 years old because I remember jamming to it while pregnant with Twinkle.

Sometimes the passage of time is sneaky and biting, other times you look up and realize that the greatest fears of your youth, the person that personified failure and old age in your thirteen-year-old eyes, might have actually been having a rocking good Saturday morning while feeling happier and more self-assured than your angst-ridden teenage soul could imagine. Or perhaps she was just enjoying the relative silence and anonymity sweeping through the apple aisle while wearing a shapeless frock at the crowded fruit market afforded her on a perfectly beautiful Saturday morning.

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Book Update

The story of us was too hard to write, too close to home when my world is teetering on an axis that feels as if it is made of spaghetti being slowly cooked by the heat of the earth’s core. I still have goals, though, and one of them was to finish a book this year. So I have written 22,541 words of a novel so far this month. I’ve also decided that this one will no live under my bed when it is complete, but will be sent to a peer for an early read and review. I have too many goals in life to keep letting fear of failure stop me — I am creating failure by hiding completed manuscripts under my bed or forcing words into a manuscript that is frozen right now, waiting for the rest of the story to unfurl before I complete it.

I am rekindling my dream of publishing, even if only ten people read my book at least I know I wrote it and made the leap. Stomping out my fear of rejection feels good.


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Mother’s Day

I wrote a tongue in cheek post last night, intending to publish it today, about how I wanted a day without pessimism and arguments for Mother’s Day. Then I read http://liferearranged.com/2014/05/its-a-hard-road-but-at-least-the-scenerys-the-best/ and the tears would not stop, my heart would not calm down and my shame rose to the surface just in time to save me from the publish button.

I don’t want a perfect day of celebrating me for Mother’s Day. I want to spend it being grateful that after fertility struggles and near misses I now have two amazing human beings who look up at me admiringly (or angrily, or accusingly, or crazily) and ask me for assistance, reassurance and love 734 times a day. I want to be jumped on at 6:05 in the morning because they are so eager to give me their hand-made declarations of love they just can’t wait for the requisite “Mom gets to sleep in on Mother’s Day” waiting period. I want to be reminded in hundreds of ways that this road is full of struggles, but full of grace, too.

Jeannett’s struggle’s and triumphs while mothering her amazing children are a beautiful reminder to remember grace. If you have a moment follow the link and read her post. She often unwittingly plays the role of a silent guide in my life by remembering grace in moments so rife with anxiety and grief that she serves as an example I want to follow.

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I feel like an angst-ridden teenager right now, compelled to write poetry about the weather matching the shades of grey in my heart. Twinkle is healing, these feelings aren’t about that. These feelings are about bipolar and how that forsaken illness can strip the life out of my husband, and our marriage, without any warning. I hate mental illness, its lies and its ability to twist our reality into an ugly picture. Mostly I just hate today. And parts of yesterday. And how I am doing a terrible job at being supportive because all I want is for someone else to take the baton from my hands for a while because I need to rest. I want to sit, head between my knees and gasping, and fade into the  background. I want to pretend that I don’t know what is right or wrong to say in these situations. I want to say the inappropriate things on my heart and in my head instead. I want to talk about feelings, but this time I want the feelings to be mine, however raw and vulgar and completely unbecoming of a wife and mother they may be. Basically, I want to be the opposite of me for a few hours, to feel the words that press on the backs of my teeth escape from my tongue, but then erase their effect. But words don’t work that way — If I can’t take them back I have to swallow them instead.

Sometimes I hate being a responsible user of the English language.

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Underpants Squats

Twinkle walked in on me doing squats in my underwear while watching Medium last night. Her look of confused wonder only increased when I told her that sometimes a mom just needs to break a sweat. I moved into my next exercise, turbo kicks with opposing punches, as she asked me why I was doing it in my underwear instead of my yoga pants. Sometimes you want the freedom to kick the universe in your underpants, and you just can’t do that in public.

Our family has isolated itself since Twinkle’s surgery on the 14th to prevent the germs of the universe from interfering with her fragile immune system. We’ve played hundreds of rounds of card games, painted pictures, rocks and bird houses.  We built amazing things out of empty boxes and overturned our tables and chairs to create new worlds previously unexplored. Sometimes, though, when the babes go to bed, the husband leaves for a beer and I am left to my own devices I just want to watch predictable TV while sweating away the anxiety created from forced isolation.

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Just Bend

When platitudes of perseverance fill me with seething rage instead of the urge to sew a throw pillow I know I need to take a walk. I bristle at the slightest whisper of empathy lately, when what I really want is to feel it, to let it slide through my psyche, balm-like on my internal aching. I wish I knew what was wrong with me. Twinkle is sick, but surgery, solitude and six months of treatment should stultify her symptoms.  That may be all it takes to make her well again.

There is no room, no reason in our situation for my anger, for my fits of rage that come out against an innocent pan that doesn’t slide correctly into its place in the cabinet. There is only room for smiles, for hugs and for reassurances that everything is going to be fine. Why, then, do I constantly catch myself telling inanimate objects to just bend, already, just give a little? Can’t the unbend-able bend just this once, break the laws of the universe and show me that I do have power here?

Everything will be fine. In truth, it will be – which is why I feel so guilt for being so upset. Our version of “fine” might change, but doesn’t reality always shape our definitions? When I watched my son today, turning flips off the couch while speaking the dialect of the electric Pokémon brethren he loves the most, I see a completely different version of perfection than I could have imagined before I met him. It’s magical, really, how much better real-life is than fantasy.

When we finish wading through this new diagnosis and treatment plan Twinkle may get a new definition of fine. From this side of the starting line we cannot see the miracle of the finish line, the place where her care team promises she will reach a new level of wellness previously unexperienced. Instead we see obstacles that refuse to break the laws of physics just because that would give us our power back.



I love Yeah Write, a community that makes me try harder to write better. Do you have something you are proud of that you want to submit to the grid this week, receiving comments and encouragement for doing so? I cannot recommend putting yourself out there with this community enough.

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