The Woman

She wears black high heels a bit too large. They slip and clump un-lady like as she walks in an attention grabbing way.

Her skirt is a bit too snug, coming well above the knee, making the heels more pronounced.

Her hair is flipped back in an air of confidence. Her face determined as she marches down the sidewalk.

She flashes a grin revealing both a missing top and bottom tooth giving her a pumpkin look.

She does not see the eyes on her, nor does she care about the judgments made in haste as she strides past.

Would she be so bold if she was thrust in front of a mirror?

Ah! I hope so!

To have the confidence of a 7 year old woman,

bent on changing the world,

even if just for a moment,

one more time!

From my journal – (July of 2007) – about my daughter Allie, whom I admire greatly in her bold and courageous heart!


The TO DO List…

I used to have my act together.  Quit laughing!  Seriously, I once upon a time could get through a whole day, even whole weeks, without resorting to writing out To Do lists, calendar plans, and still managed to get all the things done in a week that were on my plate – and even extras.  Now?  If I dont write down exactly what needs done, when I think of it, I dont remember again until I fail to do the task and end up dropping said plate.

I’m a circus performer spinning all these plates stacked a mile high, always in danger of getting out of rhythem and all of them crashing to the ground.  The LIST is the only thing balancing all those plates.

Because I live by way of lists (and lists of my lists), check marks on those lists are what determines if I have a successful run of the day or not in my twisted, messed up brain.  It’s wrong to judge a day via this method.  I entirely agree.  But it’s how I’m wired.  I am task driven.  I actually hate that about myself.  What I loathe (because it’s infuriatingly impossible for me) and admire in my very patient husband, is his ability to just exist in life and be very content with going with the flow.  Never in my life have I simply gone with the flow. Each moment of the day “should be” productive and accomplishing something.

What results is me being a basket case by the end of the day if i have more left on my list than checked off.  So today, well today I decided to ensure that I would have WAY more checkmarks on the list done than not done.  When I awoke today after a wonderfully slow exit from my bed I added these said items to the day’s LIST:

(1) Get up – CHECK!

(2) Eat Breakfast – CHECK!

(3) Shower – CHECK!

(4) Check FaceBook – CHECK!

(5) Nap!

I know – I am SUCH an overachiever!  Now the nap I will save till the day winds down a bit and I have a wonderfully full belly of hot soup and bread and can cozy up with a book and blanket and read till I drift off sleepy and happy.  In the mean time, I will work on a few of the many items cluttering up my list.  But I will feel very successful at the end of my day seeing those magnificent black CHECKs all down this list!  Yes – I get how silly and ridiculous this is – but frankly, I dont much care.  It makes me smile.

Okay – so here’s something I am working on in the mean time…  Something that will make me a bit less ridiculous EVENTUALLY…  A wise person said to me that the only true test of if you’ve accomplished something in a day is to make a list that goes like this…

(1) Do something for someone else

(2) Do something for yourself

(3) Do ONE thing on your list


Okay – so if I measured my days against THIS list, I would probably be successful everyday of the week…  because I know I daily do something for someone else – would LOVE to do something for myself, and can always do ONE thing on the list, easily.  It’s just that last one I have a hard time with.

I can promise you, however, I am willing to work a lot harder at number (4).  So that’s my new goal in the coming week.  To learn to just chill out a bit more.  Until then, I will smile like a goof and cheer myself for accomplishing 4 things on my list before 9:30am.  Way to go ME!



Awesome Alli

I may not be a total failure yet!  There’s hope!

* Doin a little dance *

Tonight I came home from my day to a house that needed my attention desperately.  I had dishes piled in the sink, trash overflowing in it’s can, tons of picking up to do, never mind the other cleaning that was demanding my muscles.  But I was pooped.  I looked at it all and walked in the opposite direction.  I went to the back of the house, flopped on the bed, and began chatting with my 12 year old daughter about her day instead.  I figured that needed my attention just as much.

Out of the corner of my ear, the tiny part that was not filled with listening to the consistent chatter of Lins, I heard the clatter of dishes.  Specifically it was the clatter of dishes leaving the clean dishwasher.  I smiled to myself and was happy my kiddo was doing chores without being asked.  Nice.  I turned my attention back to Lindsey and her relay of the day’s events.  Almost like a cat who’s focus is forward, but hears something behind, my ears tuned back to the kitchen as I heard dirty dishes leaving my sink and filling the empty dishwasher.  Now that may not seem huge, but in our house one daughter will empty and one will fill the dishwasher – and they ALWAYS make sure the other sister does her share!  No one ever volunteers to do their siblings chores!

But Alli wasn’t done yet.  She cleaned the counters and wiped off the table.  She took out the trash.  She not only noticed it was overloaded, but she DID something about it.  She swept the floor and put things away.  She moved on to the Living room and she picked it up, arranged pillows on the couch, and put coats away.  She THEN went to her room, made her bed, picked it up and vacuumed it.  You must understand that simply picking it up can take an entire Saturday because she is unmotivated to do it!  But was she done after all this?  NO!  She scurried into the bathroom where she washed down counter, mirror, and stool.  She swept the floor, picked up towels, and put clothes in the hamper.

Alli – my 10 year old – cleaned and did ALL the chores.  Not only hers, her brother and sister’s, but mine too!  I only had to make dinner!  I honestly wanted to just cry.  Instead I grinned ear to ear, hugged her, and gave her the Friday allowance she had not received in weeks due to zero effort lately.

Somewhere, amongst the cobwebs, a tiny seed fell on fertile soil and initiative took root in my daughter!  Oh she has helped out, unasked, before… but never to this extent.  Never with this much gusto and muscle power.  She did all this inside of an hour and a half.  She put power behind the effort, and she had no clue she would receive anything for her efforts but a smile from me.  So she wasn’t even motivated by what she’d be receiving per se.

Just last week she showed glimmers of this maturity as well.  She shoveled the driveway and the sidewalks after many inches of snow had fallen.  We knew she was being helpful, but also that she wanted to be out in the snow. We weren’t entirely sure of her true motivation but gladly took her efforts.  We rewarded her with a favorite Hot Cocoa as a treat.  We were proud then, but it is obvious that she has turned a corner.  She’s seeing what needs done and doing it because she’s a member of this family… not simply because things were assigned to her as a chore or job.

Maybe I am getting something right in this whole parenting thing after all.  Somedays I really do wonder!  More than I like to admit, I beat myself up, sure I have completely screwed my kids up for life.  But tonight I can see a glimmer of what’s to come.  The seed will grow stronger over time and will sprout into a full grown plant.

Sorry if I’ve bored you with my rambling.  I will come to an end with this last awed accolade…

Alli girl, you are awesome.  Thanks for helping your mom out tonight.  Thanks for loving me enough to pitch in and for being so grown up at 10 years old.  I am so proud of you!

Painted fingers, priceless memories, and unbreakable bonds…

It’s true.  There may have been more professional jobs done before, but never have any given me as much pleasure as this one does.  I currently am sporting two individual manicures.  My left hand is a whole nest full of hatching chicks popping from their shells, with cute little orange beaks and cracked half egg shells as given to me by my 12 year old and my right hand proudly displays pink and purple ladybugs complete with spots as done by my 10 year old.  They practice at these new creations what seems like daily.  They love to do nails and this house smells like a nail salon 6 out of 7 days a week.

Tonight the boys went off to Cubscouts together, so we girls stayed behind and did girl things.  We ran to Bed Bath and Beyond for some trinkets I needed, stopped by Starbucks for a hot cocoa, and back home for manicures.  $10 bucks got us a girls night out, and all the giggles we could belly up.

It’s true that some will look at me oddly as I check out in the grocery store tomorrow or maybe at the dining hall where I will have lunch with my Grandma.  Some may think me a tad silly, or maybe they will knowingly smile a secret smile that says they’ve had tween daughters before too.  But no matter what, I will proudly show off my happy nails.  It will remind me all day, and in the week to come, what is really important…  the time I spend with my girls, doing what they love to do.  It’s what will build the bond that I hope endures for years to come and will get us through the tough days.  I hope that giggles over nails will someday pave the way for the courage to come to me when painful times come into their lives, and protects our relationship when the teen years threaten to demote me to un-coolest parent of the year.

I hope they remember these days over the ones where I fail to remember the important things, when I instead focus on the stresses of life or on getting my ToDo list done.  I hope these evenings mean to them what they do to me.  I loved watching them proudly create the artwork I will wear.  I am grinning ear to ear, thinking of Alli girl’s laughter at my silly head bobbing and lame dancing to the music which Lindsey was playing on her iPo… and chuckling as Lindsey sang along with the song, word for word, as only a carefree girl can.

Tonight was worth 10 times what I paid out.  I am so very blessed.
Love you, my sweetie girls!  Please try not to grow up too fast.  I am not ready for these days to end any time soon!

The 30 year difference…

It’s sorta infuriating, really. No matter how hard I try to remain young, hip, and cool, I am getting old. Period. The fact I actually said “hip and cool” means I am completely out of it, doesn’t it? Yeah, that’s what I feared. Well, anyway, it is what it is. Actually, I am okay with it. What gets me is not so much being older than I was, it’s the things I now seem to completely miss.

We were walking across the front lawn to the van. The frigid 6 degree air had turned the previously fluffy snowed in front yard into a sheet of hard rock. I was sticking to the sidewalk and making my way around, trying not to get too snowy so I didn’t have a ton of snow entering my van (read OLD here). My son, however, and my girls were finding it vastly adventurous and were playing the “invisible” game. The unspoken rules were thus: whoever makes it to the van without leaving footprints – wins. The girls weighed more than Drake, so they were denting it a bit here and there, but Drake was easily held by the upper crust of the frozen tundra that was our lawn. I did not find this game amusing simply because I was in an adult like hurry. Drake quickly bored of the game and began to “monster” stomp his way to the van, stepping as hard as he could to make his boots go all the way through and swallow up each step. As any 7 year old boy would, the monster sound effects accompanied each stomp and what began as a quick trek to the van became a monster vs sister chase that ended with screaming, two falls in the snow, and much extra white stuff in my van.

I’d like to say I sweetly smiled at the time, noticed the joy on my children’s faces, and reveled in the moment. Sadly that idea didn’t hit me till now, frankly, as I sit writing this. No, at the time the 30 year age difference got in the way. I scolded them for covering themselves in snow when we were in a hurry, while we were getting into the van of all places, and was then frustrated for the duration of the ride as they argued about who started it and how it wasn’t their fault they were snowy.

Aww man- I sound like such a fuddy duddy. I sound like my MOM or my DAD! Lighten up Christi! I always said I would be a cool parent, that I would let my kids just have fun and play – and I would be a fun mom. Then I added 30 years to my age. I no longer see the frozen front lawn as an antarctic adventure with abominable snowmen. I just see a cold, dreary, FREEZING annoyance and wish spring were here. I miss the joy in the crusty snow and the beauty of the fluffy stuff when I am in a hurry and forget to leave enough time to warm up the van and chip off the blanket of ice covering it.

Well, it was bound to happen. As long as I can look around and realize I am missing something, I am still okay. It’s when I cease to notice that my perspective is NOT the only one that I will need to worry. Kids keep you on your toes.
So thanks, Mr. Drake, my boy, for putting your ole mom back on track… and letting me see the adventure in crossing my own front yard

Snarkinson’s Disease

(Written for “Parenting in Fort Wayne” – a local parenting magazine. It was published in the January/February 2011 edition)

I admit it. I am a new mom. No, not as in a mom of a newborn babe. As hard as that is, I could probably do that again. I have done it before 3 times and feel confident I could handle it again. No, what I am is a new mom of preteens. I was blissfully unaware of the drama that can unfold as sweet little girls in pigtails move into the infested waters of hormone changes and social puberty. I was caught off guard when my oldest daughter caught a previously undiagnosed disease from her friends and brought it home to her younger sister, just 18 months her Jr. The speed with which it took over our daughters left us breathless and gasping for help!

What is this horrible disease you ask? Hold your breath. It is called Snarkinson’s Disease; defined as a common neurologic disease caused by uncontrollable bouts of snarkiness, a combination of sarcasm, snottiness, and cynicism. (Per the Urban Dictionary) Signs of the disease include sarcastic comments, witty quips, and rude comebacks. Often the bouts are followed by eye rolling, loud sighing, mutterings of “whatever” under their breath as they exit a room, and embarrassing displays in public places eluding to the fact that the infected child’s parents are completely lame and ignorant.

Where did my sweet daughters pick up this disgusting infection? How do you prevent it from infecting yours? (And beware; those of you who think you are scot-free because you have boys… My 7-year-old son has begun to display some of the same symptoms.) Gasp! Yes, boys too can catch this disease! Well, I am sorry to say I know of no preventative measures. It is running rampant in our schools. I know I am not alone in this battle.

While my husband and I are beginning to be successful in battling it, is with great sorrow I must say that we are quickly loosing our fun and cool parent status; living more and more in the lame category. But then again, maybe that means we are doing something right. In the blink of an eye, they will be grown. Do we want them growing into snotty, snarky, and sarcastic eye rolling adults? There are enough of those out there. So we’ve chosen to battle this disease head on. We won’t allow it in our home, but some weeks it feels like every word out of their mouths require our constant parenting force.

Whew! This parenting stuff is hard work! No one told me when I brought those precious pink bundles home, with tiny fingers wrapped around mine, that someday they’d look at me with disgust, arms crossed, eyes rolling, and then storm off down the hall because I dared to say the “N” word, (NO).

Be encouraged however! A girlfriend with several grown daughters called to uplift me the other day. She said the tough parenting pays off. Her girls are symptom free now and they no longer see her as a mean dictator, sent to ruin their lives. I needed to hear that!

So take heart, all you who have children suffering from this terrible disease! It is worth the battle and there is a glorious end in sight. One where we’ll gain back our cool status and maybe even get to be smart once again.

(Christi is a mother of 2 girls aged 10 and 12, and one 7 year old boy.)