Losing it


A picture of Maria and Mario shocked and amazed to find our house keys in the door after we spent 90 minutes trying to track them down all over Grandview. I could do nothing more in the moment than laugh hysterically at the entire situation – the entire day as a matter of fact (which warrants a completely separate post). The kids thought their mom was turning into a lunatic in front of their eyes, I’m sure.

It all began with an emergency situation at work whereby I had to leave a field trip with Ri to head into work – that right there put me in a foul mood. I got into work at noon and did not stop until 5:30. I proceeded to bolt home in order to see Jon off to Michigan for a few days for work and get dinner ready for Ri and Mario. While cooking dinner, I worked on homework with Ri (and Mario who is determined to start homework now to be ready for kindergarten).

After homework drama and dinner, we searched for shoes and we headed out to walk to Orange Leaf. I had promised it to Ri when I left the field trip hoping that would somewhat cheer her up (she’s like me, food always comforts). We locked up the house and took off. Mario banged his ankle along the way which elicited an unwarranted amount of drama on his behalf. Later, we saw Doris and Kim, our old neighbors, working in another friend’s garden. We stopped and chatted with them for a while and then headed north for ice cream. Mario banged his ankle two more times which warranted more full-blown drama – falling to the ground, writhing in pain, crying, pathetic screams, the whole deal.

As soon as we walked into Orange Leaf, my phone rang. A colleague from work needed to fill me in on meetings for later in the week so I got stuck on that call while Mario filled his bowl past the rim with cotton candy yogurt that he’d never eat (and I despise). We left after watching Three Stooges and playing tic tac toe.

I went back and forth between carrying Mario and pushing him on his scooter during the travel back home. When we got to the top of our street, I realized I didn’t have my keys. Are you kidding me? Luckily I had my car key so we hopped in the car and went to the friend’s house to scavenger her yard for the key. We had no luck so we moved to Orange Leaf. We scoured the place with no luck there either. We moved onto the police department and struck out there, too.

As we drove home, Ri fretted about someone having our keys and breaking into our house. I continued to console her reinforcing that no one would know they were our keys. Mario consoled her by confirming that he’d beat anyone up that broke into the house.

We pulled into the driveway and parked. As we walked to the front door at 9:20 pm, we saw objects glittering in the door. My keys. And that’s the end of the story.

But it’s not the end of days like this, I’m sure. Jon counseled me on slowing down when he called me at 10 pm from the road and I told him about our night. To some extent, he has a point. I need to know my limits based on my day – maybe forego a walk if I’m exhausted; maybe let them watch tv for an hour while I read a book; maybe not start the laundry until another day. But on the other hand, there are times when multi-tasking needs to happen. Kids have homework, sports’ practices, playtime, reading. They have to eat. They need to bathe every once in a while. And you have to push that all into a three hour period of time.

A report on NPR concluded that moms tend to multi-task much more than dads. Women felt more overwhelmed and stressed because they spent 10.5 more hours a week on multi-tasking than dads – such as laundry, dinner, homework. Dads tended to view multi-tasking as talking on a work call while “watching” their kids and didn’t feel as much stress. Well, imagine that…!

Now I love my hubby too death but I think he would fit right into this study. He gets on me for doing too much but homework, dinner, laundry, and dishes need to be done. We always kid each other about me going overspeed and him going to under speed and needing a middle ground for both of us.

I think that can’t be clearer after last night’s insanity. My mind clearly shut down after 8 pm. The fact I didn’t even look at the front door before we took off for a 90 minute key search is scary.

So, how to make it better?

1. Take some breaths in a room without kids. Do some chants. Calm my mind before I do anything.

2. Leave the dishes for a later date.

3. Eat cereal for dinner once a week.

4. Wear dirty clothes more often.

5. Make Jon cook dinner while looking over homework and folding kids’ clothes and watch him lose it, too
– the more the merrier.

Running on pie

As I ran my same jogging course on Monday morning, I received a much-needed out-of-the-ordinary gem from NPR’s Allison Aubrey.  Aubrey hosted a segment on pie-making.  And although I do not have fond memories of my grandmother or my mom making homemade pies, it brought up a rush of good emotions as I continued down my jogging path.  Aubrey’s description of getting the pie crust just right – not kneading it and keeping little balls throughout it – made me yearn to travel to New York and take a class.  I appreciated the way that she intertwined her mother with her story of making a perfect pie. 

Like Aubrey, I don’t have memories of my mom slaving in the kitchen over a magnificent pie (she did make a heck of a peanut butter coconut ball though!).  But I do have memories of my father’s cherry pies.  I don’t remember him slaving away in the kitchen, however; I just have memories of eating delicious homemade cherry pie with him and my mom.  I remember helping pick cherries from our cherry tree out back, and suffering a nasty bee sting when I decided not to wear shoes one day.  But those pies were well worth it – dripping in cherry goo and always having a slight burnt edge around them.  Perfect crispiness.  

Food creates memories, and I associate my dad’s cherry pies with childhood summers full of running around outside and hanging with friends and walking the neighborhood.  Coincidentally, my husband likely associates his grandmother’s homemade pumpkin pies with exciting summers in Marietta.  His grandma made a mean pumpkin pie back in the day that Jon always raves about when we buy pumpkin pie during Fall.  “Nothing beats my grandma’s pumpkin pie” he always tells me.  My mother-in-law also bakes a stupendous homemade pumpkin pie, and it is by far the best I have ever tasted (I didn’t get to meet Jon’s grandma before she passed).  Patty learned how to make her pie from her mother.  Indeed, so many of the recipes that Patty has she received from her mom, and you can feel the love in the room when Patty talks about her mom and her cooking.  

When the segment wrapped up with Aubrey’s daughter and mother in the kitchen tasting Aubrey’s blueberry pie, I resolved that I would begin a baking tradition with Maria and Mario.  I love how those resolutions wash over me so quickly and resolutely while I am out in the open air free from all constraints and time lines and chores.  “Maybe I will even sign up for a class with M&M and Jon or my mom or dad or stepmom or mother-in-law.  The ideas were flowing.

Then I got home and realized I was late for a meeting.  I ran upstairs to shower and get dressed.  Mario had Maria in a head lock and Maria was smacking his head.  When I came downstairs to leave, milk laid all over the table and cereal remnants were across the floor.  A pack of goldfish were torn apart and chocolate sauce stuck to the counter.  I asked them why everything was a mess. 

“We wanted to make breakfast ourselves, mom, so you didn’t need to be bothered.”  And then I looked down and saw a bowl with a bright beaming yellow glob laying in it.  Maria surprised me with microwaved eggs.  She had broken two eggs into a bowl and stuck them in the microwave for a minute and a half. She fed me a bite and asked how they were. 

“Delicious!” I told her.  She looked at Mario and gave him a high-five. 

And so, my cooking ventures may start out slow and different than planned, but we will get there…eventually!

Being conscious of treasures

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thornton Wilder

I am making a conscious effort each day to step back at certain moments in time, be it with the kids or work colleagues or Jon or by myself, and appreciate the moment for what it offers to me.  These small retreats build up, and by the time evening rolls in and I am putting on my pjs alongside Maria and Mario, I generally feel grateful for what life has offered me through the day (there are those rare evenings where even a day full of wonderful moments can be demolished by a child going through a temper tantrum). 

There are tons of books and magazines and blog sites touting the benefits of gratitude but it’s not until you actually make that conscious effort of practicing it that it hits home.  I feel more serene when I go to sleep, more hopeful during my day, more positive in my outlook.  Overall, I guess I would say I am more “happy” – whatever that looks like. I simply feel more alive and more connected.

Today, I got to take a run in the morning for the first time in two weeks.  Jon stayed with Mario while I ran through the neighborhood and lifted weights at the gym.  Listening to NPR for 45 minutes was the best gift I could receive from Jon.  On my run home, as I listened to Michael Jackson’s Beat It and looked at the gardens lining our street, I had one of those step-back moments.  I felt an intense swelling of gratitude for Jon, and his selflessness in letting me get up in the mornings to do the thing I love to do.  I also felt grateful for my legs – yeah, my legs!  For allowing me to be able to run the distance I am able to run and let my mind drift as I listen to stories and news on NPR.  It is such a treasure for me.

Later in the day, when I came home from work to find Mario and Jon already back from school, I felt that surge of gratitude rise again.  Mario popped out of the family room with a whopping smile on his face telling me to close my eyes.  When I opened, he had his home-made graduation cap on his head and the same smile across his face. 

“I graduated today, mom!”

Some in his class graduated to Kindergarten today but they let all of the kids make caps (always politically correct).  He was so proud of his creation.  We took a bike ride later to get his haircut, and while on the bike, he asked me to sing to him.  I sang him a rhyming song about how much I loved my boy cuz he was just like a toy, and his toes tasted like soy… (yeah, I know, pretty lame except to a four-year old), and he turned around laughing at me.  It was the sweetest moment.  I replay it in my head as I sit here tonight, and it still makes me smile as I think about it.  When we got to the salon, he made me move away from him while the gal cut his hair because he wanted to be alone with her.  He wanted to tell her how he wanted his hair.  I sat in the seat up front the entire time without him ever calling out for me.  When she finished, he got out of his chair, and walked over to me. 

“What do you think, mom?”

“You look awesome, dude.”

He walked over to the mirror and put his hand through his hair, and nodded his head up and down.  He knew he looked good.  Man, I am grateful for that nut. 

When we got home, Jon told me that he called Maria at Grandma Ionno’s house.  Patty told him how Maria kept her and Joe laughing throughout the day with her quips.  She was telling a story to Patty and Joe and Joe closed his eyes.  She looked at Patty and said “I guess the story was a little long – no wonder Grandpa fell asleep!”  That girl has got a personality to last a lifetime, and I am grateful beyond words to have her in my life (and I miss her like mad – get home, pumpkin girl!).

I am thankful for this consciousness of treasures I continue to sharpen in my daily life.  Now, off to a good-night’s sleep.