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fresh lemonade

I’ve not been writing. Not here or anywhere really. I feel rusty. My keyboard is creaky from months of neglect. We’re like the frozen Tin Man and his axe, me and my laptop, and this entry is that first bit of sacred oil. That first taste from a pitcher of minute-old lemonade.

First off, we are all fine. Babe, me, the kids. We’re actually far better than fine. We soaked up a long hot summer on The Tenderfoot and we’ve enjoyed watching the leaves turn for us for the first time. Nature’s changes are glorious. I have many entries brewing in my head!

Spring brought with it another bounty of adjustments, though, which has left me reeling still.

I’m working full time again, on a team for a manager who has a manager and at the end of the chain there is a CEO. I sit at a desk, in a cubicle, under a white noise speaker. It’s such a foreign culture to me that it’s still a novelty. It’s different-ness will probably never wear off and I hope it doesn’t. I like it this way. The people are great, my manager likes my suggestions and I’ve been using a brainspace that had been deserted for years. It feels neat to have a new hat to wear. It’s good.

The kids are doing better than I’d ever hoped at their new full time daycare. TLD and Belle love their friends and teachers. I love that I can peek in on their webcams and watch each of them sleep and eat and learn. TLD is learning yoga there, learning to share and take turns. Belle is forming friendships and finding her own little self in those hours away from me. It’s good.

If I hadn’t have found their school this transition would have been agonizing. Because I found it, I’m happy to be at work and relieved to get a break from the realities of being Mommy to a preschooler and toddler. I am reclaiming myself and redefining myself and changing all at the same time. I’m not quite a billowey-sailed butterfly but I’m almost there and knowing the kids are in a good place during my new days has been critical.

Thanks to the understanding nature of my new manager I leave work a little early once each week so I can still see a few my very favorite massage client friends. Sometimes my body reminds me that I’m working two jobs but there are so many rewards from this arrangement that I’m far more grateful than tired. And daycare is so damn expensive, I need to bring in as much as I can! It’s good.

Let me be honest. Yes, I’m making lemonade out of some lemons here. I haven’t told the whole story. I loved being home with the kids, though I was beginning to feel that it was stifling to them socially. I wansn’t built like their new teachers were, chock-full of different character voices, ideas for rainy days and patience. While the Tenderfoot is a great learning place, it lacks the social world that daycare offers. I also loved my massage business even though it was always stressful trying to balance the passion with the profit. I loved my days. Indeed I did.

So what happened? I (and by extension, my family) relied a bit too much on someone outside of Team Tenderfoot. No! I’m doing it again. I’m taking responsibility for someone else’s faults. The truth is I trusted someone and they let us down, then betrayed and hurt me in all kinds of ways, and after all that happened I lost even more. Unfortunately I’m still discovering the depths of that person’s influence on me (and us). The changes on the outside- the job, the day care, the new routine-they’re nothing compared to the lopping off of that relationship that I had to do (for now anyway). So those are my lemons, vague as they are.

And what about Babe? He’s the constant. He’s been supportive while not trying to FIX everything. He’s a good one, he is. He’s been exactly who I’ve needed him to be. There are times when I’ve wondered how peaceful for both of us it would have been had we partnered up with people a little more similar to ourselves. Same interests maybe, or at least the same taste for tomatoes? There is a lot of banter, a lot of compromise, a lot of challenging in a marriage of opposites.Through this though, I’ve seen just how little I need a twin and what a treasure it is to have him as my strongest ally. Babe, the support of great family and close friends, and a kickass therapist have made all the difference.

So under this roof, sure things have changed since I last wrote a word, but this fresh lemonade is very very sweet and it’s nice to be back.

Housewarming

Kind and true words a friend wrote for our housewarming. We keep this card in the kitchen, where we can see it every day.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Moments

 

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A Day Only A Mother Could Love

So I rarely write about what happens inside our house on The Tenderfoot but if there was a day to share today would be the one.

Babe got up with the kids so I could sleep in for an extra couple of hours. There’s a voice that keeps me awake to tell me he’s doing something wrong or in the wrong order but I was able to shut her up this morning and slept a little after they were up. What a peaceful treat!

TLD went down for his morning nap as soon as I was up so Belle and I sat at the kitchen table and set out to start our garden seeds. I should have done it weeks ago but better late than never, right? She dropped the seeds into the peat pellets and I packed the dirt after her. Mini pumpkins, giant pumpkins, hot peppers, beefsteak tomatoes, watermelon, onion and nasturtiums for Belle, all ready for little water and sun.

Belle lost interest after a while and left me at the table to go watch PBS with Bear, the german shepherd rescue that we just a adopted a few weeks ago. I won’t go into too much detail about Bear since we decided this morning that we’re not a good fit for him and I’m returning him to the rescue lady tomorrow. Anyway, I was sowing when from the other room Belle yelled “NO, Puppy. Stinky POO!”.

I hauled it into the tv room to discover not poop on the floor but two lumps of dog barf and my daughter was standing on the couch, pointing at them. “The metal spatula should get it up good”, Babe yelled down from upstairs. He was riveted by Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter and hadn’t put it down since he cracked it open yesterday. “Umm. Ok”.

After playing outside for a while with Bear and helping Belle fly her kite, we decided to grab a bite out. We had plans to visit some family later in the afternoon but Babe and I were famished. We stopped at the hardware store so he could run in for something. I stayed in the car with TLD and Belle since they were both dozing. A half hour later we were sitting at a not-too-crowded pizza place, eager for our food to arrive.

I made a quick call to say we’d be a little late getting to the gathering since we hadn’t gotten our food yet. I’d just ended the call when Belle looked up from the picture she was coloring to tell me her mouth hurt. “Did you bite your tongue, Honey?” I asked to which she nodded… then puked all over the table!

I grabbed a roll of paper towels out of the hand of a hostess who was wiping a nearby table saying something like “I really really need those towels-thanks”. She spun around, startled by the crazy women who just nabbed her towels. “Umm. Ok”.

We grabbed our food to go, drove home and invited the people we were supposed to visit to our house. When we got home I put TLD down for a nap, ravaged my food and hurriedly tidied the kitchen. Babe cuddled with Belle, who had no appetite but was feeling fine, while I got the house ready. “Don’t forget to clean that bathroom. The sink and toilet are filthy” he called to me. “Umm. Ok”.

Our visiters came over and enjoyed watching Belle and TLD crawl all over Babe and I’m sure they didn’t believe us when we told them she’d gotten sick at the restaurant. All of us sat on the playroom floor with Bear watching us from the other side of the safety gate. They stayed till I started making dinner. It was a pleasant visit even though I couldn’t stop picking at my legs which were bumpy from the poison ivy I encountered while weeding yesterday.

“I forgot to get you a card for today, Honey” Babe admitted. TLD was playing on his lap while I cleared the plates and cleaned the counter. “I’m not very good at that am I.”

“Well, what would the card say if you had gotten me one?” I asked him, reaching in the fridge for a gallon of milk and waiting for a clever response.

“Our kids are so happy and do so well because of you. I’ve never seen kids who laugh as much as they do and they’re so smart. You’re a great mom, Honey.” He paused as I turned with the milk, my eyes filled with tears. “How was that?” he asked.

I wiped a cheek and smiled, “Umm. Ok”.

I closed the refrigerator door to admire my new treasures from the kids: a flower magnet (a circular photo of TLD with purple hand prints surrounding it to make petals) and Belle’s painting of a butterfly that day care sent home with them on Thursday, and Belle’s crayon picture from lunch that Babe had been able to salvage.

It really was a lovely Mother’s Day. Certainly a day only a mother could love.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Moments

 

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My Garden’s Secret

The property was loved for many years, there’s no doubt. It’s everywhere. Sometimes it feels like what’s squishing under my muck boots is that love coming up to cushion my feet. It’s in the melody of the birds that wake us every morning. It lures me to walk to the pines. It calls me to interrupt our routine-and what mom likes to do that?-to take Belle and TLD for a quick run in the field or excursion to the barn. I enjoy getting the mail and bringing in the trash bins because I get to stroll down the long driveway that winds around tall maple trees, lots of different evergreens and a gang of hollies. I take proud, sure strides and the gravel softly crunches under me.

Certain maintenance fell off the priority list for the past owner though. As Babe and I become better acquainted with this land and its demands, it’s hard to blame Helen for never raking after Keith died. I feel lucky that the grass was well maintained always, and the grounds are stunning aside from the leaves.

By paying a lawn service and letting the leaves go where the wind would take them, Helen could focus on a large garden till she couldn’t anymore. It took up a good half-an-acre next to the house. She also planted the many hostas and other treasures that I’ve been discovering.

So, about those leaves. It took me and Babe four hours to rake along the path that goes from the barn to the back patio. Four hours allowed us to clean up an area about the size of our old back yard. That’s not much, especially when you think that we could fit about 30 subdivision lots on this property! We cleared years of muck from under trees and between stones in the retaining walls, fallen branches and other debris (empty mason jars mostly). So many leaves: wet and heavy, dry and crunchy, clumpy, confetti-like. We had so many.

Most of that time I was writing my novel in my mind, working out how one character meets another and how certain conversations happen and should I do this or that. Between the birds and crackling leaves it was just too loud for me and Babe to talk much so I could dive into my thoughts as if I was alone. Occasionally I’d leave the desk in my mind to find one of Helen’s babies hidden under pounds of debris. My garden’s secrets were coming to light! I found countless buds and another brick path (to nowhere) under it all.

It was a dirty job and we’re still sore but we had a beautiful time. We dumped the leaves into the back of Babe’s pickup and shoveled them into the brush pile behind the pines. We made five trips back there that afternoon, sloshing and fish-tailing through the wet grass, with country music on the radio and smiles on our faces.

With the bright sun overhead, my overshirt hanging from a branch and glasses of lemonade on the patio step, The Tenderfoot could have been a movie set. There’s nothing easy about the simple life, I’m finding, but I’m joyful here. I’m always so joyful, and often near tears about that.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Improvements, Moments, Pictures

 

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Looking for Evidence

Since we moved here, I’ve gotten in the habit of taking Belle outside after I take TLD upstairs for his afternoon nap. She feels like a big girl when I let her stay up a while after her little brother goes to sleep and she loves our land.

No matter if it's soccer with Babe or running from tree to tree with me, Belle loves it here!

I point to a tree and we race to it, giggling as we run. Next to me I see her biggest smile behind wind-whipped hair. Her arms are waving, stiff-elbowed. The sound of her small feet hitting the hard ground and laughter brings out my sentimental mommy side. A long time from now there will be certain things that I’ll remember better than my own name. I pray this is one of them.

We reach the designated tree. I catch my breath, which is more of a sob than anything else, and I swallow my new keepsake of Belle. I point to the next tree, fifty or a hundred feet from where we’re standing, and we cris-cross the property till she can’t anymore or doesn’t want to anymore.

Tracks (and "whatnot")

Breathless, we recover with a walk through our pine grove. We are always looking for signs of whatever might have called it “home” the night before. Since we walk through the pines almost every day it’s easy to notice the differently matted needles and other clues they leave behind.

“Lotsa poo today, Mommy” she calls as she tiptoes past me to the trail’s exit. I never thought I’d ever be trying to identify animal droppings but as soon as we get inside and I have her tucked in for her nap, I’m online looking at poop.

While I’ve only seen “evidence” I believe we have a large family of deer living with us, and maybe some raccoons. I’d love to see what’s back there though. Till then the menagerie I’ve started to conjure in my mind will keep growing as I find more exotic track- and poo-identifying websites.

A common path in the pines

The mouth of our "Enchanted Forest" or "Deer B&B"

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Moments, New Adventures!, Pictures

 

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The Valentine’s Spillover Birthday Curse

My birthday is February 15 and for the last twelve years, my birthday has been a lovely extension of the day before. That said, let me tell you why a February 15th birthday can be worse than one on or around any other holiday.

I like to think that I am the master of my own happiness but there’s one day each year that still can knock me down a peg and the success of the day can be in someone else’s hands. Before Babe, when I was in a relationship, Valentine’s Day seldom lived up to my Clark W Griswald-like anticipation. When I wasn’t in one it was isolating. No giddy smile, no roses on my desk, no teddy bear holding chocolates, I felt like the void was a marker of single-hood, like it or not.

There is double-whammy potential for anyone who has a birthday in close proximity to a holiday but the day after Valentine’s Day, when you’re lonely, is hard enough to stomach without the additional emotions that go with a birthday. All those So what did he do for you?’s to overhear.

In my early dating years I discovered to what extent Valentines Day could dictate the happiness of my birthday. When I was a freshman in high school, I was in my first “serious” relationship with a lovely boy, Jason. He had long eyelashes that concealed disarming blue eyes when he smiled. He listened to grunge music before we all called it grunge. I loved the smell of his hair.

Jason dumped me for Tracy, a chipper 18-year old rich girl who I couldn’t stand, and he did it after school on Valentine’s Day. We were supposed to have a sickeningly sweet evening of balloons and love notes folded with high school girl precision and letting him get to second base. Jilted on Valentines Day, the day before my 14th birthday. I was a walking pop song.

The next morning I hunched over my books, halfway hidden in my locker, when I heard them. A gaggle of my girlfriends sought me out to get the sordid details of our first not-G-rated-Valentines Day and share theirs oh! and happy birthday!

At the mention of Jason’s name, my books fell to the floor as I dug my knuckles into my eye sockets. I don’t remember how I said that he dumped me but I remember Katie Frye’s expression when it registered that she’d stepped into a puddle of Awkward and as a friend, she’d be sloshing in it till we’d get on our separate buses to go home. Every Happy Birthday was met with trembling lips, a rehashing of the breakup and Katie’s gentle strokes on the shoulder as she passed me in the hall between classes.

Three months later I bumped into Jason. Tracy had just broken up with him and he assured me that it was a much harsher dumping than what I’d received. My curiosity was always piqued by that. I wish I’d had the guts to say, How so? Gimme details, dammit!  

So it can be rough for the February 15th crew. Learn from Katie Frye and step lightly.

Today, having Belle and TLD, we’ve reverted to the Valentine’s day/birthday blur from my childhood. Cards in shoe boxes, chocolates in foil wrappers and heart-shaped pancakes dominate the 14th. By birthday dinner we’re so full of sweets that instead of birthday cake we have my next-favorite dessert: cheese.

I know it won’t be so very long till my little girl comes home with a broken heart. I’m an optimist but doesn’t it happen to everybody? Still, I’m resting a little easy knowing that at least her birthday is in November, nowhere near mine. 


 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Moments

 

A noticeable difference?

Our back yard, 2011 (we had an "oversized" lot!)

Belle in our back yard today

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Moments, Pictures

 

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Diversion

I’d been putting off my dreaded Clean-The-Apartment Day but I decided to tackle the chore this afternoon while Husband was working from home and the kids took their naps.

To brighten my mood, and get something else off my to-do list, I first stopped by the post office to mail Leo’s birthday party invitations. Oh! these invitations. We changed the date of the party three times and then I forgot to send the invites out before we moved so who knows if anybody will actually be able to come!

The woman behind the post office counter offered special stamps and she pulled out a thick file folder, full of themed stamps. She pulled out sheet after sheet as my cell phone beeped and br-rring-ed incessantly, stealing my attention.

Flowers? No thanks.

Trees? No, really.

Hearts? The regular ones are really fine. Thanks though. The ones with the bells would be fine.

Hmm. Birthday party invitations…Well. How about these? (I lifted my eyes from my cell phone to look) Oh my gosh! Those are great!

After putting entirely too much thought into which invitee should get which stamp, I dropped my envelopes into the bin and made the trek into town to clear out anything we might have missed and give the apartment a quick cleaning.

 Like Leonardo Decaprio made reading Shakespeare “cool again” in the 90’s? Will Pixar make letter writing “cool again”?

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Moments

 

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