Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Welcoming Nana, Summer and Confidence

It seems when I have company visiting, it is like a vacation for me, too.  I can completely focus on something else...like food, wine, shopping and visiting rather than the daily grind.  The only company we have had lately are one or both of my parents, mostly because we don't have a guest room, not because we don't like entertaining. My mother came up for Memorial Day weekend and it was a glorious way to kick off summer together. We welcomed the season of bare feet with cold treats and pool time, seafood and cold beer, crisp white wine or a refreshing cocktail (for the adults, of course), playing in the hose (for the kids, of course), eating and enjoying the summer blooms, among other relaxing rituals of the season.
You know how when your friends love your kids, love for your friends is multiplied by 10.  Well, I think it is similar when I see how much my husband and Mom truly love each other. My Dad is allergic to seafood, a delicacy my mom really loves, so when she is here, BJ goes all out with the meals for her.

I finally got on film (or card) this precious little squat Molly Mae does when she is really tickled. I just love it.

It is so fun to know she is joining in all the fun with her sister, and I know this summer will outpour with fun for her and for us.

She exudes and provides so much joy.

(Our Sunday lunch at a great local restaurant here in Fredericksburg, FOODE It is my type place with fresh food a friendly, trendy and warm setting)

Last week, I wept at the end of Oprah.  Among many things I reflected upon, I thought about "what is my life calling?" And, I don't know the answer, really.  I do know that I'm passionate about real food and real people, which I get at the local Farmer's Market. We try to go every Saturday and support the families who do business with BJ throughout the year. This sweet lady remembers us every time and always gives Anna Cate something, whether it be a bag of strawberries, a bunch of sunflowers or her beautiful smile with a lot of attention.

The display of the fruits of the earth and of people'e hard work at the market is as beautiful as an art show.

It makes me so happy to see my kid relating to people the way she does with these ladies and excitedly choosing vegetables for our table....

And homemade treats, too. These are apricot, white chocolate scones. Delicious.

I used to worry a bit that Molly Mae would not feel the grandparent bond as much, that she might get left out a bit since Anna Cate already has the connection since she was the first.

And there will be such a strong bond between my parents and my brother's children since they will grow up in the same town as my parents. But I now know that was a silly notion.

When asked who her favorite grandchild is, my dear friend Marian says, "whomever I'm with."

Molly let her Nana rock her to sleep every night, and when we picked her up at the train station, Molly Mae stared deeply into Mom's eyes before leaning forward for a kiss.  She definitely recognized her.

The morning before Mom came, Anna Cate greeted Molly with, "Nana comes today, Molly, and I'm going to let you have the first hug." Anna Cate's big sister muscles are getting very strong.

Nana's trip, like all good things, was all too quick and came to end.

But and end with a twist....

 Because Anna Cate went home with Nana, kissing us goodbye at the airport. She is going to stay a week and will be flying back by herself.

It was a big parenting decision for us to do this, but I'm confident in her confidence.  It was 100% Anna Cate's decision and I'm so proud of her.  I have had a few people comment that they can't believe I'm letting her do it. But, Mom will walk her to the gate in Nashville and from there she will be cared for by a flight attendant on the direct flight and I will be meeting her at the gate in DC. This gives me a chance to get on my parenting soap box, so here goes:

My world is made full and is encompassed by my children and I can not imagine so much as breathing if anything ever happened to either of them, but they are not 100% of who I am. They are a huge part of me and I am a part of them, but I want them to have their own life. I do not want their world to revolve around me.  I want Anna Cate to KNOW she can do things without me. I talk to her often about whom you can't trust, and that there are never any secrets from Mommy and Daddy, and where it is not ok for people to touch her and to never go anywhere with or help a stranger.  BUT I believe in the basic goodness of humanity and I want my daughter to trust people, to trust herself, to develop her own instincts, too.  You can't predict plane crashes; I won't teach my kids to trust no one, to base decisions on fear or shelter them for my own comfortability level.

If for some reason, she doesn't want to get on the plane in Nashville, then it is a good lesson about doing things that you have to do.  She'll be so proud of herself and it takes doing big things to develop real pride, a real sense of self and independence.  I know my kid, her maturity and her competency in dealing with people and she is going to be ok. Am I scared about her flying all by herself? Hell, yes.  But I'm scared about her starting kindergarten and meeting friends who come from homes that make me uncomfortable, and I'm scared about her inheriting my metabolism or my flat feet.  But parental scare is not a valid reason to limit your child's experiences. I want my children to be able to decipher between real fear and just jitters, to know when to trust that gut feeling that says something isn't right, not believing nothing is right because their Mama sheltered them. I want my children to suck the marrow out of life. I will not ever intentionally push them into something that they are not ready for, although I'm sure I'll make a mistake now and then.  It is like swimming.  Anna Cate told me she wants to do swim team and that requires swimming the length of the pool; so this winter at the gym, I would coach her to swim.  In times of insecurity, she would say she couldn't do it, and I wouldn't accept that. I got some stares from the other parents when time and again I put her back up on the wall to jump in and swim. But when she did it, she was so proud of herself. I knew she could do it; I knew she wanted to do it. She starts swim team next week at the youngest possible age.

I know children and I know my girl and that was my parenting diatribe about trust, fear, confidence and instincts. And how do I know about these things? Because as much as I love my parents and long for them to live closer, my husband and I have created a beautiful, complete life here (and for those of you who live close to your family, I'm NOT implying that you can't have that with your parents nearby so please don't read between these lines)

Although, my parents are a huge part of us and of our family.

I'm just saying I'm thankful I know how to create a life on my own. It started young when I went away to summer camps or spent time developing relationships with adults at a young age; my parents nudged me to learn how to engage with people from all walks of life and to trust in my fellow man, to be careful about people who were bad influences, to follow my gut,  to trust myself.  I believe Anna Cate is smart and engaging, and I know that if we encourage her to use her talents, to stretch her wings, she will be rewarded with more than just fabulous summer trips with family in Centerville.

With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world.
Dalai Lama

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flower, Flowers & Flowering

flowering - the time and process of budding and unfolding of blossoms

(squash bloom grown and photographed by BJ)

Tis the season for planting and tending to our garden. 

 I love seeing the flowers bloom in our yard, providing color for our landscape and some decoration for our home. 

Our "garden to table" experience was limited to herbs and tomatoes in previous years. 

This year, however, we are giving our hand (BJ's hand, that is) at vegetable gardening. I plan on blogging a lot more about this and am inspired by the Montanan mother, artist, writer, photographer and gardener Dig This Chick, who grows so much food in her garden she feeds her family during the winter from her summer garden. We are not setting such lofty goals.

flowering - metaphorical, a figure of speech to mean "the highest example or best representative."
 The Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti said, "the flowering of love is meditation."

For over a year, my meditation has been the practice of escaping in our sometimes messy playroom/office and forgoing some mind-numbing tv time to meditate upon the stories of my life which is flying by so fast. When you have young children, people always tell you how fast it goes, but you can't possibly believe it until you are on that ride yourself.

This month, I've been "blogging" a year.  On this space, I've rediscovered the joy of writing and learned some about photography.  When I was in high school, I was asked to write about sports for my hometown newspaper and found what I enjoyed more than reporting key plays was finding
the story, the human connections. Twenty years later, I write as a way to process and notice what my story is, to find meaning in life with my family and friends.

By using words and images to process my story here, new light has brightened my journey where I use my time, my heart and my soul in raising our family.  

And, like the philosopher said, this meditating has allowed my love for life to flower, to show the best. I've realized that "writer" is a part of who I am partly because I've been so honored by those of you who are readers. Thank you.

"In the hopes of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet." - Albert Schweitzer
This mediating has also nudged me to pay attention, not only allowing my life to flower but also my noticing the flowers at my feet, both the real ones and the metaphors.

flowering - the time and process of budding and unfolding of blossom. . . changing gradually from a simple to a more complex level. 
Like Anna Cate's understandings or Molly's personality.  Molly's spirit has captured my heart just as much as her tiny, slippery body and blue eyes did the day she entered in the world.  Honestly, I could not have fathomed a child having as much personality as Anna Cate does. While I am noticing the differences in these two girls, I see that Molly Mae has a charm all of her own, just as engaging. 

She isn't a "cuddler," often not willing to be held, sqirming to get down almost as soon as I pick her up.

 But, she makes a point to stop what she is doing (which is a LOT of things, let me assure you) to run to my shins for a hug. It is a grand display of affection and a way to say, "I like knowing you are here, Mom, and even though I'm busy, I love you."
Her eyes intently dart into my soul, and when she smiles, she cocks her head or bows with a slight nod. When she graces someone with a kiss, she open-mouth giggles afterwards with an "ah-hah." Or after a kiss, she doubles over in laughter. It epitomizes the expression "the cutest thing." 

I've believed since the first few days of her life, that there are deep thoughts ruminating behind those baby blues. Oh, how I wonder what those notions are.

 I think I've mentioned here before how much she moves. Maybe she burns a lot of calories moving, which is why she enjoys eating so.

She smiles with her eyes, joyfully interacting in such a simple, sweet way.
Joy, simple as the wildflowers —George Garrett

Miss Diana said she has never watched a child that moved as much as Molly Mae does, but she also pointed out how she can entertain herself with anything for an extended period of time. 

Both my girls are filled with gaiety, but I've noticed it comes from different motives. 

(Meeting Author of The Red Bow, Donna Tyson)

Anna Cate is such an extrovert and so giving that she wants to be happy so that you can be happy. My first born is funny so that you'll laugh and she hopes that you'll continue to interact with her, demanding your attention. Anna Cate will pick flowers for me so that I'll be happy with the flowers and with her.  

Molly will pick flowers for the entertainment of picking the flowers. Molly seems happy and playful with you rather than for you.

 I don't remember Anna Cate being the Mama's girl that Molly is, though. So while Molly seems more independent, she is more clingy.   (I worried that because I worked full time, Molly wouldn't know who her Mama was, but she knows who I am and our bond is as genuine as her smile. ) The intricacies of their spirit are as elaborate as petals.

Both these girls are so endearing to me. Yesterday, we forgot Anna Cate's gymnastics bag so we skipped the class and I took them to a local battlefield for an adventure...a bike ride for Anna Cate and a jog for Molly and me, along with a jaunt on a trail.

After we came home, Anna Cate said, "I'm so happy you and Daddy are my parents."  In that moment, along with thousands of others, I thought, "I'm so glad you are my kid."  When I look at Molly I say so often, "I'm so glad we had you."  I'm meditating on their value in this world and in my life's journey, and I'm grateful for the way words and photography for this blog have helped me express life's adventures.

And speaking of life's adventures. Molly fell in her high chair cutting her lip Saturday night and I wondered if she needed stitches since there was so much blood, so we jaunted to the ER. After about 90 minutes and a $100 copay, the only advice was "give her a popsicle."

flowering - A natural development or outgrowth
I look forward to watching their personalities, understandings and spirits flower as their sisterhood has.

flower: the prime; peak
A few years ago, I met the super successful author, professor and filmmaker Joshua Greene, who has lived a very interesting life filled with world travel and much adventure. He is Hindu, practicing yoga and meditation, daily.  When I asked him what his favorite "era" of his life was, he said, "right now."  I want to live like that and see the prime in the present, and this blog helps build our bouquet. Thank for sharing in our flowers flowering. 
Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.  ~Gerard de Nerval