Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy Spring

It's that time of the year once again when my world starts to spin faster and faster and despite the extra hours of sunlight I still find that there's not enough time to fit it all in. And so I stop answering my phone. And the laundry piles up. And stacks of mail sit unopened on the counter. Spring is in the air, even if the sun hasn't gotten the memo yet, and our lives are starting to shift into summer. This is a welcomed change and soon the pace of our lives will slow into extended vacation mode, but for now spring is lively.

The menu changes from wintery comfort food to salad and chard and new potatoes sweet onion and kale and cilantro based creations. There are many vegetables to chop and the kitchen compost bucket has to be taken out multiple times a day. The chickens are fat and happy and the garden is starting its slow but epic explosion. We are eating well around here, but eating well takes time and springtime dinners get later and later. Oh well, soon nobody will have to get up early for school.

Jack helped with the first rhubarb crisp of the season. Nothing says spring to me like rhubarb crisp and vanilla ice cream. I am usually of the persuasion that dessert is not dessert unless it is chocolate. I make an exception for rhubarb crisp on a spring evening.

Can you see small fingers attempting to abscond with a loaf of bread during the photo shoot? Nice try, Jack.

And then there are the spring projects. Brent planted an herb garden and another strawberry patch for me for Mother's Day and he's been hammering and sawing and measuring and fence building, too. There are more big changes in store for our backyard this summer including a major move of the chicken house and possibly (possibly!) a new patio. These changes come in light of recent chicken escape attempts which have been thwarted by Jack's watchful eye. I have said it before and now I say it again, it's probably a lot easier just to buy eggs.

My work life is also spinning faster in that high energy end of the year tailspin that begins each May. I rarely mention my job here because I once read that the only way to "have it all" is to be totally present when you are in each of your spaces. So when I am at work I am all business and try very hard not let my mind wander back home, and during my time at home I push all things work related into the recesses so that I can focus on my family and my domain. But sometimes these two worlds collide and I lug home a stack of personal narratives to grade at the kitchen table. But then again, I do find that a nice cold beer sometimes makes 7th grade prose more palatable.

Then there are times when the work that I do does enter into that category of things that I truly enjoy. Like sewing costumes for "A Midsummer Night's Dream"- this is work that I do not mind bringing home, but it certainly keeps me busy. Let me tell you something about Shakespeare and 8th graders: this is a magical and hilarious combination. I have had more "And they actually pay me to do this?" days in the past few weeks than I've had during my teaching career. It's good to love the work that you do.

Jack is not quite ready for sweatshop labor yet, but he will be there soon, and then he can help me with those costumes.

These high energy work days are exhausting and sometimes when I get home the kids are climbing the walls and Brent is in serious need of some alone time. When everyone has a bad case of the afternoon grouchies, I load up the stroller with kids and snacks and we head out for some fresh air therapy. Sometimes I run, sometimes I walk, but whatever we do seems to push a refresh button on the day. My mom used to tell me that things always look better in the morning. I think I will tell my kids that things always look better after a run in the fresh air.

On occasion, the grouchiest person will catch a quick nap in the stroller, blanket in mouth and all.

Often on our runs and walks we play Slug Bug (minus the arm punches, of course) and I sometimes wonder if the people driving those little Volkswagens have any idea how much joy their vehicle purchase decisions bring to my kids. They must have some clue when both kids start gleefully screaming and wildly gesticulating, but I have noticed some drivers who seem confused by all of the attention. Our stroller time is also enhanced by fire truck sightings and I get all cheeseball sappy sentimental when the fire fighters notice my kids' small hands waving in the air and take the time to ring that little bell in response. I hope they know how much this simple gesture means to my little people. Again, it's good to love the work that you do.

If we walk to run errands, we pass by several fast food restaurants and the kids never miss an opportunity to yell at the "yucky food place" and complain about the wafting stench of fryer grease. I guess my hatred of all things fast food has left a lasting impression on my kids. I think this is a good thing, but they need to become a bit less vocal in their protest. People in the McDonald's parking lot sometimes stare.

During the middle of the week we had a chaotic episode which I think epitomizes our lives right now. The incident involved a missed 5K, a lost sweatshirt, and a soccer game. In that order. I planned to run a race that evening and so Brent helped me rally and feed the troops while I heaved the stroller into the car. As I hopped through the house attempting to singlehandedly tie my running shoe, my phone rang with the news that the race started half an hour earlier than I had thought. We would never make it. But this mama doesn't get all suited up in her running gear for nothing and so I decided we would run down the bike path to the gym and watch Brent play with one of his soccer teams. The kids seemed agreeable to this idea and we were just about to hit the road when Jack realized he'd left his hoodie at the park that morning. His favorite super-cool-from-the-big-boys-section skateboard sweatshirt that was a birthday gift from Grandpa Curt. In other words MY SWEATSHIRT! I NEED MYYYYYYYYY SWEATSHIRT! Insert hysterical crying which resulted in hysterical hiccuping. And so for the third time that evening I changed the plan and we set off running in the direction of the park. I confess that my stomach began to get that sinking feeling when Jack started to entertain the possibility that his sweatshirt might not be waiting for us at the park. Why would somebody take my sweatshirt? If a kid stole my sweatshirt, I would be mad at him. Kids who take sweatshirts aren't my friends. And on and on. Thankfully as we approached the park, Jack spied his beloved sweatshirt hanging from the bench and I silently thanked the universe and the neighborhood miscreants for sparing my kid that horrible feeling of losing something that you love. Even if it is only a hoodie.

We made it to the soccer game just in time to see Brent in action. When dad scores a goal and we all actually SEE IT, it is a BIG FREAKING DEAL. And so it was all worth it.

And on Friday night we grabbed bikes and burritos and went to the part for a family date night. It was definitely date night at the park and I overheard one couple's obviously first date awkward banter that left me alternately cringing and gagging as I eavesdropped under the guise of pushing Sawyer on the swing. This was a textbook first date conversation topic: If you knew you were going to be stuck on a deserted island, what one thing would you bring? I missed his response (I suppose some child's need was being met or something irrelevant like that) but when she said "Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five" I wanted to lean over and tell her to stop trying so hard. Really? A book that you've already read? C'mon. Get real. Don't get me wrong, I love Vonnegut as much as the next well-read urban hipster, but how about an emergency flare? A life raft? Some food? Booze? When the conversation devolved into what drink you would bring and he said "water" I bit my tongue to keep from yelling at her to ditch this guy, who was obviously not trying at all. I don't think they will have a second date, but who knows. Reason and love keep little company now-a-days, to quote my old pal Will Shakespeare.

But back to my pseudo date: We set up picnic on a bench and the kids scarfed down their dinners and took off on their bikes. Brent and I sat on the bench, dining alone in the peaceful quiet following the wake of our exuberant offspring, and for a moment- a fleeting moment- it was almost like a real date. The boys rode around and around and around the park and the wind carried their laughter across the grass and over to our ears. Right then I wished for my camera- not only to capture the moment for the kids, but to capture our moment for us as well. I caught a small glimpse of our future and was struck by the idea that one day we will come full circle and it will be us alone on the bench every night.

No matter where I am or who I am with or what I am doing I almost always have my camera. I've found that photo opportunities come knocking at unexpected times and places and I hate to be standing there surrounded by beauty and cursing myself for leaving the camera at home. I've heard a lot of people say that the point-and-shoot is the way to go when you have kids, but I never mind dragging around the big guy so that I can get the shot I want. Once you get in the habit of carrying around a camera with you at all times, you almost feel naked without it. Looking at the world through my camera lens has helped me to see the loveliness in everyday moments. And I think that sometimes by capturing the moment with a picture I am more able to recognize its significance. No matter how quickly these moments seem to pass.

When the moments start passing too quickly, as they have been lately, I know it's time to pull up a chair, grab a brew, let those essays wait, and chill the eff out for awhile. Because spring comes only once a year and we all need to kick back and enjoy the hell out of it while it lasts. So happy spring to you, may your days be long and your cups be full and your kids be happy. (And may that sun continue to shine... Please?!)

1 comment:

  1. Oh my - rhubarb crisp - heaven! And, glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks this spring is going by in a whirlwind of chaos. Love the processing on the photos (I think you might be braver than I am; I'll work on it) and the new header!