Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cool Mom

There are a few things in life that make me really crazy. Giraffes are one. Pie crust is another. But! We had a dinner invitation and in the spirit of bringing something summery, I threw caution to the wind and made a rhubarb pie. I say threw caution to the wind because it's really a challenge for me to roll out a pie crust without having a nervous breakdown. But! I did it! Hallelujah!

Dinner with friends who have the backyard of our dreams. Grown up grilled cheese sandwiches. Naked kids and garden broccoli. Heck yes, it's summertime!

Wizard camp graduation.The first of many graduation pictures for these two.

The terrible thing about being a third baby in a busy house with rambunctious boys and a hyperactive dog is that you never get set down on the floor. Clementine is almost always in someone's lap, but she's starting to get some roll around time and I think she'll be crawling soon.

Brent and I say over and over again that we wish she could stay a baby. I'm not sure if it's because she's our last or because she is so sweet, but I do wish I could at least slow time down a bit to enjoy her being like this for even longer.

Third babies definitely grow up faster than first or second ones do.

I went on a major decluttering mission this week. The toy situation in the playroom was spiraling out of control and clean up time was becoming a real hassle. It was all just kind of stressing me out. I hate not being able to find things. I hate my kids flopping around the house and complaining of boredom when a mountain of toys sits ignored. And furthermore, I hate having an entire room of our house devoted exclusively to Legos.  

So I began collecting toys that never get played with and soon I had the whole back of the car filled with bags of toys, clothes, books, and various odds and ends from around the house. And then the next day I did the same thing. And the next. The kids did not seem to care that I was hauling out so many toys, they even joined in acknowledging that they rarely play with anything other than Legos.

In typical give-a-mouse-a-cookie fashion, once I cleared out the playroom I decided it needed a new coat of paint. I decided to thin out my massive collection of fabric. Let's paint the kitchen stool while we are at it! I'll just touch up the paint in the boys' room, too! I had to remind Brent that these sorts of projects always get a lot worse before they get better. I pleased him by clearing out some major garage flotillas while I was at it. It's all been quite exhausting and cathartic.

We always paint in our underwear, don't you?

A big problem for me is getting rid of anything with sentimental value. I have tons of my mom's stuff, but hoarding it serves no purpose except to stress me out. It's time to let go of some things that I'll never use. It's time to be okay with that. There are, of course, many things that I'll never part with because they mean too much to me: the diamond in my wedding ring that I remember my dad showing to me before he gave to her. We wrapped it up with a frying pan so that she'd never suspect what it was on Christmas morning. The quilt that she made me for my high school graduation that I only wish I could have appreciated more at the time. The sewing machine that she used to sew and create in the same way that I do today. But the rest are just things and it's time to move them along. I'll keep the memories with me forever.

The house feels lighter, clean up time is a breeze for the kids, we now have space to make a bedroom for Clementine, and we can actually walk through the garage. So this would be a neat and tidy place to end this.

But that's not really my style.

All these donation trips to the thrift store meant that I knew when it was 50% off all clothing day. And since the boys have requested their Halloween costumes early this year so they can wear them to a birthday party, I had an excuse to sneak off with Jack to the thrift store later that night after dinner. Turns out it was 50% off all toys, too, and after we found the shirt we were looking for Jack begged and begged me to go take a quick look. I totally panicked for a moment thinking he was about to find all of his own castoff toys in the mix, but that's not what happened.

Instead he spied a prehistoric video game system called "My Sports Challenge" which was marked down to $3.50. And I can tell you in that moment that there was no earthly way to say no to those big blue-green eyes. I am not sure how it happened, but every memory of my own childhood toy longing came flooding back and I could not help but become putty in his six-year-old hands. Usually I have no problem saying no to my kids, but this time was the exception. I warned him that it might not work with our TV. I warned him that it might be totally lame. I warned him that Dad might demand that we return it to the thrift store. And then we paid for it and went home.

Brent raised a dubious eyebrow at me as we walked in the door. "This just doesn't seem like something you would buy," he said while setting the game up for two very eager little players. Once he got it going, the pixels were huge and the set was missing a controller. Nevertheless, Jack and Sawyer spent the next hour taking turns bowling, golfing, and playing virtual baseball.

"This is so awesome!" Jack exclaimed. "I can't wait to have my friends come over and play this!"

Brent again raised a dubious eyebrow at me. "You realize this is totally lame, right?" he whispered to me in the kitchen. And as time went on, Jack and Sawyer began to notice that having only one controller really limited what they could play. Jack supposed that when his friends came over they could just take turns, though he was starting to see that it really wasn't much fun to play the games by yourself. Sawyer was starting to see that it really wasn't much fun to watch your brother playing.

And so after they went to bed, I suggested to Brent that we buy a Wii. He nearly choked on his beer. I tried to explain to him something that I really didn't understand myself. That it made me sad to see my kid feel disappointed in something that he wanted so badly. That sometimes I feel bad that my kids have never been to Disneyland or on an airplane, for that matter. That there's a part of me that remembers what it's like to have parents who do things differently than other parents. My mom gave me a quilt for my high school graduation, for god's sake.

And that for once, just once, I wanted to be the cool mom. So we hopped on Craigslist and the deal was quickly done.
And when I'm long gone and it's time to sort through my stuff, I hope my kids will have an easy time sending my things off for donation. I hope they will hang on to a few of the things that mean the most and just let the rest go. One thing is for sure, Jack and Sawyer will always remember the night their mom and dad shocked the hell out of them by buying a Wii.


  1. Loving it! When you come to writing your next book, the title "Naked kids and garden broccoli" would work for me!

    Wishing you happy summer days,
    Ali in Switzerland

  2. Pie crusts TOTALLY stress me out, too. My mom makes the most gorgeous, flaky, delicious crusts. I seem to keep trying and failing.

    Those grilled cheese sandwiches look AMAZING. I'm gonna have to try making them on the grill like that. I've only ever made them on the stovetop.