Dark Master

1160 1160_ () 1160 1160 I tell myself I’m going to start exercising. Every day. I’ve started back swimming a few mornings a week, getting up early and going with a good friend. We treasure this time together, and the added benefit of a good workout.

But I have not started back with the weight lifiting. And I’m not sleeping well. Even as Henry is sleeping better and better, my body is still in the habit of waking up, wide awake, between 3 and 4 a.m. Nearly every morning. I lay in the bed and wait for Henry to cry out to me. But he doesn’t. He has become a good little sleeper, but I’m just as tired as when he wasn’t.

Today is the day, I tell myself. But then I forget. And then, the house is quiet. Henry is napping and the big boys are playing basketball with Paul. I remember about the weights, but decide I’ll eat some chocolate instead. I’m addicted to those Dove Promises, the bite-size dark chocolates with the pithy messages inscribed on the foil.

I go into the pantry and reach up to the top shelf. I keep the chocolates hidden behind the saltines, where no one will ever find them. I tear into my treat.

“Keep the promises you make to yourself,” it lectures.

I devour the chocolate. Then I go look for my dumbbells. 1160″> .


Good Report

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One recent evening we had Report Card Pickup at the boys’ school. My mom offered to watch the boys so Paul and I could go together to pick up the progress reports and see each boy’s teacher.

This was our first report card night with all four big boys in elementary school. We weren’t expecting any major issues to discuss, but it was nice to be able to go with Paul, to see the classrooms together and review the boys work. We normally tag team these kinds of events, and it felt like such a luxury to go together.

Throughout our evening, as we moved in and out of each classroom, I was reminded again of how much I love my husband. There had been a few situations recently that Paul needed to address with the boys, and the teachers noted the positive change since then. Paul takes the time to build-up and encourage his boys – and it works wonders.

There was an encounter between one of the younger boys and a classmate. Our boy didn’t appreciate his classmate’s behavior. So he pushed that classmate, who happened to be a girl. In that situation, it seemed so important for the dad to tell the boy how ladies are to be treated. It was a teachable moment between a father and son.

Countless times have I sent the boys to their father – and not just for these kinds of teachable moments. The boys go to Paul to have him answer a question or explain a situation or just clarify the way we as a family do things. I realize that most of these topics I can handle – I can look up the information, or explain something, or simply discipline the boys myself. But in some circumstances, it carries more weight coming from Dad.

And then, there are those instances so out of my realm as a woman I don’t even know where to begin. It’s not that it would merely be better coming from Dad. It’s that I am utterly at a loss. Is this normal, I find myself asking Paul, and should we be worried about it? Did you ever do these kinds of things when you were a boy?

Many times the answer to these questions is yes, that’s normal, and no you shouldn’t worry. Paul knows and understands where these boys are coming from – that he was once a boy sure comes in handy around here!

There are times when I can’t decide how to handle something – or whether or not there is even an issue at all. Sometimes, with these boys of mine, I choose to let things go because I don’t want to micromanage my sons. And Paul is a wonderful source of insight in these moments, too.

I realize of course that dads are invaluable in the life of a daughter, too. Growing up, I had so many wonderful talks with my dad, situations where I sought his guidance and wisdom. And because of all the times he stopped what he was doing to answer my questions, I still seek his advice to this day. I treasure my relationship with my dad.

Maybe what I’m appreciating right now is not simply Paul’s role as the father of our children, but as my partner in raising them. I love the way he loves our boys – and I love just how much he helps me love them.
He takes his role as a father seriously – but not too seriously. And that is an important example he offers me. One of the greatest challenges of having boys, as a woman, is to avoid freaking out on a regular basis. Paul helps me chill out.

And that, I think, is among his most important contributions to this family. 1159″>


To Explain

1158 1158_ () 1158 1158 A few weeks ago, I did a major, much needed redesign of my little space in the Internets. I loved the comfort of Olde Browne, which felt rather like a nice, weathered blanket. And there was a part of me that hated to change it. But I knew it was time — it was getting to be like the haircut that was treading the fine line between cutting-edge long and Mary-Ingalls long. Cool, but then again, maybe not?

In the midst of the rework, I got to the part about allowing comments and decided it was time to take the plunge and start a moderation. Because, here goes:

People can be mean. They can be rude. And the mean and rude people are usually named Anonymous. And I was starting to be on the receiving end of this mean and rude. And people — whoever you are! — I’ve got a life outside the Internets. And I started to realize that I was having these days that were perfection, if I didn’t count stuff that was being sent to me via my computer.

And then I realized, how sad! That a majority of my problems, my hurts and frustrations, were being caused by me reading words. Not through rude face-to-face interactions with actual human being, or through problems with my husband or children. I was getting hot and bothered by things being written to me or about me by people I don’t think I even know.

Now before we go any further, let me say this — it was not a ton of hate mail or a threat or even a comment about my ability to keep a clean bathroom. But all it takes, I’m sad to report, is a few unkind words. Somedays, these days, that’s all I need to feel down. And I do agree I need to grow a thick skin. That’s part of being a writer and putting yourself out there. But I realized I don’t need to be so out there that I feel sick to my stomach when I check my email. Or feel like I have to check my email constantly just in case someone is being passive-agressive in my comments box.

So here is the bottom line, in regards to comments — I am just going to go with the flow. Sometimes they’ll be closed. Other times they’ll be opened. And there may be no rhyme or reason. I like the idea of having them open for my weekly column, not because I want to hear you tell me how fantastic you think I am, but because I enjoy hearing your thoughts on a given subject. I do enjoy (and miss) that aspect of having a blog. But I don’t for a second want anyone to feel like I’m just opening comments so I can read that you think I am amazing and that you love my family. I do feel your love, dear reader. But I never for a second want you to think that’s all I’m after.

I could write more specifics, tell you exactly what happened when, but we’ll leave it at all the above, which once I re-read it will probably seem like way more than enough.

One last thought — I had someone leave a comment recently about me “reworking” past material, and I do want to address that, even if simply for my own piece of mind. This blog is basically my electronic diary. I write little thoughts, funny interactions, and then I have them for a later date — or not. Sometimes I will take what I’ve jotted down and work it into a column, or some other bigger piece for the print world. It is my right to use my words as I see fit. I am not stealing from myself. Also, I don’t want to be self-conscious of that fact when I include my print articles here. So that’s a kind of FYI, and MPM (your information, my piece of mind).

Kisses and hugs. Happy Friday. 1158″


Four Months

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Words cannot express
the incredible joy and delight
this baby has brought into our lives.
So I won’t even try.
Can it be only four months?
I think I’ve known him my whole life.

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