10/23/2015

Missing Pieces

Lately I've been trying to locate someone from my childhood. Her memory and the memory of the elementary friendship we shared 20 years ago tugs at me more during this time of year.

Her name was Becca and she was my opposite in many ways, thin and graceful where I was solid and klutzy, intellectual and intentional where I was distracted and flaky. But she was my best friend, we even fought over a boy once, inasmuch as you can actually fight over a boy in the 6th grade.

Her parents were teachers at the school I attended when my own father was stationed in Germany before retiring from the Army in 1994-95. We met through Girl Scouts and found a mutual love of Lisa Frank Stationery and raw cookie dough. We would write notes to one another and talk about things that I can't remember now.

She taught me how to use plastic cord to make key chain and lanyard art and I taught her how to use a loom to make potholders. We went caroling together at Christmas and had countless sleepovers. She and I had all the makings of life long friends.

One year for Christmas our class went to an open air Christmas Market in a nearby town, it was a maze of stalls with food, mulled wine, hand crafted gift items and kitschy things that little girls love. Becca told me she had bought me a gift at the market and the 2 week wait to find out what it could be was excruciating.

It was a small glass tube, about 12 inches long, with glitter and sequins and little sparkly things inside that would slide back and forth through faintly tinted fluid when you tipped one end or the other up. They are common enough now, things you can find in any toy store, made of plastic and full of themed baubles that momentarily capture your attention.

Something about that gift stuck with me. I spent hours listening to cassette tapes of "Oldies" and watching the glitter slide. The gentle glide of sequins and glitter calmed me and put some of my ADD to rest. I would find myself more able to focus afterward and for years after I moved away that little tube of childhood sat in a place on honor on my antique wardrobe.

This gift, the first fight, the make up conversation about friendship, the sleepovers, the pictures, all of it, have given Becca a sort of hero status in my head. She knew me, and she liked me anyway. Which to the slightly chunky, uncoordinated girl with bad fashion sense and weird music taste, that was an invaluable thing.

Before the age of email and face book, when you moved away you had to write letters, and I was terrible at being a penpal so I lost touch with Becca. I know she moved to Arizona for a bit and then I'm not sure where else. I hope someday to connect with her again, if for no other reason than to thank her for liking me anyway.




9/15/2015

Talking to Myself.

 A popular theme on the social media these days is "things we want to tell _____"

25 Things I want to Teach my daughter

20 Things I want to teach new Moms.

15 Things Dad should do for their Sons.

and so on.

I see many of them talking to younger selves, and to growing children, trying to avoid the trials and tribulations that self doubt and caring to much about what other have to say, can bring to one's life. By this I assume that most people think that if you are old enough to dispense life altering, and mostly ignored wisdom, you are to far down the path to make a difference.

Something rings false about that for me. As I watch two of my most favorite people making huge changes in their lives I think, it can't be too late. Why aren't we talking to ourselves now? Why do we always direct our well meaning advise to others?

When a cabin depressurizes and the oxygen masks pop down, you are not supposed to help others first, you are supposed to put your own on, ensure you are not going to pass out before you can help others. I feel like there's a life lesson in there about the present, about the now and about how we are not to far gone to find and hang on to happiness.

And I think it can be shortened to only a few things, I don't need 25 or 20 or some pleasing round number to get the point across.

1. Try to be kind to people

2. When you fail at this, apologize

3. Tell people nice things about themselves.

4. Accept compliments.

5. Sometimes life is gonna suck, its life, move on.


8/18/2015

What do they do at School?

It's a new school year here in the Ninja household and we are heading back with gusto. Pumpkin, Sunshine and Doodle are all getting up and heading to the bus stop each morning.

One day last week while we were doing our nightly paper review, reading assignments and talk about the day, Sunshine said to me, "I'm glad I get to go and learn all the important things at school, they teach me everything I need to know"

This caught me off guard. (cause no they don't)

I asked her who taught her to walk?

I asked her who taught her to feed herself with a fork?

Who taught her the words to You are my Sunshine?

Who taught her about crossing the street?

Who taught her how funny The Emperor's New Groove is?

Who taught her how to make a Smore?

She answered all of those questions with "You did"

That's right baby, I teach you important things too.

That's what Momma's do, we teach things.

School is not going to teach my children how to mourn when someone they love leaves this world. Or how to put the needs of other before your own in certain situations, or how you don't show up for dinner without something for the hostess, or how you always tip the waiter well when you've been given good service, but you are never rude when you don't get good service, or how when you are invited to a meal, even if you don't love it, you thank the person, and don't complain.

School might teach them math and science and social studies, but I'm teaching them to be adults.

4/09/2015

7 Things I love about Roo

Tomorrow is my little Sunshine girl's 7th Birthday. In honor of this most anticipated (on her part) day I offer up 7 things that I love about my Rootabega.

1. Her Giggle. - When this baby laughs her whole body gets into it. Her nose crinkles, he eyes sparkle and her entire bony little self just wiggles. She's so funny and has the best sense of humor. I anticipate whomever she decides to share her life with is going to be drawn to her because of these things. She lights up the room.

2. Her Snuggles - when she was a baby, she wanted "big snuggles" that included blankets and 10 minutes of hugs and kisses. Today she will run at you from the other side of the room and say, "prepare for the snuggle of your life!" She's all knees and elbows these days but she still wants to get as close as possible to you and show you how much she loves you, one snuggle at a time.

3. Her Memory - My memory is like swiss cheese, but not the kind with big noticeable holes, its the kind with the tiny little holes that from far away look like nothing at all. It worse than big holes, people give you passes on big holes, people give you side eye shade for small holes. Roo has no holes, she remembers everything (except don't run in the house and don't leave cups full of juice where your baby brothers can get them) and she reminds me of everything. I am both exasperated and in awe of her little brain and how it all fits in that tiny freckled head.

4. Her Feet - she has the longest feet of any person I've ever known. Shes kind of like a puppy, I'm waiting for her to grow into the boats that she pirouettes through life on. She loves to don sparkly pink cheetah print shoes and show of those huge feet to the world and she will NOT wear uncomfortable shoes. I hope this continues and that she doesn't come to resent this amazingly solid base she has been provided. Avoid heels and paint those long monkey toes baby girl.

5. Her Faith - Where my older daughter deals with church until it's time for lunch; Sunshine girl wants to learn about faith. She adores going to Sunday School, she seeks out conversations about Our heavenly father, his son, and the love and peace that guide our lives because of his ever present spirit. She asks the most insightful questions and often tests this mommy's ability to make information accessible and relate-able for a 6 year old. We work together to get there and her patience with me is very endearing.

6. Her Music - She is a singing fool, she wants to perform her newest song, always. My extended family still asks her to sing this hilarious song about Spring time that came from the little Einsteins show. "Oh yes, oh yes: It's Springtime!" If she doesn't end up as a hippie tree hugger she will likely be a songstress belting out something somewhere and bless her for not being afraid to do it.

7. Her Heart - When Reagan loves you, you know it because she says it. She doesn't let a single day go by without telling you. She writes you notes, she calls you on the phone, she is an amazingly affectionate young lady. I'm sort of like an elephant momma with my babies, constantly touching them, grabbing them, telling them that I love them more than anything in the world. I'm more than confident that my little Roo feels loved because she lets it shine out to everyone around her.

4/01/2015

The Power of Smell, I mean Love

Everyday I get in car and put on my seat belt, and think of my husband. He gets ready for work, puts on his cologne and walks out the door, so the seat belt, right next to my face, smells just like him. He has been wearing the same cologne since our wedding day, It was a gift from me and he has continued using it for nearly 11 years. On days when I am feeling down, that smell makes me feel comforted, it stirs something in my heart and give me a huge dose of warm fuzzies.

Jeeves is a teddy bear, a broad shouldered, tall, affable guy with a great smile and a remarkable impersonation of the cowardly lion, when the mood strikes. He is silly and kind and when I smell that seat belt, or give him a hug, I feel all of the good emotions, and it makes me smile.

I didn't think about this much until last week when he was getting ready to go take a nap and was giving me a hug. It was a longer than usually hug, because he put his face into my neck and rubbed against me and said, "I have missed this smell so much, you know the babies smell like you again?"

It took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about.

I have been wearing a rotating variety of perfumes over the years, new ones come and go, but a few are constant. I ran out of one of them, probably the one I've used the longest, because it is not a super popular fragrance, I had to go out of my way to find a place to purchase a new bottle. I thought nothing of the purchase, or the lack of familiar smell until Jeeves' comment.

Turns out that same warm fuzzy seat belt feeling is something that he experiences on a daily basis when I get ready for work and then deposit a sleeping tiny boy into his arms. My perfume, rubs off onto the babies and they snuggle together having happy mommy/wifey smell moments before the day gets kicked off.

I also discovered that when my perfume smell lingers, the boys will look for me, running through the house, saying "Mommy?" and looking around corners and doorways.

I don't have any remarkable life realizations just the comfy reminder of how much love I have in my life. I'm so profoundly blessed.

3/25/2015

Too Little to be Big

I love reading the inspirational stories of faith filled women on the internet. The stories that lift you up and remind you that no amount of awful can overcome joy if you resolve to make it so. I feel, as is probably intended, like they are speaking directly to me, be peaceful Nellie, your savior loves you, you are doing just fine.

They tell us about their past. the addiction, the pain, the suffering, and the awful crap that could have destroyed them. Could have turned them into bitter, angry husks of the woman they were destined to be. They talk about the years spent in a haze, the things that they did while at rock bottom, about surviving, of hurting the people who tried to help them, of the reasons they have to despise themselves.

They talk about the Moment, the one when they realized that they were off course. They tell about coming back to reality and the hard work it takes to go from giving up to giving it their all. They tell us how they turn failure into success, and how everyday is a struggle.

And we identify with parts of the story.

We cry at the truth they speak, because it touches our soul.

We pass it along to our friends and say: Read this it will change your life.


I want to tell stories that change lives.
I want to live a life that inspires others.
I want to speak truth; hard, ugly, but cleansing, truth.

The problem is, I don't think my middle of the road, making it, totally thankful, messy life is one that people want to hear about, or can identify with. I'm knee deep in babies and full time job and girl scouts and family. Life is not easy, but I've never truly fallen away. I've never had addiction, infidelity, abuse, neglect or even a prolonged really hard time to overcome. I am blessed in ways I don't deserve and didn't earn.

I'm sure I could find a hundred things to complain about:
I'm broke
I'm fat
I probably have ADHD or some variant of screwy brain chemicals that affects my focus.
I HATE housecleaning
I have all the student loans
I procrastinate, like whoa.
etc, etc, etc....

But those things are not special, they are not extraordinary, Basically, I feel that there's nothing significant about me or my journey that is ever going to inspire others. I've never been an outcast, or part of the in crowd. I didn't have a string of bad relationships. I never lost touch only to find my way back to a long lost someone.

I struggle with my desire to share stories about my life because I don't think they matter to anyone but me. I desperately want to write about my life, and have it be meaningful to others; (which I recognize is a bit cloying, I'm not totally unaware of my weirdness) but ever the worst critic of myself, I worry that deciding to try to share in a bigger way will result in being shot down for being so dratted ordinary.

When you've lived this type of life and you have no real hardship to speak to, it's hard not to come off sounding holier than thou when you talk to people. "I've basically been blessed my whole life, look at how awesome I am!" But that's never been my outlook. Life is hard, everyone has things in their lives that aren't great but you get through it, right? And you are thankful for the good things because you know that there are bad things and the good things make it so you can bear the bad things with a little more grace.

And I'm not wishing for hardship, or requesting a test of faith, I just wish there was a way that I could use my peace filled life, and experiences with getting through the small hardships as a way to help others to recognize the small wonders in their lives. To be thankful, to be peaceful, to feel forgiven and accepted, and to know that small lives are not wasted lives. I wish there was an audience for that, because I see the things being put on TV and the internet. People feel less than fulfilled because they don't live like a musician, or famous athlete, or one of the Kardashians. There's a premium placed on a life full of drama and nothing noteworthy attributed to a normal life with kids and Sunday school and birthday parties in your living room.

I guess what I wish is for a world where value was placed on making ends meet, and loving your babies, and staying faithful because you made a promise. I wish I could use my life to help others see the joy of small things, and the peace of a thankful heart.
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