Poem in Your Pocket

April 30, 2009

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. A strange little holiday, but a good one. Having children has been wonderful in many ways, but one I hadn't quite anticipated was the way they would bring me back to the world of poetry. In this past year, we have entered a new stage of reading and listening. Shel Silverstein has become a big favorite. Rhymes, tongue twisters, and homemade poems are now a part of car trips and silly moments. A joyful return to a world of endless possibilities: those little nuggets of words and images that can quickly transport us to another place.

We have recently discovered a fabulous children's book poetry A Foot in the Mouth. Bold, colorful illustrations accompany a lively collection of poems that are meant to be read aloud. Highly recommend it for adults and kids (although some poems may not be appropriate for all ages...read before sharing all with your kids). I especially loved the opening poem. Consider this my pocket poem for today:

The Poems I Like Best
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

The poems I like best
wear classic black
with vintage accessories
and smell like a new book,
the spine just cracked.

The chitchat overheard on a city bus
or nonsense
volleyed between toddlers on swings at the park.

My favorite poems
squeeze your hand
on a crowded street and say:

The poems I like best
wear blue jeans
and smell
like the tack room of a barn:
worn leather and horse.

The varied verses
of a mockingbird's tune
or syllables between brothers scratching scruffy chins
under the hood of a truck.

My favorite poems
hold a wooden spoon of words
and whisper:

Pit Stops and Corner Views

April 29, 2009

Things are starting to get a little more hectic around here as we continue to work out the details for our upcoming move. Still dealing with our house situation (not a fun time to be seeking buyers or renters), taking care of doctors/dentist appts as part of our overseas medical screening process,preparing to ship our van, and scheduling our pack-outs. Instead of getting caught up in the details I find myself floating along on a little cloud of denial and escape. Trying to focus on the little things that make me happy and escaping to other places via blog travel. I have recently made two fun discoveries.

The first is something I had daydreamed about creating last summer. Happily, someone else has done it! Amy has created a great site called Pitstops for Kids. You know those places along the way that make you smile instead of cringe. The places with clean bathrooms and running space for little feet. Good roadside restaurants, easy side trips off of major interstates, and even airport reviews. It's a brand new site and most of the posts seem to be in the Northwest, but the site is available for others to submit their reviews. Take notes on your next road trip or send in local information. If we all send in posts we'll soon have a very handy resource perfect for planning summer roadtrips.

The second discovery is Corner View. Every Wednesday, bloggers around the world open their doors into their corner of the world. Hosted by Spain Daily, each week has a different theme. This week's theme is transportation. Last week's theme was breakfast. I love these glimpses into daily life. They are my favorite parts of traveling. I have more vivid memories of eating breakfast (including a peek into our host family's kimchi pot buried in the back yard) in Korea than I do about the tourist sites that were highlighted in the guidebooks. Start in Spain and see where you end up.

Little Things

April 28, 2009

The black-eyed susans are starting to bloom. These are the kind that grow wild in the ditches in south Louisiana. Bright, cheerful, and tough creatures. Mine came from Aunt Janet's garden. Makes me happy to have plants in my yard that remind me of favorite people and places.

Letters from Adam, my mom, and my grandma. Letters are so good.

This bowl full of color. Beautiful wool roving from my mother-in-law.Waking up to discover Noah reading to Camille. A very sweet way to start the day.

My heels touched the mat during downward dog. It's been over six years since that has happened. May not seem like a big deal but when it happened last week it felt like joy shooting up the back of my legs. Weird, but true and it made me very happy

And this little family of chickens. See that tiny one? That's the egg.
Have any happy little things to share?


April 26, 2009

Having a six year old means we have increasingly regular discussions about teeth. Most of these conversations center around which classmate has most recently lost a tooth and Noah's growing concern that he hasn't lost one yet. But in the last two weeks the discussions have shifted. After a visit to the dentist, we discovered that Noah has six cavities. Yes, six! My first response after the initial shock was guilt. Guilt that perhaps we hadn't brushed enough especially during the deployment or not doing things the right way. The dentist picked up on this and commented that he must drink a lot of juice. I immediately became defensive and poor Noah nearly started to cry (we don't keep juice in the house, it a special treat at birthday parties, etc and he was upset that he would never get to taste juice again). My guilt then morphed into anger and dismay. How could this happen? We are pretty healthy around here. Snacks are usually fruit, veggies, and cheese and crackers. Drink options are milk or water. My kids are excited if they get a Hershey's kiss every now and then as a treat.etc. We didn't floss every day and yes, there were some nights when tooth brushing got overlooked and even those occasional nights of midnight snacking. But in general we really do try to be pretty healthy. How can my little guy have gotten six cavities?

I am writing this post to share the information I have been reading during the past couple of weeks. Information that I had never heard before. Information that I believe all dentists and family physicians/pediatricians should be sharing with families. In the six years that I have been a parent, no health care provider has ever mentioned any of this and when I recently brought it up with our current dentist. She said "oh yeah, that is a good idea. Everyone should do that". Really? then why aren't you telling everyone? why isn't there a big stack of handouts about this in your waiting room? How did I miss this? So here it is. If you already know this and I am just a slacker mom who is six years behind the ball, please ignore this post.

So here's the deal:

Noah's cavities are probably due in part to my history of cavities. Sharing not only family history but also passing along germs that encourage the growth of cavities. Wish I had been more proactive while pregnant and nursing by taking xylitol regularly and not sharing food.We used to see a lot of xylitol gum in Japan. We chewed it, but never even thought about offering to our kids. Turns out we should have.

Here are a couple of sites that convinced me that we should have been doing this on a regular basis. We have all started using toothpaste with xylitol. We have all started chewing xylitol gum or these candies after every meal. And I am looking into ways to use xylitol in baking.

In addition to xylitol, I am also considering the use of M.I. Paste. Our dentist is exploring options for ordering it. We are also flossing the kids' teeth every night. Brushing at least two times a day. Trying to avoid chewy/sticky/ sugary foods. Use ACT rinse (not Camille who is still too young). And we are in the process of having all of his cavities filled before our move. Some dentists and patients testify to the positive results of remineralization...curing cavities without ever getting them filled. It would be nice to avoid putting him through the procedure but I worry about heading overseas with so many cavities. So far he's had four of the cavities filled. Not fun, but he has done pretty well with it all.

I know this probably isn't the most coherent post, but I just wanted to share our recent experience. I really wish I had known these things (especially the xylitol info) before now.

Some additional spots for information and support:
Ask Dr. Ellie
Alternative Kids Teeth Yahoo Group
Very Young Kids Teeth Yahoo Group

Travel Photo Friday: Charleston

April 24, 2009

I found this image when I was going through photos a few days ago. It was from our trip to Charleston last April. It's not the typical image that comes to mind when one thinks of Charleston (frilly, southern homes, waterfront parks, azaleas, etc) but it is actually a good way to examine how we like to travel as a family. A nice reminder about why that weekend trip was so enjoyable for all of us.

Here's what usually happens. When we decide to take a trip, I immediately start to do research. I start gobbling up websites, checking out library books (fiction,non-fiction, and childrens books), and talking to others who have been there before. I usually love this stage of information gathering. Adam doesn't and that's a good thing. I sometimes get bogged down in all of the details: the desire to find the "perfect" family accommodations, the best kid friendly spots, etc.When I stay up too late reading travel reviews, he calmly walks me to bed and reminds me that things will be good,even if they aren't "perfect". And he's right.

I was becoming increasingly frustrated because I couldn't get a hotel reservation for that particular weekend. I had read that the visitor's center provided a room finding service (hotels update them with daily cancellations and availability). Adam suggested that we just take a chance and head to Charleston without a reservation in hopes of finding one through the visitor's center (we were within driving distance so we could have just turned the day into a long day trip). I reluctantly agreed (had this image in my head of a long weekend escape, not just a day trip). We got lucky. When we arrived, we headed straight to the visitor's center and got one of the last available rooms in the historic district. We checked in, parked our van, and spent the next two days exploring by foot and trolley.

Once I do all of my initial research, I usually make a list of things that sound appealing but I don't make a formal itinerary. It just never works for us. Our first day in Charleston is a good example of our preference for soaking up a new place by wandering. It was a beautiful, sunny day. We headed out of the hotel with the idea of having lunch at the Farmer's Market which we had passed on our hunt for the visitor's center. On our walk we discovered King Street which was filled with interesting shops. We had a great lunch at the Farmer's Market complete with kids activities, live Bluegrass music, very tasty, fresh food, and a lively crowd of locals. Feeling energized and revived from our time at the Market, we headed back onto King Street. Hit it a local art supply store, checked out a nice independent book store, admired the cupcake shop across the street, and saw a flyer advertising a local performance that evening of "Frog and Toad". We noted the theatre was within walking distance of our hotel and decided to try the evening show. Headed back to the hotel. Camille took a nap while Adam and Noah toured The Yorktown. We grabbed a quick dinner at a pita place before heading down the street to see the show. And ended the day with some gelato from the shop next to our hotel.

We didn't do any of the typical tourist things that had been highlighted in the books or at the visitor's center (except for the Yorktown). We didn't eat at any of the spectacular restaurants in town. We didn't even make it to the Children's Museum which was across the street from our hotel. We didn't take any of the typical tourist photos (got plenty the next day). Instead we watched our children run and dance with other little ones at the Market, we enjoyed wandering, and we took note of what we saw up and down King Stree
t. Turns out it was the perfect way to enjoy Charleston.

Earth Day 2009

April 22, 2009

Visited three different parks, fed the ducks and pigeons, climbed the oldest and biggest tree in our area, laughed with friends, picked up garbage, enjoyed the sunshine,and went home happy.


April 21, 2009

Camille's drawing on the bottom of a shopping list during our stay in Orlando: "Look, Mama. There's me crying and my Taiwan Mama is holding me. You and Noah were looking for me. I am a baby."

This past weekend at a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant (grill in middle of table and seated with strangers). The chef accidentally broke an egg while trying to preform a trick and said "Hmm, bad egg. Must be from China". Everyone laughed. We didn't.

A few months ago Noah asked: "How much money did we spend to get Camille?". I didn't give a specific answer. Talked about how it costs money to have children whether it happens through adoption or birth, talked about how we loved both of them very much, talked about we wanted our family to grow. He interrupted me to say "I bet we could have used that money in a better way". Very matter-of-factly. Not angrily. I have dealt with the money question from strangers, but never really quite prepared myself for it from my son.

Drawing, digesting, questioning....processing.

Bird Lessons

April 20, 2009

In addition to butterflies, we have been busy spotting birds. Spring in Florida means lots of nests, hatchlings, and mama birds. In the past two weeks we have spotted Anhinga, Osprey, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, Muscovy Ducks, Mallards, Canadian Geese. We have seen them on our drives, our walks, at local parks, and during a recent visit to a rookery. We have seen vultures mating (not a pretty sight, but led to some good discussion about the birds and the bees). We have seen gators lounging on the ground under trees filled with nests. The gators keep raccoons from getting into the nests, but the gators are also waiting for those moments when little birds are learning to fly. We have discovered them in busy parking lots. Mama ducks weaving through cars with their babies. Mama ducks sitting on eggs under bushes between parked cars. People leaving nearby restaurants feed the ducks and so the ducks stick around even when it's not a safe location. And in that same parking lot we saw a crow attempt to fly away with a newly hatched duckling. We scared him off and had another interesting discussion about the scary things in life. Lots to learn from birds.

April is Child and Nature Month. Seems like recently there has been a surge in books and websites focused on children and nature. Even new words like nature deficient disorder . Seems so strange and sad that there is even a need for diagnosis and a formal campaign to encourage outdoor exploration. Some of my favorite memories from childhood involved running free in the fields and endless hours of building outdoor houses/structures with collected items. I don't need a book or website to tell me that there is joy, discovery, and multiple life lessons waiting outside our door. Which is why it makes me so sad that this isn't currently a part of every child's life. Imagine Childhood and The Magnifying Glass are two blogs which highlight the joys of natural exploration. Check them out, then turn off your computer and head outside to see what is hatching in your neck of the woods.

Travel Photo Friday: To the Sea

April 17, 2009

When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

More travel photos here. Thank you for the encouraging and thoughtful e-mails. Wishing you all a peaceful weekend.

Sunny Days, Sleepless Nights

April 16, 2009

The sunny spring days have returned in full force and we have been spending almost every minute outside. Lots of adventures since the kids are out of school for spring break. Amazing bird rookery experience yesterday. Discovering ducklings and lots of nests in the middle of a parking lot last night. Our days are good and spending this time with Noah and Camille is good.

But my nights are a different story. I can't sleep. I toss. I turn. I get up to journal. Read. Walk through the quiet house. And yet I continue to feel anxious. I spent most of last night searching through the house and our garage for old photos. I felt a desperate need to look at photos of my dad. Photos of our time in England. Photos of him holding me as a baby. Photos of him at the beach. I didn't find what I was looking for. Instead I got increasingly sad as I realized I don't have enough. I wish I had more. Wanting/needing to replace images from those final weeks in the hospital with better times.They come back to me as flashbacks. Images that have been dormant for several months have returned sometimes sharp, sometimes fuzzy, but still keeping me awake.


April 15, 2009

Butterflies everywhere. We couldn't keep up with all of the butterflies we saw last week at Washington Oaks State Park. Seriously overwhelmed by all of the color flying around us. And then when I downloaded the April Book of Days it added even more excitement to our butterfly frenzy. We spent most of yesterday stuck inside without electricity and blocked in by a big tree that fell across our street. While searching for food in the pantry that didn't require heating (wish we had a gas range) I discovered a big box of coffee filters. Set them on the table with a box of pastels, our butterfly books and watched these winged beauties emerge:
After creating the wings, we ventured outside to collect twigs for their bodies and attached them with hot glue. And this morning I discovered we are not alone in our butterfly love. Check out today's Crafty Crow which is bursting with butterfly creations and this amazing project. If you are looking for a good butterfly id chart, highly recommend finding one of these for your local area. Very handy and easy to take on any outing (we keep ours in the car).

An April List

April 13, 2009

Another list of things that we have been enjoying recently:

Lisa Hannigan: check out this and this...amazing! loving her voice, her lyrics, and her creativity.

A Homemade Life: just started this yesterday and can't put it down. Kept seeing it mentioned on other blogs. Thought it was just a cookbook or how to live more domestically. I was so wrong. More on this book once I am finished, but highly recommend putting it on your library list or even better see if Molly Wizenberg is coming to your area for a book signing. And be sure to check out her beautiful blog.

Adventure Stories: Noah's been requesting more adventurous reading. This is a whole new territory for me. I have never really enjoyed wild adventure movies or books. Not a fan of science fiction. Never even seen all of Star Wars. Having a monkey boy is opening my eyes to a whole new world. Not sure I will ever fully leap into the world of adventure but I have to admit that some recent reads with Noah have been surprisingly fun and I have to restrain myself from reading ahead each night after I tuck him into bed.Highly recommend the Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil series. Hard to go wrong with volcano monkeys, right? And now getting ready to start James and the Giant Peach. Have any suggestions for other adventurous reads a six year old and his mama might enjoy?

Wish: A trip around the world to see how children make wishes. Kind of like the tooth book. Revealing all sorts of interesting traditions...even some we have done like the Loi Krathong festival in Thailand. Whimsical and colorful illustrations make the journey even more enjoyable.

Snacktime: Camille keeps saying "I want those naked ladies to sing" and happily we all agree with her. Although they aren't really ladies they have made a very catchy cd.

Book of Days: every month a new book to download filled with seasonal activities, wonderful drawings, recipes, science experiments, book suggestions, and all sorts of other good stuff. April's edition is especially perfect for us with its focus on butterflies and doesn't shoofly pie sound interesting?

Taste of Home

April 12, 2009

It's Easter Sunday and I had hoped that we would be spending today in Louisiana doing what has always felt like Easter to me. Spending the day in the swamp, eating boiled crawfish, hunting for eggs, and gorging myself on these. But we just couldn't make it happen. Instead we ended up heading down the road to the local Art Festival where we were pleasantly suprised to find a very lively gathering of artists from all over the South East. We were also happily suprised to discover two of my favorite foods and proof of my Southern/Cajun roots: Moonpies and boiled crawfish. Not the same as being home, but still nice to have a taste.

Travel Photo Friday: Korea

April 10, 2009

Loaded up and ready to go in Seoul, Korea. April 2004. Namdaemun Market. More Photo Friday here.


April 9, 2009

It turns out Passover is the ultimate six year old boy's holiday. With all of our recent trips, friends out of town, and my recent state of mind/heart, I thought we might just skip doing a Seder this year. Luckily, I have a very enthusiastic and creative son who motivated us to have one of the most enjoyable Seders ever. Noah brainstormed and gathered items representing all ten of the plagues. He spent most of the afternoon assembling them into a very unique centerpiece. My favorite parts: the big jugs of blood (water with red dye), the hail (rice), boils (band-aids),and darkness (sunglasses). The Passover story is full of adventure, drama,hardship, destruction, recovery, bad guys, heroes....all the things Noah is drawn to lately and he can't seem to hear the story enough. We have been reading several different versions of the story which made for a very lively re-telling around the table tonight. We usually have guests around our Seder table but I have to admit that there was something very special about tonight's Seder. We didn't spend weeks getting ready or do any big shopping trips. We scrounged around and used what we had. Our little family of four seated around a table covered with wild animals and "blood" eating food of symbolic and historical/cultural importance...looking back at a very challenging year in our own lives, looking forward to new adventures, and trying not to let the tiger or the dinosaur get our matzo ball soup. A perfect Passover thanks to my favorite six year old boy.


April is always a busy month. Seems to be the most crowded month on our family calendar for anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. Usually it is one of my favorite months of the year. We were married in April (just celebrated our 9th anniversary) and my birthday is in April, but this year April also brings with it some sadness and dread. Painful anniversaries related to my dad's surgery and his final weeks of life. On our most recent wedding anniversary I couldn't help recalling one of my last long conversations with my father. Last April. Sitting in an old rocking chair on the back porch of our rental house in South Carolina. Watching the sunset. My father had called to wish us "happy anniversary" and also let us know that he had arrived safely in Baltimore. He also spent a large part of the conversation going over details I didn't want to hear. Details about his wishes, his will, his fears, and his hopes that all would go well with the surgery. I couldn't even bear to think about those things. But he needed and wanted to share them. In retrospect, there are so many things I wish I had asked. Things I wish I had said. I wish I could have prolonged the conversation. Recorded it. Anything to go back in time. Little did I know that I would only hear my father's voice twice more before he died. It's something that still makes me cry. I loved my father's soothing voice. And so here I am in April. A very bittersweet month with more highs and lows to come in the next few weeks.

Oaks, Art, and Dinosaurs in Orlando

April 8, 2009

We just returned from another trip to Orlando. Adam attended a conference while the kids and I went in search of activities that didn't involve large mice, shopping malls, or crowds. And I am happy to report we had some success. Our first day of exploration led us to Loch Haven Park which is home to several museums and theatres nestled under large oaks. Truly a very pleasant surprise since so much of Orlando seems to have been clear cut to make way for theme parks, hotels, and malls. We had a good time exploring the small, but colorful Mennello Museum of Art (mostly folk art and a nice sculpture garden by the water). The highlight here was a brief drawing session on their front porch (the docent gave the kids some pastels and paper). On our way out we couldn't but notice an enormous live oak tree opposite the museum. Turns out it is one of the largest oaks in Central Florida and even has its own name. After some tree climbing we headed across the street to the Orlando Science Center where we spent the rest of the afternoon digging for dinosaur bones, sliding through intestines, and all sorts of other hands-on fun. I know that most folks come to Orlando with a specific focus on the theme parks, but if you need a break or you are within easy driving distance keep Loch Haven Park in mind. Think of it as a unique kind of cultural "theme" park with shade, traveling exhibits, Shakespeare, meandering paths, and no lines.

Travel Photo Friday: Jekyll Island

April 3, 2009

Last weekend marked an important milestone in our travels. It was our first trip without our kids. A romantic escape to beautiful Jekyll Island, Georgia. And what a perfect escape. We stayed at the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel where we had a wonderful room complete with our own private porch and these views (they do offer a good military discount). Spent our first afternoon touring the historic district surrounding the hotel and had dinner at The Rah Bar where we peeled our own shrimp and crawfish while watching a storm move in over the marsh. Got up early to discover the overnight storms were gone and we had a sunny day ahead of us. Rented bikes and hit the paths that meander throughout the island. Rode through the marsh, past the ruins of an old house, under oak canopies, and along the beach. Stopping to admire the azaleas in full bloom, find a letterbox, take a walk on Driftwood Beach, and eat lunch on the water. Completed our afternoon with a trip to a delightful book store with a huge wraparound porch filled with wicker chairs waiting for readers. I wish we had discovered this coastal escape sooner because it is truly magical. We are already making plans to return with the kids so we can take part in one of the turtle walks and do a little camping.

Want to do some more virtual travel? Click here to see others' travel photos or share your own.

Wild Animal

Camille came to me yesterday with a concerned look on her face and said "I think I have a wild animal in my stomach". Before I even had time to process what she was saying, she started to vomit all over the carpet. Poor Mei-Mei. It was the first time she's ever thrown up and I have say she described it pretty well. It took awhile to console her because that wild animal in her stomach not only spewed forth on the carpet, but also on her beloved bunnies. Luckily she now seems to be fine (no fever, no further episodes). I was worried that our weekend travel plans were going to become very messy and as Camille has learned wild animals in the stomach are just no fun.

Learning in the Garden

April 2, 2009

One thing that gives me great joy is working in the school garden. I love seeing little hands watering, weeding, and harvesting. Love seeing kids run their hands through the herbs and eat broccoli fresh from the garden. Love their curiosity and excitement as they notice the seasons and cycles in the garden. And I love learning with them and from them. A few mornings ago I was helping the kindergarten class in the garden. A few of them were planting watermelon radishes and carrots while the others were watering and counting all of the emerging strawberries. One of the kids suddenly said "ouch". We all turned to see what caused the pain. While rubbing a strawberry leaf on her chin, she quickly realized that the leaf was covered with tiny prickly parts. She then passed the leaf around the group and we all shared in her discovery. A very tactile lesson and one that most adults would never even consider..."what would this leaf feel like on my chin?". Loved experiencing that moment of discovery.

More Thoughts on Comparisons

I woke up with this issue still on my mind. It's not a new one to me, but it does seem to come up in various forms and at different times for me. With the house stuff on my mind, it shaped yesterday's post, but this morning I woke up thinking about it in terms of yoga. Yoga isn't about competition. It's about focusing on my own practice. Feeling myself stretch and move into positions that initially felt awkward but gradually begin to feel just right. Moving at my own pace. Listening to my body's needs at a particular moment in time. Knowing that my body, my mind, my breathe may be in different places at the same time but still working to bring them together even if for only a few seconds. Watching others for guidance and when those feelings of envy arise trying to return the focus to my own mat. Much easier to think about mothering in terms of yoga instead of house selling. More about intrinsic vs. extrinsic validation. Not always easy to put into practice, but it does feel better to try.

A Mom Like You

April 1, 2009

"Should have been a mom more like you"...Betsey's comment on our recent fossil hunting trip is stuck in my head tonight. For the past two weeks we have been meeting/interviewing various property managers and real estate agents in our quest to make a decision regarding our housing situation and our upcoming move. The benefit: our house has been cleaner and more organized than it has ever been. In fact, the morning after I got our bedroom in shape Camille came twirling into the room and announced: "This is the most beautiful room. You make the bestest house, Mama!" It felt good to get such positive feedback but also made me realize she's probably never seen our bedroom floor free of piles before. The negative: my kids are spending way too much time plugged in...Noah to Wii and Camille to Dora. Even though things are in fairly good shape after all of the big work, I still find myself running around in the afternoons before these meetings frantically wiping down counters, vacuuming, and doing dishes. And once the meetings start the electronic entertainment continues.

So the core of this post is just like some of my other recent posts. Appearances can be deceiving and comparisons suck. Yes, the fossil adventure was good. It was a much needed antidote to the excessive wii/tv in the past couple of weeks. I don't like how my kids can get sucked in so easily. And I don't like how easily I can slide down that slippery slope of turning things on so I can get more done. I am working hard to adjust to having our house on display. It feels weird to have people walking through and making judgements about our house/about us. And in some ways this blogging thing is similar to that. Putting parts of us, parts of myself out there. Editing, de-cluttering, cropping, recording, commenting, etc. And then to add in the comparisons. I understand the need to compare/evaluate our house against others on the market, but it also makes me think about all of the comparing and judgement we do as mothers.

This was actually one of hardest things for me to deal with as a new mother. Everyone has plenty of advice for new parents....always happy to share their thoughts on sleeping, feeding, burping, etc but no one ever warned me or gave me any guidance on this whole comparison thing. I remember feeling pretty lonely in Noah's first year because I found it so difficult to be a part of any new mommy groups since most of those conversations centered around comparisons. How many hours is he sleeping? Weight? Height? etc. It drove me crazy because there were times when I allowed myself to get caught up in it all and ended up feeling so inadequate. And even now I read other blogs or see other moms in action, and I sometimes find myself wishing to be more like them.

When I first read Betsey's comment I thought "A mom like me? Not today. You wouldn't want to be a mom like me." But that is the problem with this whole idea of comparisons. I look at the print-outs of the other houses in our area (square footage, number of bedrooms, etc) and the estimated value of each house, but it doesn't tell the whole story. It can't measure the character, the neighbors, the hard work, the failures, and the good times etc. And the same with us. I'd love to be the fossil hunting beach mom every day, but that was only one day out of this week. The other days have been rainy with too much wii and tv. And yet maybe that is it. We don't value ourselves and our mothering enough. I am not proud or happy about the recent electronic excesses, but I am also trying not to beat myself up about it. Betsey is a wonderful mother and I can only hope that one day my children will grow up to be as confident, talented,and compassionate as her teenagers. Isn't that ultimately what we all yearn for as mothers? Despite our different backgrounds, different approaches, and whatever else gets thrown in for comparison we are all headed in the same direction, right?

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