Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Dear Children,

Do you think you will remember yesterday afternoon when we danced in the family room?  We turned up Billy Joel really loudly, and then, all four of us holding hands, jumped up and down like maniacs for the full 3:20, giggling and laughing at Baby Lincoln's first rythmic attempts until I had to go to the bathroom before I wet my pants.  Do you think you will remember that?  Yeah.  Probably not.  But I want you to know that I will.  For the rest of my life.  Thank you, darlings, for providing the magic.

I love you.

Darling Lincoln,

Yesterday, as I left the supermarket with you on my hip and a grocery bag in my hand, I watched you watch the world.  Everything was new and fascinating to you.  The birds overhead, the breeze in your hair, the puddles after the rain, the people coming and going.  And as I watched you I felt that familiar swelling in my chest that always comes when I really see my children.  How blessed I am to be the one to introduce you to this earth.  What a privilege it is to be entrusted with your care.  I love being your mother, my darling boy, and I look forward to our adventures together.

I will always love you,
Your Mom

Dear Mr. Wicke,

The children and I had a really, lovely day today while you toiled away in your office. We ate outside on the patio, and then we brought out blankets and a pillow and laid them on the grass where we reclined in the sun... Well, some of us reclined. The baby crawled about mostly and Griffin was called away intermittently by mud and such. But, we stayed like that until we had finished Treasure Island and continued our adventures with Harry Potter. It was dreamy. Sometimes motherhood is hard, but then there are moments like this that is a treasure of the heart. I will remember it always.

Thank you for working so hard so that our children and I can create memories like this.

I adore you.
Your Mrs.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"The Worst Valentine's Day EVER!!!"

That's right.  It's not just roses and paper doilies around here, try as I might.  Sometimes...okay...many times we have tantrums and tragedies of all kinds of proportion.  They even happen amidst the Valentine magic I tried to muster.

Here's how it went down.  Friday:  Prepare New Annual Valentine's Day Family Dinner?  Check.  Saturday Night:  Write children a Valentine card and place it next to their bed so they see it first thing in the morning?  Check.  Sunday Night:  Break up a fight between the children and send them to bed crying?  Check.  "Worst Valentine's Day EVER" accomplished.  Triple check.

I didn't want to make them cry.  I didn't want them to fight in the first place.  I just wanted them to go upstairs and brush their teeth quietly, without waking the baby.  (Yes.  I have a dream.)  That's what I wanted; it didn't happen.  I also wanted Logan to apologize to her brother for teasing and taunting him.  That didn't happen, either.  So what did happen was that they were sent straight to bed without a story.  Things went downhill from there.

Logan (sobbing, to her father):  Isn't there anything I can do to make Mommy read to me?

Mr. Wicke:  No.  That chance is past.

Logan:  But there's GOT to be a way.  There's ALWAYS a way!!

Mr. Wicke:  No...sometimes there are consequences when we choose--

Logan:  But I didn't choose the consequence!!

This went on for a while.  Finally, I showed some mercy; that, or I finally had calmed down enough not to want to wring her neck and went in to her.  She continued to sob.

Logan:  Mommy.  I said I was sorry.  Can't you read to me.

Me:  No...I told you that was the consequence.

Logan:  But it's not fair to Griffin.  I'm just so worried because he didn't get a story because of me!!!  (Isn't she smart?)

Me:  I'll tell you what.  I can't read to you, but I can sing a song.  You each pick your favorite, and I'll sing it to you and snuggle you.

Logan:  I can't!  (Highly dramatic flair inserted here.)  I'm just, just-- OVERWHELMED WITH ANGER!
Why did this have to happen on Valentine's?  I was hoping for such a good day.  This is the WORST Valentine's EVER!!!    (More sobbing ensues.)

Did I mention she's 8?  In these moments my brain fast forwards to 13.  I'm frightened.  But, so it is with motherhood.  The pendulum swings between tragedy and ecstasy before you can even take a breath.  One moment you're a hero, the next a heel.  This parenting gig takes a calm head, thick skin, and faith:  Faith that tomorrow she will wake with a smile again; faith that their little memories are short in both directions; faith that, one day, they will grow out of it; and, most of all, faith that we will survive it, even "the worst Valentine's Day EVER!!!"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Valentine Victory

I did it!  Despite the odds, I pulled off the  New-Annual Family Valentine's Dinner.  I was not showered or makeuped but a festive dinner was on the table.  The menu wasn't fancy, but it was the food my children would love and eat.  Meat, mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn are a big hit in this family.  I didn't create the banners, but I did buy a new runner and made my homemade Valentines.  As it turned out, this project was an exercise in letting some things go to let the bigger things be:  An appropriate analogy for most of my mothering, actually.

Treats I knew my kids would love:  Candy and Webkinz!

Ironically, I found the webkinz at CVS while I was waiting for their prescriptions to be filled.

The kids were soooo surprised!

But you just can't teach 'em table manners... "Um...you've got something right here."

The best part?  The next day when Logan said, "You know what you are really good at?"

"What?" I replied.

"Making us nice surprises."

"Well, that's my goal in life, to make you happy," I said.

"You know what the problem with your goal is?" she responded.  "You already accomplished it."

I don't always get it right, but this one was a win.

P.S.  And just so you know it's not all roses and paper doilies around here, later on I'll tell you what caused her to yell, "This is the worst Valentine's Day ever!"  Ah...the sweet ying and yang of motherhood.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dear Man at the Movie Theater who Uses Waaaay too Much Cologne:

I smelled you before I turned the corner.  Really, I did.  I know I did because I thought to myself, "Who poured on the cologne tonight???"  When I can smell you before I see you...it is too much cologne.

Then, imagine my horror to find that you had plopped yourself in front of our seats while I was out getting popcorn.  I actually said, "Unbelievable!" under my breath.  When sitting behind you causes another soul to exclaim derogatorily...it is too much cologne.

I knew I was not alone when those people in front of you, who had sat down only moments before, found somewhere else to sit.  They too thought it was too much cologne.  If only there had been three adjoining seats left in the theater, I would have moved as well.  It's not you; it's your cologne.  That's how you know it's waaay too much.  But there are other hints:

When I feel I could not smell you any better if I had my nose pressed to the skin of your neck...it is too much cologne.

When I watch most of the movie with a napkin to my nose...it is too much cologne.

When, after nearly two hours, the smell has not yet disappaited...it is too much cologne.

When, everytime I need to get something out of my purse causing me to lean forward, I hold my breath...that is too much cologne!

When I leave the theater slightly nauseus, and it's not just all the popcorn I ate...that is too much cologne!

When I get home and actually smell myself to see if I picked up your scent, fully expecting I had...that is too much cologne.

I am sorry that I had not the courage or the lung capacity to tell this to you in person.  Someone needs to.  Is there a woman in your life that will tell you the truth?  I hope so, for all of Mesa and for the other region in which you probably live the rest of the year.  Heck, maybe for all of America.  Less is more, my brother!  I will never forget you...and I may never recover my sense of smell.

Regretfully yours,  (really, really regretfully)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Drowning My Sorrow at Treasure Island

Tonight was the night we were supposed to enjoy our new annual Family Valentine's Dinner.  Instead we are nursing two infected ears and a strep throat.  A clue, perhaps, for this new theory that there does exist a corresponding relationship between the upward trend of my mothering and the fledgling decline of my party girl instincts. 

I had big plans.  As I have only left the house for doctor visits, none of those plans have come to fruition.  I am disappointed.

To quell the ache, I bought the Classic Starts abridged version of Treasure Island.  We began reading last night.  My kids begged for more, and more, until the clock struck eight thirty and we had finished six chapters.  Griffin, unable to bear putting it away for the night struggled through a chapter on his own, not a small feat for a new reader, while I read a chapter from Harry Potter to Logan.  (We nearly have the answer to the Chamber of Secrets.  Even Billy Bones and a one legged pirate cannot trump that.)

And so, I lay to rest my dream of the birth of a new tradition in the Wicke household.  Well, not "lay is to rest" maybe, but certainly put it aside for now.  Doing that is ever so much easier while picking up a good book.  And now I'm off to snuggle under a warm blanket with my sick kiddos and travel to distant lands.  Goodbye for now, me hardies.

P.S.  If you are not familiar with the Classic Start series, check it out here.  I am a HUGE fan.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tea Party Place without the Party

Big news in Tea Party Land:

1.  My baby is officially walking.  I love when they start that crazy drunken stumble.  The cutest thing I've ever seen, but doesn't he know he's too little?  Why the rush?

2.  I got called by the school nurse twice yesterday to pick up sick kids.  Can you say mortifying?

3.  I have two sick kids at home today.  No fun.

4.  I slept with one sick kid last night.  There wasn't much sleeping.

5.  This morning went like this:

Me: (as I rolled over first thing) Hey Bug, how's the throat?

Logan:  It's okay, except when I have to swallow my spit.  That's the problem.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's too Early to Hear This Stuff

As I'm getting out of bed this morning, I hear:

Griffin:  Mom.  This treadmill is really dusty.  Mom.  We need to use the feather duster on this treadmill 'cause it's really, really dusty.  Mom...

Logan:  Yeah.  That's because Mom hasn't used it in a loooong time.  She's losing the weight on her own (What does she know about the weight, anyway?)...but it's been a long time since Bubba was born, hasn't it, Mom?


Friday, February 5, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch

"Mom.  You should come and eat lunch with me at school because a lot of other kids' moms have come and had lunch with them."

"Okay.  Of course I will."

"You will?!"  Somehow she had forgotten the three other times I have come for lunch at school.

"Sure.  I'd love to have lunch with you."

"Okay, but be prepared to be crowded because the kids in my class really like you.  Since that day you took our pictures they think you are really nice.  They've said so."

I just soaked it in because I am sure there will come a day, in the not so distant future, when she will not want me to eat lunch with her and her friends.  But today is not that day.  And I am happy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Exposure Therapy

I keep bumping into my fear of aging, as though, if given enough chances to face it, head on, I will somehow overcome it.   That's why God gave me Logan, I think.  My blessed child who, at least on a monthly basis, reminds me--and anyone else--that I am getting old.  With comments like, "Your skin is kind of oldish," or "You should try this make up because you have a lot of lines around here," or "My mom can't run anymore," (which, for the record is untrue.  I CAN run.  It's just that after the baby I sort of pee a little when I do.) or, feeling my slightly bulging tummy, "Are you sure you're not getting pregnant?" or "I liked you better when you were in shape."  or, pointing at my sundamaged skin, "What are those?  Ewww."  Like I said, God's version of exposure therapy.

I'm not convinced it is working, per se.  I still consider my short walk to adult diapers and decriptitude on a regular basis, but at least I'm developing a sense of humor about it.  Which is good, because sometimes, if I don't laugh I might cry.

Like yesterday.  I had put off Lincoln's 3rd vaccinations long enough.  Thanks to our crappy, self-employed insurance coverage, I was out of Dr. visit money.  They'd pay for vaccinations but not the office visit.  If you can get the doctor to vaccinate the child without actually going into the office, I'd love to know your secret.  Soooo...back the the free vaccination clinic we go. 

Remember the last time we were there?  I do.  It is branded into my memory.  Just driving there caused a hot flash.  Over and over again the scene replayed in my mind.  Griffin writhing and screaming.  This time, all the way there I heard the happy gurgles of baby Lincoln in the back seat, and it made me cringe to know that in a few short minutes he, too, would be in tears, that confused and accusing look across his face the moment the needle pricked his fleshy thigh. The bad taste of dread made it hard to swallow.

So I gave myself a pep talk.  As I drove I silently listed all the benefits of early vaccination, and as I filled out the paperwork I recalled all the diseases my children do not need to fear thanks to modern medicine, and as I made my way through the hallway toward the nurses station, I just tried to breathe.  As I sat down I confessed, "You know, after three kids you would think this would get easier."

And you know what the nurse said?  "Is this your grandchild?"

Wha---?!  Suddenly, the needles on the desk infront of me didn't even register.  Screw polio!  I look like a grandmother???  Are you kidding me here???  My mind went into some kind of whirling black hole, and just like that the baby was crying, the shots were done, and I was back in my car, still flabbergasted.  "Grandma?!"

There are serious thresholds a woman crosses on the way to (ahem) maturity.  Those looks women are used to getting one day disappear.  You know, those smiles from men that are slightly creepy, until they are gone and then you sense they were sort of flattering, too?  Those disappeared around the arrival of our mini-van.  And I distinctly remember my first "Ma'am."  That was a shocker.  But this?  My first address as grandma?  This was too big to handle alone. 

I needed to talk to my people.  The committee, of sorts, that I pass all important information by.  The people I trust to weigh in on all things Laurel:  Mr. Wicke, my two best friends, and my mother.  Between them they were able to talk me down from the ledge.  They told me she was "crazy."  We agreed that childhood pregnancy was not uncommon at the free clinic, right?  I appreciated their apparent shock, and laughing together tilted my little world back onto its axis again.  Yes.  Something was definitely wrong with that nurse.

And then, this morning over breakfast (because my genetic makeup is to turn things over and over again in my brain) I did the math, and here's how it added up:  I could have a grandchild.  And not in a "I got knocked up in high school" kind of way.  I could, legitimately, have a grandchild.  I don't.  But I COULD.

Bump!  See?  There it is again.  I am getting older, and there is nothing I can do about it.  Man, this exposure therapy is painful!  Especially to a "grandma" like me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Have You Read this Book?

Trust me, it's a life changer.  A personal narrative of her experience as a survivor of the Rwandan genocide.  Not only is it historically important, but it is faith-building as well, both faith in God and faith in the human ability to be better when we connect with the divine.  This one has found a permanent home on my bookshelves. View it here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rediscovering My Inner Party Girl

I used to throw parties.  All kinds of parties.  Themed parties, birthday parties, parties just because it was summer, or fall, or President's Day.  But most of all I had parties that couldn't really be called parties; gatherings really; just because friends came by and just because I had a huge pot full of soup and soup can feed a lot of people.  And of course we couldn't get together without playing a game or two and laughing until we cried, and then it just felt like a party.

I don't do that now.  Mostly because it's hard to find a sitter, and mostly because I am tired all. of. the time.  And even making a big pot of soup seems like a chore. 

I'm not sure I like this new me.  I'm hoping it is just a phase.

And maybe it is, because just yesterday I was inspired by Bloom to do something festive for Valentine's Day.  While perusing their site, suddenly in my mind I saw a luncheon for my favorite girlfriends with pink and red banners and burgandy chargers with my dark pink toile plates.  I could serve girly food and make homemade valentines...

And then I thought...my kids would love a party like that.  It struck me that if I'm going to make such grandios plans, why not do it for my favorite people on the planet?  I want them to remember their childhood as full of fun surprises, and I don't want them to know that I'm tired  all. of. the time.  I want to be the fun mom.

So my days of party planning may not be over after all.  Perhaps my parties just got more intimate:  Like dinner on china plates, in the dining room with banners and homemade valentines.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hardly the Invention of Lying

The children burst through the door after school, amid tears, shouts, and accusations.


"Mom!! He's lying!"

"No I'm not. Mom?!"

"Yes you are! Mom!!"

"What is going on? Whoa. Stop. Just a--" The dam burst. Yelling over the top of the other, trying to be the first to tell the story, neither the voice of reason. It is amazing how much noise two children can make. "Stop. STOP!! Okay...we're going to talk one at a time. You'll both get a turn. Griffin, you first."

It didn't go that smoothly, but the stories finally did pour out and stood in total opposition to one another.

"He's lying!"

"She's lying!"

"How can he say that?" Logan blubbered. "Ever since I turned 8, I've been trying very hard not to lie!!"

"Okay. Logan, it is going to be fine. Look, it's clear that one of you is not telling the truth, and I can easily find out who that is. All I have to do is call the parents of the other children who were there. Do I need to do that? Or is someone going to tell the truth right now, because I'll tell you what. If I do have to make that phone call and find out who isn't being honest? That person is going to be in a lot more trouble."

Immediately, Griffin hung his head.  "I'm lying," he confessed.

Two days later we sat in church together. As they began passing the Sacrament Logan whispered proudly, "I think I'll read the scriptures." She opened her scriptures to where she had left off days before and began reading quietly in my ear. "And wo unto the liar for he shall be thrust down to hell." She slowly turned to face me, her eyes big with sudden realization. "I'm worried about Griffin after reading that verse," she whispered.

"Well, honey." I stifled a smile. The timing was impeccable. "He's only six. He's just learning."

"...Oh, okay..." but she didn't seem wholly convinced.

A few minutes later I overheard her whispering to her brother. "Griffin. I want you to read this verse. 'Wo unto the liar for he shall be thrust down to hell.' This is a very important verse that you should remember, okay?"

And bless his little, gentle heart, he responded without offense and with a very serious, "Okay."

It occurs to me that perhaps I should remind her of the scripture regarding the beam in one's own eye, but for all there is wrong about this scenario, there is so much that is right. Watching my children grow is both funny and tender.

Childhood is a remarkably unique time in that their ability to fight is only matched by their ability to forgive. They constantly bump and trip over each other, one moment in love, the next in confrontation, but in that ying and yang that is the sibling experience, they are one another's very best teachers. It is through that jostling that the rough edges are knocked off. They learn empathy; they learn to apologize; and, in this case, they learn that liars are thrust down to hell.

Look. Somebody had to say it. (wink.)