Saturday, March 27, 2010


Have you seen the new Southwest Airlines commercial? Did you know that your bags fly free on this airline? Their very clever commercial shows a passenger looking out the window of her plane to see the baggage handlers all lined up and lifting their shirts. On their bellies is spelled, Bags fly free. Funny. Ha Ha. Commercial over. Gloria promptly forgets until....

.....two minutes later Caleb starts lifting up his shirt and waiting for the laughs that should follow. Oh my. I really should be excited because I know he will actually get something out of Sesame Street now. Instead, I know there is no excuse now for having him in the room with me when I watch my "adult shows." Don't need to see my 22 month old stabbing his siblings or stripping his clothes off. Hmm, come to think of it, he already does those things. Where did he learn them?


This morning before 7:00 am, I received two wonderful gifts - from my youngest and then my oldest sons. According to Gary Chapman, one of my primary love languages is receiving gifts. Don't get me wrong, I'm not overly materialistic. I also love to give gifts. If I had lots more time, and a bigger budget, you'd all be receiving gifts all the time. I have often said to Steve that if would be really cool if I could follow through on at least 1/2 of my "gifting" ideas. But, I digress....

It's spring break here and I woke up at 5:50 am. Not happy about this, but what's a gal to do? This gal reads. So, I turned on my lamp, grabbed my book (currently Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) and proceeded to lose myself in learning about food and where it comes from. That's a whole different blog entry because now that I'm reading this book, the ideas are percolating in my mind. So, the point now being thatI was engrossed in the book. Then, I hear a little cry. I ignore it, but it becomes louder and more persistent. My little man was awake and clearly going to cry at his door until someone let him out. I freed him from captivity and brought him in with us - planning to continue with my book. No sooner do we get settled in, than I hear Steve say, "turn out the light and maybe he'll go back to sleep. I did not want to turn out the light. I wanted to read in bed, but good wife and mother that I am (or at least try to be) I complied, while silently grumbling.

Then, the most beautiful and wonderful thing happened. My boy turned and snuggled into me. He put his head on the crook of my arm and pulled my other arm around his little body. This boy is 22 months old and never stops moving while he's awake. He is usually way too busy for snuggling his mom. And, when he wants someone, it's either "Daee! or Loli!" This is what I had dreamed of doing when we had #4 and admit I've felt a bit deprived in this area. But, this morning, this morning when I wanted to read, my boy snuggled. All of sudden, "lights off" and "no book" went from nuisance to gift. My attitude did an about-face and I embraced the moment as I tried to memorize it.

About fifteen minutes later, the oldest comes in with an Alex Rider book. Mind you, it's still before 7:00. This boy never gets up before 8:00 on school days. Last night he and I started reading The Omnivore's Dilemma (yes there's a connection to what I'm reading - and to watching Jaime Oliver's new reality show). As were read about mutated/geneticallyaltered plants Isaac told me it reminded him of a scene in a book where the plants had been mutated to become killer plants. If you are a teacher, you know I was thrilled about the text to text connection! Apparently, he did not forget this in his sleep. The first thing he wanted to do upon waking, was to share a book with me! So, he snuggled into the bed, too, and read aloud to me. My son was sharing his love of books and reading aloud to me! Yes, there's another bibliophile in the house! (In case you are wondering, Alex survived his encounter with the killer plants.)

Within minutes of the last one, I was gifted again! I'm hoping that our love of books (and of action/adventure movies) will be the connection that keeps us talking through the teen-age years that are oh-so-quickly approaching. These moments with my family - this is what makes life so beautiful. So, no, I didn't get to sleep in on the first morning of spring break. However, I chose to receive the gifts offered by my boys. The are gifts all around us, we just have to choose to receive them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Din Din Duff

When I found out that I was pregnant with #4, I somehow thought that this would be the child that I would parent perfectly. He would be on a schedule, eat healthy foods and have no issues whatsoever about being the youngest child. HA! I was delusional. He's not even two and his favorite word is, "snack!" He gets to bed whenever we get him there and his sibs dote on him and spoil him rotten.

But, this morning I did something right...something I never had the time, energy or gumption do do when the big kids were little. I actually did the old toy switcheroo, you know the one that all the early childhood educators tell you do. So I pulled all the misc toys to put away. (Note to self - put toys away!) and brought out the din din duff, known to the rest of the world as kitchen stuff. As I brought up the little tykes kitchen and dug through the fake food and dishes, I was reminded of one of my most treasured memories.

Picture my oldest at three...big blue eyes and light brown curls. This beautiful child covered his little table with an old scarf of mine (one he still sleeps with every now and then - it's code name is the "the cloth") and set it with the toy dishes. He has gone fishing using his magnetic fish puzzle to supply the catch of the day. That day, he took my hand and led me to this table - the most beautiful table I have ever been at and the most "delicious" fish dinner I will ever enjoy. I hate, yes hate, real seafood, but this fish dinner was the most magnificent feast because my boy prepared it for me with so much love.

Fast forward to the 22 month old athlete has discovered the "new" toys. He is using a frying pan to whack plastic fruit. I try to provide different toys that will enhance different developmental experiences for this child. And, what does he do? He plays baseball with it! He may never make me a fake fish dinner, but watching him be himself and love the new toys in his own way became another wonderful memory in my treasure chest. I'm guessing there are some serious baseball (and basketball, football.....) games in my future. So, I may not be doing everything right, but at least I'm not screwing him up (well, not too badly). My precious C knows already knows his strengths and I love him fiercely for it!

What are some of your favorite memories of your kids? Or, if you don't have kids - what stories do your parent tell about you when you were little?

Yes, those toys you see on the other side of the gate are still there waiting to go into storage. Any guesses as to how long they sit there before I get that task done?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The World is Different Tonight

Many of you have suggested that I start recording our Ruff family stories. I've been meaning to start this blog since Valentine's Day. I have pictures of our celebration, which included pink smoothies and pink heart shaped pancakes. You guessed it. They are still on the camera.

Then, yesterday, I had an impromptu cranial exfoliation treatment, courtesy of C. I was trying to rest my stuffy head and take a "nap." As I was nodding off, I felt C playing with my hair and running a comb through it. At times he was rubbing my head a little roughly, but I did not have the energy necessary to open my eyes and tell him to stop. Besides, he's 21 months. If I expended all that energy to stop him, his efforts would resume again as soon I got all comfy again on the couch. I discovered when Steve got home that C had been dumping dirt from a nearby plant onto my head and rubbing it in. My head, my sweater, and the couch were all covered in dirt and all had to be vacuumed. I decided that somewhere in some snazzy spa, someone is charging an arm and a leg to rub dirt into someone's hair because of the restorative and replenishing properties of potted plant dirt....right?

But, even that story did not motivate me to take a moment from the evening's duties to get this going. But today, today was an important day. It started with news that my cousin, who has Cystic Fibrosis, had gotten the call for her new lungs. I was happy dancing in the street and crying tears of joy. Seriously, I danced a little jig on the way to the car. I hope the neighbors enjoyed it. Then we found out that one lung was compromised, so this was not to be transplant day. I felt so deflated, let down, and angry. It is time for new lungs. Why not today? Why not yesterday? Why not now? Aargh! I think my cousin handled this with more grace than I did.

Then we received a call with news that Steve's cousin, Pati, lost her battle with cancer today. Though I only met her a few times, I got to know her a little through Steve's stories. She was full of life and left this world entirely too early. This reminder of our mortality made each moment that followed all the sweeter. We really did stop to smell the proverbial roses (as the real ones haven't bloomed yet).

We took the kids to a park and watched them throw rocks into the thawing lake. Later in the day, they tore up the barely budding grass in the backyard. Normally every spring I get paranoid about those new shoots being stomped on by crazy children and torn up by our wild dog. Today that muddy yard was a reminder of all that is precious in our lives. As we watched our gang through the window, Steve remembered an overnight long ago in the backyard with his cousins. Cousin Pati and Sister Mary snuck into the boys' tent and covered their faces with lipstick designs. He teared up as he told a story that used to make him smile. The world is a different place tonight. It is a world that grieves the loss of Pati and all that she was.

Do me a favor, please. Hug your loved ones tonight. Hug them tightly. Tell them you love them and burn that moment into your being.