Promises Made… Promises Kept?

When we moved to New Hampshire – uprooting the kids from the only home they’d ever known – I wanted it to be a wonderfully smooth transition them.

I wanted them to be excited!

I wanted them to remember the move as simply wonderful!

Soooo… I resorted to bribery.

To my daughter, a six year old at the time, I said, “Remember how you’ve always wanted a kitty-cat? Well in New Hampshire…”

Tucker, a savvy boy of eight back then, smelled opportunity.

“I’ve always wanted a gecko,” he said, his eyes growing big with excitement.

A gecko?  I thought.  One of those cute little lizards from the insurance commercials?  Why not?

“Sure,” I said.  “You can get a gecko.”

Tuck ran out into the backyard he’d soon be leaving, shouting out to the grass and the trees, “I’m getting a gecko! I’m getting a gecko!”

A few months later we’d settled into our new house, the kids had settled into their new school.  Life was good.

Except… we were missing a couple of promised pets.

Max the Cat came first.  An all black, one-year-oldish stray that the crazy lady at school couldn’t take in because she already had like 172 cats.  “If I can catch him, you want me to bring him over?” she asked.  Looking into Andie’s hopeful eyes behind her round rimmed glasses, I said, “Sure.”

Max has been with us ever since.

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With the cat’s arrival, Tuck turned up the heat on the gecko acquisition.  And before I knew it, there I was at the local pet store staring into a glass aquarium filled with lizards.

“Aren’t they cute, Mom?” Tuck asked.  I could only nod.

The sales clerk arrived to help.

“We’d like one of these,” I said pointing into the cage.

“That one,” Tuck shouted.  “The one on the branch in the back!”

“Good choice,” the clerk said to Tuck.  He spoke like he had marbles in his mouth, and I noticed he was missing a couple of his front teeth.  “They’s great pets.  I’ve had ’em all my life.  Live long too.  They can live 15 to 20 years if you treat ’em right.”

“15 to 20 years?” I asked.

“Thank you so much for letting me get a gecko, Mom,” Tuck said.

“Ya got all the equipment?” the clerk asked.

And before I new it I was standing behind a shopping cart filled with a huge glass aquarium, a heat lamp we’d have to run 8 to 10 hours a day, bags of sand, a glossy rainforest print for the back of the glass to make the gecko feel at home, and a slew of other stuff that I quickly calculated added up to about 150 bucks.

“Thank you so much, Mom,” Tuck said again.  I looked down at his little hand next to mine gripping the handle of the cart.

“You’re welcome, Buddy,” I said with a sigh.

“We couldn’t find the food,” I told the guy.

“That’s ’cause the food’s back in the ‘fridgerator section.”  He pointed and Tuck and I looked toward the back of the store.  “Got to buy live meal worms.  D’you get a lid for that ‘tararium?  Them uneaten worms turn to moths and fly all round the house if you don’t keep the cage covered.”

“Thank you so much for letting me get a gecko, Mom,” Tucker said again.

Suddenly the lights in the store were too bright.  I squeezed the handle of the cart and closed my eyes to steady myself.  When I opened my eyes I saw a small warning sign on the side of the cage.

WARNING: WASH AFTER HANDLING.  GECKOS CARRY SALMONELLA

“Salmonella?” I said.

“Oh yeah,” said the clerk.  “I got it so bad when I was ’bout 10, had to stay in the hospital for weeks.  Missed school though,” he said winking at Tuck.

“Tuck,” I began.

“I knew it,” he said before I could say any more.

“I just think we need to talk,” I said.

“I knew it,” he said, fighting back the tears.  I followed him out of the store where he sat down on the curb.

“Buddy…”

“Mom, you promised,” he said.

And he was right.  I had.

And thus began the lesson of When It’s Ok to Break a Promise.

Besides, in the end, really, which is better One Gecko or TWO HERMIT CRABS?!!

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A Light in the Dark

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This past weekend found us all traveling in different directions.  My husband to a long planned golf weekend, the kids to their grandparents house, and me to the wedding of an old childhood friend.

I don’t like when we’re all apart.

Alone in my bed in a strange new place, fear woke me in the night; a film reel of worst-case scenarios playing on my movie screen mind.

But then I remembered the poem a dear friend had shared.  We had talked of the power of love and fear and how thoughts of losing it all can climb onto our pillows in the middle of the night and blow uncertainty right into our ears.

Her friendship and the poem she shared, assured me I wasn’t alone in thinking such thoughts, and allowed me to leave my restless bed and create a soothing place, perhaps by a stream or a quiet lake on a soft bed of grass on which to sleep out the rest of my night.

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS  by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Thought You Might Like… (The Bubblah)

This entry is a little different from those I’ve written in the past.  You see, sometimes I get really excited about something; so excited that I just can’t help myself, I have to tell everybody about it!  It might be a new recipe, or a book, a song, maybe a poem, or a kid’s game or craft, or like today, a simple gadget.  I hope that by sharing some of my favorite things, you’ll be inspired to share some of yours, too!

 Thought you might like…
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…this At-Home Water Fountain!  

Or if you grew up in New England, this At-Home Watah Bubblah!
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When new guests come to the house or the kids have friends over, we hear exclamations of “That is so COOL!” followed by the question I dread, “Where did you get that?” which inevitably leads to my long, sheepish explanation:

“Well, you see, I was in Florida visiting my parents, and my mom had the TV on and she was flipping through the channels and happened to briefly stop (here I emphasize briefly) on The Home Shopping Channel.  (Here I steal a glance at my guest to gauge the reaction and level of judgement before deciding to continue on with this story or make up an entirely new story in which my purchase was made at a small plumbing fixture store that sadly just went out of business).  But if my guest looks more interested in getting my cool fountain than judging me, I carry on, explaining how when seeing these little faucets on the boob tube, I had exclaimed, ‘Those are so Cool,’ and my mom insisted I buy them right then and there or they’d be gone.  

So I did.  

And she was right.  

I was never able to find them again.  (Did you notice how I conveniently scapegoated my mom for my home shopping TV purchase, but made it seem ok to do so, by admitting that she was right?)”

Usually by the time I arrive at the end of my explanation, my guest; 1.) Looks pretty confused as to why she/he had to endure this long story only to find out this product is unavailable to her/him and, 2.) Wonders where she/he can get a stiff drink and duct tape to put over my mouth. (My husband is usually standing by with both!)

But those days are over because I have searched and I have found!  It turns out The At-Home Watah Bubblah is called Kwik Sip and is now available online!

So you can save yourself the embarrassment of admitting you commited the unthinkable act of sitting on your couch and ordering a product seen on TV and instead admit with confidence that you were sitting on your couch and ordered the little device through your computer!

They’re 2 for $20 (7 bucks for shipping).  All you do is screw the little thingy right into your faucet and you’re good to go!

Here’s the link: (Be warned the ad on the website is pretty cheesy!)

https://www.buykwiksip.com/ 

I just placed an order of my own and had to click through several screens of additional promos before placing the order, but otherwise it went smoothly.  I’ll post an update when they arrive!

Wicked awesome!
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Innocence

We took the kids out for dinner.  Mexican.

Prompted by images on the tv in the bar, they started asking questions about September 11th.

Maybe because they’re 13 and almost 11, or maybe because I’d had a margarita, or maybe because I can’t believe it’s been ten years, 10 years, but this year, for the first time, I started talking and answering honestly.  And it was good.  And hard.  And intense.  And real.

And I’m pretty sure the greatest challenge in parenting is trying to offer answers and advice, when you’re still looking for them yourself.

But I guess that’s what parenting is all about.

This quote from Michael Levine sort of says it all.

“Having children makes one no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.”  

What do you think?  How do you talk to kids about the hard stuff?

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Trust

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I gave my 10 year-old-daughter permission to ride her bike to the library.  Alone.

She’s old enough and it’s only a quarter of a mile away.  Right?

She’s been gone eight minutes.  I’m sure she’s fine, but what if the tote bag I gave her is too long?  What if it gets caught in the bike spokes?  It won’t.  But it could.  And she could go right over the handlebars.  Oh my. What if right this moment she’s sprawled on the sidewalk bleeding and terrified, hoping someone will come along to help her?

She’s not.  But she could be.

14 minutes!

Actually… I just remembered I need a book from the library.  Should I?

Or do I just sit and wait and trust and know that she’s protected?

Do I recognize that this is just a little step in all the big steps she’ll eventually take toward independence?

I know this swirling, flip-floppy feeling in my gut.  It’s the same feeling I get every year when Andie goes back to school.  All those post-NICU fears come flooding back, reminding me that I can’t always be there to protect her.  (I’ve never experienced quite the same level of anxiety over Tucker who was born on his due date at a hearty 8 pounds.  Yet sometimes my mind decides my vigilance is misplaced and begins fretting over him as well.) Usually the first day is the worst.  I imagine her falling from the slide or a sick kid sneezing on her. I want to send her to school wrapped in bubble wrap with a dust mask covering her mouth and nose.

But I don’t.

Instead I breathe.

And I trust.

And I try to focus on something to keep my busy, worrying mind, calm and at ease.  Writing often works.  So does a walk in the woods, or stretching, or a good book, or classical music or a new recipe.  Sometimes just saying I’m scared out loud helps, or repeating a prayer or mantra…Please bless and keep my children safe and protected…

And sometimes nothing works at all.  She’s been gone twenty-two minutes and you’re sitting here writing!  My edgy mind just screamed at me.

I’m going to the library.

But, wait.  Who is this rounding the corner?  It’s my little bird returning to the nest!  Look at her pedaling along with a sack full of books and that proud smile!

I knew she was fine.

She always is.

I, on the other hand, have some work to do!

What about you?  How do you manage your child’s return to school?

My First Go as a Guest Blogger!

I’m so excited for my first ever appearance as a Guest Blogger!  A couple of months ago, Tamara of Tamara Out Loud held a contest offering others to write for her blog.  And, drum roll please, today she posted my essay called Making Meaning!

Tamara writes beautifully on Real Life and Real Faith.  Her entries often have me laughing out loud as she writes about anything from bible school to pole dancing to tattoos!

Here’s the link that will take you over to her site and my post:

http://tamaraoutloud.com/2011/09/01/

By the way, it would sure be fun to see some comments from my readers over there! (Hint, hint!)

Happy September!

Kasey