Bike Rider

Jane has been using a scoot bike for the last few years.

A scoot bike, for those of you who are not familiar, is a bike that has no pedals/gears/etc (some people call it a balance bike).  Kids can learn to balance and steer while they push themselves along on their feet Fred Flintstone-style. Jane was a master scoot biker but until this last week was completely unwilling to make the transition to *gasp* *shudder* *panic* …pedals.

But, this week, she, with help of a ridiculous purple Disney princess endowed bike (thank you Grandma Mary) was convinced to give the pedals a try – sans training wheels. There was panicking. There was whining. There was moaning. There were two really unconcerned and unhelpful parents because they had seen her navigate the downhill slope of our terribly rutted gravel driveway on her scoo

t bike and she was going to be fine as soon as she tried it.  Twenty min. later Jane was riding a real bike.

An hour later she called me out to watch.

Personally “Mom, watch me!” inspires feelings of dread and desperate wishes to have something, anything, else to do. But not this time. This time I was excited for her. She was riding a real bike.  With pedals. It’s a big milestone. I willingly went to the driveway to watch.

Foolish, foolish mother…

“Mom, count how many times I can go around the circle.”

(the circle being the small paved area in front of our two-car garage.)

“One!”

Foolish, foolish mother.

….

“Five!”

I was still proud of her.

“Twelve.”

I was still proud but the novelty had worn off.

“Twenty one.”

I sent Clara for a camera so I would have something to do.

“Thirty seven.”

“NO! You didn’t’ say thirty six, this is thirty six.”

“Oh, I just counted in my head.”

“That doesn’t count!”

“… thirty six….”

“forty five…”

Foolish, foolish mother.

“MOM ARE YOU STILL COUNTING?!?!”

“SIXTY EIGHT!”

“Aren’t I good at bike riding?!?!?”

“… seventy… three…. *yawn*”

I started daydreaming about setting time limits. As in, “Yay! You learned something new, I’ll be encouraging that new skill for the next five min and then I’m moving on. Ready… Go!”

“eighty eight”

This is right about when Clara, also bored out of her skull wanted to show off her bike riding skills too. Complete chaos ensued. Bike crashes, screaming, fighting, gravel needed to be brushed out of palms, the whole nine yards.

The dust settled, and there was Jane, still riding her bike and also demanding the entire driveway to herself.

“Fine. You can have the whole driveway but I’m not watching anymore after one hundred.”

My feelings of pride were lessening, the novelty was gone and my encouragement was getting mighty thin.

“ninty nine.”

“one hundred!!!”

Foolish, foolish mother.

“Aren’t you going to keep counting?”

 

Moral of the story: “Watch me” never, ever, ends well for the mother.

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No Regrets

Gramps died last November. In his final weeks, with a terminal cancer diagnosis running him down, I heard him respond to every person who visited or called on the phone that tried to express their grief and concern for him with a single phrase.

“I have no regrets and I’m not afraid.”

I could hear his words echo in my head on Saturday morning as we gathered outside the same church he was married in to bury his remains in the family plot. Our family dug the hole ourselves, as was his wishes, we sang the doxology and afterwards we listened to Granny’s stories about their wedding and Christmas pageants in the church they both grew up in. As we left the kids rang the church bells. I watched my nephew leave the ground holding on to the rope, kicking his legs all about, trying to ring that big bell, laughing through the tears as I remembered all the times Gramps had gotten my brother in just the same predicament.

Then we went home to the farm he lived on his entire life for a picnic lunch, a rousing game of baseball with the kids, (the kind that would have found him on the pitcher’s mound for sure) and an afternoon of fishing off the pier. Because he was a farmer who knew when to work and when to play too.

I can’t think of a more fitting way for the family to say one last goodbye to a remarkable man who lived a life that allowed him to look everyone in the eye at the end of it and say, with a boy scout’s honor…

 

“I have no regrets and I’m not afraid.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: All Time Favorite

It’s the end of an era, this is the last week of The Weekly Photo Challenge.

While looking for my all time favorite post for this week’s photo challenge, I looked back through all my weekly photo challenge posts, six years worth. I watched the kids get younger and the seasons change in reverse, our house got knocked down again, flowers bloomed and the sun set and rose more than once.

It was hard to pick a favorite, but this post with it’s three little things I wanted to remember from the day reminded me why I started blogging. Why I’m glad I have this blog with random bits of life that I had indeed forgotten. Why I need to make sure to carve time out of busy weeks to continue blogging.

Follow the link for a glimpse of my life in 2013:

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

And if you want to watch six years fly in reverse, follow this link to see all the weekly photo challenges I participated in:

Weekly Photo Challenges

Thanks again to The Daily Post for the years of inspiration!

Temporary Brain Loss

Ivy is going to be in middle school next year.

I’ve heard that children lose their brains around this age. Ivy’s pretty smart though, maybe it won’t be so bad.  I’ve even been told she’s good a conversing with adults…


Ivy: “Do you know ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson.”

Me: “Yes.”

Ivy: “I don’t.”

Ivy: blink, blink… blink, blink…

Me: blink, blink…

Ivy: blink, blink… blink, blink…

Me: “Why do you ask?….”


… Yup.

Middle School.

Temporary brain loss.

It’s happening.

Wish us luck.

A Mother’s Day Gift

I’m the terribly unsentimental mother who says the appropriate things about the priceless pieces of artwork given to me on Mother’s Day and then leaves them on the table for everyone to look at. I do this knowing full well that they will be ripped, spilled on, chewed on by a cat or eaten by a dog if we just wait a few days and then I can burn them guilt free in the wood stove while no one is looking. (Stop. Don’t judge. Don’t judge until you’ve been buried in your own flood of priceless artwork that required each kid less than two minutes to make. And if you are, and you’ve kept every paper your kids have given, kudos to you. And please be careful, those stacks of paper you are saving are no doubt reaching fire hazard level.)

But this year my Mother’s Day gift from Jane draws my eye every time I walk by it. I think about it almost daily when she and I are having discussions. It’s taken up residence on the wall in my office rather than someplace the dogs would chew on it’s popsicle stick frame. It is truly the most memorable gift she’s ever given me. It might even be a keeper.

Not because it’s so cute, or because I want to remember just how little and cute Jane was in the picture when it was taken or because she did such a nice job decorating it. No. It’s a keeper because I shake my head in incredulity every time I pass it.

“I love you because you let me have what I want.”

If you know Jane or you’ve been around here enough you may have gathered that she’s convinced she is something of a princess. This is not a character trait I try to encourage, quite the opposite, but I seem to be having limited success.

John saw her gift to me and jumped up and down going “OOO!!! OOO!!! You are the one giving her what she wants!!!” attempting to lay the root cause of our princess child’s behavior at my feet.  I rejected that assumption and I have a story to prove that I do not in fact let her have what she wants, a morning story…

Here is how basically every school day Jane has ever been a part of has gone.

Me -“Jane, it’s time to get up and come down stairs and have breakfast.”

Jane- “Uggghhhhh….”

Me-  (A bit later) “I’m making oatmeal/eggs/waffles for your sisters do you want some.”

Jane- (with a wail of despair) “I don’t know what I want!!!”

Me -” Okay, well come down and eat something before you run out of time!”

(Then yesterday’s chosen clothes are no longer fashionable/comfortable/fit and she has to find new clothes. I encourage her to hurry so she has time to eat.)

Me- (eventually) “Jane your oatmeal/eggs/waffle/food of some kind is ready.”

Jane-  (exasperatedly) “I don’t want [insert any food item here] and I need (socks/pants/shorts/some other shirt/a ponytail)!”

Then she goes and finds socks/pants/shorts/some other shirt/a ponytail holder while her sisters eat their breakfast, put their shoes on and get in the car. Occasionally I give her a count down of minutes remaining and remind her about eating.

Jane finally appears at the door. Then she cries about something.  Anything really, actual substance for cause of crying seems totally unnecessary. Crying is followed by demanding to know where her breakfast is, citing that all she really wanted was eggs/oatmeal/last night’s leftovers. I ignore all this and push her out the door handing her a granola bar to eat in the car.

Then I drop them all at school .023 seconds before the bell rings and the older kids get out of the car yelling at Jane for making them late – again.

It’s super fun.

90% of the school days this year Jane has run out of time to eat at home, demands to be allowed to sit and eat some random breakfast item at a time when we should be leaving and instead grumpily eats a granola bar or some such item in the car on the way to school.

Recently when I tossed a granola bar into the back seat she lost it.

“Why don’t I ever get breakfast? I don’t understand why this keeps happening over and over and over and over and over and everyday I don’t get breakfast and everyday all you feed me is a granola bar.”

All I could do was look at Ivy in the seat next to me with wide eyes and the two of us burst out laughing. (That didn’t make Jane feel better btw – put me in the terrible mother camp for that one, but it was early and I don’t do anything well early.) “I’m not sure either Jane, I’m not sure either.” I finally got out through my laughter.

Now everyday I look at that… “you let me have what I want.” and smile.

Maybe it’s her way of wishful thinking, if she believes long enough, and claps hard enough it’ll come true. In the meantime I’m going to keep it on the wall as a reminder that this girl may always, deep down, know that she is a princess no matter how the world treats her.

 

 

Just Enjoy It

Last night John shopped and hauled and arranged so that today three special ladies could join me for iced tea and strawberry shortcake under the blooming apple trees.

(Let’s pretend this picture has me, my mom, my granny and her caretaker (who feels more like a family friend every day) in it all happily smiling because we are outside together on such a beautiful day!)

We ate and laughed, bird watched and bee watched (that’s just like birding but with bees), told stories and I pretended there wasn’t anything else more pressing that needed doing for a few hours.

Because you know what?

There wasn’t.