vignettes

Updates

One of my favorite podcasts, that I highly recommend to any mom of littles, is Glorious in the Mundane by Christy Nockels.  Each one is a little balm to my soul in the midst of my often packed-too-much-in-to-another one days.  If a day goes smoothly enough, and I’m able to carve a little creative time into my afternoon, I often enjoy doing my projects while she proclaims truth over me in her soothing, Tennessee drawl.  Trust me on this, and mine a little gold from her archived episodes if you haven’t listened already.

I think I say this in some form, nearly every post as of late, but I’ve felt really overwhelmed with all the day-to-day lately (details explained below).  The lesson that has been impressed on me very loudly lately, for maybe the first time in all of my mothering, is it’s good to wake up and feel like you can’t make it without Jesus’s help.

I can’t remember a time where I’ve ever had to rely on Him so much, not mentally but physically. And faithfully, of course, He always shows up.   Life has a way of helping me, oh so often, not to become prideful.  I just wanted to make sure and say this in case my girls are reading this someday in the same stage of life I am now.  It’s okay (and sometimes maybe even for the betterment of your children) if you feel like you don’t have it all together. Christy’s latest podcast is about this and I have a feeling this sentiment is going to be woven into a theme for me throughout this year.  That and Time.  No mom guilt here, I just want to make sure I’m giving my girls the best of my time so I am putting in place some safeguards to make sure that happens.  Time will be my friend, not my enemy in 2017.

If the days goes smoothly enough and Sibby takes a morning nap at the right time when we don’t have errands to run or dinner to prep, or what not, Bea and I sit down to do “school”.  We like Kumon books, as well as other Amazon recommended workbooks that guide us through following directions and fine motor skills.  I thought I didn’t enjoy “homeschooling” but I was wrong.  This time it has been fun (I think I am utilizing more resources this time and better able to block out time for it, as when MG was in three-school, Bea was a year older than Sibby is now…ie not napping in the mornings and into everything).

Bea enjoys the time and attention I’m able to give her during these moments, precious little does it feel for all of us.  She has not mastered her letters or sounds but it thrills my heart that she is learning to follow directions, a skill that seemed lagging in her as of yet.  She is a willing and eager student so long as I don’t push her too much.  (Hindsight with MG also showed me that the concepts will come, waiting until she’s ready is mutually beneficial.)

Today I reached back into an old pocket of my brain and taught her, line-by-line, how to draw a simple cat.  I didn’t tell her what we were drawing first, as I didn’t want her to have any pre-conceived notions, but instead modeled what I wanted her to draw, a line at a time.  Before the final mark, she had accurately guessed what we were working on.  It was then she took ownership of her drawing, adding in the eyes, dot nose, and stick-line mouth as she saw fit.  Dotted noses and small heads are very characteristic of three year old drawings and I counted it a win that I had saved her from the latter, while her chosen dotted nose actually worked pretty well this time.

Sadly, but really not too sadly, Sibby seems to have outgrown her johnny jump-up and exersaucer.  I counted on those two things for the better part of three months to keep her contained and happy during dinner, sewing time, or meal prep.  Now she just fusses and cries in them, angry at her freedom being taken away.  It feels good to be able to peaceably part with them, though.  Another reminder of moving forward into the exciting future and leaving behind the relics of babyhood for the next family to enjoy.

She is up on all fours, rocking, before falling to her belly to drag herself the rest of the way to her final destination.  It always amazes me, around this milestone in particular, how babies have an innate sense to just “do the next thing” without any apparent lessons or help from us.  They seem to be born with some kind of wind-up clock that ticks and rings to remind them to start practicing the next feat at just the right time.  And then I can’t help but wonder, is this a gift we’ve been given our entire lives?  Certainly now, any skill we master seems to be chosen by our own volition and carefully mastered under precise lessons, but…it does beg the question, when do we really stop growing?

We are undergoing a small kitchen renovation (apparently we did NOT lose the itch, even after our last house).  We’ve removed a quarter wall to open it up and increase the use of our island (peninsula?).  N and his dad built open shelves for us to make up for the cabinets we lost in the process.  We’ll add new countertops, paint the remaining cabinets, and add some new appliances.  Before the process is over, we’ll also add new flooring on the main level and stairs, as well as say goodbye to the old carpet (apparently my kids can’t handle ivory carpet in the main living spaces as it has already been marked a number of times from nail polish, permanent marker, Sibby’s spit up, and food stains).  Construction is chaos but it’s a change I welcome, knowing and hoping the end result is worth it.  I’ll post some before, durings, and afters when it’s done (one more month?)!

Until then,

a very tired, but happy

-smk

Newborn fog

Slowly but surely, I feel I am emerging from the fog.  In the early days, a newborn is a welcome interruption to life’s most mundane tasks.  The laundry, meal prep, and house cleaning, though added to by the new addition, don’t call to me as much as my babe. And I am able to put them off to tend to her with little reprocussions.

Somewhere about halfway between there and now, i begin to long for order, rhythm, and, well, clean things.  And I attempt to reintegrate those chores back into normal life.  It takes a while to adjust as I tend to jump in rather blindly to all the parts plus a newest member who is still very needy.  So it takes me until about now to feel like life is working for me again.  And what a good feeling it is.

Consequently, I’ve had more time for hobbies and reading, two luxuries that greatly improve a life that doesn’t see very many things beyond the inside of a house on most days.

I have picked up a needle hoop embroidery project and I’m tending to it slowly, over the little tv I allow myself in the evenings, as long as my mind is not too tired and my eyes able to stay awake.

I have discovered the joys of audio books, a natural progression from podcasts.  It started when my subscribed podcasts weren’t updating quickly enough and I needed something filler in the interim. I then remembered the “free” subscription to Audible through Amazon prime and began exploring the free selections they had.  A TN friend clued me into Hoopla, a service of our public library, which has videos, e books, and audio books but never any wait time. These two things have kept my mind busy when my body is tired but things still yearn to be completed.


I worked on and recently finished the first ever top I’ve made for myself.  Ive had a brown knit gauze sitting in my stash for about 2 years now and couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it in the two purges my sewing room has been through.  Finally it called to me and I instantly envisioned what I wanted to make from it: something flowy and loose, similar to the boutique-y handmade tops that are so popular these days.  It was a simple stitch up, taking me about two naptimes to complete (which included a lot of thinking time since I wasn’t following a specific pattern).  Ultimately, though it has its flaws, I’m really happy with how it turned out.  I left the bottom un-hemmed, but serged, liking the way it hangs in a hi-low style.  The shoulders are low like many of the dolman styles I see in stores today. I added two different collars to the neck, but ultimately cut them off, serged, and turned under once for a simple , but light sitting collar.  Finally, I added a snap in the middle placket to keep it modest, but I love snap/button plackets for nursing.
I recently bought a brown, suede fabric remnant at one of my favorite local fabric stores during a sale and hope to turn it into something similar before winter’s out.  Just waiting for the right inspiration to strike, because as I’ve learned many times, if it’s not there, it’s not worth pushing through to find it.

At that same fabric store, I picked up a few lycra knits.  They are so stretchy and have the softest hand.  I already had some projects in mind for them, so I picked up a baby blue (things for my nephew first, then for the girls with what’s leftover) and a dusty pink.  I’ve already cut into the blue and turned out three items from it: a raglan dress for Sib, and a knotted gown and ringer tee for coming-soon-nephew.  (raglan dress and ringer tee patterns here).  My scan n cut was used to cut the iron-on vinyl decals.  I love a multi-layered project. So satisfying!

Tomorrow I will cut into the pink fabric.  I’ve got an open tab to see if I can find the #milliedress in English for free!

Also from that haul came an orange and white seersucker with navy blue embroidered bows.  That was turned into a bow tie for my neckwear loving N.  I dream of making a summer outfit for Sib out of the remainder.  Finally I picked up a pale yellow cotton, soft as silk.  Maybe a bubble romper or fluttery dress or two will come out of it, come spring.

As exercise is to the body, creating is to the mind.  A necessary diversion and a way to release the toxins from the social strata that keep creeping in.  Every afternoon that I get a few minutes to myself in my sewing room is a good day!

-smk

Updates

Four more weeks and the anticipation is reaching an all time high.  I’ve run out of project “to-do’s”, but the mailman just dropped off a huge box of fabric and I nearly squealed when I opened the door.

I had an ultrasound last week and although Mayby was head down with my placenta in front, we were able to catch a small glimpse of her face.  The tech printed off three pictures for me: one of her heartbeat, one of her little fingers covering her eyes, and a small capture of her face.  Really all that you can see of her face is the lower part of her nose and her lips, but it is enough.  I catch myself stopping to look at it every time I walk past it in a room.  Each time I examine it, I feel a little rush of love that grows stronger each time.  It is my only link to her right now, but it is enough.

I don’t remember the pregnancy anxiety being this strong with the other two.  I think it’s because five and a half years into motherhood, I’ve come to know so many tragic stories, their circle growing closer and closer into mine.  After she is born, I will worry over her breathing, constantly checking and reassuring at the sound.  But right now it is her kicking that is important and my only indication that she is okay.  Remembering to check for that, trying to keep up with the counts, wondering if I should be concerned when she has a slower day, that’s where the worry grows with the third.

Two of the girls in my MOPS group have had their babies and brought them to our meeting yesterday.  Both weighed around 6 pounds and all I could think was, “that’s probably how big my baby is right now.”

My emotions are extremely and embarrassingly quick at the moment.  I can cue up tears in a second.  Laughter and sorrow are so closely linked right now that they often inappropriately bleed into one another.  Last night at dinner, N was cracking me up with joke after joke, and the girls were joining in on the fun.  I was embarrassed at how much I was laughing and how I couldn’t reign it in, even after the humor should have subsided.  MG looked at me and said, “it looks like you’re crying.”  It was true; I had tears welling up in my eyes from the laughter.  But the way she said it, in a concerned and sensitive way, made me start really crying.  In about three seconds, I was sending her off to kindergarten and missing her presence and I almost had to leave the room for fear of having to explain myself for passionately sobbing.

Bea has been very affectionate lately, wanting to sit on me often and be next to me when possible.  I wonder how much I will be able to indulge her after Mayby’s arrival and that makes me cry a little bit for her.  She’s been the baby for nearly three years and now she is about to be replaced.  God blessed her with an even-keeled personality and I think she will take it in stride.

MG’s playroom is a short flight upstairs from my sewing room.  We can see each other and hear each other during our mutual work time but we’ve grown so comfortable with each other’s presence that we don’t disturb one another.  While I kneel on the floor, cutting my patterns and shuffling pins, she sits in her room, acting out her stories.  All of her stories involve princess characters, but each time the storyline is different.  Some of it is inspired, other parts are from her own imagination.  She also speaks as the narrator, “‘Don’t go that way, Aurora!’, Belle said.”  I pretend that I don’t listen, but I don’t think she minds much yet.

I wish I could sew all afternoon while the girls nap.  Truthfully, I can get a good hour in before my abdominal muscles begin to strain from bending forward so much and my back begins to ache from not sitting in a proper chair.  My stomach feels like an overfull water balloon and I sometimes worry that if I keel forward too suddenly, it will just pop.  N often comes home to me, a slug on the couch, extending my back over pillows in an effort to stretch out the muscles that are carrying all of the weight right now.

Our family is changing again. Four more weeks to capture these parts of it before they are changed for good.  My heart and mind are taking it all in for the very last time.   I feel it, the girls, I think feel it, and as much as we do to prepare for it, and talk about it, we don’t exactly know what we are coming into.  That is both really thrilling and really scary.  But we are ready.

-smk

Updates

Here are some updates on the M girls:

MG has come to embrace school a little bit more as we roll into the new year.  Capitalizing on this enthusiasm, I tried to introduce the concept of Kindergarten next year.  She immediately balked at the idea of going to school every day?? and wondered who her teacher would be.

Her favorite pastime lately has been to cut.  She cuts like her father too, her mouth opening and closing in sync with each hand squeeze. She will often come find me about 45 minutes into naptime with a stack of looseleaf and an assortment of drawing utensils.  “Ok, I really need you to draw coronation Anna first,” and then she’ll pause a moment, gauging my reaction, “and then I need you to draw Elsa in her nightgown.”  Satisfied with my acquiescence, she hastily throws in, “and Tiana in her ballgown.  But THAT’s IT….for now”.

I draw the princesses for her, one per page; she sometimes adding comments about my skills or reminding me to add shoes, “high heels, please”.  Once, I got a little hasty with Rapunzel’s eyes and they were looking a bit Heaven-ward.  “Rapnuzel looks like she has crazy eyes!”, was her assessment.   When I didn’t acknowledge my failings, she said, “oh well, ‘we’ can just turn it over and draw Belle on the back instead.”

Somehow, she understands that she is obligating me during my precious alone time, but she also seems to understand that part of my reluctance is just for show.  We smile knowingly at each other during these exchanges.  She gets me, that one.

After I draw her requested princesses, she attempts to rope me into coloring them in.  She stands over my shoulder, breathes down my neck, “Use yellow here.”  “She doesn’t have brown hair, she has BLACK hair!”  Sometimes I can convince her to help me with the coloring part too, but not always. “It won’t take you very long.” she presses.

Next she will take these drawings into her little sanctuary of a room and cut them out.  She will cut quickly but carefully around the edges, making sure to preserve the small details like fingers and hair buns.

When I go up to her room later, I will find the floppy princesses scattered around in a delicate play.

When I was just a little bit older than her, I would draw and cut out pretend hamsters to play with because I wanted a pet one really badly.  I get her too.

Bea has always loved to draw and lately has been trying really hard to hold the pencil correctly.  It warms my heart to see her draw and eat with her left hand, a small homage to her aunt and granny.

She has been cutting her final molars and has been a bit sensitive lately as a result.  This is as close to moody as she ever seems to teeter.  It still takes very little to whip her into a flurry of smiles and excitement.  I love that about her.  Even on her worst days, she’s just a tickle away from contagious giggles.

Lately, she has wanted to take the reigns from us in dressing herself, pottying, chores, anything really.  “No, I do it.” she says.  I love and greatly encourage independence in my girls, except of course, when we are running behind and she insists on putting on her socks at the speed of the elderly with arthritis.  It’s amazing the parallels between the young and the old, no?

Unlike her big sister, I don’t think she’s too thrilled about our upcoming May excitement.  This is the reaction I get every time I ask her:

   

I’m sure she’ll come around in time…right, middle children of the world?

Speaking of Mayby2, I visited the doctor yesterday for my 5 month checkup.  It was a quick and easy appointment.  Once again, it took a little while to find the heartbeat, which is becoming a common theme with this one, but I could feel her moving during the search, so I wasn’t too worried.  Heartbeat sounded good at 151 and my stomach is no longer measuring a full week ahead, just a half week now.  This still lines up with my earlier due date prediction but not quite as much as I was hoping for.  Third children are notoriously unpredictable, no?

-smk

 

October

The days are noticeably shorter and the air temperature is steadily dropping.  I fear summer is officially gone for another 7 months.  I always get a little apprehensive in the fall knowing that winter is around the corner.  This year especially scares me as I’ve been spotting thick woolly worms here and there.  I haven’t seen since them since the fall of 2013 right before that dreadful winter that has me still scarred.  Bad omen?

But, there are two things which are helping me keep a positive attitude: 1) This is the first winter where we will have a fireplace AND good windows.  That should make a huge difference in inside temps.  and 2) the girls are both old enough to play in the snow for reasonable amounts of time, so at least we won’t be cooped in the house all day everyday.

Today we made an appearance at one of the local story times which we haven’t been to in a few months, due to summer and other things eating up our Friday mornings.  Today was a corner-turning day though, Bea sat through the entire story time.  Granted, we’ve missed large swaths of weeks there at a time, but I do remember when I first began taking her there, I would rock her to sleep on my lap so that she wouldn’t sacrifice her morning nap.

When she could stand, she became disinterested in my lap and would show some interest in the story, but would soon cave to curiosity over the contents of my purse.

When she could walk, she just wanted to walk.  There was no sitting her still, not for long at least, and not without the bribery of a cereal-filled snack cup.  But that only lasted a few minutes and then she was off exploring the shelves of the library and I was left to track along behind her, making sure she didn’t pull off too many books or stuffed animals.

But today she sat.  She sat next to her older sister, protector, her eyes wide with interest.  She turned her head to find me a few times, a pleased smile on her open mouth.  I think she felt proud that she was among the “big kids” now.  She watched the pages of the book being turned one by one, and offered no participation in the chants or songs, she simply observed.  Big Sis was unusually still today too.  Maybe it was due to our lack of recent attendance or maybe it was a silent mimicry of her sister.  I tend to think the latter.

MG’s eyes did carefully follow the teacher as she chose participants, one by one, to hold up a nursery rhyme card for the group.  I could feel her straining to be chosen, but not wanting to draw attention to herself.   As the stack of cards lessened, she successfully made eye contact with Mrs. C and was finally chosen to take a turn.  The pink card was still in the shuffle, and she unhesitatingly chose it, even though she has chosen this one every single time before.

Bea stood up with her, thinking she too would be offered a choice of cards.  Mrs. C kindly told her she would have next pick and while sister held her pink card proudly before the group, Bea climbed into Mrs. C’s chair to wait, looking just as confident and relaxed as ever.

MG found her seat after, but not before giving me her own proud smile.  Holding true to her word, Mrs. C let Bea choose the next card all the while she did not budge from her spot at the front of the room in the teacher’s chair.  She chose quickly but the card fell to the floor and Mrs. C helped her hold it and then arranged it for the group to see as it was first held upside down.

She, too, offered me a smug smile when done, and then hopped down from the chair.  There was a slight confusion as legs blocked her path back to her seat and she found herself trapped in the front of the room.  Big Sis noticed her predicament and reached out her hand to her “Bea, this way.  This way, Bea.”, and guided her back both by voice and hand to the saved seat next to her.

There was one chant left that involved hand motions and it was now that Bea decided to join along.  She carefully copied the teacher’s movements, and MG, noticing this, did too.

At last the teacher stood up, holding her hands out to the class in the universal “sit down” air pat and said, “Stay in your seats boys and girls, I’m going to count you.”.  Bea stood up, carefully imitating her hands, not understanding the directive and thinking the imitation was still being continued.  With a little convincing from me and sis, she sat back down obediently to be counted.

And this is why I am in the sweetest stage of life with these two girls I have experienced yet.  I’m going to be heartbroken when I have to send one of them off to school next year,

-smk

One Mile

I wake up rather blearily at 6:30am.  It comes after another late night of creating but those are my favorite ones to burn the candle for.

I lay in bed a little while, savoring the warmth while it lasts….read a few words in Leviticus and try to make sense of them in my foggy state, check my email on my phone….and ….I hear the unmistakeable padding of footsteps approaching my bed.

My first little wide-eyed thing joins me in bed to tell me about her dreams and that she’s hungry, really hungry, for breakfast.  And we barely make it through plans of pancakes before we hear Bea shouting to us.  She sounds angry that she’s the last one up today.

I glance at the clock, trying not to be too disappointed that my best laid plans of beating them out of bed didn’t work today.

Still smelling of sleep and popped dreams, we make our way downstairs and to the breakfast table.  MG wants dry toast (still recovering from a stomach bug), Bea wants peanut butter toast and a clementine.  I make her an egg but she won’t touch it.

Breakfast doesn’t last long, but emptying and refilling the dishwasher, starting a load of diapers in the wash, wiping down the counter and table, prepping chicken for dinner in the crockpot, and sweeping the floor always seems to exact no small fortune of time from our day.

I mentally go through my plans and feel a small wave of anxiety.  It’s Wednesday, house cleaning day.  Which means we don’t have any agenda to leave the house and it also means I have two main objectives to accomplish with the girls underfoot: cleaning and exercise.

Cleaning for me always begins in the heart of the home, the kitchen.  All is right in my world, it seems, if my kitchen is clean.  I gather my supplies and begin to scrub; I beg the girls to find something to engage in.

MG is easy.  She has planted herself at the bar and wants to play with “soft sand” (kinetic sand) .  I take a break from the sink to gather some kitchen utensils for her to make the play time more fun.  Meanwhile, Bea has dragged over a chair and is begging to join in.

MG doles out a small portion of sand  for her along with a few unwanted utensils to play with.  I make the most of these 8 minutes to wipe down the stove.

“Mommy, Bea’s eating the sand!”  I wash my hands, wipe out Bea’s mouth, wash out Bea’s mouth, wash my hands.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Bea continues to return to the scene of her crime, undeterred by the grittiness in her mouth and the disapproving warnings of her mother and sister.

This last time requires yet another hand washing and I feel the pain shoot through my fingertips as I subject them to the steaming water, lye soap, and a rough cotton towel.  They crack and bleed, tiny red rivulets in protest to their harsh environment.  Soft, feminine, pretty hands have been sacrificed to winter and making and child-raising.

I put my foot down and send Bea away from the counter.

“Mommy, is it time to watch a show yet?”

“Nope, not until I do my exercise. You’ll need to find something to play with until then.”

But I don’t know what to do.  

I suggest 3-5 things.  All are met, predictably with negative responses.

“Okay, well I just have to clean the bathroom, vacuum & mop the floors, and clean upstairs and THEN it will be time to watch your show.  I’m sure you can find something to do until then”

I resume my work, but it seems mere seconds before I hear, “Mommy, Bea’s coloring on herself.”

Which is followed by, “Mommy, Bea’s got the scissors.”

&

“Mommy, Bea is eating play-doh”.

How silly I am. Where do I get off thinking that a 22 month old would need anything less than constant supervision?  With little time to reconsider, I shimmy her up to the table, open a yellow can of doh and buy myself just a few more seconds.  I realize it will mean another pass of the vacuum, another wipe of the table, and perhaps even a few pieces “disappearing”, but in that moment,  it’s an exchange I’m willing to take.

Finally the main floor is clean and I move on to the second floor, brigade in tow.  MG has joined me in the fun and is “dusting” directly underneath my feet.  While we focus our efforts on the master bedroom, Bea opens MG’s sock drawer and pulls apart every single pair and then throws them around the room.

As MG and I are piecing this misfortune back together, Bea uses to her arms to counterbalance her bodyweight and slides herself triumphantly onto the bathroom counter.   Pleased with herself, she climbs into the bathroom sink and turns the water on, all over herself.  From this perch, she opens a clear plastic tube of tiny hair elastics using her teeth and exuberantly pours them out, raining them victoriously all over the floor.  When the shower stops, she examines the tube carefully to see that a few dozen still remain in the container, globbed together at the bottom.  She forcefully gives it another shake, emptying it this time, to her satisfaction.

Finally it is time to vacuum, which is the final step in the cleaning process, and I feel the tension hinging on this last item.  MG is about to break with the anticipation of her show.  Bea is crumbling under the pressure of having to entertain herself.  I am just dragging myself to the finish line in the hopes  that this will ever be done.

As I’m vacumming our bedroom, I glance down and see a stray Color Wonder marker peeking out from underneath our bed.  I briefly consider assuming the posture of the three other bodies who live here and passing it by unaware.  But then I realize with a sinking feeling that I am the mom now and being the mom means that no one else is going to come behind you and clean up the things that you don’t want to.

In duty only, I pick up the marker and put it in my pocket with a mental note to return it to its rightful home.  “If not me, then whom?” I think.   And that question takes me down a really short and winding trail that reminds me of how exponentially weighty my role in this family is.

At last I wind up the vacuum cord and alert MG that I am finally done cleaning. At the sound of my voice, Bea comes bounding towards us, suspiciously covered in Tinkerbell stickers.

It’s 11am and I glance down at my Fitbit…and I realize…you have now walked a mile in my shoes.

-smk

 

 

Vignettes

Today was a work-out center day.  Which means that instead of waking up at 6:30am to run before the girls were awake,  I didn’t get up until 7am. And we all go to the work-out center together where I will run, shower, and get dressed by myself, or something humanizing like that.

It was also Tuesday which means that the pool is open and I try to take the girls there after my workout is done once a week as a sort of bribery/good job you survived the childwatch program today.

Tuesdays are slower days and usually it’s just us and a collection of our gray-haired friends there.   How they cluck over MG & Bea.  “They are just so sweet.”  “I look forward to seeing them here.” “They look like they could be twins!” <–this one always baffles me, but I smile with pride anyway and use one  of my saved up responses like, “well people say that about their daddy and me.”

We go to the locker room first to hang up coats and drop our bags.  One of our special friends is in there.  She has her cellphone on her this time and shows us pictures of her granddaughters who are the same ages as these sisters.  She talks to the girls like one of the good grandmas..getting down on their level and asking them pertinent questions, about Disney princesses and the like.  She’s one of our favorites.

The girls walk confidently into the kidzone.  No hiding behind my legs and barely even a goodbye.  They know the place (and its toys well). The older of the two teacher exclaims, “hi girls!”  and puts matching clips in their hair while I’m away.  I like her too.

I run on the indoor track.  I developed a fear of treadmills when I started experiencing lightheadedness during runs.  The fear of fainting is gone, but I haven’t been on a treadmill since.

I run long enough to block out the noisy basketball players and sink deep into my thoughts.  I pray over a few key things on my radar and let excitement wash over me as I think about some future endeavors.

Just as I’m starting to sweat and become out of breath, my time is up.  I go to the fitness center to lift some weights. Today is arm day.

I try out a machine I’ve never used before and realize that I still have the extremely self-centered middle school phobia that everyone in the room is watching me.  I fumble through it and figuratively pat myself on the back for doing it anyway.  A quick glance around the room tells me there might have only been maybe one person watching me.  I think they were trying to figure out the machine too.

It’s been an hour since I dropped the girls off and it’s time for me to shower.  The locker room is filled with old ladies in swimsuits and in various states of undress.  There is something about being old, and nearly nude and vulnerable that brings out the sisterhood of friendship.  One woman who I swear is 80 was offered an extra towel by one of the staff (and they are s-t-i-n-g-y about extra towels).  I witness another pair help each other out when one’s shirt becomes stuck behind her neck.  It reminds me of my little ones.

As I’m wrestling with my combination lock (which always brings a bout of anxiety, thank you middle school gym class), I see in my peripheral vision, a lady round the corner, stop, and walk back by me.  She opens her mouth and I assume she is going to ask me a question about a class or directions to the gym.  She says instead, “I’m just wondering where you get water shoes.”  She’s looking at me, but then she’s looking past me and I too turn to look, now involved, by proxy, in this conversation. Another gray lady, decked out in polka-dotted swimwear, is reaching into her locker and answers, “Oh anywhere.  Kmart, Meijers, Walmart”.  I know she is a state native because she pluralizes Meijer.

After the inquisitor exits, she confides in me that her water shoes are really old and she doesn’t remember where she bought them.  I realize that when she says really old,  she means they could be really old.  Like older than me old.

I make my way down to pick the girls up from their designated room.  MG is sitting at a table, playing with a princess castle (surprisingly not in front of the tv).  Bea is in a box of blocks. The older teacher says, “why do you have to pick up the good kids?”  I smile and say, “were they good?”  “Oh they are always good.  This one (pointing to MG) is the quiet one and this one (pointing to Bea) is the busy one.”  Yes, that is my observation at home as well.

MG has a forlorn look on her face as I approach.  “They turned Sofia on.  I tried not to watch but I just kept looking.” (we had asked her not to watch this show at home because it has some things that have negatively influenced her).  I am proud of her effort and can’t help but smile at her honesty.  She can’t let it go, “I just kept looking.  I tried really hard but I was interested in what Sofia was doing.”

“How was your hang-out?” she asks.

We head back to the locker room (third time if you’re counting), this time to put on swimsuits.  An elderly friend approaches the girls as we are about to walk out and says hello.  Bea walks to her with arms outstretched in a hug invitation.  The friend can’t resist.  Not many people can.  “I bet she would go to anyone”. she says approvingly.  MG has to be coached to say “hi” to people.  When she does, the word sounds like “hi” but the tone sounds like “goodbye”.  It doesn’t matter, Bea has smoothed things over.

The girls hold my hands as we walk by the pool.  There is a water aerobics class in session and Bea waves unabashedly as we walk by.  There are audible coos and awe over the girls.  We are the only ones under 50.

We stay and play until our stomachs and beds beckon us home.

I counted on three separate occasions, “you are such a good mom” spoken to me today.  How could you not love this place?  Good for your body and heart.

-smk