Category Archives: Family

 How Many Socks Can I Pick Up?

Bob Bobson: Welcome ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for America’s favorite game show: How Many Socks Can I Pick Up?!

(applause)

Please say hello to our returning champion: Suzanne Kosmerl! Suzanne hails from a little town just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, is married, has two boys, and is defending her How Many Socks Can I Pick Up title of an amazing 45 socks in one swoop. Suzanne, what’s your secret?

Suzanne: Well, Bob, having two boys and a husband, I have to pick up a lot of socks! And, we have a crazy dog who likes to steal socks and hide them in strange places, so I’m used to the odd numbers. Let’s just say I get lots of practice!

(laughter)

Bob: Well, Suzanne, it sounds like you are a picking-up-socks pro! Let’s see if you can hold on to that title. We’ll meet your next challenger, after a brief word from our sponsor, Maytag.

(applause)
(cut to commercial)

Advertisements

Amanda

I wrote this when I was a young mom, shortly after my first baby was born and I was overwhelmed by the love I had (and still have) for her.

Watching her sleep, so helpless and small

The greatest gift from God20160905_121527

The most beautiful miracle of all

Tiny and wonderful, full of love to give

She smiles in her sleep, having angel dreams

I reach down and touch her cheek

Stroking her soft pink skin

Looking into sparkling, wide eyes,

Laughing over a tiny upturned nose,

She has brought joy and love to an empty life.

The House Becomes

A house is merely a building, a structure,

made of wood, and glass

stone, and plaster.

It gives shelter from the cold, safety from harm,

a place to rest your head.

But wait.

Now fill it.

Fill it with love, and warmth

and welcoming arms.

Fill it with joy and laughter

tears and sadness.

Fill it with happiness, and grief.

Life. And death.

Now look.

Now it is transformed.

It is no longer simply walls and windows and doors.

No longer only shelter, or safety.

Filled with these things it becomes

something beautiful,

something inviting, and comforting;

something wonderful.

Filled with love, filled with family,

the house becomes

Home.

home

People can be mean

I called a little boy at the playground “nasty.”

It was not my finest parenting moment. In fact, it was a missed teaching moment. But he made my son cry and I lost it.

If you knew my youngest son you might understand. At five, he’s the sweetest, most friendly, outgoing, easy-going kid.

He just wants to play. He’s never mean. (Unless it’s to his older brother, but he usually deserves it.) In fact, when has encountered mean kids he’d get a confused look, like he just didn’t get it. And why should he?

He’s the kid who runs on the playground to join a group of kids he doesn’t know without reservation. (And being his shy, introverted mom, I’m always awed and thrilled by this.) He’s also the one who, when he sees a kid playing by himself, will invite him to join whatever he’s doing. He says hello to everyone he passes and never turns down a chance at a conversation, with kids or adults.

So, we were at the playground alone and he was doing his thing. A group of kids around his age showed up. He immediately tried to play with them. He ran over and tried to engage. It was pretty obvious from my view that they blew him off. But he’s easy going, so he went back to his thing. A little later, he tried again. No success.  But again, he just went back to playing alone. No biggie.

Then, they all descended on the play equipment that he was on. He was sitting at the top of the little slide, and a girl was trying to climb up it. He wouldn’t move. (He can also be pretty stubborn.) She started yelling for her mom, and eventually he moved aside so she could pass. A minute later, he’s standing there, head hanging down not saying a word, and this blond boy a good two inches shorter than him obviously just laying into him. I couldn’t hear what was being said, so I inched closer.

“You aren’t my friend!”

“You can’t play with us!”

“We are all friends, and you’re not!”

I asked what was going on. The boy said my son tried to hit him. “No,” I said, “I saw him and he didn’t.”

“He was going to hit my sister.”  “No, I said again, “I saw the whole thing, and he wasn’t.”

“Well, he was mean to me.”

At this point, I looked at my son. He looked pitiful. Big fat tears slid down his cheeks. Snot ran out of his nose and puddled on his upper lip.

This is where I went wrong.

Instead of walking away, or finding the mom (who was in a gaggle of ladies not paying any attention), or saying something more adult-like, I turned into a petulant child. I said, “Well, you are not nice. He was just trying to play with you and you were mean to him. You are a nasty little boy.”

The boy tried to argue back, and I again said, “You are not being nice.”

And then, I took my boy by the hand and we walked away.

I told him that sometimes people just aren’t nice and we shouldn’t let it ruin our fun time. Even though he was crying and asked to leave—and my heart was breaking—I took him on the swings and eventually got him to smile again. But his heart wasn’t in it, so we left soon after.

I forced myself to be pleasant all the way home and talk about how fun the playground was, and what we’ll do the next time we go, because I didn’t want him to focus on the negative. But my blood was boiling and, worse, I knew I blew it.

So, yeah, it was not my finest moment. And an opportunity to teach my son to be the bigger person was lost. But, damn, when I saw those tears and that wounded face…I just couldn’t.

Saying Goodbye to Max

The vet called today. She told me that she had Max’s ashes ready for us.

We adopted Max when he was 10 months old. I wasn’t sure I wanted a German Shepherd, but my husband did. I agreed that if he could find a GSD at a shelter we would talk about adopting it. So one day on a whim, he stopped at the local animal shelter with our two youngest in tow; and there he was. He’d just been brought in as a stray a few days before, so he wasn’t even available for adoption yet. The kids begged and pleaded so I agreed to go see him.We waited the required few days and set up a “meet and greet”. Usually the shelter staff will name the animals brought in, but he hadn’t been there long enough. They put us in a small room and went to get him. When they brought him in he didn’t even hesitate, he just ran right over to me, put his paws up on my shoulder and gave me a hug, tail wagging furiously. Somehow he knew I was the one he had to win over. I looked at my husband and said “His name is Max.”. The poor guy was so skinny, he must have been on the streets for quite awhile. But he was smart and sweet and gentle, and he stole my heart.

1330614044320We were lucky, and so blessed. We had 16 years with Max. Most German Shepherds have a life span of 10-12 years. For most of those years he was happy and healthy. He didn’t slow down until he was almost 14. The vet was always amazed and would tell us “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!”  We didn’t do anything special, we just loved him. That was easy to do.

I could talk forever about Max, about how intelligent he was, or how patient he was with the kids. How he never growled or barked or nipped at them, even when our granddaughter rubbed petroleum jelly all over him. But I would never be able to convey what a wonderful dog he was. Max gave us so much love and trust that letting him go was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I wanted to share all my memories of Max, but I’m not quite ready to let them go. So I’ll share them a little at a time, when I’m missing him the most.

Two weeks ago today, our buddy Max crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Tonight he’ll be coming home for good.

Look up and smell the roses

We recently took the boys on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Universal Studios. I feel truly blessed to be able to do this for our kids. When I think about the memories we are making, and how they will look back fondly on these fun times, it makes me so happy.

But there was one aspect of the trip that just made me sad: So many people staring at their phones.

Granted, when you go to a major theme park on a holiday weekend there is lots of waiting. It can be tedious and frustrating. My patience was tried a few times, the boys got bored, and a few times we had to remind ourselves to just breathe and enjoy it.

But the number of people staring down at screens really struck me.  It was just sad.

During a 45 minute wait to get into Hogwarts, a group of young girls in front of us spent the entire time each engrossed in their own screen. Occasionally, one of them would show something to another, they’d laugh, and go back to their own phone. There was no conversation. No excited chatter about the upcoming ride, no talk about boys, or school or what they had done the previous day. (Unless, of course, they were texting each other.) I was astonished, and even my son mentioned it.

In another line, there was a very young girl with her mom. Her mom was on Facebook pretty much the entire wait. The girl had her own phone, but she tried to talk to her mom a couple times without success. So she kept opening and closing apps, not really doing anything on the phone, but staring at it nonetheless. I think that made me saddest. She seemed to be either mimicking what she was seeing around her and wanting to fit in, or she was resigned to the fact that her mom wasn’t engaging and was just bored. What a wasted opportunity!

(And no, I wasn’t being nosy. When you are stuck in close proximity to someone it’s very easy to see with a glance what they are looking at on their phone.)

Those are just two examples of what I saw over and over again.

We really are having a zombie apocalypse, but instead of some mystery virus, it’s our smartphones that have turned our brains to mush. Did I mention how many times we ran into or had to walk around someone because they were doing the zombie shuffle, or stopped in the middle of the path to look at their phone? Maddening.

I’m not perfect. I wasn’t always 100% engaged with the kids. Yes, I pulled out my phone to text my husband who had the younger one on the other side of the park. Or to take a quick picture and post it to Facebook. And frankly, there were times during our waits that I wanted to sleep. (Sleeping in the same hotel bed with a four-year-old? That’s for another post.) Or I didn’t really feel like engaging because I was thinking about how much my back hurt from all the standing, or I was people-watching.

But most of the time, we enjoyed each other’s company. We talked. My older son and I made up our own versions of the rides we were about to get on. We talked about why he can’t see Deadpool.  (And he didn’t cry this time. Whew.) We dreamt up our own movies or stories. We laughed.

I would not have traded that time for any app in the world.

What are we doing, people? These are the memory-makers. These are the times we should be laughing and talking and sharing (IRL not social media sharing).  When else do we have time to just hang out with our kids without having to rush here and there? And we’re spending it on our phones?

It just makes me sad.