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In which I talk about my girls

Once upon a time, most of my blog posts were about the girls.  Parenting.  Our adventures.  They were interspersed with travel or knitting.  But there were always pictures of my girls.

I think the social media generation has taken away the need for me to blog about the girls.  I’m constantly uploading pictures to Facebook or Instagram.  There’s such instant gratification that I rarely take the time to blog pictures of them.  In truth, I rarely take the actual camera places anymore, instead depending on my iPhone to capture moments that once required an obscenely expensive DSLR camera and an entire bag of equipment.  Times are changing.

But I’m trying to move away from the speed of some manners of social media, and take more time to pause and reflect.  More time to be purposeful.  More time to live in the present.  That’s part of what this return to blogging is.  My blog was never intended for anyone else.  It was a time for me to sit and write and share and ponder.  I love that people (family, friends, anyone) read it.  But I love that, unlike other social media, it isn’t always about the connection that I have with you.  It’s just about what I share.

At any rate, the girls are getting big.  So big.  Bigger than I could have imagined, even if I’d tried.  Samgirl is almost 9.  Kicka is recently 7.  JD is a wild and wonderful (mostly) 3.  The girls are excited (-ish) about our move back overseas.  They’re taking up loads of my time and energy, but in a good way.  I’m rarely as exhausted by parenting as I once was.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s still exhausting and all-encompassing.  But it’s not quite the physical labor and exhaustion that it once was (when they were all babies).  I’m a new brand of tired these days.

One of the biggest events with the girls recently was Samantha’s First Holy Communion.  It was a truly beautiful occasion that we will cherish always.  She did an amazing job with all of the prep work and throughout her religious education classes this year.  Marcus and I truly felt that she was ready to take this step in our faith, and we’re so thrilled that so many of our family and friends were able to be there to help us celebrate. 

I feel like she was only baptized yesterday. 

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A history of my world in 100 objects #33

One third of the way there…woo-hoo!  It’s only taken me mumble-mumble-mumble to get here!

On the heels (pun intended) of my last post, it’s only fitting that an object representative of me should be my trainers (running shoes).  The ones pictured below were the first pair of proper running shoes I ever bought.  They were purchased at a running shop in Harrogate, where I found out I’d been running in shoes that were, most-decidedly, too small for me to run in.

When it was time to replace these (don’t ask how long I owned them before I replaced them…it’s slightly embarrassing), I still stuck with a pair of Brooks.

Run on!

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The Unlikely Runner

One of my 2013 goals (I won’t call them resolutions, because we all know what happens with those pesky resolutions) was to run a 5K.  Just one simple 5K race.  That shouldn’t be too hard, should it?

For me, though, I knew it would be.  Even though I was determined to get in shape and lose some extra weight in 2013, I was not a runner.  Even when I dabbled with running overseas, I was never fast, could never run long distances without stopping to walk, and I always had trouble breaking or with shin splints.  I simply wasn’t cut out for running.

Wrong!  Wrong!  Wrong.

So, it turns out that running is like a drug.  It’s addicting.  It’s fabulous.  It has so many benefits.  I miss doing it when I don’t have time to run.  I’d rather run than ride the stationary bike or lift weights (seriously…this is shocking). 

I didn’t feel this way on my first April run.  It was very slow.  And I couldn’t breathe.  And I came home aching and incredibly glad that it was over.  But I was already committed to a 5K.  So I had to keep going.

That knowledge propelled me through my training runs (I didn’t use a prescribed training program–I made my own based on what I knew I could already do and where I needed to end up).  I didn’t worry about speed, instead focusing on running 3-4 times a week and increasing my distance every few runs.  And when 5K day arrived, I ran it.

Terribly.  Slowly.  With quite a bit of walking.

I left the course discouraged that all of my training had been for nothing.  My time was way worse than on any of my training runs. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I felt accomplished that I’d done something I’d never done before.

But I also felt disappointed with myself.  I knew that I could do better.

Instead of quitting, I started training again.  This time, the challenge of “I’ve never run a 5K” disappeared.  And I ran a second 5K two weeks later…and over 5 minutes faster than the first one. 

And now, I sort of love this running thing.  You train.  You improve.  You get some quiet, meditative time.  You run.

Running is a drug.  And though I’m an unlikely runner, I’m definitely a runner.  No one is more surprised than me.

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My daughter hates me.

My daughter hates me.  All kids go through a similar stage, I’m sure.  I do everything wrong.  I make her do her homework (the horrors!).  I force her to brush her teeth (call social services!).  I don’t tolerate rude and disrespectful behavior.  I have high expectations for her.

In kid-speak, I’m mean to her.

I know I shouldn’t let it bother me.  I’m her mother—not her friend.  I love her more than anything in the world, and because I love her, I have a job to do.  If I do it right, we’ll be friends later…much later.

It bothers me anyway.

What mother doesn’t want to be adored?  Hugged and kissed when she does the school drop off in the morning?  Obediently obeyed with a smile?  Snuggled and told, “I love you so much Mommy!” at bedtime?

Of course, I recognize that this ideal mother-daughter relationship doesn’t really exist.  I only see glimpses of relationships between other girls and their mothers, not the whole story.  I can’t be the only mother that struggles with these issues.  I know I’m not.  Definitely.

Right?

I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not the mom of the year over here.  Ignoring the fact that my house is rarely clean (and that’s with biweekly cleaning people, too) and the fact that my idea of a home-cooked meal is 90-second rice, frozen veggies (yes, I microwave them first), and chicken nuggets, there are areas I struggle with as a mother.  I’m quick to frustrate.  Impatient.  Particular.  Overcommitted.  Selfish.  Lazy.

Of course, I’m not all of those things at once.  But they’re things I describe myself as when I’m feeling particularly crappy at this thing called, “mom.”

Last night, though, my daughter woke up sick in the middle of the night.  I was ripped from my sleep by her call for, “MOM!” from her bed.  It took me less than a moment to fly from my room to hers, help her to the bathroom, hold her hair back, and stroke her back as she got sick.  To hold her once it was over.  To sit with her and comfort her.  To reassure her.

And she wanted me.  Her immediate instinct when she woke up sick was to yell for me.  She did it without thinking.  I’m who she wanted.

Maybe she doesn’t hate me after all.  On some level, I’m doing something right.  She might not appreciate it all now, at eight years old.  But one day she will.  One day, she’ll know how much I love her and how much I do and how much I want for her.

I take it all back.  I am mom of the year after all.

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Five years in the making

Five years ago, I participated in National Novel Writing Month with a shade of an idea.  The idea grew, developing a life of it’s own and though I ended up with some of the story I envisioned, much of it grew and developed on its own.  Characters became real people.  Homes and walks and descriptions were vivid in my mind.  Words flew out of me (some good…some not so good).  And when the dust cleared after 30 days, I had put the entire idea on paper.  It was done.

Well, not entirely.  After I finished writing, I read.  Then I put it away.  I put it away for a long time.  I loved my idea, but I wasn’t sure I had the heart to do what needed to be done.  I needed to look at the book not as the author, but as a reader.  I wasn’t sure I could do it. Could I cut out an entire character, who I’d invested a lot of time and energy into, because she didn’t ultimately add to the plot?  Could I add in new characters who could further the plot?  Could I learn to show, and not tell, my readers?  Could I trust them to get the point without me beating them over the head with it?

So I hide the book.  I pulled it out every once in awhile, reading and making minor, and sometimes more major edits.  Every once in awhile I’d get a rush of energy and do a major edit and find friends or colleagues willing to read and critique my work.  And then the energy would dwindle and I’d put it back on the shelf again.

In 2011 I had a major push, primarily from my mother and my husband, that prompted me to hire an editor and have a substantive edit done on the book.  She returned the book in two weeks. 

I let it sit for six months.  I paid her for her honest opinions, thoughts, and edits.  But did I really have the heart to read them?  I decided that until I did, I couldn’t publish the book anyway.  Because if I couldn’t hear the feedback I paid for, there was no way I could hear the feedback of real readers.

So I waited.  Time passed.  And eventually, I detached a little bit from my book and my characters.  I was able to read my editor’s comments without taking them personally.  I made some really phenomenal changes that did nothing but improve my book.  I enlisted more test readers.  I had another edit.  I had more test readers.

And then, lo and behold, I published my book. 

It only took five years.

You can find Scattered on amazon for your kindle or in paperback.  I hope you love it as much as I do. 

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Scattered

Five years in the making and I can’t believe it’s almost here!

Scattered by Kelly Marselle Herdrich
Release Date: Week of December 10, 2012
Book Description:

One tragedy binds them together while another threatens to tear their family apart. Will the faith and love that saw them through life and death be enough to to get them through it all?

Paul and Grace’s paths cross at an inopportune point in their lives. Paul’s sister is facing an unknown illness and Grace is preparing to marry another man. The love affair that ensues between the couple stands the test of time, though not without far-reaching consequences for their grown children. Can they cope with the death of their father and their mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis without it destroying their beliefs or their family?

Follow four generations in this inspirational story that poses the ever-present question: who decides when it’s time to die?

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You are God’s Beloved

Every day for the past six weeks I have driven by a Lutheran church near my house.  It’s not the church that I belong to.  I don’t volunteer there and it isn’t where my daughter attends preschool.  I don’t know any church members there.  It’s not even the only church that I drive past.  It’s just a church that I drive by on my way home.

This church, like many, has a signboard out front.  I’m used to seeing church announcements, holiday sentiments, Bible passages, and even the occasional pun or joke.  I can honestly say that I have never, in my entire life, seen something on a signboard that has influenced me, changed me, or even stuck with me…that is, until this signboard.

You are God’s Beloved.

Four simple words.  They are just four simple words.  And every time I drive by and see them, I am filled with so much joy and happiness that I cannot even explain it in words.  I am Catholic.  I am a believer.  I go to church (though not as much as I should).  I feel moved by readings and Gospels and homilies and community events.  But I legitimately wonder if these four simple words may be some of the most powerful words of faith that I’ve ever heard.

I am simply sharing them, during this season of faith, hope, love, and thankfulness.

You are God’s Beloved.

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A history of my world in 100 objects #31

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Scrapbooking has been a part of my life for almost the past ten years.  Though I may go days, weeks, and sometimes even months without even pulling out the album I’m working on, these albums, and the time that I take to create them, tell a big story about who I am.  The books are fun to look at–the girls love grabbing one and pouring over it and asking questions about who people are and what they’re doing.  They’re fun to make–I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent putting together layouts, talking about them with friends, and even going away for a night or a weekend devoted to working on them.  My scrapbooks tell a story, much like I do when I put together a pattern or write.  They tell the story of us.

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A history of my world in 100 objects #30

Object 30 is something I’ll have with me forever, but I just got yesterday. My first tattoo!

I never, never in a million years thought I’d be the tattoo type. But tattoos have definitely become more acceptable in society (much to the dismay of some, I suspect) in the past decade. While I’m not sure I’d ever be the girl with a full-sleeve, I thought about this tattoo for almost a year and absolutely, totally love it. It’s full of meaning for me, and I’m totally thrilled to have it with me always.

3 daughters, one of three myself, and turn it on the side and it’s a lowercase m for my husband and my maiden name. It’s everything that matters most to me in the world. It might be small, as tattoos go, but it has big meaning.

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Back to school…blues…?

It can’t be. I’ve craved the return to school for weeks (if not more). I can’t be experiencing some weird sort of…well…missing it…can I?

Yes, I can. It’s not that I’m not happy to have the girls back in school. I am. Oh, I am.

It’s not that I miss the pool and the sun and the vacations. I do. Oh, I do.

I think it’s that the kids’ return to school, Jessica getting slightly older, and the (don’t laugh) fact that I’ve hired a cleaning company to help me now that I’m working so much, have all sort of changed this definition I had of myself.

I’m an overstressed, overworked, over exhausted, under appreciated, overwhelmed mum (I must be channeling my inner Brit tonight). Or, I was.

Suddenly I have time. I can breathe. I can think. I can make more choices. I have options. There’s flexibility.

And I feel guilty about it.

Go figure.

On the upside, I played field hockey with my oldest daughter tonight while my younger two wrote and colored. And it was awesome. Everything about it felt right. I was enjoying my kids. Actually enjoying them.

It doesn’t happen often enough. It if it does, I don’t remember to pause and catch it.

Maybe the two are related. Perhaps.