Friday, July 27, 2012

A Whisper

Our dream for a house is as old as our toaster.
And that’s not a weird metaphor or anything. Seriously. An actual toaster. We have been dreaming of buying our own home since we have owned this toaster. A long time.

 Right after Joe and I lived in the traveling RV, we lived in a house that we shared with three other people, and then we moved into our little apartment three years ago. It was little, but just us, and we loved it. Mostly because it was the start of our family’s ‘place’. And because it had enough room to store more than two bowls and two forks (which were basically all we had space for in the RV). We moved in and received a toaster as a present. I was so excited. I had two children but I was now on my way to adulthood because I had received a toaster. We threw out the wrapping and the box and two days later the door on this toaster broke. Like ‘unfixable’ broke. Oh but we tried to fix it. First I cried. Then I ran to check the garbage for the receipt. And then we did the only reasonable thing - propped the door close with a pencil balancing on the counter so it still worked. And it worked just fine. I thought briefly about buying a new toaster but also thought to myself  “no, we will move soon, we will buy a new one then.” A toaster is a huge deal. We use it every single day. But I kept thinking that I would buy one, another time. Soon. Like when we moved. The apartment was only temporary.

The pencil technique lasted a year, well into Joe’s start- up-year for his new company. The pencil dropped behind the refrigerator about the time I became pregnant with Elena. We used a stainless steel coffee mug instead. And that has remained for over another year. A year spent outgrowing the apartment and needing more space. We have had both my parents on different occasion offer to buy us a new toaster. Friends have commented. Joe and I have both gotten super aggravated because it takes about ten minutes to brown a piece of bread. The boys became patient breakfast eaters. But every time I was going to buy a new one I thought about our new house. Because we knew it was coming and I’d buy one then. But first came a third baby, and long hours of work. And saving and saving and saving. And then came a shortsale house that we thought for sure we would buy as our own- but that fell into foreclosure and went back to the bank. We waited on a different shortsale, for a whole long winter. And waited, waited. Then now, a perfect house, an accepted offer, a passed inspection. And a delayed closing date, and another delayed closing date. And another delayed closing date.

Except here’s the thing- I want to write it in size 6 font so you know it’s a whisper. Whispering is safer until the event actually happens. We are closing on our new house on Monday. We are closing the deal on a house that we love. A house of our own that is here just for us. A house of our own -on our own plot of land -with a playroom and bedrooms and space for a  garden to garden and a fireplace for fire and a kitchen to cook and a counter for a toaster. A toaster that will toast in under ten minutes.

I will put a brand new toaster on that counter. And I will remember our little apartment and the house with the people and the rv with the wheels and beginning of our family. I will say grace before breakfast. A breakfast of coffee and bread and a prayer of thanksgiving. For sweet beginnings made from long waitings. For a house-home of our own. For this time. And this toast.  

betcha you were hoping for a pic of the house! Nope! just a toaster. : )

Monday, July 9, 2012

Special Days

Well we have seemed to run into an issue regarding birthdays. It appears that my children do not have a clear grasp on what they are, how long they last, or who they’re for.

This whole thing is a miscommunication I’m sure. Most likely because it’s between a two year old, a four year old, a timeless tradition and a busy mom. It started on July first when I decided to take three kids, in one cart, all hyped up on birthday talk, out shopping. For birthday supplies, cake mix and frosting. Well that was dumb. 

“It is Joey’s birthday” I tried to clarify to Guy over and over. Guy wanted to know where his birthday was. He looked behind the plastic cups in the party aisle. “No.” I said. A Birthday is a celebration. Because you were born.

“It is my birthday” Said Joey.
 “I’m born!” yelled Guy. (He frantically grabbed plates and threw them in the cart and looked for his birthday underneath the cart). I told him his birthday was in a few weeks. I actually yelled it because my previous ‘cart trained’ children were running frantically through the aisle grabbing candles and streamers and simultaneously yelling about their birthday.

I left the store with Guy sobbing in the cart about his birthday being left at the store. Joey yelling in my ear, “I’M NOT crying mom because it’s MY birthday. Guy if you keep crying you can’t come to MY BIRTHDAY.” Ellie was eating frosting I think.

Then came a boat and firework celebration on the fourth, (I tell Joey the fireworks are for him- yes. We’re prepared to pay for a therapist later) a friends party on the fifth, Joey’s birthday dinner on his real birthday the sixth (he ran around yelling, “it’s my ACTUAL birthday”) and then opening packages from far away relatives on the seventh.
On the eighth of July, Guy woke up and apparently had enough. “It is MY birthday” he told me.

“No.” I said. “It is not. Your birthday is in a few weeks.”
 “No.” he said. “It is MY birthday.”

I had sat down a few days ago and with Guy and looked at a calendar. I pointed out the days until his birthday. Mid September. Apparently that made no difference. Yesterday Guy sang several rounds of “Happy Birthday to Guy” to himself in the car.  It was especially pathetic because the rest of us were quietly listening and Guy sits by himself in the way back quietly singing his birthday song. Oh we probably should have joined in. Oops.

My sister wrote me in an email that there is something so special about birthdays because it reminds us to celebrate how much life is packed into those little bodies. Quite a bit of life. And quite a bit of sugar I remember as I pull a screaming child off his brother during an after birthday collapse.

We don’t go ‘super all out’ for birthdays. (I mean seriously- why be stressed when they’re thrilled with m&ms and anything wrapped in any sort of paper?) But we do celebrate their special day. Or days.
You’re only four once!

 Today we go to the zoo and I tell Guy this is a trip for him. But not for his birthday. We’re done with birthdays. Until September. Then we celebrate again. You’re only three once!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Birthday!

For years I have watched the fireworks show for Independence Day. Four years ago I was watching the fireworks with  my in-law family in downtown St. Paul, when at 9 months pregnant my water broke. Like everywhere. Really obviously. In front of husband Joe’s entire family. Oh, and thousands of people watching the fireworks.  Then it felt as though thousands of people were watching me as I had to walk to the car, have the police take down the barrier so we could exit, as the grand finale firework display sounded right above us.  But twelve hours later I was holding my son, Joseph Roman Spadino.

Despite the timing, my firstborn broke me into parenting gently. He took the fact that we actually lived in a RV as opposed to a house, in stride. He traveled the whole country his first year. Waving to the ocean on the east coast and dipping his feet in the Pacific. He climbed mountains on our backs, and camped in the sand dunes. He stood next to cacti and cattle, and curled up in between us under starry skies, and rainy skies.  When his little brother came wiggling into our family Joey didn’t bat an eye. Well. He actually broke out in a rash for a week. But besides that, he didn’t bat an eye. He has always been an older brother.
And this big brother just now walked over to me and asked if he could take his new birthday present, a pair of binoculars, to bed. He wanted to keep practicing so he can watch the birds tomorrow. And yes. He may. Although it is dark in his room. So practicing doesn’t make much sense. But it also doesn’t make sense that he’s four.

 He’s four and he is saying phrases like, “is it okay if I take my cool goggles to bed?” He is four. He can stand on one foot and walk backwards. He can eat a whole gummy worm without me panicking that it will slip down his throat. He can draw people with legs coming out of their heads. He knows what sound each letter makes. And is pretty good at animal noises too. He is four and he stands on the edge of grocery carts and can throw a pretty fantastic temper tantrum. He is four he can eat a watermelon and spit out the seeds. He can balance a chair on his bed and stand on it. He is four and can ride a bike, and sing a song, and brush his teeth. He uses phrases like, “bummer dude” and “just a minute.” And speaking of minutes, I would like to know where all those went.

Most likely they are with the lost socks and sand toys. Joey asked this year for a packer party for his birthday. As in the Green Bay packers.  So we whipped up a football cake and we invited our friends and had a hoopla of a party in 100 degree weather this morning. (A day before his actual birthday the sixth). 19 children and six moms and a special grandma. Some of my first real friends in Minnesota, who have seen our family grow, and moms who love my kids. And there were children on bikes and in the water fountain, one under the table eating cake off the cement. And it was perfect.

Tonight I tucked my little binocular/football loving boy into bed. A four year old. I turned on the fan and off the light and kissed his cheek and realized that everything I do as a parent is this: to help them gently grow up. To love them tightly and fiercely as they do.
And then right in front of me- they do. Grow up.

 And here is a four year old. My four year old. And in the pause between the fireworks I can hear him growing. I can feel my heart stretch. And this is how it was made to be.

our little family four years ago.

 Chilling in New Mexico
 the sand dunes
Joey's first Christmas eve

Joey in California

 Chosing stones in Oregon

Four years old in Minnesota

Happy Birthday Joey!