Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Who Says There's No Free Lunch?

I do.

But I've got an even better freebee! If you're in the market for a pre-school size backpack monogrammed with "McKenna"--you've hit pay dirt, my friend! Pottery Barn Kids just couldn't get it together and sent me the incorrect size not once, but twice. Because the backpacks are monogrammed, they don't want them back, so they told me to keep them both for free. We like free. Free is our friend.

The free backpack is the smallest one, far right, with whales.

Free can be your friend too. If you have a daughter named McKenna (or know someone) who wants this backpack--it's yours. Yes, for free. Just send me your address and your little McKenna will be toting in style in just a matter of days. If you feel like reimbursing me for the postage, I won't argue with you, but no biggie if you you don't get to it. I just hate to see something this cute sitting around collecting dust.

Please send your address via my e-mail--which is listed in my blog profile. Please, to protect your privacy, do not provide any identifying information in the comments section of this post.

P.S. This isn't some weird scam or promotion. I'm just a mom trying to pay it forward a little bit. If you're a conspiracy theorist, you might think I've created 200+ posts over the last three years to lure you in to something "not on the level". But that would be your alternate reality. Proceed to your space ship.

Yes, Marge...I guess there is a free lunch. Sort of.

UPDATE 5/3/08: One of the two backpacks has been given away. Only one left!!!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Heroes: Famous and Otherwise

These are mine. In no particular order.

Jane Austen

(This image is thought to be the only authentic portrait of her likeness in existence. It is believed that she was 14 when she posed for this painting.) She never married and died relatively young at 42. Yet her writing set the standard in her genre for centuries to come; no one before or since has so perfectly captured both the wit and heartache of courtship. Think of her as the Carrie Bradshaw of the pre-Victorian set.

Father Jim Mifsud

This outspoken, blunt, and charismatic priest is no stranger to ruffled feathers.. At ten years old, I was mystified by this larger than life personality. In one breath, he would challenge us fifth graders to devote our lives to the service and care of others. In the other, he would yell about some *&^!@! motorist who cut him off on the *@#!#! freeway. Fill in the expletive of your choice...because he probably used any and all of them. While patience and decorum were not his strong suits (at least they weren't in 1977), no one could ever question his devotion to the core mission of Christ. His commitment to "the least of our brothers" has been nothing short of amazing. But he could lose patience easily and show much consternation over perceived apathy, resignation, or lack of involvement on the part of his parishioners. Let's just say he never appeared to withhold an opinion. From his direct involvement in the care of orphans in Korea to job placement for those with troubled backgrounds, Father Jim never asked anything of others that he wasn't willing to do himself--several times over.

Frida Kahlo

Her life fascinates me. She made an indelible artistic mark despite the very large shadow cast by her husband, Diego Rivera. There are some who credibly argue that she was the more gifted painter of the two. I'm not an art critic but I do find myself drawn to her work--which illustrates a life marred by tragedy and nearly unbearable physical pain. And yet, to relegate her painting to the work of a tormented soul is far too cliche'. You truly get the sense that despite everything, she believed in the rejuvenating power of beauty. A kind of beauty that surrounds us but is not always visible to the dismissive eye and the closed mind.

Cat Stevens aka Yusuf Islam

Gave up the drug called fame at his career pinnacle in 1978 and retreated to the recesses of his faith and its culture. His beautiful, deeply spiritual "Morning Has Broken" is moving and timeless-- as are "Father and Son", "Peace Train", "Wild World", and "Oh Very Young". I don't share his politics but I'm nonetheless convinced that there must be a great deal of good in a man who could compose such lyrics.


He made it pretty hard NOT to love him. You kinda just knew that under the white vestment was the happy, devoted, hardworking priest who had to pinch himself to make sure this whole papal thing wasn't a dream. Besides his status as national hero in Poland, the once Bishop Karol Wojtyla stood firm against the Soviet's desire to rid Catholicism from the national landscape. He vocally supported Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement to protect the labor rights of workers. And as Pope John Paul II, he charmed the world with his desire to share the papacy in the form of several world tours. I, like so many others, gasped in horror as Sinead O'Connor shredded his photograph on national, live TV. I'm sure he had his human frailties. But there was nothing to justify such blatant irreverence for a man who exemplified peace and social justice. By the way, would it be disrespectful of me to say that I thought he was an attractive man in his earlier years? I hope not. I'm just saying....

Oscar London, M.D. (aka Arlan Cohn, M.D.)

My former physician, employer, confidant, and friend. I met him as a young adult and he was my first brush with someone truly literary. His patients adored him to the point that he literally had a circle of "groupies". You were never sure just who was going to show up at his office...poets, writers, homeless people, political activists, pundits, students, business leaders. He's the only doctor I know who could wisecrack during a less-than-pleasant exam and actually make patients laugh to the point that they forgot about the discomfort. He came to my aid and provided counsel on countless occasions. And he introduced me to Creme Brulee. How could he not be a hero?

Eleanor Roosevelt

Took lemons and made lemonade more frequently than most people realize. Rather than allow the infidelity of her husband to destroy her, she reinvented the purpose of her life. Not blessed with beauty, she relied on a her intellect, a direct but likable personality, and an acquired self reliance to pursue her goals. While she remained FDR's wife and curiously, his good friend, the discovery of his long standing love affair with Lucy Mercer forever altered her perception of a woman's place in the world. To only devote oneself to the needs and aspirations of a man was foolish in her mind. So she changed her course and discovered she could make a difference. Now that's my kinda woman.

William 'Sandy" Muir, Ph.D.

By way of introduction, he shared with our small class that he was a recovered, compulsive liar. Wow. Nothing like a complete bearing of one's soul to initiate the first-day-of-class meet and greet! He traversed the hilly campus terrain via a golf cart as he was physically impaired due to childhood polio. A Berkeley professor who was...(gasp) conservative. He inspired me to reexamine the liberal indoctrination of my college career. And while my full transformation did not take place until several years later, I often credit him for planting that initial seed. He also gave me the courage and incentive to interview a then, well known politician. That one-hour meeting with a California state senator taught me a lot about the personal nature of politics and human frailty. This topic actually deserves a post all its own. Another time.

My maternal grandfather, Elmer Whistance

WWII veteran, Battle of the Bulge hero, recipient of the Silver Star for gallantry in action. And I never knew any of this until I was an adult. When the war ended, these guys just came home and re-started their lives. He was humble, kind, patient, and generous. I really miss him.

Steve Martin

Most folks still associate Steve Martin with his "wild and crazy guy" persona of the 1970's. Or his performances in a host of family-oriented, feel good movies (some of which I really like, including Parenthood). But if that's all you know about this immense talent, you're really missing out. Yes, he's a comedic giant. He is also an incredible writer of both fiction and prose. His ability to articulate insight with subtlety and yes, humor, really is of the highest caliber. I appreciated his film Shopgirl but I truly loved his novella on which the movie is based. I can't really describe the essence of Martin's appeal except to say that he somehow just "gets" women. That is to say, he describes female weakness, talent, allure, treachery, and magnificence in much the same way a woman might. Somewhere along the line, he learned an awful lot about what makes us girls tick and he tapped a great literary talent to share his spot-on observations. Even at his most cynical, there is a tenderness about him that is endearing.

Anne Frank

Had she not died at Bergen-Belsen, this young girl was undoubtedly destined for greatness. If you have never read "A Diary of a Young Girl", you simply must. It is considered one of the most important written works of the twentieth century. If you knew nothing of her background when you read the book, you would be flabbergasted to learn that its author was a mere teenager. While much of her subject matter is consistent with the concerns of a young girl, the depth of the insight she provides greatly belies her chronological age. Having visited her family's hiding place in Amsterdam, I found myself imagining I was her. I peered from the very window she describes in the diary, my imagination captured by the incomprehensibility of her lengthy and bleak captivity in the annex. And it struck me that the only way she escaped these protective yet suffocating confines was to write. Yes, her real-life story ultimately ended in tragedy. But I, like so many others, still see her with that charming, hesitant smile, penning the latest thought with the skill of an author far more educated, infinitely more seasoned than Anne could ever hope to be. She forever possess the hopefulness that is entirely a product of her eternally preserved youth.

Meryl Streep

An actor's actor. Brilliant, unmatched performances. Dignified yet personable public persona. No tabloids, no controversy. The consummate, professional artist who performs her craft and keeps her private life private. No one could ever, ever be Sophie but Meryl Streep. No one.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

I'm as enthralled with the writer as I am with her "Little House" image. There is a small but vocal contingent of scholars and fans who make the argument that most of the Little House books were heavily ghost written by her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. After years of my own research and examination, I do not share this opinion. Lane had a strong hand in the editing process, admittedly. But Lane's own work never rivaled the critical nor financial success of her mother's. Most believe, as do I, that they were partners who brought unique skills to the table. Editing is not writing. Writing is not editing. Bottom line: Laura's real life was every bit as interesting as the fictional version which continues to enchant millions of readers. Few other sources provide such a charming, innocent, and surprisingly accurate depiction of the the American pioneer experience.

Sister Helen Prejean

Her life's work is the subject of the film, "Dead Men Walking". Sister Prejean's ministry continues, driven by the mission of abolishing the death penalty. She bases her commitment upon the simple but oddly controversial tenant that life is sacred. Not just innocent, new life but ALL LIFE. Like other Catholic leaders such as Cardinal Bernadin, Sister maintains that a true pro-life position defends not only against abortion but against suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and yes, capital punishment. Her question, "Would Jesus pull the switch?" instantly speaks to the heart of the matter. What's more, she decries the insitutional racism and inherent social injustice that leads to a disproportionate number of poor, disenfranchised men residing on death row. Many conservatives, who are traditionally pro-death penalty and often mitigate the impact of social injustice, find her message troubling. Perhaps it is because so many conservatives quote Jesus freely but can't or won't adhere to the reality of His message--which values compassion, eschews vengeance, without compromise, regardless of circumstance. Sister Prejean says it best, "Is God vengeful, demanding a death for a death? Or is God compassionate, luring souls into love so great that no one can be considered an enemy?"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Modest Earth Day Contribution

It's not like we're the Sierra Club over here. But we do our part where we can. This year, with the help of the local forestry department, our family planted a new tree in our side parkway. At the moment, it appears to be of the Charlie Brown variety. In fact, a few neighbors have snickered at our humble, bare little addition. That's OK. Charlie Brown didn't care if they laughed at his tree either. They'll a few years, it will be beautiful. And because the planting coincided with the passing of my dear mother-in-law, we're commemorating our plucky sapling in her honor...

After all, she really did have a knack for transforming humble, every day things, including plant life, into lovely adornments. I don't think she believed this about herself but I certainly thought it of her.

In a few short years, with some TLC and a little Divine inspiration, we're hoping our spindly, little transplant will bloom in all her glory and provide us with yet another reason to call our house a home.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What Drives Married People Crazy?

I am told by a person of some authority in these matters that the number one source of disagreement among married people is...


I'm not kidding. The bizarre reality is that a significant number of America's wedded sweethearts instantly morph into enemy combatants--all because partner A believes dishes should be scoured, scrubbed, and rinsed BEFORE being placed into the dishwasher. Never mind the pesky rumor that the appliance was designed to, uh... WASH dishes. Partner B crams dishes into the machine with enough caked-on, baked-on food to feed the family all over again. Later that night, partner B prays that partner A sleeps through the melee as a chicken bone pummels grandma's gravy boat and water jets rhythmically hurl the shattered remains throughout the dishwasher, creating a cacophony of glass, ceramic, and metal.

Not that we have any personal experience with this scenario, mind you.

While the dishwasher standoff continues, other, more intrepid forces seek to divide devoted soul mates. Let's start with our closet.

The trend in new home building is the "his and hers" walk-in closets. In our case, we have not been so fortunate. Thankfully, the space known as our closet, is huge and well-appointed. In this case, however, huge is not big enough. Here's why:

J's side

Note the organizational precision, utilizing Dewey decimal methodology

My side

The mystery of the sphinx is more decipherable than the method to this madness.

J's shoe area

Why would you need any more than this?

My shoe area

I could use some more shoes

J's bedside table

Alarm clock discretely hidden behind picture to the left.

My bedside table

Archaeologists may be called in to sift through layers of artifacts.

You could argue that this is a simply a case of neatness vs. messiness. And you may have a point, at least to some degree. But there's more to this story. J tends to value neatness in our private, living spaces while I'm far more cognizant of the areas that "company" sees. J will leave dish washing soap near the kitchen faucet, whereas I always place it under the sink. I can't stand fingerprints and smudges on entry doorways. J never notices them. J get the willies when he sees crumbs between the gaps in the kitchen table and I couldn't care less. I'm very consistent about my coaster usage; J barely knows what a coaster is. Yes, my shoes are housed in the bomb site that is my closet, but at least they're consolidated in one area. J tends to remove shoes, mid stride, and let them fall where they may, which could include conspicuous areas such as our front entry hall, the kitchen, or the stair landings.

What other household realities occasionally tug at the tranquility of our domicile?

J leaves piles of nuts, bolts, string, tin, and plastic ties on any available, flat surface.

I stack extra cookware/bakeware in the oven.

J will only use white towels and washcloths.

I keep five different varieties of shampoo in the shower at all times.

J can't stand the garage to be messy. I couldn't care less.

I can't stand for our cars to be messy. J couldn't care less.

J leaves lights on all the time. I constantly turn them off.

I never perform updates or routine maintenance on my computer. J keeps his in pristine, completely updated condition.

It goes on and on...and yet, we keep chuggin' along. Doing pretty well actually.

As to the hotbed that is the dishwasher, let's just say we retreated to our respective corners.

Sometimes a standoff is the best you can hope for...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Northern Exposure Fans Only...

I found the final scene from the final episode of my favorite TV show of all time. If you're not a Northern Exposure fan, just skip this post because it won't have any real meaning for you.

After watching this tonight, it came to mind that this show probably wouldn't fly on network TV these days. If you've ever watched the likes of today's network TV dribble...a popular show like CSI:Miami... and, like me, found yourself wondering how such overly-stylized, outlandish, and cheezy entertainment made its way on the airwaves, you are not alone. Compare it to the subtle, textured, and allegorical story lines of Northern Exposure, and you just find yourself wondering...when did entertainment become soooo mediocre and unimaginative; so removed from the unpretentious beauty of day-to-day life?

The first time I watched this episode, I had just met my everything about this clip makes me smile. Such a happy, hopeful time. When Maggie dances with Chris, you really believe that she's finally, finally found the one. There was hope for me yet...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Missing Her

Slowly, the reality of life without my mother-in-law is starting to take shape. We're all back to our routines, shuffling our kids to and from school, planning meals, paying our taxes, planting spring flowers. The usual. But we all seem to be a little detached, preoccupied with just how much the day-to-day has changed. Today, I confronted at least a half dozen "missing Millie" moments. As an example…for the last several years, her Friday, weekend check-in call was just another part of my late morning routine.

What do you guys have goin' this weekend? Is Jimmy traveling next week? Oh, that's a long week for you dear. You gotta get out and get a break. Did you watch E.R. this week? What about Gray's Anatomy? How are the kids doin', OK? Me? I'm fine Leigh, OK...Maybe you guys could come over on Sunday. It won't be anything big, OK?. I have a pork roast I got at the IGA. You'll never believe what I paid for it. OK...listen...that's my other line...why don't you just come on Sunday, OK? I don't know who's comin'. Whoever can come, come OK? Love you guys…

How off kilter and lonely the day felt without that call. That's the crazy thing about grief, I suppose. Yesterday, consumed in my world of kid busyness, I managed to avoid the void, so to speak. Today, however, memories emerged with each passing hour. It seemed like the most benign item spurred a recollection, and with it, a pang of sadness. As I pulled out that bent, oxidized strainer to rid the dreaded pulp from E's juice, she was surely right there in my kitchen.

Leigh, that was my grandmother's and I can't tell you how much this old, worn out thing has been used. I can't believe you're still using it. Leigh, if you like this, I got all kinds of stuff in that basement you can have. Oh, it's such a mess down there…who knows where anything is, OK? Oh, I hope the dear Lord takes me first so I don't have to be the one left with it all…

I giggled through my tears. You got your wish on that one, Mil.

Meanwhile JoJo bounces into the kitchen, hoping for a snack. I wipe my tears and attend to my little curly-Q.

"Whats da mattah Chippy?"

"Oh, I'm fine…Just a little sad about Grandma today".

"Oh…I wuv Gwandma!", JoJo says.

I do too, sweetie. I do too.

And so it goes. Life continues.

I miss you Millie. We all do.

Friday, April 18, 2008

JoJo's New Fortified Friend

Another glimpse into my three-year old daughter's alternate reality...

JoJo made a new three-year old friend at my son's t-ball practice.

"I just love my new friend, Golden Gwaham", she swooned.

"Uh...sweetie, I think his name is just Graham. You might be mixing him up with the breakfast cereal", I cautioned as I chuckled.

"Oh Chippy. You cwack me up. There's no ceweal named Golden Gwaham! His mommy just named him that because he is soooo shiny and new".

Alrighty then.

Golden Graham it is.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Ethiopia Sponsor Trip Pictures

photo courtesy of Compassion International (March 08 sponsor trip)

In the comments section of the previous post, Chris from Compassion sent me a link for some more photos from the March sponsor trip. These photos are stunning and I encourage you to look for yourself!

Compassion's March Sponsor Trip Photos

Yet another example of Compassion's incredible work in Ethiopia. I urge you to visit their website and consider sponsoring a child yourself! Just imagine...YOU could be in pictures just like these, providing comfort, aid, spiritual encouragement, and companionship to a child somewhere in the world! What an opportunity and a gift--for you and the child!

Think about it...and join me in Ethiopia next year!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ethiopia: Next Year, For Sure

Awassa, Ethiopia... sunset

(All photos courtesy of Ken and Heidi Buckman
--Compassion sponsors and recent travelers to Ethiopia)

Those of you who know me or who follow this blog will recall that I had a trip planned to Ethiopia in March. As many of you are already aware, I decided in January to opt out of the trip due to JoJo's new but worrisome separation anxiety. I knew it was a stage that she would outgrow. On the other hand, the thought of her crying herself to sleep every night for nearly two weeks was more than this mommy could handle. l just could not bring myself to travel across the world to visit my sponsor daughter, knowing all the while, my own little girl would be in a state of constant misery. At three years old, there would be no way she could comprehend such a lengthy separation from me. I cried for a week after I canceled, but I knew, in my heart of hearts, I had made the right decision for me and for my family.

I've come to rely on the whisperings I hear during moments of solitude, soul searching, and yes, prayer. Something tells me that this quiet voice, this barely perceptible yet resonant feeling is truly God's grace. As it happens, had I gone to Ethiopia, I would have been unable to share in the final days of my mother-in-law's life and to support my husband and our family during an agonizing several days in the hospital. How inconsolable I would have been had I not been available for my family during such a t
ime of need.

Thankfully, our sponsor daughter Derebe (pronounced Dair-uh-bay) was able to receive some special attention from another couple who were visiting her area to meet their two, sponsor boys. They were kind enough to send pictures and to share their experiences during the trip. As a sheer coincidence, this couple lives in a suburb only about 25 miles from me! So, I'm looking forward to meeting these kind people in person and to hear more about their impressions of Derebe, her family, and of Ethiopia overall. I owe them tremendous thanks for their willingness to share their truly special experiences and to go out of there way to provide pictures and information. God bless them, indeed.

Here she is...the little shining star...Derebe!

Ken, Derebe, and Heidi

I've learned that their trip was a phenomenal opportunity for all involved and that this very thoughtful husband and wife team have a positive account of Ethiopia in general. Heidi remarked that Americans are bombarded with images of starving children with distended bellies, covered in flies. And while poverty is a major concern in Ethiopia and many other African countries, it is by no means the defining quality of these proud, heritage-rich people. Something tells me that when I finally make this journey, I will be amazed and awe-struck by the beauty of this land and its inhabitants.

Yes...I am planning to go next year. The travel director from Compassion tells me that nearly sixty people were on the waiting list for this year's trip and that they expect a similar interest next year. Jim and I are in agreement that we'll move heaven and earth to get me there next February. And someday, Jim and I would like to take t
he kids to visit Derebe, their Ethiopian sister.

I would feel remiss if I didn't make yet another plea...Please, please consider sponsoring a child, somewhere in the world, through Compassion International. I continue to be so impressed by the level of commitment and expertise of this truly wond
erful organization. While there are many worthy groups who facilitate the financial sponsorship of children, I'm not convinced that many of them foster the type of truly individual, God focused relationship that I and thousands of others sponsors have experienced as a result of Compassion's program. As a sponsor, I have the opportunity to help Derebe and her family with financial and spiritual support. Her letters are so sweet and genuine; my spirit is lifted each time I receive one. JoJo and Ethan contribute to our letter writing and they send pictures, drawings, and mementos. In a very significant way, our children are learning about sharing, sacrifice, and their own relative affluence. My son commented that the children look so happy even though they "don't have a lot of toys". Hmmmmm. I dare say, an observation that many of us would do well to reflect upon.

More lovely, random photos from the trip...

Derebe is front, left

All of these children are precious but the little girl in the front, right corner...what a cutie!

What an incredible photo…for a number of reasons…

Thanks again to Ken and Heidi for so generously sharing your photos and including me in the post-trip loop!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mammogram Monday

It sure puts a twist on the manic Monday of Bangles' yesteryear.

Ain't middle age grand?

Then again, considering the alternatives, it's best to just shut up and deal.

I'm just wondering, where do you pick up what the ladies used to call a support undergarment for the post mammogram reshaping?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Video...My Two Wheeler Boy

Mommy decided to play around with her new video editing software. Clearly, I haven't mastered film editing and sound mixing. I guess there's a reason people go to FILM SCHOOL, right? The process really gives you a new appreciation for those who win awards for this stuff!

More importantly, Ethan is finito with his training wheels! This is big in these parts. He's (we've) been working on this for a long time. Check it out:

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Theirs, Mine, Ours

I could very well be turning into that kind of parent. The type I once smirked at before I had children of my own... My little Johhny can recite the U.S. Constitution from memory. Susie-Q is two and sings within a range of eight octaves. Billy is taking pre-med courses in order to earn his thirty fifth cub scout badge. Oh by the way, he'll be seven this March.

OK, hopefully that's a level of parental lunacy I have not yet attained. But I do find myself spending a lot of time thinking about my kids' success or lack thereof. This topic is especially timely because I recently insisted that E maintain his involvement in a specific activity, despite his repeated requests to drop out. This particular activity is something he is good at and has really enjoyed in the past. Here's the crimp: he's now reached a point where it's not coming naturally. He's got to practice. He's at a level where he is no longer the top dog. He's got to work at it. So, as with any six year old, E would rather just play. Or sit in front of his Nintendo DS.

Not on my watch, buddy... My compromise is that he may quit once he achieves a reasonable level of competence. This level could easily be reached by the end of the Spring if he puts forth a bit of effort. The thought here is that once he attains this new level, he will be re-inspired and want to stick with it. If not, however, he's welcome to call it quits.

But what he may not do is simply give up because it's challenging. Or because he's not the star. After all, isn't accomplishment all the more satisfying if it's hard to achieve? If I permit him to quit the moment he encounters resistance, aren't I allowing him to miss out on an opportunity to learn? To grow? To develop that besmirched yet still secretly revered parental holy grail: childhood self-esteem.

Admittedly, a part of me can't shake the classic stage mother image. Rosalind Russel as Gypsie Rose Lee's maniacal mother, controlling every detail of her daughter's career. Achieving her self worth by way of her daughter's success. Or those tense moms exuding contrived perkiness, who work two jobs to put their daughters on the beauty pageant circuit. You've seen their gritted teach under strained smiles. Coaching their ridiculously coiffed little girl through song and dance routines. Every misstep will surely result in endless do-overs and reprimands. Mom assures the interviewer that the child can quit any time she wants as the camera pans to the child's nervous, tentative smile. Meanwhile, you're almost sure you caught a twitch in mom's left eye as she surely fathoms the possibility of her daughter leaving the pageant without a crown or a title. Mom struggles to hide a cringe as she remembers her job as check-out supervisor at the Piggly Wiggly. Back to Bud Light Friday nights and juggling the light bill with the car note. Just so the rent gets paid.


Granted, I'm not placing myself among the ranks of these tortured souls. But I have to admit that I love it when my kids do well. At anything. And when they fall behind or miss the mark, I'm a little nervous. Will this affect them later on? Will they be excluded because they don't know how to do a, b, or c? Can I do more to help them succeed?

I'm just voicing an inner reality check. The fact is that kids are going to blow it. Sometimes, when you least expect it, they rock your world with victories both large and small. You just have to make sure that you don't measure your parental worth by the rising and falling meter of kid accomplishment. We moms, including this one, will do well to divest ourselves just a bit from children's successes and failures. And if at all possible, we can and should make our mark in ways unrelated to our children. A mom who feels good about who she is and what she has to offer just may be less concerned about her children's achievement and have more capacity to focus on the most important goals: her children's ability to show kindness and compassion. To display grace under pressure. To be resilient in the face of loss. To show character in times of crisis. A mom who feels a sense of accomplishment independent of her children won't be crushed by every childhood pitfall. And she allows her children to own their successes, independent of her.

Turns out, distinguishing your own life from that of your children benefits not only the mommy, but the kiddos as well.

I'm learning friends. I'm learning.