Friday, October 05, 2007


I used to be a morning person. There is peace in the silence that speaks to me. The earth has a look of youth and innocence when she wakes and the birds sing her love songs. Even on those rare mornings that I am awake before five, I find beauty in the darkness as the bats flitter to their roosts; all silent wings and loud chirping. On one of those early mornings, I experienced the actual crack of dawn; the pause between breaths when the last bat is silent and the first bird sings.

When my children were babies, I would awake at these early hours and be fascinated by the lights glowing in a handful of windows in the neighborhood; Families flipping the switch to a new day. I had this June Cleaver fantasy of what went on inside those homes; moms baking biscuits and serving fresh fruit and eggs to the family gathered around the table. Dads in ties, smelling of cologne, packing briefcases and sipping coffee. Eventually, cars would back out of driveways and children adorn the bus stops, lunch boxes and backpacks filled with love. I could do that. I would do that.


The alarm beeps a nagging, shrill ‘get up’ as I crack one eye wide enough to see the time: 5:40 am. I swat at the snooze button several times until the nagging stops. I wiggle deeper into the pillow for nine minutes of bliss and allow my self to drift away. At 5:49am, the relentless nag starts again and I reach over with both eyes closed for the silencing swat; success on the first try and I slip away again. At 5:58 am, the persistent tyrant announces that the party’s over. This time I force my eyes open and lay awake for two delicious minutes. My sleeping husband doesn’t stir. He’s a night owl, I’m a morning bird. He does not understand why I suffer through twenty minutes of torture instead of setting the alarm for 6:00 and just getting up the first shot with twenty extra minutes of peaceful sleep in my morning. I can’t explain it; it’s a little dance I do that convinces me that I have won the battle.

I slip down the stairs in darkness, ready for the day ahead. I need to run a tight ship this morning as I have a 9:00am meeting with the Dean at High School regarding Tyler’s latest antics, and then a full day on the road that will land me back at home in time to run the after school taxi service for my children. I organized my work the night before and am fully prepared for the day.

Making my way through the den, I see Trevor; cherub face and man’s body sprawled on the couch with papers strewn on the table. He returned home from a soccer game at 6:00 the night before with a migraine and crashed on the couch until 9:00. From that couch, he made a gallant effort at completing homework until 11:00 and then melted right back into it. I am impressed by the responsibility he showed in meeting the challenge instead of taking the excuse.

I make my way to the coffee pot, feel the cool silver that will ease me into the day and listen for the hiss of the shower. No hiss. No Tyler. The beckoning pot is put on hold, as I make my way to the boy’s rooms to wake him. I told them there is no room for error this morning and falling behind is not an option.

I brew the coffee in the dim of the nightlight and once the aroma infiltrates my nose, I can bring myself to flick on the first light of day. On the stove there is a note written in Trevor’s scrawling hand writing.

Mom- Need nachos by 3rd period (starts like 10:10?)
fixings (olives, chili powder, etc.)
-no nut oils in any ingredients (peanut oil, etc)
no nuts in ingredients

He must be kidding!

“I told you I was working today… I cannot bring nachos!” I say while nudging him awake. “Why didn’t you say something yesterday?”

“I did.” He grumbles, rolling into the couch. I back track to yesterday and search my memory for the conversation; book club during reading class…everyone signs up to bring something…

“I don’t have the ingredients and will not be here at 10:10.” I tell him. “Cheese and crackers?” I offer, feeling slightly guilty that I forgot.

“Someone’s already bringing them.” He groans.

“Blueberry Buckle!” I brainstorm, “takes 45 minutes to bake so maybe you can take it on the bus.”

“Fine.” He answers, rolling back to sleep. I go into super-mother mode as baking was not in my plan for this morning. I crack the egg into the bowl and hear the bathroom door shut, realizing that Tyler is just now getting in the shower. The domino of doom has started and he will surly encroach on his brother’s shower time.

No nuts. Is canola oil a nut product? What the heck is Canola anyway? I zip to my computer to google canola, finding that is comes from “rapeseed” which is a root vegetable.

“Mom!” I hear through the walls, “toilet’s clogged!”

“Then plunge it!” I yell, stirring the frozen berries into the batter.

“I’m already in the shower!” he answers.

I scoop the batter into the bowl and contemplate…WWJCD? What would June Cleaver do? Wake up the sleeping husband I’m sure, but no, he worked late and I’m a brilliant multi-tasker. I’ve got this. I can bake and plunge at the same time, I think, sprinkling the cinnamon and sugar topping onto the batter.

Trevor appears at the table and mumbles that he needs to read the ingredients on all of the packages to be sure there are no nuts. “There are no nuts and there are no packages,” I reassure him. “Flour is from wheat, sugar is from sugar cane, milk is from cows and eggs are from chickens…Want to read the shell?” I ask, just a little irritated by his double checking.

“I need to print out my homework.” Trevor tells me when I return from my plumbing duty. “You said last night you would change the ink in the printer.” He reminds me. I wonder if he had all of these conversations with me while I was sleeping. I stick the syringe into the refill bottle and wish I was more frivolous and could simply pop in a new cartridge. I hear the brothers squabbling over bathroom territory and wonder where I am going to fit my shower into the day. Tyler’s bus lumbers by, sans Tyler.

Back in the kitchen, I slap together sandwiches and stuff them into paper bags. As I reach for the cookies, my gaze locks on the little tiny mouse that has just run passed my foot and is sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. I manage a blood curdling scream and run to the den with a mantra of “Mouse in the kitchen! Mouse in the kitchen!.” WWJCD? Well she’d stand on her tippy-toe pumps, lift demurely at her apron and call the hunter out of bed! Okay. Okay. Okay. I can handle this. I can totally handle this. “Trevor, get the mouse.” I direct.

“I hate rodents, I’m not touching it.” He shakes his head, nose wrinkled in disgust.
“Is it Isabella?” Cadence asks, emerging sleepy-eyed on the stairs. Isabella is the presumed wife of Charlie, a mouse who became somewhat of a mascot to Tyler and Cadence. Charlie caused quite the stir when he was discovered and Brad opened a brand new snap trap.

“You can’t kill him.” Tyler insisted, “Do you realize how long that took him?” He asked standing over the thousands of kernels of dog food stashed cleverly on a pull-out cutting board that no one ever pulls out.

“Can we keep him?” Begged Cadence. .

It was a month of Charlie vs. Snap trap Dad and the elusive Charlie emerged victorious. Brad agreed to give us a little time to attempt the ‘have-a-heart’ method, which finally worked late one evening. Charlie was tossed onto an empty aquarium with paper shreddings and snacks to be released the next morning in the woods a half mile away. “I saw two of them.” Brad insisted. “Charlie must have a wife!” Cadence sang with glee, “I’m naming her Isabella.”

In spite of Brad’s certainty, not hide, nor hair, nor dropping of Isabella had appeared since Charlie’s capture. You picked this morning? I think, as Isabella sits, blinking her huge eyes in the center of everything. I tiptoe quietly across the kitchen and open the Tupperware cabinet, scoring an empty clear plastic deli container. I inch slowly toward the frightened Isabella and SLAM! I capture her under the container. Okay, good. This is good, I think, feeling resourceful. Now how to I get a cover on it, I wonder.

“Mommy, her tail!” Cadence wails. “You caught her tail under the container!”

“Put something heavy on the container,” I tell Trevor as I search for a solution. I see a pile of card stock advertisements and grab one; a beautiful, thin, nicely dressed woman leaning against the counter of her new sparkling kitchen. She deserves to have mouse droppings on her, I think as I slide her perfect smile under the container, causing Isabella to dance onto the paper as my skin fills with goose bumps. And….FLIP! Isabella falls to the bottom and I snap on the lid.

“Put something heavy on it,” I tell Trevor, as I peek at the Buckle in the oven.

“Is it ready?” he asks, “My bus comes in ten minutes.”

The oven timer says twenty. “I’ll have to drop it off to you,” I tell him, “Catch the bus!”

“Can you cut it into twenty five pieces?” He asks looking doubtful. “There are twenty five in my class.”

"Does she have enough oxygen, Mom?" Cadence asks, cooing encouragement to the big-eyed mouse.

“Mom! Can you take me now? If I’m late I’ll get a detention!” Tyler says as he grabs his lunch.

“I’ll carry Isabella in the car,” Cadence offers, “We can dump her in the woods on the way back.”

“Printer’s still not printing!” Trevor yells “What about my homework?”

“I’ll email it to your teacher!” I yell, grabbing my keys. I slip on my flip flops and look at my attire. I am wearing my oldest pajamas that recently lost the elasticity in the waistband. I hold my bottoms up on the way to the car so as not to moon the neighbors. We drop Tyler and then pull over to release Isabella.

“Are you sure this is the exact same spot?” Cadence asks.

“I’m sure,” I answer, glad that I don’t have to get out in my sloppy PJs, “See the paper shreddings under the leaves?”

“But how will she find him?” Cadence says, sliding the van door wide.

“She can smell him.” I answer, “Just dump her out and DON”T TOUCH her.”

“But it rained so maybe it washed away his smell,” she hesitates.

“See the breeze blowing?” I coax, “He will smell her in the wind and he’ll be so happy because he’s been searching for all these weeks and he’ll come to get her.”

Cadence squats down low and opens the container on its side. Isabella slowly makes her way into the sticks and stops to pick up an acorn.

“Oh Mommy, look! She found a nut! I think she’s going to like it here.” She says, watching the little mouse make her way toward the woods.

As we make our way home, I wonder if the Buckle is burning. I wonder if I will meet the Dean in my droopy jammies. I wonder, as I pass children adorning the bus stops, if they really had fresh fruit, biscuits and lunch boxes packed with love. I wonder how I ever liked mornings.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Sweet Cadence! One year ago you gave me you’re blessing to miss your special day in pursuit of my dream. Since then, you have given me unending inspiration. Today we will celebrate together!

posted this time last year…


“Happy Birthday my Grand Finale!”

The ritual is the same with all three kids.
Every birthday.
No escape.

My older children roll their eyes, but I know they still enjoy the ritual.

“Eight years ago today…” I begin and then spill out the details of the day that she arrived on this planet. My youngest takes in the story with a warm grin. “I’m so proud of you!” I gush, “ I can’t believe I made you!”

“Actually,” Cadence points out in her usual style; a perfect blend of the harsh truth and her joyful optimism, “God made me. But you grew me.”

Conceding to her wisdom, I agree that it was God’s recipe and an amazing one at that, but I was the oven that carefully baked the ingredients for 9 months and feel a little credit is due.

“Thanks for baking me Mom.” she smiles warmly, her right cheek dressed in a dimple.

“Anytime, Darlin. The baking was the easy part; it’s the serving you that’s tricky!”

It was the first birthday in fifteen years of mothering that I would be absent on a child’s special day;. weird for me, probably weird for her, too. Weeks prior, dripping with mother guilt, I broached the subject. I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. After a litany that ranged from singer to veterinarian, I asked another question.

“Have I ever told you what you should be?”

“No Mom. You tell me to follow my dreams.”

“Do you know my dream?” I ask.

“To be a writer?” she says with a look over the top of her eyes that tells me she wonders if I have forgotten.

“It just so happens,” I explain, “that I have an opportunity for a workshop with an amazing author that will help me to follow that dream!”

“Oh Mom! You have to go!” she clapped and hugged me; my cheerleader. I explained that it would mean missing her 8th birthday. A no-brainer for Cadence. “We can celebrate that any day, Mom.”

With her love, permission and wind beneath my wings, I leave that morning fully charged.

It is all good.

I call her from the car with sudden inspiration. “I have a favor to ask,” I tell her. Eight years ago, you were born and I named you. Today, my writing future is being born and my blog needs a name, so now you get to name me!”

She thought about it and said, “Mom, you said it was easy to bake me and you brought me here, so you are the Easy-Bake Mom!”

And that was that. Easy Bake Mom it is.