Friday, October 29, 2010

5 years ago today

5 years ago today my journey as a mother officially began.
5 years later i am equally as grateful for the special spirit that has been sent to me.
sam, i appreciate the confidence you have always had in me;
the admiration has been nice, too.
thank you for all you have done to stretch & mold me into a mother.
happy birthday, my bright shooting star.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

as good as it gets

i was alone tonight.
i finished working early,
and pete had taken the kids to the pool.
my house was quiet,
and not the kind of quiet i like.
i missed my kids,
i missed their sounds,
their requests,
and mostly just their presence.
i was overwhelmed with what a privilege it is to be their mother.
as i thought of their devoted love & interest to me,
it dawned on me that this stage of life i'm in is certainly as good as it is going to get.
if i can't be happy with this wonderful life,
then i'm afraid i will never be happy.
and i am happy.
perhaps happier than ever.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

state the facts

some days i get overwhelmed.
then i get frazzled.
then i can't even remember what's what.
it's then i try to slow down
and just repeat the facts....

my name is jennifer vanderlinden.
i am 31 years old.
i am a mother.
i am not a perfect mother,
despite how hard i try.
i am a perfectionist,
and i don't want to be anymore.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

wake up, lady!

my sister recently introduced me to a blog that i now love.
it's called angle of my repose.
i recently read a post there about her briefly losing one of her young children at the grocery store.
an older man found the girl and was waiting with her until the mother found her.
the man was not impressed with the situation,
and as he walked away he said "wake up, lady!"

i had my own "wake up lady" moment this past week in the grocery store.
i had a long list.
the kids were being a little on the wild side,
and they weren't staying in the cart.
it was dinner time,
and i just wanted to hurry.
sam began tugging on my shirt while i was trying to pick out a roast.
he kept saying "look, mom, look!"
in an attempt to do both things at once,
i glanced over in the direction he was pointing.
i saw some cheese or something in the cooler
and replied, "cool, sam" like i was actually looking.
i was more just looking at the roast.
i heard an older man say to him,
"oh, did you build that? that's quite impressive."
that caught my attention,
and i looked again.
i saw what sam was trying to get me to see.
he had stacked tuna cans up to make a tower almost as tall as he was.

the man didn't tell me to "wake up, lady",
but i said it to myself that day,
and i haven't been able to stop saying it to myself all week.
here, i've got these amazing children who are in a stage of life where my validation & attention are laying a foundation for their self-image and understanding of their world.
with the demands of being a mother,
i have found myself lately rushing through life,
looking but not really seeing anything they are showing me.

i have so many ideas in my mind of the kind of mother i want to be,
and i have realized that it is time for me to wake up.
if i want to be a gentler mother,
a better listener,
and be better at understanding,
now is the time to do it.
if i want to provide a nurturing & comfortable home,
if i want to organize our lives,
and if i want to make life more fun & meaningful,
now is the time to do it.
if i want to start seeing more,
then i need to start really looking.
"wake up, lady!"
now is your time!
once this time passes,
you won't get a re-do.

Friday, October 22, 2010

friday book review: bone soup

bone soup
by cambria evans
suggested reading level: ages 4-8

skeletal finnigin, a friendly feasting traveler, is known far and wide for his ravenous appetite. in his travels he is sure that he will be treated to a halloween feast somewhere. unfortunately the ghoul packed community catches word of him, so they all quickly pack away their prized stewed eyeballs and bat wings. although they turn him away, he is undeterred, and he cleverly begins to brew a soup with his magic bone. one by one, each creature emerges to investigate. they are gradually convinced to make awful additions like spider eggs, dried mouse droppings, toenail clippings, dandelions, and other items to the yellow-green soup.
the story is engaging and a little quirky. the illustrations are whimsically scary and in keeping with good halloween spirit.

we have been trying to get with the holiday spirit.
i haven't done a ton of decorations or halloween activities,
but i have been trying to read some fun, festive books.
and there are a lot of halloween books out there.
we enjoyed this story;
both sam & will were obsessed with the eyeballs in the soup.
they both came up with crazy ideas for their own soup.
the story has even inspired some silly dream dust about trying to make soup and all kinds of fun things appearing (like kittens, monkeys, and puppies).
if i were more on the ball i would try to come up with some creative way to make bone soup around here.
but since i'm not up for that this year,
we will just have to keep enjoying the story.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


home can be a lot of things,
and it can be in a lot of places.
we just spent the past week at my original home,
and it felt like like home,
like my original home.
when i think of that home i think of...
my grandma,
endless pastures that are beautiful & simple & timeless,
ganny's house,
the shag carpet,
the big kitchen table,
the fabric closet,
linda's room,
the blue bathroom,
a pot of beans,
fried okra,
the hay bails,
the lane gate,
the quiet,
the open space,
a feeling of comfort.
the only thing that didn't feel original was having my husband & children there.
it was a reminder to me that home can be in more than one place;
i have a home here that i treasure & enjoy daily,
but i also have a home in oklahoma that will house my childhood,
a place that in a way will never change.

as we were flying out of okc,
i looked past my children & out the window as we were taking off down the runway.
i remembered my grandpa's parting words as i left on a similar airplane in 1999.
he said "everyone is allowed to make at least one mistake in their life."
i know my life would have turned out very differently had i stayed in oklahoma,
but i don't think it was a mistake that i left.
i now have another treasured home,
one that i hope to always be able to come back to and be re-charged with memories of my young adulthood & parenthood.
wherever you make that home will also be a cherished place,
and never really a mistake.

we had a lovely visit,
and my children are ready to be farm kids.
now that i mention it,
perhaps i wouldn't mind making another new home,
in the country,
on a farm.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

kind of a trick question

how is it possible to make a halloween costume when you have a 6 month old baby who always wants to be held?
put her in a sling and let her help!
and see how quickly you can get it done then!
(and, no, my hair is not in a ponytail; it's cut off, and it's short! loving it though, except for the back poof in this pic)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

one step ahead

i'm not exactly sure how to say this,
so i will just say it.
3 kids is sinking us a little.
in some ways 3 doesn't feel any different than 2,
but in other ways it is a lot more work.
with 2 kids we felt like we were still a step ahead of the chaos.
i don't feel like that anymore.
it seems the chaos is overtaking us.
and i spend all my time wondering if i'm doing something wrong,
or if this is just how it is to be a mother of 3.
after a bad day,
i don't know how to answer that,
and even after a good day,
i still don't know how to answer that.

so, perhaps there is someone out there that can.
am i doing something wrong because somedays no one in the house isn't dressed, fed, and stimulated by 11:00?
or am i doing something wrong when i ask my kids to do things and they don't do it?
am i doing something wrong because my house looks like a tornado hit at almost any moment of the day?
oh, and is it wrong that i don't have the energy to do anything about it?
or is it wrong that i feel like i don't get to do anything throughout the day besides tend to kids?
mostly i just wonder if everyone else with 3 kids under the age of 5 feels like they always have dirty laundry, they lose their patience sooner, don't have as good of meals as they used to, and if they wonder if they are screwing up their kids.
and if someone out there with the same situation doesn't ever feel that way and their life really operates smoothly all the time,
then please contact me,
we need to talk.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


i have a special foot.
it was born different than my other foot.
and different from apparently every other person in the world.
i've always known it was special,
not a disability,
even if i can't stand on my toes,
or walk exactly like other people.
i've always had this overwhelming sense that this was exactly how i was intended to walk this earth,
and that was special.

i saw a top notch orthopedic doctor today.
i think i love him,
at least i love what he said.
he said that in all of his years looking at feet,
he has never seen anything like mine,
and that made me extra special.
so special that he wants to use me as a poster child for unique foot situations
to be analyzed by the board of the best orthopedic doctors in the state.
he even invited me to their 6 am brain buster study sessions.
and he is sneaking me into shriner's hospital for time in the high tech "walking room".

so what does all of this mean?
it means that i am really special,
and it was a pleasant reminder today.

oh, and i am looking forward to what he comes up with. :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

friday book review: the giving tree

the giving tree
by shel silverstein
suggested reading level: ages 4-8

"once there was a tree... and she loved a little boy." this is the beginning of a story of the gift of giving and acceptance of another's capacity to love in return.
the story is about a young boy who would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk; this made the tree happy. as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave.
this is a tender story of unforgettable perception, touched with sadness and joy. the illustrations are simple yet entertaining.

i have always loved this book.
i was emotional after reading it to sam the 1st time 4 years ago,
and i find myself feeling the same way reading it this many years later.
i particularly feel the emotion now as i'm desperately hoping for my children to experience the joy of friendship in their preschool & playgroup.
i hope that even in their young years they will have a friend,
but i hope even more that they will learn the skills now that will enable them to be a friend & have a friend in their futures.
and i hope, like the tree in the story, that they will always enjoy giving.
yet i also hope that they can be like the boy at the end of the story...
content with what a friendship offers,
and not constantly needing to want and to take.
i know that phases of life are lonelier than others,
but i hope they always have at least one true friend that will always walk their road with them.
and perhaps they always will...
they have brothers and a sister and cousins. :)

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