Friday, July 30, 2010


The past three weeks have given me many opportunities to ponder the topic of perspective and how it changes. Between Keller's tonsil surgery (followed by the recovery from hell), high temps and humidity that can make even the happiest mom turn into a psycho b*tch, and an overflowing plate of family/work/volunteer responsibilities--I've found myself brewing up some serious "stinkin' thinkin'" lately. But last weekend, just when I needed it, a reality check jumped in my path and set my perspective on a healthier course.

Last Saturday we spent the afternoon at a party to celebrate our friends' son's 3rd anniversary of being leukemia-free. He is 4 years old. He had a bone marrow transplant the day before his first birthday. His parents are fun and funky, the kid is a sweetheart who Marley loves, and they have a baby girl on the way. They've been to a place no one wants to go and have come out the other side.

So yeah, it sucked that Keller fell into the small percentage of kids who was still not ingesting a damn thing 5 days post-surgery. No, it was not fun to take him to the ER and help two nurses hold him while a third put an IV in his bony little arm. And sure, keeping Captain Active contained for two weeks just about had me packing my bags. Okay, I actually did pack them at one point. Dave just wouldn't let me out the door.

But even as I stare down the barrel of Marley's next palate surgery on September 1st, I know that my kids are healthy, their recoveries will be relatively short-lived, and I've never had to sit down and hear the "c" word being said about one of them.

The problem I've been mulling over lately is that sometimes the kick in the pants doesn't arrive and I need to find a way to put on my proverbial steel-toed work boots and give myself a well-aimed kick in the rear so that I can look at issues/people/senseless worries through a better lens. It won't be easy, but I take this parenting job pretty seriously and I am constantly trying to figure out how I can keep my kids from spending their adult years laying on pleather psychiatrist's sofas.

I'm trying to remind myself that although it drives me to the brink of insanity when Marley does something I've just asked her not to do and then says "hee hee" and gives me an obnoxious grin about it--I need to be grateful for her spunk and zeal. If she hadn't been such a tough little cookie, her first two years of life before we met her could so easily have broken her.

I'm trying to figure out how to help Casey bring his millions of schemes to life while protecting him from hurt. He recently wrote out tickets for all of his friends to come see his band that he wants to start some day, which is so adorable and ambitious. The hard part came when I had to find a supportive way to tell him that I wasn't going to drive him to his friends' houses so he could deliver their tickets and charge them each $1 :) I'm in awe of his incredible imagination and need to do a better job of letting him run wild with it.

And Keller, well, I could write a book on all of the ways I fear I've failed him. My first baby, my toughest baby . . .my most intensely challenging "baby." I need to laugh more and allow myself to truly appreciate his humor. Even when he busts out some inappropriate gyrations in public, repeats teen language that he picks up from who-knows-where, or comes down from a 30 foot tree climb covered in sap--he's really freakin' funny. He is capable of so much in just about every aspect of life, I sometimes forget that he's still a seven year old boy who needs to be allowed to make mistakes, be offensive (worst table manners ever!) and ruffle some feathers 'round here.

My last perspective pep talk for the day--I need to work harder to stop apologizing for my kids. It is a bad habit of mine that I often feel obligated to apologize if one of my kiddos crosses some imaginary line that someone else has drawn for them. I see the look change on someone's face and realize they aren't comfortable--and rather than letting it pass, I find myself trying to stop my kids from doing something that would otherwise be just fine with me. Climbing a fence, stretching the five-second-rule by a few extra seconds, complaining when a friend won't share or excludes them. Things I tolerate or even encourage can become things I find myself apologizing for or disciplining them for depending on the "audience."

They are who they are--spirited, assertive, clever, funny, capable, intense little beings who need to know that although I try to contain them somewhat (and mostly fail at it), I am grateful for their individuality, their willingness and ability to express themselves so freely, and their unquenchable curiosity. And frankly, I get a bit creeped out by kids who never push the limits or bend the rules ;) What fun is that? Aren't those the kids you end up reading about in the paper twenty years from now? The kids who save up years or decades of rule-breaking and blow it all out in one massive binge? I don't wanna be the mom who deals with that mess.

I'll close with a few photos of my kids at their best--being themselves.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Huffman Family Vacation 2010

What do you get when you put five family members in a one-room cabin, then crank the exterior heat up to 95+ for a week straight? Huffman Family Vacation 2010, that's what you get! We just got back from spending a fun week on the eastern shore of Virginia, and despite the heat and close quarters, we had a blast! We played and partied with three families we're close buds with, and soaked up the sunshine paired with a little low-key living.

Hanging out at the Gustafson's shore escape:

Playing and exploring at Kiptopeke State Park:

Sweatin' at the campground (I was going to say "Chillin'", but that just wasn't the case with the 95-100 temps all week!):

Sunset Dolphin Cruise on our last night of vacation. We got much closer than my pictures show, but by that point Casey had clogged the toilet on the boat, Keller was running circles around the whole deck, and Marley was being full-on Marley-ish:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Loose ends . . .

We're a couple of days away from leaving for vacation, which we'll follow up with the ultimate fun experience of Keller getting his tonsils out and ear tubes put in. . .so I figured it might be a good time to do a quick blog post, share some fun pictures, and tie up loose ends in the bloggy world.

Dave found out about this really cool nature preserve that is nestled in between some hardcore high rises and highways in Alexandria. We spent a day there hiking and searching for the Hobbit House, where Keller and Casey freaked us out a bit by squeezing their entire bodies out of an empty window pane. Over, and over again.

The Youth in Motion summer running program is in full swing and our kids are participating again. This is Keller's 4th year, Casey's 3rd, and Marley's 1st. One of our favorite parts of the program is that it is very 'recreational', meaning if we decide to bag it and skip a session, there's no "the team is counting on you" factor to deal with. It's a great program, and hopefully by the end of the summer Dave & I will have figured out how to efficiently rotate through the three different age groups so we each get to see each kid each week. Lofty goal, eh?

The kids went to their buddy Jack's sixth birthday party last weekend and got treated to a baseball extravaganza, complete with "official" jerseys, hot dogs, and cracker jacks!

I took all three kids on a day trip to Chesapeake Beach, MD on Monday to enjoy the sand, sun, and shark-tooth hunting. We found tons of teeth, but unfortunately also made acquaintances with two jelly fish. Casey used to be more of a spectator on our fossil hunts, but this time he was really into it. He said, "Mom, I didn't find shark teeth much last year but this time I'm all 'woot woot shark teeth.'"

Marley got her "first" hair cut a couple of weeks ago. Sure, they gave her some pretty serious shave-downs in China, but as far as actual sit-in-the-chair-and-finish-with-a-lollipop hair cuts, she had never had one. Just good ole mom trimming the bangs every so often. She cried when the torture began, but was pretty happy by the end.

Our flowers are in full bloom and I got some pretty good shots before the tropical heat wilted them.