The Wink is a labor of love, occasional source of ire and constantly influenced by the toddlywinks in my life- my daughters. There's also the HunkyWink. You'll read all about them as The Wink unfolds. Please feel free to wink back!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

And then I'll slap you, k?

Sometime this summer Briar and Avery hit their stride, no longer divided by vocabulary or agility, they play together. The play structure or, compound, as certain neighbors refer to it, has become a stage of sorts. The girls will play, becoming so engrossed that they forget I am there. Watching them run up the rock wall and scampering about on the platform, I find myself standing grinning like a fool. It was so much work, watching the girls while Sean worked 10 hour weekend day after 10 hour weekend day to build it. And the grief we've taken:

From: Jackson
Date: May 27, 2008 3:27:20 PM EDT
To: Sean
Subject: "LET'S PLAY WALL"

The Chinese have nothing on you guys. With all this terrorism, I think it's important to build a wall v/s a fence. This way, you keep out all those suspicious looking Muslims in our neighborhood. I think, it's also good that your children never see anything but their own yard. Your world is their world-- period. You get to mold them the way you want. And for God's sake, keep the space small so they can't run. It's all about dicipline!!! Jj

And then there was this one:

From: Jackson
Date: July 10, 2008 3:15:34 PM EDT
To: Sean

Nice fortress. Grant would be proud of you-- even though he's a couple of streets away. I particularly like the tower. This way you can see them coming. Take no chances. I noticed they got the duck before you could get him in the compound. Must have been the middle of the night. Get floodlights!! Stand guard 24/7 !!!
Look if all else fails, you can hold tours. Shave your head like so and so (name changed) and dress the kids like racoons. Before you know it Fort William Henry will be out of business. However, beware. Your fort is made of wood and just down the street is...Stonewall himself

So, for all the flack we've taken, it's nice to know that the girls enjoy it. Lately the game of choice has been a modern-day twist on Rapunzel. Briar runs with a princess towel on her head as Rapunzel, then she scales the wall and goes down the slide. The slide, of course, puts her under a deep spell which only "true love's kiss" can undo. Lacking a proper prince, she knights Avery as her prince. Avery is happy enough to comply if she can perform her daredevil-swing-from-the-top-of-the-slide-super-slide routine before planting true love's kiss and more on Briar.

Here is a bit of unedited footage taken while the girls played oblivious to my presence. What you need to know is this is the fourth take. Briar seems to have accepted that you have to pay to play. The pay off comes in the last second of the clip.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Check. Check. Damn.

Briar starts pre-school next week, this is not a post about how I feel about that (not ready to do that.) No, this is a post about how as a friend of mine said, "Even the best laid plans..." Sean went to the parent-teacher night last week. He came home full of purpose, explaining to me how the school is in lock down during certain times of the day, how we need to be on time to pick Briar up and what we can expect from this.

I have written plenty on how hard being a working mom and a good mom can be. I realize that sometimes I set the bar too high for myself, but other times, well other times it just doesn't seem like too much to ask to not fucking run over the coveted princess kleenex I scored at the grocery store.


Monday, August 25, 2008

What's dat? What's dat?

Last year's fantasy football is this year's impromptu lesson. Sean's old cheat sheet was sitting on the counter and the girls were fascinated.

Briar: What's that?

Me: QB.

Briar: What's that mean?

Me: Quarterback.

Briar: What's a quarterback?

Me: The guy who throws the football.

Ave: What's that?

Me: RB.

Ave: What's RB?

Me: Ummm, running back?

Briar: What's a running back?

Me: A player.

Suffice it to say the conversation went on for quite some time. I fear that they won't know their wide receivers from their, umm, from the other guys, if they are left to learn it from me. But tight ends? Oh tight ends they'll know ;)


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fear can be a good thing.

Any ideas on how to get a toddler to feel it every once in a while?

So help me she's trying to break the other leg.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ladies Love Cool James

I may live to regret this as I have received nasty comments before when I have dared to say something not in keeping with my signature tender posts, but here it is: my workout music is no holds barred. I don't care about lyrics, or more specifically, I don't care if the lyrics are PC or even intelligent. I am looking for music that is transformative, something that takes me to another place, see, the thing of it is, I am a worrier. A big, hand-wringing, brow-furrowing worrier. It can really blow.

The only thing that can truly chase the anxiety away is a hard workout. Don't get me wrong, I love my girls and Sean, and, yes, they can soothe me, but it is working out that can erase everything. Sean gets this and has loaded our iPods with different playlists for me to use. I am sure that his cheeks burned as he waited for Christina Aguilera's Stronger to download, but he did it, and damn if I haven't had some incredible workouts as a result.

One of my all-time favorites is this one, not exactly the anthem for a mom of three daughters, but for working out I really, really love it. Once upon a time I told Sean that I liked LL Cool J. I think he might have choked on the Nantucket Nectar he was sipping. I think I probably give off more of a Hanson vibe than LL.

Lately I have been talking about how badly I want to work out again. He told me yesterday, "Hey, I downloaded an LL Cool J song for your workout playlist." I didn't give it another thought until he came up to me today after he'd taken the girls for a run.

"About that LL Cool J song? Aw, I didn't listen to it until just now and let me warn you, it's dirty."

"Ok," I said, not really worried.

"No, I mean like it's so dirty it makes the Buckcherry song seem like something the Wiggles would sing."

I haven't stopped laughing at the expression he had on his face or the whole Wiggles thing. If only the girl I was back in the late 80's/early 90's had known she'd be hearing something like that from the father of her three children.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Compliments of my aching heart

I unplugged this afternoon. Really and truly unplugged myself from everything but my daughters. We played in the backyard. Round after round of, "Mom, you be the shark and I'll be the mermaid, ok?" It was incredible, but you know what happens when you play a game of mermaid and shark with two children? You, as the shark, receive a writhing 30 pound barnacle to manage as you try and bite the tail of the squealing (and surprisingly swift) mermaid in a wading pool too small for your 70 inches and so you pull yourself (and the 30 pound barnacle with breathtaking ringlets) by your arms, your poor, quivering triceps to be exact.

I remember looking up at one point thinking, "Shit, I'm not taking any pictures." And just as a lump began to snake its way up my throat, the tell tale pinprick sensation hit my eyes heralding tears making their move, Avery leaned her head around and said, "You sharkin', mama? You still sharkin' me?" And I was. It was bliss. Mercy, me, it was true bliss.

I gotta do this more often.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Can I do that again?

I have been admittedly MIA. Sorry. I've been busy...flubbing my lines. As an apology, I give you, the SaraBear Company outtakes*.

Created amidst much chortling and guffawing by none other than my Sean.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Royal Resuscitation

It's been quite a week, with family death, local personality death, celebrity death, violent death and more death. It feels as if my heart and mind are on perpetual death skip. Instead of seeing life and promise in everyday moments, I see heartache lapping at the edges, pressing against my every breath.

When I was about 8 I was playing on the trailer hitch of my neighbor's van. I was holding the enormous triangle frame and swinging side to side when all of a sudden the whole metal contraption came whooshing down, pinning me beneath it. The pavement was hot and rough beneath me, the force of the fall had knocked the wind out of me and the weight of the thing held me down. I was absolutely frozen in horror, aware that panic and hysteria were going to come hard and fast. Even typing this I can feel the pressure on my chest.

These past few days have felt like that, except instead of one specific pressure on my chest it's been more like a heavy cloak, my limbs are wooden, slow to move, my mind equally stiff. The weather has been too bleak to do anything, heavy winds and road flooding rain making a trip with the girls unrealistic. Sean and I were talking just this morning about how unusual it is for us both to get slammed with the blues at the same time.

"Usually when I'm down, you're up or the other way around. It's why we work so well together. I'm not used to it being too much to pull each other out," he said as he kept his face down. I had nothing, because every word was true. It has been pretty numb around here.

And then something happened, despite being my weak with fatigue and bereft of any characteristically optimistic, we-can-push-through-it grit, a light managed to break through. A big, twinkly, sequiny Disney daughter kind of light. The girls sweeping the floor and tickling the air in their brand-new sleep gowns sashayed the blues out with a dazzling blur of turquoise and lilac satin, irresistible toddler mirth and hysterical vamping.

Now, that picture at the top of this post, the one that before had been more darkness than light, nearly squeals with joy. There will always be death, but these girls make me remember that it's the living that really matters.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Frost Princess

She was girly in the truest sense of the word.
Lips always lined in shades of pink.
Thick white hair always curled just so.
Pastel prints and sweet scents.
A gentle giggle and a quick wit.

Sean's grandmother,
Nana's mom,
"Mimi" to the girls,
Finley Frost's namesake.

Carolyn Frost Barnes, a princess always.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Rielle, John?


Too many to name.

Take a page from Nancy, "Just say no."


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Baby Peep

My friend Mrs. Chicken had her baby, little Shaggy. Ok, not so little. Henry weighed in at well over 9 pounds! The girls deserves a break, so I am guest posting over there today. Take a look and leave her a big, "Atta girl!" comment, ok?

Keeping the coop warm.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sometimes ya gotta say f*ck it

There is for me a red-faced shame in indulgence, whether it's buying razors, actually peeing alone, or vanity. The one thing I am absolutely unapologetic about is my joy derived from coffee. Thinking about it, drinking it, making it, smelling it it all just really does it for me.

Mornings when I come downstairs and it is already brewing? There are no words, it is Christmas morning at age 7. Days when I make it myself? Almost as magical. The other morning I was preparing to brew some magic and as I turned on the water and held the carafe beneath the flow I yawned. Standing barefoot and blind I grabbed the canister from the cabinet. Turning to set it down I felt more than heard it happen. A crack. A lightning rod of destruction.

I think I might have shrieked, "I'm melting." I prepared to unleash a rainbow of words to illustrate my devastation when Sean rode in on what I am pretty sure was a white steed and did this:


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Monday, August 4, 2008

Sibling Directionals

Conversation snippet from a pre-dinner walk as we paused at the corner at the end of our street:

Me: Ok, Briar. If we turn right which direction will we be going?

Briar: Ummmm—

Avery: Left!

And with that she sped ahead as Briar stuck her right arm out and gave chase.


These are the times to remember.


Hold your horses!

First, thanks for all the wonderful comments. It is never easy to share something that you aren't proud of, but having hands go up immediately as people rapidly tap their feet and squeal, "Ooh, ooh, me too. Me too!" certainly makes it easier. All that said, please understand, I am not beating myself up about a bit of moodiness. I was just taking the opportunity to own up to something that I figured was actually pretty common. Alls well that ends well, no?

On to the next thing...I was just checking my email and in one of the 6 or 7 headlines that Yahoo feeds me, I had something catch my eye and then light my Mama-fire.

We are killing our children. I'll go ahead and let you know, the link is about the calorie count in "kids meals" at national chains. I am too angry right now to share a well thought out opinion on the state of children's fitness in our country. I can say this, one of my favorite pictures from my childhood is one of me running across a gymnasium, my classmates in front, behind and alongside me. Our arms are in various positions of pumping, our legs bent, feet digging for the next stride. Our faces are alive; joyous and determined. This photo, which my mom had beautifully framed, sits on Sean's desk.

The thing that makes me angriest about what is happening to kids now is that they do not know this joy. I used to wait, squirming in my seat, for P.E. I would get so excited at the prospect of running, of shouting to my classmates and participating wholeheartedly in whatever activity our teacher, Mrs. Bendix (don't even get me started on the fun we had with that name), had planned. My proudest moment was the day I finally made it all the way up the rope and pounded the index card with my name onto the ceiling. Triumph.

There is no triumph now. Kids don't get the chance to love physical activity. They are either not exposed to it, or by the time they are there is already a burden they carry, excess weight holding them back, the provenance of which can be directly traced to their parents' poor choices.

Can we all just work a little harder at giving them a fair shot? Can we sit down at the dinner table together? Can we walk to the park? Can we start giving a shit? We are talking about their whole lives, it starts now. Be fair.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

It's shame.

I tend to be an open book here, sharing with you everything from how I get annoyed at work and how I mourn to moments of bliss with my girls. The thing is, I let some pages stick together, preserving a part of my life as sacred. There are different reasons for doing it; to protect certain people, or to stay, as the politicians say, "on message," and of course to keep the blog from being updated hourly with every bit of tedium of a working mom's day.

Last night something happened that I think bears sharing, despite the way it will leave a person vulnerable and open to criticism, that person of course being me. It was an average day, nothing eventful to speak of other than the day being a Friday and the start of what I had hoped would be a great weekend. We had the whole thing mapped out, with Nana taking the girls for an overnight and the two of us plotting to rebuild the blasted porch rails, which had rotted despite being barely a few years old.

The sight of the mold or fungus or whatever fresh hell oozed out after each rainfall had begun to wear on me, erasing any sense of accomplishment from keeping the house clean or managing to get the girls dressed, fed, groomed and out the door on time. The rot stood as some sort of indictment, a failure as homeowner, mother, wife and more. Oh, how the rot had to go!

I talked with Sean around quarter past five and arranged to walk the girls down to his office. He was thrilled. The girls pushed their strollers along the streets of our neighborhood, happily pointing out squirrels and planes and chattering on about the state of the babies that rode along. When we met up with Sean he was energetic and happy. We headed for home.

Things quickly soured as the late afternoon heat took its toll, the girls begging to be held, abandoned strollers claiming one arm per parent, the girls the other. Nerves frazzled, backs strained and under-the-breath mutters cut, I snapped. Harsh words followed by rapid steps, I sped away with Fin on my chest and Ave in my arms. It was neither pretty nor mature.

Later, as it became clear that Sean's short fuse and flagging energy were the result of a cold, I shifted. And do you think I shifted to caretaker and loving partner? No. Every negative feeling I had came rushing to the forefront, I was annoyed, snappish and angry. He kept asking me what was wrong as I stood seething, angrily scrubbing the sink. The longer I went without answering, the more it felt as if I were trying to dig my way out of sand, dry, slippery, impossible-to-stop-from-cascading-over-me sand.

My embarrassment over my emotions only served to fuel the fire. A stony silence fell over the house and in a hollow voice I told him how angry I was, "That I am sick?" he asked me incredulously. I had no choice but to answer, "Yes, I am." So shallow, but I wanted a break. I wanted to know we would be going into the weekend as partners, instead I was preparing, with great resentment, to have to care for 4 people. My cheeks burned and I berated myself internally for what I was feeling. It wasn't fair, even now as I type this my shame rages.

You see, he really was sick, but he also wanted the same things I did. He wanted to work together, repair the railings and have a weekend. No work, no one else's agenda, just us. After a few rounds of futile discussion during which I couldn't shake my annoyance he slipped away. I buried my nose in the girls, flipping through storybooks, cooing over Fin and delivering post-dinner slices of cheese. His absence gnawed at me and I wished I could hit start over and relive the walk, not storming off and not extending an icy silent treatment. My self-flagellating reverie was broken by banging.

"s dat? 's dat scary noise?" Avery asked with comically wide eyes.

"I'm not sure," I replied, though I knew exactly what it was and waves of shame washed over me as the sound lifted my pout. He was outside tearing off the railing, his shirt drenched, his eyes puffy and red. Despite how juvenile I'd been and despite how shitty he felt, he was taking off the damn railings, being the bigger person to salvage the weekend.

It's shame that has me writing this. Sean is a bigger person than I let on sometimes. Last night he did the kind of thing that keeps a marriage on track, he crossed the line, setting aside how and what he felt in order to do what he knew needed to happen to snap me out of my mood. I hope I get the chance to even the score soon, until then, I'm prying open one of those previously sticky pages and sharing with you how absolutely incredible he can be.

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