The Wheels on the Bus

We have done it! We’ve taken the leap. We are now a one-car family. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we’d do this. Yet here we are…with only one vehicle. (How snobby do I sound? Just one of the most ridiculously extravagant forms of transportation First. World. Girl.) But, wonder of wonders, it is wonderful!

To be honest, this was not our plan. It wasn’t even on the radar, which makes it all the more fun. This new adventure invited us to join. And even that…the invitation…was not direct. It went something like this:

We took our red minivan on a wild ride to California and back…well, almost back. About thirty miles away from our blessed beds, the van all but exploded. Driver error. Ahem. Anyhoo, big hole. Right in the engine. But I’m getting ahead of myself. As far as we knew at this point, the thing just didn’t work. We had the van towed to the auto shop to await a verdict…after the long holiday weekend.

And then the new year rolled around. Our car in the shop…awaiting the examination and diagnosis. I casually asked Phil if he had any New Year’s resolutions. If you know Phil, you  know he struggles with time. Never. Enough. So he asked me if I could help him get more than 24 hours into a day. And if you know me, you know that I figured I just might be able to do it. Me and time. We’re buddies. (That’s code for I’m never late. Never. Eh. Almost never.)

After a quick analysis, I noted Phil’s commute was killing him. Forty five minutes to work, forty five minutes home. Then play, play, play with kids…send me to bed…and do a bazillion chores…and put in a few more hours of work. Oh, and take care any crying babies in the middle of the night. (I know. Right? Who is this man?)

“Phil. Your commute is the problem. Can you work from home one day a week?” NOPE. He must be in the office. But not for the full eight hours. Just daily in the office. Sigh. “Hmmmm. How about the bus??? You can work on the way to work and on the way home.” And just like that, a crazy new scheme was hatched.

Wednesday morning, Phil jumped on San Antonio’s public transportation. It has been forty years since he had ridden a bus. Forty. And it went well. He picked up some tips from friends at work who commute by bus. He picked up some tips from the bus drivers. And he picked up a bike…complete with helmet…to help him cover those two miles between the last drop off and his office.

Suddenly, Phil was getting home at 5:00 with NO work to do. None. All work complete via office and bus. We found 90 more minutes for his day. Yea!!!

And then the news came. Hole. In the engine. It would cost more to fix the engine than the van was worth. What. To. Do? We slept on it. For a week. We slept hard because we did NOT think we could swing one car. But, the bus experiment was going so well, we figured…let’s try this one-car thing.

And so, here we are…one car! A brand new adventure. Not sure how long this will last…but… We’re loving the teamwork this requires. We’re loving the simplicity this inspires. We’re loving the money that we’re saving. This might be a long-term fix!

 

Twenty Three Skiddoo

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Twenty three years ago, I married Chuck Picciuti. In an outdoor ceremony. With no plan B. Good thing the weather held!

January 1. My favorite day of the year? Maybe. Maybe so. For me,  this day simultaneously holds joy and hope beyond compare coupled with incomprehensible grief. January 1, 1994. Me and Chuck. It cracked him up to introduce me thus, “This is my first wife, Jan.” So it is with irony that each January 1st, I reflect on life with my first husband, Chuck.

I am forever grateful for my years with Chuck Picciuti…for each laugh…for each ridiculous fight…for each jaw-dropping moment (and trust me, there were many.) My soul is etched with his name. Not a day goes by that I do not lean on a Chuck-Picciuti-lesson. The man taught me:

  1. To see and embrace the funny…in even the darkest of moments.
  2. Sometimes the rules need to be broken.
  3. Just act like you know what you are doing and people won’t question you. (This move is useful for crashing everything from a Spurs luncheon to the box seats of…any event really.)
  4. The mind has an amazing capacity to override the body.
  5. To trust my instincts.
  6. To fly by the seat of my pants.
  7. To. Do. Nothing. To just sit and be.
  8. When nervous or scared to try something new, to imagine the very worst that could happen and reflect on whether or not I could live with the worst outcome. This little exercise gets me to “jump,” more than anything else.

And of course, he taught me to grieve. He taught me that great love is worth great pain. He taught me that life can be filled with joy and laughter and light even after unspeakable loss.

He was a keeper. And so he stays…etched.

 

 

 

This Mama

Oh my soul. I did not want to be this mama. And granted, my expectations were likely (giggle, giggle, snort, snort) unrealistic, but wow. This mama?

You see, a little something happened in our home earlier this year. A great and glorious event. We…Phil and I…became parents of four little girls…ages four on down. This means that I became a stay-at-home mama to four…ahem…let’s call them little children. (Honestly, I have to daily remind myself…they are ALL age-appropriate in their behaviors. It’s just that their ages are nine months, two years, three years, and four years. Grrrrrr.)

Anyhoo, though I’ve not written much of our fostering journey this go round, it has been rough on this ol’ mama. Rough. I have been stretched in ways that have left me empty, raw, and aching. My nerves are fragile…and my children are no respecter of nerves. And so, yelling has become the order of the day. I yell. A lot. And I apologize. A lot. And I vow to get this thing under control. A lot. And I fail to do so. A lot.

Pretty vicious cycle. But Jesus, in his sweetness, has whispered to my soul. Stop struggling. Stop.

My BEST efforts haves left me in a loop of shame, repentance, renewed effort,  failure. Repeat.

But Jesus has whispered…stop trying to be the mom you think your kids deserve. This is the mom you are…and your kids adore you. You get grumpy and you yell. A lot. And they love you. A lot. Be courageous enough to let them. Let them love you…flawed.

And so, I am this mama. Which is great, cause this is the mama my kids love.

 

 

 

 

Eden — Four and Ten

My heart bursts watching Eden. She’s intense. She’s tenacious. She’s full of love and wonder…with no reservations about expressing herself.

And now, the many faces of Eden:

At four years and ten months, Eden:

  • likes to concentrate on tasks, “Shhh! I’m working.”
  • is fiercely loyal. She told Den, “I’ll always be there for you.” And she will be.
  • enjoyed RV camping! Her favorite part was the potty. (I think that was everyone’s favorite.) “Mom, it would be so fun if I could go potty while Dad drives.” Yep. It’s the little things.
  • found and held her first frog while camping. It was a small brown frog. She was enraptured.
  • feeds and dotes on Sweet Pea. She loves to hold her…and tries to carry her…and I try to let her without panicking.
  • is developing a wit that makes me swoon. Recently, she was pretending to be a cat and I asked her what her name was. “My name is…wait for it…wait for it…CHLOE.” (Ah yes, the name she always chooses. Why Chloe? Who knows? I bet her firstborn girl will be named Chloe.)
  • has taken the lead on caring for Lady. They are smitten with each other. (Well, sometimes Lady is a bit fearful of Eden’s tenacious love.) They go everywhere together. Lady loves to snuggle, which is just fine with Eden! These two are developing a beautiful relationship.
  • gave Sweet Pea a bath.
  • loves and wants to house every stray dog we come across, “But, Mom! That dog has no home. We have to take it home and take care of it.”
  • calms Clancy, our dog, with a gentle, “Easy, Clance. Easy.”
  • is learning that, and I quote, “Only MY grown ups can see me naked, not the visiting ones.” We’re getting there!
  • loved having “Daddy’s brother” visit.

Chick Pea — TWO!

I am surprised to discover very few notes on Chick Pea this past month. So many of her changes have been…soft…unspoken. I’ve noted a vulnerability that is sweet…yet frightening. This impenetrable child has trusted her heart to us…she seeks gentle hugs in the quiet of day…she nuzzles my neck…seeking and finding comfort. I am undone.

At two years of age, Chick Pea:

  • names and narrates. This is one of my favorite stages. As she gets dressed, she names body parts…and explains what is happening, “Shirt on. Shoes on.”
  • is speaking so much. Her language has just exploded…in the best of ways.
  • signs like a pro. Miss Smarty Pants learns signs faster than anyone I’ve ever seen.
  • rubs soft foods, like yogurt and sour cream, all over herself. (This is likely a carry-over from her nighttime ritual. She has eczema, so we slather on the lotion each night. )Sneaky girl almost always waits until my back is turned or I’m out of the room. You’d think I’d learn.
  • lets me sing “Rock-a-bye Baby” to her and cradle her in my arms. (It occurred to me recently that she is the only one I have not sing lullabies to as a wee babe…and I went about remedying that!) The first time I held her like a baby and she relaxed into my arms, my heart ached. It ached for her…time I did not have with her…time her mother does not have now. I ached for all of the brokenness in her wee life.
  • tags along and imitates Denver in the sweetest of ways.
  • exhibits fewer strong-willed defiances…girl gets along. She gets along so well.
  • dotes on Sweet Pea…still. Such a sweet sister.
  • enjoyed a birthday party with her mom, her aunt, and her grandma. (We were invited to attend. Touching!)

Denver — THREE!

Glory be, she is three! What a girl. Denver is a river…deep, wild, at once peaceful and still, then full of fury…ever changing…ever winding…ever inviting. She’s the one who joins me in my quiet moments…just sitting…longing to connect in our unspoken language. And yet, she’s the loudest of my girls. This quiet soul…so LOUD. Not a single moment with this one is taken for granted. All that she is…every glance, giggle, cry, and yes…scream…each one is a gift…because she was born to another. She was carried and nursed and swaddled by another. And yet. And yet. The same loving arms that welcomed Denver to the world, courageously delivered her to us. Denver is our daughter. Our beloved daughter. Our darling girl.

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At three years of age, Denver:

  • loves to have her back tickled as she drifts off to sleep.
  • wears panties. All day long! (Still uses a pull up for night time.)
  • embraced her first RV trip. While the others wanted to stay in the RV upon hitting our campsite, Denver wanted O-U-T. She wanted to explore nature…girl after my own heart. She discovered the stream behind our campsite.
  • wants to feed me at each meal. With each offering she puts in my face, she eagerly says, “It doesn’t have wheat, Mom.” Of course, it typically does. Still. Cute.
  • calls raspberries daddy fingers, because of THIS. She puts a raspberry on each finger and sings the finger family song. She even uses that funky accent.
  • shows that she is THREE with her pointer, middle, and pinkie fingers. Don’t know why she does it. I hope and pray she never “corrects” it!
  • insisted on party hats for her birthday party. Insisted. And we happily complied.
  • calls dark feathers “dog feathers.” That’s my girl.
  • shouts, “Get me off this thing!” dramatically. No, she has never seen the Jetsons. It’s just our Denver.
  • lights up at the words Paw Patrol. Thus, a Paw Patrol birthday party with Paw Patrol party hats, plates, toys. Girl cannot get enough Paw Patrol. Her favorite is Chase…followed quickly by Skye. She likes me to sing the Paw Patrol song as a lullaby…which is quite the shift from her beloved ABC lullaby.
  • reminds me daily that we never know what surprises are just around the bend.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we proudly present…DENVER, the three-year-old!

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Eden — Four and Nine

Eden is such an enchanting girl. The girls wears her heart proudly on her sleeve. Good thing her heart is so lovely. Well, except for when it’s not. Even then, I adore that she is authentic in all that she is…hides nothing. She’s a breath of fresh air in a weary world.image

At four years and nine months, Eden:

  • is not satisfied with a simple, “no” reply. Eden’s version = “No, ho, ho!!!”
  • has named the phenomenon in which one sneezes and toots at the same time. It is an achoo toot. Quite appropriate, I think.
  • has mastered the remote. And life will never be the same.
  • does her own laundry. Or more accurately, can do her own laundry. Joyfully. Because she’s only four. (Phil is da man behind any chore stuff…teaches the girls to do laundry, to sort laundry, and to put away laundry. THANK GOD for this man.)
  • has discovered the delights of the chicken leg. And she’s terribly sad that only two legs come with a bird. AND, she’s discovering where chicken legs come from…which, yes, gives me pause. It freaks her out a bit that chicken legs are…CHICKEN LEGS. We may have a future vegetarian on our hands. We’ll see.
  • enjoys pork chops, but believes them to be chicken. She even asked, “Is pork chop a way to say chicken in French?” Hmmmm. Not so much.
  • looks for the recycling symbol on all of our food containers. Thanks, Rocky from Paw Patrol! We love you, buddy.
  • has embraced the joy of our new compost bin. Fun science stuff!
  • loves to play “house” with Denver. There are exactly two roles in house = the mother and “the dear.” I love that the kid is “the dear.”
  • greeted me one day with, “Mom, you’re just the woman that I wanted to see.”
  • thinks it is pretty hilarious to say “vulva hiney, vulva hiney, vulva hiney.” Yep, that’s a good one, kiddo.
  • unleashes her fury upon me from time to time. This one will need guidance in taking a moment or two to calm down before speaking…as does her mother! And just like me, she almost immediately regrets the words that flow forth. Case in point:
    • Eden: “When I am older, I am leaving and I will NOT be in your family ANY MORE!”
    • Me: “Oh! I’ll miss you. But I understand.”
    • Eden: “Well, I’ll stay close…in the neighborhood. And I’ll visit. BUT when you are mean, I will leave to be with my roommate.”
    • Me: “Sounds like a good plan.”
    • Eden: “But I’ll miss you when I’m gone.”
  • blesses me beyond measure.