Friday, December 2, 2011

It's Been A While

Sometimes the things I want to say and the things I can't say pile up so high in my head that communicating even something becomes paralyzing.

In the meantime, I gaze at these two and sometimes am at a loss for words anyway...

Motherhood is a crazy thing.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Nag Factor

My latest post is up at, wherein Reid shows me he is a statistic and Fred Flintstone shows me he still knows how to hock sugary cereal after four decades! FOUR DECADES! Curious? Come on over there and read more!

And hey, I suppose you have to hand it to the marketers/packagers/merchandisers who launched Fred's face on Fruity Pebbles boxes that many years ago that they knew what they were doing... and to the marketers who still work on the Fruity Pebbles brand who apparently know that if something ain't broke, there is no need to fix it! Still? As long as Hubby Hawks isn't in the cereal aisle with us, Fred will stay very nicely nestled into his spot on the shelf, no matter what 'gimme goblin' temporarily takes over my 4-year-old's brain.

So, come tell me at what you think about The Nag Factor, and how it does or doesn't impact your purchases. Won't you?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Meeting Margo

"Is Aunt Sara sick?" he whispered to Mimi, stoic and nervous.

"No, she just had the baby and she's tired," Mimi reassured him, surrounded by the hospital room's sterile sheets, linoleum floors and hand sanitizer.

He stayed quiet and out of the way. Not making any sudden moves. Not upsetting the delicate balance of the room. The universe was telling him Something Very Important had happened. His senses were heightened. His demeanor revealed it.

Later, he warmed up, softened a bit, ready to embrace his new cousin. He got to meet her first, and thus had become a Margo Expert. He schooled Graham on the fact that no, she did not say "mama" nor "dada." "Well, what does she say?" Graham quizzed. "Waaah," Reid stated, matter-of-factly.

"Can I give her a kiss?" he inquired quietly up at me, nestled in next to me on the hard plastic hospital room couch.

"Sure," I smiled, "how about right here on her head?"

He leaned in and welcomed his little Margo to the world in his delicate, direction-following way. He's gonna take care of her. Because being a good cousin is serious business, you know.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

We drank the kool-aid (a.k.a. the week I became a Disney ambassador)

We recently spent the happiest week of our lives at the happiest place on Earth.

What a big statement. It surprises even me. But it's true.

Mickey knows how to pull the same strings Santa does, apparently. He left these bags in the boys' rooms. When they woke up it was time to go.

Disney kept commanding that we let the memories begin and so we obliged. Then they rushed in. And they started flooding.

Brothers loved on each other. Why not? There was just this abundance of love to go around. Seriously, Disney!

How do you do this, Disney? This voo doo that you do, so well?

My spirited boy was spirited in all the right ways.

My reserved baby made new friends.

No detail was overlooked.

We will be back. Again and again.

And again.

Monday, September 26, 2011


In hindsight, I should not have left the kitchen TV on the “E!” channel and walked out of the room.

In hindsight, that is really a waste of electricity.

And in my even sharper hindsight, coming back to the room quite a bit later only to find my kindergartener on top of the countertop, eyes glued to the pivotal climax in the movie Titanic in which Jack’s frozen stiff hand is pried from Rose’s, whereupon she watches his cold, dead body -- eyes garishly open of course -- drift downward to the black depths of the Atlantic? Um, yeah not cool.

And even less cool was the slow-motion pivot in which my boy turned to face me with his huge eyes, clearly questioning all of humanity. This was of course followed by the face scrunch, and then the alligator tears and deep-seeded wail. Like a one-two-three punch you could see coming right toward your gut.

“Why are you so sad?” I tried to play it cool. Like maybe he would forget about the melodramatic death he had just witnessed.

“Her friend Jack just died!” his finger jabbed at Kate Winslet on the small screen. He was beside himself. “And he sank into the ocean!” my 5-year-old wailed.

“Well, we need to get ready for your class picnic!” I exclaimed, as if tap dancing in front of a crime scene. Nothing to see here, folks, did you notice there is an ice cream truck over there! Hey kids, ice cream! Carnival! Santa! Fun!

“I think a shark bit his leg off!”

Well now you’re just making things up. Isn’t James Cameron dramatic enough all by himself?

In hindsight, when the tap dancing did nothing to help and I feebly attempted to provide my boy some text book logic (long time ago, wouldn’t happen today, yadda yadda), mixed with a definition of “movie magic” (actors aren’t real, Leo’s not dead, clothes are costumes, yadda yadda) I basically dug my own grave. My answers led to new questions as his little mind started weaving an intricate web, attempting to make sense of it all and bandage his broken heart, such as:

  • Why did the captain not know there was an iceberg under the water?

  • How does the captain see under water?

  • Did someone not tell him?

  • What is technology?

  • Do the boats we have today have technology?

  • So boats have computers?

  • Where are the computers?

  • Our car has a computer?

  • I probably should have stopped at “movies are not real,” even though the way the questions progressed made me think I was totally working at that distraction thing. But then he totally called me out on saying that this happened “a long time ago” and thus DID IT REALLY HAPPEN OR NOT???

    Note to self! Turn the TV off! Particularly before loading up the car to drive to the kindergarten class mixer/picnic at the park where your still-weepy kindergartener will tell the other kids about Jack who died in the ocean!

    In my future hindsight? I’m sure this will be pretty funny.

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    What I want for you

    You came home last night with exciting news. You had already told Mimi and couldn’t wait to tell me, with a sheepish grin.

    “I wrote my name on all my papers today,” you proclaimed. Followed by, “You can go ahead and cry now, Mom.”

    You were so ready to see tears of elation.

    You know. Oh, you know how it kills me that you aren’t more like I was in school – teacher pleaser, honor roller, over achiever. You know how much advice I’ve sought simply because you are so desperate to divergently walk your own path – the road less (or never?) traveled – so much so that you do these things that land you in the “safe seat” constantly, that get your name on the board, that have put me in constant contact with your teacher.

    “Graham is smart,” she reassures me. But you won’t show your cards. You can do what you’re asked, but you refuse. You can finish the worksheet, but halfway through when you’ve shown you know how to write that letter G, you don’t see the need to keep going. You can write your name on your paper, “but everyone knows the one without the name is mine.” This is Kindergarten.

    And oh we have so many years to go.

    You exhaust me. Your brother who actually has diagnosed needs? Piece of cake compared to you. But here we are in the trenches together. I subconsciously dress myself in armor in your presence. I try to mentally anticipate your needs, your actions, before they happen. I work to diffuse your “spirited” ways. And it’s work.

    I remember hosting our first Parents As Teachers meeting in our old house when we still counted your age in months and we still wore our naiveté on our sleeves. Our instructor asked us to tell her what characteristics we hoped you would have. I remembered how surprised she was that we knew so clearly what we wanted for you.

    Perfectionism wasn't one of those things.

    Unfortunately what I’ve found is that you are in fact more like me than what I want for you. “It has to be perfect!” you shrieked recently when your pencil line contained a wobble. “It’s not perfect and it has to be perfect!” The wobble became a roadblock and you refused to go any further. I saw my reflection in your eyes and my heart broke.

    Who doesn’t want their child to do well? But you don’t believe me when I tell you that you can indeed make mistakes. You can wobble. That you only have to do your best, whatever that may be, try again, learn from it, move on. Move on.

    Things are harder than they have to be. I know because I make them harder, too. I want to be perfect, too. I know how exhausting it is inside your mind, too. Trust me, son.

    But while I yearn to see you as the teacher pleaser, honor roller, over achiever, what I more so want for you is to not be like me. To get off of this steamrolling perfectionist train before it’s too late and you live your life on it, mile after exhausting mile. What I want for you is to be imperfect and happy in your skin, in your surroundings, in your intellect. To have character, not perfection. To shrug glitches off, not let them incapacitate you. To write the word, not dwell on the wobbly line.

    A couple nights ago, between stories and tucking in, you looked in my eyes and said, “Mom, I can’t tell you how much I love you. And the more days we get, the more I love you.” And oh my heart. My armor fell off.

    Child, you slay me – with both frustration and elation. How do you do that? You do it so well… so perfectly imperfectly. This is what I want for you. If only that was all you wanted for yourself.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    The Night Before

    This is not a time for sentimentality. You have been going to “schools” for several years now. Parents’ Day Out at church, “Friday school” at another church, Bible School, Zoo Camp, Pre-K… You completely bypassed the separation anxiety phase. You have never clung on to me, as much as I have wanted you to sometimes.

    So tomorrow really won’t be that big of a deal. For you.

    You don’t realize the finality of it all. But I see a page turning and a chapter ending. A chapter that I’d prefer to read and re-read again and again.

    So yeah, I’m a bit sentimental. For me. For the You and Me that we have had for these five years.

    Now I’ll be sharing you even more than before. And we’ll be in this new dance for the next many years. And after that? You’ll totally fly from this Hawks Nest. So yeah, I’m now tearing up at the thought of my five year old becoming a man and getting a job and a house and a family of his own. Damn you, Kindergarten!

    I met your teacher yesterday for the first time. I wanted to sit her down, look her in the eyes, and tell her everything about you. That you are a hugger. That you like the sound of your own shouting a little too much. That you are a rockstar obsessed with guitars and I want to encourage that while also not encouraging it to the point of hosting heavy metal concerts in my garage. I wanted to tell her that you eat your lunch very slowly and it worries me that you aren’t getting enough nutrients because you just can’t eat on someone else’s arbitrary schedule. I wanted to tell her that you may be ambidextrous. That you are a perfectionist who does not want to do something unless you know you will succeed at it. That you love Legos but hate coloring. That you may want to have more control of the class than she does. That you need to know how serious she is about the rules and boundaries right from the start or else you’ll show her your way around them.

    I wanted to tell her that I’d be watching her and she’d better not mess this up.

    But I had about two minutes with her, in which I had enough time to find out whether you should bring your own milk for lunch or buy it at school. I could feel stares from some of the other parents waiting for their turn. And I had to walk away without telling her about all your awesomeness.

    Tomorrow’s going to be just fine. And so will the day after that and the month after next and the year after this and on and on. We’ll be just fine.

    And after I drop you off for your first day, I’ll drive to work like any other Wednesday. But on this Wednesday I may be swallowing a lump in my throat while at the same time looking forward to what this year has in store. For you. And for me.

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    On being a modern marketeer mom

    I am excited to announce a new side gig I've started over at, an online magazine for moms founded by celebrity mom (of four!) Brooke Burke. There, I am now a contributing expert, blogging about marketing to moms and what is causing the gap between marketers and mom consumers.

    So now, not only do Brooke and I both have amazing washboard abs (ahem) but we also write for the same site. The similarities between us are just uncanny, really.

    I hope you'll check out my latest post there, all about moms and mobile apps and what apps pass my deletion test. What apps are your must-haves? Why? Tell me there (or here, I'm not picky)!

    And, don't forget to add me to your feed!

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Conversations with a 5-year-old

    Him (and his own stream of consciousness listening to music in the car): "Can we go to the party on the top of the world tonight? ... Wait, is this a true song? ... Well, maybe we could get everyone we know in the world and have a party on top of the world. ... Wait, it is a true song because after we die we'll go to the top of the world!"


    Me (singing in the car): "Should I join a band?"

    Him: "Mommies can't be in bands."

    Me: "They can if they want to."

    Him: "Well they can't be on the Foo Fighter team. Mommies sing soft songs."


    Me (leveling with him in Time Out): "What's gotten into you?"

    Him: "Reid's mind."

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    A Day in Americana

    Today I stretched my legs out in plush grass under a shady tree in the middle of picturesque Small Town U.S.A., a place where the suburbs are corn fields. I leaned back on my hands and looked up to find not one cloud in the blue sky.

    My ears were full of melodic patriotism blaring from bull horns dotting a small town square, and a speaker system propped up on an empty portable outdoor stage in front of the local bakery.

    I watched my kids hand tickets to the kind of ride operators who spend their summers driving short highways between small towns, towing carnival parts behind them. They claimed their seats on rickety metal Ferris wheels and homemade barrel trains. They rode over and over for what seemed like forever, waving to us excitedly every now and again when their eyes caught ours. They worked up a sweat in the bounce house, where wee ones placed their sacrificial shoes at the entry – an homage to the gods of inflated plastic and generators. Across the town square I noticed a dunk tank with an excited crowd gathered around. On the other side, a bean bag toss.

    Today I sat on a curb for nearly two hours watching a parade, comprised of what was clearly the pride of Small Town U.S.A., weave its way through rows of lawn chairs and parked strollers. I watched sweaty politicians in button-down shirts shake hands with old folks in the crowd while kids scrambled to catch candy tossed their way by clowns and volunteer high schoolers. Between homemade floats came herds of tractors, different models and colors, all manned by resilient, wrinkled men who oozed hard work.

    We waved at local firemen and small business owners, sports teams and civic clubs. I chuckled to myself at the irony of the town’s historical society inviting people to “like us on Facebook!”

    Today we stood in honor of the vets as they marched past us holding flags. I looked at their faces and wondered where they had been, what they had seen, if they were perhaps looking back at us thinking that we just.don’t.understand. I silently thanked them for seeing what I don’t have to see.

    Today my kids ate corn dogs on sticks with a side of root beer float. They shared a tire swing with their cousins and stopped running/crawling/skipping/jumping among a wooden park maze only long enough to shake stray mulch out of their shoes.

    Today was full of big times in a small town. A day spent exactly how I wanted to with the people I most wanted to see in America’s quaintest place.

    Made possible by the freedom that we gathered there to celebrate.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    All we need is just a little Patience

    The boys are at Meeha and Papa’s house for a couple days. You know what that means – I can get to work early and stay late!! Um, I mean… date night! (Workaholism… I’m working on it.)

    “Patience” by Guns ‘N Roses plays in my ear buds right now. My loving hubby sings that to me now and again … because after 15 or so years together he knows me so darn well.

    When the boys are home, life is a blur. Hectic. Stressful. Keep up, keep up, keep up. Always late. And when they are gone, I miss them like crazy. I like - and I don’t like - the quiet, the slowed down. I loved my extra half hour of free time this morning that is typically spent reminding wee ones to hurry up and brush your teeth and make your bed and you’ll get a quarter! Then Graham says he doesn’t need a quarter. Such motivation that one has.

    Nah, I’d rather be in charge of myself so you can keep your directions and your bribing, he says in fewer words than that – sometimes just with the look in his big eyes. Meanwhile, Reid marches upstairs to the bathroom, doing exactly as told, then straightening his comforter without missing a beat.

    I miss my big boy’s stubborn independence, as crazy as it usually makes me. And I miss my little boy’s sweet perfectionism.


    My baby turned four earlier this month. And now people seem to be asking more frequently when there will be a third.


    I don’t know where we could possibly fit one more thing into our daily schedules. Babies require a lot of time. A lot of…


    They’ll be back tomorrow night. And several days or weeks after tomorrow night I’ll come up for air and look around, wondering when the last time Hubs and I had a night alone, or the last time I didn’t bring my work home, the last time I didn’t feel like my mornings and evenings were spent telling everyone to hurry up.


    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Mean Mommy

    I have a confession to make.

    I am a mean mommy.

    My children didn’t tell me this (yet). I just feel it sometimes. I know it. The guilt tells me so.

    This is not guilt that has compelled me to admit it to you (or maybe it is).

    It’s just that while you wouldn’t believe the number of people who have told me over the past five years that they don’t know how I “do it,” I have my days that all the reasons people tell me this (working at a demanding career and having two kids 15 months apart while simultaneously going to grad school at night, yadda yadda) seem to all sneak up on each other and culminate in me blurting out to my little guys to “Hurry up!” and “Move faster!” and “We’re late, we’re late, we’re late!” and “I forgot my phone!” and “No we cannot go back for your hippo or fire truck or anything else!” and “What forms have I filled out and what forms have I forgotten?!” and “Do you have your backpack, did you take your vitamins, do you have a lunchbox? Can you eat that breakfast any faster?!” and “Is this a t-ball day and do you have your t-ball stuff? GET IT NOW BECAUSE WE’RE LATE!” etc. etc. etc.

    I hate that mommy.

    And truth be told, those “how do you do it?” wide-eyed questions of amazement at my perfectionist, supermom, master of juggling tendencies have, um… dropped off since I finished grad school and the Hawklets stopped wearing diapers. Damn it! I really miss those unwarranted compliments – the ones that make me think the ruse I’m pulling on everyone else is totally working.

    I love my job. I love being a mom. I have even found a way to blend those two statements into one. I love that I have created a job in which I can focus on moms.

    But that? Also sometimes turns me into mean mommy. The schedule, the constant iPhone, the late-night laptop sessions, the stress that I seem to too easily project onto the wee ones. It’s enough to turn me to MommyJuice. I mean, why do you think there is a wine brand called MommyJuice? IT’S FOR MEAN, GUILT-RIDDEN MOMMIES LIKE ME, OBVIOUSLY!

    I don’t want my guys to be stressed out, especially unnecessarily. (Though candidly it does seem like sometimes they are operating at a snail’s pace and unless it’s Sunday I just.can’ I don’t want them to feel the need to start saving up for therapy due to the obsession with constant lateness their workaholic mean mommy projected onto them as young children.

    I want them to know that if they need extra hug time at drop-off, or if they need to go back and get Hippo, this mom will turn the SUV right around because my time belongs to them and my stress belongs at a safe, legally enforced distance of at least 10-feet away from us at all times.

    Do you ever feel like Mean Mommy is creeping up on you? What do you do to make her go away?

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Ads Gone Wild

    Have you ever pondered how fine the line separating "edgy" from "offensive" might be? Perhaps it's just large enough to house "confusing" and "strange" but not quite wide enough for the multitude of specifics you'd have to include if "upside down cow udders making peace signs" was to be encompassed there as well? On that fine line? And of course you have to take into consideration the fact that the line is surely different from country to country, culture to culture. I mean, obvs.

    All that to say... what was McDonald's in Finland thinking with this print ad? Moms, does this inspire you to swing the mini-van through McD's drive thru for a real milkshake? Hey, it's got double the flavor after all!

    Moo. Or whatever Finnish cows say.

    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    What do I do all day?

    I realize if you are not in PR or integrated marketing communications, it's hard to understand what it is I do in this job of mine (hi, honey!), though I can assure you it has nothing to do with saving lives (though occasionally we help people better understand their pharmaceutical options and nutritional choices) or even getting names on VIP lists (though occasionally we work with people you may have heard of to tell people in the media about why our clients' products are awesome).

    The most fun part of my job is the social side, particularly when moms are involved. And yes, I realize that is still not defining much so check out my interview in today's Mashable (Mom, that's the Wall Street Journal of the social media industry), where I am thrilled to be sharing my points of view on what social media engagement is, how social media has changed our industry and how we measure whether or not our efforts are making an impact.

    It might help. A little? (Okay, yes I have met Lindsay Lohan. And no, there was absolutely nothing special about it.)

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    A Mother's Letter to the Foo Fighters

    Dear Foo Fighters:

    I don’t know much about you. I like your songs, but can’t remember their titles. I can picture at least two of your faces, but can’t remember your names. I do recall the music video featuring you as flight attendants, but don’t recall the last time I watched MTV, so I must be digging deep there. So clearly this is not a fan letter, per se. Nope, it’s a warning-letter-slash-request-for-help. You’d better check yourselves, Foos, because my 5-year old is watching you closely.

    You see, my baby boy reeeeeally digs you. And, um, he’s five. Naturally you may think he also is into his extensive CD collection featuring the greatest hits of Sesame Street, Bob the Builder, The Wiggles… even Free to Be You and Me (a personal favorite that I used to have on record… ah the good ‘ol days). And oh the Kindermusik songs. They are in his room, in our cars, on our iPods…

    But no! Kindermusik be damned! Thanks to his getting a glimpse of you on Palladia, now we’re all Foo Fighters all the time!

    I blame you, Foos. I blame you that my 5-year old said to me last week (from his spot in the hallway at Kindermusik where he was in time out for retaliating against age-appropriate music), “Here’s the deal, Mom - I just don’t like this music. I like rock star music. I need drums and guitars. This? Is not rock star music.”

    I tried a meager come back about the fact that all musicians have to start at a place of learning rhythm, and that learning all instruments will help him eventually be better at both drums and guitars, and that these are the benefits of Kindermusik, yadda yadda. But he wasn’t having it. “Rock star music, mom. I want to scream into the microphone.”

    It’s not just the screaming. My 5-year old, Foos, wants to wear his hair like yours. Long. He wants to headline an amphitheater concert in a big city in the pouring rain. Like you did. He wants to strap an electric guitar to his torso and head bang. Mmm hmm.

    “When I grow up, I’m going to join the Foo Fighter team,” he reminds me occasionally from his booster in the back seat. You know, because he’s five and all, and still sits in a booster seat. But yet loves the hard rock. He tells me these things when other bands come on the radio. Like, oh, the Rolling Stones. Yes you, Foo Fighters, are cooler than the Stones in my 5-year old’s humble opinion.

    No, neither you nor Charles Barkley is a role model. But this mom is a wee bit concerned about the glimpse I’m currently getting into my son’s teen years (and having heart palpitations) and so anything, ANYTHING you can do to show my baby that it’s totally cool to be a head-banging heavy metaler while also being an upstanding young citizen who eats his veggies and respects his parents? Yeah, that would be awesome.

    Very best wishes with the next album and all,
    Mama Hawks

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    Conversations with 5- and almost 4-year olds

    Graham: "What do we love?"

    Reid: "Christmas?"

    Graham: "No! We love bobcat cheerleaders!"

    Me: WTH?


    Graham: "Joey said I could be friends with him if I stopped beating up Johnny, but I've been beating up Johnny for yeeears!"

    Me: WTH?


    Reid: "I got a boo-boo at Mimi's house so she put peas on it."

    Me: "Frozen peas, huh?"

    Reid: "Yes, so I need to go in the microwave!"

    Graham: "Reid, you can't go in the microwave because then you wouldn't have bones or muscles and that would make you sloppy."

    Me: Again, WTH?


    Reid: "Mommy, bubby broke my car and then he said, 'Hardy har!' and so he can't be my friend anymore. He can't say, 'Hardy har!' to me!"

    Me: Nope, nothing surprises me anymore.

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Follow your heart

    "I wanted to jump off the top of the playground today," he said at the dinner table, between bites of corn on the cob.

    "But my heart kept beeping, and I couldn't do it."

    (And then I heard my heart beep, too.)

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Life Goes On

    When your parent dies, life goes on, you know. Oh blah dee, oh blah dah.

    When your parent dies, and you are a parent, wee ones still force you to get out of bed and take them to school.

    They still need breakfast and backpacks. (Oh, your dad died.) They still need help finding their shoes/toy/belt/jacket/truck-with-the-blue-trailer-not-that-one-the-other-one-because-I-hate-the-red-one! (Yeah, your dad died.) They still need baths and stories and don’t forget to brush your teeth, please don’t make me tell you one more time. (Um, your dad died.) There are still little kid birthday parties to attend. Like a zombie. Where the other moms who you don’t know very well may or may not be looking at you sideways, wondering if you are still wearing yesterday’s makeup. (Hey, your dad died.) The radio shoots sad songs at you like bullets. Like you accidentally tuned the station to 101 The Dramatic. (P.S. Your dad died.) And you find yourself using the words “bizarre” and “ridiculous” a little (lot) more than normal.

    Oh and that meeting with the pre-K principal? The one that took three weeks to schedule, the one for which you meant to fully prepare the five key points you wanted to get across to the person who supervises your son’s less-than-adequate educator? Yeah, that still happens. Even if your dad died.

    Though you may have a heightened desire to throw down in that meeting. Because, well...

    But all the rest of us? We are still alive. We still have motions; we still go through them.

    Isn’t it funny how life is always lived in such parallel paths, no matter what drama is going on in one?

    Oh brother, how the life goes on.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    To Dad

    I'm sorry I was stubborn. I'm sorry you were stubborn.

    It doesn't matter now.

    You left me once before. In college, after you had called me to get the typical updates, the same type you had been getting over the phone for about 10 years already. But that time you told me you would call next Wednesday. And next Wednesday came and went, and so did many more Wednesdays. You checked out and I grieved while inside thinking that someday, one day, somewhere in the future we would figure things out.

    We can't do that now, or ever. You are really gone now.

    I have memories, good and bad. So many memories. You were so funny. People know you as the funny extroverted guy, always joking, always telling stories. Oh the stories. You used to tell us as little girls tucked in our beds, about the time you and your friends jumped the city pool fence at night and skinny dipped. I couldn't believe your audacity and every time you told it was like the first time I had heard it. Your inflection never changed. Oh the stories.

    You played Barbies with me when I was home sick from school. But you also taught me about Semper Fi and hoo-rah and how to sing, "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli..."

    We grew up on a farm because you wanted us to. You introduced us to piglets and chickens. You worked on the tractor. You cussed. You fixed the seats of our swingset. It was on that same swingset a few years later that my friend Jill asked me why you and Mom got a divorce. We didn't know anyone else at school whose parents were divorced. I told her it was because you cussed too much.

    We ate Ramen noodles on weekends at your house, and watched movies Mom would never have let us watch. We went to different churches on Sundays. We met various women. We listened to classic rock in your truck. Sometimes I would rest my head on your lap or your shoulder for the long Sunday afternoon drive home, sitting in the middle seat between you and Sara. I remember the smell of pleather truck seats mixed with chewing tobacco.

    You taught school - many friends, people I grew up with, people who still tell me you were their favorite teacher of all time. They describe you like a hero, larger than life. I wanted to know only that person, not a cheater, not an alcoholic, not a divorcee.

    I hate that my eternal image of you is pocked with negativity. No one is perfect. I needed my dad to be perfect. I shouldn't have had that expectation. I'm sorry. But I'm not sorry I needed you to be the grown-up, the parent, the one reaching out rather than feeling sorry for himself that his daughters didn't try harder. We were so young. You? You were young at heart.

    I will hold on to the time you came for "Dad's Weekend" at the Chi-O house. We all went dancing in the Fort Worth stockyards to country music. We cut a rug together and we were happy.

    You are described as a Renaissance man. I think of you as a drifter, your own person, unable to commit to anyone or anything. God knows parenting was too hard for you. It tied you down. You were free, and yearned for nothing more than flying your little planes whenever and wherever you wanted. It was a theme that permeated your entire life, one handed down to you.

    I know it wasn't your fault. I know.

    The last time I saw you was at your mother's funeral, wrought with family drama and high emotion. It was also the first time you met your grandsons, but I never told them who you really were. They ran around like two wild little boys do at pot luck dinners in big open fellowship halls, unaware of the messiness of grown-ups' hearts, and you looked at me like maybe we could be friends. I felt peace, and silently thanked Grandma for it.

    But truly, you spent years hiding behind your bruised ego. I was as stubborn as you, after all, and you couldn't stand it. That I could carry a grudge for so long. That you could as well. You knew I had not fallen far from the tree. We both bore the guilt. I still do, and will alone now. But I know you loved me. I hope you know I loved you, too.

    Occasionally my boys have asked why their daddy has a daddy but mommy doesn't. Now, my answer is more definitive than it was before.

    Things were so complicated, but now they are simple. They have to be.

    Fly high. Fly free. Fly away home, forever, Dad.

    He loves the Beatles

    "Graham, do you like the Beatles?" our neighbor asked, with almost a gasp, suddenly noticing the band's logo gracing the front of his 5T Baby Gap. I couldn't exactly tell if she was being facetious or if she was impressed.

    He squinted up at her in the sun, sitting on his bike at the end of her driveway, where he had been listening to us chat about her college poetry class - the one she teaches to undergrads and wonders how much they care, trying to keep their cloudy brains in the game. Sometimes using music references as a crutch. He didn't know she was referring to his shirt.

    "Sometimes," I replied for my little guy. "He just really loves rock... to watch bands on Palladia. Kindermusik doesn't quite keep his attention."

    "Do they have electric guitars?" he asked her, with 5-year-old intrigue.

    "Yes, sometimes!" she replied, seemingly excited for his bucking-the-toddler-system interest. Or perhaps enjoying that she was schooling another human being about this group called the Beatles. That these so-called Beatles played guitars. Like she was letting this kid on the world's biggest a-ha moment.

    "And base hits?!" Now he was excited, too. A Beatle. Yes! Now that sounds like something special - they have electric guitars and base HITS!! (No, I don't know what those are, either.)

    We chuckled at the cuteness of a 5-year old discovering the Beatles and their guitars. We said goodnight and that shirt went into the dirty clothes basket without another thought.

    Then a few days later, in the car, in our ears -- there they were. I turned it up loud. "Graham, it's the Beatles!" I exclaimed. "What do you think?!"

    He listened. He asked to hear the electric guitar. He listened. He was quiet. Taking in those... Beatles. Just another radio song? Maybe. Just another band logo to make Baby Gap-buying parents fork over a few more bucks for the perception of cool? Yeah, mostly.

    And then, last night, as we sat in the comfy chair in his room in the dark, rain started coming down softly. He turned to the window and slipped behind the blinds to look up at the night sky. He stood a while gazing.

    Then he whispered to no one in particular out of the blue.

    "I love the Beatles."

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Snow Day!

    What? You didn't actually expect us to go outside in the snow to take a snow day picture, did you? Baby, it's cold outside!

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    Moms Can Have Firsts, Too

    On Sunday morning the alarm went off early. I put my feet on the floor and attempted to decipher if I should wear short or long sleeves in the 20-something degree air.

    I was preparing for a first - my first 5K race.

    Hubby suited up with me. "Don't run ahead of me!" I begged him. He promised to stay beside me, no matter how embarrasingly slow.

    He saw me gathering my headphones and reminded me that headphones are against race rules. I told him he would have to sing to me, then.

    We made our way to the caves, stretched (like I knew what I was doing) and took our place with the masses.

    At the start, the mass began to stretch forward into a cave snake. We found our stride. I wanted to impress my husband on our first time to ever jog together, side by side. Not sure that 12-minute miles impress him, but who's timing?

    He may as well have been strolling down a beach. He was the picture of ease, talking on and on, apparently see this as an opportunity to catch up with his wife who'd just returned from a business trip. I told him several times that I would not be talking back. But still he was effortless, a verbal stream of consciousness:

    "What should we have for dinner tonight?"

    "I'm hungry! Let's go somewhere for breakfast right after this!"

    "Did I tell you about when we appraised these caves...?"

    "Did I tell you about Kindermusik the other night...?"

    "So I was talking to (so-and-so) and he said..."

    Eventually I asked him to provide some motivation if he was going to chat the race away. Literally, he talked the.whole.time. He responded with his best effort: "Don't fade on me now!"

    Um... or not.

    And then, 37 minutes after I started, I finished. I crossed the finish line running, next to my man, hopefully making him proud. But also, making myself proud.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Night-Before Needs

    The night before a business trip there are so many things we need to do to get through today and prepare for tomorrow.

    I need to make a list.

    One Hawklet needs a bath. The other needs a shower. They remind us they both need their own thing occasionally, even though most of the time they just need to be together.

    I need to start packing, need to gather clothes, need to think about what must be accomplished - and what I'll need to wear doing it - for the next four days.

    I need to decipher if I've forgotten anything... if the team is set... if we're all set up for success.

    I need to tell Hubby about the things to remember and appointments to keep in my absence. (He needs me to stop reminding him to not forget.)

    We need to figure out what everyone will take to school for show-and-tell that starts with a "D."

    Simultaneously little wet Hawklets wrapped in towels need pjs and stories.

    They need to brush teeth and understand what will be different about their routine for the next few days.

    I need to put down the iPhone and laptop and focus on gathering us all up into the cushiony chair that rocks to read and talk for a bit.

    I need a mommy time-out with my boys.

    Because I want to stay here forever.

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    New Year, New Radomosity

    You know you're not starting things off right when you have to commence with an apology, but... um, sorry. I left you with one post in the whole month of December. And it was about the horrific effects of drunk driving.

    So happy holidays and everything!

    Anywho, we're already a week into the new year. And I'm doing that thing where I drop the kids off and realize 20 minutes later that I'm still listening to their CD in the car, "Hokey Pokey" and all. And at home, Hubby walks out of the room and 20 minutes later I'm still watching the football. So I'm apparently starting my year in the clouds.

    We really had such an amazing break over the holidays. I can not express in words how much I love that time of year. And, oh, the little people questions that came along with it this time around, including:

    "Does God have powers?"
    "Did Santa start out as a baby?"
    "Are angels' eyes closed in heaven?"
    "Does Santa have birthdays?"
    "Do you have a baby in your belly?" (Um, no... damn you, holiday cookies!)

    Today I allowed Graham one last Christmas cookie before throwing all of that hard work in the trash. And a couple hours later he apologized to me: "Mom, I just wanted to say I'm sorry I ate the cookie that I made for you."

    In the meantime, we decided it would be a good idea to knock a wall out of the side of our house to expand our kitchen starting, oh, the day after Christmas, and the dust is starting to get to all of us. So Mimi and I took the boys to see Tangled today at the theater. We were 10 minutes late because my beloved 4-year-old had to take time to change his clothes, putting on his "movie theater outfit" before we left the house.

    After the show, Reid told me his favorite part was "when they cut off her hair," simultaneously solidifying the fact that if Reid had been a girl, no Barbie in his possession would have been safe from the scissors.

    So there you (basically) have it - our 2011 to date. So as I attempt to pull myself back up on to the blogging wagon, please accept my apologies, as well as my wishes for a very happy new year -- from our (dusty and disheveled) hawks nest to yours.

    Oh, and in case you're wondering, a "movie theater outfit" is a gray track suit. But of course it is!