Tag Archives: children


I am in New York. It snows a lot here. Especially this winter.

Today, we received our second blizzard of the season so school and work are both shut down. I was like a kid on Christmas morning when I woke up to check on the weather and found out I didn’t have to get up. I snuggled deep into the covers and dreamed of a perfect winter day. Playing in the snow. Sipping hot cocoa. Reading my kindle. Eating junk food. Pure heaven.

As the day progressed, I realized I have children.

Stupid, huh? I mean, of course I have children. I knew this. But somehow, I believed that today was my own. Thought they’d amuse themselves enough where I could steal some time to do nothing or work on my writing.

But I have children. Demanding children. Some of it was fun, don’t get me wrong. I like making them a big breakfast in the morning like I am a short cook at a diner. I even managed to squeeze in my own mini bagel with cream cheese in between demands. I gave them baths.  I read. I played CandyLand and Scooby Doo Trouble. I dressed one of them up in a million layers and sent him out in the snow to help my husband shovel. The older one looked at me like I was crazy and told me he was staying in his pajamas and watching DVDs.

So, I seized my moment and went off to the computer. Was called in to get him a snack right after breakfast. Then more juice. Then he got bored with the DVD and wanted to play the Go Fishing game. Then wanted to have a coloring contest.

Then the little one was shoved through the door by my husband and I had to strip him, dry him and proceed to make hot cocoa. Then played Elafun. Why, oh God, did I think buying a lot of games for Christmas was a good idea?

I desperately looked for anything on television to get them out of my hair but they wanted me. ALL DAY.

Bad Mommy.

The day is almost over and now I have to make dinner, entertain them some more and go to bed. Where was my fun day? Why did they have to give up naps? Why don’t’ they do things themselves?

I know I spoil them. Don’t mean to – as a first time mom my defense is stupidity. Half the time, I had to ask around to see what they should be doing next. I didn’t find out till months later that I should have stopped feeding them and let them feed themselves. Or clean up . Or actually dress/undress themselves. My older one is too smart and plays like he doesn’t know how to do it. He got into kindergarten and it seems his teacher doesn’t play that game, so all of a sudden he is doing things that amaze me. I can’t believe the whole time he could open his own juice box! Unbelievable…

I want a do-over. Preferably with them at school, my husband at work, and only my job closed.


The fabulous, talented Anne Lamott wrote a book regarding the writing life, entitled Bird by Bird.  She shared a simple story about her brother, who had a huge report due and waited to the last minute (hmmm, sound familiar?). One Sunday evening, he sat at the kitchen table, surrounded by masses of books detailing every bird that had ever lived, and began to completely freak out. Lamott’s father sat down and patted him on the shoulder and gave him this advice: “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird. (19).”

This, at the moment, symbolizes my life. Not just in writing, where I am steeped deep into NANOWRIMO – which translates to November madness: write 50,000 new words in the month of November. This comes with all the other tasks crammed into a day and the burden of responsibilities I despise, such as house cleaning and cooking. To make matters worse, I now have two full days at home during the week, which is supposed to be used as time for the children, writing, and and getting a jump on the house.

 Yeah. Right.

 My little one clings to me most of the time, overjoyed at the idea his brother is banished for an entire day and he has his mommy slave all to himself. I got rid of my beloved cleaning person, who came every other week to make sure the court doesn’t take my children away. Of course, my husband logically said we don’t’ need a cleaning lady now that I am home TWO full days per week, I can clean. Especially since I took a large pay cut.

I rather get a root canal. And I am needle phobic.

Yesterday, I gave the kids a bath and noticed some stuff on the tub. Then I realized: I hadn’t scrubbed the tub since my cleaning person had gone. Which was how long ago? OK, never mind.

Why is there always so much STUFF to do? Just cleaning off the kitchen counter takes tons of time. That is where the bills, and coupons, and children’s notices from school pile up. I am the only one that dares to attack the pile – my husband is afraid of it – and it’s almost impossible to get rid of half of the papers. I literally get excited when I find a coupon had expired that I never used and I can throw it out. The junk drawer won’t close anymore. The coupons are escaping from their container in a frenzy. I can’t keep track of what to bring in on what day and what kid has what and I only have two, for God’s sakes.

And the holidays are coming. That means I will need to Christmas shop and cook more stuff and eventually do something so people can actually come over my house. But when? And why don’t I want to?

I want to write. And I want to read romance novels. And I want to cuddle underneath my Spiderman blanket and watch reality television.  And I want to order take out until I am sick of it and play with my kids only when I want to and not for hours on end because I feel guilty about consistently writing in every spare moment I can wring out.


Yeah, well, who doesn’t want all this? It’s the frikkin American Dream, isn’t it? So, we must march on and take it Bird by Bird. One task at a time, one day at a time, and enjoy what we can squeeze in during the day.

I was reminded of this late Sunday evening, when horrified; I noticed we were out of all the basics for breakfast and lunch for the week. I had to trudge to the supermarket – horror of horrors – on a cold, windy night. My older son begged to go with me no matter how I tried to discourage him. So, I let him accompany him and I literally found joy in my chore. How? First, he opened the door for me, bowed, and said, “After you, Mommy.” He sat in the cart the whole time and held the shopping list, sounding out the first letter of the words to try to figure it out. “SSSSSS, spaghetti,” he rolled off his tongue, his face proud as he looked up at me. My baby is learning how to read and this continuously amazes me. We had a wonderful bonding time in the supermarket. Yes, I had to get him a donut while he was there. Yes, he snuck in some extra snacks, and even begged for the SpongeBob DVD at the impulse checkout. Yes, I went slower than if I would have been alone. But on a cold evening, in the dregs of the supermarket, my son and I shared a moment. It took more time and was a bit more frustrating, but the reward was worth it.

Those are the moments we need to squeeze from. Because our journey here is not when the kids grow up and go off to school, or when the book is finally written, or when Christmas finally arrives. It is just today.  It is just the blank page in front of us. It is just your child’s sun breaking smile amidst the exhausting demands of the day.

Lamott, Anne. Bird. By. Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York: Pantheon Books, 1994.

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I had the pleasure of visiting my brother this weekend, a highlight with my boys who adore their three female cousins. We were also joined by my brother’s girlfriend and her two children, and my brother’s best friend, and his two children.

Yikes. Lots of children.

9 in all. But this wasn’t just a normal weekend visit. My brother had won a private wine tasting at a local vineyard for six adults – quite an expensive prize. When he invited us up and told us about the tasting, there was a single moment when my brain connected with nine children and wine.

“But what are we going to do with the kids?” I asked innocently.

My brother, who is the flowy type, kind of like me, answered, “Oh, don’t worry. They’ll be fine.”

Hmmm. Interesting.

Needless to say, we took the trip and Saturday reigned bright and true. Blue umbrella skies, a warm sunny October afternoon before Halloween. Golden light bathed fall leaves and we felt drunk on nature, before we even reached the vineyard. We stopped for some pumpkin picking at a local farm and feasted on apple cider donuts while the kids rode on play tractors and fed the baby goats.

The vineyard was quite beautiful. Seemingly like an ancient barn that was converted, the wooden beams and open space boasted two large bars, and endless picnic tables which held families with baskets of food and bottles of wine. Delicious, expensive desserts were displayed, along with author signings, crafts and a gift shop. We began making our way into the vineyard and were told to wait in the small shop for our private guide.

And so….it began.

“I’m hot, mommy.” My boys threw their jackets on the floor and began to get antsy. “I want a brownie,” one whined.

I smiled sweetly. “Mommy will buy you a brownie and anything else you want after mommy drinks some wine.”

The other kids smelled weakness. After all, nine kids to six adults is an uneven battle. They banded together and began to whine, moan, twitch, and make everyone in the small gift shop miserable. I looked at my brother with the beginning of blame lighting my eyes. “How are we supposed to do this?” I hissed under my breath as my little one hung on to my arm like I was the momma ape and started swinging around, dangerously close to the bottles.

“It’ll be fine,” he promised.

The guide brought us to our next destination. A long flight of stairs led to a large balcony where two round tables were set up. She looked down at all the children huddled around the steps and immediately looked bitchy. “Are these all your children?” she asked in mock amazement. We laughed and nodded as if we could handle it.

Then my brother brought the adults together for a pep talk.

“Ok, team. This is what we need to do. We’ll buy them anything they want. The tasting is exactly 30 minutes. They need to stay in their seats at their own table for 30 minutes. We can do this. We need to bribe, threaten, and do anything possible to MAKE THIS HAPPEN.”

I could tell my husband wanted to bail immediately. I knelt in front of my boys, two admitted chocoholics. Forget the threats, I needed the big guns. “Sweeties, did you see the big chocolate cupcakes and brownies at the door?” I asked. They nodded, eyes large as saucers. “Well, I will buy you BOTH. All you have to do is promise mommy you will stay in your seat and not move for a little bit. OK?”

They nodded eagerly and we all trudged up the stairs. We settled all the children, dumped some dry crackers in the middle of the table and gave them THE LOOK. You know, the look that says behave and I won’t beat you and will buy you anything you want?

Then an amazing thing happened. Eight of the children sat in their chairs, and began quietly talking. The adults settled at the table and the tasting begun.

Notice I said 8?

That’s because my oldest took that moment to burst into tears, horrified at the idea that he was not sitting next to me but behind me at a separate table. He clung to my leg, squeezed on my lap, while I acted charming to the hostess, watched everyone else get into their wine, and hissed threats under my breath.

And then the thought came again like a neon sign.


I told him no cupcakes. I told him he would go to bed and not play with his cousins. But he squashed his body as close to mine as possible as if drinking my wine would make me disappear. So, I did what I always do: at every party since he was born, at home, at every big holiday I ever attended.

I ignored him and drank my wine.

Eventually, it worked. He quietly faded to his seat and stayed with the other kids. When I glanced at him, he smiled and I gave him the thumbs up sign. A quick conference ensured he would get the brownie and cupcake because he only disobeyed half of the time. My brother agreed.

At the end of the tasting, the hostess had been turned. She gave us a genuine smile with warmth and said, “My goodness, you are the best parents in the whole world. I could have never done this with another group. Nine children and not a peep!!”

The three moms preened and put every peacock to shame.

We bought a few bottles and took the kids for their sugar rush. Then they ran through the fields of the vineyard, and watched kites fly through the air, and petted strange dogs, and had races in the cornstalks. We relaxed and drank and ate cheese and laughed. I remember thinking to myself: this is a great moment. And it was.

Then my brother’s girlfriend turned towards me and motioned toward the children in the corn stalks. “What’s that guy doing over there?”

I glanced over and saw one adult man, watching our big group, dressed in some black jacket. We sipped and watched. “Hope he’s not a pedophile, “I commented. She nodded. “Yeah, that would suck. We would need to go right away, then.”

We looked at each other and made a quick decision.

We rounded up all of the husbands to go chase the strange man out of the cornfield and went about our business.

The moral of the blog?

Sometimes, we just need to relax. Do something out of the ordinary and hope it works out. Sometimes it won’t. Sometimes it will.

But when it does work out, it’s so worth it. Isn’t it?

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I attended the RWA National Conference this year.

Inspiration comes in many ways.  There are so many things that can inspire on a daily basis but my favorites come in the forms of “lightbulb” events.  Those are the ones that make a difference.

On a writing scale, I was surrounded for 4 days by people who were both gracious and all talented. Our favorite icons took time away from their own writing to come and inspire others. I learned various information on craft and theme and dialogue. I learned about publicity and marketing. I met with editors, agents and writers. Throughout the whole conference though, there were certain nuggets of inspiration that has made a difference in my career and my life I’d like to share.

Writers inspire me. Writers who work hard. My icons such as Suzanne Brockmann, Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard and Nora Roberts are my American Idols in the romance industry. I heard all of them speak, and they each write different type of books and had different advice for both the published and aspiring author but one theme pushed through them all.

Writers write.

They seem to have a pretty glamorous life. NYTimes bestelling authors who have money and fame  and  public adoration. But once you get to the nitty gritty, you realize they do the same thing you are doing every day. They just write. Some for two hours. Some for 4 pages. Some more and some less. The writing is not marketing or revising or editing. Just writing.

Not very glamorous, huh?

More like the commoner such as me.

They all took precious time from their writing to go to the RWA conference. Most of them admitted they stopped attending conferences because it took up too much time. As does blogging. Sure, they pay for a publicist, but they always honored the integrity of the job and their work: they write first. Then everything else comes next.

Nora Roberts  says she is her own boss and mean as a pitbull. There are no sick days or whiney days allowed because this is a “real” job and it doesn’t have many sick days or vacation days. I think once we begin demystifying and realize the most important thing is writing and getting new work on the page, we even the playing field. Nora Roberts had one line to write for when she began. We have many – new markets are actually opened thanks to e-books. I came away with a positive energy from all the editors and lines looking for fresh voices. They want to buy if it’s good. If we write enough, it will be good enough.

 RWA members inspired me. I was lucky enough to hook up with some fabulous women who seemed like my writing soul sisters. We shared wine and laughs and plot and suddenly it didn’t feel so lonely.  Everyone had different stories to tell about the market, or their struggles or their sale. We all had butterflies in our stomach at our pitch – and high fived afterward. These are people from Texas and CA and Atlanta and the Black Hills (shout out to Amy!). They inspired me to keep the friendship going and meet them next year at National. I feel more comfortable reaching out to new authors I admired because they were so happy to talk to me and realize I love their work. Everyone was gracious and enthusiastic and my networking “net” expanded more in these four days than the past year. This inspires me.

Disneyworld inspires me. At the laser show in Epcot, I watched the countries light up one by one. Crowds merged together in awe over the showers of sprinkles dripping from the sky, set to haunting notes of music that made my heart swell in all of the clichés I have ever written. I felt as if we were one in this world, and not separate.

Walt Disney inspired me. My girlfriend was able to do the back tour of Magic Kingdom and told me a beautiful story I need to share. There is a sculpture in Magic Kingdom of Walt with Mickey Mouse. Mickey is pointing down the road at something. If you follow, you will find a bench where Roy, Walt’s brother, sits beside Minnie Mouse. There is a space on the bench that is empty.

Walt Disney knew he was dying and only had a short time left. The story goes like this:

Walt Disney: “Mickey, I’m not going to be here much longer, old buddy. I need to leave but you’re going to be ok.”

Mickey:  “Don’t leave. I want to go with you.”

Walt shakes his head sadly. “No, you can’t come where I’m going, Mickey. But when I leave, I want you to walk over there.”

Mickey turned his head to where Walt gestured and pointed his finger. “Over there?”

 “Yes. Roy is going to take care of you. There’s a spot for you next to him and Minnie on the bench. This will always be your home, Mickey so never be afraid.”

I teared up imagining that scene. Love inspires me.

Books inspire me. When I read something where words sing and romance is hot and plot moves and I go into a fugue state into another time and place – I am inspired.

My children inspire me. They are loving and open to every new thing thrown their way. They may react with fear or trepidation or enthusiasm but they are present for every part of life and it inspires me to create the same present tense type of day for myself. My children make me to look at the world differently and strive to be a better human being.

When Jake was graduating pre-k, the teachers listed what each child stated he/she wanted to be when grown up.  I proudly skimmed through the notes such as firefighter, superhero, astronaut and doctor. When I got to my son’s name it read: Chicken robot. Yep. Chicken robot. My son did not just want a career – he wanted a whole new species.  After the initial rush of laughter and embarrassment, I realized how awesome my son was. Nothing held him back – his imagination and vision was vast and held no boundaries.

Love inspires me. Sacrifices for family, friends or a spouse.  Decisions to give up money and fame to pursue a passionate dream. Being brave to risk your heart being broken. Again. and Again.

Here’s to writing and following our passions and doing the hard work so we can then enjoy the good stuff.

Here’s to good friends who cheer us on even though they have never met us.

Here’s to the endless capacity of the human heart which sometimes disappoints but mostly awes me.

Here’s to inspiration.

Drop me a line and let me know what inspired you.


Children’s play is like our work, or so I have been told. Play is how a child expresses his or her individuality and explores his personality. I remember well when I was young my mother was obsessed with dolls. She loved everything about them and always hoped she would have a girl to share her hobby with. Unfortunately, I hated dolls. I loathed Barbies and the color pink. I loved any type of book I could get my hands on, roller skating, ice skating, tennis and all of my stuffed animals. One birthday, she surprised me with a doll carriage. I pretended to like it and went outside and cried. It was a piece of equipment I had no use for. My dad stepped in and told my mother to stop making me into something I wasn’t and to go out and get me a pair of ice skates I wanted. Poor mom. Ended up my brother liked the carriage better than me and strolled all his Star Wars dolls around. He denies it until this day but I was there and speak the truth.

My children have blossomed and now take play very seriously. They love their stuffed animals and can continuously be overheard using voices and creating dramas. This morning, I came out to find over 50 animals piled high on my couch. They were naked, yet again. They said they were the naked super-heros out to save the world and rescue all the animals from evil.  And I still keep wondering when they are going to keep on their clothes.

I also notice how my oldest dominates playtime. He is the alpha male and in charge of the games. Joshie usually follows along happily, but when he bucks the system my oldest tries to nib the rebellion in the bud. Joshie will pick his battles and just disengage and refuse to play. That drives the older one batty, but I discovered after a little while of playing by himself, he is all too happy to compromise for a playmate.

Last week, my husband and I were in the throes of watching The Bachelorette, one of my guilty pleasures. It was very quiet in their room (warning sign) so on a commercial my husband went to check on them. I heard his baffled roar echoing through the house. When I joined him in the room, they had a pile of their stuffed animals in a heap, a toddler pair of scissors, and a bundle of fur strewn over the carpet. Proudly, they announced they were playing barber and had given everyone haircuts. All of the fuzzy monkey hair now gone, the animals seemed frozen in a state of surprise with their baldness. Joshie informed me that their hair would grow back soon. Jake said he did it so he can see their faces more clearly. Echoes of my mother flew forth: “You would look so nice if you would just cut your hair so I can see your face!”

Ah, playtime. Important for adults too. My husband used to love Sony Playstation until the kids came and sucked up his time. Now he looks longingly at dirt bikes and older motorcycles and wonders if we will ever have enough money so he can re-visit his youth and go riding. And me?  I love to read and write – that is my favorite form of playtime. What I have noticed lately is the lack of playtime I see in my writing, and I have moved forward to correct this. I’ve been reading many blogs lately about the importance of the work itself and less attachment to publicity, blogging, marketing, and worrying about success. I think writers have it harder today than ever. Yes, there is much more information available to help us market our books, but I think we are in overload status. When I was writing years ago, it was just about the story. There were conferences, networking and the hardcopy of Writer’s Market to push us forward. Now, the story is so diluted with other factors it’s easy to write without any fun. And a writer continuously writing without fun is a writer that stops writing.

I enjoy my blog, actually, this is my playtime. And I am going back to core principles and am beginning to have fun again. I revisted my novella and cut out the last chapter that was technically good but written into a corner. I started the scene where I thought I would be interested, and things started working. I wrote 14 pages in two hours – the most productive I have been in a long time.

So, cheers to playtime. It should never be overrated or underestimated, no matter what age group we are in.


Ah, summertime. Sun and sand and surf. And vacations. Sometimes, I am afraid I live for vacations. I did so when I was younger, too. I remember my father telling me whenever I had a few extra dimes in my pocket (or savings account) I was researching another tropical island to visit.

My European days are over for a bit, so the four of us trotted off to my new favorite place: Sesame Place. It’s a beautiful, clean park well suited for younger children. It has tons of water rides, shows, a parade, and games. As usual, the biggest attraction for my kids?

The hotel.

They love hotels. They run up and down the hallway, look at the vending machines, and swim in the pool. They jump on the kingsize beds and play hide and go seek in the closets. They love going potty because it’s a brand new bathroom. And their favorite vacation ritual is to snuggle up in the blankets and watch America’s Funniest Home Videos together and laugh like crazy. They don’t really watch it at home – but on vacation it is a must see. Part of their happy place.

We moved from Sesame Place to spend the next couple of days in Lancaster County, PA, the heart of Amish Country.  We experienced a horse and buggy ride to an Amish farm and watched them milk the cows.  We saw Thomas the Train, took long rides through rolling hills, swam in the lake, and ran free at night chasing lightning bugs. The cabins had no phones and no television. Not even a radio. We bought farm fresh strawberries and ate corn on the cob and all the food was made with whole milks, real butter, and real sugar.

I had forgotten what it was like to get back to basics and it installed in me a new perspective of what I want my children to grow up with. I proudly told my husband we were changing our ways. I was going to go to the organic butcher for all of our meats. I would only buy fruits and vegetables from the farmstands right down the road from me. I would cook more and microwave less. I loved the way real sugar settled in my stomach and the natural sweetness of farm grown foods.

I began worrying about cancer and hormones and what my children were ingesting. I was completely enthusiastic and motivated to change our lives. No bad foods during the day. One dessert at night. Fruit every day without fail or they will be punished (Jake, not Josh. Josh eats fruit but Jake only recognizes bananas as something he would ingest.) My husband, knowing me well, nodded and approved of this change and just let me go on and on and on…

We spent the Saturday evening in the cabins during a thunderstorm reading, talking, and playing. This is what family is about. This is what I want for my kids. Game nights instead of tv.

It took us hours to get home with all the traffic that Sunday. Unpacking, baths, dinner, laundry, getting ready for work the next day – the usual schedule when vacation is officially over.  We had pizza that night.

The next day, I had to work late so we had soup.

OK, and chicken nuggets. But NOT from McDonalds – no way – I always tell the kids it’s unhealthy there. These were Perdue nuggets with REAL chicken.

On Tuesday, I was finally able to food shop. I made my list, was going to visit the special butcher and the farm stand, and things seemed to happen.  The day passed far too quickly and I compromised by going to the regular supermarket where I could buy everything under one roof and I can put the kids in the shopping carts that have cars so they don’t fight.

Yes. It was official. I am a complete sell out.

I bought peaches and apples at the farm stand, but I couldn’t even make it that week to Adams. I still haven’t. I would like to buy organic and still plan on visiting the butcher, but I found out it’s really expensive too, and my budget is tight.

Oh, and the kids gorged on movies and Noggin for days on end after the vacation, half starved from not seeing any technology for three whole days. My husband and I did the same – and had DVRd all of our reality shows.

The good news? We visited Hershey Park and took the chocolate tour. We bought tons of candy bars made of whole milk and sugar – a very healthy treat in my house.

I guess that is the extent of my Amish efforts.

The Park…

I am a park addict.

I am discovering in my older age, that all of the things I once turned my nose up at is something I now do. For instance, birthday parties. For most of the first year my son was in pre-school, I would receive these invitations to birthday parties for other kids in his class. I would glance at them and pretty much throw them away. After all, I did not know these people. My son wasn’t personal friends with the classmate, so I figured it was just a nice gesture.

Halfway through the year, I discovered I was the only mother NOT participating in these parties, and I quickly scrambled to begin RSVPing to everything I was invited to. I had to prove myself worthy for a while, but then my son was quickly re-invited to all of the small town events and we were part of the group. I continued because I loved it – not because I felt trapped or needed to make my son part of a clique. The lure of a small town is something very special: it pulses with dark drama and gossip, homemade cookies at every turn, and celebrations of tiny events on a grand scale.

Back to the parks.

Once again, parks were something I believed stay-at-home moms ruled, along with packed lunches and mommy groups. But as the weather warms, and the need to get my children away from 8 hours of television looms, I found myself seeking out the only thing left in the world of motherhood that is still free: parks.

A box of teddy grahams, some bottled water, Goldfish and pb&j is all you need and  I kill a few hours of old fashioned fun. When I first began, I only haunted my tiny neighborhood park and started a tradition of hitting the library, the park, and then a walk for ice cream. I branched out soon as I heard about the popular park with the giant lake and trails to walk. My kids loved throwing rocks into the water, skipping around geese droppings and taking a small adventure through the woods. I became ever greedy for more, and would coast through all the small towns looking for their neighborhood treasures. I found one with a giant sandbox. I found one with covered bridges that looked almost like forts where the children could huddle together in secret. One had a small creek where the kids could take off their shoes and jump around the rocks without getting too dirty.

The parks began to receive tags from my children. “We want to go to the park where Jake got stung by the bee!”  “Yeah!”

or, “We want to go to the one with the lake.” or “I want to go with the one with the sand.” then “NO, I don’t like the sand, the lake.” “No, the sand!” “Lake!” “Sand!” “Lake!”

And so on…

There is something beautifully meditative about parks. Pushing my son on the swing for long peaceful minutes calms my mind. For a little while, I lift my face to the breeze and feel the warmth of the sun against me. I hear the steady creaking of the chains and the up and down motion of feet just learning to pump. I hear the children’s screams and laughter and watch the lazy flight of a bee. I become one with everything and sink into the moment.

I can also mark each year of growth by the park. When my three year old first began climbing the rock wall and told me he could do it by himself. I remembered how I would stand by the open spaces, always afraid he would take a tumble. Now, with dizzying speed his little legs fly up the stairs and hurtle down the slide with no hesitation. My older son, who was always afraid to socialize with anyone, now names the stranger beside him his new best friend. And I remember like it was yesterday how he would run over to me and hide his face and mumble, “There are other kids there. I don’t like other kids.”

So, as I circuit this summer in search of a few hours of mindfulness and child play, I am reminded to enjoy the days ahead and mark another year of growth. I know one day my kids will be too big for parks unless they are cool enough to hang out with their friends. They won’t be holding my hand or screaming “Watch this, mommy!” every two seconds.

I spent Memorial Day at a city park today. They turned the sprinklers on so the kids could run through the spray when it got too hot. The ice cream truck parked by the curb, and we all licked snow cones of bright rainbow colors and got sticky as we sat on the park bench and just enjoyed the day. And I remembered everything that was good, for a little while.