Monday, May 20, 2013

Sunday, May 12, 2013

To the Guardians of the Future of this Earth

Introspective and retrospective today, thinking back on the past several years of parenthood. The screw-ups, the golden moments, the yelling, the loving, the laughing and the heartbroken moments. The dance parties, the "I'm not going to make it" moments, the absolute certainties and the hope-crushing doubts. The breath-catching responsibility for these gorgeous lives coupled with the soul-freeing knowledge that all we have to do is follow their lead and provide the lantern to the light the way, the love to sustain them and the net to catch them should they stumble. 

I know I screw this up every day. I'll never win Mother of the Year or have my home featured in Better Homes & Gardens. More often than not, there are hamster droppings outside of the cage, dog hair on the floor and a ring around the toilet. The kids do not get a bath every day...neither do I. Not a day goes by that I don't speak through gritted teeth or let a sharp word slip or raise my voice. I occasionally think, "I am not smart enough for this and I am going to ruin them forever." 

But then again...maybe I don't need to be smart enough. Maybe my brain doesn't have to be big...but my heart does. And that, my friends, is something I can do. I have learned how to listen to my heart and to know when something's not right and when something is. I am learning how to live according to my own integrity and truth and not a teacher's idea, a parenting "technique" or an expert's opinion. And perhaps that's enough. Love them, on their terms, not mine. And until they have the power and means to follow their own heart, hold their heart in mine and listen to them both.

And, with that, I'll cheat and re-post something from three years ago. It's as relative now as it was least for me. Happy Mother's Day.

Someone sent me the video below in celebration of Mother's Day. I just now viewed it for the first time. Talk about making an impact. It reminds you why you're doing this thing...this parenting thing. It reminds you that there is a spiral effect here.

It's more than scraping the week-old banana off the wall. Instead, it's "I explored a banana today!"

More than washing load after load after load of laundry only to have it sit, clean, in the closet for a week before actually being folded. Instead, it's "I got to help fold all afternoon!"

More than rushing to make preschool drop-off and then rushing, rushing, rushing to make preschool pick-up. Instead, it's "Mommy, mommy, mommy, you're here!"

More than wiping noses, eyes, bottoms and hands. Instead, somewhere down the road, it's the remembrance of being cared for.

Those things we do now; coaxing them through a terrifying night, laughing at the ridiculous, loving them so hard that it hurts (us)...those things are building the Future. Their future. And ours. I forget the bigger picture here. A lot. As the author says, you lose yourself. And then you find yourself. And then you lose yourself. For me, it's a cycle. And I need reminders like this. Because, at least for this afternoon, I can be aware of the incredible importance of Being Here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Family Life 2

So, a lot has happened since we last spoke.

The gods that control Michigan weather have bestowed upon us 70 degrees! For one day. Followed by snow the next day.

Coffee's gettin' better.

Found my glasses and lost two hamsters. Each at separate times. One was AWOL for 24 hours. And Ally just found the other one after a three-day rampage through our walls and floors. Little suckers have been having quite the adventurous life lately. Ironically, both of their escapes were my fault.

Sascha was diagnosed with pneumonia. Guess he really was sick after all.

Ally got over whatever ailed her, went back to school and then got sick again. She now also has pneumonia...along with a smattering of ear infection and strep. She's on amoxicillin now (the pink medicine, remember that stuff?). Hates it. Was convinced she was going to throw up this morning after taking it. While she was retching into the toilet but only producing saliva, I told her, "You know, Al, if you throw up the pink stuff, you'll just have to take more again." "Oh.....I'm done." she replied and left the bathroom.

The robin has moved on to our neighbors' houses as well. One neighbor remarked that if he has a good breeding season he's going to think he's pretty hot stuff...chasing off all those other male competitors.'

The basement, of which the previous owners said, "We've never noticed any seasonal dampness." started leaking like a sieve on Monday when the heavens opened up and dumped God's bounty on us. Rivers and lakes of water streaming from the cracks and corners. Never noticed any dampness, my ass. This isn't the first time they've lied about shit.

Ari has decided that school a) starts too early, b) claims too many days of his week, and c) is a lot of work. Therefore, school mornings are "Mr. Grouchypants Time". I'm getting real tired of this.

I was supposed to organize my wreck of a kitchen this week while Ally was in school. Guess that project, along with all the others, will have to wait while I dust off my Florence Nightingale hat, again.Turns out Axle has a pretty nice Nightingale hat, too.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Family Life

A little update on all that is going on here.

It's getting warmer, praise the heavens, though I'd still expect snow to float down any second.

I can't seem to get my coffee right anymore. Regardless of my actions, it still seems to end up too strong or too weak. This is a bad thing in my world.

My glasses have disappeared. For a week now.

Sascha has been sick. For a week now. After proving to him that he does, in fact, have a fever he's decided not to go into work today. This'll be an interesting experiment in which is more restful...a day at work or a day at home while the kids are on spring break.

A large, male robin keeps throwing himself at the garage windows and our front door. There is bird poop and spit everywhere. I papered over the large windows he first started "fighting" so he wouldn't knock himself out and then he moved on to the side windows. Well determined, delusional little bastard, I'm out of paper.

Our 8 year anniversary was yesterday. We had a sitter but had to cancel since Sascha's been so sick.

Was a good thing we canceled because Ally started throwing up after dinner last night. Happy Anniversary, Babe.

Looks to be a lovely day outside. The rest of us will probably be inside...throwing up.

March 28, 2013

The day our crocuses opened.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Practice Resurrection

The sun has peeked through today. Amazing, a cerulean blue sky...who knew Michigan had it in her? The sun's warmth and blessed light pulled me out of that dark, snowy March stupor this morning as the dog and I walked our streets. There are crocuses, snowdrops and bird song. As I dragged Ari from bed this morning, we listened to the...I hesitate to say...cutest bird song. We both agreed it was the best we'd ever heard.

This joy at nature's gifts brought to mind some recently-heard words of Wendell Berry. These words have been rifling through my soul the past three days, adding to and expanding upon the thoughts I've already been experiencing. Almost a full year into our new Michigan life, I'm feeling a shift in...things. It's hard to say exactly how that shift is occurring or what, in fact, is shifting but I am aware that there is a change approaching. Whether that change is in the world, our nation, our town, our family or simply myself, I don't know. But I'll keep you posted.

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

~Wendell Berry

Monday, February 11, 2013

Forgotten Words

The past few days in February is always a time of introspection for me. I avoid. Responsibilities. Duty. Those things are put aside. I polish off a novel in two days and ignore the laundry, the dinner, the pet hair piling up in the corners. I resurface for hugs or snuggles or requests for more Cheerios. I take the dog out for a walk in the 30 degree heat wave that's graced us. I share a grin with the fella I live with over something funny our 3 year old declared. But that's it. Only the matter-full emergent things soak through.

Blessedly, the fella gets this. He politely asks if I could switch some laundry or take the dog for a walk but he otherwise leaves me to my world of words, allowing me to absorb the ones I find needful.

My word path, this time, led me to a poem that I had read years ago...and saved because it mattered. I had forgotten about it until today. So I share it with you here...


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him a live.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

~Naomi Shihab Nye

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I need heat.

It's like a drug. I'm in withdrawal. I need heat.

Clearly, this girl has not yet hardened off from her years spent in southern California...and this 6 degrees is killing her. Right now in San Diego, it's the best time of year...sunny, 60/70's...easy.

Here, it's 6 degrees.

I don't think I really need  to say anything more. But I will. Come on, it's me.

The circus involved in getting the kids out the door lasts twice as long as usual. The walk to/from school takes twice as long (it took two times longer than it should have before the winter hit) and is riddled with things like...

"Mommy, my sock fell off in my boot. It feels weeeirddd."
"I'm cooooooold!"
"Carry me."
Jumping into snow banks to make snow angels when we're 5 minutes late.
"My mitten's slipping!" Tears and snot streaming down her face.
Sitting down and refusing to get up.
"Hey Mom! Snowball!" Smack.
Plummeting to the sidewalk when an errant boot catches a crack.

Of course, situations like this happened in the height of summer as well...come to think of it...autumn too. Just add your season-specific complaint and you'll see the catastrophe that is our family walking to and from our house. Add the dog to the mix and you get a real show. I try to remain calm and Mary Poppins-like throughout the experience, soaking up all the quirks that I'll miss some day. Often, I achieve that affect but usually all I'm really thinking about is how early is too early to pour myself a glass of red.

But now I'm home, a hot pack on my feet, a snoring hot-box of a dog next to me and a cup of tea in my hand. Warmth has been achieved. Until I have to get up again, anyway.

I'll get that glass of red later.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Questions & Answers

There are years that ask questions and years that answer. 
~Zora Neale Hurston

I wonder if 2013 will ask...or answer. As a year, 2012 answered a lot of questions. A lot. It also asked its fair share. It was a full year.When I think back over everything that happened during the previous 12 months, my head spins a little. Job hunt, house buying and selling, packing, relocation, learning a new place, new pets, losing pets, kindergarten, preschool, new sports, losing family, gaining family.

Before putting away our 2012 calender yesterday, I looked back over the first several months of the year...every square was packed. The middle part of the year? Fallow, a resting and adjusting time. Some fear. Learning how to be together in a new place, without the joyful distraction of friends and neighbors and appointments. Settling in. The ending of the year? Almost every square was packed again. New friends, new appointments.

And so, how will 2013 be? I guess however it is doesn't really matter. It's what you do with what is. And so, what are you going to do with it? Live it? Live the questions? Or simply survive it, searching for answers outside ourselves as we crash through life? Hmmm. Of course, the answer we all yearn for is the live it. But what does that mean and can you really pull it off in this day and age when information, technology, time restraints and wanting to do it all can create a whirl of insanity and exhaustion inside you? This is one of the reasons we both refuse to get a smart phone.

A couple years ago, Sascha and I were talking...or playing a game...or reading something...I can't remember...but the question of How do you define success? arose. Some of the answers presented didn't click for either of us and so I asked Sascha, "Well, how do you define success?" expecting something analytical and left-brained...

He replied, "When everyone in our family is thriving."

Well, then.

I don't think there is a better way to answer that question. He surprises me, that one.

And so...Resolutions be damned. Intentions be damned. Aspirations be damned. However you phrase your "new year new life" commitments, none of that works for me. It never has, though I've tried. Instead, we're going to go with thriving. It's not a goal, it's not an end result. It's a process, a way of least in my mind. It's living your questions, finding the ones that truly need asking and are worth answering. As Rilke wrote, "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them and the point is to live everything. Live the questions now..."

So, thriving. Not "happiness". Not accomplishment. Not end results. Simply finding that path through yourself to the knowledge of the things that delight you, the darkness that frightens you, the places that sustain you...and how to live that. How to maintain your balance of delight and fear, rest and growth. Knowing that without the one, there cannot be the other. And knowing that you already hold within you all you need to thrive.

The Family Freiwald New Year Newsletter

Happy 2013 Friends & Family!

For the sake of brevity, I just listed out all of the major changes that have happened for our family in the last two years and added a couple fun kid things. If you're truly interested in all of the fantastic details of our magnificent lives (wink, wink), you can read the rest of our blog.

We Had Goodbyes and We Had Hello's
  • Our sweet Bella cat passed away November 2011.
  • Sascha was laid off from Pfizer December 2011.
  • Sascha was hired and started work at NSF International in Ann Arbor, MI February 2012.
  • Wendy's Grandma passed away March 2012.
  • We said goodbye to San Diego and hello to Ann Arbor April 2012.
  • We added some hamsters to the family June 2012
  • Our niece, Mattie Jayde, was born August 2012
  • Ari started Kindergarten and Ally started Preschool September 2012
  • Ari started team soccer and Ally started gymnastics in the fall
  • We brought Axle, our new dog, home November 2012
  • Our sweet Mo cat passed away December 2012

Our Super Heroes
Sascha and I remain strong contenders for Parent of the Year as our SoCal-raised children continued to burst naked from our house this summer and dash around the yard. Endless entertainment for our  new neighbors, I'm sure.

Ally has developed an affinity for a nice relaxing bath, relieving herself in the great outdoors and her vocabulary and opinions, at age 3, challenge even mine.

Ari, now 6, continues to hone his social skills...exemplified by being nearly taken to the floor of his kindergarten room each morning with hugs and declarations of “Ari F!”. There are two Ari’s in his class and he has full-heartedly embraced the alter ego of “Ari F”.

The adults in the family are really just riding the post-relocation wave for now. We will, perhaps, start saving the world again next year.

A happy and blessed New Year to you all!  

Wendy, Sascha,
Ari and Ally

Story Time
Sweet Moser