When Her Brother is at School

One morning per week, it’s just Vivian and I together because Lance goes to pre-school three mornings per week and she only goes two mornings. Wednesday’s are the morning we share when her brother is at school and she is not. For the last few weeks we have been settling into this newfound mother-daughter time together as she explores new paths without her brother.

As my second child, Vivian hasn’t had the one-on-one time with me the way Lance did during his first two years of life before she was born. That is starting to change, beginning with this one precious morning a week when it is just my girl and me. Next year when Lance is in school full-time it is really going to change, but for now we are easing into the transition.

On our first morning alone together, I drug her to the grocery store and on all of my personal errands at a rapid-fire pace because I had so many things I wanted to get done. In and out of the car, in and out of the car. She did not have fun. I lost my patience. Lesson learned. From here on out no more missed opportunities for time together due to unwelcome rushing.

Since that day, my only agenda on Wednesday mornings is her.

Last week we ventured to the library to play and attend story time together. I suddenly found myself sitting on the floor with her on my lap in a room with other kids her age. I gifted her my full attention, knowing it was exactly what we both needed. No agenda. No big brother to keep my eyes on.

I felt close to her in a new way, and she responded lovingly with relaxed snuggles into my chest. It took me back to when I used to take Lance to story time before she was born. As the librarian read, I admired my little girl as she listened intently, not competing with her brother for the stage.

I loved being at story time with only Vivian last week, and I’ll take her again on our special morning together, but we’ll also venture to other places. We will find fun out of nothing around town as we talk silly and laugh and bond. I’ll give her my unending patience and discover how easy it is with just one kid in tow because I couldn’t see it that way the first time around.

With all of these things in mind, it has been fun helping her unlock some of her own interests apart from her brother during these few hours when we are alone.

Yesterday we found ourselves trying on Halloween masks. It was spontaneous and we picked up whatever caught our eyes. We didn’t buy a thing, yet we walked away feeling full as we talked about trick-or-treating and just how magical it will be.


Later we walked through the shoe department at Macy’s to beat the rain. I let her try on the “tippy heels” that she told me she wanted. Yeah right, but her smile at my willingness to let her engage in her desire chased away the rainy day blues for both of us. Typically I would have told her, “No we don’t have time or you’re not allowed,” or I would have had to divide my attention to pacify Lance who would have had absolutely no interest in this idea of hers. The moment would be spoiled.



Then she received a freebie make-up bag from the Clinique lady while I bought make-up. Even Mommy walked away with a few free samples from the lady. My girl and I are starting to make a pretty good team.

When we got back into the car, she insisted on sitting in Lance’s car seat.


She misses him when he is at school and that has been an adjustment for her. He’s her security in a lot of ways, which I love, but I am encouraging and allowing her to walk in her own shoes during these small windows of time. Based on the tippy heels, I’d say she’s making some lovely foots prints.

Stand tall my girl.

Seven on Sunday 5.4 – SORRY

List of Seven on Sunday is a weekly column that I write intended to entertain avid readers with short attention spans who like avoiding the real world at all cost on weekends. This column, written in a newspaper parody form,  falls most closely into the genre of creative nonfiction. Derived from my own life, the content is loosely structured around sections in a traditional newspaper. 

1. News — 

It is not Sunday. It is Monday.

Seven on Sunday didn’t make it to the publisher on time yesterday. (Which basically means I didn’t finish writing it and clicking the blue ‘Publish’ button on my blog until this morning).

Sorry ’bout that!

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Embracing the Imperfect

When we moved into our house a little over a year ago the toilet paper holder mounted on the drywall in one of the bathrooms was loose. Over time, it was clear we had to fix this imperfection.

Jan had to dismantle it completely and move it over a little onto an undamaged area of the wall and remount it properly. The toilet paper holder is sturdy once more.

There’s only one problem.

We have a gaping eyesore on our wall.

Ultimately, his plan was to repair the dry wall, sand it, and repaint it like a proper fix-it-man. But since I’d rather him spend time on the weekends doing important things with the family, like laying on the couch while the kids put on “shows” for us or adventuring around town somewhere, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Cue the artists.

I mean the children and the wacko alternative-thinking mother.

Always looking for teachable moments, I called the two of them into the bathroom where we played school. As the teacher, I sat upon the porcelain throne and gave them a speech on embracing the imperfect.

In kid-speak I explained to them that nothing  and no one is perfect. That rather we are all flawed and that it is normal and okay.

Turning to the wall, I pointed out the imperfection. As their big-eyes locked on me, given I had just revealed a Sharpie and two Crayola markers, they listened intently as I told them we were going to help the wall feel special regardless of its imperfections.

I told them we shouldn’t hide our imperfections. Instead we should celebrate them, which is why I was giving us all permission to decorate the flaw in the wall as a visual reminder that not everything is perfect. In fact, the imperfect is beautiful and what makes us all unique.

Showing them I was serious, I went first by adding some verbiage. They know writing is my art and seemed pleased. Without being prompted Lance went next and added a green smiley face. I couldn’t have thought of anything more appropriate. Vivian followed suit and added some purple designs.


Then I told the kids that under no circumstance are they ever to color on the wall again.

Ha! That mixed message outta teach ’em!

Nonetheless, as the metaphorical school bell rang, we had clear evidence that embracing the imperfect is the best fix-it repair job. The wall screamed, Kids live here and we aren’t perfect, but we like it that way!

I am not sure bringing the wall to life and coloring on it is effective yet, but I look forward to continuing the conversation about why we did it throughout the years. I am sure the wall will speak up when the time comes.

If nothing else, our artwork can provide guests with something interesting to look at as they take care of business on the throne. Maybe it can even spark a simple reminder within themselves to embrace the imperfect: the ultimate solution to so many problems.

Seven on Sunday 5.3 – CORN

List of Seven on Sunday is a weekly column that I write intended to entertain avid readers with short-attention spans who like avoiding the real world at all cost on weekends. This column, written in a newspaper parody form,  falls most closely into the genre of creative nonfiction. Derived from my own life, the content is loosely structured around sections in a traditional newspaper. 

1. News — 

Yahoooo, I got my computer back from the Apple computer doctors. Power source restored. Hard drive in tact.

Kind of like me!

(I promise I’ll stop doing likening myself to a computer. I’m just not sure when).

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Seven on Sunday 5.2: GATSBY

1. News —

On September 4, 2015 I walked into my office to a black computer screen. And not black because the computer was shut down but black because the power source inside my computer was kaput, or so the Apple computer doctors have told me.

Not cool.

I’ve pretty much been in a bad mood ever since. Internally at least. No power within.

Wait, did I just liken myself to my computer?

Oh brother. It’s gonna be one of those blog posts.

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Seven on Sunday 5.1: LIST

1. News —

The biggest news around here is that List of Seven on Sunday is back. In an effort to get everyone on board with the format of this weekly post, here’s how the it is going to work…

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ALS follow-up and new business

Last week, I shared an ALS story about my father-in-law, Frank’s, struggle with ALS, a disease with no cure, that ultimately led to his passing last month. The outpouring of views, shares, comments, calls, texts, cards, and donations that followed has been a bright spot during this sad time.

The ALS Association retweeted my story about Frank on Twitter, where it circulated within the ALS community. In memory of Frank, my husband and I set up a Community of Hope Fund. In the coming years, we will continue to support and grow this fund, designated for ALS research. Sincere thanks to those who donated – you will always be the ones that got our fund off the ground.

As August, the month designated for the ALS ice bucket challenge #EveryYearUntilACure, came to a close my husband and I watched a clip about round 2 and the importance of ALS awareness to Major League Baseball (MLB). All 30 MLB teams participated in the ice bucket challenge this year. You can watch the story and Pat Quinn, co-found of the challenge, discuss why they did it here.

I am eager to see what round 3 of the challenge brings next year. The road ahead for my family will be bumpy without Frank, but as the saying goes, Life is for the living. And let me tell you, Frank is absolutely one of those people who would want that for me and my family because he was the ultimate at living life to the fullest.

One of my favorite things about Frank was his ability to express himself through music. He played multiple instruments and sang, giving his full self to every performance with his oompah band. Moving forward, I intend to focus on my ability to write and to express my own self to the fullest the way he did.

The common thread between music and writing is that you have to possess a certain amount of talent and bravery to do either. When I think of Frank’s musical talent and bravery, it inspires me to lasso my talent and let go of some of my insecurities.

Writing is my form of self-expression – it sustains me and it is the craft I continually strive to develop here on Britta’s Banter. As my kids start pre-school next week, I will have a few free mornings per week. I’d like to devote some of that time to writing. To focus, to push myself, to take a few risks, and to give it my all this fall.

Ha. I rhymed.

Give it my all this fall.

And a new mantra is born, literally, in this moment as I am typing.

This weekend, the ever-popular List of Seven on Sunday will return on my blog. My excitement to resume writing this weekly post about seven happenings in my life from the week is mounting. List of Seven on Sunday posts are centered around thoughts, events, updates, and share-worthy bits of humor, all tied together by a weekly theme.

Thank you, thank you for your readership as my audience continues to grow. Although Frank is not here to read my stories, I am certain he is cheering me on.

A few pictures from the day after his funeral as we, the family, moved forward together and enjoyed a sunny day riding bicycles around some of the various lakes in the Lusatian Lake District of Germany, making new memories.

Jörg, Peggy, Nina, Isolde, and Jan

Jörg, Peggy, Nina, Isolde, and Jan

Without a doubt, Frank would have liked this. Especially the part when one of the pedals on my bike decided to fall off, causing a funny disruption. After much discussion, we rallied around a plan. My husband and knight-in-shining-armor drove his bike back to the house for a tool while everyone else walked their bikes with me until mine was up and running again. Thankfully, we hadn’t made it very far when the pedal decided to give out.

Later, my poor niece took a bad fall, but once again, we rallied around each other until she recovered. We finished our tour with a doctored pedal and knee, but with smiles and a sense of relief that, yes, life goes on.

Happy smiles despite the bloody and questionable pedal.

An enjoyable day despite a bloody knee and a cranky pedal.

The lake views were beautiful, the lunch-stop was yummy, the beer was good, and the people are irreplaceable.

Here’s to giving my all this fall for Frank.


You may also enjoy ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Deferral.