If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit

All the flats I could wear when my cast was first removed. With some effort, I can wear a few heels now too.

All the flats I could wear when my cast was first removed in the Fall of 2013. With some effort, I can wear a few heels now too.

2013. What a year. I would scarcely know where to begin to describe the transformations, peaks and valleys that have characterized the past year. While transformations are still happening and there is certainly still much to sort out, I would say that in 2014–more than anything else–I am planning to shift from the fire-in-the-belly, take-on-the-world mentality of the 20s and 30s to the quiet contemplation of the 40s. I no longer feel the need to prove my worth. More than anything, I wish to whittle down to those who see my worth already, who value me for what I am, and accept me for what I am not.

Unlike the careless kitty I was in my youth, I see that I do not rebound quickly from the hard falls anymore. I don’t possess the will or facility to dust off and carry on as effortlessly as I used to. Rebuilding is certainly possible but it takes time and struggle and meditation.

Because I’ve lost count of the lives I have left, I want to savor and cherish what remains and feel comfortable while doing it. I want to let go of all that no longer serves me. I want to slip into the beauty of my own skin. I’m clearing out all that is impractical and uncomfortable. I am wearing the shoes that fit.

Not Always the One


Earlier today, I sent the boys off to their last day of all-day karate camp. It’s been an exhausting week…especially for them. With Daddy out of town and Mommy hopping around one-footed trying to make it all happen, we’re all a little worn out–both physically and emotionally. We’re all craving a return to normalcy.

The boys have been SO amazing. They have really learned to soldier up, to help out and–aside from the occasional epic meltdown–they’ve done it. They’ve both become masters of making their beds, watering the garden, feeding the animals, and helping with meal prep and cleanup. Chores are a regular part of their day and that’s a VERY good thing.

Still, it breaks my heart a little to know that so young they have had to assimilate the truth that their Mama will not always be the one they can count on. Every day, in big ways and small, they will need to become more self-reliant. Sometimes–even their strong, do-everything-and-make-it-look-easy mama just CAN’T. This is a fact I had hoped to keep hidden at least a little while longer.

This morning, B had and especially hard time. A few times this week, he has commented on how tired he is. During breakfast, he fell apart. When the storm clouds cleared and we were talking about what’s going on with him, he said, “I’m just so tired. I just don’t like having so many things to do.” While proud that he’s able to so clearly articulate at the age of 4, I couldn’t help but well up a little, hurt for all the truths he’s had to experience this summer. There have been times when both boys were so exhausted and just didn’t want to suit up and head to the next activity. Alas, a ride had been arranged, the activity had been paid for so I would dry their eyes, comfort them the best I could, and send them off to their next assignment.

Oscar decorating my cast with two of the many lovely people who came to help out and uplift this summer.

I’m so thrilled to have the kind of community that is so eager and willing to surround us as they have. I am also sad that I have not always been the one. As their mom, I want to be the one to see them try and learn. I want to be the one to greet them with a smile and a kiss at the end of the day. I even want to be the one to correct them when they step out of line. Mostly…when they’re sad or tired or hurt, I want to be the one to comfort them, to hold them, to soothe them as only a mama can. 

This summer, I have had so many wonderful moments, so many opportunities to reconnect with lovely people as they come and go…so unselfishly giving of their time and talents to help us out. Words fail to express the genuine love I feel toward everyone who has done their part to get us through. Words also fail to experss the sadness I feel for the missed moments I will never get back.

What I’m looking forward to most when this is all over is being the ONE again. I can’t wait to savor simple pleasures like conversing the car, deciding spontaneously to stop for ice cream, raising my eyebrows in that special way that only a mother can to stop bad behavior before it even gets a chance to get going. Mostly, I can’t wait to see firsthand–as only a mother’s eyes can–the many ways in which my boys are miraculous, remarkable, worthy of my undivided presence and attention. Even though my boys have seen this summer how very much I can’t, I hope that they also see that if there’s any possible way I can, I WILL. I hope that when all is said and done, they also can’t help but want me to return to being THE ONE.

Everything Old is New Again

Recently, some bad behavior in our house resulted in some days without screen time (i.e., no TV, no video games, no computer, no iPhone). While an effective punishment for the boys, this was also a punishment for me given the current state of affairs. Since I can’t leave the house and my mobility is limited, loading everybody into the car and heading somewhere fabulous for some fresh air wasn’t an option. I was forced to dig deep and think of ways to pass the time from within the confines of our tiny house with nothing more than a knee scooter and some crutches to help me. The days were feeling long and simply reminding the boys that they have a house full of toys didn’t seem to be having the desired effect.

That’s when I reached deep and pulled out my old teacher self…the one who knows the newness old things can attain once they haven’t seen the light of day for some months or even years. Teacher Me realized that–on the cusp of 7–Oscar is now old enough to play games like Monopoly and Scrabble–games I had been saving until he was old enough to do things like count money and spell. We pulled out Twister for the first time ever and shook the dust of the Jenga game that had been gathering dust in our closet for months.

We also pulled out some play dough made months ago and were pleased to find it still pliable. Sure these activities required a little more effort than simply popping in a DVD. They were also more fun, more engaging, more memorable. So…while I don’t begrudge myself the ability to do whatever it takes to simply survive this summer of limited mobility…while I was thrilled when screen time was restored; I’m also grateful for some days off the grid. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to introduce (and reintroduce) my boys to some of the classics. I’m glad that we took the time to appreciate the joy of rediscovering treasures that had been buried for far too long.

Homemade Play Dough

1 cup salt

2 cups flour

2 cups water

1 Tbsp. cream of tartar

2 Tbsp. oil

Food coloring

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until everything is well mixed and the dough forms into a ball. Remove from the pan and knead a few times.  Store in an airtight container.  For a fun and fabulous twist, add glitter!

Gluten Free Cookbook

Baking with B

A couple of months ago, I created a gluten free cookbook for a fundraiser at Oscar’s school. It’s not fancy but it contains a few recipes that might be helpful to those who are seeking some easy gluten free deliciousness. Since a few friends have asked for copies, I am posting it here. Click the link below and print double-sided if you’d like a hard copy for your kitchen.

Note that if you are also dairy intolerant, in most cases almond milk or coconut milk make good substitutes. Also, goat cheese can make a satisfying replacement for cheeses. Many markets (including Nugget and Costco) have a great selection of different kinds of goat cheese. Have fun experimenting and bon appétit!

Gluten Free Cookbook

April 2012 009

In Spite of Us

Earlier today, I read this blog post about the current controversy surrounding girly Legos. When I read the concerns some parents are expressing, I heard an echo from the distant past and had to wrinkle my nose a little at the remembrance of my high-and-mighty pre-mommy self…the woman who had many theories but no practical information on how this whole parenting thing was about to go down. In my pre-mommy theoretical mind, I used to fantasize that any children who entered MY house would have a gender neutral experience…that girls would play with trucks and boys would play with dolls. I had many self-righteous “My child will NEVER _______ !” thoughts and plenty far-from-reality visions of how things will ultimately work out.

In my pre-mommy mind, I surmised that me and my artist/musician/metrosexual hubby would surely produce sensitive, artsy, calm, dancing children who would spend their days zenfully contemplating life and sensitively caring for others. Boy or girl, I imagined my offspring would be comfortable playing against type and mixing it up with the opposite gender. Imagine my surprise when–in fact–we ended up with a couple of potty-mouthed, wrestling, “Where-the-Wild-Things-Are” frat boys.

Almost seven years into this little experiment called parenthood, I have come to realize that the actual truth about who kids become is this: they are who they are, they like what they like in spite of us. There are girls who love girly things, boys who love boyish things, girls who love boyish things and boys who love girly things. All of that wishing that everything would be gender neutral was a bit unrealistic and naive. Some girls (and boys) just like girly things. Some boys (and girls) like boyish things. There isn’t really a darn thing all the gender-neutral thinking in the world can do about it.

With regard to this particular issue, here is the truth that I have come to understand: it’s not my job to make things neutral or to mold my kids into some preconceived fantasy of what imagined they’d become. It’s my job to DISCOVER who they are and to love them accordingly. It’s my job to make sure they always feel loved and accepted–even when they surprise me. It’s my job to help them understand that lasting happiness can never be achieved by pretending to be something you are not and that life is too short to waste time wishing that folks will be any different than they are. It’s my job to model what it’s like to be open and accepting of all different kinds of folks. Hopefully this will help my rambunctious ruffians to be open and accepting too…even if they grow up to be pirates.


It has now been 16 days since the crash that derailed–or at least seriously redirected–the summer in the Wisnia house. So much has happened in that short span to shift my thinking about my life and the people in it. For the most part,  I have been overwhelmed by the positivity and love that surrounds us. We’ve scarcely had to cook given the frequent delivery of delicious meals. The boys haven’t missed a single activity thanks to the many who have so graciously descended to give rides here there and everywhere. We’ve had help with shopping and cleaning and occupying the boys so that they don’t feel like they’re missing out even though there’s much that their mommy can’t do right now. Most moments are filled with love and joy and gratitude.

And then there are the other moments…the moments when I feel completely castrated…the moments when all I want to do is climb up into Oscar’s loft to tuck him in or comfort him when he’s had a bad dream but I can’t. There are moments when I think about all that I COULD be doing since I’m home like vacuuming, washing windows, organizing the boxes of accumulated junk in the garage, even simple things like knocking down cobwebs–and then I remember that I can’t. Even something as simple as getting a glass of water is a complicated task these days as I hop on one leg, try to manage crutches, navigate awkwardly around our tiny, cramped house. Some days–other than the obvious reason of escaping my own stench–I am left to wonder why I’m even bothering to bathe. There is nowhere to go, very little to do. These are hard facts for someone like me who is always going, always doing.

There have also been a few demoralizing moments when I have found support sadly lacking in surprising places. It’s hard to feel supported when navigating the bureaucratic purgatory of so many confusing forms and convoluted processes required to get paid, maintain benefits, obtain accommodations. On more than one occasion, I have been made to feel like I am somehow making up or embellishing the truth of my condition to get special treatment. In these moments, I just feel icky and hopeless and shocked. As someone who has been sucking it up and soldiering on my entire life, I am beyond insulted by the implication that I am somehow doing anything short of what is physically possible for me at this moment.

I am terrified that I may never run again. I am heartbroken to hear Boris say that he wishes he had a mommy who didn’t have a broken foot. I am deflated when simple things that used to take seconds take minutes, hours, or worse–aren’t even possible to accomplish right now.

I am bolstered by the fact that I WILL get better. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for the many many people who must face the truth that their particular accident has caused damage that can never be repaired, will never get any better. As stated–for the most part I am nothing short of grateful for all that has happened since I’ve been laid up. I’m grateful it it was my foot that was smashed–not my head or my neck. I am grateful that healing is possible.

Still, the not-so-fluffy moments are real and important to acknowledge and remember too. I think that this time will help me to have so much more compassion going forward. I have been forever changed both by the immense love we have experienced and the few bits of indifference/lack of compassion we have experienced. I will forever remember how I definitely DO and definitely DON’T want to make people feel in their moment of need. At times like this, there is enough darkness to overcome in one’s one mind. Nobody who’s truly hurting should be made to feel like they have to prove the extent of their hurt to anyone. Nobody should be made to struggle to feel valid when they are convalescing and already struggling against their own feelings of invalidity.

My Left Foot: Summer Plan B

X-RaySo…anyone who has been following me on Facebook knows by now that on June 4th, I had a gnarly bike accident that resulted in me basically breaking my foot in half and dislocating every single one of (and breaking some of) my toes. Surgery to repair the damage is tomorrow. Mandatory bed rest will last most (if not all) of the summer. The this unfortunate turn of events has reinforced many truths. These include:

  1. Wearing a wedge heel while biking is perhaps not the best choice (even if I think I look fabulous doing it).
  2. Life is an unexpected and crazy thing that is totally beyond my control (even though I like to pretend otherwise in my most Type A moments).
  3. Good health care is essential (even for those of us who think ourselves relatively spry and healthy).
  4. Trying times are generally rife with silver linings and hidden blessings.

Immediately following the accident, Good Samaritans started pouring in. My neighbor (who was biking with Ouch!me) and some kind stranger doing Tai Chi in Central Park rushed to get me out of the street and make me as comfortable as possible on a park bench until Chris could arrive to take me to the ER. Another kind stranger appeared from nowhere with a bag of ice. Before I had even officially put out the word on what had happened, we were receiving calls and messages from people who heard something bad had happened who wanted to know how they could help.

I have been nothing less that astounded by the speed with which our “village” has descended to surround us during our time of need. One fellow Type A organizer with a giant, beautiful, shiny heart even spent a morning sitting next to me on my sick bed setting up a website where folks could sign up to bring food, take the boys to their summer activities, do our shopping. My mom and sister swooped in to help me handle parties and other pending commitments. We’ve had deliveries of several delicious dinners, neighbors taking the boys to swim lessons, offers to help put the boys to bed while Chris is at work, great medical advice from doctor friends, and loans of awesome medical equipment. We even received a lovely card with a gift certificate for house cleaning inside! The list of all that we have to be grateful for goes on and on. My heart could seriously burst!

Less obvious but deeply profound are the benefits of being able to linger with my boys on these summer days. Sleepy CuddlesWhile it’s certainly not how I would have wanted it to happen, it has been such an exquisite gift to be able to have so many long cuddles, eat meals slowly all together while having rich conversation. Sure, I wish I could take them to the pool and ride bikes and train for that half marathon I signed up to do Labor Day weekend. Since I can’t, I am relishing this probably once-in-a-lifetime elimination of excuses to just be still…to savor my lovelies in a way that the on-the-go me so seldom does. The boys are learning to be more independent, helpful, empathetic. These are skills that I hope they continue to hone forever. Even after the cast comes off for good, maybe we’ll all be a little better at being still and savoring one another. So Summer Plan A is a bust but Summer Plan B is turning out to be pretty OK too. Thank you, universe for this chance to be still and feel so much love.


Summer Camp: Wisnia Style!

It’s hard to believe that summer is almost here! While Chris and I don’t have a lot of expendable income, we DO have the monumental benefit of staggered schedules—such that one of us is always home with the boys during the summer. Fortunately, there are plenty of low/no cost activity options in Davis. We splurge on a couple of camps the boys REALLY want to do and then gratefully tap into free/cheap stuff the rest of the summer. We don’t ever manage to do all the stuff we plan but it’s nice to have a sort of framework so that—on the days the boys are bored or we’re about the throw them out the window ;)—we can look forward to some activities to focus their minds and burn off all that energy they store in their tiny bodies. If having a framework appeals to you too, feel free to repurpose our chart to fit your family’s summer fun! Here’s a link:

Davis Village Summer Camp-DRAFT

Love Notes for Mama


The pace of life has been frenetic of late. All of the end-of-school year brouhaha has more than caught up with me. It has taken me over, left me in the dust. As I watch all of the details I am supposed to be remembering rapidly pull away, grow tiny on the horizon, I am scratching my head wondering how exactly I got so far behind. And then there is today: Mothers’ Day. Usually I have already had a Mothers’ Day tea with my mom and siblings. Usually, I have situated myself well for a day of rest and relaxation. Today, I have a mountain of things to get done and little inspiration to achieve them. I am overwhelmed and just want to lie down and take a nap. Given that it is Mothers’ Day after all–perhaps I should.

When I get to feeling like this–all wrapped up in the minutia–I try to step back and survey the scene from a great distance for perspective. When time has passed–say 5 years from now–what will I remember about today? Will I remember all of the things I have NOT accomplished…the school shirts I haven’t ordered, the papers I need to look through and organize, the empty refrigerator that needs to be filled, the lawn that needs to be mowed, the sprinklers that need to be fixed…or will I remember the snuggles I had with my boys, the delicious breakfast we shared, the run with my sweet and trusty and deaf old dog. Five years from now, will my memories be filled with images of the laundry that needs to be folded or the beautiful cards, noodle necklace, drawings and paintings the boys made? These are the things that will go in the memory box. So why don’t I just start focusing on them now? Why wait 5 years to remember what’s important and let go of all the rest?


And so, to begin, here is the card that Boris made. It says: “Dear Mom, I like to watch TV with you. I like Jake [and the Neverland Pirates], Special Agent Oso, Mickey Mouse, and The Three Mousekateers.” It’s signed expertly in his 4-year-old scrawl next to a beautiful picture of his smiling face.

Oscar made me a watercolor painting. On the back, he wrote “Querida mamá, te quiero mucho! Eres fuerte y hermoso. Me gusta cuando juegas conmigo. Eres la mejor mamá del mundo entero. Con amor, Oscar” It means “Dear Mama, I love you very much! You are strong and beautiful. I like when you play with me. You are the best mom in the whole world. With love, Oscar.”


When I start to drown in all that hasn’t been done, I will pull up these sweet little love notes from my boys and cling to them until the sea calms and I feel that I can swim to safety. All of these things that seem so urgently pressing today are dwarfed by the knowledge that I am connected to two beautiful souls who–even on my most disorganized, worst day–love me and at least for this precious moment think that I am strong and beautiful and the best mom in the whole world.