April 10th, 2016

Blog - The Pen & Camera - Gratitude Journal, Inspirational, Writing - Molly Rees Photo - Black and White Documentary Childhood Photography - portrait of young boy outside in rain by M. Menschel

Thank you for Jules sitting by the open kitchen door with his face turned skyward, watching the rain.  For the cold drops soaking the new grass, tapping against the kitchen skylight, falling outside our open bedroom window as Eloise and Moses burrow under their covers and go to sleep.

Thank you for time alone with Julian at the end of the day when the house is quiet.  How he crawls into my arms, his face filled with trust and adoration.  I have not yet done anything to compromise this devotion - I haven’t yelled in frustration, hurried him into a carseat, caused him to scowl at me or ordered a time-out while he kicks and screams at the bathroom door.  Tonight, as Julian grinned and tumbled over me he reminded me of Moses, who only six years ago was just as new.  When we were each others whole world, and he could do no wrong.  I wanted at that moment to go into Moses's bedroom and crawl into his bunk bed just to be close to him.  To promise myself that I would treat him still like I treated him then.  And I asked myself, are there parents who can do this?  Who are truly able to always hold their children in that same forgiving space that they held them in when they first arrived?  Can I be more patient, more allowing, more celebratory of his wild childhood joy?  Instead of being quick to tell him what to do or not to do, can I appreciate more his ecstatic and spirited expression of life?

Thank you for sharing a table today with seven women and their cameras at Kelley’s husbands pizza shop.  For the feeling of a life rich with good people.  How it reminded me tonight of living in the jungle in Hawaii - so astounded at how many good people came in and out of each day that I started making lists in my journal every night of all the new people I had met.  And I love that if I were to go back and dig out that journal now, I would find Orest’s name at the end of one of those lists.  April 1st, if I remember correctly.  And it is April again now, another year gone by.

April 6th, 2016

Blog - The Pen & Camera - Gratitude Journal, Inspirational, Writing, Denver, Colorado - Black and White Documentary Childhood Photography - kids playing soccer

Thank you for Julian, who watches with excitement as I fold the laundry.  His hands opening and closing in anticipation; a shriek of delight at the billow of a clean sheet as it hangs for a moment in the air.

Thank you for Orest in the distance as I walked towards the soccer field this evening - Eloise on his shoulders with her hands clamped to his forehead, parents already camped out on the sidelines, squinting into the 6pm light as the wind comes off Sloans Lake in wild gusts.  It is the first practice and our team is a band of raggedy six-year-olds swarming after the soccer ball.  Knocking each other over, pausing to do a cartwheel, or just standing in the middle of the fray as the ball rolls by, as if trying to remember why they are there.  It feels like the beginning of a classic little league movie - an unlikely crew of misfits destined for greatness.  Where every kid is either picking his nose or balling his eyes eyes out, but you know they are going to grow up together and end up winning the World Series.

Thank you for Ibrahim who met us on the curb outside his parents house and handed us the keys to his ’99 Land Cruiser.  A big, ugly beast of a car that smelled like old leather and spicy after-shave and had somehow replaced our more practical notion of buying a mini-van.  It was the kind of car you buy for sentimental reasons - because you grew up riding around in the back of the same car, like Ibrahim did, when he was a kid in Iraq.  Or because should you need to (As Orest pointed out) you could use it to drive up the side of a rocky mountain to escape the zombie apocalypse.  “It’s okay if you crash it,” he whispered as I left for a test drive, "because then we'll have to buy it.”

I drove it carefully around the block and then pulled over on the side of the road to sit in the wide backseat by myself.  I tried to imagine that I was a kid, and this was the car I grew up in.   And I hated to say it, but it was not a bad thing to imagine.  When we were back at home sitting in our living room and trying to be reasonable, I said to Orest, “I think we better call him and let him know that we want to buy it.”  His eyes lit up like a little kid, unable to contain his excitement.  And he actually jumped into the air, which I have not seen him do since the day in the ultrasound room six years ago when we found out Moses was a boy.

March 30th, 2016

Blog - The Pen & Camera - Gratitude Journal, Denver, Colorado, Colfax - Black and White Documentary Childhood Photography - boy in snowy trees

Thank you for the snowfall this afternoon, fat flakes falling on a green lawn that made it seem like it was not snow but something different altogether.  A strange and unexplainable summertime phenomenon.  Like magic.

Thank you for Colfax, where a person might strap a boom-box to their wheelchair and spend the entire day camped out at the bus station outside EZ Pawn.  And three times a day you can hear the bells on the pushcart of an older Mexican man selling popsicles in the street outside our house.

March 23rd, 2016

Blog - The Pen & Camera - Gratitude Journal, Inspirational, Writing, Denver, Colorado, Snow Storm - Molly Rees Photo -  Documentary Childhood Photography - portrait of girl eating snowflakes in winter by M. Menschel

Thank you for waking up to find springtime buried under two feet of snow.  The sky filled with a thick flurry of snowflakes that lasted all day.  The tall juniper tree in the center of our yard topped with taffy-like clumps that made it look like an illustration in a Dr. Suess book.  Lawn furniture twisted and toppled over.  Branches, bushes and small trees bent to the ground under the weight of the wet snow. 

Thank you for this last-minute chance to dig out my bib snowpants, which I had not done all winter.  To roll around in the yard with Moses and Eloise as they stumbled through the drifts that rose waist-deep, delighted with the novelty of it.  Moses, exclaiming with such innocence, “This is the snowiest day of my life!”  Calling me over to see the small yellow flowers he had uncovered in the white snow.  Eloise losing her mittens at least a dozen times like any self-respecting three-year-old should.  And Moses dancing around the drooping arms of the juniper tree, determined to save the branches that had not already split and fallen to the ground.  Joining him with a broom to reach the higher boughs, the sudden urgency of our mission.  Shaking each snow-laden branch until it sprang up again.

March 22nd, 2016

Blog - The Pen & Camera - Gratitude Journal, Inspirational, Writing, Denver, Colorado, Friendship -  Black and White Documentary Childhood Photography - grandmothers hands with sleeping children

Thank you for an afternoon on the couch at Karina’s house with Julian asleep on my lap and Solice wedged between Karina’s pregnant belly and my elbow, lightly snoring.  Thank you for Maximo and Eloise side-by-side in front of the TV taking turns with an old video game console.  How Maximo is good-natured and genuine with Eloise, who is still only three and haphazard in her social interactions.  How he cheers her on as she enthusiastically presses all the buttons on the console, having no idea what she is doing.  Thank you for how there is always a small bowl of salad on the kitchen table, for Rob who without fail greets me at the car when I arrive and insists on carrying something inside (the baby’s carseat, my backpack, any small thing I may have in my hands) and how I have learned not to say no.

March 21st 2016

Blog - The Pen & Camera - Gratitude Journal, Inspirational, Spring, Writing, Denver, Colorado, Friendship -  Documentary Childhood Photography - mom with boy later afternoon sunset

Thank you for popsicles.  A transformative hour sitting in the sun with Sharon.  Eloise past her bedtime, showing me how high she can jump.  And thank you for Moses, impatient for summer, who for a whole ten minutes thought it was a good idea to sit in nothing but his swim trunks in a wading pool of melted snow.

March 20th, 2016

Blog - The Pen & Camera - Gratitude Journal, Inspirational, Writing, Denver, Colorado, Friendship -  Molly Rees Photo - Black and White Documentary Childhood Photography - boy with pinata at birthday party by M. Menschel

Thank you for Moses and Eloise emerging from the bedroom this morning covered in Moses's favorite blue smelly marker - Eloise with a blue mustache, matching drawings on both of their bare chests.  Thank you for Moses who thoughtfully studied the drawing on Eloise’s back and said, reflecting on his work, “I think that might actually be my best ghost so far.”  For Eloise’s brilliant grammatical inventions, responding to an inquiry about her age with, “I don’t KNOW who old is me!"

Thank you for Oscar's birthday party at the park.  For Julian under a picnic table with a piece of chocolate cake he found on the ground.  For Milo with a baseball bat tearing into a pikachu piñata that was taller than Oscar, for watching Amanda and Jen laugh together about the cake and negotiate plans for dinner.  For finding Moses under a tree with his chin in his hands because Oscar said he didn’t want to be his friend anymore, and being able to arrange an apology.  Moses watching dubiously as I made a deal with Oscar, who thought for a minute and then turned to Moses to say, “You can have one more chance."  And for how Moses's face lit up at those words - if only it were always that easy to remedy a friendship.

Thank you for all the voices of support that came to me in different ways today - a phone call with Karina; sitting on the curb next to Amanda, squinting into the 5 pm sunshine; Vicki sending me a link to the sermon from Mile Hi this morning about not being broken; Orest sitting across from me in the bedroom telling me that he believed I was still strong enough to do this day.  In the midst of everything, Julian engrossed in learning how to open the pages of a book.

Thank you for standing at the swing-set with Orest at the end of the day pushing Julian and Eloise.  For Moses wanting to crawl onto my lap and swing with me, his face against mine for longer than usual before jumping off to run away.  For going to sleep tonight with the feeling that I am actually going to be able to overcome the difficult things inside of me that have felt impossible to overcome for so long.

On Children

Blog - The Pen & Camera - Inspirational, Poetry, Spirituality, Writing, Denver, Colorado -  Molly Rees Photo - Black and White Documentary Childhood Photography - girl jumping on couch by M. Menschel "On Children," poem by Khalil Gibran

Your children are not your children. 
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. 
They come through you but not from you, 
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. 

You may give them your love but not your thoughts. 
For they have their own thoughts. 
You may house their bodies but not their souls, 
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. 
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. 
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. 

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. 
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. 
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; 
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

-Khalil Gibran