Leaf Pressing

One of the neatest things about Rowan is his enthusiasm for a project.  He loves to be given a task, the directions to complete the task, and then the space and encouragement to fulfill his duties.  

Yesterday he and I ran to the store to pick up a few things for my grandmother, and while we were there Rowan browsed the Halloween isle.  After exclaiming, “NORANGE!” for every single pumpkin he saw, a plastic machete caught his eye.  It was clearly intended to maim/kill/torture the victim of the wielder (how is this holiday, and I use that term loosely, for kids???).  Rowan held it in his hands, turned it over a few times, then held it up for me to see, with a huge grin on his face.  “Knife, Mama!  Cook!!  Please we cook, Mama?”  

Over-protective and VERY selective about the shows/music/people her child is exposed to, Mom: One 

Violent/corrupt/moral-less world: Zero 

After the knife incident, Rowan spotted some grotesque window stickers.  You know, the ones that attach to your windows using static cling?  He really wanted to bring them home and affix them to the glass door that leads from his play room to the back porch.  I was less than thrilled with the depiction of a youthful zombie with a pipe through its brain, so I opted out of the sticker purchase, and led him to the housewares isle.  We paid for a roll of wax paper, and headed home. 

After unloading our loot, I explained to Rowan that we were going to collect some leaves, press them, and then iron them between two sheets of wax paper.  After, we would cut them out, and tape them to the door.  I had him at “collect some leaves”, and he was out the door before I was finished with my shpeal. 

I gave him a handled Starbucks bag to collect leaves. You would have thought it was a Vera Wang, the way he strutted with that thing.

Rowan was extremely selective of the leaves he chose for this project. For every ten he picked up and examined, maybe one was good enough to earn the privilege of going into the bag.

A short break from collecting leaves was spent trying to catch a cloud. I swear he'll do it some day.

Flattening the leaf between two sheets of wax paper. It took us several tried to realize that there is really only wax on ONE side, and we were doing it upside down. Good thing we had lots of leaves!

"VERY hot, Moma. Handle touch ONLY!" Thanks Rowan. I'll keep that in mind.

Cutting out the pressed leaves. This is a difficult task, requiring many facial contortions.

Tape is a tricky sort of thing.

He kept telling it to, "Stay! Stay!" It didn't listen. I'm guessing it had something to do with the tape being on the wrong side.


"And this one here I collected from under Mom's car." Allow me to translate: "I spotted a leaf directly under Mom's car. I whined until she crawled under her car and got it for me."

Very satisfied with his job well done.

Yes, he worked tirelessly for the entire afternoon, but his efforts were not in vain.  He woke up this morning, walked over to the door, and after studying his handiwork, he proclaimed it, “cute!”  Then he skipped into the kitchen asking for pineapple.

one year


Last year at this time I had just moved to this state, left a relationship of six years, and started the rest of my life.

This year, I’ve settled into life in the country, have made some friends, and have put my life into God’s hands.

Last year I was struggling to  define who I was, to understand how I fit into my family, and was getting a handle on being a single parent.

This year I stand confidently for what I believe in, I have a fluid definition of family, and can settle into the role that is needed at any particular moment, and I have learned to live with only showering twice a week.

Last year I was terrified of the future.

This year, the future looks blindingly bright.

One of my friends from FB posted this quote today:

“If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection”  ~ Mitchel Burgess

And reflect I have.  And you know what?  I’m proud of what I see.  Starting over and building a new life is messy.  I’ve struggled through the muck, and emerged on the other side strong and pleased to be alive.

I want to post this video or Rowan, not because he’s being particularly cute, or because he does something amazing.  He’s simply happy to alive.  To be here.  To be him.  In the past year he has blossomed and thrived, and grown from a bubbly baby into a talking, singing, jumping, and joyful kid.  We spent a couple of hours yesterday raking and jumping and raking and jumping.  The weather was perfect, it was just the two of us, and I couldn’t help but marvel at how far we’ve come in just one  year.

Reflections of Motherhood.

We’ve had a few tough days here at Casa de Dalenberg.  In two-year old fashion Rowan has exerted his will at every turn, and I have felt every bump along this road.  I’ve had moments where I felt I was utterly failing him.  I’ve wondered how I was going to make it through another moment without breaking down.  We’ve had several sleepless nights in a row, with unexplained crying for hours, followed by days of whining and tantrums.

I have no like-minded mother’s around here to help put this all in perspective, to commiserate with, to support me, to guide me, or simply to listen.  In times like this I crave the bond I had with my mom friends in New Mexico. 

All I needed to know was that I am not alone, this is normal, and that, yes, I will make it through this.

So where does one go when one lacks the social connections that provides one’s much-needed support?  The internet! 

(Yes, I cried while watching this.  But only the first time. )

Home is where the heart is.


I was born and raised in New England, under those huge, bright skies, with air so crisp, you could taste it.  I grew up saying things like, “wicked cool” and “New Hampsha.”  We had more months with snow, than without.  The one month out of the year that was actually hot, was so humid you couldn’t walk to your car without a towel to mop up the sweat.  The bugs were bad, the mountains beautiful.  It was a way of life, and I loved it.

In a few weeks I am going to get to return to my beloved home state for a much overdue visit.  I picked the best time to go-fall.  You’ve heard all the rumors about how amazing fall in New England is, right?  Every one of them are true. 

From the blazing colors of the foliage, to the smell of billions of apples in an orchard, to acres and acres of pumpkin patches, it’s no wonder fall is legendary in New England.  I’m going to get the thrill of sharing all that with my son, recall all the years I spent as a child crunching through the leaves, and get the joy of making new memories with people I care about.

Fall in West Virginia is nice too.  It’s  cool, and clean, and the leaves make a valiant effort to rival those in the north.  I hesitate to even make a comparison though, because there really is no topping New England.  Not to say we won’t enjoy the festivals and trick-or-treating.  We’ll drink hot cider and carve pumpkins.  It will be delightful.

I used to long to return to the southwest.   I still love it there.  I left a piece of myself in New Mexico, and every now and then I go visit it.  I hold the memories of my son being born there close, and will always carry them with me.

The longer I live on the eastern side of the country though, the more I realize my heart is still in New England.  It is engrained into every fiber of who I am, and there is no use fighting it. 

I am a New England girl, through and through.

Dear Rowan,

WOW!  You are really good at this being two years old stuff!  You go so far above and beyond to find the most ridiculous, soul crushing, bone grinding, situation to tantrum over.  Let’s take this afternoon for instance.   I had given you a plate with baby carrots on it, and a small cup, filled half way with dip.  You had placed the cup on your plate, and started walking carefully towards Great’s room.  About half way there you realized that the time you have with your mother is truly priceless, and you couldn’t bear to be apart from me for a single second longer.  As soon at the realization made its way through your brain and shot out of your fingers, your plate was on the floor, the dressing  splattered across the hardwood floor.  If only you could have managed to do that on a canvas, we could have hung it in a gallery, and claimed it was a Jackson Pollock original.  We could have been millionaires.  You really should have thought that through better.

You came bounding towards me, already poised to turn on the meltdown switch.  In the very millisecond in took for the tip of the first carrot hit the floor, you let forth a wail, that could have darkened the sky over the entire town  for months.  You were inconsolable for ten full minutes.  You didn’t want  Mommy.  You didn’t want more carrots or more dip.  You didn’t want me to help you back into Great’s room.  It took me an embarrassing mount of time to realize that all you really wanted to do was cry.  Just cry.  You just needed a place: an emotional place, and a physical place.  So I gently set you on the floor, surrounded you with pillows, and left you there.  You stopped screaming for half a minute, looked at me, and wordlessly I told you to go ahead and let it all out.  And you did.  You kicked and screamed, and threw pillows, and yelled.  I calmly told you to keep going, and get all your frustrations out.  About five minutes later, the whole debacle turned into a fit of giggles and belly laughs.  It drew to a perfect close with you and I curled up on top of a pile of  the pillows, your head on my shoulder, my hand resting on your sweaty head.  “Feel better, Sweet Potato?  “Hub Mom.”  “Yeah, I hub you too kiddo.”

For as many crazy wild-child  moments there are, there are always one or two spectacular moments to not only neutralize the previous situation, but to cancel it out all together.  You came to me with the laundry basket on wheels, and parked in at my feet.  You stood to the right of the basket, leaning into it casually, one arm swinging freely inside the plastic rectangle.  You looked at me, without saying anything other than, “basket!”  Yes Rowan, it’s a basket. “Please Momma.  Ride?”  I could not say no to those eyes and that lopsided grin…I heaved your 23 pound self into the basket, and away we went.  Soaring through the kitchen at .3 mph, your giggles filling every space, we slid around the corner hoping to collide with the couch.  Alas, it a door frame.  All is well though, as I throw my body into the space between the door and the basket, your bobble head impression came in very handy here, and your humongous head hit my shoulder first, ricocheted off the edge of the basket, and came to rest on  my chest.  “You okay?” I asked  “FUUUUN MOMMA!”  AGAIN!  DID IT!”

I suggested to you that we read your favorite book instead.  Delighted, you brought me, “Olivia” and we sat side by side on the couch.  You can recite that book word for word, but you still insist I read it to you.  About 3/4 of the way into the riveting story about a little girl who wears her mother out, you halt the story, and skip to your favorite part.  It’s the part where Olivia copies her favorite painting on the wall of her bedroom.  You always say, “No no no, Olivia!” at this part, and giggle like mad because she gets a time out.  I find this ironic, because if I even threaten you with a time out, you start to cry.  Anyway, you had me read it to you about four times, before I  insisted you stop stalling, and go to bed.

Exhausted from your afternoon of lung exercises, you were  refreshingly compliant about going to bed.  It wasn’t long before we were squeezed comfortably in your toddler bed together, ready to say your nightly prayers.  You talked to God about your day, thanking Him for you trains, your Nana and Bapa, and taggies.  I don’t have to walk you through this anymore, you can manage on your own now, thank you very much.

It was a good day, Rowan, and I love your emotional self.  Thank you for letting me go through these years with you, it is truly an honor.

Love, Mama.