"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Janie swims so well and it's been really fun to watch her learn. Especially once she could swim all of the proper strokes for a full pool length. This year, it came time to give swim team a whirl.

She began swim team brimming with confidence, ready to take on the world and quickly learned some of the hardest, yet valuable, lessons of life. I'm so glad for the opportunity she and I have had to engage in some really meaningful conversations.

There will always be someone out there who is better at some things than you are. Even though you might be very good, someone can probably do it better. Who is your best competition? Yourself. Just try to improve your performance from week to week. And never hop out of the "pool" yelping it up that you were the winner before taking into consideration the number of "heats". Be pleased with your efforts, feel good about yourself but it's always better to congratulate all of the those around you on a job well done.

Not what I thought we would learn from our first year at this sport, but so much more than I ever dreamed my girl would take with her.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Some more summer

What will they think up next?

Eliza's into sharing.

Pebbles is not into sharing, especially when it comes to sharp sticks.

What started as Ash on a joy ride ...

Turned into Ash and Oreo on a rickshaw date. (And yes, I do feed that boy)

Next thing you know, everyone's begging for a spin ...

Redonkulous ... all of it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Weekend tidbits

This is a combined post, because I can't really have one without the other.

Scout camp -- the one that sent me into labor last year earlier than expected. Another year older and these boys are now 11 year old scouts and it was my privilege to be served dinner by them in their camp last night.

Why do I love scouting? Yes, good things are learned like how to build fires, sharpen knives and shoot a bow and arrow. But aside from all that, when I discovered that my boy learned to do this at scouts, you can bet I put him to work.

The best thing about eleven year old scouts is that they don't think everything is dumb quite yet and aren't above singing over birthday donuts to a one year old girl brought into this world as a result of their camp.

Eleven and one, both really great ages.

Tonight we did our family thing. Annie made the cake, everyone helped blow the candle, the only thing missing was our dad working in Germany.

How do you know when a child comes at the end of a long line of others? Wrapping paper is labeled a distraction, and never before seen, gently used "presents" come up from a u-haul storage box in the basement. Just as good in my opinion.

Get a load of the death grip on the head of that baby doll. There was no sharing going on there.

Happy June 26th! Certainly a special day for us.

E's 1!

I know, I know ... not another picture of that baby! And I apologize up front because this has the potential, at this time of night, to become mournful.

You see, a year ago tonight, she came into our lives. Planning our family had heretofore been so easy. After one came two, and then eighteen months later, number three, followed effortlessly by four and inevitably five. And then we hit a dry spell causing us to think that just maybe, despite what we felt, there were no more left in the cue for us.

We were excited to add another after such a long wait (or at least I was, but then I'm addicted to babies). A victim of not being able to slow down and take things a little easier, I ran faster than needful and Eliza's early entrance to the world cut short my work at our cub scout day camp. Funny now how I thought if I just went to sleep that night, it would all go away and I wouldn't have to tell my husband that I'd overworked myself into some real trouble ... not so funny then.

I remember being so scared. Being too early, I asked every nurse in that hospital to tell me what they thought the outcome would be. Not liking one answer, I'd tearfully turn to another for something better. But when the air hit her lungs and I heard that robust cry, I can't describe the flood of relief.

I also can't describe the irritation at having her held captive in the NICU but that's a longer story than I care to tell here.

We have literally soaked up every single moment of this girl's first year.

She's been our every source of entertainment.

I've not wanted to miss a thing. And I honestly can say, there's not one regret. I've felt a little saddened at times with some of my other babies that a little less note was taken of a baby's cuteness simply because a toddlers needs had to be met. But not this time.

I've looked at every moment as though it were the last which has had it's own pain and difficulties. I would do this forever if I could. I love it so. And I love Eliza so fiercly it hurts sometimes. Just give me a dozen more of her and I'd be the happiest mom on earth.

Happy 1st birthday, E! I'm so grateful we didn't give up on you because life just wouldn't have felt complete. You light up all of our lives and fill our hearts daily.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Making it look easy

There are certain women in this world that I just click with. I mean, it's like we really were meant to be sisters but there just wasn't enough room in my heap of a wholelotta family to hold all of the gals that were cut out of the same fabric as I was.

And sometimes, but only sometimes, there are women that I feel like I have to break the ice with every time we get together in order to get back to that comfortably companionable feeling we left off with the last time we visited. It does eventually come around, but I catch myself wondering why there has to be this "sizing up" dance before being able to just sit and talk about life.

I think that's why I love, love, love that no matter where we go or who we go with, my children find instant friends.

Take today for instance. We head to the park, my daughter spies a girl her age, she marches over, they invent a game ... and by the time I'm ready to leave, I feel so darn guilty that I'm pulling her away from her new "bestest-friend-in-the-whole-entire-world-for-this-moment-in time-though-we'll-make-another-one-at-our-next-stop".

Wouldn't it be nice if it were all so uncomplicated? I just love that quality in my children. To be able to open up so entirely freely with no notice whatsoever. To find connections with people and feel bonded after only a short amount of time. I know we try to teach children to be wary of strangers, but I love how innocence makes friendship so easy. It tells me that my children are completely confident in themselves.

And I'm so glad when they get attached to really great kids who are cut out of the same fabric as they are. These guys are the best and though our visits with one another have been so few and far between, it's nice to have friends that can just pick up where we left off.

I do enjoy great friends.

Until the next time...

We'll miss you.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Downsize: Part II

Time. I'm always saying it feels like my worst enemy. How quickly I can look up and realize that a week has passed or three, or even a couple of months. Weren't we just doing Christmas and now donning swimming suits and sun screen?

When I began this family journey, I had all sorts of plans. I wanted to pull up a chair in the driveway and watch children ride bikes. I wanted to play kickball in the yard as the sun sank over the trees. I wanted early morning walks with my kids. I wanted boardgames and puzzles on rainy afternoons.

What happened?

It crept in slowly, I think. First child was old enough to learn a musical instrument and off we went. Second would be so cute in a spring sport though he couldn't even read. Flash forward thirteen years and every child has their interest and that's saying nothing of the scouting, church night activities, school plays, musicals, councils and clubs each is involved in.

And so we come to Downsize: Part II. Yes, Downsize: Part I has really freed up life. It's amazing how quickly we can clean up a de-junked house and that leaves way more time to spend together. But, the other cluttered part of life has heretofore been the cram in of more activities than one mom can handle.

For instance --- this is the one that pushed me literally over the edge -- middle school track.

We'd just concluded a middle school musical, were in the midst of an elementary school play, wrapping up basketball, finishing ballet, still swimming in prep for summer swim team, 4H picking up for the summer projects ... and so on and so forth, and she brought me the track form. I was really, really ready for a break but that "all my friends are in it together" thing got to me because she's my oldest and eldest often have to do a lot for families and sometimes their needs can get a little overlooked. I tried to envision us wearing our Derby hats and eating fried chicken on the green grass in the pleasant sunshine as we watched our girl run. And so, I let her sign up for the track team.

It was miserable. It rained every meet. I was always late. Sometimes events were cancelled. And one very, very cold afternoon I stood jumping up and down for warmth as the baby in the stroller cried and the children I'd brought with me had crawled up under said stroller to find any shelter from the wind ... I broke. Enough is enough and this was not what it's all about.

See, all this time I've been telling myself that each child was involved in just one thing and that was working well. But ... then it started not working to the point that I couldn't get by some afternoons without calling in back up. I do so love a man who can sit me down and set me straight when I've gone off course. One evening, he brought to my attention all that we really were doing and it looked something like this:

Whoa! Each child with every little involvement was bleeding me dry!

Then we put down our goals for our children and moved each activity on the above list to show the goal that it supported:

Wouldn't you know it? Not much of what the kids were doing fed into the goals?

Now, I'm a little hardheaded and for me, it's really difficult to give some things up once I've sunk so much time and energy into them. But with the onset of summer and the wrap up of so many activities, there's been so much more time to enjoy each other. Let me tell you, it's nice. Would I give up the involvement in all of the activities to be more involved in the lives these people I love so much? You bet.

So, back to Downsize: Part II -- undertaking less extracurriculars will give more time to create quality relationships built through meaningful family activities. I'm sold on it now more than ever. Especially after our relaxing beach vacation where we just soaked each other in. There's good stuff ... and there's great stuff. Now, that doesn't mean I'm ready to have the kids give up everything. But, we definitely need a better balance and a huge scale back ... and I'm so ready to celebrate the great stuff of life with my favorite people on earth. The only trick left is to sell it to the kids ...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Daze

I'm in love with summer and here's why. Loads of creativity pouring forth and lots of time to watch it unfold.

First there was this idea.

Turning into this.

There was only one solution.

Becoming the greatest way to spend a hot afternoon.

Nothing like a warm, soapy bucket of water to watch siblings run through cold sprinklers from.

Hope your hot days are memorable.