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

-- Robert Frost

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In a moment

When I look at this picture I found, taken a year ago, I can still feel the weight of that baby laying across me.  I can feel the bouncing of her cheeks as she worked that pacifier against my chest.  I can smell the baby shampoo scent of her hair.  I imagine those arms draped so comfortably around my torso.  I remember the nagging in the back of my brain to loose that last bit of baby weight accompanied by the comforting reassurance that a nursing baby would do her job and our closeness would one day be so missed.  I was afraid to move, afraid to break the spell.

Janie sat beside me on Sunday watching a baby held over the shoulder of a grandparent on the bench in front of us. Eliza hung on my legs.  "Mom," Janie whispered to me, "doesn't it amaze you that Eliza was just that size and how quickly she learned to crawl and walk and become a little girl."

Her whisperings hurt and I squeezed my arm around her shoulders a little bit tighter.

"It amazes me that you were just that same size what seems like ten minutes ago," I whispered back in her ear.

And I spend the rest of the meeting holding back a flood of emotion.

I take pictures with my camera to remember what I can and when I can't, I close my eyes and breathe inwardly, reminding myself to capture this moment and never forget it.   I can't count the number of times I've lingered a hug, kissed one more time, soaked in the softness of skin or frozen a moment all the while telling myself, "Don't let this go, it will pass all too quickly."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Here today, gone tomorrow

That was then:

This is now:

If summer won't come to us, we'll have to go to it.  We're off to my native southern lands for an extended stay and a long awaited chance to enjoy every moment with each other.

So, if you've been stalking our blog and waiting for your chance to break into our home and rob us blind, this is it, I suppose.  However, if you've been reading for very long you'll also know that we don't have any money, no television to take, or video game playing gadgets to steal.

4 AM -- don't we look excited??

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wrappin' it up III

Massive amounts of rain have turned outdoor end-of-the-year activities into indoor game days. We're soggy and glad we didn't bust it to put in our garden this week because it would have washed away anyway.  We're also glad to see the fire danger diminishing.

Here's the end of our recent happenings:

Grant took a trip with Paddington to England and read his report to the class.  He looked so tiny up there in front of everyone, but loved being the center of attention.  And ... he was pleased as punch to serve fish and chips .. even if his mother did cut corners by simply heating fish sticks and steak fries.  He was the hit of the parade and I loved seeing his handwriting up on the overhead.

Rose and Windex are getting bigger.  Too bad Windex is a rooster.

My girls fell in love with umbrellas at the store.  They worked washing windows for some pocket money and were pleased as punch with a trip to make their hard earned purchases.
And then waited ... and waited .... and waited for rain.

It's raining now.  Time to build an ark.

And School's out School's out the Teacher's let the Monkeys out.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My first field trip

When I was in middle school, our class took a field trip to the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina.  I was anxious for my mother to experience it's fairytale majesty and begged her to chaperone.  

She did.

It wasn't until recently, that I've thought on the importance of that trip.  What it must have taken for her to arrange the schedules of eight other children to take a trip with me that would return well into the evening.  How it must have been to ride a school bus as a grown up, all that way and back again.  How it felt to be surrounded by eye rolling teenagers and try to elicit conversation from me and my friends.

I've always had a sibling at home and a hard working husband whose schedule never affording me a chance to chaperone a field trip.  So, when Celia came home waving her trip to the zoo and a friend offered to take Eliza anytime, I seized the opportunity, realizing my last chance with this one had come and high school would probably include far fewer chances.


See that look begging me to bag the camera?

And now I know, Mom, what that feels like.  More importantly, it means so much to me that you willingly spent all your time on your children.  One day, I hope she'll look back on our time together and feel the same way I do now.  I'm just grateful she gave me the opportunity to tag along in her world for a day.       

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wrappin' it up: Part II

I totally feel like I should rip my blouse to reveal my supermom costume lying underneath this week.

Just kidding.

It has been one year-end event after another and I've flown around at warp speed with baby and camera on board.  Granted, I caught my cape in the door more than a few times making me late but late or not, each time it seemed I'd made it just in time to put a smile on a face.  I never really knew my presence would be noticed much less so appreciated.   

This time of year, I always relate to this sign coming down our freeway from the mountains.  It describes my feelings every day as I struggle to balance all the year end stuff while keeping kids motivated to finish up projects, tests, and homework.

So, again, if you aren't a grandparent of these kids, this might not interest you, but here's more of our "wrappin' it up" stuff that I don't won't to forget.

These cute bestest friends at the fifth grade Characters in American History Wax Museum.  

An Honorable Mention Art Award.  I did get to see Celia's display at the show.

Do you remember having to stand on risers and sing to parents in the sixth grade?  This enforced show choir extravaganza was NOT cool to my middle school boy.  He tried to throw a bunch of stuff from my kitchen cupboard into a toilet and convince me he was vomiting and couldn't go.  Nice try.
We're supposed to never speak of this experience again.

But afterward, he let me take him to dinner .. just me and him.  Boy was it an eye opener to see him for the young man he is and not just the boy-who's-supposed-to-take-out-the trash-but-always-forgets, that I thought he was.

I swung by the school to grab a glimpse of field day on my way home from a church committee meeting.  A lot of parents come to this one but kids running all over rarely notice they are there.  I've huddled on the sidelines with a cranky baby too many times so I usually sit this one out.   Grant's look of un-expectation to see me there, tickled me.

I missed Janie's class.  They'd already evacuated the field from the rain.  I caught her through the classroom door, resting and enjoying a story from the teacher. Fun to watch her without being noticed but man, does she wear that coat everywhere or what?!  I even have to ask her to take it off and stay awhile when we are home :) 

I think Annie was panicked I wouldn't make it.  She was right.  Those darn loaves of bread I was baking for teacher gifts had risen slower than I'd anticipated.  But make it I did, to see her awarded the "Character Award" as one who loves and cares for all others steadfastly.
I can tell by her face that she was relieved when she sat back down and saw that I was, in fact, beaming from the back of the room.  

Here's where this teacher and I got teary.  She was an answer to some very heartfelt prayer over the needs of my girl.  I'll be eternally grateful for her love and dedication to our daughter.
And see .. I'm teary all over again just thinking of this beautiful teacher.

So to end on a high note ... school talent show and a girl who at first wanted to sing or pluck something out on the piano.  "Everyone sings or plays," says I, "But who can do an unforgettable hula hoop routine??"  Here's a practice run.

Only Janie. 

Yes, we generally look like ragamuffins.  And if you're wondering, Janie keeps her homemade first aid kit on her belt loop because she seems to get injured a lot.  

Amidst the school library books that need returning, end of the year party collections, influx of unused materials waiting for organization, and quick trips to save that one child who forgot that one thing ... I remember the words of a wise friend with grown children reminding me that once they are in school, it's amazing how quickly time passes as the years click off.  She was so right.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Meat Quality Assurance.  It's a state required class to gain certification to medicate, tag and treat agricultural animals safely and humanely for consumable sales.

It's fun and gets these kids excited for our upcoming livestock project leading to the sale of their chickens in the fair at summer's end.  It's for kids, by kids with so much to learn.  

One thing I learned ...  I do not ever, and I mean ever, want my kids to give me a shot intravenously, subcutaneously, intramuscularly, or otherwise should I ever need one and that includes epinephrine to jump start my heart if I'm out cold and headed into the light ... not ever. 

Did I emphasize EVER? Wielding a needle don't necessarily mean qualified to use it.  Just ask Chuck.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wrappin' it up

Who isn't wrapping up the end of school with parties, projects, concerts, and graduations?  For us, this week will hold a few. If you aren't a grandparent or relative of these kids, this may not be of interest.  Just the same, I'm documenting because it never ceases to amaze me how quickly the years click off most especially while kids are in school and this year is almost at an end.  Where did the time go?

Celia and her violin teacher, Rene.  He has one of those accent marks over that last "e" in his name and I misspell that last name on every check. Rene is Dutch and so amazing.

It's only taken 10 years to get this girl to sit up straight and look like a real violinist.

I get a catch in my throat listening to them play their hearts out.  Anything that takes dedication makes my eyes sting a little and I adored the second movement of this Celtic tune.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I know ... right???

We're talkin' end of school ... one week to summer vaca ... and then Mother Nature goes all bi-polar on us !?!

Coats, gloves, shorts, flip flops, every school paper and art project from the year's beginning accompanied by stacks and stacks of unwanted paraphernalia from the classrooms at year's end.

Let's just put everything into play and see if the disorganization can't make a mom as loony as Mother Nature herself, shall we?

Still ... it was pretty.   

And wet, sticky, spring snowfall makes the best of snowballs.

And I only say that because it's melting rapidly and for that I'm grateful. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Paving the Road -- May

When the weather turns warm, I get a picture in my head of two girls from my past.  They stand over a kitchen sink in the stagnant heat of a southern afternoon.  There are no breezes.  Nothing stirs but a bug or two in quick pursuit.  It's the kind of heat that makes long hair stick to the neck and the air breathed in is damp with it's own sweat.  In this case, though, there isn't enough money to even look at the air conditioning.

The view from the window over the kitchen sink shows blue mountains in the distance, hazed by the heat and moderately sheltered from view by green trees of various varieties.  One girl washes the dishes and the other girl dries.  One girl looses herself in those distance mountain views as the other impatiently awaits the next dish to wipe and stack on the shelf.

Irritated by the waiting, accentuated by the heat, my drying sister turned to me with an exasperated sigh, "Could you not work so halfast!"  Older and wiser, my eyebrows flew up bringing me back into the kitchen, back into the soapy water, from the blueridge mountains beyond.  "What did you say?"  The younger one repeats, "You move so halfast ... you know ... half as fast as the rest of the world!  Just get done already!"

Not quite the term as I had heard it but, with a giggle, one I've used to describe myself with ever since.

Halfast.  Half as fast at getting the job done.

I used to joke that if I ever started a blog it, too, would be called "Halfast".  I'd make it about all the "halfast" projects of my life.  Like the box containing a cross stitch begun by my teenage self, an afghan making project initiated by a patient grandmother to an unfocused grandchild, some unfinished christmas decoration crafts, a church quiet book started for a first child, photo albums containing half the pictures.  That box is in the closet next to a number of dresses with unstitched linings, not a hook&eye sewn where they should be.  Come out of the closet to where the wall paint line stops, to the duvet still awaiting buttons, right next to the curtains that behind the couch are still pinned-not-hemmed, taking a look at the picture gallery partially hung, and the table runner folded over to keep the stuffing from showing.

My sister says it's a disease.  The starting, never finishing ... the "halfastness".

It's not always the case but sometimes it is.

And so, in keeping with finishing my spring clean, organize, saying goodbye to the indoors as my heart heads outside to soak up every ray  .. until school gets out, I'm going to pave my road to summer by finishing a few projects.  No more dreading what needs doing.  No more moving half as fast as others at seeing things through to completion.  It's time to be a finisher and hope it's one little thing that will make all the difference.

Monday, May 9, 2011

No expecations

This was the year of the greatest mother's day ever. 

I chatted with my best girlfriend on Friday about Mother's day weekend tending to leave me feeling frustrated and less than motherly as I continue to referee arguments and mop up oceans of tears on a day that is supposed to feel special.  She boiled it down to the simple yet ugly truth.  I had expectations.  Best girlfriends are like good mirrors.

After taking that hard look, this year I changed my perspective.  Rather than entering in with expectations of being celebrated, I focused more on the celebration that I am so lucky to be the mother here.

It made all the difference.  Every little kind word spoken, dish done, homemade gift given, hand held, hug squeezed, ring of laughter, goodnight kiss, and yes ... even tear stopped ... held a deeper meaning.  I get to be their mother, day in and day out, for better or worse.

Favorite things, memories made and a weekend not soon forgotten:

First grade mother's tea on Friday
Saturday breakfast out and park fun
A dad led window washing party, inside and out :)
A clean chicken coop  :)  :) 
A clean car :)  :)  :)
Sunday homemade gifts and secrets revealed
Dinner and dishes done just for me
Soaking in the best weather yet
Sun bathing with kids and pre-planning our summer
Listening to their music and sharing in conversations
Helping with a hula hoop routine for a school talent show
Movie night as a family
Several outings together on a new ride for both me and E.
Beautiful flowers
And time with a good dad who makes it all possible.

Thanks to the best kids and dad, for making me feel lucky to get to be the mother here and making me feel celebrated all at the same time. It couldn't have been a more perfect weekend than to be privileged to build more memories with you.  It was the greatest of mothering days.

Friday, May 6, 2011

16 years

With fairytale wedding buzz of late, I couldn't help but give a lot of thought to my own fairytale day.  It was the happiest day of my life .. so far.

I married my royalty with promises unimaginable.  I'm so lucky to be able to spend my happily ever after, forever after with you.  My heart is yours to eternity and back.

Happy Anniversary, Newel.