Thursday, April 29, 2010

First Fruits


The first ripe berry made its debut this week: red, ripe, and sweet. The picture doesn't quite do it justice, but I had to move fast. That berry didn't last long. Every day, Audrey runs out to check the strawberry plants for pops of red peeking out from green leaves (of course, sometimes she gets a bit eager and plucks an underripe one thinking it will pink up while sitting on the counter). Hopefully, several more crimson ones will find their way to her fingertips. Tis the season...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Remember Me?


When Audrey made this shirt for her little brother, I could not imagine the days when he would be close to outgrowing it, or just how fitting this shirt would be. Bright like his eyes. Made sweeter by its imperfections. Too soft not to touch. Too cute to stop staring at. And, ironically, were his sister to put a target on his back, it would be a heart-shaped, and quickly attacked by sisterly love.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Goldilocks






Sometimes, it is not enough
to watch from the windows,
to wait out the storm,
to witness your world awash,
a living watercolor.


Sometimes, it is too much
to remember your favorite rain boots,
to wrestle with a zipper,
to rest underneath the long-reaching
fan of an umbrella.


Sometimes, you must give way,
go now, at once, bare-toed
into blurry, shadowed puddles
to linger ankle-deep,
to leave your mark.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Bag, A Bouquet, A Birthday


Yesterday I mentioned that we got a full dose of weekend, complete with a little bit of celebrating. My older, yet, younger-looking (I'm not just saying this, a few years ago she was asked if she was going to prom while having her nails done. My sister had gone to prom - a decade or so before) sister had a birthday. I had a present in the works. My sister and brother-in-law, like many of us with little kids and a sudden excess of "stuff," have been trying to reorganize and simplify things around their house. Both are neat by nature, so I was aiming for a gift that might be of some use, not just one more thing to organize or toss out later.


I settled on what I'll call produce bags - part mesh/part printed fabric with a drawstring and toggle closure. My goal was to make a set of three in different sizes with different fabrics that she could take to the farmer's market, the store, or even the beach to collect shells with her son - the possibilities are a bit endless. My free time, however, was not. I finished one bag before we stopped by her house to wish her a happy birthday. What's a little sister to do when her project comes up short? Grab a bouquet of her sister's favorite flowers and go on her celebrating way. Luckily, big sisters tend to grant their much less-organized little sisters a little leeway. Just one more thing to celebrate.


*I wish I could tell you where I got the inspiration for the bag. I saw it somewhere, most likely a book or magazine. In my idea pile was a simple sketch and some dimensions, halfway written down, which means I must have been interrupted by a certain toddler before I finished writing down the dimensions or a description of the directions. Sorry for the dark picture. What can I say, that's the quality you get when the photographer, ahem, forgets to take a picture until riding in the backseat of a car to her sister's house, sandwiched by her babes, on a cloudy rainy day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 67


The house has been put to bed. The kids. The husband. The dog. I sit: alone at the kitchen table, piles of things (laundry, dishes, papers) still undone surrounding me. This is not quite where I imagined I would be at the beginning of this week, but this weekend (like so many that leave us tucked in early restoring ourselves for the beginning of the week) came about a bit unexpectedly. It began with news of a minor (at least to the people involved, not the cars) accident.

A friend was driving along a two-lane road when she stopped to turn left. While waiting for on-coming traffic to pass, her car was struck from behind by another vehicle traveling between thirty and forty miles an hour. Our friend's car was totalled upon impact, as was the teenager's mood who had been driving the other vehicle. Upon exiting her car, she said, "My mother's going to kill me. This is the second car I've totalled today." The day had yet to reach noon.

The now-carless friend made a phone call. After which, Jason received a phone call. His best friend was hopping in a spare car to make a mere fifteen-hour drive to drop said car off to said carless friend. We would be playing overnight hosts and chauffeur to the airport in the unfolding random act of generosity.

I'm not going to lie. We felt like quite the fortunate bystanders of a rather unfortunate act. We spent Saturday night staying up too late taking advantage of the unexpected visit. We were woken up way too early this morning by an excited little someone too eager to hang out with her "Uncle Boo" (and his oldest son, who she referred to as "Tire," who we picked up along the way to spend the evening with us) to sleep.

Piles sat neglected. The Week in Review was left undone. I neglected to tell you that we have spent countless hours this week in serious make-believe play focused on reenacting Audrey's favorite stories. Goodnight Gorilla (complete with props: monkey hat for a costume, stuffed animals as the zoo animals, plastic keys, and an empty toilet paper roll serving as a flashlight) was revisited again and again. I was sent to find a ribbon to improve scenes from Angelina Ballerina that involved rhythmic dancing.

While a fair amount of our days was spent physically pretending to be others, the rest of the week focused on our typical roles and who we are when we don't let the physical restrain us:

On Monday, Audrey asked, "Mommy, can I call you dude?"

Later that day she was listening to a song in the car. The lyrics referred to making His will your choice. She changed it to "I'm going to make a bad choice," and refused to believe me when I told her that the lyrics were a touch different (which sums up one facet of the trial-and-error nature of toddlerhood better than any story I could tell you).

Tuesday she asked, "Why do they keep coming?"
"What?" I said.
"Feelings."

Wednesday, as I was leaving her room after putting her to bed, she called out from the dark, "Love you. I'll see you in my heart."

This week has been filled with an uneven pace of moments: the rush of a toddler tossed and caught in the air; the scurry for shoes and bags when one flight time was delayed and a sooner flight found; the slow sway of David Ott's Evensong at the Cathedral as an infant drifts to sleep and you ponder the glint of setting sun through stained glass windows upon polished wood; the lingering thoughts of a weekend well spent - a man well grown, who notices when your glass is empty or your hands are too full, with a near-grown son (fourteen - really?!) who is all the best parts of his father.

I am surrounded by piles, things left undone. My husband, my kids, my dog, my house, safely tucked in for the night with me moments from joining them. My mind and body tired. My heart full. Everything just as it should be. Oh those feelings...they just keep on coming.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Moment of Slow


Before I had children, I used to make cards. Bundles of cards. Most of them were traced, my artistic ability only extending so far, in a mass-produced sort of way. The creation of them, possibly due to the mindlessness of mass production once you get so far into the process, always felt a bit cathartic, meditative. Two children later, I found myself snagging pretty thank you notes and stationary from stores, the new goal simply finding a few moments to jot down some thoughts and get the correspondence in the mail.

Tonight, I sat surrounded by a collection of acrylic paint, brushes, plain stationary, and a list of names of friends I've been thinking of lately. To my right was the hum of the dryer and the rumble of the mixer shifting flour, sugar, and butter into cookie dough. To my left were the sounds of the NFL draft and my husband's commentary. In the middle - the kitchen table and cool blue brush strokes on heavy paper. A moment of still. Quiet. Dip, blot, repeat. Occasionally, my thoughts wandered. A comment from a sports announcer would catch my ear and I'd find myself reminded of the animal auction at the 4-H fair when I sold my meat pen of rabbits. Poor boys. My brush would touch down awkwardly on paper and I would catch myself considering that had I been born Japanese, I would have most likely failed character drawing class. I would pause, drop more flour into the mixer (after thoroughly washing my hands), and return to the paint. A list of treasured names. Blank paper just waiting. A moment of smooth, calm rhythm - dip, blot, repeat - inside a lighted buzzing house.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Very Merry UnBirthday to You


Yesterday was a Tuesday, a typical workday for most. It also happened to be my birthday. This birthday was about as unassuming as a Tuesday. No entrance into a new decade or life phase, a hefty but not obscene amount of candles due for the cake. We had already celebrated the weekend before with a fancy (yet comfy on the dress code) dinner and movie out. I planned on yesterday being an ordinary day. And, in large part it was. Jason had to head out early for a meeting (due to a firefighter's convention downtown, the meeting was farther away than usual and a hotel room had been booked for him to spend the night due to evening and early morning events, which he assists in running). The kids and I ran to the fabric store for supplies for a new project. At lunch, Audrey and I discussed the latest books she's listened to over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (mine all peanut butter, hers all jelly). We enjoyed one of Grammy's routine visits to spoil the kids with her attention and time.

On our calendar of events, things seemed pretty ordinary. But my email's inbox buzzed all day. Cards arrived in the mail and family members called. Grammy left and Audrey insisted that we bake a cake. (I have come to realize that in the child's version of the dictionary, next to the word "birthday" is a picture of cake - candle-torched icing-dripping cake). So, that's what we did. I pulled ingredients from the pantry and Audrey ran for her wooden stool. On weekends as we make pancakes, Jason tends to play music. I assume that, to Audrey, our cake-baking session must have felt like a Saturday, because my tech savvy little girl scuttled up the kitchen counter and managed (rather proudly) to turn the ipod on. In minutes we were baking to the breezy sounds of Colbie Caillat.

The cake was in the oven when I received a text message. "Leaving soon. What do you want me to pick up for dinner?" Jason had canceled his hotel room. He was going to get home a bit later than usual. He was going to have to go to bed a bit earlier than usual. He was going to have to wake up much earlier than usual. (On the whole, it may not have made much sense). But it was my birthday and he planned on showing up, dinner in hand.

I often like to celebrate the ordinary: a beautiful Monday might warrant the return of our hammock to the lawn; Nathan's laugh leads to an hour of nighttime play when we should both be asleep; Audrey's wonder at the rain stems to raincoats, boots, and a walk through the puddles. But sometimes, on a Tuesday, it's nice to be celebrated amongst the ordinary - to be pulled up by the kind words of others, the sweet gestures. For others to go to the trouble of showing up, of baking you a cake. Thank you to everyone for making an ordinary day one I was happy to call my own. A very merry unbirthday to you!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fairytale Realities


Isn't there a fairytale about a slumbering giant? The details are fuzzy, but I seem to remember a story in which people didn't realize they had stumbled upon (quite literally) a giant until he awoke. That once still hill was not at all what it had seemed, rather something full of life and bigger than they. Spring is like that giant. I am writing from behind the view of a backyard teeming with green leaves and slick blades of grass, sprouts of thyme, blossoming raspberry bushes, and bright orange marigolds. Just months ago, this yard was still a slumbering giant. A quiet mass of subdued whites and smoky grays. During that lull of hush and snow, we crept quietly - blanketed - unaware of the giant just below the surface. Now roused, the snowy sleep shaken from the corner of his eyes, we realize - even more this year - the magnitude of spring: heralded by a call to life - in our family, a very specific newborn life. Saturday, I was given a new nephew (I suppose I will share him with the rest of this excited family - if I must).


Today, he is new. But, parenthood (like spring) carries its own distinct muscle memory. Today, his cry will be a signal of the unfamiliar: calls for requests brand new. But soon, my sister will find herself gazing into the face of her four-month-old son: long lashes and firecracker eyes a well-studied masterpiece. He will laugh at her and with her. As he shares his opinion in smiles and encouraged coos, his parents will swear that somehow, someway he has always been: this body of untapped hope and potential - full of life and bigger than they. A quietly slumbering giant. Welcome to the world, Greyson.


*The picture above is not of Greyson (since I didn't ask permission) but of our own four-month-old slumbering giant.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 66




Oh Sunday, you always know just where to find me: my face in the cool blast of manufactured air, contemplating the just filled (or just emptied, whichever the case may be) shelves of the refrigerator, strung out on the high of a week's worth of family, friends, and activities. The last seven days are a near blur. Surely, I am hallucinating. Surely, this little man of mine is not embarking on four months, attempting to crawl and cut teeth, and still impersonating Billy Crystal. Surely, Audrey has not found yet another use for buckets and dirt, tried on five new vocabulary words for size, and worn one of her favorite dresses for perhaps, the last time. Not to mention, talking to a little (yet slightly older and very chivalrous) boy through the fence posts. Yes, we're definitely considering that last one a hallucination. Mama is not ready for certain things yet.

As for the other equally unbelievable events of last week, let me get to writing them down. Lest my sleep-deprived mind start playing tricks on me and I forget:

Last Sunday, while in the car, Audrey said, "I'm happy, but part of me is sad. I'm trying to get my whole face happy."


On Monday, she found me writing with a purple pencil. In lieu of a normal eraser is an enormous eyeball-shaped one. Audrey asked why the pencil was sporting a giant eyeball. I told her I got it when I went to the eye doctor a year ago.

"How did you drive there with no eyes?" she asked.


Later, she informed me while opening a cabinet door, "I'm going to hide this crayon in this drawer so you can't take it away from me."


We drove by a hospital on Wednesday. Audrey gazed at it from her window. "What is that castle?" she asked. "Does Daddy work there?"


I had bedtime duty Thursday night. Audrey was wrapped around me, her arms and legs hanging down my sides and back as we made our way up the stairs.
"You have a beautiful house," she said.
"Thank you. Aren't we lucky God gave us such a beautiful house?"
"Yes. You're beautiful," she said. (Yes. Yes, I am feeling pretty lucky, as if God just gave me the keys to his favorite beemer to borrow and cruise around town with for a while. What? You thought God drove American?)


Saturday morning I was brushing Audrey's teeth. She had run her hands back and forth under the faucet.
"I'm sorry. I got water on you," she said.
"It's okay. It will dry."
"Why?"
"That's just what water does, honey," I answered.
"Mom, you're a genius."
I laughed.
"Only mans can be genius?" she asked.
"No honey. Women can be genius."


Audrey is in the habit of making up songs to express her mood or tell stories. Saturday as we drove to Lowes she sang:

"My brother is not a big girl yet. He's just a little boy. But he's getting bigger. Soon he'll be a queen."


Saturday night at dinner Audrey turned to Jason. "You need to behave mom."
"What about mom?" he asked.
"She's nice."


I know I'm slightly sleep-deprived. But, how is it that just yesterday I was kissing the top of Audrey's head, taking in the smell of baby shampoo, and this evening when I kissed her head I suddenly found myself crunching down on something resembling the grit of sand? Surely, she was just in onesies and not putting on her own sweatshirt backwards. I must be hallucinating.
Who else has the munchies?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Song










The calendar claims it's spring, but the days have been wearing more like the tank tops of summer: full sun with a breeze against your arms. Outside days. Bare feet upon spongy grass days. Days when you can hear your neighbors' business through thin window screens. Zoey, you better find your way home now. It's eight-thirty and your mama's calling you in. Days for planning and planting, watering can in hand - mama catching through her lens that before summer's end her little one may need a big metal watering can to call her own. Muscles weary by day's end, but eyes still alight with visions of new beginnings: the sprouts of the ground, the return of feathers to air, baby toes digging into carpet trying to push forward. Using up all the strands of day until we retreat to shade and home and table. At last tucking into some bread, and dreaming of meals of the harvest to come.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Birthday Bag

Today is a sweet little one's birthday: my namesake to be exact. She is vibrant and full of sunshine (as all Kristins are, I assure you). And four. Oh my. Thinking upon four and all its mystery, I snuck away to the guest room, where the sewing machine lives, Monday night. I searched through my fabric stash, selecting one modern print and a floral print passed on from my mother's stash (and most likely decades old) to mine. Then I got to work on a little bag - the artsy clutch from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing. The clutch is a no-fuss lined bag and fastens with a button and elastic cording. Just right for a no-fuss four-year-old with treasures to collect and store.


Morning light revealed a complete project and a few flaws that escaped the veil of nighttime lighting. The sweet little flowers that I had thought were yellow the night before are actually orange, which I think looks just fine. What doesn't look so fine are the brown spots left behind by an overzealous iron on the lining fabric. One spot was visible on the outside through a white spot. I covered it with a button and then threw on a couple of others for some four-year-old flair. As for the others, I'm telling myself that they are on the lining of a four-year-old's bag, a child whose name does not end with Bagley or Mischka, who (if anything like her namesake at four) will promptly fill the bag with dirt-covered rocks. (I'm also telling myself it's time to invest in a lamp). Oh four. The adventures to be had, the memories to collect...


*The butterfly hair clip was inspired by one I noticed as Audrey was getting her hair cut at a children's salon.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sweet Seedlings



I love a yummy shade of green,




and food that feels like a celebration,




especially those dishes that pack their own party favors.



But most of all, I love to relive the perfect combination of large seeds in pint-sized hands - hands grasping the difference between smooth and rough, big and little, seed and fruit. Small, small hands ripe with potential. Ready to explore. Ready to burst forth. Ready to grow.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Weekend









Some much awaited sunshine, a few healthy scoops of dirt, a handful of fruit plants, and a whole lot of wardrobe. As winter gives way to spring, we find our little girl letting go of toddler ways, eager to wear her newfound independence. Literally. On those days that she dresses herself, I can't help but think we've entered the Pippi Longstocking age: the age of spunk and sass, big dreams, and dirty fingernails. Oh the dirty fingernails on these early days of spring.


* I would like to say that no strawberry plants were injured during the production of this photo shoot. But, only time will tell.

Friday, April 9, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 65


Someone in this family has been making big strides this week: rolls to be exact. Nathan rolled over today. He's been building up to this performance all week, rolling on his side just to find himself stuck on an arm. But not today. Today he showed that arm who's boss. Audrey and I were involved in a game of pretend. Nathan was lying on his back. Audrey told me I needed to take a nap before we drove to one of the grandparents' houses. When I opened my eyes, Nate was on his belly. Just like that. When he's not amazing us with his physical feats, he makes us laugh as he sleeps. Most days he treats us to a Billy Crystal impersonation as he settles into sleep, as in Mr. Crystal's portrayal of Harry moaning himself to sleep in When Harry Met Sally. Nate moans until he finds that peaceful point of rest, at which time he presents us with a little smile (and really, don't we all want to feel like that when he finally hit the pillow?). But on Tuesday, he began giggling in his sleep. No explanation why. No flickering of the lids. Just sleep and laughter. I will always wonder what dream elicited such a sweet sound.

As for Audrey, the laughs roll from sun up to sundown. Here are just a sprinkling of the ones she's elicited this week:

Audrey came downstairs from bath time with Daddy on Saturday. Jason had a smile on his face. He asked Audrey to repeat what she had told him upstairs. "I have a baby in my belly," she said. "It's baby Jesus, or baby Moses. Or, it might be both. But I'm not having it yet." (Today she reminded me of the baby Jesus and Moses she's growing in her belly. Again, she told me she wasn't having them yet. Thankfully. I need time to alert the appropriate cable stations).


My mother called on Sunday as we were parked (short on gas) on the roadside. When I hung up, Audrey asked, "Who was that?"
"Mamaw. She called to see if we were still stuck," I said.
"And we are still stuck," she said.


Wednesday we were getting ready to leave the house. Audrey ran out to the garage. She told me she wanted to help me get ready. She overturned an empty cardboard box, stood on top of it and reached for the garage door opener. She hit a button, which opened one of the garage doors - the one on the carless side of our garage. "Oops. That's the wrong one," she said. "That's cool!"


Thursday, I told her we were headed to a neighbor's house. "We're going to Miss Ginger's house," I said. Audrey was ecstatic. I was slightly surprised. We've been to Ginger's once or twice, but I wasn't sure she would remember. Then it clicked. The neighbors who share our fence have a dog. Audrey calls this dog her best friend. The neighbors call her Ginger. When I said we were going to Miss Ginger's house, she assumed I meant the dog.


Later, we were pretending to be monsters. I told Audrey I needed to stop to go potty. "On the floor?" she asked. "Monsters go potty on the floor." (Needless to say, I stopped being a monster long enough to go potty on the toilet and not the floor).


Today was spent like most days this week, sprinkled with healthy doses of make believe. We've been heroes. We've been monsters. Skeletons. Dinosaurs. Animals. We've used a stool as a steering wheel and driven to Grandma's house. Today, Audrey got out some "medical supplies" and told me I needed a shot and a check-up. She proceeded with my examination. "I'm a doctor," she said. "But I'm still Audrey."


Some days, we get stuck on our own arms. We laugh and moan in our sleep and say nothing when we're awake. We open doors we don't mean to. You can't always tell if we're coming or going (see picture above - she's taken to dressing herself). But one thing is certain, whether she's growling or "doctoring," Audrey is always Audrey. And family is family. Sweet, sweet family.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Out of the Pantry and into the Cookie Jar


Some days you just have to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty - or at least find your way up to your wrists in cookie dough. Yesterday, Audrey and I grabbed some pantry staples and got down to some serious cookie-making business. Audrey's aunt gave her a Sesame Street cookbook featuring all cookie recipes several months ago. While spring doesn't scream pumpkin, I've been eager to try one of the recipes for pumpkin cookies. Some cloudy weather seemed like the perfect excuse to give them a try (as if we needed an excuse). These cookies turned out chewy with a nice hint of spice, even though I think I baked them one minute too long. The best part? With ingredients like cranberries, oats, and pumpkin, I didn't feel too bad when Audrey and I ate over a dozen in two days. Here is our adapted recipe:

Pumpkin Cranberry Oat Cookies

1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. solid-pack pumpkin
2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 c. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, in an electric mixer beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy (about five minutes). Beat in vanilla and egg. Slowly blend in pumpkin. Add in flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add in oats, beat until well mixed. Stir in cranberries and drop by tablespoon onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes. Cookies should be golden brown. Keep cookies cooling on cookie sheet for one minute before cooling on wire racks. Enjoy. (Makes about 2 dozen).

~ Adapted from Sesame Street's Yummy Cookies.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Into the Wind



This morning moved with a different kind of energy. One not our own. I had a meeting to attend, and two children to dress, feed and take with me. During this process, I caught wind of some news. Shots had been fired in my small hometown. Suspects were on the loose, possibly near my old elementary school. School was delayed and later canceled. Before I reached my morning meeting I had already made three calls: one to my mother, one to take care of a pressing home repair, and one to warn I'd be late.

By the time we reached our destination, Audrey and I were not quite our selves. I was heeding my phone more than usual, waiting for news and a return call to set up an appointment with a repairman. Audrey had lost her ability to play. She saw a young child playing with a toy she thought inappropriate for a "baby" (read: she wished to have it) and quickly began performing her best audition for the new Nightmare on Elm Street. I had never seen her resort to that sort of ear-numbing, dog howl-provoking, octave-shattering, nonstop screeching. I didn't quite know what to do with myself. Or her. So I put her out on the porch at the patio table (within view, mind you) and told her (in words too rushed, too loud, and too harsh) to regroup.

I would love to tell you that we got home and the day magically took a sunny turn. But while mothers in my hometown asked (unanswered) if criminals had been apprehended and backyards were safe for play, Audrey took to our backyard and found a new nemesis. She had requested a snack on the new princess child-sized patio furniture her Grammy had given her for Easter. (After her tone returned to one of the appropriate amount of respect garnered by adults) I complied. The wind did not. The sun umbrella blew away. Chairs overturned. Her snack was knocked (repeatedly) to the ground. "No, wind!" I heard her scream.

I decided we both needed to take some time away to seek out the world's porch, so to speak. We grabbed our old library books and headed to the door. The phone rang. I was told the repairman could come early. I asked if it was possible for him to come at our already appointed time. We had an errand we needed to run. Then off we went to one of our home bases - the library. After grabbing a handful of Paulette Bourgeois' Franklin books we returned to our couch, snuggled in and had a little read. Finally, page by page, we found our way back (back from a busy Easter weekend and a clumsy morning). Back to a rhythm that was ours.

We cannot stop the world. But we can stop ourselves. And, sometimes we must, to find our way back to our own paths, or we just might find ourselves screaming into the wind.

*I have been informed that three of the five people involved in the shooting incident this morning have been apprehended. While all reports assure that no one was hurt, I am sure there are some mothers who would disagree, who spent the day grasping their children, feeling innocence take another step away. (And, I fear, that in thirty years some fifty-something individuals will wish they could shake their former, younger selves for foolish mistakes made).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter by the Roadside



Some of you may have grown up with or read the Mercer Mayer Little Critter books to your children. Do you remember the one entitled I Just Forgot?



"Sometimes I remember,

and sometimes I just forget.

This morning I remembered to brush my teeth,

but I forgot to make my bed.

I put my dishes in the sink after breakfast,

but I forgot to put the milk away.

I almost forgot to feed the puppy, but he reminded me.

I didn't forget to water the plants. They looked fine to me."


That story describes me as well as any other. "Sometimes I remember, and sometimes I just forget." We left the house early yesterday. "I'm forgetting something," I said. It wasn't until we were several miles from the house that I remembered. "It's the camera." I had remembered the bottles, the extra changes of clothes, the thank you note, the checkbook, the diapers. I had forgotten the camera. And to fill up on gas. Sometimes I remember, and sometimes I just forget. Actually, I didn't even forget the last one - technically. I had remembered several days before. I just chose not to fill up. I was driving - who can remember where? I noticed the tank was half-full. I began carrying on an internal dialogue. It went something like this: They say you get better gas mileage if you keep your gas tank full. I should probably start filling my tank up when it's half-full. When it's not raining. Who are they and how do they know so much? [For those of you wondering how often I carry on silent conversations with myself, I hate to admit that I'm pretty much a non-stop internal dialogue machine. Have you seen The Informant? I am that man (minus the criminal shenanigans and deception) with fewer random facts and more fake interviews with Oprah and explanations to nonexistent police officers as to why it was necessary to have just run that red light.]

Well, I didn't think about that now-not-so-half-full gas tank again until Sunday when Jason told me to remind him that we needed to fill up after leaving my parents' house. Sometimes I remember, and sometimes I just (ahem) forget. Which, is how we came to be parked by the side of a farm-lined highway less than three miles from a gas station with an empty tank come Easter evening. It wasn't all that bad. The weather was perfect - a breezy warm spring (as if meant for stuck-on-the-side-of-the-highway folks) sort of day. The children were on their best behavior. More importantly, they were funny (always a plus when entertainment street-side is in short supply). The view wasn't shabby: fields, farms, and the sprouting of spring. And, Jason's mom and her boyfriend were ready with a gas can and willing to come to our rescue. I would show you a picture of our roadside stop, but um, you know.

Needless to say, I have no Easter photos for you today. No shots of pink polka-dotted Easter dress ruffles, or babes in blue knit hats, or brimming baskets of eggs. Nope. Today, you get the other snapshots of our weekend, those I did manage to capture: plumbing and planting.





Somewhere in between the spats of forgetfulness, a couple projects found their way to completion. First, a dripping faucet lost its leak. I should be embarrassed to tell you that we've had the hot water turned off on one of our sinks for a month due to this leak (but I admitted that I have lengthy conversations with myself, so I think we've passed the embarrassment threshold, no?). It's one of those hang-in-limbo projects: too easy to call the plumber about but not the sort of thing your mother teaches you over chocolate chips cookies while growing up. So it waited until I had sufficient time to search the web. At first, my search was fruitless. When I looked up leaky sink, I found how to fix everything but a simple faucet leak. Then, it dawned on me. I don't know how or why (but can you imagine the conversations she could hold with herself?), but Martha Stewart knows practically everything. From how to bake the perfect cake, to etching glass, to proper jail cell etiquette - she's your girl. Sure enough, she also knew how to fix a leaky faucet and demonstrated with beautifully photographed images. (You can check out her handy plumbing how-to's here.) A simple switching out of a washer (the circular black do-dad in the picture) and we were hot water happy and drip-free.

So just how do you celebrate a roadside rescue and plumbing success? By planting pumpkins, of course - our first planted seeds of the season. Now if I can just remember to water them. Hmm...



Friday, April 2, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 64


You know what enchants me so about spring? Its misleading simplicity. The rain comes: the flowers bloom. More rain comes: the trees grow an inch taller than they were last spring. Now, I took biology. I know that a more complex science lies beneath it all. Yet, on the surface, all I see is green. And ever-growing baby toes. And a little one who is several inches taller than last spring. Even the logic (at least the surface logic) all seems so simple:

On Sunday, Jason began singing. "Day-o. Day-ay-ay-o. Daylight come and me wanna go home."

"We're home already," said Audrey.


Monday some neighbors stopped by. Each of their toddlers gave Audrey a plastic egg filled with candy as a little Easter gift. Audrey was allowed to eat a couple pieces of candy from one egg that night before going to bed. The next day she asked if she could have the rest of the candy. She ate the skittles one by one until the egg was empty. "Well, my journey is all done," she said.


In the mornings I tell Audrey to pick out a book, which I read to her as I brush and "style" her hair. Often, she chooses her beginner's Bible and asks me to read from it. The last two weeks she's been requesting the stories about the women of the Bible: Sarah, Hannah, Ruth, and Esther. Tuesday, when I finished pulling her hair back into a ponytail, she pointed out that I wasn't in the Bible. I explained that the Bible was written a long time ago before I was born. That night, at dinner, I relayed the story to Jason.

Kristin: "She told me today that I wasn't in the Bible."
Jason: (To Audrey) "Yes she is, honey. You remember the part about sinners? (Audrey nods.) That's your mama."
Audrey: "Daddy, what's sinners about?"
Kristin: "Yeah, Daddy, what's sinners about?"


Wednesday's dinner conversation also revolved around mamas and daddies.

Audrey: "Daddy is my daddy."
Jason: "Did you put that together yourself?"
Audrey: "No. Someone else did."


We like to begin our meals by holding hands and saying a blessing. This week, Audrey commented that when we held hands at dinner we made a circle. Jason is typically already on his way to work by the time Audrey and I sit down for breakfast, so I usually only take one of her hands before praying in the morning. Wednesday she noticed that the two of us didn't make a circle. Thursday, I thought I'd solve the problem. I took both of her hands before we began our meal. I told her we could make a circle. She looked at our outstretched arms making two parallel lines. "That's not a circle," she said. "It's a rectangle."


Thursday afternoon the temperature reached eighty degrees. The sun was high and full, showing its strength. I told Audrey she couldn't go outside until I put sunscreen on her.
"Okay, mom. Put some sunshine on me," she said.


Today we played with friends from Ohio. We see them a handful of times each year. Our girls, three stair steps, take turns surpassing each other in height, weight, and speed. They play as their mother (a former classmate and friend for the last two decades) and I catch up, trading parenting secrets and laughing at their antics. It is simple really. You feed a child then watch her grow. You nurture a friendship then watch it blossom. You plant the seeds, nourish with care, and wait for nature to take its course. Just as assuredly as the arrival of spring, it does. Underneath lies a complex science. But this moment, as my little one digs with growing fingers in green-sprouting dirt (giving statistics on the numbers of worms she's found) all I see is the magic of spring - so simply enchanting.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Quietly Rising



Shouts are still emanating from the playground - the type that suggest a game of tag has broken out. It has been that sort of day. A much celebrated warm thaw. The neighborhood gave thanks in the only way we know how, by trickling out in pairs or trios all day long - venturing out to the playground or creating bases on the lawn. Or, staying in to make yeast rolls. Ahem.




I know, I know. The thermometer read eighty degrees for crying out loud. Everything about the day screamed strawberries and crisp salads and pink lemonade. But, somehow, we found ourselves mid-afternoon at the center island wrist-high in dough. And, somehow, it felt right.




It began simply enough. I was going to make risotto. I wanted some bread that could be used in lieu of spoons (you know, in case one should decide to ditch the silverware and get scrappy with one's food). Running to the store was not on my agenda. Running through the indexes of my favorite food blogs - that I could do. I found this recipe. We had everything on hand. While pounding out dough wasn't something I had planned for the day, the hour and a half wait for dough to rise sounded like the perfect excuse for an outside recess to me.




We rolled up our sleeves, manned our aprons, and opened some windows. Audrey mixed ingredients with gusto until she noticed dishes in the sink and decided to "wash" them. While she washed, I found myself kneading dough alone at the counter. Somewhere chimes were ringing. A breeze was blowing. All sounds were those of the outdoors. We could have been anywhere - my grandmother's kitchen that smelled of yeast rolls or cinnamon rolls or some such handiwork of the day.




Audrey washed and I kneaded and thought of my grandmother who once told me, "I know my grandchildren." And, she did. All seven of us. She could tell you our likes and dislikes, our talents and our trials. I visited her shortly before Jason and I married. I don't remember if we were already engaged at this point or if I simply knew we would be. I told her she had met him once. As I spoke, she pulled out a photo album. She turned the pages. She pointed to a picture. There we were as high school seniors, Jason and I sitting on a boat dock in my grandmother's photo album as if the picture had been taken for just this moment in her living room.


As I pressed dough firmly against my palms, working it into a malleable ball, I couldn't help but linger on her memory. She had a gift for things that took time: baking bread, bird-watching, threading a needle, learning the people she loved. Today as the breeze shushed us, the distant chimes soothed us, and Audrey calmly and quietly poured water from one cup to another, (with me rhythmically kneading) my kitchen felt like that.