Friday, May 28, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 72

Audrey (who does not yet know how to write) teaching Nathan how to write

Nathan and I shared a quiet fifteen minutes together stuck on an elevator Thursday. Slightly movie theater montage cliche, I had just dropped Audrey off at the play area at the gym to do some of her favorite activities while Nathan and I went for a little jog. I was feeling proud of myself for getting there early enough to get in a longer run than my last. I pushed the stroller right past the bathroom thinking I'd wait and use the one upstairs. I pushed the button for the second floor and the doors shut behind us. Then, the power went off. This is where the story becomes rather anticlimactic and decidedly unHollywood. Nathan woke up at the jarring of the stopping elevator and sudden blackout. But, seeing me in the glow of the emergency light, he decided he was just fine. I am not claustrophobic and I was taught to hold it by a father who could have easily coached the Olympic bladder control team. I had a full diaper bag with food for Nate and myself. We were fine. We were just stuck.

This week has felt a bit like that elevator. In an effort to avoid being miserable, I have hidden myself in the house, away from flying pollen. This, of course, has made me (but, especially Audrey) slightly miserable. Ironically, forced reprieves in stilled elevators or pollen-free homes have a way of showing you what you need to see sometimes: the simple gifts before you - a sweet spirited baby happy to just be with you; the girl whose energy a house cannot contain; the husband, who seeing you not at your best, tries not to ask for much; all wanting nothing but your time. If one is to be stuck, good company (especially those who provide laughter) make all the difference:

On Tuesday, Audrey wanted to go play at the gym. While driving there she informed me that I took the fast way while her Daddy took the slow way. After leaving the gym, she asked for a snack. I told her I didn't have one (I try to keep our eating in the car to a minimum - I have a fear of her choking while I'm driving). I began driving home the same way we had come. Suddenly, snack-less, she complained that I was taking the slow way home.

Tuesday evening, she was talking to Jason about what she's been learning at swim lessons. The instructors teach the kids to position their arms to make a "chicken," "airplane," and "soldier," as a way to teach them the motion of elementary backstroke. Audrey was proudly showing Jason that she could make these motions.

"Do you swim like that?" he asked.

"No," she said. "I swim like this." Then she began making the sort of frantic arm circles one uses to inform a lifeguard they're in trouble right before he jumps in to make a rescue effort.

That night, Jason was telling me about a tool he was creating at work. He mentioned that once the tool was used, it would enable others to do more of their work without him implementing small steps, allowing him to be more "out of the loop," so to speak.

"Did you come home because you're out of the loop?" Audrey piped in from the dinner table.

Audrey spent much of this morning running around the backyard by herself. Warned early that I would not be able to go outside with her, she was eager for a playmate. At one point, I could see her holding the bars of the fence, facing two children playing on a community slide and singing, "Come and see me and I will be nice to you!"

This afternoon, Audrey sat coloring while I fed Nate. She asked if I would color with her. I assured her I would as soon as I had a free hand. A few moments passed.

"Do you have three hands yet?" she asked.

The cusp of summer holds a special energy. The days are long. The sun is high. Seeds hold promise and children cannot be bothered with shoes. Those same doors that held the chill of winter out cannot bar little ones from finding their way to the grasses, the dirt, the call of adventure. Light abounds: in big pulses of sunlight and small bursts of creativity, the lightbulbs that could be. You can feel the fullness like baking sun on your shoulders. The days, the projects, the adventures to come. The thought makes me smile. It also make me wish for a few more moments of still in an elevator. And that third hand.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fiction Thursday: Life Between Parentheses

It's been a while since I've brought a Fiction Thursday to this little space, and tonight as it thunders in the distance, it feels a bit like a night to curl up with some words. I found this little piece tucked away in a folder. I had just read To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf for a writing class. Let me tell you, there is no one quite like Virginia Woolf for making punctuation do theatrics on the page. I remember being struck by the way she used parentheses to tell the action of the story while the character's thoughts abounded outside them - as if thoughts were the true reality and the actions taking place were simply intrusions or asides. I wrote these three paragraphs shortly after for an assignment. They are much more playful than To The Lighthouse. There is just no keeping up with Ms. Woolf.


My God, they must be married thirty years now, and still? Foolish! That's what it is. Foolish to act like children half their age, him stroking the inside of her wrist and her giggling, acting as if they don't notice the waiter. The least they can do, if they won't stop, is acknowledge the waiter (listing tonight's entrees by memory). The least they can do is pay attention. Sit still. My God!

Had they always been this brazen? Yes. They had. (Mr. Donaley excuses himself from the table to take a phone call and Mrs. Donaley watches Mrs. Ivers rub the back of Mr. Iver's bald head.) Last fall, while dining at this same restaurant, Mr. Ivers had worn that leather cap. Mrs. Ivers had thought it made him look "dashing," but it had not. He had looked ridiculous. He had looked absolutely ridiculous, and yet, Mrs. Ivers had kept herself pressed against him all night with, Mrs. Donaley was sure, her hand upon his thigh. Shameless!

At least, tonight, Mr. Ivers is not wearing that cap. Although, if he had, Mrs. Ivers could not rub his head as she is. (The Ivers are now recounting a trip to see their grandson, from which they have just returned.) Against the luster of candlelight, the creases at her eyes and mouth covered in shadow, Mrs. Ivers looks rather young, Mrs. Donaley thinks. She has aged well. (The sommelier pours the GrĂ¼ner Veltliner. The women have ordered quail with port sauce while the men have chosen pork medallions with smoked scallops.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When the One You've Been Stalking Doesn't Love You Back

Spring and I are star-crossed lovers. I long for him all winter and watch for any small sign (the snow melting, a bird's call, the first crocus) that might signal his early arrival. I watch him through child's eyes: perfect Spring with his fresh green suits and manicured lawns, bringing flowers to all the ladies. I would like to appear nonchalant, unimpressed with his show of vibrant color and stormy moods, but I can't help myself. I run to him as eagerly as the children who follow his every move. I would like to say that Spring is equally impressed with me, but to Spring I am simply the awkward girl rubbing my eyes and sniffling at the windows. I've tried all the regular cures (antihistamines, nasal sprays, allergy drops) to no avail. Blame it on the stars, our parents, or our lot in life - Spring and I were not meant to be. I try my best to go on in his midst, but by the last week in May I always find myself sequestered to the house, watching him court others from the window.

What's a girl to do with antsy children and an unrequited love? Go visit other poor souls who didn't fair so well with their environment, either.

And, while there is so much to see at the Children's Museum (today, other than our ritual visit to the dinosaurs, we spent our time in sections of the museum we hadn't seen yet and managed to stay four hours), I tend to find myself staring at the walls studying the tile work - never once looking out the windows. Take that, Spring.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ah, That's Better...

You may remember a paint job I started in March. That fresh coat was the first step in a plan to reorganize a little space we use daily: the coat closet. Somewhere there is a before picture, but I can't seem to find it, so we'll just skip to the after shots, which were not taken during the best time of day for lighting in this space. But, sometimes, you have to let the lighting go and enjoy your "ah, that's better moment" before a toddler takes a marker to your wall or some other such incident and the moment has passed. So without further adieu, or marker fiascoes, welcome to our new closet.

My concept was simple: make it functional, make it organized, make it helpful in streamlining our day, and if possible, make it pretty. Oh, and make it as inexpensive as possible. Following the paint job, I brought in items to organize: a bin for each family member to house hats, gloves, scarves - basically any small out-the-door items; a shoe rack for frequently worn shoes to be dropped as we come in the door (behind the door with Audrey's backpack is our garage door); a canister for umbrellas; and a large basket for blankets (this closet is about ten steps from our family room where blankets for cuddling or building forts are a necessity).

Next, I maximized space and strove for a little more closet-bang-for-your-buck. I wanted to add hooks to the doors, but was afraid of actually drilling holes in the doors. I ended up using Command adhesive hooks (they're removable) in different sizes, depending on the items I wanted to hang. On one door is a large hook for cloth shopping bags and two smaller hooks that will eventually be Nathan's, but for now will be used to hold bags like Audrey's swim bag. I can pack it the night before with her suit, goggles, towel, etc. and simply grab it as we head out the door for swim lessons. The other door has two hooks on Audrey's level, which she uses to hang up her in-season coats and her backpack. I had originally thought it would be fantastic to have a bulletin board hanging above these hooks to tack those shopping lists, permission slips, and things I always find myself searching the desktop for as I'm trying to scoot everyone out the door. But, I wasn't sure how to do that without drilling a couple holes. My solution: more hooks and a couple strands of clear twine. Clothespins make it easy to hang those lists and the hooks do double-duty to hold keys (I attached some velcro to a piece of ribbon this morning to make an easy key "wristlet").

Just to add a little whimsy (they are really misshapen and a bit awkward, but let's call it whimsy) and a bit more organization, I made a tag for each bin. These were made from scrap fabric and stenciled using freezer paper (I feel like I've shown snippets of them from time to time on here as I worked on them). Of course, like most of my best ideas they were stolen. You can find my inspiration here. Now there is no confusion over whose bin is whose. Audrey's is kept on the shoe rack so she can grab things and return them herself. Of course, being in her reach, it also contains some items that may or may not be deemed out-the-door necessities.

There you have it, a more organized closet that doesn't have me stepping back for my own safety when I open the doors. One that's helping us to get out the door just a bit quicker these days. Most of the purchased items were found on sale. The hooks that weren't I used a gift card for and the container for the umbrellas I found for $10. But, sometimes, you can't put a price tag on the peace of mind gained from an organized space., just don't open my kitchen cabinets.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Memory Sandwich

Recently, I met up with a couple childhood friends for dinner. One handed me a bag, a little something she had picked up for my birthday. "You may not even remember," she said, "but I still consider it one of the best meals of my life." I could have told you the contents before unsheathing the tissue paper: Le Petit Beurre cookies and Nutella. The only thing missing was the strawberries.

Almost a decade earlier, I had made this friend a simple "dinner" while traveling by night train. We were college students on summer vacation between our junior and senior years. She had just finished studying abroad in Paris. I had just hopped my first flight to meet her in London. What ensued was a whirlwind trip: 10 cities in 14 days, from London to Frankfurt - four girls (two we barely knew) traveling on the cheap. We stayed in youth hostels and often spent our nights on trains traveling from one city to the next. Occasionally, we ate at restaurants, but often we grabbed food at little bakeries or grocery stores to save money and time before the next train departure.

I want to say we had just finished spending the afternoon on a rocky beach in Nice before climbing an upward path to some shops built onto the hillside. We found a grocery store where we bought Nutella, butter cookies, and strawberries (we may have bought the strawberries elsewhere, I don't remember). Once aboard the train that was to be our home for the night (I can't remember what city we were heading toward next) I made my friend "dinner". I buttered two cookies with Nutella and sandwiched sliced strawberries between them. What can I say? We're talking butter cookies, hazelnut-flavored chocolate, and sweet strawberries. They weren't half bad. "You're going to make a great mom someday," my friend said after a few bites. I laughed and ate a cookie sandwich.

I'm not gonna lie, I tore open that package of cookies and Nutella and dunk and drove - I did the dunking at stop lights - on my way home from dinner the night I received them. But tonight, I pulled out the leftovers along with strawberries picked from the yard to share with Audrey (this time as our dessert following dinner). Just as I had almost a decade earlier, I chocolate-buttered the sides of the cookie (only this time with a real knife, not plastic) and filled the insides with strawberries. Then I put the cookie on a plate and watched as Audrey dug in while I made one for myself. My friend was right. One of the best meals of my life.

Friday, May 21, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 71

I happened upon a familiar face yesterday at the park - the face of the little lady you see pictured above. I met her for the first time last year in the same exact spot. I believe she has a full nest nearby, since she squawked and spread her light tail feathers to make herself as wide as possible when we got too close, but refused to fly away.

I feel a little like that bird this week, only more shabbily dressed (seriously, get a load of the striped turtleneck on that one). I have tried not to squawk or ruffle my feathers at anyone, but I have felt a bit protective of my territory this week, of house and time. I tend to become this bird following illness or trips or an overscheduled week, eager to regain that sanctuary sense of home where peace and order reside (even if it's only my chaotic order and peace between football maneuvers practiced on unsuspecting infant brothers). Not to say that the events on the calendar this week weren't fun or necessary or that the house wasn't in need of the major cleaning it got Wednesday during Audrey's last day of school for the year. But today, looking at nothing but empty lines in the calendar box felt a little like exhaling one long breath. The day ended up leading to the library, but the magical thing is, it could have gone anywhere or no where at all. We had time for all the impromptu places a day can lead: the slow morning cuddle in mama's bed, a favorite doll's birthday party complete with leftover cupcakes, an escape to the playroom for a make-believe trip to the doctor's office, and as always, a trip down memory lane. Some of the week's more memorable moments:

Monday morning, Audrey said, "Is it a sad day? But it's not a sad day for you because I'm with you. It's a sad day for someone else."

Thursday, I discovered that, perhaps, we've been driving a rather hard line on the "don't use too much toilet paper" explanations when Audrey announced, "I only just used two toilet papers so I don't break the whole house."

We often listen to children's CDs while riding in the car. Thursday, I was playing one that featured one adult and several children singing. "His kids don't sing very good, do they?" Audrey critiqued from the backseat.

Today at lunchtime, I told her I'd make her a ham sandwich, since ham is one of the few things she likes to eat. "I want peanut butter and jelly," she said (by which, she typically means she only wants jelly). "And I want peanut butter on it with the jelly. And I'm going to eat the peanut butter just for you." Then a huge grin swept across her face. (And, she did eat the peanut butter on that sandwich, although, later she informed me that she did not like it).

En route to the library today Audrey asked, "Mom, do you know what color my fart is?" I asked her what color she thought it was. "Green. Or yellow. Or pink. Or purple. Or red."

Yes folks, it's all about minimum toilet paper usage and rainbow farts for us this week. That, and a little boy who can't fall asleep because he has hiccups from laughing at mama repeatedly kissing his neck. I think we may have found our way back to the nest. Wishing you all a bit of sanctuary this weekend...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Little Berry Goodness

There are tastes by which you can mark time: tastes that set you firmly in the now of the season and bring you back to the smells of your mother's kitchen. I can see the heaping refrigerator crisper drawers, like the one-note, sold-by-weight candy bins at the grocery, filled with our pick-your-own berry bounty - no room for even the boxes. I can see the worn grassy paths between the berry plants where we would kneel beside cardboard boxes and filled water bottles that we wouldn't dare waste on drinking when berries could be washed and eaten as quickly as picked. I can feel the sunburn that ensued and sometimes brought us in, if tired backs or heaping boxes didn't first. I can hear my neighbor's laugh, usually directed at the antics of my younger sister, or sometimes me when the number of berries I had eaten seemed double my weight. I can taste the strawberry shortcake.

It was not really strawberry shortcake, per se. Potato, potahto. The beginning of summers were dog-eared with yellow cake cupcakes topped with berries and whipped cream. Simple and perfect. Summer on its cusp: light and sweet, with bursts of color. The days and the oven hot: the nights just cool to the touch and speckled with lightening bugs.

Last night, I found myself in the company of a yellow cake mix, an extra cup of cream, and friends. The mixer came out and amidst talk of books (and a little one sneaking in for cupcakes), summer commenced. I can almost see the lightening bugs.

*To make your own whipped cream, mix 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla on high speed until firm peaks form. (The actual recipe I used said to chill the bowl and beaters and wait to add the sugar and vanilla until soft peaks had formed. Tomato. Tomahto.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Doodle Me This

Don't you love those earliest pictures - networks of lines, circles, and dots. Audrey created this little guy over the weekend. We had put down a couple paper grocery bags (when I forget my cloth bags, I always grab the paper bags for their artistic possibilities) to protect the table from stamping. The stamping of a card finished, we began doodling on the bags. I love how the same simple shapes can create such different little creatures. I love the confidence with which little ones draw. Most of all, I love the stories - that these are not simply lines and circles, but creations with motive, background, and thought. From what I remember this one above was a rather mean guy, with loads of arms for dirty deeds like snatching others' presents. Who knew an orange crayon could do all that?

*What are those crayons, you ask? They are called Crayon Rocks, made of soy and designed specifically to strengthen little ones' hands. Love them. Thanks for the gift, Aunt Ashley!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Into the Dirt

Yesterday, rain close on our heels, we dug in the dirt with fingers and spade. We settled seedlings into new homes and carved out caves for new seeds to dwell and find their roots. With a few final pats of shifted soil, we left things where they lay, packed up our things, and took our leave through tiptoeing raindrops. We let the rain fall where it may and set about waiting - to see what the rains and sun will bring, what secrets those seeds might hold, like treasures unearthed from deep pockets.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 70

The children have been put to bed, their hair perfumed with fresh soap. Nathan still splashes his legs in adjustment to bath water, the uncontrollable jerks creating waves as expected as a ticking clock. He is no longer bathed in sponge-bath fashion, rather we watch his quickly-plumping legs weekly fill a little more of the small blow-up tub he now calls his own. It first belonged to his sister.

I remember her first bath: carefully setting out the foam mat, using four different wash cloths to clean her just as we were shown in the class we attended at the hospital. I remember moving her to the blow-up duck tub, the crazy splashing of legs in surprise at the water surrounding her, her serious panicked face. I can recall the first time I bathed her in a sink, the sink I used to get ready growing up in my parents' home, while visiting from Virginia. Her entire body fit easily curled up inside the ceramic bowl. After our move to Indiana, after her legs had grown long and thin, I remember her excitement at putting the duck tub to rest in lieu of "swimming" in the regular-sized tub.

For three short (and oh, so sweet) years, we have been privy to these sorts of progressions. We've been allowed to submerse ourselves in this little one: her acts, her shared thoughts, her love. Just as those baths (and bath tubs) have stretched and grown, so has the love, the range of her actions, and those shared thoughts. Thoughts such as these:

On Sunday, while looking at Nathan, Audrey said, "Someday, he'll get bigger and be able to play with me and then you'll have two kids, right?"

Tuesday, Jason told her, "You still have a boogie."
"I used to be your boogie?" she asked.

One of Audrey's preschool classmates just became the big brother of a little sister. He had proudly shown the class a picture of his new "sissy." After school, Audrey began referring to Nathan as "sissy." We explained that sissy was a nickname used for sisters and that Nathan might not appreciate being called by that name. Jason then offered up "bro" as an appropriate alternative. Audrey tried "bro" out, which oddly, sounded like "April." We're not sure Nathan will appreciate that, either.

Saturday, we attended the birthday party of one of Audrey's favorite friends. While there, Audrey was playing on a two-person swing, one propelled by the children's movement of their arms and legs against the swing. A two-and-a-half -year old rode with her, their backs facing one another. "Hold on tight," she told him. "Be careful." Then, as if stating her credentials for dishing out such authority, she said, "I'm a big sister."

Audrey, the big sister. Our girl of firsts. The first one to steal our hearts and keep us up all night. The first one to remind us what it felt like to fear the dark or revere a sheet's ability to become a fort. The first one to send us running for parenting books, to the pharmacy at night, and to catch frogs. The first one to teach us that unless you've been taught differently, everyone is a friend, no question is too silly to ask or difficult to be answered, and nothing is impossible. The first to make us think that maybe we could, maybe we should, do this all again. The one who showed us how seamlessly someone could take on a new role, how quickly a heart could stretch to house another, and that while you outgrow the duck tub, perhaps, you never outgrow the sink.

*This impromptu bath was courtesy of one last romp in the raised bed (following a rain storm) before it became a garden this weekend. Like many others, I'm sure it is a bath I will not soon forget, nor will I forget to remove the rock from the windowsill before performing such a bath again, lest I find it rattling the gears of the garbage disposal. Audrey: the first.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Catching Up

I'm not gonna lie, I have seldom wanted to walk away from seven days like I have the last seven. I am walking with gratitude, both children are healthy, filling the spaces between these walls with laughter and a lightness that the adults around here wish to call their own. We are steadily stepping that way, away from sickness (quickly, we hope) and toward a little more energy - back into the rhythms of home.

Of course, before we can move forward, piles of laundry, mail, and um, dust stand to be reckoned with. As well as the air conditioner. A sweating water glass, a 79-degree house inside, and a thermostat set for 68. Yes, we're ready for a little cooling off period.

I also have a bit of catching up to do in this space. Beginning with one little sweater. Remember the one pictured above? It found its way directly from that photo shoot into the mail for one sweet new nephew. Of course, upon seeing it on Nathan, I couldn't help but go buy yarn (Paton's Classic Wool in Jade Heather) - immediately - to make another. I began knitting soon after, thinking it would be finished in the two weeks it took me to make the other one. Fast-forward two months. I'm not sure what caused the delay, just that one day I found myself looking at a still-unfinished sweater and "May" printed boldly on the calendar. Steadily plumping baby cheeks and thighs wait for no sweater, so the knitting needles were quickly reinstated to my hands. I finished the sweater late on May 8th. Right before Nathan would outgrow it. Just in time for, ahem, summer. Then we awoke to Mother's Day and a chilly 50 degrees. Imagine that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Ironically, when Jason asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day, I answered, "sleep." Well, nothing will take you to bed quite as quickly as a stomach bug. Next year, I'll be more specific. So while Jason and I go about recovering (he's suffering from his own head and chest cold), we've put Audrey, a.k.a., The Semi-Naked Chef, in charge of dinner. (Just kidding. Upon hearing of our little infirmary, Mamaw showed up on our doorstep with dinner for the next two nights. She doesn't trust Audrey's culinary skills, either. Thanks, Mom!) Depending on how long this bug lasts, I might take another day off from this space, rest and look at more pictures like the one above. I'm not sure if there's any better medicine.

*I should also say a big thank you to my Dad for stopping by to watch the kids for a few hours so I could get some rest. Thanks Dad!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 69

There are moments that bring your heart to a still, catch your breath. Thursday afternoon, running into the house to the cries of the dog and Nathan - to the sight of an overturned, empty car seat - was that moment.

I make at least a hundred decisions a day, most of them small, determined by variables such as mood, weather, time of day, or simply habit. Today, reading this situation as I write, the decisions I made seem like none that a logical mother would make (not that I've ever admitted to being a logical mother), but on that particular day, I was just going about a busy Thursday.

I had a group of friends due to arrive at seven. Things were clean enough, but there were a few more things I was hoping to accomplish before everyone arrived. Nathan had just fallen asleep in my arms. His car seat was on the floor. I plopped him in it and went about cleaning up the kitchen from the baking Audrey and I had finished earlier. Audrey came into the room. Being completely taken with her little brother, Audrey likes nothing better than to find him unattended on the floor while my hands are in a sink of dishes. Within two minutes he was awake, smothered in her big sister hug as she attempted to lift him from the seat. I grabbed the car seat and moved it to the kitchen island, thinking he'd be safer up there. I told Audrey she could play in the backyard. Soon, she was yelling for me from the fence gate. Two of her friends wanted her to join them at the playground. I couldn't see their mother. I wanted to make sure she was there and it was alright if I sent Audrey out. I should have brought Nathan with me. I should have moved the car seat to the floor and strapped him in it. But I didn't. He seemed moments from falling back to sleep and so out I quickly ran, gone only minutes.

I knew by the cries before I entered the house. I found the car seat overturned on one side of the kitchen island and Nathan, belly-down on the other. We spent the next long four hours in the emergency room. Nathan squirmed through a CT scan and neck x-ray. I rocked him in my arms as we waited, apologizing repeatedly. I studied this sweet boy, so perfect just as he was given to us, and knew I'd never forgive myself if the tests showed I had hurt him or changed who he would become in some way. I texted Jason, stuck in a week-long meeting in San Francisco (which until Wednesday, Audrey kept referring to as SAMS and asking why Daddy was spending the night there. I kept wondering how I would quell her disappointment on Friday when he didn't come riding in on a U-haul of bulk groceries) as I got news. Luckily, the news was good. Nathan was fine. Both tests showed no real damage, and I've yet to find a bump or bruise on him.

We spent the rest of the week moving a bit slower. I took my time going out to get the mail on Friday. I know that the world continues to move after events such as these, but I was not yet ready to rejoin it. Ironically, when I did finally get the mail, it was void of the usual handful of junk mail and bills. Just a food magazine and a couple of Mother's Day cards. It seems that this time, I was given a free pass, and for that I am grateful.

Friday night, after a five-hour delay, Jason made his way home with a cold, but safe. Early this morning, Audrey crawled into our bed, snuggled against me and fell asleep. A couple hours later we woke to sounds of Nathan talking so cheerfully it created a song. There are moments that bring your heart to a still, catch your breath.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


A few places that found my focus today:

Food:: thinking about not only how our food nourishes our bodies, but how it can nourish our family a bit more as well. Focusing on how to bring Audrey into the daily processes of preparing our evening meal, with all her fingers intact.

Creating moments:: finding new ways to celebrate the every day. This week, I began a ritual of lighting a candle before dinner. It's a small gesture, and yet, there is something a bit magical about the glow of a candle. It softens a room. It creates a pause. It causes you to notice the ones sitting in its cast-off light, as if to say, I have sought you out. Come close. Be warm. (It also makes broccoli vanish off the plate of a three-year-old who has been told she can blow out said candle if she eats her veggies. I told you, magic).

Mending:: broken puzzles, the boo-boos of my little ones, and myself. (My sinus infection is clearing up, now if only I didn't have to finish the last nine pills of the healing antibiotic, which I've discovered makes me queasy. Oh, sweet Tuesday, come fast)!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Should Have List

I'm not big on regrets. Trust me, I have them; I'm just not a fan of mulling them over. Today, however, I optimistically began a Should Have list. More often than not, I'm a bit slow on the uptake. It's not that I don't strive to keep up with all duties/hobbies regarding my home and family. It's just, well...sometimes, I don't think about what those duties are or forget them until the moment (or planting season, whichever the case may be) has passed me by. Sometimes, I receive the life-changing tip after the life-changing event. Hence, the Should Have list - for all the things I should have done this year and hope to remember next year.

This list began simply enough. I asked Audrey if she wanted to get the mail. (I give her about a two-minutes lead before heading out the door, myself). As she stalled by the tulips, I took a gander at the front landscaping, a little awed by all the new green that's just sprouted up in the past few days. That's when I noticed the growing-without-abandon rosebush looked a bit snacked on. Which, is when I remembered the rose spray sitting, untouched from last year, in the garage. Which, is when I began the Should Have List. I took out the calendar, flipped to April, and scribbled "should have: begun spraying roses." (Next, I instantly turned to a month in fall and wrote "should have: planted more tulips. In bunches!") The plan is, come time to fill out next year's calendar, I take this year's notes and rewrite them on the headers of next year's months. Instant reminder. I should have done this last year.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Seeing the Small

Not a day goes by that I don't pass a tree, and seeing it in its entirety, I forget it came from one small seed, perhaps carried haphazardly by the wind or dropped by accident. What I see is the tree: its shade, its fruits, its aesthetic. Often, I do not even consider the single leaf going about its photosynthesis way. Rather, I see the grouping of leaves spread out like fans or fingers on the palm of a hand, waving hello to the breeze. But each leaf is there to do its part. Each shingle of bark. Each sprig of root. And, I quickly pass, to-do list in hand, catching in my periphery a blurred shape with solid stalk and moving limbs - one tree. So many small, brilliantly crafted parts.

"We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make, which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee."
~ Marian Wright Edleman

Sunday, May 2, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 68

Did you notice the little worm stowaway?

During spring, the only days the windows of the school bus weren't open were the days it rained. Even then, a few would find their way cracked a thumb's width in hopes of letting in a breeze. One morning, my mother saw me off to the bus just to get a call to come pick me up when I arrived at the elementary school. My eyes were as clear as the bright sky when I mounted the steps of the bus, three miles later I was still planted in my seat in the school parking lot, unable to see. A few miles of unbounded pollen and my eyes were swollen shut - a pseudo shield. As a child, springs were a study of opposites. A desire to see the world anew: eyes swollen shut. An itch to feel the grass against my barefeet: the itch of hives. The internal jolt of witnessing the first blooms of the season: the physical jolts of sneezing. Ah, spring. The season of tulips, robins, baseball bats, and sinus infections. I could write a sonnet about you - if I could just stop blowing my nose.

I have been dragging my feet in the seasonal grasses, so to speak, this week in writing my review as I battle a sinus infection. I would like to think I'm over the worst and that in the matter of a few days (and antibiotics) all will be right as rain. Poor Nate seems to have grabbed onto my short stick seasonal allergy-ridden DNA with both fists. The two of us have been sniffling our way through the week. This new trait is just one of many that leave me gawking at this little baby-come-man-child, who joined us at the family dinner table this week giving baby spoons and rice cereal a go. Audrey (undeterred by any season and its misgivings) begins each morning by grasping him in a bear hug, eliciting wide-mouthed smiles. She follows up with incidents like those listed below. I tell you, that girl is good medicine:

While driving last Sunday we passed a cornfield. Audrey pointed. "Look at that big garden!"

One particularly wooded route we frequent often elicits questions about trees. Monday, while driving this route, the following conversation ensued:
Audrey: How do trees feed us?
Kristin: The seeds of some trees are foods we eat. You know how mama eats walnuts on her cake and salads? Walnuts come from trees.
Audrey: What about doughnuts?

Tuesday, I watched her completing a puzzle on her own. She slid the last piece in place before yelling, "Booyah!"

Thursday afternoon she was busy with a game of pretend. "I'm Mary and I'm going to have a baby," she said. Then she looked at me. "And you're a donkey." (I'm trying not to read too much into this).

Audrey tends to keep the lights on after she's left the playroom. We've tried to convince her to shut the lights off many times to no avail (this may have something to do with some of the lights being Christmas lights left up for their whimsical appeal). Thursday night I overheard Jason telling her that if we don't turn the playroom lights off we might have to spend all our money on utilities, leaving no money left to spend on her. "Oh, okay, you can turn them off then," she said.

Friday morning, when my symptoms were pointing away from allergies and toward a sinus infection, I decided I needed to head things off with a trip to the doctor. We like to take our time, especially in the morning. I thought that, perhaps, if I were a bit creative with my wording, Audrey would feel a sense of responsibility toward our morning and want to move quickly. "Audrey, I need you to get dressed so you can take me to the doctor today," I said.
"Am I driving?" she asked.

When I was diagnosed with allergies at the age of eight, the allergist told my parents there was a chance I would outgrow them. Twenty-four years later, I'm still waiting. But I'm a late-bloomer, so I'm holding out hope. And hoping my kids outgrow me just as slowly.