Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Neither Here, Nor There

I began posting these pictures yesterday before the day fractured into runaway tangents, before the sun fell, and before Nathan decided that weeknights make for the best slumber parties. By the time I set about packing up the preschool lunch bag and setting the trash can on the curb for the morning pick-up, I had forgotten that I had ever turned the computer on.

We have been chasing the days. These are the sort of days that call to be chased - sweater mornings and tank top afternoons. The crispness of fall with one last summer tease. We've been acting accordingly, mixing our seasons. Tuesday morning we made a summery lemon angel food cake before putting wheels to pavement and taking in the fall scenery en route to see all the grandparents. Yesterday, we took a morning walk along a gravel trail in a nature park, while the path was still shaded and the air still cool. We let nature entertain us with her show - a world in transition, one season slowly letting go and another about to become.

Monday, September 27, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 88

We need nothing more than the events of the weekend (a temperature plummet, chilly football games followed by pick-up games in the backyard, and the preliminary work of putting this year's garden to bed) to remind us that the seasons (and time) march on. The fall clothes are being pulled from the dressers, and the few pairs of Audrey's pants that I held onto from last year thinking she might still be able to wear them have been a bust. It seems my once-slow growing girl is slow growing no longer. Of course, judging by her wit and words, she always seems a little "too big for her britches" to me:

Monday, at dinner, she asked Jason how much he loved her. "Do you love me to the moon and back?" she said.
"I love you more than that," he said.
"To the sun and back?" she asked.
"Even more than that," he said.
The thought entered my mind that we might have a preschool astronomy genius in our midst.
"To Rebecca's house and back?!"
Rebecca lives next door.

Wednesday while Nathan napped, Audrey asked if we could play in the playroom. "I promise I'll be quiet. I'm the best quieter," she said. "I'll help you be quiet because you're not the best quieter."

During dinner Wednesday night, Jason told her, "You make it fun to have kids."
"I make it fun to have kids over, too," she said.

Thursday, we were reading books on the couch when she hunched over to the side out of my view. "I just wanted to hide. I wasn't picking my nose at all," she said.

Thursday, Audrey came home from preschool with a fill-in-the-blank list of her favorite things. It read:

My favorite thing to do is make pictures and color.
My favorite place to go is the library.
My very favorite food is chocolate chips and oranges.
When I am big, I want to use big girl scissors.

On Sunday, her Sunday school teacher asked each member of the class what they wanted to be when they grew up. After a slew of future firefighters told of their aspirations, she asked Audrey who answered, "a doctor." On Thursday, her biggest aspiration was to use big girl scissors. By Sunday, she wanted to be a doctor. I'm guessing from the tools, she might opt to be surgeon.

Our little man is becoming just that, exploring and finally using his knees when he crawls, sometimes. He might also have just a bit of a protective streak. Nathan tagged along with me to a doctor's appointment this week. It was a routine check-up, but while I was there, they gave me a flu shot and did some blood work (everything checks out fine). Nathan smiled at the nurse as she filled out my paperwork, rarely making a sound. He continued to smile until she gave me the flu shot and took my blood (which tends to make me feel faint, a couple failed sticks and this appointment was no different). Nathan stopped smiling and eyed the nurse suspiciously as she gave me a wet washcloth and some water to bring the color back to my face. He began to whine at my side. The nurse was finally able to calm him down a bit by rocking him in his car seat, but he never smiled at her again.

Each fall, certain images come to mind: richly colored leaves, pumpkin flavored dishes and big bowls of soup, corduroy jackets, rows of knees tucked under on blanket across aluminum bleachers, and candles lighting up the faces of jack-o-lanterns. Images of goodness and warmth. I just might have to add growing babies to the list.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How We Get By

I am rarely asked the question "how do you do it all?" This leads me to believe that most of you (clever, clever readers) have figured out that I'm not doing it all. My house and car could use a thorough cleaning, our laundry is piling up, the blog hasn't been touched in days, and the idea of juggling some other nine-to-five in tandem with this mothering thing gives me a bit of a stress headache. So, just what are we doing, and how are we getting by, you ask? This week, my camera reminded me of how, daily, we get by - toddler-style:


Audrey's first day of Sunday School. She came into my room carrying an orange and red skirt and a purple fleece, her outfit of choice. It didn't look bad together. Had it not been in the high eighties, I would have told her to put it on and we'd be on our way. Afraid she'd pass out from heat exhaustion, I told her to go choose a dress from her closet. She reappeared in a pretty floral one with a lace edge. We zipped through the other stages of Audrey-out-the-door readiness and began heading out the door. "I have the skirt on under my dress," she said with a smile. Perfect. Now get in the car. On time arrival for her first day of Sunday School - what can I say, that Jesus can perform miracles. (On a side note, this picture better captures her "first day of school" better than any other I've taken.)

Monday (I think)

I would love to tell you I'm one of those together mothers who rises hours before her children, pounds out a workout, showers, and tosses in some laundry before the kids stir in their bedsheets. I would also love to tell you that on one of her many mulch-digging expeditions, Audrey unearthed a hidden fortune that she's designated as mine to pay for a housekeeper. Neither are true. I value my sleep, which leads me to sleep in until I hear the children begin stirring in their bedsheets, which leads to me find creative ways to shower later - like Audrey creating q-tip art on the bathroom tile while Nathan takes his nap (not on the bathroom tile). Note: these q-tips have since been deemed for "creative use" only.


Audrey getting by after her father handed her a very large, very green (very suspicious to a toddler, but reminiscent of The Very Hungary Caterpillar to her mother) caterpillar he found in the yard. How does one conquer that sort of atypical, you're-not-a-warm-and-fuzzy-woolly-worm fear? Easy. Stick the poor sod in some Tupperware and handle him with scrap paper (until Dad comes to his rescue and transports him to the garden where he will search to eat through "one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon," but come up short and settle for a few droopy basil leaves).


How do you keep your infant from crawling into the dishwasher and landing on the silverware you've asked your toddler to unload? Ask your toddler to hurry so you can close the door to keep her brother safe. She'll improvise and dump all the silverware into her Lego box. Effective. Unconventional, but effective.

Wednesday, still

How Audrey attempts to sneak out of the house with no pants. She pulls on two shirts, slipping the neckline of one around her waist. When called out on her trick, she puts her hands through the arm holes, "No Mom, they're pockets." The perfect accessory for a shirt skirt? Striped shoes. On the wrong feet.

You guessed it - Wednesday

How to rig a celebration, just because you want cake. Tell your dad it's your friend, Kitty's, birthday. Have him take you to the store for cupcakes (what mom envisioned would be a box mix). Tell him that what cats really like is German Chocolate Cake with a tub of chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup topping. Who knew? Crazy cats. Wake up the next day and tell everyone it's Turtle's birthday. Hmm...

I did not pick up my camera today to capture Audrey using her toys to pick up other toys, therefore turning cleaning up into some sort of game. What can I say, I just can't get around to everything. But we sure are getting by.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hats: A Loving Act of Redundancy

For those of you wondering about the void of crafting in this space lately, the last few weeks my knitting endeavors went undercover while I prepared a few gifts for the baby showers of a couple of my childhood friends. While I have two new hat patterns marked to try, with limited time (and even fewer sizes of knitting needles in my stash) I stuck to what I know and love. You guessed it - the striped hat I keep making over and over. I would feel bad about this (really, I would) if it weren't for this little belief I have that the world should be filled with babies in striped hats. Luckily, so far the mamas seem to agree.
*These hats were made using various colors from Debbie Stoller's Stitch Nation full 'o sheep peruvian wool collection.

Friday, September 17, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 87

Shortly after the house was tucked in for bed last night, Nathan proclaimed it Slumber Party Thursday, crawling circles around (and on top of) me until just after three. A mere four-and-a-half hours later, and awoke to find ourselves firmly in Friday (again). I have half a mind to crawl some happy circles of my own. After surrendering too many hours to my sinuses and the couch last weekend, I'm ready for a do-over. If the stories of this week are any indication, I think we have a smile-filled weekend in store:

Sunday afternoon, Audrey was sent to her room. When we told her she could come out, she squealed and ran down the stairs. Jason and I looked at each other, curious as to what we were in for, as Audrey rounded the corner with a pair of her black pantyhose pulled over her head, the empty legs covering her ears.

"I look like a dog!" she said.

That same day she told me, "Your chin is too big for your hole in your shirt. I think I'm going to have to cut it off you."

During almost every car ride we take, Audrey has one request: that I pass the time telling her a made-up story. Tuesday was no exception.

"Can you say 'once upon a time' with Franklin the Turtle climbing a tree with a dog. And Bear comes by and climbs the tree, too. You can say whatever you want."

"I think you just wrote the whole story," I said.

"No I didn't. I just told you what it was about."

Jason loves football and played the game most of his childhood and through high school. Now, three knee surgeries later, his football playing is limited to Madden XBox games and fantasy football leagues. Wednesday, at dinner, Audrey asked him, "What did you do as a boy?"

"I played football with Uncle Boo."

"How old were you?"

"Bigger than you, but not too much. I was probably five when I started playing football in the backyard."

"What?! You took the TV out in the yard?"

This morning, while driving to meet up with friends, Audrey asked, "Do you remember when Olivia and I played at the playground? And we played Hawk?"

"Yes." (I did remember this game. It involved the two girls pretending a hawk was circling above, chasing them.)

"And the Hawk's wings fell off and I ate them?"

"You did?" I asked. What did they taste like?"


As I've been writing, Nathan has been crawling at my feet and Audrey has been looking for clothes to put on her stuffed Curious George. "Can you run and get a pacifier for Nathan out of his crib?" I asked.

Audrey took off running. "Thank you, thank you, big sister."

"You're welcome, boss."

Yes, friends, I have a feeling we're in for a few smiles this weekend, and hopefully, just a little bit of relaxation. I hope you have the same.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Shadows of Summer

Taking in this last week. The swings and the sun. The smells of food wafting in from the screen door, cooking on an open flame. Shirtless, shoeless babes. The first-light-of-day tip of their hats from morning glories and evening embrace of wide open moonflowers. Canopied wagon rides. Requests for one more run through the sprinklers, one more dip in the kiddie pool. Bare arms and sun-kissed shoulders. Frogs clinging to the window screens. Geese walking through the field. The tomatoes still clinging on. The garden's edges still marigold bright. Taking the afternoons one sunbeam, one trip down the slide at a time, before we are left with only memories. The shadows of summer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 86

I stepped away from the computer for a couple days in an attempt to catch up a little bit. On everything. Housework. Rest. Recuperation. I would love to tell you that I've made great strides. Unfortunately, Nathan and I spent our weekend as sinus crusaders fighting off pressure and nasal sludge, with Jason throwing a headache into the mix every so often to keep things fresh. Today, I'm within the realm of normal. Nate is still coughing well into the night and fighting congestion during the day. Jason is a trooper. Audrey is ready for world domination.

Even after some catch-up work, the piles still abound. The work feels significant. But so is the gratitude - for a husband who took on dish duty this weekend in an attempt to keep our sink visible, and who last night found his way home to a chaotic kitchen and restless children and instantly fell into the role of fort-builder-wrestler-baby-jungle-gym, in spite of the Monday headache branded to his forehead; for a surprise visit from Mamaw and the opportunity to grocery shop solo; for the little boy smiling in spite of his runny nose; and the little girl who reminds us there is fun to be had regardless of piles or sickness or time constraints. And for these - the moments of last week:

On Sunday, Jason made fish on the grill. As we sat eating, Audrey said, " I don't think that fish wanted to be eaten. I don't think that fish wanted to be grilled."

On Monday, we decided to splurge and order some burgers for take-out at a nice place (a chain where Jason used to work). After he had eaten most of his, Jason said, "Well, those aren't as good as I remember them."

"They aren't as good as cookies. They aren't as good as chocolate chips, either," Audrey agreed.

Tuesday, as I stood doing dishes at the sink, Audrey began to squeal. I ran over to find Nathan standing in the kitchen window, having gripped the windowsill to pull himself up. Nathan, thrilled with Audrey's response, began to laugh.

"I knew you could do it!" she said. "Good job! You're like a big sister!"

Tuesday evening, Jason had to catch a plane. He said goodbye and told Audrey he was leaving for the airport. "You know what, mom?" she asked after he had gone. "Ashley lives at the airport." (Ashley, my sister, really lives in California).

Thursday morning, I carried Nate into Audrey's room to wake her up. Nathan had been upset, so I was playing classical music on my ipod. We've discovered that playing music written by a composer friend of ours sometimes calms him down. Audrey heard the music and began to rustle around in her sheets, slowly opening her eyes.

"I don't think I have to sleep anymore. I think it's wake up time. Is it wake up time? That didn't take too long," she said as she looked down at the blanket wrapped around her. "I'm all waddled up!"

Audrey is still struggling with her fear of getting stuck inside of places, even her clothes. Lately, she prefers to run around the house wearing as little as she can manage. Thursday afternoon, she was wearing only her underwear. Knowing she wouldn't be allowed in the backyard without clothes on, she ran to the closet and put on a hat and pair of gloves so she could "pretend to be outside."

Friday, I overheard her say, "You make the best family, Nate."

Audrey has inherited her father's theatrical flair. Every story we read or movie we see must be reenacted. Numerous times. Last week, her story of choice was The Little Mermaid. Jason and I spent several hours being assigned various parts to play. Saturday, she was attempting to settle on a part for Nate.

"Nate can be the butt," she said.

"He can be the what?"

"The butt."

I thought for a minute. "The butler?"

"Yes. He can be the butler. So the butt man..."

(He was finally cast as Sebastian.)

I would love to tell you that by the end of today my house will be in order, late birthday cards finally written and sent, and the velcro on Audrey's backpack reattached. But you and I know better. After some weekend hours surrendered to the couch trying to calm my head and sinuses, I have some catching up to do. At the playground.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Last Night

Every so often, I find myself at the kitchen island, alone, after the good lighting has faded to black. Just me, wrist-deep in flour, under moonlight (and a handful of can lights). The children, tucked in tight (or one swaddled and the other twisted between her sheets with a bear three times her width obscuring her head) lie quiet. My husband, mid-flight, makes his way home. The dog sits curled in on herself like a startled woolly worm. All is still but my hands and the flour whirling against cubes of cold butter in the food processor.

Some of these nights remind me of the familiar: people and places past, memories locked in a cinnamon shaker. But some, like this night, nudge me forward, the piney scent of rosemary mingling with sticky strawberry jam in my kitchen for the first time. I am suddenly someone who makes scones. Good scones topped with lemon-infused icing.

The night moves slow, like the recipe. I put the house to bed, one room at a time, the taste of sweet flaky crumbs still on my tongue and a plate of scones left out with a post-it note for the one still to come.

*Here's the recipe for your own night time (or anytime) baking.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

We stepped into our backyard today, the sun-baked grass like thatch beneath our bare feet. Tempted by an empty bucket, Audrey found the water spigot and filled it: first with water and then our feet. We marked the pavement with our steps. Then channeled the breeze with our hammock, before hopping a wagon to discover what other adventures the day might hold: weathered bridges, the full plunk of stone against water, and cobwebs laced between rusted trusses. An afternoon explored, adventured, experienced one drop at a time - unplanned.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back Home and Back to School

Last weekend we took a little drive to Evansville to attend my youngest cousin's wedding. In my rush to get everything packed and everyone safely tucked into their car seats (and remember the gift, unlike the last wedding I attended), I forgot my camera. Which means, I failed to capture a little tiny dancer whirling around in her fancy dress or chasing my cousin and his beautiful daughter, Finley the Flower Girl.

What I did catch were some moments from later in our long weekend: Jason teaching Audrey how to make an easy breakfast he picked up from my mother and my makeshift "clothesline" for drying Audrey's backpack to prepare for another school year.

Of course, now looking at these photos, I can't help but notice how they summarize the weekend: a few moments to slow down in each others company enjoying the simple goodnesses around us and preparing for the new season and phase to come.

Friday, September 3, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 85

Some weeks seem to be heavy on sounds: Nathan attempts "mama" for the first time (I'm not really sure that's what he meant to say this week, but it was as good an attempt as any); storytelling finds center stage at the dinner table as everyone adds a line to a tale being spun in a round; I stop working to sit and take in the shared laughter of playing siblings. The geese declare their dominion of the neighborhood. Builders create a morning symphony of hammer against wooden plank down the street; while the rumble of school bus tires, a screech of a the metal door, and shouts of children create a song all their own - evening has begun.

Some weeks come wrapped in sound, and others swallow you in action. This week, the wind cajoling leaves to dance and children taking their last warm splashes in pool water - this week is all about action. Movement. And that little spark inside our children that causes them dance when no one, or everyone, is looking. This week, I found myself grabbing my camera time and time again to record the moments of our days. Because, sometimes, there are no words:

Tuesday, Audrey ran outside to check the garden as I was doing dishes. I looked up to find her with a plastic bucket, which she proceeded to fill with water. She stepped in the bucket, then cupped her hands to overflowing and tossed the water out. She dumped the bucket and refilled it twice. She splashed in her self-made puddles and in the bucket until she had covered herself in a shade of damp. Then she freed herself of her waterlogged shirt and danced.

Tuesday afternoon, she asked for chocolate chips. I told her she could have some after finishing her sandwich. As she ate her last bite, I told her I'd go get the chocolate chips. "Thanks," she said, "I believe in you!"

Wednesday, Audrey refused to get dressed until noon. I was trying to dress her in a tee-shirt without buttons. Audrey had suddenly developed a fear of shirts with ribbed collars. I suspect this comes from her locking herself in the bathroom over a month ago. Since that time, she tries to unlock every public bathroom stall or door immediately after I lock it, afraid that we won't be able to get out. As I tried to pull the tee-shirt over her head Wednesday, she wiggled her way out, yelling about being afraid of getting stuck and me not being able to get the shirt off since it has no buttons. Now, every time I dress her in a shirt without buttons, I have to reassure her that I will cut the shirt off of her if I can't get her out.

Wednesday, I wrapped up a gift to mail to a friend to open at her upcoming baby shower. I told Audrey we needed to take it to the post office. Audrey grabbed a piece of paper. "I want to send an 'A' in the mail," she said. And, so she did, taped to the back of my friend's gift.

Yesterday, was Meet the Teacher Night at Audrey's school. We had just finished dinner and were trying to hustle everyone out of the door in an attempt to make it to the last half hour of the event. I strapped Nate into his car seat. I asked Audrey to put on her shoes. She did, on the wrong feet. "They're on the wrong feet," I said.

"I know. But they don't hurt," she said. As I debated whether I should fix her shoes, she ran into the family room and grabbed a tutu crumpled on the floor. "I want to wear this," she said, sliding it over her shorts. And, she did, accessorized by her wrong-footed shoes and more than a pint-sized sense of confidence.

As Nathan attempts to pull himself up against the windowsills and Audrey marches into another year of school, this introduction into September has me focusing on one movement in particular - that which moves us forward. Into a new season, a new school year, new phases, and unseen adventures and blessings to come.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Mind/Body Disconnect

Some have eyes bigger than their stomachs. I am no stranger to that group. However, walking around the house today, finding the beginnings of projects tucked away in every corner, I've discovered I have a different problem. Apparently, my mind works faster than my hands. I come up with new ideas faster than I can do the work to complete my old ones. So just what has been keeping my hands busy and my corners piled up this week?

I believe it's our fourth fort this week. Audrey has her own use for corners.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Dishes of Late Summer

If the end of August had a signature color, it would be red. Tomato red. It seeps from the outdoors in: to the counters, the freezer, the pans, the plates. Yes, most definitely the plates. This week our plates have been full and our palate has been red, taking our cues from the garden. We tried our hand at planting carrots this year. I couldn't help but unearth a handful to see if they were ready for the table. A fistful of carrots and countertop of tomatoes led to Carrot-Tomato Soup. (A bit of warning: if you're hoping for a soup that tastes more like tomatoes and less like carrots, slim down the number of carrots you throw in the stockpot).

Yesterday, I found a home for a teacup and a half of cherry tomatoes when I adapted Cooking Light's Pasta with Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce. Those tomatoes got cozy with a tablespoon of olive oil, some garlic, and salt on medium heat. A few bubbly minutes later, they were tossed with fettuccine noodles AND chicken and prosciutto tortelloni (well, because, why not?), fresh basil, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. It was good. Down to the leftovers, so I'm told.

Tonight, it's risotto. I might just have to toss in the half a dozen Roma tomatoes sitting on our counter. Those little scarlet wonders are just begging me to.