Monday, January 31, 2011

Preparing for the Storm

An ice storm is underway. The compost bin was already coated with a slick glaze when I took a bowl of vegetable scraps and egg shells out to it at five o' clock. The fire place is roaring and dinner was topped off with cups of hot chocolate. Grocery store parking lots masqueraded as the day before Thanksgiving with customers packing their carts with bread, eggs, and milk en lieu of turkey and stuffing. We spent our afternoon preparing for the storm in a different way (don't worry Mom, I grabbed my bread, eggs, and milk yesterday). We piled in the car and drove to a new (to us) museum. We wandered about the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, checking out a wigwam and teepee (which Audrey was very disappointed to find stowed safely behind a security rail) and running about the interactive lower level between sod house, Chinese general store, and stage coach. Somewhere among the museum's dress up gear, Audrey ran across a carpet bag, which she filled with all the available food in the general store before boarding the stage coach with the one other family in that section of the museum (with three little boys, one sharing Nate's exact birthday). As they "traveled" to California, she pulled out snacks for everyone to eat along the way. It seems that food preparations were on everyone's minds. We took our time, playing and lingering, getting in one last out-and-about adventure before the storm drew us in.

Audrey has finally shed her apron from helping me make risotto for dinner. Nathan is pulling himself up, knees first, into Audrey's rocking chair near the fire as Jason and Audrey snuggle at the hearth. In the background, Christmas music plays (yes, Christmas) from a cd we just received in the mail of our dear and talented friend, Katie Ott. Somehow, with the sleet pricking the windows and each of us tired from a day of adventures behind us, the harp strings and cozy winter ballads feel just right.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 106

Audrey likes to surround herself with beauty. She spends her free time creating works of art, decorating the house by hanging her favorite toys from twisty-ties, and (when grocery shopping with Daddy) begging for fresh flowers. Last week he obliged her request, allowing her to pick out a bouquet of her choosing - some popping pink daisies. Tucked into those blossoms were a few white petals, stark against their fuchsia counterparts. "I'm going to pull out the white ones," Audrey said.

"If you pull out the white ones, all the petals will fall out," I said. "You won't have any flowers left if you pull out the white ones."

Four is a year of flowers just because, and learning that every life is sprinkled with a few white petals against the bright - petals that if removed, make the beauty unrecognizable.

Our moments last week, a little fuchsia and white:

On Monday, Audrey introduced us to her stuffed animal, giving her a first, middle, and our last name. I can't remember the name now, but after announcing it, Audrey concluded, "She's invaded (related) to us."

Tuesday evening, I was attempting to get Audrey ready for bed. She had other plans, plans that involved jumping up and down on her bed and not putting on her pajamas. I told her I was leaving to go downstairs in two minutes whether she was ready or not. I set a timer. The timer went off. I went downstairs and told her to come down after she was dressed. She came downstairs, dressed but distraught, seeking out the comfort of her father. "How do you leave a girl who you love upstairs by herself for five minutes?" she asked.

Thursday afternoon she came home from school with a new toy in tow, a plastic "dragon" with a moving scale. She played with it for a while, before deserting it at Nathan's eye level. He found the dragon and began playing with it. He carried it over to the farthest part of the kitchen and set it next to the baby gate before losing interest. Audrey had informed me that the dragon could swim, so that night as we made our way to the bathtub, she asked where he was. By this time, I'd forgotten about Nathan carrying the dragon off. "I'm sure he's wherever you left him. Go look." Audrey ran downstairs to search. A few minutes later she came bounding up the stairs, laughing.

"I didn't know it could walk!" she said, reveling in the fact that the dragon was by the baby gate, definitely not where she had left him.

Friday, Audrey began petitioning once again for a baby sister instead of a brother. "Two little brothers is just silly," she said. "But a little brother and a little sister isn't silly." Knowing that we couldn't do anything to change her fate, she arrived with me a little later at a play date, unappeased. She began talking to one of the other mothers (a mama of two girls and a baby boy). "You have two sisters and a brother in your family," Audrey told her.

"Yes," my friend said, "but someday we hope to have another little brother." She went on to explain that her family would be happy with whatever God gave them and that God might not give them another brother.

"Yeah," Audrey said, "He might give you a pet, instead."

While Audrey spent the week learning the ups and downs of life at four, Nathan mastered the art of moving up and down. He likes to bend his knees and bop around to music. Monday, he walked over to the counter that holds our ipod, bounced up and down and then looked at me expectantly. I turned the music on and he began to dance. Then he stood, and spun in circles, wobbling about dizzy-footed when he finally stopped.

His other physical feat last week was climbing in and out of one of the kitchen drawers. Sometimes, he clears the drawer out before clamoring inside. Other times, he plops right on top of the pile of cookie sheets and slowly rises to his feet as if surfing, smiling when he raises to his full height. I have seen his sister scale the refrigerator using only her hands and feet. Drawer surfing is only the beginning.

As for our littlest, this wisp of a dream biding his time until he's ready to introduce himself, all I can tell you is this: he knows Kung Fu. I don't know who taught him. Perhaps, we've been watching too many episodes of Chuck. But I will gladly take those side kicks and jabs. There's a whole lot of fuchsia mixed in with those white petals.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I don't have much time for standing in front of mirrors, but when I do, I am reminded that I have been granted the gift of years (decades full of them). The corners of my eyes hold evidence of a childhood spent squinting in the sun and laughing with friends. Lines (crows feet, to be exact) have lingered.

I spend more time at the dinner table, hanging out in the family room, or riding in the passenger seat. During those times, I'm reminded again that I've been given the gift of years (decades full of them) - years spent next to a man who calls my crows feet "cute" and tells me that if he does his job right, my face should end up covered in laugh lines.

Today, we celebrated years, the years of one man in particular. We ate cupcakes with all the trimmings a four-year-old can dream up (and we only caught 2 of those paper flowers on fire when lighting the candles). Because, four-year-olds understand that regardless of if you're four or thirty-four, those who make you laugh, who create memories that linger on your face should be celebrated with gusto (and frosting and sprinkles and chocolate chips and maraschino cherries and squiggly candles). Because time is a gift. With sprinkles on top. Lots and lots of sprinkles.

And hopefully, lots of wrinkles to come.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tress Control

I've never been what one would call hair savvy. God knew this, which is why he gave me hair that resembles a Crimp 'n Curl Cabbage Patch Kid. You curl it around your finger and it stays. Stick a pencil in it, it stays (the boys who sat behind me in high school Physics had a field day with this experiment). Once you got past the shock of the sheer volume of it (no pun intended), the directions of what to do with my corkscrew curly hair were pretty freeing - don't blow dry; wash-and-go; finger comb it; and for the love of Vidal Sassoon, whatever you do, don't try to brush it out. Oh, and cut it, ahem, once or twice a year as the mood hits you. It grows out in corkscrew shapes, for heaven's sake, that takes a while. (That last piece of advice is my own lazy, too-cheap-to-pay-for-frequent-haircuts advice. I'm sure my stylist - if I had such a thing - would disagree).

But God has a sense of humor. Enter my beautiful daughter with striking blond so-straight-and-slick-you-can't-keep-a-barrette-in-it-without-the-assistance-of-duct-tape hair. Other than shaking my head every time I dropped another few dollars on yet another package of soon-to-disappear barrettes, I didn't think much about it. In fact, I thought nothing about her hair maintenance (other than shampooing it) until I won a free gift certificate for a child's haircut. And so, we went for a mother-daughter outing to get her hair cut for the first time. She was, ahem, three.

Funny thing about straight hair. It grows. Fast. So, now (cough) a year later, she was in desperate need of a cut, to the point where she's been asking for one. I had passed a book called How to Cut Your Own Hair (or Anyone Else's) by Marsha Heckman, Cathy Obiedo, and Claudia Allin one day at the library. So when it came back into circulation earlier this month, I grabbed it.

After the confidence that comes from reading two pages of hair-cutting instructions, I got down to business. We laid out my tools of the trade on top of a receiving blanket and wrapped another receiving blanket around Audrey's shoulders (so many uses for those receiving blankets). I squirted her hair with a spray bottle (an act she found funny and asked for again and again) and began to snip away a few inches. I'll be honest. I can't tell if it's straight or not, she never stands in one spot long enough to be sure. But the shorter cut suits her and her heart-shaped face. And, it's a good cut for dancing, which is what four-year-old hair is really about.

I thought that would be the end of our hair adventures for the week, until I cut open an avocado to find it less than guacamole-perfect. In the spirit of waste not, I decided to give it a second life. This week, I began reading Ashley English's Canning & Preserving. I discovered she has a blog, which has a link on it to this avocado hair mask. I didn't have sour cream in the house, but if there's one recipe for an avocado hair treatment online, surely there are two, right? So after a popping a few words into a Google search, I found a Revitalizing Avocado Hair Treatment that required an avocado and honey. Bingo. I combined my two ingredients and lathered the mixture into my wet hair. I combed it through, from scalp to ends, and wrapped my hair up into a shower cap. Then I set a timer for twenty minutes, cranked up some Tony Bennett (shush, I love him) and got to work on a project. Between Tony and the work at hand, I let the timer get away from me. It beeped and another twenty minutes went by. I was snapped back to the treatment at hand when honey began dripping down my neck. A quick rinse and the treatment was complete. My hair feels better today, although, it could use a cut - not that I'm ready to take that on myself. Yet.

Monday, January 24, 2011

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 105

Or Something's Missing

I lost a bit of my afternoon yesterday to a headache that wanted to cling to me, and my evening to a little boy who had the same idea. So this post and the projects I had in mind for yesterday were pushed a little farther down the "to do" list while I took care of matters that had made themselves more pressing. Reclaiming that time now, looking over my recorded moments from last week, I've discovered a theme of things missing around here lately (at least from the perspective of a certain four-year-old):

Last Sunday, Jason requested chicken pot pie sans the pie for dinner. (I make the pie filling and serve it on a bed of rice). After a few bites, Jason told me it was good.

"I think it's missing something," I said.

"It is. The crust," said Audrey.

Tuesday, on our drive home from school, she complained, "My bottom hates me. It wants to join a new family."


"It doesn't like sitting in my car seat."

After she reconciled herself to sitting in her car seat, she began talking about her wedding and everything she envisioned for the big day, which she informed me was happening later that evening. (Most notably, that I needed to go home and bake a cake). I explained that while I'm sure her wedding would have great cake, it was not going to be that night, since little girls aren't allowed to get married.

"But I'm already four. They don't let us do it at four? That's not fair."

Wednesday, en route to the library, she told me, "The man with the yellow hat just has a monkey, not a kid. Why does he not have a kid?"

"I don't know."

"It would be better if God just gave him a kid. That's silly that his name is called the man in the yellow hat."

Thursday evening, she was working diligently on something at the kitchen table, scribbling lines across a piece of paper. "I'm writing a letter to Santa," she said, "asking him to bring me some cups next Christmas since he didn't bring me any this time."

Nathan, on the other hand, has had a week of additions. Most notably, the phrase "uh-oh" (very handy in our household). He has also learned a few, ahem, lyrics, such as "ba ba ba bum" (Beethoven's Fifth) and "da-da, da-dah, da-da, da-dah" (The NFL Theme Song). Yes, we're diverse in our musical tastes.

As for me, I'm happy to report that the headache of yesterday finally loosened its grip so I could spend the last couple hours of my day being productive, working on a project for a little while, but more importantly, holding one restless little guy determined to share an extra hour nestled up against me. As I curled him around my growing belly, I wondered how much longer he would fit like this, snug and warm and small - and content to be as close to mama as possible. I found gratitude for being swept off course, for not missing a thing.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mission Organization: Gift Journal

This year, I hope to make gift giving even more joyous by keeping things a bit more, ahem, organized. Last week I began a gift journal. I found a small journal that fits in the pocket of my purse for easy carrying and reference. I began by listing the gifts I gave for Christmas last year. This might seem a bit odd, but if you had spent an evening agonizing over whether or not you had already given someone the gift you had in mind (and yes, I have accidentally given someone the same gift twice, realizing my error during a deja vu moment watching her open it the second time around), it might sound more like a solution than crazy talk. The following pages included a list of birthdays to remember (written down in chronological order for quick monthly reference as to who I need a gift for that month); pages of gift ideas listing a specific person, occasion, and potential gift; and lists of gifts I already have (whether they have a recipient in mind or not).

There are blank pages to spare, pages I plan to fill with sketches of gifts I hope to create this year and lists of materials needed to make said gifts. It's a little thing, stashed with me as I go about my typical errands, just in case something strikes me when I'm out (or I need to remember who I might need to grab a gift for). I'm not promising that all of my gifts will be given or finished on time this year (I didn't wake up on New Year's Day to find I'd been reincarnated as a punctual, together woman with an impeccably sheered bob, manicured nails, the perfect trench and a Filofax tucked under my arm - although, I wouldn't mind the trench). But, it might be one more step in a direction toward a simpler 2011.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Knits of the New Year

Sometimes, I'm surprised by the "extras" we're able to fit into our days, regardless of the breaks in our daily rhythms. A child wakes in the middle of the night with a cough, a long-scheduled business trip shakes up our routines as if we hadn't seen it coming, a much anticipated birthday or growth spurt or first day of school sends everyone in a new direction. And still, when the cough has subsided, the suitcases have been emptied, or the wrapping paper cleared, I find (each time) evidence of the extras.

It could be that the very nature of breakdowns in our routines and the need to regroup leads us to seek out the extras: those little things that pull us back to a sense of rhythm, row by row, page by page, chord by chord until slowly, we find our way back. Sometimes, with a handful of scarves...

The first two knitted projects of the new year made their way off my needles this month, both scarves based on a pattern by Astor Tsang. The original pattern, from her A Simple-to-Use Guide to Creating Hip Knits (a kit I stumbled upon at a Half-Price Books that I couldn't help but exchange for the hot-in-my-hand cash I'd just received from selling a bag of old books) was for a scarf incorporating several different stitches. I picked my favorite and used it for the entire scarf. The one in the top picture was a gift for a friend, made using Patons SWS yarn in Natural Plum. The second was for Audrey. She had mentioned that she wanted a scarf (she also mentioned that she thought I was so smart because I know how to make scarves - yes, she's mastered the art of flattery to gain handmade items). So last night, as she slept, I finished her scarf, made from Patons SWS yarn in Natural Pink. This scarf has a little buttonhole feature that makes it the perfect scarf for a nonstop-how-can-she-possibly-keep-a-scarf-on preschooler. She was an instant fan, showing the scarf off to Nate - "mama made it, wasn't that nice." She wore it as we made our rounds today, stopping any stranger who wanted to talk at the library or gym to inform them that she had a new scarf, made by her mother. I kept quiet, giving her a few moments to share her news, thankful for an appreciative daughter willing to wear her mother's creations, if even just for now. Yes, it's those little extras that bring us back, that welcome the rhythm and call it back home.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 104

Military wives, and their sacrifices, crossed my mind last week. A lot. Saturday evening, Jason boarded a plane for London. He arrived home Friday night around eleven to the pile of us tumbled onto the couch and family room floor in various states of sleep. Jason began traveling for work shortly after our wedding. We are not new to Jason traveling. We are new to being separated by a five-hour time difference. The waters were a bit rough to navigate. When he was free to talk, we were trying to get out the door in time for preschool or evening activities. When we were free to talk, he was asleep. A few five-minute conversations over the span of the week are not our usual (or preferred) fare. Within three days, I was in awe of military wives. I kept reminding myself of our cushy circumstances. I knew where my husband was. I knew he was safe. I knew how to reach him, regardless of if I was able. I hadn't wished him farewell watching him walk off in fatigues to go clear landmines. He was safe in a warm hotel, eating Yorkshire pudding and trying lamb stew for the first time. Military wives are women of steel. Last week, I discovered I am a woman of aluminum, and I was right to not marry any of the brave boys I dated who chose to serve (not that any of them asked).

I experienced the power of words - of receiving the right ones when you need them and of their staying power, regardless of if they are the right words or not. Monday, as we pulled into a gas station, Audrey said, "You remember when Daddy said if I said something one more time, he was going to throw me in the trash? He was kidding. That was a joke, right?"

I sent a message to Jason relaying the story. Meanwhile, I informed Audrey that her father had been kidding, that he would never throw her in the trash. For the thousandth time, I envisioned parent-teacher conference day at school, of the stories Audrey's teachers could tell if they ever wrote a book.

Jason responded later to my message. He recalled the incident - that as a consequence for misbehaving, Jason had thrown something of hers away. Audrey began crying and yelling over the lost toy. After several minutes, Jason told her, "If you keep crying, I'm going to throw you in the trash." Ahem.

By Wednesday evening, my daily thoughts shifted to include parents of terminally ill children. Nathan had begun running a temperature on Monday, one that would spike in the middle of the night, leaving the two of us in an uncomfortable sleepless state. After a couple restless nights ended by Audrey bounding into my bed in the early morning, I began to marvel at the strength of those parents, always tired and in a constant state of attempting to manage sickness, to be one step ahead of the next symptom, whatever that dark lurking symptom may be. Managing worry as much as anything. Sleep was not mine to take comfort in, but I had the luxury of knowing that in a few days it would be, because Nathan would be just fine. Just not last week. Apparently, Audrey was not so sure.

On Thursday, she informed me that there was a new girl at school. "Because Oliver wasn't there today and he's never coming back."

"Oh, do you know why he's not coming back?"

"I don't know. Maybe he's sick. Maybe he's going to be sick every day till he dies. Like Nate."

Our poor boy has had that kind of a winter. Luckily, Audrey is not his diagnosing physician.

Some weeks are typical. They wear like all the others. Other weeks test your wardrobe, leaving you barefoot in the snow, without the comforts (or iPads) to which you've grown accustomed. As a reward for finishing her service (what we call chores) or doing a good job listening, Audrey likes to play puzzle games on Jason's iPad. Last week, she was following typical protocol. Wednesday afternoon, after cleaning something up, she asked if she could play a game on the iPad.

"Mom, can I play the iPad?"

"Daddy took the iPad with him."


Some weeks are lessons in letting go of the images in our heads, of including "uncle" in our vocabulary when it is warranted, and shifting our perspective. There is more than one purpose to a week, more than one definition of a word.

On Wednesday, Audrey kept using the word "butt" in a sing-song way to tease her brother. I asked her to stop. I told her that if she needed to say that, she should say "bottom" or "bum," instead. "You should never have to say 'butt,'" I said.

"Yes I do. What if I want to say 'but, I love you.'"

There you have it, the nutshell version of an unglamorous week. One that was not our best, but one, when looked at through the right lens, was a week worth keeping. Several days felt like "to-do list" days, but there were moments: dances in the kitchen; an evening with friends; and an afternoon tea with Blueberry Streusel Scones, a stack of books on England, and a set of two Alice in Wonderland teacups purchased just for the occasion (and one evening meal of Toad-in-the-Hole, just for good measure). And, there is wisdom. The wisdom that someone else would gladly take this week with its tired, but present, laughter, its warm house and blanketed beds, and husband sweet enough to miss. We should all be so lucky.

Monday, January 10, 2011

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 103

Getting down Risky Business-style with, ahem, hardware tools

Some things you only see on television, like people bursting spontaneously into song when overcome with emotion. Unless you live at my house (or with your own exuberant four-year-old, with a penchant for the loud or dramatic). I find myself (and the other members of my family) the frequent participant in spontaneous dance parties, hosted by Audrey. They begin in the early morning. She's discovered that if she opens a specific cabinet drawer and stands on the lazy susan inside, just so, she can reach and turn on the ipod. She selects a song, her brother begins to bounce up and down to the beat, and the day officially (and ever so musically) begins. Some days become bookends, the evening dance mirroring the morning with Daddy added to the dance card. Sometimes, Audrey coaxes a song out of him as I make dinner. Others, she once again takes matters into her own hands and requests a father-daughter dance to These Are a Few of My Favorite Things. And, there I stand, wooden spoon dipped in a pot of simmering soup, watching a musical unfold before me. A few more of my favorite things from the week past:

One of our neighbors in Virginia was a woman who had suffered a stroke. A vibrant grandmother who watched her grandsons while her daughter worked and attended school, the only telltale signs of her stroke were a limp and a vocabulary cut to two words, "hi' and "uh-huh." One might think this would limit her ability to express herself, but she was a daily reminder of the contrary - that one can say so much with so little. I had never known that one word could be intoned or used in so many different ways - that it could allow someone to be so clearly heard, until I was introduced to her "uh-huh." This month, we've been introduced to Nathan's "uh-huh," low and rumbly and used to convey all the words he has yet to learn, and consistently able to collect a smile from his parents.

Audrey, of course, has no trouble conveying exactly what she means. On Sunday, Jason was asking about some of the pictures she had drawn on the patio door, specifically some that looked like little guys wearing glasses.

"Are those mama's glasses?" he asked.
"Oh. Did you see them in a vision? Were you abducted?"
Audrey laughed. "No, I wasn't duck-ed."

Monday morning she was singing through breakfast. Suddenly, she stopped and looked at me. "Do you want me to turn myself down?" she asked.

Monday afternoon, she and Nathan both received flu shots. Nathan had three other vaccines as well. He cried for about five minutes. Audrey attempted to hide under a desk to escape the nurse, screamed before the shot was even drawn, and cried for about forty-five minutes after. At home, she requested that she be allowed to keep her winter knit hat on (a little striped number with a pom-pom on top). Then she took her pants off (I believe to get a better view of her band-aid). In an attempt to abate the crying, I told her she could watch a Leap Frog DVD. Jason came home to find her staring at the TV with a stocking cap on and no pants. "Why don't you have pants on?" he asked her. She explained that she thought it might make her feel better.

"Is it?"

He relayed this story to me at dinner (before dinner, Audrey had been given a dose of Tylenol to help numb the pain). As he finished, she said, "I thought that either Tylenol or my pants off would make me feel better."

Saturday morning, I was telling Jason how a friend had posted on his Facebook page that a television show had authentic computer code written on the whiteboards seen on set. However, the actor performing the code was doing the development on a Dell rather than a Mac, when the code won't run on a Dell. (Being a former acting student, Jason is often pointing out discrepancies in movies to me). I segued into mentioning how many professional bloggers I've noticed use Macs. "People love their Macs," I said.

"Who is Max?" asked Audrey.

These early days of January are full: yearly check-ups to make sure we're all on course; the kitchen island covered with lists of projects as we map out our goals for the year; new photos in the form of the latest ultrasounds and Jason's first passport showing us the new adventures underway. From morning to night, year after year, it's a dance. We feel blessed to say, our card is full.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Soup Days

Some call this stretch of days winter. I could just as easily call them Soup Days. Something about being tucked between sheets of snow and rain-soaked clouds makes me want to have a pot of something warm bubbling on the stove, simmering away urging us to relax and find the comfort in settling into the rhythms and days at home. Of course, full days at home require free hands to keep those little hands busy and happy during the day. So, I like my soups to cook themselves. Well, as much as they can. Recently, we tried a new one based on a recipe for Roasted Tomato and Paprika Soup from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking. Her version involves roasting all of the vegetables, which I'm wanting to try this summer when we can get our hands on some fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes. For now, we improvised (and played around with amounts of certain ingredients to better suit the tastes of some of our picker eaters). Here's our version:

42.5 oz. (otherwise known as one large plus one small can) fire-roasted canned tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper
2 large onions
4 garlic cloves
3 c. chicken stock
1/4 tsp. paprika
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Seed and quarter the red pepper, skin and quarter the onions. Rub a rimmed cookie sheet with olive oil. Coat the quartered veggies in olive oil. Place them on the baking sheet (peppers skin down) with the garlic cloves (skins still on). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake about 45 minutes until the onions get brown on top (you may want to turn the onions at some point, but I got busy chasing children and skipped this step). Chase children, count snowflakes, take the dog out, notice the house is starting to smell good.

About thirty minutes into the veggies baking, pull out a stockpot and dump in the tomatoes and stock. (Depending on how thick you want your soup, you may not want to put all 3 cups of stock in at once, I kind of wish I would have made ours a little thicker, but on day 2 it was perfect as is). Bring to a simmer.

Take roasted veggies out of oven. Peel the garlic, put all veggies in a food processor and puree. Add puree to soup. Add paprika. (You could puree the entire soup at this point to give it a creamier texture, but we were going for a more rustic feel). Serve with bread, because what's the fun of using a spoon?

If you like your tomato soup creamy, this probably isn't your soup. But if you want to try a little something different with some great smoky undertones to it, give this one a try.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Room With a View

Lately, our patio door looks a bit brighter. Santa left some Crayola Window Crayons in Audrey's stocking this year. Something about that big clear canvas has our little artist returning again and again to add one more object. This week, it's been things you can find in the sky (with the exception of the little men in glasses, I'm not really sure who or what they are). I would love to tell you that these new art products are letting mama make dinner at a leisurely pace with time to kick back with a book afterward, but ahem, the art (at least at our house) doesn't stay on the windows. A trail of red and blue fingerprints (and crayon bits) find their way to the baseboards, the floors, the kitchen chairs, the table, the rug, and the walls, creating a bit of a mama scrub-fest after each new studio session. But our little world, those energetic hands, and our overcast January days have suddenly gotten much more colorful.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Audrey trying to mimic my prenatal yoga DVD

I was challenged by a friend's Facebook post last week. She chose a word for 2011, one to incorporate into her days and inspire her actions. She chose the word "vitality," which made me smile because vitality is the perfect word to explain the life force this woman already possesses and the infectious energy she passes on to others (play date soon, please, Gretchen!).

I spent the day searching for a word of my own, one that encompasses my hopes and goals for the year. Several words vied for my attention: serenity, sanctuary, organization, creativity, encouraging. But one word (one very unsexy, tweed-sports-coat-with-leather-arm-patches-and-a-monocle-wearing sort of word) took root.

(just a few of the definitions listed by my, ahem, iphone - paraphrased for space sake)

1. the middle point, as the point within a circle or sphere equally distant from all points of the circumference or surface.

2. a point around which anything rotates or revolves.

3. the source of an influence, action, force, etc.

4. an office or other facility providing a specific service or dealing with a particular emergency.

5. Football - a lineman who puts the ball into play.

6. Ice Hockey - a player who participates in a face-off at the beginning of play.

7. to adjust, shape, or modify (an object) so that its axis is in a normal position.

8. to come to a focus; converge; concentrate.

9. to gather in a cluster.

When I chose centered, I was thinking in terms of balance and being grounded, of being calm and in the moment. But when I looked up the definition, I was surprised by how many of these definitions can pertain to mothering and my job over the course of this year as I juggle my attention between three little ones and their father, as I serve and handle emergencies, as I facilitate play, mold and shape these three sweet souls, gather us as a family, and attempt (daily) to guide our focus to those things that create balance and calm - to those things that we should tie our anchors to in order to ground ourselves. That tweed-clad mister might be one sexy multi-tasker, after all. What's your word?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 102

2011 has walked through our door, brisk and cool with the sun on his heels. He has brought a quiet family night followed by a full house of friends. While Christmas lingers on a bit here, everything (the change in weather, five bags of old shredded files I dropped off at the recycling bin yesterday, the exchanges with friends) points to a new chapter, a going forth. Our calendar documents a going forth, as well - a new position for Jason (complete with new adventures foreign and domestic) this month and a due date posted for spring (that a certain little boy kicking me from within won't allow me to forget). But, before we get too excited about this new year and the projects and events to come, here's a look back at the moments of last week, during the old year:

Each week, Nathan gives us new clues as to who he will be. When the kitchen fills with music, he cannot help but dance, bouncing up and down to the beat. When he hears the word "touchdown," he throws his hands into the air. And, he has his own version of Eskimo kisses, rubbing his forehead against mine and laughing, in what I imagine is his own way of getting over on his mama and telling her "no-no" in a way that makes her smile.

Last Sunday, Jason was watching the Colts' game. "All they have to do now is get the ball back," he said.

"All they have to do to get the ball back is ask. It's their turn," Audrey said.

Monday night, we had dinner out with friends. A sundae came with Audrey's meal. I asked if I could have a bite. I must have stolen one too many. "When the girl (waitress) comes back, I'll tell her to bring you your own," she said.

I've been clearing out our basement clutter. I had made a small pile of picture frames to be dropped off at Goodwill. Audrey found them and decided to decorate the new basement shelves with them. Jason, finished putting up the last shelf, said, "Let's go."

Audrey stopped him. "Let's stand back and look," she said, indicating the frames. "It's beautiful."

Saturday morning, Audrey looked up from the breakfast table at me. "Mom, are some bugs mean because they don't know the true meaning of Christmas?"

While we prepare for the coming changes of the new year as best we can, one thing is certain. More will happen than we could ever imagine, more blessings will come than we deserve or could hope for, obstacles will appear that could not be foreseen, friends will be made who we have not yet met, old friends will nourish our spirits when we need it most, and this little family of ours will grow through laughter, tears, and first steps as the shine begins to wear off of this new year. And, just like 2010, there will be moments so full, so funny, so bright, they will beg to be written down.