Friday, July 29, 2011

Eleven Years Ago

Two days ago, my brother Paul became a father.

And it happened in the same hospital, in the same city, where exactly eleven years ago today, I became a mother.

Seeing the photos and following the Google+ updates as he and his wife, Betty, step over the threshold into a new life with tiny Charlotte Kate [daddy a student; mama putting him through, just as we were then] makes it seem impossible that only eleven years ago, that was us. Having arrived at the finish line of the pregnancy, bursting through the tape with a dramatic birth story, we were awakening to the fact that we had really only made it to the starting gate. In the grip of love and fear, our journey with our son began.

Just as theirs is now beginning.

When we left Brigham and Women's Hospital with our bundle in arms two days later, how could I imagine that eleven years would bring us here ... to this?

This boy is over halfway to official adulthood.

In two years, he'll be a teenager.

In five years, he'll have a license to drive.

He is a brown belt in tae kwon do.

He may not know it, really, but his best friend is his sister, who listens to everything he has to say (which is quite a bit) and loves him unconditionally.

He love Legos, Star Wars, and especially, Lego Star Wars.

He likes to have his dad around, and has stated as much.

He's quite artistic, with a distinct flair for the dramatic. (Including dramatic distaste for haircuts.)

He is learning perseverance, diligence, acceptance, table manners. All in due time.

And because of who he is, we are not who we were eleven years ago.

Welcome aboard, my brother.

And happy birthday, my son! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yes. What She Said.

"But marriage isn't perfect, any more than the rest of life is. I'm sure that you'll be married, too, one day, and when you are, you'll find out that it isn't a tidy little picture of one person meets another and they live happily ever after. It's two imperfect human beings coming together and scrambling and struggling and rough-and-tumbling their way through a lot of obstacles  … It's years of commitment and loving and making decisions and making jokes and cooking supper and saying the right thing and saying the wrong thing and making mistakes and forgiving each other for mistakes until over the years you find that, together, you've formed a great, big, wildly colored tapestry of a whole shared life." 

{... If I may suggest, a fun, humorous, poignant summer read with some absolutely dead-on sibling dialogue that might make your belly jiggle. I read it in one full day of our road trip, but it's not too breezy or fluffy. And it is by no means just about marriage. Over and out.}

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Travels: Colorado Escape


We went to Colorado with our relatives last week. Vail/Beaver Creek, with some stops along the way, to be precise. It was just okay.

NOT! It was actually a completely awesome trip, except for the part where my tailbone went numb on the loooooooong drive home. We ran into several fellow haggard heat refugees Texans along the way.

We hiked.
We biked.
We skated.
We swam.
We rafted the rapids.
We ascended Pike's Peak (more in a future post).
We camped in Palo Duro Canyon and saw the TEXAS! musical drama*.
We watched old home movies of Caroline taking her first steps.
We played Pickles to Penguins.
We laughed a whole bunch.

Of course, it's ultimately not about the things we're doing together, but about the being together while we do them.

And all too soon, just as my brain cells were awakening from their summer torpor and starting to fire off some creative energy, it was time to come home.

Thank You, Lord, that we have somewhere to come home to. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Hello friends!

This is just a quick post to say that I probably won't be posting much, if anything, this week. We are recharging our batteries right now somewhere where it is not one hundred degrees every. single. day. Ergo, I am out of my writing routine, unable to download photos from my camera, and trying to minimize time online in favor of reading, soaking in my surroundings, and reveling in general lack of productivity.

But I miss you, love you, appreciate you, and will catch you in a few days. Sound good?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Few Favorites

Perhaps it's not apparent, but I've come down with a slight case of Blogging Indolence. For whatever reason (read: Due to the oppressive nature of the Texas heat, source of all ills), creative energy seems elusive these days. Quiet Time rolls around in the afternoon, and words fail to materialize. I go recline on my bed to read a book. I fall asleep. For about ten minutes.

O mojo, where art thou?

Weltschmerz aside (I just had to say that), I thought I'd share a few little things -- my current raindrops on roses, if you will. In no particular order ...

Agricola1. Agricola. Our generous friend Evan sent us this game as a gift. Initially, Tim and I played it late at night with another couple, and it took forever for us to figure out the directions (had to cheat and use eHow) and then play. But, by midnight, we had a good sense of just how fun this strategy-intensive game could be. You people out there who like The Settlers of Catan, this is right up your alley. Also, former childhood Monopoly mavens. Then I taught it to the kids, feeling ambitious one afternoon. We played the "family version," which is slightly simplified. Caroline (age 5) lost interest fairly quickly, but the 8 and 10 year olds hung right in there and played with gusto. It was just long enough to fill a summer afternoon, without unduly taxing their attention span. Score!

2. Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint. I'm finally getting around to repainting our entryway, which is cranberry red in a way that is not fresh and new. It's dark, people. Gloomy. And this paint (I'm using the Martha Stewart "Parchment Paper" shade) is so high-tech that it covers that red right up without the need for primer. Let me repeat: No primer. Remember, I'm indolent. Score again!

3. BBC Miniseries. Is there a 12-step program for BBC period drama addictions? I merely ask. Because if you believe, as I do, that no finer rendition of Pride and Prejudice exists than the one starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy -- the GOLD STANDARD MR. DARCY -- then have I got some shows for you! First it was Downton Abbey. Then Cranford. Then Lark Rise to Candleford, which the Professor and I are plowing through (yes, I know he is awesome). Then my sister-in-law, who shares my taste, got me hooked on North & South. I love the dynamic relationships, the flawed yet heroic characters, the not-so-perfect looks and settings, the less-is-more treatment of sexuality (aren't undercurrents more romantic?).

Phoebe, this one's for you.

Do you have any BBC favorites? Where should I get my next fix?

4. Studying the Psalms. (I told you: no particular order. Don't get tripped up on my mentioning this in the same list as BBC Miniseries.) For example:

"I say to Jehovah, You are my Lord; no good have I beyond You." (Psalm 16:2.)

Okay, yes, I'm listing some things I find to be good. And I write a good deal about larger "goods," like the family life we try to create, at least most of the time. But ultimately, when it comes right down to it, I have no goodness beyond Him. These treasures and pleasures are temporary -- fleeting by, they remind me that the only Good Life I need and want is found in Him alone.

5. Posting photos that bear little relevance to my writing. No elaboration/elucidation/expostulation required.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Poetry Friday: Peaches

This is Just To Say

I have eaten
the peaches
that were in
the Costco crate

and which
you were probably
would last all week.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so gigantic
and so wholesale-priced.

-- With apologies, once again, to William Carlos Williams.
{A repost from the archives that once again fits the bill in time for Poetry Friday -- and could also be applied to the organic raspberries I stocked up on this week.} 

P.S. Wondering what to do with an abundance of summer fruit before it spoils? Try a pavlova. I'm not kidding, y'all. It's super easy, light, grain-free, and guest-wowing. Bada bing bada bing. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Look Back at Me

Our one car was in the shop today. This meant that after weeks of nearly ceaseless activity, we had a day of going absolutely nowhere beyond the neighborhood pool. This was quite wonderful, really -- enforced, temporary withdrawal from the outside world. And two things happened as a result:

1. Ian -- almost eleven years old -- had to ride his bike to swim team practice. This involves a 1.5 mile ride each way, crossing a major street. Daddy practiced the route with him the night before, I escorted him to the intersection and saw him safely across on the journey out, and he called me on his cell phone when arriving at and leaving the pool. (Yes, he has a bare-bones cell phone. It became a necessity when we let our land line go.) 

He was apprehensive. So was I, although I didn't say so. But he did it. And tomorrow will be easier. In a summer of milestones, we've made another crossing. Hooray!

2. Walking home from the pool like little frying ants under the sun's determined glare, Caroline asked me to carry her. Now, she's five. A bit old to be toted like a baby, don't you think? A sardonic "You've got legs!" was on the tip of my tongue.

But I leaned down, scooped her up, and told her how far I could carry her. "Okay, Mama," she agreed. She wrapped her damp arms around my neck, laid her bleach-blonde head on my shoulder, and gently kissed it. And just for a moment, on the same day that one child took a leap forward, another one made time stand still.

Was it the last time I'll carry her like that -- even just for fifty yards? That's the bittersweetness of watching them grow and letting them go -- while some milestones arrive with great fanfare, many simply whisper their way in and out, so that we only know in retrospect that that moment -- photographed if we're lucky, but more likely not -- was a goodbye. And we wave at their disappearing smoke trail, knowing that their future looks too bright for them to ever think of looking back.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Sprinkles on Top

Who doesn't love a parade? 

We adore our neighborhood parade -- and all the more this year because the dreadful drought our area is experiencing forced cancelation of ALL fireworks. And what is the Fourth of July without fireworks? 

 (Yes, that cute little puppy we bought six months ago is now a 44-lb-and-growing canine wonder.)

Our parade has everything you could want (well, almost -- no marching band.)

Costumed drummers -- check. 
A contest with ample categories for many winners -- check. 
Uniformed scouts carrying flags and leading the Pledge -- check. 
Highly inclusive participation -- check. 
A very short distance to walk in the morning heat -- check. 

We also have little speeches from the major and other city dignitaries, a bit of patriotic singing, recognition of veterans, and free ice cream. 

And, honesty compels me to admit ... my girls, to their great joy and my great shock, actually won first place in the "Bike Group" division. Which proves that sometimes, it really is worth it to run through Target at 8:45 p.m., scooping up any and all pathetic decoration material that's left. 

Sometimes -- like when I'm running through Target and it's my third store of the night to visit and I'm tired from a long plane flight home -- I'd rather just stay home and say "Can we skip it this year, girls? Can we just watch the parade from the sidelines?" 

But we do so much as parents that feels like drudgery. The chores -- just the ones to keep everyone clean and fed -- repeat ad infinitum. The reminders, the teaching and training in good habits, the correction of behavior, the attempts to corral and organize  -- these will always be with us. They're necessary, sure, but they do drain our Family Fun Bank. Not so conducive to the crafting of happy memories. 

So yes, the special breakfasts, the simple decorations, the craft projects, the little extras -- they require a few drops of effort and imagination, often when we least feel the urge. But they need not be elaborate (trust me on this!) to pay big dividends right back into that Bank. 

And don't we all need a little cushion now and then?