Sunday, September 27, 2009

Singing Again

After two years and two months (but who's counting?) I'm singing with the Pickwick Players again. And in just seven short weeks, I'll be singing on stage! I'm Narrator #1 -- they divided the very large and demanding narrator roll into 3 much-more-managable parts for this production.

The best part of the experience is that this is the first show where both Madi and Leasie are joining me. We went to the audition together and had our first rehearsal together last Saturday. Leaise and Madi are part of the children's ensemble. We hum, dance, and sing "Joseph" songs all day long. Even Meya and T-man have gotten hooked on the charming songs.

Life for me is just happier when I have the opportunity to sing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Morning Walk

A walk with a one-year-old.

We travel half a block and stop at least two dozen times. Baby C investigates leaves, collects rocks, tastes rose petals, and giggles about soft purple clovers.

She plops in the middle of the quiet, deserted road to rest. She trudges onto a green lawn soaking her shoes and pants with morning dew. She hands me treasures with her funny word for "here" that sounds like "ha."

She is entertained by a stick and mesmerized by a pine cone. I coax her with encouragement to keep walking, but she is tired and begins to cry.

I scoop her up. She wipes her nose on my shoulder and smiles. I carry her home on my hip, with her clutching fist-fulls of my shirt. She lets go only once, to wave to the high school bus as it passes us.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Well-oiled Mayhem!

I LOVE a schedule. I thrive with time-slots, appointments, buses to meet, homework assignments and weekly deadlines. I think the added daily pressures ease my procrastination tendency, and I am so much more productive. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the easy summer schedule (or lack of a schedule). But Fall is when I'm in my element, and I'm at my best.

Here's a typical day with our new autumn schedule:

6:30AM - Baby C wakes up. I gather her with her bundle of blankets and head downstairs to change her diaper and nurse her on the couch. I buoy myself in the stillness and get ready for the day.

6:45 - Wake up the kids (Meya bounces out of bed with a cheery smile, Leasie goes straight for her clothes which she neatly set out the night before, and Madi & T-man tunnel in their beds until at least the third wake-up call).

7:00 - Hot Breakfast served!

7:30 - Race to brush teeth, kneel for family prayer, backpacks on, final kisses and hugs.

7:40 - Wave goodbye as the four oldest board the bus.

7:45 - Baby C and I exercise. I run pushing the baby jogger. Baby C is good for exactly thirty minutes. Any more and I can expect either a loud protest or worse, a premature nap.

8:15 - Cleanup breakfast (yes, that means breakfast dishes and chaos was left until now - sorry mom, but it's true). I snarf a banana and protein bar (that's my breakfast).

8:30 - Read "Polar Bear Polar Bear," "Baby Neil," and "Ten Nine Eight" to Baby C, do a puzzle, and roll the ball to each other.

9:00 - NAP TIME!! My absolutely favorite time of the day. Shower. Work (it is definitely WORK) on my novel, write on my essays, and prepare lectures for class.

11:00 - Baby C wakes up just in time for us to go outside and meet the Kindergarten bus.

11:30 - Lunch served on cafeteria-style trays.

12 to 3 Various combinations of the following: Run errands, let the kids watch a DVD, craft project, playground visit, long walk, laundry, cleaning/pickup.

3:00 - Girls home, snack, homework, instrument practicing, lessons, soccer breakfast, make dinner.

5:30 - (My second favorite time of the day!) Hubby is home. Dinner. Family scripture study.

7:30 - Bedtime routine. Chapter book read-aloud.

8:00 - Clean, watch a little TV, read.

9:30 - Collapse in bed feeling grateful for a very full day!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Outdoor Party

There are some people in this world who are talented at throwing great parties. You know the kind of parties I'm referring to -- where you feel so welcome, where the conversation is easy, where the kids are entertained, and the food is...well, divine? I'm blessed to have some amazing friends who have this talent. Last week we attended their farewell to summer and hailing-in-autumn party.

Outdoor tables were decorated with candles and wildflower bouquets. Arbours and trellises ladened with late-blooming roses perfumed the air. We dined on warm spinach artichoke dip, smoky barbaqued chicken, gourmet hotdogs wrapped in bacon and topped with grilled red and green peppers, applebars with cinnamon icing, and homemade lemon cream pie.
Baby C found a chair and table just her size. She was perfectly content sitting in her comfy pink chair munching on a hot dog and watching the older kids play a game of football on the lawn.

My friend strung tissue-butterflies from her arbour next to the roses.

And the outdoor mural painting was pure genius.
Even the sprinkle of rain near the end of the evening seemed almost planned, not dampening the festivities in the least. The raindrops released the smell of sweet, wet grass and made the football game (with the added slippery footing) that much more exciting.

It's perfect moments like these...candles, laughter, sips of ice-cold rootbeer, paint on fingertips and noses, sitting by a friend, sampling my second dessert (okay, third), and heralding in autumn...that make life so good.

Thank you dear friends for a wonderful night!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Running in the Rain

The raindrops pat my skin, tiny cool kisses on my bare arms. I try to avoid the puddles, but the mud thickens on the soles of my shoes. Surely this makes for a better workout. I adjust my trusty Nike hat and look to my left as the layers of gray clouds gather and cluster in the corn field valleys.

I jog past my favorite barn with its sagging roof and crumbling stone foundation and pretend the black cows that look up at me from their grass buffet are impressed with my pace.

I can hear my own labored breathing and the crunch of gravel above the booming music on my ipod as I climb the hill and reach the top.

It is the first day of genuine autumnal weather. I feel my heart beating, rushing pulses in my ears. I smell the wet earth, the damp leaves, the baptized air.

These rare solo runs are my time to heal, to renew, to store up for all the challenges that will surely arise. For now, it is just me. The road. And the rain.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sinking Ship

It's 4 o'clock at our house on a Tuesday evening.

I'm helping Leasie with her reading homework (which requires complete one-on-one, side-by-side on the couch concentration).

Madi yells from upstairs that she cannot find her soccer shin guards. We've been working with her on putting everything "back in its place" to avoid this exact scenario.

Meya, is playing nicely with her polly pockets on the living room floor until T-man decides to attack pollypocket town with his Indiana Jones legos. Erruption and Chaos!

Baby C toddles by, attracted by all the noise. I catch a whif and I can tell she is in grave need of a diaper change.

Chili is cooking (close to burning) on the stove.

At that precise moment, the phone rings. It is my dear hubby informing me that he is going to be late.

AHHHHH! My ship is sinking!

My life-preservers:
running (earlier in the day of course)
and, on my best of days, -- a lot of laughter

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two Milestones

The first day of school! Meya was the first to wake up, padding softly into my bedroom with an almost-whisper, "Mom, is it time for school yet?" The clock read 6:20, ten minutes before it was set to go off. I kissed her and whispered back "Yes!"

Oh the joy! New clothes, new shoes and great backpacks (thanks Grandma and Poppy!) I had to keep reminding them to eat - they were too busy talking, explaining, and wondering-out-loud about all that awaited them. The excitement reached giddiness as we waited for the bus. Then Madi and Leasie buddied up with a twin, promising to sit by them on the bus and
walk them to their classroom.
It was hard to feel any sadness about this happy day. And it wasn't until the four kids crossed the street, each older child holding a younger child's hand, that my throat tightened with emotion. And with happy tears, I waved goodbye to the big yellow bus carrying my forth grader, my second grader, and my two Kindergarteners.
Then Baby C and I walked into the quiet house together.
The first day of school was also Baby C's birthday! She is one year old. She picked daintily at the frosting on her cupcake and licked her fingers. Then signed "more more" after each lick.
I had taken the twins to the store that afternoon to buy Baby C a couple extra small presents. I let the twins choose the gifts. When we got to the checkout, I realized that I had left my wallet at home (sometimes I am such a scatterbrain!) So we left the selected toys with the cashier. With the craziness of the afternoon, we never made it back to the store.

When it was present time, T-man and Meya gave Baby C a couple of their favorite toys which they'd carefully wrapped and decorated.
It made my heart so happy to see them care for their sister.

A good day. With lots of smiles. The best kind of tears. Cupcakes. Presents. And love.

Friday, September 11, 2009


When I woke up this morning, I knew it was 9/11. I paused just briefly before turning off my alarm clock and flipping on the lamp next to my bed to think about where I was and what I was doing eight years ago. I was six months pregnant with Leasie and at a doctor's appointment. The office closed early and sent all the patients home. I listened to the radio as I drove around the beltway in complete disbelief.

The rest of this morning was normal. Routine. Kids dressed. Breakfast served. Baby tickled. With only the slightest pause to watch a bit of the Today show as I cleared the breakfast dishes and heard Matt Lauer announce the memorial services in NY. It was background noise, really, drowned out seconds later as I turned on the faucet and steam fogged the window over the sink.

Then while checking email and facebook a couple hours later, I saw this picture that my friend, Justin Hart, posted on facebook. He wrote "Rode behind this guy on the way to work. God Bless America."

I more than paused.
I felt.

The image tugged at my heart-strings. And I remembered why it is so remember.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ode to Summer

Summer, how I love thee! Let me count the ways...

Cool water on hot days
Amusement parks and elated screams

Lazy mornings with freshly picked raspberries and blueberry pancakes
Walks to the playground with post-park stops at the General Store for orange creamsicles

Spontaneous water fights in the backyard
County Fair week
Family reunions, road trips, and beach vacations

Mid-week, long solo runs on the shady W&OD trail
Library visits and entire afternoons spent reading our "new treasures" on the couch together

Back-patio grilled chicken and garden fresh vegetables for dinner
Counting stars, catching fireflies...
and going barefoot

It was a great summer

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Third Time's the Charm

I attended my third Kindergarten orientation today with the twins. As I sat in the small chair, with my knees nearly to my chin and listened to Mrs. Jacobson, I couldn't help but think back to my first mother-Kindergarten experience.

Nearly five years ago, Madi and I walked into the same classroom hand-in-hand. I was so nervous. I'm embarrassed to say, I wore glasses (fake) to look older and more intelligent. And can I just comment: Madi's poor Kindergarten teacher - I was hyper-concerned, overly judgmental, and zealously protective.

And while some emotions remained the same (none that are listed above), I'm happy to say that I've come a long way.

As a veteran Kindergarten Mom, here's how I was different today:

I left the glasses at home.

I was much more excited about Kindergarten than T-man or Meya (although Meya was skipping-all-morning-long excited).

I didn't have a single question to ask the teacher.

I was thrilled to learn that snack is provided and I don't have to pack any food - the daily love notes can wait until first grade.

I was not disappointed in the least that "birthday treats" are limited to non-edible items.

I was not concerned about Meya or T-man finding a friend to sit by.

I sat back and watched without interruption or coercion as my children discovered the Kindergarten room for themselves.

I signed up for weekly volunteering!!!!

Here's what has remained the same:

I held their hands as we entered the school.

I hugged them as we left.

As we ate lunch together, I listened with a mother's joy as they told me all about their new adventure.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pots, Pans, and a Chair

Who needs toys when pots, pans, and a chair can be so entertaining?