Wednesday, April 29, 2009

For my Mom

She knuckles away a tear, then lets the years slip away.
Her mouth forms an "O" of surprise.
She fixes her gaze on the horizon.

Small dusty lane.
Small bare feet.

Watchful maternal eyes following their thundering gallop down the path.
Four generations.
Their walks on this path overlay one another.
Time after time, mother after mother.

Small dusty lane.
Small bare feet.

Film of years slips over her eyes as vellum.
They water and through the bubbly distortion the years are gone.
She watches the small feet run.
She thinks of other small feet.
Young mother, young life.

Small dusty lane.
Small bare feet.

She wants to stand here.
Freeze frame.
To stop the thundering, the galloping.
Just for a moment.
Memory wash.

Small dusty lane.
Small bare feet.

It is the same lane. Only the feet have changed.
It is the same family. Only the mothers have changed.

So this is what it means to feel the ache of time passing.

*Edited to add a generation - my great-grandmother kept a garden on the farm from the time I was small. She saw plenty of barefoot children, too. I had forgotten about that for a moment. :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I opened the door to FedE*x today, and received a little package for my kids, from my Mom. Nothing out of the ordinary, and certainly coming from nowhere out of the ordinary - as my Mom often sends little packages.

The FedE*x note on the box was, however, not ordinary. Not at all. In fact I would like to say here and now that I think FedE*x has a peeping tom on staff.

I mean, how dare they imply that this might be a daycare?!

Okay, well, umm, upon review of the current state of affairs, it is safe to say this place *may* indeed be a daycare. But I still insist they peeked over the back fence, and into the playroom window. Definitely.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Up the mountain

The beautiful spring weather has finally come around, so we headed out this weekend for a big adventure. We met the Wilson's and their 3 children, and all climbed Stone Mountain!

Stone Mountain is one of the largest exposed outcroppings of granite in the world, and it is right outside of Atlanta. The west side slopes much more gradually, and makes for a great walk up - with exciting (though completely safe!) results. The first picture shows the Confederate carving on one side of the stone.

What a view from the top - it was a clear day, and we could see the buildings of downtown and Buckhead, and Kennesaw Mountain in the distance. There were hawks and other birds swooping all around, small pools of rainwater to splash in, and tons of nooks to climb in and out of, for the young adventurous set.

The kids were absolutely thrilled - rock-climbing on a kid-safe level - it doesn't get any better than that. We had a total of 7 children under 8 with us, and it was one of those days where everything goes smoothly, no meltdowns occur, and even the little backpacker Phoenix was happy with the proceedings. It took about an hour to make our way to the top, with the kids running around like little squirrels, looking into every interesting crevice and thicket. Then we spent a good while walking around, enjoying the view and the breeze, and having a snack. The way down was quick and simple as hungry bellies kept everyone focused. Phoenix was so content in the backpack that he fell asleep on the downward climb.

After the climb, we drove a little ways into the park surrounding the mountain, and found a picnic spot to relax in for a few hours. Eating, playing, strolling, sharing stories and watching babies on a sunny day in the spring, in a beautiful park - it felt like a tiny vacation. We returned at the end of the day pleasantly exhausted, and ready to plan the next outing.

The season of weekend adventures has begun!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

So, as I grocery shopped today, I passed by a new deodorant. It is called "Romantic Evening" or some such flowery name. Really, product-manufacturers? If any romantically-inclined evening results in my love muff getting to know my armpits that intimately... ay ay ay.
"Why sweetie! What is that lovely -mmmm-heady scent wafting from your pittage? Must get closer.... mmmm..."

Ack! I love a good-smelling pit, but the key isn't for it reach out and wave at people.

It's been a tiring week. Mr. Big has a new trick, and it's another whack-a-mole thing. For the past 3 weeks he has been pulling up and standing in his crib, in the night. In his sleep. Screaming. He is sleep-standing, and can't get back down. We go in to see what the holy racket is, and there he is, lean little froggie, clinging to the rail. We lay him right down, he curls on his side, pops in the thumb, and is completely asleep. Repeat as needed, usually 3 times per night. Adjust whacking to include angry older brother, upon occasion.

Therein lies the rub of sharing rooms with a sibling - you have to shoot for that optimum amount of time, where the little one will scream and realize he is standing up, and just lie down - yet not over-shoot the time mark and let him scream long enough to wake up Cole. So, in we go after a few moments to rescue the little turkey.

And that's what I've been up to. Ho-hum-hum-drum.

Monday, April 20, 2009

No thanks, I don't have that much to share

Or do I? Does anyone feel such an abiding excitement over my every waking thought, that they would follow me? Await my every Tweet?

Yes, I'm talking about Twitter. The national obsession. The craze of over-informing.

No, I won't be a Twitterer.

Never mind that brevity is not my strong suit... at 140 characters or less, a Tweet is less than brief. It is cryptic. No, upon close inspection, my daily encounters uncensored are not for the masses.

My hypothetical Tweets each day would be something like this

Hypothetical #1: "Just walked in on another drive-by poo."

(that's what I call it when they poo and walk away, no paper, no flush, just results.)

Hypothetical #2: "OK, if not all 3 , let's at least shoot for 1 of 3. Wipe, flush OR wash."

Hypothetical #3: "The Real Left Behind Series: evidence of a trip to the toilet... preschooler-style."

I know. Their current preoccupation with potty humor has infected me. And no one needs daily scatological Tweets. Let's just move along to Earth Day -
Happy Day, Earthlings!
I saw a bumper sticker that made me smile, and then made me think really hard. Uh-oh. Here's to deep thoughts for you, too.

Throw it away?

There is no away...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Picture pages, picture pages...

Wow what a flashback, it must be Friday, and I hope somebody out there remembers that kid-show song.

I have a moment to share a few favorite shots from our week away, and then I have to step away from the computer. Stand up and move away from the super-fast, 4-gig-packing, repaired laptop. This thing is so fast now, it spellchecks and sends before I even finish the sentence. So I should be particularly careful that I have correct person listed in the "To" box, right? What a high that is, to write an email that is possibly outrageous, hit send, and then stop breathing for an instant while frantically checking the sent folder. Maybe it's like runner's high, which is a high I will never know.

This is kid-bliss. They have talked about this little lake for over a year, since our last visit. It lived up to their memories, though they would have liked to have had a little swim. Brrr.
This shot holds the sentiment of the week: their love and joy to be with Gigee, having their first sleepover, and spending time somewhere new and fun. They will talk about this for an age, until the next visit rolls around. They will flip through the little album and remember with giggles. They will know that grandmothers bring a different love, a love that stretches through one generation to the next. A love that is compounded by its journey down the line. A love that hands them an heirloom porcelain mug with a smile.

Sometimes it is revealing to stand back, take a shot from far away, and really look at their size. Really look at the stage we are in now, as a family, and let it sink in that this is the good part. The problems are easily overcome, the laughter bubbles up quickly, and contentment flows beneath. Fulfillment. We have in our possession a fullness and an abundance, a family unit that is shifting as we all find our place and role in relation to the others. And the older 3 are at the age where they will remember these times, a picture will ever-after spark the memory of the place we were visiting. It will be fascinating to hear what they recall, what really stands out in their little minds. The sparkly rock, the running dog, the hugging grandmother, the icy water. They will not remember a day, they will remember an instant.

Another joy-bringer. A boy learning to laugh instead of cry, to move instead of sit. A boy in transition. This view is irresistible. A little more to the left, and his cheeks will block that tiny nose and smile, and there will be no profile. Only cheek and ear. A boy delighted to watch his idols frolic. A boy knowing they will not long forget him, and will swoop in for a kiss at any moment.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What day is it?

How far have I fallen into oblivion in my wandering my way through each day?
I went to the post office today with 3 kids in tow.
After unloading them all, and toting a package in one arm and a baby in the other...
I noticed a snaking line of people inside the building. Hmm. Is it Monday? No... had that day already. What is with this place? So we made our way to the back of the line, where a portly/friendly fellow tried to talk to the girls. *snort* Keep trying buddy, you've been served. That's what I should call the blank stare my girls treat people too, when they are spoken too lately. Blank. Stare. He then commented to me on something about the wait, to which I replied, and I kid you not:

"What, is it tax day or something?"

To which he snorted, smiled and said "Yeah right!" as though I was either:
a.) really funny
b.) possibly from another {untaxed} planet

Yeah. The brilliance I felt was unstoppable. But in my bright-side way (yay me!), I figured out that I may as well wait, because by the time I loaded the kids back up and drove home, only to drive back again the next day, I may as well just stand there. And possibly think about something tax-worthy.
Then as I was catching up on my favorite blogs, I realized that that thought was not novel. There are a-plenty of people tossing out things they are happy to pay taxes for. Things that make up our days and are right in front of us, and that make this land a great place to live. I heard complaints today too, and comments from people declaring they knew better what to spend their money on. Well. Volunteering on my homeowners board, I have seen firsthand for over 3 years, what *extra things* people are willing to pay for when given a chance. And the answer is: very little. In fact, very few are even willing to be present for local decisions - let alone volunteer one hour a month to serve on the board, so that our community thrives.

The best comment of the day, hands-down: "I pay for taxes because I am not a selfish bastard that cares only about myself and my family to the exclusion of every other person in my country." Thanks to MOMocrats, and the collection of comments for that one.

So here's the short list of things I am thankful we pay taxes for.

-Libraries. Please sir, could I have some more? Soon we will get a new local library that is spacious and can provide my every bibliophile's wish. It makes my heart patter. I feel a kinship with good libraries, and we have been lacking around here. I spent a lot of my childhood and adolescence at the library, and it was a Good Thing.

-Good public schools and the handy school buses that make life smoother around here. (And by smoother, I mean these buses spare the good people of Alpharetta of the sight of me in my robe, carpooling Cole to school at dark-thirty. Ack.)
The smiling staff at our elementary school are a marvel to me. They take on my child each day, and they love and teach him well and make me feel like he is special to them. This fall three of my children will be at that school for 6 hours a day. I am happy that it is clean and cared for and provides a safe environment for their education. It is no small thing to send three cherished children to a place all day long, and know that they are safe while learning. There are plenty of complaints about school budgets, and I propose no solutions here today. Only gratitude that the schools even exist, and that so many people consider teaching a worthwhile and worthy career. Thank you, taxes.

I think I will stop right here, at the mention of libraries and schools. Those two alone stand on their own for me today, as tax-dollar recipients, and reasons to be thankful. My grandmother was a high school librarian for many, many years, and the school honored her after her retirement by naming the new Chocowinity High library after her. I grew up on discarded library books that she salvaged for me. She also brought home library computers back in the 80's, on which I thrilled at playing The Oregon Trail on a black screen with green letters. Fancy stuff, those early machines. :) My love of reading has been passed down from all sides, but my love of books and supernatural/spiritual books in particular, has come straight from her. I am thankful that taxes pay her current pension and healthcare, and every penny she needs to survive, because she gave a lot of years to a lot of kids.

I suppose this is in essence a shout-out to the good that comes from an organized system. A system that certainly is unwieldy and wonky in spots, but is better than the alternative. This post is also an alternative - an alternative option to the whining and complaining from the do-nothings. But then maybe I can be positive today because thanks to my sweet load of young-uns, tax season has been kind...

The Run-down

Hallooo... I'm still here, writing on borrowed playroom time.
The geek!T fellow has called to say my laptop is ready and raring to go with a smooth new load of properly installed 4 GB RAM.
Me: Did you boot it up and give it a test drive?
geek!T guy: Oh yeah. Whoever* put in the first memory chip had it half in, half out. So we snapped it in and added the other one.You're all set.
Me: Yeah, I thought the person I had do the first chip hadn't gotten it quite right. It wouldn't even boot up.
(* = me, Rick, an eyeglass screwdriver and a few breathy giggles.)
Clearly I was riding on an irrational tech-high, after my successful surgery on Cole's computer back in January. Possibly I was trying to avoid the $29 it costs to have it done right. Oh all right. Both.
But enough about that! You want to hear some more vacation highlights, right?
Where should I start: Phoenix and his car-screaming, or Egg Hunts, go-karts and bunnies?

By process of elimination, and the executive decision that no one unrelated by blood should have to be subject to the sounds or stories of a screaming, head-spinning kid in the car, I will bypass that one. Whew. Just thinking about it makes me shiver and swear I will not travel further than 25 miles with that child in the car. Because when he is facing the back, and cannot be seen by adults in the front, he becomes the Faceless Screamer. The one you want to leave at the next rest stop. The irony, oh the sweet irony, is that Cole was sitting next to him, and Cole was also a car-screamer extraordinaire. So I considered the seating arrangement to be a little taste of karma, no? Only Cole tried to comabt the screaming by singing the Hellelujah chorus over and over, at operatic volume, only without the umm, skill, to remain on-key. So, it was a loud tuneless chanting. But being the confident, chatty kid that he is, he was sure he sounded
g-r-r-r-e-a-t and was ready to be signed up for Idol. Rick and I were ready to be signed up for an around-the-world beer tour. Pronto. (Did I consider gnawing my way into a few bottles of the Trader Joe's wine I was bringing to my Mom? Yes. Yes I did. I knew right where my swiss army knife was hidden, and that puppy does indeed have a corkscrew on it.)
But I digress.
Our first full day in Washington was the grandmother-visiting day. The kids spent time with each great-grandmother, and decided what they liked best about each place. Rick, Phoenix and I stayed with my Gig, and enjoyed a little quiet without the big kids. So, each day I would fetch the other 3 so they could spend time with the great-grandmothers.
At Gig's (my Mom's mom) house, they loved the little closet of toys, with the little door. At Mamaw's (Dad's mom), they loved that she gave them cookies, and that she has an elevator.
Otherwise, they spent their days at my Mom's, aka Camp Lilliput, roaming the yard, checking the miniscule mailbox, and playing with dogs, as you may recall. Accompanying the dogs was Jamey, Mom's husband. To our curious delight, he enjoyed the kids, they enjoyed him, and it worked out beautifully. There's no mystery there though, because he loves animals, and my little heathens are only one step removed. Heh.

On Wednesday, the Camp Director had organized a Watson family Egg Hunt, and we also invited my friends Emily and Susan, and their children. Mom's big surprise? Bunnies! A family friend has bunnies that he takes to events, and the little hoppers were a big hit. Of course my Gig salivated as she watched the bunnies, as she has a taste for rabbit.... Ssshhh, don't tell the kids. But Gig was car-bound because of the wind, and besides she can't move fast enough to catch a bunny anymore. :)
Even Phoenix grabbed onto a bunny ear and cooed with delight, and we got a few pictures of him and his cousin Simon, who is 6 days younger. It was a ferociously windy day and we all nearly blew away, but it sure was a treat to watch all the kids run around squealing, finding eggs, and catching bunnies.
There was also a go-kart, which Jeremy and I took turns chauffeuring. Guess who wanted to go faster and faster? Well, yes, of course I did (though I swear I did not shout out some Top Gun lines, but if I had I would have felt the need, the need for speed...) - but Jadyn wanted to go faster too. With her puppy-tongue hanging out the whole time, to catch the wind, and our heads rattling as we bounced down the dirt lane.
The cap of the afternoon was the arrival of Mamaw, for her family shot with all of her great-grands. She had the desired placement of each child and family group logged into her head, and she got her wish. The last I heard, she plans to use the photo as a Christmas card, to brag to her brother about her eight great-grands, versus his lonely one. I will share the photo results when I get my hands on my revitalized laptop.
As for the rest, the pictures will soon suffice, because I am signing off. This message has been approved by Phoenix, as he has been grabbing the keyboard and mouse the whole time, and dragging them to the floor for a little nibble.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Playing catch up

This is a lame way to catch up, when I have some really good tales to tell from our week away, but... my laptop has crapped out and I am writing from Cole's computer in the playroom. Which is grand central and I cannot think in here! I usually hide when I write, and this is like trying to sit on the yellow line, in the middle of the road, and concentrate. While the Wiggles dance around, stuffed animals fly, and babies pull the mouse off the desk. Eek.
And I cannot load pictures to share.
Grumble grumble.
So today I will take the laptop to the geeks and try to finagle a cheap fix.
If I wanted to live in Seattle, I would. So stop raining already.
Grumble grumble.
I will return, and I will drum up a story about the week!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A quick hello from the Tarheel state

Have we only been here 2 full days? It feels like a week. The kids are having a blast running hither and yon like little heathens. Their biggest thrill? Everywhere we go there are dogs. My kids go nuts for dogs. They forget everything they have ever been told and get into a "There's a dog!" frenzy. Never mind the humans we are here to visit, all they can talk about is where they saw another dog, how their Gigee's dog Jasper had to go to the vet, how Jasper sat on their laps, how he likes to snuggle a purple blankie, how Gulliver fetched the ball, yadda yadda yadda.
They sat and petted and stared at Jasper for 2 hours yesterday. Interesting. So that's how to get them to be still for a minute.

My mom was waiting for them with a whistle, clipboard and standing easel that read "Welcome Campers!" The week at Camp Lilliput (as in Gulliver's Travels and all things Lilliputian - her house is Lilliput Cottage) has been dotted with cute activities and treasure hunts. The kids enjoyed a Mad Hatter's Tea Party on Monday, a Bunny Hop Breakfast on Tuesday, and today is the Egg Hunt. With a grown-up treat too - Susan and her little entourage will join us for a visit!

Phoenix has adapted well, let everyone hold him for at least a minute, and kept his fussing to a controlled minimum. His latest hook is waking up just before 5am. He senses we are in the room, clearly, no matter how still we lie and how slowly we breathe. And he will not tolerate being there alone when he could be in the big bed all warm and cozy. :)

So we begin our last day, before heading to the mountains tomorrow for one night. More later!

Friday, April 3, 2009

A mixed bag

It's Friday-friday-friday...
And I'm taking a little break to share a good quote and a good song.

This morning I read a beautiful passage in Last Child the Woods:

Passion does not arrive on videotape or on a CD; passion is personal. Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.

That is just poetic. Should I fill the back yard with hammocks for us all to sleep in?

And now a Friday tune, sent with love to all my bloggy friends, and with special thought to my friend recovering from foot surgery. You'll be humming this one for days...

Happy weekend to all, and I'll see you soon, little Washington...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A little freedom...

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv. Read it. It supports everything we instinctively know is right for ourselves and our kids, and is a fascinating read. It makes me want to throw the TVs and computers out the door and head out for a walk in the woods. Mr. Louv uses a great term: nature-deficit disorder, to describe what is going on with a lot of children today. From general malaise to ADD, he presents studies pointing toward the disconnect with nature as a root of these illnesses and ailments. More time spent in natural settings can lessen symptoms and provide a peace that the stimuli of this technological life cannot possibly imitate. See? I just knew my quiet chair out front was good for me, when things get rough inside!

One part in particular struck me - as it talked about how kids need time to roam around, and be on their own in nature - away from the structure and rules of adults. It resonated, as I remembered the soothing feeling of being away, away, away from home and free to putter around in the trees and talk to myself. Free to create little worlds, dam up a stream, build a bamboo hut, swing on a vine, climb a tree. And feel like I was alone.

My city kids don't get this around here. Our vigilance is such that they must always be in sight, in our yard, away from the street and supervised. And they chafe at these restrictions while they wander further away in search of another dandelion, a lower tree branch, or follow a butterfly's flight.
Our trip will be so good for them. Un-manicured fields, yards, trees and country. Stories about our treehouses and forts, ponies and puppies.

A little freedom to soothe the soul.