Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Tis the week before...

Last night I dreamed about laundry. I was unloading the dryer, and each item I took out was perfectly crisp and folded. The whole family gathered round as though we were witnessing a Christmas miracle. I exclaimed over and over that I had simply loaded the dryer like normal, and wasn't this wonderful!

Hello friends, meet my psyche.

We enter the Christmas weekend with all kids well and healthy, and Mrs. Claus ALL done with her necessities. Hurray for the Mrs.! She usually stays up late on Christmas Eve with a glass of cheer and hours of wrapping ahead.

Now, we are playing and waiting for The Grandmother to arrive tomorrow. The house smells heavenly between the Christmas tree's scent, and the cinnamon crumble I am baking.

We have wound our way through 22 cards of the Banner, and the magic is waning. (I cannot lie.) I finally admitted to the kids that I was smack out of good ideas, and we were going to do some of the same ones from the first few days of December. When is a card promising hot cocoa and tons of marshmallows ever a bad thing! Especially when the cocoa is being sipped from vintage Disney mugs, a second-week Banner gift?!

Behold my holiday sweeties, I will show you them:

My Little Bear, and her beloved Mickey

Cole and Pluto

Phoenix and Goofy
( Jadyn was still under the weather during this treat, but of course she has a Minnie mug.)

I think many a family has some sort of hot beverage tradition, and special mugs. (Susan and her little sweetie make me smile!) When we were growing up, my Mom gave us Bunnykins china for Christmas and birthdays. So our special treat was using the Bunnykins mugs and dishes during birthdays and holidays - or any day she wanted to make extra special. I would share them with my children but my Mother cannot part with our Bunnykins - and in fact I think she hosts tea parties and uses it! ;-)

I wish you all happy preparing and partying and making of merry!

May your Santa be as squeezable as this one...


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On the Solstice

It is the day that was always marked by a birthday.
My grandmother's birthday.

Her older sister Ophelia always marked it by making a pineapple upside-down cake.
My brother Isaiah and I both had an unexplained craving for pineapple yesterday.
He called me, wanting one, and wishing he could have one that tasted like Ophelia's. (We say her name "Aunt AFEEya" and my grandmother always called her "Feeya Baby.")

I told him that I stood in the grocery aisle holding cans of pineapple, tasting one in my mind, but not knowing why.

Aunt Ophelia knows why. I'll bet she made her sister that cake for all of their lives. They were both shake-your-head-it's-so-good cooks, that will not be topped in my family. We would go around to Gig's on Christmas week, and there would be her birthday pineapple cake.

It's our first Christmas without her, and - she was Christmas for our family, for many years. The tie that brought us together. The house we could not wait to go to, no matter what our ages. She and my grandfather had that beautiful knack of staying young, of getting the gifts that every kid wanted. (Big Wheel trike? Check! Loud, singing holiday toy? Check! Cash money for the grubby teens? Check!)

They had the turntable side cabinet, and every holiday album imagineable - cued up from Thanksgiving on. The recent years brought CDs into their lives, but I always enjoyed my granddad DJing the turntable.

They hung stockings for their four children every year. They filled those stockings.
Though my parents decided Santa did not go hand in hand with their beliefs, I chose to believe. I chose to create Santa for my family.

Because she wanted it. She believed that their small years are the magical years, and the only time we can create something for them. And so for her we believe.

And for her, thanks to her wishes, we let Lucy Goosey preside over our hearth. Happily dressed in her holiday cheer, she is at home, Gig.

Lucy Goosey is home for Christmas.

Christmas monkey

Happy Christmas week, friends!
We are all in a whirlwind of activity, right? I have a quick moment to share a mental image with you. It is from this morning, when I thought I could utilize my last chance to wrap without big kids around. (Tomorrow I'll be at school most of the day, running the joint. Ha! Did I say that? I meant doing parties. Running parties! :))

So it started out well, with Phoenix quietly sitting on my bed watching Diego, while I played Mrs. Claus. (Which is really another post, but I will leave it at a big "Hollah" to all the Mrs. Claus' out there. I feel you.)

It ended up with me thinking of that commercial where the monkeys are in the corporate office, jumping on desks and throwing stuff everywhere. I would have taken a picture, but I know you are up to task of visualization. You have your own monkeys! This monkey was quick as lightning and has a rocket arm. We really need to train him.

But I got it all done, hidden and cleared away - just as the tormenting monkey fell asleep, all worn out from pitching in the major leagues.
I hope to get a chance to pop back in here this week, because I know you need to see Advent cards #24 and #25 at the very least!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Feel good quotable

Me, this morning, taking my first sip of coffee, leaning on the counter.

Cole: Mom, you know, you look like you've already had a really hard day taking of kids - and it's only 6:30 in the morning!

Me: (grinning, after a brief debate: push him off the stool or grin.) Cole, this is what a night in the same bed with 2 sick girls will do to you. Isabella moaning and slurping water every hour, Jadyn mumbling and tossing. Asking me questions at 4:45, 5:15, 5:30 - what am I the sphinx?!
(Okay, I totally didn't say that sphinx part. It was only 6:30am. All I can say is gah and goo.)
That boy's on his way to a successful relationship future, right? The girls will love him!
Actually things are better today. And by better, I really mean that Mounts Vesuvius and Rainier have stopping spewing molten lava and ash. Hallelujer!

Rick has returned from his trip, bearing the virus - though I did get the warning call that it would not in fact be relief troops arriving, it would be sick troops. Oy.

And in answer to Susan's question du jour: I simply don't know if it would be better having them all sick at once. Get it over with? Yes. But it hasn't happened that way, ever. We get the hopscotch through the family for a week type. The longest span of stretched out contamination was this year - eleven days. So I know that is not better! :) But... as long as I wasn't one of the sickies, I could go with 24 hrs and done. Let's put in an order for next time!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let your plague flag fly - pre-Christmas edition

Yes, that's right! We are getting our plague on before Christmas, smart family, we! Nothing like clearing out the ol' innards during the last full week of school, right?
I am octo-arm-Mom, able to hold buckets under simultaneous mouths, produce wet washcloths, and with one well-placed nudge of a foot - keep a toddler from inspecting said buckets. And it's only 9am! Yahoo! You can tell by my exuberant use of exclamations that I'm revved up on a false coffee high!

Cue up the holiday music, to distract you from my misery. Umm, me from misery. Oh, misery!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


In direct opposition to Phoenix and The Banger, is Phoenix and the music class.

Yesterday we had our last class of Kindermusik.

Or, The Hour Each Week In Which Phoenix Redeems Himself. That's right, friends. We had a perfect 14 week run. Not a tantrum to be seen, not a single dot or iota of unruly behavior - he was Little Mister Music. And not only did he thoroughly enjoy each music class session, and behave - he participated 100%.

Dancing slowly, while waving a scarf? Done.
Placing instruments gently and carefully back in the bins? Done.
Sharing gracefully, as the class passed one instrument around? Done.

That's right. The Untrustable Todzilla gleefully rolled out his Little Mister Music side each Wednesday. It gave me joy. It gave me hope. He listened carefully and did everything his teacher asked, every session. Be still my heart! What's this, this listening ear!

I'll admit, his wild side cracks me up. There is something so... unwound about him that is a kick.
But to see he can switch it up, and have a care...

Very sweet.

Phoenix & McCall, his "best friend." I took the two of them to music each week, and yes, it was like twins all over again... :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Phoenix and the Banger

"Where's my banger?!" Where's MY BANGER???"
"Got it. Got dat banger."
"Bang... Bang!! Gonna bang dat sing till it break."
"See me? Watch this banger."

Phoenix has found a toy hammer. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
No more days of little Cole singing "Can we fix it? Yes we can!" while tapping gently on an appropriate object.
No. The days Of Dark Bob are here, and "Bang dat sing till it break" is the new mantra.

He stands in front of the oven glass chatting to his reflection, sharing all of this banging information.
I ask him if he's talking to himself, as I point to his reflection. He looks at me with a frown.
"I not talkin' myself. I talkin' to dat boy in da window. He eating a nanana like me! He's gon watch me bang!"

Let's just all hope that boy in the window can set a better example, hmm?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Auburn Partay Downtown

Thirty years of Auburn history...

I met this crowd 14 years ago, when I was inducted by marriage into the Auburn football tradition. Coming from a basketball-fan family, I was clueless about the rabid SEC fans and rivalries... And now Rick has created 4 small, crazed AU fans that have me convinced we will have to pay out-of-state tuition for four, or move to AL! (Calm down Shah! :)) They are a really fun group, though I needed a few years under my belt to feel comfortable around all that history...

The Championship ticket prices were outrageous, so the crowd gathered from near and far to party at Loew's hotel downtown. We were on the 28th floor, in a clubhouse, and that is THE way to tailgate, for sure. I am not a fan of huddling under a tent in the cold! We headed downtown at lunchtime, and I intended to leave after a few hours. Ten hours later, after the big win, the kids were passed out on the couch and there we still were, celebrating... welcoming back some partygoers that had gone to the game.

The guys remember the various wins in detail, I remember the gatherings by who I was pregnant with at the time - "Oh yeah! The game I wore overalls, and was pregnant with Cole!" or "We were at your house, I was 7 months pregnant with the girls! Did Auburn win that year?" (So sporty of me, I know. :)) None of the crowd had seen the fruits of all these labors, so we had to take the brood along. They ended up having a blast, as being high up in the city was like a wonderland (you'd never know they were growing up just 20 minutes away...).

The hotel clubhouse was surrounded by a huge balcony with a firepit and a pool.

Cole, Tony and Isabella around the firepit
Jadyn & Phoenix staying away from the pool and fire!

Gasp! No one got wet! Shudder! No one was burned!

I thought I would need a luggage cart to roll the sleeping kids (and a wobbly Rick) down to the car at midnight, but we managed easily. Wow. What a win. Rick heads to Phoenix, AZ next month for the national championship!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lo, the weary

"Mommmm! I peeing!"

The week of too many bodily fluids. In the spirit of no time like the present, I dove into my last series of potty training. I am no better at it now than I was the first time. The only thing different about Effort #4 from Effort#1 is that I now know just how little I have to do with the success of it all. No, success will be up to the little ornery mind controlling the business.
And control it he does, with a loud voice and a willful leak.
He has kept me on a short tether, and has only to yell the "p" word to know I will come running. He teeters between wanting to please and wanting to wreak havoc with his new power. I like to think it was a choice that he let loose right *beside* the new rug, rather than on it. Just to let me know he held back, for what it was worth. To make it an accident rather than an act of war.
It's all the Advent Banner's fault. The stair rail curves down to the changing table, which is ruining the look of my darling decoration! So, it was only a small jump from "Yuck, I have to move that changing pad" to "(*sigh*) I have to move that changing pad forever."
"MOM! My tooth is bleeeeeding!"

The week of too many bodily fluids. In between the pee calls, have been the bloody tooth screams. Jadyn has a front tooth that is hanging by some inhuman titanium thread. For THREE days she has ghosted along behind me, moaning "I can't take it, I can't take it anymoooore! Get it out!" And the darn dangler is gray and twisted and caved in like a prizefighter's loss. I have made her geriatric, no-chewing-necessary meals for THREE days. Last night I dreamed her tooth came out and she presented it to me like a prize. I wanted to bronze it.

Lo, I am the weary, and there is no rest. :)
I am hoping for two small victories: a dry-underwear day and a lost tooth.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Gotcha! This will not be The Month She Posted An Envelope Every Day.

Much as I'd like to get off my posting duties that easily this month...

But... just a few more! :)

Check it, my fave:

7,8,9 10... what will you bring?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Hello and welcome to Day One of The Advent Calendar Banner Project! What a moniker that is, eh. Pre-dawn mornings, midnight-late nights (and if you know not-owl me, those hurt the worst!) oh how I obsessed and enjoyed this project.

Today's envelope revealed a ticket for hot cocoa with marshmallows after school...

More to follow... Happy December!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Hi friends!

I have been obsessed lately. I started a crafting project, and it has taken me over. It all started when my friend Rachael found this link last year. My thoughts then? Oooh, aahh, love it - but no way. Too much time necessary.

But this year, the project was still in our heads, so last week Rachael and I started our advent banners. And oh, did we!

The joy of these envelopes has been making me giddy. Now, when Phoenix wakes me up at 5:30am, (and then goes back to sleep, himself) I sneak down and start crafting before the others wake up. I am not ready to reveal these tidbits of lovely, that will have to happen next week.
But I just had to let you know why I have been absent online and on Sunday (I did not even check out the Creative word for the day!). I have been stolen away by tiny envelope-making fairies, and each one is cuter than the last. (The envelopes, not the fairies, I think they have to all be cute.)

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and enjoy time spent with your dear ones.

Gobble gobble...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sweet treat

I still think it tasted just fine, wrapper and all. I don't know what all the hollering was about.
It was funny the first time it happened, but the 3rd? What is going on with this child? How many treats have I given him, assuming he was unwrapping them? Oy vey.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Sunday Creative - Lonely

When the vines of the heart
Have their accustomed shape,
Twined and trimmed through the years
Of learning and merging
And living as one

What when the withering starts?
When the space filled by two
Is occupied by a solitary one

Topiary of a relationship
How deep are your roots
As they mingle underground
Seeking that growth elixir
Or the simple comfort of time

Time spent as we curved round
One another, shaping a life,
A comfortable nest

What is it that makes two into one?
that thing…
That takes the lonely heart and makes it full
makes it content
and takes away the hunger

For a time or an eternity
The lonely heart is fed.
The mingled vines they hold.
For in the spring,
when the deadwood is cleared,
Underneath lies the green of new life.

For my friend. I will always believe in the spring…
Need to soak in more Lonely? Check out the other Sunday Creatives, over at Justine’s place.

Friday, November 12, 2010

pilgrims and indians

Pilgrims and Indians, Pilgrims and Indians sat down together...

All across America, elementary classes will soon be decorating paper vests, and dressing like small Native American ambassadors and Pilgrim immigrants. As the de facto room Mom for my girls' Kindergarten class, I was assigned a job.

Cutting out 22 Indian vests was step one. But step two allowed for the willing help of my Shadow, and he was all too happy to spray the vests with water, while I crinkled them for a more suitable leather look. Step three - hang them to dry on our handy zip line!

Step four, don't tell any other teachers about this perfect set-up. :) My aspirations of support for the school do not include being known as The Vest Lady!

Happy Friday...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


My grandmother had a rock garden.

Just inside the front door, under a giant window, was a reservoir of white rocks.

She had a variety of houseplants in pots growing there, she who could grow anything from light and air. There was always a jelly jar with something rooting, by the kitchen sink. Tomatoes and peppers at the back door. Cacti and succulents on the coffee table. I know where that came from, that tendency to grow green matter for no reason other than growing.

Her own mother.

My Nanny was always old, as a great-grandmother would be. She was a farmer's wife, though I did not realize that for a while. I only knew that she gardened and cooked. Gardened in the manner of a half-acre vegetable smorgasbord that she and my grandmother grew, not the aesthetic flower gardening so lovely and inedible. No, people of the Depression needed to look out their windows and see that year's food spread before them. I thought that was normal, that sprawling sort of selection.

She would drive out to the farm, park in the field behind my house, and walk through the garden, harvesting.

I would see her car and dash back there, a barefoot stick of a country girl, to poke down the overgrown aisles with her. Vivid yellow squash blossoms, bumpy small cucumbers, towering bean vines, cool dirt - these memories come easily. Nanny pointed and let me gather what was ripe. "He-yah, Bethy Lee," she would utter with a grunt, pointing at some hidden squash. I would cautiously poke under the leaves, ever alert for snakes, and twist the plump squash away.

She of the green thumb, passing that greenness down.

Down and down through family homes filled with house plants, now civilized and easily kept. Her vegetables served fresh and seasoned are not easily forgotten. Some of my earliest remembrances are set in her kitchen, a sunny place on Harvey Street that has been gone for years. A biscuit and a backyard full of fruit trees.

Green thumbs cannot be staunched.

Farm wife to downtown wife, trailing green whither she goes.

It flows as a constant through the family the compulsive push to tend and nurture, feed and flourish. Daughter to daughter to son - where it sits this generation, in my brother.

He can't help but plant and grow, and his plants can't help but thrive as lush as Jack's beanstalk.

I can't help but see this and let it warm me, this constancy of genetics.

And in the meantime, passively tend my own small piece of the green, gathered from my grandmother's rock garden as it was dismantled on her passing. A potted aloe plant, now placed on my piano. Thriving despite my inability, despite my lack of the green luck, all plump tentacles waiting to be needed.

And tucked in the midst, a forgotten gift from a decade ago... from me to my Gig.

Somehow I was meant to have this plant.

(You can thank Phoenix for this post - as he unearthed the pinwheel yesterday, from the depths of the aloe. I grinned and remembered painting it for Gig, and how she moved it from plant to plant over the years. You may also notice how Phoenix has unearthed my long-ago nickname - another reason why his shouts of "Bethalee" always make me grin...)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Sunday Creative - Aspiration

Breathing in and out
Forcibly slowing my thunderous heart
Patterning my body to the peace I desire

In order to aspire, first we must aspire.
The elemental breath
begins it all.

Shivers come, stillness falls
just breathe
when all else fails

World around, you are mostly welcome
wild bipolar world
of calm and chaos.

Making sense of it all
will take a tumbling succession
of lifetimes.

Lifetimes to breathe
one deep
inhalation {aspiration} exhalation
after another.


The act of aspiration got me through today's Sunday Creative, and you? Jump over to Justine Gordon's to see other creative interpretations.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

benign god

Hi friends...

You're lucky my computer froze, and I lost a post yesterday. It was really boring. I think I was moaning about photo storage, and blogger not letting me post pictures anymore. How mundane! You don't visit me for that! Where are the cute kids, the funny quotes, the wacky house-appliance-crashing days? The Halloween cuties, the festival pumpkins, the party-going kids?

Like I said, no pictures. Google has cut me off.

My words will have to be sufficient until I can clear out some online albums. It's only that google owns about the the whole world now, and certainly blogger, and certainly picasa and wherever else I am stashing photos online. And google being google, they know everywhere I am, and how to tally how much of their space I am using, and probably what I just had for lunch.

Somehow I don't mind. Benign god, ye google.

Hi. I came around here to say Hi.

We had some less than inspiring electoral choices around here. Choice is way too strong of a word.

And somehow, you know, every time I see the words Reclaiming America, I'm maybe feeling a little put out.

I'm a benign god too, you know. If I'm the face of the one holding America in my hands, do I look so dangerous?
Hi. I'm sitting right next to you, and we can talk.
We can even be friends.
Best of all, we can share America.
I promise.

Because even though I may disagree with you, I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler.

(I {heart} you Jon Stewart, for many things in general, but that line in particular.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Sunday Creative - Obsolete

My eye spins inward
Mulling and musing
Considering over the paradigm shift.

We are moving forward
a family never still
smack in the middle of living

These days we cleave to learning and growing
no more pining or breeding -
That focus pressed away
Now, obsolete.

A burning soft memory, those days.
hidden away, sweet and dear.
That first full flush of motherhood.

Replaced by the absolute energy
of This. This. This.
Crashing tide of life abundant.


Thank you for visiting my little corner of weekend creativity. For more views on today's word, visit Justine Gordon, guest host of The Sunday Creative.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sunday Creative - Dynamic

Dynamic stepped into our family,
and away we sailed...
Far from the land of expectation and prediction
Where small people are puppets,
And books have answers.

Into the beautiful beyond
full of flabbergasting head-shakes
and speechless giggles.
Bemused looks and eyes squinted to catch
a glimpse of forever.

Why do we wonder at their individuality?
Taken aback and expecting else.
Unknowing that The Person begins in utero
and we only think we are training it elsewise.

Personality: the dynamic force of nature
by which
each human says I Am Here.
Deal with it.

And not only Deal, but Love and Cherish and
Squeeze and Celebrate.
Thou Shalt Put Away The Cookie-Cutter,
Open the doors and windows
and let it be.


To see other interpretations of this dynamic word, check out The Sunday Creative.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Flip Side

I think today calls for some good news. I need it, and you need it for me, right? Because you care, so very deeply. And, because it is Say No to Drugs Week at school, and good news keeps people off drugs. Ta-da!
Though while we're talking of Public Schools and Their Unveiled Attempts to Brainwash, just when did caffeine get onto the Drug List?! Thank goodness my girls' brilliant kindergarten teacher had the foresight to tell them: "There are good drugs and bad drugs."
Ah, caffeine and alcohol, you know which list you belong in! Thanks for the out, Teach! Of course, the teacher also said that bad drugs make you do stupid things, which may not have been the correct naughty cue word, since my kids all appear to love doing stupid things - and laugh hilariously at anyone in their vicinity who is also Doing Stupid Things.
At any rate, they are enjoying wearing red, and wearing wacky socks (though how that is different from any other day, I'm not sure), and wearing sunglasses, and good grief. How did all these things come to mean Just Say No?!
And how did we come to the point of sipping guiltily on a beer, while our newly informed children stare pointedly at us for Using Drugs?!

Back to Good News Keeping {Me} off Drugs. OK, the list is short but tres sweet.

This month's three strong good points:
1. Rick made his last car payment (insert floating stars and smiley faces)
2. I made the last Tempur-pedic mattress payment (insert flexible, non-achy back)
3. It is Rickey's birthday tomorrow (insert banners and cake!)

Yay, us! The month is looking better already.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spooky Quotable

Isabella: Mom! That light is all ready for Halloween! It's perfect!

Me: What? Where?

Isabella: That light right there (pointing to the fixture over the kitchen table) it already has webs all over it! So it will be just right for Halloween!

Me: Great! I promise I won't change a thing... (snickering)

Monday, October 18, 2010

In Which I Ask You to Sit Back and (not) Hold Your Breath

Ya'll. Seriously. I don't know if my skills are up to the story-telling level that this is gonna take.
I feel like I should do bullet points for the various incidents of the past week, and leave it at that.

Did you ever have a week that included candy stuck in the throat and the ER, a fire under your van's hood, a crazed neighbor's epileptic seizure, the rescue of said neighbor's baby from the street, an unexpected sewer blowout and downstairs back-up, a furnace burnout and replacement and a big Auburn win?

I have.
And in the very week that I mantra-ed focus! Ya'll. I just want to keep shaking my head and saying "Ya'll." It conveys such a wealth of (over)whelmed feeling. Ya'll! What is going on!

Let me knock this out for you.
Wednesday: Isabella, while seated at the table, swallows a whole peppermint. It lodges in her esophagus somewhere, not stopping her breathing, but aching and staying put. Hello, ER. It dissolved and she was fine, just a few throat-scratches.

Saturday: Upon returning from the store, I pull into the garage and unload groceries. I notice that, oddly, the hood is smoking and something smells like fire. Rick pulls the car out the garage and we gather outside to see what's the big meow. As we are trying to get the hood up, and pull the water hose around...
A man from down the street (whom I know only vaguely) walks by, strolling his infant daughter. Before I can even greet him, he gets a panicked look, and begins running, half pushing, half-dragging the stroller. I remember that he has epilepsy and start yelling "Stop, Tim! We can help you! Stop!" He keeps running in a crazed fashion, tipping over the stroller and dragging it on it's side, and then upside down. A flurry of berserk activity, much hollering, and soon we have Rick running after the man, who has abandoned the stroller in the street, upside down, and run down to the street, where he is passed out. I run to the baby, all the while yelling for the Lear Brood to stay in the yard.
Some serious action was going on. The seizure (of the psycho-motor variety, he said) resulted in Tim being totally out of it for 30 minutes, while I held his 4 month old, daughter, cleaned her scraped forehead (she is just fine, only scraped), and asked a neighbor to call 911. Our corner was a hotbed of activity: fire truck, ambulance, two police cars, multiple neighbors and all the kids wide-eyed as all get out.
The van, turns out, was the victim of an inattentive oil change mechanic. He left an oily rag under the hood two days earlier, which caught on fire, melted part of the under-carriage, and burned through a wire. We have to think of it as a necessary part of the day - because without that small fire, we would not have been out front to help that sweet baby and her peculiar father. (It's not the epilepsy that makes him peculiar, it's just him.)

Sunday: We've made it to the day of rest, in which we continue to recount and shake our head over the previous day's activity. But wait! What is that water seeping under yonder powder room door? And what is that wad of stank out yonder front door, at the clean-out pipe? Uh-oh. This can only mean that Roto-Rooter needs to pay a visit. Roots, roots everywhere, all in the outdoor sewer pipe. This will take some roto-rooting and root killer.

Monday: We've made it to the day of rest(part 2)! In which 3 Learlings head to school, and I make sense of the week ahead. But wait! Why is it 64 degrees upstairs, and there is cold air coming out of the vents. Oh no. Oh no no no. Please no.
But yes, the HVAC man says. Yes, yes, yes. Your furnace is 22 years old and has chosen to burn through some wires in the attic. Oh good grief. Wow, you look pretty calm, considering the news I just gave you, says Mr. HVAC. I smiled wearily.

Some things you just can't explain.

What an expensive week.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Changes on the border

Hi. I'm here. Am I always saying that?
Still here. Not sunk. Busy with teacher conferences and baseball games. And sitting out back in our almost-fall-back-to-summer-almost-fall-again weather.
I did skip my Creative challenge this week. It was kind of a gimme."Spiral" was the inspiration word, and oh how I love to wax on about the spiral nature of the universe... right? Truly. It's my secret Bill Nye the Science Guy aspect. Really though, I was just too scattered to focus. Which reminds me to stop fussing at Cole about focusing. Focusing is hard!

But I am determined to focus on doing less things, better. Because I am unemployed now, and it is working out for me. I know, I shouldn't toss that word around casually. But it's true that my part-time babysitting gig is finished, and I am relieved.

So my focus is where it should be: churning out high-quality humor for ya'll!
No Really. Focus.
OK. Here is my focus: Aiding and supporting school success for the young Lears. Potty-training youngest Lear. Staying fit.
There. That's a short list, and not too scary, right? I think I can do it. But no more bragging about how I'm acing kindergarten, or fourth grade, ok? Because I am totally not. I really need to practice my handwriting. And study my multiplication tables. My teachers hath spoken.

Speaking of teachers, can I blow your mind? Just a little? Jadyn has been receiving notes from the teacher about being.... hold your breath...

"Overly social."

Yes, I made sure it was the right child we were discussing. Yes, Jadyn smirked at me and confirmed the diagnosis. From silent phantom to chatty socialite. Not with adults, mind you, only with students. So at least that hasn't changed on me. Isabella is progressing as a serious student of the kindergarten arts, and helper of all others needing assistance. Mother Hen, word has it.
Cole is trying out the "I've got this in the bag" approach. And it's working just often enough to support his theory that he does indeed have it in the bag, but not often enough for me. Enter Approach III: Let's Do This The Full-@ssed Way, And Actually Know What is Going On In Class And In That Agenda.
See? Right back at Focus again. Family theme, no less!

And those are your changes on the border. Focus, focus, focus.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Sunday Creative - Nostalgia

I wear my pining on my sleeve
I cannot tuck it away.
It is fresh despite years, and full of undenied longing

Logic has no place
in the realm of the heart
And that heart wants to hear a voice

A voice from the ether, a voice from the past
I cannot even say that 'just once'
would satisfy.

And gentle nostalgia lays no claim to this squeezing
twisting yearning
needing of a father.

If a voice could say all's right with the world
I know that voice for me...
And I long for it.


I am late this week, but committed! Check out The Sunday Creative and the offerings of other creatives... and thank you for checking out my post.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Downtime: lather, rinse, repeat.

First of all, let me assure you, it is not I that has been acquiring Downtime: The Sequel. No, it is the brood of sick kids I have had on my hands for eight days. Eight. Days. I feel like I should create a font just for that sentence. The font that describes parents who have cared for sick kids for eight days... It would look scary, sleep-deprived and half-crazy, betcha. By the seventh day I was like some sort of awful nurse out of a Stephen King novel. You know the one. I was calling them all Mr. Man, and honing my, umm, escape route.

This morning, after their required day of being fever-free, I bundled them off and wished them well at school. By 10am, two were back home, and the third knew that I had just better not get a call from the clinic. I am on a first-name basis with that clinic nurse, thanks to Cole and his four years there.

You all already know the drill with sick kids and their care, but the Ph factor added a new angle. Phoenix was the first to be sick, and so has been well since Saturday. Which leaves five days in which he perfected his tormenting skills. Feverish, napping child on the couch? Hi, I'm Phoenix, and I will pile-drive you from the couch arm. Headachey, feverish child has just drifted off to sleep? Hi, I'm Phoenix and I will shout "Nyah-nyah-na-booty!" right in your ear, and cause you to shriek in pain.

But really. You hoped to hear about Mom's visit, right? Right.

Would you think it possible for a person to miss TWO flights on one trip? One coming, one going. Yes, she did. We can only deduct that she is locked into some sort of New Bern-Atlanta jinx-vortex. When my almost-sister-in-law called to see where Mom was, and when she would be returning, I could only say one thing: I delivered her to the flight, but I cannot vouch for where she ends up.

We had a good visit, particularly in catching up on her Tales of a European Adventure. Mama's been to Paris, and she won't forget it.
Then, before the big kids tumbled like fever-stricken dominos, we had time for one sweet tea party, a la Dea. (Phoenix calls her Dea (dee-yah) and it is catching on.) And, brace yourselves. I provided a craft opportunity. I know! I do still have it in me! It was just dormant for a few years.

The new teapot for the grandbabies...

And after a tasty tea of apple juice, mini cookies, fruit and crackers, it was Halloween craft time! It only took small pumpkins, one giant package of spider rings, glue, and scissors to snip off the ring part. Ta-da! Spiders, spiders everywhere.

Oooh, spooky spiders crawling everywhere...

Our mantel is now decorated with spider-ridden punkins.

Mom has returned to water-logged NC. When my sickies are recovered and safely deposited in school, I hope to return. Until then...

Go get some pumpkins and spiders, why don't you! This craft is even suitable for toddlers, as his spiders enjoyed sliding down the side of the pumpkin on a river of glue. Sweet!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Today was a day of unplanned downtime, brought on by a feverish Phoenix. Which meant quiet hours catching up with Mr. DVR: Jon Stewart ("I disagree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler"), and travel channel, and a sizable chunk finished of a good book.

All the while Phoenix was sleeping beside me on the couch, working on this hairdo, which can only be accomplished through hours of sweaty, feverish toddler sleep coupled with the presence of fuzzy, nest-like baby hair. I give you Opus in Blond:

What are you doing Mom. I just woke up from a 4 hour nap.
And if you think I'm anywhere near ready to shear off this coiffed masterpiece, then you must have missed this emotional brain fart. We shuffled off to the bus stop to collect the kids, and Jadyn assessed the couch situation as soon as she stepped in. Wonderingly, she looked over the collection of phones, remotes, book, snack remnants and stacked comfy pillows: So, this is where you were sitting while we were gone?
(I wonder what that means to her - that we were frozen in time while they were in school?)
Yes, I replied soothingly (with an undertone of "nothing fun happened, you didn't miss anything, please don't stop liking school) and Phoenix was sick the whole morning with a fever, so he slept almost the whole time!
"Oh!" said Jadyn, with a bright smile: "We should have hurried right back home to make him a card!"
They have such faith in their pictures making all right with the world.
"Oh... you definitely should have," I assured her, grinning right back at her twinkly blue eyes.
Stay tuned for more Tales of Mama - she's coming for a visit tomorrow! I can't promise there won't be a guinea chickie in her purse, per my toddler's wishes...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Sunday Creative - Nothing

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.
I will meet you there. ~Rumi, 1207-1273 AD
Would this field be the presence of nothing, for many a soul?
Without the guideposts of right and wrong where do we sit?
Who will tell us whither we goest and whether we sin
or whether we sit in the palm of grace.

I want to be in that field.
That field so full of grace that there need be no signposts
No markers or words to delineate
Only the idea that through faith we are made whole
Faith in God, man, or simply faith in life everlasting.

Perfect, whole and worthy
And welcome to sit and chat
Of nothing or everything
As the case may be.

-BL, 9-29-10

Thank you for visiting my stab at The Sunday Creative, and today's prompt: Nothing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hello, my name is denial

Each year, as a season ends and clearance sales begin, I buy my all of my children clothes for the next year. I hang them in the closet, or put them in bins, all organized and ready to pull out of the closet when that next season and size hits. This has worked seamlessly, year after year.
With the recent weather report that Georgia might possibly see temperatures less than 92 this fall, I began to pull out jeans for the kids.
La la la, off I headed to the boys closet to see what I had scored for Phoenix to wear this fall. It's always a treasure hunt, since I will have long forgotten what cute deals were found.
There was my bin, blue & white striped for baby boy, and there were the jeans. Perfect. Several pairs of them, even better.
Only... wait. They looked a bit small, somehow. And familiar.
Oh no. Oh no no no.
Friends, in some misguided sentimental state, I packed away last winter's jeans (18-24 months) and put them in the next-up size bin as though the child was not going to grow. In a year.
There it was, his sweet little sweater that I loved so well. His faded Old Navy jeans that fit so perfectly. Tiny little Phoenix, come back to me!
Memory of having done this thing, come back to me!
This can only mean one thing.
I must be suffering from....
Last Baby Syndrome.
Oh, the pain of it! Oh those last sweet kisses to chubby wrists!
The delicious smell of a bath-fresh tummy! Baby shampoo, thou shalt never leave me.
Feather-wing baby hair, never grow out.
Stubby small toes, never lengthen and become Real Toes.
Small boy...
Not so small anymore, and certainly not that size anymore.
My name is denial.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mama and the Poultry Palace

Are you laughing yet?

Give it a minute.

So, I was looking for Mama this morning. I called her cell, since she's always on the move at crack thirty, and it went straight to voicemail. No answer at her house either, so next up was the shop. No answer, and in fact a peculiar recording on the voicemail.

"Ribbit, ribbit, this is Joan. I've been towed away from my pad..."

Ummm, this would be the recording of my recently deceased grandmother.

I actually hung up and redialed, thinking in some parallel phone world that I had accidentally dialed my grandmother's phone number.

But no, after a second I realized Mom had simply installed my grandmother's old phone at her shop, and had not changed the recording. That's got to be good for business, a frog recording in an interior design business... this would need some follow-up.

Sure enough, Mama called back right away, admitting that the frog recording should not be on. She admitted this from the midst of her newly named Poultry Palace, where she was tending her brood before walking to work.

Did any, or all, of this shock you? And which part - the frog answering, the poultry flock, or the walking to work? It gets better.

Mama has become enamored of guinea hens.

Her lead hen is named Guinea Lynn, and Guinea Lynn has 3 chicks. The Poultry Palace residents were loath to head out and forage for the day, because of some circling hawks. (Smart guineas - I think. Debatable.)

Guinea Lynn is a loud mama bugger. She squawks a lot, which I know from hearing her over the phone. She is particularly loud when broody, laying, and mothering. Which means she is always loud.

As her flock has grown, Mama has been reading up on guineas and their preferences. I know, what riveting material that must be! The latest tidbit, which she shared with me this morning, is about a guinea and a mirror. Some (fortunate? misbegotten? just plain kooky?) guinea farmer came to realize that guinea hens like to look at themselves in a mirror. So guess what is now propped in the Poultry Palace?


Guinea Lynn has been mesmerized (and silenced!) by her own reflection.

Thank you, ye gods of bloggy fodder, for my Mama. She has gone and given her Guinea Lynn a mirror, and wonder of wonders it has shut Guinea Lynn up! Apparently, G.L. pecks at herself and generally enjoys her own company, rather than squawking all the time. We can only hope her 3 chickies (keets, if we care to know) become so vain. And quiet. The quiet part is good.
This mirror-aculous (har-de-har) feat is so entertaining, that my family watches it, enthralled.
The Poultry Palace of Mirrors, coming to a farm near you!
You can bet I'm going to need pictures of this, and I promise to share.

Let's just call this Mama and the Poultry Palace, Part One.

(This one goes out to my Gig, because my word she would have hooted!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Sunday Creative - Abundance

Great wells of life have poured forward
I am overflowing.
Life abundant, said my friend
We are promised life, and life abundant.
Yet not given explanation of this,
or Clues on Whether or Wherefore or How this cup will fill to our satisfaction.
It will be abundant in every corner, she claims
In every aspect this life offers.
We will feel this life across the spectrum, says abundance.
Challenge, exhilaration.
Grief, bliss.
Tumult, calm.
I am still feeling.
Loving, struggling, aspiring, falling

Thank you for reading, and welcoming me to The Sunday Creative crowd...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

swing batter batter

Just like that, we're a baseball family.
Three times a week, at the field to cheer on the big boy.
Rick stands at the dugout, calling out who's on deck.
I perch on the bottom bleacher, ready to dash after Phoenix.
The girls tromp along the top bleacher, giggling and spitting water at each other.
And Phoenix alternately roams under the bleachers and fires baseballs at the fence. Rattle, rattle goes the fence. Bing! The loud, metallic sound of his ball rocketing into a low sign. As long as the noises continue behind me, I know he has not wandered off.
"Hit da ball! Hit da ball! Got it, got da baseball game! Hah!"

Today was our first game, after 2 weeks of practice.
Cole has said he runs through three emotions: excitement, boredom and nerves. Sounds about right. Last inning, he leads off at bat. He stands still, looking relaxed, with none of the prancing and showiness of the veteran set. His swing is easy and effortless, and always surprises me with its effect. A good solid hit gets him to first, with a big grin. The next batter pops a foul, and there goes Cole, stealing second. Scampering like a little squirrel, without waiting to be told. Another hit, and while the outfielders chase it, Cole rounds third and heads for home. A successful start to fall ball!

It will take commitment, we realize. We will have to be a one-sport-at-a-time family, to do it right. I'm still wrapping my head around the necessary and continual practice, the weekend visits to the batting cage, the call of the concession stand. But there we will be en masse, yelling for Cole and trooping from ballpark to ballpark, enjoying the sun and the fall. Enjoying that slice of americana that is little league.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A little sumpin' sumpin'

I don't know if you have to be southern to know this phrase, but I do know that the "p" in there does not really need to be there. C'mon, you know you're trying to say it just right, so just swallow the last 3 letters and you will have it: a little sumpin' sumpin'... smirk a little too, and it will be perfectly right. (no tutorial needed, Susan ;))

I also know it can mean many different things, from innocent to sultry. As in: I bought you something at the store, guess what's in your lunchbox, guess what's for dinner, guess what mood I'm in...

Today's meaning of a little sumpin' sumpin' is this sweet treat:

Thank you, Amelia! I haven't gotten anything like this before - and was a little wide-eyed... and delighted!

Blog readers tend to be a spiral type. We twirl from one blog to the next, vaguely sure on how we got somewhere - only knowing that it is interesting and fun to spiral through blogland, meeting new people. Amelia, giver of this lil' lady found me through cjane - one of my long-time faves. Here is what she had to say:

6. Borderland: I like to go to her blog and let her talk to me. She is funny and full of enthusiasm and has outstanding guest bloggers!

Well, I'm glad you think so, Amelia - thank you!
And... do you see what I see?! Phoenix got a shout-out! For being an "oustanding guest blogger" no less! Way to go, funky Phoen. I am wondering which one won her over. Was it his very first post? Or this one? That boy...
A good day to get a little sumpin' sumpin'.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Comfort - The Sunday Creative

And take comfort in your connection
Comfort in this moment
Comfort in the heart of the hereafter
That may well be closer than we see

And find solace in wisps of insight
Solace in the click of a well-placed friendship
Solace in the simple
Pleasure of breathing, being.

And be consoled in the knowledge
Of purpose in this walk
Consoled in the journey of the weary traveler
That is never alone.

Comfort, solace, consolation – holy trinity thee
Bathe my soul in your circle.

Today I chose to take part in The Sunday Creative, where little by little we can nurture that inner seed... This week's prompt is comfort. Visit the site to check out all the varieties of creativity.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Wild

Sometimes Alpharetta is wild. As in, wild animals. Peculiarly, for such a tiny backyard, we see our fair share of wildlife. Remember the baby possum in the backyard, that my Mom set out to capture? I just searched for that post, and could not find it. In my mind I recall a picture, a story... wow. Is it getting that bad? Maybe it's on the first site.

Well, this week was worse. Labor Day grilling was planned, and the ribs were seasoned and ready to be grilled. I came downstairs, and instead of seeing Rick relaxing on the deck, grill smoking, I see him scurry by wearing his work gloves and carrying a big stick and a rake.

You must know where my mind went first, when he rushed past and said "You don't even want to know what's going on out here." First I thought, well, yeah I DO, and second I thought: snake nest. If there's ever a bad news scenario involving wildlife, I am always jumping to conclusions about slithery creatures. In a way, it made the word "rat" seem not so bad! See, weigh those two out: snake-big-enough-to-require-big-stick-AND-rake vs rat - not so bad, right?

Only, guess where the rat was living? IN the grill. It had built a nest out of trash and leaves, and Rick saw the trash and thought "Those darn kids, poking their trash into the grill." Then the pile burst apart and a rat started racing around the grill. Ickity-Ick! ICK.

What you really want to know is this, though: did we cook the ribs on that grill? Yes, yes we did. On foil. After scorching it with flame. Flame kills all ick, right? They were the best ever.

I don't think we'll ever close it again. It will probably rust, propped open to prevent further vermin colonization.


Monday, September 6, 2010

World Calling

My not-so-secret obsession is travel shows.
I watch episode after episode when Rick is traveling, and when I am resting with Phoenix, holding his hand every afternoon...
The world is calling and there are destinations from Singapore to Sardinia that I need to see. I think it's only a tinge of how my Dad used to feel - because all throughout my childhood he wanted to sell our house and live on a riverboat. And when he and my Mom finally split up, he traveled constantly, with only his Mitsubishi truck for a home. We called him the Mitsu-gypsy. I am not so unsettled, and love my creature comforts.
And yet...
There it is, less than wanderlust, more than yearning.
The armchair traveler, I am.
Wanting to see the faces, hear the voices and feel the difference.
Two things I have noticed for certain: people the world over drink at all times of the day. There's no beer-thirty, no bother with five o'clock somewhere. Secondly, food in most other countries looks like what it was originally. I mean, the fish have their heads on, eyeballs staring. The suckling pig comes to the table whole, the crickets are fried up legs and all, the snails are presented in the shell.
(I am picky about my food.) A Chinese man said "If you can catch it here, you can eat it." Oh my. How very sanitized and distant we are here!
It is fascinating, but I swear if I see one more clip of Andrew Zimmern eating that snot-looking sea creature, I will lose it.
Good to know he is adventurous, and not typical!
So, where am I going with this expose?
Nowhere, really. Just back to my couch. Maybe it serves as a little explanation for my lazy posting. I can hardly blame Phoenix ALL the time, right?
Blame my travels.
I'm on the road.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Guest Blog: underwear

Yo yo, friends!
I'm back. Mom's passed out from exhaustion somewhere, so I thought I'd fill you in.
Yesterday I yelled for her, from the shower: "Bethalee! Bethalee? (I heard somebody say this name and thought I'd try it - it works great! She answers me with a smile!)
Bethalee?!?!! Bethalee!!!! I wear underwear today. Get me underwear! With a frain on it!"
She said she would. She also said something about keeping them dry, and not wetting the trains. I was outraged. As if. I scowled at her and proclaimed "I not!!" The very idea.
She seemed a little sceptical.
I showed her that I meant what I said, by not coming out of the shower. I said no and I meant it.
That Bethalee. Always tricking me. I try to speak her language, but she's always shifting on me. If I hear the words "Maybe later" one more time... I mean, I tried saying it this morning. I rolled out the "maybe later" when I asked if we could go to the pool.
"We go pool? Later? Maybe later?"
You know what she said?? Tomorrow. Now what the heck does that mean! Maybe not later?
Maybe later, little bit later, tomorrow.
I do not get this.
Help me out.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Behind every successful student is a mom who handles oodles of paperwork: approval sheets, dismissal sheets, bus confirmations, affidavits of residency, club joinings, donation requests, PTA surveys, lunch menus, afterschool activities, family night out fundraisers, catalog fundraisers, book sale fundraisers - did I leave anything out? I am really learning to be responsible. Show me a class folder and I will show you a ruthlessly separated pile of papers, destined for the recycle bin. I am so like, responsible. Times three.

And isn't that the point of school?

I am so acing this kindergarten thing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Last Splash

I'm backing up a few days to share our Last Splash of summer.

We rented a boat last Friday and spent a few hours out on Lake Lanier! For those of you outside of GA, this is a big lake just north of Atlanta, about 20 minutes from our house.

It was relaxing... fun... beautiful... different... all the things that summer's last blast should be. All the components were there: Sun. Heat. Perfect water. Boat. Kids. Tube. Babysitter for Phoenix! I decided to forgo a day of rescuing/wrestling the Phoeney-Phoenster, and instead, sit and enjoy the ride. Like this:

A rare shot of bethanius mommius, seen sitting still without phoenixus goiterus perched on her lap

Jadyn & Cole tubing

Jump, Jady-girl, jump!

Captain Rickey

Float with your feet up, so the electric eels don't get you!

Ah, the humor of parents and kids. We don't want them to be scared exactly, we just want to... spook them! A little! So yes, I swam up and pinched bottoms and may have mentioned the Loch Ness monster... But all in all, not enough to matter. We were certainly nicer parents when it came to tubing. My Dad used to tease that he was going to throw us off by the crab pots, then he would drive all zig-zaggy, trying to fling us off quickly. This would be after all the tales of river creatures, and stories of chasing water moccasins. Nice. It comes naturally, as I heard them teasing each other before I even dared...
But no creatures "got" us and we had a great time. It was so beautiful and serene, humming along in the pontoon. The water was a clear green, and just the right temperature. I didn't realize how much I missed being near the water, in Washington. So many of our days growing up were spent out on the river, at my grandparents. This lake time was a sweet reminder, and a pleasure to share with the kids. A highly recommended outing, and one we hope to enjoy again next summer!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Big Day

Today was the day!

The first day of Kindergarten.

The first day of 4th grade.

The first day back to work at Rachael's (for me and Phoenix).

Here's how it went down:

Will you be surprised to learn that all four (excited) children were up and at 'em by 5:30am? Will you be surprised to learn that 3 out of 4 were dressed all the way down to shoes? My kids should find a career that requires early rising and dressing. They will excel at that. Will you be surprised to learn that Jadyn dressed in her new clothes, without complaint? (I was surprised!) (I like to think that it was my warning one month ago, informing her that ragamuffin-ish girls would not be allowed into kindergarten or out of my house. But I know better than that.)

The morning went off without a hitch, the Learlings returned home right on time, and their new teachers were declared "nice." A resounding, confident "nice." I'll take it. Meanwhile Rachael & I took on 6 of the toddler set, for an energetic morning.

We're back to our routine.

Cole (4th), Isabella & Jadyn (K), Phoenix (hambone stinker)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Winding up, winding down

Winding up for school to start, winding down as summer ends.
Winding up each morning as I squint at the clock, realizing my lazy bones better start moving earlier by next week. (Lazy bones, you say? With kids that get up at the butt crack of dawn? Well. It's all relative...)
Winding down as each day ends, full and complete.

Rachael and I went to see the summer's much-anticipated flick, Eat Pray Love. It was all about eating, praying, and loving. {Shocking! I know!} But I read a review that said Julia R. doesn't do much lovin' in movies because she loves her husband so much. I might well have such emotional or moral obligations too, were I a movie star. But in the case of this particular movie with this particular Spanish actor? Javier Bardem? Well...
Good thing I'm not Julia. Me and my honest penchant for the mature man. I fully enjoyed the movie, which is rare for me, for a movie made from a book.

The Pray part reminded me over and over of my Dad and his band of merry friends. Merry, praying friends who also used phrases like light and love in everyday conversation, and spoke of meditation as though it were every person's daily ritual.
"Namaste" greeted the guru attendant in India.
Namaste, my mind's eye saw on my Dad's bumper.
The Divine in me salutes the Divine in you...
A spark of longing ignited in me, for that inner circle of his friends.
That joyful band of happy spirits.

Some people find their Pray early on.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Disciples of Infomercials

Loving on Abby, while Abby only has eyes for that waffle...

I know what you're thinking - here she is, blogging away on the days that she has FIVE kids in the house. Strange, right? Adding in a cute baby makes my own more interested in their toys, and in watching her toddle around. Which makes me more able to play online. Why clean, there are FIVE kids here!

Abby's little head is yo-yo-ing back and forth at all the cries of "Abby! Hi Abby! Abby!"

They wish she could stay. Isabella said this morning "Maybe Rachael won't come back from Florida... and we can keep Abby." Never mind Abby's Daddy coming in the afternoon...

My children are baby hounds.

But that is not why I'm here today. I am here today to tell you of the products being expertly marketed on TV. I know they are being expertly marketed because my children have the perfect idea of the products we need to be purchasing. Pay no mind to the fact that almost all of them are cleaning supplies. I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

1.Drain Snake. I'm not sure why this appeals to them, but they are sure we need one. I will not buy anything with snake in the title.

2. Foamy Shower Cleaner: Just spray, walk away, then come back later to wipe it clean, Mom!

3. Stain Away Spray: Jadyn: You, like, spray it, walk away, and your counter stains go away!

(seeing a theme here? Spraying and walking away? Magical disappearance of grime?)

4. Retractable deck awning. Has it been a hot summer or what? Any selling of shade is Good.

Small eyes wide with wonder, taking in all that the infomercial has to offer - making believers out of each and every one. I secretly wish it were all true, then I would buy every product, spray them all, and leave for a week.

Returning to a sparkly castle, the stuff that dreams are made of...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Boy talk

Cole, achieving his holy grail of snuggling with Phoenix

Hello, these are my boys. I was thinking today that my big boy gets short shrift around here. It's not that he doesn't do anything cute anymore, and certainly not that he doesn't say cute things anymore... if you call sarcasm cute. Which, I do. When it's me. When it's him? I call it mouthy. And we mouth back & forth and as we do so, I think to myself, really? Is there an echo in here? I could swear I was talkin' to myself. I often think of the time my Mom threw a chicken bone at me, from the sink where she was washing dishes. I was clear across the room, wiping the dinner table and nattering on and on at her. She says I'm lucky it was *only* a chicken bone. I say she is a mild-mannered person, so I must have been quite mouthy.

And Cole says I'm not willing to hear his viewpoint. "You're not being reasonable, Mom."

And I say he goes about it too long. "Wrap it up, now!" Gets that from his Daddy, he does. I think... though considering the anecdote above, I'll have to hold judgment.

When Cole turns his attentions to Phoenix, it is a hoot.
"Gimme a hug, Phoenix, c'mon just one hug? Sit with me? Phoenix? Phoenix! I need a hug!"
Mercurial Phoenix rarely deigns to sit and snuggle with Cole, though he is getting more generous with his hugs. So Cole is getting more liberal with his bribes:
"Phoenix... I'll let you hold my DS..."
And Phoenix is getting more dirty with his jokes: "I poop my diaper in your bed, Cole."
How does he know that is asking for a fight? Toddler put-downs are the best.
"You wear diaper, Cole."

How long will these two share a room?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Twin talk

I speak to them and wait for the reaction.

They look at each other, make a face and wordlessly walk away.

Welcome to twin talk. Where I am just another outsider infringing on their little world. Their little game. Like Charlie Brown's teacher wah-wah-wahing in the background.

Some days I think that if they didn't need to eat they might never need me - they are so solid in their independence. Interdependence. But it's not true - they are connected in this family, just a little more so with each other.

They are constantly measuring height, discussing size, balancing skills and strengths to find their relative place with one another. It is a give and take, and always has been. They switch back and forth being the cleverest, most artistic, the tallest, most coordinated. But the comparisons are kind and factual, without ugliness. Just a sort of figuring it all out. I love to watch them play and chatter away, and to listen in on their Animal Games or Buddy Games - daily games where they know their roles and slip into them effortlessly. (In Buddy Games, they pretend to be twin boys named Zach & Connor. Animal Games involve 2-20 animal toys, that roost from lamps to stairs.)

Then comes the nighttime, where they have been good little monkeys and stayed in their beds for so long. Until the other night, when I went up to bed... and found them on my chaise lounge! But it was a sight so sweet, I could hardly bear to move them...

It made me wonder, what would it be like to have a soulmate for a sister?

Monday, August 9, 2010

T minus Two and Counting

T minus Two until school starts, that is. Or maybe I got it backwards. Two weeks til school, says the fuzzy-brained mom, and erstwhile blogger. I have been Overcome by Events, and unable to blog. Did I say Events? I meant kids.
And there ain't no lettin' up - least not this week. I'll be keeping 11 month old Abby for 2 days, so that Rachael & Family can enjoy a vacation. Then, in 2 weeks, I start up working at Rachael's again, training up the small people to be lovely small people. And hoping someone will help me train Phoenix not to be hellboy.
That's harsh, you say? Well, then perhaps you should have seen him catapulting himself from the coffee table onto the couch. And perhaps you should have then seen his eyes light up, as he realized he could climb onto the outside of the stair rail, and jump from even higher. Always accompanied by a maniacal giggle, thank you. And even better if there are unsuspecting siblings on the couch, that can be smashed and destroyed.

And moments later, maybe contrite, usually not:
"Mommy? Mommy? Moooooommy? I need to tell you something. We go the pool? Later? Maybe?" (Here he is using all his wistful charm, and repeating all my standard answers.) When the boy says "Later?" it is sweetness and light and demands giant smooches. And forgiveness.
Summer's glory is waning, and in its place are four children who are getting on each other's nerves.

That's my story.

In other family news, let me tell you about Mama Takes Europe By Storm. My Mom, that is. In Europe. For Three Whole Long Weeks! After five days Isaiah and I began frantically calling each other, exclaiming that we could not take Mama being off the grid for so long. (She is traveling with her sister Vera, and my cousin Jessi.)
And then she called, from Paris no less, where she will be situated in an apartment for 10 days while touring the city and environs near and far. "Oh!" I said, upon hearing she had arrived Paris. "Are you in le deuxieme arrondissement?" And she, in all her newly acquired travel chic, did not even notice my polished phrasing and superb accent. Oh la la. Not to mention my knowledge of Parisian city districts - garnered from decade-old French class, and expanded by House Hunter's International...

The word is that they have trampled the streets of London and Edinburgh, and will now gallivant the Continent for a week more. She was starry-eyed, if a person could be called that, over the phone. It was fantastic. All the places from books have come alive, and I think she may not come back. They have attended church at Westminster Abbey, toured the Tower of London, and visited as many castles as possible.

The funniest thing I heard was this: my uncle made a bust of my grandmother, and they are toting that bust around with them. A Nicholls-appropriate homage to my late grandmother, who made this trip possible. Bien sur! Gig always did like to travel, and when they go touring for the day, they leave her propped on the wine bottle, so she won't be late for drinks.

And that's the news for today - be well, friends!

Friday, July 30, 2010


I have been writing a number of posts that I have not posted. Because upon review, I feel like Goldilocks - ooh, that one's a little too maudlin. Yuck, that one's a bit self-indulgent. (This term just makes me feel like Simon Cowell .) This one is definitely too pointless! Just excuse my summer brain. Further proof that I am in a moment of dislocation. Which you would know, had I posted those posts.

Please enjoy lovely pictures of my lovely children at Apple Hill. We stopped at Moravian Falls, NC on the way home from Cleveland. I love that place. And I especially love my friends there! In a special coincidence, Tom & Naomi were there visiting - our long-time family friends from Blue Ridge, GA, and the minister that married Rick & I. Old home week! Four uses of the word love in one paragraph - stop my beating heart! Remember, what you repeat becomes true - I love Friday!
Enjoy your weekend...

Monday, July 26, 2010

An Open Letter

An Open Letter to the Various Manufacturers of Newborn and Infant Products:

Dear Sirs/Madams:

I have been receiving heavy mailings from many of you recently.

High-value coupons for Newborn Swaddlers, monthly coupons for $3-5 off of formula. I have even received two formula samples in the mail, and a stray newborn diaper sample or two. Gerber infant food coupons, baby life insurance - it is a veritable deluge.

(Universe, you are not funny!)

The first few mailings I could take, and laugh off to error. But when the cans of formula started arriving in the mailbox, and even a bottle sample?!? I had to take action.

I appreciate the quantity of personal reproduction information you must have filed away on me. I am the first to admit that, yes, I have a number of children. And I can see how, according to your calculations, it must be time to add to that number, as my youngest has just turned two. I truly applaud your initiative, as it were, but I have a statement to make for the record.

Dear manufacturers, whom I have supported well and often over the past nine years: I will no longer be needing your services. It is not, in fact, breeding time again. Not even your glorious $5 coupons can change my mind this time, though it pains me to say it. Your itty-bitty diapers did not bring up a well of sentiment, and your baby food especially did not make me wistful.

I ask that you stop and desist these erroneous mailings immediately! I am no longer laughing, and in fact, when I fetch the mail and find infant information - I am prone to language that my chidren should not be hearing. Sending newborn mailings to a mom home with four in the summer is just wrong!

Now, if you have any summer camp vouchers handy, or valuable food coupons - those I could use. Or, and I know this is stretching it - some Pull-up coupons? With Toy Story on them? That is completely in line with the direction we are going. Really. Age it up a little. We are still in the toddler phase, after all.


PS/FYI: I have tried on numerous occasions to give away our infant carseat over the past year, to no avail. I even took it to Goodwill - and they refused it. Again, Universe. Enough with the Not Funny.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Story telling

Rick got home from Arkansas late last night.

I had saved up the week's stories for him, and we sat up chuckling over the kids and their week of quotes and adventures. He said I tell the stories the same way I write them. (Or don't, as the recent case may be!) Or maybe I write them the same way I tell them?

Which came first, the story or the voice?

Well, I've been missing my writing time lately. Summer has proven too busy for me to steal many moments alone. And when I do get a moment, it is punctuated by noise and interruption. Imagine!

It's hard to be creative when the noise of a Tonka fire engine is blaring under my chair, so I just wander away from my desk, feeling incomplete and overflowing. I'm realizing that if this writing is ever to be more than a hobby, I will need to carve out time consistently. Time to get the stories out of my head and into the light of day.

And that time can only come with the summer's end - which I am not too eager for. Lazy unscheduled days...

One thing that I have had time for is my inbox. Clicking and deleting takes very little concentration! I confided to you about the over-600 number of messages - and I have now cleared out over 1,000. Which leads me to add, blushingly, that the over-600 number was for unread emails only. EEK! I must be on Hotmail's hit list. Most Frequent e-Subscriber That Never Reads Her Subscriptions. Who knew that cleaning house would include an inbox?

That's my story.

I leave you with the Tea Party from last week's visit with Gigee. (Whom Phoenix calls Dea, so we are trying to switch her name to Dea, to be more user-friendly! Youngest makes the call!)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Almost Wordless Thursday

And hey! It's not even truly wordless! Since it's not Wednesday anyway, who cares. Though, honestly, this needs no words, which was why I intended to post it last night. Oh the sweetness of that first tooth... and the wonders of all the stuff that fits in the space. (Hey Mommy! A straw fits in here!)
So then Phoenix had to show me his (non)lost tooth. The tooth fairy really needs to stock up on one dollar bills. I mean, she has paid out the same ones *several* times now, the ultimate recycling! (Sure, honey, I will keep your money safe for you...)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Mama Comes to Visit

The whirlwind keeps spinning - next up is a visit from my Mom!

Nothing like a pile of kids to distract one from life's gravity. And that is what will surely go on here - lovin' and distractin' to the core.
This is a shot from my quick Washington visit. After all the funeral occasions were attended, we disappeared to Lake Jehu ( behind Mom's house) for a few hours.
It was so relaxing to sit in the midst of family and just enjoy being. Being... alive. Being... healthy. Being... connected. Effortless, really. To sink into a comatose, gazing state brought on by grief and exhaustion. And blink into awareness in time to savor the small moment of quiet beauty. A grandmother and her boy. The cycle keeps spinning, and though we see it, we do not always savor it.
This photo goes out to the savoring part. Cherish the mother. Smother her with that pile of kids and their lovin'!
Thank you so much for your sweet words, cards and emails over the past weeks. Being connected isn't effortless, but it's worth it... ;-)