Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Dear Friends,
There are mysteries in life.
Like, why has a parade of ants been marching through my kitchen for 4 months? I am a pacifist. I have let them march, because they have done so each spring since we moved here. No matter what, they keep coming. Only - it has never lasted this long. And I am getting murderous. I am thinking of ant poison even though I do not like poison in general, and poison in my kitchen in particular. Until now, I believed my kitchen was on an ant ley line, some sort of magnetic trail that they had to migrate through. Like birds when they migrate, following a path to the same place year after year.
Now? I think they are here to drive me crazy and complicate my life. And make me curse in front of the children.
There are mysteries in life.
Like, why does facebook keep suggesting that I know some girl who is topless, with silver dangling pasties over her boobies? I have told facebook that I do not know her, as I made sure of it by looking through her pictures - which are open to all. No pun intended!
There are mysteries in life.
Like, this morning. My girls slept until 7:15, and Phoenix slept until 8:15. (For those who don't know, my children are all notoriously early risers.) Then, they all got up, and all at the same time were hungry for breakfast, and all wanted the same cereal. Shortly after breakfast, they loaded themselves in the car, buckled in Phoenix and said they were ready to go to the Y (for my sculpt class). When I peeked into the car, bemused and sort of delighted, they were arguing over who loved whom the most.
There are certainly mysteries in life. And after this morning, I am going out to buy a lottery ticket. Because mysteriously, this is my lucky day.

(Speaking of mysteries, I have been wrapped up in Stieg Larsson's series. What a ride! Now I am through, after sailing through all three books in a week. Kinda wish I had tried to read them more slowly... and I also wish he was still alive. The man could write!)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What I Love Today

From left: Isaiah (my older brother), Me, Aaron, Lindsay, Derek (all siblings), Jeremy (my younger brother).
Photo by Joe Whichard. Nice one, Joe!

This picture makes me very happy.
We are the Watson cousins. A close group, we all grew up in Washington, NC and were churched, home-schooled and generally raised together. Two boys and a girl in each family, we are the elder Watson brothers progeny.
Little by little we all moved away, sporadically moved back, and moved away again. Now, only Aaron and Jeremy are still in our hometown, though Lindsay is back and living 20 minutes away.
Different lifestyles, long-distance travel and busy families have kept us from all getting together, as we used to do at the holidays. With my father gone, and my grandmother a laid-back matriarch, there is not the push to gather us all near and re-connect.
My brother Jeremy's wedding in April was the perfect reunion.
It has been a long time, but we have so many memories together, from so many years has made me a little sentimental for those days.
In my mind's eye, I see us running wild through the woods, our family German Shepherd dogs for guardians. I see the youngest of each family, Jeremy and Derek, playing army men and running around sweaty and tough. I can hardly reconcile the adults we are today with the children we all were.
I only know that this must be what family is all about. Time and distance have separated us, and maybe we don't know the minutiae of one anothers daily lives... but it is good to be together, share small talk and soak in the moment.
This is what I love today.
Happy Sunday...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

These Girls

These girls... are such goofballs. When they are together, they are wide-open, full-on crazy fun. None of the silent stares or reserved mumbles that they present to the wide world.
When they are together, they are each Herself, they are who I think of them as, separate and together. And it is a funny thing.
As one friend insightfully put it, they choose only to answer to each other. It is their little world, and we are all impostors. Rick and I have watched this for 6 years, trying to get inside the act with them, and know them fully. It is nearly impossible, I concede.
They are willing to let us witness their delight, and certain close friends can join in the club. But for the most part, what they see as funny IS funny, and what they proclaim as law IS their law. Not too far off from a strong sibling connection, I suppose, just deeper into sisterhood and yet more into twin-hood. They know each other's weaknesses and allow for it, confiding all and telling me what they choose. The tip of the iceberg.
As a consequence, they have many names. Frick and Frack, The Two-headed Sister, Thing 1 and Thing 2. We roll our eyes and secretly chuckle, in appreciation and wonderment, continual confusion, and true helplessness. They do as they please, and we can hope to steer them in the right direction, and hope that they will give an inch. But that remains to be seen.

And yet in the night-time, when we check in before bed, all the noise has melted away, any daily frustration has softened, and this is what we see. An empty bed across the room. A snuggle for the one afraid of the dark. Love, pure and simple.
It is a beautiful thing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Father, Father, let's celebrate a Father!

It is time to celebrate Father's Day, and I know just the Dad to highlight...:)

He is the one who brushes and dries his daughters' hair, as though they were in a city salon.
He is the one who practices baseball skills with his son, after perusing books and websites, so they can be the best possible.
He is the one who holds the baby's hand, through the crib slats, until the little one drifts off to sleep.
He is the one who stays to snuggle after lights out, listening to secrets and stories of the day.
He is the one who calls when he is away, to hear their voices and connect for just a moment at the end of the day.
He is the one who mulls over their futures, and dreams of what is to come.
He is the one who knows them for what they are - cherished spirits that have come in this time and place to grace us with their presence.
They have made him a father in name, but the heart of it did not need teaching.

Happy Father's Day, Rick. We love you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Other Days

After the "some days" come the "other days" when I am smiling at you, with arms wide open. That is the beauty of blogging - we are none of us alone, when we most need a friend. Thank you for crying along with me, and for being there, even though "there" is in many instances, quite far away. It's strange for me, because I am mostly upbeat, and want to portray that in my writing. And yet... when the melancholy is on, it flows like water right onto paper.

Moving on to daily life, want to know what we did for {frugal} summer fun this week? Yesterday we went out for a soft pretzel, and walked to the nearby pet store. Just to look. There you go, that's an outing. Today we went to see Megamind at the free movie. Dollar popcorn and Icees, kids. And that's an outing. So far so good - I'm still standing!
Happy weekend friends!
We'll be at baseball again most of Saturday, for a doubleheader...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Some days

There comes a time when there are certain things, certain words and tales that I want to whisper into certain ears. But those ears are gone from me, and my tales are still here, and what to do, what to do. This is one of those days.

At the funeral and wake for my Dad, I met some of his high school friends. I knew them by name, but some I had not met - even though we lived in the same town all along. Their life paths had diverged. And yet when we met, and they began to recount the glory days and tales of youth, my Dad and his athletic feats were still in their memories. These childhood friends remembered winning hits on the baseball field, phenomenal plays that stood the test of time - and had no holds barred on the extravagance of their glory. Right up Dad's alley, for sure. A little embellishment never hurt any story.

All of his life Dad was a typical sports fan. We were raised on the gospel of March madness, summer baseball and fall football. As a family we spent many a day and evening at the ball field, watching my little brother play year round sports, me kick a soccer ball, and my Dad coach some teams. And though I never really thought of it in the years since, those days have come creeping back to my memory.
For now, only now, we have our own little athlete. And most days I do not think of my Dad, or anything of importance while we are doing our own family thing at the fields. But some days, days of consequence, I wish his were the ears I could whisper to. Days like last Saturday:

Dad, you would not believe it. Cole got two home runs Saturday! First game of the summer season - it was a sight to see!

And I whoop and I cheer and I wish for a moment that things were different and life was as it should be. I watch the grandpas in their chairs, lined up along the field, and I am wistful for a minute. Because some days the ears I need are just not there.

The champ, worn out from playing in the GA heat

But we saw it, his crew of hoodlum-sounding siblings and parents hooted, and in the end, I'm sure every ear heard. Ears were ringing, that much I know. And it was all good.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Sunday Note: Fresh Baby

This one goes out to my fast, funny friend, she of the newly delivered daughter. Long-awaited, much-celebrated: fresh baby Alice.

Drink it in, it spins your head
this dizzy love
delicious smell.
You are not tainted with life
and its dirt
You are only new: newly arrived, newly alive,
Newly become
Softly caress, marvel anew
Fine skin bears the lines that will come later.
Drawn-up knees, froggy curl, arms a-stiff and flailing
Curve you round mother's warm body, inside out,
you are not alone.
Fresh baby, fresh baby there is no other like you!
Every mother's heart thumps in universal delight
to recall
The first sight of a new person whose little world became the wide world
Oh those fresh baby shivers
Fresh baby smells
Your tufted crown holds the elixir of love.

With love...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Backtracking to a Teacher Treat

In the madness that was May, with wrapping up the school year, and preparing to travel, I didn't get to share a little project I made. Cole's fourth grade year started out rocky, due to a newly-hired teacher, and her subsequent departure. I say that politely now, but I can tell you - at the time, we were upset. This teacher left suddenly in November, due to an illness (we were told), and our class stumbled along with random substitutes until mid-January. In January (after storming the Principal's office), we were given a wonderful sub named Ms. B.
She turned that class around, effective immediately, drew the best out of each student, and ended up staying the rest of the year. (The original teacher repeatedly said she was coming back, until late April, when finally the pretense was laid to rest!)
I worked each week with Ms. B., helping with reading and with the below-level students in particular. The first week, I was astounded and disappointed at the progress that had been lost during the teacher upheaval. It was depressing. For involved parents, the students would be fine, although less than stellar. For the less fortunate? They would not pass fourth grade, that much was clear.
But! By the end of the year, what had previously been three distinct groups of students, based on ability... had become an organized, disciplined class. The below-level kids were on-level, and the class as a whole had made a complete turn-around.
There is no clearer appraisal of a good teacher than this. I am such a fan of Ms. B.! I set out to show her some love.
With the help of another friend and mom from the class, we secretly requested that each student write a thank-you to Ms. B. I collected all of the letters into a mock grade report, and presented it to the teacher during the last week. It was very touching... the collection of letters made both of us cry, they were so heartfelt and generous. These kids recognized and loved what she had done for them - despite her no-nonsense attitude and tough love, and poured out their little hearts in thanking her. Mission accomplished! We hope she is hired by our school, as she took her teaching exam this spring... Thank you Ms. B!

Supplies used: one plain old manila folder, Stampin' Up papers & embellishments scrounged from a recent party, Making Memories alphabet rub-ons. Now isn't that "official" of me! :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Safari Time again

Hello and happy Friday!
Today I am sharing yet more photos, simply for laughs...
We went to the nearby GA safari again last week, and here is what we saw:

Phoenixus Screamius - loudest animal in the park
Phoenixus Shriekius, next Loudest in the Park.

We laughed so much at him - Mr. Big Talk the whole time, until one came near him! Then he would shriek and start hitting the lock button on the door.
Now you may think this next shot might be inappropriate for kids. But let me tell what I heard from the back seat:
"Mom, look, look! That little one is riding on his mommy's back!" Yes indeedy. Whee whee whee all the way home.

Bella Tiger
Safari guides Cole & Jadyn
These photo spots never get old for the kids. Each time is like new. :)
The End.
(Have a fun summer weekend...)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Beachside View

I popped in to see if the Sunday Creative was back in action. Alas, no. So you get another post of The Trip That Bethany Took. No gratuitous Caribbean beach pictures here. We all know what gorgeous water, palm trees and beach bum bodies look like, right? Yeah...
So you get the view of our morning walks, in which we stumbled upon a beachside cemetery.
Mere yards to the right, curving beyond the trees, is the sea...

There was something quaint and intriguing about these stones and mausoleums. The few that I could read from over the fence were from only 60 or so years ago. Many of them looked much older. The cemetery went on along the beach for more than a block, making it quite the final resting place.

And since you've been so good, you do get a Beautiful Beach shot. Here is the view from our room, overlooking the pool and beachside restaurant.

Happy Sunday friends...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In any language...

...a cold one is a cold one! And in a hot, tropical climate, a cold one is somehow oh-so thirst-quenching. Which was how we found ourselves wandering into a little Italian pub in old San Juan, based on one criteria: beer special 2/$5. We had just toured the fort of El Morro, and took an ill-advised extra hike across the wide grassy hill, over to the wall. (Ill-advised as in, Rick said I don't think we should - and I said something like, well we're here, let's!) Ay ay ay. The unsexy part of the steamy Caribbean? Sweat. I will try not to mention it in every single post!
But this is what we saw across that field:

The graveyard by the sea... we have been informed by my brother Isaiah that it is where he would like to be buried. So really, I had to go and look, right? To see his future resting place, right?
And honestly, it made the long walk back uphill so l-o-n-g, that when we stumbled across the tiny Italian joint, there was no decision to be made at all.
Pizza y Birre, it is called. And pizza y birre is what we had. Absolutely scrumptious thin crust pizza with artichokes and crimini mushrooms on top, and some absolutely hit-the-spot birre from Paraguay. We couldn't leave! This was a high point of the trip, it was that good. And the beer special, well, it was most welcome. The resort area at the beach is rather pricey (as in $7 beer, $15 drinks), but the old city has delicious food and drink - and 2/$5 deals. So we ate, we drank, we took pictures in the mirror, and enjoyed the cozy atmosphere.

That Rick, he has cool ideas, inspired by frosty Paraguayan beverages.