Sunday, August 28, 2011

After the storm

I know, it is still raging on. And I know GA certainly didn't get any wind or rain - hot sunny skies stayed in place here. But I stayed on the phone with my Mom yesterday, on and off until the night, as she rode out the hurricane in her little house in eastern NC. Washington is on the Pamlico, and the only time our region is on the national news continually is when there is a weather-related disaster.
The stress of 12 hours of pounding wind and rain, ouch.
The disbelief and giggling at Mom's storm-capades, good grief.
At the point where winds were {only} 60 mph, and rain was falling in thick sheets, here is the conversation that took place:
Me: How is everything, Mom?
Mom: I just came back inside!
Me: What?! What in the world!
Mom: I just went outside in my bathing suit! I had to move my guinea chicks to a better shelter. They were getting too wet. And the hens were cackling, so I tried to corral them against the garage. There are branches down all down the lane, and I figured whatever was going to fall had already fallen...
Me: Mom, Mom, Mom... stay inside. Those chickens will be fine.
Mom: Jeremy's right next door, if anything happened.
Me (in my head): How will he KNOW anything happened to you?! He is not expecting you to be shepherding your fowl flock in a hurricane!

This is what happens when children grow up and move away. Mothers then mother creatures. And gallivant in tropical storm conditions in their swimsuits, moving eleven guinea chicks to a shelter that is (not) impervious to pounding rain. I wonder if she wore her Roxy hot pants swimsuit, or her bustier and swim skirt?
Anyway, the family is safe, and it is now a hot sunny day in eastern NC. Clean-up can begin. Dozens of trees are down on her property, and chainsaws will soon be buzzing.

I am eagerly awaiting any more Storm News from my LDub friends... (Susan! Hope the power comes on soon so you can post!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In the Fall

In the fall
there is the angst we feel in our own way
Is it muscle memory
Is it our instincts
That pull and fret and cannot settle?
Energy and purpose appear in the guise of projects
and an array of attempts to calm
and quell the beast.

In the almost fall
there is heat from the sky and chill from the earth
for the humans
to remark over.
To relate to the angst
and blame for the tug.
The minuscule change in the air
has us raising our noses, scenting the change
As though woodsmoke and frost were blowing our way

In the fall
as the cycle brings dormancy
to some living things
Others stumble out, eyes blinking,
and prepare to live
To create and drive purpose up the winding road
and straight into the arms of


Friday, August 19, 2011

Math by Jadyn

Hi friends!
On the last day of the first week of school, here's the run-down. It has been a (mostly) good week. Cole is happy with his 5th grade class, and has no complaints. The girls are in separate classes for the first time, and have adapted marvelously, despite my worrying and fretting. Yay, that. But, given the unfortunate (unforeseen? really?) situation of reduced enrollment, Isabella's 1st grade teacher was let go on Thursday (eek!!!), and Isabella was assigned a new class. Today. Getting to do the first day all over again in one week? Not fun. But she was calm getting on the bus, and so I will hope for the best. First grade, you heartbreaker!

Jadyn is having a great week, according to her teacher. I am delighted - and I am also beginning to think Jadyn's teacher will have an interesting year. I wish her the best of luck. Let me share exhibit A with you so you share the feeling.
The class was given a math pre-test, just for an assessment. Here is the last problem, indicative of how Jadyn does or does not think in typical math expressions.

Exhibit A:
Problem 7 with an apparently unrelated drawing, and a corrected answer, and a question mark.

Exhibit B: Upon closer review of the smiling girl picture...
We find that the drawing is of the aforementioned Mia, and she is indeed holding exactly ten pennies, and is accompanied by a discreet, yet correct number "10" in the bottom corner.
Clearly the salient information is that there was once a girl, and she had some money. And she was happy about it. How much money did she have? Exactly the amount she was supposed to have. Take that, Mrs C! And take my best wishes for the year!

As for the sultan of the household? If wearing my apron will make him happy (please, please), then he may wear it. One more week home alone with Mommy, one more week, you tiny terrorist. At our house, we sail through the terrible two's and slam into the tormenting three's.
Have a wonderful weekend, and I'll be back to tell you about my latest reading recommendation... I've been busy soaking in a new series and staying up late to read! Whee...
Happy Friday!

Monday, August 15, 2011

School Days are here again!

You knew it was coming... the First Day Back Post...
But - Phoenix has honed in on the fact that he is alone with me and I am (supposedly) at his beck and call. He has demanded 3 drinks already, and generally acted like a little sultan all morning.
Master Phoenix has 2 weeks until his preschool starts.
But back to the quieter aura of our home - ahhh... the bittersweet beginning of school. I had to hustle my brain into lunch-making, backpack-loading, hair-brushing mode at 6:15 and it was a struggle.
The kids were not struggling. They were acting like it was Field Day, and they were all competing for most words spoken in a minute, and most tangled feet stepping on mine, and most times aforesaid lunch-making and bag-packing could be interrupted for me to judge Field Day in my kitchen. And that was before Phoenix came roaring down the stairs - literally. He was in T-Rex mode.
Holy something or other, it was like a litter of puppies in there!
But we untangled them all, made it to the bus in good time, and scored our yearly ritual Bus Stop photos.
Let's move the First Day jitters out front.
Make sure the neighbors are up in time for work. Sorry, no mercy!

Field Day on the new bench! Everybody up!
Spare a moment of love for the twinsies, and their first year being in separate classes...
Now back to corralling the ego of the young sultan...
Happy Monday!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cole's Eye

Cole took my old camera on the boat ride, and here is what he saw:

He is off to 5th grade on Monday, that Cole.

The Last Splash all over again

*This is The Post That Couldn't Get Posted. I have been trying for 3 days, but blogger and life keep intervening! Good grief. It's just a boat ride! :)

With a week to go before school, we took another field trip last Friday to nearby Lake Lanier. Lots of lake time for the Lears, right? It's confusing to Phoenix. He was expecting to pull up at his grandmother's NC lake at any moment. Then he expected the boat to drive into her lake at any moment. Apparently HE doesn't recall the nine hour drive that is seared into MY brain.

Anyway, off we went on the pontoon rental for what is becoming our sweet tradition of goodbye to summer. Last year Phoenix did not get (was not allowed:)) to go, so this was Big Fun for him, and he did not stop talking the entire time. Except when he slept, briefly.

Now, I do realize that almost every post of the past month has included my children jumping off of something into some sort of water. Why?! Is it because jumping into water is so much fun for them? Or such a trick for me, getting that just-right shot? I think it's because you never know what you're going to get. Like this one for example. I could not possibly have set this up.

Or this.
Phoenix, turn the wheel that way.
Go sit down, Dad. It's my turn.
And there's Isabella, happily tubing, as this driving dilemma goes on.
I had a few more pics to show, but again, blogger is refusing me. So I am moving on! To be continued another day...
Happy Friday friends!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Family manifesto on a rainy day

We've got a good thing going here.
Wrapped up in our healthy sweet family, moving along in this world.
Taking nothing for granted, grateful for blessings.
Grateful for friends of every sort, the ones in our daily life and those we only wish could be.
It is never simple, we are too human for that. Too tangled and flawed and sincere in our attempts at building relationships.
But we walk with purpose, with a family mantra of unity, integrity.
Striving for constancy, love - can we reach family utopia?
Well. It is worth every effort.
I remember and take to heart the words from my father:

Do not allow others to disturb your peace.
Like water off a duck's back, walk on.

He sounded at once like a seer and cliche-spouter, in an endearing way. Profound yet earthy.
I did not know then that disturbance comes in many forms.
Yet we shift and huddle closer, consolidating our ranks, protecting our peace.
I guess that part is instinctive when ripples come in from life around us.
Like fur on a cat's back, we warn: come no closer if you bear ill will.
Like a contented purr we welcome: come in! feast and be merry with us!

If we can unite in our purpose, if we can move as one in this journey, oh the reward.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Worm on Your Shoulder

These are my favorites from the week. Phoenix took to Uncle Jeremy in a blink, and from then on we were all just scenery.
"Where's Deremy? When's Deremy coming over here?"
"Deremy!!! Hey dude!! Haha! I'm gonna get that guy."

This was the daily drill, wherever we were. You know Phoenix's fondness for yours truly, and for holding my hand - and yet when Jeremy was around? He didn't want to sit with me, he wanted to sit beside his New Best Friend. Oh, the angels sang.
On this day, it was the end of our joyous lake party. Jeremy showed up after work, all set to relax. Despite Phoenix's attempts to lure "Deremy" to swim with him, there was no moving from that chair.
So Phoenix brought the entertainment to him.
A worm from the bait tub.
Worm on your arm...
Worm on your shoulder...

Worm in your mouth! Hahahaha!

Deremy's my best friend in the whole wide world, Mom...
I love my baby brother.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lilliput and the Lake, Day Three

And on the third day, we had a lake party! I have very few friends I am still in touch with from high school, so it is a rare treat to spend time with them. One of the downsides to moving 7 times across three states, and settling in 9 hours from the hometown - long-distance friendships. (boo....) Upside to trips home, mutual friends and blogging? New friendships in the hometown! (Hi Susan!)
The grand total of munchkins that day? Eleven. And all but the three littlest were lining up to do tricks and jumps off the pier. The day held all the fun we needed:
Swan flop by Cole

Fishing, and fish-watching
(see the sliver of white in the water? It's a sand bar.)

And last but not least, the area in which grandmothers excel: snuggling. Mom gets extra points for this one, because it was 97 degrees out. That is love... She started calling Isabella "Wallowby" because of all the lap-sitting and wallowing that child does.

And who do we have to thank for all of this family bounty of nature?
My grandparents, Joan and Jehu. Who would have guessed that, 30 years ago when my grandfather leased this useless field to a company that wanted the sand, a freshwater spring would be underneath? Out of the original 97 acres of farmland he first owned, this was the little field that was chosen. The others were producing tobacco, corn or soybeans. What luck, to find this kind of beauty in an otherwise ordinary area of flat fields and pine trees. I think I rattled on about this to any and all last week... how there was only a sliver of a blue pond when I was a teenager, surrounded by mounds of beautiful white sand. It was special then, and it is precious now. My grandparents have passed on, but they laid the groundwork for a fantastic family place.
And it's only extreme luck that it lies right in my Mom's back yard, giving us something to look forward to at each visit. Day Three, that's a wrap.
We went back to Lilliput replete with sun, sand, wind and friendship.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day Two: About Town

Whew. I am sorry for the multiple typos from day one! If you get it again in your Reader, it is because I could not stand leaving it with missing words and such. Je suis desolee!

On Day Two, we were left to our own devices, because my Mom had appointments she could not reschedule. Custom draperies wait for no man! Or grandchild. Heh.
And after rattling around Lilliput Cottage until 8:30am, it was time to get out and see the town. Namely, the playgrounds of the town. We were due to visit my grandmother, but not until 10am. She is in her eighties, and rises and readies much later than she used to. So we had a few hours to kill, and it was not yet 97 out... so off we went.
Here is Lilliput "College" in all its one bedroom sweetness...

First we headed to Havens Gardens. The classic Washington playground shot - the giant wheel. I do not know the why or wherefore of this wheel, I only know it has always been on the playground.

This park is on the Pamlico River which is slow and wide and leads out to the Sound, which leads to the beach, and the NC Outer Banks. We are just over an hour from the beach.

Phoenix found delight in chasing the "peacocks" (seagulls) for a while. Then we walked to the pier, where there were 7 people crabbing, with their packages of chicken parts and their strings tied all along the rail. "Don't touch the lines. Don't touch the lines." Who do you think touched the lines? No crabs were netted while we were on that pier, so I hustled the brood along. Whether it was livelihood or dinner they were pulling out, we did not need to interfere any longer.

The next stop in our tour was Washington Park playground. My grandfather and father grew up in this beautiful neighborhood along the river. In fact, they lived side by side on Isabella Ave, and my Isabella was delighted to see her name on the sign. My dad grew up next to his grandparents, and my grandmother has always said that was why he was so spoiled. Her mother-in-law would hear her if she ever fussed at him, and would call out the window: Send Floyd over! He's not misbehavin'!
The rest is history. But it is sweet to see the brick bungalows side by side, the upstairs room where my dad grew up, and the neighborhood the same as ever.

At the park in Washington Park {For Residents Only}, the slide is the piece de resistance. My kids declared it the coolest ever, and we didn't even have wax paper to slide on. I don't even know how many years it has been there.
After this grand park tour, we finally made it to my grandmother's. Mamaw is my Dad's Mom, and is a sweet southern lady. She hangs in there with all of her health issues, tells me she is on her way out, but sticks around for every visit. This day the Big Deal was Benny. Benny the Labra-Doodle loves to jump in the air, catch toys and snuggle with kids. He is an energetic sweetheart! I tried and tried to get a shot of him high in the air. But this is the best, with my Mamaw. She shows him off like he is her baby, throwing the ball for him and letting him lunge right at her.

Her daughter, my Aunt Linda, was also visiting, so we had a fun few hours catching up. Aunt Linda just retired from teaching elementary school, so she took the kids and Benny out to play and kept them all entertained. XO!
Next up is more time at Lilliput and the Lake... I hope my Mom is enjoying this travelogue! Wink, wink....