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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sometimes there's just a whole lot of laundry...

The stomach flu has been going around just about everyone we know.  It was inevitable really that it would hit us.  And it did.  Poor Emma got sick Thursday evening.  Oh, the timing! Her class had a pajama day and read in planned for Friday and she had plans to go to a friends after school to make cookies and spend the night.  My heart hurt for her to have to miss out on so much fun.  She was disappointed and even cried but as she often does she surprised me with her understanding and acceptance that things don't always go our way.

Yesterday was spent washing load after load of bedding and clothing and cleaning everything else, while praying that we could rid our house of those nasty germs and keep everyone else healthy.  This is become quite a regular routine around here.  In the last 4 week we've had head lice, strep throat, and now stomach flu.  Being a mom of three young of kids is so much fun but the laundry is a big job on a normal week, add illness and I'm telling you it's staggering!

While I won't rest easy for awhile, stomach flu has a way of keeping quiet for a few days and then striking again, today we are all well!  Which is a wonderful gift because our holiday celebrations begin this morning with our annual Teddy Bear Tea!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Before 5

2 more days of school until Christmas Vacation!  It's been a good week full of preparations for Christmas. 

Yesterday after school we gave Eleanor an early birthday gift and took her and a friend  to a craft studio in Webster Groves for a workshop.  While she was busy making art, Emma, Lucy and I walked around Webster and did a little Christmas shopping.   I think it was the most fun I've ever had Christmas shopping.   We didn't buy much but I did get a few ideas!  After a quick dinner at Bread Company we came home and all of us were in bed by 7:30.  No kidding, we were so tired.  Which is why at 4:30 I was awake.

 I was also awake early because of these two.  When they sleep with me I usually sleep on one side and  make one of them sleep in the middle…it gets hot in there and they both kick and push in their sleep.  Last night they were bickering so I slept in the middle but hen I got upstairs from my run this morning this is how I found those two.  Both in the middle, sharing a pillow.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Remember when I told you that I wanted to put into words my feelings about Christmas Shop but seemed unable?  On Sunday this sermon pretty much summed up all I was feeling.  It reminded me of why, even though it's exhausting, and heart breaking, and frustrating I keep going back.  Hope.  Hope and love keep me going back.  A desire to stand with someone and let them know they are not alone and that someone cares.  This is Christmas.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Holly and the Ivy

The calendar tells me that there are just 10 more days until Christmas Eve.  My front porch doesn't believe it.  There still sit pumpkins.  Pumpkins that are in fact covered in snow and possibly probably rotting underneath.  I need to pay bills and figure out what we have in the refrigerator, change everyones sheets, probably clean a bathroom or two and think about gifts for our teachers….and a good chunk of the folks on our Christmas list.  Nothing has been wrapped.  They'll be no cards this year and maybe no homemade cookie gifts for our friends and sweet teachers.  Just now, like in the last 20 minutes I've felt like maybe I could start thinking about making a list, a plan for what must be done and what can be let go of over the next 10 days.  The goal is to enjoy the time, not just check boxes off.   I'll make my list tonight, in front of the fire, while watching The Muppets Christmas Carol.   Spending 7 days at Christmas Shop always requires some time for reentry into my regular life.  This year has been no different.  Today I've choked back a few tears.  Not really sad tears just full tears.   There is so much in this world that I don't understand and being plucked out of my beautiful, neat, safe little life rips that wide open.  Today I can't quite put it into words but I will.  Instead of my own words, in my mind I hear The Holly and the Ivy, in my favorite version by The Lower Lights.  In particular these lines...

The holly wears a blossom
As white as any flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Savior.

The rising of the sun,
The running of the deer,
The playing of the organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

Oh, the holly bears a berry
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26 (plus a whole bunch of missed days!): Head Lice

Holy cow am I behind!  And I have exactly 10 minutes for this so please excuse all typos and hard to understand sentences!

Today I'm thankful for head lice or maybe more accurately I'm thankful for the perspective they can bring.  We found the nasty little things on all 3 girls Sunday late in the afternoon.  All of my plans for things I wanted to get done that evening flew out the window so the girls could be treated (including me because guess what?!  I had them too!), bedding could be removed and the whole lice extermination could begin.  Though lice is never something a person wants to have I tried to keep my chin up and here is what happened….

- I found myself thankful that I do not work.  I had a terrible sore throat and didn't feel well Sunday night.  I went to bed at 9:00 because I knew that I could continue Lice Kill 2013 in the morning.  If I was still teaching I'd have stayed up all night long and would've faked myself happy and awake for a full day of teaching.

- I was thankful that I could cancel almost everything that I was supposed to do Monday morning.  I pack my Mondays full while Lucy is at school.  Just a couple of emails sent explaining my situation and I had prayers coming my way and friends picking up where I had to drop off.

-I was thankful that I have a washer and a dryer right in my house, and that I didn't have to get to a laundromat to do the…..wait….are you ready?  15 loads of laundry.  I'm not kidding.

-I was thankful that our budget could handle all the hot water, suds, and dryer heat I used washing everything in our house, and that we could buy Lice killing shampoo, new combs, brushes, pony tail holders and pillows.

-I was thankful that it was just lice.

- I was thankful that I am organized and can work fast.  In fact I love hard work.  Our friends from Colorado were in town and coming to dinner and no icky, itchy bug was going to stand between us and them.  Our house was clean as could be and homemade soup was on the stove when they walked through the door.

-I was also thankful that I know my limitations and so store bought bread and cookies also graced our dinner table!

-I was thankful for my health and the ability to be able to take care of my family.  Yesterday a friend of mine attended the funeral of a friend of hers.  Her friend was 36, a year younger than me, and 6 months ago she was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.  What a reminder that every single day is a gift.

I guess yesterday wasn't the best ever but it sure wasn't the worst.  I really did find myself over and over again realizing the gifts all around me.  Sometimes you need a little lice in your life to realize just how good you have it.

Best Friends! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20: Small Moments

If I'm not careful my days can go by in a blur.  From the time my feet hit the floor until my head hits the pillow my days are pretty planned, a complete maximization of time; there's a lot I want to do.  I don't want my days to pass in a blur though. I find I'm happiest when I remember to see the small moments unfolding in my every day.

Lucy goes to school on Monday and Wednesday and there is a lag in time between the start of Emma and Eleanor's school and the start of Lu's school.  It's not a big deal but this morning  I found myself feeling a little irritated in waiting….wasn't there something I could get done in those 20 minutes? Lucy and I pulled up to her school and she unbuckled, hopped out and came up to the front of the van.  I left the music on and we listened to her favorite song right now "I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas".  Lucy searched until she found the source of the sound….speakers near her feet.  It amazed her.  The next 20 minutes passed just like that, Lucy finding amazement in little things and me finding joy in her just being her.  I'm thankful for small moments and for reminders to tune in to them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19: Pizza, Pizza!

Tonight I'm thankful for an easy dinner!  When I made our weekly menu for this week I gave myself a little gift….a no cooking night!  On our way home from El's dance class we picked up a pizza.  And now we're off to basketball practice.  Hooray for the little things in life that make things easier.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18: Christmas Music

I've been playing Charlie Brown's Christmas for the last week, it's Christmas music without being too much (or so I say).  Today though we've crossed over to the fully leaded stuff….the radio is now playing Christmas music!  I'm so thankful for this happy time of year and the music that comes with it.

In other Christmassy news Lucy wants a dog, a real one, for Christmas.  Today at Target a nice older couple was chatting with Lu when she told them, "I'm getting a REAL!! dog for Christmas and I will name her Clara".  Oh, geez.  She then proceeded to beg me for the rest of our trip to please get her a dog.  She had it all thought out, she told me-I will play ball with her, I will not let her chew ANYTHING, I will take her on a walk.  She also told the crossing guard and our principal about her real Christmas dog.  They looked at me with eyes that said "you're in trouble" and I think they're right.

All I want for Christmas is my very own dog.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17: My dream kitchen

I'm lucky, I get to cook in my dream kitchen.  The lights above the island are broken (I'm to blame!), the buttons on the dishwasher have tape holding them down, the refrigerator door is covered in little finger smudges and all of the cabinets could use some organizing.  Imperfections?  No, just proof that this kitchen of ours sees a lot of use.  Countless snacks, many meals, weekly baked goodies, and lots and lots of conversation make this space dreamy.  It feels a bit like my command center and I love it so!  I think it's as cute as can be and it cleans up in a snap.    What more could I want?  (A self cleaning, kitchen?  Ok, that would really be a dream come true!)

Our kitchen on a nice, tidy day….finger smudges removed, light still intact!  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14: Going out to breakfast

Yesterday was a late start day at school so we celebrated with breakfast at The Pancake House.  I don't know if there are too many things that feel more special than having breakfast out before school.  My dad and I used to go out for breakfast once a week when I was a kid and some of my best memories are  of those mornings at Walnut Street Cafe.  

They made breakfast out a breeze!  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 13: My credit card and a Dr. Pepper

See those carts?  I filled all 4 of them to the brim with underwear for The Christmas Shop.  Ordinarily choosing underwear isn't all that time consuming but I needed a gross each of 18 different sizes, that's 2592 pairs of undies.

Getting around the store and through the check out lane with all of those carts was a crazy task but I'd done this a couple of months ago when I purchased the same number of socks so I was prepared for the job.  Until it came time to pay.  The bill was huge, so huge in fact that it exceeded the amount available on The Kingdom House credit card.  When the cashier said the word "DECLINED" I stood there in stunned silence.  WHAT?  I fumbled for my phone but couldn't reach anyone at Kingdom House.  I was panicked, I'd just spent 3 hours shopping and now I couldn't pay for it!  The poor clerk who was helping me tried to suspend the sale while I figured out what in the world to do but rather than suspend the sale she accidentally voided it.  We didn't even talk about it we just looked at each other with defeat in our eyes and pushed the carts aside.  I shuffled over to the in store Subway where  I bought a Dr. Pepper  to drown my sorrows.  I really wanted to cry, just lay my head down on the table and sob.  Maybe pound my fists and yell "why?".  The funny thing is, even though the store was packed I don't think anyone would really have noticed if I had.  Low blood sugar was mostly to blame and the Dr. Pepper did the trick.  I was back up and ready to figure this thing out in a matter of gulps.   The tide turned,  I got ahold of someone and we made a plan……I'd put whatever amount wouldn't fit on the Kingdom House credit card on my personal credit card to be reimbursed.  Things sure didn't go the way I'd planned but thank goodness for my credit card and that Dr. Pepper.

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11: My marriage

I'm thankful that Kevin and I found each other, amongst all those jeans 18 years ago at the Gap.  Life has changed quite a bit since those days of folding jeans between classes at Ole Mizzou.   We're consumed in a way we couldn't have imagined back then.   There are times when we barely talk all week.  Sure we exchange a few words about which kid needs to be picked up where or what meeting is happening tonight or…."please stop for milk!!".  But a week never goes by where we don't find some time somewhere and really talk, even if it's just a few minutes.  This morning it happened across the kitchen counter early, early in the morning.  The coffee had just been brewed, I was drenched in sweat from a run, and poor Kevin was suffering from a rotten nights sleep due to a nasty sinus infection.  A few simple words exchanged between us and all was right.  A strong marriage is a true blessing and I'm thankful for mine.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 9 and 10: Weekends

I am so thankful that at the end of every busy week there is a weekend.  A few of the things that I'm thankful for this weekend are:
*Grandpa Gordon's Birthday Party!  Made complete by a visit with cousin Ruby the dog.
*A 10:30 am Saturday morning showing of Holiday Inn at the Hi Pointe
*An easy going Saturday afternoon spent partially in the kitchen which meant Shepherd's Pie, homemade applesauce and butterscotch pudding for dinner
*Saturday evening church
*Camping by some of our family members in the backyard
*A fun visit from Grandpa and Kyra

Friday, November 8, 2013

November 8: The Missouri History Museum

The Missouri History Museum in Forest Park has great programing for kids.  We started going to their Friday morning story and craft in 2008.  The same woman still runs the program and even though the program has grown a a lot and we've only been a few times over the last couple of years she always remembers us and asks about Lucy's older sisters.  It's a great way to spend an hour and I'm thankful it's so close.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November 7: 3 year olds

I really love 3 year olds.  They enjoy so many things like puzzles, swing sets, nature walks and painting.  They love to read and will have you read the same book over and over again until they have it memorized.  They are curious, and messy and loving and full of energy.  Until that energy is all used up and then they crash!

5:30pm Wednesday evening, while Emma is playing Christmas carols on the piano right next to her.

Different sister, same age, same scenario (minus the piano), same pants, too.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6: Perspective

My inbox is full of coupons, super sales, festive recipes and holiday gift ideas.  Every single day for the last week I've added something to our December calendar.   I'm not complaining, I'm a self proclaimed Christmas nut and I'm thrilled that the most wonderful time of the year is rapidly approaching.    I want to go to the Zoo lights, Tilles Park, the opening of Shaw Ice Rink, the Symphony holiday concert, A Christmas Carol at the Fox, and the Teddy Bear Tea.  I want to dive into the Christmas Shop and take in all that it is. I want to say yes to every friend that invites our family over  to exchange cookies, make gingerbread houses and sing Christmas Carols. I want to sit in church every Advent weekend and remember the baby Jesus.  I want to find the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. I want to attend our  friends' grown up parties to laugh and eat delicious food.  I want to go see Santa and decorate our house inside and out, send out cute Christmas cards, find the perfect tree at Ted Drewes, and watch our favorite Christmas movies.  I want to spend time with all of our family.  I want to make a cute Advent calendar full of sweet messages and fun daily activities for the girls.  I want to bake cookies, make candy and ornaments.  I want to light the Advent candle every Sunday and have a special time for prayer.  I want to read all of our Christmas books and drive around looking at Christmas lights while drinking hot cocoa.  There have been years that we've done just about all of that.  And we were miserable. MISERABLE. Some of the most important things on that list , the part where we focus on the baby Jesus, the places where we find ourselves moved to put others first and bless their lives through what God has given us; they played a small part in the production that became MERRY X-MAS!    I think a lot of people can relate.  Years ago, Emma's preschool sent a note home to all parents about the holidays and how we might approach them and what a difference that note made for me.  Every year since I've read it and am so thankful for the perspective it gives.  It's not intended to be a downer or to turn anyone into a Scrooge.  It doesn't even focus on having a Christ centered Christmas, which is really what I most want.   But it does challenge parents to make Christmas less about our unrealistic expectations of what Christmas should look like.   It helps me to think more about what our kids really want and need and less about doing it all.  Trust me, this is a work in progress, we continue to learn and adapt and it seems my lesson every year is ---keep stripping away at the excess and then you'll get to the heart of Christmas.
Overloading our kids with gifts should be not be an issue for Kevin and me.  For whatever blessed reason our kids have very few wants.  But most years in the days before Christmas, we both start hearing little whispers of "they'll be disappointed with just those gifts" "books?  just books?" "it's not enough" and so we buy a few more last minute gifts (that nobody asked for or really wanted) to make the pile a bit bigger.  Finally, last year we resisted these silly voices (it was hard!).  Not a disappointed girl among them.  Lucy was delighted with a book, some Hello Kitty Band Aids, a new passy and some goggles.  She immediately put them all to good use.  Our kids are so often the best teachers!

Here's the letter….I hope you find something in here that will help you find what you're looking for this Christmas!

Whether we celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas, whether our traditions are French, German or Asian, most of us approach this holiday season with great expectations. 

We take great care to select the best gifts for our children, to bake holiday cookies, to decorate the house with homemade ornaments and to give parties for friends and family dinners with traditional holiday foods.  We remember former roommates, distant relatives, neighbors, teachers and mail carriers with special little gifts.  Yet the result of all this well-intentioned activity is frequently children in tears, adults with frayed nerves and parents who feel angry and unappreciated.  This year you can avoid this "bad aftertaste" from the holiday season by adding the following gifts to your list.  

The Gift of Less...Less Excitement
The single greatest cause of holiday unhappiness for children is sensory overload.  Too much excitement will overload your children and leave them in tears.  This year give your children less excitement.  I suspect that one reason we overload our children with excitement is to regain the excitement we remember from our own childhoods.  Because our real attention is focused on our own needs rather than theirs, we have a difficult time assessing when they've had enough.  This year, separate your needs from your children's and stop before they've had too much.  

...Less Gifts
We also overload our children with gifts. A six-year old who receives six gifts will tear open one after another and have nothing to play with when he's done.  If the same child receives three gifts he will have the time, the energy and the attention to explore and enjoy each gift individually.  This year give your children the gift of less gifts.

The Gift of Order
The excitement and fun of the holiday season become too much very quickly for a child who is tired or hungry.  For this reason it is particularly important to maintain a regular schedule during the holiday season.  By rigorously enforcing bedtime and limiting snacks you will give your child the reserves she needs to handle the excitement and social demands of the holiday season.  Your gift of a regular schedule will enable your child to fully enjoy all the other fun of the holiday season.

The Gift of Limits
Children have limited reserves of energy, limited attention spans and limited social skills.  The gift of respect for these limits will make everyone's holiday season happier.  This means controlling the family's schedule by leaving family affairs before the children become whiny and cranky, by balancing special activities with quiet activities away from a lot of people.  Respect of a child's limits makes a wonderful holiday gift.

The Gift of Giving
Sometimes adults forget that it can be as much fun to give a gift as it is to receive one.  As a result they do all the giving and don't let the children in on the fun.  Help your child shop or make special gifts for family members.  This will make him feel a apart of the holiday planning and teach him the joy of giving.

The Gift of You
The most important gift you can give your family this holiday season is the gift of your.  Not a tired, harried, over-worked you, but a relaxed, happy you.  To give your family this gift you will have to take good care of yourself.  Don't try to do too much.  They'd rather you had time for an extra story than those fancy cookies.  You can bake the cookies next year but this time with your child will never come around again.  Get enough rest.  you can't stay up late at night and go strong all day long without paying the price of a short temper and frayed nerves.  Ask for help.  Don't try to be super parent.  You can't do everything yourself.  You'll feel angry and put upon if you do this.  Plan some fun for yourself away from the family.  This will give you time to garner your reserves and you'll return to your family with the most important gift of all; a happy, fulfilled, relaxed you.

written by Barbara Kohm  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 5: The best job in the world

Last week I was having dinner at Cafe Natasha to celebrate my friend Christy's birthday. During our dinner, a Jesuit Priest, who Christy works with at SLU came into the restaurant.  We talked with him and in our conversation he asked me what I do, professionally speaking.  When I told him I was a stay at home mom his eyes lit up and he said "the best job in the entire world.  So important".  It made me feel good, surprisingly so.  I guess I've become accustomed to a couple of responses to my current job choice.  One is a condescending "bless your little heart, isn't that nice" response.   The other is an "ugh, better you than me, how do you stand that?" response.   Neither leave a person feeling awesome.  I've never once told someone that I'd hate their job, that it must be boring, what on Earth do they do all day, don't they feel like they should be doing more with their life and their education?  That would be rude.  Something happens when people are talking to moms though, they think anything goes, you learn that when you're pregnant.  Over the years, these thoughtless responses to my choice to stay at home have bothered me less and less, to a point that they don't even register with me anymore.  I guess that's why it felt so nice to have someone, who I think has one of the most important jobs in the world, tell me that my job is the best job in the world.  He's right, too.  It is the best and I am so thankful that I get to do this.  From now on when people ask me what I do, I just might tell them that I have the best job in the world!

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4: My Core Group

Our church has 5 shared practices.  They are the practice of community (worship), the practice of giving, the practice of service to the poor, the practice of prayer, and the practice of learning in community (Core Groups).  For the past 3 years Kevin and I were part of an amazing Core Group, where we gained some terrific friends and grew in our faith in a way that we'd never have done on our own.  The group met on Monday nights and it was unfortunately becoming harder and harder for Kevin and me to both be gone on the same evening.  We hated to make the decision but this summer we knew that it was time to find new groups.   I was less than excited.  I believe in our church's shared practices, otherwise I probably would have taken a break and vowed to find a new core group sometime in the future.   We'd made such close connections with our old group, our conversations were meaningful and safe and I couldn't imagine another group being anywhere near the same.  So a bit begrudgingly I found a Monday morning stay at home mom's group and signed up for it, thinking it would be a struggle every week to make myself go…..there are so many other things I could do with that time while Lucy is at PEEPS!   Guess what?  I've not even once had to convince myself to go.  From our first meeting our group worked.    These women, every single one, are unbelievable.  I'm not using hyperbole, they really are amazing.  I don't mean that in a pinteresty," you can't believe all the things these people do" way.  What I mean is so much more.  They are honest, faithful, thought provoking, challenging, accepting, loving, smart, funny women who I am blessed to spend my Monday mornings with.  I am thankful to have them in my life.

 The above passage was used in this week's sermon.  I listened the sermon this morning while I was on the treadmill and if you have 25 minutes to spare I encourage you to listen too.  It's the culminating sermon in a series and though probably most impactful after listening to the others (and wrestling with the messages) I still think much can be gained from just listening to this one.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 3: We're not alone in our pain

 This afternoon Kevin and I attended a wonderful fundraiser organized by our friends the  Hinkle's in memory of their son Ollie.  Mark and Jenn lost their 13 month old son in January because he was sick and couldn't get better.  They endure pain beyond what most of us can imagine.  They have every right to hole up and be bitter; what happened to them isn't fair, it wasn't what they thought their lives would be like and they didn't deserve it.  Instead they are choosing to use their lives to improve other people's.  They prove to me that God is greater than our pain.  This doesn't mean He magically takes it away or that our pain is somehow unimportant.  Our pain is real but when we let Him, God can make good out of bad. I don't believe for a minute that he allows bad things to happen and I know He weeps with us when we're hurting.  We're not alone and I'm thankful to know this truth.

The I Heart Wine and Food Ollie Hinkle Event was incredible.  Such a huge outpouring of support from the St. Louis restaurant community for a really special family.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 2: Sleep in my bed few minutes, momma

It's no secret that bed time has been rough for Lucy the last 10 months.  It all started with her crawling out of her crib in January followed by a difficult transition into a big girl bed.  Sill things aren't smooth as silk.  But one thing is for sure, every single night, as I turn out her light, in her sweet as sugar voice, I hear "sleep in my bed few minutes, momma".  And as those words tumble out, my heart feels warm,  I get a lump in my throat and no matter what else might need my attention at that moment, I make it wait.   Someday, sooner than later she'll miss a night of asking me to snuggle with her, and then a couple of more will slip by and then it will it stop altogether and this will be just a memory. For today though, it's not just a memory and I'm thankful!

Lucy has been pretending to be a flying panda the last couple of days.  Flying panda was relaxing last night in my bedroom and I couldn't resist those crossed feet.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 1: Emma, Eleanor, and Lucy

There is no better way to start my November thankful posts than with these three girls. They are what I am most thankful for in the whole wide world.  
Halloween 2013--rainy but not too cold
Emma- Annabeth from The Lightning Thief, Eleanor- McKayla the Olympic gymnast, Lucy- a kitty 

 This year we went to a Halloween party one neighborhood over.  It was raining and we were soaked long before we ever started trick or treating.  Lucy looked more like a duck than a kitty.

Too cool for umbrellas.  The kids got to hang out with friends and the rain didn't slow anybody down.  It was a wonderful night!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sorry about that game...

It's probably partly due to us.  We all got settled in the basement to watch the first pitch and the tv wouldn't turn on.  It's broken.  Less than two years old (and rarely used!) and some sort of power connector is blown. Lucky us Samsung will cover the cost of the part....$1.  We get to cover the cost of repair...$240.  No thanks.  We've two other working tvs (that seems excessive, I know).  Anyway, we should've called it a night at that point because clearly that was a sign.  Forget the nachos tonight, I'll just cut up some broccoli or something and we'll turn the game on in my bedroom while we read, kind of on in the background.  If that doesn't work maybe we won't watch Game worked for the division series!

I've posted this one before but it never gets old to me!  Baby Emma enjoying her first World Series.  Actually, this might have been a division series game because it seems to me this was in the afternoon....before Kevin got home from work and I wanted him to see the baby cheering on the Cards!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The World Series!

We're all pretty excited about tonight's game.  This is the first post season game for us this year since the other games were on cable.  The nachos are made and we'll all be staking out our spots in just a few minutes!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The very special color purple

I'm committing to blogging daily in November, a daily thankful post.  I love doing that, whether in November or during Lent, it's the same outcome for me, a constant reminder of all the good I have in my life.  I've no idea where that time will come from, since this is only the fourth blog I've done in October and I'm only allowing myself 5 minutes to write it.  I suppose those November posts might be brief, succinct little snippets!

A  quick update on our crew-

-First quarter parent teacher conferences for both Emma and Eleanor were great and we left feeling very proud of their hard work.   Though Kevin and I are fairly certain Emma somehow landed herself in high school and not fourth grade this year.   We actually heard the SAT mentioned and "I'm a really hard grader" and "no more hand holding".  Gulp.  It's true though fourth grade is a huge step up, Emma studies about as much as I did in high school....I'm not exactly sure who that says more about.

-Eleanor's soccer season winds up in a couple of weeks.  She is so much fun to watch!  She'll be starting basketball next.

-The girls' piano teacher is going on maternity leave next week.  A sub teacher will continue to teach Eleanor, who is catching on so quickly.  Emma has decided to take a break, to see if she wants to continue piano or to focus more attention on violin.

-Another month for Girls on the Run for Emma and then she'll run a 5K!  After that she won't have anything after school on Tuesday or Thursday---yay!!

-Emma continues to love ballet above all other activities (excluding reading of course).

-And Lucy, oh Lucy!  So much fun.  Here's a little glimpse into her sweet, sweet mind.....

Last night at dinner Lucy was telling us a very animated story about a stuffed animal....
Lucy- "it might be blue, it might be red, it might be yellow, OR it might be (and here she whispers) the very special color purple!"
All of us giggled!  Emma asked "so Lucy what makes purple so special?
Lucy's response "well, it's blue mixed with red, that's what".

That's it!  I've got to get back into a habit of taking pictures!  This photo is from August!  At the rate these girls grow and change that just won't do.

Friday, October 11, 2013

It's a no school Friday!

We had the quickest zoo trip ever this morning.  2/3 of the girls did not want to visit, so a compromise was made, just one ride on the train and that was it .  No walking around, no carousel, nothing.   I'll take the 1/3 back for a little visit next week.  After the zoo, we drove to the new outlet mall hoping to find some clothes for the girls.  No luck.  I mean none, not a single item.  We're officially online shoppers.  We spent way more time driving out there than we did shopping.  Everybody was awesome though and we were there around lunch time which meant we got to meet Kevin for lunch!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Special Delivery

October 8th has been circled on our calendar for months!  Yesterday the next book in a series Emma loves arrived on our doorstep, preordered in May to arrive as soon it was released.  In preparation for what was sure to be a marathon of reading Emma doubled up on piano and violin practicing over the weekend, and did her online math and typing programs so she could skip them yesterday. As soon as she walked into the house from Girls on the Run, and gasped and screamed and hugged the book,  she started homework (yay! for a very light night) showered, changed into her pajamas, settled into her bed and dove right in.  I even served her dinner in bed because life just doesn't get any better for a book worm like Emma and I'm happy to indulge her as she's whisked away to Camp Halfblood with The Heroes of Olympus.

and still she reads.  It's one thick book...583 pages.

Wondering what I let Emma eat in bed? A French Dip sandwich....she doesn't eat the sauce and will devour a whole one-gotta keep her stamina up!  One little change I make is to put a slice of provolone in the sandwich, wrap it in foil and put in the oven at 350 for a couple of minutes.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Storybook Picnic and Cheers for the Weekend!

At our school the first Friday in October is the storybook picnic for kindergarten through second grade.  So that's where I've been, with varying combinations of my girls, for the past five first Fridays in October.  I'm a little bummed but today was my last storybook picnic....for a few years!

I am almost giddy in my anticipation of our weekend.  It's pretty empty, for the first time in a long time none of my children are sleeping over with friends and no extra children will be sleeping at our house.  No play dates are planned, no birthday parties or other get togethers.  I love all of those things but this weekend, with it's handful or activities is such a nice little breather.  And the weather!  Oh, it looks like it's going to be perfect!  Plus I just brought up all of the Halloween decorations from the basement this morning.  It's going to be a good weekend for sure.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 1

October is here!  I think it's my favorite month, if not my favorite at least in the top three.  I love the weather, the activity, the trees and the anticipation of the months to come.

Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of losing our Gussy boy.  I still miss him and I still don't want another dog.  In a little nod to our favorite dog, this morning Lucy and I were in South City so we decided to go by Gus' and pick up some pretzels.  It made for a very happy morning. Even though she never met him here on Earth I'm fairly certain that Lucy and Gus had a few great months up in Heaven together before he sent her down to us.

I can't imagine the work of taking care of an animal right now, I feel like I'm at a good spot in my whole taking care of things act.  But honestly, the real reason I don't want another dog (and I'm not at all sure I ever do again) is this..........

If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness.
Marjorie Garber

Friday, September 20, 2013

Right now

Life is busy.
Between Eleanor and Emma there is soccer, violin, piano, dance, ballet, and Girls on the Run. In October we'll add Girl Scouts and chorus to that list.  Along with their activities there is also homework (whoa 4th grade!) and practice time for the instruments.  We also have a three year old, need I say more?  Kevin and I keep pretty busy schedules ourselves and so our calendar is a dizzying maze of words, numbers and arrows.
With varying practices, classes, games, and appointments, each day has its own wild rhythm.  Several times each week I have to be in two places at once so I rely on my awesome friends and neighbors to fill in.  They are in the same boat so we help each other.  Since there are times that I MUST rely on others I try hard not to ask when I don't absolutely have to.  Which is how on Wednesday night Lucy and I ended up in the van for an hour and and forty five minutes .  Ok, we did get out for about 15 minutes but still, it was pretty funny.  You see, Emma has ballet from 6:30-7:25 and Eleanor has soccer from 6:45-7:45.  We took Emma to ballet, waited long enough to see her walk through the front door of the studio, and then peeled out of the parking lot heading to the soccer fields, we got there just in the nick of time, told the coach we would be back to get El at 7:45 but not a minute earlier, drove back to dance, got out for a potty break and to catch a few new moves from Emma, ran back out to the van, drove back to the soccer field, in time to see El do a few cartwheels (yes, at soccer) before driving all of our tired, hot bodies home.  Of course before any of that rigmarole even began we ate dinner and everyone practiced instruments and finished homework.  Tired yet?
 If 5 years ago you'd have told me that would be my Wednesday night I'd have laughed, oh not us!  When the girls were younger I thought we'd just sign up for one activity at a time, none of this over scheduled nonsense.  Sounds like a stellar plan, doesn't it?  But somewhere along the way we figured out that that wasn't such a stellar plan for us.  Not the imaginary us of the future but the real us.  For us, right now, having a whole lot of balls in the air is working really, really well.  In fact in all of this busyness I find myself feeling overwhelming joy, to the point of my heart literally feeling like it's expanding in my chest.   I feel blessed beyond measure to get to spend a Wednesday night singing Christmas carols with Lucy while driving Janey back and forth across Clayton all the while getting to catch glimpses of my girls doing things they love.
Life is busy and full and happy, and I'm so thankful.

On a much less busy day.  Our day at Shaw Nature Reserve.  Did I tell you about that?  I think I forgot, it was wonderful!

Below is a post from the amazing author Anne Lamott from FB today.  I'd been wanting to write the above post for the last week but....well I've been busy.  I read Lamott's piece and it made me smile to be able to reflect that I'm living exactly the life I want to live, no changes necessary.  Oh sure, opportunities for personal improvements abound but the nitty gritty of my life is just the way I want it to be.

Someone asked me the other day how my life would change if I only had two weeks to live. I said I would definitely eat a lot more creme brûlée, and not floss at all. But I don't think it's the right question.

The better question is, What would you change about your life if you had a year or so to live? Of course you would have to floss, or you would become repellant with your oyster-y breath; and you'd probably have to limit yourself to one creme brûlée (or two) a day. But would you write? Would you exercise? Would you return phone calls from people you only medium care about, who talk to long and say repetitive annoying things.

I would not write for publication, that's for sure. Stitches, the handbook on meaning, hope, repair, will be my 15th book. It's a little unseemly to keep cranking them out. It's unnecessary for me to keep publishing. Besides, I always say the same things: you are loved and chosen , a unique, lovely, wild and slightly screwed up creation. Try to get a little writing done every day--it will help you know and forgive yourself, which is why we are here. Earth is forgiveness school. What you are looking for is already inside you. There is no way to achieve, date, buy or lease anything that will fill up the Swiss cheese holes within. "Figure it out" is not a good slogan. Etc etc etc..... HOWEVER!

I'd keep writing on Facebook and Twitter. That's all I want to write when I grow up. I don't want to have to think up any more gimmicks for a novel, and I sure as hell don't want to have to keep going through the two months per-publication. It is a nightmare. Not everyone will like your book and you are going to want to die; and for them to die: some of the people you love most will accidentally hurt your feelings, and is will make you crazy and self-righteous, will is what hell is like. You are going to channel all the adults who barked at you that you needed to get thicker akin, but you couldn't do it then, when you were still malleable, and now you are stuck in your ways, with your thin skin and open heart--which is actually a BEAUTIFUL WAY TO BE. Plus, your vision is going, your feet often hurt, and your hair is falling out, so the odds of somehow getting nice new thick skin are zero. Besides, it was never for sale at the Dime Store anyway.

So yes, I'd keep writing, in the most populist way popular, which is here, and over at Twitter, with the world's most fabulous trolls still talking about Benghazi and Personhood; and at the same time, this fantastic ongoing conversation, and fabulous information. (Someone just tweeted my new favorite bumper sticker: "GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE; well, maybe a little.")

And yes, I would still exercise. I'd walk the dogs and take myself on a hike in the hills, in the woods and around town, because that is where I most directly experience the divine, in the glories of nature, in breezes, breath and birdsong. I'm amazed on every single walk. Maybe that makes me a simpleton, but Simpletonian principles would be the way I'd want to live my last year.

And it's as important to return phone calls as it is library books, because it's the right thing to do. Otherwise, you are being an ass-hat, and this will only hurt you, and make you toxic. karma bats last. There is a wooden crucifix at a church in Corte Madera from WW11, with the arms blown off, thats says, "Jesus has no arms but ours, to do his work and to show His love." So if you want to have happy, loving feelings, do loving things. That's the secret of life, whether you are at all Jesusy or not. Be of service. Get people water. Clean up the litter on your block, even though there will be more tomorrow. Call back the infuriating cousin, who always talks too long, because she is God, in God's most distressing guise as a conservative relative, who has possibly not had quite enough therapy. But if you ask my tiny impatient self, it's okay to tell a tiny lie in order to limit the call to fifteen minutes. Say you love her, but you just have to go, now. It's fine. You get a full credit. Someone brilliant told me this once. 15 minutes, okay to lie, love, full credit

So that's how I would live, starting right now, if this were Day One; which it is.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Watching a newborn change into a baby, into a toddler, into a preschooler, into a school aged kiddo is about the best thing ever.  Each stage is my favorite so far.  I feel so fortunate that even though the days fly by at a heart quickening rate, they've been days well spent and I remember them well.  I feel blessed that we've been given the gift of realizing the importance of being present in each day and so even though 10 seems so old to me, it also seems just right and I'm so delighted to be right here!
Happy Birthday to a girl who amazes me every day!  You are truly a gift that I love you so much!

Memory Lane.....











Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Another first day

It was another exciting day for Lucy!  It was her first day back to school.  She's in the three year old room this year with new teachers and a few new friends, but lots of old friends too.  

She was excited but pretty nervous this morning before school.

But when we got to school I think she remembered how much fun that place is and then she was all smiles.  Doesn't she look awesome for her first day?!   She picked the whole ensemble out herself, including the bun hairstyle. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

At last!

Today Lucy took her first dance class and "it was great, momma!!".    The whole experience lived up to her expectations in every way.  As we drove to class this morning she decided that she did not want to wear her dance shoes, she'd already decided at home that she didn't want to wear her tights.  Though she was the only one in class without tights and shoes Lucy told me after the class that her teacher doesn't care that Lucy dances without shoes.  What a way to start!  

She really didn't want any pictures taken at dance, this is outside after her class.  I'm sure I'll be able to convince her to let me snap a few pictures as the weeks go on.

Monday, September 2, 2013

There will be applesauce for dinner

What a weekend!  Full but not busy if that makes any sense.  What I mean is we've done lots but have had absolutely no feeling of rushing around or too much to do. There has been time to relax at home with a couple of movies and down time, but we've also been swimming (one last time before the pool closed for the season), hiking at Shaw Nature Reserve, eaten food from the Greek festival, watched the Giro dell Montaga from our friend's front yard (a bike race on the Hill) and today we went apple picking.  In years past we've gone to Eckert's but we tried a new orchard this year and though it was a further drive it was well worth the trip.