Friday, May 30, 2008

Speaking of Time....

In our old house, we had a place on the wall in the kitchen where the kids liked me to mark their height. That wall became covered with little marks, names and dates. The kids loved to watch their progress. I loved it too....but was always surprised by it.

We seem to love marking time too. Yesterday was Kaitie's last day of her freshman year. She came out of her hardest final in celebration mode. She is thrilled that she can call herself a sophomore now.

Yesterday also marked the end of this year's piano lessons. Kaitie and Emilee played well at their recital last evening. Emilee played, "A Whole New World," and "Saturday Night Boogie." She and Kaitie played a lullaby duet. I can always exhale at the end of a good duet performance. A lot goes into the practice of a sibling duet....and it is not all as peaceful as the lullaby itself. Kaitie played, "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring," and "100 Years." Now the girls don't have piano until school starts again. They like the summer break.

There's another summer break that I don't know if we will enjoy as much. As if the last day of school and piano were not enough finales for us....there was also the "Lost" finale. Emilee and I were crazy with anticipation before it...and I'm afraid after it too. She may want the piano break to take a long time, but she will want the time to fly when it comes to a new season of "Lost!" We were still talking about it on the way to school this morning, and Riley got mad at us. She said, "Don't talk about this, I'm too little for it." No talk about Jack Shepherd for her! The only Jack she wants to hear about is in, "Jack's Big Music Show."

And, if you think that the girls are the only ones worried about seasons right now, don't forget another important one. Jeff had a good evening as well, watching the Lakers finish off the Spurs. Of course he would have liked to see it happen in a Game 7 after a couple of overtimes, but he'll take it. Now, if the Celtics will go on to join the Lakers in the finals, Jeff will have the season finale that he wants as well.

Speaking of time, I'm taking a little time off here....not too much....I will see you all soon....:)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm Really Graduating This Time....

I'm really graduating from kindergarten this year.

The first time I went to kindergarten was a very long time ago. I see no reason to name the year specifically. I could already read, and I admit I thought some of the other kids were not too bright. I know I was very shy. I did not answer "Good morning, Mrs. Noble," during roll call like the other kids. I had permission simply to raise my hand. I did have a few friends. I even recall the boy I had a crush on. I know how mature I felt. I think that remembering what it felt like to be a child has always helped me in being a mom.

Back then, kindergarten was all about playing. We had blocks, a play kitchen, and a sand box. We had nap time then, something my kids never had in school. After snack time, we rolled out our brought-from-home towels, and were instructed to rest. It felt like such a long time. I don't think I ever really went to sleep.

I remember that play kitchen and the sand box specifically because we weren't supposed to take the little dishes out to the sand box. I did it anyway....well, I remember doing it in the winter time when I could hide the dishes in my coat. I never got in trouble. I would have died.

On Ryan's first day of kindergarten, I cried a lot. I didn't let him see it, because I didn't want him to worry. Four year old Ally was with me in the car though, and she told me to wipe my eyes and breathe deeply so I would feel better. Very sweet.

I went to kindergarten at least once a week with all my kids, except Kaitie. For her, I went on many special days, but not once a week. I more than made up for it with the time I spent in Emilee's class....that year, I was a regular in kindergarten.

When Riley started school this year, I wasn't sad at all. I expected to be, and some people around me expected it. My mom left a cute message on my phone that morning, in which she told me to call her when I felt like I could talk. I could talk. I loved half day kindergarten this year. It was just right. Riley had fun, and I had the short break in the day that many moms start taking in the preschool years. (I just don't happen to do that preschool thing.)

Yesterday was my last day to help in Riley's class.

I can clearly see the door to first grade opened wide for her. What I can't as easily determine, is which door I'm supposed to take.....



This picture was taken last year on Riley's first day of kindergarten.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Braided Bread



Yesterday, we had a little birthday party at our house. It was for a two year old cutie. I'm sure her mom will get details out here when she gets a break in her busy schedule.

Our job for the birthday party, was to make bread. Riley was excited when I told her we could make braided bread. The girls and I really enjoy doing these. One of these days we may even make them a uniform size and shape....maybe not though.

Riley and I learned how to make these by watching a You Tube video together. She still talks about that. Our mother/daughter bonding moment didn't exactly look like a Norman Rockwell painting, but it was still a bonding moment!

Last week when I was trying to do a perfect ballet bun in Emilee's hair, I told her I was going to look that up on You Tube as well. My bright 12 year old warned me that I better be careful with a search term like "ballet bun." (I laughed! And, I also found out that at least the first few are exactly what I had in mind.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Splashing is Believing.....



This is probably not going to be a very fun place to spend Memorial Day. I have heard we will be using it by July 4 though. I will believe it when I feel the splash!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hannah Coulter

I just finished reading, "Hannah Coulter," a novel by Wendell Berry. I have read "at" it for awhile, and finally stayed to the end. Berry's "Jayber Crow" became one of my favorites last year, but it was also one that took a long time to read.

The stories are not exciting page turners where you read fast to get to the action. He is a poet, and you read him when you want to savor words slowly. In certain moods, I wish I could draw a bath full of his words and relax there for awhile, absorbing each one....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Try and Stop Me"



When Ally was born, she sometimes slept 20 hours a day. She slept through the night by the time she was four months old. I think she was just resting up for her busy life.





This is a look I learned to know very well. It is the "try and stop me" face. The amazing thing about Ally, is that she could show that face and maintain a good attitude at the same time.

She could swim well before she turned three, because she didn't have much fear. She always loved being outside, and had about zero tolerance for TV.





I used to worry when she was in martial arts, but she absolutely loved it. It was hard for me to watch her fight with tough opponents, but I think that made her love it all the more.





When Ally decided that she wanted to go on a school trip to Australia and New Zealand, I couldn't imagine letting her go. I was nervous about letting her go so far away at 16 years old. However, she worked magic with her "try and stop me" combined with a good attitude, and talked me into it. She had the time of her life! This is a picture of her bungee jump in New Zealand. (It was good that I didn't know about that until after the fact.) It's too bad I can't find the close up picture, because that is really the priceless one. In it, you can see that her look is not of terror, but of pure joy....



This is Ally and Riley last May. Ally was graduating from community college. It was only a few weeks after this that she headed off to a university for summer school. I would have been surprised to know back then that she would be graduating from there in less than the usual two years. She will be graduating this August. She won't even be 21 yet. Silly that I would have been surprised, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Have Something You Don't Have.....

Whoever you are, whatever you are doing right now, I feel pretty safe in saying: I have something you don't have...

I am the privileged one to have received a text message picture on my phone of the pig 15 year old Kaitie is dissecting in biology class. Aren't you jealous?

Kaitie knows the story of when I took biology in high school. I did my best helpless girl routine, and a boy did all my hard work. Looking back, that is more "gag worthy" than the pig itself!

I love that Kaitie is learning, and (mostly) appreciating a complex system. I am beyond pleased that she is not nearly as squeamish as I am. I am ridiculous....and have received a generous share of mocking for this flaw of mine.

I am going to spare you the picture itself, but the mental picture for you is one of a proud mom....who is breathing slowly and trying not to be sick, and who is typing with one hand, because the other one is over her mouth....

Monday, May 19, 2008

My Grandma



This is a picture of my grandma, and my girls in December of 2004. It was her last Christmas with us. Three years ago today, was her last day with us. I have been thinking of her, and looking up some things I have written about her.

I remember that when I was little, she could stop even my thought of misbehavior by saying, "I'm going to look at your nose!" What does that even mean? The Grandma magic was in full force. I behaved without there ever being a real threat.

When I was older (an adult) she actually tricked me into taking her to get her driver's license renewed when the family wanted her to stop driving. I'm shaking my head as I write that. I do not know how she passed the eyesight portion of that. And isn't that scary that she could get a license, when she could hardly see? I wish I could remember exactly how she convinced me to do it. Oh well, she surrendered that license soon enough. She knew she didn't want to hurt anyone.

When her driving days were over, I took her to the store, the doctor, hair appointments, you name it. During this time period, she showed me many of her pictures, and journals. She let me make copies of some of these things for myself. I am so glad I looked through these with her, and listened to her version of the stories. She had me read things to her....sometimes personal things that she had saved. We laughed and cried together over those old pages and pictures. These are some of my best memories with her.

I took my children to see her every Sunday evening. I was not very flexible about it. I couldn't stand to think of Grandma waiting for us, and have us not come. My children loved playing with the old toys there anyway. My grandma had an old Hot Wheels set that my kids would piece together....the same ones I played with as a child. The tracks could cover the entire living room. They raced little old cars over those orange tracks. They played pool with the mini pool table. They wound up every music box, doll and snowglobe that they could. My grandma kept the things that she didn't want the kids to touch on the mantle above their fireplace. When Kaitie was little, there was a doll up there she was absolutely obsessed with. My grandma would not let her play with it.

That doll sits on Kaitie's shelf now. A snowglobe sits on Emilee's shelf. A tiny bell from Grandma's bell collection sits on my shelf. Luckily what we have from my grandma, is better represented inside of us.

The Real "Snapshots" from Saturday......

Maybe I sounded the tiniest bit....um....cranky about Saturday. Now that one more day has gone by, I want to show you what we were up to. Here is one of the pictures of Em I took at home:



How could I possibly be cranky about that?




Here is one that I took of Riley. Two things: I did manage later to get that thing to stay up higher in the front. And, no that is not her real hair in the back. We had fun with that crazy curly pony tail....no doubt it will be in her dress up box for years to come.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Snapshot" of Yesterday.....

It was dance picture weekend. This means we went back and forth to the dance studio for pictures four different times....three for Emilee and one for Riley. Each time, we had a different costume, and the dictated hair style. Riley asked her usual million questions, but I couldn't relate to any of them, because they didn't start with, "How many excedrin would it take......?"

In the evening Jeff and I took Emilee and Riley to see Narnia. I had read the good reviews and the bad ones, and I am going to side with the good ones. I loved it. But, I like those kids. To me, they seem just right for the roles. I don't want to see someone famous in this type of classic story. I should have paid attention in the reviews where it was stated that this second movie was darker than the first. It was too scary for five year old Riley. She spent half the time on her dad's lap looking away from the screen.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Little Boy in Stripes



I woke up thinking of a little boy in red and white stripes. Sometimes I dream about him. You see, when he was three years old, I sent him on a camp out with his Dad, and a good family friend. I remember his little striped shirt, and sweet happy face. I worried obsessively for the day they were gone. My mind made up unspeakable scenarios. I hate it when my mind does that. He returned with a shirt so dirty, I could hardly see the stripes, but I could see that he had a glorious time, joining the world of men. He has shared his dad's love of camping and nature since that time. (This picture is not from the exact outing, but it is from one a little later.)





Riley was amazed when I showed her this picture of Ryan's first day of kindergarten. She can't imagine that he was once a small boy....but I can. His early days of life are mixed with my early days of being a mom. It was a wonderful, and also really difficult time. It was when Ryan was in kindergarten that he really wanted to be a "man." Once the kindergarten bus arrived, he was on his way! He didn't cling or look back. He wanted to take it on independently. He wouldn't even look at me, or wave goodbye.





He wanted to be a man, and I guess I wanted him to be one too. What I mean is, I expected a lot. I can't believe how much I expected of him when he was still so small. I wanted him to be smart, skillful, obedient, considerate, responsible.....but he was just a little boy. And my definition of being a man was different than his. I thought he should be doing what I wanted him to do, and.....imagine this.....he thought he should be doing what he wanted to do.....





So here is a picture of a much later outing with his dad. (He doesn't really go to ASU, but they were there cheering for ASU last Thanksgiving.) This picture is one he sent me from his cell phone....I thought it was pretty good for a cell phone image.

Now that he goes farther than the bus ride to kindergarten, he keeps in good contact with me. We talk on most days. He asks for my opinion, and actually takes my advice once in awhile. I still worry, but not obsessively. He doesn't give me reasons to play out terrible scenarios in my mind....at the moment.

Now he is a man. This sentence does not roll off gracefully: I am the mother of a man.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Yesterday.....

Yesterday was National Chocolate Chip Day. Who knew? Emilee knew. I guess they talked about it at school. This was our conversation at home:

Emilee: Today is National Chocolate Chip Day.

Riley: What is that?

Me: I guess it is the day that the chocolate chips don't have to go to school.

We decided that the best way to celebrate was to eat chocolate chips out of the bag. They are considered health food now, you know.....all those nice antioxidants.....;) No self respecting "oxidant" would come anywhere near my house today!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So Many Questions....

Five year old Riley is full of questions. Usually, I am good with that....

Yesterday though, I was scrambling to put together a quick activity for the church girls. I am supposed to be helping them get ready for their summer camp. My brain and body were occupied with thoughts of ten girls (two of them, my own) and their various camp preparation requirements. I decided that we would do some outdoor cooking, and assemble our first aid kits.

When Riley was questioning me about adhesive tape, moleskin and marshmallows, at least we were on topic. She graduated though to the "why" questions, which get more annoying. Never fear though, I can answer "why" questions. I just knew what was coming next....the awful....the dreaded...."what if" questions. All of my kids know that all my nice momness may well unravel if they get crazy with "what if." I think they also know that I will let them watch tv when they really shouldn't if they push that button. Riley got in an extra episode or two, since I was busy and distracted.

When it was time to take Kaitie and Emilee to piano lessons, I was almost finished getting ready for the activity. As we arrived at the teacher's house, Emilee exclaimed the unthinkable, "I forgot my books!" How does that happen? How do you get into the car for piano lessons, without piano books? Who does that? I was really irritated. I was busy, and I didn't want to spend what little time I had left running back home for books. Sure, there was time. Kaitie has the first lesson, and the drive is not that far. My mood was not good though, and of course, Riley started in on the questions. The bright, shining lightbulb that appeared over my head in the car saved us all....

I told Emilee that she had to stay in the car with me, while I ran home for her books. I told her that she had to answer every question that came out of Riley's mouth all the way home, and all the way back. My bad mood evaporated quickly as Riley fired questions, and Emilee groaned out the answers. It turned hilarious to me. "How much is 90 plus 90," gave way to "How many blocks does it take to make a castle?" I doubt Emilee will forget her books again.

Oh, and the activity turned out well. The girls are sweet and fun. We made a giant cinnamon roll in the Dutch Oven that turned out beautifully. I wish I had taken a picture of it! I'll have to make it again....yeah, so I can get a picture of it. That's why I want to make it again. Honest.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Our Company.....

Our company was here, and is gone. It went by quickly. Our visitors were Jeff's oldest brother, and his wife. I had met her just once before, when I was expecting Riley. They haven't been married much longer than that. It was nice getting a little better acquainted. She seems great, and I can see why he is happy.

Jeff's Oldest Brother has lived many places, and pretty much visited every where else. He is full of stories, and enjoys being the life of the party. In that way he is the perfect company for Jeff....they are comfortable in their roles as The Entertainer, and The Entertained.

Right now, Oldest Brother lives in Kentucky. I have never been there. Kentucky to me, meant a place to eat chicken, or a square that inspired only medium excitement on a Monopoly board. If I thought about it for a minute, I might have asked, "Don't they race horses there or something?" Now I know more. They brought pictures of their acres, and their horses. It looks green, and beautiful.

Last night, they went and took pictures of cactus. I think they would have like the sand dunes too, but their visit was very short. They have been traveling around the west for a couple of weeks now, and are headed back home today. Their trip to our little oasis in the desert was quite a bit out of their way, but it meant a lot to us that they took it.

Jeff's father passed away in 1997. We talked about him a little last night. Riley said she was sad that she didn't get to know him. Her Uncle told her that she would know who he was in heaven, because he would be the one playing horse shoes. Love it. Just when I was thinking that Jeff's brother reminded me a lot of his father, as he gets older, he said to me, "Jeff looks more like Dad now than I have ever seen in him." Love. It.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Guest Author......

Busy today. Company coming later. So I'm going to let Barbara write for me...




"But the last one; the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after--oh, that's love by a different name. She is the babe you hold in your arms for an hour after she's gone to sleep. If you put her down in the crib, she might wake up changed and fly away. So instead you rock by the window, drinking the light from her skin, breathing her exhaled dreams. Your heart bays to the double crescent moons of closed lashes on her cheeks. She's the one you can't put down."

~Barbara Kingsolver (from The Poisonwood Bible)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Break Out the Butter and Honey


This is what I did last Monday, and oddly enough, I think I am going to do it again. I say "oddly enough" because I don't like settling into predictable patterns. This one may be worth it though.....
I actually ground the wheat for these, in a grinder that sounds like jets flying over the fairgrounds. I would feel like the Little Red Hen, except I think I am willing to share....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Could You Help Me? Mom! Please!



This little picture, drawn by Riley has been on my refrigerator for about a month now. She drew it one day, because I was on the phone....ignoring her. Isn't it always the case that kids want your attention the minute you are trying to have a conversation that doesn't involve them!

Riley did get my attention, because I found this request very sweet, and such a reminder of what my job is around here. I'm the one who is supposed to know all the things the kids need to know. I'm supposed to know the homework answers. I'm supposed to know which clothes go well together. I'm supposed to know where the lost things are located. Those things aren't usually so hard.

It gets more difficult knowing how to make the tv work when it doesn't want to, mend hurt feelings, get kids to eat vegetables, and answer the tougher questions. I could spend the rest of the day on this list, and I wouldn't run out of things. There are a lot of things I am supposed to know.

I could get really overwhelmed by this job, but I have to remember I'm the one who is supposed to know all the things the kids need to know. That's not bad. It's not like they need to know everything, and I have been around for awhile....let's not count it up or anything. I'm ahead on the path. I've encountered much of what they will encounter. I can help them with the things I see coming.

This is especially true in my case, because I am also following someone who has paved the way for me. It is a well paved path, because my good mother is ahead of me. My path is much nicer because she has made it that way for me. It is well lit, tidy, flowers are growing.....

Her influence is still pretty important to me.....maybe I should write her a note similar to the one that Riley wrote to me....

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Write in Blog - Check

Oil changed - check

Laundry mountain conquered - check

Package mailed to Ryan - check

Car filled with gas (ouch) - check

Bank deposit - check

Sounds like I was getting ready for something, doesn't it? Well, I was just easing my guilt in advance for this item....

Do nothing but read "The Host" for a day - check.

Don't worry, I won't tell you about it. I will just say that it is a story about love. I will probably write more later, when I figure out how to share my thoughts without giving anything away.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Those Three Words......

Emilee (12) is turning into a young woman before my eyes. I can't believe the little girl who clung hard when it was time to go to kindergarten is about to finish the sixth grade. I have watched her personality and talent unfold over the years, and I really appreciate her unique gifts.

The age of 12 can be a tough one. Sometimes mothers and daughters begin to get in each other's way so much, that they purposely grow apart. Nothing could be further from the truth in this instance. I feel the relationship here growing and strengthening.

Now, you won't really be able to understand this, unless you have been there, but one thing Emilee and I have bonded over, is our anticipation of three of the most important words we share each week:

.

.

.

.

.

.....previously on Lost.....

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Choir Concert

This post needs video, and especially audio, but oh well....

You will just have to take my word for it.

Last night Kaitie (15) had a choir concert. She has adored her choir teacher this year. I love it when my children have role models I feel good about. The adults in their lives make all the difference. My children are fortunate to have some of those amazing other-than-parent adults at school, church and in the extended family.

I have enjoyed the concerts this year. Kaitie is in an all girl choir. They have performed music in various languages, from different cultures, and different centuries. She has developed an appreciation for the beauty of such a variety of music. There is an awesome choir teacher who gets the credit for that.

Last night's concert was a big night for Kaitie....more so than the other ones in the year. She and a very good friend of hers sang the song "For Good," from the musical Wicked. I never heard it practiced, so it was new to me at the concert. I heard plenty ABOUT it.....but not the song itself.

Kaitie sang the "Glinda" part. She did so well. Yes, I am her mom, but that doesn't always mean I see everything she does as perfect. You know how sometimes a perfectly good singing voice gets near a microphone, and in front of an audience, and the voice wanders a bit? That didn't happen. She was on. I will tell you what was wandering....the video camera. It is hard to film something while tears are streaming down your face. Why does that happen? I have tried to identify that emotion. Is it pride? It's not quite that. It's a combination of love, and I don't really know what else. Whatever it is, it really gets me. I was sitting by the mom of the other girl, and so we had to tease each other a little about that trying to film while you cry thing....

Kaitie also accompanied one of the other choirs on the piano for two of their songs. That is more of a "cha ching" moment than an intense emotional moment. Let's just say that she wasn't always excited about the lessons and practicing. It is an incredible parental pay off when your child can see it was worth it. Take my word for this too.....:)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Short Version




Here are a couple of pictures with me and my sisters on the trip. I prefer the top one, since I am safely behind the group.....:)
Words pour out of my heart when I think of my mom and sisters and this trip.....but they don't pour out into the right order. They are just a mess. If I went ahead with it, I would just have to clean it up afterward.
The short version: Each one has my love, respect, and.....my envy in some way. Each one has power to make me laugh and cry.....or both at the same time. Each makes me think in new ways. I am thankful for that.
Because that's how life is, the pieces of myself have scattered far. I can't remember what my whole self is like sometimes, because I don't keep track of me daily. When I am with my mom and sisters, I feel like I find some of those long lost pieces that I really need.........

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My Weekend




I don't know how I got lucky enough to be in this club, but I am. This is a picture of my mom and sisters, who I spent the weekend with in San Diego. We had a great time going to the beach, and doing a little shopping. I loved staying in too, and just catching up.

I have a lot I want to write, but it hasn't come together quite yet. I will just add this. My dad was there for a bit at the beginning, and end. This is what happens when a man enters this type of weekend: (Can you see the title of his book?)




(The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Daughters.....

Sometimes having daughters is almost like having fairy godmothers. It's amazing how they swoop in, to try and solve the important issues in my life.

Yesterday, Kaitie could see an angry zit trying to make an entrance into my world. The screaming neon presence was trying to live front and center on my nose. Last night, I was ushered into Kaitie's bathroom for the emergency application of ProActiv. (The full battle between good and evil was on!) I was told to leave that spot and not wash it off until morning. Emilee was in full agreement. These two girls can get on the same page when the stakes are high enough, you see. You should see them when they go all Stacy and Clinton on me. Certainly I ought to pay more attention to their advice. (Hey, I did get rid of the black, circle dress.)

Riley tried to get in on the advice giving too....


Riley: Mom, try not to get too close to your nose.