Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer days, gone too soon

With the first full week of school behind us, I thought I'd take a minute to reflect on summer....all two seconds of it. before we're calling it "last summer" and only recalling moments here and there. summer, for my kiddos (because isn't that the best way to experience summer?), looked a little like this....

CARTER is entering first grade. He, like his Momma, is 'grieving' the end of summer with it's wide open days, lazy mornings, time at home, adventures. His summer was full of them - he conquered his fear of "the big slides" at the pool and spent the better part of any time there on them. up & down. up & down. he has endless energy and enthusiasm when he's doing something he's excited about. he lost his first two teeth this summer. brave boy, he didn't so much as flinch when i gave them that final tug. he went to "getting ready for first grade" camp where the numeric value of coins 'clicked' for him. he used his newfound knowledge to add up his Easter egg money and strike a deal with his little brother to combine their savings and go in together for a package of silly bands. he fished with his Daddy and exhibited rare patience. they went to a couple o' Cardinals games together, too. it's a toss up as to which is more exciting - the games or the day after the 6 run games when icees are a quarter. he loves the concept of sharing a love for Cardinals baseball with his father. and that couldn't be sweeter. he 'surfed' on a boogie board on Pawleys Island. he finally got to go to art camp and he loved it. he wants to be a painter when he grows up (apparently they eat lots of snacks). he is proudly learning to read. somewhere in those first weeks he forgot how important it was to be "cool" in kindergarten and became my sweet boy again, opening up more, clamming up less. he loves to make his brother and sister laugh. even when he shouldn't. he is the initiator of house wide fort building. he would play mario kart all day if we let him. he pretends he thinks it's "yucky" and declares it such through laughter when i kiss his sweet cheeks. he asks great questions and prays the sweetest, most heartfelt prayers. Little House on the Prairie has become his "favorite show" as we watched season 5 together, though he would probably deny this if you asked. he is loving The Indian in the Cupboard more than any book i've read to them and spontaneously wonders aloud what Little Bear is up to. he doesn't love school (with the exception of lunch & recess), but my hope is that first grade will change that, even if just a little. he is my boy. my first boy. he is sweet, sensitive, silly and seven.

i adore him.

McKENZIE. our big third grader. didn't our dream of having a baby just come true?! this baby o' ours is growing up so fast. she now understands that we aren't seriously going to put a brick on her head. she loves to read. i love that she loves to read. and she has read some great books this summer - The Hobbit, Aesop's Fables, Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of Nimh and lots n' lots of Nancy Drew. she re-read all of her Ramona books in anticipation of the movie. we are reading 1st Peter together now. she gets excited about going to the library to pick up the books she has on hold. she is alll girl - a girly girl, though not overboard about it. loves her skirts & dresses and styling her own, as well as her american girls hair. at one point, on the way to south carolina in july, i looked back to see her hair in 7 or 8 braids - we laughed, calling it her traveling hair salon. she is independent and authentic. yet, she is stubborn, sensitive & dramatic. she definitely has a flair for drama. i don't know where she gets this. she enjoyed Shakespeare in the Park this year & didn't want to leave when the boys had had enough. she is affectionate and wears her heart on her sleeve. once her mini HP was returned to her (it had been taken away indefinitely), she couldn't get enough of the disney & american girl sites, but would happily switch to pbs in order to gain the company of her littlest brother. she had trouble sleeping the night before going to six flags with a friend as she worried about the big rides. she had a blast and couldn't sleep the next night for being so wired she couldn't stop telling us all about it. she has begun to wash her face at night and feels like such the big girl. she loves to swim - uncoordinated, but a little fish nonetheless. she is an enthusiastic assistant cook. she's big on planning 'parties' and get togethers, all typically complete with a performance of some sort by her. she is an encourager. ever since a third grade girls pool party a few weeks ago, she couldn't wait to get back to school. she loves to learn, being with friends, history, science and DEAR time (lobbying for it to be longer). she grinned ear to ear all the way into the building on the first day. Since buying new soccer cleats last week, she can't wait for soccer to start - i don't know how much that has to do with the game. she enjoyed and took pride in beginning to play the piano this spring, but didn't mind the break from practicing. she'll turn nine in october and wants to go horseback riding. she has asked me, her grandparents & who knows who else for 'fangs' for her birthday.

i adore her.

JOHN THOMAS is a Junior Kindergartener (and will correct you, were you to shorten it to Junior K or, say, JK) and could not be more excited about it. He goes to school every day now - only 'til 11:30, but it's the every day part that's got him over the moon. he is always in character - be it "different batman" (a superhero of his own making, resembling his favorite superhero only in name) or any given star wars character. his friend, Clara, made him a bracelet that he keeps up with & wears on special occasions. he gets frustrated with me when the frequency of the laundry turnover has prevented his batman, toy story or pre-k rocks tee's from being readily available to him. he assures me, however, that he loves me even when he's frustrated. he followed suit and got into this whole silly band craze with his brother & sister. his favorite thing to do with them is to lay them all out and sort them. i don't know where he gets that. he went to VBS for the first time this summer. he dug holes to china in the sand with his brother and his uncle. he refuses to try watermelon. he is crazy about his new roller skates in theory only. he picks out more books than he can carry at the library, drops and picks them up all the way to the front via the movie section, but won't put any back. he, like his father, has a soundtrack playing in his head and the theme to Little House on the Prairie is on a constant reel (as was "Doe a Deer" after seeing Sound of Music at the Muny). he does not care for Little House on the Prairie. he loves to go to the pool and flop around with a noodle tied around his waist, a 'trick' learned during swim lessons. after the first traumatic day of swim lessons, he declared himself a swimmer who did NOT need to go back the next morning. much less every morning for the next 2 weeks. he prefers, even over bare feet, his first pair of flip flops, but cannot keep them on his feet when he walks. he is incredibly proud to be 5 and concludes many a thought with, "because i'm five." he still loves his trains, legos, being read to & dumping everything (every. sinlge. thing.) out of his toy box. he is not a'tall partial to the idea of putting it all back. he adores his older brother and sister, takes his cues from Carter, but is learning to put his foot down. he is a quick learner and oh, so perceptive. he doesn't mind being shuttled around to take McKenzie & Carter to their respective camps, practices, parties. he thanks me for everything from the pockets in his shorts to his lunch or a toy he's playing with. his belly laughs are contagious. he is still my sidekick. and he still holds my hand. voluntarily.

i could just eat him up.

we had such a sweet summer together. i will miss it. i already do....amidst the back and forth, practices, meetings, not really being certain of which end is up or where to be next. but, you know what, that's to be celebrated too. routine is good...and i'm sure eventually we would have wanted it back...? we (all!) love, love, LOVE KDS and are anticipating the growth and learning that will take place in JK, first, and third grades - and beyond. i'm just sayin'...that i'da been okay with another couple o' weeks that included a few lazy mornings, a few more chapters, a couple o' pool days, a slower pace with some family & friends, not so much to n' fro and even a day or two of a little more freedom and a lot less schedule.

sound hedonistic? lazy even? nah, i've just mentioned the good, the noteworthy, skipping the mundane and the struggle to focus on the stories that are a little more fun to tell....and, besides, in retrospect, isn't fun, optimism, awaiting adventure, carefree, all-things-are-possible kind of play what childhood summertimes are made of? I, for one, appreciate the tangible reminder to slow down. enough to see. to hear. the everyday. their everyday - so much more of it than i get to see and experience the rest of the year. and Margie Haack's exortation from one of my favorite publications, to "reroute and arrange summer so you can offer attention to the gracious presence and activity of God. It requires slowing down." I second that. there is what i'll call an "in the moment" kind of awareness that is unique to summer, more easily achieved somehow in the midst of it.

now don't get me wrong - i'm all for being busy about serving and doing. i'm also all about us being better able to do just that after having recharged as we build memories, really watch and listen to what's right in front of us and get to know one another again. enjoy these moments we've been given, capture some of them so that we get to do it again. I watch my kids run wild in the backyard, chasing fireflies, chasing each other and i know what a privilege it is, how incredibly blessed i am to witness the moments that will someday be their memories of summer.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

2512 Houser Road...

The following is an email (posted with permission ;) and only ever so slightly edited...) from my undisputably amazing brother (i have two of those - this is from the youngest)- and, though I considered conveying its news in my own words here, have thought better of it. He expressed it so well, that I can't mess with it and certainly can't capture the feeling of being there as he does. Though it's close to impossible to picture it as 'nothing,' I felt like I was walking with him, laughing and crying simultaneously. Since reading it, I haven't been able to shake the feeling that something significant in/from my life is gone - a part of our story that I would have loved to show my kids (I took McKenzie when she was two...) - to take this same walk with them. But, as he said so well, it's the people that mattered. matter. the people write the story, make the memories and share the same sense of place...a sense of place that remains even if the place itself no longer does.


I felt compelled to write this, I do not know why.

About a week ago I got a message from Whitfield Bailey. It said, 'Did you know your old house is gone? all but the barn'. I did not, but i do now. It's gone baby, gone.

I was in knox this weekend and between trips to Webb, Petro's, Pops house, Long's and Dr. Showalters office (not much different than 1997ish, eh?) I drove out Riverbend (and did not get nauseus, mom) and was nostalgic before i hit Duncan's Boatdock. Every road i passed was a vivid memory of a friend or an event. it was beautiful. It has been further McMansion'ed (Kirbo, i guess not everyone can have a cannonball in their bedroom wall) but it is still beautiful and is definitely still the neighborhood we grew up in. (Sorry, Rotherwood).

Upon passing the Bolt's and the Nacy's(sp?) (and encountering no Snickers-eating dogs w/ saucy old women for owners, Buck, nor did i embark upon a 13-yr-old lil jackrabbit on the wrong side of the road around a blind curve, brother). The barn was intact and as the BR-R-R-R-R of the cattleguard alerted me that i was home (usually, after a comatose-inducing spaghetti dinner at Pero's, or Naples, or The Quarterback) i saw nothing but a hundred feet of pea-gravel driveway and a well. nothing else. no poolhouse, not to mention pool. no greenhouse, nor tennis court. no back deck off mom and dad's room. no apple tree next to the front door. no swing on the non-existent apple tree. no house. i cried. i am about to cry right now.

I walked around in the mud (ruining a pair of shoes, which, as my loved ones, you know, is a big deal for me) and walked in the front door and looked right to the pool room and thought i'd love to beat Andy Eastman in some Horseball...and maybe accidentally break yet another window in there. that chandelier always got in the way of me beating buck at pool.

I took a left and walked through the BLUE ROOM, and laughed at memories of christmas past, touched the original Apple MacIntosh Dad got us for Christmas of 198?. That computer fathered the computer upon which I type now. thanks for gettin us ahead of the curve pop. that green screen hurt my eyes though. I skipped the porch with the ping-pong and wicker furniture and all the liquor that Darin and Marie enjoyed. Bucky and JJ wouldn't let Andy and Justin and Drago Knight get into it but kirb and i weren't so virtuous, Buck. I skipped the laundry room because, well, i got no memories of the laundry room (THANKS MOM!!!!), except for Alyson Bustamante breaking up with me down there and i damn-sure didn't wanna relive that lil pubescent hell.

I took a look thru the lil swingin doors into bucks room but there was a lot of Soccer, Rod Stewart and Kristy George in there and i wanted none of that. Though i almost snuck out Buck's door to avoid the tears streaming down my face but i was worried pop might bust a cap on me upon re-entry....much like buck shot me with the bb gun off that porch (no doubt, it was revenge for the ol' 'brick to the head b/c you threw me off your inch-worm' manuever i pulled 10 years earlier).

The quiet room was not quiet as Kasey Kasem's Top 40 barrelled through Kirby's eternally slammed shut door. i think i went in there like twice. once to shoot or get shot with a BB off the mirror. great move by someone. and another time b/c mom (afraid to enter, i believe) asked me to tell Kirby dinner was ready....i think i got the bird from a permed, benetton model in there. Kirby was the coolest. period. i always wanted to be as cool and social and non-chalant as the teenage Kirby and as aloof and brooding and intimidating (at least to me) as the pre-teenage Bucky.

So there was nothing going on in my messy, pee on the rim, holes in the Confederate flag-adorned wall (irony, much?) or in mom and dads rooms (yes plural, roomS, that bathroom was bigger than my apartment and that backporch would've been used a lot more if any of us were the learners we are now....but there was too much fun to have. we lived in a dream, i'll be damned if ima be readin on a porch when i could be drivin the DINGO though the Paddocks!

I jogged down the brick hallway and hopped the 3 HUGE stairs to the kitchen (great room as Dad calls it) with the well, which is all that still stands, framed in glass to my left. Dad was sitting in the first bar chair, feet in the second, reading, reading. always reading or the office or the Ponderosa (i learned later that somebody had to provide for all this....thank you Dad.) Pop read like Mom slept! long and as often as possible!!!! I think we were having chicken and pasta and french bread, i thought not once about how good it was nor did i thank mom, but i will now: thank you mom, for everything unnoticed and unappreciated. except for being dragged to CS Hudgens and Michael McNealy's and other places that sucked....oh, but you made up for it with a trip to the Bagel-dog place where we watched the SpaceShuttle Columbia explode, or Buddy's.

As i stood in the middle of the kitchen, red couch and wood-burning stove to my left, mom and dad to my right and my whole life in front of me, i dropped to my knees and wept. I realized that the house was gone. forever. i realized then, that the home remained. You 4 were everything and the bricks and mortar and acreage and 'things' were very little. The house i grew up in no longer exists and i am sad. But the reason i am sad, that there was so much life lived and love in that home, make me rise, look upward, Thank God for each of you. I love you. Nick

Monday, February 9, 2009

Meanwhile, in Narnia...

I love...and hate, at the very same time, that my sweet Carterman burst into tears at the white witch's 'triumph'...I watched their faces as much as I could as we approached the end of the chapter and wasn't quite sure if he was following or understood what was about to happen. oh, did he. why did she DO that?!...why would they do that?! at which point I'm crying, too...both for Aslan and for what God is doing in my sweet boy's heart.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


The morning after our fun in the snow, John Thomas ran to the back door to check on "Snowy" and found this....

eyes, mouth, nose and buttons gone, hat fallen and head drooping, Snowy wasn't in good shape - and we're hoping that John Thomas isn't traumatized. Michael, who is typically pretty good at recovering these things, told him that Snowy was praying. This didn't help. at all.

McKenzie has since declared today as 'the best day ever.' Something you should know and may have guessed, especially if you know her, is that each day trumps its predecessor as the 'best day.' example - today trumps yesterday trumps snow trumps spelling bee trumps disney. you get the picture. Today was awesome and I happen to agree with her....for now. After a crazy busy week and a half or so, we spent the day playing games, watchin' a little Saturday mornin' cartoons (they're really not all that anymore...what happened to tom & jerry?...), visiting Narnia, drawing & coloring, doin' some puzzles, cooking, playing star wars (because no day would be complete without Obi-wan and Vader) - with a little laundry and home maintenace thrown in (our front porch, in case you're interested, is 'settling' - and, therefore, in need of caulking and such. I'm not a big fan of settling as, apparently, our back porch/patio had done the same when Ike rolled through town...and, wow, we found out all about the reprecusions of settling when left to itself....sooooo, yeah, we - and by we, I mean Michael - got that all taken care of in anticipation of the next hurricane....) - all with windows and door open to enjoy the amazingly unseasonably warmish, fraudulent weather. It was a good good, much needed day. and we're all WELL...knock on wood. Hope you, too, had a good Saturday!...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Was it worth it?

the 10 minutes o' fun in the snow? we asked this of each other, though we could barely HEAR each other over the wails that literally had me believing someone was suffering from frostbite and i was a horrible mother for taking my kids to play in the snow...for a moment.
seriously, though. they were wailing. First McKenzie, which we ignored (hush, Grannie) initially. It became increasingly difficult to ignore and then there was the possibility that the neighbors would hear the wailing....which is apparently contagious, so John Thomas decides to throw himself into the snow and do the same. Carter is still oblivious and keeps helping Michael and I with the finishing touches of our snowman (whose name, this year, is, appropriately enough, "snowy"...this is after having refreshed everyone's memory on the awesome names of previous snowmen and encouraging them to 'think of somehting creative!'...i got 'snowy'). Carter, who figured he was missing out on something, then decides to join in...though he and John Thomas briefly forgot their misery to admire 'snowy.' we surrendered and headed in only to realize that their little boots were filled with snow and so in 20ish degree temps, their little feet really were, most likely, pretty cold. but, still. I'm thinking that laying in the snow making multiple snow angels almost immediately was not a good idea. lesson learned. so, back to the original question. after upwards of an hour of rifling through clothes in the basement to find "ski bibs" (which McKenzie, literal first born that she is, took issue with, as we were not skiing and she is too old for a"snow suits," bundling the 5 of us and the wailing....the looks of wonder and excitement on their faces, the snow angels, the snowballs, the chasing, the laughing, the sledding, the consumption of the snow (all felt the need to taste it...and it did, in fact, taste just like it did last year, as confirmed by Carter), the snowman....

not quite sure about the thumbless mittens...
and they're off.....
the aforementioned snow angels....
7ish inches!

having recovered - consumed hot chocolate and cookies, taken a warm bath and perched in front o' the fire, McKenzie declared it the "best day ever!" so, yeah, i'd say it was worth it. do I want to do it again tomorrow? not so much.

Friday, January 9, 2009

"God complex"

I write down the funny things these babies o' ours say on sticky notes that are all over the place - the idea being that someday I'll get organized (ha!) and write or type them all out in chronological order for all of us to enjoy in years to come when we can't remember the details of these days....this one, i thought, was worth sharing...

me, as i'm walking by: "whatcha doin' buddy?"
John Thomas, without hesitation: "playing God"

(yes, it's still out...along with the Christmas tree, fully decorated)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

insight from a 5 year old...

Carter, while playing monopoly:

"it's not alllll about money"

you're on to somethin' there, buddy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

what it's all about...

"...While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

"And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace..."

merry Christmas...a little late (much like our "Christmas" cards this year), but merry, merry Christmas, nonetheless!