Summer Week 5

I’m way behind, y’all.  I gave up on daily chores for the kids after 6 days in, but I’m still not giving up on my pic-a-day idea.  So here’s what I can remember from the last week and a half!

Day 29 Homework

 

 

 

I spent the morning riding the trails at New London again.  It’s sort of refreshing to be so new at something that you experience noticeable growth every time you try again.  Most days I feel like I’m stuck at the same speed when I run, but it’s obvious that I’m getting faster on the bike.  I’m guessing most of that, though, is from the fear subsiding and not really from gaining much fitness.  I’ll take it anyways.

I spent the rest of the day working on homework.  I chose these pictures to remind myself that I really do enjoy the work that I’m doing.  Sure, a few more days at the pool with no deadlines would be great, but I know all of this will be worth it when I eventually step into a full-time role helping teachers teach math better.

Day 30 Carcassonne
After the morning teaching two year old Sunday School, the kids and I headed to Richmond for our yearly staycation at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Chica snapped this picture when we were teaching them how to play Carcassonne.  Bubba pouted through this first game because Grandpa stole his great big ol’ city, but he came back to beat us by one point in the rematch.

Day 31  Bike Riding
On Monday morning Grandma, Bubba, and I left the other two sleeping while we went to Rockwood Park.  They played Pokemon while I ran….and I also happened upon a bunch of RVA rocks.

Later we rode bikes around Grandma’s lake in order to check out the July 4th parade route.   I still pinch myself every time we go out on a bike ride now.  No baby seat, no buggy, no trailer, no training wheels, (almost) no fighting….it’s pretty great.

 

Day 32  Bowling

 

 

 

 

It was crazy hot in Richmond in the beginning of the week, so bowling was at the top of our list of indoor fun things to do.

I chose the second and third pictures here to remind me of Chica’s growth lately.  At one point she got upset during bowling thanks to a brief argument with Bubba and being pretty far behind in points.  She pouted for a short while and then articulated, “I don’t want you to cheer for me unless I look excited”.  In other words, our attempt to encourage her even when she had a mediocre turn was just annoying to her.  That seemed like reasonable request, so we honored it.  And guess what?  She recovered.  Almost instantly.  There was so much joy in the moment I snapped that second picture.  Can you see that Bubba was doing a celebration dance?  🙂  I’m so proud of her for figuring out what she needed and communicating that to us so clearly.  #progress

She nearly lost it again trying to spend her arcade tickets at the junk counter.  Mom-math-teacher was expecting her to do her own mental subtraction to see how much she had left, but she was feeling frantic and refused to think through it.  I tried really hard to stay calm and remind her there was no rush, and she eventually got there….without the phone or paper & pencil.  On another day her overly emotional response would have escalated to the point of me choosing to throw the tickets away and making her walk out without anything.  This time we recovered together, and it didn’t have to come to that.  *Mental note….we need to work on thinking about adding up for subtraction!

Day 33  Independence Day

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve decided it’s more fun to be in a parade than to watch one.  In preparation for my parents’ neighborhood parade, we went to the Dollar Tree and bought every tacky red-white-&-blue decoration imaginable for Jay’s Jeep.  I think the results were pretty awesome.  

I spent the afternoon trying to convince everyone that going to watch fireworks at the fairgrounds would be worth enduring the mobs of people, traffic, and heat.  I was right.  Also, I haven’t figured out any good way to photograph fireworks with an iPhone, but glow sticks look pretty cool!

Day 34 Rock Climbing

In case you missed it, a few months ago I wrote about the disaster that was rock climbing on Chica’s overnight field trip.  She has asked repeatedly since then if we could give it another try, and our RVA Stay-cay seemed like a good time to go.  As anticipated, she got a little weepy when both Bubba and I got higher than her, but she so held it together.  I’m proud of her for trying again!  Bubba actually got stuck at the top and had to be “rescued” on his last climb.  We had lunch at Bottom’s Up after climbing, and Grandma wowed the kids with stories about the time the restaurant was flooded.


Day 35  Bonus Beach Day

 

 

 

 

 

The plan was to go to Kings Dominion on Friday, but the weather forecast just stunk, so we postponed it one day.  Instead we visited Yorktown Beach, a place Grandma had taken them before, but I had never been.  Sand and water without the fear of kids getting swept away by the ocean current is my jam, as Chica would say.

Day 36  Kings Dominion

 

 

 

 

 

Our annual trip to Kings Dominion is easily the most anticipated day of the summer.  However, this trip was super extra special because the kids got to spend the day with their cousin who we haven’t seen in a long time.  They picked up right where they left off and had all the fun.  We were there when the park opened and didn’t leave until it closed!

Day 37 Back to Reality

The transition back to Mom’s rules after a week of Grandma’s rules was a little hard for Bubba this time.  He was convinced I should let him eat the melty Peppermint Patty he found in my van at 10:00 am on the way home, but I was determined that was a no-go.  He preceded to moan and whine like he might die of starvation, even after having two other snacks.  So in desperation (and with quite a bit of sarcasm), I handed him an entire English cucumber that Grandma sent home with us.  “Here.  If you’re really starving, chew on this.”  And he did.  He ate the entire thing, and we’ve been laughing about it ever since.

That night we drove to Nana’s house for dinner with the top down.  Yep….I’m that person wearing a hoodie in the middle of the summer.

We had a great time in Richmond, but man, it was also good to be home!

 

Camping at James River State Park

When Jay and I were dating, we went camping in Florida over winter break.  Most of the details of that trip are gone from my memory, but I do remember one pretty clearly.  We had just finished a really yummy dinner and he asked me, “If we get married, can we keep going camping like this?”  Um….YES!  Six weeks later, he put a ring on it.  Fourteen years and two kids later, we still love camping together.

Friday

Friday we left for our trip to James River State Park.  For dinner that night we had chicken & veggies cooked in foil packs, the same meal that I’m pretty sure convinced Jay he was ready to start talking about marriage 14 years ago.

Saturday

I’ve been counting down the years until Bubba would turn 6, the minimum age for tubing, canoeing, or kayaking at the park.  I ended up deciding to take the kids tubing Saturday morning because I remember enjoying that as a kid.  I just had a whole paragraph typed out about Bubba’s bad attitude during this trip, but I’ve decided I’m not going to let that define my memory.  Instead I’ll choose to remember the rapids that felt big from the water but look tiny from the bank, the magic of watching the bottom of the river zip by you in the shallow parts, and our stop on a sandy island to poke around.  Tubing was just as fun as I had remembered it.

I know Gerry Brooks would not approve of this photo, but I couldn’t help myself.   In the afternoon I took the kids to the Discover Area, a natural playground of sorts.  They played, and I prepared for my upcoming book club in the shade.  I love these slow moments.

 

Saturday night we took a wagon trip to the Tye River Overlook with a park ranger.  (Jay took this shot of us on the ride, and I happen to love it!)  The ranger had an electronic owl call to attract screech owls.  On our third or fourth stop, right about the point that Bubba fell asleep in my lap, we finally got one to respond!  It talked to us from a nearby tree for several minutes, but we never spotted it.  On our last stop we heard both the whinny and bounce calls, and two owls called back and forth to each other.  We joked that we had just helped to make an owl love connection.

Sunday

This day started out the best way…with a run.  I took the Cabell trail, and in keeping with tradition, got slightly lost.  The trail map and markings are great at the park….about 95% of the time.  But when there’s an arrow pointing left and no real trail going left, you just have to make your best guess.

 

The night before, Bubba asked to join me on the morning run, but we all knew that would be fun for like the first 5 minutes.  So I promised him a short run together when I got back.  He turned out to be a much better running partner than expected.  We took the Cabell trail in the opposite direction from what I had just run and figured out where I went off course.  I’m still sticking with the fact that it was a signage error….not mine. 🙂

Later that morning we went to two programs led by the rangers.  We watched Cobb, the corn snake, eat his weekly meal of a tiny thawed out mouse, then both kids held him.  We also learned lots of interesting ways to start a fire, and Chica got to try it out with a magnifying glass.  When I asked the kids at lunch today what their three favorite parts of the weekend were, both of these were mentioned.  I was slightly underwhelmed, but they were enthralled.  Doesn’t it often work that way??

If I’m being honest, I feel like I have a hard time connecting with this one these days.  I’ve written about that a bit, but that feeling keeps nagging at me.  So when she expressed interest in kayaking, I jumped on the opportunity to spend some time just with her.  We rented two boats after lunch on Sunday, and it was everything I hoped it would be.  She was (is) brave and strong and chatty and positive and encouraging.  We docked our boats twice and explored.  At lunch today both of us voted kayaking as our favorite part of the trip.

As if we hadn’t already packed enough into this day, I ended up sending the kids on a scavenger hunt before dinner.  I hid some Dollar Tree toys around the campground with clues, and they rode their bikes to find them.  The hunt was followed by a few (mostly drama free) hours of playing together.

Monday

I was feeling brave this morning, so I decided on a morning bike ride instead of run.  I’m still so green at riding trails.  I picked the longest, easiest trail in the park, the River Trail.  Most of it was a really wide, grassy path, but the end had several super steep downhill sections.  I’ve been reading about taking risks in my math teacher book, and I know risks are how we learn.  So…..I leveled my pedals, stood up, stuck my elbows out and butt back, cried out “Jesus! Jesus!” a few times, and went for it.  I lived to tell about it, y’all.  It was kinda fun.

The rest of the day was just packing up and hot.  Real hot.  The most exciting thing that happened was that we found a black widow spider building an egg sac on the top of our tent, under the rain fly.  I snapped this picture and took a short video before Jay killed it.

 

And finally, a few more pictures just for fun!  I asked Jay to send me a few of his best photos from the weekend.  Apparently he either really likes funny face photos, or that’s all we ever do when he pulls out the camera.

   

 

 

 

Summer Week 1

My typical back to school conversation goes like this:

Friend:  How was your summer?
Me: Great!
Friend:  Did you do anything fun?
Me:  Yes!  We went camping.  We visited my parents in Richmond and went to Kings Dominion.  We swam at the Y.  I took classes.  It went by too fast.

Yes, camping and Kings Dominion are highlights for me, and much of my time will be taken up with grad school, but each summer has so many other small moments worth remembering.  Moments like eating ice cream for dinner and baseball games and bike rides.

So I’ve decided to try to post at least one photo and memory each day this summer.  This way I can look back on August 7th and remember that the summer was more than our two trips and studying.  I fully realize that this plan might go the way of summer chore lists and never make it past the first week, but it can’t hurt to try, right?  So here goes….

Day 1  Last Day of School

The hours and hours of work I put into the end of year video certainly felt worth it when I watched students sing along:

This lovely lady will be a senior next year, and we ran into her at the GO Center picnic.  Michelle taught her in third grade, and I taught her the next year in fourth.  She made such an impression on both of us.  I’ve always known she will accomplish big things in life!  I had another favorite student stop by the day before with her mom, and two more on Friday.  It’s such a gift to watch our students grow up and become the amazing humans that they are.

 

And I got this letter from a current student.  Day made.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 Code Girls

As soon as my semester at VCU ended, I decided to tackle my summer reading list.  Up first was Code Girls because I wanted to hear Dorothy Braden Bruce speak during the Randolph College Reunion.  At 98, she was witty, charming, and fascinating.  My favorite moment was when the interviewer asked her if she was scared to head to Washington to do a job that she knew nothing about.  In a very matter of fact way, she said, “No.”  She felt fully prepared for whatever she might face because of the education she had received at R-MWC.  I certainly knew that feeling, and I think so many of the other women in the room did too.

As an added bonus, I ran into two class of ’03 friends who where enjoying their 15th year reunion.  What a great surprise!

Day 3  Conquer the Cove 25K

 

I spent the first 8 miles with Ruth and Rhonda.  Their company made the miles pass quickly and put me in a good mood.  I didn’t really mean to, but I pulled ahead of Ruth when we hit the long, uphill fire road.  I’ve decided, for now, that I like fire road climbs better than single track climbs.  I think that the hilly downtown run that (the other) Ruth and I do a few mornings each week paid off!  I ate lots of pickles, saw one tiny turtle, tried to run with gratitude, and stayed mostly dry and clean-ish until the last 5 minutes.  Maddy coming up from behind motivated me to keep pushing all the way to the finish.  Being kid-free after the race allowed Jay and I to hang around, cheer for our friends finishing the marathon, and take the long way home.  It was a perfect day.

Day 4 Small Victories

I accomplished something this morning that I’ve been wanting to do for months….I cleaned off our porch.  It had accumulated an unruly collection of toys, tools, and broken junk, and there were weeds climbing up from both sides.  Tonight Jay and I enjoyed the first of many hours of summer porch sitting.

We spent an hour at the YMCA pool this afternoon.  The last time we went, Bubba got up the nerve to try the swim test, but he didn’t pass.  He tried again today and earned the red band, granting him access to their super cool slide!  I’m proud of that kid!!

Day 5 Enchiladas

During the school year I forget how much I like to cook.  We get stuck in a rut of Chic-fil-A, pizza, hamburgers, and waaaay too many Lunchables.  At least for now, while I’m not taking classes, I’m enjoying cooking again.  Last night Chica helped me make chicken piccata, and tonight Bubba helped me with enchiladas.  Neither of them was really a fan of what we cooked, but they’re not a fan of much when it comes to food.

 

 

Day 6 Gifts

This morning when I returned from my morning run, I found some out-of-the-blue gifts in my chair on the porch.  That Jay Proffitt is one smart dude.  He knows I like practical gifts, hence the work gloves and shovels.  He also knows that my enthusiasm for weeding our flowerbeds might last longer if I have the right tools to use.  And finally, he knows I lose stuff….hence the triple pack of gloves.  Love.  For the last few mornings he’s enjoyed his coffee on the porch while I pull weeds.  I think he’s always wanted to keep me company like this when I cook, but I have to concentrate way too much.  Weeding is mindless, so we’ve enjoyed those few cool minutes just chatting before the sun comes up and over the house.

After dinner tonight we went for a one mile walk on the Creekside Trail starting at the Farm Basket.  I think Bubba’s the only one that’s not afraid of the swinging bridge, but he was not so sure about the big sinkhole right before the steps.  I was so thankful that Jay put his video editing work on hold for an evening and came with us!

Day 7 Home

 

 

 

 

This was the first day we didn’t go to the pool at the Y.  I had great intentions of cleaning up and planning for the summer camp sessions I’m leading next week, but it just didn’t happen.  I read a bunch and played Carcassonne with Bubba while Chica played Minecraft.  In the afternoon we invited friends over to play in the sprinkler, and after dinner we rode up to New Covenant to let Chica learn how to get on and off her new to her (and almost too tall) bike.  We got it earlier this week from a Facebook Marketplace post.  She fell that day while trying to stop and scraped up her knees, so she was pretty hesitant to get back on it.  But as you can see in the picture, she got over that today and was thrilled with herself for learning how to stop and work the gears.  Watching them both finally ride confidently makes me so excited for our trip to Damascus in the fall.  It will be our first go at the Creeper Trail with no one being pulled in a buggy!

The kids are spending the night with Nana and Papa, so Jay and I enjoyed the best kind of date at Mr. Goodies.  I didn’t snap a picture, but we both commented like 17 times about how good it was.  I’m pretty sure it tastes even better than normal when you are kid-free. 🙂

 

Spring Mememberies

Chica doesn’t talk about her Memembery Book anymore, but I still think that I need one.  Here’s the spring 2015 edition…

1.  In March, I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.  My time was right under  two hours, and I couldn’t have been more pleased.  Two of my favorite mememberies from that weekend include biking to the start in the dark with Jay and seeing my sweet family on the course twice.  While I was there, I mapped out my racing and training plan for the next six months or so.  I’ve got 4 races on the calendar:  XTERRA Richmond in June, Percival’s Island Five Miler in July, Virginia 10 Miler in September, and the Richmond Marathon in November.  I am SO enjoying the training right now.
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2.  Each year our fourth graders go on an overnight field trip to an outdoor education camp.  This year we tried out a new location, W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center, and we loved it!  We went canoeing, fishing, tried out archery, held snakes, made s’mores by the campfire, practiced using a compass, and learned how to start a fire without matches.  I have three favorite mememberies from our time there….an early morning run with two mommas, playing adults vs. kids soccer, and a hilarious dinner conversation about the birds and the bees chickens and puppies.  Ask me sometime about the unfortunate consequences of having an OB-GYN doc for a mom.  🙂

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3.  Thanks to a too-good-to-pass-up Groupon deal, our family of four took a quick Spring Break trip to DC.  We stayed in Tyson’s Corner and took the Metro into the city two different days.  On our first day there we went to the new air & space museum and visited a friend’s church for his Saturday evening service.  On Sunday we toured the zoo, ate at Hard Rock Cafe, and checked out the Building Museum.  Monday was monument day, and we made quite the trek:  Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.  We ate a very tired lunch at McDonald’s across from the White House then headed home.  A few of my favorite mememberies were watching Chica learn how to read the Metro map, a paper airplane contest in the air & space museum, and the gift from Jay of a free hour to sip sangria and read in the hotel restaurant.

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4.  For her birthday, grandma gifted Chica with a weekend at Mom & Me at Eagle Eyrie.  We met my friend Stephanie and her daughter Gracie there.  Chica had a fabulous time, and I had fun watching her have fun.  I’m not sure what she would offer as her favorite part, but I enjoyed packing shoeboxes, eating ice cream, visiting with Stephanie, and just having a chance to focus on one kid.

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5.  We spent Mother’s Day in Richmond with my mom.  It was delightful.  Saturday morning I got to go on a long trail run on the Buttermilk Trail.  After my run I took several laps around the South of the James Farmer’s Market in Forest Hill Park.  The rest of the time we mostly rested and cooked.  I used this weekend as an excuse to try out two new recipes:  stuffed shells and spinach salad.  They were keepers, and I have repeated both once since that weekend.  A few more mememberies from that weekend include an early morning walk with my mom, fishing with the kids and Grandma on the dock, and a brief photo shoot with Jay. He wanted me to try to capture a new head shot he could use for work and school:

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6.  The other major event for that weekend was applying for college.  What the what!?!  I know….as if two kids, a job, a husband, a house, and marathon training were not enough, I’ve decided to start working on my masters.  Woohoo!  I’m going to working on a M.A. in Mathematics Education (K-6) from Western Governors University.  If all goes well with my admissions interview this week, I start July 1.  I can’t wait, actually.  Here’s my excited-but-whattheheckhaveigotteninto face:
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7.  The very next weekend brought a long awaited visit from my college friend, Sarah-Anne.  She arrived the day of my final SOL, so I was able to take off the next day to spend with her and three other college friends in Richmond.  Perhaps my favorite part of her visit is that life just continued to happen ’round here, and she got to be a part of it.  Doing dishes, packing lunches, going for weekend long runs, hanging out with my momma….it was fun to do all of those things together.  I felt blessed to be able to do Friday kid-free so that I could soak in the sweetness of my friends’ kids instead of worrying about mine.   Also, Saturday morning SAL and I returned to the same farmer’s market from the weekend before.  My mom gave us each $20 to spend, and we eeked every cent out of it…goat cheese, quinoa bowl, ripe strawberries, fresh juice, crepe, homemade granola bar, and snap peas.  Yum.

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8.  We were double blessed with cross country guests that weekend.  Uncle Justin and Aunt Rachel came in from California, and we were able to celebrate the upcoming birth of the latest baby Proffitt.  At some point during the weekend Bubba caught wind of the fact that there was a baby growing in Rachel’s belly and asked, “Can I pet it?”  I think that story is going to get a lot of miles!  Chica and I thoroughly enjoyed the baby shower together.  We so can’t wait to meet Baby Proffitt!

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9.  My kids really rocked their SOL tests.  I am so proud of them.  As promised, they were rewarded with extra recess, popsicles, and the privilege of pieing me.  Here’s the video of me getting pied for your viewing pleasure….

 

10.  And finally, this past week Jay and I treated four fun fourth graders to an afternoon of Science & S’mores.  This was a silent auction idea that we dreamed up for our spring carnival.  We microwaved ivory soap, made everyone’s favorite non-Newtonian fluid, played with snap circuits, attempted a popsicle stick chain reaction, and…best of all…played with dry ice to our hearts’ content.

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Since we never really got the popsicle thing to work at school, we of course had to try it again at home:

 

11.  I was going to stop at 10 mememberies, but I found this picture in my phone as I was looking at others.  It was too good to pass up.  Bubba insisted on wearing his bowtie to school twice this week.  He would have worn it a third day, but he ran out of clean polo shirts.  He’s convinced that button down shirts need neckties, not bowties.  I’m certain he won’t stop asking about it until he gets one.  Funny guy.

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How about you, friends?  What’s your favorite spring memembery?  I hope you’ll leave me a comment and share!

 

 

Two Months of Stories

_MG_3447This sweet guy turned three in November.

I don’t believe in birthday parties with friends and favors anymore.  I tried once, but I seemed to botch everything from the budget to the (lack of) pavilion to the sunburn.  So now Nana reminds me each March and November that there’s a birthday coming up in a week or so, and it’s about time to plan something.  And something always seems to turn out to be dinner and cakes at her house with just us.  I’m so thankful.

Bubba’s only request this time was a piñata.  This request, no doubt, was a direct result of la fiesta fantastica de su amigo Weston a few weeks earlier.  Can I just tell you that Party City has a most impressive assortment of piñatas?  Holy cow…..or pirate or bird or Elmo or….you get the picture.  After wandering the aisles trying to talk myself into spending twenty bucks to buy a cardboard Jake for my kid to decapitate, I finally found the perfect choice….

_MG_3422Not only was it a lot easier for me to stomach the decapitation of this creature, but his remains could serve as a perfect prop the following Monday.  Happy Birthday, Bub!  And Happy Dinovember to me!  : )

P.S. Pro-Parent Tip #1113  No need to buy piñata stuffing candies if you are lucky enough to have a November baby.  Just use the Halloween leftovers.  They’ll never know.

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We had a pre-Thanksgiving weekend getaway with my family at a cabin near Crabtree Falls.  No internet, lots of junk food, and game after game of Blockers at the kitchen table all made for a restful mini vacation.

_MG_3571 My favorite memory from our trip, however, has to be the spontaneous hike that I took with Chica and Grandpa after checking out the frozen creek.  On a whim we decided to explore the hillside that rose behind our cabin.  After a while of up, up, and more up, we could see what appeared to be the top of the hill.  Despite Grandpa’s better judgement, Chica and I just had to see what was on the other side.  When we finally reached it, we discovered a road!  This lead us to a new way back to the house and an exciting adventure story to tell when we returned.

Oh how it will make my mommy heart happy if at least one of my kids grows up to love hiking as much as I do.  This day was a start maybe.

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I think violin teachers have super powers.  My kid, who has only been playing for a matter of weeks, stood up there and played her special part of Jingle Bells, and no one ran away screaming.  It was all pretty magical if you ask me.

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My very literal kid insisted on wearing both red and green for the evening performance because these were Mr. Claytor’s directions.  “He said Christmas colors, and Christmas colors are red and green, Mom!”  Got it, Chica.  Got it.

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Jay went out of town at the beginning of December for his geek work conference.  Whenever I leave town, one of the kids gets sick.  When he leaves, I’m always the one that ends up under the weather. This trip was no exception.  I hurt my back, and after one teary Skype call with my parents, Grandpa was on the way to help me make it through until Jay’s return.

He helped make lunches, took Bubba to school, folded laundry, wrapped presents, and returned library books for me.  But perhaps the most miraculous of all was that I somehow convinced him to agree to put up my Christmas tree.  Wow.

So for weeks it sat in our living room, ornament-less but twinkling proudly with each branch curved just-so in the way that only Grandpas know how to do.  Every few days Chica would remind me that we needed to decorate it, and each time I gave her some lame excuse as to why it wasn’t a good time.  Finally I told her on the Saturday night before Christmas that it wouldn’t happen until the den was clean, and I sarcastically added that she was more than welcome to help me work on it Sunday morning.

Whadaya know?  That kid was up before the sun with her sweet little voice at my bedside, “Mommy, I’m ready to help you clean the den.”  Heart be still….and feet on the floor!  Chop, chop!

So we did it.  She made trip after trip after trip to the sink and Bubba’s room and Mommy’s closet as we put away all the junk that had accumulated at the front door dropping spot for weeks.

Then we were done.  And there was this…

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Mostly Chica did all the work.  I fulfilled my obligation of getting the breakable ornaments sufficiently out of reach, but I let her do everything else.  Bubba lost interest pretty quickly, so the other three of us ended up snuggling on the couch while we encouraged her.

No worries that 3/4 of the ornaments are on the bottom 1/3 of the tree.  No worries that the tacky beaded garland crisscrosses in odd patterns.  No worries that more and more of the ornaments are made from recycled “treasures” like old CDs and toilet paper rolls.  It is just perfect if you ask me.

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And finally…

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Would it be crazy to say that this particular moment might be my most favorite memory of all Christmas break?

The week before, our life group discussed joy.  I must admit that that night I was so mired down and worn out by work funk and the never-ending back pain that I just couldn’t conjure up a memory that I could definitely name joy.  Happiness?  Sure.  Joy?  Not sure.

But this moment?  It was as if Bubba’s pink sleepy cheeks were screaming out to me, “JOY lady!  Right here! Look around you!  Wake up!”

Joy in…
This kid who never tires of snuggles.
That daddy who snuggles back so I could keep doing whatever it was that I was doing.
The other kid reading to herself in the other room.
A husband who folds laundry.
And that same husband who remembers to buy batteries well in advance of Christmas.
A tree strewn with presents that reminded us how to play together again.

But mostly joy in remembering in my core, in that moment, that not one of those things is something that I deserve, something I’ve earned.  Each is a gift from a Creator that loves me in a way that is oh so much deeper and truer than snuggles and folded laundry and batteries.  But He uses those things, the take-your-breath-away pink cheeks, to give us just a little taste.  To remind us.  To wake us up.

May your New Year be filled with moments that whisper or shout or just straight-up declare to you, “JOY!”  And may we together learn how to look and listen.

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P.S. I’m taking a Facebook break, friends.  Mostly it’s about regaining some of the enormous amount of time I waste there.  I’m thinking, though, that less time wasted means more sleep.  And more sleep might mean eyes wider open to watch out for those opportunities for joy.  I’ll try to let you know how it goes.

Good and Ready

I’m sure I’ve written this post before.  This post that boils down to the fact that life with little people moves very slowly and it feels like you may never move on to the next thing.  But then that next thing happens to remind you that time really is moving.  And you wish you could go back to reassure your tired self in the past that it will come, whatever it is.

Well, all of that happened again today, so I hope you’ll grant me the grace to tell the story one more time.

A year ago I was challenged to post a photo a day of something for which I was thankful.  Here’s my post from November 4, 2013:

bike

Day 3: I’m thankful that this time went better than the last time. I’m also thankful for a Daddy that has more patience with the drama than me. : ) 

Can you hear it?  Can you hear that my thankfulness was really frustration in disguise?  For whatever reason I wanted so badly for her to learn to ride that bike.  Because I kept seeing posts of her friends successfully doing the same.  Because I had great visions of us exercising together.  Because I was afraid she would outgrow this bike she chose for herself before she ever learned to ride it.  Whatever the reason, it turned out that the more I wanted it, the more she pushed back that she couldn’t.  And most trips to some flat parking lot for another go at it ended in a silent ride home from all sides.

So I pretty much gave up on the bike and moved on to other pursuits.  Swimming.  Reading.  Getting Bubba out of diapers.   I have a feeling my kids will grow up and tell stories about the unfortunate fate of having a teacher for a mom.  There’s always something to teach ‘round here.

Except for this bike thing?  I didn’t teach her.  She did.  Or maybe Bubba did.  Or perhaps time did.

Two Wednesdays ago I came home from work to find Chica on her bike in the driveway.  Our driveway is actually more like two slightly sloped parking spaces, but this turned out to work to her advantage.  I gather that while Nana and Daddy were busy preparing dinner inside, she pushed that thing to the top corner of our driveway, hopped on, and glided down, just as she had seen Bubba do a million times on his tiny balance bike.  This kid who used to withdraw like a turtle into her shell each time you mentioned the bike, just decided she would get on one day and do it, with no Daddy to catch her and no Mom to cheer her on.

So by the time I got home that Wednesday, she could do it.  And it was fantastic, all 4 seconds from the top of the parking space to the porch.  And I was reminded for the umpteenth time as a mom that they’ll do it, whatever it, is when they’re good and ready.

They’ll quit nursing.
They’ll use a cup instead of a bottle.
They’ll be able to be left alone for more than 5 seconds at a time.
They’ll fall asleep without having to be rocked.
They won’t act like you’re killing them when you drop them off at school.
They’ll wear BIG BOY UNDERWEAR!

When they’re good and ready.

So today as I watched her circle twenty laps around the New Covenant parking lot, first from her side and then from afar, I was reminded about time and good and ready.

When they’re good and ready…

They really will both sleep in their own bed one day from start to finish.
They will be able to dress themselves without help.
They will one day eat more than just PBJ, popcorn, and apples.
There will be no more need for pull-ups on our house, even at night.
Our whole family of four will go on bike rides without buggies or baby seats.

And I bet if I quit pushing and just let time do its thing, those good and readies will come even sooner.


P.S. Talk about time moving slowly.  Today Nana bought a watch for Chica so that she could wear it on violin days and not miss her lesson.  Chica is currently announcing every minute for us:

It’s 8:19.
54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59…
It’s 8:20!  In ten minutes it will be 8:30.

I finished my applesauce, Mom, and it’s 8:21.

Slowly, I tell you.  Slowly.  : )

 

Currently Bubba

IMG_2159   Eating:  Cheese toast, PBJ, craisins, applesauce, vanilla yogurt, goldfish, “Daddy’s cereal” (aka Cracklin’ Oat Bran), and strawberries with whipped cream.  He’ll eat English muffin pizzas these days too, but they must be topped only with sauce and bacon bits.  No cheese allowed.  He also loves Hot Tamales.  Gets it honest, I guess.

Reading:  Before nap he was begging for When Sophie Gets Angry–Really Really Angry.  We got this book and the read-along CD from the library yesterday and listened to it for the first time before bed.  Sophie’s major temper tantrum made for an interesting discussion about good and bad choices over lunch today.  When I wouldn’t let him listen to the book again before nap (I think it was scaring him, and I didn’t want this to prolong nap time), he got really, really angry himself and did a complete reenactment of the book.  Lovely.

IMG_2158Listening:  If he’s in Daddy’s car, it’s the music from Frozen.  In Mommy’s car it’s whatever chapter book on CD that happens to be playing.  Right now–Mary Poppins.  Except that yesterday we heard Mary Poppins in about 20 second spurts.  That’s as long as it took for him to formulate a new question about her, thus forcing us each time to stop the CD again, answer, and try to convince him to just listen.  No luck there.

Singing:  Ten Little Monkeys Swinging From the Tree.  Also, approximately every tenth word when singing along with the Frozen songs.

Watching:  Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Frozen, Mulan, Pocahontas, and Strawberry Shortcake.  Daddy’s not very happy about that last one.

IMG_2137Saying:  This morning I read my Currently Bubba post from a year ago and chuckled at the fact that I was celebrating that he was finally putting two words together.  It took him a while to get there it seems, but he is certainly following Chica in his verboseness.  I couldn’t pick just one, so here are a few of my favorite things he says these days:

corny–This is what he calls any coin.  It’s his own funny cross between coin, penny, and money, I guess, and I can’t bring myself to correct him.  I admit we’ve started calling them cornies too sometimes.

A-duh-LEE–After a long weekend at the lake a few weeks ago, he started copying Grandma’s way of saying his sister’s name.  I don’t think Bubba will understand our explanation about stressing the first and not last syllable any better than Grandma did.  : )

Can you lay w’me for a widdle while?–Man, it’s hard to say no to that cuteness.

I like your wet hair–Every morning after I’ve had my shower, he says this.  I’m still not sure why.

Playing:  The marble game.  Bubba hasn’t figured out how to build with this toy yet, but he’s all about dropping the marbles and watching them roll down.  Daddy originally said he hated this toy because the approximately 347 pieces just ended up all over the floor.  But once I built a run that actually used every single piece (and left none on the floor to step over), Daddy decided he had to get in on the action too.  He totally showed me up with his design stair-stepping off of the end table.

IMG_2149Hoping:  Daddy will buy us another giant bag of Hot Tamales at Sam’s.  (Hint, hint.)

Learning:  To jump and climb….off of and onto everything!  Which means that I’m simultaneously learning to take deep breaths and pray more.