Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lists, Unrelated

Foods we're cooking right now:

1. Gingersnap cookies with white chocolate drizzle
2. Jalepeno poppers
3. Garlic mashed potatoes

Things the kids had fits about this weekend:

1. Getting dressed
2. Getting in the car
3. The swings at the park being wet
4. Having to wear shoes
5. Their parents leaving
6. Crayons, sharing of
7. The specific bowl in which their macaroni and cheese was being served
8. Having a bath
9. Not having gum

Things my kids do constantly that drive me crazy:

1. Move away from me while I'm helping them dress
2. Move away from me while I'm applying sunscreen
3. Ask me a question to which I've already given an answer
4. Ask for a bite of my food just as I'm getting to the best part that I had saved for the end
5. Slide head-first off the leather chair and ottoman onto the floor
6. Touch poop and dead bugs outside, THEN ask, "Mom, what's this?"

Things I ate at last night's fancy wedding:

1. Eggplant bruschetta
2. Salad with beets, hazlenuts, and goat cheese
3. Halibut
4. Pork tenderloin with fennel
5. New York Strip with potatoes
6. Risotto with tomatoes and basil
7. Raspberry mocha mousse
8. Lemon cheesecake
9. Yes, ALL of that

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Very Good Day

It was pouring this morning, but I hauled myself out of bed and went to meet Sarah to run anyway. The run itself? Actually, pretty great. The rest of the day, too. Jason made me a latte before he left for work. I packed the girls up for a very successful Target trip and we came straight home to have a fashion show and play with new art supplies. I set their easel up outside, where it had stopped raining, and they were happy until lunch time.

Post-naps, we walked to Jersey Junction and all shared a big orange shake concoction that Annie chose. Jason was working late, so why not ruin dinner with ice cream? Later on, while we were hanging with neighbors in the front yard, Annie and Wyatt asked again if they could ride around the block together. We wished them well. A minute later, another neighbor came driving in from the direction Annie and Wyatt had gone. She pulled her car over to tell me that she had just seen the two of them around the corner, Annie hopping off her bike to give Wyatt a little push after he had stalled out, then hopping back on her bike so they could pedal next to each other. I would give a lot of money to hear the conversations taking place between the two of them during the three minutes it takes to pedal back to our driveway. I love to know that, even when I'm not there to see it, she does the thing that makes me proud.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

Sarah's Sea Salt, available locally at Art of the Table, and divine on anything having to do with fresh tomatoes, which we luckily enjoy fresh from our garden almost daily.

My new lamp, a girls' weekend purchase from a new-ish antiques store in Holland called Found.

The coffee table, also from Found, that I saw that weekend, didn't buy, and later went back specifically to purchase. I love the way it's modding up our living room. (Is modding a word? I don't think so.)

The Franco Sarto wedge espadrilles I found for $29.99 at Vintage to Vogue in Petoskey last weekend. Quick! I need an occasion for wearing them before summer is over!

Lastly, agua fresca, a fun summer drink I whipped up today to use up the rest of our CSA cucumbers for the week. The girls and I drank some outside, neighbors wandered over to play in the yard, and I finished the day eating grilled flank steak with Jason, still in my bathing suit from the pool this morning. Not a bad day, at all.

Cucumber Agua Fresca, Bon Appetit September 2009 (I halved the recipe, left out the chile)

2.5 c sugar
2.5 c water
2.5 lbs cucumbers, peeled, coarsely chopped, plus 8 thin slices for garnish
1 c fresh lime juice, plus 8 lime slices for garnish
1 serrano chile, seeded, chopped
1 t. salt
fresh mint sprigs
ice cubes

Stir sugar and water in large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, bring to boil. Let cool or chill. Working in batches, puree cucumbers lime juice, chile, salt and 2 c. simple syrup in blender until smooth. Strain puree into large pitcher or bowl. Mix in 8 c. water. Cover and chill.

Add cucumber slices, lime slices, and mint sprigs to pitcher of chilled agua fresca. Place ice cubes in each glass, fill with agua fresca, and serve.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Love is a Mix Tape

My two favorite quotes from the memoir "Love is a Mix Tape" by Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield:

I suddenly realized how much being a husband was about fear: fear of not being able to keep somebody safe, of not being able to protect somebody from all the bad stuff you want to protect them from. Knowing they have more tears in them than you will be able to keep them from crying. I realized that she had seen me fail, and that she was the person I was going to be failing in front of for the rest of my life. It was just a little failure, but it promised bigger failures to come. Additional ones, anyway. But that's who your wife is, the person you fail in front of. Love is so confusing, there's no peace of mind.

(I think it works even better, somehow, when you substitute "parent" for "husband" and "child" for "wife.")

Human benevolence is totally unfair. We don't live in a kind or generous world, yet we are kind and generous. We know the universe is out to burn us, and it gets us all the way it got her, but we don't burn each other, not always. We are kind people in an unkind world, to paraphrase Wallace Stevens. How do you pretend you don't know about it, after you see it? How do you go back to acting like you don't need it? How do you even the score and walk off a free man? You can't.

And now on to Mrs. Dalloway, which is a little more challenging as the bedtime reading goes . . .

A Few Days Off

The girls were up north at the grandparent's from Monday through Thursday last week, drinking great quantities of juice, watching SpongeBob, playing with their cousins, and generally doing lots of things they don't usually get to do at home. It was obviously quiet without them here, and of course I missed them, but I also got a lot done, both from my never-ending "to-do list" and from a mental recharge perspective. I organized almost a year's worth of photos, got a lot of writing done, went to yoga, laid by the pool, did some birthday and school clothes shopping, researched our upcoming vacations, hosted a Shaklee party, spontaneously drove to Holland to purchase a new coffee table, and cleaned the house. Jason had to work every day, but in the evenings he and I went running together, rented and watched some of the first season of 30 Rock, rearranged the living room, walked to get ice cream, and drank beer at Logan's Alley.

We headed up to get them on Thursday night and took the long way so we could sneak in a stop at one of our favorite spots, Sleeping Bear Dunes. It rained off and on the whole way there and we spied a little snippet of a rainbow over Crystal Lake just before we got to the dunes. We arrived as the sun was sinking behind a cloud on the horizon and the view was breathtaking. We had planned to run down the 400-some-foot dune (and climb back up), but it was windy and freezing and looking like it might rain again, so we went and had dinner at Art's Tavern instead. Cozy bar, couple of beers, grilled cheese with bacon and some whitefish = not a bad way to end an evening together.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One Minute at a Time

Barbara Kingsolver writes, in a letter to her teenage daughter, "When I was pregnant with you, I read every book I could find on how to handle all things from diaper rash to warning lectures on sexually transmitted diseases. I became so appalled by the size of the task that I put my hands on my belly and thought, Oh Lord, can we just back up? But the minute you were born I looked at your hungry, squinched little face and got it: We do this thing one minute at a time. We'll never have to handle diaper rash and the sex lecture in the same day. My most important work will change from year to year, and I'll have time to figure it out. At first I was just Milk Central, then tiptoe walking coach and tea-party referee. Eventually I began to see that the common denominator, especially as mother of a girl child, was to protect and value every part of your personality and will, even when it differed from mine."

Since May, I've been spending at least part of every day - sometimes minutes, sometime literally hours - fretting, researching, talking, asking, wondering What To Do about Annie's school situation next year. I had a gut feeling, and then I had other people's opinions. They were in direct opposition. Eventually, after months of more fretting, researching, talking, asking, and wondering, I went with the expert opinion and requested young fives. About a week later, that choice was revealed to no longer exist for us.

Not usually one to rock the boat, I wanted to be sure that we explored every possible avenue. I wrote a letter to the superintendent. It went like this:

Dear Dr. S.,

I am writing to ask for your assistance in placing my daughter, Annie, in L. Elementary’s Young Fives program for the 2009-2010 school year.

When I submitted Annie’s paperwork this spring, my husband and I were still unsure if she should be in kindergarten or Y5’s this fall, as her birthday is September 11 and her pre-school teachers had not given a strong recommendation either way. I filled out the social/emotional questionnaire, and, when I turned it in, specifically asked whether someone would be following up with me before the formal placement was made. I was told that I would be called.

In the meantime, I did some more research, and we decided that we preferred Y5’s for Annie, a preference I would have shared during that phone call. No call ever came; instead, we received Annie’s placement in morning kindergarten at L in the mail in June.

I called (principal) to discuss the placement. P was incredibly warm and gracious when we connected via phone. She explained that the process had been streamlined this year, apologized for the lack of communication, and encouraged me to consider the kindergarten placement. We agreed that I would take some time to think about it, follow up with her pre-school teacher again to get her opinion, and let P know our decision. P indicated that I could call her any time before the class lists came out in late August to switch her to Y5’s, and at no time was there any suggestion that this placement would be anywhere other than at L Elementary. In fact, she indicated that if the placement (either way) appeared inappropriate a few weeks or months into the school year, we could move her – an option that would obviously be a last resort, but one that was comforting to me as a first-time parent in the district.

In early August, I e-mailed P and left her a voicemail message saying that, after more thought, we remained most comfortable with our initial decision to place Annie in Young Fives. P called me the following week to tell me that, because of a miscommunication and some district-wide changes in procedure this year, there were no remaining Y5 spots at L Elementary and that Annie’s options were to retain the kindergarten placement at Lakeside or to switch to Y5’s at school B in the afternoons.

My husband and I would strongly prefer that Annie be able to participate in Young Fives at L Elementary, her home school. This has been a very difficult decision for us, and we don’t believe that starting her at one school, then switching to another a year from now would be in her best interest. Already, the great majority of her pre-school friends and neighbors will be entering kindergarten; we would hate to compound the sense of separation by having her at a different school and then having to re-acclimate to another group of children and a new environment next fall.

I realize that the L Elementary Young Fives class is technically full, and, as a former educator, I support the goal of small class size. I also hope that, in the interest of doing what is best for our daughter and because of the miscommunications that have accompanied this placement, an exception can be made in these circumstances to allow Annie to attend L Young Fives this fall.

We chose to move to (city) specifically because of its reputation for excellence in education and we very much look forward to investing our time and energy in making it a wonderful environment for our children to learn and grow. Dr. P has been nothing short of wonderful in all our interactions and we are heartened to know that our daughter will be in such a caring environment.

Thank you in advance for your careful consideration of this matter.

This letter resulted in a phone conversation with Dr. S., who was kind and understanding, but unwilling to change the placement. So, as of this morning, Annie will officially be entering kindergarten this fall.

I remember saying several times over the course of this process, "I wish someone would just make this decision for me." And now, someone has. I have always been someone who is able to see all sides of an issue, and while I like to think this is a good trait, it makes me one of the worst decision-makers I know. I have spent hours lying awake at 2:00 a.m., extrapolating the trajectory of each scenario out five, ten, twenty years, and imagining all sorts of consequences to either placement. I have cried - more than once - because this is perhaps the first time I've had to make a big decision about What To Do for one of my children and sincerely not known the "right" answer. (Annie, if you are ever tempted to accuse me of "not caring" or "not loving you," please tally up the sheer number of hours I have spent on this one issue alone and, you know, maybe take me out to lunch or something. And woe to you if you, someday, give birth to a child born during a month of less-than-obvious school placement, which it is traditional for women in our family to do, as you are the fourth generation first-born girl with a fall birthday. Who, by the way, have all gone to school "young," all prospered there, and all shown a propensity for languages, so keep this in mind when choosing your college major.)

We are cautiously optimistic. I was talking with some friends last night. One woman, who doesn't know Annie, asked, "Is she precocious?" I nodded affirmatively. "She'll be fine." I look at Annie, at all she can do, at how well she advocates for herself, at how insatiably curious she is, at how determined she can be, and I think she will.

I think about my gut feeling and about the fact that the only times I can remember going against it resulted in 1. Our moving to and buying a house in South Haven (which we put on the market and decided to leave less than a year later), and 2. Spelling Jemma's name with a "J" rather than a "G," which is another thing I still question sometimes in those middle-of-the-night insomnia fests.

I think about how, though this process, I have learned to advocate more for my kids, something I have to push myself to do, because it's not in my nature to question authority or to have those awkward, uncomfortable conversations. I am not the type of person who calls the school principal or who writes to the superintendent, but I found that, when my child's best interest was at stake, I didn't much care about being labeled as a pain in the ass. I've been inspired, in part, by my friend Heather, who just had to go through a few scary months of medical issues with her baby girl and who modeled the kind of intelligent, reasoned advocacy to which I am still aspiring.

So, three weeks from yesterday, we'll walk our brave little kindergartener down the street to the place that will be her school for the next six years. (Or seven, because my feeling is, if kindergarten doesn't go well this year, we'll just do it again next year.) I can't even imagine all the things she's going to learn, all the experiences she's going to have, all the ways she's going to grow and change. When I think about it, I get a little knot in the pit of my stomach, especially knowing that I'm not going to BE THERE right next to her every moment of every day. But I am trying to take it, as Barbara Kingsolver said, "one minute at a time." I am trying to value her personality and her will, let go a little more, do less protecting and more trusting, marvel at her abilities, be worthy of her.

Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michaelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.
 -Pablo Casals

Monday, August 17, 2009

(Trying to) Get Away From It All

Last week Wednesday morning, I bribed the girls with two episodes of Little Bear while I frantically packed up everything I thought we might need for half a week at the cottage. By 10:30, we were on the road. We stopped at my parent's for lunch, and my mom read Snow White to the girls on the couch before we drove the rest of the way. The weather was sunny and 80, and I had high hopes for skipping naps, spending hours at the beach with the girls, putting them to bed at night all tired and happy, and drinking a glass of wine on my deck, maybe even getting a little writing done.

But the girls played in the water for twenty minutes, and then they were cooooooooold. They wanted to play on the mooooooooonkeeeeeeey baaaaaaaars. They wanted to "fing." They were huuuuuuuungry. So packed us back up (towels, chair, sand toys, sunscreen, crocs, beach bag) and we went into town to pick up some pizza. While we were waiting for it to be done, we spied a new candy store, and I let the girls fill a plastic baggie with mix-and-match Jelly Bellys for later. We went back to the cottage, ate our dinner, tried one of each color jelly bean, played on the swing set. I did the bath/brush teeth/story/song routine, kissed each of them good-night, shut their doors, and went into my room to change out of my bathing suit.

Suddenly, there's Jemma, standing quietly and casually behind me as I step into my yoga pants. "I vant to sleep in your bed," she says. She has climbed out of her Pack N Play - for the first time ever - and she refuses to go back in her room. There is a mattress on the floor of her bedroom, too, and she wants to sleep there, in "a big-girl bed." Wait, she wants ME to sleep there. Wait, she wants me to "snuggle her" on that mattress. I lie down with her for a minute, stroke her back, sing her the night-night song again, and try to leave.

She throws a fit. I try to make her understand that it is Time For Bed, that big girls STAY in their big-girl beds, but she's having none of it. She's following me out of her room every time I try to walk away calmly. She's making so much noise that Annie starts yelling from her room. "Mom! Make her stop! I can't get to sleep!"

At one point, I settle Jemma in the Pack N Play, then dash back to my room and fake sleeping in my bed, hoping that Jemma will come in, see me "asleep" and conclude that there is nothing left to do but go to sleep herself. Instead, she comes in, sees me, and goes back to her room to retrieve her big blanket, which she lies down with on the wood floor of my room.

I end up lying with her in her room until she falls asleep, which is completely against every sleep philosophy I've ever followed, mostly because I imagine it must be confusing and alarming to fall asleep with your mommy beside you, then wake up hours later to an empty room.

By 8:30, I am on the deck, cracking open a beer and checking my voicemail. It contains a message from the parks and recreation coordinator, informing me that the rooms I booked for Annie's birthday party (for which invitations have already been mailed) may not indeed be available, sorry for the mistake, call her back and let her know what I want to do.

While I'm pondering this, my phone rings and it's the principal of Annie's school for the fall, informing me that, even though she herself assured me earlier this summer that I could call her anytime up to when the class lists came out at the end of August with our request for Young Fives, now that I have actually done so, she is sorry to tell me that there are not any spots left at Annie's school. Our choices now appear to be kindergarten at Annie's school, or young fives at another school. In the afternoons. She is apologetic and patient with my distress, but I have to get her off the phone as quickly as possible, because I am about to start crying.

By the time I get ahold of Jason (who's still in GR with the rest of the week left to work), I'm crying so hard that he later tells me he was afraid someone had died. We have a tearful, inconclusive conversation that ends with me wailing, "I just don't want to make a bad decision for Annie." My back hurts, my mind is spinning, I still have my bathing suit top on. I can't fall asleep that night until after midnight.

The week improves. On Thursday, I take them to the park. We have a better time at the beach. I ruin their dinner with ice cream, which turns Jemma's face completely bright blue. Jason comes eventually, and the weather remains glorious. We pick glorious peaches at Crane's, dig giant holes in the sand, and spend the most time actually swimming in the 70-plus-degree water than I can remember. The Chandlers come down for the day on Saturday, and all the girls get along fabulously. We stop for dinner at the Saugatuck Brewery on the way home, and Jemma dips her finger in Jason's beer. We come home late Saturday night, happy to be back in our own beds, crossing our fingers that Jemma stays in her crib (and her room) better here than there.

On Sunday, we wake up late and take stock of the mountains of vegetables languishing in our fridge, some from our CSA, some from our own garden. We make up a menu and start cooking at 11:00 a.m.; we call all our neighbors and tell them to come over late afternoon, to not bring anything but their forks and their appetites. There is zucchini bread, grilled vegetable salad, asian chicken and vegetables, greens sauteed with bacon, cheesy potatoes, pasta with pesto, and peach cobbler.

My sweet pipe dream of getting away from it all didn't quite come true. Turns out, my little crises followed me there. Turns out, I guess I am that parent, the one who appeals to the district superintendent when things don't turn out the right way for her child (wrote a letter; waiting to hear). Turns out, one of the best parts of our beach getaway was the coming back, the community in our front yard at 5:00 last night gathering around good food and great people.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Little Leaps of Faith

It is August 10. A month from now, Annie will have started school and will be on the eve of turning five years old. I picked up the phone last week, after literally months of torturing myself over the decision, and put in our request for her to be put in Young Fives instead of kindergarten. As I dialed the phone, I could hear my heart pounding in my chest. I felt like this was the first big decision I've had to make as a parent, and I'm still not entirely sure we made the right call. I think - I hope - I'll finally feel that way a few months from now, around Thanksgiving, maybe, when she's happy in her classroom and giddy with new friends and in love with her teacher. If and when that happens, I'll breathe a sigh of relief. Until then, I notice every day how much bigger and more capable she's getting.

Also last week, she asked if she could ride her bike around the block all by herself. Now, she asked to do this once at the beginning of the summer, and I said no. But we bike almost every day now, she's been to Safety Town, and she's great about watching for cars backing out of driveways, which is really the only danger in this scenario, since it's all right turns with no street-crossing involved. So when she asked again, two months later, I said yes. Still, I was a little nervous and a lot glad that her next-door buddy Wyatt wanted to go, too. They strapped their little helmets on and pushed off, pedaling slowly down the sidewalk next to each other, looking for all the world like a little old married couple. Wyatt's dad and I raised our eyebrows, shrugged our shoulders, and craned our necks anxiously to watch for them to ride around the curve, back into view. They did, giggling because they had ridden under a sprinkler and gotten very wet.

I'm back from an abbreviated Girls' Weekend with my best college friends, and I'm renewed by the knowledge that this parenting gig isn't work I have to do alone. I'm also reminded that I get to take time to nourish my other relationships - you know, the adult ones? With people who knew me before I was someone's mother and someone's wife? I'm tired (staying up until 3:00 a.m. was perhaps not our best choice), but grateful for the constancy of friends who encourage, who are honest, who make you buy a throw pillow and a new lamp because they know how it will look in your house, who can talk to you about things other than diapers and strollers. Sitting on the beach in the sunshine yesterday, magazine in hand, I missed Annie and Jemma fiercely, but I also hoped for them that they'll find friends like these one day.

This week, we have virtually no plans. I flipped the calendar over on Sunday and saw only blank space staring at me, thought, what do I want to do with this hot and sunny summer week? Never again will they be two and four; probably never again will we be this unscheduled. Today, we biked around and delivered Annie's birthday party invitations, went to the track to run, cooked a big pot of soup to use up some chard (I'm freezing it, and it will be perfect for an easy fall dinner), colored, played dress-up, and ate fresh raspberries from their grandparent's garden. Tomorrow, we might hit the pool, and then I'm thinking about taking them to the cottage for the rest of the week. If the weather holds, I'm eager to cram in a few more days at the beach before this summer is truly over.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Saw this recently and liked it, especially the first half.:

The people I know who are happiest seem to protect their time and space. In other words, they don't spend a lot of time doing things that they don't want to do, or being with people they don't want to be with. They also say what they mean and mean what they say. The unhappiest are those who are blaming others for their woes and can't seem to shake off being bitter about a wrong that was done to them. Karen Leland


Found this again, and needed the reminder:

..but the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three on them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4, and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in a hurry to get on to the next things: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
 Anna Quindlen


Asked Jemma what kind of donut she wanted the other day:

"Farkle." Which is how she says "sparkle," which means "sprinkle."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bedtime Dramatics

Jemma took a longish nap yesterday afternoon, and when we put her to bed just before 8:00 last night, I could tell she wasn't really tired. Within five minutes, she was calling for us, asking for one more drink, then calling again two minutes later. When I went in, she looked up at me with those huge blue eyes and I caved.

"You aren't really tired, are you?" I asked. She shook her head no. I decided to indulge her.

"Do you want to go running with me?" I asked. She shook her head yes. So I popped her in the jogging stroller and we took off for a quick run around town. She was in awe of all the things that were going on when she's usually tucked in her crib, and when we got home, she gave me a hug and went straight to bed.

I sat down to do some editing on the couch and typed away merrily for almost an hour with no sign of Jemma. Then, around 9:30 p.m., she started saying something from her room, sounding VERY wide-awake and alert. What? Had she never gone to sleep? Was she STILL awake in there?

I went to listen to what she was saying. "Daddyyyyyyyyy, my toe is stuck in my big doop! Dadddyyyyyyyyy, I need you!" Pause for a minute. "Moooommmmmmyyyyyy, I need you!!!!"

I stood outside her room for a minute, trying to ignore, trying to keep from going in there. Then she said sweetly, clearly, "I am WAITING for you!"

And I went in. And her toenail had torn the tiniest bit and was catching on her big knit blanket. And I cut it, and then she finally. went. to. sleep. At nearly 10:00 p.m. And was a REAL TREAT today.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rest Time

Though Annie hardly ever naps anymore, she still goes into her room every day for "rest time." She has her books, her dolls, animals, Polly Pockets, and a few safe art supplies. She is surprisingly good about it and will stay in there for an hour or more. Here is a little photo gallery of what she's up to when she's not sleeping or "dooping" (stroking her face with her blanket). Yesterday, she jammed several of her books into her dresser drawers and, when we went in to get her, informed us that it was "a bookstore. Do you want to buy a book?"

Here, she methodically took down all the art projects we'd displayed on her wall with cute Land of Nod clothespins and hung up a Groovy Girl doll, a bathing suit, a My Little Pony necklace, a leather coin purse she loves, her nametag from last year's Sunday School, and her medal from last year's Kid's Marathon. This, too, was "a store."

This bear apparently needed polar bear jammies and a blanket to sleep.

We don't even know what is going on here, but there is clearly a dog theme. The large, pink dog is wearing a girl's 4T knit sweater vest, in case it's hard to tell.

Each wearing her own set of Annie's actual pajamas, left to right we have Gracie, Lily, Dinah, Chicky Baby, and Edie.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Weekend at Home

We managed to stay put this weekend, and we're so glad we did. Among other things, we hit the pool twice, worked out, cooked up a bunch of good food and ate dinner outside, went to the farmer's market, rode bikes, went to church and walked to get donuts afterwards, and played guitar and had a dance party in the kitchen.

Jemma is in a diaper because Jemma prefers to wear one, single, old, ugly, stained "pink light" dress, and when that dress is dirty, it is like delicate hostage negotiations (bribery, distraction, constant stream of reassuring chatter interspersed with stern threats) to get her to wear something else. Sometimes I have the energy for it, sometimes I don't. (And when I do, the neighbors have fully admitted to hearing the screaming that ensues.)

The dance party/singing session was, in hindsight, good preparation for our night on Saturday. We made last-minute plans to meet friends for dinner (the babysitter stars were aligned), which turned into going to a second bar, which turned into going to yet a third location at 11:30 p.m. That third location would be a former Pizza Hut which is now a karaoke bar. Of course it is. So, what with the Pasty Cline and the David Gray and the Bon Jovi, we didn't get home until around 1:00 a.m., resulting in a very groggy morning and a fun new friendship and a feeling that the spontaneous things we do are almost always the best.

Sometimes (see photo near top) you're having the best time at the pool, laughing, swimming with your dad, blowing your bubbles. Then, minutes later, you are FURIOUS because when you got out (for the second time that afternoon), your towel was WET and how dare it be WET and you must throw it to the ground and demand a new, fresh towel for every exit from the pool.

Sometimes I think one of the big mysteries of parenting is how you can have the best, most perfect, dance-party moments with your kids on the very same day that you have the worst, most frustrating, storm-out-of-the-house-to-escape-the-yelling-and-speed-walk-around-the-lake-when-your-husband-gets-home moments. But, clearly, we learn it at a very young age.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bride at Rest

I open your door slowly
and find you sprawled on your bed,
eyes closed,
surely dreaming of high-heel shoes and bouquets,
your white wedding dress on top of rosebud sheets,
your old pink blanket snuggled near your face.

I can't resist;
I get the camera,
and I wake you up with its flashes,
I giggle at you,
I smell your round Baby Annie cheeks
while they are still.

And even though you are not one for cuddling
(and neither am I),
I climb into your bed,
get tangled in your long legs,
and stroke your lovely hair as you wake up
because I can't resist that,