The day we ripped up the carpet and put in wood floors, I let the girls “decorate” the carpet with markers. I might have joined in. How cathartic! Quite possibly their favorite art day EVER.
Note to self: before we move into the new house, throw away our markers…
Tags: The Girls
Thank you so much for you supportive comments today. What a huge ray of sunshine you’all are! As tough as this eternal winter has been (on everyone! you included!), there have been moments of levity. And by “moments of levity”, I mean, “Kelly makes me laugh until I pee my pants”. Sometimes she knows she’s being funny, and sometimes she’s just quirky. And sometimes she cries for days, because she’s very good at being 6. But what I love most about Kelly is she never lets you see it coming. I LOVE being surprised.
Kelly was assigned a project to be done at school during her Health & Nutrition Unit. She had to make a 4-day menu. I can’t tell if she was being funny, or just? Adventuresome? This kid would eat Mac N Cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so I’m pretty sure she was going for the A+ when she stated she’d like “Camel” for lunch with a side of “Duck”. It goes well with cheese tortellini and peaches. And eggs. And yogurt. And snow peas.
I couldn’t stifle my screams of laughter when I flipped through this project and saw she’d like to have Bighorn Sheep and Grits for dinner. The pizza and cornbread as side dishes only added to my joy. Cornbread. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.
Artichokes, peas, and tuna would be a healthy snack? Far different from the grapes, cheese, and crackers I gave her today. Geez Momma, spice it up a little, would ya’? EVERYBODY ELSE gets to have artichokes for their afternoon snack!
Day #3 included her usual: broccoli, yogurt, cheese, a taco, a roll, and…um? What am I forgetting? YES, she loves to have EEL with her dinner. We culinary Hoosiers…known for our sweet corn and eel. Delish. This one is my fault. The girls know I ate eel several times in Asia, and they love a particularly funny story about the time I was attacked by eels on our honeymoon. I was in Mexico at the time, so I guess it makes sense to make eel tacos?
After a good, deep belly-laugh (and ingesting Kelly’s grade, which wasn’t horrible, but wasn’t her top performance…hmm…perhaps next time she’s asked to make a 4 day menu, she shouldn’t stop at Day #3? But then again, after looking at her work, I’m assuming she was FULL), we sat down to watch a few minutes of “Les Miserables”. I’m carefully skipping around, showing them the more gentle scenes, introducing them to the songs, the characters, and Victor Hugo’s plot. Kelly is not one for complex plots, even though she can 7-degree with the best of them:
Kelly: I don’t want to watch Les Mis. I don’t understand it. Well, I kind of understand it. I don’t understand what they’re saying, but I can watch their faces and figure out what’s going on.
Sara: Kelly, let me make it really simple for you: Les Mis is just like “High School Musical”…for adults. It’s the adult version of “High School Musical”. The only difference in Les Mis, is the bad guy jumps in a aqueduct and dies.
There you have it. My children have a full, culturally-enriched education. They know how to pair their pasture-based proteins with grains, and they are the best critical evaluators of classical literature I’ve ever met. Had Javert only sung, “For so it is written, on the DOORWAY to PARADISE…”, while singing and dancing with his friends on a basketball court, Sara’s analogy would have been spot on. Well, that, and Gabriella Montez would have to be a dead prostitute…but let’s not split fine hairs.
Happy Weekending! And Bon Appetit!
Tags: The Girls
2014 has almost stolen my voice. My friends and I have time for two things, and two things only: we are either laughing or crying, but we waste little time on idle chit-chat. Waxing over coffee about the minutiae of our days will have to wait. If there is one thing this year has made clear: there is simply not enough time. I have friends, acquaintances…you name it: some fighting for years, some for months, some for weeks, and some for hours. Cancer waits for no one, and sometimes the answers to our prayers are not what we had in mind.
In the midst of the madness 2014 has rained upon us, Sara has fought an evil as well. It seems her personal tagline is destined to be: “there is always one more thing”. I may have mentioned her latest struggle with an autoimmune skin disorder called Lichens Sclerosis. A better name would be “the rash from hell that scars like a spiderweb and breaks skin down into infected ulcers”. I’m a critical care nurse, and I’ve never seen anything quite so pernicious and nasty. The stress of the pain and itching brought on migraines. It’s been an extremely trying illness that has lasted for months, the earliest symptoms lasting well past a year. Luckily, just at the turn of the year, it morphed into a form that was diagnosable, and she is probably a month from remission. Which still includes medications, but not so many that I have to keep a chart on the fridge. The best news is that Sara’s skin has healed, and while still raw and prone to infection, she’s in no pain and has no itching. The migraines have moved from a daily onslaught to clusters, and seem to be dissipating with stress-management and diet changes. The bad skin she got from me. The migraines she got from Daddy.
But the grace to endure, she got from God.
It was just today this word came to me: endure. I have struggled to make any sense of 2014, and the ever-growing list of things I cannot control. I heard the word “endure” this morning, and like ribbons descending onto my story, it strung my current reality into something more logical. We were meant to endure this season, both literally and figuratively. Endure the endless weather. Endure the illnesses that will walk our loved ones home. Endure the changes in geography which are turning our lives upside down. As I walked Sara into yet another appointment with a specialist, in the cold, winter morning, I heard it in my mind…”Endure. She is a living testament to enduring. 2 Educational Psychologists, 2 Counseling Psychologists, 2 Math Tutors, 2 Pediatric Urology Teams, countless gifted Teachers, an Occupational Therapist, a Visual Therapist, a Surgeon, a brilliant Pediatric Dermatologist, 2 amazing Pediatricians, 2 loving Pediatric Nurses (who take my many, many calls), enough money spent on her meds, education, and medical care to pay for her college…twice. And Sara. Who Endures. Sometimes patiently. Sometimes bravely. Sometimes loudly. Sometimes with the fury of a thousand winds. But always enduring.”
When we got home this evening, there was a thank you note waiting for Sara, from Haiti. As many of you know, Sara has been saving money for Haiti for 4 years, and she sent her precious $40 with a family friend doing Mission work at a school. Sara, who lives for gym class, bought soccer balls and some gym equipment for the students. She wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t think any of us expected a note from the Father of the Parish and the students, telling us they want to come to school now, because they can play soccer and games. We didn’t expect the most beautifully handwritten note, telling Sara they will “pray for her, and pray for her again”. We didn’t expect the children would use paper-thin scraps of wood and make her a card, depicting children praying.
One little girl with enough challenges to fill a lifetime, saw outside of herself, and connected to other small children also enduring. Penny by penny, she changed their story. In so doing, maybe she changed her own. She gently hugged this card, and whispered, “this is the most precious thing I own. I will keep it forever. Mommy, will you frame it for me?”
I’ve been banging my head against the wall all winter, waiting for the bright spot. Or the laughter. Or the wisdom that will make this suffering make sense. But that’s not what it means to endure. It means to persist without yielding, under unchanging and unpleasant circumstances. Mental toughness is not about expecting the Universe to tally-up when this season ends.
I think the light in this tunnel is we are simply meant to endure together, and do what we can to help with the load. An 8 year old in faded cowboy boots taught me this lesson, for the low, low price of $40, and some soccer balls she spent 4 years wishing over an ocean. Well I’m be damned.
Wisdom Comes Suddenly.
Tags: The Girls
My Realtor, Jennifer, mentioned the buying and selling process *might* give me some bloggable material. I doubt she would have predicted Sara and Kelly attempting to spray glue their glitter projects to my living room floor while the house was on the market, but she’s a long-time reader. She may have seen that coming. I’m so glad Jennifer has a sense of humor. She’s been great at helping me enjoy this process (when I’m not busy wiping down things my family insists on touching).
I summarized what I’ve learned about the housing market in my latest piece at Indy’s Child Magazine:
15 Ways HGTV Ruined The Housing Market
If you are a Dayton reader, you can view it in the Dayton Parent Magazine here, and if you are a Cincinnati reader, you can view it in the Cincinnati Parent Magazine here. If you are not from Ohio, you CANNOT read it OUTSIDE of Ohio. Buckeyes have rules, you’all. Just kidding, they’ll let you in. Tell them you know me. IT’S COOL OHIO! THEY’RE FRIENDS OF MINE!
Tags: The Girls
More than hours spent rocking babies, more than numbers of diapers changed, more than dishes washed, and more than tiny tshirts folded, this house has seen one thing accumulate in numbers too high to be calculated by any method known to man: stuffed animals. Loveys off all shapes and sizes, of all names and species, have crossed my threshold and taken up residence on my floors. In my corners. Under my beds. And in my way.
Long live the “stuffies”, and may they forever stay in storage. Although I know it’s unlikely, as Kelly asks about their whereabouts daily, via a roster naming each one by uniquely by Phyllum-Class-Order-Family-Genus…you get the idea. Her Elephant is in storage, and God help the Momma who made her put him there.
Thanks for hanging tough with me during this wacky in-between phase in my writing. My Mac is unplugged and “staged” where it refuses to work via a wireless signal. Therefore, in order to work within my iPhoto files, I have to carry my quite large, dinosaur of a Mac downstairs, and plug it in a corner where there is no place to sit. A huge bamboo tree has taken up residence in my writing corner. But on the bright side, at least I can write in the shade. Plastic bamboo creates quite an ambiance, once you get used to writing on your stomach on a hard floor.
Are we done yet? Wake me up when this is over…
Tags: The Girls
While we’re deep in the house showing process (oh yes, I have a plethora of jokes to share on this topic, more to come, I promise), I thought I’d assemble a Memory Book of the house. Here is a video of Daddy and Baby Sara, in the unpainted kitchen, about a year after we moved in. Why paint? We’ll be transferred in a year or two for sure. Baby Sara can now design, build, and test her own Science Fair exhibits, and the kitchen has been painted not once, but twice. We’re no fortune tellers, that much we’ve learned.
Tags: The Girls
You know how you watch the before and after on HGTV, and you think, “Geez, I wish they would come to my house”. Or you walk through a model home or a parade of homes, and you think, “My house could never be this pulled together. I wish I had the skill to make rooms look so good.” Well, um…I thought those things too. Until I did it.
I had the house professionally “staged” today. It sounded uber-cool. Professional decorators bringing in their goodies to make my house look perfect for selling? YES PLEASE! An entire moving truck pulled up to my house this morning, and bright, articulate women with sunny attitudes flooded my home with pillows and plants and lamps, and even a BED! After their walk through 2 weeks ago, they came back with a TRUCK full of things that specifically matched my house! What an adventure!
But here’s the thing: they had to take all of our “stuff” out. Goomommy’s needlepoints. My Mac that sits in the middle of my living room where I write. My grungy spoon rest imprinted with the words, “Just Write It”, where I lay my coffee spoon as I chug Dunkin’ and write to all of you. Pictures of the girls in ballet costumes. The tiny table where I taught them to play Black Jack, and I’ve had 100 meals at their imaginary Strawberry Cafe. My poster from “The Breakfast Club” (don’t look shocked…we all knew that had to go). Nothing went untouched. No space is in its original form. As “You Gotta Start Somewhere” was repurposed to another space, and a beautifully oversized mirror went into its place, I quietly slipped onto my seat inside The Beast and tried to catch my breath. How quickly it happened, the undoing (and redoing) of our house.
The girls came home to shock and awe. They are now calling the house “The Jungle”, and Sara is marveling at the plants. She keeps playing “Botanical Gardens”, and she’s running around, pretending to discover new species of plants. Kelly is calling the house “An Artist’s House”, and because she is going to grow up to be an artist, she feels the house finally fits her style. Art everywhere. Brilliant. Greg came home extremely pleased with how it looks. There is simply no denying the work done by the Stagers was nothing short of fabulous.
It’s quite pretty, this house. Everything matches, right down to the jaunty basket of pillows by my fireplace (that I’m afraid to touch for fear I’ll jack up the aura). I must have a warehouse of artificial orchids…even the toilets are adorned with orchids. If you are going to sell your house, I highly recommend staging, but I warn you: it’s an emotional rollercoaster, this act of depersonalizing a house where a family became…a family.
So goodnight to our house. Not the one I’m in now, but the wildly mixy-matchy one from my memories. Goodnight messes, goodnight air, goodnight my things that were once everywhere.
Now if you’ll excuse me, they’ve hidden all of my trashcans for the photo session. And my toothbrush.
Tags: The Girls
Look! We got babies at the same time! Sara & Hayden, September 2005
Today might have been one of the hardest walks of adulthood. First, let me thank so many of you for praying for my Best Friend’s Momma. I wish I had miraculous news to share, but unfortunately, I do not. It was nearly the worst possible news, and her Momma indeed has a glioblastoma (a very aggressive and terminal brain cancer). Watching the heart fall out of my housemate from throughout my 20′s, my partner in crime, and my daily laughter, nearly stopped my own heart. It was an honor to hold her, to be there with her family, and to witness the beauty that is the bond between she and her Momma.
Now is the time for quiet reflection and decisions. Now is the time to try and cherish what precious time they have left. Now is the time to submit to God’s plan, however much we may hate it. And I do. I hate it, however harsh that sounds. Amie and her sister are far too young to have lost both their parents, and both to quickly terminal cancers, before the age of 60. Some things in life are really, really hard.
Amie liked the post I wrote for Indy’s Child this week, so I’ll link to it here. I have a feeling it’s the last time we’ll be laughing together for quite some time. And that’s OK. There are seasons for grieving, and I will hold tight. As she takes over as the Matriarch of her family, we will hold her up, and hold her tight. Godspeed tonight, my friends. Godspeed.
I Am A Dinosaur In The Information Age, An Indy’s Child, Dayton Parent, and Cincinnati Parent’s Magazines Post
Tags: The Girls
What’s it like preparing your house for market in what is officially the snowiest winter in Indiana history? It’s not so much fun, but it’s not the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Our Realtor is a Rock Star, and she’s made so much of this process stress free. How about house shopping 1 hour from home in between weekly snowstorms? Yeah, that’s not great, but it’s not the hard part. What about the school auction I’m organizing? How’s that going? Um…you know…it’s got it’s glitches. Some are even showstopping, but not all events are guaranteed to be a smooth ride. I’m no rookie to event planning. That’s not the hard part. What about the Auction, and the house pictures, and going on the market, all coming together in the same week, and the sump pump failing? After 9 years of living with the world’s greatest basement, the motor died…how was that? That wasn’t good. Cold and wet, and fixing it in a snowstorm with Greg moving things around in the wet and cold with a nasty head cold…that wasn’t a party. Luckily the failure was more of an inconvenience than actual damage. So that wasn’t the hard part. The fans are so loud, and that’s maddening. That’s a little bit hard. Thank God in the midst of this madness, I turned 42. I needed the bourbon. And champagne. And Pinot Grigio…
But no, the hard parts are actually occurring outside of my own home. My 2 best friends to whom I speak almost every single day, have very sick Mommas. I got the news last week that a woman I have respected for over 20 years is going to need a flat out miracle, and very soon. We were not expecting this news, and this has been the hard part. Suddenly, whether or not the house hits the market, or the pictures get taken, or if the basement ever gets put back together, or if this Auction finds its wings, or we find the right house to buy, or if this damn winter ever ends…none of these things seem to be hitting my radar. Wednesday is a good day to pray for Amie’s Momma, if you have a moment. I will be deep in prayer at Amie’s side in the surgical waiting room, making my list of much-needed miracles longer than it was one short week ago. It was already far too long for 2014, but I’m just following God’s lead here.
I find feeding a family can be difficult when the Momma is not-quite-herself, so here is a go-to recipe, if you are in a similar boat:
Momma Is Drained Tacos
Beans, any beans. I like Black, but Cannellini are fun, and so are Pinto.
New Orleans seasoning
Monterey Jack Cheese
Warm up the beans with seasoning and salt and pepper. Assemble tacos. Protein, tomatoes, and few greens. It’s fast and easy, and everyone will eat them.
Tags: The Girls
February 16th, 2014 · Comments Off
For just a moment in time, Kelly played the violin. She played the piano for an even shorter moment. The swim lessons were a blink; as she swam, she called out every week, “I quit!!” Gymnastics was met with equal enthusiasm, along with ballet and tap (perhaps the longest year of my life). Gymboree drop-outs, for sure. What will be Kelly’s calling? It’s hard to say. She’s 6. I let her try and quit with aplomb. I know there are those who would say I should make her stay with activities, but I didn’t even get to pick my own college major. You won’t get Stage Mom crap from me.
So for my remaining days, I will have just this one picture of Kelly on stage, hair done, dress clean and pressed, violin in position. She and I enjoyed practicing together. We enjoyed listening to violins on iTunes. We enjoyed attending the Symphony. We will have the memory of the 1 minute she played on stage, and I will treasure it always. Until your next gig Maestro Kelly, until then…
Tags: The Girls