Wednesday, January 15, 2020

What I Wish...

Yesterday, we got the official notice of all of the dates to get Issa registered for high school. I feel like yesterday I was registering her for kindergarten, but I blinked and here we are. And we are ready.

I was texting with a friend about the notice yesterday, and we were  talking about all of the adventures high school will hold: dual enrollment, homecomings, proms. A first date made the list, which of course made us fast-forward. My friend asked what I hoped for in a husband for Issa someday, and we made the usual list: sense of humor, someone who will know her well enough to support her and challenge her, blah blah blah.

But as I was loading the dishwasher last night, I realized what I really want: I want someone who knows she likes a little fork.

Issa has this weird quirk where she prefers to eat dinner with a salad fork. I don't get it, but it is what it is. As I was putting that little fork in the dishwasher, I realized I want someone to pay attention to those little details she will never mention and just set out a small fork when he sets the table. If he does that, I will know everything else will fall into place because he's paying attention.

For now, though, I think we'll just worry about high school classes....

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Official Start of the Season

Issa's dance season officially kicked off yesterday with Showcase. We were so proud of our girl. She just continues to grow as a dancer, and it was so lovely to see her really enjoy being on stage. We have our backstage routine down to a science, and aside from a small melt-down over fake eyelashes, it was smooth sailing.

What I loved most, though, was this:
She had a huge cheering section. Not pictured are the world's best prop dad and brother, who spent pretty much the whole show hauling various props on and off stage. Nana came, and Aunt Shannon flew in from Chicago. Issa had been talking to my Aunt Beth and Uncle Nick about Showcase at Tyler's wedding, so they drove up from Atlanta to cheer her on. I know Issa is so very, very loved, but I'm always so humbled when people travel in to sit a school auditorium for over three hours to watch her on stage for about 30 minutes total. It was a great way to begin what I'm sure will be a fabulous season (in which I promise to take more pictures).

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Working an Abandoned Muscle

I received this cute journal from Don and Nancy for Christmas: 
Each page has a sentence or two at the top--a random story starter. You have one page to finish it.

I have found myself, sharp pencil in hand, rediscovering my old love of creative writing. I used to write with my students all the time, but when I left the classroom, I stopped working that muscle.

I'm finding immense joy in writing again, though! My stories aren't great, and I'm nowhere close to hitting on something that might spark the next great American novel, but I love hearing the scratch on the page and the feel of the words flowing from my hand. I'm not pre-writing or overthinking anything. I'm just writing for the love of words, and it's so very lovely.

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Great Christmas Wrap-Up

Today we head back into the regular routine. I'm in the office, the kids are in school, and Brad is enjoying a quiet home office again.

We did have a fabulous Christmas, though, and I reminded again how grateful I am to have people who take pictures because I took zero the entire time we were in Ohio!

Our Christmas celebrating started the Friday before with a girls' trip to the see The Nutcracker. We were all so tired from the final week of work and school before the break, but we loved the production:
The highlight, though, was watching Issa love on these pointe shoes that had been worn by one of her favorite ballerinas:
The low-light was watching the weirdo come home and smell them:
 I love that ballet still makes her so happy, and it was a great way to start the celebrating!

We spent the weekend celebrating at Nana's. Saturday, we had a PJ day:

 We finished the evening by watching the Downton movie, and then we spent Sunday preparing a feast from the Downton cookbook and celebrating. Aunt Shannon captured the traditional package pictures:

 Issa was thrilled by her new make-up set:
 And Evan is in love with his soccer cards:
 Monday we packed up for Napoleon! On Christmas morning, Santa filled the stockings since he had already brought our gifts:
 And Brad and I surprised the kids with their own Echo Dots. We wanted them to have a little something to open on Christmas morning, and this picture is when Brad and Issa figured out how to give them a British accent:
Christmas morning was spent in our PJs again--one last time with all of us matching:
 Adding a generation:

 And one more:
This branch of the family has decided to move our celebrating to July so we can all have a little less crazy on Christmas morning, so this year was a little extra special. We made gingerbread house placemats and bead ornaments while sipping hot cocoa.

Most of the rest of the time in Napoleon was spend playing with Cash, Tyler and Hannah's new puppy. He's three months of golden energy and adorableness!

On the 26th, we headed South and spend time with Brad's side. My favorite moments were my one-on-one moments with each of my nieces and nephew. Adult nieces and nephews are just the coolest, and I love having very real conversations with each of them. We also got to babysit our youngest niece, and I got to play with a light-bright again.

We ended our trip with Papa Don and Grandma Nancy, which is always a nice soft place to land. We played games, watched movies, and picked hickory nuts from the shell. I love our time to just be before the long drive back.

On our way back, we also managed to sneak in a visit with Grandma Judy! We hadn't been to her house in years, and it was so good to talk--even if it was just an hour visit.

I think those are the moments of Christmas I treasure most--all the conversations. I'm looking forward to the next round...

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!!!

The big Christmas wrap-up post is coming, but it seemed fitting on New Year's day to capture all that I am feeling at the beginning of the new decade.

I spent all day yesterday deep cleaning pantries and the refrigerator. (Then I did all of the bathroom cabinets because I was inspired.) Issa and I made a big pass at the grocery store, loading up on produce. We are starting to dabble in plant-based meals around here, and it feels so much better. I made sweet potato nuggets (need some tweaking) and air-fried green beans (a huge hit). Then, at 7:30, we headed to Greensboro for the Avett Brothers New Year's Concert:

They are absolutely my favorite band, and it was an amazing first concert for the kids. Drew Holcomb opened, and he was incredible. I loved singing with Issa and watching Evan's eyes light up at the drum solo. At midnight, confetti and balloons dropped from the ceiling. I cried twice. Once just because I couldn't believe we were really there. Once during "We Americans" because it's just such a powerful song.

As I sang "Auld Lang Syne" with an arena full of people, I realized this is what I want for this decade. This year, I'll turn 40, and I'm so very excited about that. Many women who have come before me just kept telling me how great this decade is, and I'm already feeling it although I have a few more months to get there. I finally feel comfortable with myself--no more need to impress or conform. As I occasionally tell Brad, "I have no more Fs to give," and that's not a bad thing! I feel strong enough to be me--unapologetically me. To lead with my heart and trust my own intuition. It's a gift.

This is the decade where I worry less about the schedule and the routines and the shoulds. When opportunities like last night present themselves, I will shout yes on the way out the door. I can sleep the next day. I want to soak in memories and moments.

I woke up thinking about a poem I did as part of one of my speeches in high school:

Listen to the mustn'ts, child,
Listen to the don'ts.
Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. 
Listen to the never haves,
Then listen close to me:
Anything can happen, child,
Anything can be.
~Shel Silverstein

I plan to spend this decade living that poem, and I can't wait to see what will be...

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Christmas Magic

I've made a conscious effort to slow down and soak in the Christmas magic this week. It's easier now that my students have gone home and my work calendar has a bit more breathing room.

For us, some of the magic still comes in the form of our elf, Buddy. He tries to find little ways to remind of to slow down and focus on what's important this season, and he also tried to insert a little extra fun into our days.

Yesterday, he left us treat sacks and big bags of candy so we could Jingle Bell our neighbors. It's really the elf version of ding-dong-ditch. I watched as the kids mixed all the candy and plotted the route least likely to get them caught. They also decided which houses to just leave a treat in the mailbox because their littles were probably already in bed. (The mailman may be getting some extra treats today.)

The magic, though, was when the kids came back in. They were both out of breath and laughing so hard. They watched some neighbors we don't know well come out, look around, and then laugh. They fell in the ditch. They had fun.

It's those moments, those little moments of giving and laughter, that bring me the most joy this season, and I'm so grateful I slowed down enough to soak it in last night.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A Little Christmas

Last weekend, we celebrated our little family Christmas. We had already given the kids our gifts, but we all agreed it might be best if Santa came to North Carolina this year. He usually fills stockings on his early route, but we asked if he might be willing to drop off the gifts early since Evan had requested a huge Nerf gun. That Santa came through for us:

 Issa asked for a FitBit this year:
 Santa came through with a couple of extra bands for it, too:

Evan asked for some ridiculously huge Nerf gun:
 And Santa came through with extra ammo:
Poor Brad spent most of the rest of the day rehanging my nightstand that fell off the wall, and Issa and I had to go to one more Company dress rehearsal.

We did manage to squeeze in some family Christmas time. We baked cookies and watched Christmas movies. We ended the day with the traditional fried chicken dinner. It's nothing fancy, but we did laugh until we cried. And that's really all anyone can ask for.