Monday, November 24, 2014

There and Back Again

I spent the end of last week in Charleston with 29 of my Angels. We toured schools and the city, went to the theater, and visited the aquarium. We stretched and learned and bonded. In short, it was lovely--and exhausting.

As much as I enjoyed the trip, I was so glad to be back home with my people. Brad and I had only overlapped by less than 24 hours, and I was ready for some good family time. I got home in time for a movie night Saturday, and we all fell asleep snuggling. It was lovely.

Then yesterday, I was able to just putter about the kitchen all day making Thanksgiving for some friends. My students informed me I was hosting a "Friendsgiving." Whatever. It was fun. I love roasting turkeys and mashing potatoes. This time, we even roasted our own pumpkin for the pie and then roasted chestnuts in the fire. It was pure loveliness.

And I might catch up on my sleep sometime by Christmas...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


The ride to school is always interesting. Sometimes, we are reviewing schedules. Sometimes, we are talking about really big issues like poverty and bullying. Sometimes, we are admiring the landscape and cows. My favorites, though, are the really random mornings. This morning was one of them. Issa was on a random role with these two moments that came completely out of the blue and with no follow up:

"Ohio is a strange and curious place that's flat with food crops, rivers, ponds, and then BAM house BAM snow."

"Have you ever just sat in a car and thought, 'Man, I just really want to push all the buttons right now'?"

"No. And don't do that."

"Okay, but it would be super fun."

Oh how I love my girl.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I love the kids' school. It's not perfect, but most of the time they nail it. One of the things I most appreciate is their focus on the school community. Every Thanksgiving, they partner with a local church to provide Thanksgiving for families that might not otherwise have one. The church provides the turkey, and the school community collects everything else. Each grade level has an assignment--right down to the cranberry sauce.

The School Improvement Team then assembles the boxes, and this year I am a part of the team. Families were invited to help, and both Issa and Evan wanted to come. We talk a lot about sharing and community and belonging to each other, and I am always grateful when they have the opportunity to be a part of that.

As it happens, they were the only kiddos there last night. As it also happens, the packing was pure chaos. The donations, which were abundant, had been sorted, but there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen, which resulted in three different packing methods happening at the same time. One person started a bucket brigade system to fill boxes. Someone else started assigning people boxes to fill with each type of item, and someone else started assigning people items to put in every box. It was just as insane as it sounds. All well meaning, but too many people on a small room and no point person.

Consequently, I started literally catching cans of vegetables from the bucket brigade leader and passing them to the kids who were running back and forth counting cans in boxes and making sure everyone was getting what they needed. I even saw Issa switch some cans. When I asked her why, she had noticed that some boxes had one can of multiple different kinds of vegetables, so she was making sure everything was at least in pairs. I love that girl.

At one point, Evan got bonked in the head with a box of stuffing. His response: "It's okay; I'm a ninja in training. I'm tough." The teacher wanted to take him home forever.

Somehow, all of the boxes were filled and double checked, and we started to move them to the pick-up location, which is when further hilarity ensued. The kids were going to teamwork moving a box, but when they picked it up the bottom completely fell out. Their faces were priceless, and the room erupted in laughter. As it turns out, that box hadn't been reinforced with tape--oops. I was so proud of my kids who just laughed and started chasing cans.

It was an evening of gratitude--for a school that cares about its families, for kids that can roll with the punches, and for having a moment to count my blessings in the spirit of the season.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nothing But Time

The best news of the weekend: Issa is fine! She seems to have caught the six hour version of a bug that is sweeping the classroom. By lunch she was absolutely fine and annoyed that I made her rest all day. I'll take it.

This weekend was blissfully schedule free. Aside from a short rehearsal Saturday morning, we had nothing on the calendar. Bliss I tell you.

Brad had to be away this weekend, so the kids and I made a plan to not make a plan. We wanted to go get some supplies to start some Christmas gifts, and we needed to go to the grocery, but that was it. So, after Issa's rehearsal we decided to go to lunch. I'm sure the waitress was annoyed because we took our sweet time and chatted. There was no wait, so I didn't rush anyone. It was lovely.

From there, we went supply shopping. I let Issa push the cart, and Evan did his best airport runway impression, directing the cart with the strangest series of hand gestures imaginable. It took us twice as long to shop, but who cares. It made me giggle--along with many other shoppers. With supplies safely in the cart, we needed a Starbucks stop, and I took the one picture of the weekend:
That's my girl with her first decaf peppermint mocha. She was very happy.

We went to the grocery and then tucked ourselves in at home.

The rest of the weekend was spent cleaning play spaces, crafting, and playing. The kids had two tea parties, and we put a fire in the fireplace. We baked and cooked and just were. It was lovely and cozy and unhurried and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Friday, November 14, 2014


Well...this morning did not go at all as planned. Issa came in shortly after I got up at 5:30 and announced her tummy hurt. She looked fine and had no fever, so I suggested some toast and water and assured her she would be fine. Boy was I wrong. Hello tummy bug.

Brad's traveling. Evan still needed to go to school. I was supposed to volunteer at the school today. The final insult was this was also my one Friday morning a month off--the morning I get my massage and just relax. In short: it was not a good morning.

Thankfully, Issa already seems to be through the worst and she is sleeping soundly. Evan was really upset that I won't be there today, but he got to ride to school with a friend. Again, I am so grateful for good neighbors. I can reschedule my appointment.

After Evan was off to school and Issa drifted off, I let myself have a good cry. I hate when things go sideways. I hate when my babies are sick and sad and there is really nothing I can do about it. What I hate most is when taking care of one forces me to disappoint the other.  It's so hard.

But, then I heard Gram, "Count your blessings." I have great neighbors who took Evan to school, and he was happy to get a little extra time with a friend. My child is sick but will likely be well by this evening--no hospitals or long-term illnesses. I get a Friday morning off a month! I can be home to juggle all of this. It's going to be okay...and so will they.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sometimes You Just Need Fur

Yesterday was a rough one. Nothing went particularly wrong, but it didn't go particularly right, either. The low point was when the dogs wouldn't come in, the kids weren't exactly helping, and I knew we would barely make it to dance and ninjitsu. I spent the entire car ride lecturing about helpfulness and listening. Awesome. Always so effective.

After classes, the kids and I patched it up. We snuggled in and laughed and I tucked them in knowing they felt loved and filled. I, however, was physically and emotionally exhausted. I pushed myself through everything that absolutely had to be done, and I thought I would sit down for just ten minutes. I put my feet up, and within moments I had 65 pounds of Dane in my lap. She gave me one big lick and then put her head on my shoulder. And I melted. It's hard to stay tense when that much unconditional love is on you. As I stroked her fur, I felt myself relax.

Then, when I went to check on Issa one more time, I found this:
She is upside down in the bed so she could be close to Frosty.

Some days, I really wonder what I was thinking adopting our whole menagerie. When I'm chasing dogs or driving across town to pick up more gluten free dog food, I question my sanity.

But then, a night like last night happens, and I realize that there is magic in that fur, and I can't imagine our lives without it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

No Pictures

The kids didn't have school yesterday, and I managed to arrange my work day so I could stay home until mid-afternoon. That meant we had some time on our hands, and we decided a trip to our museum was in order. After seven years of going, we discovered a secret: breakfast.

The kids and I set off to the museum and were literally standing at the door when they unlocked it. Our first stop was the cafe for breakfast. Normally, museum food is not at the top of my list, but this cafe is actually really fabulous, and their breakfast did not disappoint. Issa has declared that they have the world's best pancakes. We also had the cafe entirely to ourselves, which was lovely.

When we finished breakfast, we discovered we were still virtually alone at the museum. We played with the wind exhibits with nary a soul in sight. We were there when the lemurs came into their play space for the day, and we had the exhibit to ourselves. We watched them play in the leaves without needing to give anyone else a turn. The wolf was enjoying the cool morning, and the bears were happy in the morning sunshine. The ducks paddled right up to us in the quiet. It wasn't until we were thinking about leaving that there were other people about. It was brilliant!

The museum was beautiful with the fall colors, and the weather was perfect. I just followed the kids about. We read signs and talked about what they saw. For one blissful morning they didn't argue a bit about what to do next. It's like they were on exactly the same page about our museum adventure.

As we were leaving breakfast, I made the choice not to take pictures. There were moments where I really wanted to reach inside my purse for the camera, but  I was too afraid that as soon as I started looking through a lens I would lose sight of the real picture. I wanted to be fully present--not mom on the other side of an electronic device. Halfway through the morning, Issa mentioned that she was enjoying just chatting through the museum. I don't think she made the camera connection, but I truly believe she felt my true presence. I know the images I have in my mind right now may fade in a way that pictures posted here wouldn't, but I hope the feeling my kids had yesterday, of a fully present mama, won't.