Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mommy and Issa and Friends, Oh My!

Issa earns pebbles for doing chores around the house, and when she gets 50 pebbles she can choose to either receive $5 or do something fun of her choosing. Usually, she wants the cash. This week, though, she decided we should go see the new Pooh movie with our friends Shelby and Miss Crystal. I was all about that idea! It was a great girls' day!

It started with wishes in the fountain:
And a little Mommy/Issa time while we waited for our friends:

We chatted about her new school and what to do at a movie. You see, this was the first movie Issa saw in a theater! She and Daddy tried it once and didn't make it through the whole thing. Yesterday, she was a champ! It was a cute movie, and she was very proud of her big girl self.

When the movie ended, there was time for more wishes:

And then a lunch at Panera and some time on the inside playground at the mall. Life was good.

I love these days when I get some good one on one time with this girl. She talks more, or maybe I make time to listen more, but it's good for both of us.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bittersweet Until Next Time

Any one who knows me knows I am a sucker for a good bag. I love them. But this bag...this bag is truly special.

A very dear friend is moving to Illinois today--Normal, Illinois to be exact--and don't think I will let that name go. I am thrilled for her. She is the first of our cohort to get a full faculty position in a place she will be really happy. It is so exciting.

But, it also means I had to say until next time, not knowing when next time will be. We enjoyed a long lunch, laughed, talked about our courses, our families, our friends. We pretended as long as we could this was just another lunch date. Eventually, though, we had to leave. As I was fighting the lump in my throat, she game me this bag, and we both cried. She and her mom made it, and it is so very special for so many reasons. When I got home, I filled it with my teaching materials, so she will be with me whenever I teach.

We set up times to talk, and I know we will stay in touch, but I will certainly miss our lunches...and her.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Just Fix It

God knew Issa and I needed to see this bloom yesterday. Our glads may be a bit late blooming, but in our world, it was perfect timing.

We received a huge packet from Issa's new school yesterday! It had her class list, handbook, and a mountain of forms I'm still digging through. Issa and I were talking about how she only had two more weeks at her school and then she got to make the move, and she crumbled. Crumbled really isn't the word--shattered. Suddenly, my very excited girl was sobbing. The kind of sobs that shook her whole little body and wouldn't let her speak. I scooped her up and tried to figure out what on earth had just happened.

The inevitable had happened. Her excitement was replaced by fear and uncertainty. She's been at her current school since she was six weeks old. Several of her friends have been there the entire time with her, and now they are all moving on to bigger worlds. The familiar is being replaced by the unfamiliar and frightening.

When the sobs slowed, we were able to talk, and she's excited again. We talked about how her memories will always be with her, and she'll get to see a lot of people when we pick Evan up. We also bought the glad bulbs in a school fundraiser, so we talked about how we will have those blooms every year to remind her of her years there.

She is back to bouncing off the walls excited about her new school, but I'm sure there will be more waves of uncertainty--if not now over the next several years with other new adventures. I'm trying to brace my heart for those. Once she was fine yesterday, I cried. There is no worse feeling than seeing your child so broken hearted and feeling so helpless. I know there will be far bigger heart breaks in the future, and I just hate that I won't be able to just fix it. But...we did fix this one, and we are all so excited for the adventures that are about to come.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


No pictures. I have one of those mental memories to capture today.

Last night, I had one of those wonderful tiny suprises that makes me ridiculously happy. When I got home from class, the kids were still up! They were being really sweet and not acting at all sleepy, so Daddy let them wait up for me. I was met on the porch by tiny waves and big smiles. Before I was through the door, they were sharing bedtime snacks with me (sesame sticks and pumpkin seeds). We snuggled on the couch--good snuggles. The kind where no one is squirmy and everyone scrunches under a favorite soft blankey that is too small to hold all of us. We read the car book, and then we tucked two sleepy kiddos in bed. It was blissful.

I'm having trouble finding the words to describe the warmth...their tiny voices prattling about their days...the back rubs and pat pats...tiny arms around my neck...sesame sticks being shoved in my mouth between was just bliss.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Six Weeks...

Add six articles, 24 major papers, 72 minor papers, and 12 proposals to this stack, and you have my reading list for the past six weeks. Tonight is the last night of class, and I'll spend tomorrow grading the last 12 of those major papers. I have loved teaching this class, but I am so looking forward to a little bit of a break before I start prepping for the fall--next week.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Trip to Bath

In college, I spent a summer semester in Oxford. I essentially ate my way through England--especially the teas. The thought of clotted cream and tiny sandwiches...mmmmm. By far, the best tea is in Bath at Sally Lunn's. It's a tiny tea house that has been in existence as long as Bath has been a destination. They still bake their buns in a huge wood burning stone oven in the cellar, and after tea you can go down and see them making buns the size of your head. Bliss.

I brought home a postcard that featured the recipe for their buns. When I arrived home, I realized it was in metric and featured the baking time for their oven. Since I do not have a huge stone oven in my cellar, I gave up having the perfect bun until I someday returned.

What I did not realize is I am married to a wizard. Last night, he stumbled upon a recipe for Sally Lunn buns, tweaked it based on my memory, and he made the perfect Sally Lunn bun.
Evan decided he wanted to help, and he was in charge of beating the egg.

He was so proud of his emerging culinary skill.

We invested in a really good bread maker a couple of years ago, and it is wonderful! It did the mixing, kneading, and rising, and then Brad shaped it and baked it in our oven.

I would show you the finished product, but it did not survive the night. Bliss, I tell you. Now...I'm on a mission to find clotted cream before Brad makes the next bun.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dress the Part

This is one loved little girl. Miss Steph knows the way to Issa's heart: wardrobe! She is determined to make Issa a figure skater, and the costume certainly helps:
Issa was thrilled to go skating yesterday! She really does love it, and she's so lucky to have Miss Steph and Mr. Ryan to skate with:

She's getting better! She made it all the way down the rink on her own!

She would much rather hold on to Miss Steph and go fast or on one foot. It's amazing to watch her fearlessness on the ice. She took one good fall and hopped right back up. She has great balance, and she is pretty strong for as small as she is.

We are so blessed to have such good friends that love our kids and provide them opportunities like this one. We are so grateful that the kiddos have other adults outside of our family that love them and are such strong role models. Needless to say, I was one happy mama yesterday--and always.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hello Two

Look at this pitiful boy. His fate is in his own hands. You see, we are two...two.

It is super hot around here. So hot, that the only time it is cool enough to swim is first thing in the morning or late at night. We told the kids we would go first thing this morning, but they needed to do some clean up first. Issa dutifully picked up her toys; Evan refused.

So...Issa and Daddy are swimming, and Evan is watching from the window. He has one set of blocks to put in a box and he could be out there. But oh no. The line has been drawn. I'm getting the puppy dog eyes, and he's not swimming. I love teaching boundaries.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


This pretty much captures our day: pajamas and smiles. You know you need a lazy day around the house when the kiddos are begging for it. We were all too happy to oblige. Here are the top ten highlights:

  1. Homemade scones for breakfast.

  2. A nice long nap in the afternoon.

  3. A house that is evidence of the fun and general laziness--aka: a mess!

  4. Helping Issa achieve a perfect chaine turn.

  5. "Drinking" cup after cup of Evan's coffee (water poured over small balls and rocks).

  6. Evan trying desperately to wear Barbie's sun glasses.

  7. Issa and Evan playing kitchen for hours with only a few squabbles.

  8. Homemade ice cream for dessert.

  9. More laughs than one day should be allowed to hold.

  10. A truly happy, relaxed family.

We love our adventures, but sometimes a lazy day full of snuggles and smiles is even better.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Five little monkeys swinging on a tree,
Teasing Mr. Alligator, "Can't get me."
Sneaky Mr. Alligator quiet as can be,
And snapped that monkey right out of that tree.

This is currently Evan's favorite song. He can do the whole thing, and it really is one of the cutest things. What is even cuter, though, is when he begs Issa to play it with him. She clearly does the song far better than I do.

Last night after dinner, Evan convinced Issa they should play alligator. I have never been so glad I didn't put the camera away. I loved catching this moment:
Issa looks so grown up--arm around her brother, head on her hand.

Somehow, singing the rhyme turned into being the alligators:

I resisted the inner mother voice that was yelling, "Don't run in the house!" and just laughed as they ran around being the least sneaky alligators I have ever seen. At one point I asked who was chasing whom, and the response was classic: "We are!" It's amazing how the details just don't matter when you are having this much fun.

And this face...this face is fun:

That look of pure abandon is priceless.

One of my biggest realizations this week is sometimes I just need to sit back and watch. I resisted the urge to jump into this game last night. They didn't need a third alligator, and it is such a wondrous thing to watch my two angels play so well together. I loved laughing with them and having the ability to just watch their faces and listen to their giggles. Sometimes being present means being present on the side lines--letting them take center stage--and capturing the memory.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keeping It Real

Recently, I've had several friends ask me how I do it all. The simple answer: I don't. Hence, scenes like this appear in my kitchen a little too often:
And this is not an uncommon sight in our family room:

Life happens. Last night I taught, and after a straight three and a half hours of class and the drive home in a rain storm, I just didn't have it in me to tackle the kitchen. Five minutes before it was time to leave, Evan went on a quest for his favorite ball, which necessitated a dump of the entire basket. Life happens. If I showed you my external brain right now, you would see I'm a couple of days behind--oops.

At the end of the day, I'm trying to be a kinder, gentler me--to myself. If it doesn't all get done today, it will tomorrow. As long as there is no imminent health risk and the kids feel loved, the rest doesn't really matter. No one will remember whether I got draft two in on Friday or Monday. No one will know that my dishes sat on the counter over night (unless I post it here). I don't want my kids to grow up and remember a frantic, exhausted Mommy. I also don't want them to grow up thinking life is always shiny and perfect. Sometimes, there are smudges and messes. It's what makes us appreciate the shininess.

So...I'm off to clean the kitchen, do some laundry, and then write like the wind. I'll do as much as I can, and then I'll pick the kids up and we'll go to the library, snuggle up with a book, and appreciate a few shiny moments before the mess creeps back in.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I'm in week five of a six week class. Must...keep...reading. Must...keep...grading. I think I can I think I can. Much more creative post tomorrow--promise. All brain cells else wise occupied today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Important Things

Just in case you have forgotten, this is clearly the coolest rock ever! Evan has carried it with him since Saturday. He would like to sleep with it, but for some crazy reason Daddy and I think sleeping with a rock is asking for trouble. He has conceded that it can sleep on his dresser, but he must sleep with this ball instead. There are some battles that are just not worth fighting. Evan now sleeps with...drum roll please...a dog pillow, Booboo, two other stuffed dogs, his vroom vroom blanket, and a ball. Goodnight craziness I tell you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Not for the Faint of Heart

We have taken to grilling whole chickens these days. By "we" I mean Brad, and by "these days" I mean the past two weeks. The first time we literally just put the whole chicken on the grill. It was great, but it took a loooong time. The second time, Brad split it in half. It was delicious and took not as long. Yesterday, Brad decided to totally debone the chicken. He watched Jacques Pepin do it online, and off he went!

It started very simply with one long cut across the back and few little cuts around the keel bone:
This is where it gets a little dicey and not for the faint of heart. He literally just ripped the bones out. The meat just peeled off. I particularly love Issa's reaction:

The meat is then scraped from the leg bones:

Then, again, not for the faint of heart, you break the tips of the leg bones and slip the rest of the bone out. Leaving the tips keeps the skin from shrinking too much:

Evan was just not so sure about this whole process:

But the finished product was impressive:

I have to hand it to my husband. When he announced he was going to attempt this, I thought he was crazy. I watched the video, and I promptly announced there is no way it was that easy. Sure, Jacques did the whole thing in three minutes, but it only took Brad about 15--pretty impressive! Even after all these years he finds new ways to amaze me!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our Little Paleontologists

Yesterday was Dinosaur Days at the Life and Science Museum. Needless to say, we had two excited kiddos. The dinosaur trail is open year round, and it is always a favorite with the kids. This hadrosaur is protecting her nest.

(I just love the light in this picture.)

At the end of the trail, there is a fossil dig pit. They had trucked in fresh dirt, and the NC Fossil Club was on hand to help identify any finds. They were incredible! We found lots of shark teeth, shells, and coral, but the club had brought some very special finds that they planted for kids who were interested. We ended up with a real prehistoric shark tooth!

Evan found a rock and asked what it was, and the lady very nicely explained it was a rock--but a really cool rock and he should keep it if he really liked it...

He liked it. He is still carrying it.

Issa also got a way cool butterfly painted on her face!

Inside, they had all kinds of fun activities. The kids got to try their hands at sculpting dinosaurs. Issa and Daddy made one just like model--no head and all!

Evan and I attempted an apatosaurus--also known as two blobs connected by a neck.

We also got to meet real dinosaur descendants (snakes and cockroaches) and see lots of fossils. The kids were so excited we are planning a trip to see the NC Fossil Museum and do a bit more digging there.

On the way home, Brad and I were talking about how much we love where we live. We have the luxury of living in a small town, but we are so close to wonderful opportunities for the kids to explore and discover--a wondrous thing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Night at the Park

We are enjoying a cold snap around here--highs in the 80s! When the weather is that nice, you have to go to the park.

Poor Evan wants to ride a bike so badly, but his feet don't quite reach the pedals. So, he scoots along...
...until he gets tired of going too slowly and pushes the tricycle. By the way, Evan will only refer to it as a motorcycle.

Issa is getting really good on her bike, and she and Daddy left Evan and I in the dust.

There is nothing better than swinging!

Evan took this one:

I think it's a pretty cool angle. Evan soon switched to gathering rocks.

We found some pretty cool ones last night! You can't beat a trip to the park on a Friday night.

Today, it's dinosaur days at the museum! ROAR! I better round up my little dinosaurs!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bradley Fly Trap II

Yesterday, I mentioned Brad had created a trap to catch George the Fly. This is the Bradley Fly Trap II. It's much more stealth. It was decided that the red bowl was a dead give away. The clear model worked. The inventor is quite pleased. George is quite sad.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bradley Fly Trap

You may be wondering what on earth is sitting in the middle of my apple bowl. It is a Bradley Fly Trap. We had a fly move in a few days ago. He's huge. I have named him George. Brad calls him much less nice names.

When I came home from class last night, I found this. Brad had threatened to buy fly paper, and I threw a fit. So...he did some researching and made this homemade trap. It's dish soap, sugar, and honey. Issa suggested the addition of the blueberries for bait. We're going on 16 hours and George has evaded the trap. We'll see who wins this battle--George or the fly trap.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

First Harvest

You may remember that we planted small garden. We've been munching a few strawberries, peppers, and beans already. We pick them as they ripen, and generally they barely make it in the house to be rinsed. This week, we made our first big harvest: potatoes!
They are tiny, but we hope they will tasty! The kids are super excited to eat them. In fact, I had to convince Evan that they really need to be cooked in some way. Beans may be tasty raw--not so much potatoes.

I love that my kids are learning where food comes from and how to care for plants. It's such a tasty lesson.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just Beachy

It may not look like it, but this is how my children dress to go to the beach. And by beach, I mean the heap of toys and yoga mats they assembled on the landing. I believe the snow boots are my favorite. There is just nothing more to say.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bath Time!

See this sweet face:
She was not a happy puppy yesterday. She is not a big fan of baths, but it was time. We have red clay around here, and after a week of rain she was a little grubby. Couple that with the copious amount of shedding she had going on, and it was just time. So...we made it a family affair.

It was the first time all four of us attempted this feat, and the kids were very concerned for their puppy. She makes the most pitiful face as soon as she gets in the bathroom, and the kids really thought maybe we should just let her be filthy.

But they soon learned it's not so bad. Evan thought it was hysterical when Viv would shake and get us all wet!

And there is the evidence that we really needed to give her a bath--gross!

Perhaps we need to move to the bigger bathroom next time. Poor Issa crouched in the tiniest spot to brush Viv.

It actually prompted a great conversation about how we take care of animals. The kids are always really helpful and kind with our zoo, but they have been especially attentive the past 24 hours. And...Issa is now lobbying for a fish tank in her room for her birthday. Just what we need!