Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Terrific Kid!

This morning, Daddy and I were honored to accompany Issa to school. Once again, she was nominated as a Terrific Kid--something we already knew. The character trait this month was good judgement:
 As she stood with the principal, her nomination form was read:

"Issa is a student that can be counted on to make the right choices. She is dependable, respectful, and responsible. Most importantly, she models these behaviors for the other members of our class."

I choked back tears as I choked down cafeteria coffee and a veggie-infused whole wheat donut.

We couldn't be more proud. She was proud of herself, too, and I love that she knows how important character is. I also love how the school celebrated a whole group of Terrific Kids:
As I snapped this picture, I resisted the urge to turn the camera the other way. Beside me, there was a mass of beaming parents all capturing this picture. Their smiles were even bigger than the kids' smiles, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to see so much good, so much light, in our little world.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Sometimes in the day to day of motherhood, I find myself looking for the little victory. The momentarily empty laundry basket. The clean bathroom. The organized toy room. All of these things are fleeting, but the real work of motherhood is a marathon and the big victories require patience--not my strong suit. I have to celebrate the mile markers that are the not so fun bits.

This morning, this morning I had a huge, gigantic, gargantuan victory: I was the one waiting in the kiss-and-go lane. I recognize that this is so irrelevant in the grand scheme of life. But...we pulled up, a happy Issa gave me a kiss, jumped out, managed to get the door shut all the way, and I had to wait for the cars ahead of me to move. My seat belt stayed buckled, and the principal didn't start to wander our way to see if we needed help since we were holding up his line. It was blissful. I may have rocked myself out to a little "Eye of the Tiger" on the way out of the parking lot.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It Finally Happened

We had a great weekend. Saturday night, Brad and I had an amazing date night. We went to dinner at a local Italian place we hadn't tried, and I had some of the best olives and lasagna of my life. Then we saw "Anything Goes," which was a fabulous show in its own right, but it gave me a chance to walk down memory lane, too. I assistant directed that show when I was student teaching, and I was shocked to remember every line and bit of choreography. It was blissful. I will admit, though, their choreography put mine to shame. I guess that's the difference between professionals and high school students.
Sunday, Evan was feeling a little punk, so we stayed in most of the day. Issa and I made the weekly trek to the grocery, which was actually very fun. She's becoming quite the little shopper. When we got home, we decorated the Easter house:
 Peeps and jelly beans helped Evan rally:
 His little eyes look so pitiful, though. This is the last picture I took:
They wanted to do this one all by themselves, and I let them. They needed a little sibling time.

As soon as we cleaned up this mess, we moved on to making an even bigger mess by making ravioli completely from scratch. The kids loved cranking the pasta, and the end result was delicious.

In short, it was a very lovely weekend with one little glitch...

I had to work again Saturday afternoon. We had a recruiting event on campus. I knew when I started the job last week and this were going to be hell. Two evenings and two Saturdays--two ballet classes missed and parts of weekends away. As I was getting ready Saturday, Issa finally cracked. Real tears and the, "I don't want you to work, Mama. Meredith is trying to keep you away from me."

Cue broken heart and mama guilt.

She has taken the brunt of the changes. It's her class I'm missing, her spring break that will now be spent in camp (which she excited about, but it's another change), her schedule that occasionally gets shifted after school. I get it. I also know she has probably forgotten the conversation by now. She's fine. I know that. My head knows that. I'm just working on convincing my heart.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Age Old Question Answered...Sort Of

Which came first: the turkey or the egg? our house turkey pizzas came first but the eggs were way more successful.
In honor of Easter, we decided to make Easter egg pizzas last night:
 Egg shapes are much easier to make out of dough, and we used the pepperoni to make patterns. Evan opted for stripes.

Issa opted for polka dots:
(Look at that missing tooth!)

Daddy and I went with the zigzag motif:
It was just the perfect amount of holly and jolly for a Thursday evening at the end of a long week.

It's Friday, folks!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


I once read sons steal a special place in a mother's heart, and this is most definitely true. There just aren't words. But I know, and nights like last night prove it just a little bit more.

Every night, I crawl into bed with Evan for prayers. Before I leave, we do, "Big hug, big kiss, 'nuggle 'nuggle," accompanied by a big hug, a big kiss, and an Eskimo kiss. I know these goodnight snuggles have an expiration date, so I try to soak them in as much as I can.

Last night, Evan asked to do it twice since I missed the night before. It didn't take much convincing. Then, his sweet little voice trilled, "Mama, I love you sooo much, and you love me sooo much. One more 'nuggle."

Yes, baby, one more 'nuggle, and one very, very full mama heart.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Less Than Twelve

I'm back in my office after leaving it less than 12 hours ago. This two week window is brutal with extra conferences, seminars, and recruitment events. To say that I'm tired and barely keeping up with where I need to be this afternoon let alone tomorrow is an understatement.

But...and this is a wonderful but...I'm blissfully happy. I love my work. Even on the days when I just want to shake some of my sweet angels, I love it. I've said before that I feel like every career decision has led me here, and every day I am more and more certain of that. I feel challenged and engaged and like I'm really making a difference. It's a good place to be.

I also feel like we've found our rhythm at home. Of course, I missed the kids and Brad desperately last night. I hated missing ballet and missing good night snuggles. But I also know they know I love them. They were thrilled to find mints on their pillows, bags packed, and clothes laid out. More importantly, I knew I didn't need to worry about a thing because Daddy had it, which is a gift.

I also know I came home to a glass of wine and an hour long conversation with the most wonderful husband in the world. As I've made this transition back to full-time, he has stepped in in so many ways at home, which makes it so much easier for me. He has taken over dish duty, and he has rearranged his schedule to accommodate mine when I can't be somewhere. He has listened to me try to figure things out, and he has helped me to let go of some things. He has kept me focused on the big stuff, and he has helped me let go of my own mommy guilt. In short, he has supported me so that I can feel this blissfully happy, and I don't know what I would do with out him.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Science at Its Finest

This weekend launched Issa's very first science fair project. We haven't been eating as many potatoes these days, so we had some that sprouted. It became her inspiration. "Light and Dark," as Issa has named it, is an experiment about the effect of light and dark on a plant and a potato.
She bought two little plants and chose some sprouted potatoes. She placed one pair on the wine rack:

 And the other pair is in the (now empty) potato bin in the pantry:
 Issa and Daddy are measuring growth and recording the data on index cards:
 Issa is keeping up with all of the data and taking her own pictures for her board:
She is so excited to see what happens. Her hypothesis is that the plant in the pantry will die and the potato in the sun will die. She asked to get some plant books at the library to do some more research this week, and my heart sang.

As much as I love watching Issa jump in to her first experiment, I love watching Daddy help even more. He is so good, and he is helping her learn so much about the scientific method. They are keeping way more data than I would have ever thought about, and it has become so much more meaningful because of that. This man just keeps amazing me--so much.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Leprechauns of All Sizes

Adhering to our firm belief in celebrating big, we sucked the marrow out of St. Patrick's Day this weekend! The kids woke us up before the birds were even singing, jumping up and down shouting, "The leprechauns came!"
Brad only glared at me a little before he started marveling at the mess those ornery little leprechauns left: 
 They streamered (yes...I am declaring that a verb today) us in our rooms! And they left us a trail down the stairs:
 Through the kitchen:
 To rainbow muffins and green honey!
 They were super fun and at least Daddy didn't have to make breakfast:
 After we had eaten the leprechauns' treasures, the kids set off to finish a scavenger hunt they started Saturday. I had to work all day (like 6 am to 5 pm), so I had left them a four leaf clover scavenger hunt:
 The original poem read:
Here is the stem,
You find the leaves,
And the Luck of the Irish will be yours St. Patty's Eve!

The result was an attempt at green velvet cupcakes:
 They tasted awesome, and if you squinted and cocked your head to the side at just the right angle they might have looked a little green inside.

Traditionally, I make Guinness stew, but since we were pushing 70 degrees, that seemed a bit insane. Thank goodness for the Google, as Evan says. We found a recipe for Irish Hand Pies instead:
Let me tell you, these little pockets of beef, potatoes, and cabbage are awesome. The asparagus was an odd pairing, but it was green and the kids were begging. How do you say no to children begging for asparagus?

You will notice there are no pictures of the children. That's because the little leprechauns were in full jig mode all day. I would call that a measure of success.

Friday, March 15, 2013

That's My Boy!

Spring is springing at our house. The longer hours of daylight and warmer temperatures have the kids playing outdoors more, which is wonderful. They love exploring our back yard, which is in dire need of some spring cleaning. Case in point:
We have a few down branches. We actually had two trees taken out a few weeks ago, and another tree blew over in the last storm (no damage done). The one that blew over was a surprise to everyone; our arborist thought it looked fine, and so did we.
I digress...Evan is in love with exploring and sticks. They become swords or guns or bows and arrows or light sabers. Usually, they are small. This is what appeared on my porch, though:
 Why play with a stick when you can haul up a log? His ridiculous mother would not let him bring it inside--how rude.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Look who finally lost a top tooth last night:
To say that she was excited would be the understatement of the century (which might be a hyperbole). The whole family worked for this one. It has been so loose for so long, and last night she was complaining that it hurt to bite into a strawberry. The problem was it was really holding on by one corner. I tried to pull. Daddy tried to pull. Evan tried to pull. Daddy tried dental floss and pliers. By the time we had gotten through all of that, the tooth was at a 90 degree angle but still wouldn't come out. We were all way too excited, and she wanted it out so badly. I tried to twist it one more time, and it finally popped out. I looked around at our happy little family and knew it was one of those moments I will always remember, the night we all worked together to get Issa's tooth out.
It was dutifully prepared for the Tooth Fairy:

And the Tooth Fairy did come and leave her $1. The Tooth Fairy also somehow dropped a quarter on the stairs on the way out. We are all quite puzzled by how the Tooth Fairy managed to do that, but Issa and Evan are sure she left it for Evan since he had been so helpful. She is so kind.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Best of Times...the Worst of Times

Last night was parent observation night at ballet, which is one of my very favorite nights. Even though I watch every week, I love being in the room and watching my girl do her thing. She still loves it. I love watching how far she has come...
I can see more turn out and more toe point. She stretches a little bit farther, and she is so very happy.
And then she does jazz...

She insists this is her true talent, and I love watching her do her thing. She's not perfect. We still turn the wrong way occasionally, but boy can this girl move. And yes...they are dancing to "Call Me Maybe."

I get to be a backstage mom again, and it was one of those "best" moments...

...which was followed by a "worst." We were standing in line to exchange tights, and I realized my hip was wet. And I mean wet--not damp. I looked in my purse, and realized I was holding a small pond that was a ticking time bomb.

As it turns out, we have used the same water bottle without fail or leak for three years...until last night. I have no idea what happened, but most of the water was in the bottom of my purse. (I was shocked by how relatively water tight that purse is, though.) By some miracle, I had actually put my cell phone in the cell phone pocket, so it was safe, but everything else was in danger.

I yelled for Crystal, and we ran to the bathroom where I started throwing the contents of my purse at her before I dumped the water in the sink. Imagine my surprise when I saw a shark tooth and a vertebrae in the sink. What can you do but laugh at that point?

Thankfully, no real damage was done to anything, and I was so grateful for a friend who doesn't ask questions and just starts catching my stuff. I think we will be finding a new water bottle plan before next week, though.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Done Did Lost My Mind

Mondays are tough. Our little clan doesn't transition from weekends very well, and it's the one day of the week where I really question whether I should work full-time. The lunch packing and the fatigue of starting another week just get to me by the end of the day--not to mention the mom-guilt of not being there to get Issa off the bus. Add the start of allergy season to that mess, and it was ugly. Add some stressed out students, and it was a hot mess. Add the time change, and yesterday should have been illegal.
As I was leaving work, my neighbor called to say everything was fine but that she had an appointment that afternoon so I really needed to be on time. She was super nice about it, and I heard myself say, "Do you want Briana to stay with us." I could feel the exhaustion get heavier as she said yes.'s what our village does. We take care of our own--even and especially our extended own.
So what did I do? I done did lost my mind:

I got out canvases and "real" paint. Then we made biscuits...all four of us. They were very well stirred and rolled. Then I went to bed at 9:30.

Monday, March 11, 2013

This Poor Mama's Heart

Every once in a while, I get sucker punched in this mama-world. Something happens and it feels like the kids leap forward. Time jumps.
Saturday morning, Issa was sitting on the opposite end of the couch from me and I really saw her. There is no baby face left. None. Suddenly she looked more a tween than my baby, and my heart skipped a beat. I've never thrown myself into a game of Go Fish quite as much. The days when she wants to play these games are fleeting, and I relished every hunt for a number.
As if that was not enough, our little slugger walked through the door with his first sport's injury just a bit later:
The picture doesn't do it justice, but he has a little shiner and scuff from a ball. As he walked through the door, beaming with pride over his injury, I stifled the gasp to admire what he was so clearly proud of. He didn't want, or need, Mama's hugs.

It was no wonder that I finally cracked when the school called with a few reminders, including the dates for kindergarten registration. We still have a year, but it was just too much to envision my baby headed off in just one more year.

I've said it before, but motherhood is not for the weak. I always find I have more than enough strength for the tough stuff--the illnesses and injuries, the hurt feelings, the big questions. It's the joy, the milestones, that sometimes takes the most strength. With each triumph they hop just a little bit farther away. And while I beam with pride and celebrate with them, I still find myself stifling the gasp and clinging to the snuggle just a little bit longer.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Green Picture Day

Can you find the hidden Evan in this picture?
He is pure orneriness, I tell you.

We are ending Seuss Week! Evan is making jello aquariums for One Fish, Two Fish, which is a lovely break for me--no work required. Issa was to wear green for Green Eggs and Ham. The catch is today is also picture day. Ta-da! Green and sparkly. She was one very happy girl.

TGIF, my friends!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Seuss Week Continues

Seuss Week is back on track--no covert operations necessary!
For Evan, today is hat day, for The Cat in the Hat. Here is how we started:
 He couldn't choose. His baseball hat or the Cat in the Hat hat? So he wore both. It didn't work well, so he went like this:
 He did carry the other hat just in case this one gets a little annoying. Probably a good call.

For Issa, today is Silly Sock Day for Fox in Socks. Now, when you wear mismatched socks everyday, Silly Sock Day is a challenge:
 Daddy sacrificed a pair of tube socks, and the sharpies reappeared. We couldn't stuff Daddy's socks in her shoes, so we cut off the toes and made sock you do.

I would say these qualify as silly:
Oh how I love this girl and her creativity.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Covert Wackiness

Evan is happily at school in his green shirt for Green Eggs and Ham day. He will also be enjoying green eggs and ham for breakfast at school this morning.
Issa's Dr. Seuss week took a wicked turn, though. Apparently, sunglasses were a bit too distracting for her class. We got a note yesterday that Wacky Tacky Day was cancelled, and that students who had been the worst offenders were receiving a more specific note. We did not get such a note--thank goodness. A very teary Issa explained that she was messing with her glasses the first time her teacher gave the class a strike, but that she really hadn't the rest of the day, and it just wasn't fair. Issa was furious with specific students who earned the last strike--and she could name every one.
Here's the problem. This is the first time I've really not liked a call her teacher made. I preach against this "punish the class" model in every one of my classes. It backfires. The students who were following the rules recognize the inequity and they end up just resenting their classmates. Case in point: my living room yesterday.
I hate it when my philosophy collides with my child's teacher. It puts me in a bad spot. So, I made a call of my own. We had to follow the teacher's rules, but we could go covert:
 Issa grabbed a pair of her white socks and white panties, a bag of sharpies, and she went to town:
Covert wackiness.

We talked about how I was glad that she was honest with me about her early bad decisions, and that I understood how unfair this felt. So...this was a compromise. I also stated that if she told anyone about the covert operation her Dr. Seuss week was over. It let us have a great conversation about leading by example. I told her that I expected her to be an example all day today, and that if Silly Sock Day got cancelled, I would be emailing her teacher to ensure that Issa had been on her very, very best behavior today.

It seems to have stuck. We've had a few attitude issues lately accompanied by some listening ears that were on the fritz. I saw a real difference last night and this morning. Here's hoping it was a lasting teachable moment.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dr. Seuss Week

Saturday was Dr. Seuss's birthday, which makes this Dr. Seuss week for both kids. It's a week-long celebration of reading and silliness, and the kiddos look forward to it every year.
This year, I had to carefully line up everything on the calendar because they have similar themes on different days and I just knew I would send someone to school improperly attired one day. So far, so good.
For Evan, yesterday was wear a letter on your shirt day for The ABC Book. He wouldn't let me take a picture. Today, though, the theme is Fox in Socks and he got to wear silly socks:
 Why, yes, those are his Spiderman socks from his Halloween costume.

Today, Issa's theme is I Can Read with my Eyes Shut, and she got to wear sunglasses to school:
 She chose her super cool ones:
 Nothing will top yesterday, though. It was dress as  your favorite Dr. Seuss character day. May I introduce the Cat in the Hat?
I'm a little proud of that one. We made the hat Sunday afternoon from some poster board, construction paper, and a ton of hot glue. I think she might just have been the cutest Cat in the Hat ever.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Our Weekend

This weekend was just fabulous for all involved.
Saturday morning, Evan started Smart Start baseball:
 He colored that picture for his coach, wore his baseball pants, and took his own glove. We did make him leave the tent stakes and ball at home. I'm unreasonable like that. He loves baseball, though! He gets to "Hit the ball like kapow!" and throw and catch and run. Really, life doesn't get any better for this guy.

While the boys were at baseball, Issa and I headed to Shelby's birthday party! I made chocolate butterflies for the cupcakes:
 And, since the party was at Michael's, the kiddos made masks and little pigs:
 It takes a lot of concentration to make a pig.

Shelby made a wish:
And a great time was had by all.

Saturday night, I headed to Steph's for a girls' night in. We watched Castle, talked, spent some time in the hot tub, and drank wine. was perfect. I spent the night there, and slept the sleep of a mother who is off duty. I wasn't listening for little peeps or thuds from children falling out of bed. It was blissful.

My crew brought us breakfast Sunday morning, and then we headed to the mall. My new job required some new clothes, and I had a ball shopping with Issa! For the first time, she was really, truly helpful. She helped me pick out some really cute things, and she really does have an eye for fashion. At one point, she looked at me, held up  a shirt, and said, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but this is too pink and too sparkly." My girl is growing up. Here's hoping shopping is always as much fun!

This is Dr. Seuss week, so brace yourself for lots of cuteness!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Jazz Teacher

Today is career day at Issa's school. She wants to be a jazz teacher:
 This is perhaps the easiest theme day ever. She wore her studio shirt, dance pants, and please notice the California fingerless gloves.

And in case you needed a little extra dose of cuteness on a Friday morning:
His impression of a jazz dancer.