Thursday, June 27, 2013


Life is a little nutty right now. I had delusions that things would get easier in the summer. I was crazy. With running Issa to various camps and packing the necessary "stuff," I'm missing any semblance of routine. I feel like I'm living by the calendar and various slips of paper telling me what to do tonight to get ready for tomorrow. I'm also trying to prep the house and the refrigerator for my five day absence. Throw in a crazy work life right now complete with the start of a six-week summer session course and I'm barely holding on to my sanity. Add shin splints to the mix and I'm a hop, skip, and jump away from full-on crazy.

But...thankfully...there are moments. In the midst of the morning rush, Daddy and Evan were ready to head out the door and I was packing lunches. Issa was upstairs doing an art project before camp, which has become her new routine. Just as Evan was walking out the door, he froze: "I have to tell Sissy goodbye!" I rushed up the stairs just so I could see the moment. He ran up the stairs, threw his arms around her, and said, "By, Sissy. Have a good day. I love you." She repeated the same, and they both went merrily along their way.

Wondrous thing. Every once in a while in this parenting gig, you have a moment when you know you are getting at least one thing right. Evan has seen Daddy and I do this routine every morning. We never taught him explicitly, but he is learning the importance of saying goodbye and I love you to the ones he loves. It makes my heart very happy.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kitty Snuggles

When I started running, I also started doing yoga on the alternate mornings. I love yoga mornings; it really is a great way to start the day.

I do my practice at 5:30--before anyone else is awake--everyone but the furry babies in our home. The cats have all decided they love yoga, too. This morning, I wish someone would have been awake to snap a picture. I'm in child's pose, and all three cats snuggled their way up to me. Each time I move, they move. If I'm at all on the floor, they try to find a snuggle spot. If I'm standing in mountain or tree pose, they are rubbing against my legs. It adds a balance challenge.

I love my little furry friends, and I love that they are so snugly in the morning. I'm going to miss the "help" when I'm doing my practice in a hotel room while I'm at my conference next week.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Taking the Leap

See that truly genuine smile? This girl is taking a major leap. Last Thursday, she was invited to join the Tiny Company at her dance studio. You can see she dressed for her celebratory dinner at Red Robin.

We had not planned on making this leap just yet, but then we received the email invitation. Brad and I spent most of Thursday emailing each other. Is it too soon? Is it too much? We knew this was a move she desperately wanted, but we worried about the pressure of competition. We were assured that the goal was to try your best rather than win--we like that. We also worried that this would put all of her focus on dance. Then we remembered she really doesn't want to do anything else. She has zero interest in any kind of sport. We also realized it only added another hour of time beyond what we already planned to do, and she has made the transition to longer classes beautifully this summer. At the end of the day, we talked to some people we trust, and then we talked with Issa. Her squeal sealed the decision.

She will be at the studio a little more than in the past--two evenings a week and one Saturday a month. She will also get to compete four times in the spring. She is thrilled about the whole situation. I love that she already is practicing at home more. Stretching more. She has a goal, and she is working towards it. She is at the studio all week for Pop Star Camp, and she couldn't be happier about her time there. The older company girls are already becoming big sisters to her, and she is falling more in love with dance by the day. And so, we make the leap...

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Big Weekend for our Little Man

Evan had quite the weekend!

Friday, he and I dropped Issa off and then embarked on our date day. He had earned enough pebbles to go to the museum, and we had probably the best day we have ever had there. I love our museum, and I love going with the whole family. is also really nice to go one on one. I love being able to follow one of my kiddos and see what we discover. We had a really lucky day, too! We started the day at our dinosaur trail, and we had the entire trail to ourselves. We found some great shark teeth, and then headed out to drive the sailboats, which we also had to ourselves. Then, we ventured out to see the lemurs, and we really scored. We were able to watch the keepers prep the outside environment for the lemurs, and then we got to see the lemurs come out and explore. Then, we got to see the environment inside prepped and the lemurs come in there. And, we got to see the keeper do the target training and wellness checks with the lemurs. It was so cool. Even I was fascinated. After the lemurs were about their ordinary day, we went to see the bears and farmyard, where everyone was very playful and anxious to say hello. In short, it was a perfect morning for Evan. We decided to eat there, and managed to score a table beside a giant caterpillar eating a plant outside. We munched while watching him munch. It really doesn't get any better.

Evan chatted and was just Evan, and I loved being able to give him my undivided attention for a whole day. He is so funny--truly funny. He also noticed anything alive, and I loved seeing the wonder in his eyes and listening to him process what he was saying. I'll be a little sad when that exploration becomes more internal, so I'm soaking it in now.

Grandma Pat came in for a visit this weekend, and just when Evan thought it couldn't get any better we all went to see Monster's U, which was Evan's first movie in a theater. He loved the whole experience and did great! He is already planning the next movie date.

I guess you could say it was a pretty big weekend for our little man, and I am so glad I got to be a part of it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Check Me Out

Look at these:
Those are my feet. In running shoes. Because I'm running. It's a miracle.

I have been using RunKeeper, which is a free app that I love. It's for newbies like me, and it slowly ramps up. I've been at this for about two weeks now, and I'm up to a mile and half solid run, and I've lowered my time for a mile by nearly two minutes. I run every other day, and have picked yoga back up on the days in between.

I run at 5:30, when it is still cool and the sun is just coming up. That's the trick. I have come to love the quiet time by myself, listening to my music and watching the sunrise while I run. I do not love the last hill coming back to the house--it's killer. I do feel great, though, and I finally get the mystical runner's high. This morning, I came across five deer and four bunnies on my run. Is there really any better way to start a day?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Apology Unsent

Dear Mr. Will,

First and most importantly, thank you so much for being such an incredible camp teacher this week. Issa has loved being one of your Nature Kids, and she is learning so much without even realizing it. In her words, "You rock!"

I wish this was a simple thank you, but unfortunately I need to apologize to you. I am so sorry for allowing Issa to bring in a dead bumble bee for Insect Day today. It really was an accident. I blame it entirely on my very zen-like state after an amazing yoga practice this morning combined with a lack of coffee, which I delayed until my commute so that I could sweep and mop this morning. It is a deadly combination, Mr. Will, that leaves me unable to process and respond quickly--much less ask critical questions.

It all started very innocently. Issa was playing outside and discovered a very dead bumble bee that was in perfect condition. When she asked for a box, I thought she wanted to save it to show Daddy tonight. When I handed her the little gold earring box, complete with cotton batting, I had no idea her intentions. I didn't make the connection until I saw her beaming face proclaiming, "Mr. Will is going to love this for insect day."

At that point, it was just too late. The bee was carefully boxed, and I could not think of a single solid reason to crush her little soul. I understand not everyone is as enthusiastic about dead bumble bees, though, and if it created any undue chaos I am truly sorry. But also, welcome to my world, and further, I think you are an awesome enough teacher to embrace the moment--I hope.

A somewhat contrite and very grateful,

Issa's Mom

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Yesterday at work was not one of my favorite days. I was trapped in an all day meeting led by a woman whose credibility was rapidly declining as the day went on. I can be a pretty tolerant person, but when you continue to only tell one side of the story and shut down anyone that raises a question or a concern I'm out...and grumpy. Add frantic calls from students about job interviews and prospects and I was D.O.N.E. by the end of the day. I love helping students, but it increased my frustration with being trapped when I should be in my office doing something that is actually important. Rant ended.
Thankfully, we ended early. To be honest, I might have walked out even if she wasn't finished. My options were becoming leave or lose it. I called my people, and told a very thrilled little girl I was going to make it to watch her first tumbling class. Breathe.
I watched Issa tumble and try so hard. It was all new to her, and then I heard her tell her teacher, "Mom says I shouldn't get frustrated if I don't get it right away. This is my first tumbling class." And she got back up. Breathe.
Brad made this lovely cherry biscuit for dessert:

Sweet biscuits with macerated cherries and a cherry sauce. Yum. Breathe.

I ended my evening snuggled up with two kiddos who wanted to cuddle. Breathe.

After they went to bed, I cleaned my inbox and my house, but I was home. Home. Not just the physical place, but the real home. The feeling of Home. And I could breathe again.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Growing and Challenging

My little Issa-bug is growing so fast. Yesterday morning, I dropped her off at camp at our museum, and she bounced very happily in without so much as a goodbye. I couldn't help but remember last year when I left a shy baby at the door and cried when I got to the car. Now look at our big girl in her camp shirt:
Last night, Issa made the leap into big girl dance. Technique is becoming more of a focus, and I watched her teachers tweak foot position and posture. She still laughed and had a blast, but it's a new challenge. She thrived on it in ballet and jazz, but tap was a real stretch. But...she hung in there and kept trying. I am proud...and grateful. I'm proud she is learning how to persevere, and I'm grateful she is continuing to thrive.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

Yesterday, we celebrated the best daddy on the planet. The kids had been plotting for weeks, and they had made all manner of cards and projects at home and at school. I also lost two hours of my life to a shopping trip to Walmart to find the perfect treasures. It is a good thing I love this man.
Evan was so excited to give Daddy his treasures:
 He made a rock, tie, and various and sundry pictures at school. He also found a cool wristband in the tool section that has a magnet for holding screws. I had no idea at the time, but Daddy actually had one on his Wishlist. Go Evan!

Issa was also very excited:
 She made a card at school and a whole host of pictures and bracelets as home. She also found the perfect cooling scarf for Daddy for when he mows or runs. That thing gets freezing, and Daddy is pretty excited to try it out.

Daddy dutifully admired every project and card:
 I loved watching the kids explain why they drew each picture and chose each gift:
We also have him a gift certificate for a man's spa day. We figure the shoulders that support us could use a good massage.

The rest of the day was spent eating favorite foods and just relaxing, which is exactly what Daddy asked for this year. We love you, Daddy, and we are so very thankful for all that you do for us.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Evan's Year in Review

At long last, I finished Evan's fourth year in review last night. As always, the pictures brought back so many wonderful memories, and I was amazed at how very much he has grown. At the same time, there is so much the pictures don't capture, though. And so...a mother's year in review....

My little monster,

This has been another incredible year, and you have taught me so very much. As I looked back over the pictures of the past year, I couldn't help but remember all of the new milestones you reached and what we have learned along the way...

You are still a builder. If it can be snapped together, stacked together, or pieced together you are on it. You discovered Legos, and in one of my proudest mommy moments, I made you a Lego mat sack. I also learned Legos have come a very long way from when I was little. We built an entire scene from the Avengers movie. I love watching you see how these things come together. I can almost see the wheels turning as you build. Sometimes, I think I may be looking into your future as an architect or engineer.

Although some things remained the same, you also had some big firsts this year. It's funny. As you grow, the firsts move from milestones (sitting up, walking, talking) to experiences. I love seeing these experiences anew through your eyes. We went fishing for the first time. We were lucky in that we found a spot where fish were plentiful, but I loved watching the thrill on your face when the fish broke the water. Even more thrilling was your first real train ride, though! We had been on a train before, but this time we actually went somewhere, Baltimore. Every time we passed another train, you would light up and yell, "Train!" Every time you could see our locomotive, you would shout, "Train!" It was a bit of a long ride with all that shouting, but I loved how you noticed the small things. Pieces of construction equipment, cows, fields. It's hard to describe, but I can still feel the mix of elation and complete tranquility. The rumbling of the train. Your chatter. It was lovely.

While we were on the train, you noticed every animal we passed. I wasn't surprised at all. You are an animal lover to your core. You are always so gentle. When we babysat some guinea pigs, you were the one who could calm them and snuggle them. You also have such a special attachment with Viv. I love looking over to see you snuggled up with her, gently patting and loving her. At these moments, I wonder if I'm looking at a future vet.

These quiet moments are so rare, though. Most of your world happens at warp speed and six million decibels. Most days, I've come to accept it. In fact, we have turned Hulk into a verb around here. You have discovered all things super hero, and Hulk is your favorite. Occasionally that means you try to Hulk Smash who knows what, and I have heard myself say, "No hulking at the table," more times than I care to remember. You are so taken with these heroes you even made a Spiderman jack-o-lantern and have moved on to the graphic novel section of the library. I have learned more about heroes and villains in the last year than I thought possible, but I love your sweet faith that good always wins and ordinary people can become super heroes. I pray you never lose that faith, and I know you will go on to do heroic things in your own way and time. Remember, sometimes being the hero means stepping forward when others draw back, sometimes it means speaking up when others are silent, and sometimes it means being silent when other are loud. Being a hero doesn't require a spider or a special suit; it requires a big heart and courage--qualities you have no shortage of, sweet boy.

When you aren't hulking, you are throwing or kicking something. In fact, our backyard has become a veritable sporting goods store with a soccer goal, baseballs tees, and a pitch back. You played soccer and baseball for the first times this year. The fall soccer season was a little rough. You weren't so sure about the competition after weeks of skill development, but by spring you got it. You charged after the ball. Next fall, you will be on your first real team, and you can't wait. While I love watching you love the game, I tend to be a nervous wreck. You hurl yourself down the field. You came home with your first black eye after a baseball practice, and you were so proud of the badge of honor. Although I smiled and said I was proud of you for getting right back out there, I wanted to scoop you up and never let you play again. I hate seeing you hurt. I know that as you keep playing, there will be more bruises, and I am bracing myself for first trips to ERs. I know they are coming. I am glad those are my worries, though, and not yours. You live life boldly. You don't hold back. Go! I will always be your biggest cheerleader, your first fan, and your medic when you need it--always. No matter what. When you hit a home run and when you strike out--in anything--I will be there, cheering and helping you back up--promise.

Your second biggest fan is your big sister. You two are still thick as thieves. You may be the little brother, but I have seen you move into the protector role this year. I have seen you put your arm around her when she is sad, and I have seen you fuss at people that you thought had wronged her. It's endearing. Heaven help the first boy that she brings home; he's going to have to make it past Daddy and you.

As sweet as you can be, you are also incredibly ornery and stubborn sometimes. When you dig in you heels, it is ugly--and occasionally loud. You have actually taken to growling when you are angry; it's simultaneously adorable and annoying. As crazy as these traits might make me sometimes, they also make laugh, and I know they will serve you well as you grow up. I do hope the growling goes away, though; it will not be adorable when you are 16.

As I'm writing, I realize the theme this year was glimpses. Glimpses into possible futures. At Aunt Shannon's wedding, I saw you in your first little tux. Be still my heart. I couldn't help but flash forward to proms and your own wedding someday. Mothering a son is so different. Daddies get to walk their daughters down aisles. Mommies don't have that ceremony. I see one of my roles as walking you down an aisle that spans years, preparing you to be the man I know you will be. You have an amazing role model in your daddy, and I know you watch his every move. You are like him in so many wonderful ways, and you make me so proud. Know that when I fuss or make you pick up your own socks for the millionth time or insist you actually set the table, it's because I know you will need these skills someday, and someone else will thank me.

More than anything, you bring me such joy. You help me see the world in a way I never have--through little boy eyes. I used to only stop for flowers; now I stop for bugs. You help me see all of life around me. I used to only listen for music; now I hear the music in trains and big trucks. I used to think peace meant tranquility; I now know peace can mean running and shouting. You have opened me up to new joy, and I know this is only the beginning.

I love with wild abandon, baby boy, and I always will.

Forever and always,

Your mama

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Office Mates

I had some new office mates at work this week.
Meet Evan:
 He was the resident engineer and architect on Tuesday. He used the Kinex we have for workshops to build all manner of rocket ships.

Meet Issa:
 She was our number cruncher and interior designer three days this week. Yes, she is lying on the L of my desk. I didn't have a good reason to tell her she couldn't. My office walls are also now covered in all manner of illustrations and notes.

She even reminded me to stop and smell the flowers on the way into the office:
I am so incredibly grateful to work at a place where I can bring them when I need to--especially in the summer. Things are pretty quiet around here, and they were content to play in my office while I worked at my computer. It was Issa's first week out of school, and we didn't want to throw her straight into camps. It was a nice transition for her, and for the most part I enjoyed having a little extra time with her. There were only a few moments when work-me and mommy-me collided--trying to draft a document while checking math work, responding to email while helping sound out words in a letter--it got a little dicey.

Today,  Issa is at a play date, and next week she heads to camp, but it was nice to have a little company in the office this week.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Well Then...

Last spring, as in the spring of 2012, Issa decided she wanted the training wheels off her bike. Somewhere very early in the learning process, though, she had an epic crash and promptly swore off bikes for the rest of her life. We opted to ride that one out. Why push? It was just a bike, and when she was ready she would try again.
Fast forward to this May when she decided she wanted to try again. Of course, by this time, the bike was a bit small, but we opted to see if she stuck with it before we bought a bigger bike. She did! So...this weekend we set out to find a bike that was the right size so she could have a better chance at really learning how to ride.
As part of the deal, Evan got his very first scooter:
 It is even Iron Man! He's not quite big enough for a bike, and the tricycle we have is the perfect size. He pretty much lives on the scooter now, though. It's taking a little practice, but he is starting to be able to glide a bit farther.

I could have walked in and chosen Evan's scooter in a heart beat. Issa, however, threw us:
 Yes, that is a lime green boy's bike that she chose. We didn't see that one coming. When she pointed to that one, Daddy and I were both a little surprised. I pointed out a cool hot pink one with streamers and a light green one with pink details. She remained resolutely set on the green boy's bike, though.

Brad reminded her that this was it. There would be no changing her mind later. Then she humbled me. "Mom, you are the one that says there are no girl or boy colors or girl or boy toys. Why does it matter?"


I do say that. In fact, I had thrown a small fit when she asked for girl Legos--as in the pink and purple set that they now make that irritates the hell out of me. Why was a bike different to me? It was stupid. She was right. And she loves her new bike:
Daddy is very patiently teaching her how to ride. She can make it about five feet before she realizes she's riding solo and crashes. But this time, she's getting right back on. That's my girl...on a lime green boys bike...and I am one proud mama.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The End of First Grade

The last week of first grade was a blur of activity. Tuesday, we were able to cheer her class on during field day. Ms. Wright started the day by saying, "We are scientists! We are great thinkers! We are creative and artistic! We are going to have fun!"
That was her subtle way of saying we had a snowball's chance of winning the day, but we did have a great time. This field day was very different than the ones I remember. The whole thing was a class competition, and the events relied on teamwork. Issa was very proud to be her class's flag bearer:
 The first event was a class relay. Look at our girl pass that baton:
 The next event was a teacher pull:
 Yes...that is Issa's very brave teacher on the sled being pulled by her class. It was Issa's favorite event. There was also a game of every body's it and jump the creek. We lost all of those. We did win the water relay, though, because her class was smart enough to figure out the most efficient way to pass water. It was a fun day that ended in exhaustion for all.

Friday was the last day of school for the year:
 I can't believe how much she grew in one year! We headed in for the end of year awards ceremony that morning. The principal announced that the teachers had decided there would be two more weeks of school--and the gym cheered. I have never in my life seen anything like it. Issa was actually fairly annoyed he was only kidding.

Our girl did earn two awards. She was the first grade recipient of the library all star award:
 She was chosen for her leadership in the library and love of reading.

In a moment that literally caused me to laugh out loud, she also received the PE MVP award:
I love my girl. She has so very, very many gifts. Athleticism is not one of them, though. She received the award for effort, leadership, and encouraging her classmates to do their best, too. Yeah, we think we'll keep her.

It has been an incredible year, and I'm more than a little sad to say goodbye to Ms. Wright. Issa has grown so much in every way that matters. She has become more confident. She has fallen even more in love with reading and learning. She found a new love of non-fiction. It has been everything I hoped for in first grade, and I am so proud of our little Flyer.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Last of the Fourth Birthday

I'm really back this time. Nana and Papa left Saturday, and we have almost readjusted to reality in our household. I might still be pouting just a bit, but as promised, I will continue with the recap.
Part of the visit was set to close Evan's fourth birthday celebrations. In a surprise move, he chose a mustache theme:
 How hysterical are those two? of my favorite pictures of Evan ever:
 A little sibling mustache love:
 It was all great fun. The mustaches didn't last too long because they are apparently very tickley. I didn't even try. We did get to meet Aunt Shannon and Uncle Jeff for lunch as part of the celebrating, and the kids wore their hats. It was most humorous. It was a quick lunch between a wedding Aunt Shannon was in and a flight home, but we were so glad we got to celebrate with them.

Following tradition, Aunt Shannon gave Issa and Evan their new swimsuits:

Evan thinks he's pretty hot stuff in his Spiderman gear, and Issa feels very grown up in her two piece. As an added bonus, part of Evan's birthday gift was a Slip and Slide:
Issa totally grasped the run and flop theory. Evan, well, he preferred the baseball slide:
After all that fun, there were the rest of the party preparations to finish. Issa decorated Papa and Nana's gift to Evan:
In case you aren't clear, that is Hulk. The black circles are his muscles, of course, and even Hulk appreciates birthday balloons, apparently. Please also note Issa's Hulk face.
Nana made a perfect mustache and tie cake:

Which went perfectly with the plates and napkins Evan had chosen for the party:

 Finally, Evan opened his gift:
 That would be an Avengers Lego set. We built Loci's containment chamber and the plane that subdues Hulk. Let me tell you, Legos have come a long way since I was a kid!

Evan's favorite was still the cake:
 I love, love, love that picture. It makes my heart very happy.

And, we blew the candles out on a fabulous fourth birthday celebration:
 I sure do love this little man and his surprises.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Too Much Fun to Post

Nana and Papa are visiting this week, and we have just been having way too much fun playing and celebrating for me to post. I will spend the next few posts trying to catch up, though!
They arrived Friday night, just in time for the big ballet recital Saturday. Our little dancer struck a pose before we left:
 Evan is a goober, but at least he jumped in some pictures:
 Our little family:
 Don't my boys look thrilled about this whole picture thing?

This one is a keeper, though:
Issa danced her little heart out! She did a great job without a drop of stage fright. I am so proud of her and how much she has grown as a dancer this year. This will be her last year in the little ones' recital, but I'm certain we will be watching her on stage for years to come.

We took no pictures at the actual recital, though, because it was scorching hot. We opted to come home, cool off, and then head out to barbecue. We have our priorities straight. More fun to follow...