Thursday, May 28, 2015

More of a Ninja than an Performer

We had  Evan's Ocean Play this morning:

Bless our sweet boy. The cuteness of 60 kindergarteners singing ocean songs cannot be described. Evan, however, was less than enthused. He loved wearing his new shark shirt, but the singing and dancing he could do without. That being said, his whole class "surfing" was just about the cutest thing ever.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Long Weekend Fun

We packed a lot of work into last weekend, but we also managed to pack in a lot of fun.

Friday, the kids and I went to the library, and Issa made her way to the cookbook section. She picked up several, including the Cheerios Cookbook. We were all dubious, but she made her grocery list and then made muffins, parfaits, and pancakes over the course of the weekend--all to rave reviews.

Daddy pitched the tent in the backyard, and the kids camped over night and played in it by day. I love that they love being in the tent, listening to the birds and frogs.

Sunday night, we went to the neighbors for a barbecue. The kids ran and played. The adults talked and took turns watching kids so we could also spend time being adults. Brad even ran home with a neighbor to build a ridiculous "adult" yard game that involved two poles, a frisbee, and trying to knock a beer bottle down. We aren't quite ready to surrender to being fully grown up yet, but we all headed home to tuck in our kids.

Ryan and Felicia came over for dinner Sunday, which consisted of antipasti and us all eating around the island. No fuss.

The weekend was so simple, but it reminded me again how blessed we are to have a village that is so strong and so fun. I can't wait for this summer when we can enjoy it a little more...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Major Accomplishments

This was a fabulous, super productive weekend around our house. I'll write about the purely fun bits tomorrow, but today we need to feature the work.

We tackled Evan's room Mother's Day weekend, and Issa's room was reserved for Memorial Day weekend. And boy did we tackle it. Three trash sacks and six Goodwill bags later, Issa had purged her room down to the things she loves:

The chalkboard wall is set to get fabulous thanks to Aunt Shannon, but the rest of the room is finished. Issa can get to things so much more easily, and she loves the more "grown up" feel. She only got really frustrated with me once when we were just starting and she didn't see my logic. I only nearly lost it when we moved the bed and found half a bag of junk and most of a library.

In addition to this project, we also tackled our family room. We emptied the coat closet, armoire, and buffet. Everything was purged and then reorganized into a much cleaner looking, more usable space.

We are on a bit of a mission at our house. We are trying to purge down to the things we actually love and use. Everything else must go. We have realized we are entering a new season at our house, one that doesn't require child-proofing or everything being visible for little people. I think it's going to be lovely...

Friday, May 22, 2015


Last night was the end of year banquet for the Company. I love the simplicity of this celebration. People send in pictures from the year for a slide show. The teachers give out a handful of awards. We eat cupcakes. The end. I love watching the pictures. There are plenty of great dance shots, but there are also tons of great friends shots. Girls inevitably hugging and smiling. Some at the studio. Some at prom. Some in someone's kitchen. It captures the family in our Company. These girls are forming friendships that will last. Memories that are better that any trophy or pin.

After the banquet, the kids and I decided to go out for dinner. I had planned leftovers because I knew I wouldn't have time to cook, but these kids are bottomless pits this week and there were no leftovers. We sat at dinner and I had one of those moments when I realized my kids are becoming real people. There is that magical moment when you realize your kids and funny and interesting and you would like to hang out even if you didn't have to. It's really lovely.

I've had so very much to celebrate, which makes the hard moments this week so much easier.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"Your Absence is Everywhere"

A friend from high school posted, "your absence is everywhere," this week on facebook, and it struck such a deep chord. She, too, lost her dog to cancer within the past month, and she found the words I've been searching for.

This week has been hard. I don't know if it's because it's been a month and I feel like I shouldn't be so sad. I don't know if Brad travelling again makes the silence more apparent. I don't know. But I do know I am missing Viv more acutely in the past week than I did the first week she was gone. I guess the first week I gave myself permission to wallow a bit. Bursting into tears seemed completely normal. Now, it feels harder.

Last night, the silence was just too much after the kids were in bed. Even with the tv on, it was too quiet. I still miss that snore and warm, thick fur at my feet. I am so incredibly grateful Mom pushed us to get Neela last year. When I broke last night, Neela, all 65 pounds of her, jumped into my lap and buried her nose into my neck. She let me sob into her much thinner fur. I truly think she knows. I'm sure she feels it, too.

I think the hole will always be there, but I'm hopeful the grief will ebb a bit. Someday, the silence won't be so deafening.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

One Stripe Away

Last night was a very big night at the dojo! Evan earned his second black stripe on his candy cane belt:
 Earning a belt is very thirsty work:
This is a very important stripe. It means Evan is only one red stripe away from his camo white belt. He is so excited to finish all of his white belts and move on to the next level. It's almost more than he can handle. I'm just glad he still loves being a ninja and his time in the dojo!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I'm Not Ready

Oh the tween years are crashing in upon us. Issa was in tears last night because boys basically suck. A few teased her yesterday and it snow balled, and I got hit with an avalanche out of nowhere. I hate seeing her so upset--especially when I can't fix it.

Once she was reassembled, I sent an email to my little third grade village. I don't know what I was looking for, but I do know some moments of motherhood are lonely, and I needed my people. Within minutes, I had my village. They weren't offering fixes, but they were offering support and I've been theres and we'll get through this. And that was all I needed. I needed to feel a little less alone, and I do. And once again I'm so glad for this village. I'm not at all ready for what's ahead, and I wish I could hold on to little for much longer than I have left, but at least I know we're in this together. There will be strong women around both Issa and I, and we will all get through this together.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Weekend With My Girl

Issa spent Friday afternoon and Saturday morning auditioning to be a part of Mini Company next year. She was so very, very nervous. Although she says she will be absolutely fine staying a Tiny, I know her heart is set on Minis. She feels really good about the audition, though, which is a good sign. If nothing else, she knows she gave it everything she had!

We also know our girl, and Brad and I knew that the last thing she needed was to sit around all weekend waiting and wondering--especially since she won't hear until after recital. So...I planned a very busy girls' weekend. 

After auditions, we went to Abby's house to make the end of year teacher gifts from the Tinys. It turned in to be Issa and Abby having a play date while Melanie and I crafted, but that was just fine. They had both worked hard at auditions, and I think the time to relax together was well earned.

With the gifts made, Issa and I headed home to catch a quick nap before a big night out. For the first time, I took Issa to an evening performance of the Carolina Ballet, which of course meant we got to get a little more dressed up:
 Issa was so excited to see "Cinderella." The ballet had commissioned an original piece of music, and the composer actually played the piece on the most beautiful baby grand I have ever seen. The ballet was beautiful and a little funny and just perfect. Issa was in love:
 (Side note: those are Gram's pearls. I have been meaning to get them converted from clips, but for now I am very glad I haven't yet.)

"Cinderella" was followed by two more ballets. Issa actually got teary during "Spartacus and Phrygia." She didn't know the story, but it was so beautifully danced that she got caught up in it. The last piece was truly one of the most interesting pieces I have ever seen. It was called "In the Grey," and the whole thing was only lit with white lights from the sides of the stage. We ended the night with a rickshaw ride to our car, causing Issa to declare it "the most magical night of my whole entire life."

Sunday morning, we slept in a bit and then tackled some real world things like dishes and homework before Issa and I headed out to high tea:
 I loved having the time to just chat with my girl. Issa loved everything about tea:
She is on a mission to get Daddy to perfect the tiny warm scones we ate.

We came home just in time to have a burger dinner with Ryan and Felicia. Ryan and Daddy created a whole new beast that was stuffed with caramelized onions, candied bacon, and roasted tomato goat cheese. It was pretty fabulous.

I think this will be one of those weekends that Issa remembers--I know I will.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Holding On

Work is feeling a bit like a centrifuge at the moment, and I am just holding on for dear life. The end of the semester brings a professional development conference, a host of assessment reports, and emerging projects now that it's summer and people have more time. Add the fact that I am teaching a brand new three week intensive course starting Monday, and I'm looking at a truck coming at full speed. the end of that three weeks...I will be on a boat with my husband and our friends, and that is one heck of a carrot to get me through!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I'm In Trouble

Daddy is home for the third straight week. Hallelujah and amen. It's a beautiful thing.

One of the best parts of him being home is the taxiing that comes with two involved kiddos gets a little easier. It also means that they don't have to go to each other's stuff all the time. Usually, they like watching the other dance or be a ninja, but sometimes it's nice to just stay home. The other benefit of this is each kid gets a little extra one on one time.

Yesterday, Issa stayed home while I took Evan to the dojo. He was feeling chatty, which is always entertaining with that one. Somehow we started talking about what they were doing in reading groups, and this conversation ensued:

"When I work with Mrs. Rhonda, we practice our handwriting. We know how to make all the letters, but we practice making them very neatly. She says I'm good at it."

"I've seen your practice with her! You can write neatly! Why don't you do that all the time? Like on your homework."

"I just don't want to."

"Well, it's a nice thing to do. It would make it so much easier to read! I like to use my best handwriting. And you know Aunt Shannon has very pretty handwriting, and you love getting her mail."
"Mom, everyone is different, and that's okay. Not everybody has to have pretty handwriting. That's okay. We should be glad everyone is different. Right?"

Game. Set. Match. Well played, kid. I'm in trouble with this one.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Last night, as I was in the kitchen cleaning the fish tank, I heard the kids giggling upstairs. I have no idea what was so hysterical, but I never get tired of those giggles.

Laughter. When the kids look back on their childhoods, I hope they remember all the laughter. It's one thing we are really good at our house--it's more of our sound track, really. Sometimes, the laughter is mildly inappropriate, though. For instance, last night Daddy announced Evan was going to be completely made of ranch dressing at the rate he was eating it, which prompted Issa to reply, "We'll have to pull his fingernails off!" Brad and I were very confused and little horrified until Evan agreed: "Yeah. Or you would choke on them when you dip into me." What?! Hysterical laughter ensued. Appropriate dinner table conversation: probably not. Soul soothing laughter: absolutely.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Mother's Day to Me!

This weekend was the definition of perfect. The kids came bounding off the bus on Friday with Mother's Day gifts for me. Issa made this truly beautiful flower:
 And Evan came home with a picture of him and then two fill in the blank sheets his teacher had helped him fill out. You'll be glad to know I am 15 years old and my favorite food is banana bread (not really). But this gem is my very favorite:
 I guess we don't have to worry about Evan's confidence or wonder who is the favorite. Oh how I love that boy.

The rest of the weekend was spent doing exactly what I asked for: redoing Evan's room. When Aunt Shannon comes, she is making his room into a ninja dojo, but there was a lot of ground work that needed laying. Friday night, the boys and I went out to dinner while the girl was at a birthday party. Then we went to Home Depot to get all of the necessary paint and wood. Saturday morning, Evan and I sorted through everything in his room. He pitched some, donated a lot, and moved everything else to the landing in preparation for the transformation. Brad ran to Lowe's for the rest of the materials, and then we dove in. I painted walls while Daddy and the kids worked on a window box and a cool wall hanging. We all went to bed very tired.

Sunday morning, they let me sleep in and brought breakfast in bed. I did a very impressive job of "sleeping through" our bedroom being decorated before breakfast arrived. With breakfast in our systems, we were back at it. Brad helped me get the furniture back in place, and then Evan and I moved everything in while Issa and Daddy headed back out to the garage to finish projects.

Brad made the best wedge salads I have ever eaten for dinner:
 Those are perfectly candied pecans that paired beautifully with the berries, feta, and poppy seed dressing. After lava cakes and Issa's famous pretzel kisses, we headed up to finish the room:
 Please notice all that floor space. His walls are now cathedral grey. I had a sentimental moment when I realized this was our fourth time painting this room: Issa's nursery, Evan's nursery, Evan's little boy room, and now this:
 The space under his bed is functional again:
 And the new window box is ready for its ninja touches when Shannon comes:
 But this is the coolest part:
The three sheets of metal and pegboard now hold Evan's hot wheels and his wall tracks. They double as a white board, which makes them even cooler.

It was a lot of work this weekend, but it was also a lot of family time. I would say it was perfection.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Happy Birthday, Ninja!

It's official. Our ninja is six.

The real celebrating started yesterday afternoon when Issa and I delivered cupcakes and juice boxes to his class. He was so excited, and he was even more excited because he knew he got to ride home with me, which would mean he would get home faster, which was especially important because we promised he could open his gifts right after school.

His gift from Daddy and I was too tricky to wrap, so we did the follow the string trick:
 That would be the training sword he uses at the dojo. Now he has one he can use at home. I think his face says it all. Issa also gave him a lucky cat like the one at the dojo, which will go perfectly in his new ninja room. He was so excited, although a little drama ensued when he and Issa had a difference of opinion about where the cat should live.

Issa and I headed to the studio, but Daddy and Evan stayed home to watch a movie and hang out before Evan's requested dinner of boxed mac and cheese--the StarWars kind.

After dinner, it was time for cake:

 He is fierce. I am so glad that he didn't slice the cake with his new sword.

As he blew out the candles on his sixth birthday, he was one happy boy. He is definitely my favorite ninja, and I can't wait to see what this year holds...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

My Boy

Yesterday, I survived the kindergarten zoo trip. It was actually a very fun day, but I think I found a new level of tired that can only be reached by herding six small boys through a zoo. They were great kids, but the energy level is a whole new level of extreme. They loved the animals, though, and we did notice lots of patterns just like the teacher asked. However, I'm afraid she might be a tab surprised to hear about all of the poop patterns the boys noticed.

We did have one scraped knee, which ended up getting wrapped in gauze because bandaids don't stick to sweaty, sunscreened, running legs. I also had delusions of pictures. You know what you don't have when herding six little boys? Time to take pictures.

I did get some great snuggles with my tired boy on the bus, which was particularly fabulous since it was the last time I snuggled a five year old Evan. Today is the big six, and he is so excited. We will be celebrating ninja style, and he woke to find his door streamered, Buddy with a Nutella snack for school, and the best daddy ever making beignets. It's looking like the best birthday yet.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

We Went On Safari

Someone is turning six, and he decided he wanted a zoo/safari theme for his birthday party. As it turned out, it may be my favorite party ever! He invited six little friends over, and we decided to have most of the party outside. They only came in to eat:

Mandarin orange tigers:
Lion veggies:
We also had "snakes on a log," also knows as crescents around hot dogs, and kettle corn.

When the kids arrived, they found boxes with their names on them:
And their safari gear:
The best big sister ever was in charge of greeting guests, helping them put on their hats and binoculars, and starting the mask making:

Evan could hardly wait for his friends to arrive:

With everyone successfully attired and masked, it was time for the safari. I had made each child a box with a personal list of plastic animals to find in the yard, and they were off:
With the animals rounded up for the zoo, it was time for the pinata. Daddy decided the boys needed to actually whack it this year:
And everyone got a turn because it was a very stubborn pinata. Evan was less than impressed by this:
But Issa, the Beast Bower, finally got it down:
But it fell in one piece. So Evan took a few swings:
To no avail. So the Beast intervened and just ripped the thing in half to everyone's delight:
The kiddos all headed in to eat and have cake:

Oh the conversation:
This crew is so fun...and funny:
This smile:
He was one happy boy. After cake Evan opened gifts from friends who know him well: a nerf gun, Legos, and action figures. It was almost too much.

The party ended with everyone in our backyard playing and just being kids on a swing set. It was perfect.

I can hardly believe my baby is turning six, but I am awfully glad for these safari memories.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rockin' Relay

This weekend was a blur of activity, but each day deserves its own post.

Friday night, we set off to Relay for Life. Issa's Company had been invited to perform, and the girls were awesome! The night, however, was a comedy of errors. 

It had been raining off and on all week and most of the day Friday, but it cleared up just in time for Relay. It was chilly, but not terrible, so things were looking up. When we pulled into Relay, we were directed to park along the road. Unfortunately, the ground was very soft and there was just enough of a ditch for our van to get stuck when Brad was doing the three point required to park where we were told. In a moment that made me love our TTP Family even more, many dance dads were on hand within moments to try to help push it out. Another mom took Issa up for call. I got a bad case of the giggles. Alas, it was stuck. So Brad waited for AAA while Evan and I ran up to get Issa her shoes which were still in my purse.

I arrived to discover the ground was a muddy mess and the stage was tiny. The highlight of my night was watching the senior girls try to figure out how to dance with so little space. Poor Issa started to have a melt down because things were so sideways until she remembered we were there to support a good cause and Uncle Todd. She danced in his honor--her favorite survivor. And boy did she rally.

A volunteer fireman happened by and pulled the van out just in time for Daddy to make it for the performance, and all of the girls rocked it! Another family snapped these photos:

Issa had a blast performing just for the love of dance, and we were all so proud of the minis, the last group to dance. They kept going even when the skies opened up.

We went home to hot showers and warm cookies, and it was a great start to a fabulous weekend.