Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pig Pickin' Memories

A few months ago at one of the street parties, one of the dads said, "We should do a pig pickin'." We all laughed, and then the men started plotting. After a couple of weeks, this thing was starting to happen. Someone knew someone who had a smoker. Someone else knew the owner of a meat market. A couple of moms jumped on the details, and before long official invites went out for a Memorial Day weekend pig pickin' for the street party crew. 

The plan had been to have the event on Sunday, but the weather had other ideas. Instead of picking up the pig on Saturday morning and having the day to prep, Marty and Jeff picked the pig up, prepped it, and then had it on the smoker by 11. We decided to just let it cook, maybe hang out, and then actually eat at Sunday lunch.

By late afternoon Saturday, though, we got the text that burgers and hot dogs were going in the grill for Saturday dinner. By 4, the whole street party was out, and like stone soup dinner was in process. We had some chips and lettuce and pickles for burgers. Other people brought meat, some buns, some fruit. Grills were moved to the end of one driveway:
 Dinner was served:
This giggly group played with very few glitches.Once the sun set, a fire pit was moved to the end of another driveway and smores happened.

Marty's cousins were passing through and joined us, and she just kept asking, "It is always like this?" Sans pig: yes. We all have our roles. Some parents are awesome at playing games and keeping the activity moving. Brad is the neighborhood maker; this weekend involved air canons. Other parents, including me, are the snugglers and safety patrol. We take the criers and make sure no one runs into the kickball game with hot dog in their mouths. It doesn't matter whose kid is whose. The bigs now know to watch out for the littles, and the littles can't wait to be bigs. It's a kind of magic.

By 10, the pig was finished:

Brad had procured barbecue gloves and bear claws for shredding. The guys began the work of shredding while the rest of us watched and tasted. There was so much laughter. Brad's shirt is forever ruined, but it was totally worth it.

Sunday lunch was a masterpiece: 
We all ate too much and started planning the next pickin'. And the rain came just as promised, which was the highlight for children:
 This is what they will remember. At least I hope. I hope they remember growing up in this big, extended, wonky family of our street. I hope they remember that there is a group of adults that love them as their own. I hope they remember the laughter and to get out of the road when someone yells, "CAR!" I hope they remember hugging friends who cried when they saw the pig, and I hope they remember she ate it the next day anyway. I know I will.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

School Lunches

It's the end of the school year.

At the beginning of the school year, the refrigerator is stocked with everyone's very favorite lunch things. When I pack the lunch, It's super cute and fun. I'm over it.

This morning, I could not convince the kids that "Manager's Choice" on the cafeteria calendar is a fun adventure. I opened lunch boxes and the refrigerator and considered it a great love offering that I sliced the cucumber. I packed hummus, cucumbers, pita chips, and a bag of fruit snacks. I consider that gourmet at this point in the year. (Last week, I totally threw half a cucumber in Evan's lunch box. I didn't even bother to slice it since he wasn't dipping it in anything. He thought it was pretty awesome.)

Two more weeks. I can do this.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My Kids Are Crazy

This is what happens when we get in the kiss and go line early:
My kids are nuts. By some miracle, we were ready and out the door early. Since my class starts at 8:30, we have been doing the kiss and go line. Since we were running early, we had a good five minutes before the bell rang. Next thing I knew, Issa had my camera. I'm still laughing...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Still Swimming

Because it is May, a list:

1. This is our last five day week of school--hallelujah and amen.

2. I'm almost half way through teaching my three-week summer course. It's a great group, and I love the course. Boy am I tired.

3. Issa and I joined the rest of her team at the lake this weekend for an end of year celebration. There is nothing better than listening to little girls squeal and giggle. It was a great way to end the year.

4. Evan is in love with his dogs. His new favorite thing is feeding them, and he continues to do an amazing job with training. It melts my heart.

5. Issa had her last solo lesson for the year last night. I will never get tired of watching she and Mrs. Lauren P/A dance. It was her strongest lesson yet, and I can't wait for recital.

6. We are at that point in May where there is more checked off the list than not. It's looking good.

Summer, I see you...

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Evan Update

Somehow in the midst of the crazy, this sweet boy turned 7:
 That would be his French bulldog cake because: Evan.

He is growing up so fast. It's been amazing to watch him with Buddy. He has really owned the training piece of having a puppy, and we've been astounded by his patience and follow-through.

He is also still loving the dojo:
He is now one stripe away from his camo black belt and imagining all the fun things he will get to do in the youth program.

Within the past week, he has actually started just reading for fun--on his own--like actually reading the words. We are all pleasantly shocked.

I'm seeing less and less of the little boy and more and more of the big boy and man he will be. And I know it's going to be one fun ride...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Issa Update

I just adore this child. Here was her big find at the Air and Space Museum:
 They are 3-D printed Discovery earrings. Like you do. She and Daddy have big plans to print some other earrings soon.

In other news, her dance season is all but over. She had auditions this weekend, and I can't believe how much calmer and confident she was. It's always easier when you aren't planning to move a level, but it was still good to see. We also took our annual end of the season girls' day to the ballet:
We saw a beautiful and very funny production of Midsummer Night's Dream after a lovely lunch. I just love listening to her explain her world. She's growing up so fast, and I am soaking in these days.

Fourth grade is drawing to a close, and she's very excited about being the biggest kid in the school next year. Be still my heart...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Very Happily Ever After Birthday

Last weekend, we had lots of celebrating to do. We started our adventure in Evan's class at the end of Friday for cupcakes to celebrate the big 7! Then we stopped for Mexican on the way to Virginia, and the fried ice cream almost made up for the sombrero and singing:
 We went to Virginia to celebrate Uncle Tim and Amy's wedding. We started Saturday with a lovely brunch and then rehearsal at a beautiful vineyard! Evan was the ring bearer, and Issa was the everything-else assistant: guest book, sparklers, wedding coordinator's right hand girl. In short, she was in heaven:
 We then spent the afternoon at the Smithsonian Air and Space Annex thanks to a tip from Uncle Tim. To say it was impressive was an understatement:
 That would be the Enola Gay. And the Discovery:
 We spent most of our time in the WWII exhibit texting back and forth with Granddaddy. The kids were fascinated with the history and the planes.
 We finished our tour just in time to meet back up for dinner before we headed back to the hotel to sneak in one more birthday cake:
 This sweet boy didn't mind sharing his birthday one bit! And yes...we packed in a French bulldog birthday cake because you only turn seven once!

Sunday, the kids woke me up with breakfast in bed and a new spiralizer! Brad found two really old books that I loved and a candle that smells like old books. He loves me.

We spent the rest of the day celebrating Tim and Amy. My handsome boys:
 Issa got to work elbow to elbow with the florists:
And it was in general a perfect day! It truly was one of the most beautiful weddings we have attended. Both Tim and Amy were so gracious and generally happy. They were incredibly flexible and just focused on each other and the joy of the day. It was lovely to be back with college friends as our little family expanded. I have no doubt that they are off to a lifetime of happily ever after....

Monday, May 16, 2016


 The past week has held all kinds of beautiful chaos. It is too much to contain in one post, so I think I will take this week to catch up. Much of the heart of the chaos is this guy:
 In all fairness, Buddy has been home less than a week and in many ways is a ridiculously easy puppy. At the risk of jinxing it, he is already house-broken. He sleeps through the night. He knows sit and is working on stay and shake. He has transitioned into our home way better than any one had any right to expect...even if he is an adventurer:
He and Neela are great friends:

 They took to each other right away, and although there have been a few territorial barks, this is the reality:

What I have loved most, though, is watching Buddy and Brad. Buddy is his dog, and I haven't seen Brad smile this big in a long time. And that is worth any puppy chewing that might make me crazy.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Brad's relatively new CEO was in town yesterday and today. It was a quick trip mid-week, and Brad asked if I minded if he came over for dinner. On a Wednesday--our craziest day because we have to be at both the dojo and the studio. Of course I said we should have him.

A few years ago, this would have triggered a cleaning jag and me pulling a near all-nighter to make a multi-course meal. No longer.

I made spaghetti and salad. I have to say I make killer spaghetti, and I can have it on the table in less than 30 minutes. We tidied, but I left things as they are. It was a lovely meal with a truly lovely man. He stood in our kitchen as I cooked. We talked about dogs and kids and of course their work. I was relaxed.

For a long time, I wanted nothing more than to be genuine and comfortable with our chaos. I stopped apologizing for toys on the floor. I stopped feeling like I could only invite people over under perfect conditions. Our home is our home. I love it. I love the touches of chaos. I want to invite people in, and those that are comfortable with our brand of chaos stay. I've finally grown into the voice I wanted to be. The one that says life is messy and chaotic and wonderful just as it is. And what I've found...no one has refused to stay yet.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Our New Buddy

So this is happening:
 Meet Buddy, the newest addition to our little family!
 We have been talking about adopting a puppy for a while now. Neela is lonely, and my semester is winding down. The timing is right, and Brad fell in love with his sweet face online:
 And it was pretty much over. We went to meet him on Saturday. I took Neela back to meet him yesterday just to be sure they would be a fit:
And they were instant friends. What we didn't realize is that we had been the talk of the shelter. Apparently Buddy has been incredibly shy and skittish, but we didn't see any of that! In fact, when we first met him he was bouncing off the walls! We think a lot of that was the latex gloves that they asked us to wear. We smelled like toys. Once those disappeared, he settled down and in. He played fetch with us and gave lots of kisses. We were all sure he was meant for us.

Shelter dogs are always a bit of a mystery, but we think he is about four months old and a bull mastiff/lab mix. He should be about Neela-sized when he grows up, and we can't wait to bring him home on Monday! He's already very much a part of our little pack.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Very Happy Birthday Celebrated

Although next weekend is Evan's real birthday, we celebrated this weekend since we will be very busy with a wedding next weekend!

Saturday, we had Evan's friend party. He chose an animal theme at the Life and Science Museum. They really make it so easy; all we had to do was show up with the snacks. And Evan even made that easy:
 The watermelon were armadillos and the goldfish were, well, fish. We even pulled of a Zootopia cake:
 We had two great educators who introduced the party to a chinchilla, a ferret, and a bearded dragon:
 The highlight, though, was owl pellets:
 Please notice Daddy got his own. We all had fun identifying bones! Evan's friends and their families are just fabulous. We couldn't have asked for a better party. Even the educators couldn't stop talking about how great the kids are!

Sunday morning, we got up and Evan opened his gifts:
 We gave him some new Infinity sets, and I think it's safe to say he was thrilled.

Issa gave him ninja chopsticks:
 She also made him egg drop soup and egg rolls for dinner! And then there is this cake that she made him, per his request:
 Yes...that is a poop emoji. Yes...I tried to protest. But, what the birthday boy wants...
I hope it's a great year for you little man!