Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Cat Said Meow

She came into the kitchen with a little pout on her face. She sat down on the stool beside me, put her head in her hands, and let out a big sigh. I tried not to laugh. She's just about the cutest thing in the world when she sticks that bottom lip out and flashes those big puppy dog brown eyes. I asked her what was wrong.

"I've looked for Analiese everywhere. I looked in the backyard. I looked in our room. I looked at Tessa's house. I even asked Tiger and all she said was meow and that's not very helpful."

Oh, my Sicily. It's very disappointing to find out that a cat isn't a reliable source of information.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Boy Party

6 Boys
3 large pizzas
20 cupcakes
3 bags of pretzels
2 dozen cookies
2 bags of popcorn
5 pitchers of Kool-Aid
2 game systems
1 movie
3 board games
10 hours of partying through the night


1 very tired, but very happy birthday boy

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Chris!

Today my firstborn turns 10! I was looking through pictures and I swear his baby pictures were taken just a couple of years ago. The last ten years have gone by so fast. That's a very cliche thing to say, but it really does feel that way. We're halfway done with him and I still have so much I want to teach him. But if I really look at him I know he's turning out just fine.

He is strong. He is strong of mind, strong of will. He is determined and motivated. He's a Lego building, video game master. I see more of my introverted, melancholy self in him with each passing year. We can sit in complete silence at the breakfast table and find great companionship in that. But he has his father's mind. Questioning and quick. He's fiercely protective of his little sisters, yet very annoyed by their girly quirks. He loves Junior Mints, Double Bubble Gum, and Whoppers. He recently convinced his grandma to send money for meat because he's not a fan of our near vegetarian cuisine. But our hippy ways have worn off a little. He's kind to animals and loves to hike. And dirt is his best friend. So much so that I have to bribe him to shower especially since he thinks swimming in a muddy creek counts as a bath. Luckily for him he still hugs his mama goodnight and that covers a multitude of sins.

He is my boy. And I love him deeply. I'm so very proud of him. Here's the last ten years. (And yes, putting this post together did make my cry. I bet it will get a few of you too.)

1 month

1 year

2 years

3 years

4 years

5 years

6 years

7 years

8 years

9 years

My ten year old, Christopher Michael

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Favorites...Ikea

By this point of the summer, I am usually pulling my hair out. The kids are starting to argue more. The constant noise is grating on my last nerve. The house is trashed. It's time for a change of scenery.

Yesterday that change of scenery came in the form of a mini Swedish vacation. Yes, I'm talking about Ikea. I love Ikea. It's not about the mass produced ceramic mugs or the cheap sofas, although those things are great. The things I'm most in love with are the free childcare and the ability to have a crazy shopping spree for $10.

If you've ever been to an Ikea without children you probably don't know that it's a parents escape paradise. You walk in, hand your children over to the smiling girls in the yellow shirts, and are free to shop at a snails pace for the next hour. Then because everything is so cheap you can justify filling the shopping cart that you are idly leaning on and feel like you've been on an outrageous shopping spree. That is my idea of stress relief.

The boy has outgrown the play area. So after we dropped the overly excited girls off (they love the ball pit and the wooden shoe slides) we bought a box of cookies and walked around laughing at funny products and funny people. We shopped for a future cousin in the baby section and laughed at funny looking stuffed animals. We lounged on sofas and hugged super soft pillows. We just talked for an hour. It was lovely.

When the hour was up, we went back to get the girls, who were sad to leave. Then we walked up to the restaurant and ordered four 99cent bowls of meatballs. We found a table and sat back to watch the movie that was playing.

I'm telling you, mini-Swedish-vacation. That's what it is. We all left much more relaxed than when we left. In fact, we were all so happy when Steven got home that he said he felt like he had been seriously deprived of some good leisure time.

Don't worry, honey, we'll all happily go back. It might be a happier place than Disney World. Ok, that might be stretching it. But it runs a close second in my book.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Toasting Bankruptcy

We took our little silver dog, moved him along the board, and landed on Park Place. Then we turned over all of our money, mortgaged all of our property, and still didn't have enough to stay in the game. So we were declared bankrupt.

If we had just finished a game of Monopoly we would laugh about the loss and go on with our life. But we weren't playing Monopoly.

Yesterday we went to a little room full of stressed and angry people. It was full of well dressed businessmen and betrayed, divorced women. Older couples who just couldn't hold it together any longer and young couples who never got a chance to try. One by one we were called in front of the group to tell the world we were down on our luck. We heard our names called and sat down at a table where we raised our right hand and swore we were out of money. The man before us looked over our case, gave us a smile, and said, "alright, you may go". And just like that we were bankrupt. Our debts forgiven and the freedom to move on was granted. Nineteen months after listing our house and nine months after actually selling it we are free of the beast.

I pushed through the double glass doors and wanted to scream into the wind at the top of my lungs. But we were on the streets of uptown Charlotte and I might have given the blue shirts a heart attack. So I waited until we got home and I cried. I cried relief.

We have a long way to go and a lot of residual stress to deal with, but a big chunk of our wall was broken down yesterday with a big sledgehammer called bankruptcy. I never thought being declared bankrupt would let light into my life. But "I never thought..." seems to headline every event of my life lately.

So raise a glass to us. We're bankrupt. Cheers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm Hot, or So I'm Told

You don't know how beautiful that picture is unless you have ever spent a 100 degree southern summer without one. But no more. Folks, we have a working air conditioning unit.

You're all probably voicing a collective "Hallelujah" because your tired of me whining about having no air conditioning. Sorry, but it is seriously hot around here. And being hot leads to two things: sweat and grumpiness. We have had plenty of both. Grumpy, sweaty kids. Grumpy, sweaty parents. Grumpy, sweaty hamsters. We were just a grumpy, sweating mess, until my husband got fed up with all of the grumpiness and demanded that our landlord put in a new air conditioning unit immediately.

Now one of the perks of having a lawyer husband is that some people hold lawyers in high esteem. If you live with one and know all of his lawyer friends, your esteem for the career of attorney might be lower than average. (No offense, love. I admire you for so many other reasons.) But our landlord happens to be one of those people who thinks lawyers have a superior intellect. So when Steven calls demanding that something needs to happen right now, things generally happen right now. I, on the other hand, am just a lowly house wife and have garnered no esteem from this man so my complaining has gotten a nice pat on the head and an explanation of how fans work. We have decided that Steven is the only one allowed to talk to our landlord if we need something done. You know, because he's a respectable lawyer and all.

Regardless of how we got it, I am thankful that we have cold air flowing through our house. The man who installed it was a gem. He's a spry 80 year old man who did most of the work by himself. His skin was pure leather from years of working in the sun and he spoke with the rasp of a lifetime smoker. On the last day he was here he was showing me all of the work he had done and then he paused.

He said, "There's something I've been wanting to say, but I don't want you to take it the wrong way. But I've got to say it because I think women should be told these things. You are a good looking woman. You are. You are just a good looking woman. And if your husband doesn't appreciate it, he's an SOB, and you should go find better. You are a good looking woman. I just thought you should know."

Well, thank you, Gene. (*blush*) Thanks for the air conditioning and the ego boost. I needed both.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend Friends and Food

We had a wonderful weekend full of good friends, good food, and good conversation.

We warmed a friend's new house. We talked about the beautiful 1940s bungalow with a backyard full of hundred year old trees over hamburgers and chocolate chip cookies the size of your head.

We saw friends we had gone far too long without seeing. We watched our children play and had a long chat about what it means to have Jesus-like forgiveness over plates of barbecued chicken, potato hash, and fruit pizza.

Then we came home and, while I put the kids to bed, my husband prepared a lovely dessert of raspberries, honey, almonds, and chevre. He set them out in dainty white bowls, lit candles, and poured drinks. Then I sat down with my very best friend and we talked long about grace. Real prostitute-loving Jesus-grace.

I think my husband could have been friends with Dostoevsky. They could have had long talks about this thing called grace. They could have lamented over how misunderstood it is. I think they would have had to meet in Germany though. My husband's not much of a vodka man.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Favorites...Sleep Talking Man

So here's our nightly ritual with the girls:

After dinner they both take a bath.
We wash their hair, get wrapped up in towels and quietly brush their teeth and hair.
Then they pull clean pjs from their drawer and get dressed.
Looking all fresh and clean, they each pick a book, one of which will almost always be about a Disney princess.
I sometimes read in a lovely British accent and Steven trumps me by reading with a different silly voice for each character.
Once we've read books, we give each girl a kiss and a hug and tuck them in tight. And they peacefully float away to dreamland.

Hold up. No, that's not right. That sounds too easy. These two girls don't go peacefully anywhere.

What actually happens is:

They take a bath after dinner.
Usually one of them hits the other with a rubber duck.
That, of course, results in tears and yelling.
The one who was hit will then pull the other one's hair which will lead to more tears and yelling.
And this will lead to me yelling.
So we will wrap up in towels and shuffle off to their bedroom completely forgetting about brushing teeth.
There will most likely be no clean pjs in their drawer because I'm behind on laundry, again.
So I'll pull dirty ones out of the hamper and get more tears because princesses don't wear dirty clothes.
Then I will see their wet heads and remember that we haven't brushed their hair.
So they each sit on my lap and endure the tangles being brushed out which will bring more tears and yelling.
When those tears are dried they will each pick a book, one of which will truly almost always be about a Disney princess.
Then Steven or I will speed read through it because we are too frustrated by the tears and yelling at this point for voices.
Most likely it will be me because Steven will still be downstairs cleaning dinner off of the floor.
Finally we will give them each a kiss and a hug and tuck them into bed.
Then we sit at the top of the stairs and wait because ten minutes later one of them will need to potty or need another kiss or a drink of water.
Then ten minutes after that they will think of something that they just have to say.
Then ten minutes after that Analiese will tie a stuffed bear to her blanket and lower it down from the top bunk to Sicily on the bottom bunk and Analiese will cry because Sicily has stolen her bear and her blanket in one quick grab.
An hour later my little sprites will be sound asleep and I will head downstairs to finally spend a few minutes with my husband before we both pass out.
(Chris puts himself to bed in the middle of this dance. Ah, the responsible first child.)

And that is how I spend most of my nights. Sounds fun, right? No? Well, your right. It's not. Which is why my husband decided to cheer me up last night with this.


Some people think it's fake. I don't care. It's hilarious and makes me wish Steven talked in his sleep. More importantly it made me laugh in the middle of the crazy hour we call bedtime around here. So that is why it is my Friday Favorite this week. I hope you like it.

Now, I'm off. It's almost bedtime. Let the dance begin.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Weightless Hope

I stood in the shower until the water fell cold on my head. I feel so unstable right now. We are standing on a foundation of glass. I'm afraid to breathe for fear of shattering it.

This last year and a half has left me much like a beaten dog. I flinch when someone tries to reach out and touch me. I'm skeptical of hope. I want to see a future. I want to see light in the distance but the hindrances block the view. I see things dark and feel myself anxious. I'm running out of oxygen, but I just can't stop to breathe.

I fear I'm drowning in this new normal. I can't love hard enough. I can't be good enough. I can't mend fast enough to stop the unraveling. I carry unrest in the pit of my stomach. When will I feel safe again?

My beaten heart needs a refuge. A home. A place of healing. A place to breathe. The shepherd's words draw me back from the edge of melancholy and remind me of one who knows my heart, knows my hurt.

I cry out to the Lord:
I plead for the Lord's mercy.
I pour out my complaints before him
and tell him all my troubles.
For I am overwhelmed
and you alone know the way I should turn...
You are my place of refuge.
-psalm 142

I pour out on my knees. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.

It turns out hope doesn't weigh enough to shatter the glass.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Goggles In The Kiddie Pool

I love that they wear goggles in water that's not even two feet deep. Sicily is the the only one who can get her whole little body under the water. Analiese's feet hang over the edge if she stretches out. They have to sit cross-legged if they get in together. Each summer brings a little more height pushing them out of the four foot circle. But this is the only escape from the unrelenting heat, so they find a way to make it work. They come into the house only to grab a Popsicle and then jump back in. Our water bill is probably going to sky rocket this month because they dump out the water as soon as it begins to warm up and fill it to the brim again with the icy water from the hose. I like to stick my feet in right after they've filled it. The cold shoots up my legs giving me a few minutes of relief. Then I go back into my unairconditioned house and sweat and watch them play. The boy, who has grown to be only a few inches shorter than me, sits beside me in the kitchen and we wish we were three feet tall with goggles on our heads.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Watermelon Thief

When I opened the fridge there was a knife and a hole in the previously untouched watermelon that I was saving for our picnic. I called the little one into the kitchen and asked her if she had helped herself to a treat. She swore that she hadn't. Blonde curls were bouncing side to side as she shook her head to say "no, not me". She didn't realize that the juice dripping from her chin gave her away. She licked her lips all the way to time out. I tried not to laugh. In her defense, it was an irresistibly good watermelon.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Fireworks Day!

Like all good Americans on the 4th of July we grilled some delicious food, donned flag colors, and wanted to end the day with fireworks. So we drove out to the US White Water Center, hoping to see a great display. We had the added bonus of getting to watch people flip their rafts in the rapids while we waited. Don't underestimate the entertainment of watching soaked, flustered people trying to get back in a raft while moving steadily down stream. We spread a blanket, ate blueberries, and enjoyed the free laughs.

The boy ditched us to watch fireworks with his friends. (So begins the breaking of a mother's heart.) The middle girl was high on Benadryl from her latest poison oak outbreak and just about fell asleep on her dad's lap. (That girl loves nature too much for her own good.) So that left us with the little one who impatiently waited all day to see big explosions in the sky. And when the fireworks started so did the questions.

  • "Mom, why do they make that big sound."
  • "Mom, how do they make them go over there and not over here?"
  • "Are they going to fall on our heads?"
  • "Mom, why does that one look like a flower?"
  • "Why does that one look like a sparkler?"
  • "Are you sure they aren't going to fall on our heads?"
  • "Well, then where do they fall and does it burn what it falls on?"
  • "Why is that one so big?"
  • "Why did that one go so high?"
  • "How do they make colors?"
Me: "I don't know, honey. Ask your dad?"

Steven: "It has something to do with physics."

Sicily thinks about that for a second, and then:
  • "Daddy doesn't know. So why is that one pink and not blue?"
  • "But why don't you know why it's pink and not blue?"
  • "I think you don't know if they're going to fall on our heads."

Me: "Look Sicily, that one's a circle!"

  • "No, it's an oval."
  • "Why is it an oval?"
  • "I don't really like fireworks. They're too loud and they're going to fall on my head."

Oh, children. They have such a lovely ability to keep us humble by occasionally making us feel just a little bit stupid.

I hope all of you enjoyed a wonderfully over analyzed fireworks display too. Happy 4th!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Favorites...Art

I saw this on another blog and fell in love immediately. It touches my heart and makes me smile happy smiles. I knew I had to share.

This is particularly poignant to me as I am in the process of pulling together a collection to open my own Etsy shop. I am very nervous about it but I think it's time to jump. Will I sink or will I float? I guess we'll see. Stay tuned for more details later this month.

Happy Friday!