Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy dreams

This summer we've added a new song to our silly song repertoire. It happened harmlessly one night as I put Lanie to bed and leaned over to kiss her. I said, in song,

"I love you, I love you
And I hope you have happy dreams!
Happy dreams!"

Repeat often until children giggle and join in. Erin likes it too. Her sleepy murmurs about Peepops woke her at 5 a.m. She rolled over to tell me about all the lollipops she was dreaming about and which ones she liked best. Oh, and don't forget the M&Ms. (She calls them NMs). Then she went back to sleep.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Yesterday was such a lovely, relaxed day ... birthday gift shopping for friends, lunch at home, school time while Erin napped. This summer we're mostly reviewing math with Singapore's Intensive study for the ground we covered last spring. And flash cards. We had some fun writing too, which got me thinking Lanie is ready for her own journal. I told Shane I was thinking maybe Lanie and I should start writing down the things we're thankful for at bedtime, and he was all for it. So as the afternoon quietly crept along, whatever happened to Super Surprise Friday? I woke Erin up just after 4 p.m., and we suited up and went swimming at a friend's house.

Sadly, berry picking is drawing to a close and the fields are only opened on weekends to allow the remaining berries a chance to ripen. Just makes me feel, even with a month left, that summer is almost over. It seems like we just got here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How I ended up taking a walk after dinner

After dinner tonight, I thought maybe opening up the carton of Breyers Double Churned Chocolate Chocolate Chip ice cream might be a good idea (and no, that double chocolate is not a typo). The girls wholeheartedly agreed. Imagine that. Lanie gobbled hers up silently. Erin barely finished her scoop. And then she was off.

Shane and I tried to complete thoughts about health care and the economy and household things. It was tough with a sugarbuzz zooming around us. About three or four times, Lanie asked if she could read me a book. And I kept trying to finish a thought with Shane so I could sit with her. I finally made it.

Enter Erin. Zooming. Silly faces. Funny noises. Slap-happy. Lanie read the same sentences over and over again, just trying to complete them with Erin's frequent interruptions.

"This kid is possessed!" I said to Shane.

"I not zest!" Erin said. And she spun around a few times and fell over. Getting a laugh from us, she did it at least ten more times. "I not zest! I not zest!" Spin. And fall. Times ten.

Finally, Lanie closes the book in defeat and hands it to me saying, "If you want to know what happens, you're going to have to read it yourself."

I laughed hard. And then we all put on shoes and went for a neighborhood walk to work it out of our systems.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's a wonderful life

Cheery yellow walls, fresh cut sunflowers in a vase, a sign of sorts hanging above the cabinets that read: It's a wonderful life. Indeed. Guests mingling, drinks tinkling, children jumping in the bounce house. Cool breeze, setting sun, torches. The start of a double celebration this weekend, one being of summer, food and friendships, another a birthday, a life, love.

Today we went to a surprise 75th birthday brunch for a dear friend. And he was surprised. Shane looked at me and said, "Did you notice how happy he looked when he saw you there?" I did. I've known David for about 15 years. Worked for him just after I graduated college. I met him at an artists' gathering at a studio downtown--and that's how I've always known him ... as an artist. He is so many things to many people. Our friendship has grown over the years. He considers me a daughter, and my children his grandchildren. He and his wife are quick to remember birthdays and pick up the most thoughtful gifts for my girls in their travels.

His two young grandsons treated guests to their talents: the eight year old sang a song to him, one he'd written himself called "You were there for me." And his older grandson, ten, played the clarinet. Other people spoke highly of David throughout the afternoon. A loved man. We joined in table tapping song about seventy-five being good, and with good health we hope to live to ninety-nine. David then spoke, musing about being done with things he wanted to accomplish and that he's feeling his age, but that his grandkids make him feel younger and show him there's still more to do. My eyes stung.

He spoiled me with quiet talk as he sat down next to me, my eyes brimming with tears.

"How long have you been married now?" he asked.

"Ten years," I said. "I've known you for about fifteen years."

He shook his head. "Is that all? I feel like I've known you forever." And me wishing I could turn back the clock.

"I don't have words to describe how I feel about you," he said. So tender and dear. When I count my blessings, I count David and his wife. For the pictures of my kids they proudly display on their fridge. For the love they pour out on us. For showing up to my family functions and watching dance recitals. He is like a father to me and a grandfather to my kids. A cherished friend.

"I wish you lived closer," he said. Promises to see each other more. Am I the only one to feel the desperation at fleeting time? Seventy-five wishing to see ninety-nine. Me, too.

It's a wonderful life.

Friday, July 17, 2009

School days

We had a nice rain shower this afternoon, so while Erin napped, Lanie and I set to work to convert the nursery into our school room.

My back really hurts, but it's nearly finished. We just have to bring up the other three chairs that go with the table and dismantle the crib that we never used.

Supplies. How long can this organization possibly last with two kids?

Some of the books we're using for summer school.

A basket of books.

A basket of board books for Erin.

And more baskets.

Bookshelf for summer reading.

Converted closet into a library and entertainment storage place.

Orange rockin' reading nook and the former changing station that's been switched to supply cabinet.

Before and after

Before the hair salon:

And after:

And after:
Erin's donut.


We'd been looking forward to this day all week: Lanie was going to get a haircut. It's been over a year since she's had the length taken up and I wanted to put as much time between that experience and the next one. Erin's happy do was inspiration enough for Lanie. As the week wore on, smiles replaced the frown at the thought of cutting her hair.

This morning, she bounded into my room to remind me she was getting a haircut. But as time ticked on, she seemed more and more worried. She began with stipulations:

  1. They could only spray her hair, not wash it in the sink.
  2. No black capes.
  3. No blow-drying her hair.
  4. They couldn't cut the bangs--only I would at home.
  5. And it had to look like the photograph (to my amusement and wonder, it was a picture of last year's hairstyle. Go figure.)

I had to repeat these things to her as we waited. I explained to the stylist what our deal was, "She's a little nervous," I mouthed.

Lanie held my hand and tried not to smile as Erin entertained us with goofy dances and funny Erin speak. Even the stylist cracked a smile. "They're very different," she commented.

Lanie got about four or five inches cut off. Afterward, she was visibly pleased. On the way to the car she said, "I like this haircut better than the one last year!" and "I can't wait to show Daddy!"

"I'm so proud at how brave you were being, Lanie. I know you were nervous," I said.

"I wasn't being brave," she told me. "I was already brave."

We celebrated with donuts from a nearby bakery. Sprinkled, of course. Lanie ate all of hers. Erin used her donut as the vehicle for the icing and sprinkles. And we all sang along to Happy Day.


Erin peed on the floor.

"Mommy, I pooped on your floor!" she exclaimed. "I show you."

It was only urine and I cleaned it up, we had just finished showers and were getting ready for bed.

"Next time you want to wee-wee, you let me know and we'll put you on the potty," I offered.

"No, I fall in. I use my little potty," and she trotted off bare bottomed to the training potty in the nursery, soon to be school room. She sat down and waited. "It's not working," she commented. She waited some more. And then she asked me to buy a flusher for her potty. Insert smile.

After several minutes, she peed. Lanie and I cheered loudly. So she did an encore performance and peed some more. She's already talking about what kind of panties she wants to buy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lovely day

The weather around here has been just perfect. Sunny skies with lovely, fluffy clouds. Low humidity. And cool nights that cause me to want to put a jacket or sweater on. Maybe even drink some warm tea. Or enjoy a fire at the fire pit. I find myself wishing it was like this every summer. Just beautiful.

This morning, we picked berries at the local pick-your-own. Followed by lunch with our picking friends, only to kick them out after some playtime so that we could head to our next event: a kindergarten splash reunion.

This pool was deeper than my kids are used to, so I vested them up. Still, they wouldn't let go of me--at first.

Lanie got braver as time went on. Jumped into the pool into my waiting arms. Then discovered her life jacket and floatie made her super-sink-proof. She scooted all around the pool with a smile stuck in the "on" position the whole time. I barely saw her after that.

I lost a battle with an enormous dragon float. Beckie laughed at me and said it was worthy of Funny Videos. Fortunately, no cameras were around. The water was a delicious blue. There is no other way to describe it. And when it was time to go, I wanted to get back in one more time, but I didn't.

Erin pretty much preferred being out of the pool, looking super cute in her new super cute haircut.

She was asleep as we pulled out onto the main road heading home. Lovely day.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

If you aren't dying to marry me after trying it, then I have more work to do

In a bizarre series of dialogue with a friend that began with "how do you make hamburgers?" and ended with me inviting my entire family over for said hamburgers, I tasted a delectable, delicious salad. The hostess said, "Would you like to try my husband's famous salad?" And me, being the foodie and lover of salad that I am said, "Yes." This was the salad, they say, that won her heart.

Red leaf lettuce, red pears, blue cheese and pecans topped with a lovely (and I mean LOVELY in song) raspberry vinaigrette.

Over burgers and salad and other tasty samplings, I said to the host, "You'll have to give me the recipe for your dressing, so, you know, Shane doesn't leave me for you!" Insert polite laughter.

"Oh, no. I don't give it out," he said.

It was like a brick falling on a dream.

I dared ask, "Are you serious?"

He smiled and nodded.

I cornered his wife in the kitchen. "What's in the dressing?" I said firmly and seriously. I was on a mission.

"I don't know measurements. He makes this alone." Intriguing.

"I don't need measurements, just tell me the basics and I'll figure it out," I said, just slightly desperately.

"Oil (olive?), garlic, raspberry vinegar ... and honey," she said. There was some confusion over herbs: possibly basil or oregano. Maybe both. It's a mystery.

As night marched on, we packed up our kids and the hostess asked if I'd like to take the remaining dressing home.

Um. Yes. Yes, I would.

We had it tonight over a garden salad. The "garden" being the ten leaves I plucked from my lettuces that are just maturing. Shane laughed at the handful I brought in. I added them on top of some romaine I had in the fridge and topped it with feta cheese and almonds because I don't have blue cheese, red pears and pecans. Not yet. Tomorrow's grocery day and I plan on reinventing this dressing almost daily until I get it right. Or good enough, anyway.

Luckily, Chef Google doesn't hold so tightly to his recipes. I searched for suggestions and have a few to toss around. Get it? Toss? Never mind.

Friday, July 10, 2009


I can't believe I'm alone with my thoughts at 7:30 a.m. This week has caught up with my kids, who are sleeping in. VBS has been a great experience for Lanie, and Erin is quick to pick up the lyrics and moves with the bunch of them. She'll be ready for next summer's edition, but will I? With two kids in attendance, that frees me up to, uh, volunteer. If my kids are pooped at the end of the week, I wonder how much better I'll fare?!

Cooler temps in the forecast today make it another fine Friday for berry picking. And that's where we'll be this afternoon. I like the simplicity of heading down the road and making these memories with my kids. Super Surprise Friday feels better to me when it's simple. I do enjoy the occasional big outing someplace, but I think my kids will one day appreciate a slower pace in their childhoods. A lot of families schedule themselves into a strict plan. My childhood was full of warm, lazy days where creativity was birthed. Not a bad thing at all.

Found a blog through Simple Mom called Simple Kids. Good thoughts.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Remember ...

Lanie running through a big green yard, her blonde hair sailing behind her like a banner.

Erin sitting underneath a colorful parachute canopy as it floated up and down around her. The look on her face, pure joy.

Little hands holding mine. Kids in my lap, cuddling on cool nights.

Fireworks and Erin's giddy screams. She ran out into the darkness, arms reaching high to catch the colorful, glowing embers. Running. Beautiful.

Star-shaped ice cream sandwiches with strawberry ice cream. A pig roasted in the ground and uncovered for dinner. The best macaroni and cheese I think I've ever tasted. And potato salad made by a grandma (15 eggs, she said. And pickle juice. Delicious.) I ate so much, I thought I could go a week without another meal.

A call from a friend inviting us over for brunch the next morning. So spontaneous for a planner like me--I like this living on the edge. Hazelnut coffee. Sausage and egg bake. Monkey bread. Fruit and scones. I had at least two helpings of everything. And then I went back for just a bite here and there. This little piggie went wee! wee! wee! all the way home.

An afternoon with Denise and the girls. Dinner by candlelight in the dining room. We've used it three times in a year now, and I rather like eating in there. Especially by candlelight. The kids got a kick out of it too.

Watching Lanie feed Cheerios to our hamster friend, Little Bill. Talking about this week's plans. Kisses goodnight. Holding Erin close as her breathing evened out. She fell gently to sleep in my arms. When I moved to get up, her eyes opened to find me. "Come too," she said. I cuddled her a moment longer until she drifted off.

I want to remember these days. The feel of a cool summer evening. The laughter of my kids. The warmth of a hand in mine. The anticipation of tomorrows. I wonder what my children will remember of these days.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A perfect day

Well, apparently, the third time is the charm.

Lanie was happy and bouncing around the house this morning, you know, after going to the bathroom.

"When are we going blueberry picking?" she asked. I hadn't told her we weren't going. And after she was so relieved, I couldn't think of a reason not to.

We loaded ourselves into the car and drove a few miles to the local pick-your-own. Lots of people were there. Cool temps. Partly cloudy skies. I couldn't think of a better day to pick. Lanie and Erin set to the task right away. We carefully showed Erin which ones to look for, which to avoid. She learned quickly.

Plunk, plunk, plunk, the berries went into our bag. Lanie managed to eat most of them from her hand, at first. But then she was on a mission to find big, bursting berries. Erin split her time between finding sticks and digging in the dirt and finding blueberries--whether on the bush or in the bag.

The girls were the perfect height to spot blueberries in the bush. Adults need to squat to get a better peak at the jewels hiding behind the leaves. Our bounty grew and grew.

We stopped off at a couple of old shacks that nature tried to reclaim to take some photos. I'm hoping to get these all loaded onto my new hard drive this weekend, you know, once I put it in and set it up. As a French major, this will involve some level of concentration, no doubt, and pain. So I'm not looking forward to it.

Glad to have my girl back, bouncy, bubbly, full of fun. We are looking forward to weekly berry picking during the season.

SSF--bummer addition

The day looked promising: berry picking, some afternoon fun, maybe some summer splashing with the kindergarten kids. But one by one, these things were canceled, and actually, all for the better.

Lanie is on her third day of laxatives after a very trying week, with no results. It's better we're close to home because that's where the bathroom is, and because she's just not herself. I'm really hoping she'll poop this morning, because otherwise, I suspect we'll be at the doctor's this afternoon. I can't make her wait till Monday.

I know she'd rather be picking berries. I know she'd rather be splashing with her friends. I know she'd rather be riding her scooter, swinging on swings, climbing rock walls, and doing hopscotch. So it breaks my heart on many levels that she's going through this.