Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Packing up a life

Baby gates, high chair, crib. Children's board books, baby clothes, costumes. Gourmet cookbooks, champagne glasses, miscellany. Toys, stuffed animals, big colorful plastic things. Exercise videos, books, music. I think it makes my husband crazy that I have been pulling these things out of tucked away places and putting it all in the spare room in anticipation for my first yard sale. We are each in a seek and purge mode. While I haven't given up on the hopes of one more child, I have a growing incentive to declutter and simplify this life.

Erin spies a piggy bank in the yard sale pile.

"Mommy, can I have some money for the piggy bank?" she asks.

"Honey, I was going to sell that bank at the yard sale."

Tears ensue, the real drippy kind. Her voice wavers. "But I wanted to keep the piggy bank."

"Ok, you can keep it," I said. The endeavor becomes more difficult with children witnesses.

"Can I have some money for it?"

I love her.

Monday, June 28, 2010

One thousand gifts (819-831)

  • turning from the computer screen to see a morning sunrise in full bloom
  • little finger and face prints all over windows and glass door
  • pool invites on hot days
  • watermelon
  • a smile on little lips ("I cuddled you in your sleep last night," I said to a little girl curled up in my arms. "Did you feel my kisses in your dreams?" Smiles.)
  • a husband who knows me (I didn't notice a very prominent smudge on my shirt until Shane came home. "Don't worry. It looks like a mud smudge. Of course, anyone who knows you or reads your blog would know it's chocolate!")
  • potted red geraniums lining the steps up from the patio
  • Silly bands
  • pool birthday parties
  • a good hair cut
  • Chamomile tea
  • making chocolate chip cookies with the girls
  • a self-motivated man

Friday, June 25, 2010


Birthday pool party celebrating our favorite boy's three ... pizza and chocolate cake ... swimming with friends ... happy wishes ... later, a phone call from a friend to share Rice Krispie treats (which both of my kids turned down because they were too full from cake!) ... playing at a friend's house ... switching the play to our house after dinner ... later bedtime ... no single special surprise, but a day full of lots of good.

On my fifth yawn, rubbing eyes, thankful and sleepy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two doors down

When we first moved into the neighborhood about ten years ago, we decided to host an ice cream social for the few houses that surrounded us while a community was being built. It was a nice way to get to know some families. As years went on, some relationships grew, and others didn't--lives that barely intersected.

Hellos at Halloween. Sometimes the polite drive-by wave. It surprised me and disappointed me that so many lives in proximity, sometimes little care or contact. Families hurt. Families celebrated. Kids grew. Lives that lived stories and songs, tears and triumphs, musings and meditations under many roofs. That we could all build memory upon memory without so much as bumping up against a neighbor.

With sadness I saw the for sale sign go up in front of the house two doors down. Shortly replaced by a sold. And today, the moving trucks packing up a life to be laid down elsewhere. My memories of them, distant: little children eating ice cream ... growing and getting a drivers license ... a mom pulling weeds in her garden... or walking an aging dog. Our lives that barely intersected and only two doors down.

Different stages of life, different interests, should that have stopped us? A sadness that nearly ten years and two doors apart, we were no closer than that first evening we met during a visit over ice cream. How can that be?

Where did the days go that turned into years? When there seemed like enough time spread out before me to stop by and share a treat, strike up a conversation during an evening walk, offer some bounty from the garden ... time just scooted by and intentions sat shelved with the wish of someday.

How is it in a community, surrounded by many, we can be still isolated--all of us? Sadnesses that haunt and hurt whittle away, and no one notices? Life surges on, new doors open, and we walk through them sometimes silently, unnoticed. Moving vans pull away, and no goodbyes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

One thousand gifts (803-818)

In a Joan Didion headspace this past week. Funny how things from a college literature class tag along through the years; and sentiments a twenty can only imagine make a lot more sense at forty. Like Robert Frost's Mending Wall. And Didion's Goodbye to All That.

803. For learning that you can stay too long at the fair.
804. Animal shapes in fluffy clouds.
805. Extended play dates and honest talks.
806. Belly laughs that echo off houses.
807. Memory verses recited by a three year old.
808. A summer to-do list and checking off activities.
809. Racing with Lanie to see who will read the most pages/books by the end of August.
810. Witnessing the kiddos sharing Silly Bands with friends.
811. An evening walk happily interrupted by an invitation to roast the biggest ever marshmallows.
812. Kids running around catching fireflies.
813. Cold drinks of water.
814. A late night followed by sleeping in.
815. A princess party invite and receiving my own gift: time and hugs with a friend I haven't seen in years.

816. Hollingsworth--a step back and a step away. A cerebral retreat.
817. Silence to mull things over.
818. Someone who notices the silence.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's day

It wasn't so long after my mother died that I realized something very basic: all I ever wanted was to love my parents and have them love me back.

So grateful to be married to a Good Guy who shows his love to his kids by the special folders he keeps of each one's artwork; love notes he leaves in hieroglyphics; piggy-back rides up the stairs for bed; breakfast making and over-coffee cuddles; board games and bike rides; gentle talks; hugs and kisses; whistles through grass blades, and the very many other tender, love-affirming gestures.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Thursday ended late, and Friday started early with a cup of coffee at 4:10 a.m. Before I knew it, looking out the window at 5:30 a.m., it was already daylight. Birds singing. Second cup of coffee cooling beside the laptop. Publish pressed. I wondered if I'd have enough time to slip back to sleep. I did.

What we did today: play outside; pour water and ice into bowls for pony tea parties; try to catch a butterfly; watch clouds float past and guess the shapes; swing on the swings; go to the library; pick out a dress for Erin for a summer wedding we're attending; get gifts for upcoming birthday parties.

As the surprise, I let the girls get a package of Silly Bands. I was unanimously named the Best Mom Ever.

Monday, June 14, 2010

One thousand gifts (786-802)

786. A friend to dress shop with who takes my kids for ice cream so I can finish up a transaction.
787. Light reflections on the wall that form number one and Erin pointing it out.
788. That a store had the nose piece cushion for my glasses. An answered prayer.
789. Herbs in the garden.
790. A friend's vulnerable honesty and a sentiment I can relate to.
791. A comfy bed.
792. Cinnamon Roll flavored coffee. Makes me think of Christmas.
793. A peach tree outside my kitchen window.
794. Book fairs and browsing with Denise.
795. Motivation to declutter.
796. A fancy hair-do by a three year old while singing together.
797. Brainstorming a summer to-do list with the kids.
798. Tapenade.
799. Recovered internet service.
800. A lovely dinner with friends.
801. Gardening with Lanie.
802. Familiar faces out and about in the world.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer nights

Enjoyed an evening out with some friends last night under the stars ... acoustic guitar, local wine, delicious food, cool summery evening. A friend was so generous to share her recipes with me, and I recreated one tonight. A couple accompanied us to church as our guests. Afterward, they joined us back home for some yummy fresh fruit, insalata caprese, marinated grilled chicken, grilled potatoes and grilled asparagus (served up with the lovely aioli).

Lemon-Oregano Aioli

1 cup mayonnaise
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp fresh chopped oregano
2 garlic cloves pressed
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon peel
Whisk to blend, season with salt and pepper.

Hugs goodbye to friends. Children up way past bedtime, running through summer stormy-air thickness trying to catch fireflies. Lanie writing in her journal, remarking, "I have a lot of thanks today."

Me too.

Thinking of Denise, a book fair, getting a friend to try asparagus--liking it--taking some home with her, thoughts of how being kind is better than being right, and unexpected giggles over the very good things in life.

Friday, June 11, 2010

SSF--the one that didn't happen

We've been on the go daily pretty much since Memorial day. Days full of fun things and friends and we have loved it and it's all good and makes memories and there are smiles and laughter and, and, and.

And there are also lots of moments of complaining and grumbling, bickering in the backseat, unthankfulness, "she did ... she said ... stop looking at me", needing of more, more, more. And, oh, the whining ... ugh. I know these things happen, but they seem to happen more readily when life gets unbalanced.

So in the best interest of all, we're taking today off. No surprises. Just sunshine, imagination, relaxation, hanging out at home. Just us. A day trip to a simpler time. And I might throw in some chocolate for good measure.

Looking forward to the day off.

Monday, June 7, 2010

One thousand gifts (778-785)

778. Late night talks with my man about hopes, wish lists, hurts and regrets. My best friend.
779. Heart searching and light shining on the very darkest places.
780. A new book. One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity by Debbie Macomber. Interestingly, she comments on the benefits of keeping a thankful journal ...
781. A lunchtime appointment.
782. A blog barbecue.
783. Summer school. Chez nous.
784. Tears that don't come quietly, or leave peacefully.
785. A 3 year old snoring in my arms.
786. An SSF pool invite.
787. Slip n slides in the backyard.
788. Potted flowers.
789. Air conditioning.
780. A pink vested mermaid.
781. A house that smells like a grandmother's place, with lovely wood floors and wood-burning fireplaces, doors with real glass, slate flooring, and mud rooms with little hooks for hanging coats ... even if it isn't my house. But I can dream.
782. The sound of jalapeno seeds clacking when spliced and dropped into my food processor for salsa.
783. Chairs left in turned positions long after conversations have ended.
784. The smell of smoke in my clothes and hair after an evening of grilling and marshmallow roasting.
785. My husband's arm around me as the last of our guests drove off, and a firey sunset lighting the clouds pink behind our house.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Van Morrison

I first encountered Van Morrison's music when I was in college. My then boyfriend's mother used to throw the loveliest dinner parties and one night asked her son to select some music. He picked Van Morrison. Late spring evening on a terrace, setting sun, delicious food and drink.

"Whatever that is, keep it coming," she said of the music.

I listened to Van Morrison a lot that summer and throughout the year. When that boyfriend and I split, Van and I stayed together. He was my soundtrack. He was a vibe that coursed through me. Domino, Brown-Eyed Girl, Into the Mystic.

Today, this song in my head
(minus the cheesy baby photo montage--not that there's anything wrong with babies or cheese.). I just got home from a lovely soiree next door, late spring evening outside, delicious food and drink. Children tucked in, I powered up my computer to be greeted by an open tab early today, Van Morrison playing.


I never had to contend with twenty questions about Super Surprise Friday. I think most of the time, Lanie wasn't so concerned about time. But now she is. For days, she's been talking about SSF. She wanted to know what time of day we'd be going; if it was inside or outside; whatever other questions she could think of.

Tucking her in, she squeezed tidbits of information from me, and I had mentioned we'd be spending time with friends. So she started naming all her friends. And then friends we didn't know very well.

"I'm not giving you anymore clues," I said. She kept throwing out names.

"Goodnight, Lanie," I said, closing the door behind me. I could still hear her musing about what the day held.

Many thanks to our generous friends for inviting us over to swim at the pool today. Lanie fell in love with the tasty treats and being admired as a mermaid by friends. Erin was in great spirits too. And it was fun to show the kids the neighborhood Shane and I lived in when we got married.

Fighting off my own urge to nap after a waterfun, sunshiney day.