Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Brief year in review from a tired Mama

Is it possible that 2010 is coming to a close?  We began the year with Snowmageddon.  Being snowed in allowed us weeks of family time.  I liked it and then one day I said, "It's time.  Back to school kiddos!".  We started a renovation in May that is still not quite done (getting closer though!).  Kit was on the swim team this summer and it was a joy to see her involved in a team sport.  The kids started their second school year back in the States with all of the excitement and less of the anxiety felt last year.  Lindsay is trying her hand at the violin while Kit continues on the piano.  I'm not sure how that will pan out to be honest - we'll see.  Swift, poor little guy, just gets dragged along everywhere.  The fall motored along while I tried (emphasis on tried) to balance the needs of three kids, manage a house and actually get some personal time.  (Not so much on that third item).  Kit is playing basketball for the first time this winter.  She didn't know what a referee was because, well, she's never played this kind of sport before!  She is having fun.

We have so very much to be thankful for but it has been a hard fall.  I am reminded of my frailty, failure and desperate need for a saviour daily.  Things just aren't as they should be!  But I knew that.

Bill is working like a banshee and finding the work rewarding.  I am constantly at the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Exhaustion.

My proposal for 2011.  Sleep, sleep, sleep!

Happy New Year to you!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Post Renovation Plan

The end is near. The dumpster is gone (highlight of my day yesterday!). It’s time for a plan.

My car has been in the driveway and it is getting cold.  A young woman (Sophie ... God bless Sophie) is living with us this year who had to live in our basement waiting for the renovation to finish.  Patient gal.  There is detritus ... everywhere.  So, onto the PLAN.

The Plan to reclaim the garage!
1. Roll up rug in storage room.
2. Organize room for Sophie access
3. Return suitcases on third floor to Mom Cave
4. Move furniture from basement to upstairs.
5. Move boxes from garage to storage room
6. Remove pallet materials to driveway for pick up.
7. Clean garage and voila baby … you’re in.

Then onto the basement:
1. Anything left in the utility area or hall … into the S Room.
2. I’m feeling hope. Is it possible?
3. Get the two Pakistani rugs cleaned.

Mom Cave:*
1. Clean!
2. Move desk back in.
3. Move suitcases before moving furniture.
4. Change door knobs
5. Are you feelin’ the thrill?

Master Bedroom:
1. The clothes in the corner.
2. The clothes in the corner.
3. The clothes in the corner.
3. Hang pictures.

Anything else that happens is pure gravy.  Wish me luck!

*  The Mom Cave is a teeny room built under the eaves off of the Master Bedroom.  My closet is in there so you could call it a "dressing room" but really that would be pretty ostentatious for the space so ... I don't.  It was a nursery for Swift when he was a baby.  When we moved back from overseas last year it became my personal quiet place.  I breathe deeply and exhale just thinking about it.  For the last few months it has been a dusty and dirty place BUT soon it will be reclaimed.  Big smile.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Talkin' 'bout a Renovation ...

Last post in September.  Really?  Geesh.

I went out to dinner with a friend this week (bliss).  I was waxing on about the joys and jeers of our house renovation when she said "you should blog about this"!  Well how about that for an idea.  I even have one of those blog thingies all aready for some bloggin'.

So yes, Virginia, there is an end to home renovation.  I just don't know when.  I will post befores and afters.  You know, ... after.  Do I sound bitter (wry smile)?  Nah, I'm not but I am really looking forward to the accoutrements of renovating to be gone from my house.  Things like ...

1)  The MONSTER dumpster that is in our driveway.
2)  The brown paper taped to the floor to protect it.
3)  Miscellaneous tools, boxes etc,
4)  The exterior temporary stair to the second floor.  
5)  The little punch list items that remain undone, and undone, and undone.
6)  The generally higher level of dust and debris.

While I don't like that the project is months overdue I actually have liked the process!  We gutted an attic and two bathrooms, removed a rear shed dormer and replaced it with a wider one (creating more indoor space), added three small dormers on the front of the attic and removed a wall/door that separated the second floor from the attic making it no longer an attic but a ... third floor!  This is all VERY exciting.  It has been fun to see how something is actually built.  It has been wonderful to see ideas I had for different spaces come into being.

Enough for now but I'll start searching my archives for some pictures.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Fishtastic Fiasco

I should write an ode to picky eaters.  I was one as a kid so you would think I'd be sympathetic.  Well, actually I am sympathetic but also now realize how exhausting it is to poor dear Mom who really just wants to make sure that her wee ones have a modicum of nutrition in their bodies.  I'd just like to feel good about the balance of intake weighing over on the "good for you" side.  Crud.  Food and Motherhood - what a deal!

So ... dinner at our household tonight consisted of tilapia ("fish bites"), lightly dredged and pan fried, broccoli and angel hair pasta with Parmesan (the ringer).  I made a simple little chopped tomato with garlic, white wine and lemon juice sauce that I knew only I would like but that was fine by me.  It was a pretty plate (mine was at least)!  What could be the problem?

The problem, it seemed, was the fish.  We don't eat a lot of fish around here.  We seldom  had it when we were living in a landlocked country with questionable sanitary conditions.  But I thought now that we were back in the Land of Plenty that I would introduce my kiddos to the Fruits of the Sea!  I want us to eat less meat!  I spoke with two girlfriends today on ways they serve fish to their kids.  This didn't sound too hard.

The kids' responses when they saw their meal (I'm trying not to take this too personally):

Kit:  One bite then a run to the bathroom gagging.  She returns holding her nose.  "I can smell it.  It makes me gag.  I can't eat anything on my plate because I can smell it!  Can I eat outside?  I need a new plate.  A new fork.  I can still smell it!  Mommy, never cook fish again!"   Oy vey.

Lindsay:  Sideways glance at her plate.  "Mommy, I can't have those things on my plate."  Mock shiver through her spine as she contemplates the thought of someone ingesting them.  Broccoli? Fuggedabout it.

Swift:  "Mmmm this is delicious".  He ate every bite on his plate.

Me:  "Mmmm these are pretty good.  Y'all are missing out"  (What a dumb mommy thing to say.  They don't buy it, of course.)

I'm doomed. They will all get rickets or scurvy and it will be all my fault.  (Where does Kit get that overblown dramatic thing from?).   Alas, tomorrow is a new day and they'll eat something, just not fish.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Day of School!

In early June when my kids were out and the local schools still had three more weeks of school left I thought ... HELP!  The summer flew however and here we are.  Last year there was anxiety over the newness of it all.  This year - excitement!  What a thrill for my two girls (and their Mommy).

Third and First Grade here we come!

Which one might be Tweenin'?

Sweet, sweet.

Walking in with little guy not far behind.  Notice they are leaving Mama in the dust.

Kit being greeted by the Headmaster - precious sight.

First assembly of the year then I took my leave until pick up this afternoon.

These milestones are so amazing.  Have a fun year girls!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Farm

One day this summer the dear friends I meet and pray with each week and I took all of our kids to visit a sage of a woman who has meant a lot to all of us.  Several years ago she moved out to Middleburg.  It is gorgeous out there:  low stone fences, horse farm after horse farm and winding roads.

The moms all got to visit with Mary Ann and our city slicker kids got a needed dose of "country".  My kids desperately want to live on a farm.  Sigh.

Climbing fences, petting horses, collecting tadpoles ... sheer bliss for my kids!

The tadpoles didn't last long after they morphed and some didn't grow legs at all.  I think the the nearest stream water I changed out for them wasn't murky enough and arrested their development.  The last two were released at the other Fabulous Farm event of the year.  But that ... is another post for another time.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Recital

I am hoping to FINALLY catch up on a little downloading and editing of summer images.  It has been quite a summer in our household.  The kids go back to school soon and I really want to capture what has been an unexpectedly wonderful summer.

First installment:  Kit's piano recital.  Last year in Kathmandu the Jazz Conservatory held the recital in a bar.  Tiki torches and everything.  This fact that Kit's first gig was in a bar still cracks us up.  The only issue was that she could barely play a thing.  Nevermind though, she bravely got up there and did her thing and we were proud of her courage.  This year Miss Mary the piano teacher's recital was in a church.  We're far from the 'Du indeed.  What a difference a year makes!

Practiced hands.

Happy performer (note silly bandz!)

Dutiful Brother (and Nana in background).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Shakin' and Quakin'

We lived for three years in Kathmandu having a fear of "the big one" hanging over our heads.  We had earthquake drills.  We had supplies.  I had spare sneakers under the bed.  We were (somewhat) prepared.  Thankfully - nuthin' happened.

But this morning at 5 am, in Washington Crazy DC, there was an earthquake!

Now of course I wasn't fully aware of this fact.  I read the paper but rarely get to watch the news because as Gavin DeBecker says (paraphrase) - NEWS stands for Nothing Educational Worth Seeing when it comes to having it on in front of children.  But I digress.  SO ... my neighbor Lucy comes over to ask if I woke up at 5am.  At first I said "no".  Then she told me about 3.6 earthquake that shook the area and I started to LAUGH. 

I did wake up at five.  Do you know when you are in that twilight/quasi sleep state?  I woke up and thought "Hmm, they must have finished the HVAC part of the renovation and that unit up on the top floor is on.  Bummer.  It shakes the house.  Is there anything they can do about that?  Put it on a platform or something?  Probably too late.  Oh well."  And back to sleep I went.  I actually didn't give it another thought until Lucy came over.

No one else may think this is funny.  My husband might (yet another good reason to have married him).  Our contractor did (he may have been laughing that it entered my mind at all that they might be ... done!).

I know, those who live in California mock as we rock! 

Here's to just enough excitement to stir us from slumber. Clink.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


It isn't as if nothing is happening in life that I don't blog anymore.  Au contraire Pierre!  There is so much going on that my head is spinning a bit.  Actually I try to keep the head straight so I can see where I am going but the rest of my body is doing the rubberband man keeping the family afloat.

It isn't as if I think the events of life aren't blogworthy.  I compose posts in my head sometimes.  I just can't seem to get them down on the screen anywhere close to the actual event.

So what's goin' on?  Enough fodder for a whole bunch of posts!  The kids have been out of school a month already.  Kit is doing swim team for the very first time.  Our house is being renovated while we suffer neurological damage from lead live in it. There is something else that I just can't write about but I PROMISE to tell you later.  I went to more recitals in June than that woman with 18 kids.  (I'm lying about that.)

I'm so tired right now I can't put a sentence together.

Tomorrow, tomorrow.

Monday, June 21, 2010


According to the calendar it is the first official day of summer   We've been at it for a few weeks in this household!  There are two sides to the lazy days of summer coin.  I find the lack of structure can be both relaxing and stressful!  My childhood memories of summer were full of days at the pool and trying new things at camp and I love to see my kids enjoy the new activities and experiences of the season.

The Gratitude List goes on ...

Melting ice cream cones.

Kit's first swim team meet ... ever.

The angst surrounding said meet being overcome by the joy of achievement.

Water slides.

Cannonball joy jumps into the pool.

Breakfast for dinner.

The longest day of the year.

Sun kissed faces.

The fun of newfound summer friendships and the faithfulness of the long held ones.

Watching the pollywogs grow legs in our kitchen.

Little Swift ditching the swimmies for the very first time.

Lemonade and ice tea ... every day.

Tutus, roses and curtsies to end a year of Ballet

holy experience

Monday, June 14, 2010

All about babies ...

The only baby shoot I've ever done was for a friend and what a SWEET little guy he is.  He's bigger now but the baby shots of his are some of my favorites.  It's baby week at I Heart Faces.

Grateful ...

I started this weeks ago (#s 1-6) but got too ... busy (the "b" word -sigh!).  I am here striking out again and will actually push "publish" whether I feel "done" or not.

Life has felt a bit insane of late and being too busy is not something I cherish.  So in light of that I want to bask in the light that is Gratitude.  Thankful hearts beget so many good things.  I have been intending to join the Gratitude Community for-simply-ever.  I love the idea of intentionally celebrating those things we are grateful for.  It breeds contentment.  And what else?  I'll let you know when I reach 1000.

So here goes ...

A weekend with dear friends full of laughter and good conversation.

Glorious weather at the beach.

Little hands to hold.

Sand castles.

Enthusiastic theatrical performances by our little thespians.

History with old friends.

The proud/embarrassed visage of our little pianist at her recital.
Grandparents who love on their grandchildren.
Bare feet and summertime.

holy experience

Friday, April 30, 2010

Off season ... perfect.

This was taken last month but we went last weekend again with friends.  People often say the beach is awful - a ghost town - off season.  Bah humbug! It was perfect.  My friend and I sat on a grassmat and chatted (i.e. engaged in deep and meaningful conversation - smile) while the Dads and kids built sand castles, found shells and ran up and down the beach under clear blue skies.  No crowds, no sweltering heat.  Perfection.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Breakfast under the Blossoms

One of the things I am most nostalgic for when we are living away from home is when the cherry blossoms unfold into one of the most spectacular floral displays I've ever seen.  I never get tired of them.  When I was single I used to go for a morning run under them.  (These days ... not so much of that!).  So last night we tucked the hoodlums in bed in their clothes and woke them up before dawn this morning so we could get down to the Tidal Basin for sunrise and breakfast under the cherry blossoms.  There were a ton of tourists and a phalanx of photographers but it is still some kind of a peaceful party going on amidst the pink petals.

I have no idea what this is but there is one on the wall under every overpass ... hmmmm.

We arrived just in time ...

As the sun rose it illuminated the trees across the basin.

The Fam.  Troopers all indulging their Mama.

This cracked me up - Look!  It's a flower!

The canopy over our heads.

Somebody (I'm not mentioning names) ... fell in the water.

He wasn't too unhappy about it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Gently, Gently, Gently"

The new calendar year has never felt like a good time for resolutions for me.  I still think in academic years and I find my heart and mind are more open to starting new things and goal setting while having the summer to reflect on what those goals are.  SO .... here we are in late March:).  My kids are on Spring Break and I still feel like I'm coming up for air from our move back home.  I've been thinking and praying about a theme word to bring through the summer when, of course, I'll have everything under control and make goals in every area of my life.  (Lookin' for a bridge to buy?) The word that kept coming to mind was Gentleness.

I didn't know this would ever be a struggle for me particularly when it came to children.  How is it possible that I could be anything but gentle with a child?  When my oldest hit toddlerhood and I had an infant in tow I found the nerves fraying as the number continuous hours of sleep dwindled and I had a harshness in my manner that I didn't know I was capable of.  It was humbling in the "brings you to your knees" variety.  During our years in Nepal I had the gift of extra hands in the house which made for a welcome escape valve when needed and I found my level of anger and frustration with my kids dropped dramatically.  I knew when I returned to real life, a dirty kitchen, loads of laundry and multiple simultaneous requests from my sweet little hoodlums that being gentle could be a challenge.  Asking God to help me be gentle ... today, is a daily request.

My little mental mantra is "gently, gently, gently" when I respond to the tantrum, the irrational demand or just general misbehavior.  I don't get it right all the time but I can't help but think the long term payoff if is important.  Kids don't always remember what we say (really?!) but I know they remember how they feel when we are with them.

"But let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near."
-Phil. 4:5

"I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong."
-Leo Rosten

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Birds ... in B&W

It's "Dramatic Black & White" week at I Heart Faces!  It is ridiculous how many creative people there are out there making some beauty.  Go check it out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


It is "Angles" week at I Heart Faces and I assumed I'd post a shot taken from an angled perspective ... and then ... I found this one and the "angles" of all those boxes just jumped out at me!

Go check it out and get inspired!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bundled Up

I think the folks at I Heart Faces are already nostalgic for the snow!  This week's challenge was a snow shot of someone .... bundled up.

The Thankful Leprechaun

Today's conversation:

Me:  So Linds, what was the Bible story at Childrens' class today?

Lindsay:  Something about how Jesus healed ten Leprechauns and only one came back to thank him.

I'm sure that was from the New Irish Version.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jump for Joy!

I knew which shot I'd choose when I saw this theme.  Not as sharp as I'd like but their expressions make me laugh.  Guess which day of the year this might be?  (Hmmm ... new shoes, new haircuts and two very excited and nervous little girls!)

It is "Jump for Joy" week at I Heart Faces.  Go check it out!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Expectant Hands

I haven't had a spare moment to enter an I Heart Faces challenge since we moved back to the US so I am very excited to do so this week!  This week's theme is "Hands-On" and this is a favorite image I took at a friend's baby shower.  Oh how many hours these hands will clock loving on that baby!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Somebody is Four!

How is it possible that my little guy is FOUR!

He is the first to wake up usually asking "Is it morning time?" at the top of his lungs.  We need to break him of this habit.  He is utterly happy to play with his train set, legos or color.  He is funny.  He is joyful.  He is the King Of Mischief!  He is a champion snuggler.  He doesn't know a stranger.  He lights up our lives and we love him!

Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!

Note to self ... grainy pictures happen when Mommy forgets to change ISO after shooting indoor ballet recital.  Will I ever learn?!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowmageddon Baby!

First it was Snowmageddon over the weekend.  Then we had another BLIZZARD over the last twenty four hours.  I'm not sure I've EVER seen this much snow.  School is closed all week.  The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is closed, which makes me pretty darn happy since Uncle Sam's our guy and I get to steal my husband for one more day.  There is so much snow that no one is making puny little snowmen.  It's IGLOO time.  I haven't run out of provisions yet (three gallons of milk) so I think we're ok for another day or two.  This more than makes up for three snowless years in Nepal.

I am meeting the neighbors.  The children are having a BLAST playing in the snow.  The dog is really a wolf after all.  I finished a novel I've been reading for-ev-er.  We actually made some headway organizing the playroom. The forced cessation of go-go-go is a good thing - no, a great thing.

I realize a lot of not-so-fun consequences can come from a dumping like this.  Our boxwood is doomed.  I sure hope our gutters don't break off from the weight of the ice and snow.  But perspective, perspective people (read ... me) ... there are people who don't have food/water/electricity all over the world and close to home.

They say we're not done yet either - more snow in the forecast.  Inhale. Exhale.  Smile.

Bill should get awarded a PhD in shoveling ... snow that is.  (Note bent shovel!)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Woman in White

"This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve."

And so opens this nineteenth century "sensation drama"!  Don't let this cover photo fool you - this book is completely of its time, yet timeless in its appeal.  It was the first of the mystery/thriller genre, originally serialized and was a delight to read.

Laura Fairlie is promised in marriage to Sir Percival Glyde.  Before becoming officially engaged she falls in love with her drawing master Walter Hartright.  Let the drama begin.  Sir Percival has a Secret and over the course of time he is, of course, found out.  But I won't ruin this for you with the details.

The characters are fantastic, the setting suitably misty, murky and mysterious.  Mr. Collins uses the different characters' voices to tell the tale from their perspectives.

Grab that cup of tea, curl up and enjoy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

How important Daddy?

Lindsay:  Daddy, what is more important, cleaning up or hugging me?
Bill:  Hugging you of course (he hugs her).
Lindsay:  Kiss me too (he gives her a kiss).

later ...

Lindsay:  Daddy if someone kidnapped us and told you that you could only have us back if you gave them Mommy, would you give them Mommy?
Bill:  No honey I would not give them Mommy.  I'd give them me.

It is no wonder I married this man.