Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009

Scouting a spot for our family photo.
Or, as it turns out, watching one of the last sunsets of 2009.
I've been reflecting on this year. It's been a big one. But then again, I feel that way about each year of my life.
All I remember about January is that it was a month full of late nights and business plans. We were squeezed into our tiny apartment and most everything we owned was shoved into a garage. But the weather in Houston was beautiful, and many days it was literally what kept me going.
In February we said good-by to our Millenia. I was sad to give up my sporty black car with the sun roof and "cool factor". I parked next to a mirrored building in our new family vehicle and my reflection surprised me. I was 27, very pregnant and wearing a velour jumpsuit, with two little kids, getting out of a Pilot. I remember thinking, "oh my...who AM I?"
In March we took the plunge. David quit his job, we moved to Kansas City and opened shop. I was too excited to be home, too tired of stressing the "what ifs", and too pregnant to care about the details.
April. Roman James Painter. Most definitely the best thing about 2009. He was 3 weeks early. Which meant that it took me May, June, July, and August to recover, unpack and get into my mother groove. David was working all.the.time. Most nights not home until 9 or 10pm.
September granted us more time together, and bolstered us with a little confidence. I think we were getting the hang of living with all the changes.
And then the holiday season. Pumpkins, falling leaves, turkey dinners, family togetherness, snow, Christmas music and hot chocolate.
365 days. I like the rhythm of life. This is a brief and flippant summary, but lurking in between the words are big life lessons. I'm grateful to be learning them, painful and joyful combined.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Merry Christmas

It really was the merriest of days.
This year we awoke in our own home, which was so delightfully fun.
David remembered with a start that he had forgotten to move our elf Essa.
He tried to sneak downstairs without waking the kids.
But as he passed their room Lily sat straight up and in a groggy voice,
and pointing her finger toward her dad said,
"You tell me if Santa left presents down there!"
And then they were both awake.
Hopping up and down at the top of the stairs.
As they got to the bottom and saw the tree,
we heard Zach say in his adorable 4-year old voice,
"Well, I guess we weren't on the naughty list!"
What a glorious time of year.
I was so happy to fulfill their simple and sweet Christmas wishes
(hotwheels and a watch that glows!)
I love my husband and my three precious children. They are my joy.
They are the best kind of Christmas gift.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


My sister Anna snapped a family picture for us this year. It was a chilly day and the kids waited in the car until the 'just right time'. When they hopped out, Anna said "Let me take your picture Zach and Lily", and she told me that with a giggle they grabbed onto each other like this.
I love this picture. A Christmas gift to me. Thank you Anna.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

An entire week (an important week!) sacrificed to flu suffering.
In my feverish state only one thought went round and round.
Why (!?) did I not get the vaccine.
My little list of Christmas "to-dos" kept getting pushed,
"maybe tomorrow. maybe tomorrow."
Until finally, "maybe next year" and that sort of thing is hard for me.
I hate being sick.
But Christmas cards...oh, their coming.
They might be Happy New Year cards instead.
I was thinking you could just look at our family photo and point to the people with flu.
Maybe I'll put the answer on the back.
And really, won't that be fun?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lydia Luella

...anxiously awaited blessing from above.
You have made your parents so happy.
By the way, your parents Ben and Margaret...coolest parents ever.

I think you have the sweetest name.

Monday, December 7, 2009


...because the first big snow of the season is headed our way
...because Christmas shopping online is so convenient
...because our tree makes everything so cozy
...because eggnog is on tap at my house
...because the little book i made for Roman will be showing up soon

(as soon as the mailman braves the ice and snow)
(pages from his homemade book below)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

We tried...

and we are totally trying again at Christmas.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


YMCA 'Bitty Basketball'
Each team selected their name.
At the first practice, the coaches gave every child their own basketball.
You should have seen the look on his face. his heart did swell.
At the last game, the coaches presented every child with a medal.
You should have seen the look on my face. my heart did swell.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big Helper

Love how he's pinching his gums together.
She was saying, "Just one more bite baby!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Learning, learning learning...

I unboxed my "teacher" things and made a Calendar Board. We do this little routine every morning. I hope it lasts a long time because the kids love it, and so do I. Right now it is pretty basic. But the possibilities are endless.

I've been reading books about educational methods and instruction again. Pedagogy. I like that word. Right now I'm in the classic, How Children Fail. It's fascinating to me, the study of teaching. I wonder if I will teach again. It feels like a hazy and distant possibility.

But I also remember ordering those letter magnets we are using on our board. It was my last year of teaching. I was pregnant. The idea that the baby I was carrying would actually USE them seemed like a hazy and distant possibility as well.

Today our PAT Educator (Parents As you use this program?) came. She had fun activities and gave all sorts of tips. But there is one I remember more than the others. She said that based on what she's seen, she thought Zach would do great in Kindergarten. But since he wasn't in preschool, maybe I could practice lining up with him. And maybe he could practice following me in a line.

I smiled. It was a good tip.

But my thoughts were swirling. My public school teacher brain said, "oh! how practical! how useful! and, how important!". And my mom brain was saying something more like, "I'm sorta glad that his first 5 years of life were spent line-less."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

with love, mama spud

i love you
i love you
you're my little guy
you're my little
french-y fry

i love you
i love you
more than a king's crown
you're my little hash-y brown

i love you
i love you
i love you a lot
you're my little tater tot

These are love rhymes I say over and over lately. I made them up on the spot a few months ago, and they stuck.

Also, I framed these photos and hung them in a sweet little line in the hallway that leads to my bedroom. It was one of the best decorating decisions I've ever made. Because no matter what heavy thing might be weighing on my mind, I can't walk past this row of pictures without feeling like my heart will burst with gratitude. literally. burst.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Halloween 2009 did not disappoint.
We attended a spooky bash with cousins.
Tattoos - face painting - colored hair - pinatas - and the now infamous brain-eating game.
It was a hit.
Have I mentioned how much fun it is to be back home?
I love that blurry picture.

3 little heads hunched together waiting for the candy bowl to appear.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Makes me think of you...dear Lily

This is not the post I was going to write. The one about our annual trip to the pumpkin patch. Because when I look at my folder of pictures the only thing that comes to my mind is the marvel that is my 3 year old girl. Marvel I tell you. As soon as we were inside, she was off. And never looked back. Not once. If you wanted to see her feed a goat, pedal a mini tractor, ride a horse swing, go down a two-story slide, or navigate a corn maze, you had better be running behind her. I love Lily with a fierce motherly love. But some days, like pumpkin patch days, I wish I could just be her friend. She enchants me with her blazing independence. And I am so not that girl. Surely she would teach me a thing or two. Of course her choice in pumpkin is an easy example...
wait for it...
wait for it...
It was love at first sight. Totally her pumpkin. And what about a sweet photo with mom to commemorate the day?

not a chance.
Lily, maybe you'll read this one day.
I love you. Oh my gosh, I love you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

thoughts...motherhood and love

Roman James Painter, 6 months old. Just started baby food. He loves it. I'm feeling a little more reflective about the whole thing. I can't believe it's here already.
Yesterday I took my kids to the grocery store. I pushed the monstrosity of a cart that is required. Zach and Lily sat in their seats, beeped the horns of their steering wheels and said "Happy Halloween!" to every shopper we passed. As I tucked a package of bacon in the space of the cart that remained, a lady touched my elbow and said, "You must be an angel." And then at the checkout, unloading groceries (uncovering Roman's car seat from a pile of produce) the cashier exclaimed, "WHOA, there's another one under there!" And I remembered back to when I was young, and my family of seven took bike rides together. Strangers used to honk and wave at us. It was funny to see such a long line of (mostly little) bikes.

We're finally using hand-me-downs. And boy oh boy do they transport me back in time. I put a blue bib on Roman and thought of the days when it was just me and another little boy together in a quiet house. I sort of romanticised a bit about how sweet those days were. How I used to turn on soft music just to have some background noise.
I love every single stage. Mainly, I am grateful to be participating in the heritage of motherhood. I know that my experiences and emotions are not especially unique, and that kind of astounds me. That there are millions of people who love so deeply.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

what a great weekend

We checked out a bazillion books on Fall/Autumn/Harvesting at the library. We had been reading them all week. Zach and Lily were feeling pretty confident that they could identify fall paraphernalia if they ran into it. Saturday evening, they grabbed little plastic bags and off we went to gather pine cones, acorns, leaves of many colors and seed pods. Seed pods were their favorite. new word I think. So this is Lily, the following day at Grandma's house, with another SEED POD she found!
Sunday morning we went on a nostalgic walk with my parents. Nostalgic because we walked this trail all.the.time. when I was younger. It's a nature sanctuary behind Park University. Park was established in 1875 and part of the original concept was that students received free tuition and boarding in exchange for working half their day at the college's farm, electrical shop or printing plant. On the trails, you can still visit the old root cellar where students stored their harvest.

We also learned the meaning behind the 'Old Kate' trail. Old Kate was the college's faithful donkey that hauled water to the buildings every day. She served 12 years. On the day that the university first pumped water using their new pipe system, Old Kate, who was 32 years old, laid down and died. I guess she knew the students would be ok. I love stories like that. I love places with lots of history.

To me, these woods are magical. Waterfalls, beaver dams, butterfly meadows. It's very common to run into deer, wild turkey and other wildlife. But, not this day. My kids found it enchanting too. And they made sure to exclaim it as they raced up and down the hills yelling at the top of their lungs. I'm pretty sure any animals within a mile radius knew we were coming.

Maybe next time we'll work on the concept of being quiet in the woods. This was not that day. There were simply too many things to be exuberant about.

Friday, October 2, 2009

1 o'clock church

This is what they look like afterward each week. out cold.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall is so good

Alldredge Orchards
good apples
lovely time
cooking together: apple crisp