Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Last Post

Wordle-webn    Created at

I'll leave this post up for a week and then the site will be closed. Probably just password protect it while I work on creating the blurb book. I'm afraid if I don't stick to this May 1st deadline, I might change my mind.

I really enjoy reading blogs (despite the unfortunate term "blog"), and as Katherine at Any Day a Beautiful Change put it when comparing them to Facebook, "I ultimately prefer to read a handful of thoughtful paragraphs than two hundred pithy sentences." I'm grateful to close friends who now blog & make the miles between us seem all that much shorter. Grateful too to those who have become friends as their thoughtful paragraphs made me laugh or nod or think, or all three.

I won't stop reading them, but I am going to take a month off. From Google Reader and the Internet in general. I'll check email every other day or so, use Shutterfly and two other sites for other commitments, and I'm hoping that's all for the month of May. Because I'm an all-or-nothing girl, because there is so much I want to accomplish near my computer but never seem to, and because I'm curious to see if I can.

I may blog again, in the fall, or use some platform for photo sharing with family. I don't know. Let me know if you want to know if/when I do.

I'm grateful to everyone who visited here and gave me motivation to keep posting, to capture a bit of these common hours in our family. Thank you for coming!

My favorite posts are always lists, so I'd like to end with one too.

5 Things I'm Grateful for Right Now...

3 pairs on our front steps web 

Photo Inspired by Molly

1. Each of my sons. I've been a bit tired lately---as Brian is working 2 jobs, between his job and our yard, which means I am too. I'm burnt out on meal planning and grocery shopping and preparing/cooking and cleaning up the kitchen throughout the day. Burnt out on laundry and housework and all of that. Burnt out on not being able to finish the simplest of tasks sometimes. But I don't burn out on caring for these boys. Some days I find it harder than others to balance the other roles with my most important one, but I relish time with these boys. They make me laugh, tell me stories, give me spontaneous hugs. That's pretty much everything I've ever wanted in life.

Jump web

2. Reading with Aidan. I know Aidan can read, but I'm still startled by it sometimes. The four of us were on a walk this afternoon and I stopped to read a sign and heard Aidan start reading it aloud behind me. Total reality check.  We read Treasure Island last month---which was a huge treat for me. I'd never read it, and guess what---it's REALLY good. Anyone know if Kidnapped is as good? We've just started 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea yesterday. I love our boys excitement when we start a new book, and their eagerness to continue when it's a good one.


3. Nolie-Cannoli. What a difference a month can make...I suppose that is the theme of the entire first year. We were weaning, then he got strep, so we have to start all over. He still wraps my hair around his fist while he's nursing, as if to say, "Don't you dare put me down if I fall asleep now."  He laughs SO much. He loves tickling other people...and watching him do it is hilarious so it works. He eats, and eats, and eats. And this makes him laugh too. He's starting to talk, beyond the babbling, just the littlest bit, and yet at the same time, it seems so clear what he means to communicate. And there are those moments when we all look at each other and say, "Did you see that? I told him to drink his milk and he did. He understands everything!" He cocks his head to the side and grins at you when he's in trouble...he knows he's cute. He complains whenever his brothers get to go outside without him. He loves the new playroom and is playing more and more beside the Bigs, thrilled that they are including him, but he'll still come over to me every so often and just rest his head on my lap. That's his signature move. And then he's off playing again.

I know that was an entire post in itself, but I'm trying to squeeze it all in here, one last time.

My little ballplayer web 2

4. Introducing Sean to T-Ball.

Of course after posting about him on his birthday, the rest of the day I kept thinking of little things and wondering how I could have not included them. The way he makes up songs, especially while sitting in the bathroom. Sometimes they are about that day's superhero, but usually they are about how much he loves his family. "Oh how I love my family"...and usually for my benefit ("Mom, did you like my song I made up? It was about how much I love our family.")

5. The chance to write here, the visitors who came here, the memories captured here.

October 2007-April 2009 and over 200 posts. Thanks so much for stopping by. It's been grand.

"Be well, do good work, keep in touch." - Garrison Keillor

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Birthday round up


(ETA for those who've asked: the crown is from dreamchildstudio and the ABC/Number cookie cutters were found at Amazon after Kris from family of five pointed me to them.)

Birthday season is finally over around here. Yay! I love my boys' birthdays and we don't go crazy with our parties, but it's still a relief when they're all over & just knowing that there won't be any more cake screaming my name for a while (well, at least once the one on our counter is consumed!).

I recently heard an interview with Karly Randolph Pitman in which she described the freedom she felt after she decided to stop throwing birthday parties for her kids. Listening to her made me ask myself whether I was doing certain things because I really wanted to or because I thought I "should" or because of some external image (from society or other mothers) that I had bought into.

Just asking myself those questions reaffirmed for me just how much I LOVE preparing my kids' parties. I love Pitman's point about identifying the tasks that nourish you and those that diminish you (e.g. homemade Halloween costumes---love admiring others, love ordering mine off ebay!). Of course I'm not planning the crazy "new generation" of parties that involve everyone your child knows and lots of $$. This year we limited guests to the same number as the birthday year (so Aidan got to invite 7 friends and Sean 4, which, when you add our 3 to the mix, is more than enough. 1st birthdays are always an exception!).

The real joy for us is in working together on creative ideas. I'm sure none of the four-year-olds noticed that the Starbursts or Milk Way treats fit in with our space theme---but little things like that make me happy. We did a little photo shoot for Sean's birthday invitation, and then I got to play in Photoshop:


Then we planned what games we would play. These were a combination of Sean's requests (he really wanted an Easter Egg hunt so we hunted for space rocks...plastic eggs filled with Starbursts), ideas from past parties (Pass the Planet for opening gifts), inspiration from Google, and what we had on hand. Both boys have had major Mr. Potato Head phases, which my parents have enjoyed indulging, so we began with Sean handing each friend a potato head and planting a big box of spare parts in the middle of them all. My favorite was the google hit, "Moon Walk" with big sheets of bubble wrap laid out that the kids jumped up and down on with much laughter.


(I've tried to warn Bri that my camera is usually set to AV priority but to no avail...)


The day before we decorated (except for the streamers that had been up since Sean's actual bday, thanks to Brian). The boys took much delight in pulling out every Toy Story book/toy/DVD we had and displaying them. I covered the train table with a black sheet I use for a backdrop and let Aidan lose with my scrapbooking supplies. He used metallic paper and a circle punch to make small planets, crayons and cardstock to make big ones, and when he wanted to use a white crayon to imply Buzz being connected to a rocketship, I couldn't refuse.

I've learned it is impossible to host a party as well as photograph there are few photos from any of our celebrations. Luckily my friend Amy is always willing to oblige and she got some great shots of Sean blowing out the candles:

Sean 4 web 

I've also learned that while I love to bake, the cake for the party is better ordered. I dislike store-bought cakes, but that's actually a plus. I feel a little guilty about serving artificial food coloring and trans-fats to little ones, but I figure they eat so healthy the majority of the time, this rarity will be okay. My scrapbooking supplies came in handy yet again for the top of the cake---glad they're getting some use!

The cake I made for Sean's actual birthday (we always have a family-only party on the real day) reaffirmed my cake ordering decision. Everything that can go wrong did. Cakes are a little tricky at this altitude, so one layer fell a little and the other stuck to the pan in one spot. Urr...but nothing a little extra frosting wouldn't fix...but then I ran out of frosting after doing the tops of each layer. So I used vanilla frosting for the sides (left-over from the cookies Sean brought to school)...all of which resulted in a pretty funny-looking cake. I'd spent much of the afternoon making it and was feeling a little defeated when Sean saw it.

"Mom, did YOU make this? For MY birthday? Wow! This is the best CAKE ever! You are the best mom in the whole wide world!"

Only he didn't stop there---he went on for several minutes.

Sean's family party 

So I'm grateful not only that I ordered the cake for Saturday, but also that I made our family's cake myself, however lopsided & marbled it may have been.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My boy Sean

It's after 1 am here, and I have no excuse...the cookies for Sean's class were made before dinner, the presents have been wrapped for hours, and even his last-minute ironed-on but not yet sewn shirt is ready to go for tomorrow. But I can't sleep.

Deirdre and Sean  

Simultaneously can't believe Sean will be four years old, and can't believe he hasn't been with me my whole life.

Hmm...I just deleted a lengthy paragraph on Sean's birth story...but it is way more about me than him, and it was my most difficult delivery, so that's a story for another day.

What I do want to recall is what a considerate baby he was. Seriously. He slept so well in those early days. I had to go back in the hospital after spiking a high fever the day after we came home. The idea of one's baby even being in a separate room is painful at that stage, so he came with me. But I was shaking so badly I couldn't hold him, and worried what I'd do when he woke up hungry. But he slept. And slept. Right next to me in the ER, even while the "who can find a vein in this girl's arm" was played again, and never woke up until I was in a room and ready.

Brian and  Aidan had both slept (or tried to sleep) in the hospital room with us after Sean was born, so that night after being readmitted, after sending Brian home with Aidan, was really our first night alone, and it was one of the blessings to come out of all that.

The three Keating men 

I'm the fourth of nine I even share the middle child spot. I try to be extra sensitive to Sean's unique standing in the middle. He adores his big brother. They are very different, but to others it's hard to tell ---especially as Sean imitates everything Aidan does, even his catch-phrases. This morning Sean announced, "I have some good news, and some bad news...", one of Aidan's long-time favorite openers. He wanted a Bakugan for his birthday, despite not really knowing what it is. Despite all of mine and Brian's attempts to sway him this week, we know he's going to choose his brother's favorite place for dinner tomorrow, so they can both get "alien pancakes."

And while Aidan will sometimes demand a little space or time to himself, the adoration is shared. When the bell rang and all the kids came running out of Aidan's classroom today, half of them stopped to wish Sean a happy birthday because Aidan had told them all about his brother's  upcoming day. They make each other laugh hilariously, and it is the most delicious sound I've ever heard.

Best of sean and his godparents copy With his godparents on his 1st birthday.

Still, Sean loves being the center of attention. Aidan often begins a book asking, "Who is the main character of this story?" Sean has picked up on this and will often announce, "I am the main character of this family." I've tried to explain to him that each person is the main character of his or her own life, but he is still trying to get me to understand that we are all just supporting actors.

He loves to play the "I love you as much as..." game, going all the way to the sun and Pluto and back. Sometimes when I tell him I love him, he'll ask, "Do you love me the best?" which still shocks me. I know I never liked being left out of anything as a kid, but I don't remember measuring every gesture as a middle child. A few days ago Sean declared he wasn't going to eat breakfast because I served Aidan before him. I tried to hold back my laughter while I explained that his oatmeal takes longer to make than Aidan's bowl of O's & Kashi Go Lean, but he'd have none of it.

Sean and his daddy 

He is not a dare-devil. He's strong and more aggressive than his brothers, but like his dad, he has an amazing risk-assessment ability. He likes to test things out first. He's also more outgoing than anyone else in our family. On a recent walk uptown, a teenager dressed in his best "wanna-be-gangsta" look, walked past us and Sean struck up a conversation. And he wouldn't let it go, felt the need to tell this boy, whose pants were nearly falling down and whose bare arms were already covered in tattoos, all the details of his day. And underneath all that exterior armor, the boy was too polite to turn away from Sean, and ended up walking backwards until he finally just cracked up and I did too. Sean is disarming that way...and if you give him an inch, he'll take a mile.


He'll often ask me to pretend that he has just "found" Nolan, and he'll come running, telling me he's found a baby and can we please keep him and name him Nolan. He LOVES to give gifts, and he'll often ask me to pretend I've never seen certain things before and then he'll give them to me as presents. He continually asks me to marry him when he grows up, and Aidan always snorts at this and reminds him that I'm already married, but Sean's indifferent. I know that to Sean, it just means to always be there for him, and there's nothing I'd like more.

Showing off for Tava

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Recap

I wasn't looking forward to this weekend. What was supposed to be a girls' weekend away, full of long talks and pretty paper, had turned into a weekend of solo parenting, with Brian working hard on rototilling our backyard.

And yet it was lovely and good.

I seemed to come out of a fog I've been in, after a series of minor disappointments and setbacks. I wish I could put my finger on exactly why.

Was it Lori's post about how we set the tone for our families?

Was it having Buzz Lightyear join our family for a few days?


Was it the  incredible weather that turned a walk to the library into a walk to the park?

Running on Sunday morning to Indigo Girl's "Hammer & a Nail"?

The red wine with Saturday's very carnivore-friendly dinner?

Reading the ideas at First Ourselves via a link at Stacy Julian's site?

Watching Nolie take his first wobbly steps?

Nolie and Buzz web

Having all 3 boys fresh from a bath at the same time?

Having a good-looking guy breaking a sweat in my backyard?

Bri roto web 

Having the same guy never let me feel like a solo-parent when he's around?

The blue flax blooming?

Crossing some items off the never-ending TO DO list?

I never seem to know what turned me around, and still I wish I could capture the moment that does it so as to get out of the fog faster next time. I suppose it isn't any one moment, but a combination of good choices, good people, good food for the body and soul, and maybe just time.

We watched "Doubt" Friday night and "The Reader" Saturday, and while neither is a pick-me-up sort of movie, time next to Bri on the couch is always good therapy.

The boys helped me with the Toy Library project, which is basically my attempt to only allow so much plastic junk out at once. We took photos of toys, because they are very concerned about forgetting what isn't spread out on their floor, and that led to elaborate scene productions.

CN web 

Also got some solo office time on Sunday evening, finally moving a bookcase downstairs, and having a sweet (no longer sweaty) guy deal with all the wires/cords involved in moving my computer. The new playroom/former dining room is coming along slowly.

Still haven't thinned the strawberry plants, or 101 other items on the list, but now all energy will go toward celebrating Sean's 4th birthday. And thanks to Nolan allowing me to get the first solid night's sleep in over a year last night, there actually IS some energy (yay, I can cross #9 off the list!).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kay!

My favorite photo of Kay web 

Here's to bright balloons, good ice cream, and lots of CHIPS reruns;-)

love, your lil sis D

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter '09

Easter 2009 web

The problem with time off from the blog is that there is too much to catch up on, so I don't begin.

I hope to go back and fill in on Aidan's and Nolan's birthday posts, and write one about Spring Break, but that will have to wait.

Otherwise the list will just get longer.

Rise and Shine Easter 09 web

We celebrated Easter last Sunday. I ended up teaching our little Sunday School, which more than doubled in honor of the holiday. For the past month or so I'd been teaching the kids the song "Rise & Shine," which my older sisters will recognize from our Camp Vista days. I was so happy even the older kids participated. After the peace sign they all walked up to the altar and led the whole congregation.

April09_009 web 

When we started attending this church, there weren't any children there on Sundays. We knew a family with two boys, but they were traveling that summer. Slowly, more and more families have been joining our parish. I believe there are many ways to "keep holy the Sabbath," but I'm thrilled for our sake that there are more children with whom to celebrate now!

Nolan and his daddy on Easter 09 web

How sweet are these two guys?

Aidan and Sean were not happy to see the camera come out. They wanted to hurry to the Easter egg hunt.

We want candy notphotos web 

Don't they look thrilled? At least they had a comrade in their pain.

Amazing how the threat of no more jelly beans can produce smiles:

Smile or else web 

Easter 09 my boys and me web

I know...I'm one lucky momma.

This is my new favorite photo of Nolie and me:


Thank you, Brian, for taking it (I am often giving him grief that there are 1001 photos of him and our kids and none of me with them).

Brian colored eggs with the bigs, for the second year in a row, while I was getting Easter clothes ready. He also did the Easter Bunny shopping since he got to leave town (he was out of town for 2 wks in a row, with a weekend at home in between--thank goodness! My hat is off to all single parents.). The traditional spring jammies and a book for each boy as well as sweets and a "Tom & Jerry" Dvd. The bigs are crazy about Tom & Jerry, despite my best efforts to convince them it is mostly mindless violence;-)

There was Masters golf, a big dinner, some over-sugared boys running around, and a nice walk with the whole family at the end. I'm grateful for a sweet Easter with all of us together.

Hope you are all enjoying a warm spring and Happy belated Easter!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Irish boys web

I haven't abandoned this blog. At least that wasn't my intention. Our internet service has gotten funky lately---completely unable to open Google Reader, though no problems with hotmail.

Brian is using this as an opportunity to strong arm me into going with a new provider package that would include satellite TV. I'm still on the fence.

We didn't own a TV for the first eight years of our relationship. So I tease Bri that I didn't know him as a TV watcher when I committed to him. He doesn't watch a lot of shows...I'm not sure he watches any shows. He just flips around.

I'm not anti-TV. I love stories and love TV shows that tell stories well. Sadly, there don't seem to be many of them that do, at least not on basic (as in all of 12 channels) cable. We shall see. (ETA: okay, maybe I am a little anti-TV. There are just always 101 other things I'd rather be doing.)

Front yard April 09 web

It's spring here, so the tourists are back. I'm trying to be grateful for the economy they bring our community, instead of just swearing to myself about the way they drive. Do we all leave common sense at home when we go on vacation?

Lots of small and big moments that I'd like to capture I'll be back Monday and start posting regularly for the last hurrah. Thanks for checking in, and Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Karen, Shriners, and a request

Kev 9 Karen's red hat 

It's not a great photo---but I love it. Kevin took it on his iphone at Christmas. The lovely woman in the red hat is my favorite blog reader, my oldest sister Karen. We had just given her the hat and she was trying it on for Nolan. Kay checks in on our blog a couple times a month at her school, and I always get a thrill when I see "St. Mary's" on the reader list.

Karen, Erin and me web This photo is a bit better, but my sister Eileen refused to sit for it so it's just Karen, Erin and me with the chubby cheeks.

Karen loves music, soap operas, and Erik Estrada, definitely not in that order. She also loves her family, and reminds me of our dear Nana in so many ways---but especially in her ability to remember all her sisters and brothers' birthdays.

She was the first one to send Nolan a gift when I announced I was expecting. She's the greatest aunt, and now that we aren't teenagers sharing the same bedroom, she's the best sister too. She's the most intuitive person I know, and has the most gentle nature.

Karen also has cerebral palsy, and growing up she had to have several surgeries in order to walk. Several of those took place at Shriners Hospital in Illinois. I remember Kay in a double leg cast there, and the girl in the bed next to hers, who was born without arms. She let me feed her some yogurt, and in that moment and countless others, Shriners made an indelible mark on me.

I hadn't thought about  Shriners Hospital in years. Then I reconnected with an old high school friend, Peggy, whose son Owen was born with a rare condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. Owen's condition will require more than 18 surgeries, and Shriners has been a life-saver, according to Peggy, picking up the cost of his surgeries and his medical equipment along the way.

Shriners is an amazing organization, with over 20 hospitals dedicated to helping children and their families. Peggy wanted to give back and came up with an incredible idea that she has entered in the Name Your Dream Assignment. Her plan is to create a black-and-white photo exhibit and book of patients, doctors and families at Shriners, with all proceeds going back to the hospital.

This is where you come in. I'm asking that you take a few minutes to click over to the Name Your Dream Assignments web page, and vote for Peggy's proposal, Perfectly Imperfect.

On the left hand side of Peg's page is a PIC IT button. If you click it, you will need to fill out a very brief registration. If we can get Peggy's proposal into the top 10, it will then be reviewed and judged on creativity, thought and originality.

I'm asking you to do one more thing---and I can promise it will be the last request I ever make here, as the days wind down to Sean's birthday. Please share the link with friends or on your blog or with anyone who would be interested in helping. Shriners does amazing work in this world, work that rarely is acknowledged, and I believe Peggy's book would be an empowering tribute to all the medical professionals at Shriners and their amazing patients, including my sister Kay.

Thanks for your help!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Snapshots of His First Year

Susan inspired me with her beautiful slideshow of Evan.

Both songs are by Renee & Jeremy.

I just want to thank everyone who's been visiting here and indulging me in my monthly snapshots of our boy. Your checking in helped me stick with capturing the little milestones that all blur together over the years. I'm so grateful for this record of Nolan's first year, and your interest and encouragement here has been a great part of it. Thanks!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday Nolan!




We are so very blessed.

Only a few minutes left to post this on his birthday. I'll be back tomorrow with more highlights, and then of his lil party on Saturday. Angie pointed out that it's only fair to keep the blog going till Sean's birthday next closing up is postponed till the end of April. Phew;-)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Aidan at Seven

Aidan at 7 web 

My baby is seven.

Handsome web

I tried to crack him up for that shot by reminding him of the girl in his class who called him "handsome" this afternoon. Aidan turned bright red when she said it;-) 

 His teacher has each student draw an ice cream scoop with a compliment and then they share them aloud and staple them to make a giant ice cream cone.  My favorites were "creative", "unique" and "kind." They know him well.

There are still presents to wrap and cupcakes to bake so I'll update later tonight.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Random Bits

1. I have about 2o minutes to do three hours of I'm posting. One of the biggest questions facing me as I prepare to close the blog is what will become my new preferred form of procrastination?

I debate joining Facebook at least once a week. When I learned about Janice's illness, I regretted not having joined it...but, in general, I think people in our past are there for a reason. Plus, I enjoy teasing Mary Alice, Amy, and Erin about their addiction to it, and I know my own OCD tendencies too well.

Watch this hilarious YouTube video satire of Facebook, and read Newsweek's'"Why I'm Quitting Facebook" if you need help resisting the fad too.

But watch, next month I may be there...

*ETA: Some clarification for those who've asked. Despite my "in the past for a reason" belief, I am grateful for the reconnecting that's come via this blog. Even though I set this blog up to be "unfindable" via googling my name, I am grateful for the way it has led to reconnecting with some old friends (via shared links), especially the '94 MZMO crew (hi Scott, Ryan, Mandy & Bridget!). I'm also grateful for the new friends I've made here, especially the moms-of-boys club members. And I'm mostly grateful for the way this space has helped me capture a bit of this crazy-magical time.

It's still time to pack up though. I freak out a bit when I see MSN image searches land on photos of my kids (if anyone knows a way to opt out of that engine, please share!). I imagine our boys will be curious to look through a book of one year from their childhood captured in blog form...but any more than that would be tedious or worse, eg: I'd love to see an old grocery list of my mom's from when I was a kid...yet I would be creeped out if she had saved them ALL to give me someday;-)

Perhaps a less photo-centered blog is in the future, I don't know. But right now I'm thinking Nolan's birthday post will be the last. If you have any suggestions on how to reap the benefits of a blog without the negatives, please email me your ideas. I'm hoping to make a blurb book so the site will remain up for at least a month or so after the last post.

2. Life is incredibly good right now. In no small measure due to the arrival of spring. Alleluia!

1st sign of spring 

Catch moments---today, Sean and his buddy Rayce came to me, announcing, "There is a circus in your bedroom!" Nolan and I were instructed to sit on the bed while the clowns performed. The clowns had a hard time not laughing themselves. It was a priceless performance and I hope they come back to town soon.

Also this afternoon, I asked the boys to entertain Nolan, who was eating O's in his highchair, while I got the mail. I walked back in to find them singing "The Wheels on the Bus" together, much to Nolan's delight. Maybe I should start leaving our videocamera on the counter.

3. Aidan's birthday party is this weekend. He is having a Ben-10 party, because when you can't beat 'em, join 'em. If you ever look at the list of recent visitors, there are usually a half-dozen or so  who arrived here (often from other countries) looking for Ben-10 birthday ideas. Much of this traffic finds it way here via Anne's Green Jello site or google, and I finally got around to posting the details of the Alien Ice Game for them. It brings me irrational joy to finally see these visitors now landing in the right spot (instead of searching my archives in vain).

So I'm motivated to share another game. We've created Bingo cards using the Ben-10 aliens. It took me an embarrassing amount of time just figuring out how to make a grid in PSE. If you have Photoshop or a similar program, just click on the small image below, save the larger file, and then create different bingo sheets using layers and copying & pasting the aliens in different boxes. A little time consuming but much cheaper than buying them from a birthday supply store!

Ben 10 bingo2 

4. I remember going to bed Sunday night thinking it was one of the most perfect days of my life...but that's about all I remember. However there is some photographic evidence of a light picnic and some soccer playing among three of my favorite men.

Sunday soccer 

5. There seems to be sad news all around lately. Brian's aunt is fighting for her life in Illinois. A heartbreaking local accident. Good friends asking for prayers for a little girl who is sick.

We do what we can: say the prayers, send the flowers, shake our heads, cry the tears. And then do what seems unspeakable at times---find joy in this mixed up world any way.

Thankfully this joyful little boy makes that easier. Wishing you all good health & safety today.

Nolie nolie web

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Choosing to Celebrate

I had forgotten about Family of Five's Celebration week---choosing to celebrate something every day. Let's just say yesterday was about celebrating my family's Oscar tradition:-)

Today I celebrate fatherhood. A scene I'd like to implant in my memory forever. Last night I was brushing my teeth before bed and heard Nolan start to cry. When I looked into his room, Brian had already gotten there and Nolan had stopped crying, looking up at him in anticipation. Bri lifted him up on his shoulder and there was an audible sigh from Nolan, as he lay his head in that nook between Brian's neck and shoulder. That sigh---such a beautiful sound, of peace and happiness and relief.

From the hallway, I could only see their silhouette, and hear Nolan's breathing. But my heart was full just watching that sway of father and son, and knowing how safe all my boys feel when their dad is near.

This is a blurry photo from last month but for some reason I love it...because it feels so alive and in the moment perhaps.

Father son blurry  

Monday, February 23, 2009

"but I have a mother": Oscar Recap


Did you have a good time last night?

I was not disappointed (except by our local Thai restaurant being closed on Sundays...urrr!). 

Out west the show starts early, which is never easy with little ones still awake. Brian, who has no real interest in the Oscars, was incredibly sweet in his efforts to let me watch it uninterrupted. I still missed Best Original Screenplay, which, truth be told, is probably the most important award to me. Must have been putting Nolan to sleep.

First---the winner of our little 8 category contest! Out of the 14 predictors (not including Scott who emailed his picks this morning, ha!), Brian's cousin, Barb won with a perfect score! Way to go, Barb!  Too bad we are too far away to watch Leah while you and Bob enjoy the movie tickets.

And Sean picked Mary Alice's predictions out of a bowl of all the comments, so we'll be mailing you The Slumdog soundtrack. MA, please tell me you don't have it already!

And...just as I was typing the above, I got a call from Sgt. Peppers, our local mom&pop movie/cd store saying I won their contest!! Woohoo! Movie tickets and dinner:-) Luckily they didn't include the Best Screenplay categories. I predicted that "Milk" would win, but liked "In Bruges" too much to vote against it (there is always one category where I have to vote with my heart).

Highlights for me: Penelope Cruz and Kate Winslet's acceptance speeches. I'm a sucker for the childhood stories of watching the show, and loved Cruz's point that the night is really about a moment of unity for the universal language of art.


The few friends I have that do watch the show are more interested in the dresses and fashion. I like seeing what people wore, but couldn't tell you one designer's name. I love that my family always crowded around our TV set, and watched in awe the celebration of storytelling and artists. That's what I love about the Oscars, and why last night, with all its high and low moments, was a great show---it got that feeling of celebrating story right.

Also---the actor awards being presented by five past winners. Brilliant. I love that each nominee had a moment in the spotlight, and preferred the praise from a colleague over a clip that often ruins the movie for future audiences.

Also loved AR Rahman's acceptances, sandwiched around his performing. Hugh Jackson's opening number showed his enormous talent, but seemed mainly about his own talent. I liked the "musicals are back" number more...because I love all those songs.

Loved Danny Boyle's Tigger dance and acceptance. I have mixed feelings about "Slumdog Millionaire" and don't think it will hold up in time, but I hope its success helps those it portrayed. While it relies on plenty of movie cliches, its energy and style were refreshing. I'm so glad its producers were rewarded for their risk.

Low point of the evening was the In Memoriam. Queen Latifa sang "I'll Be Seeing You" so beautifully; it should have been a highlight of the evening. But the camera work was beyond annoying---wanting us to see the stage set up rather than just one screen. And it would have been easy to acknowledge as they introduced it that  Heath Ledger passed away last January so audiences wouldn't be wondering why he wasn't included until they remember (20 minutes later) that he was in last year's montage.

I'm glad Sean Penn won, but man, he comes across as a jerk. I can't stand the idea that Princess Buttercup had to turn his face for a kiss when he won. Maybe he was just in total shock, and maybe he didn't thank her because that's private to him. Still...Buttercup deserves better.

I enjoyed how the montages acknowledged movies from the year, not just the few that are nominated, though there was a bit too much of reaching for the young crowd (should Miley Cyrus really be there?). I must be getting old.

And the best part of the night---a recap phone call after the show with my youngest brother:-) Next year we have to do a conference call after the show with all the siblings!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

happy list

I love reading your Oscar predictions. If you haven't voted yet, click over here from bloglines/google reader or whatever, and VOTE now. 1st prize is a pair of movie tickets; random prize is the soundtrack from Slumdog Millionaire (Aidan will pick a number so you have a chance on that one just by commenting). I'll turn off comments before the show starts tomorrow.

I'm not crazy about any of the movies this year, and I'm still excited about tomorrow. The Oscars just make me happy.

Other things making me happy lately:


1. Valentine crayon hearts.

2. Qubo's Make Your Own Zimmer Twins Movie. Seriously cool way for kids to learn about story-boarding, animation, plot, and more.

Aidan's made three so far, completely on his own (with 1st grade spelling & humor). I'm just grateful that the sound effects options didn't include his current favorites, burping & farting.


3. Snagging a "lil stinker" on ebay.

4. This blog and this artist. I love "Looking Up".

5. Brian taking the bigs for a hike. Do they have any idea how lucky they are to grow up here?

Lucky boys web

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Best of 2008

Inspired by a sister's email, and the fact that it is almost March, here's my belated best of list for 2008. I've been exchanging these lists with Mary Alice and Angie for at least a decade, and most years, with my siblings too.

Last year, my OCD played out in a need to post on each topic and write about almost every movie I saw in 2007. I'll spare you this year and share just the top 5 of some categories.

Best Books I Read in 08:
    1. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
    2. Breathing Lessons By Anne Tyler
    3. The Now Habit by Neil Fiore
    4. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
    5. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
    Best Children's books (chapter bks) in 08:
    1. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls
    2. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne R. Banks
    3. Encyclopedia Brown by Dan Sobol
    4. Franny K Stein series by Jim Benton (some more than others)
    5. The Water Horse by Dick King Smith
    Best Movies I saw in 08:

    The best things I watched last year were "John Adams" and "Battlestar Galactica", both cable miniseries. We rarely go to movies, but we watch a DVD almost every weekend. So you probably saw most of my favorites in 2007.

    1. There Will Be Blood
    2. The Darjeeling Limited (*caveat: I loved it, but doubt most people would like it)
    3. In Bruges
    4. Slumdog Millionaire
    5. The Diving Bell & the Butterfly
    My mother-in-law asked me how I could like "In Bruges", when I profess to dislike violent movies. She's right, I'm inconsistent. I detest violence and in movies, it often requires me to distance myself from the story, to constantly remind myself "this isn't real"---or it terrifies me and I stop watching. So I'll never see "Dark Knight" or "No Country For Old Men," despite the reviews.

    But there are exceptions. I loved "Fargo" which is quite violent, and "There Will Be Blood" as well as "In Bruges" and "Gone Baby Gone" were all favorites this year because, while violent, they are all character-driven movies. I'm sure they are too violent for some (so you've been forewarned) but they worked for me.

    Best Kid Movies/Rentals:

    1. Iron Giant
    2. The Water Horse
    3. WALL-E
    4. Boys Town
    5. Lilies of the Field
    Best Songs I discovered in 08:
    1. "Lucky" by Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
    2. "Chicago" by Lucy Wainwright Roche
    3. "Orange Sky" by Alexi Murdoch
    4. "Night Mantra" by Renee & Jeremy
    5. "Lost Verses" by Sun Kil Moon, "Everything'll Be Alright" by Joshua Radin, and more...
    Best Blog Discoveries:

    Ordinary Courage--Brene's stories of working/raising children/developing superpowers. Love it.

    Soulemama--Amanda's beautiful site on her family and crafting and living well.

    mAJjc Show-- Just so happy my friend Angie is blogging:-)

    Camp Creek --Lori's project-based learning wonderland

    molly irwin--she loves paper, photos, textiles, and shares them all. Great source.

     MA, Angie and I also include more reflective categories, like 10 Best memories and 2009 resolutions (or "revolutions" as we call them).  Here are snippets of them:

     Best Moments of 2008:

    1. The birth of Nolan Elliott Keating.

    My water broke at 11 pm, the night before our scheduled c-section. At the hospital, I couldn't stop laughing, giddy over our luck in having picked the right day, our luck in having traveled a day early, and our luck in having a third child. For days I had stressed about being apart from his big brothers, but once Nolie was here, I was so grateful for those cocoon-like days in the hospital with just Bri, Nolan, and me.

    2. Visits! Over eight different friends/families came to stay with us last year. Moab isn't an easy place to get to, so we always appreciate when people make that effort. Lots of great moments and memories.

    3. November 4th---Barack Obama was elected president, and Brian turned 40. Good day.

     Favorite Lessons/Realizations:

    1. "Perfect is the enemy of the good." I thought I said it, but turns out Voltaire beat me to it.

    2. White balance. A common phrase in scrapbooking, but I loved Lori's application of it to life.

    3. Being kind is more important than being right. I heard Anne Lamott say that, and I need to hear it often.

    Favorite Accomplishments:

    1. Building a website for a local non-profit.

    2. Learning to use my digi Rebel and how to shoot in manual (lots more to learn, but a lot learned as well); consistently taking lots of photos.

    3. Staying sane (for the most part) despite a year of sleep-deprivation.

    Most Grateful for in 2008:

    1. My health, the health of my family and friends, and our time here together. Priceless.

    2. The community we've found here, our neighbors, our church family, our friends. I'm also incredibly grateful to my two closest long-distance friends---who keep me writing these long lists so I can read theirs every year. I can't imagine the world without them, and hope I never have to.

    3. That after all this time, I'm still crazy about Brian. I'm grateful he still likes me too, of course, but I'm even more grateful that I love him. Marriage is challenging, and I often wonder how people who aren't crazy in love with their partners stand it.

    Goals/Intentions for 2009:

    1. To complete most of my 40 Before 40 list.

    2. To stay committed to better eating/fitness habits. (that's my PC way of saying I want to buy a new pair of jeans in a smaller size for my 40th bday)

    3. To be keenly aware of what I am saying "no" to before I say "yes". For too long, my no's have mainly been to my own self-care, namely sleep. I'm going to be less sleep-deprived in 2009, and if that means saying "yes" less often, I'm prepared to be okay with that.

    We also pick a word to be the theme of our year, ala Ali Edward's One Word. This year my word is Time. I want more time. I want to choose carefully how I use/spend my time. And mainly, I want to Take My Time.

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    11 months


    Exactly one month left till Nolan's first birthday (or it was on the 12th when I started this post).

    Sweet Kris posted so positively about her oldest daughter turning 13, I feel a bit remiss lamenting the first birthday. There are great things about every stage of being a parent, I realize. But I also have to be honest.

    This is my least favorite stage.

    Seems that for most of my good friends, the infant stage was the hardest. I love those early days, as exhausting as they are. Probably in no small part due to my having three easy-going babies, no problems nursing, and Brian at home for the first four weeks. The sound of a baby crying tears my heart and could send me over the edge, so I'm grateful we didn't have to deal with a finicky or colicky infant-hood.

    Still, even more so than crying, I have low-tolerance for my children experiencing pain. I realize pain is part of life, and a great teacher, and that if I let Nolan bump his head when he crawls under the dining room table, perhaps he would stop crawling under there.

    But that isn't going to least not on my watch.

    Busy guy at 11 m web Nolan is at the stage when we get to relish his sense of humor, his affection, and his sense of adventure. I love it, except for when I don't. He is also at the almost-walking stage, other wise known as the fall-down-a-lot stage. The bump-your-head stage, crawl-over-to-every-outlet stage, explore-every-plant stage. The looking-for-ways-to-hurt-myself-or-scare-my-mom stage.

    I tell myself all the time that my job isn't to protect my children from all pain, but to give them the strength and resilience to meet life's pain and move on and find joy.

    And I hope I'll be able to live by that when I let them go out into the world and learn first hand about meanness or prejudice. Or about rejection or loss and heartbreak. Thankfully that kind of pain is still far in the future (I hope). Today it is about rushing over, and putting the cord out of reach, and easing his fall. At least until the next stage.

    Enough about about him!

    Nolan at 11 months...

    *has a total of 6 teeth, and two more cutting through

    *LOVES "Signing Time" and especially the "Silly Pizza Song"

    Banana boy web

    *wants to eat whatever we're eating, and has refuted the idea that a stomach is only as big as a fist... (anyone else see the slight grin above after he managed to grab the banana I wasn't feeding him fast enough?). Loves frozen peas, broccoli, toast, strawberries, pears, chicken broth...just about everything.

    *plays ball with his brothers, rolling and attempting to throw it.

    *is scooting, crawling, pulling up and "cruising" everywhere

    Happy guy web

    *has enough hair now that it actually stays on his head instead of floating up above him. So cute.

    *crawls over to the speaker box and does his little rock dance till I turn on the music.

    Swinging nolie web

    *Loves to swing outside.

    *laughs as he tries to tickle us!

    Mr smiles web

    *wants you to come to his little Birthday Bash next month!

    These are the occasions when I really feel the impact of living so far from family. We're grateful though for the family we've stitched together of good friends and will put together some kind of celebration for next month---some kind of giveaway here too, for all of you who have shared in each of Nolan's milestones. Stay tuned.

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