Tuesday, September 20, 2011

20 on the 20th: Us Right Now


web nolie washing and smiling

1. started preschool this month, three mornings a week. This boy, whom I could never leave with friends or for a play date, waved and kissed me goodbye on his first day and only cried when I came to pick him up…because it was time to leave! I tried hard not to take it too personally.  Really grateful we got to spend time there this summer together---made it much easier this fall!

web nolie's first day of school

2. LOVES his school. He is outside almost all morning, surrounded by horses, a creek, and old trees. And his teacher is magic. Aidan often asks if he can go there too.

web nolie at concert
At the free outdoor concert, just before the skies sent a downpour on all of us!

3. wants to paint every day. He brought home his first wet-on-wet watercolor last week, and presented it as gift to me. He awoke the next day intent on creating a painting “for Daddy.” It’s hanging on our kitchen white board now.

nolie kite flying frontyard

4. has decided he wants to be Super Nolan for Halloween. So far that entails having a robot body, a red cape and mask, and a skeleton glove.  Sean and he have created a whole story line involving Super Nolan and his partner, Eagle Man.

web Nolan library

5. has inherited an inability to leave the library without more books than one can read in a week. LOVES the library doll house.

web nolie and doll house

web sean goofy grin

1. also loves school, though he stayed home yesterday after a bad tumble on the run to the bus. Our neighbor was outside when he fell on gravel, picked him up and carried him home. At lunch Sean sat reflecting and told me, “Now I know for sure that God exists---he made sure Jon was there to help me get home.”

Sean and his SuperNolan and Eagle Man comic

2. worked all weekend on a Super Nolan comic book, “Shot to Dot.” I’m in love with all the detail he put into the cover (see below).

web sean's comic book cover

3. is torn between being Harry Potter or Eagle Man for Halloween. I have no idea what Eagle Man’s costume would entail, so you know for which one I’m voting. He & Aidan are having big debates as to whether DC comics already has copyrights to a villain of the same name (though Sean’s Eagle Man is decidedly good).

4. seems to be awarded the supposedly rare “blue card” at school almost every day. He loves to help people, especially the newly adopted boy in his class who knows no English.

web aidan sean heading to the bus
Still cracking me up with "twin days" when Sean & Aidan dress alike.

5. has big plans for hot cocoa and lemon cookies tomorrow, as it is just beginning to show the faintest signs of autumn.


web aidan my first born

1. also took a big tumble in a parking lot at Cub Scouts today. He and Sean compared injuries and band-aids after he apologized for getting on the school bus and not noticing that Sean was no longer behind him.

friday movie night

2. set up our big beach blanket on Friday night so the four of us could enjoy popcorn and “Rio” on the floor together. Also won every round of our “Identify the movie line” game.

aidan writing his screenplay

3. began work on his Kidbot© script that he has been talking about all summer (I secretly think he was motivated by Sean’s focused work on his comic book & recent discussions about "grit"). He kept wanting to dictate it to me, and I agreed to…some day. He definitely finds typing easier than handwriting.

web aidan eye clops

4. Rediscovered his eye clops, a microscopic camera his Gramare gave him last Christmas. He is constantly asking me to look at incredible images of Sean’s hair (looks like blades of grass), his shirt (amazing weave) and of course his scabs (I’ll spare you).

5. After our big yard sale last week, seems like there’s been a lot of “rediscovering” happening; perhaps getting rid of stuff opens up space for it. Aidan had our IKEA igloo set up all week in the playroom, and it is his new favorite reading spot. On our library run today, he stocked up on the entire Narnia and Stink series, a priceless juxtaposition.


1. haven’t seen each other for 10 days. I know I sound whiny, but even after all these years, I don’t like fire season. I think of military spouses,  who juggle so much more for so much longer. I’m in awe of them, but berating myself by comparison only makes me feel wimpy and worse.

2. saw “The Help” together a few weeks ago, as predicted in my last 20-on-20.

Not our 1st date, but at the President's Ball later the same month.

3. will be celebrating the 21st anniversary of our first date on Oct. 4th. Hopefully together.

4. have been reading The Tiger (Brian), Devotion, Take the Cannoli, Love is a Mixed Tape, and just about anything but Cutting for Stone. I don’t know why.

5. probably won’t be posting for a few weeks. See ya in October.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tough Times

Image Source: Stefan G. Bucher, from his book 344 Questions: The Creative Person’s DIY Guide to Insight, Survival and Artistic Fulfillment, as seen at Brain Pickings.

Times are tough. Mt. Hood is burning in Oregon. The stomach flu decided to make itself at home here last week. I’m in a fog of emotion, debating when I should leave for Chicago…in two days? Two weeks? All three of these factors collided to make our first yard sale a bit of a perfect storm on Saturday.

This much I know: turning my eye to gratitude, identifying some of the many blessings around me, always helps. Ten things I'm grateful for at the moment:

1. Happy Mail.

An unexpected envelope on Thursday filled with a delicious treat that I didn't have to share, some organizational eye-candy, and a hand written letter. There are few things better than that.

2. Good friends.

We made money Saturday and got rid of stuff, which is all good but mostly I’m grateful and amazed at the friends who each showed up at just the right time. Faye who showed up just as our 3 year old announced “POOOOP!” to the shoppers, Kathy who helped bring our big bins back into storage, and CeCe who thought to take down signs when it was over, loaded up her vehicle with the remainders for donation, and made me a bit saner by her gift of listening.

3. Learning to ask for and receive help.

Aidan & Bri brought these home to me last Wednesday. They still look great.

Never a forte of mine. Brian told me to send out an email to friends before he left. So very glad I did.

4. Memoirs.

calvinalicetrillinI have Cutting for Stone on my bedside table, and I can tell I’m going to enjoy it, but in my current state of mind I know what I need, my form of comfort food: a good memoir.

Calvin Trillin’s About Alice was exactly what I needed. Except that it was short, so I need another. Please share some of your favorites with me in the comments.

5. the DVR.
No matter how long it takes me to read aloud a chapter of The Goblet of Fire, to get all the boys in bed, and to clean up kitchen, I know Jon Stewart won’t start his show until I’m done. He’s patient like that. The laughs don’t seem as funny without Bri on the couch, but it’s still a very good thing.

6. the telephone.


When we were poor grad students in Tucson, our phone bill was a source of conflict between Brian and me. We didn’t have a car, and our housing came with my job, so the monthly phone bill was easily our biggest expense. I had just left all my close friends in Chicago, and I have five sisters. This was 1991 when few people had email and no one had free long distance.

How ironic that today I could talk for as long as I want for free, but now I normally dread being on the phone.  And yet, this week, I’m grateful for it. Fast and funny conversations with my sister in Texas, long and thoughtful conversations with my soul-sister in Flagstaff, and this morning, the sound of Brian’s voice.

7. Routine & Habits

I have jobs to do and places to get to, and I’m glad for every checklist and schedule that saves me from asking what suddenly seems like the most brain-stumping question imaginable, “What should I do next?”

8. My boys.
Love how Nolie chose to blow a kiss in this photo we sent Brian.

9. Right now.

I made a lot of plans earlier this year for September. A retreat in Colorado, my first 5K, and others that are now not happening. I constantly debate the futility of planning, or whether we are supposed to make plans anyway, regardless of their fruition.

I read somewhere, can't remember where now, that Karen Maezen Miller, whose retreat I'm missing this weekend, recommends looking at your hand right in front of you to remind you to pay attention to what is, rather than what might be. I can overwhelm myself when I think about the next two weeks, or the next month, or the next year. When I bring myself back to what is real, this moment, I am okay.

10. The immediate essentials.

 I love how Bucher’s illustration calls comfort TV/Food/Music the “immediate essentials.”

Mine are: Indigo Girl tunes, bowls of hot popcorn with extra salt, favorite blogs, our secret chocolate stash in the pantry (sometimes just knowing it’s there is more helpful than having any), old romantic comedies,  and the balm of familiar poems.

Here’s a bit of one by T.S. Eliot:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

When the tongues of flame are in-folded

Monday, September 5, 2011

Prayer to a Girl Becoming

mom in Chicago web
Prayer for a Girl Becoming

by Karen Maezen Miller

May she be happy
May she sing, and make up songs
May she be safe, and feel safe
See shadows only for playing
May she seek and find
May her smile always find reflection in my own
May I find in her name the measure I need
And give give give.
My gratitude to Christy who sent this to me today. I think I’ll carry it with me daily.

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