26 June 2008

A prayer for today

Dear Lord,
I feel pulled with so many things that should get done today.  Chores, work, making food, playing with children...I'm having a hard time "doing the next thing".  There are so many next things!
Holy Spirit, please guide me.  Give me wisdom.  Help me hold on loosely and trust you.  I really struggle with procrastination and time wasting.  Please help me make wise choices, whether it is reading to my children and responding lovingly to them, or folding laundry and vacuuming or making necessary phone calls. 
Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what THOU art!

25 June 2008

Take me out to the ballgame...again!

I know you, my readers, I mean, reader, have been dying to know what HAPPENED with the baseball season.  Little League, that is.
It's been touch and go with the crazy weather we've been having.  One minute, it's not raining, then suddenly it's pouring, and ten minutes later, the sun comes out.  Makes it hard to know if you're going to have a baseball game.
Here's the scoop:
Theo:  Last game of the tee ball season a complete washout.  As in, tons of water suddenly pouring from the sky and people running for cover.  Even the team meeting, scheduled a day later to hand out trophies, was rained out.  Actually, hailed out.  TONIGHT, the meeting will happen (we hope).  It's all about the trophy.

Clayton:  Played the championship game against the Rockies.  They won!  It was very exciting, and Clayton had a great hit.  I think the score was 7-0.  I did feel sorry for the other team...not even one run.  Boo.  Also, Clayton's best friend, Mac, came out to watch the game.  What a treat.

Walter:  Played a huge and ferocious team on Sunday.  They were all so much bigger than our guys, and their pitcher was SMOKIN' the ball across the plate.  It seemed like our players were standing at the plate, knees knocking, terrified to take a swing.  This guy was faster than anyone they've yet come across.  Walter admitted to me later that he was pretty scared of that dude.  I wasn't at this game, but John was.  At first, we were getting killed, 7-0 or something like that.  Then we started to claw our way back!  I tell ya, these Red Sox are scrappy little guys!  Alas, the game was suddenly cut short by the aforementioned deluge.  The (kind of) funny part is that John, Walt and Walt's friend, Ben, were all at the game, but without the car.  I had it for shuttling the other boys to their games.  So when the skies opened up, they were stuck there in the rain, with no car for refuge.  Oops!  When I arrived, they were drenched to the skin.
ANYWAY, the upshot was that they had about one inning left and they planned on finishing it, to see who will advance.  Only problem is that it keeps pouring every afternoon!  So today, we will try again (third time) to finish this game and show that big bad team who's boss!  Right?!  Are you with me?!  They will pick up where they left off:  top of the 6th, Cubs are batting, bases loaded, 2 outs, score is 9-5 Cubs leading.  Oooo boy!  
If we win, we will play another game tonight.  Yippee!

Say a cheer for the Red Sox this afternoon!

Children's Books to Soothe the Savage Beast (and I don't mean the child)

Again, I'm taking part in Works for Me Wednesday, sponsored by Rocks in My Dryer

We all agree that reading to our children is something we should do from the very beginning.  From board books for the very young to lovely picture books for young children and on to chapter books for the rest of our lives, books benefit us in so many ways.  Books help us learn story-telling, expose us to beautiful art, expand our views of the world, teach us empathy, show us ways of life foreign to our own (among many other things).  I've found that my children find reading to be soothing, and a necessary part of their day.  In fact, Lucy (who is two and a half), when overwrought, or struggling with being told no, will cry out, "Read books!  Read books!"  Reading is a way she knows to be soothed and comforted.  Even our eldest, Walter, has a very hard time relaxing enough for sleep without being read to; for him, it's not the same as reading to himself (something he also loves to do).

In my almost ten years of being a parent, I have found that there are certain books that soothe not only the child, but me, the mother, as well.  Certain books will reassure me that all will be well; certain books will make me ready for bed.  I thought I would share here a few of my favorites.  

Goodnight, Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown.  This is a classic that most of us could probably recite by heart.  But I love it!  The pace of the words, the familiar drawings, the way the good-nights wind down to "Good night stars, good night air, good night noises everywhere."  By the last sentence, I am whispering and ready to drift off myself.

I am a Bunny, by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry.  This is a book I remember from my own childhood.  My mother had given me our old copy, that was re-bound with green tape.  A few years ago, my sister-in-law gave a new copy in a board book.   Yeah!  Thanks, Jen; how did you know?  I like several things about this one.  It has an unusual shape; both the old and new copies have tall, rectangular pages.  The drawings are very realistic, yet whimsical in that they show a bunny in nature, wearing the trademark Scarry red overalls with yellow shirt (a la Huckle).  The book goes through the seasons and ends with the bunny, Nicholas, going to sleep for the winter.  Another soother.

One of Lucy's current favorites is The Big Red Barn, also by Margaret Wise Brown.  Lucy calls it her "doggy book".  The illustrations are light and happy, and tell about all the animals on the farm.  It ends (again) with "while the moon sailed high in the dark night sky."  Zzzzzz...oh, sorry, I dozed off (in a good way).

Lastly, I must mention Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?  Another book from my childhood, though we have a new, abridged version of the original (the old one is holding on by a literal thread).  The stories in the book are instructive to children about  much of our world, and the illustrations are humorous and provide endless detail.  In addition, this book contains my favorite sentence in all of children's literature.  Something about the rhythm of this sentence just satisfies me:  "Jason the mason made a foundation in the hole for the house to be built on."  Try saying it with me...isn't that fun?  It just sounds right.

This is a very short list, and only includes books for the very young.  

This is what works for me.  What works for you?  What are your favorites?  Which ones soothe your inner savage beast?  

23 June 2008

A bloggy first

So here is my  very first meme.  What does that even mean?  Doesn't  meme mean "same" in French?  
Whatevs.  I've read many of these but have never participated...so here goes!  I read these questions at Hannah's Cultivating Home.  If you would like to do the same, link to your blog in the comments.  And while I'm talking about comments, go ahead and leave one so I know you were here.  I just crave approval and affirmation ;).

What were you doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago I was awaiting the birth of our first son, Walter.  I had just finished up the year teaching, and was looking forward to having the summer off before the baby's arrival.  That summer we also took a trip to Atlanta, where I had a college roommate reunion at Lynette's parents' lake house.  Then we went to Texas, where we had a baby shower with John's family.  And we DROVE back from Texas to Boston, with me seven months pregnant.  That was pretty long car trip.  I remember stopping somewhere in Virginia so that we could get Krispy Kreme and Chic-fil-A before leaving the South and returning to the godforsaken North, where one could not find either of those fine culinary establishments.  Two things:  How can I be old enough to have a almost 10-year-old?  And, I'm glad we can now get Chic-fil-A and Krispy Kreme.

Five things on my to-do list today
1.  Make 10 phone calls for my business
2.  Make something quick to bring to Bible study brunch (ideas?!  Quick!!)
3.  Sign up the boys for some summer activities:  Theo, swimming; Clayton; basketball or multi-sport; Walter, baseball
4.  Work with boys to go through school papers from the year.  I'm calling this the Great Paper Purge of 2008.
5.  Fold laundry, put away and continue to weed through all children's clothes in the process

Five snacks I enjoy
Ah, one of my favorite topics.  I'm going to go with everyday type snacks.
1.  Ice cream sandwiches.  We are eating a lot of these lately.
2.  Cheese and crackers
3.  Watermelon
4.  Apple or celery with peanut butter  
5.  Peanut butter and honey sandwich

Things I would do if I were a millionaire
Pay off all debt
Buy a house
INVEST wisely
Support our African friends in ministry
Pay for college and remove that burden from our children
Help my family pay off debt
Support many children in third world countries
I think that might use it all up...so that's where the investing wisely comes in!

Places I have lived
San Clemente, CA; Tucson, AZ; Atlanta, GA; Sevilla, Spain; South Hamilton, MA and our current town near Boston

Places I have visited
This is probably too many places to  list, but I'll make a stab.
Countries:  Mexico (Puerto Penasco and San Carlos), Canada (Toronto and Lake Champlain), Spain, Portugal, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Albania, Russia, Finland, Belgium, and the Netherlands.   And after this summer, I will add England (I was there as a baby, but have no memory of it)!
Notable places in the US:  Walla Walla, WA; Seattle, WA; Gettysburg, PA; Washington, DC; Panama City, FL; Portsmouth, NH; Acadia, ME; Little Rock, AR; Marble Falls, TX; Seguin, TX; lots of TX; Chicago, IL; Birmingham, AL; the Four Corners; La Jolla, CA; Santa Monica, CA; Hollywood, CA; Gunnison, CO; Niagara Falls, NY; upstate NY; NYC; Philadelphia, PA; Las Vegas, NV

Jobs I have had
Oh sheesh, here goes:  babysitter, candy striper (volunteer), house sitter, swimming coach, swimming teacher, lifeguard, gym equipment room worker, office assistant, grocery store display person (ha ha!), telemarketer (that lasted one week), pet sitter (very bad...Checkers!!!  More to that story), professional choir member, admissions assistant, teacher, tutor, educational consultant, MOTHER and WIFE of his youth!

That was fun!  Tell me, do you love memes or do you hate them?  I kind of find them fascinating.

Extreme weather

Wow!  We just had the most severe rainstorm I think I have witnessed here in Boston.  It was raining every which way, water just pouring off the roofs.  Then it began to blow so hard that we could not even see out the windows!  They were just white sheets.  It was loud, loud, and Lucy began to cry.  The thunder was thundering and we scrambled to close all the windows!  In the boys' room, a huge puddle had blown in, almost to the door.  Poor Theo's bed is slightly damp. 
As it was dying down, we all sat down on the sofa to read.  I glanced behind me, into the yard, and exclaimed, "Is that a branch?!"
It was!  A HUGE branch from the oak tree in our yard had fallen onto the fence, crushing it.  Better call the landlords...
What excitement!  Normally in New England, we don't pay much attention when they mention "extreme weather" (unless it's winter and a nor'easter).  Guess this time they were right!

22 June 2008

Baseball update

It was a beautiful New England summer day today, the first official day of summer.  A perfect day for baseball!
Clayton's team won their game this morning against the Jays, 8-7.  It was a very exciting game, as it was tied going into the last inning.  Thankfully, our team had last ups  and so we were able to bring in one more run to win the game!  There was much rejoicing.  Clayton had a hit, and also had a key fielding play in the 6th inning  while playing right field and prevented a run from coming in.  All of the Lookouts played so well!

Walter and the Red Sox played this evening against the Pirates.  Unfortunately, I missed the entire game, as I was in the car, hanging out with a sleeping Lucy (she REALLY needed that nap!).  But I did hear from John and others that Walter pitched the last three innings and did an amazing job!  He had at least 6 strike outs.  Great job, Walter!

So tomorrow will be full of baseball again:  Both Walter and Clay have games at 2 pm and Theo has his final tee ball game at 3 pm.  Not quite sure how we are going to work that out transportation-wise.

We also spent a few hours at the Arlington Reservoir, swimming and playing.  Lucy loves it there.  Though she was getting a little grumpy when she and Theo had this exchange:

Theo:  "I love YOU, Lucy!"

Lucy:  "It not be time for love you!'


20 June 2008

Let the games begin

*UPDATE*  Clayton's team won by a landslide (does that phrase work in sports, or only in elections?)!  So tomorrow they play again at 9:30 am.  Clayton had a couple of hits tonight.  Oh, and the game was almost called on account of a downpour that started just about ten minutes before game time.  There was thunder and lightning, but it all passed fairly quickly and we were able to play ball.  Which is good...I'm all for NO rescheduling, or this could go on ad infinitum.

Today the Little League playoffs begin!

As far as I understand, all the teams make the playoffs...so even if you have a terrible record, your team will make the playoffs, just in a lower bracket (as Clayton's coach put it, think NITS versus NCAAs in college basketball).  The games are single elimination, so if you win, you advance.  If you lose, your season is over.  
So today Clayton's team, the Lookouts, plays the Padres.  Clayton is excited about his because the last time they played this team, they killed them, 17-2.  That was the game in which Clayton was 6 for 6 batting, AND he knocked in 6 RBIs.  Wow!

Tomorrow, Walter has his first game of the playoffs.  He, too, is excited, as the team they are scheduled to play has a worse record than Walter's team (the Red Sox...lucky ducks!).  Walter absolutely LOVES baseball.  I think it appeals to him on many levels.  Not only is it physical, but it also requires good strategy and thinking skills.  One time after a practice, I asked him if he had had fun.  He replied, "Of course I had fun!  It's baseball!"  Silly mom, trix are for kids.

On another note, I just got Lucy out of her bed after her nap.  When I walked into her room, she reached out her arms to me and said, "I missed you!"  Such a sweet little thing.  Also, today she came into the kitchen with green marker all over her toes and her legs.  "I have nail polish, Mom!"  

I'll be sure to post the game results as they come in!

19 June 2008

Dear Boston Celtics:

Dear Boston Celtics,

Congratulations!  You won the Championship series against your mortal enemy, the LA Lakers!  It was so exciting to watch, and you really killed them in Game 6.  I loved seeing the determination on your faces!  It was clear there was no way you were going to let this one get away.  One of my favorite comments came from Paul Pierce in Game 6, when asked how you were going to keep up the intensity into the second half.  Paul looked at the reporter and said, "It's the NBA Championship!  It's game 6 and we're playing the LA Lakers!  This is what we've been playing for all year!"  Duh!

It was hard for me to believe that I was actually rooting for the Celtics, having grown up as a Lakers fan, with my brother being the craziest Lakers fan on the planet.  We knew all the players back in the 80's, on both teams.  We loved Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, James Worthy and even Kurt Rambis.  We hated, with an undying hatred, Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, Robert Parrish, and Kevin McHale.  My brother would make signs and put them up around the family room while we watched Lakers games.  There could be no mocking or laughing surrounding anything having to do with the Lakers, upon penalty of my brother's wrath.  He even made up a blessing to say before dinner:  "God is great, God is the best, Lakers are leading in the West."

So now I find myself here in Boston, having lived here for 12 years this August.  To be honest, I am a fair weather fan.  I really didn't pay any attention to you before this season.  I just kind of always felt sorry for Paul Pierce, playing on such an, um, how shall we say it, less than stellar team all these years.

So this year, you had the Big Three: KG, Ray Allen and faithful, beloved Paul Pierce.  Plus Rajon Rondo, Eddie House and Big Baby.  And you lived up to all the hype!  An amazing season, an amazing record, and quite a turnaround.  Today is your victory parade and I know it will be a classic Boston-style celebration.

But you know what, Celtics?  I am tired.  I was glad on Tuesday night that it was over and now we could start going to bed at a reasonable time, after all those LATE games.  But then last night you had to be on David Letterman, and we HAD to see what you would say.  You were funny!  And happy, as you should be, and even actually humble, acknowledging the great Boston Celtic tradition and legacy.  So this morning, I am happy for you, happy for Boston, and happy that there are no more events I MUST see late at night.  The coffee, it is my friend today.  And many mornings in the past week.

Thanks, Celtics...for all the fun, the inspiration, and now, for the rest.

Your friend,

18 June 2008

Works for Me Miercoles

NOTE:  If you came here looking for a Works for Me Wednesday post on children's books to soothe the savage beast, go here to read it.  I DO apologize for the confusion!

It's Works for Me Wednesday over at Shannon's Rocks in My Dryer, or, as I like to call it, Funciona Para Mi Miercoles.  I know, that's not correct grammar.  Lo siento.
Anyway, I really like the idea of linking to things that work for us.  Plus, last time I participated I got a whole 16 comments on my blog!!  A record!!
So I was thinking to myself, Okay, I want to participate.  So, what works for me?  What works for me...let me see...something must work for me...there has to be something that works...for me...Does anything work?  Does anything work for me?  Does it?  There has to be something that works for me!!!!!
So I was having a hard time coming up with something compelling and interesting...and funny.  Here is what I came up with, and I'm sharing it here because I think it may be news to some of you.  And thrilling news it is...Brace yourselves.

Pump out a small amount of eye cream.  Please use Arbonne's anti-aging eye cream only, you will love it, it is the best (just kidding...kind of).
Apply to your ring finger!  That's the one next to your pinky that wears the rings.  
Dab the eye cream gently between your two ring fingers, then apply with a gentle pressing motion to each eye area.  
You may apply under the eye, but also on the eyelid, if so desired.  Don't forget the corners of the eyes, where your lovely laugh lines reside.
Any additional eye cream on your fingers may be applied to your lips.

Why, you ask, should I use the ring finger?  And why should I put the extra on my lips?
Your ring fingers are your weakest fingers.  Therefore, you are less likely to unnecessarily pull the delicate skin surrounding the eye area.  
And the skin on your lips is just as delicate as that around your eyes, and could use the extra love and care, as well.

And that, my friends, works for me!

17 June 2008

Summer Plans

I'm sitting here in the kitchen with two of the boys and we're going to make a list of things we want to do together this summer.  Walter and Clay are looking through their art work from the past year.  Theo is showing me his phonics notebook and Lucy is sitting somewhere singing "Jesus loves the little children of the world" at the top of her lungs.  Her version goes like this:  "Black and white and purple in the light, Jesus loves the little children of the world".  I love to see the boys looking over their work from the past year and taking note of how far they have come, and how much they have learned.  Walter was laughing to himself as he looked at what he did in the first math unit of fourth grade (so easy!!).
More on our first year at our new school later...

Here is our summertime wish list, in no particular order.  This is live blogging, people.  I'm writing it as I hear it.
1.  go to Canobie Lake Park
2.  go to Cape Cod (some friends from Theo's school offered us a week FOR FREE at their cabins in Yarmouth!!!)
3.  strawberry picking
4.  raspberry picking
5.  go to New Mexico (not happening this year, but we can still wish)
6.  blueberry picking
7.  go to Maine (planned for August with my mom and dad!)
8.  go to Museum of Science
9.  have playdates with the Barnes', the Griecis, Matthew Park, the Swaims, Carlos and Christopher, Calvin, and Hunter 
10.  go to the beach:  Singing Beach and Wingaersheek and Crane
11.  go to the Reservoir (got our tags a few weeks ago!)
12.  make home-made ice cream
13.  go to Spring Brook Park in Bedford
14.  ride bikes on the Minuteman Bike Path
15.  plan Clayton's birthday party for before our trip to London
16.  go to the Fourth of July parade in Manchester-by-the-Sea
17.  see Kung Fu Panda in the theatre
18.  go to Cherry Hill for ice cream
19.  go to a new beach
20.  make something crafty

And there you have it.  One of my goals is to not go crazy this summer, and to have some semblance of order and routine.  This is day two of summer vacation and so far, there's been no routine at all.  That's okay...a couple of days of just hanging out together is fine.  But I'm sure by tomorrow I and all of us will be ready for a *little* bit of structure.
Happy Summer, everyone!

15 June 2008

My Dad

I'm a day late...but I still want to put down some thoughts about my dad.
In the last year or so, a BOOK has been written about my dad and his brothers and their work and travels spanning a few decades ( A Song for the World:  The Amazing Story of  the Colwell Brothers and Herb Allen:  Musical Diplomats, by Frank McGee).  The things that they have seen and done are truly mind-blowing, amazing and wonderful.  I am thankful that the book now exists so that I, and all posterity, can have a written record of the things my dad has done.  I'm also glad to have the record of his vision and his enviable ability to win over a multitude of people, whether grand or humble.  The things recorded in the book are for everyone to know, things that have been learned through research and interviews.  What I want to record here are not these things; I want to tell you the things that have meaning for me, a daughter.

My dad has always loved for me to travel.  This began early in my childhood, when I was encouraged to travel, even on my own.  My first trip alone was when I was 8 years old, and I went by airplane to visit my cousin, Beth, in Sacramento.  Before I left, my dad wrote me a very detailed letter, explaining to me exactly what to expect at each step of the journey, making sure that I knew that the flight attendants were there to help me.  This became a tradition he kept into my college years.  Before any trip on my own, my dad would write me a long, detailed letter, telling me his hopes for the trip, what to expect, any cultural information he thought I might need to know.  Of course, he always finished the letter by telling me how proud he was of me and how he believed in me and my abilities to accomplish great things.  This summer, John and I will be traveling to London, a city I have never visited!  I know that my dad is so pleased that I will have the chance to do this, as travel is near and dear to his heart.  I have kept all those travel letters he wrote through the years.

My dad still loves to take care of me, his only daughter.  Don't tell my brothers, but my dad sends me a check for $50 every month.  If he ever misses a month, he'll send a bigger check the next time.  I love this little treat that comes every month.  I love having a little something extra, but I especially just love that my dad is thinking of me and taking care of me still.  When I was in college and my dad would come to visit, he was always trying to get me to eat more.  For some unknown reason, he feared that I would starve out there on my own (I don't know how he neglected to notice the freshman 15 that I packed on that year).  So after a meal - I mean, a regular meal, with salad and entree, etc. - my dad would ask if I wanted anything else to top it off, like " a steak or something".  

I also remember my dad treating me like an adult, when I really was maybe only just becoming one.  The first time my dad visited me in college, we went to a club to hear live music and my dad ordered a...shhh...cocktail for me.  I felt so grown up.  Oh, and he took me clothes shopping.  I still remember what I bought:  an oversized purple cardigan from the Gap, among other things.  Ahhh, the 80s.

Here are some random memories from childhood with my dad:
* my dad coming home on a summer evening and all of us playing out on the cool lawn
* my dad letting us sit on his lap and steer the Suburban in our neighborhood on the way to the pool
* my dad driving my brother and me to school and SPEEDING down the big hill to make the light (sometimes we were running late)
* my dad encouraging me in my softball games

There are many other things I could write about, but these are the ones that have been on my mind the past few days.  

Happy Fathers' Day, Pop!  I love you so much, and I'm glad you're MY dad!!

14 June 2008

I'm baaaaack...

I'm sure everyone has stopped even checking my blog, as it has been a month and  half since I posted anything! 
The reason for my lack of posting?  Nothing has happened.  My life is just so dull and boring, nothing ever happens, no one ever says anything funny, we never go anywhere.  I just sit around and eat bonbons all day.  What is there to say?
Ha ha!  You know that's not true.  I have MANY things I would like to write about, not the least of which is my dad, in honor of Father's Day, which is tomorrow.  And I still want to write about the women's retreat back in April.  And the last days of school (just ended this week).  And baseball season (winding up in the next week or two).  And our impending trip to London (passport just arrived today!!).  And our dear friends from Uganda, who are visiting this month.  And how the taste of a mango instantaneously brought me back to my childhood summer vacations in Mexico.  And how I plan to be productive and happy this summer.
So - be on the lookout.  More posts to follow!