Monday, September 26, 2011

Conversations with 4 year olds

Him: "Mom, know what I was thinking bout today? How you keep a tight schedule. I just discovered that."

Me: "Oh, really! Do you know what that means?" (meanwhile my mouth is gapping open and I am completely grinning from ear to ear)

Him: "Yeah, it means you keep things on time. I knew this in my head on my own."

Me: "I love you so much buddy."

Him: "To the moon and back and around again, right mom?"

Seriously he kills me with the things he says. A few minutes later Ellie was "naying" like a horse as she does half of her waking hours lately. Luke said, "Ellie, you know that, um, Momma, you know that little store. You know that one?"

Me: "Um, no what store?"

Him: "The one with the costumes and balloons and worker things and fishing stuff and toys?"

Me: "The Dollar Store?"

Him: "YES! They have a big one and a little one, and the next time we go der with Gramma Center I'm gonna get a horse to be like Elle!"

A few hours later in the tub he had his hand on Ellie's leg and there was this:
"MOM! Ellie has HAIR on her leg! Mom do you see THIS?! It's hair!! When I grow up I am going to grow hair just like John."

Me: "John who?"

Him: "Um Momma, he's my dad you silly!"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Apples and Balloons

This weekend was the kickoff to fall in our part of the world. It starts off with the Adirondack Balloon Festival and involves apple picking and overall a weekend to spend with friends and family. We drove to Ticonderoga with our friends the Burleigh's, all eight of us crammed into their van and headed to Ti to catch the ferry to Vermont. The weather teetered on rain all day, overcast with a clearing of blue sky just far enough of reach that we barely saw it, but regardless we didn't let it stop us. The apples trees were abundant with fruit, it was barely work to fill our bags. Luke climbed a tree and Ellie climbed her dad. We packed a picnic lunch and were lucky enough to be serenaded by a dazzling guitar duo who were playing in an effort to raise funds for the flood victims of Irene. Luke showed 'em how he grooves which was pure awesomeness.

It was a perfect afternoon. We arrived home caked in mud, changed our clothes and headed out to see the evening balloon launch with my mom. Traffic was crazy but we arrived just in time to see the lift-off. Ellie was smitten with the strawberry balloon, Luke was enthralled with the planes that were on display. We stayed until the sun set in a glorious fashion.

Welcome fall, we're happy you're here (although it is almost 80 degrees and hot hot hot!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lately: Princesses and horses

My mom surprised little Miss Ellie with a hand-me-down Disney Princess trunk full of costumes, crowns that light up and magic wands that make noise. Ellie is in heaven to say the least. I've tried to slip in here and there that the Princess' are strong enough and smart enough to save themselves from the tall castle towers but she usually tells me, "Oooh? Prince come on horse right? Neighhh"

We gave in and let her pretend to be Cinderella for the day at the babysitter's house. She owned it, and never took it off all day.
She is as obsessed with horses as she is with the Disney Princess metropolis. She tells us to say, "Is there a horse in the house?" and then she runs around the house in circles yelling "neigh!" over and over telling us to watch her be a pink horse. She asks for carrots and apples and chomps on the air gnawing away on her imaginary horsey food.

Here she is with a horse-pizza-birthday-party that she entertained herself with for hours on Sunday afternoon.
After the pizza apparently it turned into what she called, "the animal house party".
A little up close detail of the party-goers. Looks like the tub is the place to be.

And just because, this is what happens to Luke when he eats too much broccoli.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Luke, like all four year olds, wakes up full of awesome pretty much everyday. He has figured out the DVD player, knowing that if he presses the triangle his show will play. When it works he fist-pumps the air, jumps and shouts "yes!" It is pretty sweet to see how proud he is when he does something right, the confidence of his independence is intoxicating.

Today as we were driving to get Ellie after school I said, "Hey buddy what do you think about corn on the cob for dinner?" He fist-pumped on cue and said, "and can we have chicken with it?" That was the plan and just as I said, "absolutely!" He exclaimed, "YES! I was thinking about that at rest time today. Thanks mom for making my favorite dinner."

I so need more fist-pumps in my day, thanks Luke for the enthusiasm for life.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Here Is New York

A dear friend told me about E.B. White's book Here is New York. I am baffled that I haven't read it yet and am anxious to do so. These days leading up to 9/11 have me reflecting as I always do this time of year, but my mind cannot grasp that it was 10 years ago. This excerpt is perfectly written, it leaves me thankful that I was once a settler.

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter--the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last--the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh yes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company. . . .

The first day 2.0

Luke was excited for his first day in the 4 year old class today. We all went to school together to cheer him on and wish him well in his new classroom. As we walked through the halls he quickly needed to use the potty and his face turned from happy to anxious.
He clung to us and retreated all at the same time. He didn't make eye contact as parents of friends and the other teachers that knew him welcomed him back. He scanned his new room with trepidation and begged for another trip to the potty. When we finally decided to leave him, at the teacher's slight suggestion, he cried hard as she held him back and we walked out of sight.

Oof. Talk about hard.

I called to check in on him at lunchtime and she said he was fine, he was timid during gymtime but played duck, duck, goose and warmed up soon after.

I could not wait for 4:15 to arrive, I just wanted to hug him.

When I got to school he was just coming from, what else, but the bathroom! He ran down the hall to me and jumped in my arms. He said, "Mama! I didn't miss you today. I just did when you left me in that room all alone. I didn't miss Elle or dad either. So how was your day mama?"
He told me that after we left him his teacher sat on the floor with him and read him The Kissing Hand*. My heart swelled. My mom gave him that book a few months ago and it is one of our favorites. He grabbed my hand and kissed my palm and showed me how he made a kissing hand to keep.
My mom stopped over to see how his first day was and with his hands gesturing this way and that, he told her, "my teacher read me The Kissing Hand, so thanks for getting it for me."

Here's to new routines, new friends, new experiences, and gentle reminders that we are loved.

*Chester Raccoon doesn't want to go to school--he wants to stay home with his mother. She assures him that he'll love school--with its promise of new friends, new toys, and new books. Even better, she has a special secret that's been in the family for years--the Kissing Hand. This secret, she tells him, will make school seem as cozy as home. She takes her son's hand, spreads his tiny fingers into a fan and kisses his palm--smack dab in the middle: "Chester felt his mother's kiss rush from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart." Whenever he feels lonely at school, all he has to do is press his hand to his cheek to feel the warmth of his mother's kiss. Chester is so pleased with his Kissing Hand that he--in a genuinely touching moment--gives his mom a Kissing Hand, too, to comfort her when he is away. Audrey Penn's The Kissing Hand, published by the Child Welfare League of America, is just the right book for any child taking that fledgling plunge into preschool--or for any youngster who is temporarily separated from home or loved ones. The rough but endearing raccoon illustrations are as satisfying and soothing for anxious children as the simple story. (Ages 5 and older) --Karin Snelson

Live a life that matters

This is a hard post. One about death. Again. I'm tired of writing about it but in order to mentally move on I need to.

An old friend from childhood lost her father last week. He was out playing tennis like he always did, every Monday and Wednesday and his heart just stopped. He died instantly on the court. He was healthy, fit, active, loving, proud. A great man, married to a great woman with four great kids and many grandchildren. It was one of those "this doesn't make any sense" moments. The funeral was hard to sit through. I watched the family process down the aisle and I knew that feeling, the song that played was the same one played at my father's funeral. I was unable to sing, my voice paralyzed by the huge knot of ache in my throat and my heart. The sermon was heartfelt and intimate, this man and his family made an impact on the community and the congregation. The priest, a close family friend of ours as well was visibly shaken as he began to speak. The sudden tragicness of it all had me feeling as if I was at my father's funeral, reliving those moments, the words, the songs, the disbelief. In front of me and behind me sat widowed parents of classmates and friends, clearly a club was forming and not one that anyone wants to be in or join. I sat there and wondered who was next.

My mom and I held hands with a firm grip. We cried together. We listened to the story of how my friend's father woke early to play tennis, usually much before her mom woke up, but on this particular morning she was up before he was looking out at a beautiful sunrise. He kissed her and said goodbye and she asked him to just look out the window at the beautiful sunrise for a minute before leaving for his tennis game. He did, they sat together looking at that sunrise for a great few minutes before he was off. Sunrises will never be the same for anyone in their family.

Wake early, watch the sunrise, you never know what the day will bring.

Live a life that matters
Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant
Even your gender and skin colour will be irrelevant.
So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.
It's not a matter of circumstance, but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.