I've switched platforms (again!) for the Adventures In Living blog....go here for the new site!
I've switched platforms (again!) for the Adventures In Living blog....go here for the new site!
Always, in life, there are signs. A lot of them are subtle -- most of them, probably, because life is like that -- and some of them announce themselves with a blaze of highway-safety orange or neon green. I realized, this morning, as I rounded up items for a Goodwill donation, and papers to shuffle and a list of places I needed to stop, that over the recent days, the landscape of our life has shifted. Just a bit. But like erosion on a cliff face, one day you notice how much is changed.
Last weekend, we moved our youngest child out of his crib and into a "big-boy bed" (a twin mattress and box spring on the floor). He is going to be three in November, and well, it was time. Wren had already been moved to a bed by this age, primarily because Noah was on his way and we needed the crib. Now, the crib we bought secondhand when Wren was coming is in pieces stacked neatly in the closet in Noah's room. I washed and folded all the crib sheets and stacked them in the closet, too, along with the crib skirt, the changing table pad and covers, and the crib toys.
This morning, I rounded up a huge bag of small toys. Some of them were infant toys obviously no longer needed, some were the dreaded Happy Meal toys that seem to multiply their uselessness endlessly, and some were things that the kids just didn't play with anymore. I also donated the smallest of the three riding toys we had in the house. A good portion of our Fisher-Price Little People toys have now moved upstairs to the kids' rooms. The great room no longer looks like a badly-kept Toys R Us store. I am *this close* to knicknacks and candles and antiques and things of value on display again.
Kira is coming home this weekend for a couple of days. I haven't spoken to her in two weeks, but I know she is okay and hopefully having a great time on her dad's farm. When fall rolls around, she will be starting the seventh grade. We will have to go shopping for school clothes, and find a dress for the Christmas dance.
I am buying my daughter dresses for dances.
With her, as with Noah, I am constantly torn between wanting her to grow up, and wanting her to stay little. part of me hopes she will come home from the summer with a new interest in fashion (even a little bit), and some additional maturity for handling social situations. but part of me wants her to stay little, stay young, and be out of reach of the understanding of things like money, stress, disaster, and human nature.
In three years, Travis and I will have been married ten years. By that point, Kira will be steadfastly a teenager (15), Wren will be starting the second grade (halfway though elementary school at age 8), and Noah, who is a little like Peter Pan, always my little boy, will be six. All of that in three short years.
The clock in my kitchen is ticking the seconds away. I can't stop the passage of time, nor can I slow it. I can savor the moments, take a million pictures, and know that we are raising three fine human beings. My living space is a little bit neater (sort of), and the equipment and supply needs for my children are a lot less, but I know that there will be even more signposts to read on this road, and I am enjoying the ride, looking out the window, and sharing the time with my most favorite human beings in this world -- my family.
It was a full weekend, full of friends and good food and fun times. We celebrated the USA's birthday in typical style, with lots of people and tons of food, and fireworks to mark the occasion.
It was hot, though. That part kinda sucked, frankly. But there was beer, to be sure, and watermelon, and the pool for the kids and sprinklers, so we survived. Barely.
Of course there was food....this is OUR house.....
I think I made everyone aware of the utter fantasticness of Zweigle's hot dogs, from Rochester, NY. My very very favorite from since I was a little kid. I love them burned to a crisp on the outside. Apparently everyone else loved them too, because I didn't get one! :( Thank GOD there is a Wegman's only an hour away so I can get more!! Oh, and Travis smoked a pork loin, too. YUM.
What would the 4th be without a flag cake or dessert?
I think it's an unwritten rule.
Two-thirds of my children stuck it out for a little while, but retreated because of the excessive noise....Wren found some comfort with out friend Dominique, and Kira just beat it indoors. Noah, however, the one who tells us frequently that things are "TOO WOUD, MOMMY!", was delighted.
All in all, it wasn't the best party I've ever thrown....it was so terribly hot, and there were some glitches in the overall situation, BUT I *think* people enjoyed themselves, and I was certainly glad to have everyone together. We really missed a few folks who were unable to make it, particularly our friend who got stuck working in the Midwest.
The evening ended on a more sour note than I wished. We hadn't made enough of an allowance for our three dogs, and by the end of things, the fireworks noise, the kids, the constant commotion and screaming, AND being outside in the heat all day all led to Quinn attacking Ruby and leaving her with puncture wounds in her neck. Ruby got her pound of flesh, though, as Quinn received four wounds in her right foreleg and by this morning, her leg was swollen and she was having difficulty walking on it. Some antibiotics and $200 later, she is on the mend. Ruby is going in tomorrow. Our poor credit card is getting a workout. We must take better care next time to give the dogs the space and peace they need during a party. I feel badly, but Quinn and Ruby seem to be friends again, so that is good.
Today was chock full of nothing, except I drove Kira back to her dad's for a couple of weeks. It was too damned hot to do anything else except vegetate in the air conditioning. Of course, we're old, so an all-day cookout party pretty much took everything out of Travis and I. The kids are going to bed on time tonight, and I plan to dump myself on the couch with a bowl of ice cream and the book I'm reading (Traveling With Pomegranates -- really REALLY good!).
Tomorrow....the kids go to summer preschool! I am trying not to be TOO excited; after all, I have loved having them around, but I am dying -- DYING, I tell you! -- for some solitary creative time. I feel my Muse hanging around and whispering to me, and I really need to answer Her. My torch needs to be set up again, and there is wire to bend and make into things, and several magazine articles to write, and work to be packed and sent off to editors, and a book proposal that isn't going to write itsdamnself!
Tomorrow morning, back on the bike at 5:30, too. I've had my holiday splurge, and now it's time to remember that 'discipline is freedom'...
Today was the sixth grade awards ceremony at Kira's school. If a child is getting an award, they call the parents a few days ahead to let them know so the parents can attend the ceremony. I was shocked when Kira's teacher called me last week to let me know she had chosen Kira for the most Improved in Math award for 2010. Not because I don't think Kira should get an award, but because her teacher could only choose one student, and there was nobody else she thought was more deserving than my daughter.
Math is not a strong subject for her. She has struggled all year to achieve a B, and last nine weeks, she barely escaped with a D. This nine weeks wasn't looking so great, either, but I didn't nag her (too much). We worked as often as we could, and I pounded my head against the wall encouraged her to be, and stay, organized about her homework and note-taking notebook.
Magically, about five weeks ago, her grades started to rise.
I have no idea what happened,but all of a sudden, she was getting B+'s and A's and A+'s on her homework and even on tests and quizzes! Holy Grade-Point-Average, Batman! The grade reports coming home showed her average rising to a B, then to a B+, and then to a B+ with a 93%. She held steady there, one point away from an A in math for the last nine weeks. Then, two nights ago, her grades came in...94.3%...Houston, we have an A IN MATH!!!
I couldn't believe it. Neither could she! It was awesome.
So today, I got to sit in the auditorium of the middle school and watch as her math teacher gave her Most Improved in Math for 2010.
I cried. I admit it. I was wiping away tears even before they started the ceremony.
This year was so hard. It was so different and so difficult on so very many levels -- social, emotional, academic -- and to see her get this boost was just amazing. It was like a validation of her work. I know she is happy and proud of herself, and I know she knows how very proud of her I am.
I love her so much.
Travis and I have acquired a serious love for chicken wings. Him, just because they're good, and me, because I went to school in upstate NY where they REALLY know how to make some wings (Buffalo-style, natch!).
In Pennsylvania, when we would go up for Pennsic (a medieval event) in August, we'd never miss a chance to hit the Quaker Steak & Lube wing joint in Cranberry. We looked forward to stuffing ourselves with wings almost as much as we looked forward to going to the medieval event. One year, we even went with a large group of our friends (also devotees of their wings) to the original location in Sharon, PA.
They have the best wings, hands down. We lamented not being able to enjoy them once we stopped being able to attend the medieval event, but were thrilled to find a location had opened up in Newport News, last year. It's about an hour or so drive, and one day we just took the kids and roadtripped for some wings. It was there that we found out a Richmond location was in the works! Hooray!
Last week, the Richmond QS&L finally opened! last night, we took the family and headed over there for some wing-y goodness.
The service was great and the food was phenomenal! We only had one issue and that was our table being right next to the bar. Normally, this would not even bother me, and normally it would not be a problem, seeing as how we eat out with the kids at 5:00 to avoid the rush. HOWEVER, last night our table was just behind a 'regular' who was very obviously completely smashed. How do I know? The number of f-bombs LOUDLY exclaimed, and the LOUD descriptions of various activities involving women, and men's expected treatment thereof, among other things. After about ten minutes of eff this and eff that and eff her and him and you and everybody, we asked to be moved to a table across the room. our server was great and very accommodating, and I told the manager so. Drunk-ass Dude-man was so hammered, he successfully completed the Atomic Wing Challenge without combusting on the spot. I was surprised, given how much alcohol there must have been in his system.
It was a really fun dinner out, and we'll definitely be back!
It's official -- we're on Summer Schedule around here now!
I usually plan our weeks to have some kind of outing four mornings a week, with one day being designated Movies And Popcorn Day. That day, we ignore the weather and stay inside and watch movies and eat as much popcorn as we can manage. The kids love it, and I can get some stuff done around the house. We usually also have a Pool At Home Day and at least one To The Park Day, and a Fountain Day.
Today was our Fountain Day!
The Stony Point Fashion Park, a beautiful outdoor mall nearby, allows children to play in their main fountain when the weather is good. It's a ground-level fountain, so no pool of water, and the jets are synchronized and timed to spray in various combinations and patterns. The kids love it, and so do I. This is the first year we have been able to go sans stroller and diaper bag and it was HEAVEN. I celebrated by getting myself a Caramel Frappuccino (just a little one, no whip).
We're home now, still smelling like sunscreen and warm sunshine. Noah is napping, and Wren is playing fairies upstairs in her room. It's quiet and I am going to write and clean a bathroom (yeah, so utilitarian, but it's filthy!)
Tonight? Dinner out with the family....Quaker Steak & Lube for WINGS!!!
I love summer.
So, this has been a weekend of all kinds of goodness!
Thursday evening, encouraged by another artist friend of mine, I wrote a query letter to a magazine and sent in a couple of photos of some work I have done. It's kind of a big deal, these magazines, and I didn't expect much to come from it. Boy, was I surprised late Friday night when I received an email from the editor of that magazine telling me she thought my work was fabulous and wanted to feature it in the next issue! Yow!
Unfortunately, I can't really tell you (right now) which magazine, or which work of mine they will have.
This makes THREE national magazines that will show my work this year, along with articles I have written. (I can't really tell you the names of the other two magazines, yet, either) Writing for magazines has been something I have wanted to do for a very long time. I am a decent writer, I think, and I know my style leans more toward the journalistic side of things, so non-fiction work is perfect. Plus, it generally pays at least a little something. My dear, sweet, very talented husband is also a writer, but his work leans way more toward the creative side of things. I have been telling him, though, that a number of blog entries of his have really been outstanding in the 'personal essay' genre, and he should think about shopping them around. Right now, he's working on a book. I can't wait til he is recognized for his talent by a publishing house.
Speaking of Travis, he was working most of the weekend, unfortunately, so we didn't get to spend as much time together as I would have liked. :(
Also on Friday, I ended up picking a gallon of sour cherries at the home of my ex-husband. I drop Kira off at his farm on most Friday nights, and in early June, the sour cherry tree in the front yard is usually bursting with fruit. I adore the color of the cherries, and spent some time Saturday pitting them and admiring the crimson red. They are actually the color of one of my favorite glasses, Creation is Messy's Sangre.
More goodness on Saturday....a trip to the South of the James Farmer's Market was a HOT and scooterific affair for me. I took my scooter over to pick up our weekly share from Victory Farms. It was unbelievably hot; I could not bring myself to put on jeans, so I must confess to riding in shorts. I did wear my helmet and gloves and sneakers (ALWAYS), and I put on my (black) riding jacket, figuring if I crashed, at least the top half of my body would stay decently protected. Heh.
I couldn't figure out why some guy was honking at me at a stoplight, until I realized my riding jacket is long enough that it covered my shorts when you saw me from the side and front. D'oh! Longer shorts next time...
I wrote a post on my ScooterMom blog about my market run, and a local neighborhood blog picked it up and featured it in THEIR post about the market this weekend! They even used one of my photos and everything! (they credited me, so it's ok). Go here to check out the article!
Lastly, today after church, we took the kids and went to the Richmond Greek Festival for lunch. It's a huge deal here in Richmond, and we love love LOVE some Greek food, so we try to go every year. The festival is so big, they have a drive-through lane for food orders, so if you don't want to walk around the festival and you just want some food, you can do that! It being ridiculously hot today, we opted for the drive-through. Yum! Souvlaki, pastichio, baklava, galaktoboureko and dolmades....oh, it's heaven!
Now, I am washing clothes and writing, and doing some work, and setting up the coffeepot for the morning and deciding whether I am going to walk or do the exercise bike at 5:30 in the morning tomorrow.
Summer schedule has started for this household; no more preschool for a few weeks, so not a lot of free time around here for the Mommy. Gonna have to cram all my extracurricular writing, glassworking, jewelry-making and metalsmithing into the evening hours and naptimes. Yikes!
The Good Stuff, though, is that there is lots of time to be with my kids. And that is a Very Good Thing. Love that bunch so much!
First of all, today was the last day of preschool for the little kids. My last free morning for a while, until after July 4th when they go to the summer program for a few weeks. Time to start firing up the summer round of activities! I think tomorrow might be our inaugural trip to the Stony Point Shopping Center fountain! I usually try to plan an outing four days a week, with one day being designated Bum Around and Watch Movies and Eat Popcorn Day. if we stay home all the time, we all go nuts and the dogs get harassed. :)
I spent the morning at Panera, writing and doing some research on publishing. Lots of ideas, and lots of difficulty getting all organized with them.
I'm finally getting over being sick all last weekend. Hooray! Being sick when the weather is hot really sucks.
So far, it's been two weeks of regular exercise. At 5:30 in the morning. That part is no fun, but it isn't awful, either. The only drawback is being totally wiped out by 9:30 at night. I don't want to go to bed that early! I've been alternating 30 minutes of intervals on the exercise bike one day, and 30 mins of walking in my neighborhood on other days. Add in some yoga and hopefully Pilates this summer, and I am hoping to trim a little bit off my frame. I would say I am hoping to lose about 20 pounds, but let's be realistic. I am too in love with my summertime ice cream and beer to really drop serious weight.
And in the most depressing, totally devastating news this week, I found out our beloved pediatrician is leaving the practice we have been going to for seven years. Dr. Eric Freeman is hands-down the best pediatrician in Richmond. The. Best. He has seen Wren and Noah since they were born, and he has helped us through countless illnesses over the last five years, including Noah's hospitalization for RSV, and Wren's horrific dog bite injury two years ago. I am so incredibly sad that my kids may not have the benefit of his excellent, conscientious care anymore that I hardly know what to do. We like the other physicians in the practice fine, but when given the option, we always choose Dr. Freeman. I'd rather have my kids seen by him than anyone else, so I am hoping that he is not going far. Wren has a checkup on Monday morning, and I am planning on going in there armed with a huge box of his favorite baked goodies and a Starbuck's gift card. And a letter, expressing just how much he has meant to our family over the past few years. Good doctors are truly a gift; medicine is not a career one chooses lightly, and a person who can successfully practice the science AND the art of caring for patients is a rare gem indeed. He will be missed, terribly. Like my husband said, "It's like finding out that Santa isn't real!"
Excuse me, but I am going to go cry about it now. :(
There's really nothing like an inadvertent party to remind you how interesting and fun life can be.
Our Memorial Day weekend was supposed to be a little lower-key, but after all was said and done, it really was an awesome time. I love that our friends want to come here and see us and be with us, and that we can offer our hospitality as we do. I just wish I hadn't been sick for most of it.
Friday afternoon, our friend Don Downie, who is a jeweler, came down to spend the weekend. It being Memorial Day, this is the weekend for Sapphire Joust, an annual event for our local SCA group, the Barony of Caer Mear. Don has been making the prizes for the tournaments for just about 20 years now, and even though he now lives in Pennsylvania, he always delivers the prizes himself. (Another great thing is that lately when he comes to visit, I get metalsmithing and jewelry lessons!) Kira was home this weekend, so I didn't have to go anywhere Friday night. We hung out and chatted and played with the kids, which was nice.
Saturday morning, Travis stayed home with the little ones, and the rest of us (me, Don, and Kira) went out to the event for the day. It was odd going to an event by myself and with Kira. I am so used to going with Travis, and it has been forever since I was at an event. Last September's Journey to the Crusades was the last event I went to, and that was small and local. Not the same. Even so, it was nice to see folks, many of whom were astonished by how much older Kira is now. I was astonished by how much tighter my green linen cotehardie is now. Ugh.
Mistress Iseulte lent her the gown she is wearing (it fit perfectly!), and upon arriving on site, we watched court and the investiture of the new Baron and Baroness.
After standing around for court, we went for a bit of shopping. Kira immediately recognized the awesomeness that is The Crafty Celts, and chose a wolf pendant, with which she accessorized her gown.
I was disappointed to find no Spanish peacock, because I had been hoping to procure another lucet and a nice drawplate.
Thankfully, Mistress Iseulte offered us (and Don) space under their dayshade and we sat and enjoyed the youth combat tourney and some of the various heavy fights going on in the list. Iseulte and I went walkabout to chat up people along the field while Kira sketched in the shade. I was happy to see and talk with Syr Justus, Mistress Genevieve, Mistress Thjora, Mistress Isobel, Duchess Padraigin and Duke Cuan and their wonderful little boy, Benjamin, and a number of other people I have only seen on the internet in the past year or so.
I don't really know the sitting or incipient royalty, so no hanging out in the royal area. :)
Along about 3:00, Kira was very done with the heat, and so was I, particularly since I had been feeling so bad all day. Blah. We collected Don, got changed and blasted ourselves with air conditioning all the way home, where apparently a party had broken out!
Four-fifths of the Elkins family, Travis's brother Dale and his daughter Liberty, my kids and husband, Don, me, Richard and Ddot and baby Roman....was there anyone else? Everyone was here, and despite the heat, we had a lot of fun. Don can really pick out good Greek dessert wine, and he and I went on an epic ice cream run. Dale and Liberty ended up staying over, and the little girls finally passed out around midnight.
Sunday was breakfast, people leaving, and Don teaching me the basics of raising a copper bowl from a sheet of 16ga. The initial efforts look like this:
I napped for three hours after this project was attacked. It was joyous, and I felt MUCH better.
The rest of Sunday was spent on the couch, watching movies and relaxing after the kids went to bed. kity stayed over, and Monday was us buying a new grill....and taking Moe and Kitty around to check out rental properties in Richmond for their upcoming move.
The Grill of Hotness:
The kids literally spent all afternoon outside in the pool.
And ate watermelon.
And we inaugurated the grill.
It was a great weekend, but I need another one right now in order to recover from it!