Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The eagle has landed.

I saw his shadow this morning. Whenever a big shadow flies by, we all stop to look. I'm pretty sure I stepped on a kid or two as I bolted for the window. Sure enough, it was the eagle and he had landed! Across the pond, but he was being still. We grabbed the binoculars and all managed to get in several looks. We grabbed the camera, which really didn't do much in the way of actually capturing him. 

See him?? No?
Now? Squint. 
 That fool sat on his branch for over thirty minutes. We were all cross eyed from the binoculars. Still...I wanted a picture of him flying by. I was certain he would give me a slow, dramatic flight so I could get my picture. As he'd been still for a while, I felt okay accepting a phone call from Simon's guitar teacher. He was canceling lessons due to slick roads. He chose the exact moment the eagle took flight to say, "Oh, I've been meaning to tell you what a joy Simon is."

"DOH!!<click, click> almost drop the camera, trip over a kid, flap my elbows at the kids, point with my eyebrows<click,click,click>Uh huh. Yeah, thanks. Simon is a great<clickclickclickclickclick> kid..."

I don't even remember how I ended the conversation. He probably thinks I'm a total flake. 
 I'm sure he's in this picture somewhere, I just can't find him. 
At dinner tonight, while recounting the whole story to Sean, Felix pipes up with, "The eagle flies by every morning. He sits on our side of the lake right in our back yard." Nice of him to share that little tidbit of info. I told him to grab my camera next time. I think he's been seeing a crow(They grow 'em big around here. Saw one attack a squirrel today.), but he swears it's the eagle. We'll see! 

The few times I've seen the eagle, it's been in the evening. I can't wait until Spring so we can clear some of that brush out of the way!

Every morning...

He wakes up a little grumpy. Scrumptious, warm, cute as a stinking button, but grumpy.
 Asks what's for breakfast. Gets the same answer. Complains about it. Asks for a compromise. Gets denied. Asks again. Denied again. Told to like it or go hungry. Pouts.
 Forgets what he's pouting about and begins the first of what will certainly be 1,000, "Hey, Mom! Guess what?" stories.
 At this point we usually take a peek at our ducks and swans to see what's going on in their lives. The lake has been frozen this week, so we've been missing our little floaters and squakers. 
 Every morning, this guy finds his brother in the chair. Smacks him around a bit. Laughs. Begins making what will surely be the first of 1,000 messes. 

 Asks for "Mi-mins," and cries when I only give him one. 
 Every morning he tries to sit next to Titus at the breakfast table and is denied. He's a food thief.
 He insists on no lids. 
 He accepts what is offered. Decides he doesn't like it. Buttered toast dipped in hot chocolate? I ate it every morning when I was a kid. He's not a fan. 
 Every morning, he starts our day off with a spilled drink. A stack of sopping wet napkins. A smorgasbord of everyone else's left overs. 
Every morning I notice the light in our kitchen and dining room. This morning, I made good use of it. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ten on Tuesday

1. Judelet turns two, two weeks from tomorrow. How can this be? I'm going to throw him a shoe party because shoes are the thing he loves most in this world. Any advice on party favors or how to fashion a shoe cake are much appreciated.

2. I ordered a bazillion(38 actually) enlargements a few weeks ago dating as far back as 2007. I've had fun collecting frames and arranging walls and such.

3. On a recent frame shopping trip, I hear Simon say so smoothly that it took me a second to even process it, "That's a nice looking' mirror. Oh, wait, that's just my reflection."

4. My childhood BFF came to visit last weekend with her family. I last saw her when I was Simon's age. Twenty years is a long time. It is so interesting to me the ease at which old friends are able to carry on. Surrounded by husbands and kids and maturity and life experience, the memories are enough. We've missed the daily-ness of each others lives, but the bond of childhood was substantial enough to carry us over into something new. I'm curious to see how our lives will continue to intertwine now that we're in the same state. 
5. We've had more houseguests here than at any other location and we haven't even been here for two months yet. I love it!! We have two more guest room reservations on the books for March, two for April, one for June. 

6. I bought the kids each a giant Valentine's Day heart from the Rite Aid clearance shelf yesterday. Retail is for other people and fake chocolate lasts forever. I made the kids' whole year. 

7. Speaking of getting fat, I need Spring to spring already. I'd love to take a walk around the neighborhood and not have my fingers turn blue. 

8. It's snowing again. I'm not complaining, just stating the fact. EIGHT more inches predicted for tomorrow night. The gas man that came today for a gas fireplace insert said, "This is incredibly unusual. We haven't had a winter like this in three years." Ok, first of all, if they had a winter similar to this three years ago, then it's not unusual. If he'd said thirty years ago, okay. And p.s. we heard the same line from many people in Ohio and I didn't believe them either. :) It sure is pretty to look at. 

9. We're finding our place here. I have a friend. I have a church with a pastor that looks strangely just like me; he must come from good genes. I have a coffee shop. I don't have to use GPS all that much. I still don't feel completely settled, but pictures being on the wall has helped. We have a long list of unfinished projects that just need a bit of sunshine and warmth and motivation to complete. 

10. I'm feeling entirely uninspired, photographically speaking. I need a challenge. I don't want 99.9% of my photos taken by my phone. I cringe at the thought of our memories being reduced to grainy, blurry, 4x4 inch pictures. I get the ease and availability of iPhone photography, but really...I'm missing the good stuff for the sake of convenience. I know I'm not alone in this. Does anybody have a challenge?? I challenged myself to fill up a compact flash last month. I didn't make it. Not even close...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Articles of Conduct to her sons.

by Marian Hornsby Bowditch, 1959

We in this household have certain traditions and standards of conduct which we consider are important to the development of the kind of people we want to be. We do not consider it necessary for you to like them.

Mr. Bowditch and I through hard work create many privileges for the members of this family-and in accepting them, each individual also accepts the responsibilities that go with them- which involves requirements of good manners and an active consideration for each other.

The privileges of this family have been afforded to many and I have continued to point out the rules by which we are required to live - I do not intend to point them out any longer in view of the fact that they are often sarcastically ignored or flagrantly disregarded.

We do not consider any member of this family is due anything that he does not have the good grace to accept with appreciation and thanks. We will not allow our own family to abuse this nor will we allow anyone else to.

For your own good I cannot allow you to develop the idea that you can accept without giving or live in any situation without discipline and restraint.

I have considered you my good friend and you have disappointed me. So beginning right now you will consider yourselves guests in this house when you are here and as such conduct yourselves accordingly or you will not be a welcomed guest.

Your father and I have certain standards by which we expect to live and have worked to maintain them. As members of this family you are required to help maintain them too - loyalty to each other - respect for yourselves and others - concern for the rights of each other and the responsibilities for creating a happy life together - we give you this, we expect it in return.

The following rules you already know. You are expect to adhere to them and I do not intend to repeat them every day.

You are expected to:

1. Keep your clothes hung up and your rooms in order.

2. Fold your socks one in the other before you put them in the hamper.

3. Get up by your own alarm at 7:00 and get yourselves and you room in order and be down to help with getting breakfast at 7:35.

4. Phil is to make the juice and feed and water the ponies.

5. David is to make the coffee, set the table and feed the dog.

6. John is to begin breakfast and finish it unless I am there to help.

7. On Sat. weekend mornings every one is responsible for his own (brunch), be it cold cereal or otherwise.

8. Remove your plates and glasses from the table - scrape them and put the plates under the 'facet' and silver on the sink.

9. Consider whatever food and milk is available and take only your share.

10. Ask Christine or Mother if foods in the icebox are reserved for other times.

11. You are responsible for the conduct of your guest in this house and for letting them know when they over-step the bounds of good manners.

12. Ask mother or Dad whether it is convenient to have extra guests for meals or to spend the night ( in private before inviting them).

13. Unless under unusual circumstances there will be no guests during the school week.

14. Dinner will be at 6:15 and you are expected to be here.

15. Dave and Phil you are to remove the places etc from the table and a share of the extra dishes. John is to prepare them and put them in the dish(rack?).

16. Study time is from 7 to 9:30 and there is to be no phone calls made or received during that time and no guests.

17. Bedtime during the week is 8:30 for Phil, 10:00 for Dave and 11:00 for John.

18. No guests are expected during the week after 10:00.

19. No guests are expected on the weekend after 12:00 for pool or any other reason unless specifically invited to spend the night.

20. Guests on the weekend not spending the night are expected to leave at 12:30.

21. You are expected to call at a reasonable time before meals if you are not planning to be here.

22. You are expected to call at a reasonable hour if you plan to spend the night with a friend on weekends. You are expected to speak to Dad or Mother for permission. If we are not available by phone you are expected to come home.

23. You are expected to be off the highways and in this house by 11:30 unless permission is given for a later hour. Phil is expected to call Christine or me to let us know where he is playing at all times.

These are in essence a matter of courtesy and good manners for us and each other. It is not fair to burden us with the worry and concern erected by not following these rules of courtesy.

The above was typed on a typewriter. She then went back and added more in pen.

24. You are expected to be up and dressed for church on Sunday mornings and attend with the family.

25. You are expected to have Sunday dinner after church with the family unless excused and to wear your coat and tie to the table.

26. When you are calling for a date at a girls home you are to show the proper respect for her and her family by presenting yourself in coat and tie.

27. No mater how many times you are a guest in a friend's house you are to remember the standards of good manners are required and stand to your feet when the parents (or your date) enter the room - you will be excused from doing this by the parents when it is no longer necessary on each particular visit.

28. You would be wise to ask the parents a time they expect their daughter home and get her there on time.

This was propped against a window in the sunroom at the Bed & Breakfast we stayed at. I laughed through many of them and  The rules were brought up at the breakfast table when Phil arrived. With a smile, he said, "Oh, those. Ma was pissed when she wrote 'em." Obviously. She had written another list of advice to the bride that was just priceless. I thought I'd jot these down so as to appreciate the good, timeless advice.

23 months

He insists on wearing shoes. Over sleepers even. It's a battle at bedtime.
 Grandma got donuts while she was here. He was very into the whole pastry breakfast thang.
He quickly realized there was no need to fuss with the donut itself as the good stuff was only on top and in the middle.
Turns the printer on and off and tries to help retrieve papers from the mating mid-print.

He loves "movies" and requests one for breakfast every single day. He doesn't like to use the straw, however, so movies are quickly becoming my nemesis.

He wants to be right there with the big kids during school. He's pretty content to sit and draw on stuff. We only have problems when he wants to draw on everybody else's work. Check out the stools my mom got us!! Housewarming present/the PERFECT fit for the school room. Thanks, Ma!
He begs for bapples, spits most of it out. He does the same with cheese and deli meat.

He brushes his own teeth.
 I mean, really...

He likes the idea of potty, but doesn't actually do it. Unrolling toilet paper is an art form.

He hates toys floating in tub.

He uses his hair as napkin.

He's absolutely a bully.

He steals food.

He draws a lot on things he shouldn't.

He thinks he's a big kid. It has never occurred to him that he might just be a baby.

 He is only snuggly first thing in the morning or if we have guests over or if I'm cooking or if I'm shopping in a way that requires he sit in the cart.

He's a bolter.

He walks up and down the stairs now instead of scootching or slithering.

He says Tius and Mimon and I can't even pretend to figure out how to spell the word he uses for Felix.

He speaks in full sentences and adds to his vocabulary every day.

He can pitch a mean fit, especially if it involves
leaving an activity he's not ready to leave,
coming indoors from out of doors, no matter the situation
or being strapped into his carseat.

He is busy, busy, busy and takes even the mention of naps as a personal insult

He smacks people on the butt. I don't know how it started, but if anyone bends over for any reason,
he's there with a swift hand and swifter grin.

He's not very friendly to strangers. He'll wave and wave and wave until they respond, but if they try to engage beyond a distant wave, he will give them the cold shoulder. He will not smile when strangers baby talk him. He'll smirk, but never smile.

He loves to play chase.

His favorite toy is a stuffed pig from IKEA.
He prays with us. If it's at a meal, usually he'll ball up one fist and stick it to his eye while using his other hand to feed himself while the rest of us suckers have our eyes closed. It's the cutest thing EVER.

He calls milk "moo."

He doesn't really play with toys all that much. He prefers to be outside driving his cozy coupe. It's making present buying difficult for his (sob) upcoming birthday.

Ten on Tuesday(just pretend it's Tuesday): celebrating the Man

1. I told Sean I'm going to start telling people I'm his second wife since he's so much older than me. 
 2. I keep reminding him that turning 35 means he's officially reached his half life expectancy.
 3. It turns out, I'm not very nice. 
 4. But I arrange for Grandmas to come watch four boys overnight and I book rooms at historic B&Bs and I try to go over the top every once in a while and it makes up for my lack of niceness. 
5. The B&B was awesome, but...*. The last time we attempted a bed and breakfast was on our honeymoon when it was discovered Sean was incredibly allergic to the soap at our original hotel. It was a lovely place in Savannah, GA, but we had to share a bathroom with a bunch of strangers and we were young and had higher expectations of what a B&B actually was. We chickened out and left. As it turns out, Sean wasn't allergic to the soap or the artichoke hearts that he'd eaten for the first time & still claims he's allergic to; he was allergic to me. He had head to toe hives for the first month of our marriage.

6. *There was an alumni gathering. Of the five couples staying at the B&B, four knew each other. It made for a very awkward breakfast. They were talking about concerts, their college (that they all have a strange attachment to), sports statistics, and the 70s. I've been to one concert in my life and it sucked. I have never heard of their small, private college. I don't care about how badly their small, private college beat some other unheard of small, private college in the last softball game. And much to the awkwardness of everyone at the table, no, I do not remember the 70s. 

7. For the last three years, every time Sean and I have had a moment to ourselves, conversation naturally went to, "When school is over..." It was weird to not have a single utterance be school related. 

8. We went to the bookstore and read magazines as part of our date. We never get to do that anymore. I perused magazines while children ran about the aisles. I get kids acting out in public, I don't get kids being unattended in public. There were two boys, maybe 5&7, playing tag through the store. In the hour+ that we were there, I never saw their parents. No one calling them down, no one even checking on them. It's a big outdoor mall type thing and I half suspect mom and dad dumped 'em off at the bookstore and went to a movie as the rest of the stores were closed. That or their parent worked at the bookstore? In addition to the wandering throngs of young teens who were acting like fools, I came home with a renewed sense of purpose in my parenting. 

9. Some pictures of the room and foyer. The place is amazing. Just zoom in and take in all the details. I wanted to go antiquing as soon as we left. All the little details and old baubles made me want to tell my conscience to keep quiet and fill up my suitcase.

 The detail! Just amazing.

10. Thank you, Grandma, for making it all possible!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Ten on Tuesday

1- I am so thankful for my circle. I got much, much encouragement in regards to my last post. I love it when I'm anxious about posting too much or thinking maybe I'm just evil, only to find out every one else has a piece of crazy in them, too.

2- Remember back in the olden days how everybody took a babysitting class? I've been trying to sign Simon up for one and I'd love for Felix to know basic life saving skills, too. Turns out, kids aren't expected to know such things. Babysitting? What's that. Hire an au pair or drop 'em off at day care. Or the 24/7 places in strip malls? Yeah, not this mama. No lie, I called SEVEN places today. I kept getting passed on to other people and finally ended up exactly where I started: the Red Cross. Simon doesn't need to be taught how to feed an infant or ways to engage with toddlers. I want him to know how to unwedge a piece of apple from an esophagus and handle real emergencies. I thought for sure one of the fifty million bases around us would offer SOMETHING. Nope. I plan to sign up the big two for the Adult-Pediatric CPR/First Aid/AED course through the Red Cross. Just in case anyone else was looking, know that it's your only option.

3- Simon starts guitar lessons tomorrow and Felix is starting drum lessons. I'm not sure who's more excited.

4- One of my brother's congregants(is that a word?) gave my email address to a friend of hers. The friend lives close by and home schools her crew. We've been emailing back and forth and tomorrow we meet in person. I've done this before, but the blind-date feeling is always a little awkward. I'm excited, though!

5- Our neighbors are coming for dinner Thursday. I really like them. I can't get over the similarities between them and our neighbors in Texas.

6- Grandma is coming Friday!! It wasn't all that hard to talk her into coming to spend an overnighter with the kidlets so Sean and I could celebrate his birthday. I thought we'd celebrate as we always do, but he hinted around that he actually wants something. I'm pretty excited about what I have planned...

7- I'm trying something different with budget and meal planning. Now that we live forever away from the grocery store, I'm trying to shop only twice a month. That's kind of a big deal for me. In Dayton, there were times I was going to the store every day. Last month, Sean updated me on my grocery budget and I said something stupid like, "I'm not going to the store again. I'm going to just use what we have." We cleared out the pantry. I'm talking, nothing left but a lone onion skin in the back of the pantry and a honey bear with only his feet filled. It was pretty crazy. Crazy awesome! On the day before we restocked, Simon said, "I don't care if I have to walk to the store, we need groceries!" And so we drove two hours to Whole Foods on payday. The previous trip I'd bought 9 gallons of our milk. This trip, they didn't have any of our milk (Snowville Creamery) and I still spent more than I've ever spent in a single grocery shopping trip.

I was very intentional about our menu this trip. Two weeks of planned out meals, all something new and fresh that I've not cooked before. There have been some BIG HITS.

8. THIS was amazing. It would feed a crowd, for sure. My fam+my brother. We all ate to the point of needing our stretchy pants and I was still able to send my brother home with leftovers. I made homemade rosemary bread and threw together a salad to go with. Apple crumble for dessert, yowza.

9. ALSO AMAZING. So easy and the steak cost me the same amount as ground beef. It takes 2lb of ground beef to fill my boys. 1.5 lb of this steak and we had leftovers. Go figure. I made a flank tonight and actually prefer the taste of the cheaper skirt steak.

10. This guy. Using his hair as a napkin.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

If Mama ain't happy...

Subtitle: I'm a hypocrite.

I had a few days of growth last week. Repentance and growth.

The joy and shiny new car smell have worn off the move. Sean has gone back to work(which feels a heck of a lot like school) and I don't have a shiny, new car yet***. The boys and I have spent a lot of time at home. I go stir crazy when I feel trapped. All that to lay a foundation for the following story.

I've noticed myself being extra sarcastic lately. I'm always snarky. I always have been, just ask my parents. Most of the time I'm able to keep it on the side of harmless and funny, sometimes I go too far. The last week, I've been going too far. When I go too far, I get super disappointed in myself. Instead of stopping, apologizing, starting over, I get worse. I've caught myself a few times this week and had that stab of guilt, but didn't make any real changes. The breaking point came during a two hour car ride. On the way there, I hashed up things that don't even matter. I was rude. I was hurtful. I was sarcastic.

The underlying issue is that I was comparing our family to several other families. Considering the three year trench we just crawled out of, not fair at all. I blamed my unhappiness on the one who is in charge of my happiness: Sean(that's a joke. I know he's not in charge of my happiness. Or was that sarcasm again...?). He's been stressed to the max starting at this new base and trying to figure out what is going on and what he's able to do and waiting on credentials and licenses andandand. And I just heaped on more tasks, more stress, more complaints. I'm not so much the model wife these days. Which is hilarious given my recent post about loving one's husband. Hence the HYPOCRITE subtitle.

In addition to the conviction I was already feeling, I have a few friends who send me these super uplifting texts and emails. Another posted a verse on Facebook(John 3:30) that really rubbed salt in the wound. As Sean and I rode home in silence Thursday night(occasionally interrupted by short bursts of anger), it occurred to me that I have been so snarky and so caustic lately, that is has gone from being my mood to being my personality. I haven't been the wife I know I should be; I haven't been the mother I want to be.

Friday morning, I grabbed Felix's Bible and flipped to "kindness" in his index. The first three references weren't really what I was after, but Colossians 3 happened to be listed. I've read it a thousand times, I didn't think it would sting so much.

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 

I asked the boys, "What do you think that means? Set your heart and mind on things above?"
"Focus on God and don't worry about what's going on here."-Felix.


But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Anger? Check.

Rage? How would one define rage exactly?
Slander? Is it slander if you say horrible things straight to someone's face, or only if you say it to someone else behind their back? Yeah...check.
Filthy language? Ooooh, guilty. 

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

By the time I got to this part, I couldn't even look at my kids. I was bawling. I was so ashamed of myself. I was not at all kind, humble, gentle, or patient Thursday night. Really, I haven't been all that kind or patient since the move. It was a great morning of asking for their forgiveness. I asked for forgiveness for my tone, my attitude, and for generally being a horrible person to be around. I texted Sean at work and did the same. I told them all that I want them to call me out if I'm being sarcastic.

How amazing it is that every day is a chance at renewal. No matter how big we screw up, God is right there ready to forgive us. Repent, move on, try to live out verse 17.

17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

***Edited to say I've been MUCH more patient, gentle, kind, and loving the last few days. Only by the grace of God and constant conviction when I want to "rawr rawr rawr"(Sam!!!!) I also have a new(to me) car that should make shuttling these boys about much easier. My broom gets a bit hard to steer with kids on the back of it. :) Hey, that's funny. I almost didn't post this. It makes me feel all vall-nerable(said in my best Eddy Murphy voice). After talking with my sister and hearing her say, "Hey, I'm right there with ya," my confidence that perhaps I'm somewhat normal has me pushing "publish." Y'all don't think less of me now. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015


I wrote this post pre-move. I FINALLY finished a book with these pictures and the intended party has received it. I'll just go with these words instead of typing up new ones:

I was a Brownie for a time when I was little. I don't remember much about it. I can remember some of the crafts, a square seat cushion we made, and the uniform. Really, the only thing that sticks out is the song, "Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other's gold."

That's been in my head lately.

The boys and I have been talking a lot about the move, obviously. I've tried to ease their my heartache by reminding them, "We never would've met ___________ if we didn't move all the time." Felix replied a few weeks ago, "Yeah...but I'm ready to stop with the friends we have. Can't they just be enough and we stay here?"

Oh, Buddy.

We have some amazing friends all over the country. True, true friends. The kind we can pick right up where we left off, no matter how long it's been. That's a salve that keeps me from going completely basket case sad these days, but I know in my heart of hearts relationships change when you aren't just a few exits down the interstate. I had the thought while editing these pictures...nobody makes Felix smile the way Emily does.

Sometimes you make friends who change you. I'm thankful I have several who have done that throughout my life. Kristine has been that for me for the last eighteen months. She has changed my perspective on things. She cracks me up and lets me vent and offers good advice and counsels me with good godly wisdom. She's as skinny as Olive Oil, but will down cupcakes and sugardy coffee with me. She gets the chaos and complexity of having four kids. She gets me.

I want to curl up with Felix and have a good sob. I don't want to make new friends either. I mean, really, who wants silver when they already have gold?

The irony is that the person who introduced Kristine and I, Sarah? She and I had a sad send off at eleven years old. I remember crying as our car pulled out of the neighborhood and my big sister saying, "It's okay, you'll make new friends." I didn't want new friends then either. Little did I know that that friend I made at ten would wind up giving me an adult best friend twenty years later. And now Sarah and I live in the same state and will hopefully have a grand reunion one day soon.


This may possibly be my favorite shoot ever. It went just exactly how I pictured it in my head(though shorts and Ts would've been preferred to the FRIGID cold). I missed the focus on a few, but the relationships are there. I'll take a blurry picture if I can hear the laughter. I'll be okay with a soft focus if the love is visible. These kids know how to have fun. Even when it's bitterly cold and a  mom with a camera is present. :D

I vote for wedding shots or at LEAST engagement shots to be taken at this very spot in due time. Amongst the crowd of 'em, surely we've got a match in there somewhere!

 Could there be a more maternal move than this?

 All  better. 

 This kid...