Month: September 2017

Phoebe is 7!

Bee is 7!

If she looks tired in that picture (and she does) it is because we did a whole lot of celebrating. We spent the day at COSI.

The kids at COSI

COSI!

They just opened a new Thomas the Train exhibit.

Birthday girl Bee at the Thomas the Train exhibit at COSI

Phoebe and Jack loved it!

Fixing Percy's wobbly wheels

Phoebe taking tickets for Thomas the Train

Checking out the Thomas the Train exhibit at COSI

Look in here!

Julia rode the High-Wire Unicycle!

Julia on the High-Wire Unicycle at COSI

We thought COSI would be a fun way to spend Phoebe’s day, especially since we were already going to Columbus for Julia’s marching band competition on Saturday.

Grove City High School Marching Band Invitational Competition

They won second place in their class and were awarded Outstanding Percussion, too.

The outtakes are usually better than the good picture.

We were happy to be there to support them!

At the band competition

Really!

But before we left for Columbus, we got to celebrate another friend’s birthday at their party at the park. Jack was crazy about her balloons and kept running around with them. He was having so much fun, I wanted to get a picture and we accidentally reenacted the It trailer.

Reminds me of the It trailer

Wait for it.

Wait

Crazy eyes!

It was a great weekend. We used it all up, every bit.

The frisbee was invented in 1957. So was my mom.

My mom is 60 today. I’d gone searching for a baby picture of her to show the kids. They can’t wrap their heads around the idea that she was once a baby. I haven’t found the picture I was looking for yet, but I did find my favorite photo of my mom and me.

My favorite picture of mom and me.

I also found my mom’s birth announcement. (That’s my grandma’s handwriting. Sixty years later, it still looks the same.)

My mom's birth announcement

And I found an awesome newspaper clipping from when my mom was 13.

Newspaper clipping about my mom from 1971

She’s still a horror movie fan. Here we are getting ready to watch It at the movie theater last weekend.

Mom and I went to see It. We made sure to go during the day because we knew it'd be scary. It did not disappoint!

My mom is just about the best person I know. I am grateful that I get to see her every day. And I’m glad to have her genes. She doesn’t look 60 by a long shot.

Postcards!

I’ve been doing this thing called Postcrossing where you send and receive postcards from random people around the world. It’s really fun! I’ve gotten cards from places in the United States, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ukraine, France, Russia – I got a card from Siberia!

Postcrossing postcards

I’ve sent cards to Germany, Russia, Netherlands, Poland, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, and to some folks in the United States. Here’s how it works: First, you request an address and send a card. When that person receives it and registers it, another random person will receive your address and send you a postcard.

I thought getting the postcards would be cool and that the kids would really enjoy seeing them, too. And it is and they do. Lucy even set up her own account. But I think sending them may be my favorite part! I love shopping for postcards and finding the right one to send. I’ve come across the best postcards at KatieAbeyDesign. The motivational cards. The Freddie Mercury puns. The cat legends! I am awaiting that very special someone to send Purrince to!

So far, I’ve sent 11 postcards that have been registered (there are 4 or 5 more in transit out there somewhere) and I’ve received 11 postcards. There are people out there who have been doing this for years and have sent and received thousands! It’s incredible! This little postcard project has been an easy way to make a connection and share a little happiness. We can always use more of those things.

Fog and Fix-It Guys

On foggy mornings, when it’s so thick we can’t see the barn next door or even the ground, I tell the kids to look out the window. “Our house is in the clouds!” Because it’s fun to pretend it is.

I wrote a haiku about it.

our house in the clouds
a giant’s beanstalk castle
on foggy mornings

Sometime, when my windows are cleaner or we finally get rid of the window air conditioners and I can open the upstairs windows easily, and it is foggy, I will take a picture.

We’d removed the window air conditioners once this summer when our central air unit was fixed, finally (after years). Then the freon leaked out which means it needs fixed again, so the window units are back, but not for long because fall is nearly here. And technically the central air wasn’t broken in the first place. It was our electric service panel. It looked brand new on the outside! But, water was leaking in because whoever installed the electric before our house was ours went the route of cheap and/or lazy. Behind that shiny new breaker box was corrosion and decay that hindered the flow of electricity through the house. The air conditioning unit wasn’t getting enough juice to run. It is also why our lights were dim. I’d been worried it was my mood.

Me, at the doctor’s office: “Even my house seems darker, somehow.”

Well, it was! It was also why our well pump quit. We had to get a new service panel, breaker box, electric meter box, this pole thing, and other stuff that made the electric work and our bank account empty, but a little less empty than if we’d replaced the well pump and the air conditioner and whatever else. I am grateful it’s fixed. I am especially grateful for the man who fixed it all. We called him to check out the well pump and he figured it all out. That guy is great.

What a way to make a livin’

Dave is brilliant and works hard and he earned a promotion to a new position at work. Yay, Dave! After 17 years of working midnight to noon, he now has a regular day shift job. It’s so normal and that feels crazy! And I am very thankful. I am thankful that Dave worked nights when he did. It was a great setup when the kids were tiny. He was able to be around for things a lot of working parents have to miss. The only thing he was missing was sleep and that was starting to get really, really hard. So, I am thankful Dave started working days when he did. It seemed perfect timing that he was moving to days when all the kids were finally in school. The only thing I miss is having him home on random weekdays. But that’s what days off are for, right? And he gets to work from home now and then, which I love.

The best thing about Dave’s new job is that we get up together in the morning and have breakfast as a family. And we’re all back together again for dinner every evening. There’s no more asking about when he’s coming and going or here, but asleep because his schedule is so wacky. It’s set and certain and that helps when we’re all over the place with the kids and their activities. We go to bed together at night and that makes it much easier to honor a set bedtime, which has always been a struggle for me. It’s all just so ORDINARY. I love it!

Summer Lateblog #6: The Coldplay Concert

Julia and I had the whole summer to look forward to this concert. I gave her the tickets after the piano competition. I’d had them for a week before that and I could hardly contain myself. I was so excited! My mom took me to my first rock concert nearly 30 years ago. Guns N’ Roses and Aerosmith. I was 12.

Nearly 30 years ago, my mom took me to my first rock concert. Guns N' Roses and Aerosmith. I was 12. Tonight, I am so excited to be taking my oldest daughter Julia to her first concert. @coldplay #ColdplayCleveland

My mom was a pastor’s wife and plenty of people from our congregation hassled her about taking me. I didn’t know that at the time, but I’m glad she didn’t let it stop her. Music was so important to me, it was where I lived, and the fact that she went there with me is one of the reasons we are so close today. It still feels so good to remember the fun we had. So, of course, I was thrilled to take Julia not only to her first concert, but to see her favorite band.

Coldplay Concert in Cleveland 8/19/17

The trip to Cleveland was fantastic. I had butterflies! I’d read somewhere that anticipation is an important aspect of enjoyment, that it adds to your satisfaction and this was true for us. Just anticipating what was going to happen was fun.

Coldplay Concert in Cleveland 8/19/17

We arrived in time to grab a t-shirt and see the opening acts – Izzy Bizu and Alunageorge. And then, we waited to see what the bracelets they gave us were going to do.

Coldplay Concert in Cleveland 8/19/17

It was pretty exciting.

It was such a colorful show between our blinking bracelets, the lights, the confetti cannons and the balloons.

Coldplay Concert in Cleveland 8/19/17

I love Coldplay, too, and though it’s hard to pick a favorite song (Up & Up. But The Scientist. Also Fix You.), this was my favorite moment that I recorded.

Around then, I stopped trying to capture it all and just really enjoyed being there. It was fantastic. The best night.

After the show, about 45 minutes outside of Cleveland, we started to come down off our concert high and stopped for a bite to eat and coffee for me. We saw someone get arrested in a gas station parking lot!

Coldplay Concert in Cleveland 8/19/17

That’s Julia at 1 a.m. exhausted from exhilaration, happy, giddy, spent, and wondering when we can go again.

Summer Lateblog #5: The Billy Joel Concert

Dave and I rented a Ford Mustang and went on a road trip after we got married. We drove from Ohio to southern West Virginia to Niagara Falls, Canada and back to Ohio again. We listened to a lot of Billy Joel on that trip. His was one of a few CDs I’d brought along that Dave actually liked. Not liked. No. LOVED. Dave loves Billy Joel. (If you haven’t seen him sing along to The Downeaster Alexa, you haven’t seen passion and joy in its truest form. It is the tune of his heart.) Since Billy Joel provided our honeymoon soundtrack, I thought it was very romantic when Dave got us tickets to his concert in Cleveland in July at Progressive Field.

Dave and me...and in about an hour, Billy Joel!!!

We didn’t have the best view of the stage or even the screens. Our seats were along the cutoff line where they stopped selling tickets due to the obstructed view, so we were right on the fringe of the crowd with no one to our right at all. We couldn’t see the action on stage so well, but we had plenty of room to move and have fun. And we did!

Billy Joel concert in Cleveland 7/14/17

This was my favorite moment. The crowd singing along to Piano Man (and a sneak peek of Dave).

We spent the night at a fancy hotel downtown, which was lovely except for the creepy clown art in the bathroom. (I should have taken a picture of it to show you. Imagine jumping out of the shower and seeing It stare at you from the across the room.) There was construction going on in front of the hotel and we had to wait half an hour the next day for the valet to bring our car. A valet! For our bird poop covered car with the broken glove box duct taped shut! I told Dave that he should look at them and shout, “What happened?!?” when they drove it up. (He did not do it.) We meandered home the next day, stopping to see The Big Sick in a theater near Akron and for dinner in Canton. We even drove by the old house we’d lived in when we got married. It was such a great trip. Man, I love that guy.

Summer Lateblog #4: What Julia and Lucy Did

Julia and Lucy attended the Tuscarawas Philharmonic Performing Arts Chorus Camp in June.

Tuscarawas Philharmonic Children's Chorus Performance with our best friends on my birthday.

Their capstone performance was on my birthday, which we got to enjoy with our very best friends.

Tuscarawas Philharmonic Children's Chorus Performance with our best friends on my birthday.

Look at all our kids together! They could grow up to be the next Arcade Fire or something.

Tuscarawas Philharmonic Children's Chorus Performance with our best friends on my birthday.

Summer means marching band for Julia and it gets intense in July. That’s when Lucy took some art classes.

Summer art classes

She learned to make amazingly useful things from t-shirts and a whole lot of art from recycled items in a Trash to Treasure class. And she took a Create Your Own Character class where she made an incredible Dipper puppet.

Lucy just finished two summer art classes: Build Your Own Character and Trash to Treasure. These are her favorite pieces from each one.

Julia and Lucy are both very creative kids. When they aren’t making music, they’re making art and I was so glad they got to explore those things a little more this summer.

Jack’s First Day of Preschool

We took the requisite picture in the usual spot.

Rainy first day of Preschool!

It was dark and rainy, but he was bright. Just before this, he’d been sitting on the stairs wearing his backpack and waiting patiently for his sisters to be ready to go. We dropped Julia off first, then Phoebe, Lucy, and finally, it was his turn. He did not hesitate. He marched right in and got straight to work. He didn’t give me a second glance and I’ve finally learned that no one gains anything from me hovering around, so I left. I thought I’d cry. I didn’t, really. He was ready to go to school. I was ready, too. There’s a part of me that believes I should feel guilty for feeling that way. That part of me is silly. My kids aren’t babies anymore. I don’t need to grieve it as though it’s a loss to prove to myself that it was special. I cherished the baby years. I’ll cherish the school years, too.

My mom had the day off and went along to take Jack to school and pick him up and she took some pictures. I AM IN THEM. I’m not in many photos with the kids because I am usually the one taking them. Also, I’ve hated my body and did not want to be photographed. Still! Here I am with Jack after his first day of school.

Preschool pick up. Perusing his first Scholastic flyer.

He’s looking at his very first Scholastic book flyer. Look at his happy face! He’s going to have a great year.

I’m going to miss him so much when he goes to school.

We went to a meet and greet at Jack’s preschool yesterday.

I am going to miss this kid when he starts school!

(He picked the shirt he wore.)

We went for lunch after.

Making me laugh at lunch

Making me laugh at lunch

Making me laugh at lunch

He loves to make me laugh. He’s good at it, too.

We were having a great time until a couple sat down near us and the man suddenly stood up and started yelling down at the woman. “I told you! I TOLD YOU! I TOLD YOU!!!” It scared me. It lasted less than a minute, but I noticed the way the woman moved her hand to shield her face and looked down as the man glowered over her. It made me so sad and uncomfortable and angry. I hate that my son saw it, that now he knows this is a way people can choose to behave.

We took our desserts to go. On the way out, Jack held the door open and said, “After you, Mommy!” It was such a contrast from what we had just seen. I felt so grateful for that sweet, gentle boy. I will do all I can to help him stay that way.

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