The kids spent the weekend dancing in their studio’s Christmas shows. There were four – two on Saturday and two on Sunday.
Julia, Phoebe, and Jack performed on Saturday.
On Sunday, Julia and Phoebe performed again, along with Lucy.
I did the girls’ hair and make up. Even after all these years in dance, I’m not great at those things, so it was A Big Deal for me to do them. Phoebe’s hair isn’t even long enough to get it all up in a bun, so what you see happening on her head is an actual miracle, or at least the illusion of a miracle as it all started to fall apart after the first show each day.
Hair glue is a miracle for no more than two hours.
Thankfully, we had a break between shows and she was patient with me while I worked at it. I think they looked fine and that’s as good as it gets when it comes to me and hair and make up.
Now, here are just a whole bunch of performance photos because who even reads words when there are pictures?
According to what I wrote last year, we’d been doing the Thankful Tree for seven years, so this year makes eight!
We kicked it up a notch by adding lights. (We’re so freaking fancy.)
This is the first year Jack could write the things he was thankful for by himself.
What’s that dripping? Oh! Oh, that’s my heart melting.
As hard as it can be to avoid the ugly in the world these days, the truth is, earth is a pretty great place. There are people loving each other everywhere. That’s what it’s all about, folks. Let’s keep doing that.
One month and one day ago, Phoebe and her fellow first graders took a field trip to a farm. They each came back with a pumpkin. Phoebe demanded to carve hers as soon as we returned home from school. Any why not?
She did most of it herself, including the clean up. She even prepped the seeds for roasting. And then we took pictures because she was so proud of her Jackie-O-Lantern. (It is a girl.)
It didn’t last until Halloween since she carved it a little early, but she enjoyed it thoroughly.
I have been writing here for eleven years. There are times when it has been my journal – intensely personal and for the purpose of working through thoughts or gaining perspective, which is mostly about being honest and vulnerable. Sometimes I was here trying to be “a real writer” and focusing on craft and caring whether it was right and good. Other times, I was just really looking to connect with other people and that was mostly about sharing what was relatable. But always, it has been my treasure house of family memories. And it has mostly been that the past few years. The most important thing about that is timeliness. Capturing the moment before it passes. And here I am, late again.
But look, we carved pumpkins!
Mine was an owl.
We went Trick or Treating.
Julia and Lucy dressed as Hogwart’s students – a Ravenclaw and a Gryffindor, respectively. Phoebe was a skeleton. Jack was a dog, so “I can eat Phoebe’s bones,” he said. Haylee was a nerd. And did I mention that Haylee has moved back home? She has! And she’s in band, too. Our last football game of the season was against her school, so we got to see their field show, which was great!
The following Wednesday was Jack’s Fall party at preschool.
I got to be a helper and provide the craft. I bought craft kits from Oriental Trading Company which were adorable and fun, but I felt guilty because it was so easy. Why is this? If another parent had provided that craft, I would have genuinely found it delightful, but I kept kicking myself for not aspiring to a better craft. We had some extra time at the party. (Maybe because my substandard craft didn’t take enough time?) I ended up pulling out Dave’s old Halloween Mad Lib from Julia’s preschool Halloween party, which I loved. So did the kids. They were literally rolling on the floor laughing when they heard their names and word choices. It was so fun to revisit it. But it also made me realize I’ve lost some of my energy and optimism since the first go round. Where did it go and how do I get it back?
Tuesday was Field Trip Day for Jack at preschool. Grandma took the day off so she could come along, too. Here we are on the wagon ride to the corn maze.
The maze had an Under the Sea theme.
Jackson was happy to lead our little expedition crew. He kept yelling over his shoulder, “Come on, guys. Follow me. Follow me, guys. I’ll be the leader.”
He decided which way we’d go and he was better at finding the right path on instinct than I was using a map.
There are two paths within the maze that go under the bridge Jack is standing on in the picture above. You pass under it at the beginning and again at the end. We met another family when we were going under it at the end. They were on the path near the beginning and decided to sneak under the ribbon designating the path and join us on our way out. Jack was appalled. “Hey, you guys cheated! That’s cheating! There are rules in the maze, guys. We just did the whole thing and you guys just cheated!” I told him it was okay, we were just having fun, but he assured me that there is nothing fun about breaking the rules.
Oh, look at this great picture I took of Jack and my mom.
There was the usual pumpkin patch and corn maze hullabaloo to do.
The place was the perfect size for preschool because once we’d done it all, Jack was tired enough to be okay with leaving. Here he is waiting for the return wagon and looking very serious about pumpkins.
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.
They just opened a new Thomas the Train exhibit.
Phoebe and Jack loved it!
Julia rode the High-Wire Unicycle!
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.
They won second place in their class and were awarded Outstanding Percussion, too.
We were happy to be there to support them!
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.
It was a great weekend. We used it all up, every bit.
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.
I also found my mom’s birth announcement. (That’s my grandma’s handwriting. Sixty years later, it still looks the same.)
And I found an awesome newspaper clipping from when my mom was 13.
She’s still a horror movie fan. Here we are getting ready to watch It at the movie theater last weekend.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was pretty exciting.
It was such a colorful show between our blinking bracelets, the lights, the confetti cannons and the balloons.
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!
That’s Julia at 1 a.m. exhausted from exhilaration, happy, giddy, spent, and wondering when we can go again.
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.
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!
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.