Today my eldest turns eleven. Seems like just yesterday he was born, filling our world with more love and joy than we ever could have expected. And now he is eleven, over five feet tall, feet the same size as mine, no more baby teeth, and a very man-sized appetite.
It is so fun to watch him grow, learn, and thrive. I love the intensity he brings to most everything he does; he always strives to be the best he can be in everything he does. I love that he knows how to be a teammate and a team player, and knows how to encourage his friends and teammates. I love that he is an upstander; he recently stood up for a friend who was being picked on during a soccer game. I love the gentle side of him, the kid who will still hug me at school and say, “I love you” as he gets out of the car. I figure that side may be fleeting as middle school approaches, so I particularly cherish those moments. I love that he looks out for me, always the first one to ask, “are you okay, mom?” when I frequently bump into things. And I love him for everything he brings to my life – greater understanding of myself, greater feelings of love and fulfillment, greater need to be the best person I can be knowing that someone is watching and absorbing.
Happy 11th birthday, T!
Here’s what’s happening around here these days….
What I’m Cooking:
I’m smitten with Jessica Seinfeld’s instragram posts as well as her blog for recipes. She’s whip-smart and knows her way around a kitchen. I tried this fig salad – first time I’ve ever prepared figs — and loved it. Easy-peasy. This chicken noodle soup is on rotation each week for the nights when after school activities trump cooking (although I make an easy recipe even easier by using rotisserie chicken).
What I’m Reading:
Room has been sitting on my bedside table for months, along with about 15 other books. When Big Sister is in the Nutcracker this holiday season, there will be about 10 performances that I am not attending — so I will find myself across the street at the Ritz lobby, sipping some overpriced hot chocolate and reading for two hours. I cracked open Room this weekend, and plan to read it during those two uninterrupted hours of reading.
Movie I’d Like to See:
I was really curious to see Wild, but after viewing the trailer — Reese Witherspoon seems so miscast. Giving a girl a pair of hiking books and uncombed hair does NOT make her look like the tough-cookie Cheryl Strayed I envisioned from the book. Guess I’ll have to see it to find out.
What I’m Wearing:
Weather has dipped to cold, cold, cold temps! Mama needed a new hat, so bought one of the slouchy pom-pom ones. Given the low tomorrow is 23 degrees, this hat will definitely serve its purpose as I shepherd children to activities after school!
What I’m Thinking:
Relief! We had a huge weekend — birthday parties, late night in the city seeing the Broadway production of Annie, nutcracker rehearsals and a fashion show to raise funds for the school. It was an incredibly fun weekend, but we all fell asleep earlier than usual last night. I’m embracing a quieter week and upcoming weekend before the chaos of holidays kicks in. Also prepping my kitchen for the arrival of in-laws, a 10-year old birthday and Thanksgiving. Just curious, does anyone else have a family that manages their Thanksgiving menu via an excel spreadsheet?
My new winter look. I haven’t had a pom pom on my hat since I was ten!
This is the month when headlines, Facebook posts and Instagram photos are full of photos, declarations and hashtags about gratitude.
Some authors cover the big things on their lists — family, friends, health, job.
Others cover the small joys — coffee, pajama mornings, 3 year old hugs and sunsets at the beach.
I love both lists. The recognition that the big rocks in our life bring stability to our everyday. And the celebration of the little rocks that bring surprise and bliss to our everyday. Although the one thing that is becoming clearer is how hard and uncommon it is for those small and big rocks to be perfectly stacked.
I’ve been warned by my friends in their 50′s that there will be a point where the grapevine is full of tough news. No longer will be celebrating new marriages and babies, but instead celebratory toasts will be replaced with prayers. Pray the chemo works. Pray the marriage can be saved. Pray drugs and alcohol stay clear of our teens. Pray the grandparents can still live independently.
I am acutely aware of how good life is today. That at any moment things can change. And they will change. But not today.
For today I’m grateful for stability. That my small and big rocks are perfectly stacked. And when they tumble, which they will, I’ll look back at this time with a full heart of gratitude.
This past weekend split our family in half. Youngest and I flew to Florida to visit cousins; and Oldest and Husband stayed in Boston to attend Nutcracker photo shoots and rehearsals.
Splitting the family in half was intentional. The spotlight is on oldest quite a bit right now — Nutcracker this and that, 10th birthday in a few weeks, academic team and project accolades at school. So Husband and I made the decision to share some of the spotlight with Youngest by whisking her away for a weekend of fun.
The plan made sense on paper. Yet when the weekend rolled around, I felt uneasy. Guilty for leaving Oldest behind. Uncomfortable having our family split in half. And anxious that I’d be leaving Oldest motherless should anything happen to our plane (did I mention my fear of flying?!?!?).
And it didn’t help that Oldest was in a funk for days leading up to the trip. Tears fell the night before as she declared that she would give up the Nutcracker if I would just stay home for the weekend. My heart sank.
Husband reminded all of us that we are a family of four — not a family of one. Thus, we all get to have different experiences and we should be celebrating each other’s achievements and experiences. Oh, that smart man.
So off we went to visit the cousins in JAX. We hit an 8:30am soccer game, went to the county fair, played HORSE, held a mini fashion show, and dined al fresco with wine and fish tacos.
We are home now and our unit is intact again. Oldest was full of hugs and smiles to have us return. And now the spotlight returns to her as we have final rehearsals and a big birthday party this weekend. And we start this week with smiles on all our faces. All four of us.
Splitting an airport sandwich as we wait to board.
Pirate cousins. Ahoy Mate!
Don’t see these signs anywhere in Boston!
Flying high at the fair. Fourteen rides in 3 hours.
Pig races? Of course!
I can’t stop taking pictures of fall around here. It’s an obsession. Now that I am no longer working and outside more during the day, I am noticing all these little details around me….birds flying overhead, berries replacing flowers, and colors that are muted in oranges, reds and golds (this is a Redhead’s favorite season!).
The other day I was immersed in a squirrel chase up and down a tree trunk. They weren’t playing very nicely with one another — maybe it was a fight over an acorn? All I know is that I snapped and yelled “Be Nice To Your Sister” and then paused once I realized I was talking to squirrels!
Anyway, I wish you all a wonderful weekend! Youngest and I are off to Florida to see cousins; while Oldest and Husband stay here in Boston for Nutcracker rehearsals and some daddy/daughter bonding. TGIF!
My favorite post was from a few years ago, at age 8, when my oldest daughter had her heart set on dancing in the Nutcracker. If you see a giant smile on her face these days, it’s because her dream has come true…on November 29th, three days after her 10th birthday, she will perform for her first time as a reindeer in the Boston Ballet Nutcracker.
Since the news arrived on October 3rd, she has been literally bouncing up and down with glee (she’s a jumping bean when excited). Every week is an added layer of excitement — costume fittings, professional photos, stage rehearsals at the Boston Opera House. And I’ll admit, our entire family has the Nutcracker bug now.
The world of professional ballet is foreign to me, but I’m a bit obsessed. And when Cup of Jo shared a link to the city.ballet documentary on the AOL channel, I could not stop watching. Narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker, the documentary follows New York City Ballet’s dancers as they deal with relationships, sacrifices and the ups and downs of being a professional dancer. All of the videos are around 6-8 minutes, but I’m so fascinated by the storylines, that I could easily watch hours more of the footage.
I don’t know if a professional dancing track is one that I’d encourage for my oldest. Yet seeing these videos certainly gives me an appreciation for those who chose this physically and mentally demanding track. For now, I’ll just sit in Row G and enjoy the view of my little reindeer pulling the Snow Queen on stage.
View from the stage at the Boston Opera House, where my oldest will be dancing at the end of November.
It’s November 3rd which means there are more leaves on the ground than on trees around here. This pond is a quick 5 minute stroll from our house and the place where I clear my head. Crazy to think that in the next few months, this bench might be covered in snow.
Halloween was perfect on a Friday night. Fist bumps all around for not having to wake the sugar hangover kids for school the next day! I loved this year’s costumes as they reflect aspects of their childhood that I will remember at age 7 and 9. Oldest chose Hermione after a Harry Potter obsession that began at the end of August. Youngest was a cowgirl – a costume built around these red cowboy boots that she coveted and bought with her piggy bank money.
This was our 6th year trick-or-treating with the same family. Their oldest daughter was a wonderful portrayal of Mary Poppins — see her on the right? All was well until one unkind 20 year old looked at Mary Poppins and said “Hated the Movie, Love the Costume” and then turned to my little Hermione and said “Loved the Movie, Hate the Costume”. No tears, but there was definitely a sadness in my daughter’s face….followed by a life lesson that it doesn’t matter what others think as long as you are happy with your choices. Oh, tough to hear a “mom lecture” on Halloween night!
A crazy Nor’Easter swept through Boston on Saturday and Sunday bringing high winds, rain, freezing temps and even some snow! This picture doesn’t capture the snow, but you can see we have reluctantly pulled out our winter coats for the season. Boo hoo!
My latest music track list includes Avicii’s “Hey Brother” — and the lyrics have made a permanent dent in my mind. I think it has something to do with these two little sisters that we’re raising….
Hey Sister! Know the water’s sweet but blood is thicker
Oh! If the sky comes falling down
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do
As life moves along at seemingly warp speed, it is sometimes a challenge to be thoughtful about the important things in life. The to-do list, carpools, homework, and deadlines take precedence over reflection. I am certainly very guilty of glossing over things just to cross another thing off the list. I am not sure if this post is any different, but here’s a little compilation of what’s on my mind right now with a slight scratch of the surface:
Dizzy Dog: My sweet Bloomy has vertigo. After a terrifying couple of hours in the emergency vet this weekend, with symptoms consistent with a stroke, we learned she has “Old Dog Vestibular Disease” – doggy vertigo. It will self-resolve in days to weeks, but in the meantime her head is tilted to the right, her eye twitches wildly, it is very hard for her to walk, and when she walks she looks like she’s been overserved at the bar. It’s tough getting old.
Painting: Maybe it is the paint fumes, but I’d like to think that my little painting projects are a source of zen for me right now. What started as wanting to just repaint one room in the house has changed to repainting every room in our house, save the basement. I have even painted a couple of pieces of furniture. Time and patience, which until this fall have been in short supply, have allowed me to systematically knock out room by room. I still have a few more to go, with the goal of finishing before Thanksgiving guests arrive. I am enjoying the quiet and mindlessness of it, which gives me plenty of time to think or just space. The feeling of accomplishment at the end is amazing, a feeling I often miss with work or other projects.
Homework: Remember the days when if you forgot your homework at school, you were stuck? You just had to deal with the consequences in the morning? Well, those days are gone. I chuckle at the occasional text from a friend (or from me to a friend) requesting photos of the evening’s homework. A few quick clicks, and the homework forgotten at school is magically printing at home. I have to wonder, though, if this is okay? Might it be better to suffer the consequences once, and hopefully not repeat the problem?
Sandwich: No, not the kind you eat. Rather, that generational situation in which many of us are finding ourselves. A dear friend and roommate from college recently told me her dad has an inoperable brain tumor and has just weeks to months left. She is out-of-state with a husband and two young girls, and her parents are here in the Bay Area. Hard to make sense of it all.
There you have it. Now, I must run and cross a few things off the list before school pick-up…
I bookmarked this article a few years ago citing the 50 things children should do before they turn 12. Research indicates that less than 10% of today’s children have played in the wild compared to 50% of my 40-something generation. As a result, the National Trust brainstormed a list of 50 things that kids should experience to encourage families to get outside.
Some of these seemed odd (had to google “abseiling” and “sledging”). Many we had done (canoe down a river, fly a kite, catch a butterfly in a net). But one of these seemed like a basic that we had not explored….climb a tree.
I suppose it was due to my over-protective nature and my belief that a safety net should be below all children more than 3 feet off the ground. However, I had great memories of climbing giant oak trees in Southern California and scaling the roof of our childhood home (crazy to think that Child Protective Services wasn’t called?!?!). If my brother and I could walk away with just a few scrapes and bee stings, I’m sure my daughters would be just fine.
So off we went to find a “safe” tree and stumbled across one at our local pond, about a quarter mile from our house. The kids were eager to climb and with a few lifts and pushes, they made it to the first few branches (and if truth be told, they *might* have been wearing bike helmets for that first climb).
Fast forward two years and that tree is still a favorite. No longer do I stand underneath waiting to catch free-falling limbs; nor do I require bike helmets. In fact, you will usually find me lying on my back in the grass with my eyes closed, listening to the sound of 7- and 9- year old chatter.
I think we can officially check “tree climbing” off the list. Next up, snail races!