31 January 2012

Frisky Business

Kipling and Phillis: an unlikely friendship

If animals had obituaries, her's would read:

January 30. 2012. Phillis, once from Tennessee, was a holland lop. She died early this morning, in a suburb of Washington, DC, of unknown causes with her beloved family by her side. She was especially loved by a 12 year old boy who affectionately named her after Phillis Wheatley, the first African American writer.

Phillis received special training to come on command with rewards of banana pieces. Her hobbies included hopping around the kitchen and under the feet of whomever happened to be present. She received outstanding honors in the areas of litter box training and compost development. She was highly skilled in the area of nudging her owner's feet in hopes of more carrots. She was awarded the medal of honor for "Cutest Cuddle Bunny Ever" and "Snugglest Companion" 3 straight years in a row. High marks were given to her in the area of self defense: thumping loudly and occasionally nipping with her sharp teeth. 

Despite their unlikely kinship, she was best friends with a 5 month old labradoodle who loved to chase her. She enjoyed jumping on his back. 

Phillis, who never met a stranger, is survived by her nurturing family and loving doggie brother. She will be missed. In the words of Clare Turlay Newberry, "A bunny's a delightful habit. No homes complete without a rabbit." Rest in peace, dear baby girl. May you find greener hills to climb and explore. 

30 January 2012

I know you are, but what am I?

you may be a mother if…

your bookshelf looks like this

your kid sneezes, and your instinct is to give him your sleeve rather than a tissue

you happily eat the leftovers off your child's plate, and call it lunch

you want to throw your child across the room one minute, and hold him close the next

you walk down the diaper aisle at the supermarket just to smell that "baby" smell (or maybe that's just me?)

you find it difficult to part with certain articles of clothing despite the holes that have gathered from 4 boy-wears

you call the dog the child's name, and you call the child the dog's name

you find Legos in your Bible, and you leave them there

you can count the sleepless nights-in years

there are always snacks in your handbag

your handbag looks more like carry on luggage

you leave the house with some ufo (unidentified food object) on your shirt-and you go with it

you have a first aid kit in your car

you bite nibble your child because he is so yummy, and you want to eat him alive because you are so enraged

no matter where you are, you mentally map out the quickest route to the e.r. (maybe that's just me?)

when cereal is served as dinner, no one makes a fuss the crowd goes wild

you can't wait for the kid to go to bed, but once he's tucked in you miss him

your jewelry box looks like this

you spend hours writing your kids' quips on Facebook blogging just so you can prove remember what a great happy mother you are!  

yours truly,
girl friday xo

p.s. and if you aren't a mother, you really should try it out. you just might like it. 

28 January 2012

ING: My Weekend Plans

 One minute punching, the next hugging.

Laughing, experimenting, snuggling, writing, eating, watching, reading, lacrosse-ing, baking, resting, loving, drinking, worshipping, and trying to stay present(participle). 

Hoping your weekend is long and glorious. xo

This is a perfect picture of my two older boys: one hides his face in horror whilst the other laughs uncontrollably.

27 January 2012

Alley Cats

Too busy chatting to capture the 5 year old's intermittent splits and lip syncing though I did manage to click this one. 

Yesterday we met. My support group. Yes, I belong to a support group. A sorority of sisters who have pledged to educate our younguns to the best of our abilities so.HELP.us.GOD. Yesterday we met in a dark alley where cheap beer flows and the food is questionable. Of course we did not partake-of the food or the beer. We were on the clock. It was 1:00-in the afternoon afterall. And it was senior citizen day-at the local bowling alley.

While our children rolled spares, strikes and kept the dear bowling alley staff busy with their haphazardly rolled tossed balls, we sisters of the homes-who-school chatted-with more than the occasional interruption, "Mom, George is doing the splits every time someone rolls a split". 

One is adopting her third baby! He's coming in a matter of weeks. God's timing is sweet and scary and sometimes chaotic, but always perfect. She made us laugh as she confessed her oldest daughter's quirky obsession-collecting eye balls from animals she dissects in science. I fell into my normal banter..."to homeschool or not to homeschool...that is the question". There is always boarding school too. One regaled us with tales of what is to come once our anklebiters are in a new, challenging class-debate. This year her daughter's class argued such topics as the legalization of marijuana. 

We didn't judge when one divulged her children had not finished their school work any day this week. Been there. None of us gasped when one confessed she had lost her temper over an unkempt room and her daughter's sassy mouth. I was there yesterday with one of mine. We talked schedules and fitness and husbands and futures and presents and joys and struggles and hardships and victories. But we came back to a familiar, hopeful place. O, the ground is level at the foot of the cross, dear sisters. 

It was a good time. Such a needed allotment of 2 hours. Sometimes we need to force ourselves out of the house, to put on some lipstick for a good laugh and banter. I had originally wanted to back out of this gathering. It was a cold, rainy day. We had not finished our school work-not even close. The house was a dis-aster. But the boys had some serious ya-yas that needed working out so we went. To the alley. With my comrades, these extreme renegades and rascally rebels whom I really enjoy. They are like me. We are akin, in purpose, vision and truth. Isn't that the ambition of every support group? And like AA, we are taking it one.day.at.a.time.(Sweet.Jesus.)

26 January 2012

Four Things

The Sincerity of a 5 year old

Four things a man must learn to do
If he would make his record true:
To think without confusion clearly;
To love his fellow-men sincerely;
To act from honest motives purely; 
To trust in God and Heaven securely.

so says Henry Van Dyke

25 January 2012

The Remains of the Day

I am not going to lie. Yesterday was a challenging maddening day. Maybe it was the fact the Mister worked late, but our troubles started long before 6 pm.

A busy place in our home.

It took us 2.5 hours for 2.5 boys to complete their subject of math (we school at home). Now before you think their math is rigorous (which they would say it can be), please know I had to break up not one, not two, but three boxing matches. Once we finally made it to lunch-at 1.30, I thought things would go smoothly. But a self-appointed uprising was being planned by ONE who moaned and begged through his entire grammar. We had colons, semi colons, elipses and bibliographies to cover-not to mention we read the entire Declaration of Independence and did 3 analytical task sheets where we diagram sentences as well as re write sentences with different purposes and different structures. Okay. His seething may have been valid, but we did ditch grammar yesterday so that he could hang with his non homeschool friends who had the day off, and he gets to go bowling on Thursday with all his homeschool friends. So, he had it coming. 

Where the grammar happens-and clearly no organizing.

At 4.30 when I finally set the two older boys free, I went to my room to read (blessed me). Then, there he was. The boy. THE BOY who had moaned and begged his younger brothers to "save me please!" during his grammar. He had some unfinished business with me his mom and me his headmistress. So he sat on my bed for one hour bewailing. AND I sat on my bed for one hour listening. His older brother bullies him. He gets the blame for the younger brother's messes. His handwriting is fine-"Have you seen Mrs. C's handwriting?" (sorry, Mrs. C) and his math skills are advanced according to his sledding conversations. "The other kids haven't learned squared numbers yet!"

The front lawn that is rivaling that of Sanford & Sons.

And then I spoke. Lovingly. Otherworldly. Graciously. Not normal for me. I began to diagram his grievances with care. We went through each piece. But in the end, it came back to where it always does. There is one enemy (and it is not your brother). We live in an imperfect world. With a little literature analogy thrown in for good measure, "Ender was being groomed for something bigger than himself. And so are you. He couldn't have been the warrior he was if he had an easy life." I told him that we are in this broken, imperfect thing called life together. I fail. And I regret not being better at my job, but here is what you got, son: a broken vessel.

By dawn's early light, it is still a pile of unfinished business.

The sunset was glorious over the Appalachian Trail. Dinner needed to be made. We sat down to one fewer places at the table (remember the Mister was working late). And it all started up again. It began with a giggle over a misspelled text the 8 year old had sent me from his friend Elle's house. Then the potty talk started followed by vulgar potty sounds. And dinner was o-v-e-r. They were gone into a world from which I could not bring them back. I loudly shouted, "Uncle"! 

Rather than have them help with washing the dishes, I had the boys clear, sweep, wipe the table and head up for baths. The air cleared. I tackled the pile of dishes from not one, but three hot meals that I had lovingly prepared for my 4 joys. Then the thought came to mind. "I get it." In Legends of the Fall, three boys are left in the care of their father who lives in the wilderness whilst their mother leaves for the city. I once judged the mother for leaving. Today, I understand. I understand why the mother sometimes eats her young-in the animal kingdom. 

Dream big. Tomorrow's a new day!

Once the kitchen was stable, I ventured up to a much more demure upstairs. Boys were getting along nicely. One brother was reminding his younger brother kindly, "You forgot your laundry." I asked for book requests since the Mister wasn't home for their usual read aloud of Two Towers and Across Five Aprils. And just like that, the night calmed down as quickly as it had stirred up. When the Mister came home, he tucked each boy into bed except for the 5 year old who had found his place comfortably next to me. I finally had a moment to read. It was nice.I allowed myself 30 minutes until exhaustion took over. A new day is waiting. And it will be better. Or at least that is what I believe. It must! We have our papers on the Declaration of Independence to write with bibliographies. 

24 January 2012

More is More

More paint brushes for art with our darling neighbors.

I adore children. Had I never met, married and mated, there would have been children in my life-that I can promise you. I would have worked in an orphanage. As fortune would have it, I did meet, marry and mate. If I had my way there would be more little people in my household-a lot more. But for today there are 4. 

About a year ago when the littlest was long passed the toddler stage, I looked wistfully to my Mister and said, "I want another." He rolled his eyes and snapped his fingers in front of my face as if to waken me from a dreaming stupor. He could've reminded me that I cried throughout my entire 4th pregnancy because our last was supposed to be our 3rd (surprise!). He could've reminisced of all the nights when sleep alluded us. He could've played back the voice recording of me crying,"Can I please have a flippin' minute to myself, please?!" He could've cited the many times I greeted him at the end of the day by handing him a baby and walking out the door. But he didn't. He very lovingly said, "You know, I think 4 is a lot. How about we really love the ones we have?" O, what a guy. But being the Girl Friday that I am that little nugget of sweetness lasted about as long as a cheap piece of bubble gum. Then I was back to my parlor tricks. "What about foster care?" "What about adoption?" "Wonder if that young girl would want to give me her baby?" I painstakingly explored many ways to have my cake and eat it too-a baby, sooner rather than later. Hey, I am no spring chicken and with 4 C-sections under my belt (literally and figuratively) the idea of a 5th biological baby was not possible. 

And then it came to me-an epiphany if you will. Only having 4 means there is always room at the table for more-like more friends over to play, more food for an extra mouth to feed, more time to encourage the younger women in my life as they stumble through the early stages of motherhood, more energy to invite an extra child to the park, more patience to hold a crying baby in the nursery at church, more seats in the car for a couple extra playmates to take on an adventure, and more love to give back to my own little boys who really do need me-not to mention the Mister. And so I guess I really don't have to stop at 4. The possibilities are endless. There is always room at our table for more. xo

More energy to enjoy.

23 January 2012

Weekend Revelry

After becoming bored from the fast hill, why not add a jump?

We had a lovely weekend filled with snow (they said it was coming, and it did!), some killer slow cook bar-beque ribs (I am a good wife! recipe here),  a little dog snuggling, fire making (boys+hatchet=good kindling), a few gin and tonics (I am a really good wife), some epic sledding, a little 12 year old french fry making and a dip in the neighbor's hot tub. I sat in my chair and read and listened to the choir of laughter from the next room as the Mister introduced the boys to Young Frankenstein. It all felt deeply decadent, really. But o, so necessary. It seemed like the world just slowed, and we were able to enjoy every drop of our 48 hours of weekend-ness. Don't you love when your days pass slowly and effortlessly? For us it may be because our boys ate most of their meals at the neighbor's.

Here is a little clip from our sledding mishap. Please don't judge. We really do love our kids. And yes, that is the sound of the older brother warning, "That's the most dangerous sled we have!" Two words. Too. Late. No trees were harmed in the making of this movie.No kids either. Thank The Lord!

Here's hoping your weekend was equally relaxing. xo

21 January 2012

Social Net Worthing

Just had to show off my gold slippers-gak! Yes. We box, but I wouldn't write about THAT on Facebook.

It has been called a lot of things. SpaceBook. FakeBook. Place of the Lonely and Despairing. About 5 years ago I was sitting at the pool with my friend Wendy. She told me about this thing called Facebook. It sounded confusing and overwhelming and like a lot of fun. Because I like a challenge as well as a party, I wanted to see what this thing called social networking was all about. What do they say? The rest is history. 

From that day forward, every quip, high, low, trip or proverbial bump in the road has been charted and written down for cyber posterity-much to the embarrassment of my children (and let's face it, my Mister). I have reconnected with childhood friends. I have swapped recipes as well as prayer requests. 

Facebook can be a shallow game of one upmanship. It can be a tattle tale land for inappropriate and ineffective venting. I will admit to doing all of those things-only putting up the best photographs of my life despite the squalor that lingers in the corners-real and metaphorically speaking. And I will whole-heartily confess I am not going to become smarter by roving the pages of its ever changing design. But it has become my virtual community and helped me transition from living in one state to another (literally and figuratively). It has been a fun and sometimes useful place(renting a house, looking for doctors, help with school projects). Some might say Facebook is an excuse for not engaging in real life-real relationships. To them I say, "How else can you tell hundreds of people at one time what you are having for dinner??!!"

But seriously. This past January 1 I decided to take a 22 day hiatus from my online community. A fast from Facebook if you will. I started this blog. And have been helping in another writing venture. I would be lying if I said I didn't peek every once in a while. I would be holding out on you if I didn't admit it was hard. But in the end, it was also fine. Just fine. And I managed to make dinner, celebrate my birthday, and enjoy my brood of boys without my virtual voyages.

I am sure on January 22 I will return full throttle to the delight of my Facebook friends who enjoy such status updates as "Mom, to a boy an adventure is playing in the woods. To a girl, it's finding a pair of pants for 20% off." I will enjoy hearing about the lives of my friends near and far. Catching up on who is moving, getting married or having babies. Knowingly nodding (albeit in my kitchen)as someone rants about motherhood. Trying hard not to covet the vacations. And in turn I will try to post those unbecoming photos as well as the cute ones. 

To the naysayers, Facebook will never take the place of real community-it's just a fun place to play.

20 January 2012

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Would you believe me if I told you I never cursed until I had children? It's true. Anytime I used profanity before the birth of my first child, it sounded contrived-kind of like that cigarette in the mouth of a 7th grader. Not natural. 

Then something happened around the time my first child was almost 2 and his baby brother was born. Balance-I lost it. It fell from my hands like a fragile piece of crystal. It shattered. And with it the ability to control my tongue. I lost my equilibrium and with it the capacity to speak eloquently. At first I thought it was fatigue. Then I began to think maybe I have been this cursing sailor all along only masked with pearls and a monogrammed shift dress that literally restrained the truck driver in me. Ultimately, I discovered as in the revealing words of AndrĂ©e Seu, "part of what I thought was my personality is really just my sin."

My 12 year old relishes to remind me, "We learn all our curse words from you." And he is right. My dear boys are homeschooled-taught by this filthy speaking pirate who is their mother.  I cannot blame the carpool, the lunch lady or the shifty-eyed janitor. I am all those people at the school where my boys attend. But the next time the 8 year old says, "What the hell?" I will pull out the vinegar spray. I will swallow that bitter juice and try hard not to say it again. 

The Ruffians and their fearless leader

19 January 2012

He fought the law and the law won

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.
Lord Byron

Photograph of the Appalachian Trail taken by the 12 year old from our backyard

I adore soundtracks from movies. Besides the landscapes and fashion worn, I am often distracted from the actual storyline by the music. One of my favorite movies Into the Wild also happens to be a tragic true story of a boy named Christopher McCandless.

As a mother to a son, 4 actually, this book/movie resounded in my soul. It frightened me. It excited me. It saddened me. A boy so misunderstood by his own family that when he went missing they had no idea where to look for him. Kind of reminds me of Jesus's family when He went missing. "Did you not know I would be in my Father's house?" 

For Chris McCandless his father's house was the wilderness specifically rural Alaska. Have you read the book? I personally enjoyed the movie more probably because of the soundtrack performed by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame. 

Do you know how the story ends? This boy fought the law (of nature) and the law won. Maybe that was his happy ending after all.

My favorite Eddie Vedder song is from the movie. It is called Rise

Such is the way of the world
You can never know
Just where to put all your faith
And how will it grow

Gonna rise up
Burning back holes in dark memories
Gonna rise up
Turning mistakes into gold

Such is the passage of time
Too fast to fold
And suddenly swallowed by signs
Low and behold

Gonna rise up
Find my direction magnetically
Gonna rise up
Throw down my ace in the hole

Listen here.

I hope if you ever go missing, those who love you know where to go to find you. Mine would check the local thrift stores followed by the bakery. 


18 January 2012

Goodwill Hunting

BEFORE-a lonely yellow chair in the wild

My bff called to see how I was spending my Sunday afternoon. Here is an abbreviated transcript of our telephone conversation.

bff: "What have you been doing?"
girl friday: "Just went to the Goodwill."
bff: "Girl, that sounds like my kind of day. Did you find anything special?"
girl friday: "I found a chair-yellow and cheap. I love it. I think it will go in my bedroom. Do you think this is how a hunter feels when he goes hunting and traps an animal?"
bff: "Some people rescue lost animals. You and I rescue lost furniture."
girl friday: "I suppose there are worst ways to spend our time."

AFTER-the chair has been "rescued"

17 January 2012

Slack is the new resourceful

It was a busy, beautiful weekend. No time for trivial things like a trip to the market. I was too busy eating other people's food to notice our cupboards were bare. So on Monday I woke to a somewhat empty refrigerator save for the orange-ginger-apple-carrot pulp from our last juicing. No eggs. No milk. Both get delivered on Mondays, and I, girl friday, refuse to make a run to the supermarket for two things that will most certainly show up on my doorstep. However, the boys cannot fast from breakfast with the help of a caffeinated-hot-cup-of-something like yours truly so I was on the hunt for how to make something healthy and delicious before the first cock crowed or in our house, the first monkey began to holler. A culinary challenge was ahead. And I would accept the challenge. Fortunately I had some of those powder eggs from my "vegan days". I took this recipe from the Red Apron Organic site and tweaked it. Of course, a few chocolate chips were thrown in for good measure-a sure thing in the girl friday household. And just like that, we discovered that being a slackard resourcefulness can prove not only cost effective, but delicious. Here's hoping your day is equally satisfying.xo

Even better: boys doing math whilst eating said bread. I'd say it was a win-win kind of breakfast.

16 January 2012

Photo Diary of a Celebrated Weekend

The Mister took the boys to their Friday classes.

Saturday's balanced breakfast

Reiterating the obvious:
"Please conduct yourselves with dignity and respect at all times."

"Does the torch go out in the rain?"

The cold weather only made us walk faster. 

What happens when you don't feed your children lunch til 4:00.

walking around Georgetown-or
as our youngest calls it, "my town"

The oldest+blueberry pancakes=love.

the closing ceremonies

It was a sweet, full, restful and exciting birthday. 
I am a lucky girl friday!

13 January 2012

Hymns for Him

It is easy to worship God here.

But what about here?


Or Here?

Have you thought about here?

What about here?

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? 
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, 
      speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
Psalm 15:1-2

May Your Weekend Be Wonderfully Worshipful. xo

12 January 2012

Fleetwood Mac highjacked my IPod: Why I will never reach my goal weight walking on a treadmill

It's hard to break a sweat listening to  Landslide.

You could say fitness came natural to me. I was raised by a mother who worked out at the Gloria Marshall fitness salon. Have you heard of the place? No? A room full of women lying on machines that were contorting their bodies while they chatted-never breaking a sweat, never mussing up their shellacked and coiffed helmet hair. O, those memories. I had my first TaB at Gloria Marshall(my earliest memory with that stylized beverage-I could have possibly had one earlier, but the saccharin has literally rotted my brain cells). What were we talking about? 

Ballet, gymnastics, and taB, I mean tap came at the age of 5. By 10 I decided to hang up my toe shoes for basketball sneakers-big, BIG mistake. Suffice it to say I still have flashbacks every time I walk into a gymnasium of any kind. Having a coach shout, "Get your ass down the court!" in a Christian basketball league will do that to a kid.

Traumatized and with no natural talent, I decided to quit basketball and join a health club. By myself. At the ripe age of 15. I promptly dislocated my knee-twice. 

After my injury I turned to the only woman who I thought would understand. Jane Fonda. I decided to quit the gym and take up aerobics in my own home gym. No one would judge me. 

I became bored. College came and with it a new adventure:swim team! I still love the smell of chlorine.

For Christmas I was given a mountain bike and enjoyed the flat roads of my college town. Operative word being flat. That parlayed into hiking. Then I met a guy. He bought me some really great footwear. And we hiked a lot. We lived near some great mountains. 

When life moved us from the mountains, I found solace back in the pool. And began practicing yoga. The water carried me through my pregnancies. With a few detours along the way-one involving a treadmill that resulted in me being carried out of the local Y.M.C.A on a stretcher-with an ambulance waiting in the parking lot. 

Not THAT Hungarian. Mine could totally take this guy!
With 4 pregnancies under my belt and showing nicely on my waist, I decided the best thing I could do was find someone to kick my arse. And boy did she kick it. The Hungarian entered my life when I was stagnate in my fitness routine. She transformed me in ways I never imagined. It was glorious. 

Then we moved. Again, closer to some mountains. Now we hike with a few extra people in tow. Yoga is a weekly practice. Spin class has taken the place of mountain biking. Swimming keeps me company in the summer months. I am still evolving into a fitness aficionado.I may never look THAT good in tights and leg warmers. But that's okay. They would just get in my way slow me down.