Sunday, July 26, 2015

Nathan is Eight! Happy Birthday!

I can't believe it's true, but baby Nathan is officially eight today! When I look at his newborn pictures (as I do every year on his birthday, don't we all do that?) it is harder and harder for me to reconcile that tiny little boy with the puckered mouth and half-closed eyelids and mess of dark hair, with the blonde serious bright boy in our house today.

Where in the world have these years gone?

As always, here is a birthday video of Nathan over the last year:


(If you can't see the embedded video, click here to watch it on YouTube.)

And, as always, the links for all the previous ones. Oh, my memories. My little one, who made me a mommy.

Nathan's first year
Second year
Third year
Fourth year
Fifth year
Sixth year
Seventh year

Hey sweet buddy, as much as we loved you that first July 26th, we love you even more every birthday and every day and every year that has passed since then. Happy birthday, dear Nathan.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Neon Storm Trooper

Okay so I don't think I ever blogged about this, but I fell in the shower several months ago, the first weekend in May, and I bruised my ribs pretty badly and they hurt for weeks. I couldn't carry Ali well, I couldn't get dressed easily, I couldn't steer the car without pain, I couldn't even take a crap like normal. My whole torso hurt.

Anyway I texted with my mom and she helped me know what to do and how long it would last, and it eventually went away and felt totally better, but I had also landed hard on my wrist in that fall, which at the time hurt, but not nearly as bad as the ribs, so I didn't think much about it. But in the months that followed, as my ribs got better, my wrist kept not getting better, and it wasn't until I did a whole week at Montreat and had outside eyes asking me things like why I couldn't open jars or doorknobs or hold my hair dryer right, etc etc etc, that I realized how much it was still... off.

So, I went to the orthopedist and heeeeey I fractured it! In two places! And then compensated for that pain with all the wrong types of wrist movements, and thus have inflamed cartilage and tendons and that's what's cause my pain now and ANYWAY I am in a cast for five weeks. Plus some undetermined more weeks of splinting and therapy and I don't even know, I'm tired and frustrated and over it already.


I will say this: cast technology has come a long way since my last broken arm in the 90s. This one is in two pieces, and they still mold it around your arm with hot water, but instead of plaster strips it's sheets of pliable plastic. (They still do plaster casts too, but he asked if we were a Water People and I almost fell out of my chair laughing. YES PLEASE I NEED WATERPROOF.) Anneliese was with me and she talked me into the neon yellow velcro instead of just white or black, which is what I was leaning towards.

I'm kind of glad she did, because with the black I would have really looked like a storm trooper. But with the bright yellow, I'm like a cool 80s neon storm trooper.

Just kidding, I am putting a positive spin on it but actually I hate it. If I had typed this post on Tuesday when it went on, it would have just been cuss words. I'm better now, but still hate it, so here is a list of things (so far) that suck with one arm in a cast/splint/storm trooper outfit:

1.) driving while drinking anything
2.) driving while talking on the phone
3.) tampons
4.) holding a phone in general
5.) bras
6.) buttoning pants
7.) face washing
8.) sex
9.) carrying a purse (while also holding kiddie hands)
10.) pit shaving
11.) pushing a grocery cart
12.) typing this blog post

Stay tuned, there will be more.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Montreat 2015

I heard someone say last week that one of the great things about Montreat is that every year youth conference is different, a brand new experience; yet somehow it also feels just the same as always, so familiar, and known. It's the most true sentence I've heard in a while.

This year was just lovely for me up there. It's the third year in a row I have gone, so that familiar thing is totally real for me now. Just driving into the gate and climbing up the million steps to the top floor of the inn, or hiking down the path by the lake to go to church or my small group, it all makes me feel warm and homey and happy.

This was Anneliese's first year to go be a clubbie, and she did just great. It amazes me how quickly she makes friends and finds delight in new people. She loved her club kids and her counselors and swimming and singing new songs and her group even got to go do the most! fun! activity! ever! which was... walking to a field by the main entrance road, and waving to people driving in. They made it very official and called them the Montreat Wavers (listed on their official schedule) and I almost fell over laughing but she delighted in it, so, okay.


(Isn't that exactly the kind of thing this child would delight in? I mean.)

The first few days really pushed her limits on exhaustion and tears and so much walking, but she adjusted and by the end of the week she was an old pro, save the miserable window between her nap (when I was in my daily afternoon meeting of small group leaders) and our dinner (scooting into the dining room in the last opening minutes, so to maximize her rest time), when she was hella crabby. But! Other than that! Easy! Great first week of Montreat!

I think I have decided that Montreat is really good for the kids. I mean, not that that's a novel idea; it hit me the first year with just Nathan how good it was for him to be a bit out of his element and try new things and new foods and new people. But this year I felt it in an even bigger different way. Both Nathan and Anneliese can have so much freedom there, freedom that our normal life doesn't afford. With Nathan, I can just set a time/place to meet, and let him go off on his own, and trust that he will be there. He knows which roads are too busy to cross, he knows which people will help him, staff nametags, etc, not to mention the whole place is crawling with teenagers who are high on being Good Kids and tend to flock towards him as some kind of mascot. (You should have seen the teenagers lined up to play cornhole against him in the barn one night.)


And when we go to a playground or the dining room or sit down outside or wherever, both of them can just... run free. Into the woods, not in my line of sight, whatever. I know this doesn't sound novel to those of us who grew up in the 80s (or who live in small towns), but this is... not like our urban Raleigh life. It just isn't. It will come, in time, but we aren't there yet at home. Montreat is a really good place for them (and me) to get used to some kiddie freedom, and they loved it. They walk around and enjoy it like they belong. Which, of course, they do.


Anyway, the whole point of the conference isn't the kids, but the youth, and getting to be a small group leader, and bonding with the other adults who are there to do the same. And this year was as great for that as always.


Another Nathan (who roomed with Nathan in an adjoining room again this year) was there as a shadow (he's running this whole conference for two weeks next year!) and it was the most chill I have ever seen him at Montreat. Like a vacation! He showed up several times at the ends of my sessions, with coffees in hand. He met Nathan at meeting points. He pedaled Anneliese (and all of us) on a sparkly paddleboat.

We all went for a barbecue dinner. We had a lovely week together. (And a lovely few days in Raleigh before that.) It was a super friendship bonding time for us, in a special place. Remembering last year on the edge of the cliff of his move, and all the work and stress and angst about that, it just felt so nice and easy this year. 

And my small group was incredible. We had one hard day full of hard confessions and some things that needed Adult Intervention, but they were well-poised to support each other in it, since they had bonded so quickly at the beginning of the week. They are smart and thoughtful people, these teenagers. And I know I say it every year, but anyone who feels cyncial about kids this age has not watched them stand in a room and look each other in the eye and pray to God to give thanks for other people in that room, specifically by name, people who they only met mere days ago. It's amazing.

So yeah, it was a wonderful week again. It's always hard to leave. After we took Another Nathan to the airport, we came back to load up our own stuff and the kids wanted one last Huckleberry ice cream, and Anneliese spent many weeks' worth of allowance on a neon green sweatshirt blanket that says Montreat on it, so we drove away both happy and sad.

See you next year, Montreaters.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Nathan at Almost 8

Happy July 22nd! It's Nathan's due date! Again! (No, I have not let go of due dates yet. Hush.)

I am full of feelings today, like every year, remembering eight years ago in the final days of being pregnant, before I was officially a mom. This year for the first time, it feels far away, a long time ago, a previous lifetime. Even just last year I would have said it felt like just yesterday, and now in some ways it does, but mostly it feels now like... a memory.

Pregnancy and babies seem far from my life now, suddenly. It's good and bad. Post for another day. Anyway! *brisk clap*

Sweet Nathan will be eight years old this weekend, y'all. EIGHT.

At almost eight he is still into ships, and dinosaurs, and reading anything non-fiction unless I pull teeth to talk him into a novel. Actually, speaking of teeth, he still hasn't lost any since waaaay last May, over a year ago, and one the Christmas before that. I suspect this time next year he will have a mouth full of holes, or maybe even a mouth full of grownup teeth, so this might be the last of his birthday pictures where he looks like a... little kid. *sob*

He is indeed still little; he actually hasn't gotten any taller since last year, and only one pound heavier, which hopefully doesn't mean anything other than 1- he has Mark's tiny tween genes for being the class shrimp, and 2- he is due for a growth spurt any moment now. He is strong though, and can run fast for a long time, and swim for hours, so his skinny little ribs must have some muscle around them.

He is still a tiny pedant, holding people to their time estimates down to the minute, and correcting anything he perceives as a mistake (I sent him a weather channel video of the biggest ship in the world, and was informed that the biggest ship in the world is actually in a different class and company, and *sigh*) (we are working on politeness). We have no idea where he got that know-it-all gene I MEAN REALLY NO IDEA.

He takes himself and others very seriously, but he also has a playful side when he wants to be silly (and then suddenly acts much younger than his age). He is starting to ask to be into The Things of Older Kids - movies he hears about from friends, and video games, and such. We had one painfully awkward but necessary conversation about birds and bees and the ways life is made, after he learned some wrong things on the playground. (Already!) (I KNOW.) (Recording here for posterity's sake: his notion of all of this came thirdhand via friends about Jack and Rose in the engine room on the Titanic YES REALLY.)

Some days it feels like we are on the brink of a new world, one I am in no rush to get to, yet one I know we can't and shouldn't keep him from.

He is a hard worker and gladly does chores and homework and helps his sisters. He remains one of the most generally compliant kids I have ever known. He loves one on one attention and outings, and is crabby when he feels unseen, and would get lost in internet videos about minecraft, and ship histories, and drawing classes, for hours if we'd let him.

He the moodiest person in our house and also probably the kindest. He is cautious and needs to observe things before he tries them, but once he tries something he keeps pushing until he can do it well; he is driven. He tells funny jokes and horrible ones, is ever better at the cello and ever more tone deaf when he sings, and he writes beautifully.

He is a tiny hoarder of all things sentimental: scraps of paper and drawings and postcards and things other people would consider trash are worth keeping, for him. They get pinned to his bulletin board or stuck in boxes and notebooks, or folded and taped and made into new creations, meshed together with legos and stuffed animals for some world he has dreamed up and decided to build. He is an introvert in the truest sense of the definition: only talks about things important to him, not good at surface level conversation, wants and needs lots of time alone to play and re-charge, and will play happily in his room for long windows of time before emerging to show us what he's been building or working on.

He is a night owl like me, and to wind down in the evenings we usually lie in my bed to read by ourselves together. He is also somehow an early riser, motivated more by the promise of having the house to himself, quiet for breakfast and his favorite youtube channels, than by extra sleep. (He is nothing like me in that way.)

He likes yogurt and candy and hot chocolate and coffee and cheese and crackers and oatmeal and mashed potatoes with gravy. He loves snuggling. He adores his sisters. He texts people the most precious and lovely parts of his heart, things he could or would never say out loud.

He is a wonderful little human, and it's an honor to be his mom, the one who made me a mom, almost eight years ago. Amazing.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Twelve Quick Takes for Summer Break

1.) Reading outside. I make such a habit of sitting or walking outside for a while every day (sunshine is good for my soul, also it's my hippie Sleep Plan attempt at making the days bright and the nights dim, in my never-ending quest to sleep better), and often it's to read, that it seems the kids have picked up on the habit. On library day a few weeks ago when I chased them outside, they did... this.

I tried not to look at their pillows on the ground and just decided to feel happy they were all reading and quiet.

2.) Better swimming. I can't believe that this time last year, none of the kids would even put their face in the water happily, much less let go and swim on their own. Now Nathan and Anneliese are both little fishies, with endless energy and bravery, and Charlotte (with her puddle jumper on) will go anywhere in the pool too, for hours. Until she's exhausted, clearly.
when you're swimming with your thumb in your mouth, it's time to be done

Nathan has gotten to be a really decent diver, too! I'm legit impressed with this. Mad props to his teacher whoever that was. *brushes shoulders*


(If you can't see the video embedded above, click here to watch on YouTube.)

There was a time when I was worried about owning a pool, and now I never want to live without one again.

3.) Duck Donuts. We found a new (to us) donut place where every donut is made to order. Which means you pick your frosting or glaze, and whatever sprinkes/nuts/sugar topping you want, and they serve it to you warm and ooey gooey with a fork.
I'm not a huge donut person, but this is really excellent. RECOMMEND.

4.) Noemi. The fabulous Noemi came over (and we went once to her house) and, well, fabulous Noemi is fabulous. She is fun and funny and her kids behave and are polite and adorable and she's just generally excellent to have around, and she better watch her ass or I will smother in my attempts to conquer her friendship heart and she will have to awkwardly pretend she doesn't know me. Not that it will come to that.

5.) Yay marriage! Mark and I finally had that anniversary date we missed on father's day. And it ended up being on the same day that marriage equality passed nationwide. What a great day to celebrate marriage, amiright? Cheers, everyone! Everyone!
And happy dozen years to the best person I could hope to share this life with.

6.) Booler bruise. Charlotte fell off her bed, and apparently she landed on her... chin? I don't even know with this girl. She is my delicate flower who bruises and breaks and seems to fragile, or maybe just klutzy, or yeah I don't know. Another booler injury for the record books. It turned all sorts of colorful shades for several weeks before it finally went away.

7.) Paper chain. Anneliese made a paper chain to count down the days to Montreat. There are links on that chain with labels like "grandpa" and "Another Nathan" and "skate camp" to mark the time and plans for the month. I guess this is as good a calendar as any, when you're five?

When she and Nathan were at Grandpa's house, Charlotte took over tearing a link each day. She took her responsibility very seriously. (And yes I am aware of the irony of letting any of my kids, especially my breakable delicate flower stand on the very ledge from where Anneliese fell and smashed her face all those years ago.)

8.) Ice skating camp. Yes, Anneliese did a day camp for ice skating. We had her signed up for something different, and then it got changed, and then she reminded me she had liked skating when we tried it back in February, so she suggested ice skating camp instead. Um, okay.
It's the most random thing. We are not a people of ice. Or skates. But I do love about her that she is willing to try new things she knows nothing about, and assumes it will be fine. I like that she wants to do her own thing. And she did great, made new friends, and by the end of the week she was super proud of herself for being able to skate without holding on to anything.

On the last day, they had the option to skate a little "program" where they choose a song and skate around by themselves for the parents. She thought she was doing it, but apparently she didn't sign up in time, so she didn't, and was sad, but then when I saw how she "skates" I realized she could never have done a whole song:


(If you can't see the video embedded above, click here to watch it on YouTube.)

But! So proud! She is so proud, y'all.

9.) Two-piece swimsuit. Her best friend has a two-piece tankini, and she asked for one on repeat forever, so we found one that isn't triangle cut on top, doesn't have a skimpy back, doesn't show her belly, and comes in rainbow colors. It was a quest. She is now happy.

10.) Bee stings. One more about Anneliese, apparently. Mark and I went to dinner tonight and the kids were playing at Nick and Barbara's house, and apparently there were suddenly bees, and one of them got in Anneliese's shirt, and she came away with like ten stings or something. She was fairly traumatized. Apparently some of the the bees even followed them into the house! (They ended up eating pizza for dinner on the floor of Ali's nursery to hide from them.) Props to Uncle Nick who took a few stings himself trying to get Anneliese away. Oh man.

11.) Sardi's Den. A restaurant that Mark and I loved when we lived in Clemson just opened up a branch in Raleigh, and we took Charlotte there for dinner. Ribs and backyard punch! Was really fun and tasted like memories of our early months of marriage.

12.) VCS. We survived another year of vacation church school! This year instead of teaching my own class, I did a variety of a/v tasks to run the assembly each day, and compiled a slideshow video for the last session as always, and did a rotating science teacher thing where we taught about movement and reactions by building lava lamps and playing a catapult game. Was fun and also unbloggably annoying in some moments, but mostly it's a really great week every year.

I took our annual pic in the matching shirts, but before I could get everyone to smile, I got them to frown for a few tries.

Let's just take another look at Charlotte's face here.

Excellent, yes? Yes.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Mt. Holly for the Fourth

We spent the weekend with my sister and her family in Mt. Holly for the holiday weekend. Let me tell y'all something about small towns: they know how to do patrotic holidays in the best most 'MERICA ways possible.

On Friday night we made a campfire at Ashley's and lit sparklers for the kids, and made s'mores. It was hot as the blazes and John's idea of a campfire is basically FOREST FIRE (just kidding) (except kinda not) but the kids loved it and baby Everett didn't seem to mind the cloud of ashes blowing around his head too much.

But! The s'mores were fantstic, and the sparklers were SO FUN, and John even got some long rainbow ones for Anneliese, because he is an A++ uncle, for real.


On Saturday morning we got up early to take the kids to a parade in town. Except they were actually in the parade -- one of those things where all the kids can dress up in red, white and blue and ride a bike or a wagon or whatever, and wave. Since they are so little, we all decided to walk with them.


Which is, apparently, what everyone else decided to do too. Because basically everyone else who showed up for the parade was also in the parade. There were maybe ten bystanders along the whole route.

Basically, the whole town took a walk together, is what I'm saying.

And then afterward there was free ice cream for all the participants! (So, the whole town.)


(And yes, it really was free. I finger-erased those quote marks for them.) (I also erased the ones around parade but Ashley pointed out in hindsight those probably could have stayed. Ha.)

So here we are, parade completed and eating ice cream, all by 10am. 'MERICA!

After the parade we went to John's dad's house, where he lives in a compound of sorts with his mom and sister. (It's not really a compound, they just call it that. Their houses all back up together and they share a pool and tennis court and such. It's cool!)


The kids swam in the pool and John jerry-rigged the slide with a hose so they could use that too. We had pizza for lunch and the baby slept in the outdoor bar area and then it started raining and we still had trouble pulling the kids from the water.

Anneliese did this slide easily a hundred times. Just, on repeat, never less delighted with it.


(If you can't see the video embedded above, click here to watch on YouTube.)

That night, John set off a bunch of fireworks and... okay. Here's the thing. They weren't fancy by like anyone's downtown official fireworks show standards. But they were waaaaay fancier than what any one person should be shooting off at home in their front yard. I mean. It was very cool to see, and also a tiny bit terrifying.

John had some noise blocking ear covers for the shooting range (of course he does) so Charlotte wore those until she fled away with Anneliese.


The boys were impressed and the girls were... impressed from the window inside the house.

Happy small town fourth of July, everyone!



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How KonMari Got Charlotte a New Room

Okay so I'm basically outing myself as being in a weird internet cult by admitting this, but I read that Japanese tidying book and... I kind of buy into it.

Disclaimers up front:
-- I know the writing is not good (there is something lost in translation, sure, but also she just isn't a great writer).
-- I know that there is some feng shui hippie crap in there that is full-on nonsense. (I do like drawers that aren't stuffed to the brim. I do not, however, think my socks need to rest at night.)
-- I know that the mentality of "throw it away, you can always buy one later if you need it" only goes so far, and that my urban residential many-bedroom home/lifestyle has space for (and requires) storing more things than this lady in a studio apartment in urban Tokyo would ever dream of.

But.

Those things aside, I sort of really love this KonMari method. Basically it boils down to: keep only items that spark joy. That's it. That's the whole criteria.

Instead of approaching house cleaning and sorting with an eye for what you can get rid of, or what you can live without, she wants you to approach it by being intentional about what you live with, what you keep.

It's better, I promise.

You know how when you first set up a dorm room or a new office or enter a beautiful hotel room, and it all feels so calm and orderly and only your favorite things are there, arranged exactly how you intentionally set them up? That awesome ready feeling? That can be your whole life!

(Well, so she argues. I'm not there yet. But the tiny corners of my life that have achieved this are spectacular so far.)

So anyway she has certain guidelines about how to ask the "sparks joy" question in different categories: clothes, household items, gifts, memorabilia, etc. Some of the guidelines work for me, some of them don't; like with any food recipe, I have sort of adapted her method to make sense in my life and house.

I like that she doesn't make me feel like I have to get rid of things that are perfectly useless yet make me happy (my mom's "I survived the Texas heat wave of 1980" shirt that she wore when she was pregnant with me), or that I'm obligated to keep stuff that could be useful, or once made me happy but doesn't anymore.

So anyway, with her methods and my adaptations, and week upon week of purging, we have gotten rid of so much stuff that we didn't want or need. She argues that the energy it takes to be surrounded by stuff you don't love or like is bigger than the energy it takes to part with it. Even things that are hard to part with.

Case in point: I had been having trouble getting rid of the glider in Charlotte's room, even though it's completely broken and too unstable to sit in, and I haven't needed to rock or nurse a baby there in years. But I got over it, dreamed of a better space, thanked it for its service (OH YES I DID), and we removed it.

And it felt so fantastic we did the same thing with the toddler bed (has served five children well, is now broken to the point of unsafe, also the mattress was cracked in half -- the mattress *I* slept on as a baby) and whoa suddenly Charlotte had space for a whole new room.

So we moved her bookshelf under the window, moved her dresser across the room, kon-mari'd the crap out of miscellaneous stuff from my Grandpa Schnack's house (he died in 2009, his small chest of drawers has been sitting in her room, full of his stuff that we never sorted through, we even moved with it from the old house, whyyyyyyyy), rearranged the art on her walls, hung up a ribbon frame I made months ago, in the hopes of containing her ever-growing bow collection, and...

...got her a BIG GIRL BED.

I have been wanting to get a double bed for one of the kids' rooms for ages nowso we could have an extra space for a guest if we needed to (or a guest that might not want to be in the guest house, or a guest who might come when Mark is on night shift and sleeps out there). I just thought it would be nice to have one more "bigger" bed in the house, somewhere.

I assumed it would be in Anneliese's room, since hers is biggest, but she currently has a rolling trundle that we didn't want to move to Charlotte's room for fear of scratching the floors (Charlotte is the only one with hardwood). So we decided the full would work better for Charlotte than in Nathan (who has slanty ceilings on two sides, not just one, which makes his room feel smaller) and ANYWAY, Charlotte now has the big bed and she picked out owl sheets and I bought a clearance Target quilt and she loves her new room. I love it too.


So. I have KM'd a lot of categories now (the system recommends doing it by category, not location, so that you can actually see everything you have of that category and then decide what to keep): linens, bathroom/toiletry/personal care stuff, our clothes, books, papers/desks stuff, and kid stuff including their clothes and the toys (we have hardly any toys now! it's great! big kids don't need them! We kept trains and cars and blocks and legos and doll/figurine sets, put outside stuff outside, and tossed or donated almost everything else. They actually play with what we have now. I could do a whole separate post about this but I won't).

I have donated and thrown away so much stuff, y'all. I got read of well over half of what we owned in each of those categories. I had been feeling so crowded for so long, and I feel so much better now. My whole life feels less chaotic. I know, I know, I am drunk on the kool-aid.

I am not done, though. I still need to do kitchen stuff and outerwear and memorabilia, including a whole mess of Clemson stuff in the guest house, but for now I am done until school starts and I can have the time and space to work on it again.

One of the dreams (since last fall, a bit before I read this book but right in the throes of feeling crowded out of my own space and life and that nothing in my house or time was actually for me) is to make the guest house a sort of grownup/alone retreat when Mark or I need to be away from the chaos of the house, without having to actually flee our home. I'm picturing a big chair and a half, and a pretty lamp, and some pretty shelves of books, and a bed to nap on. Marky is picturing that same comfy chair with a nice tv that can actually hook up to the roku for watching stuff, and a bed for napping. All of this will involve moving the pool table out (no small endeavor, will happen this weekend) and it'll get done bit by bit, but it will happen this year because the Japanese tidying method firmly convinced me that to experience the change in energy and motivation that comes with setting up your home in exactly the order you want, it has to happen all at once.

Anyway, so that's the story of how I fell off the deep end, and how good it feels, and basically go read A'Dell's post on her tidying, she talks about it in better and more hilarious ways than I can. Also read this because it's funny. Mostly I just wanted to post pics of Charlotte's new bed, and it turned into a blog post tangent. You're shocked, I can tell.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Grandpa B

My Grandpa Bumgarner would have been ninety today. He died several weeks ago, after a very fast illness and an emotional move to a hospice unit, and everyone racing to Charlotte to say goodbye while he was in good spirits. He was, and we did, and I will always be grateful for that; it's something I didn't get with any of my other grandparents.

I have been short on words about all of this in the last few weeks, but some nice things were said on facebook and instagram and at his service. It has been nice to feel close to my family and sit in this together.

Grandpa was special to all of us. He was a get-down-on-the-floor-and-play kind of grandpa, he loved babies (maybe because he couldn't hear well) (ha) (can we joke yet? say yes) and he loved Anneliese especially, because she's the first one who would happily run to him for a hug on request. He always kept a fridge full of mountain dew and he made the best egg salad ever. He ate cookies and ice cream every night. 

He was a kind stand-in grandparent for Marky, who adored him. He read every word of this blog, on paper that my dad printed and brought to his house, and he liked to tell me he never knew what the hell I was talking about. :) He fought at Iwo Jima and lost friends and was brave when he should have still been a child. He was funny and southern and loyal and worked his ass off.



We loved him, and we miss him. Happy birthday, Grandpa.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Marky Day 2015

Last time our anniversary fell on the same day as Father's Day, I proposed that we re-name it Marky Day. Because he's a fantastic husband and a fantastic dad alike.


This year, we celebrated the dad part more than the anniversary part, since I figured he could use a day that's just about him and our anniversary date and feelings could wait a few days. So we took him to a baseball game to see the Durham Bulls play, and get to go onto the field before the game and throw the ball around with the kids.

Real talk: sometimes the picture perfect plans we dream up don't end in perfection.
cherish every moment?
Nathan and Charlotte did have fun throwing the ball around for a few minutes though, and once we got out of the heat and into the shade and found some snacks and drinks, Anneliese perked back up too.



So twelve years and three kids later, I'd say he's still a keeper. We love you, Marky.

Like, really really love you. In a messy, real life, working hard, adoring our kids, crying, sweating, having fun, laughing together at the funny and chaotic things of our life way. I wouldn't want to do this with anyone else but you.

You definitely deserve your own day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Concert and a Recital

This one is mostly for the grandparents, right? The end of the school year always means concerts and recitals and things that bring tears to parents' and grandparents' eyes while the rest of the world watches with a resounding meh. But assuming you're a person who is enchanted by baby performers, in particuarly my baby performers, then here, behold!

The girls' dance recital:


They were cute, they matched, they delighted me. This is their tap routine:


(If you can't see the embedded video, click here to watch on YouTube.)

Anneliese has turned into such a leader in the last year. Charlotte is the youngest in the group and is mostly in her own world, but she loves to dance so much.

Ballet routine is here, if you're a person who can't live until you've seen both. :) Charlotte cracks me up; she sort of knows the choreography but she is going to do it in her own time, as the spirit moves her, y'all. Ha.

brb framing this


Nathan's orchestra concert:


Okay so Nathan takes himself very seriously. This is a thing I don't really even need to say, right? If you read this blog, ever, you know this about him. He got rosin and he got tuned and he played and it was super sweet.

I really maintain that learning music and an instrument is so good for kids (and not optional in our house) and it's so cool to see how much Nathan has learned in just a year. I hope he loves playing for a long time to come.


(If you can't see the embedded video, click here to watch on YouTube.)

My dad came too and he was legit impressed with some of the older groups. Our elementary school does an incredible job with this orchestra program, and I'm so glad our kid(s) can be in it.

Okay that's all.


This ends today's episode of special snowflakes. We shall return to our normal programming momentarily.