Thursday, March 06, 2014


Every time I start to gather the laundry she comes running. "I help you Mommy?!?! I help YOU?!?!" She collects her step stool and scolds me if she doesn't have enough items of clothing to add to the load herself. I can't stand for her to touch the underwear with her indiscriminate grasp so I set the shirts and nightgowns and socks in a little pile. Letting her help with the soap is my challenge because she drops it sometimes, or spills it on her hands. Why is laundry detergent so difficult to wash off skin? Why is it such a fight for me to let go of my control over this tiny part of our day? I love every moment of her help. She is consistently surprised by the water in the machine and how it splashes up onto her nose sometimes. It always makes her giggle and look up at me with bright eyes. I know these days are severely limited. Still the delight my heart feels in this routine and the memory it will become, is mingled with the constant training down of my need to control every moment. I box up my sharp precision in a sound proof room and will myself to ignore the jiggling door knob. I guess I will always be one of those people for whom it takes much practice to allow others to participate in my life, particularly those who are small. Whatever the deeper issues of these moments in my own mind, Frankie standing on a stool watching the washer fill with water is my girlish dream of motherhood personified. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Two Lumps

Tonight when I went to put Frankie down to bed, I asked the girls to stay in their room and read to each other quietly. Margot crawled under her covers and Ada laid down next to her on the unicorn Pillow Pet, declaring she would tell Margot a "Cheep Cheep" story. Cheep Cheep is a mischievous squirrel that Stephen has been relaying stories about for several years. He usually lays on the floor with his head on the purple unicorn and recounts whatever the little rascal has been up to. Ada was playing daddy tonight as daddy wasn't here for bedtime. 

When I returned from tucking Frankie in this is what I found. Twin lumps under Margot's comforter. This is not the first time this has happened, but it's the first time I am recording it here. No matter how many times it happens in the future, it will always make me pause for a moment and drink it in. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014


It snowed a few weeks ago. It was one of those nights where where the snow starts drifting down just before you close your eyes and in the morning, everything is blanketed in white. The snow gear that still had tags on from two years ago came out and the girls couldn't wait to get suited up. 

For some reason the sight of a 2 year old in snow bibs made me giddy. I am pretty sure I took at least 23 pictures of her itty bitty self. 

When we first looked at this house, I actually said to Stephen , "This would be the perfect little sledding hill in the winter." True story. 

We played outside until we were wet and numb from the cold. Then trooped indoors for popcorn and hot chocolate, dozed by the fire while mittens and socks tumbled in the dryer. Then gear was wriggled back into and out we went again. Five times out in all. 

Our last trip out was after dinner. We took the girls night sledding at the elementary school down the block. The hill we had sledded during the day had melted at the bottom, making for a rough landing on the paved parking lot. We located a steeper hill nearby and gathered enough snow to create a soft landing once a sledding crossed the curb. We sledded for over an hour in the municipal light of the street lamps. Frankie was fearless, repeatedly riding down solo on her green saucer. Ada had her own style in the blue. Margot preferred riding with Mommy or Daddy in the big pink sled. Several days after the snow melted, driving past the parking lot on the way to school, I noticed our little ramp was the only evidence left. Slow to melt in the shade. 

On Wednesday of this week we were again hit with another blast of snow and ice. This time the girls only ventured out once. It was icy and sleeting. I have had the flu and could not join the troop. The next day it was already melting. Wet and dripping long before the rain showed up. We all stayed indoors and worked on Valentines and homework for school. And played, there is always loads of play in this house. I doubt we will get any more snow this year. Either way we have plenty of memories stored away. 

Monday, December 09, 2013

Christmas Concert

Tonight was the Christmas Concert at school! We braved the mall on Saturday to get new dresses for A and M. This is probably as close to a Christmas Card as we are going to come this year!

Gold tights and everything. Frankie was so excited to be a part of the hustle and bustle of getting ready I am pretty sure she thought she was going to be performing as well. 

"One just for us, Mom." (melt) 

Some excited girls and their friends.

For those who don't already know, Stephens brother, David, and his lovely wife Grace moved from Denver to Raleigh this summer. It has been such a treat to have them nearby and be such a constant part of the girls daily lives. They get to do last minute things like come to a concert on a Monday night since they live about 8 minutes from our house. Frankie is mildly obsessed with her Uncle "Davee". 

Mom moment. They were singing a song about snowflakes and about how each one is special and unique and then they all dipped down and came back up holding their own snowflake pictures that they had made over their heads. I know its incredibly cheesy but seeing all those little people with their individual selves and their little snowflakes made me get all teary. Bravo Mr. Mann. Bravo. 

Ada was asked to be an angel precisely 15 minutes before school let out today. I was able to get a paparazzi shot as she marched by. 

See our little plaid angel in the front row?

Here is Margot with her precious teachers. 

Ada with her precious teacher. We are so incredibly blessed by these women and the way they pour their heart and soul into our girls. They are so diligent in their care for them and the work they do with them. It's very humbling to be partnered with such incredible people in the education of your children. 

I will leave you with this. Margot and her best friend. Trouble ya'll. Trouble. 

Sunday, December 08, 2013


It's that wonderful time of year once again when you drag your post turkey coma family out the day after Thanksgiving in search of the perfect Christmas tree. In our case we went that Saturday so we were already down one precious day with a large tree in our living room. We were ready. The girls each disappeared into the forest of possibilities and I tried not to have a panic attack fearing one of them would emerge into the parking lot without parental supervision. 

Margot found her perfect tree pretty early on. 

Ada stoically lead me to her favorite a few minutes later. She was sure it was just the right size. 

Frankie mostly ran and, more specifically, ran away.

Let's be honest Mommy is really the one who chooses the tree and as I wove my way around the 45th corner in this little winter wonderland  - I saw it. It stood out like a well dressed southern lady at a car wash. It had just the right amount of what we like to call "tree belly". Nice and round in the middle. A fat tree bordering on obese  and absolute perfection. 

Frankie was so excited she flew right out of Stephen's arms. 

The girls were happy and wiggly so after Stephen haggled the guy down a whole 3 dollars on the price we strapped that little porker to top of our car and joined the throngs of others on the roads heading home with their prizes like some happy family of man Christmas brotherhood. 

We have some traditions that go along with choosing our tree. We always get a cookie at the Farmers Market afterward and nibble its cold sugary goodness in the car on the way home. This year we added a pre-tree hunt tradition. We all went out for breakfast at Finches - an old Raleigh institution. The girls each got to order for themselves - which means they had about 6 pieces of sausage, 12 pieces of toast and 8 pieces of bacon between them - we may rethink that part for next year but I was actually impressed with how much of that they polished off. Putting a reminder in my phone or whatever it takes to remember to do that next year. We don't go out to eat with them, pretty much ever. So this was just about the most perfect treat before one of their favored days of the year. Felt like a true American family. 

Last year this time we were scrambling to finish the house in time to move in. Exhausted and feeling like we would never make it. This year we put up Christmas lights. Stephen has always wanted the old fashioned big glass bulb lights for his own home. So that's exactly what we got. What else could you expect from this vintage loving family? He did the doorway this year and next year we may add the front edge of the roof. A few strands each year until we are those retirees who spend an entire day on the outdoor lights. 

The glow from the lights is so warm and inviting I find myself peering out the windows trying to catch a glimpse of the glow from indoors. It makes me wish I was my own neighbor so I could look out and see them. They just make us happy. 

We are taking Christmas very slow and easy this year. I have cut out all extra activities that are not school related. I RSVPd no to the 47 birthday parties they got invited too. We are not looking for a billion ways to give back at this time of year. We are pulling up the little rope ladder to our clubhouse and making multiple batches of my Nanny's favorite cookie recipes. We are having hot chocolate just because. We are reading the Advent readings before we eat our chocolate from the calendar (most days). We are playing with the nativity scene and taking deep breaths and putting lots of love into the things we have chosen to do this year. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hey Summer! Yes you friend!!

Dear Summer,

How are you? I am fine. Well almost fine. I have not been able to see your blog since I changed my email address awhile back and Google wouldn't let me keep both for some reason. I miss seeing you guys so badly! I tried emailing but I think I have the wrong address : / Can we chat about it? My new email is (yes, I know my inbox my now get blown up with who knows what but the risk is worth it to me.)

Hoping you are well! (read in that Hogwarts flying/talking/letter delivery voice)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Something Real

So nighttime is my favorite time of the day. We spend about an hour getting baths and getting into jammies and reading and being read to. It's a full participation portion of our day. This was not always the case. More often than not I was upstairs in a dark room suffering from yet another migraine. Then in May, I went on this migraine diet - I can't even remember the name of the book it was in. A friend told me about it. I had to give up my rescue meds and a whole slew of foods and drinks. No more peanut butter or nuts of any kind, citrus, onions, avocado, wine, bourbon, caffeine, chocolate, aged cheese, dried fruits, fresh bread.. to name a few. 

I was faithful to the diet and for the last two months have started to add items back to see if they have any affect on me. So far I can have most of what I was already eating - just in moderation. If I overdo it I could run into trouble. Managing my sleep patterns and my exercise with my food intake has done wonders in this area. It's kind of like a miracle since I have been dealing with 15-20+ migraines a month since I was 18. So that's a good thing. 

Here's something that is threatening to give me a headache that I just can't stop thinking about. Money. More specifically, people asking for it. Even more specifically, Christians asking for it. It's late and this is probably a bad move on my part to write about this now but it is just making me bonkers. Our church is raising money for a new building. I have had my issues with how I felt about this and after much prayer really searching the word - I can honestly say I am on board and actually excited about it. Here's the thing though.. we don't have anything to give. The list of things that they gave us that you could potentially cut back on that would give you extra cash to give to this  - don't do or have a single one of them. I wish I could cut back on my Starbucks consumption (see diet above). I am not judging their motives I am just weary. We give to our local church and what we give is a huge sacrifice for us, a single income teaching family of 5. I would love to give more.. but I don't have it to give. Our church is gracious to families like ours - they understand we may not be able - they ask for us to support them in prayer. I can do that. Still not being able to actually give something tangible stings. Because its the tangible thing - money - that will make or break the deal. This whole weariness started with our church but it has moved to other areas. 

I have noticed various Christian folks in leadership roles that I follow on FB starting to ask for money for various events and life changing conferences and gatherings they are putting together. They want to offer it for free but in order to do that the folks that can afford to pay need to consider paying for those who can't. It just makes me tired. Why are so many Christians doing so many things that cost so much money? There seems to be this overwhelming theme of "God is bigger". God is bigger than money, bigger than this need we have - we know He can do this. I agree wholeheartedly. He is bigger. He is God. The buck stops there. I don't know what my problem is really.. I am just weary of being asked to sacrifice for things that don't directly benefit those He asked us to care for. I just can't seem to get away from that. It seems that all this collecting of money for big projects and conferences is taking care of the church itself - not those outside it. I realize that if you get a group of people fired up about caring for people then the idea is that they will then go and do just that - care for people. Is it working? I hope so. I really really do. I know each of these things I am frustrated with is led by folks who seek the Lord with their whole heart. And you can't go wrong when you are leading that way. It's just my heart and my pocket book are tapped out. I am no longer giving with a gracious and thankful heart - I feel frustrated at being asked.. again.. and by so many voices. 

State Fair

Nana and Papa came with us to the State Fair this year. They got to come see the Rabbit Barn and taste the worlds best country ham biscuit. 

We saw the requisite animals and large pumpkins. Checked to see if any of Stephen's students won this year (nope), and did a lot of walking. There is lots to do and see but our plan is usually to hit the same buildings we always and eat the same great food we look forward to. There is the roasted corn on the cob, the falafal from Neomonde, the mini donuts, ribbon fries,  the giant kosher dill pickle, frozen apple cider and of course, cotton candy. We don't go in for the Krispy Kreme bacon cheese burger or the fried butter. Have to draw the line somewhere... 'merica. 

Frankie whizzed right through her nap time with a smile on her face. Here she is being a ham and propping her feet up on Daddy's leg. 

As we were leaving I asked Ada if she had fun. As is her usual style upon departure from some much looked forward to event - she said no, she did not have fun. When I asked her why, she said because we didn't DO anything. We just looked at things and ate. 

For the record we intended to take them on the ferris wheel for the first time but they both decided they didn't want to do it. Ada said she would have liked to play some games. So next time we will add games into the program. Alas there will always be much eating and looking at things at the fair since that is pretty much what it's all about. Next year maybe we will venture into the Midway and try games and check out the "rides". Maybe then we will get some pictures of us doing something other than eating.