Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Breaking the Silence: Motherhood Confessions

I have a few parenting confessions, things that I occasionally think and do but never articulate -- until now.

Some parents have an issue with Barney.  Although I'm not crazy about him, I never have been exceedingly bothered by his bumbling antics.  It's Dora I don't like.  Her voice.  Her strange almond-shaped head.  The painfully formulaic plot line.  I can't even type about her without wincing.

In lieu of a legitimate bath, on more than one occasion I have wiped down my children's sticky face, hands, and feet with a baby wipe and called it good enough.  A bath can wait until the next day -- when they're dirtier.

It's not unusual for me to save dessert until after the girls go to sleep.

When I'm especially tired, I skip sentences when I'm reading bedtime stories.  I sometimes add my own endings: "And then everyone went to sleep, slept the whole night through without needing to go to the bathroom, and woke up in a good mood at a reasonable hour.  The end."

At random increments, I scour the house for old artwork, cheap plastic toys, and the other miscellaneous junk that only appears in a household with small children.  Once gathered, I unrepentantly toss these things into the trash.  Actually, to be more accurate, I systematically bury them in the trash underneath other garbage.  We don't want those items resurfacing now, do we?

So, what are your confessions?

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Weedling into the Small Spaces


Title:  Weedling into the Small Spaces 

Subtitle:  Obviously, this is the precursor of some exceptional hide and seek skills.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thirteen Point One Reasons (Part One)

Ten weeks ago, I went for my first short jog after a long break from running.  (Long is an understatement.  I haven't consistently run since before I was pregnant with my first child.  She's six now.)

Over the years I've kept up with exercise, most frequently the form of Jillian Michaels barking through the television as I shreded myself in the comforts of my family room.

Running is different, though.  It's equal parts physical and mental, an experience that unfolds in my head as much as it involves my body.  I listen to no music -- only to the tread of my shoes on the pavement, the rush of cars passing, the wind in the trees, the inhale and exhale of my breath.

A few weeks after I started running again, a friend mentioned that she was entering a half-marathon.  "It's scheduled in the fall.  You should do it."

Insanity, I thought, yet the invitation lingered in my head.

I looked up the race details online.  It was scheduled for November 20, which gave me ample time to train.  Despite my doubts, the next time I spoke with my friend I told her to count me in.

Fast forward to this conversation a few weeks later:

Me:  "What are you planning to wear for the race?  Layers?  I don't want to be too hot, but it could be pretty cold at that point in November."

Her:  "You mean September."  I shook my head while she quickly continued, "The race is in September."

Me: "But I just read about it online."  As if repeating it would make it true, I continued, "It's November 20."

Her:  "Oh, no, no, no."  She brought her hand to her mouth.  "That's an entirely different half-marathon.  The one that we're running is in September.  September 18."

And that is how I, a novice runner, came to lose nine potential weeks to train, and how I came to be scheduled to run a half-marathon three weeks from today.

You may question my judgment.  I sometimes do.  But there are thirteen point one reasons (at least) why I'm doing this, very few of them physical.

I want to accomplish something challenging.  Ten weeks ago when I trudged through my first few runs, with lungs and legs burning and the thought of a half-marathon never even grazing my radar, I couldn't have imagined that I'd be capable of running the twelve mile practice run that I finished early yesterday morning.

Running is such a life metaphor.  There are days when you simply don't know what to do, other than to place one foot in front of the next.  Again, and again, and again.

As a way to document the experience, each weekend until race day I'll devote a blog post to how it unfolds.  Join me.  It's quite an adventure.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Meet the Teacher

This afternoon Reese and I headed to her elementary school to meet her teacher for the upcoming year.  She's nervous about starting first grade.  As we walked along the sidewalk, I took her hand into my own as a gentle reminder that I was near.

"Mom, I'm scared," she admitted.  "I think I might faint."

I glanced down at her.

"What does faint mean, anyway?" she continued.

"It means that you get weak and fall onto the floor," I answered, wondering how she managed to use the word correctly in context without knowing its meaning.  I squeezed her hand in reassurance.  "You're going to be just fine, kiddo."

Once inside, we greeted her new teacher, explored the classroom, and said hello to her classmates.  Then Reese tugged on my arm and pointed out the window.

The playground.

The place where she breezes across monkey bars, scales the spider climber, and dangles from the chin-up bar.  Out of all the places in the school, I think it's where she feels most comfortable.

Despite the drizzly day, we headed there immediately.  Her nervousness dissipated as she climbed and ran, and for those few moments, I don't think the prospect of starting first grade daunted her.  Fainting was no longer an option.

If she can scale those monkey bars, she's going to be just fine scaling the challenges of first grade.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When the Phone Rings

The phone rings as I'm preparing dinner, and within seconds after answering, pandemonium breaks loose in the family room.  Cradling the phone between my ear and my shoulder, I round the corner to see Reese jumping from the back of the couch onto a pile of cushions.  Brooke appears to be wrestling Kerrington to the ground.  Each of them is screaming, or crying, or making other indistinguishable, unsettling loud utterances.

It already had been a long day.  I motion for the girls to be quiet, unheeded, and finally tell my caller abruptly that I'd call her back once everything was under control.

"Girls," I spat as I hung up the receiver.  "Do you realize that I was on the phone?  You cannot yell and carry on when I'm in the middle of a phone conversation."

Like Jekyll and Hyde, the patient and fun mommy from the morning -- the one who took the girls to the library, who walked and explored a local arboretum with them, the one who prepared a healthy lunch at home -- had vanished, and the highly irrational, irritated one had taken her place.

I had spent the greater portion of the afternoon easily frustrated, attempting to work on the computer for an hour -- just one hour of focused, uninterrupted time -- while the two oldest demonstrated an uncanny inability to coexist peaceably or entertain themselves before the barrage of mom, mom, mommy, mommy, mom let loose and requests (Can I have a drink?  Will you make a fort for me?  Can I have a popsicle?  Can I paint?  Why won't you make a fort?  What about paining?) peppered the air, all while I prayed between clenched teeth, Give me patience today, Lord.

I can't always be their source, I reminded myself.  They need to learn to entertain themselves sometimes.  Then I remembered last week when I had set up a painting station at the kitchen table so they could entertain themselves while I worked on my semester preparations.  I remembered how quiet they had been.  And, then, I remembered the aftermath.


All of this flashed through my mind.  I heated up.  Words came faster.

"Seriously, now."  I tapped the phone into the back of my hand.  "What do you think that person thought when they heard your screaming in the background?"

Reese tilted her head to the side, paused, and then without a trace of malice replied, "That you're being a really bad mother?"

Had I not been so flustered, I might have laughed.  Might have.

For the record, the girls spent the next half hour in their bedroom while I finished preparing dinner in the kitchen.  My rationale: if the crying or chaos continued, at least the sound would be dampened by the distance.  I had left my cell phone at the library, but attempted to call my friend back from our home phone (which doesn't have long distance) by using an old calling card.  Obviously, I dialed incorrectly since I connected not with my friend, but rather some adult-only, heavy-breathing hotline.

I'm banking on tomorrow being a better day.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

On the Cusp

My in-laws, who previously lived 700 miles away, are in the process of moving.  Their new house, which will be finished in a few weeks, is 15 minutes from ours.  Over the past few days, my brother-in-law and I have painted several rooms for them.  (It's significantly easier to paint before carpeting is laid and furniture is situated.  Less risk factor with splattering.)

Since the semester starts tomorrow, I've toggled back and forth between painting and preparing for my fall classes, a strange combination of large and small motor skills, of steady hands and steady thought processes.  It's sort of like writing calligraphy after doing jumping jacks -- a little disjointed.

I feel that we're on the cusp of change.  School supplies fill the stores.  Work emails arrive with much greater frequency.  Consistent structure, which was so elusive during the summer, will inevitably materialize with my return to teaching in the mornings, Joel's increased work schedule on campus, and Reese's return to school next week.  We'll look at the clock much more frequently.  I may even start to know the date, rather be adrift at some point in the month.

Right now, this Sunday before it all begins, I straddle both worlds, ready for the change.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wine, Water, and One Dollar Jeans

A few weekends ago, I stopped in a resale shop that primarily markets to teenagers and college students.  Racks of jeans were on clearance -- and when I say clearance, I mean clearance.  An hour later, after trying on dozens of name-brand styles, I walked out with six pairs of jeans and one pair of heels.  I paid $7.

Seven dollars for seven items.

I couldn't help but take a moment to pray and thank God.

Some might think it's flippant to pray about the insignificant things that I pray about.  The God of the Universe has much more important issues to consider -- poverty, disease, drought, the deepest, darkest human suffering and addiction -- and yet I've had the audacity to pray for good deals when I shop.

And it's absolutely true.  There are millions of more pressing concerns, millions of requests to God that are more important than many of mine.

Yet, God hears.  The first recorded miracle of Jesus was when he turned water into wine at a wedding.  To an outsider, it might have appeared to be a miracle of luxury, not of necessity.  A miracle of seemingly insignificant detail, not of importance.

Yet, it was a miracle that made one couple's important day flow more seamlessly.  A miracle that showed how the God of the Universe cares about the details.

I once heard about a meeting where many renowned Christian leaders prayed together.  During one pause, Billy Graham spoke up, "Dear Lord," he started.  I envision people leaning forward, craning to hear what he had to say.  He continued, "Help me find my hat."

That was it.

I have a feeling that he found his hat.

He's a God of wine, water, and one-dollar jeans.  Nothing is too small to escape his notice.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Please Reconsider the Wording


Title:  Please Reconsider the Wording

Subtitle:  This overly-liberal sticker book suggestion ("Have fun with these stickers -- anywhere you want") really ought to be amended.  Let's be real.  We're dealing with children here, and in a child's mind, "anywhere" doesn't mean neatly placed on paper.  It's code for "adhered to the kitchen table" or "plastered on your sister's head."

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Short and Sweet: An Unlikely Mash-Up

A description of an unlikely musical mash-up, in 100 or fewer words:

We're driving, and as customary, Brooke is singing.  At some point this summer, Reese learned a few lyrics from We Will Rock You, and Brooke, a quick student, added them to her own repertoire, creating this morning's back-seat, patchwork serenade:

"Got mud on your face... saying grace... we will, we will wock you... Jesus had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb... we will, we will wock you."

Oh, Brooke, my little lamb, you wock.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

You Must Get Tired

Mere miles from my house there is a lovely park full of mature trees, meandering paved walking paths, a jungle gym, a sandbox, a creek, a slide, and a rock-climbing wall.

When I take my three daughters there, like I did on Friday morning, I immediately enter hyper-vigilant mode: counting heads, making sure that the baby isn't eating sand, that the three-year-old isn't wandering into the creek, that the six-year-old isn't dangling upside down by her knees from the rock wall, that the baby isn't propelling herself head-first down the slide, that the three-year-old isn't exploring by herself on one of the meandering walking paths, that the six-year-old isn't dangling upside down by her knees from the monkey bars, that the baby isn't whacking another child on the head with a sand shovel...

You get the drift.

It's exhausting.

After several rounds of climbing the jungle gym stairs behind the baby, my arms extended to prevent her from tumbling off the edge, and then hoisting her on my lap so we could slide together (safety in numbers, right?), I noticed a young girl watching me.

"Are all those kids yours?" she asked, scratching the crook of her knee with the heel of her tennis shoe.

I nodded.

"You must get very tired some days."

I laughed, then peered at her more closely, suddenly intrigued by this sage in a child's body.  "How old are you, sweetie?"

"Six."

You have got to be kidding me.

"You're wise beyond your years," I told her.  She crinkled her nose in a way that suggested she didn't understand, and then she smiled -- a glorious smile.

"Plus, your smile lights up a room," I added.

"People have told me that."

I wasn't at all surprised.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Scrapbook Paper Wall Art

I enjoy decorating our house, especially doing so creatively on a budget.  Thanks to an artistic mother-in-law who brims with ideas, I created a few of my own wall art pieces, leading me to today's How To post.

Using an assortment of scrapbook paper and a glue stick, I created complimentary day and night neighborhood scenes.  First I prepared the background by laying out scrapbook paper for the ground and the sky, and then like Bob Ross, I planted happy little trees and houses along the hillsides.

Unlike Bob Ross, however, I didn't talk in a soothing voice about burnt ochre, vandyke brown, or tapping fan brushes during the process.

Once the scenes were laid out, I secured them in oversized matching frames.

They're cheerful for a kid's room, don't you think?


Considering that I had the supplies out, I decided to create a decoration for our bathroom, too.  I selected a few sheets of scrapbook paper that complimented our shower curtain, cut circles using a cool circle-cutter, adhered the circles to paper, and popped the paper into a three-slotted frame.

In roughly twenty minutes, I had this:


Simple, cost-effective, readily changeable for those afraid of decorative commitment, and easy to match any color schemes, given the variety of paper you can find.  Enjoy!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

What's in a Name?

Joel and I studied the meanings before selecting our daughters' names.  When we were in the hospital cradling our sleeping and swaddled six-pound, one-ounce firstborn, we couldn't have projected that Reese (which means ardent, passionate, and fiery) would so aptly fit the child she would grow to become.

For your Jane Austen buffs, she's much more Elizabeth than Jane, much more Marianne than Elinor.  She's a child who cried -- hard -- when her favorite pizza shop recently went out of business, choking out between sobs, "I will never find another pizza that I like as much as that pizza, maybe not for the rest of my life!"

Three days later, she asked Joel to drive back to the shop just to make sure that it was still closed.  It was.  She cried again.

To put it mildly, the girl feels things acutely.

While driving by ourselves last weekend, Joel and I discussed her name.

"We could have chosen a name that meant relaxed or peaceful," I noted.

"Or mute," he added.

Alas, we didn't.  A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but we both suspect that our Reese would, were she not Reese called, retain that same temperament which she owes without the title.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thank You, Dear Readers

Unexpressed gratitude is like winking at someone in the dark.  You know how you feel about them, but they don't.

So, please let me say something that I think often, but don't say nearly enough:

Thank you.

My husband listens to me discuss writing and blogging frequently, and through our conversations (or, more aptly, my monologues), I've realized something: Pink Dryer Lint has become important to me.  It's become a place where my life unfolds and comes to make sense, and it's happening right before your eyes.

I'm so grateful for your eyes.  You could be reading anything, yet you've chosen to stop here.  You've invested a few minutes of your day -- no doubt fraught with its own demands and distractions -- and I don't take your investment lightly.  In fact, I'm honored.

For those of you who follow regularly, leave an occasional comment, cast a daily vote for me, or silently read along, please know this:

I'm winking your way right now.  Thank you so much for joining me.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What Happens After Dinner


Title:  What Happens After Dinner

Subtitle:  Because sometimes it's just easier this way.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

The Tranquil Place

On Friday afternoon Joel and I strolled through the conservatory, enjoying the plants and butterfly room, basking in the calmness that a day away from children exudes.

Then, I heard them.  Uninterested in the butterflies, two young boys began running along the pathways.  Their younger sister sat in a stroller, tossing her sippy cup onto the ground repeatedly.  The mother picked it up, absentmindedly wiped its top with her shirt, and kept handing it back.  She warned her boys to be quiet, her own voice escalating.

"This," she sputtered, gesturing to the room wildly with her arms, "is a tranquil place.  Be tranquil!"

It was my favorite overheard statement of the entire weekend.

I plan on using it sometime this week with my own kids.

But, my oh my, our weekend away was tranquil indeed.  This was the first time we ever had been away from our children overnight.  We slept until 8:15 on Saturday morning.  We moved at a leisurely pace, enjoyed uninterrupted conversation, and attended the hottest outdoor wedding in recorded history on Saturday afternoon.

I took this picture after we got back in the car, after we had cranked the air conditioner and the temperature already had dropped.


During the ceremony I nervously waited for a groomsman in a heavy tuxedo to pass out from heat exhaustion, but everyone held their ground.

Still, if you can leave a wedding ceremony dehydrated, we managed it.  En route to the reception we stopped in a convenience store to buy drinks and in my case, to embrace a bag of ice that was on sale for a mere 99 cents.


So worth the picture, even if Joel shook his head at me.  "You get goofier when you're not around the kids," he observed.

Uncaged, I like to think of it.  The layers of responsibility drop off, and I end up reverting to antics like balancing a chopstick on my upper lip while we're out at dinner because no little people will see me, mimic my actions, and need correction.


I turned thirteen again, just for a little bit.  We enjoyed ourselves so much.

Then we drove home on Sunday.  As soon as we came through the door, we gathered the girls in our arms, hugging and kissing, tickling and wrestling them.  I held each girl at arms' length, sure that each had grown, before drawing them near again.

We've been home for over a full day, and life is now back to normal.  Not tranquil in any sense of the word.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Guest Post: Introducing the Mom Chef

I couldn't help myself.  I offered a disclaimer in advance.  It would be like if I ran into Jillian Michaels and felt compelled to fess up that I once stopped for longer than the permissible five seconds during the jumping lunge segment.

Or, if one of my friends unexpectedly dropped by after my girls dismantled the family room couches and strung up their bedsheets from our ceiling fan with clothespins, it wouldn't be long before I found myself saying, "Sorry it's such a mess."

So, in one of my early correspondences with Christiane Potts, known to most as The Mom Chef, I wrote something akin to this:  "If you could see me in the kitchen sometimes, you'd pray for me."

Her response?  You goob.  I already do pray for you.

Yet another reason to like this woman.

If you've read my blog for long, especially if you recall the Confessions of a Non-Foodie post from last fall, you'll know that I have a mixed reaction to food preparation.  I'm absolutely intrigued by food, but I mostly fall into the category of people who cook because it's necessary to sustain life.  While I'm not a bad cook by any means, I have been known to arrive at the dinner hour, look at the kitchen forlornly, and realize that it was time to scramble for a dinner plan, stat.

This isn't the case for The Mom Chef, who falls into an entirely different category: a veritable food artist with some mad culinary skills.  When I read her blog I'm propelled into a different world than the one which unfolds in my kitchen on a regular basis.  She's graciously providing a guest post for today while I'm out celebrating my 10th anniversary with Joel, sans children.

Enjoy her post today, and be sure to visit her fantastic blog to read even more: Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time.

It's such a winner.  Just like her.

Orange-Vanilla Popsicles from Fine Cooking Magazine
August 2011



On July 25, 2011, I happy-danced.  That was the day that Robin contacted me and asked if I would do a guest post for her.  Guest posts, as a rule make me very, very nervous.  My subject matter is pretty narrow and specific.  

You see, I can and do adapt, create, and throw together meals without recipes on a regular basis.  However, I've use my blog to serve as an aid for those who, like me, might look at a recipe but not make it because of the factor of the unknown.  Will that combination really taste good?  With so many ingredients can I actually make this at home?  Does it take hours?  Are there hours of clean-up involved afterwards?  That kind of unknown. 

Most food bloggers like to show their skills at adapting recipes or creating something new.  I follow the directions exactly and then review what I find.

But, when Robin wrote and asked if I'd post for her, I immediately said yes because I am in love with her family.  I've never met them, but through reading about her three beautiful girls, I can relive where Dudette's been and get a glimpse of where my young lady is going.  Her stories of family and motherhood make me smile on a regular basis.

As soon as we agreed that I'd do a post, I went to my August magazines to find good recipes.  I hang my head in shame at the options I presented this woman who: a) doesn't cook at an advanced level, and b) has three little girls.  Five-Spice Chicken with Hoisin-Maple Glaze or Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters. What the heck was I thinking?  Robin was so gracious.  She chose the fritters without a word.

Luckily, I came to my senses and changed the recipe, knowing my go-to magazine, Fine Cooking, would have a child-appropriate treat that I hope will have the girls doing as big a happy-dance as I did. 

Ladies, this one's for you.

The Process
I am not fond of giving Dudette a treat that is just frozen sugar water with artificial color and flavor in it.  Not only is there the issue of what she's putting in her body, but a good portion of that sticky substance usually ends up on her clothes, the floor, and our furniture.  Instead, I have taken to making my own popsicles.  Many people have, as evidenced by an entire section dedicated to Ice Pops in this Fine Cooking issue. 

In fact, it's in the "Cooking Without a Recipe" section, which I adore.

The link below will take you to the spot where you can put together your own combination, so I'll just walk you through what I did.  I made my own Creamsicles, a ice cream truck favorite I loved as a kid (right up there with Push-Ups and Sky Blue popsicles).

Part one is to pick the syrup, puree/juice and add-in by looking at every step before starting in.  Next, make the syrup.  I chose a vanilla simple syrup, half a vanilla bean, split and scraped to create the flavor.  Next came the juice.  I chose orange juice. 

Reese, Brooke and Kerrington; I squeezed all those oranges just so there would be fresh juice in the popsicles I'm making because you deserve something fun and sweet (instead of zucchini).  Since I wanted the popsicles to be creamy (hence the Dreamsicle comparison), instead of using two cups of juice, I used one cup and then added a cup of vanilla yogurt.

When the vanilla simple syrup was cool, I added it to the orange juice/yogurt mixture and was ready to pour.  After putting slices of mandarin oranges in the popsicle molds, the juice went in and around the slices and, sticks were added, and the whole thing went in the freezer.

It was fast, easy, and felt good to know I was making something healthy for Dudette and in honor of my three little friends.

The Verdict
Is it bad to be happy that something was made in honor of three little girls when they're not actually around to eat the supply?  Should I feel guilty about that?  Wow, these are good.  We're absolutely loving the popsicles and are ready to start another batch before these even have a chance to get eaten. Trying other varieties is a must as well.  Strawberry-pineapple?  Blackberry-orange?  I'm going to be all over these things this summer.

What I'd Do Different Next Time
For this one, I might go with the whole vanilla bean.  If you use plain yogurt, definitely do this so you get a good, strong vanilla flavor alongside the orange.

Orange-Vanilla Popsicles

1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup Greek yogurt
Mandarin orange segments

Combine the sugar, salt and 1/2 cup water in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and make sure the sugar has dissolved; add the split vanilla bean.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let the syrup cool completely.  Remove the vanilla bean halves.

Squeeze 1 cup's worth of juice from the oranges.  Whisk in 1 cup of Greek yogurt.

Combine the 2 cups orange juice/yogurt combination with the reserved syrup.  Distribute the Mandarin orange segments among ten 1/3-cup pop molds.  Add the fruit mixture to each mold, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top to allow for expansion.  Stir gently with a Popsicle stick to distribute the stir-ins. Freeze until partially frozen, about 1 hour.  Insert sticks and freeze again until the pops are fully set, 4-6 hours more.

To unmold, dip the mold in a deep pan of hot water until the pops pull out easy, 30-40 seconds, or let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.  Unmold and store the pops in individual resealable plastic bags.  Best eaten within 3 weeks.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

One Decade Together

Every summer around this time our garage looks like this:


Joel is a campus minister, and many of the college students he works with live in apartments.  Since most apartment leases in our town turn over in August, our phone starts ringing in late July.  Would I be able to store a few boxes with you?  Just until I can move into my next place.

Last summer the friend of a student we knew called us in desperation.  She was leaving the country later that day and had no place to store her belongings until she came back to the university in the fall.  It's just three boxes.

We never had met her before, but Joel, ever gracious, told her it wasn't a problem.

Three "boxes" turned out to be three brimming carloads.  The garage was packed.

For two months, I couldn't fully open the back door to our car whenever we parked in the garage.  I had to tilt Kerrington, still a newborn, at precarious angles to extract the car seat carrier.  I wasn't pleased.

After a week, I complained to Joel.  He nodded, and then uttered a sentence I've never forgotten.  "I know it's frustrating, but we're in the business of helping people."

And just like that, I was silenced.  Not scolded.  Not mocked.  His correction was delivered with kindness and not a trace of superiority.

I've said it before: Joel makes me a better me.  As of today, he's officially been doing it for ten years.

He makes me laugh, and he helps me not to take myself so seriously.  He's quick to forgive and slow to anger.  After all these years, he admitted, "I still cannot figure out your method of folding towels."

Clearly, the mystique of our relationship is still vibrant.

Although I don't feel older (not much, anyway), the first thing I notice when I look at our wedding photos is how young we both looked a decade ago.  When we celebrate our 20th anniversary ten years from now, I imagine that I'll regard the pictures from this anniversary with the same sentiment: my, how young we were then.

And, Joel, just so you know, I love growing older with you every single day.  The best is yet to come.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Listen

While eating a late dinner on the back porch, Reese pauses.  "I hear bugs singing," she says.

We momentarily fall silent and listen to the crickets, surprisingly loud in their early August drone.  I hadn't even noticed them until she commented.

Summer, I sense, is slipping away.  The humid days have rolled into the next, and weeks have passed in that simultaneously lazy and rapid manner that defies common sense.

Each night I kiss the girls' heads, sweaty and sticky, and we let the day's worth of accumulated filth drain away with the bathwater.  I towel dry and brush their short bobs to remove as many tangles as possible before they squirm and pull away, and then release them for bed.  The scent of shampoo lingers after they've left.

The house and yard burst with evidence of the summer.  Suncreen bottles and canisters, most nearly empty, line our counters.  The girls' swimsuits, once vibrant, have faded and lost elasticity.  Scuffed flip flops litter the hallway near the front door.  A few zucchini from the garden rest in the refrigerator.  After weeks of punishing heat and little rain, the grass has resigned to dormancy, brown and rough underneath my bare feet.  The flowers, so lush in May and June, have passed their prime.

I begin to long for cooler weather, envision changing leaves, and think about wearing jeans again.

But then I listen to those crickets.

They're loud, yet I'm able to tune them out.  They're a constant reminder to focus on what's happening now.  Soon enough summer will rush to a close, slipping through my fingers like the end of a kite string.  School will begin.  Days will shorten.  Boots eventually will be scattered in the hallway where flip flops once lay.  Grass will frost over as the earth settles into its winter freeze.

So, tonight I listen to the crickets.  I breathe in the sultry air, let my feet rest on the patio, still warm from baking in the day's sun, and enjoy this lazy summer night while it's here.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Air Drying Our Towels


Title:  Air Drying Our Towels

Subtitle:  That was the intention, at least.