The Family

The Family

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lessons from Baseball

We spent much of the past few days at a ballpark.

I took the kids to watch my teenage cousin play Thursday night. The breeze made for a relaxing evening, even though the allergens in the air made my head throb.
We gave our tickets for Friday night’s university baseball game to my cousins and aunt and uncle. We made sure we were at yesterday and today’s games, though.

With a 9 month old we rarely make it through an entire game. We usually miss the beginning or have to leave early for baby girl’s nap. I’m constantly wishing each inning would hurry up and be done so we could see more of the game.
Sadly, this is a direct reflection of my tendency to rush through life. At each game I’m too often annoyed with how slowly they progress than to enjoy them.

However, after hearing Bob Scheiffer, one of my favorite news correspondents and one of the most accurate political reporters of today, offer his insight on a game he dearly loves, I was able to come to the weekend games with a slightly different outlook.
Here is part of what Scheiffer said in a commentary on Face the Nation last week:

“To those who speak of golf as a religious experience, I say no - that's why we have baseball. So I was delighted to read in The New York Times yesterday that not only have others seen the light, so to speak, but New York University is offering a for-credit course taught by NYU's President John Sexton called "Baseball as a Road to God." Some criticize the game for being slow, but Dr. Sexton told the Times that its slowness allows us to notice the specialness of life - and even what may be beyond. Well, of course it does. To me, baseball's great lesson is how to deal with failure. In baseball as in life, even the best fail more often than they succeed. The .300 hitter fails to get a hit seven out of 10 times! But baseball teaches that over the long season, if you put your daily losses aside, go back to the ball park the next day and play the game right, you'll win your share of games.”

While I can’t claim to have had a religious experience at a ballpark, I can attest to the lessons learned from the game. Our team had been in a serious slump. One co-worker called their horrible luck with hitting someone in when the bases were loaded “the curse of the loaded bases.” She suggested burning, burying and replacing all the bases.
But this weekend saw a turn-around. Not only did the team win the series, but swept its opponent. For those unfamiliar with college baseball, each school plays other teams in its division three days in a row. Two wins out of three and the team wins the series. Three wins and it's a sweep.

Yesterday, the curse was broken; today, the sweep. 

Just when it looked like the season was going down the tubes, the team played it right.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dear Diary

It dawned on me a few weeks ago that a blog is often like a diary – albeit one a person actually wants others to read.

Does anyone actually write in a diary anymore?

What about letters? Other than thank-you notes, I haven’t written a letter in years.
My husband and I have no love letters between us.  We met in our mid-20s, a time well beyond the note-swapping that was the major form of writing when I was in junior high and high school.

This means our children will probably know little about the way we felt when we fell in love. We can tell them of course, but there’s something about writing one’s feelings at the moment they occur that shows more of one’s soul.

The idea that the words I pour into this space might someday be a reminder to my children of who I was as a young mother and how much I adore them has lately filled me with a stronger sense of purpose.
This space is not only a way for my friends, family and new online acquaintances to read my thoughts about our life, but it might also be a way to preserve feelings and stories to pass along to my children.

Sure, they will have their memories, but memories fade and don’t often tell the whole story. Maybe through these posts I can preserve moments in time of our story as a family.
I hope more than ever that my words are an accurate record and reflection of our time together.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CSA Wednesday

This is actually 3
heads of lettuce

We picked up our CSA goodies today and received lettuce galore
A lettuce mix on the left
Mixed greens on the right
A lot of salad will be eaten this week

More eggs -
They seem to go quicker than
the lettuce

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yard Update

He proved me wrong.

I bluntly, maybe adamantly is more accurate, told my husband I didn’t think he would do it.
I love the man. However, like most men I know, he puts things off.

He’s patient, but a procrastinator; I’m no procrastinator, but my patience is lacking.
I figured this would be one of many things that would not get done until I harped on it so much he would do it to get me to be quiet.

A few weeks ago when we had our backyard landscaped, I wanted to add a small fountain for the little boy, and later for baby girl, to enjoy. I’ve noticed during these past four years how much he and almost every other child we come across is drawn to any type of water feature.
Seeing that I wanted it for play purposes, I was against having a cord plugged into an outlet.

After many discussions, we decided the way to do it was to try a solar pump. He was told by a local flower shop employee that a solar pump would never work.

This is when the doubt about the fountain becoming reality started creeping in.

However, in the hubby’s quest to please the little man and me, he found a solar pump that works and works well.
Then, on Friday, he came home with this massively heavy rock that he and his co-workers spent the day drilling a hole into.

It is now our backyard fountain.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Beatrix Potter

The Easter Bunny left a four-piece collection of Beatrix Potter classics in baby girl’s Easter basket. The collection includes The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Tom Kitten, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher.

Always the bookworm, I love how the front has a place for: This book belongs to ______________.
I started to write her name in each of the four books, but stopped myself. I always liked writing my name in my books as a child and thought I should save this small pleasure for her.

When reading the books aloud at bedtime, the actual stories don’t draw me in as much as the pictures. I remember reading the Tale of Peter Rabbit at my grandmother’s house as a child. Truthfully, I’m not quite sure this is where I read it, but my memory is that she had a copy with the same pictures in an upstairs bedroom. As I read it aloud to the children, memories of her home flood my mind.

I read a blog a few weeks ago that described a trip to England to visit homes of famous authors, and Beatrix Potter’s was one of those homes. Shortly after we were married, the hubby and I went to England. One of the stops was Stratford-upon-Avon where we visited Shakespeare’s home. I remember thinking then how wonderfully literary it would be to take a trip across England to visit some of my favorite author’s homes. After reading that blog and now re-reading some of Beatrix Potter’s books, I’ve got to add hers to the list of British homes to visit.

Another thing about the author I must share is that I want to call her Bellatrix – as in Bellatrix Lestrange. When I spoke her name aloud I got an odd look from the little boy. If you haven’t guessed, we are huge Harry Potter fans around here, and Beatrix and Bellatrix are a bit too close for comfort.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Puzzle Fun

I didn’t put together many puzzles as a child.  Come to think of it, I don’t have a single memory of ever putting together a puzzle. It's that patience thing again.
I guess that's what amazes me so when watching my little man work on a puzzle. He seems to have his own method for fitting the pieces together and on more than one occasion I've been taken aback by how his mind is working to find each piece's counterpart.

If you have a puzzle lover in your home, check out I was pleased to find a good selection of both shark and dinosaur puzzles - the little boy's favorites. 

This Melissa & Doug set has four puzzles that are easy enough for him to do many times over.

The others took some help - at least at first.

This one he found about 85 of the 100 pieces the second time around. He would do it for a few minutes, walk away and play, then come back and find more pieces.

I’m sure this feat has been accomplished by many, but because I’m no puzzle whiz, I was impressed. Of course, I am the mom!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

CSA Wednesday

Each Wednesday we pick up goodies from a local farm as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here's what we got today:

A mix of greens

A mix of lettuce
While both can be eaten raw, the greens are much better after boiling and then coated with an olive oil, garlic, radish and dijon mustard mix I heat on the stove!
More fresh eggs
Yummy sweet potatoes to dice and cook
drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper
The last batch of strawberries we'll get
from the farm this season

Monday, April 16, 2012


I’m sitting here in the bed typing this with a little boy that shares my cold, but is too wired to sleep.

Every night we have the same bedtime routine.
We read our Bible and a book or two.

Then he wants me to tell him what we did during the day.  
That is followed by me singing what now amounts to a list of 15 songs. I can’t sing, but I do my best to convince him otherwise.

Some nights I get lucky and he falls asleep around the third song. Most nights he drifts off toward the end. Then there are the countless times like tonight when he won’t give in.
He hasn’t been an easy sleeper since day one.

Why should tonight be any different?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Second Time Around

I'm comfortable with who I am as a mom.  

Not confident, but comfortable.

I wouldn't have said that four years ago.

I was a mess after my first was born. Mainly because I knew what I should do, but no one seemed to agree with me. I usually did what I thought was best and offered the answer I thought others wanted to hear when asked. Basically, I lied about most of my parenting techniques.

I knew things would be different with the second; I just didn’t realize how much better they would be after owning up to the way I choose to raise my children.
I don't do many of the things most parenting books or magazines – I quit reading those long ago – suggest.

I know who I am as a mom. I know who my children are. I know it’s OK to be different as long as you are being led by a higher power, and you are following his lead.

I’m not trying to sound self-righteous or imply my way is better. That’s what made me such a mess the first time around – thinking there was one right way.

There will always be plenty of people to offer well-meaning, though unwanted, advice. While I must admit it bothers me to think about some of it (like the person who long ago criticized my desire to keep my children at home and referred to my son as the boy in the bubble - still a wee bit bitter over that one), I've learned to follow my instincts and to hold true to that inner voice that guides me.

It doesn’t mean things are always easy. It doesn’t mean my feelings won’t get hurt when people question my parenting.

It just means that for now I know in the CORE of my being that I am doing exactly what God has called me to do.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

To Fly or To Drive

For our next trip we had to ask ourselves this question: Do we fly or do we drive?
Normally, the answer would be easy. If the trip takes more than 5-6 hours we wouldn’t think of doing anything other than flying. A trip that takes 23 hours and some odd minutes obviously falls into this category.


What, you might ask, are we thinking?

I’ve asked myself that question a number of times as we get closer to our trip.
Here’s some of the thought process that went into this decision:
- We couldn’t get a direct flight. We live near an airport where direct flights to most destinations usually aren’t a problem. After much searching, I was dismayed to find no direct flight leaving out of that airport. The connecting flights were all cutting it too close. It’s stressful enough making your connection when you are on your own, but add all the bags, stroller, car seat, snacks, etc., etc., etc. that come with traveling with two small children, and this began to stress me out just looking at the booking screen on my computer.
- If we were to fly, we would have to rent a car when we got to our destination. This in and of itself isn’t a big deal. We did it in San Francisco and Maine. It was the double-take at the price of a rental car that was the issue.
- As we talked more about driving we realized time was on our side. I will have time off work in between semesters, and my husband has enough vacation time. The idea of a drive made the trip sound more nomadic and adventurous. While this means we have to stay in a number of different hotels along the way, the plus is that we can stop out our leisure. If we stick to our budget, even in the midst of this high-fuel dilemma we are all experiencing, then we’ll come out slightly less than the car rental would cost. Besides, I’m a hotel kind of girl and like the possibilities of finding some interesting spots in places we've never been.
- A good friend took this same trip with her two young daughters a few years back. They drove and had an excellent time. When I told her we were thinking of driving she said she wouldn’t have done it any other way.
In the end I felt like we should drive. If I’ve learned anything these last few years as a mom, it’s to trust my instinct.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

CSA Wednesday

Here's what we got from the farm today:
French Radishes
An assortment of lettuce

A dozen fresh eggs

We enjoyed a crisp tossed salad loaded
with radishes at supper.

Egg salad sounds good for lunch

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Is This Our Yard?

Our backyard

Only it’s not the backyard we are accustom to.
Here’s what it looked like the past six years:

How blah does it get?

This pile of stone we now call our patio provided a lot of entertainment for the little boy. It tickled me to listen to him and the hubby pretending to find fossils. He kept telling me he was finding skeletons in all the pieces.

We’ve lived six years in this neighborhood where all the houses are too close to one another, and there is next to no backyard. The empty feeling of the backyard had been bothering me for a while, but having so little to work with isn’t much of a motivating factor.

Not being much of a gardener also had something to do with my trepidation to plant. I know next to nothing about plants, bushes and flowers or how to keep them alive. I think I’ll one day catch the gardening bug, but it hasn’t hit yet. So, we paid someone to give us this transformation.

I can't wait to see the blooms on these azaleas next spring.
A bit of erosion control by our fence with the stone pad and the stone broken into small pieces and placed under the gutter.

Nothing like a tax refund put to good use. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Simple Joys of Saturday

A train ride before an Easter egg hunt

Free lemonade

Lunch at a local Irish pub

Learning the correct pronunciation of the word shillelaghs (shh-lay

The sound of the freight train passing while enjoying lunch outdoors

Sunny skies and mild temperatures

A mid-afternoon snack of warm sugar cookies followed by an equally sweet cup of coffee

A mom, a dad and a brother witnessing a baby’s first crawl

The hugs of a husband that continue even when his busy wife is trying to let go

A little boy unable to sleep in anticipation of the Easter Bunny’s arrival

Two children contently wrapped in the arms of the parents that love them so

The Truth of the Gospel

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter's on its Way

The table is decorated, and the Easter presents are ready to be put into baskets. It all looks good on the surface, yet something doesn't feel right. Once again I am restless.

I know it’s the state of my heart.

I've been in that place where I'm seeking my own way and my own secret desires more than seeking God. This spiritual valley is a recurring theme for me.  I wish I could say otherwise, but this is an uncomfortably familiar place.

I’ve been to communion in the chapel a number of times during this Lenten season. I keep waiting for an intimate moment that is cleverly evading me. I wouldn't call it an emptiness I feel, just a physical distance of my own making.

How can I lead my kids closer to Jesus when I feel so far away from him myself? How can I share the real message of Easter when I have this void?

I know it’s the state of my heart.

Last week I felt drawn to the book of John.  It wasn’t one of those moments where I casually opened my Bible and God dropped the answer into my lap. It was a moment when I felt my heart begin to respond to the words written by the one Jesus loved. 

I am seeking, though not in vain. 

He is speaking to me.
I feel it in my heart.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

CSA Wednesday

More strawberries this week - I gave about half the bag to my parents, and we still had plenty.
And carrots too - Who knew carrots could be purple?
They look much better cleaned and sliced. As you can see, purple on the outside, orange on the inside. The sweet taste of them was delightful.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Forgotten Adventure

When posting our list of trips a few weeks ago, I forgot to include our trip to Chattanooga. We visited two years ago when my mother-in-law booked a room on the Chattanooga Choo-Choo train/hotel. We spent two nights there. While the hotel was somewhat outdated and a disappointment to us grown-ups, that didn’t matter to our son. He loved getting to sleep on a train.

If memory serves correct, there were a couple of restaurants on site, so we didn't have to leave to find food.
We spent a day at the aquarium. It is so big there are two buildings to house everything.

We also went to the children’s museum. We went on a weekend, so it was crowded. I'm not sure if weekdays aren't as busy, but it’s worth checking out if you are in the area with little ones.
We were able to jump on a bus at the hotel that took us to all our stops. That was definitely a plus! We started talking to another family on the bus and realized that the man’s brother was the OB that delivered our son.

As the saying goes, it really is a small world.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring on the Lawn

The beauty of spring seems to heighten my sense of God’s wonderful creation. The bloom of the azaleas is a prime example, and they are at their most spectacular on this lovely lawn at the heart of campus.
It is probably the most recognizable place in town. No time is it more beautiful than in the spring. Ok, maybe during the fall when those glorious trees are brimming with lovely rolls of white runs a close second if not forcing an out-right tie.

We spent several days last week moving around the lawn trying to keep baby girl in the shade.

We weren't the only ones enjoying the great weather. I noticed hammocks hanging from trees with college students reading, typing or napping – some doing all three. There were other families picnicking, running and enjoying the warmth and beauty.

In a few months, maybe even weeks at this rate, it will be too hot to relax in this cozy spot. So for now, we’ll be out on the lawn as much as we can.