Wednesday, October 31, 2012

{Twists and Turns}

This week has been a twisty-turny one. We were never quite sure what was going to be around the next bend. Often the bend brought another feverish brow and another request for apple juice. With a straw.

They call me "Mother" when they're sick. It's sweet.

I timed the distribution of antibiotics, fluffed pillows, read stories, stirred soup and took temperatures. (I still have this impulse to shake down the mercury. Isn't that funny?)

All the while the kids looked anxiously at the calendar. They had costumes all ready, and Grandpa and Grandma were coming for a visit.

They worked on puzzles, watched videos and called me "Mother" some more.

Wednesday arrived, and so did Grandpa and Grandma. All the way from Alaska. Thankfully the fevers were down and we enjoyed sharing and visiting and ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the beautiful pictures they brought from a breathtaking part of our country.

While the soup simmered on the stove and the grown-ups visited, the kids whisked themselves away to change into their evening attire.

At the last minute, my boy's fever spiked unexpectedly after having been normal all day. We bade the others farewell, and he and I shared some precious time together (frequently interrupted by the doorbell, of course).

I had a funny memory, being in this house and having sick kids. I remember the comfort of resting on the couch in this very family room, especially when the rhythm of home continued around me. I could hear my mom washing dishes in the kitchen or watch her walk by with a basket of laundry and it somehow made me feel better.

One time when I was eight or nine, resting feverishly on the couch, she walked by with the laundry basket on her head. I giggled, and she quickly came to me, feigned confusion, and said, "Are you okay?" I said something about the basket, and she put her hand on my forehead. "I don't know what you're talking about. You must be hallucinating, you poor dear!" And off she walked. With the big wicker basket on her head.

Tonight Aidan claimed to see The Cat in the Hat in our family room as he rested on the couch. I felt his brow, shook my head and sighed, "You poor dear. You must be hallucinating."

When he slipped under his covers tonight, he told me that he had a pretty fun evening, after all.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

{She Texts, Too}

My Little Miss loves the written word. She scribbles notes and reminders and stories and plays throughout the day. I finally requested that she start keeping them in a binder -- I just couldn't handle the paper trail and certainly didn't want to recycle a treasured story or poem.

It's not uncommon to find a note slipped under the door or a plea placed on my desk. Sometimes it's a reminder to herself, "Ask mom if I can have some gum," and sometimes it's a partial note to my mom:

"dear Noni, My buns ar done for my costume. I figurd . . . ."

(We never did find out what she "figurd.")

Frequently it's a tart response to a school assignment, such as this:

(Or this.)

She has recently discovered that texting is another effective means of communication. It's not uncommon for me to be out running errands and receive a buzzing, "Are u on your way home?"

We've had to request that our children sign their names to their texts; it's not always clear who's doing the communicating. She usually remembers (at some point) and her messages go something like this:

"Hi mom! this is Avery. I know a palindrome. Now i won! and, no melon, no lemon."

I kid you not.

One afternoon I was at Trader Joe's, frantically throwing items into the cart in order to make it back to the gym in time to pick up Bethie. I couldn't remember if we had tortilla chips and sent a plea back home for the kids to check the pantry for me. The reply (which arrived a full ten minutes later):

"I dont know. By the way this is Avery. I dont feel very good, because of the fake book from the library. Wish me some good luck so i dont barf."

I burst out laughing in the wine aisle, wished her "some good luck" and suggested that maybe she should look at a different book. Her response (which took some time to compose) reached me as I was checking out:

"Okay. That might be better. Can i wach Pingu? THAT might be better for ME." (My guffaws made it necessary for me to explain the texts to the checker.)

I denied her request, reminding her that it was family movie night. One show would be plenty for the day. She got over her disappointment fairly quickly.

Texting with my Little Miss is particularly fun when I get to send special news while I'm out running errands.

"Avery! I just bought a brown headband for your BUNS!!!"

"AWSOME! Are you going to start my buns today? if you are, i am so exscited! if you dont know who i am i am Avery."

I started her buns that day.

As if I could ever not know my Avery.
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Saturday, October 20, 2012

{Fall Inspiration}

Have you felt the nip in the air? Has your breath been taken away by the vibrant hues splashed across the trees?

There's something crisp and exhilarating about fall that makes me want to hold onto it for as long as possible. One way I do this is by bringing it inside.

My mom recently made several centerpieces for a church function, and I quickly fell in love with the look she came up with. Determined to do the same for our own table, I looked around the yard and grabbed some birch branches and a few scarlet-tinged leaves. A little weaving here, a little tucking there, and a wreath began to take shape.

Little Miss had gathered some acorns near the library yesterday, and she was more than willing to let them play a role in our centerpiece. A few decorative apples (from another project) found their way into the mix, and I added some moss (also from another project) to give it a cozy-nesty kind of look. It was fun to come up with as many "homemade" options as possible. The only purchase I made involved laying out a whole $1.18 for the cinnamon sticks. Not bad!

I love walking by my table and seeing the warm, bright colors. And of course the kids love lighting and blowing out and lighting and blowing out and lighting and blowing out the centerpiece. Fun for all. Fun for fall!
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I'd forgotten (silly me) how messy the house gets when it starts to rain. The kids get this housebound, feverish, nervous energy, and it manifests itself in an explosion of LEGOs, blanket forts, papers, pencils (left on the couch!), books, balls, boxes, puzzles . . . you get the drift.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that this kind of messy is a good kind of messy. It's creative, it's productive, and it serves to further develop my kids' relationships with each other.

It's also extremely loud.

And sometimes downright hilarious.

Maybe being housebound isn't so bad, after all.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

{Soup Time}

Fall is a whirl of activity, sweeping by like the birch leaves that litter our sidewalk. It's my favorite time of year. I used to think it had something to do with my birthday being in the fall. And then one day I learned that my birthday is not in the fall. It's really on the tail-end of summer. I was a bit discouraged when I realized that. Oh, well. It's still my favorite time of year.

I think of sweaters and steaming mugs of cocoa, the thick smell of smoke rising from the chimneys as I take my afternoon walk, little girls in plaid skirts and Mary Janes, thick books, sharpened pencils . . . and I think of soup.

So last week I hatched a soup plan. You see, I could eat soup every day. And it makes such a great lunch. So I decided that Saturday would be my Soup Making Day. (We shall see how long my enthusiasm lasts.) Last week I made a big pot of Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa. I stored it away in the fridge, and on Monday during our morning break I popped it on the stove. By the time I had returned from my crispy-blustery pre-lunch walk, I had a nice, hot pot of soup waiting for me. It was such a treat, and it saved me a bunch of time.

The kids were divided on this particular recipe (and Certain People omitted the tomatoes, as shown above), but overall they gave it a fairly good rating. Inspired by our latest family read, All-of-a-Kind Family, I served each child a small mug of soup as a "first course." It really is a delightful read. Set during the turn of the century, the author describes the lunch hour when the children come home from school:

All of Mama's family liked soup. They learned to like it because Mama always served it at the beginning of her dinner. There was a strict rule about not wasting any food in Mama's house. This rule had been made into a chant by the children: No soup, no meat. No meat, no vegetables. No vegetables, no fruit. No fruit, no penny.

In order to get the next thing, they had to give a decent crack at the first thing on the menu. (I've done this with dinner salad, too, and it works marvelously. We pretend like we're at a restaurant, and I serve the salad first. Once the plates are empty, they receive the main dish.)

So at lunch on Monday, they were hungry and would eat anything. After they had given the soup a fair shot, they were welcome to either have more soup (Bethie and Aidan took me up on this) or make a sandwich if they still had a rumbly in their tumbly. (They also wondered if they might get a penny. Or perhaps a nickel. Inflation, you know.) 

The soup lasted for three days. I even had enough to bring to my kiddos' piano teacher and her husband. (Yes, they happen to be my parents.) Bethie suggested, "We should bring soup for Noni's lunch every week!" And I agreed.

You see, our whirl of activity brings us to my parents' every Wednesday for lessons. I bring school work for the kids, but one of my favorite things to do is to curl up with my Little Miss for some Beatrix Potter. Today we enjoyed The Tale of Two Bad Mice. She finds this particular story to be quite naughty. (Which means she loves it.) Often, the autumn sun pours through the family room window, casting a patch of light on the floor. I've been known to curl up right in that spot, cat-like, to soak in the warmth as the scales run up and down the piano, with Little Miss at my side. With the smell of soup warming on the stove, it's like a taste heaven.

* * * * * * *

I'm eager to try some new soups as I develop my routine. I might stick with a favorite -- Zuppa Toscana -- this week (oh, so good), but I do love trying new recipes, too. Especially at the recommendation of others. Let me know if you have a favorite, and feel free to share a link if you have one. My tummy thanks you in advance. (And so does my mother.)
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Friday, October 5, 2012

{A Morning Plea}

dear Mommy,

I dont feel good. I want to stay in Bed untiL ChristMas. I will wake up for trick or treating. I have a headache and that is NOT nice. PLease let me stay asLeep untilL Christmas.


P.S. I like my Bed its comfy and i do'nt have to get up anymore.


(Looks like it's time for Mama to make some tea. And review capitalization rules.)

Artist: Jessie Wilcox Smith
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