Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Apple Picking

Last weekend we went apple picking with friends at Behling Orchards, the same orchards we went to last year. Once again, the kids got carried away with the excitement of it all and we carried away an obscene amount of honeycrisp apples. Which, of course, happen to be the only expensive ones. They're worth it, though.

These apples are so big and rosy it was like picking sweet-tasting jewels. I get a lot of satisfaction from apples. They seem like such a common, almost boring fruit. They're such a staple. An apple a day. Oh, it's as American as apple pie. But there's something deep about an apple, too. Cut it right and find the star. We bite into their crisp flesh and the juices run out onto our hands. I think of Sunday school days, the priest telling us again how it's Eve's fault. How wrong to want, how wrong to long. We smile as we eat. We don't fall over like Snow White to sleep like death. We're the dwarves, we scurry away and we store these jewels for the winter. We don't have time for princesses. We're not afraid of snakes.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quotable Sunday

"Youth is like spring, an over praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits."

~Samuel Butler

I'm jumping on the bandwagon I've seen on some other blogs. I like the idea of quotes on Sundays.

Friday, September 25, 2009

One of the soldiers in our battalion was recently killed from an IED blast. He had a 9 year old daughter. My own daughter told me yesterday that one of her classmate's father was injured in a blast in Iraq and had to relearn speech and movement. She said, "but even though his brain wasn't working right he still remembered his son." Yesterday her classmate left early to go to Niagara Falls with his family to celebrate his father being better.

Oh please don't let these little examples pass you by as we are bombarded by timetables and analysis and budget talks and all that other stuff. I think it's so easy for us to forget the details of the picture when we don't have a loved one caught up in these wars. It's natural. We have no concrete idea here how war looks up close. But there are children dying in these wars,too, and civilians. Please look, and please remember.

There is no such thing as a good war.

I'm not enough of a pacifist to believe that military action is never necessary. But it's never glorious or good.

There is no such thing as a good war.

And I hope that if we all remember this, despite all the yelling and the fear mongering and the flag waving, we'll all be more careful. We'll insist that our governments be more careful.

I think we could all stand to be more thoughtful and careful with each other.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Over the weekend the kids I went to the Burrville Cider Mill, which is such a wonderful and fun old place. It's also about 5 minutes from our house. We checked out the process they use to make their cider, watched the beautiful water fall behind the place (that used to turn the water wheel) and left with some cider and also some hot cider doughnuts.

Apple mashing.

You can feel Autumn coming here. Actually, we've been feeling it for over a week now. I drug out the flannel sheets and put the down comforters on the beds during the suddenly chilly nights. I made a big pot of chili on Friday night, the first of the season. I made pumpkin bread. The leaves are turning.

Oh, and I have a new pot to make that chili in, and more besides! I finally broke down and bought one of the Le Creuset dutch ovens I've been wanting for awhile now.

There's the chili.

And here I made roasted lemon garlic chicken in it. I have to tell you I'm impressed with it so far, which I had better be for the price of the thing. But it's so versatile... the cast iron can be used on the stove top or in the oven. In fact, I browned the chicken on top of the stove before popping the while thing in the oven to roast.

Yes, it's love. And yes, I have become one of those bloggers who photographs meals.

Friday, September 11, 2009

10 Years

I've been with that man for 10 years as of today. He's not here to celebrate with me, but I've been mindful all day long of how grateful I am to have taken a leap with him, to have him in my life. We were never supposed to be together. There was too much against us, too many reasons it wasn't a good idea. We both risked a lot when we decided it was worth it... he even more than I.

I never, never forget that.

The past 10 years have NOT been easy. That doesn't make our partnership any less precious. It is my firm belief that almost anything truly worth it is hard. And marriage is hard. Marriage that has often been conducted long distance? Even harder. But I knew this man was meant to be in my life. I felt our connection. I knew it was good and right. And that is why I chose him when everyone and everything else was against it.

He's still my best friend. He knows me better than anyone else in the world. He makes me laugh every day. I think we've both seen the absolute best and worst of each other. And we still choose each other.

I've ridden away in a car in the dead of night with this man. I have a box of love letters in my bedroom. But the real heart of it, the real magic is that we fight and we struggle and we are sometimes bored and we often forget to appreciate the other, but at the end of the day it's only him. And it's only me. And I would still jump in that car with him. We've got two kids in the back seat now. I'd still choose him, I'd still choose this life, over everyone and everything.

And that is the most wildly romantic thing I can think of.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Thirst

We found a neat globe on sale at Target last week. The kids have been twirling it around, placing their fingers over one place and then another. (I do the same thing.) We found Afghanistan, traced the route Clint traveled to get there. We found South Korea, where he was stationed for what felt like such a long time a few years ago. We found Germany, where our good friends are from and who brought us back things from their visit there this summer. We found Ireland, where Clint and I went together.

It's funny, the more the world seemed to shrink as we found places we had some connection to, the more it actually expanded. Because there are so many more places we know almost nothing about. Places we want to know about. Places we want to see and discover. Places we will never get to go. Places we hope to see as we follow that dream.

The thing about moving around a lot is that it shrinks your time to enjoy what you go to the trouble of finding, over and over again. Friends. Family. Special places. That great diner, that perfect ice cream stand. But actually? As you see more and more of the world, as you meet more and more people, make more and more family wherever you go? You are really expanding. Our hearts and our minds and our special people and places... they all open up as wide as a big sky, as big and as never-ending as a globe on the table in our little house.

It's the same when you open yourself up to learning. I realized this early on. The more I would read, the more I would realize how much was out there to read, and that I would never get to all of it in my lifetime. The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don't know. Sometimes I think this is the difference between a small mind and an open one. This humility coupled with thirst.

I'm grateful to have a partner with the same thirst. I know we'll manage to take our kids overseas, to see as much as we can, because we both value that. I'm grateful the military will provide us with that avenue. And I'm so glad to see my kids awakening to that great paradox, that sweet thirst. Right now we're touching the map of the world and we're writing letters to send far away. We trace the way it will travel, over an ocean, over countries with languages and histories we don't understand. But we want to. We want to understand. And as everything shrinks, it will all expand.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We're back!

Today is the first day of school here. Benjamin is now a 1st grader and Sophia a 3rd grader! They've started at a new school this year (because of our move, they're in a new district) and I'm really happy and impressed with it. This morning went pretty well. I took them myself since it was the first day in a new school and they weren't sure about finding their classrooms. They both looked nervous and shy, and it's always hard to walk away from your kids when they look like that! But I know they'll come off the bus full of themselves and full of news.

We saw Clint off the end of July. We miss him so very much but we're doing well. He's doing well, too. I'll be writing much more in this space but right now I'm going to go get some things done without kids!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Renaissance Festival 2009

We do enjoy a good Renaissance Festival in this family, and we decided to go last Sunday. As I'm laid up at the moment with a busted ankle (in my usual grace, I fell off the step by my back door while trying to shut the door quickly so the cat wouldn't run out) I think I'll just post some pictures instead of being long-winded. The pictures really speak for themselves, anyway.

Benjamin practices his bow/salute.

The kids catch an Italian rogue traitor.

Sophia gets a ride on a war horse.

Mmm, gigantic turkey leg.

Sophia enjoying the Painted Lady storytelling and, well, painting.

And, of course, the best part was having a great day together as a family, not to mention that we met up with dear, dear friends and enjoyed their company as well. All in all, I couldn't imagine a better way to spend a Sunday.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Block leave is over and we're trying to make the most of our dwindling time together before Clint leaves, so this is just a quick hello. But I'll be back later! Have a great holiday!

Friday, May 29, 2009


Soon my husband will be deploying to Afghanistan, commanding his firefighter company. This picture is from the deployment ceremony today.

Soon the kids and I will have to miss our favorite guy for an entire year. Soon he will be in a country far away, shouldering intense responsibility, seeing and facing things most of us will likely only ever imagine, if that's even possible for us.

Soon the equipment will ship out and we'll update our wills, get special powers of attorneys, contact our bank and credit cards about the deployment, complete last minute tasks around the house, and do all the things we have to do as a family and as a couple to be ready for this deployment.

Soon we'll have two precious weeks of block leave (vacation) together. We will take many, many pictures and smile many, many smiles and enjoy every minute of it.

Soon the kids will get clingy and sad. Soon they will each get a calendar so that they can count down the days of deployment and they will break out their letter writing kits. Soon they will need to creep into the bed I'm sleeping in alone to snuggle more and more. They will help me fill boxes for their dad, filled with colored pictures and notes and photos and small trinkets they want to share with him. We will all go the post office, fill out the overseas shipping forms, tape the box up, and send it very far away. We will imagine the sand in that very old place, wonder how the air smells there.

Soon I will cook smaller dinners. And frankly, probably get Subway more often. Soon, in the stress of the final few weeks, I will wish he would just leave already, so we can get on with getting by and waiting for him to come home. I will call my fellow army wives, my very dear friends, and they will know exactly what I mean and how I feel. Because they are feeling it or have felt it too. We will go to the gym together and joke about how the junk in our trunk will look SO HOT when the guys get back. We will split a bottle of wine. I will remember again and again why I am so grateful to have them in my life, why if anyone asks for my advice, I always tell them not to move home for deployments. You can't get this back in your civilian hometown.

Soon what I put in this blog will feel more like a love letter. A letter to my husband far away, sharing parts of our days and hoping he feels part of them. A letter to my kids, remembering all those little moments that fly by so quickly. A letter to myself, being present in the fresh page of every day. A letter to anyone else reading, because what we share always has a way of meaning something to someone else.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Children's theatre, and a movie observation

Last weekend we took the kids and went to Syracuse with some of our old neighbors. We went to a restaurant called The Spaghetti Warehouse where a children's theatre troupe was putting on a play. The Emperor's New Clothes, in fact.

Children's theatre is always just plain fun (in my experience) and the kids had a great time, although I have to admit that the play we saw at The Skinny Improv in Springfield, MO was much, much better...not to mention longer. But it was still worth it, and it was nice to get out and do something a bit different.

When the play was over and we had filled our bellies with good Italian food we went to the Children's Museum, where there was rock wall climbing, a session in the planetarium (where Benjamin kept loudly proclaiming that various constellations did NOT look like what the man was telling us they were, but like a shoe), and then there was this fabulous cycling skeleton who rode his bike as you pedaled so we could see how the bones worked.

It's so nice to see the kids learning, isn't it?

The following Monday Clint was able to leave work early and we went to the movies before the kids were done with school. We saw Angels & Demons, because Clint has read the book and really wanted to see it. I enjoyed it for what it was, and it was extremely fast paced. Now, I haven't read the book so I can't say what the book was going for, but it amused me (in a very ironic way) that the only woman playing any part in the story is responsible for bringing about antimatter, the extremely explosive substance which was stolen and is being used to perhaps blow up the Vatican. So here's a movie that seems to want to make some sort of statement or give some sort of insight about religion, Catholicism in particular, and it gives us an all male view. Oh, except for the woman taking the apple from the serpent. I mean, the woman scientist who created antimatter. You know, that old chestnut.

Ah well. It did have Ewan McGregor, and I don't care who you are, Ewan is hot and a damn good actor.

And now I have to clean up my den of disobedience a bit before getting the kids from school.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mama's Day Musing

You know, I'm not one to get in to random holidays, particularly ones that seem rather driven by consumer culture like, say, Valentine's Day. I like birthdays and I like holidays laden with old traditions, even if the traditions are just ones you've made up in your own family, and "old" is relative to how long your family has been celebrating it. But the Hallmark Holidays? Totally not my thing. And yet, I like Mother's Day. I don't like it so much for it being about honoring me, the Mama, because I don't need a day printed on the calendar for that (and I can't help but think of all the other women who aren't mothers and are no less for it, or the people who don't have mothers with or near them anymore, or the people struggling with any number of heartaches around the very complex and often messy circumstances of motherhood). No, I like it for the kids. I like how excited it makes my children to consciously celebrate that they are my children. I love their sweet, open faces as they pour a handful of crushed dandelions into my cupped palms. I love the ecstasy you can see in them, in knowing they have thought and worked on some small token that has brought a smile and a squeal from their Mama.

I am thinking about this particularly this year after seeing Benjamin's Kindergarten class at the Tea they put on. All of those kids were beaming at their mothers. All of them were so proud and so transparently full of delight in loving and being loved by that person who came to be honored. Sometimes there is a humility necessary in stepping away from "I don't need XYZ because of a calendar date" and allowing someone to honor you because they want to. And that's Mother's Day...it's about them to be about me at all. It might be called Mother's Day but it's the children who make you a player in it.

It makes me think about how every year on Sophia's birthday, it always feels like it's the day two people were born. My first child slipped out of my body but she birthed me as her mother in doing so.

I am not the same person I was before I called myself a Mama. I am continually, constantly glad of it.

A few nights ago Benjamin was cuddling to sleep with me in bed, and he was rambling in the way he does and he somehow got on the topic of What Happens When We Die, which is something he mulls and seems pretty appropriate to his age. He asked, again, as he does, "Do you think we all start back over again and again, Mama?" and I said, as I always gently do, that I just don't know for sure. And then he said, "When you die and I die, I'm going to hold tightly to you so that if we start over you will be my Mama again." And I said, "I always want to be your Mama."

And that was enough for both of us.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day Tea, and My Daughter Has A Cooler Haircut Than I Do

This is Benjamin and I after the Mother's Day Tea at his Kindergarten, with the poem he gave me. There was also a poem recited and a very cute song sung. When I arrived he met me at the door, took me to my seat, and pulled my chair out for me. He also picked me flowers and we had tea and punch and cookies together. I wish I could show you how all their little faces were beaming with such joy and excitement in what they had planned and done for us, their Mamas. I actually get rather teared up when I think of his proud and loving little face this afternoon. It was so much more than I ever expected it to be.

Lately it seems like we have been sick constantly. Seriously, it has been one thing after another between us...I cannot remember a year EVER where the kids have been sick this often. I thought maybe it was having two kids in public school now, but other people tell me it's been a bad year for them, too. You can see how being sick brings the little hellmonkeys down. Right now Sophia is getting over an ear infection and we're all starting to feel better after a stomach bug.

We did find time to get the kids' hair cut recently, and now it seems my eight year old daughter has hipper hair than I do. If I looked good in short hair I would totally steal her style. She loves it, too, except she's lobbying hard for blue highlights now. I think the coolness has gone to her head a little. She also recently told me that she's "not in to pink anymore, Mom" and prefers "dark colors for nail polish." Hmm.

Have I mentioned my red shoes? ?!! They were my birthday gift (you know, the kind where Clint came home from work one evening in early March and I said, "Oh, honey, thank you for the birthday gift you ordered me from Zappos today! They're exactly what I wanted!!" and he just nodded his head and was glad THAT ordeal was taken care of), and they make me irrationally, indecently happy. They're made by Ecco and are thus also one of the more comfortable pairs of foot attire I've ever worn. There's not much that brightens up my day to day like interesting footwear. I have a drawer full of colorful and often striped socks, too.

Yesterday I went to get ready and pick the kids up from school and discovered I had no underwear clean. This was extremely ironic as I had actually been doing quite a lot of laundry (something I can't always say for myself) but had somehow neglected my own underwear. Now I know this is going to bother you, and you are wondering in your mind if I went out in public with no decent undergarments, so I will tell you that I went and got a pair I had just put in the dryer and went at them with the hairdryer. Scorn me if you will, but sometimes I think I win at life.

And I get to hang out with this:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Something Blue

...on a gray, cloudy day. This is our bedroom in the new house, with our new bed that I am wildly in love with. I painted the room right after we got the keys, before we moved in, and I also love the color. It's a bit darker in person than the photo shows, probably because I took this today, when it is gray and rainy and the flash had to burn out extra bright, and it feels like relaxing in a sea of blue, or perhaps that shade of summer sky in the deep part of a particularly clear afternoon.

Here's a picture from Benjamin's birthday party, as he opens presents still wearing his Indiana Jones hat.

And here is Benjamin's cake that we made him. He very decidedly picked out pink icing. And I cannot lie: I love that he did. We are a family very attached to color, I think.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Long Time, No Type

But quite a lot has happened around here. First of all, we bought a house and moved into it. I really was set against buying, but Clint was very determined and we were somewhat unhappy with our renting arrangement (mainly just about the money) and so I find myself in a house that we purchased. It's a 1923 bungalow, and I do love it. It feels very strange, though. I confess to having moments of feeling extremely claustrophobic about it all. Until now, it has always been relatively easy for us to pick up and move wherever with very little notice, and I have to say I miss that. I feel rather tied down now. But the house is great. There are some things that need fixed up, but nothing we can't handle.

What else? Good things first, I think. Benjamin turned six!! This seems supremely shocking to me, but maybe that's just a Mama Thing. We had a party for him at the house which he enjoyed very much, and made me extremely tired. He dressed up as Indiana Jones (he wants to be an archaeologist now) and ran around in the brilliant 60 degree weather with his friends. (Oh, that brilliant weather? Today it is snowing. Hmph.) He received lots of Bakugan and some Ben 10 stuff and Indiana Jones Legos (his newest obsession) and the last season of Avatar.

He recently picked out a group of 3 chapter books to be read aloud, beginning with Bunnicula, and both kids are enjoying them very much. Sophia is reading the first Harry Potter book on her own and we're slowly reading through Coraline together. The kids are also both into board games now, which is very fun and means we can have family game nights.

Our other big news is that Clint will be leaving for Afghanistan some time in July for a 12 month deployment. As you can imagine, we are gearing up for that in various ways and it will no doubt only get busier from here on out. I plan on using this blog a lot more...hopefully Clint will have some sort of internet access over there and using this blog to post about our days will seem like we're sharing it a bit more with him -- and with you too, of course.

Right now I have to go get dinner out of the oven and settle a dispute about which movie to watch, though. :)