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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Last Days of School



I came across these tiny saddles in the hallway last night and realized that was the last they'd be out for a while. Tuesday was Baby Sister's last day of Kindergarten. Much to the great envy of her siblings (especially those taking exams) summer has already begun for her! So we've traded those little shoes for bare piggies and flip flops.

It doesn't seem like that long ago that my heart broke (and my face melted behind movie star sunglasses) as I walked Biggest Brother to his first day of Kindergarten. Beginnings and ends are always moist around here. I cannot even write the teacher thank you notes yet because I end up crying. Tears of gratitude for their wonderful year, but also a pangs of knowing time is marching on. The smalls less so every moment.

There is much to be thankful for. I am hugely grateful that I get the chance to see every grade four times. Often in new and exciting places. And sometimes in the same place which is always great! Also, we're so very happy that they all have one more year in school together next year. We never imagined the four of them would be in the same school. Having the chance to do that for four straight years?! We're so blessed. They love being together.

How neat is it that when I open my picture library it shows me photos from a year ago? Truthfully, sometimes that makes me blue, too but this week it sweetly illustrates the passage of time. Baby Sister's teacher measured and weighed the students at the beginning and end of the year so we have proof that she grew 3 inches. The top photo is from the first days of the year. The bottom two from this week.




In keeping with our near inability to get a good group shot lately, it took more than a few attempts to get shots on the last day with everyone in uniforms. They tell a story. New backdrop with a new house. Baby Sister's first lost tooth and evidence of a fall off a sliding board/her first broken bone. (That last bit promises to make our first few weeks at the pool a challenge...! She has asked me a million ways and times how she can swim with a cast. Bless.)

I see other things, too. Big Brother getting glasses this year. Big Sister having gained a sense of confidence and joy from a super teacher and great friends. And Biggest Brother nearly as tall as I am. All of them way more interesting, worldly, smart and creative than I ever was at their ages. I would have loved to have been their friends. Hooray that they're my babies all.

Even tho compared to a British school year it seems negligently early to be trading backpacks for beach towels, we're ready. I love our summertimes. I love our tradition of drawing the days' activity from a jar. We all want to be good summer readers and keep learning. But we'll be extra happy to be doing that while barefoot and without belts. Or saddle oxfords.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

For This Child I Have Prayed



Our first baby girl made her First Holy Communion over the weekend. She is a real blessing. And a true dolly. I could stare at this picture for days. She was so proud of herself and joyful. We are, too. 


Her fan club was equally tickled and we were all a little taken aback to see her look so much more grown up.


There are lots of the every days and then there extraordinary ones like Sunday that seem to come and go so quickly. Really this whole school year has flown and now somehow we're just days away from the start of our summertime. 


Someday, I bet I'll look back at these pictures and think they look so little. But for the moment, I see whispers of their big selves in these images. Legs are getting longer, faces are thinning out. But I always see them snuggled up together.

I can imagine these pictures on display at graduations and weddings. I hope they'll always be nearby in the extraordinary and even ordinary days. Standing together and celebrating.

These are the days!  xo

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Royal Wait

My own Big Brother should avert his gaze from this post. He tired of the royals in the late 60s I think. Bad news as he's one of about 3 or 4 people who read this blog. (Biggest Brother in our house revealed he gets it pushed to his inbox but doesn't always get around to reading it. I think he'll read it when I get to the one about his birthday. Even tho I'm a bit late on that account!)


And speaking of things overdue, we're really eager here for news of the Royal Baby's arrival! Well. I am. I cannot really speak for the rest of them but they'll be in on it before too long. I've warned my family to be ready for a festive dinner celebration. Also balloons and fanfare. Good timing for me to bring to the fore all sorts of royal memorabilia.

Two mornings in a row I've had coffee in mugs celebrating Prince George. Two different mugs as I'm that nutty and/or fortunate to have collected and been given gobs of adorable souvenirs. Here's hoping the Mister is ready to travel with a spare suitcase on his next London trip!

It would be extra fun if The Baby News happens while my mother is visiting this week as she can tell the kids about our watching Lady Di and Prince Charles get married from our family room in Virginia and how she saw Princess Diana at the Springfield JC Penney. True stories.

Meanwhile, we can think back to that great day when little Prince George arrived. When I swung by to add to the well wishers in the neighborhood. Those were the days, friends!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The View from Here

We love Nashville and our new house. We're at home at school and church and are making super friends. LaLaLa.

But there are lots of days when I still really, really miss being a Londoner. (Missing most my fantastic girlfriends, of course!) One of my favorite things about living that life was walking. Full disclosure: the grass IS always greener. Pun intended. Sometimes when four kids left the flat walking in four directions, we groused about not being able to strap them into a car and go.

But we really loved exploring the city on foot and scooter. Walking through Hyde Park to play or for dinner. Meandering in our neighborhood and seeing something new every day. Being part of the constant excitement found just stepping out the door. The hub and the bub. In the wild thick of it.


It is mostly all different here. We have to have a car and can't walk to school or stores or much of anything. Skyline views are surely different, too.


But we can hike in our own backyard. We take glorious nature walks in our neighborhood. We wake to chattery songbirds. In the last few days, we've spied wild turkeys, chipmunks and snakes. The Mister and Biggest Brother have even seen a coyote!  The noisiest thing seems to be a babbling brook.


In the flat, our bare feet would be black from the soot that came chugging in the windows without screens. From the city life that was just a window crank away. Now I'm sweeping up all sorts of mud and leaves that get tracked inside. I'm on constant indoor insect duty from our woodland life. It is all different. And that's long before firefly season is upon us.

While some days it is still an adjustment to be here, I cannot complain about the view.


Happiest Earth Day. I'm serving up a "Jacket Potato" bar for dinner. Maybe we'll eat outside.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Home Again, Home Again.

Jiggity Jig!


Until you can come over, I thought you might like a sneak peak around the new house. We're really settling in and thrilled. So often one of the smalls says something about how much they love our home or how much it is like us. They're right! It is fun and casual and more laid back than any of our previous homes. It suits our now and is filled with favorites.

We spend an extraordinary amount of time in the kitchen. It is the heart of the home. Surely not because of my culinary skills. Can you see the original booth painted and resurfaced on the lower right?


Here's a real surprise. I thought the sunporch would be just sort of "there" until our next round of renovations. This is apparently A Thing that happens when you know that walls can come down and rooms can be reconfigured. You start considering all sorts of wild possibilities for your house and its future. But we spend lots of time playing, eating and just being in the sunroom/sunporch. It is the perfect spot for our outdoor couch and old kitchen table. And can you tell that is a Mr Ed door leading outside? Just getting to that little room is fun. Those lucky girls got a Mr Ed door on their bedroom, too. Their's was moved from the dining room.


Love this mid-century style light fixture. Even if it has been tricky to get the wattage right on all 18 bulbs. The electrician mentioned something about the switch plate doubling as a heat source if we didn't take it down a few 100 notches. That glow also makes it a challenge for my photography skills.


Breakfast room. Home to our old Marshall Field's table. The drawers have still not surfaced even tho we're pretty much unpacked. Geez. Check out the switch plate. It is home to a few of the kazillion dimmer switches I had installed. I bought old school round push button dimmers for about $1 each. They're among my favorite parts of our house.


Looking out toward the coolest front door I can imagine. This house makes me happy.


Guest room. Book soon and often!


Extra guests get to sleep in the pub!  The pub must have been home to lots of important Jack Daniels goings on, but I doubt many sleepovers.


The house's colors just tickle me. We went with grays in some spots, but otherwise it is chock full of happy hues. Pinks in the guest room, turquoise in the girls' (and on two doors) and even though I didn't get a shot of it, the coolest navy in the Music Room (which goes great with orange sparkle drums!). I'm determined to use that shade somewhere else.



What? You noticed our fab "new" end table? Ha! It is the previous owner's fantastic original RCA. Too amazing to leave in the basement.


One day soon we'll send actual "we've moved" cards for this house. Ideally while the whole topic is still fresh. We made an attempt to take a photo on Easter Sunday to enclose with our new contact information. This is as close as we got. Four people dressed and posed. And me chasing a stray. I love that the four of them are more focused on the camera than on the sudden departure of Baby Sister and me. ha! One day we'll get it together. Until then, enjoy the pix.

And by all means, start planning your trip to Music City. Where else can you sleep IN a pub?
xo


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Simple Grace

I flew to Virginia for a friend's funeral last weekend. At sunset. On Good Friday.


Part Holy Week, part daughter of an Air Force officer, I heard the words about slipping the surly bonds of Earth...and touching the face of God when I gazed out the airplane window.

I went in part to support my wonderful friends and the family that has lost so much. But selfishly, I also went to seek peace around a sudden death. Of a young mother. Who purposefully and joyfully dedicated her life to family and friends. A successful woman who left her career to find a different performance review. She raised children and supported her husband. And was a best friend to a host of women. In doing so, she lifted and shaped not just a neighborhood, but a community.

I felt sure that it would be the antithesis of heaven for any mother - or anyone - I know to be suddenly wrenched from loving family and friends. From the general "back and forth" cares of her world. If am out of sorts to do the school run if beds are unmade or dishes in the sink, how could any of us find Good News in a forever departure without warning? Without a million things done and said. Then said again and again for emphasis.

However fantastic heaven may be, how could I possibly be happy about that outcome? How could I find sense, or worse, any faith in that sort of shocking loss?

Bless her amazing ministers. God bless them for enduring their own sadness as they got comforting words out and shared a framework for moving forward. For marking a huge and sudden trial with grace and miraculously, with hope. Also peace and comfort.

The Mister and my own sister can take great joy in hearing that even without the Catholic ritual and rite that I love, the Protestants gave me just what I prayed for this week. They helped me begin to understand - and continue to believe - in the face of such sadness and grief.

This week has given me a big opportunity to reflect on what is meaningful in our lives. And how much our friends have enriched us throughout the years. Their small and large kindnesses have made us feel at home wherever we are. For which we are hugely grateful.

Standing together. But missing one. Seeking a simple grace.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bright White

Big Sister is working hard to prepare for her First Holy Communion. (And to those preparing her scrapbook pages, many thanks!) She is studying and learning and enjoying lessons with her wonderful teacher and dear friends. She is teaching me and has become a great resource to her brothers for their Religion assignments.


And a very small part of her preparation is getting a white dress, pretty little shoes and a cardigan.

We have my First Communion dress and my wedding veil which we'll incorporate into what she wears. I love passing down clothes for the sacraments. The smalls all wore the same baptismal gown. I wore the dress my Nana wore to my parents' wedding to my bridal shower and my mother's wedding dress to my rehearsal dinner. But I got the sense that my mid-70s polyester blend swiss dot frock might not be what Big Sister had in mind for her day.


I thought I knew just what she'd like in a new dress - something very simple and comfortable. Instead, she envisioned a lace top and poofy skirt! It arrived this week and as you can tell, she is thrilled.


Her tiny buttery-soft freckled face shone. She asked if she could stay in it just a bit longer. Oh. Sure! Just long enough for me to capture those sweet moments on film!


Big Sister seemed a bit more grown when she put her dress on and that's really okay. She's a big girl taking a big step. Baby Sister (who'll surely wear that pretty dress in a few short years) looks equally thrilled and even a little bit awestruck.

In love.


Friday, March 27, 2015

The Sporting Life

We're full on cheering these days. Rooting for our three favorite soccer players. And what some days feels like 300 schedules. (How on earth my girlfriends with large families do it is beyond me. When they're not coordinating carpools, I suspect they're lobbying for children to start driving at about 9 years old. Or maybe 10 and a half.)


We have great cheer for our wonderful sports. And for Big Sister who is their best sideline supporter. She is sure to be the unsung hero of this season and I'll have to remember to celebrate her extra when we've cheered our last game in May. Remind me.

We have great cheer for running and playing after a few weeks of weather that kept us in. We hope for sun to shine our players all season. At least after tomorrow -- when temperatures are to hover at the freezing mark. Brrrr. Those early games are always a test of true fandom! I hope that they develop the fundamentals, support each other and play hard.


Check out the zoom on Baby Sister. She is the tiny blond on the far left. 


Biggest Brother knows where to get a consoling hug after a tough loss.

In addition to learning about their sports and having a great time watching my smalls play with their friends, I love the sideline fellowship and socially acceptable shouting. We also bring good snacks.

Speaking of sports, today contractors in the kitchen spied my single trophy. Well. Yes. That IS my "1988 Superstar Girl" award! Indeed. I'm not seeking plaudits and doubt any other trophies are coming my way. I'm fine with that. Really. But beyond the kitsch decor, I feel genuinely happy to give this a place of honor. A wonderful thing about sports is the definitive win/loss factor. When you think about it, there are few times in life when wins are so clearly enumerated. Most of my days end reflecting on a mashup of jobs fairly well done and areas needing lots of improvement. But the shining successes topped off with faux gold statuettes? Those should be cherished. And prominently displayed in your home. Even decades beyond their prime.


That's also my decorating tip for the day.

So here we are enjoying the sporting life. This glorious season of playing. Grateful for the teamwork found in the gymnastics of logistics. It is a wonder to be witness to their enthusiasm, hard work and spirit in action.

GO TIGERS!

PS: the trophy shot is from the old house. Coming soon are big reveal photos of our new house and the renovations. Or would you just settle for ones that show that we're making progress getting situated?! Those I might get to soon.

ha and xo