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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy, happy day

This guy turned 12 a few days ago. I see his baby face in this photo. In his twinkly-eyed laugh. He has always been sweet and musical. Kind and funny. Easy to know and like. Somethings I suppose (I hope!) never change.

He has a wide circle of friends and an array of talents. It would be tough to find a nicer guy on the planet. Even if he's trying out a bit of preteen swagger on me.

To celebrate his big day, he helped his team win another soccer game and took a fantastic group of guys (Big Brother and the Mister included) to paintball. He's going to continue celebrating by seeing a London friend this weekend. Hard to imagine that this time next year those boys will be actual teenagers. But still. He's seemed like a little man for a very long time. We used to joke that it was just a formality that the Mister and I would be home with him. That joke didn't last long enough. 

We're so blessed to call him ours. He's always the captain of our team and the leader of an admiring brood. He defines First Born. He's super and even though he thinks it's funny when I say so, I really like him a lot. 

He has earned his stripes this year and then some. Cheering him for his bday. And always!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Big Apple Chronicles

We've had a bit of a tumultuous relationship with New York City this year. There were about 48 hours last spring when we were moving there after London. And very happily so. The Mister and I'd been conspiring to get a NYC posting for years. Don't get me wrong, Nashville is fantastic and was surely meant to be for us now. But that abrupt change of course meant there was a long time when I wasn't at all keen to see the Mister drink anything from his Brooklyn Brewery pint glasses. Not being city - not being New Yorkers - stung for a while. 

So a year ago I would have been shocked if you'd told me how thrilled we'd all be to spend our Spring Break in the Big Apple. I probably would have said something completely unintelligible as I was weeping into a red bandana over a coffee on the Marylebone High Street. It took several days of red-ringed eyes, wearing sunglasses on overcast school runs and much, much cheer from my London girlfriends (who pledged to wear "neckerchiefs" when they arrived in Nashville) to remind me that we don't always know what's next for us.

But we took Manhattan by storm a few weeks ago and loved every minute (Even if I locked my jaws a few times instead of responding to the Smalls cheerful questioning of "Why didn't we move HERE?!"). We were thrilled that they love New York like we do. Biggest Sister, she of few words sometimes, kept exclaiming things like, "I LOVE New York!"

Not unlike taking the kids to Paris, our goal was for them to see enough of the city that they'd love it and be eager for a return trip. It helped significantly that our first stop was dinner at a Pret and then for a stroll through Rockefeller Center and Times Square at night.

Day One found us at the World Trade Center memorial site. It is hard to believe that we were expecting Biggest Brother when the towers came down and what seems like not that much later we were there with four little children. The museum opens next month and it promises to be a profound experience.

The ferry ride to Liberty Island reminded me of ferrying them across the English Channel. Maybe it was Baby Sister's fantastic hat.

And all my French friends should know how happy we were to be reminded of this treasured gift.

Farmer's Market in Greenwich Village and a research trip for inspiration for our own budding shop.


A tour of Teddy Roosevelt's boyhood home. My favorite part of that was discovering his quote: "For unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison." And how!

The Empire State Building. Cold and really windy made us feel like we were back in Chicago.

The Plaza, FAO Schwarz and Tiffany. 

And I cannot believe I didn't get a photo of another great stop. We stumbled into a super new restaurant for a perfectly simple dinner. Hot dogs are their speciality but we enjoyed it all. I'll think of it and report back.

Until next time, New York. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fishes and Loaves 2014

Radio silence for nearly two weeks and now you'll quickly tire of me. 

It is that time of year when all my posts seem tinged in purple and bathed in Lenten to dos. A bit pious, I know. But this is a modern day story of fishes and loaves that I thought you'd like. 

I really must come up with a good name for our new school. Our Sweet School will forever be in London, but our current one has really caught us. Has made a soft yet exceedingly strong little net into which we’ve fallen. For which it deserves its very own moniker. And our many thanks for having brought a special little book to us this year.

Our New School (that will do for now) is very faithful. The children celebrate Mass once a week. You’d love seeing over 700 uniformed prayerful children singing and celebrating together. It often brings me to tears (this is where my London friends are thinking “la plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!" -- apologies for my franglais and American keyboard). The school's Lenten activities include a weekly school wide Stations of the Cross. On the first week I joined them, a sweet boy noticed that I was without this book and shared his with me. Oh this little book! Jesus' passion put into terms and prayers that somehow children from tiny to big (and me, too) can understand. Made real to our everyday. And don’t even get me started on the circa 1960s illustrations. It is a testament to how well my own children know me that they knew I’d love that book as they read it!

So I had to have my own copy. Which is likely how you’ve also come to have your own, too. You see, in trying to find a copy of this sweet little book, I found a bunch at a church supply company. They are starting to distribute a modern translation (with new illustrations -- eeegads!) but they had one box of the original left. Did I want that one? Yes, please. With expedited shipping.

So I gave some to my new Nashville girlfriends, many of whom used that very book when they were students at Our New School. Then I sent some to family and my London girlfriends. To girlfriends I’ve known since I was a girl. To many families who dot our address book and Christmas card list from Europe to Illinois and Brazil. Those little books went all around the globe and took a bit of me with them. For days on end I’d remember more families who might enjoy a copy and my piles for the mailbox grew. It seemed I was forever dropping another stack in the post.

But after mailing them out all Lent and defying all logic and number crunching, there is still a healthy little stack left in the box. Waiting for new friends. For another place and another time. Another Lent and new lessons to be learned. 

So many little loaves fed so many and yet, there is still so much to share. 

What a blessing. Really.

And while I didn’t in any way mean for all this sharing of something had come so quietly to us to elicit a gaggle of responses, it sure has. And delightfully so. I’ve heard from friends far and wide. That should be joyful, but Lent is full of mixed feelings and even this project included bitter with sweet. It is a delight to know that these little books tie us together at this season and will for future Lents too. But maybe it also reminded me of all those miles that separate us. 

I love the thought of a big celebration and every week at Mass, and of course Easter, is just that. I love pondering a reading and knowing those same stories are touching the ears of my friends in Virginia, La Grange, London, and across Europe and South America. Separated by hours and miles to be sure, but there is a real happiness in that communion. 

All around the world.  I hope you enjoy the little book. And you can be sure that I have more for your new friends, too. xo

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Passion Sunday

Palms waved, the sun shone and I snapped my little people snuggled together on the porch.

They really like each other. I could stare at these pix forever - all their limbs tangled up. Buddies!

They also adore their new backyard and scootering all about the driveway. Even if it results in more than a few big gashes to tiny knees. Check out Big Sister's latest badge of honor.

This spring has been super and I have much to tell you later this week but didn't want to wait another minute to share these.

The Mister photobombed my photo shoot! And how much do you love the faux chocolate bunny? He's a treasure from our favorite local antique shop. We'll miss our springtime sentinel when the boxwoods and pink bows are replaced with American flag bunting and brass star.

Those summer days will be here soon but I'm pretty sure that for the moment, these are the days we'll remember.