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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween preview

Maya got to wear her Halloween costume to school on Thursday.

I don't want to openly brag about how adorable our daughter is so I won't.

I will show you instead.

Mrs. Babbit was in there somewhere....
She might be allergic to the real thing but she can snuggle right up to Mrs. Wilson.

I couldn't resist this shot from behind.  Please don't judge me on the crooked part in her hair.  You try parting hair as twisted as cavatappi.

Outside with the pumpkin man, before Mrs. Babbit helped me switch Sandi's camera off the black and white setting.... I may be not have all my ducks in a row but at least I finally know how to ask for help. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

soaking up fall

We have a full time blader in our midst now:

And the normal risk taking activities from our youngest:

Maya does like to blade, but it is hard when running is so much faster.

Everywhere we go, kids are on wheels.

We spent some of our coveted Sunday afternoon family time with Mindy, Charissa and Emerson and had fun playing outside, carving pumpkins and just all being together since we so rarely are these days.

Nothing soothes the spirit like some time in the woods, crunching on leaves and remaining suspended between the glorious extroversion of summer and the quiet introversion of winter. Autumn has got it all going on: sweatshirt weather, azure skies, sunshine that must be coaxed into warmth, birthdays for both our girls, applesauce to make, no more lawn to mow, first wood fires, bike rides that can still be taken and trees boasting their annual brilliance.

Every now and then I get this panicky feeling deep inside me about the girls growing up.  Ella is so wise to things that we do and say now.  Spelling words as a method of stealth is no longer a secure protocol.   I can feel the shine of innocence losing its luster.  Maya has big ideas, angry rants and affections that seem to stretch across the world.


Both girls crave snuggle time.  Ella still wants to hold my hand in hers when we walk, my presence is still requested for lengthy periods at bedtime and she cries often about going back to school because she will miss me.  I relish Maya's tiny hand in mine, her soft cheeks, her occasional baby smell when she sleeps.  In a few days she will be four and suddenly I no longer feel like I have LITTLE kids.   We have bigger kids- ones that can be left in the house so I can walk the dog up the road, can get dressed alone, can buckle their seat belts, skate alone, chew gum, draw pictures, play elaborate imaginary games, have goals and dreams and real disappointments. 

It's not that I want to go back. I love where they are exactly right now.  I wish to freeze time right here for the, but allow time to pass for Sandi to finish school so she doesn't miss it.  It all feels like it is happening so fast. I feel like I am going to wake up in the morning and they will be packing for college and I will want my babies back.

But, alas, perhaps I can just step back and realize that while they are in fact bigger, older, wiser, they are also so much more themselves and I can love them all the more deeply.

These are my girls and man, oh, man do I love them.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Ella is really into rollar skating.

As in make me proud, remind me of when I used to spend hours on wheels circling the stairs in my basement as a kid wearing my fishnets and singing Madonna kind of way.

And Maya likes it in a hero-worship her sister sort of way.

Last week after Sandi's parents came to watch the girls skate, the girls found themselves decked out in their very own skates and safety gear.  Just that week Ella had informed me she wanted roller skates for her birthday next month.  Having already bought her birthday gifts, I simply nodded

"So I can I count on it?"  she wanted to know.

Sandi bought the skates for the girls as a gift from their grandparents and brought them home as a surprise.  Since Ella's were way too big we had to take them back to Target the next day.  Standing in front of the selection of skates, Ella's eyes got big and she whispered to me in awe, "Can I get BLADES?"

For those of you who have not yet had your child subscribe to something simply because it is cool, let me tell you this is a strange moment as a parent.  Part of me thought it was incredibly adorable that she wanted these skates she attributed to the bigger kids at the roller rink, that she felt up to the challenge of skating on something she had never even stood up in, and part of me wanted to whisk her off to the baby department and size her up for an infant bathtub and new 5 point car seat.

But alas, she is standing on the brink of her seventh birthday and who I am to stand in the way of evolution?

Or better yet, a timid child's request for a challenge?

(please forgive the slight blur to the pictures- they wouldn't let us use a flash and this post could not be done without pictures)

So now Ella is a BLADER.  She puts on her BLADES.  She goes BLADING.  I called them roller blades once and she quickly corrected me.  "They are blades, Mom." 

How did I become uncool so fast?

When we first brought the blades home and were lacing them up for the very first time, Ella said, "I bet Santa is SO happy right now."

Confused about the nonsequitur, I stupidly asked, "Why?"

"Because Santa  watches everything I do and I bet he is SO excited to see me get my blades!"

(At which point I realized that this is how some people think about God and, while this will not send me running to my nearest house of worship, perhaps it is time for some talk about global spirituality to replace the all-seeing eye of Santa in Ella's understanding of a higher power.)

The bottom line is she is over-the-top happy.  And the blades have corrected the funny skating form she had adopted of keeping one leg stable on moving the other one in and out in a curve.

Monkey see, monkey do:

The girls have got it all going on, including chomping gum by the gumball machine.  They shared quarters and dyed sugar and even perfected the hand on the hip, I'm-too-cool-for-words pose.
The skater girl posse:
Sandi always takes a study break to come watch the girls during their one hour Saturday kid's skate. We stand and drink coffee and wonder how it ever came to be that we go on a date at the local roller rink.

Now that our girls are so super cool, I think Sandi and I should practice wearing out of style jeans, orange lipstick and maybe even go to school drop-off in our bathrobes since it is only a matter of time before our kids start making fun of us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

keeping up

I just haven't had it in me to blog lately.   I'm too busy trying to maintain my sanity.

I feel like I have all I can do to manage my life and those of the people under four feet in my house.  I am working VERY hard to create a new normal for myself.  A life where I rush less, breath more and work hard not to scream.  I found myself getting stomach aches every afternoon from clenching my insides and breathing only in my upper register.

To accomplish this, I talk to myself a lot.  As in out loud.  I say things like, "Breathe Suzanne.  You don't have rush now.  Try to enjoy this."  "You don't have to fit it all in at this moment."  "You have time."   And even (gasp): "You can be a few minutes late and the world will go on."

I've also become quite selfish.  I say no to things that I know will make me frantic for time.  I've given up my ultra efficiency in favor of not treating my kids like I am their drill sergeant.  I try to show up early for things and let them move at their own pace instead of by my mantra: "WE ARE LATE!"

I exercise a bunch (thank goodness Maya loves the gym  daycare) and I sit down every night to read or watch reruns of Grey's Anatomy.   I'm even starting to accept help when it is offered.  I've become more realistic about what can be accomplished in a day while still maintaining a state of, if not outright joy, than at least something not as close to misery.  I've taken the pressure off myself to run far, be healed enough to race or even know my running future. 

In short, I am becoming someone other than myself.

Here are some funny things Maya has been saying lately:

Maya, when she was mad at a limit I set with her, "I'm telling Mommy on you."

Maya, contemplating life in the back seat, "I think I'll eat my parents.  No, I guess not."

Maya, eyeing the chili Sandi was eating for lunch, "Do not put that on my psgetti." (spaghetti)

Ella has been saying more poignant things like, "It used to seem like Mommy was gone a lot when she was at work but now that she is gone all the time, that doesn't seem like it was so much."

and:  "I can feel that I am getting bigger."

and: "Why don't we go to Church?"  After I explain that we love the community at church but don't believe all the things that churches believe she replied, "Yeah, I don't have any idea what they are talking about there.  It's like blah, blah, blah.  I just like to go in the playroom."

Friday, October 14, 2011


This is no ordinary tower being built over breakfast.

See the dollar bill in there?

Can you guess who it's from?

You know it!
When Sandi's sister Kristi gave birth to her daughter, McKenna, she basically told her body it was time to labor that baby out and pushed perhaps without the full consent of her body to produce her into the world.

Last night Ella extracted her tooth the way Kristi birthed McKenna.

The tooth has been wiggly for a while but last night an audible "crack" was heard during dinner.  I would estimate that the tooth went from being 40% wiggly at supper to extracted in under 30 minutes.  The girls spoke to Sandi on her way home from Portland and Ella said, "Mommy! I am in the process of losing my tooth RIGHT NOW!" 

I love it when Ella works hard at something since she only pulls it out for special occasions.  Like tooth extractions.  She had blood on her shirt and a toothless smile to prove her grit. 

This makes tooth number 3 gone.  There is something about the top teeth missing that makes kids look so much like BIG kids.  And just in time for school pictures next week.

birthday girls

For Sandi's birthday this year we got a rare sighting of her.

We did see cause to give her a few gifts as well.
She has been wanting an ipad for about a year and a half now and this year asked for donations to that cause.  Sandi has a serious techy side to her. We gave her gift cards to Best Buy and a Starbucks gift card for those sleepy rides to and from Portland.  She has enough geek in her (I say this because Ange has informed me that I have no geek in me) to have a graph on her laptop that she fills in by the box to represent her progress toward her ipad goal. 

All the power to her.  I feel like Best Buy is a place I can only go if I have a cup of coffee to sip on while I wait.  I'd rather go to Home Depot to browse if I'm going to be perfectly honest.   But Best Buy is Sandi's toy store.
Since Ange and Sandi have birthdays so near each other, we make it an annual thing to celebrate together.  There is always good food, happy kids, content adults and plenty of laughter.
And would you take a look at these beautiful girls?

I'm not sure what they were doing, but they were very busy.
Me, in my happy place.

We got this really cool platter at the Common Ground Fair this year.  The bowl is attached to the platter and grooved so you can scrape garlic across it, add some olive oil and pepper and voila!  Delicious.
I failed to get one good picture of the birthday girls together.  Here they are preparing to blow out the candles on their birthday cheesecake while the vultures wait nearby.
Now that summer has turned to fall, darkness descends early and drove us inside despite the beautiful Indian Summer day.  After dessert, the kids donned headlamps to explore the depths of the upstairs.  They look like unwilling miners about to plunge the nether regions of the Earth's core. 
Happy birthday girls...we sure do love and celebrate you!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

when life gives you an "all picked out" sign

My sister and I love each other like chocolate loves peanut butter, but unfortunately our schedules usually don't match up and we don't see each other as much as we'd like.

Or as much as our kids would like. 

Kathryn and I often laugh about our compatibility.  We both have a bordering-on-obsessive need for exercise, we like the same food, have the same sense of humor, the same standards of cleanliness in our space and find it remarkably simple to find the fun in just about everything. 
Kathryn and I could make changing a flat tire fun if we are together.

I think that her daughter Michaela might also be Ella's favorite person.

We made a plan to meet last Friday in Newport to pick apples, so neither of us had to drive all the way to the other's house after school.  We got to the orchard to be told, despite all the visible apples on the trees, that they were picked out.

Some locals pointed us up the road to a corn maze and general autumn-in-Maine themed play yard.  It was perfect, complete with hand pump duck races (above).

As always, we had a blast.
Kathryn got into the competition as well.
Instead of a sand box, there was a corn box.  Maya kept yelling "IT IS CORN!!! NOT SAND!!! CORN!!!!!"
There was even tricycle racing.

How can you beat this kind of fun?

When we went to get back in our cars to say goodbye an extraordinary thing happened.  Ella begged to go home with Michaela.  This was a major deal because she never wants to sleep away from us and especially without her security blanket.  She pleaded with giant eyes that were spilling hope as they met mine.

Kathryn and I worked out a quick deal to exchange her in the morning and off we went- Maya and I northbound and Ella to the south.  What a strange feeling. 

As expected,  Ella struggled at bedtime and called, telling me she wanted to come home.  I was prepared to drive the hour and 20 minutes one way to get her if need be, but I was so proud that she settled down with some soothing talk about the invisible string that connected our hearts.  I told her we didn't need to be in the same space because the string always kept us connected. I gave it a tug and after a couple of tries she felt it.  She tugged on it too and it would have impossible NOT to feel.  The whole phone call, our crying little girl on the other end of the line, tugged at my heart string.

There was also some drawing of hearts on hands on both ends of the phone, a tactic we have always used with Ella to remind her of the "kissing hand" and the notion that we are connected because that heart is infused with each other's love.

Kathryn settled her back to bed and told her stories about us when we were little until Ella said, "It's okay Aunt Kathryn, you can go now." 

I would have gone to get her but what an opportunity it was for her to find solace and comfort in herself and her aunt. 

(Although, I have to say I wasn't thinking that so much the next day when she was an overtired bear.)

The next morning when I picked her up she informed me that she pulled on our heart string many times before she fell asleep just to make sure I was there.
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