Friday, May 31, 2013

Camping in May

I am pretty sure that camping is one of the best things families can do.


 As a side note, little girls in little sunglasses is one of my favorite things, in the world.





 Action shot of Hallie.



 And then Heather kept trying to eat the flashlight, so I guess it was dinner time.

The girls were convinced this tree was going to fall into the lake.  As in, while we were standing there.  Devin wanted to take a picture of them pretending to push it, and they were all excited until it was time to get next to the tree and then they were really squealing, "But it's going to fall over into the lake!"

It did not fall into the lake, of course.  Not yet, anyway.

Also, I was on this camping trip, pinky swear, taking all the pictures.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spotlight

Let's turn the spotlight on Heather, with pictures taken by Hallie.








And with that, I hope you have a really nice day.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Writing and Quitting

At first I thought I would start this blog post by writing something like, "Perhaps you've noticed that I haven't posted in a long time."  and then I thought, "Well, isn't that vain, to think that people sit around wondering why you aren't writing in your blog?"  and then I thought, "Well, I'll start it that way anyway, because that is what I want to talk about - the reason I haven't posted in a while."

And here we are.  And if you are thinking it is going to be that kind of announcement, it isn't.  So, deep breath everybody.

When I was young I wanted to be a lot of things when I grew up, I had big dreams and plans and ideas.  One of which was that I would be a famous writer.  I was always writing stories, my favorite style was the "Choose Your Own Ending," and let me tell you, those are more complicated than they look when you are nine and trying to write one on your own.  I also loved to write poetry.  I had notebooks full of all the words I could think of that rhymed.  I called it my "Rhyming Words Dictionary".  I took it all very seriously.

Sometime in middle school a teacher helped me come to the realization that I would never be a writer.  And so that dream died, and I never wrote very much again after that, until my sister convinced me to try a blog, and it was fun, and so now we are here.

Then last November I wrote a 50,000 word novel for National Novel Writing Month, and that was really fun, and I was really proud of myself for meeting that goal, and getting through the craziness of it all.  I found out that as a "winner", I could get five free published copies of my book.  Deadline for that offer: June 1st.  Way back in December I started trying to edit it.  And I hated my story.  I hated it so much it sort of made my stomach hurt to try reading it.  I thought maybe I needed a break from the whole thing, so I breaked.

Until a few weeks ago, when the looming deadline made me start thinking about it again.  And my thoughts went something like this:

Do I want five copies of my book?

Who else would want one? 

The story really isn't that great, and I've never even finished editing it.

Be honest, you've never even read it all the way through yet.

If you can't even read it all the way through, who would?

Why bother?

Who cares?

And then somehow it all got inextricably connected to my blog, and I was disheartened by the whole business of words and I was tired of them and they made me sad.

I had pretty much decided that I was done writing in this blog forever and that I was not going to order the free copies, because I did not want a reminder of my failure lurking around mocking me.

This morning I was lying around, moping and feeling sorry for myself, feeling sad about all the dreams of children that die as they become adults.  I told myself to just grow up, put my big girl socks on and realize that I am who I am, and that there are some things that I just never will be.

I will never be the first astronaut to play the piano in space.

I will never be a teacher in a classroom full of chalkboards.

I will never be a writer.

Then just as my moping was getting really low and sappy, Hallie started vomiting and Hanna spilled her cereal and Heather was screaming, and Devin came storming in the room and said, "Stop thinking sad and depressing thoughts. Get off the couch and do something."

Of course when a wise and wonderful man gives you good advice like that, and your family clearly needs you, you stop thinking sad and depressing thoughts and you get up and do something. I got up and made bacon and eggs for breakfast, did the dishes, got Hanna dressed, took a shower, practiced the piano, put Heather down for a nap, and then somewhere in the middle of all of it my thoughts took a turn.  I began thinking,

Remember when you first started teaching yourself to play the piano, and it sounded really, really terrible but you didn't quit and you practiced for an hour or two every day until it sounded decent, and now practicing is really fun because it sounds like music?

Remember when you were a sophomore in high school, and your friend was a senior and she wanted to play softball before she graduated, but she was afraid to try out, so you tried out with her and somehow miracles happen! and you made the j.v. team even though you were really, really terrible at softball and you had so much fun anyway, and it was one of the best things you did in high school?

Remember when your sister and most of your friends from the soccer team were on the track team to help them stay in shape so you wanted to do it too, because it sounded like fun.  And then you got stress fractures in both legs and couldn't run for the rest of the season, but you didn't want to quit so your coach put you on the discus, even though you were really, really, really terrible and came in dead last, by like, 30 feet, at every meet, but that is also one of the best memories you have of high school because it was so crazy fun?

Remember when the next year your legs were fine so you thought you could run, but it turns out that you are really, really slow, but again you didn't want to quit so you ran in every race your coach put you in, and you came in not only last, but were lapped in every single race?  But you kept going to every practice and your coach gave you a varsity letter because you were also manager of the team. And it still makes you laugh to think of how you told the girls as they passed you, "You're doing so great!" knowing that your dad was shaking his head at you in the stands, thinking you were crazy, but you knew you were just having fun?

Remember when you wanted to make a blanket for Hallie, piecing all of it by hand because you didn't have a sewing machine but you kept taking all of the stitches out because they weren't perfect and you hated that, and your mom finally asked you if you wanted your baby to have a quilt, or if you wanted to spend the rest of your life taking out stitches?  And so you finished the quilt and now your much grown baby still sleeps with it almost every night, and you have fun making blankets all the time, even though they still aren't perfect?

Remember when you agreed to run a relay of 84 some miles with friends, and your portion ended up being 11 miles long, and you were really, really slow and felt bad that you were dragging your super fast friends down, but you just kept going and going and it was one of the best days and most fun you've had, ever?

Remember when you read that interview with Brandon Sanderson and he said that his first five novels were basically only good as kindling for a fire, but that with the sixth one everything came together and he thinks that every author has to write five awful novels before they can find their "good" one, and how since he's pretty much a genius maybe you should just relax about it all, because who cares?  And wasn't it fun writing it anyway?

That's when I decided.  Sometimes it feels good to stop worrying about being great or perfect or the best and simply have fun.  That is why I will keep writing in this blog, whenever I feel words bubble up inside of me. They may not be the most poetic words, or the most grammatically correct.  You may roll your eyes at my weirdness, but that's ok.  Because this blog is fun for me and I like it.  I'm going to get those free copies and give them to... my mailman?  Or my girls when they grow up, and I'll tell them that there were many things their mom never got to be in life.

But most of all, she was never a quitter.

I apologize for all of the sentences that start with "and" in this post.  But I'm leaving it that way, because it was fun to write it that way, see.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Swooning: Updated

I've never swooned before, I don't think.  I've watched plenty of chick flicks and they have made me laugh and cry and clap and dance and squeal.  But they never reached the gut of my heart, you know the place I mean?  Most of the romantic gestures I've experienced in real life resulted in my punching the guy right in the stomach.  That all changed when Tony said to Ziva, just before she left for Israel to bury her father, "At lo levad*" to which she replies, "I know."

Now, I don't know for sure that I swooned, but I sort of gagged on emotion.  I mean, it was just pouring off of him.
You can see it in his eyes, he's screaming and pleading and whispering and beckoning.
Ziva.
Ziva.
Ziva.
You can practically hear Adele singing in the background "You'll never know, if you never try. So forget your past and simply be mine."  His eyes say, "I dare you to let me be your one and only.  I promise, I'm worth it."
I mean, those looks he gives her.  If I could say one thing to her, I'd say, "Ziva.  Look at those eyes!  Those eyes will forgive you for your messy and untimely entanglement with Adem Eshel.  I know you didn't want any of that mess, but the writers put it in and you had no control over it. But the man is suffering. Can't you see?"

Now, I love my husband and no other man, real or fictional.  If, however, I were ever a movie director of chick flicks I would send all of them to Michael Weatherly (the actor who plays Tony DiNozzo on CBS' NCIS) to be trained on smoldering eyes.  As a last note, I could never be married to Michael Weatherley.  If Devin ever looked at another woman for any reason the way Tony looks at Ziva I would be very upset.  Very.

I was just searching for a picture to put up to illustrate this look, but what I found instead is that Ziva may not be returning next season.  I won't be able to sleep until I know if she's coming back.

But while we're talking about tv couples, I have a few more that I would like to say things to.

Dear Emma and Neal, (from ABC's Once Upon A Time)
Everyone knew that you two were still in love.  Why did you have to wait until Neal was shot by his fiancee and dangling over a vortex into another world to tell him?  I can just see the writers of your show congratulating themselves over that one.  Yes!  We'll have his fiancee mortally wound him.  And then leave him dangling over a pit!  Yes! There will be no escaping this time, it's over for Neal!  But, like any truly good show, he'll be back.  Don't worry Emma. Dry your eyes, he'll be back.  He is Peter Pan, after all, isn't he?  (No really, is he?)


Dear Austin and Ally, (from Disney's Austin and Ally)
You two are the cutest. If I had a boy child, I would want him to grow up and be just like you, Austin.  You are just right in my book.  Way to go, kids.

Dear Axl and Cassidy, (from ABC's The Middle)
If I had a boy child, I would want him to be just like you.  You and Austin could be brothers.  Wouldn't you like that?  But I'm really here to talk to you about your relationship with Cassidy.  I get it, I get it. She broke your heart so you smashed hers.  But that's not cool, son. Not cool.  Go apologize.  You are the nicest boy on television though, especially how you treat Weird Ashley so I'll give you points for that.

Castle and Becket, (from ABC's Castle)
It is fun to see the two of you together, but sometimes I miss the days when you weren't.  I'm fickle, I know. So fickle.

Jane and Lisbon, (from CBS' The Mentalist)
I haven't watched your show in two seasons or so, but I wonder sometimes how you are coming along... any sparks?  Anything?

Ross and Rachel, (NBC's Friends)
Dear Rachel - you were on a break.
Dear Ross - it just wasn't cool what you did.
But I am happy that you are together.  We all knew you would be, since the moment Rachel showed up crying in her wedding dress, the whole world knew that you would be lobsters together.

What are your favorite television couples?  What would you say to them, if you could?

*It never says in the episode what that means, but a quick search on the internets revealed that he is saying "You are not alone".

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Remember Me

I can hear my girls over the monitor talking to each other and laughing as they fall asleep.  If I close my eyes, it could be me in the dark with my sister, wrapped up in my sheets because I've always been weird about being completely covered - I had some idea that demons couldn't get me if I had blankets up to my chin, and my mouth closed.  I used to think he could read my secrets on my teeth.  I try to remember things like that when they cry at night.  It might not make sense to me at all, but it is real to them.

I try to remember that this is their childhood.  The things we do each day, the lunches I make, the activities I say "yes" to and the ones I say "no" to, the tone of voice I use when they make messes and don't clean it up, and the voice I use when they do clean it up... these are the building blocks of their childhood.  When they are grown and people ask them what it was like, they will think back on these days, and the cumulative, collective memory will be not the once in a lifetime trip to Disneyworld, but the routine, the constant ebb and flow of our habits and choices.

I think about how I want them to answer when people ask them what their mother was like.  I want them to say things like, "oh, she always had fresh cookies in the cupboard."  But then, I have to always be baking more cookies and then have the strength to not eat all of them once they are in bed.  So we bake cookies sometimes, but not enough that I think it will make it into the commentary of their childhood.  I daydream about having a magazine worthy yard and garden.  I imagine myself out there in rain or shine, snow sleet or hail, weeding and pruning and beautifying my little space on God's green earth.  But then, I'd have to be out there in all that awful weather, and even if I was willing to do that, what would my babies be doing?  And so I have dead grass and a handful of tulips.

I'd like for them to say that I always had church eyes - that's what Hallie calls it when I wear makeup and get dressed.  I guess she thinks I only do that for church, which is mostly right.  So unless people asked her what her mother was like going to church...

I guess I don't really know what they will say about me and their childhood when they are grown, but I hope the one thing they will say is "I know she loves me."


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hanna

Today I feel like celebrating Hanna.  She's three, and she's funny, and she's absolutely Hanna.













Most of these pictures were taken by Hallie.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

This Girl is On Fire

Dear Mimi-
I would have just sent you all of this in an email, but then I thought I would put it in a blog post because sometimes when I stop posting as often as I usually do sometimes people wonder if maybe I am pregnant, and I was feeling kind of sassy today.  See, with this post about nothing important to anyone but you, they will see that I have posted and think, "oh, ok. I guess she isn't pregnant." But then they will see that this post is about nothing important, and they will think, "or maybe she is pregnant and that's why all she can write are these lame posts that mean nothing to anyone but her sister."

Which really isn't very nice to do to people, but as I said, I'm feeling kind of sassy this morning.  Also, if you really do wonder if I am pregnant and this isn't all just a joke, I won't be offended if you ask.

I think you left a pair of Daniel's pants here, his little khaki ones. So you probably need those, right? For Laurie's pictures?  And then it reminded me that we never had Jill try on Hallie's skirt or those capris, so do you want me to just mail them, also, and you can give them back to me in July?

Was Jill super excited to see monster baby in her backpack on the airplane, or was it sort of like, "meh, monster baby. whatevs." ?  I know you and I think he's adorably, ridiculously ugly and cute, but maybe that's just the late nights talking?

I slept really, really well last night - Heather is back in her own room and she slept better as well.  I miss you dearly, and it is all too quiet here, but, and I'm sure you'll agree as you were in your own bed again, sleep is a precious and marvelous thing.

You left just in time, the temperature dropped again like crazy and it's freezing outside.  Literally.  I think they are predicting snow. Again.  It's cool, though, May.  I mean, you were supposed to be all soft and gentle cuz April did her duty and went out like a lamb, but whatevs.

Did Jeff bring you back any souvenirs from Africa?  A lion's tooth that he ripped out himself, or a t-shirt or anything?

Also, I think I finally perfected that braid that I was working on while you were here.  I like it best when it is done like so: the hair is completely wet.  Start the strands in the back, and pull in from the front.   Also also about my hair, I looked at my bottle of shampoo again and it is John Frieda's For Blondes and it says "highlight activating" on it.  So there's that.

I think that's all the news from around here. 

Love you!

HAPPY!!

Amy


Remember when we found these pictures on my computer, and I have no idea how or when my girls took them?  Life's little mysteries...