We are stuck in a cozy Comfort Inn in Vermont after trying to make it home in Winter Storm Stella. I love it. The Professor looked around our room and said, “we really know how to to explode into a hotel room.”
Our room smells like Chinese food and socks.
I finished reading, SMALL GREAT THINGS by Jodi Picoult. It’s an unputdownable story about race in America. Really important stuff that many of us have the luxury of not thinking about. We need to think about it.
We are now watching, Thor. It’s so bad. Or is that just me?
We went to a water park and had loads of fun. I’m trying not to think, “this will be the last time we have a get-away before Cope is in college.” Again, trying not to think!
Our friendly little basketball game turned into underwater wrestling, elbows, and a headlock. We’re not competitive or anything.
We enjoyed a lazy river while the blizzard raged outside.
We are enjoying two new games: “Oh, Snap!” and “Taboo” (thanks, Kim!)
Our dear friend, Eric, passed away today after a three-year battle with ALS. It’s a terrible disease, but he and his family battled with such optimism and dignity. There were so many times I thought, “there is no way I could let someone help me the way he is letting me help him.” Eric was always so patient with me and everyone else, whether it was helping him use the bathroom or suctioning out his mouth so he could swallow. There have been many many tears, and yet I am grateful that I was allowed to be part of the pain. The pain now is because of all the love we feel for a remarkable family. Eric never shied away from talking about the hard stuff. He knew he was going to die. He helped all of us look it right in the eye and then that great storm Stella came calling for him. The last thing I said to him was, “I’ll see you on the other side,” and he said, “Yep.” And I believe that’s true.
We are all growing up, aren’t we? The kids are getting older. Life is going by so fast, and yet “Life is long for those who know how to use it.” – Seneca. Trying to use it well. To be happy with the time we have.
It’s been quiet around here but not because we’ve been hibernating (sadly) (listen to Abel James’s interview on why we should hibernate in the winter, turn off the tv, and read books by candlelight). Here’s life around here this month:
We’re having fun in A&P. This month we dissected a brain, an eye, and for finals next week: a heart! It’s a good ol’ time. And fascinating to always be learning about the human body.
The Professor can levitate peas. I always knew he was a keeper.
I’m using Google Calendar give myself daily reminders. I highly recommend it. Want a tutorial?
During a snowstorm, The Professor and I went to a Bernie Sanders debate to hear Matt Nathanson play. We lived. And were impressed with the politically engaged young people!
I want to write like this. I’m going to practice. Not sure when. Thought you should know:
For Valentine’s I gave Nellie meat. He loves me now.
For vacation week we had cousin Ella! Lucky us! She baked and cleaned my windows. Cause I’m a fun Aunt like that. Boy do we love our cousins.
More cousin love. This time on skis!
Sometimes I have a photo taken of myself.
Cope is driving me around. Blasting the musical, Hamilton. GET US TICKETS, PLEASE! Cope looks rather tranquil here but I assure you that’s NOT how we sing Hamilton in the car.
For Spring break, I’m a little too excited. Here’s why:
For my birthday, Brynne made me breakfast in bed. Er…she tried…but I was out running (feeling very out of shape…) We compromised and I got pancakes on the couch afterwards. It was a beautiful thing for a mom to be remembered.Yes, it’s all rather ordinary. The washing machine broke yesterday (happy birthday!), my roots need coloring, and I still bite my nails. I’m another year older but feeling lucky and blessed to have lived another year with good health, great friends (including you, dear readers), and the bestest-ever family. These are ordinary things, I suppose. But I’m feeling like it’s all rather extraordinary.
1. First, the weather is MAGNIFICENT. The red maples are popping a bright cherry red. Oh, it makes me so happy.
2. Chickens. For the last week, Ms. Hairylegs has escaped from her nicely fenced yard and house, maintained by yours truly, to wander the great outdoors. Since Brynne has to go to that thing called school, she is not here to chase and capture escaped Ms. Hairylegs. So. Everyday, I have to chase, capture and plop her flapping self over the fence. When I’m not looking she promptly flies back over.
3. I might just teach her a lesson and let her be. Why should I enable her naughtiness? But I fear she will get eaten by a fox. Why can’t she just conform like the other chickens and stay IN?
4. Ten minutes ago, after chasing, corralling, and capturing Ms. Hairylegs, I promptly fell through the chicken coop floor TWICE, leaving a large gaping hole in the middle of the coop.
5. I managed to cover the hole with a large piece of plywood. And nobody saw me accomplish this great feat except Ms. Hairylegs who was not sufficiently impressed.
6. This picture was taken only 4 years ago. We are light years away from the moment and it makes me sad 🙁 Especially since Brynne isn’t here to capture naughty chickens.
7. Husband attended the Clinton Global Initiative last night and took the 2:40 a.m. train out of NYC. Ew. Highlights included Obama making an appearance and a social entrepreneur fainting on stage from all the pressure! With a 1,000,000 prize on the line, I may have fainted to. Husband did not come home with a million dollars. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
8. I want this planner. Bad. Can I really justify the price? But I want it. And I’ll never be unorganized again, right?
9. I’m running in two new pair of shoes. I love ’em and can’t wait to give you some running shoe recommendations.
We said our good-byes to late night summer nights and jumped right into fall. What a leap! We are busy going from one thing to the next. Before school could start however, we had some shopping to do.
Paige found some beautiful mushroom accoutrements and Brynne found this…she was not impressed. I can’t even write the word I detest it so much. Anyway, we did not purchase the lovely little undergarment for my fifth grader.
Mama managed to get one more soccer game in – in the pouring rain!
To get pumped up for his last year in middle school, Nelson watched Rocky IV. My brother, Eric, waxed poetic about the great cinematic creation and ended the tribute with…”I’m not ashamed to admit I wiped a tear from my eye while writing that.” As you can see, we take our sports seriously.
And then we really were off to school. Cope was inside eating bacon when I took the annual school photo. The tradition of four darlings in a row is totally ruined. On the first day, Nelson and Brynne scampered off to find friends, but at least there is one who still allows a photo with her mama. I’m including her shoes here because she wore these the first week. A little worn, but still perfectly good shoes, wouldn’t you agree?
One of her friends though, deemed them unacceptable. “Ew,” she said. “Get some new shoes. Ew. Get some new clothes. You’re supposed to wear new clothes on the first day.” After school, Paige frowned while telling the story, but she later decided someone must have been having a bad day in second grade 🙁
Brynne, however, got her some fancy shmancy shoes.
And picture 3 is included because Mom is DETERMINED to pack snacks the night before school.
I’m already failing. I can’t do it. It’s a wretched late-night task. Can’t a girl just watch Jack Bauer without thinking about carrot sticks and applesauce?
As the youngest, Paige does a lot of waiting around for siblings. Here she rolls around the floor waiting at Brynne’s eye appointment. I was wondering if it was socially acceptable to do the same. She got back at me by getting strep throat this week so I had to wait on her.
Before school started for eldest child, we trotted to the big city so I could get those red Bean boots I’ve been drooling over. Now that I’m teaching a class on campus, I can justify such purchases, no? Red galoshes are probably not what you stylish urban dwellers wear, but come on, they’re red!
Well. Apparently, I am not allowed to simply TIE the shoelace. I have to do this thing curly-cue thing on the end and leave it untied. After my first effort, Cope shook her head sadly. “Oh, honey, no.” She really called me honey. And then a daughter tied her mother’s shoe. We have now come full circle. Sniff.
After school, these are my peeps. Oh my goodness, what a TEAM we have! I love them so much. Our skills are mad good, sure, but we are also KIND and SUPPORTIVE. Ah, the athletic field; one of the best classrooms in life.
Putting up the nets
I am now back to being the bag lady: snacks, Barbies, water, shoes, dolls, pencils, gum, soccer lesson plans, whistle, dog treats?
Cope has been playing some intense soccer as she tries out for the varsity team. Before school officially started she spent a week living at Hogwarts in the dormitory! Away from ME!
We had many text exchanges.
My children love my compassionate, nurturing, texting tone.
Early summer. I pondered what in the world these were? For days I watched them start to pop. They’re poppies! I adore them. June flowers. The man is always so full of surprises. We had awesome grandma and grandpa time.The man is very particular about his barber.
One on one time with the darlings.
Baby birds break out of shells and fly
Children cleaningBoy kicking
I talked my mom into getting a suit from lime ricki. Isn’t she so vintage chick?
Trader Joe’s is evil.
Some writing time. Here I interview on the front porch – the only quiet spot. Paige reading Dick and Jane while daddy gets ready for a wedding. Oh, the beautiful wedding Climbing a lot. Spectacular views.A family reunion. Bonfires.
The ocean The World Cup
HayingA garden that grew
Nelson’s adidas design he’s selling to adidas, of course!An attempt at organization. Brain Research by A Better Blog. Because that makes sense.
Toothpick dolls and thread
Summer stormsFlowers in the window
If Brynne had a million dollars she would like a duster for the house. I think this says way too much about my housekeeping.
Summer afternoons A Sunday afternoon photo shoot attempt. They kept flying around in the sky.And kissing
Have I ever mentioned I have trouble with transitions?
When I polled the children on whether the summer was too slow, too fast, or just right they said…”a little slow.” And I smiled and said, “that’s just right.”
Did your mother ever order you out of the house? To go play outside and enjoy the good earth? It’s been hard to do that in New Hampshire as we’ve been living in the movie Frozen. But hark! On Sunday, spring began to tease….
Mom ordered all minions outside to investigate if it really was true.The boy lugged over the trampoline so he could dunk.
Look who’s been busy…the voles. They are like big mice that burrow little highways underground. Doggie is in heaven, nose to the ground, sniffing them out.
We hauled out the bikes and began a walk, finding trees that stretched high and dry
New England soil is full of big rocks. So when settlers needed to plow a field and build a home, these stone walls were built by hand. The stone walls go on for miles and are so artfully built that 21st century children can run across without a rock toppling. I’m in awe of the craftsmanship.Two will still smile for the camera
Finding puddles of mud to write messages for water buffalo neighbors
In just a few months, these apple trees will be in bloom
We switch sides of the road and walk on the other stone wallThis is the start-up vineyard up the hill; a hard thing to do in New Hampshire with so much cold. Will the trees survive?
And at the top of the hill we turn back around And follow all the melting water that flows down to where our house sits. Well. It came, flooded our basement, forcing us to pull up baseboards and part of Cope’s new bedroom wall. So frustrating. We’ve pumped the water out, but I block out all the work that still needs to be done. Let’s go back to enjoying Spring.This is an old hay machine. You’ll find this a lot out here; abandoned farm equipment no one knows what to do with. These relics around the neighborhood could fill a museum.
Countryside as the sun starts to set
As we headed down the hill we saw a sight we don’t often see…four children playing together?It made me smile to see the older kids with their hands in the mud, dirt, and water. The boy got that devilish look in his eyes as he said, “Do you want to see our DAM?” “Mom, we’re making a DAM. Do you like our DAM?”
Proof! There were four who played. In mismatched pajamas. Perfect.
And then they were off again, headed home, flying fast.
I had to close my eyes and breathe in every oxygen molecule, bottling up the fresh spring air. Because I am a wiser New Englander: who knows when spring will come again?
Good thing I grabbed it. Tonight, the forecast predicts snow!
We are bundled up in the house today – It’s a snow day! It’s like Christmas, the children bouncing out of bed in the wee hours of the morning.
There was a dart fight, polly pockets, barbies, Pinterest browsing, a rowdy game of tag – all before 9 a.m. Then I made them feed the chickens, clean up the one million darts and polly pieces, and practice the piano because it’s not really Christmas and I’m mean like that.
I like snow, but I’m sorry, winter…it’s time we spend some time apart. Thankfully we have the Olympics. Shaun White, Nick!, Julia Mancuso, the Russians pairs last night! Heartbreak and Jubilation. I love it all, stay up way too late, and often fall asleep on the couch.
I do have to say, it’s breathtakingly beautiful after a snowfall.
Tenny does not think it’s too cold. He could frolic with his friend, Reubens, all day long.
It’s so cold the hens don’t want to leave their coop. I don’t fault them for this as I try to never leave the house. They also stop laying as much unless they have light. Even a regular lightbulb will encourage laying. I find that fascinating!
Cope took this picture of me. Hauling hay out of the barn for chicken and bunny warmth. I tell you, the roles we play in life…
Here’s my girl getting her basketball on. This is really her first time playing on a team except one short stint in elementary. She is proud of the eight points she has scored this season! Sadly, she got a concussion two weeks ago and is out of play for a bit. This also means I haul the hay.
Nelson is also a baller. My heart jumps and sinks with every swoosh in the net, and near-basket that only almost goes in. I watch his face light up when coach puts him in. I tell you, small moments mean so much. They can live for months on a game-changing play, when all their buddies slap them on the back. The reverse is true, too. Oh, the emotion of the game!
Here Nellie boy tries out for a summer AAU team. My heart was pounding, both of us sweating with anticipation…please don’t cut my boy! Oh, it’s hard for a middle school boy who lives for sports. He’s small, but runs his guts out. He made the team 🙂 Thank you, Coach!
When it’s too cold to go outside, we pay money to give our mother multiple heart attacks. Here Brynne flips at a local gym. I hate this. I just do.
Paige finds a quiet place to read. In the closet. Sometimes you just have to carve out your own space, don’t you?
Valentine making for the big day tomorrow. However, another storm in coming, followed by freezing rain, followed by another winter storm. Pounding! The girls are very sad not to go for their valentine party 🙁 And I can’t make my fruit heart. Wah!
Knowing the storm was coming, I had to get my long run in this morning. Thankfully my running buddy is back! Our run went from cold to enjoyable to grueling as the storm began to chase us down the road.
The snow under our feet made the miles feel like we were running in sand, making our hamstrings and calves burn with lactic acid. At 15 degrees, it was so cold, that my left hand went numb by mile 11. I knew I was going to pay dearly for it. Even with a hat and a face warmer, our hair and faces were covered with frost. So grueling.
“Mother, are you alive?”
I wasn’t so sure, walking into the house and collapsing on a pile of polly pocket pieces and Lala Loopsies. My hand was hurting so badly I thought I had frostbite and it was going to fall off. Remember being a little kid and your hands were so cold they hurt? Cope has no memory of this ever happening to her. Gloves must be made better these days. The thawing out process produced many painful sounds and noises from my mouth as I rolled around on the carpet, finally finding solace parked in front of the fireplace until I could feel my fingers. The children stared at me, eyes wide, wondering what their mother had turned into. They scurried to procure chocolate milk and peanut butter.
Rendered useless. Though it was hard, I’m grateful I have legs to run down winter roads. It seems like just yesterday that I was nursing babies or terribly sleep-deprived from changing wet beds in the middle of the night, and all I needed was a little break to walk down the road, some fresh air and sunshine. Now, my babes are old enough to take care of each other while I go traverse country roads in the snow. If you aren’t there yet, don’t worry. Enjoy your stage. Shawni reminds me that Life is Long. There is a season for everything. It does occur to me that perhaps you will never look forward to running in snow…
I begged Cope to give me this wrist band. I wear it at all times, to remind me that spring will be here soon, and I will be glad for the miles run when I meet the Rocky Mountains in April. Sometimes, to feel inspired, I listen to Martin Luther King’s last speech, I Have Been to the Mountain Top.I have been to the mountaintop…and I have seen the promised land!
Come back tomorrow – I have a cookie recipe that will get you through the winter. It has a special ingredient that will knock your Sorel boots right off your feet!
What I’m Reading I just finished the last page of And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I liked it. Hosseini is a great storyteller and I tried to pay attention to both the story and the writing technique – it’s quite masterful. But I do have to say I liked his first two books much more. This one felt more distant to me; there was less of an emotional connection. I’m about to open Mom and Me and Mom by Maya Angelou because Haunani sent it to me after she read it – wasn’t that nice? And my name is on the library waiting list for Dianne’sThe Caged Graves (it’s checked out which is a good sign, right?) and I’m anxiously waiting for Melissa’sRabbit Island book to hit the hot press. I love having writing friends! What I’m Writing QUERY LETTERS. Ugh. I’m on a second round of sending off letters to literary agents. Some of them have read my manuscript before but ultimately rejected me it (waahhh!). Either way, I’m done with this particular manuscript. Done, I say! I’m also writing an apple article for a New Hampshire magazine (I like apples) and am polishing off a middle grade witch story dreamed up by my mother who used to think she really was a witch and even had a witch club. The club initiation? You had to get stung by a bee. Ah, I love this stuff. What Inspires Me Right Now -You do. I love you. Really. -Writing friends. To know you’re all writing, struggling, and finding success is inspiring. -Runners -Instagram. Um. Mommy needs some boundaries. -Kindness. My new motto: “Let us be kinder than is necessary” (inspired by the amazing book wonder….) -God inspires me. -My alarm. It kicked my butt at 4:45 this morning. And while I frown in the beginning, I am jubilant by the end…it was a wet morning run, but the sun came up and I was inspired all over again. What Else I’ve Been Up To You can call me Dori…what?where?isthatmybrain? justkeepswimming,justkeepswimming…
-Field trips (and Mama accompanying) -Kindergarten and 8th grade graduations (I’m a little weepy today) -End of school parties and already planning for summer and fall sports…. -I’m trying to learn Lightroom -I keep staring at my photography DVDs I promised I would watch if I ordered them -Dinner planning. For heavens sake, how do ya’all do it? p.s. This inspired me too:
a girl in a too-big medieval gown wanders into a field and finds her favorite flower: the dandelion
she blows and blows until the seeds scatter into the sky (making her daddy so happy that more dandelion seeds will scatter scatter on his lawn)
but the clouds moved because the sky smiled and the mountains echoed
I grew up in a busy, Omaha suburb. But now I live miles and miles away from grocery stores, traffic, the mall, and, well, just about everything. I’ve grown to love the quiet. Now, when we drive into Boston, I inhale and look around like a wide-eyed holstein. Man, things change quickly.
When I can’t (or don’t) run, I take walks with whoever I can wrangle outside with me. The air is getting cold and every morning there is frost on the ground. It snowed the other day but has almost melted.
The forsythia are taking the frost like champs. Hearty things. Lack of snow and freezing rain make it much easier to run, and much easier to take morning walks with Paige.
We anxiously looked in the mailbox for Christmas cards. I love cards.
I’m loving these mornings with Paige so much.
Paige likes to feed carrots to the horse up the road.
This is…Bob. Seriously. Bob? That would not be the name of my midnight black horse. But Bob is friendly and likes our carrots.
We walked to an almost-frozen pond with ice just skimming the surface. And because I’m a mom I have to give the speech about ice.
We talked to big, tall trees
One would think it’s still fall around here.
Then we visited our neighborhood cows. I really like cows. Once I used a whole roll of film on cows and my mother was very annoyed.
And then as my camera is in shooting mode, the biggun’ made his move.
It just happened right then and there so I pushed the button.
What is he doing!? Paige yelled.
“Uh…Flirting…” I said. It was the first thing that came to mind.
“They…like each other.”
You don’t think badly of me now, do you? I tell you, it’s a whole other world out here in the sticks. This was our entertainment for the morning. Well, yee-haw.
This is a Holstein. My father taught me how to identify cows when I was a teenager. He grew up on a farm in Bear Lake, Idaho. He’s so proud I know my cows.
I’m scared of that big boy, Paige said, suspiciously. Yeah, me too.
Don’t even think about it.
So we left the cows to do whatever they do.
And walked home at a slow pace, me and my five-year-old, on a perfectly ordinary and quiet morning walk. I reached down and took her hand and she looked up at me, and smiled. And then we skipped.
Isn’t it often the ordinary that makes up the best of days?