A Brand-New Day

Some people hit Reset on January 1st – everything old washed away, only new and better habits let in. Some people do that the day after Labor Day, or August 11th, depending on when your municipality begins school

I’m doing it today, Tuesday, November 8th, a day which has much to recommend it so far (Happy Birthday, Mary!) (Hurray for refinancing our house!) but which otherwise doesn’t really start anything. Not the start of a holiday season, not the start of school, not the start even of anyone’s fiscal year.

But I could wait for a perfect day, or I could just get a move on already. Choosing to get a move on.

Welcome back to the blog! Hoping for more posts, more consistently, and more cute pictures of my kids. If not, I’ll start all over again. Again.

 

Toy Week report

Last week was Toy Week, and that went well, except that we were all a little worn out at the end of it. It began Sunday June 20th with seeing “Toy Story 3″ – outstanding movie, I cried my eyes out, go see it at once if you haven’t already. Take kleenex.
Monday we went to the Carmel library, and they were doing a simple drop-in program in which the kids could play with – guess what! – toys!
Tuesday we went to the Carter Toy Museum in Zionsville, which was really neat for an adult, and the girls seemed to like it. There were lots of toys behind glass to look at, sooooo if you remember “Toy Story 2″, you might worry a bit about that. But there were lots of riding toys downstairs, and the girls got to do bumper cars (Marissa: not so much a fan), and ride a carousel, and it was a fun time.
Wednesday I think we were supposed to go to the Museum of Miniature Houses in Carmel, but instead were able to go to the Civic Theater’s production of “The Velveteen Rabbit.” Lots of kids were in it – I think technically the Junior Civic Theater put it on – and it was a nice production. The girls enjoyed it! I had never been to Marian University before, so that was neat, to get to go somewhere new. The Civic is moving up to Carmel next year, I believe – I think their 2010-2011 season is still at Marian – but then they’re coming up here, and I’m SO excited about it! They like to do musicals and I like to go to musicals so it’s a match made somewhere good, anyway, and I’m thinking about asking for a season ticket from my mom for my birthday that year (That would be 2011, for those keeping score). Haven’t checked with her yet, because it’s maybe a little … controlling to ask for a birthday present a year and a half in advance. On the other hand, she’s a planner, and might like to know that she has that one down!
Then Thursday, we were supposed to go to the Children’s Museum, which for reasons which escape me is having a giant Etch a Sketch available this summer. But we were kind of wiped out. So we stayed home instead.
Then this weekend, to mark the conclusion of Toy Week, I cleaned out the toy chests downstairs! A little private celebration…

Fairy World (a story by Miranda and Elizabeth Finney, told in alternating sentences)

Welcome to Fairy World! Here there are lots of kinds of fairies, and even pixies too! Their houses and apartments are made from sticks and stones and leaves. Sometimes they decorate with flowers! Fairy World is under two trees – the Pixie Tree and the Fairy Tree. The pixies like to visit the fairies, and bring them mushrooms; the fairies like to visit the pixies, and bring them flowers so they can decorate.
The ants are trained to bring food to the fairies. They can keep some food. The fairies are kind to the ants, because they appreciate that they don’t have to carry the food themselves! The fairies appreciate that so much that they even have a day called Ant Day. On Ant Day, all of the ants get to take the whole day off. They sleep as late as they want to, and they get honey baths at Fairy Word.
If you ever visit Fairy World, you’ll know you’re there because you’ll see two trees – the Fairy Tree and the Pixie Tree. But watch out and don’t step on their houses! The end.

The Goggles Picture

Couldn’t figure out how to get the goggle picture in the last one, so here it is.

Da girls

Miranda’s been practicing her swimming underwater. Marissa’s been practicing being brave in the big pool. I’m just happy when they are together like this, and I’m not splitting my attention between two kids at opposite ends of the pool.

Swim lessons start in two weeks. Hurray! Maybe then I won’t be quite so nervous around the pool, with two kicking and splashing but not quite floating kids. They’re taking lessons at our pool, from an enterprising young woman who set up a card table in the pool area on this, the first weekend of the pool’s being open. $100 for 10 lessons, which seems pretty good, and in any case, there she was and there the lessons were so nothing could be easier, and I’m a big fan of easy anymore.

Bathing Suits and Goggles and Guns

From Elizabeth:

We were able to go to the pool today – yesterday the girls played in the sprinkler, and that was a lot of fun, but they really wanted to go to the pool. So we managed to get there in between rain showers!

From Miranda:

The pool was really fun. I dived under the water a lot. I love going to the pool. I got some new bathing suits. I got to wear one.

Miranda and Marissa pool

From Marissa:

My favorite part was swimming in the big pool.

The Pool Opened Today!

From Elizabeth:
But I got no pictures, so will have to wait until tomorrow.
Brief moment of panic when Miranda’s size 7 bathing suit proved to be a little too small for her, but luckily the two-piece monkey bathing suit worked. We went to Kohl’s tonight and bought not one but TWO new bathing suits. She tried them on in the dressing room, and it was one of those I-am-shifting-into-my-mother moments, when I sat in the dressing room, by the mirror, and she went into the dressing room booths, and she came out in the bathing suits, and two dresses, and I said how much I liked all of them, and she said decisively, I don’t think the red bathing suit looks good on me, but I really like the pink one and I really think we should buy it. Umm, ok, I said. It took me years to learn to be that decisive in the dressing room. But she’s a fast learner.
Bought her, in addition to the two bathing suits, a navy dress with pink polka dots for the wedding next weekend, and a pink dress with stitching in the bodice, because it was cute and on sale, and both dresses, hallelujah! were long enough.
Just a lovely rich day, and you know if I can say that about a day that includes shopping, it must have been a really good one. We cleaned out part of the garage, and went to the pool for two hours, and I finished the new Kate Braestrup book, Marriage and Other Acts of Charity – really good! – and Dan grilled steak for dinner that turned out well. Always nervous around steak. Miranda finished at least two Boxcar Children books. Marissa read two Bob books all by herself, with her dad listening.
“I thank you God for most this amazing day,” said ee cummings – “for the leaping greenly spirit of trees, and the blue true dream of sky, and for everything that is natural that is infinite that is yes.” It was an amazingly good day. I hope you had one as good.

First Day of Summer Vacation

From Miranda:
Today is the first day of summer vacation! We went to Marissa’s picnic for the last day of school. Me and Mommy are home writing this now. It’s really hot – it’s 80°. I painted pretty pictures this morning. Today is really fun.
From Elizabeth:
We’re planning to go to the library later, and look for the movie “Monsters vs. Aliens.” Miranda and I only got to see a little bit of it at the TV store so we’re interested to see the rest. Otherwise, it’s been a really nice day so far and we’re looking forward to a relaxing weekend.

Planting and Pulling

proud gardener

Beautiful weather, in the 60s today and NOT RAINING, miracle of miracles. So I stopped on the way home from Mar’s school and bought two basil plants, and two more packets of flowers – why not? can you have too many flowers, at $2.27 a packet? I planted the basil, and then lots of lettuce, spinach, onion – lots and lots of onion seeds – hope they do well and Malvia will eat them with us – and carrot seeds. Crossing my fingers on this whole seed thing. I don’t really trust it but thousands of years of farming has got to mean something. I can’t kill every seed. Surely.

Then I felt inspired to pluck up those nasty thistle weeds from the back corner garden patch. I have no idea what they’re really called but they’re terrible! And they were HUGE and terrible, which is a bad combination! The saving grace is that they were not flowering, yet. An entire black garbage bag of the nasty things.

 

Ugly Awful Thistle Plants

We’ll see how excited I am tomorrow, when my back registers its opinion of planting and plucking…

Drowning in Desserts

Cheesecake nilla wafers

Testing image insertion… Ok, the librarian in me rises up, so let me say that this image is from

www.toughmuffin.com/?p=144

And you should definitely go there to look at this recipe because aren’t these fabulous? My niece’s 30th birthday party is coming up this Friday, and I’ve promised to make desserts. I’m super excited and of course planning lots and lots and lots of desserts and no one will eat them and my husband will tear his hair out. I can say this fairly certainly because it’s happened before.

But anyway, so she likes strawberry flavors but not cake, which rules out the famous Finney Family strawberry cake. Finally strawberry cheesecake occurred to me, only since there will be about 100 people at this party, all dressed as rock stars and performing karaoke, small desserts seem a necessity, so I thought of tiny cheesecakes in a muffin tin, and then saw this. The downside is that the cookie gets soggy if you make them too far ahead of time.

Hmmm. So many desserts, and really, let’s be honest, so little time.

I’m also making caramel-chocolate brownies and rice krispie treats, because just about everyone eats rice krispie treats!

Mothers

So today I was in Costco with a friend, who was looking for a sticky fruit leather snack that her 3 year old is addicted too. She was up until 1am last night working on a silent auction for her church, and had to pause in front of each thing to think about whether or not her family would eat it. I felt horrible, because my allergies have really kicked it up a notch this week, so we were a pair of sad sights. I needed 25 bananas for a meal my church is doing with the homeless. No sticky snacks to be had – Costco apparently doesn’t sell them anymore. Lots of bananas though.

Working on getting end-of-year presents for the teachers at my youngest daughter’s preschool – sent the mother in charge of room mothers an email – she fired one back saying, I can work on this after 9pm tonight – she’s also very active in her church, has three children, husband travels a lot, also running thirteen other projects on the side. . .

Mother’s Day tends to be rather sentimental, and I try to stay away from those cards with the soft-focus picture of flowers and a sappy poem inside. Because mothers, most of the ones I know, anyway, are not softly focused and sappy. They have to be sharp - with database upon database in their minds – what snacks their sons will eat, what their daughter’s best friend’s stuffed animal is named, the names of the people who live two doors down and – hallelujah! – have a kindergartner the same age as their daughter!

The mothers I know are always running, always in a hurry, many times because they are on missions of kindness – perhaps a Mission from God, as the Blues Brothers said. I always thought that “It’s a Wonderful Life” was a remarkable movie because it was a man who made the decisions that Jimmy Stewart makes in the movie. The movie would have been invisible with, say, Donna Reed in the lead. To give up college so a beloved brother could go? How many women have done that? To pour all your energy into making the world a better place? We see it with new eyes when Stewart does it. But Reed’s decisions – to give up the rich boyfriend, to stay in her hometown, to live in a wreck of a house that she apparently spent every spare moment, when she wasn’t taking care of her children or running the USO, working on… those are all easily explained. She did it for love, so it must have been easy. Reed makes it look easy, until finally after what had to be years of dealing with a bitter husband she broke – “George, not in front of the children.”

And the first thing I learned as a mother was that it wasn’t easy. The baby didn’t figure out just how to eat right away. The diapers were awful. The lack of sleep was bone-crushing. The stereotypes set forth from society – the perfect house, the perfect clothes, the hair just so, the girls with bows and pretty shoes – were as tight as a vise.

And yet to my amazement there are lots of women out there doing all that, working all the time, whether they work outside the home or inside it. They learn the discipline of getting up in the morning, even though they hate mornings. They grit their teeth and practice patience when the wiggly baby doesn’t want to get his diaper on. They are resigned, or laugh, when the two year old pees on them.

They find time to run their church committees and save their schools and maintain those relationships that all the psychologists tell us are so important for our mental health. They call their mothers who are 600 miles away to tell them the cute story, so the grandmother isn’t so distanced from her grandchildren. They call the doctors to make the appointment for their mothers-in-law. They nag their husbands to eat better. They make sure that the favorite dress is washed AND dried in time for school, and the permission slip is signed, and the correct amount of money ($5, $14, a check made out to xxx for $21.50) is attached.

And it is hard. As Beth Moore said in one of her Bible studies, it is “dang hard.” No soft focus here.

And every mother I know would say, Yes, but it’s for the children. And her face will light up a little bit. Mine as well.

So Happy Mother’s Day to those miracles of nature, the mothers around us, who keep our worlds steady and secure and who every day make the world a better place. Thank you to every mother I know.