Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I've before professed the dangerous likelihood that I my qualify for an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive. Plainly put, I have a penchant for hanging on. And sometimes some things find themselves in storage just because I don't know what else to do.

Perhaps this is how the bunch of flowers I carried down the aisle on the day I wed my husband found a home on the top shelf of my closet. I found it, more than a dozen years later in a rush to move out everything we had packed into our bathroom, closet, and laundry room. We had to find a new place for all that crap -- sentimental items and otherwise -- before the demolition crew showed up and the hurry afforded little time for contemplation. But when I pulled the small and dusty box that weighed next to nothing from its perch I was confused.

I didn't know why I'd kept it in the first place. I didn't know if I wanted to keep it anymore. I didn't know if you were meant to keep something like that. I didn't know if I could stomach stuffing the bouquet that witnessed my vows into a trash bin. My husband wasn't confused.

"Toss it."

Now, let's get something straight. First he gently said all the right things. And then I finally just asked him what I should do. And he gave a frank and honest answer.

So, all you sentimental types are gasping right now. Right? But I didn't even keep the top layer of my wedding cake. Well actually someone did -- who knows who -- and snuck it into my fridge while I was on my honeymoon. And when I returned I think I shrieked, "Ewwwwww!" Just before dumping it down the sink.

I'm glad he said it. He said what I was thinking. And sometimes I have trouble making myself do what I'm thinking I should do. (Ironically enough I never have trouble saying what I'm thinking, which is usually a problem.)

In conclusion: the dusty little box that weighed next to nothing was picked up with the rest of the remnants of our construction zone this past Thursday. And I didn't notice. But the man who was standing at the end of the aisle as I grappled with my nerves and clung onto that clutch of flowers is still here. And that, my friends, I notice.

PS -- I kept the straight pins that held the ribbons around the stems of the bouquet. Just for hoarders' sake.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tour of Dreams

Not to put too romantic of a point on it, but I’ve noticed most people who live in the suburbs have a habit, good, bad, or otherwise, of believing they are living the dream. Or at the very least they project that they are living the dream.

Go to anyone’s house for the first time – this is especially true of new families in the neighborhood – and you are taken on a tour. The new homeowners walk from room to room and tell you what their plans are for the house. Look, it’s pretty transparent. They are pleading with you to judge them by their grand ideas and aspirations, not reality.

“And this is the upstairs loft, but we’re really going to put French doors on this opening, hang a crystal chandelier, paint it pink and make it a nursery.”

“And this little unfinished storage room is going to be a knockout sound studio for my husband’s band mates from high school.”

Sometimes you go to someone’s house who has just finished a remodel and the tour is something more like this.

“This is the man cave (insert eye rolling) my Tom just had to have a poker room. And I finally granted his wish to have his own space.”

“This is the game room. I just send all the teenagers down here. I’m telling you… we may have the smallest house on the block, but it’s the house everyone wants to hang out at.”

I myself have been giving a tour of dreams for about 12 years. No joke.

When we first moved in, I in my early 20s, would flit about and say things like, “I envision something very William Morris in here. Maybe a built in reading nook with a fine leather chair, maybe an antique table.”

Seven days ago, however, a small construction crew arrived at 8 a.m. and unceremoniously started knocking down walls. Without a second thought they threw out the porcelain prince that I worshipped through both of my pregnancies. They ripped up the carpet where I spilled a huge glass of red wine while bathing my babies. They smashed in the wall that was still stained with blood from the first time I tried to cut Cooper’s hair. And tossed with abandon the tub that cracked this same boy’s chin open. They even cut out the corner of the closet where I hid and cried on the night I came home from the hospital but had to leave my Mason behind in the NICU.

The dream tour has come to an end and with it a few discarded monuments to memories in our lives. A melancholy mix of relief, gratitude and excitement. And I find, as I schlep tile samples from plumbing showrooms to stone yards in 100-degree heat, that William Morris and I don’t see eye to eye.

In fact, I’ve learned that truly great design is figuring out what to do once you’ve opened a wall and found an absolutely unmovable post is hidden in there. Learning to love plan B, I guess you could say, is the real dream.

I love my little house on the corner. I'll love it even more when I can use the upstairs bathroom without the fear that contractors are looking up through the vents at my bare bottom.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Season's Not Over, Yet

We're still swimming... and we always will.

Cooper started with a new instructor, known for his toughness.

Mason is making lots of progress and his confidence is moving ever onward.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

For Juniors

Rather than get on a soapbox about how I think the nation should probably revisit how short summer is (7 weeks?!?!?!) let me show you how cute our youngest student is.

Mason started junior kindergarten this past week. You may be asking yourself what junior kindergarten is. Let me tell you. Junior kindergarten is basically for all 4-year-old boys who are actually old enough in the district's eyes to go to kindergarten, but their mothers know better. So they enroll in a private kindergarten with a bunch of other little brilliant but immature boys who have yet to sit still for 23 consecutive minutes.

It's the perfect option, in my opinion, for families who hope their boys will be academically challenged while preserving the spotless nature of their permanent record. It's still scary, though. No junior nerves as it turns out. Mason was so serious that morning I feared he'd toss his cheerios before we got there.

Unlike Cooper's fist day of first grade and first day of kindergarten, I was prepared and calm. Mason mechanically readied himself, got his picture taken, and walked into class. One moment of melancholy especially melted my heart. When the teacher asked him to print his name on a handwriting strip I believe Mason sent us all a message. These are generally 2-inches high and about 8 inches long. Most juniors and kindergartners take up all 2 inches as they scrawl their sprawling names as big as John Hancock. But Mason's name, both first and last, could have fit inside the width of a penny. A precise measure of how he felt that day, I think. And that makes me sad and worried for a boy with a big big heart, but a very little voice.

Dear world, listen to Mason. He is smart. He is kind. He is good. But he's not loud.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Daily Harvest

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sign of a Good Trail

Thanks in part to the inspiration of my occasional running partner I have been running on and around a regional park called simply, The Bluffs. It's a little loop with some serious altitude so it's easy to work it into a longer run for some incline training. Plus it's comprised of soft gravel trails that are wide enough for runners, walkers, cyclists, and even horses -- so it's easy on the knees.

Since then my boys have been begging to join me for a day hike. Mainly it was Coop, but Mason thought it was a brilliant idea. A week before school started I sat them down and said, "Here's your last chance. There's only a few days left tell me what you want to do before school starts." The answer was emphatic if not misguided. They both wanted to hike The Bluffs. Only problem was, it was meant to be 100 degrees that day.

Far be it from me to force my agenda on them in this, their last week of summer. So, we went.It was hot. Lava hot. But those brave boys wouldn't dream of complaining because they knew they had suggested it, begged for it, demanded it. The loop is less than 3-miles if you take all the short cuts. I thought they might make it with such a strong start. But then at about the .5-mile mark we started to notice something. Besides the copiuous amount of sweat, and the fact that our water supply was already in short supply, the steady zzzzzzz of hundreds of rattles all around us. Heat + Traffic = Mad Rattlers. So, I suggested we take a picture and head down with promises to return in more temperate climes.

A few days later and in much cooler temperatures I suggested we try again. Coop was all over it. Bounced himself into his shoes, and the car before I could blink. Mason on the other hand declined, "Anyways, I have different skin. I get way too sweaty."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Games Boys Play, V

It's not enough to play chess, he adorns each piece with a
LEGO helmet/hat/hairpiece.
Also, new rules.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I planned a peaceful send off for my oldest on his first day of first grade. Followed by an equally peaceful kid-free brunch with other elementary moms, followed by a much needed coffee date with one of my besties, followed by some sewing and shipping of backlogged etsy orders. And then maybe run 7-10 miles depending on the heat. Instead, this...

7:30 a.m.
Coop wakes up and sleepily walks downstairs to my room. I shout, "Oh my gosh, first graaaaaaaade!" He rubbed his eyes and turned around and walked away from me without so much as lifting an eyebrow.

I realize that due to yesterday's adventure he has no shoes to wear to school. Attempts to dry in dryer left them hot, stinky, and still wet. Begin frantic search through every closet. Call all neighbors with boys ages 7 to 17 looking for cast off tennis shoes. Find a pair of 11s in little brother's closet, Coop wears a 13 1/2 (but I don't actually know this because I've been making him wear 12s all summer).

Load car to drive little brother to summer camp -- which begins at 8:40. Cooper is barefoot because we're hoping his shoes will dry by the time we get back and before we leave for the first day of first grade.

Arrive at summer camp to discover that Mason left his lunch on the step. Grrrrrrr.

Shoes still wet. I suggest he wear flip flops. He says -- and I'm not kidding -- "Mom we need tennis shoes for P.E. It's for our own safety." Stuff huge feet into little brother's shoes and take proverbial first day of first grade photo in front of house. Coop's feet look like horses hooves. He is hobbling. And I'm really worried about state of affairs. But I grab Mason's lunch and decide to drive Coop to school since I'm not 100 percent sure he can walk with bound feet.

I guess all parents have decided to drive their children to school because it is an absolute cluster surrounding the school. Cooper starts freaking out because he REALLY appreciates punctuality. Really.

Coop prances (his feet are clearly killing him) past principal who says, "Don't worry I haven't heard the last bell, yet." Does he not realize this is exactly the kind of thing that will instill panic in Coop's heart. The Coop likes to be first in line. Not last. Not sliding in just before the tardy bell. First.

Coop says, "Oh great, something is leaking." Sure enough, water bottle has leaked all over his pants and he looks like he's had an accident. Not a great look for your entrance onto the first day of first grade scene. He's now almost hyperventilating.

Last bell. Sees best friend -- who is crying -- and just about looses it, too. Lets me kiss the top of his head, then looks up with pleading eyes and says, "My feet really hurt." Limps with class into the first day of first grade.

Meet a clutch of elementary moms under the flagpole -- some are teary -- to craft "ladies of leisure" plan. Every single one of us has some kind of something that must be taken care of before we eat. All disperse like crazy ants to fix dilemmas before planned pig out session.

Deliver Mason's lunch to summer camp.

Breathe. Eat brunch and enjoy the company of some really amazing women.

Bolt to Nordstrom Rack to find shoes for Cooper. That is when I realize I don't know his size. And am now facing the real reason I like to wait until about a month after school starts to buy school shoes -- picked over. Like there are NO shoes. I take that back. There are hundreds of pink, sparkly choices. There are no boys shoes. Actually there is a pair of camouflage crocs in size J1, a pair of navy chuck taylors in 13 1/2, some black running shoes in a 2W, and a pair of plaid vans in a size 1. I buy all of them.

Arrive at school, check in, and hustle out to the playground to find Coop and begin the hurried and sweaty task of helping him try on shoes. Thankfully the chucks fit (I would have shot myself in the eye if those crocs had fit) and Coop releases an overtly grateful sigh of relief. Then I have to find something to cut the danged cable tie holding the two shoes together. Why doesn't my generation carry pocket knives?!?!?!

Breathe. Settle in to a nice chat with a dear friend at Starbucks. She gets me. I love her.

Pick up Mason from summer camp. He acts very happy to see me, so he also clearly gets me. I love him.

Return the three pairs of shoes that didn't work. Cashier at Nordstrom Rack does not get me. I do not love him or his distractingly nasty acne.

Leave Mason with daddy while I try to fit in at least three miles before 4:05 pick up. It's like 90 degrees and 75 percent humidity. I am sweating like a hurricane and arrive at pick up as slick and slimy as a wild beast, but just in time to make a really good end of first day of first grade first impression.

PS -- Maybe I'll tell you how school pictures went. Maybe not. Check back to find out.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Empty Bucket

The last day of summer.

An empty bucket.

Four boys under the age of 9.
Today we set out to fill the bucket, an adventure a little more meaningful than usual. These are our cousins, and they are moving Friday. This is not only our last day of summer, but our last summer day with them. (At least until they get settled in Albuquerque and we meander down there for a playdate.)

Besides the four stinky boys, I permitted no less than seven crawdads, a snake, a few grasshoppers, and a couple of minnows get in my car today.
But Mason really just wanted that duck.

A little mud, a lot of water, and wet shoes.

Tomorrow the bucket will be filled with
sharp pencils, new crayons, notebooks, and 2GB jump drives.