Saturday, April 27, 2013

first campfire of Spring

It was a GLORIOUS Saturday.
We capped it off with the first campfire of the season.
Friends came over.
We lingered around the fire until there were just coals.
completely unplugged.
I predict s'more nights just like this one in the months to come.
Margaret was in high school.  I swear it was just yesterday...
Then she graduated.
She joined the Relief Society and became my companion for visiting teaching.
We had a lot of fun together--we would visit and talk, talk and visit; always lots of laughing.
Then Margaret went away to college.  And she came home.
She decided to serve a mission, and spent 18 months in Brazil.  She is amazing.  We spent a fun week together at Girls Camp as leaders a couple of years ago, and she went back to college again.
Now look at her:  all grown up and married!

Friday, April 26, 2013

the RED SOX! and then it's morning

We scored some FREE! tickets to a Red Sox game last night,
thanks to one of Mr. Dub's co-workers who was unable to attend.
 We love Fenway Park...
There's something special about being there in person to experience a game and all of the Boston culture that goes with it.
 Before we left we watched the relief pitcher warming up in the bullpen.  Those guys can really THROW the ball!  The sound of the ball as it hit the catcher's mitt was tremendous.
 We only stayed until the top of the 8th inning...
The Sox were winning 7-2.
We saw Big Papi hit a home run,
participated in a fantastic 5-times-around-the park crowd-wave, saw ourselves on the jumbo screen and
high-fived all of our seatmates in the 5th inning.
At 9:30 pm we left the park, Fenway Franks in hand (yum!).
We had a bit of a walk to Kenmore Square,
two trains to catch,
two kids to get to bed, and school to get up for.
This morning, I'm sure our tired Red Sox fan was thinking about the adventures we had (have you ever been on the green line on the night of a Red Sox game?) from his perch in the tree while he waited for the school bus.
Go Sox!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I got mail (FAN mail!)

TWENTY-ONE pieces of mail, to be exact.
Totally made my day.
Here's how it came to be:
A few weeks ago I was perusing the weekly newsletter that comes home from the Primary School. I noticed a paragraph about the upcoming Community Reading Day. I think this event must be on my top ten list of favorite things we do here. (maybe I need to expand my list to more than ten) Members of the community go to school, each assigned to read a book to one of the dozens of classrooms that participate;  employees from the police and fire departments, Senior Citizens, politicians, professionals, members of the military, mascots for sports teams etc. Each brings a book to the classrooms, visits with the students and then reads to them. With six kids who have participated in this tradition for many years, I have come to love finding out who the guest readers were, what their selections were, and listening to my children tell (with gusto!) about the visitors in their classrooms.  Having said that, when I noticed that the coordinator of the program was none other than my dear friend, I phoned her to offer my support.  We all know that any event run solely by volunteers involves many, many behind-the-scenes hours of communicating and coordinating. Mainly, I wanted her to know that if she had a reader fall-through or needed some help, I was ready to step in and offer assistance.
Well,... a few days before the big event, the phone rang.
It was Madame Director, asking if I meant what I said, when I offered to help?
"I'm as good as my word" I said.
Next thing I knew, I was being assigned a first grade classroom.  She gave me the book. I was elated. After years of recess duty, I know that making friends with first graders is like enlisting your own personal fan club.  I started thinking about my assignment, and then wondered what I might have to say to them since I'm not a public safety officer, a butcher or even a librarian. I AM a piano teacher, but talking about my little part-time job (which is really more of a hobby) seemed unsubstantial somehow. I knew I would mention it, but it wasn't feeling like quite enough. Mentally, I began to list the things I do, and the things that make me who I am. Then I formulated a plan.
We had a FANTASTIC morning!
I was escorted into the classroom by two enthusiastic first graders holding a "welcome Mrs.W" sign.  We chatted for a few minutes and I said "Would you like to know what I do?"
(First graders ALWAYS say "...YES!...")
I talked about being a piano teacher.
"Do any of YOU take piano lessons?" earned enthusiastic hand-waving by more than half the class.  Since I'm pretty sure there weren't more than a dozen young piano students out of the 21 present, it just cemented the delightful reality that first graders are blissfully eager to please.
We could have chatted endlessly about that one topic. Had I known, I might have had more confidence from the start. I grabbed their attention when I put my finger to my lips, glanced nervously to the corners of the room and secretively pulled out a shiny red bundle from my bag. I told them to look quickly, because I had to put it right away. I then told them that the special red roll was my secret CAPE. I told them it had something to do with my most favorite job of all.
"Are you a magician?"
"A super hero?"
I loved it.
They came up with great ideas.
I loved that super hero was closest of all.
I told them (in hushed tone)
"I'm a SUPER MOM."
They seemed stunned.
Immediately I began to enthusiastically gush my qualifications.
"Did you know I've had SIX first graders come through this very Primary School?  Six children.  First grade is mighty busy, isn't it?  You're learning to read, to write, to make friends, to have hobbies and extra curricular activities.  Can you imagine managing all of that SIX different times?  Even having ONE first grader pretty much qualifies you to be super. The hands started shooting up, and the kids couldn't wait to tell me about their families. Their brothers, sisters, cousins and expectant parents. Their pets. Their Pogo sticks.  All that made their families bustle with energy and delightful chaos.  We could have swapped stories ALL DAY. I love first grade.
I love being a super mom.
I could tell they got it.
 We loved it.
They clapped and I said good-bye.
Then the thank-you notes arrived.
I adore every one.
And now, (as they say) you know the REST of the story.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Who is Murphy? I think we're cousins.

The post about how I seem to be that rare exception to the statistical probability of having someone show up at the house on the ONE.DAY  I choose to:

(pick one or a combination of the following)
-not shower
-stay in my pajamas
-neglect my hair and make-up
-not clean up dinner and dishes from the night before
-not see the nasty piece of dark-colored food wedged in my front teeth when I greet them with my widest smile

Doesn't matter.  As soon as I decide to defy the hygiene routine, THAT's the day I will meet new people and help them form fantastic first opinions about how well-groomed I am.  Take this morning for example.

I hurried right over to my parents' house to help my mom with some Spring cleaning.  (Do YOU wash your walls twice a year?... I sure don't.  But after today I will probably at least THINK about how I don't wash my walls maybe twice in the year.)  She asked me when I was coming.
6:30 am 
Mom: Jenny, are you still coming today?
Me: Yes...
Mom: Well what time do you think you'll get here?
Me: I'll come whenever you want me to.
Mom: Umm..., the earlier the better.
Me: Okay. As soon as I get the last child on the bus, I'll drive over.
8:30 am
Me: I'm on my way!
Mom: Great!
Me: I noticed when I was talking to you earlier, that you were running the bath.  That means you're all spruced up, smelling nice and looking beautiful, right?
Mom: Yes... (she does love her baths)
Me: Well--refrain from judging when I arrive, because you're getting me as I am.  I took my shower last night and slept on wet hair.  I put on my best work clothes (read: ratty and paint-splattered).  I have banana breath.
Mom: (giggling) Don't worry!  Just come. (and) Banana breath?!? You don't even LIKE bananas.
8:45 am
Me: Oh... I just passed the Agway Store.  Do you need chicken feed?
Mom:  YES! Please.  We're all out.  (Dad in the background: forget the feed. let them die.)
Me: I'm turning around.
Only then did I realize that I was offering to enter a retail establishment in my current state of un-groom-ed-ness.  I kept my eyes low and purchased the pellets.  There were two men in the store.  I did happen to sense that I got the sideways glance from the employee who was not busy at the computer taking my order.  Call it paranoia, but if it were ME behind the counter, I'd probably have given someone with such fantastic bed-head a glance or two as well.  The rest of the drive included some finger-wetting in my bottle of water, so that I could dampen my bangs that were standing at attention in about six different directions.  Not even kidding.  It was some good hair.  I wasn't TOO worried about it, though, because I was about to get to work with the soapy bucket and some rags, and who cares what you look like when you're wielding a vacuum and moving furniture?
When I arrived at the old Homestead, I saw a vehicle in the driveway that I did not recognize.  Yep--Cousin Murphy.  Inside I found my mom's perfectly primped Visiting Teacher, sitting across from her on the couch, getting in a quick message before the cleaning lady showed up.  They motioned for me to join them.  Oi vey. So I sat there awkwardly trying not to pat my bangs and smooth my sweats while they finished up.  Honestly.  Why does showering the night before EVER seem like a good idea to me?
It was then on to cleaning and lunching (which was pure comfort and joy. really.) and it quickly became time to go.  Except.  Right then I got a reminder phone call from Mister Dub.  Bless him.
MD: Hey--did you remember that you were going to pick up that stuff for me in Marlboro?
Me: Oh right.  I'm going to do that on the way home.
Then he proceeds to give me directions. The stuff is going to be in a Corporate Office in a nearby Business Park.  I need to go to the front desk and ask for so-and-so.
In my head, right then, I debated the scenario where I go to the plush building, ask for so-and-so and introduce myself as Martha Frump--Jenny's painter, and I'm so sorry she couldn't be here herself, but she got tied up.  In an important meeting (with her shower).
But I didn't.  Because Cousin Murphy (and my conscience) wouldn't let me.
I hope Ms. so-and-so's stellar impression of Dub hasn't slipped a notch.
But I wore comfortable clothes ALL day.
I taught a piano lesson.
I taxied kids around.
I made rolls.
I went to book club.
And I smiled a lot.
And life is good (especially when you're comfortable) and because really, if you can't let-go once in a while and just go about the business of life in paint-speckled sweat pants and a messy pony tail, where's the adventure?  I might just keep them on and call them pajamas.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekend in Battleship Cove

 The men spent a day and a night in Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts.
 Cub scouts and their parents were allowed to wander through all the ships in the cove.
 They spoke with a Veteran,
 ate in the canteen
and bunked for the night like seamen.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Move over Beckham

 The girls are back on the pitch.
 I love Spring soccer.
 Rooney means business when she's ball-handling.
 They've had two games so far this season,
and she's been the high-scorer at both.
I'll keep my eye on the game, and she'll have hers on the ball.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

still Boston's best day

SO many thoughts rambling through my mind in the past two days... it's been hard to know what to do with them.
 Last night I had a hard time falling asleep.  I know I wasn't alone.
 First of all, know that our day yesterday was WONDERFUL.
Race day was enjoyed by both participants and spectators.
 We enjoyed Boston's best day as a family at the marathon;
we sat curbside at mile 19 with a great group of friends, reveling in the excitement of the day.
 We felt inspired by the thousands and thousands of racers who wheeled and ran past and did our best to encourage them along the course.
Boston's marathon is truly inspiring: blind runners are guided along the course, groups run for amazing causes, the disabled are pushed and pulled by loved ones, barefoot and sandal-toed they come
costumed runners race as hot dogs, super heroes,
as hamburgers, in tutus and wigs,
 painted red, as caped Spartans with armor and spears, in pink and tuxedo, 
Scottish flags, Team Hoyt... it's all part of Boston's best day.

I know we're not alone in our love for the Boston Marathon--

it's an amazing race; an event that brings together people from all over the world.  There isn't a block of curb along the marathon route where people aren't clapping and cheering.  Boston brings out her best welcome and shines bright as host on a day known to all as one full of happiness and camaraderie.
 After five hours of partying and cheering road-side, we decided to pack it up and head home. There were still runners on the course and we could have cheered for a few more hours.

 It had been a fantastic day.  That was just after 2:30 pm.  We got a phone call on the drive home that changed everything.  We spent the afternoon trying to digest what we had learned, and checking in with family and friends who wanted to know that we were safe.  At home we turned off the television and radio.  We talked about it at dinner, again in the evening and had prayer together before bed.  I was reminded of the quote by Fred Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Boston is a city of helpers.  The helpers were everywhere all at once doing what they could to make a terrible thing hurt less.  I'm grateful for the people of Boston who don't have to think before they rush to the aid of their fellow men.  I'm also grateful for a nation who rushes in with a heartfelt show of support.  It makes me happy to know that no matter how much bad happens, the good always outweighs the bad.  Good trumps evil.  EVERY.TIME.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


...and she's off!
Her first prom.
What a great group of kids.
I was so impressed; they're sure to have a great night together.