Thursday, May 30, 2013

full disclosure Thursday: there's a little rebel in me

Our life is no Mutiny on the Bounty, but there's some excitement and adventure in our past.
Mr. Dub and I went to Sanibel Island in Florida on our honeymoon.  We stayed at a resort hotel and I felt like a movie star: fancy fruity drinks at the pool and room service.  Just like the movies.  
There wasn't much down time--I'm married to a man who likes to get out there and get busy as soon as the sun gets up (and most of the time BEFORE the sun gets up).  There was a lot to see and do along the gulf coast of Florida, and we did most of it.  Except lie on the beach.  I recall about 15 minutes of sitting on a towel and digging my toes in the sand.  That was all my new husband could tolerate.  There would be no bronzing for us.  We were off exploring the everglades, spotting dolphins in the ocean, renting bicycles and being invited to join an archaeological dig.  There was tennis and a nature preserve, riding in an elevator with Barry Manilow, spotting manatees and a day at Busch Gardens.  
I remember early in the week touring the property of somebody famous.  (Some of the more important details escape me.)  It was late in the afternoon, and we were lucky enough to score tickets on the last tour. The UN-lucky part was that the gardens were already closed.  You could see the beautiful flowers and landscaping from the patio where we were standing, but there was a now forbidden path blocked by some rope barriers.  I felt slighted.  We paid for tickets and the yard portion of the property was clearly an attraction worth seeing.  I told Dub we could just hop the barrier and go see the garden on our own.  We didn't need a tour!  
I think my spontaneous, brazen approach took him a little by surprise, because he followed my lead.  I took him by the hand and we high-stepped it over the ropes.  The part I hadn't considered was that there might be security guards roaming the paths to keep rule-breakers like us from venturing where we were not wanted.  They turned us around pretty quickly and I was disappointed.  And a little mad. 
Dub?  He was ashamed like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  He didn't like it.  Not one little bit.  It was like his true self finally caught up with his newly-in-love self and he actually scolded me.  On our honeymoon!  
I forgave him a LONG time ago.  (On the law-side of the gardens)  As much as I like to think of myself as a straight shooter, Mr. Dub still keeps me from doing things like jumping over rope barriers when my inner pirate peeks out.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

vegging out

So there we were: a large group of family gathered on the deck at my parents' house.  The food was gone and the conversations were waning.  Aunt Becky the party gal stepped up to the plate and taught us how to play
Here are the rules:
say 'broccoli!' or 'peas!'
or 'squash!'
Say the name of the veggie
(feel free to use 'rutabaga' here)
with your teeth covered and 
your mouth open.
No smiling.
 NO laughing.
You say yours and then pass the turn along by naming someone else's vegetable.
The game goes on until everyone's out or until your facial muscles have had ENOUGH.
This was FUN!
Really, we're just a bunch of fruits and NUTS.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Traditionally, this means SUMMER

Memorial Day has come and gone.
Let's break out our whites and frolic in the summer sun!
Most of the country has waved their last good-bye to the school bus and are already working on their lists of things to do when boredom sets in.
Not here.
In Massachusetts, most of us HEARTY New England-ers will be waiting for the bus until sometime during the week of June 24th.  While a majority of U.S. K-12 kids are getting a good start on their poolside manners, ours will be fidgeting behind their desks for FOUR MORE WEEKS.
This is why I am grateful for the efforts of my brother, who labored to make sure the pool was open for yesterday's Memorial Day festivities.
The water was balmy (if you're part penguin) but kids don't care when it's the first plunge of the season.
Hooray for swimming!
and HOORAY! for summer barbecues.
 We still have our afternoons and evenings.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Memorial Day has always been a favorite holiday--a day off from the routine to reflect on those men and women who have given their lives so we can enjoy the freedom of ours.  Mr. Dub is excellent at helping us to appreciate our veterans in the best way that we can: a stop at the Old South Burying Ground in Bolton introduced our kids and a niece and nephew to some of our ancestors who fought and fell in the Revolutionary War.  When we were first married, we lived in Bolton.  We became members of the Historical Society there, and then got involved in an effort to memorialize soldiers from Bolton who fought in the Revolutionary War.   I believe it was the fall of 1991 when Dub helped install the markers.  He asked two full-time missionaries serving in the area to help as well.  Everyone was so happy that the war veterans would be officially and appropriately recognized.  I remember the last visit we made to this cemetery was an October weekend in 2006 just before Rooney's baptism.  I was glad we could go back today--it was a beautiful day to reflect and remember.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

weekend of the garden

The garden's going in today.
Courtesy of our BEST rototiller-er (is that a word?).

Friday, May 24, 2013

at the ballet

Last night we attended the end-of-year ballet recital.
It's truly a pleasure to watch these two dance. Especially together.  For so many years I dressed them in their leotards and tights, escorted them to ballet classes and helped them get ready for recitals.  Now I just show up for the final performance.
 (What happened to those sweet toddler girls in tutus?)
 The production was The Little Mermaid.
 Mesquite and Rooney were the daughters of Triton.
 They have some impressive moves and worked hard.
 It's clear that they enjoy dancing
 I love that they love it together.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

10 Things I'll never do

I often remind my family that the words 'always' and 'never' are pretty big deals.
As much as it feels right to say them, always and never usually don't apply.
"You always leave your clothes on the bathroom floor!"
"You never let me do what I want."
Using these two words may feel justified; especially in a moment of intense emotion. But seldom is the case when they truly apply.
In the spirit of always and never, I bring you a list of 10 things I think I can accurately say I'll never do:

1. Run a marathon.  It's been on the list.  I wanted to run a marathon before I turned 40.  Instead, I had my sixth child.  I wanted to run next year's Boston Marathon.  Especially in light of this year's tragic events.  I'm Boston Strong.  But my body is not.  I pick up running again and again, only to be reminded that most would not enjoy telling me that I'd dropped some vital organs at mile 13.  I will, instead, continue to cheer enthusiastically for those who can pound out those 26 miles and 385 yards.

2. Run for President of the United States.  Send me to run your errands.  I'll gladly accept a call to serve as President of the Relief Society.  But Politics are not for me.

3. Take a cruise. I will never pay to get on a floating city.  I would take up sky diving before you could convince me to bob around on the Titanic buoyant iron (doesn't that seem like an oxymoron?).  How does that much metal float, anyway?

4. Neglect my teeth.  Even if I find myself stranded on a deserted island, I will figure out ways to turn palm fronds into picks and floss and execute salt water rinses after every meal coconut.

5. Smoke.  ANYTHING.  There may have been some mention here previously about my occasional tendency to have a cigarette in my dreams.  In that sphere I've smoked less than five times.  I think I lit up casually in an attempt to reduce stress.  In real life?  NEVER.

6. Apply to be on a reality television show.  I think this one, in part, is closely connected with my aversion to politics and my distaste for public flogging.  I have a highly competitive spirit but I rate low on the scale of wanting to feel exposed in the national media.  (I will admit to being a fan of the reality show Survivor--but you'll never see me getting voted off the island.)

7. Play the lottery.  And for what?  I heard a man on the radio (how's THAT for credentials?) talking about yesterday's enormous Powerball prize up for grabs.  I believe he said that if you play, your odds of winning were about the same as having your favorite sports team win the equivalent of the super bowl or world series twelve years in a row.  I have a hard enough time keeping a few dollars in my wallet.  Why would I give it to the lottery?  I won't say I'll never WIN the lottery, because hey: some kind and generous lottery fan friend-of-mine might gift me some lottery tickets down the road, and I just may find myself needing to pick a favorite sports team.

8. Abandon my children.  For twenty-two years, losing my children has been my worst nightmare.  Despite some panic-filled moments, I'm grateful this has never happened.  I'm a strong mother bear.  My cubs will eventually all grow up and wander off, but I won't lose their scent.  I'll plan to pop in for afternoons of berry picking and re-fuel with bear hugs.

9. Stop learning. Even if it's only from the mistakes I make.

10. Deny my faith.  I can't open my eyes in the morning without seeing first the reward of another day.  My vision isn't the best when I wake up; this morning I had to open THREE cans before I could decipher the labels (Mesquite did not want organic diced tomatoes with her breakfast--I was successful in finding peaches on my third try) but I cannot deny that this life and the chance to improve it is the greatest gift we're given every time we wake up.  God is good.  Life isn't always full of goodness, but we can learn to find the good and share it with others.

NEVER pass up a reason to celebrate.  Always find the good.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

country mice

We love the city, but we definitely live in the country.

Last night Mr. Dub had been home from work just long enough to change his clothes and squirt the hose on the patch of new grass before he came to dinner.  At the table he noticed a tick crawling up his arm.

Driving home from ballet Mesquite narrowly missed hitting a skunk in the middle of the road. (and WOW! does that stench linger no matter how far and fast you drive)  Then she turned the corner and passed the newly fertilized corn field at which point she exclaimed "Well I MUCH prefer the smell of manure to the smell of skunk."

We came home to the sound of peepers in the backyard pool which has not been opened yet.  Rooney went out to find a frog and instead started issuing a may day call from the yard.  I ran to the door to find out what the problem was, and she was bringing in the cat, scolding him for catching a baby bunny.  THAT was traumatic.
Next thing I knew, she was playing with a frog in the kitchen. And encouraging the cat NOT on probation to make friends.

I'm glad the good weather is back.  The city comes alive no matter the weather, but when the leaves come back, the country wakes up and it's a happy reunion.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday snapshots

Sunday morning came EARLY.
I had to be out of the house for an early morning meeting, but realized that getting the crew to church was going to require some planning. (not enough seats in one vehicle to accommodate everyone for the later trip) I asked Leeli if she wanted to come along; she was a good sport.
When we arrived to an empty parking lot, I knew I had missed a memo.
(How could I miss a meeting cancellation email?!?)
Church is a 30 minute drive from home, so we had an extra 90 minutes of quality time together in the car.
Maybe that was her quiet time quota for the day, because there wasn't a lot of concentrating in church:
We bid a bittersweet farewell to Enrique in the same parking lot. He went back to Amherst in the afternoon, where he'll spend his summer working as a New Student Orientation guide.
 We accepted a spontaneous invitation for lunch and games, and then went home to feed the missionaries, entertain an eight-year-old
 and turned the dining room into the campaign headquarters for Rooney's political debut. We listened to her speech and practiced cheering at the appropriate parts.  We also put together some personalized campaign favors:
 Sticks of gum taped to shipping tags that say
"CHEWS Roonie for Vice President!"

Friday, May 17, 2013

a gate of togetherness

The week has gone racing past.
With one of our college boys home for a quick week-long break, the dynamics of the household have changed again.  I love how the kids rally around each other and long to just "be" as a complete entity in as many moments as possible.  Dinner time together, a quick game of Yahtzee, a spontaneous trip to the High School musical... I take none of it for granted.  Some of my favorite moments so far this month:

Watching Mesquite redeem a "One Dance-Off!" coupon she got from her sister for her birthday.

Discovering you CAN make a delicious meal out of JUST vegetables.

Feeling separate, somehow, from the kids at an activity we attended together, and then enjoying a well-timed embrace from Mr. Dub.  The kids will eventually fly the nest...  harbingers of this process of independence stare me in the face at every turn.  I feel thankful EVERY day that I have an anchor in Dub-who-I-love.

Driving to seminary at 6:00 am and spotting Tommy Lee Jones out walking his dog.  We made eye contact, and somehow he knew he'd been discovered.  I swear!  Who knew TLJ lived in OUR quiet little town?
The greenhouse is alive!  Bursting with little sprouts that can't wait to get their feet planted on terra firma... it's all I can do to wait until Memorial Day weekend.  But I must. It's the unwritten law of the sowing season in New England.
Chalked up another book to the finished list:  The Zookeeper's Wife A War Story by Diane Ackerman.  A World War II memoir that takes place in Warsaw kept me captivated with Antonina Zabinski's impenetrable need to survive and desire to help others.  She and her husband are keepers of the Warsaw Zoo.  When Germany  invades, the zoo is bombed and most of the animals are killed or taken away by the Nazi regime.  The Zabinskis smuggle hundreds of Jews into animal cages, an underground tunnel and their own home.  What I loved about this book was the fascinating way the author writes in a way that seems to point out the human tendencies of the animals loved by Antonina, and the way many humans seemed animalistic in wartime Poland.  A fascinating (and horrifying) glimpse from an angle I hadn't yet discovered; this book (like the war) seemed to go on forever.  I laughed out loud at many of the adventures with animals (badger was my favorite), but groaned as page after page of war time dreadfulness spread out before me.  Will this war never end? I felt guilty thinking it, when so many lived the horror and wondered the same.

We're enjoying a gate of togetherness (minus one) and there are exciting things pulling us through to the other side. 
There's a reason to celebrate every day.