Friday, September 27, 2013

Summer Catch-Up, Part 5: Our Prima Ballerina

Chloe's dance recital was in the beginning of June this past summer. Greg and I decided that we wanted to give her the opportunity to dance in it, despite the fact that we'd moved a few weeks earlier. She'd worked so hard, and she loves to dance. Here are some sweet memories from that day.

I don't know where this girl gets her grace from... definitely not her mama.

Her bestie came to cheer her on, which made her day.

Sweet, special friends. This one makes my heart ache... We miss them so.

Grammy has never missed a recital!

Pop, Nana, and their special girl.

We toasted Chloe with a little pizza party...

I love these guys. I wish they'd all move to Rochester.

Chloe's Uncle Paul surprised her with a special dessert just for her. He went to the store to pick up the cookie cake to help me out, and when he was there he decided she needed to have this. He had it wrapped in a pretty white box and snuck it there without me even knowing. She was quite pleased.

We're so proud of our girl, and look forward to the years ahead as we watch her grow into the person God has created her to be.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Raspberries & Chocolate & Sunshine, Oh My

This has been a beautiful week in western New York. High 60s, sunshine, blue skies, fluffy clouds. Scattered on the outskirts of our little town are all sorts of farms advertising "U Pick" this and "U Pick" that. I thought it sounded like fun, and when I checked out the forecast last Sunday and saw only happiness predicted, I decided that the kids and I were going adventuring. We were going to pick something.

The season dictated the fall crop of raspberries, so we picked up our little pint baskets at the farm stand and away we went.

My childhood is dotted with wonderful memories of this fruit. My grandparents lived in Erie, and every summer the raspberry bushes they'd planted along the side of the garage would bend heavy with juicy red berries. I can still taste the tart sweetness of them when I remember the long, quiet afternoons I would idle away in the shade of that yard, telling myself stories and plucking raspberry after raspberry off the tangle of green bushes. When I think of my grandma I encounter a whole host of sweet and complicated memories, but the ones that stand out conjure grape Hi-C and puffy round sugar cookies and raspberries that sweetened hot summer days.

The last time I picked berries with the kids, the twins were two or three, Chloe was maybe five, and Charlie was still a miracle in the making. I remember it was strawberries, and I remember it was about 90% work and 10% fun, tops. None of the kids understood what they were supposed to be doing. The ground was uneven and the twins kept tripping over their own feet and erupting into tantrums as they fell in the mud. The strawberries were hard to pick, not very ripe, and expensive. I got home and decided to chuck my vision of becoming the wholesome, organic mama picking fruit with her darling babes and just go back to buying Smuckers at Walmart, for heaven's sake.

What a difference a few years make! The kids really, genuinely enjoyed picking the fruit today. They each filled up a pint while Charlie ate his weight in raspberries, but it kept him busy, so I ran with it.

We made a chocolate raspberry cheesecake, a few jars of jam, and some happy memories in this new home of ours.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The ROC City Half

13.1 is in the books, friends! My sis and I hustled and finished the race in 2 hours and 8 minutes, beating our hoped-for finish time by more than six minutes.

It was fun! I can't believe I just typed that. But really, it was actually fun! Let me step back a wee bit. I had become a pretty big grump as the mileage in my training plan increased week by week. It was annoying, to be frank. I'm busy, you know what I mean? So to take what amounts to two or three hours every Saturday morning to run up and down the Erie Canal got old, and fast. Sometimes it rained, and that made me mad. Sometimes there were bugs, and that made me even more mad. By last night, as cheerleader Greg was trying to psych me up for the big day, I snapped, "I just want to get this over with. And then I am never - ever - doing this again."

Race day dawned cold, dark, and rainy. Cara and I slurped some coffee and then exchanged worried musings about the locations of the Portable Potties. We put the coffee away. We were supposed to pick up our race packets no later than 7:00 am, and as we sauntered in fifteen minutes late we noticed we were surrounded by all manner of spandex-clad people warming up, running in place, touching their toes, and so forth and so on. "Geez, they sure are taking this seriously," we mumbled. "Ummm, maybe we should, like, stretch or something," we mumbled.

Here we were three minutes before the race:

We literally were in almost the last row of runners lined up at the starting line, and as the gun went off we... stood still. Slowly, slowly, the big funnel of people started to move forward. Cara consulted her running app and reported that we were currently running a 19 minute mile pace. Awesome. The adrenaline started flowing, and we began to pick people off. First Cara passed the 75 year old lady who was walking, and then I caught up to the pregnant lady pushing the double stroller.

I kid.

It actually was pretty much just like what you would expect. We settled into a nice pace and kept it up the whole time. The course was beautiful, and it was lots of fun to run through the pretty old neighborhoods and parks and along the Canal. More than anything, it is so cool to be running your heart out and have people on the sidelines cheering you on, ringing bells and clapping and telling you you can do it. Who wouldn't be motivated by this?

And this?

(Side note: I love James' choice of words for his sign: Go Mom. Go Aunt. He's all business as you can see).

It was such an awesome experience. We both felt great until mile 12, and by then the finish was in sight. I dug deep and turned to my secret weapon, the Spice Girls. If "If You Wanna" doesn't get ya moving, nothing will. We gave it all we had for the final stretch and crossed the finish line smiling. Then we went home and ate doughnuts.

I'm glad it's over, and I'm glad we did it. Cheers to us!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer Catch-Up, Part 4: Tutors Extraordinaire

My kids were blessed to have wonderful tutors last year in Classical Conversations. Sam and Max both harbored a secret crush on the beloved Mrs. Bupp throughout the year, and Greg and I were so grateful for her nurturing, patient tutoring of the boys.

Chloe adored Mrs. Lamont, and went above and beyond to achieve because Mrs. Lamont's excitement and approval really mattered to her.

It was sad to give them hugs at our closing ceremony knowing that this would be our last year with CC in Pittsburgh.

 They tutored with excellence and enthusiasm, and that made our year special.

"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

Monday, September 2, 2013

It's Been a While...

Wow - that was a long, unintended break from the blog. You know, when I was packing up my life in Pittsburgh this past spring and envisioning the summer stretched out before me, I pictured lots of long, quiet days by the pool with the kids, reading books that had been gathering dust on my nightstand. With no friends and nowhere to go in this new town, there would be countless uninterrupted hours to think and ponder and be introspective.

Guess what?

That's not how it's turned out. This has been the busiest summer I can ever remember having. We've traveled almost more than we've been home. We've had lots of unexpected opportunities to spend time with new friends we've made. And trying to set up and organize a home with four fun-loving, energetic kids underfoot is no joke. I've taken to making early morning Target runs before Greg leaves for work because that's the only time I can squeeze them in.

Fall is upon us, and I'm looking forward to it. Routine. Steelers football (don't even think that loyalty will ever change - we have the NFL Gameday ticket this year in case our local station dares to broadcast the Bills instead of the Black and Gold). Being forced to say no because learning beckons. It will be good for me.

Our new school year kicks off this week, and there's so much I want to share. First, though, I'm going to document a few more sweet summer memories so the kids have a comprehensive record someday of the wild, crazy summer of 2013.