Saturday, December 26

Christmas 2009

**

This Christmas was stress free; warm, loving, not rushed, not worried about money, not pressed with family drama or underlying angst. Just what Christmas should be.

Last year I began setting the boundaries. I knew I would be hit with some resistance, and I've long since learned that I can't manage crazy. But this time my family (Cindy and my mom) topped themselves. After letting my mom know that, no it wasn't OK to come to our house early Christmas morning with Ace dressed as Santa, and no we wouldn't be serving them dinner - another day would be great - just not on Christmas morning - both my mom and Cindy started with the silent treatment. Because they didn't get what they wanted, when they wanted, regardless of our plans for our family, we we're extricated from the family. I didn't hear from my mom again until some time in late February. She blew off Christmas and Alex's birthday - as punishment. And I never spoke to Cindy. My mom "translated" the information to her and she hasn't spoken to me since. Didn't return the calls that I placed to her to talk about plans for Christmas - nope, she just stopped talking to me. Because - hey it was really all about the kids and if she can't do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it -then she'll never see or talk to the kids or her sister ever again. So that brings us back to "can't manage crazy."

So last Christmas was spent with angst and heartache, stress and drama. It took me most of that year to come the realization that Cindy is as toxic and emotionally dangerous as she is damaged.

Looking forward

**

My life is pretty good. Really good. I have an incredible husband, two beautiful little girls, a house that is truly a home, friends, a good job. Call me crazy - but I'm ready for a change. I'm ready to shake something up. Not sure what.

An option that popped up on Christmas Eve: Uproot the family and move to Boulder in pursuit of a career move for Dave. What would all that mean to me? To our family?

Downside - EVERYTHING changes and potential for me to hit the skids like I did in Washington, D.C.. It's FREAKIN' cold there.

Upside - I could be a stay at home mom, start a photog. business, buy a bigger house, experience a new life, learn to ski, make new friends.

And the list goes on.

Oh what to do...,

**

Sunday, December 13

Being a true friend means loving in spite of our flaws. Forgiving, even when it hurts. Being truthful, but respecting the other's feelings. Loving with all that you are, and not expecting anything in return. At times it means that you are that person's strength, rock, knot, shelter. Other times it means that you listen and say nothing, just ... See Morelisten, even though you want to scream at the top of your lungs that they are making the wrong decision, but loving them even though they do. Being a freind means bringing out the best in someone, by being the best that you are. The greatest gift is the gift of love and friendship and not placing any expectations on what it is, or what it can be, just that it is...

A sudden scare...,

**
Off to bed with a stuffy nose and the sniffles, hours later Rachel wakes up crying with a barking cough. She began gasping for air and for one horrible moment it seemed like she couldn't breath. I grabbed her from her bed and, checking for blue lips on the way, we rush her to the bath to run the hot steam. Rachel's calm now and trying to sleep. Not sure that will come any time soon for momma!
**

Thursday, November 26

Thanksgiving Day

**
I am thankful for the past. All the people and experiences that came before. The people who loved me and the people who hurt me. (Sometimes one in the same.) And the experiences; the triumphs and failures and everything in between.

If it weren't for those, I would not be here today, so very thankful for the present. My wonderful husband and two incredible little girls. Our life is pretty great.

And I'm thankful for the future. It's endless potential and unknowns. Dreams to fulfill and heartaches to weather. All of it with my family by my side. Life doesn't get any better than that.
**

Wednesday, November 25

Skittle Pics - Portrait photography

The name of my new business.

Skittle Pics - Portrait photography.

Yep. I like it!

Monday, November 23

Pondering My Parenting

**

Alex is 6 1/2 and Rachel is 4, and already I feel our closeness is slipping.

Is it the two years I've been back at work and the girls have been in school and after-school care?

It it the normal progression of child development, stretching their wings and developing a natural, healthy sense of autonomy?

Is it the time that I spend on the computer, or on the phone, work at home, or other household chores - when I tell them "In a minute...," "I just need to finish this..." "Girls can you just play by yourselves for a little while....?"

Whatever it is, it makes me sad and anxious to preserve what we have, or rebuild what we've lost. A little more focused time with the girls, a little less time on the computer, a little less distractions from work and other things less important.

I'll do my best to live with this in mind:

"How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us. By keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most."
~ Noreen Bristow ~

**

It's all about perspective

**

"Rachel, hon, your shorts are on backwards."

Hmmm. Rachel looks down. Perplexed for a moment.

She quickly spins around backward, grins over her shoulder and says, "Now they're not!"

**

Friday, November 13

Days are slipping by...,

**

Alex is 6, and Rachel is 5.

I'm working full time.

From 7:40 in the morning to 5 in the evening, I'm away from my girls. Nine hours a day away and just a few hours a day with them. And those hours are so often interrupted with phone calls and computer use, household details and chores.

I sit at my desk, writing talking points, press releases, taking part in conference calls. All of which would go on smoothly without me. I do a good job, people are happy with my work. But it would all go on smoothly without me.

That's not true of my family, but I'm not giving my best to them. They're getting what's left.

The days are passing too quickly and we'll never get them back. It's time to reassess.
**

Saturday, November 7

Maybe it's the wine...,

**

Tonight was our first family movie night. Rachel, Alex, Dave, Ollie and I all curled up in the living room with popcorn and drinks watching "Hotel for Dogs."

Alex and I sobbing. Those poor kids. All they had were each other. Each other and the dogs they found on the street. Together they made a family.

My heart strings were pulled on soooo many levels. Too many to enumerate here - and a little too clouded by the wine. But I wonder what brought Alex to tears. She's always been more empathetic than her years, but I wish I could crawl inside her head in these moments and feel and understand.

She's special. I'm just not sure I know the extent of how special she really is.

**

Thursday, November 5

Tuesday, November 3

The List

**
My list seems to be getting longer, while my days seem to be getting shorter.

I've taken on a few too many obligations, said yes a few too many times, and now I'm in a pickle. My plate is too full and there's still more that I want to do.

Choice and priorities. My true life's purpose? My family.

That's not to say that I don't matter in the equation. As we already know - going down that road is lonely and unfulfilling path for me, which is ultimately bad for our family.

It's that quintessential thing called balance that I (and every other mom that I know) is looking for.

I have to wonder if this thing called "balance" is really attainable - or if what it's really about is changing expectations, patience and rearranging priorities.

Maybe it's not about balance, Maybe it's about realizing that while it maybe possible to have it all or do it all, it's not possible to have it all (or do it all) all at once.

**

Sunday, October 11

Back in the saddle

**

With the kids back in school, their other lessons and activities are getting back into full-swing too. And now that Rachel is five, both girls are taking riding lessons. Oh - and they are loving it...,

**

Friday, October 9

Amending the record...,

**

OK - remember "For the Record" ???

Well - let me set that record straight. A little kiss, a little wipe and it disappeared. Yep, it was nothin' but dirt.

**

Thursday, October 8

She needs a hole in her head....

**
Rachel's surgery is becoming more real. No longer some nebulous thing that's going to happen some day - off in the future. No longer far enough off that I can leave it in the box, safely on the shelf with all the worries tucked nicely inside.

We've started selecting physicians and facilities, insurance carriers and plans, looking at photos, pouring through internet resources, and making decisions on which procedures and when.

It's the process that keeps me balanced. Going through the necessary steps and staying focused on the details keeps the worries at bay.

**
Interested in learning more???

Understanding Unilateral Hearing loss:
http://www.boystownhospital.org/hearing/info/unilateral.asp
And the speech banana...,
http://edschool.csuhayward.edu/departments/ted/instruction/howe/5500/AAL-speechbanana.html

Blogs
http://www.kelleysearsurgery.blogspot.com/
http://www.milestrip.blogspot.com/
http://www.missionlittlebrother.blogspot.com/
http://belle-josh.blogspot.com/

Our doc;
http://www.americanhealthandbeauty.com/procedures/doctors.asp?doc=345
http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/14064.html?gclid=CMbwpOTy7JoCFQVxFQodW10QBQ

Wednesday, October 7

Learning the Rules

**

For a person who isn't much of a rule follower, can someone tell me why I've become a leader of one of the most rule based organizations around?

Yep - I've become a Girl Scout leader. Not once - but twice. One for each of my girls. And, as always, I've learned it's really not about following the rules, so much as it is making the rules work for you. (Just to be clear, this isn't something I'll be teaching the Scouts. They'll figure it out during their teen years - maybe.)

Today we had 14 girls, 8 moms and 3 extra siblings here for a fabulous little initiation ceremony for the new Kindergarten troop. Alex's troop, the first grade Daisies, welcomed Rachel's Kindergarten troop into the the Girls Scouts. During the ceremony, each girl was presented with her new vest. Smiles, giggles and squeals all around. Good times.

After the Girl Scout meeting "officially" ended. We broke out the pizza. juice boxes and wine, and the Moms had just as good of time as the girls. Great group of women, raising a great group of girls.

Life if good.

**

Monday, October 5

Monday Morning Ramblings

**

The girls were both extra clingy this morning - snugly until the moment I nudged them off to class. Alex gave me the saddest little look and complained of her tummy hurting. It's so hard to tell. Is she really feeling bad? Is it just a longing for mommy? Is it gas?

As mommies, we just do our best and send them off to school or keep them home based on sometimes nothing more than a mother's hunch - and always wondering, "is this the right decision?" In the end - they survive, we survive and they know that we love them.

**

Yesterday, Alex and Rachel and I went hiking up Twin Peaks with their little friends and Miss Betty, then came back to our house for lunch. It was great fun - then after nap and crafts, we headed out to check out pianos for Rachel, and then to dinner.

I am constantly amazed at how different my life experience was, and wonder if every generation feels the same. I'm so happy we're able to give them what we do, and that my hubby and I are almost always on the same page, enjoying life together with our girls. Our little family unit - there is no greater gift.

OK - I've got to run. These are just the ramblings of a mad woman on a Monday Morning.

**

Sunday, October 4

Saturation

**

OK - I believe I've reached the saturation point. FaceBook seems to have lost some of it's luster for me. Still peaking every now and then - but it's shimmer has definitely faded.

Back to life and back to blogging.

It's nice to be home again...,

**

Saturday, September 26

Science - It's a party!

**
At 7:00 a.m. I woke up with a messy house, the knowledge that 7 little girls would be arriving at our house at 2:00 p.m. for Rachel's science party - and absolutely no plan. No plan - just a theme.

OK - time to get moving. Dave and I gulped down some coffee, made our lists and shifted into gear. Several hours and one clean house later....,


**

Saturday, September 5

The Smack Down

**

12:35 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, "Hello, Mrs. Hart?"

I had to stop a minute. Hmmm, no Marcella isn't here. Oh wait. That's me.

"Yes. This is Casey."

"Casey, this is Cheri from the elementary school."

And my heart skips a beat. The worry hackles go up. What's wrong? What's happened to my girls??

"We have Alex here in the Principal's office."

I remain silent.

"She's fine. She's here because there was an 'incident' on the playground. She punched a little boy in the chest, so she'll be here until the end of the day. The principal is at a meeting or he would have called you himself. He will 'deal with this' when he gets back." (That last part sounded a little ominous.)

Alex? Seriously? The girl who is "everybody's friend?"

"What? She HIT someone? What happened?" I say.

"Clearly she MUST have been provoked. Alex wouldn't just HIT someone. Not Alex," the protective mom voice echoes in my head. I, wisely, keep these thoughts to myself.

"Apparently they were all playing," Cheri explains, "and one of her friends said, 'Get all the boys out. Get all the boys off of our base!' So, Alex punched one of the boys. A second grader."

OK - is it wrong that a little piece of me was proud of her girl taking on the bigger boys?? OK, yes. Wrong.

I asked to speak with Alex on the phone, and she was sooo upset by the whole thing, I couldn't understand her through her tears.

"OK - babe. I'm coming down to the school so we can talk about it - OK? I'll be there in 10 minutes."

Once I got to the school, she looked at me with those big brown eyes, as sad as I've ever seen them, and began to cry again. I sat and held her until she calmed down enough to tell me what had happened, which was pretty much what Cheri had already told me.

It was one of those tough times in parenting when you really just want to let them off the hook. She was sad, embarrassed and clearly remorseful. She wanted me to take her home.

Sorry, sweetie. These are the lumps and you've got to take them. Consequences for poor choices. This is how we learn. Mommy's heart hurts for you - but it is what it is. Hitting is never OK.

So we sat and talked about why it was wrong, why hitting is never OK, and alternate choices that she can make in the future. Then I helped her write this note:
After school I spoke with her teacher and the principal, and they were as surprised as I that Alex ended up in the principal's office. Apparently there's been a run of "good kids gone bad" in the past week, so "we're not alone."

Hmmm, not sure that makes the situation any better, but it does make me wonder what's going on - as it does the principal apparently. A week of 95 degrees + may have something to do with it. But whatever it is - we don't want to see one of these again


After I told all of this to Dave and commiserated over the fall of our 'perfect child,' he asked, "After all that, did you tell her that sometimes 2nd grade boys are wusses? Especially when they get beat up by a little 1st grade girl?"

Yeah, I think a little piece of him was secretly proud of his tough little girl too.
**

Catch up...,

**

I've been spending so much time playing with my new software (CS4), taking pictures and then playing with those, FaceBooking and Tweeting, that I've neglected my blog. And, while the other things are fun, this has a permanence that will resonate long after all the rest have been forgotten.

So. It's time to catch up. I've got China to write about, summer fun our 10th anniversary, and soooo much more. Getting caught up is tough because life just keeps right on happening and won't slow down to wait for me.

Oh well, here goes.

I'm going to start with the present and work backward. I was going to start with China - but I've got 500+ photos to sort through!

**

Friday, August 21

Just another step

**

Today I watched her walk away. Without so much as a glance backwards, she walked away. Tentative, a little slowly at first, but off she went with dozens of other little people. Rachel left.

The second day of kindergarten is always rougher (for me) than the first. Day one is filled with excitement over new clothes, new backpacks and school supplies, new experiences, but day two they just walk away. Another step on the long road toward their own life, toward adulthood, and one more step away from needing mommy and daddy for every little thing.

Oh, I've been told that once they head off to college that I'll be ready to see them go, but I don't think so. My heart hurts a little when I think of the ways we'll grow apart from them as they grow up. It's natural. It's necessary. I know all that, and I want that for them. I just hope we can somehow keep them close while simultaneously letting them grow, and ultimately letting them go.

**

Sunday, August 16

Rachel's Special Day

**

Rachel's graduation from preschool marked the end of her toddlerhood, the end of her baby days. She's now, officially, a little girl-bright, fiercely independent, strong, and soft and cuddly. My little-little girl is growing up way before I'm ready.


**

Thursday, August 13

Yin and Yang

**

10 years ago tomorrow - I married the man who has held me while I cried, cheered me when I won, encouraged me when I wasn't sure, laughed at my nuttiness, called me on my bullshit, made me laugh until I cried, listened when I just needed to talk - ad nauseam, and loved me through it all.

During those 10 years -
One Condo
3 dogs - 2 died quickly and suddenly
Two job losses
A ferocious, and ultimately successful fertility battle
A move across country
Aching loneliness so far from home
The birth of our first miracle child - humbled by it all and incredulous that she made it
Postpartum Depression
A house
The miracle of the natural conception and birth of our second child
A move across country
The lifting of postpartum and the ability to see the sun again
5 years home with my babies
Goodbye full-time mommy, hello career-track
Good days, bad days
A lot of life
And through it all - the one constant
Dave

If there is a yin to my yang, he is it.

**

Sunday, August 2

Sunday Morning

**

It's an all girl morning. Nail polish, make-up, cuddles. But watching Alex and Ray put on make up, I have to wonder where they learned their "technique."



Beauty perfected!

**

Saturday, August 1

Hmmm

**

Mommy loves baubles and shiny things, and DH loves her. Hmmmm - I see baubles and shiny things....,

**

Monday, July 27

Oh to be six again

**

While we were in China, Alex lost her second tooth. Unlike the first, this time around, however, the tooth fairy was none too excited about it.

Alex waited for us to get home from China. She wanted to show us the tooth before giving it up to the tooth fairy. Soooo excited - she showed us the tooth and told us at least three times all about how she twisted it, and twisted it until it came out in her hands. "There wasn't hardly even any blood."

With great ceremony, we helped Alex put the tooth in the special little box, and then put the special little box into the special little pillow, which was then placed carefully under her pillow. And then we promptly forgot all about it, until the next morning when a dejected little Alex stood beside my bed with the special little pillow, which held the special little box, which held the lost tooth.

And the next night, with great ceremony, we helped Alex put the tooth in the special little box, and then put the special little box into the special little pillow, which was then placed carefully under her pillow. And then we promptly forgot all about it, until the next morning when a dejected little Alex stood beside my bed with the special little pillow, which held the special little box, which held the lost tooth.

Oh - we're bad. Soooo many repeated excuses, reasons and rationalizations about the poor overworked/unionized Tooth Fairy.

On the third night, that lazy little twit finally showed up and took the tooth away, leaving behind two shiny gold $1 coins. And, to her credit, Alex was just as excited as she would have been on the very first night.

She woke us up the next morning with an excited, ear-to-ear grin, "Mommy! Mommy! She was here! It fell on the ground again. And listen - Money!!"

Oh, to be six again.
**

Sunday, July 26

Abandoned...,

**

It's been a long time since it happened. I just kept denying it, trying to fix it, mend it. But choices have been made, sides have been chosen and I can't fix it alone. It's over now and my heart hurts for it. And that's all there is - a wounded heart that needs time to heal. It may take a life time.

**

Saturday, July 11

Out of the mouths of babes...,

**

R comes into cuddle with me 1st thing in the day.

"Mommy??"

"yeah?"

"Your face smells bad."

"what?"

"Your face smells bad."

And my child discovers morning breath.

**

R: Mommy, do you know what download means?

It means you haven't loaded up yet.

**

Thursday, July 9

At the core of me

**

At the core of me...,

I'll never be OK without my mommy.

Knowing that - there is so, so much that I vow to give to (or be for) my children.

**

What was I thinking??

**

Oh my God - I'm going to China.

What the hell was I thinking six months ago when Dave told me about the trip and I jumped on it? No questions asked.

Now, just two days away, following a week of earth quakes and civil unrest in China, the prospect of leaving my two girls for two weeks of the unknown is far more daunting.

**

Sunday, July 5

My Little Girls

**
Gotta hold on easy as I let you go.
Gonna tell you how much I love you,
though you think you already know.
I remember I thought you looked like an angel wrapped in pink so soft and warm.
You've had me wrapped around your finger since the day you were born.

Your beautiful baby from the outside in.
Chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again.
Go on, take on this whole world.
But to me you know you'll always be, my little girl.

When you were in trouble that crooked little smile could melt my heart of stone.
Now look at you, I've turned around and you've almost grown.
Sometimes you're asleep I whisper "I Love You!" in the moonlight at your door.
As I walk away, I hear you say, "Love You More!"

Your beautiful baby from the outside in.
Chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again.
Go on, take on this whole world.
But to me you know you'll always be, my little girl.

Someday, some boy will come and ask for your hand.
But I won't say "yes" to him unless I know, he's the half
that makes you whole, he has a poet's soul, and the heart of a man's man.
I know he'll say that he's in love.
But between you and me. He won't be good enough!

Your beautiful baby from the outside in.
Chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again.
Go on, take on this whole world.
But to me you know you'll always be, my little girl.
**

Friday, July 3

Back to our Own Private World

**

Finally changed the format of the blog to include only invited friends and family. With all of my postings on FaceBook and Twitter - I thought it would be nice to have a private venue for the Hart family's personal minutia.

Back to reality.

**

Thursday, July 2

Life Lessons

**

"MOOOMMMMA! That's not fair!"

"What, Rachel?"

"Alex got a lollipop and I didn't"

"Well. I'm sorry honey. Life is necessarily inequitable."

Blink, blink.

"hmmph"

And that was it.

**

Tuesday, June 30

Quote for the Day

**

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."
~ Adlai E. Stevenson ~

**

Saturday, June 27

And they say kids are resilient

**
With each divorce or separation, adults seem to console themselves with the assertion that "kids are resilient." And, while that may or may not be true, I ask, "Should they have to be?" and "Do they really have a choice?"

This song is by Everclear and the lyrics make me cry:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

hey, ain't life wonderful? wonderful, wonderful, wonderful... isn't it wonderful
Now?

I close my eyes when I get too sad
I think thoughts that I know are bad
Close my eyes and I count to ten
Hope its over when I open them

I want the things that I had before
Like a star wars poster on my bedroom door
I wish I could count to ten
Make everything be wonderful again

Hope my mom and I hope my dad
Will figure out why they get so mad
Hear them scream, I hear them fight
They say bad words that make me wanna cry

Close my eyes when I go to bed
And I dream of angels who make me smile
I feel better when I hear them say
Everything will be wonderful someday

Promises mean everything when you're little
And the worlds so big
I just don't understand how
You can smile with all those tears in your eyes
Tell me everything is wonderful now

Please don't tell me everything is wonderful now

I go to school and I run and play
I tell the kids that its all okay
I laugh aloud so my friends wont know
When the bell rings I just don't wanna go

Go to my room and I close my eyes
I make believe that I have a new life
I dont believe you when you say
Everything will be wonderful someday

Promises mean everything when you're little
And the world is so big
I just don't understand how
You can smile with all those tears in your eyes
When you tell me everything is wonderful now

No
No, I don't wanna hear you tell me everything is wonderful now
No
No, I don't wanna hear you tell me everything is wonderful now

I don't wanna hear you say
That I will understand someday
No, no, no, no
I don't wanna hear you say
You both have grown in a different way
No, no, no, no
I don't wanna meet your friends
And I don't wanna start over again
I just want my life to be the same
Just like it used to be
Some days I hate everything
I hate everything
Everyone and everything
Please don't tell me everything is wonderful now...

I don't wanna hear you tell me everything is wonderful now

~everclear~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
**

Wednesday, June 24

Our little village

**
I realized today, as I picked up my neighbor's boys from school - after another mom had picked up one of mine, that I have a village. As in, "It takes a village to raise a child." (Hillary Clinton, circa 1994)

My village includes a great group of moms and friends. A few of our current residents (all friends) are;

Julia and Wayne - as close to family as it gets
Amy Cook - as close to family as it gets
Kris Deveraux - a village member since before we had kids!
Molly - helping keep it together at the office
Courtney - our baby sitter
Rene - a neighborhood mom
Tammy - A fellow daisy mom
Betty - A fellow daisy mom
Jaime - A fellow daisy mom
Heidi - A neighborhood mom


If there is a need for a ride, an impromptu babysitter, a cup of sugar, special celebratory treats - our village is there. Our village works in concert - looking out for the little ones in this village, which overlaps with other villages, which overlap with still more villages - it's an amazing network of caring, loving people looking out for each others' kids and familial well-being.

What a gift!
**

Tuesday, June 23

Just get right back on...,

**

Her first fall..,



and she's right back in the saddle.



**

Monday, June 22

For the record...,

**

Do you ever look back at your life and wonder when the first time [X] happened?

[X] could be anything from the first time you played in the snow to the first time you road a bike--countless things and you'll never really know when they happened for the first time.

Well, let it be known, today is the day that Rachel got her first freckle. A cute little brown dot on the right side of her cute little button nose.
And today, instead of looking back, I'm looking forward and wondering how many freckles will follow the first.

PS: Love that little dimple too!

**

Sunday, June 21

Don't Blink

**
I turned on the evening news
Saw a old man being interviewed
Turning a hundred and two today
Asked him what's the secret to life
He looked up from his old pipe
Laughed and said "All I can say is."

Don't blink
Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you're twenty-five
and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife

Don't blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads
Next thing you know your "better half"
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you're praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don't blink

I was glued to my T.V.
when it looked like he looked at me and said
"Best start putting first things first."
Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can't flip it over and start again
Take every breathe God gives you for what it's worth

So I've been tryin' ta slow it down
I've been tryin' ta take it in
In this here today, gone tomorrow world we're livin' in

Don't blink
Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you're twenty-five
and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife

Don't blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads
Next thing you know your "better half"
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you're praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don't blink

Naw, don't blink
Life Goes Faster Than You Think

~ Kenny Chesney ~

**

Wednesday, June 17

Conversations on the way to school

**

Alex: "I'm so hungry I could eat an elephant."

Dylan: "No you couldn't."

A: "Yes I could"

D: "No."

A: "Yes! I! Could!"

D: "No you couldn't - they're too big!"

A: "Well. I would eat them in little pieces."

D: "That would take you a long time."

A: "So. I could do it."

**

Sunday, May 31

A weekend guest...,

**
Each week Curious George visits one of Alex's classmates. This past week was her turn, and she was over the moon for the little guy...,

~Click on image to enlarge~
**

Friday, May 29

Alex's Joy

**

She's loving the horses. Learning to tack and even interested in cleaning out the stalls. Who knows, maybe one day...,

Molly is 17.3 hands high, sweet and smooth. She's a lot of horse for a little girl, but Alex has no fear. She's confident and strong, and she takes instruction incredibly well.

She's one great kid, and I'm one proud mama!
**

Monday, May 25

Quote for the Day

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"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction."

— Albert Einstein

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Sunday, May 10

AFE

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AFE. One of the most important people to ever impact our lives. A person we probably won't ever meet. A person who I appreciate beyond all comprehension. Those three little initials, AFE, are at the top of the profile that we selected from the fertility clinic.

Three non-identifying letters and a detailed personal health profile, that's all we have of our egg donor. The amazing woman who gave me the egg—the genetic material to make Alex. Responsible for half of her genes—her incredible, brilliant brown eyes, round and rosy cheeks, brilliant smile and so much more.

In my heart, I believe that her boundless energy, ability to make friends, empathy and contagious enthusiasm come from her life and surroundings.

Nurture or nature—we won't ever really know which has had a greater impact. But Alex is an amazing little girl. She has the ability to make friends with a rock, she's bright and engaging, smart and beautiful. An incredible little girl, who would never have been born had it not been for AFE.

I thank AFE, from the depths of my soul for my first child, my little-big girl, Alex. And I also thank AFE for Rachel, our second child, who was conceived the good old-fashioned way (which was a HUGE, beautiful surprise for this infertile, breast-feeding woman!)

I'm convinced that somehow my body was retrained through the fertility battle and 'learned' what it was supposed to do. The strict hormone and medication regime somehow re-wired me, and Rachel was conceived. Without that initial struggle, and without AFE, the two greatest miracles in my life would not be.

So, wherever you are AFE—whoever you are—thank you. Thank you for the miracle of carrying my two babies within my own womb, enabling me to give birth and life to each of our girls, for the countless sleepless nights, gut-busting giggles, the sometimes heart-wrenching worry, the teething, potty training, and heart exploding love that colors every aspect of our lives. Thank you, quite literally, for life.

**

Saturday, May 9

Funny Faces...,

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Before I was a Mom

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BEFORE I WAS A MOM

Before I was a Mom;
I made and ate hot meals,
I had unstained clothing,
I brushed my hair every day,
I had quiet conversations on the phone,
I slept as late as I wanted and I slept all night long.

Before I was a Mom;
I cleaned my house each day,
I never tripped over toys or forgot lullabies,
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous,
I had never been puked on, pooped on, spit on, chewed on, peed on, or
pinched by tiny fingers.

Before I was a Mom;
I never thought about immunizations,
I never held a screaming child so the doctors could give shots,
I never looked into teary eyes and cried,
I never felt my heart break into pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt,
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.

Before I was a Mom;
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down,
I never sat up late hours of the night watching a baby sleep,
I never got up in the middle of the night to make sure everything was okay,
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.

Before I was a Mom;
I had complete control of my mind, my thoughts and my body,
I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside of my body,
I didn't know that having something so small could make me feel so
important,
I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache,
the wonderment, or the satisfaction of being a mom.

Before I was a Mom;
I never knew that something so small could effect my life so much,
I never knew that I could love someone so much,
I never knew I would love being a Mom,
I didn't know the bond between a Mother and her child,
I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much.

**

Thursday, May 7

Mother of the Year 2009

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This is fun!

http://tinyurl.com/Motherof2009

Gotta love Molly! Thanks girlfriend.

**

Wednesday, April 29

Life Lessons

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I was home for 5 years with the girls, and after 18 months back at work, I've learned that...

I can still do it
You can't have it all (at least not all at once)
I'm still ambivalent about work and home
I'm happier than I've ever been

I've found a pretty good balance, and I'm hoping I can hang on to it for a while.

**

Tuesday, April 28

A New Medium

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Bubble painting and paint blowing. Alex and Rachel created two new great art pieces. 

First - Bubble painting. Mix 2 tablespoons of powdered tempera paint with 1/2 cup of bubbles and blow. The trick is catching the bubbles, because they seem to blow everywhere except where you want them to go.


And the finished piece, which will soon hang in my office...,

Next, a little paint blowing. We had extra paint/bubble mixture left, so we pulled out a couple of straws, a fresh canvas and started blowing. The trick here is not to blow so hard that you get a head ache. (Ok - no cracks!! It was Alex who ended up with the aching head.)


And the finished piece, now brightening up the girls' bedroom....,

Don't you just love original artwork!!
**

Saturday, April 25

Photo of the Day

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The baby birds born just outside our kitchen window have left the nestventuring out into the big, scary world. Good luck out there little ones

(Click on the image to enlarge)
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Friday, April 24

Quote for the Day

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"It is not our abilities that show who and what we truly are, it is our choices."

~ Albus Dumbledore ~

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Tuesday, April 21

The Big Drop

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Oh the creativity! I thought for sure we'd see a collection of parent-made egg protectors. I was happily proven wrong, and we saw an incredible array of kid ingenuity!!

Alex's little friend, Emelia created a rocket ship with a parachute and it worked great!

Softly and slowly sailing to the ground.

There were boxes filled with a variety of protection schemes; an open packing box filled with cotton, a plastic bag filled with water, one big bag of Rice Crispy cereal...,
socks filled with batting, bubble wrap everywhere, and even a little steel wool!
Oh - yes and let's not forget the GRAPE FRUIT!! "Well, I had a grape fruit, and I don't really like grape fruits so we put the egg in the grape fruit, used some tape-lots of tape, bubble wrap and some bath toys." (And we were all surprised when that egg broke!)

Alex and Daddy worked together to create a net in a box. An ingenious masterpiece. And then...,

The BIG drop
Oh NO!
Better luck next time.
**

Monday, April 20

The Project

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The call:

"As a part of our Egg science unit, your job is to creat an Egg Protector. A parent/child project in which students need to be involved in the planning and making of the protector. Each child will give a presentation and an adult will drop the Egg Protector from a height of approximately 15 feet."

Initially, Alex thought she needed to make something to catch the egg and thought of creating some sort of net. Realizing it was a container for the egg drop, her creation (her idea, Daddy helped with execution) morphed into this...,




We'll keep you posted on the results.

**

Friday, April 17

Donuts with Dad

**That's my adorable hubby and my precious little girl. How cute are they? Thanks TBES!
**

Wednesday, April 15

I hope you dance...,

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I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances, but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

**

I Hope You Dance lyrics (Lee Ann Rimes)

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Friday, April 10

Butterfly Magic

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Photo of the Day


And what a great day it was. Me, two kids, thousands of butterflies and my Canon D40. Good times!



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Thursday, April 9

The Happiest Place on Earth

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Disney's California Adventure. Our first trip and it was GREAT!
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Wednesday, April 8

Quote for the Day

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"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

~unknown~

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Sunday, April 5

Division of Labor

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I really would like to be all things to my children. I do, however realize that there are some things that Dave is simply better at than I am.

Example: School and homework.

I was the “OMG, will she ever make through high school?” girl. (Wow, were they all surprised when I put myself through college! OK. Blatant self-pat on the back, but my reputation is at stake. ☺)

And Dave was the high school valedictorian, with multiple college scholarships.

For me, homework was a chore at best, and punishment at worst! Hated it—saw very little long-term benefit and lots of short-term downside.

For Dave, it was just a natural consequence of life—something that you do. Period.

So, Dave has naturally fallen into the role of tutor. I watch him with Alex and am simultaneously proud and envious.

She is in this place of explosive growth—reading, writing, vocabulary, math—and I am so proud of her. I would so love to be the one to guide her along this critical path. But, I realize, this is not for me. Dave is much more naturally suited for this role. The pride I feel while watching the two of them is indescribable. The bond between the two of them is deep and profound.

A little girl and her daddy…., So simple, and conversely so complex. There is something in this that speaks to the very soul of me.

The bond between a mother and daughter is irreplaceable, but the relationship with her dad can set the course of future relationships (sans intense therapy). And, even if I get very little else ‘right’ while raising my girls, this one thing—the choice of their daddy—will take them the distance.

**

Thursday, April 2

A glimpse of things to come...

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Taking Alex to school, she loves it when we arrive early and Rachel and I come down to the playground. Today, just minutes after we arrived, she started to run off.

"Alex, where are you going?"

"To chase the boys!"

And off she ran.

sigh.

**

Wednesday, April 1

Quote for the Day

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Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...
it's about learning how to dance in the rain.

~Unknown~
**

Tuesday, March 31

Rachel's Hart

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Rachel, our little artist, is in her 'Heart' phase. As her mom, I know it's not surprising that I like her work, but this one really struck me. I love it!

I love the colors, the big bold strokes. All of it. We're going to have it transferred to canvas and hang it in the house. 

Who knows - maybe she'll be an artist of some kind when she's older. If that does happen, we'll have to figure out where she picked up that extra special gene. I know it didn't come from me, and, as far as I can tell, it didn't come from Dave either.

Hmmmm.
**

Monday, March 30

Quote for the Day

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If you're happy and you know it...,
it means you've taken all your meds.

**

Sunday, March 29

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Rachel is over the moon. Today is the long awaited play date with her little friend, Alec. A cute little blond boy with big blue eyes and a sweet disposition, he is the object of her affections.

(Alec is the one in the front, on the right)

For the past two weeks, Alec has come up 50 times…,
  • When is Alec coming over?
  • I wonder what Alec is having for dinner.
  • Do you think Alec is going to bed now?
  • When is Alec coming over?
  • Can I call Alec?
  • I can’t wait for Alec to come over.
  • Alec would LOVE this movie, I’m going to show this to Alec.
  • When is Alec coming over?
And the day has finally come. Her little friend will be here in about an hour. I’m hoping her little head doesn’t explode with excitement before he gets here.

**
Truth be told - he is a little cutie!

**

Saturday, March 28

Rider of the Week

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Click on image to enlarge.

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Thursday, March 26

Catching up on the minutia

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I've become lost in the digital world of Facebook and I'm trying to break the habit. Because of this little preoccupation, I've missed writing about a lot of the little things lately:
  • Alex turned 6 on February 1.
  • We took the girls to Disneyland to celebrate.
  • Rachel has her first crush. It's a HUGE crush on the cutest little boy named Alec, and she can't stop talking about him.
  • Alex received an almost perfect report card, with the highest marks in everything except organization. (hmm - anyone care to guess where that comes from. Hint - it's not Dave.)
  • Our kindergartner, Alex is reading at 1.7 level - that's 1st grade 7 months. Mommy and Daddy are extremely proud of her, and happy that she LOVES it.
  • Rachel has entered her silly phase. She's a nut. Cute as can be, but ultra silly.
  • Dave is taking the lead with Alex on homework and teaching her to read. He's a star!
  • Alex has begun riding lessons. Riding a 17.2 horse (that's HUGE), she's a natural and loves it.
  • I started riding lessons too and have found my new joy. It's pure heaven.
  • Rachel is loving soccer - though we're not sure if its the game, playing with her sister, or the adult sized treats she gets after playing.
  • Alex has become a Daisy Scout (that's pre-Brownie), and Rachel's little head is going to explode if she doesn't get to join soon.
  • St. Patrick's Day was filled with fun and wonderful surprises - though we didn't catch the leprechaun.
  • In celebration of the first day of spring, the girls and I planted our new garden.
  • Rachel has pneumonia but seems to be feeling fine.
  • Alex is as sick as we've ever seen her - she has a cold.
  • Scratch that, the Doc says Alex has strep throat. (Oh, lucky day!)
What's up next?
  • We're going to Legoland as soon as the girls are feeling better - courtesy of Auntie Jane.
  • During Easter week, we're going to California Adventures - courtesy of our new Disneyland annual passes.
  • Dave and I are going to China (!) this summer for our 10 year anniversary!!
  • The girls are planning for a visit from Grandma and the Hill cousins while we're in China.
  • After all that, we're going to slow down a bit and rest!
And, I've completely avoided any discussion about the craziness in the world. The swirl of news about the recession/depression, environmental doom and gloom, social decay, etc. Only time will tell how all of this will turn out. So we'll leave that to future history books. Chapter titled: The Bush Fallout. Or, a little less partisan; The legacy of deregulation, unbridled capitalism and greed. (Ok - maybe still a little partisan.)

**

Saturday, March 21

Lost in Cyberspace

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I've been lost in Face Book and Twitter for the past month. Sort of fun - but totally fleeting. I've overlooked some of the wonderful minutia that makes up our lives. I'll be posting lots of new pics and a few funny stories soon.

I need to get into a digital rehab program. I'm out of control...,

**

Thursday, March 5

Children

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And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children." And he said: Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
**

Tuesday, March 3

Fun with Photos


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Mommy is playing with her toys again. Dressing up old photos...,




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Friday, February 27

Moms at the Park

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Amy Duncan, Noelle Jue, Casey Hart

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