Thursday, November 27, 2008

All I Want for Christmas. . .

". . . is my two front teeth." Or in Rose's case, the other front tooth. She cut her first yesterday, poking out on the bottom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Do as I Tell You

When I was little, I had an uncanny memory for going places. If I'd been there once, I could give directions on how to return. My parents would use me as a pre-Computer Age GPS.

Cami spent most of Saturday playing at a friend's house. When I opened the door, the first thing I heard was, "She is amazing!" I'm never quite sure what to expect next when I hear those words. This time it was good. The mom explained, "I've never been anywhere near here & she told me exactly where to go. Turn right, turn left, go around the corner. . . ."

I'm sure Cami loved it: an adult who recognized her as an authority figure.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Graham's Title

I distractedly said, "Thank you, Mr. Graham," as I was working in the kitchen & he moved out of my way.

His cute response, "Your welcome, Mr. Mommy."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't I taste good?

Just fifteen minutes ago, I took this classic fell-asleep-thumb-sucking shot. Perfect. Especially because she isn't a thumb sucker.

And for other tasty extremities. She needed some piggies to nibble during this morning's diaper & pj change.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Driving away Fear

As Americans there are certain social markers that we hold. A big one: the car.

I remember talking to friends from really rural areas while attending college. Some of them told me that there were people they knew who owned cars that cost more than their homes. That was such a foreign thought to me: that one would make a substantial financial commitment to a tool that automatically depreciates.

When we decided to move to England, we decided not to buy a car. First of all, there's the financial commitment issue. And cars that can hold three car seats are not as readily available here as they are in the States. But much more than that is my fear of driving on the left side of the road while sitting in the right front seat.

Today, I faced the fear. Not for long, mind you. I just drove around the parking lot while a friend (the van's owner) ran into a shop. I never got beyond first gear. But I have now done it. It's a start. . . but we still won't buy a car any time soon.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pretty Leaves

Our Friday plan was to take a walk as a family. We went exploring & found what will probably be Cami's next school, since her current school only goes to Year 2.

Anyway, there were these amazing leaves & I just needed to have a photo of them -- and the "big kids."

Empty Headed

A classically windy, wet, English day. I took Graham to Kirkstall Abbey, where we played at the playground. As I watched his delight at rolling a toy truck down the slide, I thought about a quote I'd read. In summary, it was a mother of now-grown children saying that she wished she had spent more time "in the moment," noticing and enjoying all the details of every day.

Just twenty minutes later, I was standing in the middle of an herb garden, looking out over the autumn-colored trees, with the roof of the Abbey hovering above. I kept thinking, "I should be having some great thought. I should be finding some life lesson in this moment."

But, the life lesson of the day is to enjoy the moment -- and to laugh when Graham lays down on almost-frozen flagstones, pretending that he's pulling the covers up in bed.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Three Cheers for Remembrance Sunday

11 November will be Remembrance Day -- Veterans' Day in the States. But in England the Sunday closest to the 11th is set apart as Remembrance Sunday. Some of the observances included a parade that we stumbled into during our Sunday walk, two minutes of silence to remember those who have served their country, and special talks given in church.

The two minutes of silence can seem eternal when trying to keep a 6 month and three year old quiet. But it was good for me. I thought about my dad who received a military funeral and was buried in Jefferson Barracks Cemetery last month.

Apparently, Cami's been thinking, too. She asked me tonight, "How old was Grandpa when he died."


"How old are you, Mom?"


She delightedly gave me two thumbs up (literally) as she exclaimed, "Yea! It'll be a long time until you die!"

Color Blind

I wish we had a scanner that worked -- of course not as much as I want a new camera. But I'd love to share the picture that Cami showed me this morning. It's an image she's been working on for a couple of days.

I suppose Jason's & my interest in the presidential election has rubbed off on Cami, because she keeps asking questions about the life of the President. She knows the names Obama and McCain, she's seen photos of the White House, and she recognizes photos of President-Elect Obama. I think the fact that Senator and Mrs. Obama have daughters not much older than she is makes her feel very connected in a little girl, I-could-play-with-them manner.

Or perhaps Cami & the Obama girls could draw together. I'd like to see how they depict our family, because Cami's picture shows the Obama family in a beautifully color-blind (and politically-blind) fashion: their family is red & blue.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I think a lot. Probably not a surprise to anybody who knows me, but I for those of you who don't know me in person: I have a difficult time turning off my brain.

While walking around the canal area (see the previous post), I thought about the Thoreau's line from Walden (made famous to my generation through Dead Poets Society), that he wished to "live more deliberately." There are things that I truly enjoy, that I find I deny myself (and thus deny others the benefit of a happier version of myself). I love the experience of writing. Not typing, although that's the medium I usually use, but writing.

A fountain pen.
A clean table.

I used to give myself just ten minutes, although sometimes it stretched into a longer period, to write. Thank you notes, actual letters, my journals.

Why do I not give myself this time anymore? The messy house is my typical excuse; unfortunately, it's part of life with three young children, especially when there is no dishwasher or clothes dryer. But when did I choose to deny myself pleasure?

I can't pinpoint a moment. I can't pinpoint a reason I made this choice. But I can live deliberately. I won't go off into the woods. I won't build a house out of pieces of someone's old shanty. I won't limit myself to one table and chair.

But I choose to remember that the pleasures I give myself are what lead to a life beautifully, deliberately, lived.

Dog Daze

Graham, Rose, & I took a walk along the canal this morning, exploring new territory. I found a pair of truly lovely houses just past the canal boat launch. They are the sort of homes I dream of having: comfortably large classical stonework houses, placed among the fields, with a chicken coop off to the side.

When we are off exploring we often encounter dogs walking their owners. Or owners calling their dogs back because they've decided it isn't wise to let their pets run without a leash when a small boy is around. One of the most striking dogs we saw this morning was a dalmatian. I pointed it out to Graham with, "Isn't the dog with the spots pretty?"

"Those aren't spots. He's dirty!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What a Guy!

"I knew the world community was excited about Obama's win, but fireworks?" Jason quipped as we gathered in Graham's bedroom to watch the twinkly lights of Bonfire Night.

"Bonfire Night" is the politically correct name of what was once known as "Guy Fawkes." Named for the man who once tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, it's traditionally celebrated on November 5th with bonfires & fireworks.

Cami came home from school begging to get to see fireworks. But, just as she had for Independence Day, she finds it impossible to just sit & watch the show. There has to be some other distraction. So, I'm really glad I followed the impulse to take the kids upstairs to the room with the view (I covet Graham's view), where we could watch multiple fireworks displays simultaneously.

Watching all these beautiful bursts of light, it struck me how truly democratic fireworks are. If I want to enjoy the symbolic bombs bursting in air, I can't restrict my neighbors from enjoying the show. And living in a fairly affluent town, there are lots of neighbors unknowingly sharing their delights with us.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Out of Here!

I logged into my blog this morning & decided to see what ad appeared on my page. It wasn't something I wanted to be representing, so I took steps to filter it out.

If anybody notices inappropriate ads on my blog (which I sincerely hope doesn't happen ever again), please email me with the URL. I'll kick it out of here, pronto!