Monday, June 7, 2010

Good days . . .

Summer break is rolling on.
We've had beautiful weather! Skies so blue they make you ache for them to stay that way forever. Hot sun seeping into your bones, warming your skin.
I had a great weekend.
We worked pretty long and hard on mom's house last week, and it is almost ready for her to move downstairs. Then, we can finish remodeling upstairs (I still have four rooms to paint, two carpets to replace and a bathroom that needs to be redone . . .  and plenty of finishing touches and odds and ends) and can settle in.
Mom, the boys and I took some time off on Saturday to bring our friend, David, to the airport. The drive up was pleasant enough. We dropped David off and headed out for a Kansas City adventure!
Our first stop was Whole Foods. I don't know if you've ever been to a Whole Foods or not, but it is worth the experience!! We shopped a bit, picking out exotic and organic fare. Then we ate at the cafe', which was full of international delights as well as happily recognizable foods. We ate stone baked pizza, Roma style -- pepperoni for the boys and sun-dried tomato and chicken pesto for mom and I. Absolutely delish! And the portion was so big, one piece was enough to fill me up.
One of my favorite things I got while there is Living Basil. Grown locally, living basil is two basil plants, root systems and all, that you place in a container of shallow water and set on your counter and viola'!! Fresh basil anytime!! We got one for grandpa too. It fills the kitchen with that earthy, slightly minty scent, and it drives me wild! I want to put fresh basil on  . . . everything!
I am thinking I need to take another trip there soon!
Once we were full and weighted down with goodies to bring home, we moved on to Boarders Books. Ahhhhh. When I walk into a bookstore like that, I literally have one of those sky-parting-and-glorious angel-voices-ringing-out experiences! Seriously. I have to catch my breath. Books, books and more books! I could die happy in a bookstore.We took our time and looked around. Isaac got two new books he was wanting. Josiah got a Percy Jackson action figure of Zeus (he is very excited that he will be studying the ancient Greeks and Romans in history next year, and is eating that kind of stuff up! He took a child's version of The Odyssey out of the library last week, and he told me he wants a Roman room, complete with pillars! He also composed a letter to the Lego company asking if they will design a Mt. Olympus Lego set with mini figs of all the gods and other heroic mythological characters. He thinks it would be fun to have it in his classroom and just plain cool to own!). Daniel got a set of The Farmer in the Dell stacking cards. The farmer is on a tractor on the first card, and he loves it! He can sing the song well, too.
I got a couple of books, one of which was a copy of Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth, which I have never read, but have always wanted to. It was $3.99!! You just gotta love that!
After dragging me out of that store (I still have carpet fibers under my fingernails!!), we went on to Vintage Stock, a buy/sell/trade store that sells music, movies and video games, and I was able to get Joe's Father's Day gifts there. One gift is something he has been wanting for a long time, so I am pretty excited about it.
With a long drive ahead of us, we packed back into the car and headed for home . . . with a pit stop at Dunkin' Donuts for an iced coconut coffee and some munchkins for the road, of course! Yum!!
I usually get lost on the way home from the airport, but thanks to a friend's gps and my son, Isaac, we made it back without a hitch. Isaac was a tremendous navigator. Calm and calculating, he would say in his even tone, "Mom, you want to get over one because this is an exit only lane, and this is not the exit you want." or "Mom. You need to be on the right because the next exit is the one you want." Even when I was nervous and second guessing the directions, white-knuckled and hunched up over the steering wheel, he remained cool and never changed his matter-of fact, certain tone. I told him later that it made me feel good to know that he was going to be "that guy" who will be able assess and anticipate a situation, and will know just what to do.
We got home and the boys still had enough daylight to go for a swim before dinner. I threw some chicken nuggets, fries and fish sticks in the oven, but I still was not hungry from that piece of pizza I had at Whole Foods, so I snacked on crusty, chewy Italian peasant bread with fresh basil leaves and a little seasoned e.v.o.o. (extra virgin olive oil).
It was a near perfect day. The only thing that could have made it perfect perfect was if Joe had been with us. He had to work that night, and stayed in town to get stuff done at mom's and sleep before his shift. I kinda like him, so I miss him bunches when he is not around.
Yesterday was another bright, sunny day, and we had a house-full after church. All the kids got into the pool, and there was lots of laughing all around. We had a grand time.
After everyone left, Mom and I went birthday shopping for Daniel, who will be three on Friday.
I can remember every second of having him so vividly. Now, he is potty training and learning to swim and talking up storms and getting ready for pre-school.
It goes too fast, I'm telling you.
And I've had those bad days . . . the ones where you think, "If we can just make it to five, five will be a better age . . . "
But really, I don't want time to fly any faster than it already is. I am soaking up the moments. Trying to memorize Daniel's two-going-on-three baby face; the sweet, sweet sound of his voice; the feel of the weight of him against my chest when I hold him; his baby bath smell.
As much as I know I am done having babies, there is an ache in knowing there will be no more two-going-on-three-year-olds after this.
So I hold him close and breathe him in. I listen to his stories and songs. We play trains on the floor and let the dishes in the sink be darned!
Trying to memorize him at this age makes me remember more and more my other boys at this age, too.
Being a mom is one of the best things that has ever happened to me!
Some funny potty training stories . . . one of the first days we had big boy undies on Daniel, he came running out to me from the other room, clutching himself and chanting, "My pee-pee's leaking! My pee-pee's leaking!" And yesterday, when he was sitting on the potty before leaving for the store, he was trying and trying but just didn't have to go. "Mom, it's not working right now . . . " he explained. He makes me smile. He makes me giggle. He makes me laugh out loud.
The training is going well. It has it's ups and downs, but I think Daniel is doing a stellar job!
Today, it is storming. I woke up to thunder and lightning and canceled swim lessons. Boo.
There is VBS this week. Isaac is too old to go as a participant this year (dear Lord, can he just stop growing for a minute?!), but he is helping out as one of the crew leaders. The week will end with a pot luck and family prayer time.
We are also looking forward to Daniel's birthday on Friday.
And, as always, we will be plugging away at the house.
I love the summer.
I love tall glasses of pink lemonade, sipped with friends. I love the blue cool of pool water and hot streaks of sun. I love the coconutty smell of sunscreen. I love the possibility . . . the having to decide, what to do today? I love the fresh berries warm from  vines and bushes. And salads right out of the garden. I love the long days. The purple haze twilights. The grasshopper's meloncholy symphony at close of day.
I leave you with this poem I came across yesterday, and fell in love with. The sound of crickets takes me back  . . . . And this is a Keats I am not familiar with. I am so glad I found it now.

28. On the Grasshopper and Cricket
THE POETRY of earth is never dead:
  When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
  And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead        5
  In summer luxury,—he has never done
  With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
  On a lone winter evening, when the frost        10
    Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
  And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
    The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

December 30, 1816.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Do the next thing . . .

My grandmother was a meticulous housewife, a pastor's wife, a mom of four, and later an active grandmother and great-grandmother who always thought ahead to have little treats and projects on hand for the kids to have and do when they came to her house. She did it all, and she did it all well.
Grandma lived by a simple yet effective principle. As an adult, when I would be feeling overwhelmed with housework and raising kids and running errands and contributing to our church and just . . . everything, I would call her and rattle off my list with dismay, and a big sigh at the end. Her answer was the same every time. "Just do the next thing, " she would calmly say. "And when that is done, do the next thing."
So simple.
What a great help that was to me many a day. There were days I could not face everything I had to do, but I certainly could face the next thing.
And more often than not, the days I worked out of the "do the next thing" principle were my most productive days, and I really did get through everything on my list, with time to spare!
With summer break officially underway, and the boys at home needing something to do seemingly every moment; with a large and ongoing remodeling project on my hands and a house to pack up; with new classes to teach in the fall and a brain that is already lesson planning for next school year, it is safe to say there are days that I feel completely overwhelmed.
And I want to reach for the phone. To call gram and hear her voice say, "Just do the next thing . . ."
Or to let her know that I hear her voice in my ear, and it helps me make it through. It helps me do the next thing.
Unfortunately, blogging has been my next, next, next thing on the list lately, which is why it's been several weeks of silence here.
But believe me, life has certainly been going on behind the scenes!!!
Mostly, I am working on our new house. Right now, plans are to be moving in with mom by August 1st. But I have made sure there is still time to sit outside with the kids and enjoy some simple summer fun!!
Daniel will be three in one week . . .a little less actually. I can't believe how time is flying. We are potty training and he is doing fairly well.
The other night, as he was going to bed, he commented to me that one of his boo-boos was going away and his skin was growing back. He was amazed at that, and asked why his boo-boo was going away. "Our skin heals, and regenerates." I said.
"Why?" he asked (yes, we are in that stage).
"Because that is how God made it." I answered.
"God made it that way?! Why? Because he loves me?!"
"Yes! He loves you very much!"
He was quiet for a moment and got a big grin on his face and said, "God is the best boy!"
Gosh, I love this age!
All the potty training frustrations and two-going-on-three year old crazy boy antics are so definitely worth that!!
Speaking of potty training . . . Daniel pooped on the potty the other day!! He walked into the bathroom, locked the door (which I promptly jimmied) and told me upon breaking in to the bathroom, "No, mom. I'm okay. I'll call you."
So, I left, and stood on the other side of the door, wondering at this little man who all of a sudden just decided to do this thing . . . and he did! He called me and there it was. A poop in the potty!! We danced and yelled out whoops of joy and gave him a whole dang bag of M&M's to do with as he pleased.
We were so proud of him.
Yesterday, he wore undies all day successfully.
See. I am so not a pusher on potty training. And when they are ready, it happens. No stress and pulling out of the hair and cleaning mess after mess. Just this wondering at your baby taking one more step away from baby-ness into . . . kid-hood.
So . . . I am off to the next thing, which happens to be a large pile of laundry that is threatening to animate and eat us all in a gory display . . . wish me luck.