Monday, July 28, 2014

July Closing

This is the part of summer when I feel the days are just slipping by. I love the summer months and the break from school. We have a few good solid weeks left before the school year begins, but all the back-to-school chatter and advertisements are making me count my days, pace myself, and savor the freedom.

Jon was away last week, so I pulled out my kids' "Summer List" (their annual bucket list of sort) and we picked a few items to check off. It was no surprise that sleeping outside made the list again this year, so that's what we planned for. It made sense since roughing it isn't Jon's favorite thing to do when a cozy bed is just a few steps away.

I believe this was the fourth summer now that the kids and I have slept together under the stars. It has become our little summer tradition.

In the afternoon we inflated mattresses and set out layers and layers of blankets, finishing with the kids' quilts which covered their beds during the pre-school years. Nostalgic for sure.

I wanted to make our evening memorable, so we hopped on our bikes and pointed toward the coast. I'm not sure who will remember it most, but that ride seems ingrained in my mind. So lovely. We passed by a street call Lucky, and it struck me that luck has nothing to do with it. My heart thanked God for his kindness toward we. What a blessing, really. This is what I get to do, this is my job. My uniform was a pair of cut off jean shorts, a flouncy tank with crocheted straps, and flip flops. My work is real, it is significant, and it is fun.

Anyway, back to our evening... We rode down to a little taco place, then continued up the coast for some ice cream. We investigated a bike path, then detour by way of the beach. We made it home in time for the sun to set; after showers we cozied up under the stars, our heads all pointing toward the middle for nighttime conversation.





And what sort of things did we talk about? Just silly things, really. With three boys ages 7, 9, 11 you just have to roll with it (and maybe try to steer a bit). In the course of our conversation, the boys realized that peanut butter is brown. Their color blind eyes see it as green and they were appalled by the thought of poop colored spread! It turns out that some of them see chicken noodle soup as also being green. And boogers look orange. It never occurred to me to tell them that peanut butter is brown...

Um, we also looked at the starts and passing airplanes, hoping for a shooting start. One boy confessed that once he saw a shooting star, but since he couldn't think of a wish fast enough he wished for another shooting star.

Jacob and I shared a mattress, the other three slept sideways on the other mattress. Unfortunately, the night turned out to be very dewy and I would discover that my mattress had a couple holes. All night long I awoke to the feeling of deck boards under my back, and the mattress needed to be refilled every hour or so. It wasn't the most refreshing night, and my back suffered for a couple days.

The kids slept out there a second night, but I chose the comfort of my bed. 


Other than that, the kids are involved in lots of projects recently. The school room is more or a project room now: Michael is building a model helicopter, Olivia and Andrew are building a popsicle stick house (complete with rooms, furniture, and soldered light fixtures, and a deck). Neighborhood fruit trees have brought in those shiny green beetles, so Andrew has been catching them and tying a string around their body (under the wings). Then he flies them like a kite, or like a flying beetle on a leash. 

Also, more rocket flying.


Jacob can usually be found investigating something or other under the bushes, or playing some imaginary game. Here, a big palm pod became his toy boat.


~Katherine



Thursday, July 24, 2014

On Growing Up




My birthday follows Jon's, just a week apart (+1 year). It seems fitting that we would celebrate together in some way since at 36 I have spent the greater part of my life growing up with him. Actually it just struck me now that exactly 20 years ago, unbeknownst to me, I was about to begin my relationship with him. What a ride it has been! I can remember that summer so well, all the feelings and the wonder!

Last week we took off one evening after dinner for the seaside, a simple place for a simple celebration with the kids. Just a few days prior, Jon had his wisdom teeth removed so he was still in some pain and couldn't eat much solid food. With that in mind, Michael and I had made little pots de crème au chocolat with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.



While setting up our little spot, Olivia and I talked about my mom. I mentioned that I've only ever seen one picture of her in her thirties, just a small wallet size family picture, and perhaps two or three photographs of her in her twenties. I don't actually own any to even show Olivia. I would have loved to have pictures of my mother over the course of her life time. 


So Olivia became photographer for Jon and I. Maybe one day she will be glad to have photos of her parents in their thirties. This is one reason I have forced myself to step in front of the lens on occasion. 




I didn't want to push it with Jon, making him pose for shots with his mouth all sore and inflamed just days after surgery, but I had to include this next one because this is real life. We must have been calling out to one of the boys who was probably doing something he shouldn't...




The next couple are way over-exposed, but I like them because of my little Jack. He is my affectionate one-- such a fun kid!


A little dessert and football before the sun set...







It's true that my birthdays are increasingly becoming a day I'd like to forget. I wish I weren't so fickle, but I really don't enjoy the idea of getting older! I'd prefer not to look into the mirror and see my skin and hair changing, or know that my back issues will likely remain with me till I see the other side of eternity. I sometimes wonder if a widening middle is a given for those past a certain age. I wonder if slowness of body is primarily permitted or simply inevitable.

I was inspired by a 93 year old man who ran the same race I did a couple years ago, just as I am impressed by the 80-something year old that still teaches dance. I recently saw a really old couple tuck thin white strands of hair into swim caps before heading into the waves with their flippers and boogie boards.  I love to see a fresh faced older woman, fit and confident in her age, not fighting it but accepting and redefining her beauty as it changes.

I believe the choices I have made in the past and the choices I make in the years to come will greatly impact how I age. I also think many people begin to think and act old long before they need to, and I'm not sure why.

I hope to enjoy each season of life for their unique blessings, and I hope I can do it gracefully not acting my age. ;)


~Katherine


Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Crown for Her Head

Saturday morning she slept till 11am. She had arrived late the night before; we stayed up even later, her talking, me listening. In the morning I quietly slipped a note under her door before the boys and I left for a couple hours in case she should awake to an empty house.

Afternoon hours slipped by. The pool was filled with boys slashing, yelling the way boys do. The younger ones were inspecting the garden, so I slipped inside to slice watermelon and lifeguard from the window. Behind me I heard a faint pitter-patter; turning I saw that the petals had all fallen from my rose, leaving a little pile of delicate color on the counter.

Pity, I thought.  Then an idea came, one which was perfectly suited for my girl on a day such as it was.




On the deck she laced the petals onto embroidery thread and saved them in a bowl in the refrigerator. Later as boys showered up and the sun set, she and I did a little creating. We enjoy turning something ordinary, maybe broken and used up, into something unexpected.

A second chance. New and beautiful.

















She, being the Olivia that she is, came back from camp with knees looking like this. She may be girly, but she plays to win. She says the wounds, still oozing days later, were entirely worth it.





Our earnest desire and solemn prayer for her and for all our children is this:

"The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.

Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.

She will place on your head a graceful garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown."
Ps. 4:7-9




~Katherine


Friday, July 11, 2014

All Boys

Today is a good day. Olivia returns home from camp and I get my little female companion back. We are our own support group.

It's also a good day because it's Jon's birthday, but we're waiting on Olivia as much as we can to celebrate.  By the time you become a parent, no celebration is complete without your family. We did go out for breakfast this morning to kick start another year of life, but cake and presents will wait. I am thankful for his life, for the fact that I get to share it with him.

This has been an interesting week for me here with my three boys and their friends, along with all their boy things. I tried to capitalize on the opportunities of summer freedom and boys only.

Michael's good friend moved away some time ago and they don't often see each other. This friend is the kind of boy that I want my son to be with as much as possible, and so he has been dearly missed by both Michael and I. Sort of last minute we were able to arrange all the details for this friend to spend a few days with us. They biked (sometimes on their own, once with the little boys on their bikes and me running), they swam, started making a movie, did the beach, played games, and much more. One evening when I came home from a meeting, Jon was building rockets with them. As the sun was setting, we all piled in the truck with rockets and detonators and headed to a near by school.



But then the rockets didn't go. So we piled in again and took off for the nearest Walmart, then returned to the school for the show. I didn't get pictures because it was dark by then, but the boys were not disappointed. In fact, we were quite surprised by what those rockets could do.

Oh, yes, and we also got stuck in the sprinklers that night. All the better, I suppose, when you are a boy.


Jacob had the pleasure of spending a couple days with his friend as well, so for a tiny bit of the week it was just Michael, Andrew, and I. We had one lazy morning (the boys recovering from late nights), and I made us breakfast crêpes to be enjoyed outside.



I do love a good lazy morning now and then. After breakfast I did my mat exercises out on my bedroom deck, loving the fact that this is open window and door season...


Then we got ready to run a few fun errands...


After shopping for Jon's birthday, I took the boys to the dollar store (AKA "the junk store") to get pool inner tubes. It's cheap fun for the few days while they last. The boys let me indulge in a quick stop at an estate sale warehouse where I found a nice glass canister for $2 and Michael found a wooden box that opens to a chess board for $4. I also found a neat little sideboard, so I took some pictures to show Jon. I'm still undecided about that item, but the size is right and the hardware is cool. Then, as though breakfast crêpes weren't enough, I stopped to get the boys ice cream and we sat by the beach until the ice cream was gone.




Ultimate lazy day...



Then Jacob came home newly in love with baseball. So it was baseball for the rest of the day...



...including when Jon came home from the office. I even took my turn pitching. It turns out that boy can hit hard, and he seems to have a thing for hitting people in the face. Andrew and I, sadly, don't have the best reflexes!


We took the boys to the local farmers market that night. The people who come out are the most interesting to me; I'd love to sit on a bench and people watch some night.

Oh, look at Jacob's eyes! They used to be a solid brown -- not dark chocolate like Andrew's, but a true medium brown. I've noticed more and more green appearing over the last few months. Maybe his eye color will end up more like mine, brown with definite shades of green. Is that called hazel? And the bloodshot parts of his eyes? Well, that's from salt water, chlorinated water, sun, and probably a lack of sleep.


Jon's b-day present, still sitting on the table waiting for Olivia to join us...


I love wrapping gifts. Here I used a flight map of Memphis that a friend gave me before moving overseas. I don't think she knew I enjoyed wrapping and decorating gifts: Thank you G.N.! 


So there, a few snap shots of a July week. Happy weekend...


~Katherine