First car

When the car Middle Sister has been driving crapped out last week, it came as no surprise. We bought the ’99 Cougar for Oldest seven years ago at the end of her junior year in high school, and it’s been the “teen car” ever since. We knew it was on borrowed time, and last Tuesday that time expired.

Because The Husband can fix ANYTHING (and no auto repair garage lives up to his standard), we keep our cars for an average of 12 years. Buying a car is a huge event around here. Luckily The Husband had a longer than usual break from work this past weekend, and we were able to complete the search and transaction for Middle Sister’s first car.

Here she is, with her sweet P.T. Cruiser. It fits her perfectly.

Here she is, with her sweet P.T. Cruiser. It fits her perfectly.

As she signed the title paperwork on Saturday, I recalled signing a title for the first car that actually belonged to me – a nearly new Thunderbird. And then I had a shock as I realized that event took place when I was only a year older than our daughter is now, and I was MARRIED, for Pete’s sake! The thought of either of our daughters being married at their ages (21 and 24) requires a huge stretch of the imagination. I’m not sure if that’s a function of the shift in culture over a generation, or simply the drive and character they both possess – for both of them education is a strong priority, and their greatest life goals involve their careers and personal development. Whatever it is, I think it’s a good thing. Not that my marriage at age 21 was a bad thing, but I feel our girls are making good decisions.

As a parent, I couldn’t ask for much more.

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The Recital

Want to see the widest possible array of human emotions within the space of an hour? Attend a children’s music recital.

This afternoon we were in the audience of our 37th recital (Oldest had ten years of piano and five of viola, Middle has had eight years of voice, and The Boy is on his 6th year of voice. At two to four recitals per year each, it starts adding up). Surrounding us were a wide array of sizes, shapes, and ages of children, each of whom had been working for months to memorize a piano, guitar, or vocal solo of their choosing for this special day.

There are skinny little boys with their bony ankles sticking out below their highwater dress pants. Chubby little girls in shiny black shoes and lacy dresses. Tall, willowy teenagers. Awkward, uncomfortable middle schoolers. Some doing all they could to avoid catching the eye of anyone else in the room. Some peering out confidently as they sang. Some who raced so fast on and off the stage they forgot their closing bow.

And then there are the parents. Sitting on the edge of their folding chairs, holding their breath as their little darlings play or sing that same song they’ve been hearing from the living room for the past six months. Hanging on to every note, willing their children to move on to the next one. Dying a million deaths when the mistake comes – the heart stops until the little one thinks it through, covers, and moves on. A collective yet silent sigh of relief hovers in the air as every parent in the room nearly faints from the stress -we all know the next big flub could come from our own little darling.

I’ve been through it all, over and over and over again. There was the year our oldest played a Scott Joplin rag and got so incredibly lost her teacher asked her to come back the next week to a second recital for another try. There was the time The Boy mixed up the words in his art song, and sang that “two lovers stood on a tree.” And there have been many times when our three acquitted themselves beautifully.

At this point in her vocal “career” (it’s actually just a beloved hobby for her), Middle Sister is the oldest in our teacher’s studio. Sort of the big sister/role model for all the other girls who aspire to one day make all-state choir or get a “1” rating at the state solo and ensemble contest. Being naturally of a nurturing and empathetic disposition, she played her part beautifully today. Several young ladies repeatedly caught her eye as they sang and were noticeably reassured by our daughter’s encouraging and attentive smile. She went out of her way to compliment the younger musicians afterward. She was gracious and modest as many parents and younger girls complimented her.

And we all went home, emotionally spent.

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Haiku of blogging irony

After three full days

Internet’s finally back.

But no time to write.


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Second haiku of imagined hardship

Writing with a phone

Is so unsatisfying.

Come back, Internet!

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Haiku of imagined hardship

Have no internet

Yet so much to write about.

Perhaps tomorrow.

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Danger Zone.

medium_2205567789Watching “Top Gun” with The Boy and Middle Sister the other night was less a blast from the past and more a blast of my past.

The Boy, a lifelong aviation enthusiast, has seen the film so many times he quotes right along with Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards. I have to admit to having seen “Top Gun” no less than three times when it was in theaters, so I could do some quoting, too. It was Middle Sister’s first time, though. Seeing this prime example of ’80’s schlock through her eyes was quite the eye-opener.

Commentary included:

  • “WHAT is she wearing/WHAT is with that hair?”
  • “Every single time Charlie and Maverick are in the same shot together we have to hear that same stupid five notes of theme song!” (Remember “Take My Breath Away?” On the radio every five minutes?)
  • “I do NOT need to see a silhouette of two people’s tongues.” (During the two minutes of soft porn bedroom scene.)
  • “Oh, a gratuitous naked guy volleyball scene. Nice.”
  • “Did people really think Tom Cruise was hot? He has a face like a mouse.”
  • “Didn’t ANYTHING worthwhile come out of the ’80’s?”

I did have an answer for that last one: “Yes. Your father’s and my marriage and the first time the Royals won the World Series.”

But that may have been all.


photo credit: kairin via photopin cc

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The family village to the rescue

I’ve long believed it really does take a village to raise a child. It’s my experience that there are times when we all need a village supporting us. Yesterday was one of those days for me.

Sharpening the mower blade. Cool - sparks!

Sharpening the mower blade. Cool – sparks!

It was actually a fantastic day from start to finish. The Boy was mine for a whole day. We did projects around the house – including getting our Little Free Library up!! – and he plowed through a long to-do list. We shopped for supplies to get him through the next couple of months in the dorm. He played Bananagrams with me (a true sign that he actually misses his mama and wants to hang out with me, because he’s not a huge fan of games). I was thrilled to be with this one important part of my own personal village all day.

Later in the afternoon, another member of the village stopped by – our young friend who has taken on our yard as his personal project. He gave the grass a once over, did the edging, threw around some fertilizer-ish stuff. While he was at it he admired the LFL and offered to help out with some paving stones Garrett and LFLand landscaping. Excellent!

While we were talking, Middle Sister called from campus. Her day was over, but her car wouldn’t start. She was stuck in the parking garage and not sure what her next move should be. Our mowing friend immediately offered to run and get her – they’ve been good buddies for years. But I knew he had places to be. So The Boy, happy that his expertise was needed, headed for campus. He’s got a magic touch with that particular relic of a car (which we knew was a ticking time bomb) and managed to get it started.

But now Middle Sister and I are down to one vehicle. So in steps another member of our village, my dad. He’ll be giving me a lift to and from work tomorrow. Over the weekend while The Husband is home we’ll begin the search for a decent used car for our daughter.

Gotta love that village.

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Today’s the day! The Little Free Library is up and running!

And we’ve already had five customers! Two little girls from next door each picked out a book. Two middle school boys (WOW!!) stopped by, asked how it worked, and took one each, and few minutes ago someone actually stopped their car to take a look and find a good read.

imageAfter all the planning and dreaming and waiting, my big fear was that we’d put it out there and no one would have any interest. Along the lines of giving a party that nobody comes to.

But it’s already a success. I love that so many people were in on making it happen. There were the donors to the LFL foundation who made the grant possible and the people who built it. There was the friend who built the post and the friend who dug the hole. My dad has brought by two boxes of books to share this week. Middle Sister helped with the decorating (we found enlarged Scrabble-ish tiles to scatter about on the sides, in a nod to my love of word games) and The Boy spent an hour this afternoon imagemeasuring, drilling holes, and mounting the library on its post. Every time someone stops by to check it out I’ll have the joy of thinking of all the people who were part of the project.

And JUST NOW as I type, I can hear a little girl’s voice shouting to her dad, who is down the street, “Dad! I want to get a book!”

Absolutely awesome.


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Memory Monday: A boy in the family.

Nearly 20 years ago I found out we were on our way to being a family of five.

The Husband was out of town, and our oldest was having her weekly day at Mother’s Day Out. I dragged our then-youngest to the doctor’s office with me and peed in a cup for a pregnancy test. Try doing that with an nine-month-old in a stroller hanging out with you in the bathroom. Tons of fun.

A couple of days later The Husband returned home and the two of us went out for lunch while our daughters were playing at a friend’s house. I recall that The Husband ordered an enormous hamburger, a full plate of fries and a milkshake.

About the time our food arrived, I broke the news. Baby number three was on the way in about 7 1/2 months.

He didn’t eat a bite for lunch that day.

We’d always planned on three. Or even more. Five or six would have been fine with me if we could have afforded it. But the third coming so quickly after the second was quite a surprise. And yes, we were aware how these things happen. It was still a surprise. I blame the sponge.

imageA couple of months later we got more information. This third baby was to be a boy. This time the news kept me from eating. I’d never in my life really known any boys, except for the few I’d dated and the one I married. None of our friends had little boys. I had no idea what to expect, what boy clothes to buy, how to raise a boy. It was such a shock I remember even wondering if it would be weird to breastfeed a boy. I had nursed both our girls for a full year each, and fully planned to do the same for their new sibling.

What a silly mama I was. It took about three seconds for me to fall head over heels in love with that little boy when he popped out, and I never looked back. Yes, he was very different from his sisters. His little crying voice sounded different. He even smelled different. As he grew he presented very different parenting challenges. We never really figured out if that was because he was a boy or because he was the youngest. It didn’t really matter. He is who he is and in my eyes he couldn’t be any better.

It didn’t take long for me to appreciate that our girls grew up with insider knowledge about boys and that our boy had the scoop on girls. No surprises about body parts and the specific garments designed for them. No mysteries about how to interact with the opposite sex. No misogyny-induced fear of playing with “boy toys” or “girl toys.” Everybody played dress-up and dolls, everybody built with Legos and learned to use common household tools.

Today my boy is home for fall break. He’s methodically checking off a list of household tasks I needed help with. He’s loaded new music on my phone, played a long game of cards with me, and eaten an enormous plate of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

I couldn’t be happier to have a boy in the family.


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Eternal Household Truths

A reading from the book of housekeeping, chapter four, verse one:

Thus sayeth the wife:
image     “Lo, do not place your dirty laundry on the floor. Floor clothing is an abomination unto me.
If thou must eat of the ice cream at nine o’clock, then must thou rinse out thy bowl and place it in the machine of dishwashing. Do not leavest thou thy sticky bowl in any place where it might be in my sight.
Piles of paper, receipts, notes, mail, and trash are as gall to me. There shall be retribution.”

And thus sayeth the mother:
“The kitchen of the home which the mother has provided for thee out of the generosity of her soul is small. Do not profane the countertops with thy dirty dishes. If thou hast dirty dishes, put them in the machine of dishwashing. Or put them in the sink, or thy mother shall curse you for at least three minutes.
When thy mother leaves a note for thee to take out the trash because she is leaving town overnight, do not ignore her command. The trash man cometh only once per week, and the trash must go out. If thou forgettest, or if thou chooseth to ignore thy mother’s commands, the stinking of the trash and the fullness of the recycling bin shall be a blotch of sin against thy soul.”

Thus endeth the lesson.


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