Saturday, March 14, 2015

can i have this dance for the rest of my life?

Tonight is our annual Daddy-Daughter dance, and so it is, I'm home with our two boys, while Charlie is at the dance with our beautiful daughters.

DSC_0001

When I think back to our first dance, it amazes me how much our girls have grown emotionally and physically.  From the latter perspective, Elizabeth is as tall now, as Carolyn was when she was in first grade...  

DSC_0030

And from the emotional perspective, I'm absolutely sure our girls will collapse in to a heap of embarrassment when their father drops his suit coat and jumps up on the dance floor to dance gangham style in front of all their friends.

You better believe he's been practicing.

Monday, March 09, 2015

the harder you play, the harder you fall

And so it is, we had yet another big snowstorm last week.

Untitled

This time, I had my eye on the weather, and I knew it was coming.  Because I had my eye on the weather, I also knew that temperatures, this week, would be in the high 50's to 60's, signaling that Spring is on its way to being Sprung.   So me, being the huge snow aficionado that I am, and recognizing that this will be our last winter in Virginia, made big, big plans.

In preparation for the biggest storm of the season that was scheduled to hit on Thursday; Wednesday evening my office preemptively announced it would be closed the following day, and all the schools in northern Virginia announced cancellations.  Thursday morning, at approximately 7:30 AM, right on schedule, the snow started to fall from the sky, and it didn't stop for the next 12 hours.

By the end of the storm, we'd receive 10-inches.

DSC_0084

Thursday, I worked a very full and long day at home; while alternating my glance from my computer screen to the scene outside of our kitchen window and trying to sear in to my memory, the breathtaking natural beauty of our property.

Louie seemed to be doing the same.

DSC_0092

Next year, nay ... four months from now, we won't live here anymore.  So following my ritualistic snowy morning walk with Charlie and the dog; and helping the kids get dressed in their multiple layers so they could play, I soaked up what I knew to be our last snow-fall day.  At one point I ran outside to sled with the kids, and after a mere 15 minutes, was coated from head to toe in snow.

DSC_0087

It was glorious and perfect.

Friday, I worked an abbreviated day, again at home, because the roads were like a well-groomed ski slope and the driving conditions were just bad enough, that Charlie couldn't make it to Starbucks.   That's a pretty good gauge on how suitable the roads are... if my coffee-addicted husband cannot make it to the Mother Ship, all bets are off that I'll attempt the nine-mile drive in to the office.

DSC_0100

When I wrapped things up, just after noon on Friday, I suited up in my snow gear and ran outside to join our children, and a handful of neighborhood children, who had descended upon our house for the sledding awesomeness that is known as our Back Yard.

DSC_0098

With a bright blue cloudless sky, and temperatures that had remained low so the snow from the day prior had remained frozen,  the sledding conditions were superb.  My excitement was electric because I had nothing else to do for the rest of the day but PLAY, PLAY, PLAY.

DSC_0086

But when I stepped outside to join with the kids, what to my wondering eyes did appear, but my children - wading in the partially frozen creek.  I have told our children COUNTLESS times this winter, and every winter thus passed since we've lived in Virginia to stay out of the creek in winter. 

But do they listen?

No. 

What I saw on this perfect sledding day, were three of our four children (the fourth was playing at someone else's house and might have possibly - had he been here - been able to save his siblings from the Maternal Wrath that descended upon them, because he really has the most logical mind of all) in the water up to their knees, using their sled as a boat, that they were towing up and down, around the broken ice like a barge plowing through icebergs.

In this makeshift boat sled, were drenched hats, gloves, scarves, and socks. Socks, that they had somehow managed to remove from their feet in the freezing temperatures.  Did all of the neighborhood children do this, you wonder?

No. Just mine. All of the other neighborhood kids, were standing on the banks of the creek telling my kids to get out of the creek.

But did they listen?

No. 

So, I stood at the top of the hill - seeing all of this before me - and I yelled at the top of my lungs, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!  WHAT THE {Insert Bad Word} DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?! GOD GAVE YOU A BRAIN, BUT IT DOESN'T WORK UNLESS YOU USE IT!!"

Did I over-react?

Probably.

But, I felt 100% justified in my overreaction because I'VE TOLD THE KIDS BEFORE that they need to stay out of the creek in the winter because they:

1) Could get injured and/or drown if they fall beneath the thin ice in areas where the water is more than 5-feet deep (of which there are a few);

2) Ruin their gear for as long of a period of time as it takes me to wash and dry it; and

3) Create a colossal mess for me and/or Charlie to clean-up because even when we assign them the responsibility of cleaning it up - they make an infinitesimally worse mess.

DSC_0094

Under the circumstances on Friday, I was particularly peeved because:

1) I worked an exceptionally long day on Thursday (16 hours to be exact), so that I could specifically play with them, on what I expected to be our last "snow day" and...

2) One of the children was wearing MY snow boots, which were now soaked. 

DSC_0109

My children were crying and embarrassed because I gave them a WHAT-FOR in front of other people, and then sent them inside to get cleaned up, while I went outside and went sledding with their friends, as they sat by the window and watched, waiting for their garments to dry.

I had fun.

They did not.

Remember: this is what happens when you go wading in the creek in the winter.  Really?!

Fast forward two hours.  I made several sledding runs, and was having a great time. But beneath my happy demeanor, I was quite disappointed that my beloved children were not with me. So I eventually went inside and told them to wipe their tears, and come out to sled again. And then I dragged Charlie away from his bathroom tiling job, to come with us.

DSC_0096

Oh, what fun we all had, sledding and laughing and rejoicing in WINTER!

But then.

I went to the top of the hill that I'd already sled down more than 100 times this winter, and with my sled in my hands, over my head, I declared for all to hear, "And now, competing for the GOLD MEDAL, representing the United States of America ....!"  

The kids were all laughing and wooting as I took off with a running start, from mid-way up our driveway. I threw down my sled and jumped on it, hurtling down the hill at (literally) break-neck speed, head first.

I saw the tree.

And I lifted one side of my sled to skirt around it, as I've done many times before. But this time, my sled wouldn't turn and my trajectory remained straight for a collision with the fir.  In a split second, I knew that I was going to hit it and there wasn't a single thing that could be done. There wasn't enough time for a prayer.  Nor was there time to jump off the sled, throw my feet down to brake, or raise my arms up to cushion the blow.

The last thought to partially fly through my mind, before I struck the tree was, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!  WHAT THE {Insert Bad Word} DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?! GOD GAVE YOU A BRAIN, BUT IT DOESN'T WORK UNLESS YOU USE IT!!"

Perhaps it's because I had lifted my right side, in an attempt to veer left, that my right cheek is what smashed against the tree trunk, instead of hitting it head-on.  As I impacted the tree, I could feel my entire spine compress, from my tailbone to the base of my skull.  There multiple POPS! that might have only been heard inside my head.

I fell over to my left side and struggled to breathe, because my lungs had been squashed. There were guttural groans as I accepted the reality that I was going to die, right then and there in the backyard.

Thank you for such a wonderful life! 

I have no regrets. 

Except, what the heck was I thinking sledding down the steep back hill, riddled with trees, head first without a helmet ... in front of a half dozen children under the age of 12?  Dear God.  It's no wonder my children cluelessly go about wading through a creek in the winter.

Charlie flew past me on his sled, yelling, "You'll have to settle for the Silver, Baby!" while pelting me with snowballs. He had no idea that I'd been mortally wounded and thought I'd flipped off the sled before I hit the tree.

Henry was the first one on the accident scene, as he slid down next to me on his little saucer. Standing over me, he asked, "Mom, are you OK?" and I groaned. He said something to Charlie about Mom and Blood and my husband came over to inspect.  Charlie's eyes flew wide open when he saw my face and the blood dripping off of it, on to the white snow.  He tried to help by rubbing snow ON my wounded face, but it turned out, that wasn't really a help at all. 

Untitled

My strong husband helped me up and escorted me in to the house, with one arm gently around my waist.  I couldn't open my mouth,  my jaw felt like it had been broken. The head ache was intense; as were the pains along the entire length of my spinal column.  My sinuses, which produced blood clots for the next several hours, felt like they'd been ruptured. The abrasion on my skin wasn't so bad, it was the inside that hurt. Did I break teeth?  Did I give myself a concussion?

Charlie was asking why I didn't jump off the sled, or put up my arms, and there honestly wasn't time.  In retrospect, if I'd put my arms up, I probably would have broken an arm, or my nose, or my neck.

If this had happened to anyone else, I would have insisted they go to the hospital to get checked out. But I didn't go, despite Charlie telling me that we should.  The difference between us, is that I would have started the car and demand that he get in it.  Charlie left a Friday night visit to the ER open as an option, so my more favorable option was to take some Tylenol and a hot shower.  The fact that I didn't go signals that YES, I probably did sustain a head injury.  It's nice to now have an excuse for my less than rational thinking.

Three days later, I'm feeling better.

I'm also feeling like this might have been a little nudge from the Universe.  Consider, when I woke up on Friday morning, I was absolutely distraught at the thought of leaving the east coast and its awesome winter season, with sledding down wonderfully snow-sloped hills.

But by Friday night,  I was beginning to think we should live in an environment without any hills or snow.  So, maybe a move to Texas is a good idea, after all.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Monday, March 02, 2015

when noni and auntie came to town

Zoom. It's March.

Way back in January, which seems like only yesterday, the triplets were scheduled to participate in a strings concert at their school: William and Elizabeth, performing on the violas, and Carolyn performing on the cello.  I happened to mentioned this upcoming event, in passing, during a phone call with my mother, and much to my surprise (and delight), she decided that she would plan on attending the children's performance.

DSC_0028

This was no small feat, because she would have to find someone to help look after Jim for a few days, so she could fly to Virginia for the event.  To further add to our surprise, a few days after Mom told us she'd definitely be attending, she called to tell me that our beloved Aunt Grace, would also be traveling up to Virginia for the concert.

DSC_0024

So I immediately had the children blow the dust off their instruments and bribed them to practice. Yo-Yo Ma and Yuri Bashmet, we're definitely not.  At least not yet. 

The concert was scheduled for Tuesday evening, so the plan was that we'd spent a few days together before the big show, and then they'd leave for home on Wednesday morning.  While my mother was able to fly in from Florida on a Saturday, Aunt Grace ran in to all kinds of challenges with her flight, and wound up driving solo the 500 miles from South Carolina on Sunday.

As luck would have it, Monday was a clear day.  (I'll write later this week about what exactly we did on Monday. It involves rotary cutters, sewing machines, and an absolute miracle.)  But by Monday night, a storm rolled in and dropped several inches of snow, such that school was canceled on Tuesday. And with the cancellation of school, came the cancellation of all school related events.

Including the fourth grade strings concert.  

When I woke up at 6:30 AM to see the snow falling outside and read the e-mail that school had been canceled, I thought, "Well, we'll just have a nice quiet day at home and spend some wonderful time creating memories with Noni and Auntie!"

Those thoughts no sooner formed in my mind, when I heard a cough - cough, the weak cry of "MOM!" followed by the running of little feet down the hall to the bathroom, just in the nick of time.  Elizabeth, it would turn out, had the stomach flu, which would last for 18 hours.

DSC_0026

With Elizabeth on the couch for the full day, and me next to her holding a bowl trying to fight off the feeling that I was staring down the barrel of a loaded shotgun ... William, Carolyn and Henry suited up and ran outside to play with their father.   Auntie and Mom stood in the window overlooking the yard, and remarked how wonderful it is that Charlie plays so well with his children.

Here are some photos of Charlie playing "well" with his children in the snow...

DSC_0031

He departs from the fort, in what appears to be an attempt to help his child who has fallen to the ground and seems to be in pain.

DSC_0032

Hark! He is not there to help, but to crush them, with balls of snow in his hands.

DSC_0033

This causes the others to pile on and further crush their sibling.

DSC_0034

Charlie untangles himself and pelts a child with chunks of snow.

DSC_0035

Every action has an equal an opposite reaction. Unless, you're dealing with three children against one adult in a snowball fight, and then the reaction tends to be more positively weighted.

DSC_0036

CRASH!

DSC_0038

BOOM!

DSC_0037

BAM!

DSC_0039

SLAM! (Poor little Henry, he's looking at me for help.)

DSC_0040

TUMBLE, TUMBLE!

DSC_0041

THUMP.

DSC_0042

Around this point, Henry had decided he'd had enough "fun" and came inside to play Dominos with Noni.

DSC_0048

And Carolyn - our Gracie - retreated to the kitchen to make a homemade chocolate cake with her namesake.

DSC_0046

There is no better chocolate cake IN THE WORLD than the ones Aunt Grace makes from scratch.

DSC_0049

Less than an hour after Mom and Auntie left on Wednesday morning, Charlie came down with the flu. Carolyn had it Thursday night, and I had it 10 minutes after Carolyn. Thankfully, the boys were able to dodge the virus bullet, as were Mom and Auntie.

Although Elizabeth wasn't feeling well enough, William and Carolyn were able to have an impromptu living-room concert for a few minutes on Tuesday night, and Mom and Auntie both agreed, That Was Plenty.   I'm not sure any of us could have withstood 60 children playing their stringed instruments for 30 minutes, in a closed gymnasium.

See, there really are no accidents.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

the good news, and the bad news

In the winter, I usually have my finger on the pulse of all things weather-related, because I've got the heart of a child when it comes to snow.  This week, however, I haven't been closely following the weather since my appetite had been temporarily appeased with the big storm over the weekend.

DSC_0086

Imagine my surprise - and delight - when I learned last night that we were in the path of Remus (or is it Quantum?) and would be receiving an additional 2-4 inches of snow today.

That's the good news.  

DSC_0085

At 4:15 AM, we received the e-mail that school would be delayed by two hours ... and an hour and a half later, we received the e-mail that school would be canceled due to conditions.  My response was to fly out of bed, throw on my snow pants, snow boots, jacket, hat, mittens ... and urge Charlie to do the same. We would go for a long walk in this wonderful snow, while our children were sleeping.

So we did and it was peaceful and serene and perfect, walking in a winter-wonderland with my husband while the snow continued to gently fall. When we came home, I wanted to go sledding - just once or twice, down our back hill, before we woke up our still sleeping children, gave them the good news about an unexpected SNOW DAY! and made breakfast.

DSC_0088

Keep in mind, if I'd known earlier that this storm was coming, I would have made sure all of our sleds were accounted for, and our gear was at the ready. But when I went looking for our sleds today, they were no where to be found.  That's because they were abandoned on the hill by children who had been sledding earlier in the week, and are now totally buried.

DSC_0084

That's the bad news.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

growth spurt

I could have sworn these pajamas fit him just last week. 

Untitled

Or maybe it was last month.  Whatever the case, it wasn't that long ago.  If I remember correctly, they were too big and I had to roll them over at the waist so that they wouldn't fall down. And even then, they were so long that they dragged on the ground.

Watch ... in another month, he'll be 6'2".

Sunday, February 22, 2015

yesterday and today (alternate title(s): my man from Canada, a mid-altantic winter, or this is why snow skiing on the east coast is so icy)

Yesterday, the temperature was below freezing and it snowed all day.  This was the scene from our couch, where we laid beneath blankets, watching Sabrina. It was beautiful.

DSC_0089

We took a break to go sledding for a few hours, and the conditions were so awesome, we had to dig our heels in to the snow before we flew down the embankment in to the creek.

Untitled

There was a twilight snowball fight (Charlie and I totally dominated)...

Untitled

And a lot of snowman building, including the construction of this hood ornament (by Elizabeth), which I think every vehicle needs in winter...

DSC_0105

After a week of freezing, single digit temperatures, with wind chills of below zero - today, the temperature is in the high 40s. It feels like spring and Charlie's out shoveling our driveway in shorts and sandals.

DSC_0119

You can take the boy out of California, but you can't take California out of the boy.