Monday, July 28, 2008

Okay, one more....

Okay, Riley just walked in and informed me that I missed these....

Lake Gaston 2008 - Final Photos

And the final installment...

Lake Gaston 2008 - More Photos

Here are some more good shots...

Lake Gaston 2008

In a nutshell, this year’s trip to Lake Gaston in North Carolina was a huge success. Logan and Riley water-skied; Logan every single day. All three of them tubed, drove the jet-ski and boat like professionals, searched out new and exciting bugs with their insect field guide, collected rocks and seashells, consumed unfathomable amounts of ice cream and swam until their beautiful peach-colored skin was so prune-y that we thought it would never bounce back.

Finn was an adventurer, not remembering a thing of the two years he’d already vacationed at this glorious place called Serenity. He spent hours in his life jacket and tolerated it all very well, including the full speed face plant down the gravel road when we arrived and the black eye he received the next day. (He was looking good!) He loved the boat and the giant carp and catfish we fed each day. Riley made sure that the fish farthest away always got their fair share and Logan, ever the negotiator, made sure that our kids held snow cones during fish feeding times. The girls were finally given the go ahead to sleep on the top bunks, which they did proudly and uneventfully. Next year, I suppose the three of them will bunk together. All three have a new love for Dr. Pepper, shrimp, spicy pimento cheese and after six years now, what has become an old love for this secluded, magical spot we find ourselves reveling in for a week each summer.

With all the gratitude in the world we send our “thank you’s” to Granddad and Grandmom for making it all possible! We love you! Hope you all enjoy some of our favorite pictures.

PS: I must mention that Finn will never be allowed to fly again. Well… definitely not until next summer.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Letter "M"

I have this charm on a simple, black necklace. It’s a silver letter “M” that I saw during a rare outing with Mike at the mall. He totally made fun of me for buying it, but I liked it for some reason and I still do. Jewelry is an afterthought most days for me; I keep my favorites reserved for kid-free nights away from home. But the “M” caught my eye as well as my mind this morning, so I popped it on.

You’d think that after a thirty-six year long relationship with the letter “M”, these thoughts might have occurred to me at some other point in time. They haven’t however and all at once I was taken back by how incredibly interesting the shape of the letter “M” really is and how perfect of a letter it is for me. Just like my true-to-form astrological symbol, the scales of Libra, my “M” seems to be nicely balanced and symmetrical. The high reaching peaks are sharply contrasted by the deep grooves underneath, always leaving plenty of room for ups and downs. And that’s what life has been full of for sure.

Just like my “M”, I have been blessed with joyous highs while also spending some time in the valleys of life. While I may not choose to relive the trying times, I am thankful for each step of my journey. My “M” and I both continue to reach skyward and keep spirits pointing up, mindful of the heights to which we can soar. Those mountains and valleys may not always be ideal, but they sure keep things interesting.

Parenthood, one of my favorite movies of all time, has an interaction between Steve Martin’s character and his grandmother. It goes like this:

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Gil: Oh?
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

Even as a young kid seeing that movie for the first of many times, I knew the grandma’s point of view made sense to me. For most of us, life is complicated. There are forks in the road, wrenches in the works, great surprises and incredible rewards. There is first love heartache and the cherished memories of realizing you’ve found your soul mate. There is the gratitude that makes hard learned lessons worth every bump and bruise and sweetness in childhood whispers that makes you want it all to last forever.

It’s true that these whispers come from the same little people who huff and puff and scream the word “no” and that your soul mate may occasionally omit “birthday card” from the brain waves. Still, I’ll take the roller coaster - I’ll take the highs and lows of my letter “M”, over the merry-go-round any day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Each summer, I fill an old wine barrel full of flowers in my backyard. Our Florida one finally bit the dust while we lived in our first home and the current version is still holding up two houses later. Every Mother’s Day, I purchase the same colorful combination of sweet potato vines and geraniums, with a few extra things tucked in here and there. With Miracle Grow and a lot of water, it always turns into a gorgeous, healthy display by the fourth of July.

This year, with a shadier backyard and the discovery of a quaint country drive that leads to the most impressive nursery in the world, my wine barrel posed a challenge. I wasn’t sure what I’d plant there, especially with a yard vacant of a deck or patio. I spent little time thinking about it really, but when my eyes landed on the endless greenhouses of the nursery, I felt inspired.

I bought everything I liked; the most unique and me-pleasing flowers I could find. As I filled my little flat bed, my mind saw the end result take shape. It was going to be the best flower bucket of all! When I reached the cashier, I let her appeal to my weak side for a fleeting moment when she said, “Hmmm. Looks like we have a little bit of everything here, huh...?” For a second, I doubted my selections, but quickly swayed back to the vision in my mind.

Once those plants found their new home, I must admit, it wasn’t initially impressive. More than one person asked, “Whatcha got going on in there, Molly?” I just kept saying, “I’ve got a serious vision for the future and that’s what I’m banking on.” Some people even snickered and said, “Well that’s good!” Once those roots hit the dirt I was invested and concerned with their health and happiness so the negative comments mattered no more. I'm the kind of person that feels bad for the grass we covered up with rocks to make our deck, so to me, I guess every living thing deserves a chance to reach its full potential. I figured a little extra care and some trusty fertilizer would still bring about a beautiful end result.

Last night I was watering my bucket and was all of a sudden taken back. I’ve been getting some comments on it lately; from people who think it’s gorgeous, but I guess I haven’t really stood back to see it. It is nothing shy of fabulous. It has surpassed my wildest dreams of what it may someday be and bloomed into something awesome. All the odd combinations of flowers and greens have bonded, and work together spectacularly.

With scary things in the realm of possibility with the downturn in the housing market and skyrocketing gas prices, as well as what still feels like a summer slump in the writing world, I found my bucket immediately inspiring. It was a reminder of all that I know to be true, all that I want my kids to feel in their hearts as they grow into the world on their own. Anything is possible. All you need is the vision. If you believe in what may be, no matter what people say or life brings, your dreams can still come true.

So I begin my day with renewed vision and courage to wait it out. I can just feel those clients knocking down Mike’s door and see my first mainstream magazine article in print. Although I don’t know when it might happen, “I’ve got a serious vision for the future and that’s what I’m banking on!”

Monday, July 7, 2008

The best weekend ever!

I’m guessing that there are few times in your life as a parent that you get to experience feeling that you are some kind of superstar mom or dad. Somehow, I was graced with that incredible feeling for nearly two straight days this weekend as my kids flew through July 4th, happier than I think I have ever seen them before. It truly was the greatest weekend ever; all I could think every time I looked at them was that there could be no better time or place to be a kid.

A month ago, I began planning our first annual block party on our new street. I hadn’t ever done one before, so I was winging it. We took a laid back approach and everyone jumped in with lots of ideas and offerings. In the end I heard from about 14 of 19 homes that would attend, which I considered a great response! We spent the 4th cooking and getting last minute plans together and then headed down the street for a homespun fireworks display like nothing I have ever seen! We’re talking a serious show – it was unbelievable. What a sane alternative to dragging Finn, hours past bedtime, to a dark park to see the things. All the kids were totally into the festivities and loved every minute. Following the adults’ lead, our parrot Finn, screamed “Back up!” repeatedly to the kids who closed in on the fire starters. It was a great night.

Saturday was really a kid's dream. By 9am, the streets were swarming with the 25+ kids we have in our one small block. They were all super excited and strung out from the night before, anxious to see the open area adjacent to our house transform into a block party. One by one, tables and tents took shape, music began playing, volleyball nets, bean bags and other games were set up and the giant jumpy thing and huge air-filled water slide arrived. It was only topped by the entrance of the snow cone machine and visit from a local fire truck and ambulance – they stayed for an hour, gave tours and passed out trinkets. Really, those 25 kids and others they had invited were truly on cloud nine.

With their bodies covered in tattoos and face paint, they ate and slurped and jumped and slid. They tossed bean bags and danced and rode their bikes through the streets. These little kids, 80% of them under the age of 8, didn’t even have one argument for the whole day. As our family-friendly pooches stretched in the sun and caught the occasional food sacrifice, parents had the chance to meet and talk, for a few uninterrupted minutes. People shared their favorite family culinary specialties, their juice boxes and their time. (I ate a warm gilled tortilla filled with marinated skirt steak and homemade salsa verde that was to die for! Actually, I ate two.)

At some point, when it was still light out, Logan snuck to my side and asked, “Mommy, can we do this every year?”

“Definitely!” I said.

She answered with the most heartfelt “thank you” I’ve ever heard.

By the time dusk arrived, so did our loyal firefly brigade, providing fresh entertainment for everyone. The kids donned their glow necklaces and partied on, until they finally petered out near 10:30. As I tucked their graffiti wearing arms and legs into bed, I vowed to wash them and their sheets first thing in the morning.

But first thing in the morning was different for once, with Logan waking up at 9, Riley at 9:30 and Finn being woken up at 9:45! When I pulled him out of bed, the poor thing, who I twice caught drinking snow cone syrup straight from the pump, proceeded to throw up all over. Then he ate six pancakes, half a bagel and cream cheese and two jugs of milk! I’m thinking it was just his body begging, “No more fun (straight sugar) today please!”

Despite the crabbiness and foot pounding, whining and tantrums that Sunday brought along, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was a success in every sense, but mostly for all of our kids. It’s true that you can’t pick your neighbors and a lot of the kinks are being worked out around here this summer. But it sure says a lot when fourteen families can come together with barely any notice and throw a huge party, with our kids’ fun in mind. I’m all for living in the moment, but I’ve got to side with the kids on this one…. I can’t wait for next year either!