Whoa Mama

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

to be thankful

things I have learned from the Turkey Trot:

1. anyone can run 5 miles
2. the TT is 8k, or 4.97!
3. anyone can run 4.97 miles
4. there are lots of ways to interpret "running"
5. apparently the organizers of the event/suppliers of the timing chip also believe that anyone, including the common idiot can run 4.97 miles judging by the instructions to strap the adhesive circle around your shoe laces. I kid you not when I report that there were three (3) sets of instructions on how to correctly strap the day-glo orange band around your shoelaces.
I was reminded how grateful I am that I can run under my own steam.
7. I will run in gear, maybe even costume, but I will **never** run attached to anyone else, for example dressed as a centipede.

In Gratitude!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

From the mouth of...

The boys were digging through the garage, recently packed away for winter. They were looking for their Flying Turtles. Noah was successful. Sam was successful. Aidan, neck deep in lawn furniture and sand toys, muttered “shhhhit”.

I promptly called him out and inquired, “what did you just say?” He has the poker face of, well, a six-year old. That sweet sweet face replied ever so surprised, “shit.” I said, ”Aidan, that’s not a word you use!” He, again very innocently said, “Is it a bad word?” I choose to believe that he really did not know because the face that goes with anything less than the truth reads like a neon sign.

I gently told him that he is not to say that and gave him a battery of other things from “rats” to “pits” to choose from. He happily went off to play.

Notice I did not ask where he heard that word, because it is totally mine!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

score one for me

Sammy has really acquired his attitude and can be known to whip it out indiscriminately. However, with the predictability of a pre-nap toddler, some things are guaranteed to set him off. Reliably anything that his brothers get near that belong to him will annoy him. For example, this morning Aidan grabbed one of Sam's warm sweatshirts from the laundry I just brought up. I told him he could and told him Sam wasn't going to be happy when he got up but just tell him he'd take it off after breakfast.

I happened to be in the kitchen when Sammy wandered in. I decided to head this one off by telling him myself.

Well, I should have put money on that horse because it took off! Grump, grumble, snap....and I almost engaged. Instead in a rare moment of parental clarity, I said, "Sammy, honey, what am I going to say".

Sam: You'll say just let him wear it.
Me: What will you say?
Sam: I'll say I don't want him to.
Me: And what will I to say
Sam: He isn't hurting anything
Me: And what will you say
Sam: That he can until after breakfast
Me: And what will I say?
Sam: (silence)
Me: I'll tell you what a good sharer and nice brother you are!
Sam: (laughs and hugs)

And just in case the mood wasn't light enough, Aidan added, "Mommy sometimes I laugh so hard that snot comes out of my nose."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Run fast and jump high

We have eight new sneakers in the house. Six of them sport a light-up Spiderman. Two of them are mine. The boys put them on for the first time after dinner last night and of course needed to try them out. We decided that they needed to run outside since Aidan was going to go through the glass doors while watching them light up. Plus it was dark and they light up! Noah and I ran at top speed down the street with Violet before the rest of them got outside. I passed the torch to the brothers who ran a synchronized course as instructed by Sammy. When it came time to go in, I said, “last one to Mommy is a rotten egg”. Sporting MY new sneakers, I waited until they got about 5 steps away and ran. Then I heard the blood curdling screams of Sam & Noah, who had crashed into each other at top speed.

As if this Mother of the Year didn’t feel bad enough, Sammy, through sobbing tears, said, “Mommy, you shouldn’t have run”.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Many More Babies

I've gotten some good quality time with my niece and nephew this week. It has included picking them all up from school. I tried to corral the after school chaos by launching into our favorite part of the day. Noah declared that his favorite part of the day was learning about schema (love this school!!) and he would share more later. Julia is up but "Aunt Leah, I don't want to tell you my favorite part of the day because I would like some peace and quiet." I'm thinking, "you are in the wrong car, sweetie!" Thankfully the masses obliged because it was library day and they were inhaling their new reads.

This pic doesn't do the crew justice. We had a fifth in the middle in the back. It is one full car!

We had a trip out to Chestnut Ridge to blow off steam and tear through the woods.

Everybody taking turns leading through the woods with the boys schooling their younger cousins in tracking.

Keeping up the big kids.

Me: Miles, your cheeks are all red.
Miles (grinning mischievously): nnnnooooo. They are green.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Vaca

This is where I spend my long Columbus Day Weekend. The photos cannot capture the fresh seafood, massive fresh pumpkin muffins, roar of the surf. You get the idea....

Sunday, November 07, 2010

All – Ay – Oooo – Yuh

This morning Scott delivered the news that the basket full of pants that contained 90% of the boys’ nice pants was not in fact clean. The remaining pants were in the wash. Because of various commitments, I had to go to church so off we went in our very best denim. I now know that trotting off looking like we were headed to “My Great Big Redneck Wedding” should have been seen as omen that it was.

We get to church and I realize that I don’t have our bag of books, a necessity for 6-year olds to make it through the hour. OK, no worries. The church supplies “Things To Do” bags for the kids. They each grab one on the way in, only to find at our pew that they contain each a board book, a stuffed animal, a folder of blank paper, 11 playing cards, and something weighty in the bottom that I assume to be crayons.

Here comes the choir, with incense. Ugh. I open the hymnal to a two pager. Aidan, embracing his heritage, does his very best Irish whisper, “DDDAAAADDDDDD-YYY”. Noah is waving the like the crown prince to the priest and deacon. They wave back. I tell him that now that they’d seen him, he’s got to be on his best behavior. He flashes a priceless look at me that plainly says “Oh. Shit.”

We sit. I open the bulletin to find that due to All Saints Day, we are renewing baptismal vows AND vesting new choristers (translation: adding 15 minutes to the service). We are intentionally close to the back and near no one, until a well-groomed middle aged couple park themselves behind us. Really, folks?? They DO look cute from afar and are best appreciated at that distance.

I collect all the playing cards from both bags and cobble together a fair Go Fish deck and instruct them to show the card they want and point if they’ve got to draw. Silent Go Fish. Fine. No, I have no problem with them playing card in church. It isn’t as if there’s any money on the game. It works ok until Aidan wins. And cheers.

Next up, the paper. Here. Color. Draw. Show us some creativity. Aidan’s bag has no crayons. I grab four of Noah’s 9 crayons and a golf pencil. They are so old that one of them is labeled at the color “flesh”. The others are “bisque”, “pewter, and “slate”. He shows me his disgust at this sorry spectrum, and I quickly lie (yes, in church), “Noah has the same ones”.

Mercifully, Aidan soon whispers, “I have to pee”. Perfect. A walk!

They do their business, I straighten ties, ignore the inevitable wets sleeves (at least they washed), tuck everything back in and head back.

I do ask for some participation. They stand when the congregation stands. They choose to participate some with the choir, as they are in the “Training Choir” and have some familiarity with the music. I make sure they say the Lord’s Prayer. At the correct time, they proudly stand up and launch in to it. About half way through, Noah burps. Loudly. This has clearly broken his concentration because when I glance down at him, he has finger up his nose, nearly poking out an eye. He looks back at me, reaches to wipe away my tears and inquires ,”what is so funny, Mommy?”

We get to Communion and Aidan turns around crunching and rubbing his belly in yummy circles. Just get me off the alter!!! But no. They both stop, pulling my arms and announce that “We know this one!”, like Kasey Kassum was playing their favorite song.

For their big finish, Noah belted out a little “All – Ay – Oooo – Yuh “. My sentiments exactly.

Monday, November 01, 2010

one chouette dude

In 1993, at 20, I was extremely fortunate to go to France for 4 ½ months. I lived with a family in Paris for a month, when they patiently tolerated my horrible broken French and caringly taught me about customs, manners and culture. From this safe, unique place, I launched every day into the Metro to our school or assigned meeting point, from which our Parisian professor taught us to experience Paris at Victor Hugo’s home, the catacombs beneath Notre Dame, Ste. Chappelle, meeting fellow Wells women for afternoon café. We peeked through keyholes at Versailles, watching the world go by in Jardins des Tuilleries, took a kir before an horrendous modern dance performance at the Paris Opera House. Our professor walked out. She taught us to live it, embrace it, love it, don’t squander it. The dance sucks. Leave. I got to spend a weekend touring the chateaux of the Loire Valley and another strolling the beaches at Normandy.

Then I took the train through France to Spain, where I spend 2 weeks in Seville and a weekend in Cadiz.

These profound six weeks were followed by 3 ½ months of hard labor. But it didn't suck here:

No. I’m not kidding. It was physical and psychological hard labor. I went to La Sabranenque, a program in a small village outside of Avignon. It was a French immersion program (i.e. NOTHING BUT FRENCH – see aforementioned comment on my bad French speaking) coupled with restoration work. Not pretty, easy brushing stuff off. Serious tools! And heavy work on ladders. From which I dropped a marteau on the tete of a friend. Sorry, Weel!

We spent a month scraping cement off the inside of a pigeonnier (a silo-like pigeon house attached to the side of a house), we repaired the stones, making a smooth façade, and then laid a stone floor. All of this was done with hand-mixed cement – my hands. There were other hands too. Hands that carried a 20 foot slab of marble up the side of a hill. Hands that dealt many a game of Tarot while smoking (bien sur). Hands that passed that passed countless loaves of bread. Hands of the friend that held me in Boston, when 2 years later, I was lost in loneliness. Still other hands, that, despite best intentions, dropped the flowers when exhaustion and heat took over on the alter at my wedding. From Ste.-Victor-la-Coste to the Iles du Frioul to Carcassonne, I got to see unbelievable pockets of the world in the company of friends.

Remember that I was 20. At this tender age, this incredible journey was shepherded by a kind, sensitive, intelligent soul. Marc Simon was extraordinaire. With a caring and firm touch, we learned about the culture, the language, the country, the work, the history. As an American, Marc “got it”. Commiserated that we all have funny foibles that get tangled in the other language. Marc never remembered how many D’s and S’s were in “address” in French vs. English. Marc quietly wished me a “happy birthday”, not a “bon anniversaire”. Understood that immersion is tough business, or as the dropping bridesmaid once said, “it’s a nice idea and all, but a little excessive”. He loved the country and the mission of La Sab and showed us that we could do the same.

It has been 17 years since this amazing experience. Yet when I heard the news that Marc succumbed to cancer in April, I felt as if I left him yesterday at the Avignon train station. I can only guess how many lives Marc Simon touched over the years. Mine was one of the countless. I left, finished college, met and married my husband, got two masters degrees, had three children, many moves, and and and and. He still touched my life. Again quoting the amazing Molly “You don’t see someone for 17 years but you kind of smile and rely on the nice feeling that they are out there being wonderful”. So I hope that Marc is having a heavenly aperitif before launching into a long, indulgent French meal with good conversation and good friends, knowing that this sensitive, naïve American was safe, protected and just better for having been touched by him.

Repose en paix, Marc.