On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.

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P.S. Happy Mother’s Day

Yesterday afternoon H announced that Dad was home from Lowe’s and that he had brought me a new broom! I told H that I hadn’t asked for a new broom, so she added, “But it’s not your Mother’s Day present!” That’s a good thing.

Yesterday I also included a p.s. for 3 special mothers in my life. Today I think these women deserve more than a post script. How about some pictures instead?

Scan0007This is one of my very favorite photos of 3 generations of mothers and me! My mother Jane is on the left, my great-grandmother Georgia is holding me and my Nana (known to grown-ups as Doris) is wearing mustard yellow. I’m guessing that this picture was taken in the fall of 1974 in Nana and Granddad’s backyard.

Scan0011This Mother’s Day photo was taken just about 20 years later in May 2004. I’m all grown up in this photo, and my mother is still beautiful. G was 19 months old, and I was pregnant with S. We are sitting on the brand-new back deck of our first house.

Scan0008This photo is of Ryan and my mother-in-law Donna on the porch of a rental home on Vashon Island, Washington. Ryan appears to be 8, so this photo would date to 1979. Whether Donna is comforting my husband or just snuggling him, I love the sweetness of this moment.

Scan0012Here I am with my almost-mother Sharon at my wedding. Sharon is famous for her hugs; any hug that resembles a vise grip is known as an Aunt Sharon hug in our household. When I was growing up, the U.S. Navy often sent my family and Sharon’s family to the same duty stations; our parents were best friends. We followed each other around for about 20+ years; at times, we lived with each other. When I was in college, our families had homes just over a mile from each other in Norfolk; when Ryan and I moved to Corpus Christi in 2006, we rented a home the same distance from Sharon and Bill. Aunt Sharon and Uncle Bill became substitute grandparents to our girls during our last tour.

If you’re a mother and reading this post, I hope you have a delightful day and that no one gives you an extra-wide push broom. Happy Mother’s Day!


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For These Things…

I’m in a pensive mood these days. My birthday celebration lasted a full week, and I’ve decided that being 40 feels absolutely no different from 39. (Of course, that was my opinion when I moved from 29 to 30, and somehow I no longer feel 29.) As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve also been thinking about all the things for which I am truly grateful. For these things I give thanks:

1. I kicked off my actual birthday with a half marathon. Though the organization and start of the race was a mess, the time I spent with my BAMR friends from last year’s Ragnar DC was sweet. Running with my friend Tracy, who paced me the entire race, was a bonus. Realizing that I ran the course 5 seconds off my half PR was disappointing; however, my PR was on a super-flat course and this course was hilly with a capital H.


The 4 of us made up 1/3 of Team Dimity in last year’s Ragnar Relay DC. Zoom in on Joan’s shirt (1102) if you need help decoding BAMR.

2. My amazing husband threw me a 40th birthday party that blew me away. Ryan stepped way out of his comfort zone and organized a surprise party at a local winery last Saturday afternoon. All of my family came, and I spent a gorgeous afternoon with dear friends and family. We enjoyed the delicious wine from Running Hare Vineyard and–this is something I have been asking for several years–ate birthday cake that someone else baked for me.

DSCN1000 (2)3. Friendship. The word in itself is a complete sentence. Three of the above women–and one more who missed my bash to celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary–above have known me since we were 18 years old; that’s more than half our lives! We’ve walked with each other through two decades of life–first through our grueling academic years and later through careers, marriages, children. We’ve cried during times of loss, comforted in times of hardship and struggle, and celebrated each other’s victories. I love these women.


Silly, I know, but I love this group of people.

4. My family is awesome. H shared her actual birthday with me last Saturday; my sister took care of the catering; my parents brought flowers and rented a nearby cabin so that our house wasn’t overrun with small children; and my brother and sister-in-law flew in from Chicago just for the weekend.


Best parents in the world plus the newest 7-year-old in our family.

5. The decision to homeschool continues to be a blessing to our family. What began as a two-year experiment for one child seven years ago has morphed into something far bigger than we ever envisioned. This week we were able to spend time with our sweet neighbor Sofie on two mornings when her mom needed to be elsewhere. I love that we can pick up our math books and language arts, walk next door, and help a neighbor. I love, too, that we scheduled an impromptu field trip to a nearby berry farm yesterday. We met some friends who are new to the area, enjoyed a picnic lunch, and brought home 11 pounds of berries.  Did I mention that we only have 14 more school days this year?!


H with Sofie and her family on a warm afternoon last week.

And while I began this post by giving thanks, I also recognize that these are the very same things by which I am blessed.

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to 3 of the most important mothers in my life: my own mother Jane, my mother-in-law Donna, and my substitute mother Sharon.


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Spring has finally arrived in my corner of the world. Sure, the daffodils bloomed last month and the temperature has been slowly creeping up the thermometer. April was full of showers–mostly on Tuesdays just in time to cancel soccer practice. And we’ve seen several sets of birds pairing off and building nests. But spring didn’t fully unpack her bags until yesterday.

Instead what convinced me is the fine layer of yellow that miraculously appeared just yesterday. Tree pollen is everywhere, tinting my world in shades of yellow. It’s trying to enter my house since it’s already conquered the front porch, back deck, roof, sidewalk, and driveway. As I sit here typing, I’m watching visible grains falling from our collection of trees; it’s spring’s equivalent of snow.


The Crayola chalk is for size reference.

We also met this little guy yesterday. Or he may have been a she; if so, she’s not very pretty. Though a friend helpfully tried to identify this caterpillar as a misplaced mustache or eyebrow, it turned out to be a wooly bear. Once the girls and I rounded up appropriate food and cage for him/her, s/he had wandered off. At some point this wooly bear will become a not-so-wooly tiger moth. If you decide to raise your very own wooly bear, here’s a helpful fact sheet that I found. Additionally, I counted 31 swallowtail caterpillars on my 5-mile run yesterday. (Since I resorted to counting caterpillars, you can bet that my legs are still feeling last week’s half marathon.)


Yes, that is a pink zebra wrap.

Today H adopted a swallowtail larva that she’s named Fred. She found him on the back steps of the Leonardtown Art Center; she didn’t want anyone to step on him, and now he’s gorging himself on my parsley. Pictured above is Rumpetta. We met her last Friday in the grass outside the same art center. Rumpetta is a sweet pygmy goat with an injured leg and has been keeping her owner company at work for the past week or so. I wanted to take Rumpetta home with me; instead we have Fred.


This guy continues to visit our yard from time to time. I did some research after his first appearance, and he is technically a grey squirrel. Though he is mostly white, he is an albino since his eyes are black. Apparently Brevard, NC, is the self-proclaimed white squirrel capital and has its own White Squirrel Research Center.  Who knew?! If you’re in the area later this month, don’t forget to check out the White Squirrel Festival.

???????????????????????????????I also suspect that two blue jays have set up a nest somewhere in our trees. As noisy as these blue things are, their nest is hidden enough that we haven’t spotted it yet. Another family of tufted titmice has set up shop in our nesting box. Because I’ve told the girls not to open the box, I have to obey my rule, too. Instead I like to sneak up and listen for baby bird noises. Nothing so far.

DSCN0943Speaking of noise, this is just part of the parade that rolled up and down our street yesterday. That’s H steering Sofie with J, Pilot, and their father Ed. Sofie was a very good sport since H is not an experienced driver. Pilot, on the other hand, played a game of dodging small feet, fast wheels, and moving wheels. My heart swelled as I watched H include her friend in their old, familiar games.


The smiles say it all!

As I wrap up this post, we’re preparing for H’s 7th birthday tomorrow. While S and G both decided they were no longer my babies at this age and were way too mature to hold my hand in public, I think H is several years away from this stage. She’s definitely still the baby of this family. So lift a juice box, swallow your Allegra or Zyrtec, and join me in wishing a happy birthday to H!