Thursday, July 29, 2010


I'm not sure what's gotten into this family suddenly.  But we evidently see the light at the end of the summer beaming through yonder window and have decided to cram everything in to these final days! 

Sash and I made a paper chain to count the days until school starts - not because we're ready to count down the days, but because I don't want to have to explain to her every day for the next 20+ days that today is NOT the day she gets to wear her backpack to school.  All I have to do instead is point to the chain.  It ain't gone, so you don't have school.  Yet.  But that first day of pre-school will definitely get interesting, I'm thinking.  Well, the first day will be fine.  I'm actually talking about the second, third, and fourth days.  Those are the days she's going to realize Mommy LEAVES me here...

Anyway, this week we traveled to Lincoln's law offices and home in Springfield, IL, (also home to The Cozy Dog ~ a Route 66 legend), and we took our first float trip.  I'm exhausted.  I don't even know why I am still online.  {OK, it might possibly be because lying on my back causes the lobster skin to peel...}  I'll share more photos later.  I killed my POS camera in a crappy environmentally friendly ziploc bag today while floating down the river (you know - 20% less plastic.  Water seeps in.  But it can't get out.  ... those crappy environmentally friendly bags), so we have to wait for it to dry out for pictures from the float trip.   I pray.

In the meantime, here's one of Lincoln.


Monday, July 26, 2010

The Happy Hallway

Several weeks ago, I saw a magazine article featuring the book Living With What You Love: Decorating With Family Photos, Cherished Heirlooms, and Collectibles.  I was fortunate enough to be in the midst of a week of children's camps, so I leisurely took myself to to the bookstore, perused the pages of the book, fell in love, brought it home, and read it cover to cover in one sitting.

In the book, author Monica Rich Kosann encourages readers to become comfortable with certain aspects of clutter.  Specifically, any clutter that in truth portrays family meaning.  Well, you all know how I feel about clutter (still have half my house in storage and just can't bring myself to drag all that stuff back into my little home...a whole other book, I know!!)  But, based on the premise of a blog full of my family's photos and stories, perhaps you are inherently aware what I am even more passionate about ~ those family photos and stories!

Yet, as Kosann asks, "Where are you hiding your Kodak Moments?"

Mine are tucked into boxes or stuffed five-deep in old frames or worse yet sitting in a file on my computer.  Save a small handful.

Kosann discusses the inevitable hallway of photos so many of us have or grew up with in our homes.  The single wall where our entire childhood evolved upon its drywall or plaster.  Perhaps the windows of our past showed up there in the images of grandparents or great-grands.  Cousins.  Aunts and Uncles.  She calls it "The Happy Hallway."

My mom had a wall like that when I was growing up.  She moved it, fully intact, to every location she settled.  And to this day, I can be found pausing to look upon the pictures I already know by heart.  A sense of home engulfs me each time I look at the great-grand I most resemble.  The fading images of generations past vying for spots amongst the pictures of my own children on their grandmother's wall.  It is comforting to know they all belong to me and I to them.  Kosann writes about this very feeling ~ its universality. 

Recently, I visited a friend's house for dinner.  True to the author's words, I found myself looking at the photographs on Lisa's wall of her children over the years.  I couldn't tell you a sentence about any other art in her home.  But I recall in detail the photos she displayed of her three children throughout.  I understood the importance of family in this home.  Am I demonstrating the importance of my family in my home?

All the difference between right now and back then can be displayed (in any order you wish  along the wall of a hallway.  And these are sights for anyone to see.  Whether you're a guest in someone else's house, a family member, a connoisseur of history, or a lover of nostalgia, family walls create a wonderful place to pause, browse, wonder, laugh, and remember.  [Kosann, pg. 24]
This weekend, I put aside any and all other chores and pulled dust-covered boxes out of storage.  I found pictures of me when I was a child, of my husband, of the twins as babies when we diligently spent tons of money on all those series of baby photos...of Meiners, Sash, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins.  I began with an old china cabinet and displayed a few favorites in it.  Then I took the rest and started piecing together the frames like a puzzle.  All the way up the staircase from the basement.  I'm not finished yet.  I have more photos and I want to request a few from family.  But it's already making a difference.

Sashi came upstairs this morning and said, "It's pretty, Mommy.  [The Happy Hallway.]  Show me where I am.  Am I born yet?"

I asked all the kids at dinner if I should remove the photos from the china cabinet.  There was a resounding, "NO!"  They like to look at them.  And talk about their favorites.

We are becoming a home where the walls (and the china cabinets) tell a story...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Mommy Parties

Every year on the last day of school, my friend, ~F~, hosts a cocktail party.  At the beginning of the school year, my other friend, Mama V, hosts a First Day of School Tea.  Cocktail Party friend ~F~ suggested once that I host a mid-summer night's party in my backyard sometime before Back2School season begins ~ because I have a sweet pad. 

No, seriously, she did.   

Last week, I read this inspired post by The Nester. 
We all like to have people over right? I mean, in EVERY. SINGLE. episode of HGTV’s House Hunters every couple on there talks about how they love to entertain. I think we all love the idea of entertaining but, once again, perfection rears it’s perfectly daunting and shaming head and tells us that we have to wait until we have it all together until we can invite people into our life and home.
I realized some things.  First, I've never hosted an adult party with just my own friends.  Dare me to plan an Olympic Extravaganza.  Got it.  Summer Bucket list include Friends on Fridays all summer-long?  (For the kids.)  Not a problem.  Deciding not to move and wanna throw a party?  Did it.  (For the kids.)  But with the over-30 crowd?  I sweat.  I wring my hands.  I'm not sure.  Should I stay?  Should I go?  Will they like me?  (Oh wait.  That was high school.)  Second, if I didn't plan a party immediately, the opportunity to enjoy my backyard with girlfriends in the midst of their summer tans and plans would pass into the very crimson and gold colors of fall that tempt us with their football and cooler nights.  Third, it truly just doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful ~ The Nester, again.  If I didn't dust, it wouldn't matter.  If there's no door on the armoire because we busted it off bringing it back upstairs, who cares?  No decorations on the wall in the kitchen cuz I just don't know what to do with that monstrosity even after all these years?  So be it.  This is me.  (cue Camp Rock soundtrack...)

Literally two days ago, I decided to take the bull by the horns, so to speak.  If every single couple on HGTV's House Hunters says they love to entertain (per The Nester) and it simply doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful ~ it's the art of gathering not the art on the walls ~ The Nester sprinkled with a li'l me, then why am I not doing so for my own generation in my own backyard? 

I sent out a bunch of emails.  With lots of LOLs and F2Fs and stuff like that, cuz I am so 2008.  (I'm so kidding.)  And, lucky for me, a gaggle of the sweetest ladies agreed to show up.  After two days' notice.  (Cuz they are awesome like that.) 

And do you know what's funny?  No one mentioned the dust on the mantle.  Or the broken armoire.  Or the lack of kitchen decor.  I had so stinkin' much fun laughing out loud and sharing face to face that I didn't even snap a single picture.  Not a one.  Until the very end after everyone had left. 

To the Girls of Summer 2010 ~ Thank you for letting me do this.  So many times it's easier to decline or to give in to the busyness of everyday life.  Thank you for taking the time out to sit and chat and smile and breathe.  That's what I did, anyway.  I hope you all did, too.   It was a blessing to me to have you here.  Thank you! 

{{And to anyone who missed OES Mid-Summer Moms Night Out 2010 ~ here's to Summer 2011!  And to maybe a slightly less humid night...?!}}

By the way, a big thank you to God for staving off the rain until after 10:00 as I'd requested.  You rock.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Boy Who Thought He Could Fly

Finalizing photo images on the blog post, I hit 'publish post' and waited.


A moment passed before I realized the sound had occurred.  It came from the stairwell in front of me.  Hubby immediately stood from his post on the far end of the sectional, his long purposeful strides bringing him to the top of the stairs just as the screaming began.

"What the he__," came his automatic response.

I jumped up.  Before I reached the top of the stairs, however, Meiners came stumbling up and fell, sobbing, into my arms.  His mouth agape, tears staining his cheeks, his hand clawed at the skin at his hair.

As the story would unfold, beanbags lay in wait at the bottom of the stairs.  Meiners, having been sent to bed under no uncertain terms for the last time, eyed the soft, billowy cushion of temptation approximately half-way into his descent.  Six steps from the bottom, he paused.  Inhaled.  And leapt.  Immediately, his forehead impaled the I-beam above the bottom of the stairwell.

At first glance, the goose egg had begun to form, but there was no laceration.  No blood.  Just a crease.  An indentation about half an inch below the hairline.  But gradually, gradually red seeped into the space.  And quickly the mommy brain took over the mommy body. 

I phoned the exchange and scribbled a litany of symptoms.  As the mom, I knew I would be in charge of analyzing them over the course of the next 72 hours.  Four Meltaway Tylenol later, he wouldn't settle down to fall asleep.  Symptom #4.  His ear began to throb. Was that a symptom?  Made mental note. 

The next morning, after waking Meiners several times through the night - once asking him, "What's the cat's name? ... This cat right here," I tossed the cat toward his sleeping body.

"Obi."  Sweet sleepy boy gurgled with his eyes peacefully shut.

"No, Meinie, that's the dog's name.  What's the cat's name?"  I asked again, lifting the dead weight of his hand and allowing it to plop onto the back of the less-than-pleased-by-the-late-night-attention kitty.

Eyes open a slit.  I'm pretty sure he's glaring.  "Obi."  He insisted. 

"Dammit Meiners, I'm trying to sleep," a voice came from the opposite side of the room.  "What's the cat's name.  Answer Boy," he continued, waking a little more with every bubble of the sleep-deprived, harmless anger.

Repeat above.

"I mean Benn."


When I called the doctor later that day, I shared that Meiners wouldn't go under the water in the pool.  His ear throbbed throughout the day.  She insisted I bring him right in.

Fine by me.  What could the possibility of blood in the middle ear mean?  Really, the sight of the injury looked like a cat scratch.  No bruise.  No bump.  The child has a head of steel.  But a mother worries.  What could it be?

Apparently, an ear infection.  Completely unrelated to The Spirit of St. Louis.

Today, he's fine.  On his second full day of antibiotic.  Bean bags tucked safely in the closet under the stairs.  By daddy.  Who rewarded the sleepless mommy with a nice large cup of icee mocha.

Gotta love that daddy.
Gotta love the boy who thought he could fly.

And gotta thank God for the angels who kissed away the boom.  Even after they momentarily gave him wings.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Traveling Tuesday

Traveling Tuesdays took a backseat recently but returned in full force today. Once the twins finished Cooking School in the morning, we headed out to adopt a bird! After careful deliberation, Meiners and Pookie chose to sponsor Lewis, the Bald Eagle who flies in the Cardinals pre-game shows. Seemed fitting.

We spent extra time checking out all the exhibits and even drove through Lone Elk Park to find Sashi some 'deers,' so our plans to visit Purina Farms were thwarted (closes at 3:30), Instead we headed to Meramec State Park.

From there, the infamous Jesse James Wax Museum (shoulda gotten pictures of the outside, too...)

Just goes to show we're always up for an adventure.
And I'm the luckiest mom in the world. (Love those kids!!!)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This Old Man

He turned sixty.
He makes 60 look real nifty.
He's a great Grandpa
And a super-duper dad.
For a father-in-law, he's not so bad.

Happy Birthday Pops!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

How 'bout THEM cupcakes...

The kids did a great job! Pookie and Meiners' original goal for a kestrel or a screech owl was surpassed ~ it looks like they may have raised enough to help The World Bird Sanctuary with a hefty $164! That means they're fighting over a red-tailed hawk or an American bald eagle. Go figure. In the spirit of charity, they find adversity. It seems like good adversity to share, however. Trying to decide what kind of bird to sponsor with your brother/sister after a highly successful bake sale fundraiser! Now they have quite a few thank you notes to pen. So, if you enjoyed a mouthful of delicious lemony or scrumptious chocolatey cupcake, consider a sincere thank you from this mama til the kids get those letters in the mail...
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