Friday, October 31, 2008

My little songwriter

Tonight, while I was reading Frog & Toad stories to R at bedtime, he busted out his harmonica and made up a few songs. The music was really nice! But the best part was the names of the songs:
  • "Go away, go away" [made up when our cat came into R's room and started meowing]
  • "Come away, come away"
  • "Light end"
  • "Saturn has a ring"
  • "Sun is burning" [these last two are part of his "Universe" series]

Swingin' fun

Things at work have been weighing down my spirit this week, plus A is sick and cranky, and R had a rough afternoon and evening yesterday (cranky A + overtired R = disaster). Last night I just felt completely beat and low. But I brought it all to God before I went to bed, and I'm feeling better today. So, in my effort to focus on the positive side of things, here's a video of my boys being silly on the swings last weekend. (Warning: You may want to turn your volume down; R is LOUD.)

I'm excited for R for Halloween today. He wore his Racer X costume to school because he's going on the monthly nursing home visit (I love that his school does that), and they'll be having a Halloween parade there. At my company's trick-or-treat event on Monday, we had to explain R's costume to all but one person. (Did only boys who were born in the 1960s like Speed Racer? A and his friends know all about it, but everyone else seems to be pretty fuzzy on it.) But R had a blast anyway - he gots tons of candy, there was a make-your-own-sundae bar, and he and my co-worker's 4-year-old trashed my office while finding various ways to pop Halloween balloons. I looked over at one point and they both had these crazed looks on their faces, and R was running around carrying an open stapler. I also cracked up when I overheard the other boy say to R, "Let's eat your mom's ice cream!!!!" Luckily, R knows better than to touch my ice cream, especially if it has peanut butter sauce on it. :-)

And, this is why we don't argue with R when he wants to wear his bike helmet constantly:

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Remembering summer

Since it is now officially COLD in New England, I've decided to warm myself up with one of the pictures from our big St. Augustine vacation a few months ago. Think 87 degrees, pristine sand, and warm ocean water. Sigh...

Monday, October 27, 2008

October 27, 2000

Eight years ago today, A and I got married under a tree in Jackson Square Park in New Orleans. It was a beautiful warm, yet dry day with bright blue skies. A man played trombone somewhere in the background, and a classroom of kids paraded by with their Halloween pumpkins. It was a perfect day. :-)

The story
In the early summer of 2000, we were planning a trip to New Orleans because we both had always wanted to visit, what with our love of Cajun food and zydeco music. But we were also at the point in our relationship where we had been talking about marriage and what our wedding might look like. And, it just seemed too difficult. A has many, many friends, so we would have had to invite at least 200 people. And, we couldn't afford that. A's parents would have been extremely uncomfortable at a reception that included alcohol, and our friends and the rest of our families (not to mention A and me!) would have been "uncomfortable" without it. LOL. We wanted to have it at our favorite local winery, but that would have been really upsetting to A's parents. And, I would have wanted to have my stepfather and my dad both there, which just wouldn't have worked. There were many reasons that made it seem impossible. Plus, A and I aren't so good at being the center of attention.

So, one night when we were discussing the future again, A said, "Why don't we just get married while we're in New Orleans?" I thought that was the best idea ever.

I found a minister, we wrote the ceremony and our vows, I bought a dress, A found a man who makes Celtic jewelry in New Orleans and ordered our rings, and we only told I think three people before we left. Our big secret made us silly and giggly for the few months beforehand. The days before we flew down to Louisiana, we were a wreck from nervousness, plus I think the whole secret thing was wearing us down.

When we got to New Orleans, the first thing we did was head over to the court house to get our marriage license. We took a ferry across the river and stepped back into time. The court house looked like it was from To Kill a Mockingbird, with dark wood paneling and huge ceiling fans. Everyone was at lunch when we arrived, so we walked around the block a few times. Eventually, the judge's assistant came back and processed our license and emphasized that we had to wait 72 hours to get married. (We knew that - that's why we arrived on a Tuesday; the wedding was scheduled for Friday.)

We spent the next three days on a pre-wedding honeymoon. We had amazing food, walked and walked the city, went to see a fun band at Tipitina's, and still kept our secret. If we were smart, we would have told everyone! Even at Emeril's for dinner one night, the waiter asked us what brought us to NOLA. But we were so used to keeping it a secret that we just said to visit the city for fun. I'm sure we would have had free champagne if we had opened our mouths! :-)

The day of the wedding, I was a wreck. I flipped out while getting ready and wondered aloud why the heck I was doing this without my mother to help me. But it worked out. I had even made my own wedding bouquet, with some tips from Martha Stewart. We looked really nice.

We asked the hotel to call us a cab, while we stood waiting in silence from fluttery stomachs. When the cab driver picked us up, he looked in the rearview mirror and asked, "Are you people headed to church?" We finally let loose and explained that we were getting married at noon in Jackson Square. Well, the cab driver just about died. He was so excited for us and started driving crazily to get us there on time (it was kind of trafficky). He gave us all kinds of advice and then told us the cab fare was on him, as a wedding present. It was very sweet. :-)

We met the minister at the park, and then A asked a couple of bystanders to be our witnesses. (That what's the minister had suggested we do.) The people were a little shocked, but willing. One poor guy had been sitting there with his wife on a bench, drinking a beer. (Because you can do that in New Orleans.) I think he was embarrassed, but he was very nice and helped us out.

The ceremony seemed really long, I remember, even though when we wrote it, it didn't seem very long at all. Getting to the vows took FOREVER. But the vows part was so wonderful. A and I both choked back tears and smiled. Then we exchanged rings and kissed, and it was over. Our witnesses took pictures of us (so nice!) and one of them even shot some video. The video is so cool because you can hear the guy playing trombone somewhere nearby, and there's a city worker raking leaves. You can hear the scrape, scrape of the rake. That always cracks me up.

After the wedding, we walked to some bar and had champagne. The bartender asked us if we wanted it to go. LOL. I never did get used to that.

Then we headed back to the hotel to change and to call my mom. I knew that she was heading out to visit my grandfather that weekend, and she doesn't get cell phone service up where he lives, so we wanted to call her before she left. She was ecstatic, of course. A took this great picture of me on the phone with her. We decided to wait to tell everyone else until we got home the next day. That afternoon, we took a horse and carriage ride and then went to K Paul's for our last NOLA dinner. It was an amazing week.

My poor sister Ericka was the first to find out after my mom. She picked us up at the airport. She was in a hurry because she was hopping on a bus to go somewhere (NYC? I can't remember) right afterwards, so we told her as we were rushing to pick up our baggage. I think she almost fell over and went crazy hugging us in the terminal. :-)

When we got home, I forget who we called first, but we did call our friends Mark & Christine on Sunday because we were really nervous about that. Mark isn't a fan of marriage and riles against it a lot in conversation. At the time, we used to hang out with them a lot. So, A was really nervous about calling them. But he did, and they invited us to come down to their house (they lived right down the hill from our place). When we got there, we found out that Mark had driven to NH to buy champagne to celebrate with us. So that was really nice. Then, the other friends we had told starting showing up, and we had a little party together.

The only person who was sad and disappointed about our eloping was A's mother. She was really bummed about not being able to attend our wedding. But, one out of everybody wasn't too bad. :-)

It really was the perfect way for us to do it. It was a lovely ceremony and exactly what we wanted.

The last eight years have been filled with all kinds of adventures for me and A. We've had some rough patches, but I'm so glad and thankful that we're still together and that we love each other. It's not that naive, giggly, newlywed way anymore. It's a deep love and respect that comes from helping each other through daily life and through the really hard times and from seeing each other grow and become parents. And, I wouldn't want it any other way. It's the same for our wedding. The way we did it was just right for us.

(I would post pictures, but our wedding album was heavily damaged when our basement flooded a couple of years ago. That was the one thing of all our damaged things that made me cry. I still have some salvageable pictures, but I'll need A's help to re-shoot them. Maybe I can do that tonight.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday tidbits (now with pictures!)

I walked to the subway station this morning and I took my camera with me because I pass some of the most amazing foliage in the cemetery along my way.

I'm in a really great mood today. Last night's community group/Bible study was wonderful and energized me and just made me so happy with where and how God is leading me. R had a hard time with me leaving, but I think it's good for him to get used to me going out for a couple of hours once a week. He was fine this morning. In fact, he was very proud of the Lego car wash that he and A designed together last night and told A that as soon as I got home, A had to show it to me (which he did).

Tomorrow, A and I have a special date to celebrate our anniversary (which is on Monday). We're just going out to dinner, but we may venture a little farther from home to head to the North End in Boston or maybe just to our favorite tapas place near Harvard Square. Usually, we try to stick pretty close to home so that we're not out too late in case our babysitter has trouble getting R to sleep, which is typical (and not her fault at all - R gets SO excited to see her that he can't settle down). Tomorrow, we're planning to wear him out during the day so he'll be exhausted for her and go to sleep quickly. Sometimes for our anniversary, we've gone to this great, cozy restaurant that serves Southern food, Louisiana-style. We love that kind of food and, since we were married in New Orleans, it's fitting. But that restaurant closed this year! :-( Anyway, I'm very excited for our date - yay! Maybe I'll post the story of our wedding on Monday. We eloped, so it's quite interesting. ;-)

This week, I heard the song "Here I Am" by Downhere and I can't stop singing it. Check out the lyrics and listen to the song here.

Finally, the Veggie Tales live show is coming to the next town over from us. That will be fun to see with R. I swear, though, A and I enjoy the Veggie Tales videos more than R does. We crack up while R looks at us questioningly. And, ever since I heard my brother-in-law Shaun singing the "One Bean" song from "Lord of the Beans," that's all I can think about when I see the show and I just end up giggling uncontrollably.

Happy Friday, everybody!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I've got to find something more interesting to talk about

For the last few weeks, my main topic of conversation has been about heat - when to turn it on, what temperature, etc. Some people 'round these parts have this feeling of superiority about keeping their house cold for as long as possible, and I admit I was starting to fall into that. Not that I feel superior, but I was definitely proud of my little family and me for not turning it on at our house yet. When honestly, it's not that we're made of sturdier stock - we're just plain cheap and trying to save as much on oil as we can this year.

So, we were trying to make it to November 1st. And, we almost did. But yesterday I admitted defeat and had to laugh at how ridiculous our little goal had become. On Monday morning, it was 53 degrees in the house. I shipped off R to school, A went into the office, and I worked from home all day - in long underwear, jeans, two pairs of socks, a shirt, a wool seater, and my winter coat. And, I was still cold! So, I grabbed my laptop and went upstairs to R's room to get under his huge fuzzy blanket, and I turned on his space heater. (We made sure R was warm at least these last couple of weeks.) But, that day was sunny, so the house warmed up enough to be tolerable. Yesterday wasn't. It was cold, wet, and gray. So last night, I cranked the thermostat up to a toasty 59 degrees while A was out. LOL. Then I turned it back down before he got home so he wouldn't notice. Craziness! A few minutes after he got home, I confessed and, of course, he didn't care. We didn't turn it on again last night, but this morning R and I couldn't take it anymore, so I turned it up to 59 again to take the edge off. I've been fondly reminded of the (unheated) cabin in Maine my family spent time at in October when I was young, but the fondness was wearing a little thing.

So, that's it. The heat/temperature talk is out of my system. Especially because I was thinking this morning about just how lucky I am to be able to decide when to turn the heat on, to have the luxury of heat and a home at all. So I'll find something else to prattle on about now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Marble maze video

Here's the video I tried unsuccessfully to upload yesterday. We get mesmerized by the marbles going through the maze. I love when R's plane goes zipping by on the floor. :-)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Glorious fall

After a great morning at church (wonderful music, practical sermon, communion, AND I had a few people to say hi to - yay!), I came back to my chilly house. I changed my clothes, layered on the wool, and played with R up in his room while I sipped some hot tea. Here's what we built together:

The marble maze is so much fun. R tires of it sometimes, but every few weeks, we pull it out and spend at least a couple of hours building different mazes and just feeding the marbles through. R makes up stories about the marbles while he's playing. (I have a video to upload, but my connection is too slow at the moment...)

Because it was such a typical New England fall day, we decided to drive up just over the border to New Hampshire to go to my favorite farmstand for pumpkins, apple cider, and cider donuts (since we missed out on those when we went apple picking a couple of weeks ago). The foliage was just amazing all the way up there. I can't help but smile at the beauty of this time of year. It makes me so happy. God really is an artist. :-)

First, we stopped for lunch at Cracker Barrel. We had to wait awhile for a table, but R found the toy section in the country store part, and that occupied us the whole wait - and the wait was totally worth it. Oh my gosh was it good. I had beef stew and corn and turnip greens, plus biscuits. A had BBQ pork, beans, and turnip greens. And, R had his usual macaroni and cheese, which he wolfed down with a corn muffin and gobs of butter. Comfort food for a chilly day.

Then it was off to the farmstand. We checked out the scarecrow contest, then picked out a big pumpkin for carving, and grabbed the cider donuts. After dropping off our loot in the car, we spent some time at the farmstand's duck pond until my hands were about to freeze off. Then, we headed home to MA.

Just before R's bedtime, the three of us huddled in the kitchen, munching cider donuts and sipping hot, mulled apple cider. A and I had ours with a splash of red wine. Mmmm, perfection.

I hope one day that R will look back on these moments with as much joy as I do.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


We had a lovely, lazy morning. R and I played with his trains in his room, while A made pancakes and sausages for breakfast. Around 11, we headed out to the Museum of Science for a couple of hours. We have a membership, and it's really nice because we can get there in about 10 minutes door to door, and then we have two hours at the museum (before we have to start paying for parking). Today, we let R spend a long time staring at the big ball moving sculpture. It's a mechanical piece of art that has all these crazy tracks for billiard balls to go through. Hard to describe, but it's mesmerizing. And, it's set up right next to a wall of windows overlooking the Charles River and the Boston skyline. So, we let R stay there for a long time while A and I soaked up the sun and watched the river. Then, we zipped through a lot of the rest of the museum and made it back to the parking garage with two minutes to spare. :-)

The view of Boston from inside the museum

After a lunch of spicy gumbo soup (yum!), apple slices, and cheese and crackers, we headed out to the bookstore to pick up some more Magic Tree House books for R and then to the grocery store. Then it was home again, a short nap for R on the couch while I did laundry and checked email, and dinner. Not a very exciting day, but it was beautiful nonetheless. I was with my boys and that's what's important.

Tomorrow, we get our pumpkins!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's playoffs time

Once again, I am reminded why I hate to watch baseball on TV: the spitting. The constant, disgusting spitting that the cameras insist on zooming in on and staying there so we can get the full effect. Blech! It's amazing that whole teams aren't wiped out by the flu each fall and spring, what with all the saliva they're sharing. I can't take it anymore. And, since the Red Sox appear to be getting their heinies whumped by Tampa Bay, I may not have to endure this nausea much longer. :-(

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Little prayer request

I signed up at my new church to participate in a community group, which is a small-group Bible study and community service thing. Tomorrow night is the first meeting. I still don't know anyone at the church yet, so I'm hoping this will give me a chance to meet a few people and hopefully make a friend or two. But, being the quiet and shy person that I am, I'm pretty nervous about it. So, if you think of it, say a little prayer for me to just relax, to be myself, and to remember that God is always with me. Thank you!

Maybe I should wear this to break the ice ... what do you think? ;-)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Down on the farm

Our apple picking trip was fun. I found a farm that is only 6 miles from my dad's house, but it was a pretty convoluted 6 miles. It was nice to drive down some very quiet roads and look at the houses all decked out for fall and Halloween.

When we got to the farm, the first thing we saw was a gathering of old cars near the parking lot, so we went to check them out. Good timing on our part because they all drove off 5 minutes later. (Oh, I discovered what was wrong with my camera - I had left it set for fluorescent lighting. That's why everything was bluish. But I thought it gave my apple picking pictures an old-fashioned feel.)

What's a farm without a great old tractor?

Next, we bought our apple bag and our tickets for the corn maze. Inside the farmstand store, I was heartbroken to discover that all the baked goods and apple cider were SOLD OUT! Ack! What's apple picking without donuts and apple cider? Oh well. We hopped on the big tractor that took us to the orchard.

Apple picking goes pretty quickly, except when your four-year-old decides to have a meltdown because he doesn't want anyone else besides him to pick apples and fill the bag. But letting him use the apple picker pole for the ones up high made R happy again.

Next up - the corn maze. I overheard a woman on the tractor say that it takes an hour(!) to get through it, so I started getting nervous. Right away, A went his own direction and my dad and R and I went another way, which made me even more nervous. But it was fun and silly. You're supposed to find three mailboxes within the maze. In each mailbox is a hole punch that punches a different shape. You have a card that you carry with you and once all your holes are punched, you head for the exit. We found two mailboxes pretty quickly, then wandered around nearly lost looking for the third. And, just when we were starting to get antsy about being in the maze any longer (especially when R announced he had to poop), R yelled out, "DADDY!?!?!" And A just happened to be about 5 feet away from us. We found the last mailbox and had some failed attempts to find the exit, but finally we were free!

After a fun couple of hours at the farm, we realized that the real maze was finding the way back to my dad's house!

Now I have to track down some donuts and cider ...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Without the sonlight

Today was supposed to be sunny and cool. The forecasters got the cool part right (47 degrees when I woke up - gah!), but it was completely overcast and a bit damp. There's something about that kind of gray, drizzly weather that gives me the urge to go to the ocean. I want to bundle up and head to the beach in one of my favorite New England harbor towns. I daydream about sitting by a fireplace in some cozy seaside restaurant with a steaming cup of soup while watching the stormy waves crash onto the sand.

But the mist and chill in the air were fine for apple-picking so we headed to my dad's as planned.

Along the way, I noticed that all the trees that have been so incredibly vibrant in autumn color weren't quite as impressive. The colors that have been taking my breath away were muted and less inspiring because of the gray clouds. Without the sun to highlight the leaves and without the blue sky as a backdrop, the beauty was harder to see.

And, I realized that the same is true for my life in general. Without the Son in my life, I'm less able to see beauty around me, especially in other people. It seems that no matter how hard I try, I have this gray film over my eyes that makes me always find the negative, that makes me cynical and impatient and unkind - if not out loud, then in my thoughts.

But when I draw close to the Son and let Him shine in my heart more, that film begins to be lifted. I can begin to see what He sees in other people - the beauty, the potential. And, I begin to have a heart more like His. I'm less inclined to think the worst of people and more inclined to think the best of someone and to pray for people who I would normally just grumble about (like the grouchy woman at the grocery store yesterday who snarled at me and R...). :-)

He has also made me more hopeful about myself. I can see the potential beauty in me, and I'm better able to hear Him pointing out to me the areas I need to work on and give up to Him. Lately, God has been saying, "Here, here, and here" to me, lovingly and gently showing me where that film is still covering my eyes and my heart. I feel like I should get a t-shirt made that reads, "Under Reconstruction." I'm so thankful for this construction work and for being able to see more and more beauty within and without every day. (You should be thankful for this construction work, too, because I asked God for guidance in writing this post and He wisely had me delete an unbelievably corny sentence that would have ended with "let the Sonshine in" - with no disrespect to The Fifth Dimension, of course.)

Lest I make it sound like there's a halo over my head and bluebirds landing on my shoulders wherever I go, however, I am very aware that I am and always will be a work in progress. One of the many things that God has been talking to me about is holding my tongue, which you'd think would be easy for someone as quiet as me. But I'm a very critical person, and of course the people I love take the brunt of this fault of mine. So, while I was typing this testimony of how God is working in my life and helping me to be more like Him, I was fighting the urge to say something rude and to shove a tissue box at A, who was sniffing constantly and driving me bonkers. And, while I managed to hold my tongue in this case (with God's help, of course), He proceeded to point out that rolling my eyes has got to go, too. ;-)

p.s. May God grant me the ability to one day take a non-blurry, in-focus picture. :-)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

27 days to go

We're trying not to turn our heat on until November to save money on oil. But I'm not sure we can make it. This morning, when we woke up, it was 61 degrees in the house. We did okay, but that was pretty chilly.

The chill in the air made for an incredibly beautiful fall day, though. We got to spend a lot of it outside because R's friend held a little reunion party for his Pre-K-II class at a local playground. We were there for hours, the kids had a great time, and then R and I had a really nice, long mommy-son walk back to our house. (A went to R's music school parent meeting.)

Tomorrow is apple-picking with my dad and, of course, cinnamon donuts and cider and mums and Indian corn. Yay!

Here are some random photos from this week ...

R flying through the air after launching himself off a pile of pillows in our living room

My mums! I just love the colors, and the plants got so big this year.

R at the playground today after smushing himself into a much too tiny play car

(I need to play with the settings on my camera so that it stops giving everything a bluish hue.)