Archive for the ‘family’ Category

19
Aug

Outer Banks, 2012

   Posted by: liz

This was our family’s second summer vacationing for a week at the Outer Banks.  It held a different atmosphere this year. Two years ago, it was the boys’ first time ever on the beach and we were so excited to see their reaction to the vastness, the bigness that is the ocean’s edge.

They were definitely excited, but not in the “first time at the ocean” kind of way. They couldn’t wait to get back into the waves!

The weather was much different this year. Last time, it was high 80s, sunny all day, every day with one rain downpour one evening. This year, we arrived to flooded roads and yards, and it continued to rain off and on the whole week we were there. There was certainly sun – and hot days (even at 80 degrees, it’s hot under the sun at the beach!), but there was more cloud cover. It was the perfect beach week if you were looking to relax and not be overly hot. The waves were MUCH calmer this year as well – last time the waves were rough and the undertow was strong the entire week due to an off-shore weather system.

Our boys are all two years older this time around, so I was able to relax (slightly more than last year!) as they kept themselves busy. Also, we had two sick boys on different days, so I stuck around the house with one feverish boy at least two of the days, so that added to my reading time.

We spent two different days on the Sound Side as well, doing some crabbing, which was a big hit with the kids. Even if we threw them all back into the water, it was still a good experience feeling the tug of the string, wondering just what those little crabs could possibly find delicious in raw chicken necks. Each kid was able to catch at least one crab. Once they were out of the water, they didn’t go near them, so the grown-ups had to toss them back into the water.

Also prominent this year was an influx of mosquitos. According to the locals, it’s a really bad season for mosquitos. I’ve never had to give a second thought to mosquitos as we barely get more than a few bites a year in the wilds of Pennsylvania. But this year, as soon as you were on the ground level, and especially around the dunes on the way to the beach, dozens of mosquitos would find their way to your skin within seconds. It was a 3 minute walk to the beach, and in that time, we all got several new bites every time we’d walk to and from the beach. The only respite from those pests was on our decks (I guess they don’t fly very high from the ground?), at the pool, and on the beach or sound (lots of wind by the water). One day we stayed away from the beach the entire day – none of us had it in us to make the walk through the infestation. I really don’t know how the locals survive being outside. Does one really stay inside all day?

Regardless of those little pests…we all still had a relaxing, enjoyable beach visit. When the boys weren’t in the water with Kenny, they were scouring the beach with me for little shells. We have a new collection this year to add to all the shells we still have from the last visit. We went with two other families (who we went with last time) and we were able to play lots and games (The Game of Life was a favorite of the kids, and Carcassonne and Scrabble kept the adults busy).  The grown-ups enjoyed happy hour every evening (and the kids had their own one night!). The kids used the hot tub a lot more than the adults (twice a day!), and we were completely entertained by the miniature frogs all over the pool area of our house (that sounded a lot like spring cheepers!).

The beach is such a different world than our home. The sounds and smells, air and wind, color of the sky and water….  As we left the beach on Friday afternoon, I instructed the boys to keep their eyes out the window as they said their goodbyes to the salty air, the crashing waves, and the windy walks along the beach. We returned home to crisper air and some coloring leaves already!  The night air is dipping into the low 50s even though there is a warm-up on the way. I love planning our beach visits at the end of summer because I’m always ready for the season’s change after a week at the beach.

 

I leave you with a trio of pictures I call, “Adam trying Old Bay Shrimp”

 

22
Jul

freaky friday

   Posted by: liz

i loved that movie (when i was but a wee-tween) where jodi foster and her mom switch roles for the day. hilarious and heart-warming. i have heard that it has been remade: don’t bother to watch any remake of that movie; the original is best!

for the first three days of last week’s work-week, kenny and i switched roles. i would get up, shower, eat breakfast and be on my way to “work” before 7:00 am, returning home at 5:00. i was so exhausted at the end of each day, and the 50-minute drive home each day got harder and harder. i couldn’t imagine doing it another day!

kenny took vacation two of those days and worked from home the other. the boys had a great time hanging out with their daddy all three days AND he had dinner planned, prepped, and started by the time i walked in the door each night. as i walked in on the third night (my last day of teaching), he handed me a glass of wine and told me to sit down and put my feet up, smells of peanut-coconut sauce wafting through the kitchen…ahhh!!!  heaven!

i told him he did a better job at my job than i did, half-jokingly. i know that staying at home with his boys was a treat for him, but he is good at what he does at work, and provides well for all of us. i could never do his job (nor would i want to leave the stay-at-homeschooling-mom position that i love!).

what the past few days taught me is that we are both equally satisfied with our familial roles. what it mostly taught me is that i can’t expect him to have energy to be with the kids the minute he walks in the door, and i wish i could take back those days when the kids were young and FULL of energy and baby/toddler-ness, and beg demand that he take over when he came home from work to relieve me of my daily duties. because i can vouch for the exhaustion being away all day and driving home brings!

switching roles temporarily allows us to “walk a mile” in each other’s shoes.  i was grateful for the opportunity to “bring home the bacon” for a few days because it made me realize how much i love what i do every day, and more grateful for what kenny does every day for us!

9
Jul

9 years young

   Posted by: liz

the one who turned us from DINKs to PARENTS turns 9 today.  such a sweet face for such a sweet, loving, inquisitive, sensitive boy!

we love you so much, rowan, and are so proud of who you are growing up to be! your younger brothers look up to you, and we couldn’t be more happy of the role model they have in you. happy 9th birthday!

2012

2003

 

26
Jun

our grammy

   Posted by: liz

their love was what novels are written about, turned into movies that open in the summer and make all who watch it wish they had a fairytale beginning, middle, and ending in their own relationships.
it was high school, there was a chance meeting at a water fountain and the rest is history. it was war time, so the boy had to go fight. he returned home early to marry his girl (in a whirlwind weekend winter wedding where two other war brides were married, all borrowing the same bridesmaids dresses) and then finished his job at war, praying he would make it home to begin his family and build the rest of their lives together.

and he did, and so they had the perfect family (one boy, one girl) and raised them in the 50s and 60s in smalltown america. those kids married and had kids of their own and “grammy and grampy” were born.

grammy passed away on sunday, after a few difficult years in a nursing home after she had suffered a few strokes. we all miss the grammy that she was to us grandkids, and the mom that she was to my mom and uncle, but i’m sure he misses his bride even moreso. 67 years of marriage.

 

10
Jun

when your baby turns 6…

   Posted by: liz

…you find ways of avoiding their baby pictures for fear of falling into a nostalgic tailspin. you look at every single one of them any way and still distinctly remember of the first minute you laid eyes on him.

…you look at your family of rapidly growing boys and wonder what the teen years will look like, and you’re not exactly sure whether to laugh or cry at the thought.

…you can’t wait for your boys to be teenagers so you can have deep conversations with them. then you remember the incredible conversation you had with them just this past week and you wonder when they went from babble-speak to intelligent question asking. 

…you pray fast and hard as you fall asleep at night that you didn’t do anything major to screw them up for the past 6 or 8 or 9 years (i’m not the only one, am i??).

…you keep hugging that “baby” and saying things like, “six years ago i was in so much pain, but it was SO worth it!” and he looks at you like you’ve been in the sun too long.

…you wonder what it’s like to be six again.

~~~~~~~

adam henry, there is nobody like you!  we love your excitement and your love for living. we’re so thankful we were chosen to be your parents!  happy 6th birthday!

4
Jun

i love our city!

   Posted by: liz

techinically, we’re much closer to the city of Butler, which was recently named one of the 10 best small towns in the U.S. according to the Smithsonian magazine,  but today, i’m referring to Pittsburgh (which also has its ranking in a popular magazine lists), the city in which i grew up. i still think of Pittsburgh as “our city” since we’re really only an hour outside of it, and kenny and i met and started our family there. although i’m now a 6-year-old country girl and could seriously consider growing old in the country, i still think The City is a great one.

our big-little city brings the best in the worlds of culinary arts, theatre, sports, music and family-friendly educational centers (ie, museums). it’s been a long time since we just spent a day walking around the wonders of pittsburgh, but this weekend we were able to do a bit of that on saturday with friends that just recently moved to pittsburgh. it was as if we were tourists, and they were our tour guides.

we started with breakfast/brunch in the Strip at Pamela’s.  kenny and i used to frequent the shadyside, oakland, and squirrel hill locations but had never been to the Strip location. i just noticed that their web site lists two other locations that we need to check out (millvale and mt. lebanon). Pamela’s has been around as long as i can remember. there are many, many places to get a good breakfast in the ‘burgh, but Pamela’s seems to always win out. it’s because of their crepe pancakes. Even President Obama prefers Pamela’s over any other Pittsburgh breakfast.

after a very filling breakfast, we hit up Peace, Love, and Little Donuts for some…little donuts! they’re so small that even after a huge breakfast, a few bites of a non-greasy-tasting lovely little sugar-cookie donut was perfect. we had to take a stroll through the Pittsburgh Public Market since it was on the way back to our car where we were pleasantly surprised to see an old friend in her own traveling espresso business, Caffe d’Amore (hey, sarah!).  i love that pittsburgh has added a “covered market” to its already long list of awesome offerings. i think the public market will grow into something bigger as it “gets older.” it’s a great location (the strip!) and it offers quite a lot of different things: food, drink, local, art, etc.

we then headed over to the Carnegie Science Museum where i wasn’t sure how long we’d stay due to some over-tired boys. but as it turned out, it was the best medicine for the grouchy,tired youth in our midst. we stayed in the SportsWorks center the longest (an hour and a half? two hours?) and then hung out with the robots and the miniature trains on the second floor. by then we were all tired and headed home.

that was a 6-hour day in the downtown area of pittsburgh and it was full of awesome. we didn’t even touch the other great pittsburgh things (theatre or outdoor summer concerts), so we have many more day trips in our future. when we moved WAY out to cow-country, i vowed to take day trips with the boys into the city at least every-other-week. that never happened. it turns out there is a lot to do out here as well, if you don’t mind a slower-paced way of living. which i have grown to love.

but it’s a reassuring to me that the city is just a short drive away, and if i’m craving some thai food, or a BIG library, or an outdoor music festival on a hot summer night, i know just where to go.

some pictures of our time at in the city with the Marquiss family ~ 

adam, climbing the 24-foot climbing wall. 24-feet doesn’t sound very high, but it was high enough if you ask me!

2
May

happy camping

   Posted by: liz

our family of five enjoyed survived our first camping overnight this past weekend! the last time kenny and i camped was when sawyer had just turned 1, and rowan was 2. that was much easier, and from what i remember, we were serenated by screech owls all night long.

the older boys had a cub scout overnight this past weekend, and i decided at the last minute to join them (since other families were camping, and it wasn’t just a scout camping night).

we arrived friday evening around 6:00 and immediately pitched our tent. we have a new 8-person tent that is easy to put up, and the boys helped kenny so i could snap pictures. the boy scouts were busy starting a fire while we pitched camp, and then the boys found the rope swing, which kept them and their friends busy for at least the next three hours. until the marshmallows were opened. kenny and i didn’t leave the camp fire from 7:00 until 10:30 as the temperature was dropping rapidly.

the low on friday night: 28 degrees farenheit. that’s FOUR degrees below freezing.
the last time i camped, we did not have an air mattress. this time, kenny packed our queen air mattress (for my sake, i’m sure!). i was looking forward to sleeping on cushy air this night! unfortunately, when we got to our tent at 10:30, we noticed that our air mattress had a hole in it, and it was already nearly deflated.  time to put on my “happy camper” face and just get through the night. we were all armed with mummy bags that were rated to 20 degrees, i changed my clothes to warmer clothes and put on wool socks. the boys hunkered down into their bags and fell asleep and slept most of the night (a few bathroom breaks here and there). i found out right away that mummy bags make me claustrophobic. that’s not good when any exposed skin inside the tent immediately started to freeze. it was either claustrophobia, or freeze. i guess i chose the latter, as i froze all night long.

what got me through the night was thinking and then praying for all those who were having more uncomfortable nights than me. occassionally i thought about how katniss could survive the lows temps without a sleeping bag in the arena, and then i realized that was fictional. then i was thankful that at least the boys were sleeping soundly.  the night could have been so much worse, even though i was the coldest i’ve ever been, and you know how i don’t like to be even a little bit chilly!
when 5:30 rolled around, i think i had about an hour of sleep total for the night. kenny woke up and i told him it was already 5:30 – time to get up!  problem was, neither of us wanted to get out of our sleeping bags. i sat up and covered my head and he finally put on layers and started his camp stove for coffee. fifteen minutes later, he handed me a travel mug full of camp coffee: it was the best cup of coffee i ever had!  better than seattles best, better than caribou. i drank it inside my sleeping bag in a sitting position. i finally got warm enough to change into my clothes and met him at the campfire where he was heating up more water for the boys’ oatmeal.

i then drove home. i know, i’m such a wimp!  i waited to make sure there was a roaring fire for the boys to warm up at, since they weren’t starting off warm. rowan didn’t leave the fire, and the other two boys didn’t have much energy for the morning activities either. i drove back to pick them up at noon and we were all home, showered and thawing out by 1:00 pm. the fireplace, the hot shower, our warm pajamas all day long was a welcome treat after such a cold overnight.

the bottom line is: the boys had a great time. friday night at the campfire, eating s’mores and roasting marshmallows, playing with their friends on the jungle gym and rope swing kept them busy and warm. saturday morning wasn’t very fun for them, but it wasn’t enough to keep them from camping again! they’re excited for their next camping trip already!

 

3
Apr

once upon a time….

   Posted by: liz

…there was a girl who liked to be on stage. but not until she was about 16 years old, and only when she didn’t have to sing. in front of people. because that was one of her worst fears: that she would be forced to sing in front of somebody else.

so she acted and did shows like Our Town and The Crucible…then onto Electra, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Three Sisters. Then Lysistrata (and is still heart-broken over not getting a role in Dancing at Lughnasa). Finally, she graduated college and moved to London where she saw great theater in the land of “theatre.” And when she mvoed back home to the States decided to try to audition again.

and it was no good.

she gave up after a few shows where the theater companies were anything but friendly, and the roles were always given to company donors, and she lost her love of being on the stage, but never for creating. she found a love of directing high school shows and even a community show or two.

and then she met him. he acted. and sang. and played piano. and didn’t care that the girl didn’t like to sing. he married her despite her flaws and even got her to sing one day. in front of PEOPLE! in church. they left their love of the stage on the back burner for several years as they began their family, getting involved in small creative roles here and there. but never on a stage or in a theater.  their three darling boys had a penchant for soccer and running and swimming, so years of sports teams were on the horizon for this girl and boy (now “mom and dad”).

but then one day, the boys started making plays and magic shows and songs with motions for their mom and dad. and mom and dad wondered if there was a way to introduce them to…the stage.

and then…a miracle!  (sorry, not really a miracle, but it’s a line in my favorite movie, Amadeus, when Solierie’s father begins to choke and ends up dying and he describes that as a miracle….i know it is horrible but it was a funny moment in the film) an open invitation to be in a local musical!

the mom and dad didn’t tell the boys that musical was called Cinderella (because really they had no idea who Cinderella was any way). and the boys grew to love their time rehearsing, and when the time came for the show to go on, the boys became enamored with the performance, the audience, the laughter and clapping, and friends backstage, and lots of cards and candy, and time spent with each other for hours on end.

~~~~~

we were proud as punch for the work that rowan and sawyer put into their first ever musical but come on…the stage parents of the younger cast need to be appreciated too. i mean i heard some stage parents lost toenails during the grueling week of tech rehearsals!  :)  i wouldn’t trade last week for almost anything. it was crazy, with late nights and way too much fast food, but it was a great experience for all of us.

the company members of Sing Hosanna! (the community who put this show on) were so great. we’ve never worked with such a big group of great people before. from the youngest of the young ensemble, to the parents who put in hours of supervising, to the show’s principle roles, everyone was so great to work with. i was so happy seeing kenny on the piano again. he works hard providing for his family, but i know he loves music so much. i was so glad for his creative outlet during this show (and i love seeing him in an orchestra pit!)

sawyer asked if we could start a new musical this week. i think we’re all appreciating the break, although we’re all experiencing a small amount of “let down.”  fortunately we had a big play date after our co-op yesterday to keep us from moping about.  and finally…i’m putting a full home-cooked meal on the table for dinner tonight! :)

Sawyer, Rowan, Anthony and Chesna:

Practicing the waltz before the show (with one of Cinderella’s stepsisters who helped the kids so much with their choreography):

Makeup! (Rowan was worried he had to put it on himself. I was relieved to find they didn’t have to!):

The Closing Number with fairy Godmother:

 

24
Mar

a country drive

   Posted by: liz

what a great weekend to have no plans!  we’ve been running constantly since christmas break with every single weekend being full of plans. this weekend has been open on the calendar and i’ve been fiercely protecting it so that it wouldn’t fill up with plans. last night, as we were all falling asleep kenny and i noted how nice it was going to be to have TWO FULL DAYS of no plans.

so this morning, we all slept in (yep, until 7:15!!!) and made pancakes and (turkey) bacon and eggs. then we all sat around and read, played the piano. around 9:30 kenny and i decided to take my spinning wheel to a local woodworker who specializes in antique spinning wheels. it was going to be a nice country drive, so we packed some snacks and headed out around 10:30.

on the way up north, we saw the most spectacular thing in a spring-budding tree. a bald eagle, perched directly over the road. we turned around to let the boys see it and to snap a few photos. it didn’t like us sitting right under him, so he took off right in front of us – a HUGE, lovely bird (click to enlarge).

we arrived in mercer at Nashannock Woods a few minutes later and were greeted by the friendliest, sweetest puppy-dog (and we aren’t dog people!) and a very kind woodworker named Chris. we brought in our wheel and were entertained by josie the dog while chris examined the wheel. his wood working shop was filled with antique wood – tables, chairs, spinning wheels, bowls, hutches.

after only 5 minutes of looking at the wheel he told us it was 150 years old, made in canada. it doesn’t need that much work – just a new bobbin and an adjustment to the “mother-of-all” and the pedal. spinning wheels are his specialty and his shop is full of different ones.

i’m so excited to pick it up in a few weeks and start practicing on some roving i’ve been saving up for when the wheel is fixed.

we hope to have the sheep shorn in the next few weeks and i’m getting the wool fleeces professionally cleaned (because…ewww!). i’ll card and rove them and then put the old spinning wheel to the test.

stay tuned for some more daisy-and-violet handspun skein.

14
Mar

leap years and birthdays

   Posted by: liz

it’s been a whirlwind of events over the past few weeks…

Leap Day!  It was a bad, bad day. A boy waking feverish in the night, and then our laundry room ceiling leaked poured rain water all morning due to heavy rain and a very old roof. Kenny had just walked into his office when I called him, begging him to come home and fix the leak (really, the word “leak” is such an understatment!). He did. He took the morning off, stopped at Lowes to get some roofing supplies, and drove all the way home to fix the roof. In the pouring rain. I married a saint.

My Birthday! I turned 39 on march 7th. I’m very opposed to hiding your age. What does that tell people?  Why are women not supposed to reveal their age? Why can’t we stand proud and tall at the experience under our belts?  I turned 39, was spoile rotten by my four guys, and now I’m counting down the days until my 40th birthday next year!  I can’t wait!

Kenny surprised me with theatre tickets. He arranged for a babysitter last Tuesday, and off we went down town Pittsburgh for dinner and a show. Dinner was at Olive or Twist and the show was around the corner at the Pittsburgh Public Theater (The O’Reilly Theater) where we saw Freud’s Last Session.  It’s a two-man show, a hypothetical meeting of Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis. We both thought it was really well done, and gave both men equal footing in the argument.

My favorite C. S. Lewis line, at the end: “My idea of God changes over and over again. He changes it.”

It’s been a long, long time since we’ve been to a show. We’ve seen a few musicals here and there, but a straight show, in an intimate theater like the O’Reilly is something we haven’t done in years. It was so good to be back.

The theater bug has bitten.