January 13, 2015

Seeing Red

All I wanted for Christmas was a swift ... and a lot of red yarn to wind on it, and eventually make a sweater for Miss Virginia (this one). And because my husband is so good, he let me order one! It makes sense for him, too, since until now he has been my ball winder.

But the pleasure was not all mine. The boys were mesmerized by the contraption. (They are really into all things mechanical at the moment.) And a swift is one of those marvelous machines where all the working parts are in plain view.  I even let them each wind a ball of their own. They had a ball! Har, har.

Afterward, Colin asked me if I had any more yarn that needed winding. Sadly, I did not. But I do have a birthday coming up in a few months, and I know just what my husband will be getting me...

December 28, 2014

On Christmas Day in the morning

I wish I could say that Christmas Day was the most wonderful time of the year—but not this year. We were visiting my parents in Little Rock. But my mom was sick—and was later hospitalized—for pneumonia. My dad was exhausted. And my brother decided to spend most of the day rock climbing.

But I'm not sure this mattered to my kids, who had the best day ever despite all that. We tried very hard this year to only get them each a handful of gifts, and chose those really wisely based on what each kid most enjoyed. And I think we pretty much hit the mark.

That, plus the general magic of the holiday with all the decorations and family get togethers with cousins they only get to see a couple of times a year, glossed over the less fun parts—at least for them. And their joy, in turn, lifted a few spirits. At least for me. Bless them!

December 20, 2014

The most wonderful time of the year...

Christmas is such my favorite time of the year! I look forward to all the baking and decorating and celebrating for months ahead of time. 

Despite all that, I was still completely unprepared this year. With all the traveling I had to do, in addition to some long stints of solo parenting while Kevin was out of town, it was all I could do to get the house decorated by mid-month. 

And given that Virginia has been such a busy, into-everything little toddler, I just couldn't do a big tree this year. Instead I did live table-top tree and decorated it only with our most unbreakable ornaments: soft fabric ornaments from my childhood (and a few from Ikea), and then a collection of small wooden German ornaments that my grandparents brought back from their travels when I was a child. It was small, but kinda perfect. Still, next year I hope we spend more time at home, enjoying the season.

November 30, 2014

A simple thanks

For the first time in more than a decade, I got to spend Thanksgiving with my family in Arkansas this year. And while my mom certainly turned herself out in the preparations and decorations (as she always does), what I loved about the holiday was how simple it was: just the five of us, my mom and dad, my Aunt and her boyfriend and his sister.

And because we were so close (a mere four hours' drive!), we just went over for a couple of days—the perfect length of trip for my kids. We all had enough time to enjoy each other's company—playing "Go Fish" on the floor, and listened to Colin develop his reading skills—but not too much time that we became exhausted and grumpy.

Mostly I was just thankful to get to spend this holiday with my mom and my aunt, both of whom nearly died this past year. So very thankful, indeed.

November 20, 2014

Those days...

This is just a reminder to myself that even on those days when I want to blow my top and lose my mind 50 times before 10:00 a.m., there are still the occasional moments of joy...

November 9, 2014

The Memphis Botanic Garden

Recently, our family discovered the most fabulous place on Earth: the Memphis Botanic Garden.

We've been traveling to Memphis as a family every other week this fall for Colin's piano lesson, so to make the trip more fun for all of us, we've been exploring the family-friendly parts of the city. We stumbled upon the botanic gardens quite by accident.

I was just looking for somewhere to enjoy a picnic on a crisp fall day. But, lo and behold!, the gardens were filled with the most magical playscapes the kids and I had ever encountered. We never even made it into the gardens-proper. Here's why: