Category Archives: Family

Love Notes

The girls in this family like to write.  We like to write stories, letters, wordy emails, notes in lunch boxes, notes in travel bags, messages on white boards, sticky notes on counter tops, not to mention all the notebooks and lists. I think we really just like cute paper, pretty pens, and the notion of hearing ourselves think out loud – or for that matter, write out loud.  You get the idea.

Because today is Valentine’s Day, I am reminded of some of my favorite love notes, and they are not what you think.  They are not mushy, eloquently written cards enveloped in shiny foil or velum overlays.  Nope.  My collection of treasures are scribbled on crumpled paper, index cards, and sticky notes like this one that was taped on the peanut butter jar.  Maggie thoughtfully put it there so that I would find it while making lunches early in the morning.  I saved it and tape it to each new jar of peanut butter.  It sits proudly crowned in the pantry and I smile every time I lay my hands it.

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One day while doing the normal around the house chores I came across this note from Emily.  I am used to finding scraps of paper around the house with little notes and scribbled messages.  But for some reason, this one came on a day when I was busy and hurried and not expecting it.  It was tucked carefully inside a small envelope and she left it in an unsuspecting place that only I would see – which somehow made it more special.  So sweet.  It made me feel so special and loved.  It put a little spring in my step and an extra wide smile on my face.  Oh me, oh my.  So lucky, so loved.  Me, me, me…

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I bounced around the house continuing my cleaning, still feeling special on my own little cloud of happiness.  Me, me, me.  La, la, la.  And then I found another note.  The same small white envelope and the same girly scripted handwriting.  This one was on Jason’s bedside table, nestled between the large stack of books, but sticking out just enough for it to catch his eye at the end of the day.  And I stopped in my tracks.  She made one for both of us, and carefully placed them where we would be surprised by our finds.

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As I carried on throughout the day, I came to find notes all around the house, one for each member of the family.  Each one was cleverly, purposely placed so that it would take us by surprise.  Every note to each person said something different, but the message was simple and the same.  She just wanted us to know she loved us all, each one of us, and that we were all special to her in our own unique way.

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I very quickly realized that the little love note I found was not just for me – clearly Emily had left them for everyone.  Gone was the little voice inside my head singing notes of how special I was, the selfish tune of inflated self importance.  It was replaced instead by a choir of gratitude, reminding me how lucky I am – how lucky we all are.  While my note made me feel special, it was no less valued because it was one of many.  The truly beautiful part about all these notes is that they did not discriminate.  On this ordinary day in the middle of October, everyone in the family was gifted to a reminder of how special we are to her.

And it was a little whispered reminder to me how of how much better it is to share love with ALL those around you rather than just keep it for a select few.  Isn’t everyone worthy of signs of love and grace or unexpected kind gestures – family members, classmates, neighbors, strangers in the grocery store, even those who test our patience?  Isn’t that one of the miracles of love – the more give the more you receive? And don’t some of the smallest gestures speak louder than the longest words? Sometimes I think we forget this.

Today, thanks to the love notes, I am reminded.

 

Freezing Thyme & Freezing Time

Freezing Thyme

I took this photo the other day when we had a blast of cold winter weather.

It’s freezing thyme. Literally.

The thyme growing on my back deck was frozen. Outside, everything was frozen. The cold asphalt roads became thin sheets of ice. Grasses lining neighborhood streets were blanketed in white. Even desperate leaves on trees, clinging to brittle branches, bore coats of ice. Small icicles clung to the edges of play sets and roof lines.  Streets were silent and there was an eerie absence of sound, as if all signs of life were nowhere to be found.

But inside our house it was a different story altogether. The kids were all home, relishing the early release from school and the excitement of a break in routine. We all feigned disappointment as activities and sporting events that rule our calendar were cancelled, one after the other. My mom came over to be with us too, bringing added joy that only grandmothers can. There was laughter and life, voices and song, all awash in the soft yellow glow of the warm fire. Card games were played, board games entertained, and Wii sporting tournaments began as playful challenges were made. I delivered cocoa and billowing bowls of popcorn to willing captives. Everyone was happy. It was a perfect afternoon.

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And for a moment I stood still, slightly out of sight. I stopped to just watch them all. I crave these days when the worlds stops and we just get to be. Be with each other in the confines of our happy walls, the cold gray world seemingly so far away. I wanted to remember this moment – the kids, my mom, the happy spirit that surrounded all of us. I wanted yet again to do the impossible.  I ached to freeze time. To keep things as they were just then. Everything in a quiet, unspoken harmony.

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But ice melts and snow days pass. Garden thyme defrosts. And I am reminded once again that time cannot be frozen. Even on the coldest days when my heart is warmest.

 

Good Morning Spring!

Today is the first day of spring.  This sweet little rainbow over our quiet, sleepy house is what we woke up to this morning.

That’s not really true.  What we really woke up to shortly before 5 am was this.

So instead of cursing at the storm that woke me up EARLY this morning, I ran out to take its picture.  And I was rewarded with this image!

(photo from wral.com)

And by “we” I mean “we.”  The entire household.  All of them in our bed.  Watching and waiting for the lightning to cease and the thunder to fade away.  And the tears to stop running down little faces buried under pillows.  And the house stop shaking off its foundation with every quaking rumble.  As with most scary things in the dark of night, the storms moved on and the scene became funny; all of us crowded in the bed waiting for daylight.

After all that, the rainbow was a perfect way start the morning.  Or end the morning.  Or start the day.  Or whatever.  Today it was a little blessing to be thankful for.

Along with king sized beds and strong coffee.

 

Train Wreck Math

The other night Jake needed help with his math homework and unfortunately for both of us, Jason was not home yet.  So, poor Jake had to enlist my help.  It was late and I was tired which just set the whole thing up to be a comical train wreck.

He needed help with word problems.  I like words.  I don’t like math.  And the combination of the two sets my poor, tired brain on overload.  All the problems went something like this – “if two trains traveling in opposite directions leave the station two hours apart and the second one is traveling 45 miles faster than the first one…”  This was math homework but there were more words than numbers.

It was late and I was tired.  Did I say that already?  Everyone in this house knows that I don’t do well late at night.  But I was ready to give it a go and try to help the kid.  I realized quickly that I was having difficulty even trying to explain the process to him – which made me feel stupid.  In an effort to buy some time so I could jumpstart my brain I suggested we get out some scratch paper and both work on the problems – he on his paper and me on mine.

I tried.  I really did.  Did I mention that it was late?  I seriously could not get the darn things even set up.  Here is what my paper looked like.  Can you find the little choo-choo drawings?  So pathetic.

 I was ready to throw in the towel when a text came in from my dear friend Kara.  Our text thread went something like this…

Kara:  What are you doing up so late? Lots of lights on over there!

Me:  Math with Jake :(

Kara:  I’m sorry for him.

Me:  Me too.  Want to help?  Set up and solve : two trains traveling in opposite directions leaving the station two hours apart…

Kara:  Ummm no!!!. I’m good.  Have fun 😉

Me:  Do you think if I’m lucky one of these trains has a snack car?

Kara:  For your sake I hope so.

Me:  Maybe a bar car too.  I’m on the train for dummies.  I was never on the smart train.  I think my train may actually derail very soon. Good night!

Jake sat staring, a look on his face somewhere between bewildered and amused. He looked at my paper and then at his and I am sure he wondered how I possibly made it through college.  He smiled sheepishly and told me he liked the little train drawings.  I apologized for not being more helpful.  He told me not to worry about it and that he “got it.”

And then quickly said that going in early the next morning for a little more help – from the teacher – might be a good idea.

Smart boy.  He must be on the right train.

You See The Light In Me

I came across this song the other day and it is quite possibly the sweetest song I have heard in – well, maybe ever.

It brings tears to my eyes every time I listen to it.  Ok, maybe not EVERY time.  But lots of times for sure.  It simply makes me smile and makes my heart swell.  Here’s why.  First, Ingrid Michaelson and her husband Greg Laswell are adorable.  Second, I am sappy and this sweet duet captures something beautiful, unspoken and miraculous about love.  It reminds me that true love is the gift of someone loving you (and your broken parts) AND seeing the light in you, even when you don’t.

Perhaps it’s nearly 18 years of marriage that make my eyes well and my heart swell when I hear this song.  I think back to the days when Jason and I were just kids dating – there was certainly a lot of “light” to see.  We were so young and full of promise!  And now, 22 years later we’ve aged and “broken parts” are certainly more prevalent – both inside and out.

There are days when I look in a mirror and see a tired and worn reflection, hear myself distastefully raise my voice at the kids, lose patience with everyone around me, and just feel overwhelmingly insignificant.  It’s on these days, when Jason comes home to a cool, tired welcome that he most certainly does not deserve, that I wonder why he smiles as he looks at me.  What, I wonder could he possibly still see in me?

And I know exactly what it is he sees…it’s that light.  And I know that’s what it is because I see still see the same in him.  In fact, it just might shine a little brighter now than ever before.

This song will make you smile.  Or tear up.  Or sing along.  Or replay a thousand times. The lyrics are below.  Watch, listen and then go out and see the light in those you love.

The end.

Lyrics:
I’ve tried my hand in silence,
it seems I should come clean.
When it comes to you and me girl,
I’ve avoided saying one thing
Its been there for a while now,
this line I will now sing
Till your mine, till your mine, I’ll sing

Oh baby, my baby,
You’ve held me
through many broken hearts
And maybe, just maybe
You can fix all my broken parts

And you took me by surprise
When you took my hand
And you with your dark brown eyes
You see the light, that I can’t see
You see the light in me.

 

 

 

The Best Valentine’s Day

The night before Valentine’s Day the stars aligned and everyone was home for dinner.  I love these nights.  Now that everyone goes in different directions with various activities, it doesn’t happen as often as I would like it to.  The kids were all abuzz talking about the valentines they had made and plans for school for the next day.  One strand of conversation led to the other, as it often does at our table for 6, and Jason and I found ourselves being asked about our past Valentine’s Days together.  We had a few good stories for the kids and they listened intently with broad smiles on their faces, hanging on our every description, their minds trying to imagine us as in our younger days.

We told them a few good stories of past Valentine’s Days, most of which they had heard before.  Like the time we borrowed a car (neither of us had a car in college) and spent the afternoon in a beautiful local park and went to dinner at an Italian place that we really couldn’t afford.  We laughed retelling the story because it wasn’t an expensive or fancy place by any means, but we were both broke and it was a stretch at the time.  We were just thrilled to be out and away from campus alone together.

We truly thought we were all that and a bag of chips.  And we were.

It was a great, innocent and lovely day.

We then shared our favorite story – the one they knew was coming. The special valentine that lasted for months and was shared with the entire campus.  Jason decided to leave me a large valentine message that I would see first thing in the morning when I opened the shades.  He wrote with flour in very large letters “I (heart) YOU KEL” on the lawn in front of the dorm.

It was sweet.  It was cute.  It was large.  It made me smile and my heart swell.  It radiated in the sunlight!

And then, the next day…it rained.

And the flour turned to paste and did not wash away as Jason had planned.

In fact, it stayed for a very long time.  It eventually killed the grass, leaving a lasting valentine message that was burned into the lush lawn for all to see.  I am sure the groundskeepers who took meticulous care of our beautiful campus were not amused.  Nor likely were the other students who woke up to see my message every morning until spring bore new life and the grass finally grew.  But it is a great story and we laugh ourselves silly every time we tell it.

We especially laughed this time because for whatever reason, the kids thought it was supremely hilarious.  They have heard the story before but for some reason it was funnier that Valentine’s eve (perhaps it was the extra Fun-Dip I allowed them to have after school).  As things go, one funny story resulted in another funny story and on and on it went.  Eventually they were done giggling at our stories and had moved on to telling jokes.  They were having a ball, just laughing and being silly, making up names for each other and being ridiculous.  They were so enjoying each other that they didn’t notice that Jason and I were totally removed from their conversation and giggles.  I had gotten up from the table and started the dishes and Jason joined me at the sink.

Jason and I listened to them having fun in their own world at the table.  We looked at each other and smiled knowingly.  The stories we shared with them were funny to be sure.  But they were also somehow magical in that they held all the promises of our youth and the innocence of young, true love.

All the walking down memory lane that night was a treat, as it always is. But standing at the sink and watching our kids laugh and talk with each other was a true gift.  A moment to be savored.

In those few minutes it all came together for me – sharing the promises of the past with the gifts and joys of our present and future was a true blessing.

And I do believe that made it the best Valentine’s Day yet.