Thursday, September 30, 2010

Christine, the Pinball Queen

When I worked in the Art and Design office in college, I met a lot of, well, art and design students. Most of them just passed through, but Christine stuck. She was a grad student in sculpture, massively talented, totally cool, (and a pinball wizard, of course) and I got to be cool by proxy, because she was my friend. We've kept in touch via email and Facebook, but this week was the first time I've gotten to see her since I got married. We had a great visit, and her (not so little anymore) son, Z has turned into a wonderful 13 year old. The J-bird was in 7th heaven that a big kid would play with him, and seeing my friend was a real highlight of this trip for me!

Helping Papa Mow

Our time in Kansas is drawing to a close. While we're looking forward to seeing James and being home, the last few days are always so bittersweet - knowing it's going to be a long time until we see everyone again, packing in as much "together" time as possible, wishing it could be different, but also truly wringing every drop of sweetness out of the time we have. It's a great blessing to be able to come and stay for such a long time, and I'm thankful for it. My heart's just getting heavy.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I worked a lot of different jobs in my "day" (ha). You may remember my admission to prior acts of clowning, but I've also been a busboy (er...girl), a hostess, a waitress, an office manager, a retail salesperson, a babysitter, a student assistant in various offices at my college, a sandwich store employee and delivery driver (briefly), a summer stock actor, a substitute teacher, a vocal director for a theater, and a voice and piano teacher...among other things. I also worked for about 8 months in college at a Sprint call center, fielding INBOUND calls for "FTD Flowers After Hours", a company they'd contracted with. We took calls coming in to flower shops that were closed for the night but who had signed up with this service to take orders from overnight callers to be filled first thing in the morning. It was sort of monotonous, and we got plenty of weirdos calling in ("WHAT?!?!? You mean I can't have four dozen hand arranged roses in assorted colors delivered overseas five minutes from now, even though I'm calling at 2:14 am? I am both SHOCKED and APPALLED!!" - and that'd be a mild one. We won't even discuss the pervs.), but I also met some very sweet people, and Heather was one of those. We haven't seen each other in probably ten years, but we've stayed in touch, and I was fortunate enough to get to meet up with her and her son yesterday. Thankfully, she agreed to meet at a park, so I did not have to torture my son with another sit-down ("AND YOU BE GOOD!!") meeting at a restaurant.

Heather's one of the good ones, and her precious little boy, Prince S just about broke my heart in two with his darling smile.

You know, living far away has many drawbacks, one of which is how it makes losing touch with people very, very easy to do. I'm so thankful that we live in the time we do though, because we have email and Facebook and silly "mommy blogs" like this and every other method of finding people we've lost and reconnecting in some way. No, it's not "the same" as being there, but nevertheless, my heart has been so expanded and touched by these renewed relationships. I value them so much, and I'm grateful.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


There is a very big reason why I rarely throw parties. It's not that I don't enjoy throwing them - I do. I love to plan and organize and shop and arrange. I love to see people gathered together. I love the conversation and chatter. The reason I rarely throw parties is that I'm always so afraid that no one will show up.

Kind of like the bridal shower no one but my best friend and my mom came to. True story.


I only get to come to Kansas once, maybe twice a year, and no matter how long I stay, it seems I never get to see everyone I'd like to. So, I decided to try organizing a get-together at a local park. I reserved the shelter. I invited everyone. And then I worried. Lots of people had their kids' soccer games or were going to be out of town. One friend had a dentist appointment. Another was having a garage sale. But I had some "yes" RSVPs, and so I only felt mildly anxious, partially nauseated. But then, some unexpected things came up for some people who had planned to come, and my brain tried to jump out through my ears. I had visions of myself and my kids, sitting forlornly in the reserved shelter at the park, embarrassed and alone.

So melodramatic.

Anyway, I wasn't left hanging. Several lovely friends took time from their day to come out for a couple of hours. The children played, the adults conversed and caught up, and my brother, who is almost 30, had a contest on the swingset with a friend of his to see who could swing higher. It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I went against my fear and threw it together.

My sweet friend, Tracy drove out from Kansas City with her two darling boys, A and B.

And remember Mr Newman? He came too! I love this photo of two of my oldest friends.

Claire, who I somehow missed with my camera, brought her Bryan and her sons C and Baby B. I'm pretty sure Bryan loves his baby - what do you think? ;)

Sarah and her baby, C who was born on the exact same day as my Miss V!! Sarah brought all three of her sons - Big C, Middle C, and Baby C. I had to use those code names for them, because there are three, enabling me to make a little music joke - get it? - Middle C?

Maybe my sense of humor is another thing inhibiting my successful party throwing.

Look at that baby! Don't you just want to kiss him and squish his little chubs? He's even more precious in person.

My folks took a Harley trip this weekend, so my poor sister, Tassi is stuck with me and the kids. Since she is now officially a teenager, she was quite bored. I think. It's hard to tell.

That's another joke. It's easy to tell. "Bored" is teenager default. Unless Justin Bieber happens to be on TV, apparently.

My jaw-droppingly, heart-stoppingly gorgeous sister, Emma was there too.

Aaaaaand my brother, Joe. Joey and I are two and a half years apart. Because he's a guy, we don't talk on the phone often, but distance does not undo a shared childhood. We just know each other, you know? Joey knew I was anxious, and he showed up for me. He always shows up for me, because that's how he is. He rallied a couple of other friends too, and my sister-in-law, Denny was there at the beginning, but I hadn't broken out my camera yet.

Ryan and my brother have been good friends for many years, so he's my friend by extension. Ryan is one of those people who fill up a room and ALWAYS have fun. When he rolled up, I knew the party would be alright ;)

And Ryan's adorable and sweet wife, Kate, giving my Miss V some hugs and smiles.

All the kids seemed to have a great time, they ran, they played, they slid down the slide, they swung on the swings. The J-bird wore himself clean out.

Big P, being pushed on the swing by his mama, Ami.

and Little P, who, along with the J-bird, talked my brother in to pushing them "higher!!" on the swings.

Mr. B, who is one of the cutest children currently walking the planet.

A, who grew roughly 4 feet since I saw him last year, and the back of Big C's head.

Middle C!!

And of course, the aforementioned swinging contest.

I think Joey won. He had a strong finish anyway, as you can see.

Thank you to Tracy (with A and Mr. B), Ami (with Big P and Little P), Ryan and Kate, Chuck, Joey, Denny, Emma, Claire and Brian (with C and Baby B) and Sarah (with the three Cs!) for coming out, and to Tassi for patiently tolerating the whole business. Maybe I'll get you another Justin Bieber poster for your giant collection.

Just kidding. I'm totally not doing that.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


My friend Ami, who I met in high school came out to the farm today with her two sweet boys, P1 and P2. The three boys had so much fun playing together, and I really, really enjoyed catching up with Ami.

P1, enjoying the back yard.

P2 - this kid is an expert at playtime!

My folks' farm is such a great place for kids to play. Thank you again for coming out, Ami!

Montessori Method

My sister, Emma works with 3-6 year olds at a montessori school in my hometown, and she was nice enough to give us a tour the other day. The school is amazing, and I picked up some pointers on things to integrate into Jimmy's home pre-school.

Gazing at the hamster

Lots of great sorting equipment

More hamster gazing. Oh dear. Maybe a fish would do?

After our tour of the inside, we got to experience the fantastic playground. The J-bird had a blast and did his best to wear out his Papa.

While Granny got some baby snuggles.

If I were going to put the J-bird into preschool, and if we had this school nearby, this would be where I'd want him to go. The Montessori method is really, really cool, and this particular school is a real standout. Thank you, Emma for the great tour!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Each year for the last 19 years, my mom has given a talk at my old high school about adoption and foster care. She had her talk today, and I thought it might be fun to see my old school (the outside anyway). She went in to do her thing, and the kids and I walked around a little.

We went to the park across the street for awhile, which was fun. When I was at LHS, this is where the kids who smoked would go to light up. My friends and I (who did not smoke) used to go over there to play Ultimate Frisbee at lunch, once we got booted from the front lawn, because someone accidentally hucked the frisbee through an open classroom window. ;)

"I don't know what Ultimate Frisbee is Mama, but it sure is warm out here! I think I'll smile pleasantly for awhile and then go to sleep in my stroller. Sound good? Awesome. PS. Nice job picking the giant flower for my head today. I love it!"

The thing about Lawrence is that there is a memory around every corner, and my old high school is no exception.

For instance, this is where my class stood to watch the solar eclipse on my 16th birthday.

And this door leads to the band room, where I spent approximately 42,369 hours. You know...back in the day. In the nineties. When I went to high school.

And here's my J-bird, getting acquainted with the LHS Chesty Lion. That's right. It's a great day to be a LION.

And now, for your edification, the LHS Alma Mater:

"We praise thee, Lawrence High School.

To you we're always true,

And through the years, fond memories,

Bring back the friends we knew.

Sportsmanship and courage,

We will never lack.

And ever more we lift our hearts,

In praise of Red and Black!"

Mrs. Geneva Houx

Sunday, September 19, 2010

At The Lake House

My dear in-laws have a beautiful house out on a lake in the Flint Hills, and the kids and I had the pleasure of spending this weekend out there with them. We crammed a lot of memories into a few short days (an unfortunate necessity of living so far away) and had a really great time.

My father-in-law with Miss V

and trying to wrangle the J-bird for a photo

He was not in the mood, as he was impatiently waiting for some lunch

After which, we headed out to the dock, so my mother-in-law, who is an avid fisherman, could teach him how to fish

My folks rode their Harley out for the afternoon and got to enjoy a little sun and shared grandchild time

explaining what the bobber does

My son, sporting fashion colors from 1991

Biker and Biker Babe

The kids took a nap, and then we headed out for a ride on the boat. Both children were properly outfitted with life jackets. To me, this looked terribly uncomfortable, but Miss V seemed to actually like it, so much so in fact, that she passed out completely on the boat ride and stayed asleep until I got her up to the house and was mid-diaper change. I believe the expression on her face upon waking can best be translated as "Um...mother? Where are we, and why on earth am I half naked? Weren't we just on a boat?"


The J-bird could not get enough of riding on the boat. He kept urging Grandma to "go FASTER! I wanna go FAST!!"

Miss V's first boat ride - a sunset cruise. I just want to kiss her little bald head all day long.

After breakfast on Saturday, the J-bird was anxious to do some more fishing, so out he went with both Grandma and Grandpa.

Waving bye bye to Grandma's fish (they catch and release)

And catching his first fish!!! He was so pleased with himself.

Until it flipped around a little. Then, he was ready to send the fish back to its fish home.

Grandma got in some baby snuggles in between boat rides and fishing.

And Grandpa took the J-bird to play some golf! (My father-in-law's all time favorite sport)

Last night, there were some amazing clouds out over the lake.

We enjoyed them from the boat until we saw lightning, at which time we zoomed back to the dock and finished our cloud (and lightning) watching from the safety of the deck. With cake.

The J-bird, pretending to take photos of the clouds ;)

This morning dawned cool and foggy

The J-bird and his Grandma got in a little more fishing before we headed back to Lawrence.

It was a wonderful weekend to remember. Thank you, Jim and Sharrel!