Saturday, September 26, 2009

You win some, You lose some, and some get rained out

Today we went down to the National Mall for the National Book Festival. I mainly wanted to see Mo Willems, one of our family's favorite authors. We missed seeing him, and I was standing in line to see Paula Deen, but we missed her too. Long lines, and rain sort of bummed us out, and we headed home, but I did get to see Paula and her husband drive right by us in the golf cart that was taking them away from the book signing tent. She was hollering "God bless you" to someone in her very Southern, expressive way. The kids did get to see Clifford, Sid, Elmo and Chris from Sesame Street, and other favorites from PBS kids. So I'll just have to stalk Mo when we go visit our friends the Steadmans who live in his neighborhood in NYC. (Ok, I would never stalk anyone. I would just try to find him and say, "we love your books. keep up the great work. aggle flaggle klabble.")

Smithsonian- Museum of Natural History

Ewwee Goooee Giant Squid!The kids have been really wanting to go to the "dino museum" as we call it. Here's the T-Rex.
Iridescent butterfly- exquisite! As Fancy Nancy would say.
Ruthie and the African elephant in the huge rotunda.
Great museum and free! We'll be back. The Hope Diamond is here and it was just taken out of its usual setting so it could be viewed "naked," in its plain beauty. We didn't make it up there this day.


I love these pictures of the kids playing together recently- Ruthie was holding Harris and Mac came to help and then they ended up getting goofy and wrestling a little bit (under close mommy supervision). It is so fun to see Mac and Ruthie loving on Harris, and Harris just adores them. One day I was holding him in the chair in his nursery and we could hear Ruthie out in the hallway and Harris was looking at the door and just smiling, waiting for her to show up and come talk to him. He laughs at them and thinks they are the coolest ever. It is wonderful to watch them all become buddies. It sort of cancels out the older two's bickering.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just some Perspective

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have posted alot lately about the wonderful, fun things that we have been experiencing in our new city and with our new friends. Each time I post I think of not only what I have gained in this move to Virginia, but what I have lost by leaving Alabama. That is what I am learning through this move, how loss and gain are so deeply intertwined. What I started learning as a child in a military family I am now learning from the new perspective of a wife and mother, an adult.

I don't sit and dwell on what we have lost. And when I say lost, I mean in a temporary sense, the loss of seeing friends and family on an almost day to day basis. Friends who had gone to college with me, gotten married the same month or year as me, birthed babies and watched them grow with me- our children became friends and it was such a gift, an amazing time of life to share. I had family so close- a yard away, an hour away, and several hours away! Family that would be there for me at a moment's notice and that I love so much it makes my heart ache to think of the distance between us. I could go on about these things that bring tears to my eyes, but in the midst of it I see

The things that I have gained, that we have gained as a family- some are obvious and some are yet to be discovered. One night recently we were driving home from a beautiful evening, dinner at the house of some new friends we had met at our new church. We had eaten a delicious meal in their backyard, getting to know several new couples and their children, enjoying the coolness in the air and the fresh food. Jay and I talked about how these people have already made our lives richer, more varied- and also how we have become the "new people" with no connections, no standing in the community, realizing our dependence on God to establish our steps here. It is humbling but invigorating to me- think of what we can learn from our new position and our new friends! It doesn't take away from the richness of friends long established, rather it makes me realize even more what a breathtaking gift true friendship really is.

We have been uprooted and transplanted. For plants this is usually done for their own good, to allow them to stretch and grow, to gain new nutrients from the fresh soil. To give them more light, a different view that might be the difference between thriving and just surviving. Each plant has different needs, and the gardener knows this. And the thing about my Gardener is that he is also my Creator- the one who knows.

So as we live out God's purpose here in Virginia we will embrace the bittersweetness of it, knowing that His love is our home, not some geographical location on a map. I will live life to the fullest here, not moping or wishing I were somewhere else, though I am sure I will have days where I struggle with this. I will try to learn more about the paradox of loss and gain as I go. I will have sad, sad moments, missing family and friends, but I will follow where He leads me and just cling to Him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Dairy Godmother

Mac potty trained himself last week, (glory be!) so we all went to get some frozen custard at the cute little custard shop called, to Ruthie's delight, the Dairy Godmother. It is to be found in the trendy old Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria. The custard is delightfully smooth and creamy, not to mention delicious. (I have decided that a huge part of my enjoyment of food is based on texture.) Mac got a banana milkshake which was lovely too. I am now on their email list so I can know the flavor of the week. Some recent flavors include Tollhouse Cookie, Mexican Chocolate, and I can't wait for these upcoming flavors: Oatmeal Cinnamon Cookie and Carrot Cake! Holy cow!
Apparently Obama came here this summer with his girls, and they have a chair that says "Obama sat here" with the date. Ruthie wanted to sit in it, as she has become very interested in Hobama, as she calls him. I guess its hard not to be political here so close to DC, even for a 4 year old. She knows he has two girls and wants to be friends with them too. That is bi-partisanship if you ask me! Maybe Congress should take a cue from little Ruthie. Why can't we all get along?
(If you check out the Dairy Godmother website and click on Liz's Approach, there is a great little mini-article about "third places" in our communities that have disappeared as a result of urbanization. I love doing my small part in supporting small business enterprise in my community so these "third places" will thrive! )

Crustacean anyone?

Jay's base had a Lobster Fest last week- Ruthie looks a little bit suspicious, a little bit grossed out by my lobster. Mac wouldn't even get in the picture. They also had mussels and Ruthie keeps calling them lungs, maybe because like muscles, lungs are a part of the body. And the shell of the mussels do look like lungs, go figure! We had fun at Lobster Fest, even though it was rainy and chilly and the kids didn't get to play on the playground. It is always a treat to be able to see Jay during a work day, and we look forward to more events to come!

September's Children's Book Pick- Back by Popular Demand!

Thump, Quack, Moo is one of the books starring Duck- written by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. It is great for fall because it is the story of Farmer Brown creating a corn maze on his farm, and Duck pulling one of his mischievous stunts. Hilarious- and probably my favorite from this author.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Easy Like Sunday Morning

So I have been promising stories in my other posts- here is the one that has to do with the diaper changing pad drying in the laundry room.

Usually when a baby is around 4 months old they start transitioning from many zillions of poopies a day to one a day or even one every several days. Harris decided to go big or go home on this one. He hadn't pooped for days and I was anxiously awaiting it, nervous about constipation now that he is eating more solid foods. (For those of you leery of poop conversations, sorry, this is what moms talk about. And people who have lived overseas. And brothers.) So on the way to church, which is a struggle in itself- getting 5 people out the door and to church by 8:50-we hear the familiar grunts that signal the moment we have all been waiting for. And we smell it too.

This was by far the biggest, messiest diaper I have ever had the joy of changing. I mean unbelievable. I mean I need a garden hose, a haz-mat suit, goggles, and a hazardous waste disposal team. But all I had were some wimpy wipes, a Wal-Mart bag. and Jay (who is trying not to gag). So a mom does what she can. Needless to say we were over 20 minutes later than late.

A week later, boom. Harris does it again. Not quite as bad as the Sunday before, but we roll in to the service about 20 minutes after arriving in the parking lot. It was like clockwork. The boy has quite the consistent system.

I'm sure you're glad to know his little self has settled in to a more frequent schedule and he has stopped the Sunday morning diaper bombings. But we still have trouble getting to church on time. And just for the record, Lionel, there is nothing easy about Sunday mornings.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

National Gallery of Art

Tuesday we went with our new friend Purvi and her children to the National Gallery of Art in DC. It was a beautiful day so after a short tour of some Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and the Art of Power exhibition we went out to have a picnic in the museum's beautiful Sculpture Garden. We sat around this fountain and ate and fended off a pesky squirrel who was dying for a Cheeto.

The museum is lovely- just the building itself is a work of art, and I loved getting to see some of my favorite artists and some very famous paintings, such as Monet's Japanese Garden and Van Gogh's Self Portrait. The Art of Power is an exhibiton of Spanish armor and weaponry from the 1500s and 1600s which was fascinating, especially for the little boys in our entourage. The museum even had some chain mail and helmets that people could try on- see Purvi in the chain mail in front of a huge mural. There was a little atrium inside the building where I took the picture of the sweet-smelling rose. I find God's works of art are unsurpassable. "Poems are made by fools like me/But only God can make a tree." (Joyce Kilmer)

Baltimore, Nonni, and lots of Fishies

Last weekend my mom was in Baltimore for a conference so the kids and I drove the short drive over to see her for her free afternoon. I think it was just a gift from God that her conference was in Baltimore this year, as it is in a different city every year, and the year we move away it is in a city less than an hour away from us! We got a hotel for one night and Nonni met us right after we checked in. (I'd like to throw in a huge thank-you to the valet who parked my sweet minivan and hauled our luggage up to the room, as I don't know how I would have done it with three children by myself. Oh, and to the nicest front desk clerk ever who gave me an early check-in and was so helpful. I know God watches out for me and helps me with my children. He is so good.) We stayed by the Inner Harbor, which is Baltimore's main tourist area, and a very fun place it is.
It was raining all day (remind me to get a rain hood for my stroller!) but we managed to walk to the National Aquarium down on the harbor and we spent the afternoon exploring so many of God's amazing aquatic creatures. One of the catchwords at the Aquarium was "adaptations," referring to how these various creatures have "adapted" to their environment and made themselves suitable and better able to survive. It just seems to me that it makes more sense to believe that these animals were carefully designed to live just where they were supposed to live. If you think about an electric eel for example, who they say adapted and somehow developed the ability to produce an electric shock to scare off his predators, how would the species have survived being eaten in order to produce this adaptation? They would have all been eaten up before they got a chance to adapt! The dolphins would have drowned before they manged to develop a blowhole. I'm just saying this seems logical to me. Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now. Stepping down...
The kids loved seeing all these amazing jellyfish, stingrays, sharks, turtles, and even a dolphin show up close. I think my favorite was the Green Sea Turtle named Calypso who had been rescued off the coast of New York, which is way too cold for him/her (they don't know what sex it is, which was funny to me). She was hypothermic and had a bad flipper infection which resulted in the loss of the flipper. Since she can't be released back into the wild they keep her there at the Aquarium.
Mac liked the dolphin show and laughed and laughed at the funny tricks they do, especially when they blow air out of their blowholes and make silly noises. That's very boy, you know. I'm sure Ruthie was hoping to see a mermaid, but she settled for a tiny baby jellyfish all polka-dotty and glowy. Harris was wide-eyed and grabby for my camera, and I think he liked the jellyfish the best because they were bright and showy.

Jay rode the metro over that night to meet us and we planned to go out and do some more fun things in the Inner Harbor the next morning, but Mac woke up miserable and with a fever so we headed home. Baltimore is not far, and I'd love to go back, eat crab cakes, tour some ships and maybe even see an Oriole's game sometime. Oh, and Edgar Allan Poe is from Baltimore and they're doing a celebration of his life this year which includes various tours and events which I'd like to get in on. But you know what that raven quoths, "Nevermore." So we'll see.

(I tried to make appropriate paragraphs in this but the stup** thing won't post them. Sorry)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Window Sill Flowers

First Visitors!

Jay's mom and step-dad (JuJu and PawPaw) came to visit over Labor Day weekend and we had a wonderful visit with them. They drove all the way from Montgomery, AL! We mostly hung out at the house, but we did have a fun lunch at Five Guys Burgers and Fries (which I highly recommend), and JuJu and I went to check out an antique mall near where we live. You can see we had fun playing in the front yard too- JuJu and Ruthie were practicing their ballet. We were so sad to see them go, but we hope they can come again soon! (JuJu, I realize I took most of the pictures with your camera! Maybe you can send them my way sometime!)

Park Day at Belvoir

We've had some lovely weather this month- one day we went to a park on the huge army post near us, Ft. Belvoir. This is the army's flagship installation, and it is really a beautiful post-very woodsy and the housing is amazing. Belvoir means "beautiful view" in French, and the property used to belong to a wealthy family back when George Washington was farming nearby at Mt. Vernon. We could have lived on post but the waiting list was a year long! Belvoir is a very busy place, but we love being able to shop at the Commissary and save so much money on groceries. The army hospital is where we have to go for health care, and I will soon post a story about our first time there.
This park we went to is great- it has a walking path that circles the playground so I can walk and push Harris while the other kids play. I hope to be able to come here alot and do this because it is hard to walk with three kids in our neighborhood. One day I went walking with a friend and I had Harris on my front in the Ergo Baby, and I was pushing Ruthie and her friend, and it was really tough. That's like 14 lbs on my body, plus pushing around 75 lbs in the stroller. I felt like a contestant in the Iron Mama competition. Not that there is one. But that's what I felt like.