Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Over the river to Grandma's House

All dressed up and ready to go to the Toys for Tots event.

I knew it was only a matter of time before I transformed my hubby into a runner.  On Thanksgiving, he ran his first 10K race!  (Cooper did the 5K too!)

He did it, and he's still smiling!

For Thanksgiving, we visited Chris's parents at their Lake Norman, North Carolina home.

 Cooper served as Grandma Wood's Thanksgiving apprentice. 

I can't remember the last Thanksgiving where the boys were comfortably wearing shorts and t-shirts outdoors!

Ready to feast.

View of Lake Norman at another morning run.

The Raptor Center with Grandma!

This guy never tires of exploring the beaches.

A trip to Charlotte followed Thanksgiving.  Regardless of their age, the boys found things to do.

Charlotte Science Museum was another stop.

I'm on a quest to take the kids to all 50 states.  Being that we were so close to the South Carolina border, we had to pop over state lines to grab an ice cream and cross off another state.

Chris's parents were gracious enough to babysit the boys so we could have a night out.  We were hungry enough to agree to outdoor seating (and bypass the hour wait to get a table).  Note we are the only ones outdoors:)

Two days after Thanksgiving break, the kids were back to their school routines.  Collin was reciting his Ugly Duckling project at school.

We've never traveled over the river and through the woods to get to Grandma's house.  For all of my kids' lives, Grandparents lived with an hour to two hours.  Things changed when my in-laws moved to North Carolina a few months ago.

With modern technology, we can keep in touch.  But modern technology doesn't work for holidays.  Holiday text messages pale in comparison with sitting across the dining room table from a loved one while feasting on Grandma's signature sweet potato pie dish.  So we packed up four kids and all their belongings (grumbles Chris), and we took the nine plus hour trek down to Grandma's house.  

Some may find this sort of holiday travel to be arduous.  Traffic congestion and busy airports can zap the holiday spirit out of the best of us.  Maybe because this was our first holiday jaunt, I found the experience to be refreshing.

We had a lot of time in the car, but we were together in the car.  We watched the flat plains of Indiana transform into hilly Appalachian terrain.  The frigid Midwest air warmed as we headed South.

Once at my in-laws, I wasn't at the mercy of my dishwasher, laundry machine, and computer.  My time was spent with my kids, my husband, and my in-laws.  We explored their beautiful new hometown and became familiar with all the beauty the Carolinas have to offer.

The ride home was a bit more difficult.  Traffic was congested and tired boys (and parents) were less patient.  But, the happiness we felt about the trip remained.

Friday, November 18, 2016

House Hunters: Looking for a Match

A photographer, I am not.  But a proud mom, I am.  This fuzzy image is a picture of Caleb at his recent Butler Jazz Band concert.

I feel like I'm on

Instead of looking for a date, we're looking for buyers for our house.

We've put pictures on the internet to woe suitors.  The images depict its best sides.  All the flaws are hidden or photoshopped out.  The description about the house is glowing with no mention of the aspects of the house that cause us angst.

Then we've waited for an onslaught of interest.  The rush has never come.  Instead, a trickling of potential buyers have wandered through the house.  Each toss out a few nice comments.  They appreciate the layout.  Some enjoy how the natural light floods into the living room and engulfs the space.  

Then, the "but" comments follow.

but the stairs are too steep.

but the bathroom isn't tiled.

but the yard lacks privacy.

Some even say, "It's not you, it's me."

But it feels like it's me.  

Like our house is too homely to attract a buyer mate.  Like it lacks the spark to differentiate itself from a slew of others.  Like it's unattractive, unkempt, outdated, and outmatched.

My realtor reminds me it just takes one buyer.  One buyer to see past any perceived flaws and notice the inner beauty of the structure.  One buyer who can see what we have seen in the walls of this space.  

A home where the Christmas tree sits proudly in the corner of the living room and proves to be a sparkling accessory to the fireplace.  

A home that has the most beautiful room for a nursery.  It was the space where my precious newborns slept peacefully (and not peacefully) for years.

A home with a backyard that bursts with neighborhood kids engaged in a serious game of kickball.

A home where birthdays were celebrated, valentines were made, halloween bags were filled, anniversaries were remembered, tears were cried, knees were skinned, jokes were told, meals were made, prayers were said, and friends and family were always welcomed.

I'm waiting for that one buyer. 

The buyer whose willing to commit to this wonderful place we've called home.

Monday, November 7, 2016

November Update

Cooper and a buddy dress up for a Halloween party.  Cooper's Karate Kid outfit included a black eye!

Double Digits!  My brand new 10 year old!

The neighbor kids came out to celebrate Cooper's birthday.

The piƱata lasted for one child before the candy dropped to the ground and everyone rushed to grab coveted pieces.

The toilet paper mummy game was a hit!

The Happy Birthday serenade was more like a collective scream.

Trick or Treating buddies.

The whole neighborhood gang before the dash for candy.

The Monumental Marathon/Half Marathon ranks as my favorite race.

Jessica and her Boston buddies came in for the race.  All smiles after the race was over! 

The Boston gals enjoyed Hoosier farm to table dinner.

Pumping the calories back after the race.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind.  

For starters, we've agreed to buy a new house.  Which is excited and terrifying at the same time, because (oh yeah) we own another house.  To get our current house on the market has involved sweat, tears, purging, cleaning, and lots of prayers.  After a week of endless work, our house has never looked better.  We gaze around the room and marvel at the cleanliness and order of our space.  Who knew this house could be so clean?!?  Now we want someone else to reach the same conclusion.  Prayers appreciated:)

When not cleaning, we were celebrating.  First came Cooper's 10th birthday.  We invited a handful of neighbor kids over to join in the festivities.  What I perceived as a chaotic party, the kids considered pure joy.

We hadn't finished digesting his birthday cake when Halloween arrived.  Connor made it his personal mission to hit every single house in the neighborhood.  A feat that required dedication, stamina, and energy.  (Now I know he possesses all three when properly motivated!)

Finally, Jessica and her Boston friends were houseguests over the weekend.  We all ran the Monumental Marathon/Half Marathon.  While I trained for the marathon, the above listed activities filled my plate to the point where I thought a marathon would not serve me well.  I opted for the half marathon instead and enjoyed the entire experience.

So now we wait.  We pray for just the right buyer to rush into our home and place an offer.  Waiting is hard.  Prayers appreciated.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Price of Perfection: Zapping Memories and Family Time

The whole family came out to support my mom and dad.

At the University of Indianapolis football game, they received an award.

Their younger supporters.

Cooper invited a few buddies to celebrate his 10th birthday at Zip City.

The birthday boy requested Marsh cookie cake.

Then, he zipped over the play area:)

His brothers joined him in zipping across the facility.

Pretty good seats at the University of Indianapolis football game (although I did worry about getting a ball to the face:)).

This came in the mail this week!  I'm going back to Boston in 2017!

As I was fiddling with dishes and dinner today, the Pioneer Woman  played in the background.  She was whipping up a cherry pie and fiddling with the pie crust.  Although her crust appeared magazine-perfect, she expressed her displeasure at the pie's perceived imperfections.  As she inspected the crust, she giggled and announced, "Well, my family doesn't expect perfection."

Anyone who sees my home and life would imagine I follow that mantra.  Dust has set up residence on our blinds (something I discovered today), and a sticky, syrup residue is glued onto placemats.  My shirt has peanut butter smattered on the front, a souvenir from this morning's lunchbox assembly line.  The refrigerator desperately needs to be purged of fuzzy-looking, mystery items.

Sometimes, though, I still seek that (unattainable) perfection.  I strive for it despite knowing that seeking perfection comes at a cost, namely zapping my family of meaningful encounters and spontaneous memories.

Take yesterday.

A pile of dirty dishes set next to my kitchen sink.  Their appearance made my sanity start to wane.  I desperately wanted a clean kitchen counter; I truly felt my happiness was tethered to its cleanliness.

While I started to empty the dishwasher and place glasses into their proper places, Cooper asked if I would play Legos with him.

My first thought was to bark "no."  Couldn't he see that dishes sat on the counter?  Didn't he know that crumbs were on the floor?  Who has time to play at a time like this?

Then I thought about how infrequently my nearly ten year old asked me to play.  I remembered how we had several harsh exchanges that day.  I recalled the moments when all I wanted to do was connect with him in ways that didn't involved request to do homework, chores, or timeouts.

I placed the dishrag on the counter.  With my back turned to the stack of dirty dishes, I walked over to my son and found a seat next to him and a big pile of Legos.

My family doesn't expect perfection.

They don't care if the counters sparkle.

I care.

But, I care for my son more.

That means, I walk away from the dishes and pick up the Legos.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Selecting the right pumpkin.

Last week, Chris joined two friends in a hiking excursion in the Grand Canyon.

After Chris emerged from the canyon, he connected with our friends the Brinkruffs (who were also in Arizona for vacation).

Chris came home with about a million of these gorgeous pictures.

Meanwhile, I was tending to the homestead and the boys.  Fall break began, and we made it a staycation.

The weather was absolutely perfect to enjoy a lot of fall activities.

The corn maze seemed daunting, but Caleb led us to the end quickly with his excellent navigation abilities.

I really think he set a course record:)

Selecting the perfect pumpkin was an ordeal.

No caption needed.  He's a one-of-a-kind:)

I joined my parents and sister on a tour of the Indianapolis Airport.  My mom seemed like a natural in the airport fire truck.

Look what we followed in the taxi lane?

Miniature golf with a neighbor kept them busy on another day.

Trying to find his missing miniature golf ball.

As I scanned my Facebook pages, it appeared that everyone in our town is vacationing for Fall Break.  We are not.  With Chris working most days, I have done my best to fill our days with the "need to do" and the "want to do" activities.  

For the "need to do".....We visited the Minute Clinic, and all of us had flu shots (Collin said they hurt less than one of Cooper's "deadly pinches.")  Fall clothes were purchased.  Winter coats were pulled out of basement bins.

For the "want to".....We engaged in a competitive round of miniature golf.  While snuggled under comfy blankets, we watched a zillion movies.  On a rainy day, we visited the movie theater.  Cooper's birthday was celebrated with friends.

One day, we visited Stuckey Farms.  The farm boasts an extensive pumpkin patch and an assortment of fall outdoor activities.  The boys whizzed down the slide built into the hill.  Then, they traveled by tractor to the pumpkin patch acreage.

I let each boy select his own pumpkin.  Most of the boys quickly selected pumpkins from the closest section.  With little thought or conflict, they plucked pumpkins from the vines and carried them to the tractor stop.

Cooper worked differently.  He raced to the back of the fields until he looked like a distant figure on the horizon.  Then, he meandered around the rows, inspecting and interviewing dozens of potential pumpkins.

"Cooper, what are you looking for?" I questioned, frustrated at his extensive search.

"I'm looking for a pumpkin that looks like me," he answered as if this was the most logical way to select a pumpkin.

I've always heard that people pick dogs that look like them, but do people select pumpkins in the same way?

"How can you tell if a pumpkin looks like you," I questioned.

"You just can," he answered, while busying himself with the choices.

After what seemed like eternity, Cooper beamed when he showed me his pumpkin.  It was a bit dirty and misshapen, but sturdy and beautiful all the same.

I didn't see the resemblance between Cooper and his pumpkin.  But, they shared a few common threads.  This was a pumpkin that required work to find, but its specialness made it worth the work.  

Sounds like Cooper.