Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back to School

The silence is deafening. There are no t.v.'s or laptops with webkinz droning in the background. Noone is asking for a popsicle, or if they can go next door to play. I miss the sound of muffled giggles and snippets of music as the doors open and close. No nail polish is being spilled, and no dog is being carried around like a baby.

Noone needs lunch, or a sisterly dispute settled, or even a hug or cuddle as they float through the room. The kitchen has remained clean for 7 hours and I have worked uninterrupted, guilt-free. I've remained at my desk, without checking the window every few minutes to monitor the bicycle gang patrolling our cul de sac. No scooters are crashed on the lawn, and I haven't made a single koolaid icee in days.

The beach towels are folded in the closet and I find uniforms, instead of bathing suits, tossed on the floor beside the hamper. The new calendar is posted on the fridge, and forms awaiting my signature pile up on the counter.

Is it 3:00 yet?

Monday, August 20, 2007

She loves me, she loves me not...

Last night, after a lengthy, heartfelt prayer, Cailin and I were snuggling , when she spoke up.

"Sometimes I think you love me more."

"More than what, sweetie?" (Assuming this was sibling comparison, and that because of my passionate prayer for her she was feeling a little more favored than her little sis.)

"Sometimes I just think you love me more than I love you."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Today I was reminded of our annual visit to see the cherry blossoms in D.C. It is always breathtakingly beautiful and the perfect setting for photo ops. This, of course, means that nothing ever works out for the perfect picture to occur. Be it rain or bad hair days, we have never been able to capture the amazing shot of the girls among the blossoms that is my hope.

This year I gave up before we even left, seeing as how the girls have reached the age where they feel entitled to choose their own clothing. And it no longer consists of precious matching gymboree outfits with bows in their hair and coordinated tights. No, now they prefer clothes that say things, like "I love horses!". Which is a nice sentiment and all, but not exactly the image I want to capture of my beautiful angels amidst the pastel blossoms.

So anyway, I wasn't even hoping for a Christmas card quality photo this year. I just wanted a great. family.outing.

The girls are usually gung ho for anything we do; I feel blessed that they are so much more agreeable that I was at their age. So it was a little odd for Cailin to ask if she could stay with a friend instead of going with us. Gasp! After assuring her that there was absolutely no way she could miss out on this fun family day, and allowing her to play her gameboy on the trip in, we forgot that she didn't want to be with us, and started off on our happy. family.outing.

She quickly reminded us that she was bored, her feet hurt, her stomach hurt, she "just wanted to go home", and horror of horrors, refused to smile for the pictures. That was the straw that broke the camels back. You can complain and have a bad attitude, but by golly you better not mess with mama's pictures. Even if you are wearing t-shirts and jeans; we must capture this moment for posterity. So her daddy took her aside and explained to her that talking is a privilege. If you choose to abuse it by speaking complaints and negativity, then you lose that privilege. The rest of us would not have our day ruined by her complaints, so she had to walk in total silence for the afternoon.

(My favorite part of the entire day was when she tried to tap Nana on the shoulder to point something out to her, and Daddy snapped, "And NO poking either!". That just cracked me up! It has become a family joke to now say, "And no poking, either, anytime things have gotten too serious.)

Surprisingly, the day turned around for all of us. We were able to walk around the Tidal Basin and enjoy the beautiful trees, and Cailin took the opportunity to adjust her attitude to one a little more pleasant to be around. This effort resulted in Daddy buying her favorite candy roasted almonds from the street vendor, and a good time was had by all!

I am writing this because I want to remember, when I look back, that in raising the girls sometimes we had to do the hard things. It wasn't easy to insist on silence for 2 hours. It hurt my heart to silence my chatty Cathy, but you know what? We don't live in a vacuum and our actions affect those around us. Cailin learned a great lesson that day, about how your attitude hurts not just yourself, but others as well. It isn't healthy to allow the opinion of one to shape the day for the group. So that is why we must do the hard things, because that is the job description of parenting, and that is why I choose to record this day's events.

I am so proud of my girls and their (normally) joyful hearts. They bring sunshine into the room when they enter, and my hope is for that to be their destiny. To bring joy and life into the world, instead of the gloom and selfishness that seems to be so pervasive in society.

I think we are off to a pretty good start.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Love Bug!

Yesterday Cassidy was such a little cuddle bug, which made my day! While we sat in the cool air conditioned car watching Cailin at her riding lesson, she climbed onto my lap for a chat.
"Mommy," she said, holding my face in her hands so she could look sincerely into my eyes, "I have something I want to tell you, and I mean it from the very top of my heart!".

"Or," she continued, "do I mean bottom?".

"No, baby girl," I assured her, "I prefer your way! It is a new Cassidy-ism!".

I love that girl!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

August 1st is celebrated in our household by Rusty singing "It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year" while reading his college football forecast magazines, and surfing the sports channels for interviews and shots of the players in their first practice of the season. " Yes, he took an early "retirement" from coaching, but his heart will always yearn for the practice field on the first legal day to suit up.
I can't help but share some of his excitement... we started dating 21 years ago this month, and spent our first dates cheering on his beloved Big Reds, and then celebrating the win at Pizza Place (and they always won - even when playing my own high school!). It was a hard autumn for him, his first not playing for his beloved team, as a recent graduate, still figuring his way in the real world. This time of year always takes me back to being a 16 year old with a cute boyfriend and a letterman jacket to throw around my shoulders as we walked to the car, kicking the fallen leaves and celebrating life.
Later, I would find myself in the bleachers of a small mountain college, cheering for my hero despite the fact that the team lost every game, every season. OK, maybe not every game, but close enough for most of my memories to be tainted with his disappointment. Finally, after a shoulder surgery and then a knee, his playing days were officially over. But I still had many years in the bleachers ahead of me, first as the girlfriend, and later as the wife of the coach.
He was a gifted coach, with a love for the sport, and a God given gift at being able to spot talent and shape it into something bigger than it should have been. He loved the kids, and could get them to perform at levels higher than they believed they could. He molded their hearts and character, and taught them to never give up, the success was in the effort, not necessarily the win.
My babies were given showers by teams and parents, and our nanny was the parent of a wrestler, who wanted to give love back to the family of the man who had cared for her son when he was lonely and floundering. When we were in the hospital after delivery his students brought balloons and sat on the floor, beaming with pride at the "team baby". As I entered the stadium or gymnasium (depending on fall or winter, football or wrestling season) I never pushed a stroller or carried a diaper bag, because our "family" was always there to help me; pitching in for my husband, who was preoccupied helping their children. The greatest feeling though, was that no matter what was going on, every time I enetered Rusty would look up and wink, acknowledging that we were there and he was glad. We were loved and loved our life.

Gradually though, Rusty's love for the game was being overshadowed by his desire to provide more time and financial resources for his girls, and so a new course of life was determined. He would go to grad school and become a principal. Leaving coaching was probably the hardest thing he ever did; he gave up his personal dream for the greater dream of being a father to his own precious children. Instead of raising other people's children he opted for the ones under his own roof. I am glad and so thankful... most men wouldn't make that choice, and we are grateful for his love. So when football season rolls around, I don't mind him spending a few extra hours watching the games or eagerly looking for Sports Center. His sports career gave us a wonderful start to this life we share, and I have to agree that in many ways, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year!