Friday, November 20, 2009

Of silly kids and sunsets....

We use clothespins to keep our many boxes of cereal fresh, and the kids were enthralled one recent morning to discover the hairstyles they could create! Here's little Lucas with his braids. I'm torn between whether he looks like an Orthodox Jewish man or Pippi Longstocking!

I look at this picture and see only the pain of getting those clothespins out!

This particular night's pink sky was enough to drag even me from my workplace stupor out into the backyard. It was just stunning...

I believe I can fly!

Saturday, November 07, 2009


It's Saturday morning and I'm the last one out of bed--middle of the night reading, once again, after the dog had a nightmare that woke me. The kids are playing happily, peacefully, is so, so nice.

They often play "Jack and Luc" while they are home together--an opportunity for both of them to step into an alter-ego that is oddly like their own, but it seems a necessary game, nonetheless. They are running around the house with old cell phones from which we've removed the batteries, building lego creations, and tormenting the dog when he will let them.

"Luc" just called out, "Hey Jack--I'm going to download." Um....sure....whatever that means! Ah, youth!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

A skeleton and vampire head out to the full moon on a spooktacular Halloween evening! Truly fun time--a party at our neighbor's house, and then traipsing around in the (drizzly) balmy weather for bags full of candy. Now the kids are SOUND asleep and Matt and I get to paw through their treats bags to see what was really intended for the parents. Nah....we'll just have popcorn! Happy night, all!

Thursday, September 10, 2009 went BEEEEEP!

I arrived to a distressing message this morning at work. Despite two upgrades to my voicemail system to provide enhanced "save" capacity, I had once again reached my mailbox was full. What were all these saved messages? Desperate grantees awaiting news on their funds? Frustrated administrators wondering why we didn't support their pet projects? Of course not! It was three years worth of truly heart-breaking and love-shaping messages from my favorite two kids and their awesome dad!

I love hearing their coming-of-age voices, Lucas's two year old lisp far more pronounced than it is now at five; Kyra's sass and spunk well-established by the time she moved here at five herself. I managed to save a few--one very sad Lucas muttering/crying out a message about missing me that morning because I left for work before he woke up. Of course I also saved a favorite Kyra message--a long stretch of silence, and then the sound of Kyra calling out to Matt, " went BEEEEEEP!" She then announced that they had snow at home--only twenty minutes away, so I expect we had snow, too, but you wouldn't know it from her "first child ever in the white stuff" tone of excitement! Gosh I love these kids....

There were two favorite messages from colleagues, as well, and I reluctantly let them go. One was from a now retired administrator for one of our vice presidents. She called to let me know that she and another colleague enjoy my voice so much that they avoid emailing me and always call instead--in the hopes of catching the real me, but still happy to just hear the calm, soothing reassurance of my voicemail message! They were contemplating inviting me to create a campuswide message that could settle anxious spirits, or something of the sort. The second was from my then and now board chair, a woman I admire greatly. She indicated she was calling from the White House to offer me a role in the State Department--apparently I managed a board situation so smoothly, she believed my diplomatic skills could serve the world! Joking aside, I was touched by her recognition of my gifts, as these are her gifts as well.

The messages from the kids were a reminder that I have provided for them for years, offering not only the financial support to have a home in a modest, safe, friendly neighborhood, but also providing them and Matt with the opportunity to be together in this phase of life. Whereas once it was my voice in the background on voicemail messages Matt was hoping desperately to save, the voice that surrounds them is now his. I am the one at work. Sadness was one possible response, but I felt only gratitude--that I have had the gifts and the wisdom both to provide this time. And of course a couple of work messages tossed in helped me to see that this has been a place for my gifts to grow and better the world, too.

Will it always be this way? I hope not. I'd like to greet them off the school bus for a day or two each week, and have a little more space to take that voice and that gift of diplomacy "on the road" for the betterment of new people and communities. But for now, I know "it is what it is," and it is okay. It is good.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Let Olive be Olive....

I still remember the first time I saw the movie "Little Miss Sunshine," a treat for myself during the time I was living in CT while Matt and the kids were still in MA. I went on the recommendation of my new friend and colleague, Penny. (I lived with Penny during the week, returning home on weekends; the generous offer of this arrangement still astounds me.)

I was fretting about Kyra--about my sense that the world might not always welcome her as we welcome her. I feared (and sometimes still fear) that the world might not be ready to appreciate a girl who would rather play pirates than princess, shops in the "boy" department of every store we enter, and is bound and determined to move through the world as who she is....not who the world would have her to be. In truth, I don't know whether I more feared the world's rejection of her, or the painful possibility that she might mold herself increasingly to receive the world's acceptance.

Anyway, Penny listened patiently to my fretting and then said, "You just have to see this movie. There is this scene where everyone is trying to talk this child's mother out of letting her daughter perform in a way they expect will embarrass the child. She insists that she will not squelch her daughter's desire to go through with the performance. She insists that they all must 'let Olive be Olive'. You'll just have to let Kyra be Kyra." And so I went, and became as enthralled with Olive and her family as I am with my own girl. It remains one of the most cathartic movies I have ever seen.

I haven't thought about the movie in quite some time, but it came back to me this week with the astonishing and terribly sad news that Penny died last Saturday. There's a great deal of mystery involved, and I'm reluctant to subject her story to the scrutiny that can come from sharing too publicly. The simple facts are these: Penny was sick with cancer and she chose not to treat her illness or to share news of it with anyone in her life. All of us who knew and appreciated her are now forced to contend with the challenge of "letting Penny be Penny" when she has made a choice that cannot be undone and that so grieves all of us. But since she always had the wisdom to encourage me to give the people I love the space to live out their choices, I am working to honor her and her choices. Is there pain in this? Absolutely. But is there truth? Yes indeed.

I was thinking about Penny tonight, as I have been since last Monday when I heard the news, and I was reflecting on the healing passage of time. We visited today with my mother's sister. She is so like my memories of who my mother was; it is pure joy to be with her. She passed to me a gift that has been intended for me for more than thirty years--and one I had entirely forgotten! She gave to me my grandmother's garnet ring, purchased when she was dying, with the intention that it would go next to her daughter, my aunt, and one day, to me. She thought it was time, and wanted to share it while she was alive to see my joy in having it. There aren't words for me to smoothly and beautifully link this ring and the hopes and dreams placed in it all those years ago with how I am feeling about Penny, but the energy of both these experiences mingles within me tonight.

In this spirit of the give and the take of life, I came upon a poem/song I began while we were in FL in April. I wrote it after watching Kyra stare down an angry sea--or better yet, after watching Kyra nearly beat down an angry sea with her fists! I was filled with the "beyond words" sense of the give and take of the life she will live, and this is what poured out. Rough, yes, but also something true!

She stands before me on the shore
Arms raised in a show of muscle.
Fists clenched with might, smile of delight
Inviting the full roar

Of a power and love contained within,
A cycle far beyond us.
Sensing here in this wash of water
A never-ending promise

Oh, the world is an ocean full of waves
That some days knock you down
But if you find deep within you that girl at the sea,
You'll land on solid ground.

As I watch you grow in pleasure and pain
There are days I long to hold you
Safe once more in this mother's arms
A child so small and new.

But even then you were growing toward
This voice that calls you home.
The hands and feet knit together in me
Bound for days of sand and foam.

Oh, the world is an ocean full of waves
That some days knock you down
But if you find deep within you that girl at the sea,
You'll land on solid ground.

Rest in peace, Penny. We miss you on this shore....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


It is so incredibly hard for me to believe that this big boy came into our lives five whole years ago....but harder still to imagine there was ever a time without him! Happy birthday to our precious son!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Celebrating what's right....

Our family enjoyed a church retreat this weekend, filled with thought-provoking conversation, rocking music (as a founding member of the newly-formed praise band, I say this with a great deal of bias acknowledged!), and a sense of our church as "home" that has been eluding me of late. It was a gift, and I will treasure it as such.

On Friday evening of this retreat, we watched a short film entitled "Celebrate What's Right with the World." Narrated by a National Geographic photographer, the film depicts the patience, the sense of expectation, and the trust entailed in seeing a "great frame" where at first glance what comes is a "good frame." The images in the film are stunning, the words profound, and I find myself looking at my own life in a new lens. Let me offer just a few of my thoughts on what is right this morning!

*The chilly night resulted in both kids tumbling into our bed early this morning for warmth and togetherness. I'm grateful that I was (mainly) able to receive them in love and gratitude, and that I had this little treasure of small, sleeping bodies to put my life in perspective before heading off to work.

*I am visiting a new chiropractor who I love, and so of course I am grateful to return to this commitment of wellness. One of the bonuses about the office location? It sits just above a Subway restaurant, and each morning when I make my way into the office, I take a deep, strong pull of the air and celebrate the aroma of BREAD! YUM!

*My dad is in the hospital this morning for reasons as yet unknown. I'm grateful for cell phones that allow us to keep in communication, and for my sense that a simple prayer for him with each call is more powerful than anything else I could offer.

*Have I mentioned that I am the luckiest woman in the world? Matt and I are reading aloud "Coop," the latest by Mike Perry, Matt's favorite writer. This gift of evenings burrowed on the love seat under a comforter as we travel together to the wilds of Wisconsin is one I will cherish. We are so grateful for one another, and thus I am grateful for gratitude itself.

*And again, in the "luckiest woman in the world" category, I offer this picture of Lucas's Mother's Day gift to me. He created a Lego grand piano (complete with a lid that could rise and lower), a bench, and his mom--seated right there, jamming away. I love that he had the creativity and skill to do this, but just as much, I love that this is how he thinks of me. To be remembered and known as being at the piano is all I could want!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

In a sunshine state of mind...

With great thanks to my very generous father, we were able to spend the past week in FL, soaking up some sun, hopping from theme park to theme park, and cheapest thrill around....enjoying the beach. I would add in an extra beach day were I to plan the trip once again, but I suppose the two we enjoyed planted enough sand in our pockets to hold us over until summer arrives in New England!

For whatever reason, Blogger seems to want to post my pictures in reverse, so I guess I'll walk through our vacation backward! We started the trip with the beach, and we ended the trip there as well. We were frantically building our fortress against the oncoming waves....perhaps a sign that we knew already all good vacation things were about to come to an end. I loved how the kids continually congratulated Matt and me for creating the perfect sand towers--as though this was a highly marketable skill we could take on the road in the declining economy. They are such loves!

The tree of life stands tall behind us at the entrance of Disney's Animal Kingdom. The tree is a "bit too green" as Matt likes to point out, but the carvings of all the animals are quite spectacular. Disney is always a mixed bag. Even when they are carrying forward a positive message (e.g., the planet and its creatures matter immensely!), it always feels as though it's purely a market strategy. Did we have a great time? Of course. Am I always conflicted about this? Yes, yes, yes!

Siblings, one and all!

We had Matt's birthday dinner with my dad at Steak and Shake, and the kids donned their "chef" hats happily....that is until I informed Kyra that it was indeed a chef's hat. She had believed they were sailors all through the meal. Off came the hat! Oh, well! I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Day one in Florida....back at the beach! The surf was particularly rough that day, and both kids could stand on the edge only with the grip of a grown up. Kyra stepped forward on her own once, was planted firmly in the ground by a wave, came up sputtering, and grabbed a hand once more! The sight of her flexing her muscles in the face of an angry surf inspired me to begin the lyrics of a song in the middle of the night that night. We'll see if the creative energy keeps flowing now that we're home!
Tomorrow it's back to work and school, and we're all in a somber mood. The joys of this CT life are many, though, and we're happy to be sleeping in our own beds tonight after a fun morning on the river enjoying world class kayak races just a few short steps from our home. We're so fortunate to feast at the banquet set at both ends of the Atlantic coast!

Saturday, March 07, 2009


Today was the first truly warm day we've had in Connecticut. Coats remained in the car, layers were shed, and it felt like the rushing waters of the snow's melt would carry us forward into spring....real spring. It was a busy day, though, and while the kids had plenty of time outdoors with their friends Tobey and Ian, Matt and I were at events held primarily indoors. We had a taste of the warmth as we dashed from building to car and back again, but we didn't get to revel in it long enough to make the impending spring arrival sink in.

Interestingly, it was an after dark sign, long after the sun's warmth was packed up and put away for another night, that brought spring fever to me. We pulled into our driveway after this long and busy day--9pm!!!--and as Matt pulled up beside the mailbox, I caught a glimpse of something I haven't seen in many a month. There, appearing only as a subtle silhouette, was the first rabbit of spring.

The kids quickly unstrapped their carseats, Matt turned so the headlights shined more directly in her/his direction, and we all oohed and aahed that spring would really come. My second thought? Relief that we decided not to go all out on a garden this year. Phew!

Enjoy the first tastes of the glory that is to come....