Monday, June 28, 2010

Anna Cate's first wedding

Every girl likes a wedding, but a girl's first wedding is something of grandeur in and of itself. I distinctly remember the first wedding I attended. Ok, well I remember the big dress and thought the bride was beautiful!

The invitation said "and family" and since it was outside, I thought to myself, "this is it." It was a beautiful affair, set on a gorgeous piece of countryside, surrounded by family and friends, a couple who had dated since middle school said, I do. While I enjoyed seeing their families, and the beauty of the bride, and the sweetness on the groom's face as he saw her walk down the aisle, what I really loved was watching my little inducted to the circle of love we girls all share for this occasion.

We got a babysitter for Molly, because in my opinion babies should never, ever, ever be at a wedding, AND we could share a special evening with Anna Cate. We got dressed together, and I even let her wear a strand of my pearls, the pearls I wore on the occasion of our October wedding. We have matching pearl bracelets from Stella & Dot.
Here are some of the highlights of the event:

Getting to sit with Baba:
Standing for the bride, because as I told her, "she is the most important person here" today.

Seeing her buddy Makayla, who is the sister to the groom. During the ceremony, Anna Cate was instructed to be silent. After Makayla got up to do a reading, AC looked at me and said, "Makayla looks beautiful, doesn't she?!" It was hard to scold such an appropriate and true comment.

Chasing fireflies...
Enjoying the entertainment with Daddy....SPARKLERS

Eating cake and sipping cold drink with friends...

And, seeing the bride!!!!

When I asked Anna Cate what her favorite part of the wedding was, she said, "getting my picture taken with the bride." There is a mystical fascination with girls for weddings, and it was pure joy to watch Anna Cate take it in. Jenna was a beautiful bride and she will always have a special place in our hearts as the one who introduced Anna Cate to the awe on her special day.

Both families have been friends of BJ's since his youth, were close to his mother, and exude the goodness I revel in finding in the best life has to offer: goodness in humanity. A wedding celebrates that hope and faith and love we find in our friends, our family and in our spouses, and in the way we celebrate together a couple and their families. I'm thankful we shared their special day, and will remember sharing Anna Cate's special evening on the occasion of her first wedding. I know this will be the first of many times she can celebrate with friends and family, or gasp in the beauty of a bride. I even thought of hers one day. Although I hope to raise her to not put her hopes all in a wedding or a spouse, I know that if she does have one, I will think back on this night and the little girl whose hand I held and the hot face her Baba and I fanned as she sat in awe.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Just a girl who wants to be a princess

One of the wonderful things about being a teacher is getting to do what stay at home moms do in the summers. There is this delightful series of concerts on Tuesdays in a beautiful park downtown for Moms and little ones.

Precious toddlers and preschoolers dance to music, babies are breastfed, children's faces are painted, moms connect and laugh, we share our grapes and string cheese sticks and our understanding glances when kids do what kids do, like Anna Cate who at 2 walked from blanket to blanket (as I chased behind her saying NO), trying to take people's food assuming it was a buffet.

The past two weeks, I've taken the girls and it has been so nice and fun. There is a fountain in the center where children throw pennies and make wishes. Here is Anna Cate's:

yes, the wish is to be a princess. Not very practical, but precious, indeed.

We met Miss Diana there and the kids she keeps for the summer, and she gave Anna Cate a penny and an order to make a wish for Molly. When I asked what that wish was, she replied, "I wish her can be a princess, too." It warmed this mother's heart to know that Anna Cate wants the very best for her baby sister, who by the way is giggling now, and it melts us all.

The picnic provides me the greatest opportunity...a place where I can comfortably nurse Molly and Anna Cate is entertained. That is the bulk of my existence right now as a mother, and the park and the pool is where that can happen without my house being destroyed by Anna Cate's "entertainment".....sweet! Now, if it weren't so hot!

We had swim lessons

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We then met our friend, Kristen, who is a kindergarten teacher, and one of AC's buddies. Anna Cate knows my dad's lessons that friends don't have to be your own age.

Speaking of Anna Cate's friends, she loves her Thursdays with Patti. This week, they saw Toy Story 3, where she had her OWN popcorn tray she proudly told me on the way home. When I said, I hope you said thank you, she replied, "oh, I paid"...meaning Patti gave her the $$ and she gave it to the clerk. We have a lot to learn.

After a restful Thursday night for us, the treat on Friday mornings is to meet Anna Cate at "Eileen's bakery," where I indulge myself in seeing Anna Cate's hair in the beautiful french braid Patti does, IMG_0768.jpg

the thoughts that Patti will create a special bond with Molly, too
and the most wonderful, worth every bit of the calories, cinnamon twist.

Molly's indulgence lately is discovering the joy of her feet.

And with that pose, she may one day be able to attend "Mommy and Me" yoga class that Anna Cate and I enjoy. ...another way I can enjoy the life of a stay-at-home mom during the summer. It is such a bummer that those classes never seem to be on a schedule for working moms. IMG_0761.jpg

While Anna Cate is not quite a princess, she does have a very full social schedule. On Saturday, she went to a birthday party in the morning, hosted a tea party in the afternoon, and attended her first wedding Saturday evening. (the wedding was such a big deal, it will get its own post).

So, we did the only logical thing to do when you have a big weekend....get a manicure and pedicure with Mommy. So we were off...IMG_0774.jpg picture by batesking04
She loved the water and the jets,
And looking for anything she could recognize in a magazine...
And the personal attention...IMG_0780.jpg
And a girl with a big weekend might get a phone call she has to take on her princess phone while she waited on Mommy to finish...or chat it up with the other clients.IMG_0781.jpg
But all the activity meant she needed a "touch up"

The birthday party was fabulous fun. The birthday girl, Maeve, and Anna Cate are third generation family friends. Their dads grew up together as their mothers were best friends from when the boys were quite young. Maeve's Nana is Anna Cate's Baba, Brenda, who was Susie's, , dear, dear friend. Even though they aren't cousins, I just sort of explained it like a Tennessee girl would, right?!
Kristen, by the way, is Maeve's cousin and was Anna Cate's ride to the party. I can not keep the social schedule of Anna Cate's all the time.IMG_0792.jpg

She came home to host a tea party for princesses. (or girls who wish they were). Notice the silly bands her Daddy bought her to share are even in princess shapes...If you don't know what silly bands are, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

These girls are daughters of friends of BJ's growing up, who have become my friends, too. Melissa, in the middle, is expecting Claire's baby sister in less than two weeks, so maybe future play dates with Molly are in store.IMG_0820.jpg

Here is a pic of these girls before they met the world at my shower for Anna Cate in March of 2006...

They played quite well together, especially considering how hard it would be to please three princesses!

I know all too well, one day Anna Cate will realize she is not a princess, and that pretending won't be enough. Today I'm thankful that pretending is as good as the wish coming true. I also know that one day, I will be annoyed when flowers picked from the garden won't be fancy enough for what material things girls want, so I pray that the mother I am then can acknowledge the whiny teenager as just a little girl who wants to be a princess.

IMG_0758.jpg picture by batesking04

Monday, June 21, 2010

Scenes of Summer

We had Patti, Greg (BJ's brother) and our friend, Sarah, over for dinner on Saturday night and it was so nice to eat on the porch, play in the back yard and enjoy the sounds and tastes of summer.

Molly didn't exactly get to taste summer but she is finding her fingers:

I think it is quite adorable how Molly's dress matches the pillow..
Anna Cate is enjoying some corn on the cob. It is covered in butter and basil (from the garden). BJ thinks mayo would be good on it too, but I just couldn't live myself putting that on fresh corn.
As I was chopping up the cabbage from the Farmer's market to make an Asian slaw, I thought, :wow, "isn't that beautiful?!?!" reminding me that God's beauty in nature abounds. I have had the same thoughts snorkeling or scuba diving and looking at fish. Nature is often a work of art in itself.
The Zinnias and Tomatoes are all Anna Cate and BJ!!! She helped daddy plant the flowers from seeds, and the tomato plants from just about sprouts. Look at them now!
The fruit of hard work and the great timing of Miracle Grow.IMG_0688.jpgIMG_0689.jpgIMG_0690.jpg

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Words about my Father; Images about the Father of my children

On Father's Day, I reflect about how blessed I am to have such two wonderful men in my life. My wise father and my sweet BJ, the father of my children, are quite different....not that BJ isn't wise or Daddy isn't sweet; they are just different. I think it is fair to say that my dad values words more and BJ values actions, so I'll spend the first half in word as a tribute to my dad, and the second in photos from our day, and you'll see the actions of the most competent man I know, my husband, BJ.


When I was a little girl, people would stop me in the store and say, "you look just like your daddy" and that made me very proud! Still am. Maybe because my dad and I more than look alike, we had some "rocky" years but here is a post reminding him of the memories and lessons I will treasure, that he has been a great dad for as long as he's been one... This is his 35th Father's Day, so a memory or lesson for each of those years he has been my daddy on Father's Day.

Memories and Lessons
1) Daddy was brilliant at thinking of ways to play sporting games with Douglas and me so we played whoofle ball in the old school lot, quarterbacking for us in the back yard
2)teaching us to be good sports,
3)and know that sometimes your brother is really fun to play with, forging a bond of a strong sibling relationship.
4) I remember him forgetting to pick us up from school if Mom ever needed him to...ok that is not a good Daddy thing....
5)but it taught me the lesson to always surround yourself with people (like Rita, his secretary) or Mom to help remind us to keep our head out of the clouds.
6)going on work trips (usually depositions) with him from an early age and learning
7) to look someone in the eye when you meet someone.
8)When I was 10, Daddy took me on a trip to Cleveland for a deposition and we went to an Indians baseball game and Daddy spent much of the game talking to an old guy who was a hot dog vendor, teaching me
9)everyone can have a great story; just talk to them (and look them in the eye).
10) Daddy took me a lot of churches growing up, teaching me to
11) value what others believe, even if you can't agree.
12)One of the best memories I have of childhood in general were one the many Ragbrais we did (bike ride across Iowa), but I especially remember with fondness the one just the two of us did together. On Ragbrai, I learned to
13)lay your clothes out; it helps get you ready for the next day and
14) enjoy the ride as much as the destination. We spent a lot of time in those little towns along the way, and not as much as time out in the "overnight" towns -- the big stops;
15)the lesson here is pretty valuable. Sometimes the smaller things (like the towns) in life along the way are as memorable and as sweet (like the sweet rolls) as our destination.
16) Daddy, remember one morning where we vowed to eat cinnamon rolls exclusively until noon, which we did successfully. I don't ever eat a sweet roll without thinking of that day, and it teaches me that
17)spending time with your children is a gift that lasts past the activity. Making memories together creates a bond and gives confidence.
18) When I was a freshmen in college, you coerced me to go to church and go to Sunday school, which I did, and it taught me
19) you meet good people in church and Sunday school is a place to connect. What a lesson this was as I met my husband in Sunday school.
20) When you dropped me off at college, you taught me, hands-down, the most important social lesson you have ever imparted. I quote it all the time as the pinnacled wisdom from you, giving me a very happy life:
22)When I was 10 years of age, I clearly had the best speech, which you helped me write, for a 4-h contest. But I lost the competition, and you came to visit me at school the next day to check on me, and I learned that
23)sometimes people just need someone care enough to ask, "how is your morale?" for it to improve.
24)I also learned the word morale at this encounter outside the door of my 5th grade English classroom, learning more from my parent probably than a teacher. I wonder if the nation could understand this truth, people would take their job as parent more seriously and give us teachers some slack!?!
25)Throughout college and when I lived abroad, you wrote me often. Not necessarily long letters, but short cards frequented my my mailbox teaching me
26)something hand-written, no matter how short, is worth the time
27)When I lived in Russia, you sent me a Christmas card every day of December and I distinctly remember your saying, "maybe in God's pure light, it is the journeymen who are most blessed" when I didn't really have the foggiest clue of what I wanted to do with my life
28) You always used to tell me I should be a teacher, teaching me that sometimes
29)your parents know you best.
30) You took us to see Broadway shows, plays, concerts, performances of Handel's Messiah, but you seem to always make a point to tell someone "I'm from the country"
31)teaching me to enjoy the classics and culture, but be proud of being from the country.
32) I remember Granny and my being asked to speak at your "Ladies Luncheon" teaching me
33) you value what the women in your life have to say, and that is really important for a daughter to see that.
34)I remember leaving me at home because I didn't get out the door for school on time....ok I admit I didn't really learn that lesson very well, so #35 isn't about my learning the lesson of always being on time, but.....

35) You have said so many times in life, "the most important decision you'll ever make in life is choosing your spouse." And on Father's Day, I celebrate the father of my children and I think you'll agree I learned this lesson quite well.

Here are some images of maybe what you are talking about....that you are choosing your children's parent..

Anna Cate and Molly's Daddy: The card I gave him summed it up!
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WE had a wonderful weekend celebrating BJ as a father!! I looked at Molly tonight and said, "you are a lucky girl" as we sat on the blanket and I heard BJ and Anna Cate giggle and share in a Father-daughter experience fishing. You make everything simpler and more beautiful all at the same time in stride as you fulfill this role as Daddy. Happy Father's Day 2010!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Birthday Cakes

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The June Granny died, I bought this frame for another June scene. I love how it shows Granny's face and the look of adoration on mine as I sit in her lap, Daddy in the background, and an orange chiffon cake, my favorite. She made the most beautiful 2 or 3 layer cakes, always from scratch and I loved them, almost as much as I adored her! For the record, this picture is not of my birthday because it was my dad's favorite cake, too and she made it for him, I'm sure of it. The two of them shared a birthday, but we three shared the birthday month of June as does my first cousin, Catherine, and my sweet little niece Kitty was born on Daddy and Granny's birthday, just days ago. Special month.

Fast forward about 30 years to another story of a sweet faced girl and an orange chiffon cake.
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It has never ever crossed my mind to make a cake like my Granny's but my sweet husband knows this is my favorite, so Monday night sent Molly Mae and me out to a church meeting and left Anna Cate in a chef's hat and BJ with a recipe from Molly Bates making this cake for me!

What would my Granny say that a man was making a cake?! Probably, something sweet like, "I declare....."

It looked so good that I told Anna Cate we would eat it for breakfast the morning of my special day, meaning I certainly could not sleep in because I had to open my cards......and eat the cake! Believe me I tried, " IT IS MY BIRTHDAY!!! PLLLLEEEEEAAAAASE let me sleep in!"

IMG_0663.jpg picture by batesking04

And so the day began. I had a babysitter for Molly so that I could do a few things:
-not stress about juggling two kids for AC's first swimming lesson
-go for a long run in the battlefield
-go to a Mommy and me lunch with Anna Cate.

But after I took Anna Cate to her swimming lesson, she decided she would rather stay at home with the babysitter than lunch with Mommy. Fighting with a 4-year old WASNT on the list for the day, so at least I had the long run!

Because of Fredericksburg's location between Richmond, capital of the Confederacy, and Washington, DC, this area saw much fighting during the Civil War on two separate campaigns, and those battlefields are now preserved by the Parks Services. As much I love history, the real reason I love running on the tree-lined roads is that I think it reminds me of the nautral beauty of Hickman County, and it is the only place I can truly clear my thoughts.

In nature, I lose my ego. I just breathe, run and listen to my music. And wow, did my playlist provide some food for thought in this jaunt to celebrate my 34th year and look upon my 35th. I won't bore you with all the songs or the thoughts.

I heard, "what a man, what a man, what a mighty fine man" and I'm not sure if BJ knows the "tighten up" or the "funky broadway," but he is a mighty fine man. I smiled at this song and thought of him, that I'm very thankful to be sharing this journey with such a committed, competent and loving guy.IMG_0654.jpg picture by batesking04
And he helps Anna Cate make the cake!

I heard the Melissa Ethridge song about running after cancer, I Run For Life. Well, I haven't had cancer but I've had a life of insecurity worrying about my body, and hell yes, I RUN FOR LIFE! I don't run for a waistline, because I really wouldn't be in it 20 years later as I haven't seen it yet. Running is my buddy like nothing else; it is my companion, always been a part of me. So while the nature reminds me of my home, the rolling hills of middle Tennesse, simply running reminds me of who I am.

I thought about all the years I've been running. I've run the streets of my home town, getting to end my runs at Granny's house in the evenings. I've run the paths of the country of Hickman County, realizing the beauty of waterfalls, rolling hills and fresh water out of springs are so much more significant than my body image. I've run with great family dogs who would either circle me constantly like Sally did, or with Duke who knew not only my route and but my pace to figure out where I'd be (small town means you really don't have to follow the leash laws). On my birthday, I thought of my family, and that included our dogs. (yes, BJ we will eventually get one I promise).

I've run along the cornfields of Iowa, through my beautiful college town, Mount Vernon. I've jogged along streams in Denmark, through military housing communities in Japan, races on both coasts of our country. I've made friends, and I've developed peace and confidence with this simple act of breathing and putting one foot in front of the other at my own pace. So that was my birthday gift to myself: a run, thoughts of gratitude, of my family, of places I've been, people (or dogs) I've run with, prayers I asked, and now prayers I say thank you for, and finding new requests.

After I got home, Anna Cate decided she could go out for a smoothie with me, so here we are with our blueberry stained teeth after my run.
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Then, we got ready for our night of celebration. Anna Cate put on her dress up clothes as she awaited her Baba. (on a side note, it stumps me that she can get those clothes on so fast and well as compared to regular ones). Molly needed a tu-tu, too! Ha!
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Brenda (Baba) was BJ's mother other (Patti) best friend, and like a second mom to BJ, growing up and now. Ironically, Anna Cate started calling her Baba, which is what many Eastern Europeans call their grandmother. She watched the girls so BJ and I could go out to dinner.
But we needed more cake; it even looks like Molly wanted some, doesn't it?IMG_0673.jpg
and candles and the song!
It was a lovely day, and I was given the best gifts. For the sake of posterity, I was blessed with the gift of memories reflected upon and memories made. I imagine what I'll remember most is that Anna Cate didn't want to go to lunch with me, and yes, I shed a tear. I called my Mom to tell her that her gift for giving birth to (difficult delivery) and raising me (she read the book The Strong-willed Child three times before I was 5) was that I had met my match. She responded with a story about that little girl in the top picture.

Mom had arranged for Granny to watch Douglas, who was a baby, while she and I had a "mommy and me" date to go pick blueberries. I insisted on staying with Granny, hurting my mom's feelings.......... I told you I adored her! Well as Granny would say, "I'll declare." But I loved my mom, too, and so I said, "I'm sorry" 30 years later. I'm glad my dear Mother taught me how to find my own happiness by example. She picked blueberries; I run.

As I reflect on my birthday, I think about having another Catherine (Anna Cate is Susanna Catherine for BJ's mom, Susie, and Granny) and another Molly in my life. And how the circle of love and of life is repeating before me in new stories that look a little familiar, but with their own the orange chiffon cake. Granny's was beautiful and perfect; Anna Cate's was beautiful with sprinkles and fingerprints in the icing.

Here is an image of those two cake makers. I read some letters today that Granny wrote me and took a picture of one. At first, I was annoyed that Anna Cate picked it up as I snapped, changing the picture......but then I see the sweetness of her little hand on that sheet of paper held and written on with my Granny's hand. So this year I declare, it is both the renewing of myself by running alone AND the hands that touch our lives and make our cakes worth celebrating the day I came into this world.

IMG_0680.jpg picture by batesking04