Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Fairy's Visit

For Anna Cate’s 5th birthday her present from her grandparents was flying home with my mom after Molly’s birthday party for a visit in Centerville. It wasn’t my story to tell, but I wrote about it here. Daddy has penned his take on her visit with them below. I've added some pictures with italicized descriptions.

fairy — n , pl fairies
1. an imaginary supernatural being, usually represented in diminutive human form and characterized as clever, playful, and having magical powers 



IN THE PRESENCE OF A FAIRY

On the last evening we were with our granddaughter, Anna Cate King, she lost her first baby tooth-right up front. She was as thrilled as if she had just graduated magna cum laude from Yale. When she went to bed on the floor in the same room as her Daddy Doug settled into her bed she had shared for the time we were visiting her home, I thought of the wonder of being in the presence of one who believed with all her being that a little fairy would steal into her room and take that bit of dental tissue and in return leave her an American Dollar. It was a nice thought to go to sleep on.
Visits to grandmother have special significance in our family. Molly's dear grandmother was a matron of Centerville. She lived 100 yards away from where I grew up. So, Molly would come with her family to Centerville in the summers of her childhood. Then one Thanksgiving she and I met as teenagers and then a few years later.... well this is not about us; yet the us produced a couple of them and one of them married a fine man who produced Anna Cate and little Molly. So just like her Nana who met her Daddy Doug because she visited her grandmother in Centerville, so Anna Cate came to spend time in our home… within eyesight of Spring Street where our, and thus one half her, tale began.
It is a special privilege to bequeath to your grandchildren memories of your life and that is what we did. Here are some random things we did:

We went to three Vanderbilt baseball games and after each went to mingle with the players, two of whom took her into their strong arms. After each game, Anna Cate would say about visiting those magnificent young men, "Let’s go see the kids."
We have a hot tub which Anna Cate treats as an Olympic size pool with a high dive. The glee of a wet kid is unexplainable, is it not?
I sponsor a Ladies dinner for the clerks and lawyers of our town and this year Anna Cate was there helping one of our secretaries give out name tags. Anna Cate loves to meet new people (for some strange reason) and this was a night of joy for her as she looked right in the eyes of each guest.
Her Nana hosted a tea party for some of her close friends, including Liza, a Centerville friend of Anna Cate’s, one afternoon.
Anna Cate helping Nana prepare for the tea party 

Enjoying the fruits of their labor
the guests:
and Anna Cate helped welcome each lady as if she were a professional maid.

We carried her out to the little Cumberland Presbyterian Church where Molly and I now worship and she sat there as reverently as if she were at Westminster Abbey.
On our return to Virginia, we went to the Safari Park where we fed the exotic antelope and Ostriches who poked their heads into our car and she screamed with delight.

And there were scores of the little moments-helping Nana cool and clean, playing a ball game with me we invented just for ourselves ("Daddy Doug, it’s not about winning, it’s about the challenge" actual quote.)
Her Uncle Doug came to visit her often.

 I watched her carefully figure out how to get the pepper out of a shaker with silent manners. I watched her dip her graham cracker in milk as if she were eating strawberries and cream at Wimbledon.
And once when I called her and she did not come, she replied that she did not hear me. When I scolded her about that little prevarication, she wept-- I was very proud for in our family, honesty is the cardinal virtue and it was apparent that this was already in her DNA. She was of the us who became the them and became the her.
But it was not just our granddaughter who lost that tooth who smiled broadly at church the next day so no one would miss the gap it had left. For as I marveled at the faith of a little girl who expected the fairy , I thought of all of those moments her grandparents had shared with her in our visit and it occurred to me, of course she is expecting a fairy. Why, she is one herself.
~Daddy Doug

Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!”.... William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Break part 1: Simple Pleasures like Working Out, Cleaning out, and Hanging out

When people asked me what my plans were for spring break I would just  say "oh not much," and almost a little sad I didn't get a trip planned, but I was excited all the same just to be at home with my family. What I should have said when asked was that I want to "work out, clean out, and hang out" and that is exactly what we did. The garage is a little cleaner, the laundry is caught up, the closets have been changed out with spring clothes and I enjoyed quality time spent with my girls...not in that order, of course.  I thoroughly enjoy being a part-time, full time Mommy.  I am blessed that when I'm with my children and in my home, I feel fully present and that this is exactly where I should be.  Spring Break felt like Summer and I really didn't want to go back to school, but once I was there, I felt happy (ok, happy may be pushing it, but I was content) to be there as well.

Last week gave me some moments of clarity and profundity in experiencing Holy Week and Easter with Anna Cate, but that is the subject of another post. The pleasures outside of the religious significance were mostly of the simple joys, which probably has some religious undertones as well, but back to the simple indulgences of Spring Break:

We participated in a beautiful Palm Sunday afternoon Easter Egg hunt with our church friends and family. It brings me so much joy on this journey of life to be raising our kids with friends. I know that I married into this family of faith as BJ grew up in this church, but it makes me proud all the same to be sharing these dear folks with my children.
Like look at these two:

Owen and Molly, not BJ and the Easter Bunny.

They are genuine friends whose precious faces' light up when they see each other...you can tell they are buddies as are these two girls. Anna Cate and Leana were partners in the three-legged race, 



as well as the Egg toss, which they won. It is a good thing it is called an "egg toss" not an egg catch because neither of them ever caught the egg.




Both of the girls enjoyed a sack race:

Yes...BJ actually ran with Molly like that.

Of course, there were the perfunctory hunting of eggs:
Or just checking out to see what Mommy put in the basket:

It was an all round grand afternoon.

I'm happy when they are happy.



Spring break at home let me sleep in a bit and some quality cuddle time with Anna Cate.

But hearing MAMA MAMA MAMA MAMA MAMA MAMA and this sweet smile was worth getting up for

That and a hot cup of decaf coffee with vanilla soy milk on leisurely mornings. Yeah, I'm not easy to please in the morning.


Almost every day, we went to the gym and Anna Cate and I fit in a Mommy and me Pitaiyo class.

Speaking of physical activity....Anna Cate learned to ride her bike. We live a bit on a hill so figuring out the inclines in both directions were frustrating so I took her to the track at a nearby school and the girl got her groove or her wheels going.

Molly enjoyed running in the field, but thought it was exhausting teaching Sissy how to ride a bike.

So when Molly slept, we parked her in the shade and Anna Cate rode and rode and I ran and ran.  She was so proud she biked 8 laps, 2 miles, but she gets confused and tells people she bikes 8 miles. (By the way, my brother rode RAGBRAI at age 10 on a bike not much bigger than Anna Cate's so maybe a RAGBRAI is in her future).  I'm happy I've figured out how to take both my girls running with Anna Cate in a bike and Molly in the jogger.
We went back to the track a few days later, but this time, Anna Cate biked there which included going up and down hills and making turns. She packed a picnic lunch for Molly and herself so they sat in the shade and ate lunch while I ran.  I used to worry about how I would fit in my own work outs with everything else on my plate, but I'm thankful that we are making it work. Even though the Chocolate Easter Eggs have held me captive a couple nights already, I'm trying really hard to set a healthy example for my girls and keep peace in this household since I'm a lot nicer person to be around when I've gotten a work out in.
(The pictures above are with an Iphone app called Hipstamatic. I don't exactly know how to use it or how to change the lense options and I usually just shake the phone to let the settings be chosen randomly, but I love playing around with it and these cool 1950ish picture tones)

Looking back on the week together, we appreciated the time to partake in simple things like blowing on dandlelion puffs, cooking out and sidewalk chalking our driveway...and playing around with the Hiptamatic app.

BJ joined in some of the fun by  coloring Easter Eggs.

And we did some not so simple things like trying to get both girls to smile and look at the camera for an Easter shot/ Mother's Day gift opportunity. Smiling and looking at the same time didn't happen but I'm pleased with the shots and so thankful for my dear friend Erin Silver for sharing her home and yard for this gorgeous landscape, and trying to help me get the girls to cooperate with a pose or a grin.







We also did a fancy thing in celebrating Leana's 5th birthday at Pinkadilly for a delightful afternoon tea with our friends, Norah and Nana Sharon before her big and fabulous gymnastics party.

Like the warm tea and delicious treats, Spring break was both soothing and a bit delicacy for me.  And, I'm learning to appreciate that the simple things can be the delicacy, too.
So while I didn't go anywhere for Spring Break, I just enjoyed the fact that I didn't have go anywhere to make it special when there are tea parties or learning how to ride a bike and working out a lot or feeling productive by getting caught up on our housework.  I'm learning that it is these simple or fancy or traditional things like running in a field, or watching the cutest 1 year old carry chalk around and dot a black pavement, or experiencing Holy week through the eyes of a child that make me think this is my big story here.  This is better than a trip right now because that would be a lot of schlepping and disturbed sleep patterns, after all. This right now is the story of our life, the epic tale of this stage with these precious girls and our dear friends and family. More to come in a few days on Holy Week and Easter celebration.



    Each day is a little life.
        -Schopenhauer