Sunday, September 14, 2014

STRADDLING THE SEASONS WITH GRAPES



We're now in that transitional phase, where we're still getting mosquito bites, but the evenings are chilly enough for a light jacket....where I am starting to get excited for crunchy colored leaves and cinnamon in the air, but dreading having to exchange easy summer clothes for multi-layered fall clothes. You guys, don't worry, I'm going to do it; I just have to talk myself through it every time. The other day Ken was watching football and I was roasting sweet potatoes with cinnamon on them and feeling like yeah...fall! But please, spare me all the talk about pumpkin spice lattes...

I have been having some kind of a week, did you hear? I believe in therapy, I would gladly get myself in front of a therapist, but when that can't happen I also believe in the kind of therapy that involves blue skies, heavy ripe fruit on branches, sweaty brow, busy hands and a bounty of grapes to walk away with. We did that at Blackwater Vineyards  this past weekend and it was good a soul-soothing session as any. Even battling the giant bees for the juiciest of grapes was poetic. 

I have more words to say about this past weekend, and marriage, and probably some more words about the weather (I know, thrilling), but I'll save that for another post because I need to run off and tackle my Monday to-do list.  Until then, true to form, some photos of said grape harvesting...


















Thursday, September 11, 2014

WHAT I'M READING AND LAMPLIGHTER COFFEE



I've been feeling out of sorts for the past few days. A little drained, a little muted. It happens, and these moods, more than usual, make me want to curl up and read a good story. 

A few days ago, I was almost done with "Eleanor and Park", and wanted so badly to put everything else on pause to finish it.  But because I'm a grown up now and drive a car to work (fun fact: when I was younger, in 4th or 5th grade, I mastered the skill of reading while I walked to school. It's a thing I might still do to this day if I lived walking distance from my work) so I squeezed in pages here and there where I could - while in the bathroom, while standing in front of the microwave waiting for leftovers to heat up, while brushing my teeth. 

I've since finished it and I'm not going to spoil anything but I was a little deflated by the ending. It felt abrupt like I had even turning corners rapidly through a maze and then came upon a brick wall that announced, ok that's it! We are done! 

Come to think of it, I just read another book called 'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt. It is so well written and the characters are interesting, but I had that same sort of disappointment when I got to the end of it: wait... that's how this is ending? It made me go poignant for a moment, thinking about things like how maybe this is a metaphor about enjoying the journey of life more than whatever goal I'm supposed to reach, and so on. 

(let me interject here in parenthetical form to say that since getting the kindle, three weeks ago, I've finished three books. THREE! Usually with my schedule it takes me 3-4 months to get through 3 books...but that's how handy this thing is and why I am no longer a luddite about this)(also, if you are wondering, besides 'Eleanor and Park' and 'The Secret History', the third book is 'Notes from a Blue Bike' by Tsh Oxenreiter.) 

Anyways, you probably noticed already but none of these photos are about book reading or strange moods, but I've been meaning to post these from a few weeks ago, so here we are! This was a few days before my parents left when we had a quick breakfast at Moore's Cafe, followed up by coffee at Lamplighter. 



Why yes, that IS teddy bear donning Sloane's swimsuit from last year.


When I was feeling particularly tired the other day, Sloane was climbing all over me and singing songs to herself that she made up.  All of a sudden, she grabbed my face, held it close to hers, and sang, "My mommy.....cute, sunshine."  It gave me the attack of the giggles. 

Hey, while we are at it, some other things I want to write down:

I was yelling upstairs to Ken for him to come down one morning, "Keeen! Ken!"
I turned around to see Sloane looking squarely back at me. 
"Ken's changing." she informed me knowingly. 
"Oh, right." I said back. 

A few moments later,
"Mom! A fly," she cried, as she pointed out a fly buzzing in the corner of a window.
She watched as I smacked it down and then picked it up with a napkin. 
"Fly went away? " she asked. "In a napkin? Fly is going to come back soon? Fly go home?" 
Her eyes were round and concerned.
"Uh..yes, honey. The fly went back home." 
We stared at each other for a few moments. 
And then, "Mommy, I wanna dance."




Sloane remembers all of my family and Ken's family's names now. She incorporates them into songs, asks if we are going to see them again soon, and recalls random things that she did with each of them. It makes my heart full.










Alright, that's all folks. Now go forth, grab a book, a good cup of coffee and enjoy that weekend.  




Monday, September 8, 2014

SEPTEMBER, I LIKE YOU ANYWAYS



So I have this instagaram, and over the past few months, I've been thinking that I should just go ahead and change my instagram handle to something like 'cocktails and babies', or something else straightforward like that to reflect what's really going on there. Because what's going on there is bourbon cocktails and Sloane. I think I'm okay with that. I've had a lot of fun with bourbon cocktails and Sloane, well, that's going to be a thing for a while.  In true form, last weekend, I had some plums in the fridge and I threw them in a pot with water and sugar to make a plum simple syrup, which then went into a cocktail with ice tea, lemonade, bourbon and a sprig of thyme for garnish.  When I ran out of the plum syrup, I did up the ole' ice tea and lemonade combo with the bourbon and that kept me going through a game of bonanza, wherein I came in last place. 

And here we are....plopped into the month of September, with barely a recollection of how we got there and trying to rub the summer sleep out of our eyes and get our bearings for fall.  I have nothing against fall, I can get nostalgic and romantic with the rest of them, but fall means that many more months closer to winter.  But now that we are here after a glorious summer, I'll properly mourn and bravely take on the fall. September is the kind stewardess who is going to get me there, and I appreciate her.


This past weekend, we saw friends and their babies and it is getting more fun for all of us because Sloane is that much more aware of people, kids, babies, parents, and their names.  Sloane would do this thing where she would reach out and stroke the baby's hand and then leave her hand there. "Baby faye is sleeping" she would whisper to me, her eyes wide and round.  And then later, "Baby faye is crying!," with the same intense expression on her face. She agreed with my suggestion to sing to the baby by going into several rounds of "Wheels on the Bus".




It's all kind of this mystical and magical thing, isn't it? To be an adult, grown and worn by the years, with all this supposed knowledge and wisdom, in the presence of small children, exploring and discovering the world, capable of producing golden peals of laughter and fits of frustration, teaching you all kinds of things about joy and life. It feels like magic.  (*Last two photos by Jayne)




We were pooped after the weekend, but Sunday still saw us through church, football, cooking for the week and an evening with good friends.  These boys were watching a really great version of Prokoviev's 'Peter and the Wolf' set to claymation, and Sloane wanted to watch but she was also scared. "It's okay," Os reassured her, "he catches the wolf!" And when Sloane finally made it to the couch, he casually slipped his arm around her.  Masterful! I gasped to his parents and to Ken.




Which brings us to today.

I had a weird afternoon today. It was rainy and grey to start. But most of the strangeness had to do with a doctor's appointment, where none of the fears were realized, but I found myself in sort of a haze as I walked out.  I picked Sloane up early and spent the rest of the afternoon with her.

"Did you see Miss Kathy today?" I asked her on the way home.
"Yes. Kathy read a book."
"Did you see Miss Melinda?"
"Yes. Melinda read a book, too!"

That "too" at the end. How did she learn that? I wondered.

When we got home, she brought over a shark that she had made at day care (two styrofoam cups painted blue, with eyes and teeth glued to the front and a tail in the back) and told me that George (stuffed monkey) wasn't scare of it, but that Bunny (stuffed bunny) was.  "She's scared," she said, holding her to her chest and swaying back and forth.  "She's crying."  Sloane gentled patted the bunny's back and composed a look of concern on her face.

We had an early dinner - quinoa pasta with butternut squash tomato sauce for her, grilled chicken and snap peas for me - and then I cut up sharp cheddar and raspberries for dessert.  Sloane asked to have her imaginary dog, Maggie, (Ken's sister's dog) come sit up at the table with us. "She fell down!" Sloane exclaimed, in between a raspberry and bite of cheese. 

I tried to get some work done after the meal, but soon gave up to focus on playing with her. She was busy, lining up all our shoes, running to bring the forgotten (imaginary phone) to (imaginary) dad, and reading books to her stuffed animals. 

At one point, she picked up mini maracas that my cousin had gotten her from Peru and pretended they were a microphone, speaking gibberish into them, singing all the songs she knew and ordering me to clap.  "Your turn!" she then said, as she thrust the maracas into my hands.

I feel so lucky (is that the right word?) that I get to be a participant in her world. Usually it's me trying to teach her about this big world, but some days, I'm more than happy to be learning about hers. 

Okay September, let's do this. Sloane, me, and our imaginary dog welcome you with open arms. 




Wednesday, September 3, 2014

VIDEO: LABOR DAY WEEKEND IN VA BEACH



Two videos two weeks in a row! I'm on a roll...because summer is ending and I feel the need to capture these last few moments like this. And because I can't get enough of being ocean-side and being with family and dancing our little hearts out. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

LABOR DAY WEEKEND


Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! When I got into work this morning my co-worker har-hared that being back at work today felt like the first day of school. And it's true, everyone has sort of a glassy-eyed, bewildered expression on their faces that say, 'what am I doing here?' I had a great weekend away in VA beach and I'm not going to whine about wanting one more day, but as soon as I got into work I ate two chocolate chip cookies and fistfuls of popcorn with my coffee, if that tells you anything. Side note: I am starting to consider myself a connoisseur of sorts of kettle corn and my research has concluded that the best one out there is Angie's Sweet and Salty popcorn. Uncle Dave's popcorn from that stand at Williamsburg outlet mall is close on its heels. 

Because this is how my brain is working right now, some thoughts on it in the form of a list: 

1. I thank my lucky stars all the time that I like my in-law family as much as I do.  

2. We were on a boat that my SIL's fiancĂ©, Ray, was driving and then Ken, Ray and I jumped off the boat and (along with Sloane!) swam to shore. It wasn't that far, but Ken and I were surprised by how tiring it was and it made me wish we did more of this jumping off the boat business so that I could get better at ocean swimming. It's thrilling and fun and such a good workout. Plus, ocean hair. 

3. Sloane on a boat, her first time ever, adorable.

4. I like VA beach more and more, each time we visit. Have I told you about this thing I do where I start fantasizing and planning out what it would be like to live in whatever city I visit? It's a sort of game I play with myself. It's not necessarily me willing it to happen, it's usually a way that I get to know a city, be fully present and test how open I am to change. This most recent visit, I was doing a lot of that and at one point I was imagining our little family all going surfing together on an early weekend morning. 

5. I had a delicious Old fashioned cocktail at our anniversary dinner (set up by my rad MIL and SIL). I like that the drink just gets better as you drink it. There is a metaphor in there somewhere. 

6. Four year anniversary lessons: The way that Ken and I are different is what is going to make us better people. The ways that we grapple and grow through this is what is going to make us an even better couple.

7. I have poo-poo'ed the advent of the electronic reader and declared that yes, I totally get it and yes, I'm sure it's wonderful, but that I personally could never get used to it, but then... one fell into my possession by way of a giveaway (!!! shout out, joy the baker) and you guys, it's a game changer. I still prefer holding the physical book - each book has character to it and the physical touch of the pages is an important part of the experience for me - but oh the convenience of a kindle! It's not as off-putting as I've imagined it, the words on the screen are not glaring and bright, and I am finding so many more opportunities to pull it out at sporadic moments to fit in time to read. More on what I've been reading, later.

8. At several points on Sunday afternoon, the majority of which was spent at a car dealership, I looked over at Ken and was so glad that he is the type of person that he is in these types of situations, which is someone who does a lot of research and knows things about numbers and financing and rates and such and such. All the parts of my brain that reject that sort of thing as a foreign language finds it very attractive in my husband. 

9. As always, I am mourning the end of summer. 

10. I'm putting together a little video of our weekend; it will probably show up here sometime later this week. I'm excited to share ! Some of our photos in the meanwhile: