Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mama Cheri

My mama's birthday was last week. 
My mom, who is strong, loyal, private, stubborn, and beautiful. 
My mom, who raised her children to be kind, generous, and love Jesus. 
Who hates schedules and loves vacations. 
My mother, who knows how to make any place a home, 
who will always be able to beat me in an arm wrestling match, 
who begged her children to never get tattoos. 
My mom, with her humbling energy, 
who is my best friend when she isn't too busy being Sena's best friend,
 today marks another year of her life. 
We celebrate her. I sure love her.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

This Weekend We

The weekend was full of community theater plays, and thirty-first birthdays.
It was full of pushing formerly electric cars up hills and letting them roll down. 
And it was full of nature walks, nature journals, and colored pencil drawings. 

And in the moments in between, we started packing up forgotten corners of our house- giving away, throwing away, organizing.

And after all that, Tom woke up Sunday in the mood for "spontaneity and adventure,"  so we packed a lunch and headed to the zoo.

And when I think back on this weekend, this exhausting and wonderful spring weekend, I will do everything in my power to erase the memory of our hellacious drive home from Washington DC. I try to like that city, I really do, but boy does it make it ever hard.

P.S. The community theater play was Neil Simon's Rumors and my good ole dad starred it in. And let me tell you, he was pretty funny. One reviewer claimed he was "naturally hilarious." He has a family full of tough women not ready to fully support that claim, not when he's around to hear us at least, but when he's not listening, I just might be honest and agree. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Playwright in Training

I always hoped that I would inspire my kids, that I would help to form them into thinkers, doers, artists. 
But this girl of mine inspires me more than I could ever hope to inspire her. 

She is ready to be an artist, a writer, a fashion designer, a chef, an interior decorator.
 She begs me to take her to museums and new restaurants. 
She dreams of vacations to Alaska and Brazil.
She is ready to try her hand at any medium.

This week it was a play for a children's play writing competition put on by our local community theater. 
She worked hard and Tom helped her format and edit.
Then they read it through together to make it perfect. 

Afterwards Sena posted notes all over my parent's house asking everyone to remind her when it is May 30th, so she can find out if she won or not.  

She reminds me to try new things and to get excited.

If she wins, we're having a party.
If she doesn't, we're having a party.
I think this girl deserves one. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wintry Beaches

There is something special about a wintry beach, something raw and powerful. 
And though I prefer hot sand and straw hats, I don't miss an opportunity to bundle up and brave the wind on the water's edge. 
There is space and emptiness and lots of unbroken stretches. 
The shoreline is free of sandcastles and there are no surfboards dotting the waves. 
The kids walked along the dunes for almost two miles, hiding and then reappearing. 
Climbing up hills and then rolling down. 
I liked watching the wind whip their hair, and I loved their rosy cheeks afterwards.
Those moments were good, and they were important, but I still am ready for June all the same.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Book Clubbin'- Swamplandia

Last weekend we talked about a book full of sentences I wish I had written on a perfect patio in the city. 
The sun shone, the baby was passed around, wine glasses were kept full, and the sun set. 
There was a Swiss visitor bearing chocolate and the most delicious kale salad I have ever eaten.
There was talk of things heard on NPR and articles read and the light was as beautiful as those women.

Arlo is going to have no choice but to be a very literate feminist. 

Next month we're reading Hemingway, so the menfolk are invited.
 I think the boys are all getting jealous.

P.S. Read Swamplandia by Karen Russel. It's good, so good.

Friday, April 12, 2013


When life seems likes it's just too much, there's never a better time to remember to count my blessings, name them one by one.

  1.  warmer weather
  2. a husband who makes me laugh and laugh
  3. a freckle nosed little boy who walked up to me yesterday and said out of the blue "This is my home. This is my family. This is where I belong."
  4. nursing my fatty faced little man
  5. the fact that we have always been able to pay our bills
  6. weekends
  7. Sena
  8. avocados and sweet potatoes
  9. health insurance
  10. mama, papa, sisters, and brotha, I really like those people.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Leaving the Nest, Maybe

This here house is causing me me equal parts delight and anxiety. 
I want to hang geraniums from those chains you see and a porch swing in the corner.
I want to have dinner parties on the screened in porch out back and tuck my kids to sleep in the sweet little rooms upstairs.
This is where I want to play with Sena, Gus, and Arlo, and maybe bring home a fourth baby one day.
It's where I want to invite friends over for cocktails and where I want to host sleep-overs in the basement.
But right now, it is the cause of so much anxiety, trying to get loans and bids and contracts in order. Right now, it makes Sena sick to her stomach every time she  thinks about moving a mile away from her grandparents, who have always been just across the yard. 
Right now it is the reason that Tom and I are snapping at each other while we try to find W2's and pay stubs and so many other little slips of paper that we never seem to be able to hold on to. Right now, I think Tom and I wish that one of us was a type A personality.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Free Range Free

Last week I let Sena and Gus do something I never have before; I let them stay at the playground by themselves and walk home together. We were on vacation in a place only accessible by ferry. There were four other kids there, unattended locals. The walk home is short, and the road isn't busy.
And it was terrifying
And it was necessary.
There aren't many places I would leave my kids alone; the schoolyard playground in Ocracoke happens to be one of them, and I think it was really important to let them do it. I think that they need to learn to look and listen. They need to think about making decisions  They need moments when I'm not standing right over their little shoulders, reminding them to look both ways, to share, to get down from there.

About 15 minutes into their alone time, I wanted to go check on them. My mom convinced me to give them a bit longer. When I did finally go check on them, they were walking through the "short cut" in the trees. I hid and scared them as best I could when they came out in the clearing. Gus was disappointed that they didn't get to walk back by themselves, so I told them to go back to the playground for a few minutes while I walked home by myself. A few minutes after I got back, I heard them coming down the road, hand in hand, happy as can be about their new found freedom.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Red Hairs A Flyin'

It took a few vacations with kids for Tom and me to realize that vacations would never be the same. Vacations were no longer about relaxing; they were about making memories with your kids, for your kids. But luckily for me, I have sisters (and a mother, father and brother) who come along for the ride, helping me love on these kids of mine, helping make the moments special. And sometimes while a baby sleeps, and the big kids explore the sand dunes, we get a moment to desperately try to take selfies in the wind.

I'm so grateful for my family. And I'm grateful that my sisters maybe had a little too much fun our last night of vacation, and needed me to hop out of my mom's car full of my babies so I could drive my sister's car home.   Riding in the car with your beautiful sister laughing and remembering and laughing some more is good for the soul. Yeah, vacations are about making memories for my kids, but lucky for me, I get to make some pretty sweet memories for me too.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

On Motherhood Eight Years In

When I discovered I was going to become a mother, eight years ago, at the age of twenty, 
I was desperately terrified. 

It wasn't something I wanted, and I felt pretty certain I wouldn't be very good at it.
Everything felt so uncertain, but I knew my tiny daughter had very literally saved my life.
 And as soon as Asenath came into this world, my world, I was so in love, even 
when I felt inadequate, even when I felt impatient, even when I felt scared and more than a little lost.

Time went on. Uncertainty faded. Fear abated. Feelings of inadequacy lessened.

Tom and I wanted to give our girl a family, 
a sibling to love and to protect and  to fight with and to forgive.
So on a whim, we had Gus, and the decision was reckless, and it was fueled by love.

And the years passed and our children grew, and Tom and I
learned to be pretty good at being a mom and a dad. 
We wanted more, more family, more siblings for our children, 
more love for more people, so we had Arlo. 

And motherhood, now, at twenty eight years old, deliberate, 
planned motherhood, it feels so different at times, so self-assured and practiced.

I am grateful. I am grateful for my beautiful family. I am grateful for their health and their happiness.
I am grateful to get to experience motherhood in so many different ways, as a twenty year old who found her footing, as a twenty two year old who impatiently, lovingly and enthusiastically grew her family, as a twenty eight year old who is doing a better job savoring these moments.

 I've learned they pass so quickly.

The Rhythm of a Vacation


Mornings playing checkers at the coffee shop, sipping green smoothies and eating blueberry muffins.
Afternoons spent exploring the village, beach, and dunes, by foot and by golf cart.
Evenings (one  evening at least) spent with my mama and two of my beautiful sisters, sipping on beers and listening to music in pubs.

Oh Ocracoke, I sure love you. More tales and thoughts on a lovely Spring Break to come.

Friday, April 5, 2013


It seems to me like the best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. Life should be full. I don't want to focus on things I can't have or do. I'm trying to fill my life with things that are healthy and will bring me more happiness, (and while those Collins might not be healthy, despite my best efforts,at the end of the day, they bring me enough happiness to make up for it.) Diet soda, on the other hand, brought me very little happiness, but there was some ritual to drinking them, a break from my desk, an excuse to get up, and head to the teachers' lounge vending machine. I like small rituals. So I'm replacing those sodas with mugs and glasses full of green tea, served hot or cold. Green tea, with its myriad health benefits and its complete lack of plastic packaging, what a better thing to fill my body.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why I Homeschool: Part 4

I homeschool my kids because I want to and because I can.
None of the other reasons would matter if it weren't for these two factors.
I want to homeschool my kids.
I can homeschool my kids
So I do.
And if you don't want to or you can't, you will find no judgement from me.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The Words of Sena R. W. / 01

Sena, who just might be the number one supporter of this here blog, has asked to have her own column.  I am happy to oblige. 

This is how I  feel about being a big sister for 6 years. 
At first my mom told me she was having a baby and I was very jealous. She got me  a Dora backpack and I was fine enough. Now I love my brother Gus so much! A couple of years later he's playing Skylanders with me and we say we are best friends. Five years later she tells me "I'm having a baby." This time I wasn't jealous. I was so happy. When I heard I he was a boy, I was sad, but I still love him. 9 Months of waiting and Arlo was finally here! I love him and my family even more and I'm probably going to play with Arlo too.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sips: Cucumber Collins

For far too many years, I was a box-o-wine kind of girl, a jug-o-wine kind of girl when I was trying to be fancy. I always figured I would evolve into a real, life red wine out of a bottle sort of adult, but as it turns out, I would way rather drink a cocktail. And I like to try to convince myself that said cocktails are somehow healthier than red wine with its myriad reported health benefits. I add fruit and vegetables and other green stuff sometimes to my cocktails, so that has got to be healthy. Also, my grandparents are kickin' it at ninety, and they do not mess around when it comes to their nightly martinis. I figure I'm really just upholding important family values.
As of late, the Moscow Mule, my previous go to, has been replaced with the Cucumber Collins, and because, like I said, I really like being healthy, I've figured out a sorta, kinda Paleo version, you know, if cavemen had cocktails that is.

What ya need:
3 slices of cucumber
the juice of one lemon
about a third of a squirter full of lemon flavored stevia (I like the SweetLeaf Brand)
a shot of gin (I've been using Boombay Sapphire, but I'm going to try to find a GMO free gin when this bottle is done)
club soda

You muddle the cucumber and the lemon juice in the bottom of the glass, add the stevia and the gin, fill it up with ice, top it off with club soda, and give it a stir.

Add caption

It is light, crisp, refreshing  and about a half dozen other synonyms meanings approximately the same thing. It will make you long for summer time, but won't be ruining your bikini bod, not that I have ever worn a bikin, but I imagine that if I did wear a bikini, this wouldn't mess that up.

Monday, April 1, 2013

This Weekend We

Between the eggs and the bunnies and the chocolate, there was a quiet afternoon spent in one of my favorite houses with my very best friend in this world.  We sipped on gin and soda, and her mama, who is quite possibly the best hostess living in this day and age, filled us with every sort of deliciousness.

And now Joanna will go back to Brooklyn, and I won't have anyone to eat my weight in cheese with. 
I sure miss my friend.