Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Poem for Christmas

I am off to huddle on the couch and read the books I received for Christmas. I may not move until February. Especially since there is a blizzard headed our way. So here is a beautiful Christmas poem for you to enjoy. I'll think of something clever to say after I am done reading.




Noël
By Anne Porter

When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they're cut down
And brought into our houses


When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows


We hear and sing
The customary carols


They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common


But there are carols
That carry phrases
Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet's message


Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies


Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices


They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Daniel!


Today is Daniel's 43rd birthday. I met him when he was 24. That's a lot of birthdays together.


When I do math, which isn't often, the amount of years I have spent with Daniel is boggling to me.


Where did the time go? When did my husband get to be 43?! (You look good at 43!)


Especially when I still feel 29.


Actually, I like my age now and I like who I am but I don't think how I feel matches how I think I should feel at that number.


In case you're wondering, I am not 40, yet.


It seems like we just met last week, (Who are these kids anyway?) then it seems like we have been together forever. Haven't we always been married with kids? Haven't we always had meatloaf and green bean hot dish on Dec. 20th? Where would we be if we weren't together? Have all these years been worth it?


Yes, they are worth it. Even though we have had our ups and downs, I wouldn't want to be married to anyone else. Besides, we have too much shared history and too many private jokes and kids, we have kids! I wouldn't have Maeve and Hilde if it weren't for Daniel.


Yes, birthdays really do cause me to be this introspective. Even someone else's birthday.


Daniel, I think, was just grateful for the meatloaf and hot dish.


Happy Birthday Honey.



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Unexpected beauty




Maeve, Hilde and I usually go all out with Christmas decorating. I have at least three boxes of indoor decorations alone. Usually the weekend after Thanksgiving we begin to pull everything out, re-arrange furniture and deck our halls for Christmas.


This year is a little different. We are officially moving to Oklahoma City, OK sometime in January. For the past few weeks I have been slowly working on getting the house de-cluttered and ready to put on the market. Since my goals are "Less" and "Simple" I haven't felt like decorating for Christmas. My motto with decoration has always been "Go big or go home". My favorite color is red, so our house is usually adorned with all manner of red, gold, glittery things. This year my motto is "Put things in a box, don't take them out of a box."

Maeve and Hilde were adamant that we put up a tree and our advent calendar. Truthfully, I wanted these too, since it didn't feel like Christmas without them. So, we compromised on the tree. We put up our little tree.

We have a regular, full seven foot tree which is our standard tree each with multi-colored lights. Then we have a little tree, which is shorter and more narrow and it pre-lit with white lights. The little tree takes less room and is easier although, to us, it is a little less pretty than the regular multi-colored one.

We also decided to only put on "special" ornaments on the tree this year. Each year since their birth, each girl gets a "special" ornament. Maeve gets a Wedgwood ornament and Hilde gets a Waterford ornament. We pick a day before Thanksgiving and the three of us go to select the ornament and then have lunch. It is a special mother-daughter tradition that I love. By the time they leave our house for good, they will each have a set of gorgeous ornaments.

So, we have eleven Wedgwood ornaments all in shades of cream, white, gold and Wedgwood blue. Add to that Hilde's ten crystal Waterford ornaments which sparkle when they hit the light. We filled in with ten others in pearl and silver and pastel shades. So, all in all only thirty one ornaments on the tree and glass and cream star on top.

We thought it would look pretty sparse. We were wrong.

The effect of white lights and the the white porcelain and crystal is ethereal. It is looks fragile and very, very pretty.

It is like a frosty winter wonderland.

Maeve says it looks dainty. She's right. It is just about the girliest tree we have ever had.
We have been oohing and ahhing all afternoon.


Such unexpected beauty born out of simplicity.






Monday, December 6, 2010

Correction

I need to make a correction to my last post about NYC. Hilde says that MARY on Cake Boss reminds her of Aunt Janet. I made the mistake and said Grace, but it is really Mary.

You can read about her here....http://tlc.discovery.com/tv/cake-boss/bios/bios.html

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NYC in my DNA


If you have met me in the past 15 years, you might be surprised to hear that I was born and partially raised in New York City. Staten Island to be exact, which I know seems more like New Jersey to non-natives, but it's not. It's definitely New York. My father was also a New York City Police Officer, which is important to this story because I remember lots of traveling into the city with my dad.


(On a side note, my parents let my older teenager sisters take me and my brother on the Staten Island Ferry into Lower Manhattan with no parental supervision; in the early '80s before Giuliani cleaned up the place and rent went sky high so that even the lower East side is too expensive. What were they thinking? I think social services would be involved today.)


Anyway, it has been a long time since I have lived in New York. Since moving South when I was eleven, I have been back less than ten times.


So, I don't think I appear to be from New York City. I have more of a Southern accent, although I change easily. According to my girls, one minute I am "talking Southern" then the next minute "I have Aunt Janet voice".


(Hilde says that Grace on Cake Boss reminds her of Aunt Janet.)


This weekend I realized I really do have NYC in my DNA.


Daniel, who is working in Newark NJ, wanted to spend a few days touring Metro NYC. After visiting Newark and the Thomas Edison museum in West Orange NJ; we hit the ground running in NYC. Us and another gazillion people in the city for Thanksgiving. What were we thinking?


We took the train in which landed in the city at Penn Station, a perfect launching pad.


We saw Times Square, Macy's in Herald Square, 5th Avenue (for Christmas Decorations, American Girl and FAO Schwarz), The Museum of Natural History, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.


All in three days.


What I realized when I was there was that I LOVE NYC.


(Daniel hates it. He would rather stay in New Jersey.)


We must have walked miles and hours and I was energized by it all.


I am not afraid in the city at all. I hit the pavement and my New Yorker kicks in. I walk fast, I talk fast and I will go any where, even Central Park after dark. Although it was a bit empty and creepy.


Even though I had to stop to figure out where we were going, once we got to all these landmarks, I had vivid memories of being there as a kid come back to me.


(My accent also came flooding back. It's funny how it just slides in.)


I remember my dad driving into the city to take me to see the windows on 5th avenue. He parallel parked our huge station wagon on 5th avenue and we spent the evening walking up and down and looking at the windows.


This firmly embedded the magic of Christmas in New York for me.


I tried to convince Maeve and Hilde to go in Macy's and see the real Santa. The real Santa comes to Macy's every year (That's the point of the parade, if you didn't know.) and this is their last chance to see him before we head west of the Mississippi. They didn't want to, they were too tired at that point. I made them take pictures outside anyway.


I took the girls to the Museum of Natural history and visions of the first time I stood under the blue whale flooded back. I think I went there on school trip with my dad as a chaperon.


I was sure it would fall on me.


I made my family lay under it.


I remember climbing down a staircase with a wooden banister, but now the steps are carpeted. I think it was a safety thing, but I miss the pretty ones.


I tool the girls to the Statue of Liberty and I remembered climbing all those steps. When you look out from the pedestal we could see Staten Island and the Staten Island Ferry.


*sniff, sniff*


I also remember buying a miniature Statue, just like the one Maeve got.


(I also realize that I am a New Yorker because I hated driving in NJ. Whose idea was it to inhabit Hoboken anyway? It's a spit of sand between the city and mainland NJ. There's no room for anyone. )


All this to say, I hope that our trip imparted a little New York into my girls. I know it resurrected mine.


Today my DNA is a conundrum because we are headed West to Oklahoma. Far, far away from NYC.


It wasn't until this weekend that I realized how much I will miss it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving


To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven. ~Johannes A. Gaertner






Monday, November 8, 2010

Proud Mama Moment #2: Church

To say that I am involved in my local community of faith is an understatement. I have been on staff at our church for several years, doing children's ministry. I am on the prayer team. I help out with worship ideas and I am a member of the resource team. At one point in my life, when we lived in Maryland, I was at church 6 days a week for something or other.

I do all these things not because I have to, but because I get to. As a Christian, I believe that my church is my family. I love it. When you love your family, you spend time with them.

When you have this kind of involvement you wonder if your kids love church too. Sometimes I think my kids go to church because I drag them with me. Sometimes I think they go because they mimic my behavior. Everyone once in a while God will send a reminder that Maeve and Hilde love Him and they go to church because they like it too.

A few weekends ago, I had a meeting at church during the first service. Maeve and Hilde wanted to go early with me. I told them they couldn't come to the meeting and we were going to go too late to go to Kids Zone. They would have to sit and wait for me in the cafe.

When we arrived they decided to go to church by themselves. For a minute I thought maybe I should find someone for them to sit with, so they wouldn't be alone. Hilde said, "Mom, we are not alone! We are with each other."

Honestly, I was late for my meeting so I said, "Okay, go."

It turns out that there was communion that Sunday. Our church has about 600-800 people in service. My girls went to church together and then took communion without parental supervision along with about 700 other people.

I couldn't believe it. Maeve and Hilde are both shy. They both don't like being up in front of other people. Honestly, I didn't think they would take communion without their parents.

Turns out I was wrong.

Maeve and Hilde both said, "Mom, it was communion! I didn't want to miss it." Maeve rolled her eyes at me too.

I love their simple explanation. It says to me that they care about communion. That they think it is important. They know what it means. The simple act of going to service by themselves says that they wanted too. They didn't have to go. They chose to go. They went because they love Jesus.

It reminded me that my girls have a faith all their own. I may have had a part in fostering it, but it there without me; maybe even some days in spite of me.

It was a very, very, very proud mama moment.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Proud Mama Moment #1: Blue Ribbon Girls

This is the face of a girl who is exactly where she wants to be.




Hilde got to ride her favorite horse, George, at the Halloween Horse Show. She adores him.

Her favorite quote is. "The mere sense of living is joy enough." by Emily Dickinson.

Sitting on top of a horse is pure joy for Hilde. She worked hard to improve this year and she did!

She took home her first blue ribbon.

Her goal was to do her best, have fun and not be nervous.

She was beaming because she met all her goals; for Hilde blue ribbons are icing on the cake called riding.




You can't tell in this picture but Maeve's feet weren't touching the ground.





She was so happy she was bouncing on air. Why, you ask? Maeve took the blue ribbon in two classes and then the division champion. How awesome is that!

I wish I could bottle the elation she felt after she realized she had done so well. she was beaming.


I couldn't be more proud of my blue ribbon girls.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Things We Do for Love

This past weekend was the infamous Halloween Horse Show. It’s infamous because horse shows are long and October is cold and October in a barn is even colder. October in a barn for eight hours is infamous.


But I am a mom of daughters who ride. So I sit in the barn and shiver and wait for their turn. It helps that my husband loves me and will go to Starbuck's to buy me a latte, even though it takes all he has not to scream to the clerk about how it costs more than four dollars. I also love him, so while I drink the latte I listen to him rant to me about the cost and ask rhetorical questions like, "You don't do this often do you?"


It is also infamous because of costume class. This is the last class of the day when the riders get to dress up their horse. Even though I try not to be competitive, I can’t help myself. This class is really for me.



The girls and I have great fun thinking of a theme and then I get to use all my crafting ability to make it come to life. Even though it takes a chunk of time to put together, we love it.


I blame my family for this. Halloween growing up was always done "right". Great homemade costumes (except for the Wonder Woman costume in second grade and I think my mom gave in to my whining that year), spooky house decorations. One year my dad dressed in ultraviolet paint so he would glow in black light. Another year he rigged a hose to "hiss" at the end of the driveway. This scared the parents while they waited for their kids.


So, of course we go big with our costumes, we have a family tradition to uphold.


The first year we turned the horse into a Viking ship. It’s my favorite:





The second year we transformed the horse into a fire truck. It’s an excellent example of the wonders of duct tape.


This year, I didn't try so hard, but I think the theme was clever. The horse turned into camel and the girls were an Egyptian and a British Egyptologist.



I know cute, clever, crafty. I agree.

Every year we have come in second.

Every year on the way home Maeve and Hilde say "Mom, it's just a costume class. We do it for fun not to win."

Yes, yes that's true, but next year, next year will be different.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

One more person you should know....

I visited my family last weekend. Over four days of the Columbus Day holiday, I traveled by plane, car and boat. I covered more than 1100 miles there and back. It was a lot of travelling all just to visit family.

I would do it again tomorrow if I could.

My sister Jennifer and her son Joe were in from New Mexico. Maeve, Hilde and I came down from Rhode Island. My parents, two sisters and a brother live in Richmond, VA and then my sister Jeanne and her son Clif and his two little girls came in from Maryland.

The gang was mostly there, all my siblings and parents and most grandchildren. We are a large group when we get together.

When I am around my family I think of the book entitled Family: The Ties that Bind and Gag That’s kind of how I feel when I survey my family tree. I love them but they make me crazy.

Erma Bombeck wrote this book. If you don’t know her, you should.

Erma Bombeck was kind of like the Roseanne Barr of her day, only nicer and funnier. (I do realize that to people under 30, even a reference to Roseanne Barr is outdated but I can't think of anyone in the news currently.)

She was a pioneer of the genre called Mom Lit; which is to say books written by mothers from a mother’s perspective. She was a mom, a humorist and a writer, in that order.

She is one of my heroes.

She managed to raise children and fit in writing. She looked at ordinary life and saw humor and beauty and sadness and through her writing, she made us see it too. She never took herself too seriously. She took ten years off to be "just a housewife." When the craziness of life outweighed the good, she wasn't afraid to quit.

I wish I could have met her.

She campaigned for women’s rights. She believed that women should be free to choose whatever career they wanted, even if this choice was to stay home and be a housewife. This made her unpopular with chauvinists and feminists alike, but beloved by the American People.

Erma was famous for her one-liners about kids and housework.

Here are a few of my favorites:

“A friend never defends a husband who gets his wife an electric skillet for her birthday”

“Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.”

“Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop offs at tedium and counter productivity.”

“All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.”

“Children make your life important.”

“For years my wedding ring has done its job. It has led me not into temptation. It has reminded my husband numerous times at parties that it's time to go home. It has been a source of relief to a dinner companion. It has been a status symbol in the maternity ward.”

“I haven't trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I've never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.”

“If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it.”

“In general my children refuse to eat anything that hasn't danced in television.”

“My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”

“Who in their infinite wisdom decreed that Little League uniforms be white?
certainly not a mother.”

Here are my two favorites:

“It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding.”

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me".”

Erma died in 1997, but we could use more of her today. The country needs a laugh right now.

P.S. For some really good laughs, rent the movie version of Erma's The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank. It stars Carol Burnett and Charles Grodin. It's hilarious.

P.P.S. I am writing this at the kitchen table, while my family is eating lunch and trying to talk to me. I think Erma would have known exactly how frustrating this is. :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Homeschooling Looks Like for Us.


In history we are approaching the start of the Civil War. We are reading Lincoln: A Photobiography. It is very good. As expected it has great pictures and spends a lot of time on Lincoln's early years. Hilde especially likes the series of pictures about the progression of Lincoln's beard. I like learning more about his family.

In our house, we do "school work". Every day the girls have a set of work to accomplish: math, grammar, reading, history, cursive, vocabulary and science. Then we have "learning". Learning has a much broader definition than "school". Maeve and Hilde learn during their schoolwork, but it doesn't stop there. One of the great things about being their teacher is being able to connect there lessons to our family life. We actually enjoy learning; geeky I know. Learning takes place through out life, not just during school.

Since Daniel found out that we are studying the Civil War, he has been bringing home DVDs for us to watch. If you work in Newark you can get a library card, so he did. Even more geeky I know.

All the history Daniel has ever learned has taken place post school years. He will be the first one to say he was an adult before he realized that history was interesting. He was a junior in high school before he knew that England was an island. This is particularly tragic since he was a "gifted" student all his life. Somehow he managed to do enough to get good grades and promptly forgot everything.

Anyway, we have been watching great history DVDs from the History Channel and PBS. Kudos to these great documentary makers, they do make history exciting.

One video that Daniel and the girls watched was about Sherman's march to the sea. I haven't seen it yet, I had a previous engagement.

When I arrived home the girls and Daniel were eating in the kitchen and the conversation went like this:

Maeve: I think Sherman is my favorite general.
Daniel to me: We watched Sherman's March to the Sea this morning.
Me: Really, Sherman is your favorite general?
Maeve: Yes, I even like him more than Robert E. Lee

At this point I was starting to worry about her Machiavellian tendencies. I hadn't seen the video, but I was a history minor, I had a reference point.

Me: Well, why do you like Sherman so much? You know even thought Lee fought for the Confederacy he was a great man.

I didn't want to let on that her choice was troubling me.

Maeve: He was very smart and clever and in the whole march he only lost 600 men.
Me: Yes, true but he also let his men do some not nice things to people who were innocent bystanders.
Maeve: Yes, well the troops had to eat.
Daniel: He did let up on the burning when he reached North Carolina.

At this point I was really starting to worry about Maeve and Daniel.

Hilde: My favorite general will always be George Washington!

That's my girl! Good 'Ole George, war hero, President, humble. The man who freed his slaves after he died, well before it was "fashionable". Mythological father figure of our country. I would much prefer if Maeve chose someone like that.

As an aside, Hilde likes the colonial period and the Revolutionary War better. She loves Williamsburg and asks at least once a month when we are going again. So, her affinity for Washington has to do with the fact that she likes the time period. She is learning to like Lincoln too. We will see what she thinks of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond and Gettysburg. I have a feeling they are not going to measure up to Williamsburg.

Me: Well Maeve, I don't think generals could do that today. Since there is so much media coverage of wars, I am pretty sure he would have gotten in trouble.

Daniel: Funny, they mentioned that in video. Apparently Lincoln and Grant "lost" Sherman's whereabouts. So that when asked they could say, "We have no idea what is going on." Sherman justified his men's actions by saying he never ordered them to be so violent in their pillaging.

Some things never change.

Daniel: The movie even said Sherman might have been crazy, really crazy.
Maeve: Well, crazy is helpful when you are general.

Out of the mouth of babes.

So, we went on for a few minutes eating and discussing Sherman and war and media and the meaning of innocent civilians. We even talked about how Sherman's march was kind of like dropping the bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. No one thinks it's right, but it did help end a war that was going to drag on a lot longer.

All this took place around the kitchen table on a Saturday afternoon.

This is what I consider real learning and this is what school looks like at our house.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday

Yesterday, I tried to have a nice, quiet day. I cleared the schedule so that it was a slow, calm day. The girls and I needed this for two reasons. First the weekend was crazy. (More on the later) It was so crazy that I didn’t notice until Sunday evening that Maeve had a cold and Hilde was headed in that direction. So, we hunkered down Monday morning with tissues and books and looked forward to an uneventful day.

After lunch I realized we had to venture out of the house because we were two-thirds the way through the last box of tissues. We got dressed and headed out to the car. That’s when we noticed this-
Yes, snakes in a tree.

Snakes were nesting in the tree, right next to the garage. Two snakes watching us. It was bizarre.
Even more bizarre when you consider the fact we live in New England. Maybe they have snakes in trees more often in say, Arizona. It seems like a desert, rugged, rural kind of phenomenon. Definitely not something you see every day in suburban Rhode Island.

Later in the afternoon I browsed the news and realized that a more tragic bizarre thing happened in Woonsocket Monday morning. An ordinary man going about his regular routine was shot and killed while he was depositing money at the local Citizens’ Bank. It happened at 11am less than a mile from my house. I heard the police helicopters and thought they were life flight going to the hospital. Bizarre and a little scary.

Then later that evening, Daniel made a decision that he has been wrestling with all weekend. We managed to discuss the pros and cons of the issue and I managed not to steam roll a decision out of him. I actually backed off and decided to be happy with whatever he chose. He made the decision and there was no drama, no second guessing and no badgering. This seems ordinary but in our house it’s bizarre, but in a good way.

So, on a day that I set out to have a nice, quiet, uneventful day I realized that in my world there is no such thing as an ordinary day. Each day brings wonder, adventure, tragedy and decision in its own unique way.

It makes me wonder about tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To Arms! To Arms!

If you are related in any way to a girl between the ages of 4 and 20 something, you will know who this is:




Let me re-phrase this. If you are a white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant, of middle class income, you know who this is. It is Felicity Merriman of Williamsburg. She is a horse lover, friend to Elizabeth Bennet and fledgling patriot. She is one of the historical characters sold by American Girl. In fact, she is one of the original American Girls.

(American Girl being the superior doll company. Far better role models than Bratz and less harmful to the self-esteem than Barbie. )

She is beloved by generations of girls who learned about the American Revolution by reading her books. She taught us how to be a friend with someone who has differing political opinions (Elizabeth). She taught us that grandfathers are the best people in the world (We cried buckets when her grandfather died.). She taught us that animal cruelty is wrong (She saved Penny). She taught us how to love our enemy (Jiggy Nye). Finally, she taught us what is means to be a patriot and that colonists could be ladies too. (Tea lessons anyone?)

She is also being retired by the Mattel after Christmas. Say it isn't so!

In our house this is treason. Treason I say! How can you have an American Girl Doll company and not feature the American Girl who was present at the birth of our nation?! It's an outrage. First, they retired Kirsten, the pioneer doll, now this. Are the American Revolution and Western Expansion passe? Who's next Kaya? Josphina? Molly?

How are girls going to learn their American History? We need these dolls and their books (and their over-priced nightgowns, riding outfits, bedroom sets, pets and accessories)because even if it is all a profit-driven marketing strategy, it inspires girls to read and to want to learn more about the girls who lived in this country before they did. These dolls really do open windows that no text book ever could,

I used to be able to justify the expense, mostly because Grandpa and Aunt Janet pay for it all, but recently I have begun to contemplate a boycott. Just like Felicity boycotted tea to protest the tax, I should boycott American Girl. I should decry their marketing strategy.

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, Give me Felicity or give death!"

Maeve and Hilde are all for this protest. We are united against this injustice.

As long as it is after Christmas and Grandpa and Aunt Janet have purchased all the Felicity items Hilde requires and Maeve gets that tap dance outfit before American Girl black lists us.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Goals

One of the most beautiful things about learning at home, is the ability to end the day with something fun. Yesterday evening the girls and I took a walk after dinner. We used Wednesday an “as ease-into-it day”; which means we only did math and reading.

During the walk we talked about uniforms, spelling curriculum, science curriculum and goals for the year. (Another great thing about learning at home is that my children have a say in what books they use and what they study.)

One of Maeve’s goals is to read the dictionary. She’s a girl after my own heart. I poured over my family’s collection of Funk and Wagnall’s when I young. They had lovely brown leather covers with gold writing, thin pages full of stuff to know.

One of Hilde’s goals is to write a biography about Maeve. So, she spends a lot of time taking notes and saying, “I have to write that down before I forget it.” Also, just like me. I have pages full of ideas for this blog, books and articles that over the years I have half written in my mind. One day I’ll get to those.

All this goal setting got me to ponder what my goals are for home schooling this year. I have goals set out for each girl. The things that I would like them to accomplish, but I hadn’t thought of what my goals for me would be. This is a big deal because this year, I have space to do this. I recently stepped down from my part time job in order to focus completely on my household. Home school is the biggest commitment I have and now that I have time, I really want to be intentional about what I am learning from this experience as well, as what Maeve and Hilde are learning.

So, here they are:

1. Finish the year. It is always good to start with an easy one. This may seem like no-brainer to most people. However, in our house we have a tendency to let the year fade away, instead of really finishing. This year, I want to start well and end well. I want to get to June and say “We finished! Let’s hit the beach!”

2. I want to go slow. I am not interested in covering vast amounts of information in a short amount of time. Now that I am at home full time, we have time to go in depth with any area of study. If we want to spend 5 weeks talking about rocks, we can. If the girls want to learn how to make bandages like they did during the civil war, we can. If they want to then spend some time learning about how medicine advanced during the war, we can do that too.

3. I want to spend more time encouraging and less time correcting. Now that mornings are reserved for school, my brain is reserved for school too. When I am stressed by the long to-do list waiting each afternoon, I tend to rush my kids. Rushing then translates into being frustrated and correcting harshly. This year I want to allow my girls time to make mistakes and to be able to finish a lesson without their mother being aggravated because it. Gentleness and kindness will rule this year.

4. I want to remember the power of shared lessons. Sometimes, I want Maeve and Hilde to just go and do their work all alone, by themselves. Then I remember the power of a shared lesson. Yesterday, I wanted to review our American History so far. So, I created a list of events that we have studied and put them on the white board out of order. Then we sat together and Maeve and Hilde put them in order. They loved it. They kept saying things like, “I remember the Aztecs!” “Oh, I love Lewis and Clark!” “Remember when we went to the Alamo?” They had so much fun working together. More importantly they had fun remembering together all the things we have studied. Shared memories are the best memories and I am glad I get to be a part of my girls’ school memories.

5. I want to remember that love what I do. I love teaching my girls at home. I am privileged to see them learn new things, to conquer math skills, to add new words to their vocabulary and make 3D models of the earth. Most parents hear about these things anecdotally. I get to be there, first hand. When the light of a discovery or the click of connection happens, I am there and it is awesome.

6. I want the girls to know I love what I do. I want Maeve and Hilde to know that there is no place I would rather be. In the past I think I have failed here. I like to do a lot of stuff and my attention is easily diverted to other things. This year, I want them know I am choosing them and that I want to be home with them more than any place else.

7. I want to learn percentages. This also sounds like a no brainer but I never really learned how to do percentages correctly. You see, I skipped 5th grade. I started 5th grade, went for 9 weeks, then did 3 weeks of both 5th and 6th grade, then transitioned to all 6th grade. This was great, I don’t regret it, but it means I missed some math. You see by the time I got fully integrated into 6th grade, they had finished their review and moved onto new math. I didn’t stay in 5th grade long enough to get anything new. So I have holes in my math. I think I have compensated well, but it would be nice to fill those in. Luckily, Maeve is just finishing up 5th grade and I sneaked a look at the next couple of lesson. They include percentages. I am sure she will share with me.

8. I want to go more places. We are studying the Civil War through modern times this year. I am convinced the best way to teach history (and science) is to be where it happened. This means carving time for field trips, loading up the car and hitting the road. It means not rushing but taking time at each site to really experience it. The biggest trip planned so far is to Gettysburg next month. Gettysburg is so full of history that you can feel its importance when you drive through the town. I want to soak in things like this with my girls.

9. I want to be home more. This seems counter to the last goal, but I mean be home in a more simple way. I want to go out only when I need to. It means bundling my errands so that I have out of the house days and at home days. So that I am not always getting into the car every afternoon and running errands. It means cooking whatever is in the pantry instead of going out to dinner. It means enjoying our home and seeing the beauty inside of it; instead of always going somewhere for entertainment. It also means no longer avoiding chores by going somewhere, which may bring some much needed order and cutter-cleansing to the house.

10. I want to be fully present. I don’t want to miss a thing. Maeve is in 6th grade. I have 7 more years until she leaves for college. Hilde leaves in 9. Time goes too fast. They were potty training yesterday. I don’t want to wake up and have them gone. I want to fill this year with memories I will hold onto in the nursing home. I want to build the stories that Maeve and Hilde will tell their children. I want to see all the little miracles that happen every day and connect all the dots. I want to live in grateful expectation and go to bed knowing that I was fully present to the beautiful life all around me.

11. I want to be more intentional about our faith. Our faith is the glue that holds our family together. It is the glue that holds me together, daily, sometimes hourly. Up until now faith has been more caught than taught in house. I want to change that. I want to read our Bibles together. I want to pray together. I want Maeve and Hilde to ask any question and we'll figure out the answer together. I want my girls to sing "On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." and know what it means and mean it when they say it. Maeve would be starting Confirmation if we were in a traditional church. It makes me miss traditional church. I think it's time we solidify all the things we talk about around the girls by talking about them with the girls.
Maeve and Hilde both got new Bibles this year and they excited to read them. I want that to last past this year.

This is a long list. I will have to post it on the refrigerator so I don't forget it. Everything important in our house is on the fridge. Next to grocery list and under the meal plan for the week, will be this reminder to open my eyes and see that life if bigger than groceries.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

WANTED

Wanted:

Rancher (or farmer or winery owner) in the Texas Hill Country (preferably Kerrville, Ingram, or Hunt but willing to accept Comfort or Boerne), who needs an Oracle Business Intelligence Architect and Developer, to provide commensurate salary and relocation for Developer’s family of four. BI Developer willing to work with Oracle Suite of products and to use Paramedic skills as the ranch’s first responder. (Also, not afraid of hard physical labor.) Children willing to provide free farm labor in exchange for unlimited access to horses, chickens and goats. Wife willing to chronicle this experience from farmhouse porch and paint rancher and ranch life in a flattering light. Said wife also willing to split profits from movie rights of book based on our adventure.

Serious applicants only.

Please reply to desperatetogettotexas@splatcat.com

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oh the pressure!

August is supposed to be the height of summer. Easy days filled with fun and frolic. Not for me. Every August I am reminded by my school district that I have not turned in the required year end report.

I need to turn them in and then turn in my home school application for next year. If the school district doesn't get these forms, I will be denied the right to home school.

As if.

But I digress. When the forms arrive in the mail, they send me into a panic. You see I need to list the curriculum I am using for the coming year. Literature and History are easy, we use Sonlight. Math is easy this year; we have switched to Teaching Textbooks. What gives me a rash every year is grammar. You would think that a writer, who loves to read would be able to teach her children grammar. Not so, every Language Arts curriculum I have used has been good, but not perfect.

I, like every other home schooling mom, am looking for the perfect curriculum which will turn my children into literate, advanced writers.

This insatiable need to match how my girls learn with what I think they should know causes me to miss most of these beautiful August nights.

I am scouring the Internet, reading all the reviews, bugging my friends to death, all in the search for the holy grail. An easy to use comprehensive, Charlotte Mason, grammar curriculum that my children will love to use every morning.

Never mind that this, like the grail, is a mythical object. My fingers are already numb from searching.

I will find it!

Even if it means being completely oblivious to the summer around me. What a meager sacrifice in return for children who will read Eats, Shoots and Leaves and laugh in agreement.

Just poke me sometime before Labor Day, and remind that school has already started and my children need me to get off the computer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jury Duty

I was called for jury duty for the Superior Court of Rhode Island. According to state law, I was required to serve two days in the jury waiting. If chosen, I would stay for the duration of the jury selection process.


It sounded easy, free parking, two hours for lunch and just two days of service.


Jury duty is a very strange thing. It is both fascinating to be part of the judicial system and excruciatingly boring while you wait.


I did notice that most of the people in jury room did not want to be there. A lot of the conversations focused on how to answer the lawyers’ questions so that they would scratch you from the panel. Some people didn’t want to miss work. Others had child care issues. Some just hated sitting around.

Jury duty is such an inconvenience.

I had waited a long time to be called for jury duty. It is something I have always wanted to do. However, I will admit that I too succumbed to the group think and began to hope I would be dismissed or that somehow I wouldn’t make the final cut.

It is very hard to sit in a room with 40 other people and just wait.

And wait.

And wait.

When you are forced to watch it, daytime TV becomes torture.

So, I grumbled and complained and fidgeted my way through three days of waiting to be chosen as a jury. My capacity for waiting wore thinner each day; the grumbling grew just a little louder.

They sent me home the third day, not being chosen for a jury.

When I got home, I read this at www.boston.com

Elsewhere Saturday, five U.S. troops died in separate bombings in the south, setting July on course to become the deadliest month of the nearly 9-year war for Americans.

The three days of boredom, in an air conditioned court house, I had endured for my constitutional freedoms instantly became paltry.

I will never complain about jury duty again.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Our Version of Say Yes to the Dress

While Daniel is hell-bent on making our girls into girls, who can and and want to do anything and everything boys can do, when they are with me we tend to do classically girlish pursuits.


One such pursuits is watching Say Yes to the Dress together. This is a TLC show that shows the day to say operations of Kleinfeld's Bridal in NYC. It is fun to see which bride picks which dress and who causes how much drama.

In honor of my anniversary tomorrow, we had our own version. We hauled out my wedding dress.


Here it is:

I know, I know, It's so 90's. Well, yes; I did get married in 1993. The original Beverly Hills 90210 was on TV and things like hair and wedding dresses, where a little puffier.

17 years ago I was 21 and the thought of looking like a princess in Puffed Sleeves made me giddy.

When I took it out, I was thinking, "It's so puffy, even before you add the crinoline."
"There's a crinoline!"
"Oh, there is butt bow!"
"It's sooo beautiful but EWWW, it stinks!"

(It did stink. The day I got married it was 102 degrees and 98% humidity. I never had the dress dry cleaned. Hot weather plus 17 years encased in a plastic garment bag equals 1 STINKY dress!)

Then I stepped into it and I knew.

After all these years, I would still say yes to this dress.

It still makes me feel like a princess. I love the lace, I love the roses, I love the silk. Darn it I even love the bow on the butt.

This is my dress.

The dress that I would choose again to wear walking down the aisle.

We wanted to look at it because I have hopes that one or both of my children might want to wear my dress.

I want my daughters to feel like princesses on their wedding days. I want them to feel confident and poised but also beautiful. I want this because I think they are already beautiful and on their wedding day, I want the men in their lives to see on the outside, what I hope will still be there on the inside.

Beauty, Grace, Confidence, Intelligence, Femininity and Gentleness.

Hilde is with me. Her eyes light up and she smiled when she saw it. I could tell she wanted to be a princess too. When the sequins glittered I could see her making plans. She is a girl who will fall in love at first sight.

Heaven help us.

Maeve, the thinker, ever precise, and always her own person, wasn't so sure. She likes the embroidery, the lace and silk. Definitely not the bow, and to my surprise definitely not the sleeves.

Really?

The sleeves are my favorite part.

Time will tell. Hilde might want something completely different and Maeve might turn out to be more nostalgic than I thought.

Daniel will be happy to present them with their ever burgeoning Craftsman dowry and brag about how the girls will be running the garages and I will be happy no matter what they wear.

As long as they say yes to their dress and more importantly the men who will love them for all that they are and are becoming. .

It's okay if they don't choose this dress.

It's mine anyway.






Thursday, July 8, 2010

A poem for my anniversary :)

"Marriage" by Marie Howe.

My husband likes to watch the cooking shows,
the building shows,
the Discovery Channel, and the surgery channel.
Last night, he told us about a man who came into the emergency room

with a bayonet stuck entirely through his skull and brain.
Did they get it out? We all asked.
They did. And the man was O.K. because the blade
went exactly between
the two halves without severing them.

And who had shoved this bayonet into the man's head? His wife.
A strong woman, someone said. And everyone else
agreed.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Life is happening outside the computer

It is 4th of July weekend. Fireworks, ice cream and a parade.

There is a John Wayne marathon on AMC

Meet me in St. Louis was on TCM last night.

My husband is home from his travels to the Dominican Republic and Embassy Row in Washington DC.

We were dog-sitting.

The girls had a sleep over.

It is Maeve's Baptismal birthday.

Today was the baptism of one of my best friends' son, and the girls are the Godparents.

Needless to say, the blog has been neglected while life is taking place.

Don't worry, I have a head full of things to write about and a phone full of pictures waiting for me to get the chance to sit at the computer.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

More conversations from the back seat

Why is it that when you least expect it your child asks you are a profound theological question?

While driving home from a violin lesson via Hannaford's on route to pick up Maeve, all while trying to dodge a thunderstorm, Hilde says from the back seat,

"Mom, do you think God is offended when we say He is a girl?"

Hmm, give me a minute to drive through the light and not get hit by the man who obviously didn't see the white Honda with it's head lights on making it's way through the green light.

Is God offended when we call Him a girl?

These are the times when being a Christian Educator should come in handy. I should be prepared to answer questions like this. It's what I do for a living. I tell children about God. Heck, I train people to tell children about God.

Well, to be honest, I didn't really know how to answer this. Was she looking for a quick explaination or did she want the gamut of theological responses to this? Did she think it's bad to be called a girl? Was this a religous question or a feminist one?

One thing I always try to do it never give the girls a pat answer. I lay all the views out for them and then tell them people can think different things, but this is what I think and why.

However, I was driving and kind of pre-occupied and I wanted to just say, "No, He is not."

I couldn't however go with the easy response. It's just not in me.

So, I did a quick overview of how God is not really male or female, He is spirit and has characteristics of both. Really we, men and women, reflect differently the characteristics of God. However, generally in grammar when you don't know the gender of the person, you default to the masculine, so maybe that is part of why we call God "He" and the Bible does refer to Him as God the Father, but when you read about His character, He obviously has female qualities. So, really God is neither male or female and I don't think he is offended when we call him a girl, because He created men and women in His image, so He must like girls.

I thought that was a pretty good theology lesson with a side of grammar and female empowerment thrown in. We also made it home in time to put the groceries in the fridge and back to the Y to pick up Maeve with two minutes to spare and we dodged the rain.

Did I mention I did all this while driving a standard?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Conversations from the Back Seat


Some of my best memories of my girls happen while we drive all over Southern New England. This weekend the conversation went something like this:


Hilde: "Mom the car in front of us is a Passat, just like your old one. Does it make you miss your car?"


Me: "Yes, it does. *sigh* I love that car."


Maeve: "Sarah (our babysitter) was talking about what she would do if she won the $170 Power Ball Jackpot. She said she would make sure all her friends had a safe place to live, then she would buy herself a car and then the car you've always wanted and then buy us a pony."


Me: "That's a very wise and thoughtful plan that Sarah has if she wins." I was thinking of the safe place to live part.


Hilde quips: "Yes, it is very wise of Sarah to buy us a pony."



Also heard this....


Maeve and Hilde singing two of their favorite songs, back to back. Carrie Underwood's Temporary Home and Jesus Take the Wheel.


*sniff* *sniff*


I needed a Kleenex.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Strange things that you worry about in the ER

A little back drop to the following story.

I have been suffering on and off from mild abdominal pain. I have been gathering anecdotal evidence that I may have a gall bladder problem. The pain usually lasts a few hours and then goes away. I could push through it. Well, not anymore. Saturday night and then Tuesday, I was writhing in pain. On Saturday after about 4 hours, the pain subsided when I placed a heating pad on my stomach and when I woke up Sunday morning I was better. Tuesday night was a different story. I ended up in the emergency room at Rhode Island Hospital shortly before midnight for what would be an all night stay.

After a definitive gall bladder diagnosis became not-so-definitive, I needed a few new tests.

The very nice, attractive but geeky, way too young ER doctor announced that I would have to have a test that would rule out blood in my stool.

Hmmm.

Okay, when you hear this a lot of things run through the average person's mind. Is it going to hurt, how embarrassing, is this really necessary, etc. What was I thinking about?

My underwear.

I am not really embarrassed by any medical procedure. After birthing two babies at two different teaching hospitals (read: they called everyone in the rooms and I had an audience), multiple surgeries and a tattoo, I don't really have any modesty left, especially in medical situations.

I do worry about what people think of me.

When I left for the hospital I wasn't really thinking clearly. This most likely was due to the pain and vomiting. If I had been thinking, I would have changed my underwear.

You see, before the onset of this pain, I had been packing for a trip to see my parents in Virginia. So, of course all my sensible, nonchalant underwear were packed. (Because you bring your sensible underwear when you visit your parents.)

So, instead of boring-ol', sensible underwear, I had on the black, lacy, see-through kind that I wear on only two occasions. The first is when there is no other clean underwear. The second is when I know that my husband will be seeing said underwear sometime in the near future.

It is definitely not the underwear you wear when very nice, attractive but geeky, way too young ER doctor is examining your bottom area.

He did give me the chance to decline the test. For a split second I thought, "Oh I can decline." then I thought, "I could be dying and I am going to decline a test because I don't want him to see my underwear!"

It was really a dilemma.

So, to add insult to the injury I let him perform the test. Since he was a very kind, attractive but geeky, way too young ER doctor he didn't say anything.

He did however, give me the wrong discharge papers.

Daniel says this is because the underwear made him flustered.

Whatever it was I am glad he didn't comment because I would have been mortified.

Just like I am now because I know this blog gets emailed to my father.

Sorry, dad.

....And sorry Dr. S. Biegen. I am sure in your career you will experience stranger, more bizarre things (especially if you stay at RIH) but hopefully they won't involve me.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Eleven

Our daughters are the most precious of our treasures, the dearest possessions of our homes and the objects of our most watchful love.-- Margaret E. Sangster


Eleven. I am not ready. Maeve will be eleven at 7:55pm on May 4th. Eleven means only two more years until teenager-ness. Emotionally she has been seventeen since she was four, but now the rest of her is catching up. She is finally growing. She gained six pounds this year. So, this marks the first year that the pediatrician didn't send me home with instructions to feed her more.

Maybe it is because she is so small that I have a hard time with her getting older. She doesn't look eleven, if eleven had a look to it.

Eleven means more independence and more steps ahead of me. She was three steps ahead of me at her birthday party, she had the time-table down and moved from crafts to games to presents way ahead of me. I decided Daniel and I don't have to come to the party next year, she can handle it.

Eleven means middle school. Three years until High School and seven until college. Our college fund is not ready.

Eleven means four years and eight months until a learner's permit. Didn't she just learn to ride a bike? She just left her booster seat for goodness sakes!

Eleven means that she blushes around boys.

I am not ready for eleven. She is, but I am not.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Travelogue Part 6- Life in Kerrville

This is the gate to the Mueller's house. I want to name my homestead and have a gate. I think it might start a trend in Woonsocket.




This is the view from their back porch.



Here is another one.



One more. I could have stayed on that back porch all day.

After Sea World, we got back to Kerrville which was full of sun. One of the perks of country life is a thing called a "mule". Not the animal, but a ATV that looks like a mini truck without windows, doors, or seat belts. I have no pictures of said mule because while we were off-roading I was hanging onto Leo, who is 20 months and dear life. I was also praying that none of the five children in the back would bounce out. It would have ruined a great afternoon.


For someone with an insanely acute fear of heights. Flying down a dirt trail from 2000 ft elevation in an open vehicle should have created a need for Xanax or a large bottle of wine. Instead, it was the most fun I have had in years. Maeve and Hilde can't wait to go on it again.



Jim has moved his family out to Kerrville because he is the new pastor of Hosanna Lutheran church.


It was really special to be able to attend the service. The girls had fun in Sunday School and then got to join mom in service. Jim is Hilde's Godparent and I think of him as our family pastor. Over the years Jim and April have watched my girls grow. They pray for us. We pray for them. So, when we get to celebrate communion together and he is leading, it is a reminder to me of how truly blessed I am to have them as part of our family.


I needed a lot of Kleenex that morning.


I love this. Hat storage at church. Only in Texas.

I love this little boy. I love his older brother and sisters too, but I worked hard to earn a smile from him.



We went to the James Avery factory while there.
He is a Texas jewelry maker who lives and works in Kerrville. His company office is a park like campus. Texas stone and wrought iron. http://jamesavery.com/
Buying a piece of jewelry from James Avery is another Texas tradition. Everyone gets a piece to commemorate a special event.


We all had fun choosing our first James Avery piece.


In between all these pictures, April and I chatted and chatted some more. We talked children, schooling, house keeping, marriage and Martha Stewart. All of our favorite things.


We all watched Annie together and sang all the songs. I am sure this was not Jim's favorite part.


We ate popcorn and ice cream for dinner.


I didn't cook the entire time.


Jim made the best eggs I've ever eaten. Farm fresh really has no equal.


I got to talk about Hope and Change and Love and Family and all the things that make life beautiful, while watching my children play and explore.



Texas is good for my soul.

Can't wait to get back.









Travelogue Part 5- It's a Sad, Sad, Sea World

We started off happy. Couldn't wait to get to Sea World.


We were soaked before we made the gate.

We stopped at the gift store for ponchos. A grown man in a Shamu poncho makes you smile even if it is pouring.



It was supposed to stop around lunchtime.

We tried to stick it out. Note the brave smiles

Just couldn't do it. It was about 65 degrees and my girls were purple and visibly shaking. Never been so wet in all my life. Never been so cold in texas.

We packed up and headed back to Kerrville.









Travelogue Part 4- Hill Country

The haunts of happiness are varied, but I have more often found her among little children, home firesides and country houses than anywhere else. (Sydney Smith)




After time in San Antonio the Perrin girls headed out to the hill country of Texas. Our friends the Muellers live there. There is Jim and April, the parents and Isaiah, Ivy, Vienne and Leo, the children. We also got to see April's parents Pat and Gary or Gainya and Papa as the girls know them.

I have to admit that if the Muellers lived anywhere, we would love visiting. They are friends who are like family and time with them is precious and beautiful.

Lucky for us though, they also live in a beautiful place called the Hill Country. It is miles and miles of pretty. I was trying hard to find a word that describes it and I would have to say timeless. It feels like it has always been this way and always will be.

We started our time there in Fredericksburg. We had lunch at Rather Sweet, a world famous, many magazines featured cafe.



After which we shopped and visited Wild Seed Farm to see Texas wildflowers. We also visited Becker Vineyards for a tasting with Henri. Then it was back to town to stuff ourselves with German food for dinner.




All of these children played beautifully while Jim, Gary and I were inside the tasting room having lovely glasses of wine poured for us by Henri. Thanks Gainya and April!



He knows he's cute.



Pretty poppies.



Fun fact: There are A LOT of Germans in Texas. It is kind of cool and weird at the same time but Fredericksburg is a large German town smack in the middle of Texas. You can thank Texas settling Germans for your flour tortillas. Before the Germans got there, they were all corn. You can also, thank them for adding the accordion to mariachi music.



Windmill at the Vineyard.




Still life of girls in Blue Bonnets. This is an obligatory Texas tradition in which I don't mind partaking. You can photograph Blue Bonnets all you want, just don't pick them. It's illegal and it is sure to get you harassed by a Texas Lady. You never want to be harassed by a Texas Lady.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Travelogue Part 3- Wrapping up San Antonio

It's your friendly neighborhood Texas tour guide again. Here is the last bunch of pictures from San Antonio. On Thursday, after we had seen the Alamo and had a disappointing, overpriced trip to the Texas Ranger Museum, we had to figure out what to do in the rain. We went the children's museum, which is very close to the Alamo. It was a perfect fit for a soggy three year old and her older and slightly-tired-of-sightseeing-cousins.

Here are Maeve and Hilde "dressing up"




Clifton said, "Aunt Jill, take a picture of me with Grandpa." :)



After the Children's museum, we ate lunch at the Mexican Manhattan.http://www.mexicanmanhattan.com/history.htm Go here when you are in San Antonio, you will not regret it. It is not fancy, but it is GOOD . They have the most authentic food on the Riverwalk but not the inflated prices. Their re-fried beans are the best I have ever had. For some reason I forgot to take a picture. Next time.



After lunch it was pouring outside! Clif took Brooke, the baby home out of the rain and he also picked up Kevin, Michele's nephew who is staying with them. They came back in later for dinner.

Michele, Sandy, Maeve, Hilde and I braved the downpour and hiked 7 blocks to the El Mercado or marketplace. It was quite a hike in the rain but we were determined. Who would have thought that 7 blocks East of the Riverwalk is Mexico? That's what it felt like. The market is full of little shops and cafes. All the people are hawking goods "Hencho En Mexico". It was a good place to get cheap souvenirs.

Also at the El Mercado is the Museo Alameda http://www.visitsanantonio.com/visitors/play/attraction-details/index.aspx?id=2428

It celebrates Mexican culture and is part of the Smithsonian. It was the best deal at $4 for all 5 of us. The exhibit was La Charreria, the Mexican Equestrian culture. No photography was allowed. Again, this was sad because the exhibit was beautiful and I would have loved to get pictures of all the fancy leather and bead work. However, I am good citizen and always follow museum rules.

Maeve and Hilde were fascinated by the combination of riding horses and fancy clothes. They even had saddles with emeralds and rubies.

We also had the undivided attention of the security guard, who acted as the tour guide. (Did I mention it was pouring? ) He was very helpful added interesting bits of information.

This is the San Fernando Cathedral as we were trying to rush to the El Mercado.

We were given trash bags to wear over our rain coats, because we were soaked by this point. I had to put our clothes in the dryer at the hotel. This was a foreshadowing of more rain to come.

These smiles were because we found a trolley to ride back to the hotel after the El Mercado. I don't know why we didn't think of taking it to the El Mercado. I am going to blame it on full bellies of Mexican food making us sleepy.


This is strawberry basil gelatto from a tiny store in the plaza near the Iron Cactus on the Riverwalk. This guy had great flavors and made us try them all. He was really nice and even knew where Woonsocket was. I ended up with this. Maeve ended up with Stracciatella (3 kinds of chocolate and a little salt) and Hilde had Spanish chocolate.
Yum.
Last picture in San Antonio. This is us packed up and ready to head out to the hill country to stay with our friends in Kerrville.
Clif drove us half way there and we met April at the Rim, which is a very fancy and large shopping center. Thanks Clif! I am glad that we were able to get him to the Bass Pro Shoppes.
Now that you know what you have been missing, when are you going to San Antonio? I'll meet you at the Mexican Manhattan.
Next stop Cowboy Country.......







Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Travelogue Part 2 - Trip to Texas - THE ALAMO


Everyone knows the big deal in San Antonio is the Alamo. I will admit it is very cool. Right smack dab in the middle of downtown is this little brick mission with a big history. The Alamo has come to symbolize the Texan spirit and fight. Even though it isn't very big it is awe-inspiring in a reverential way. People really did die here for something they believed in - an Independent Texas. Imagine if they had won.








These signs are for my dad. Clifton and I both reminisced about how my dad would make everyone read every sign. Really, every sign and marker and all the way through. You might even have to stand and have your picture taken in front of one.







Very cool sign. It is a more dramtice shortened version of this "Unsheathing his sword during a lull in the virtually incessant bombardment Colonel William Barret Travis drew a line on the ground before his battle-weary men. In a voice trembling with emotion he described the hopelessness of their plight and said, “those prepared to give their lives in freedom’s cause, come over to me.”


Without hesitation, every man, save one, crossed the line, Colonel James Bowie, stricken with pneumonia, asked that his cot be carried over.


We crossed it too.






Looking up at the top.








We couldn't take any pictures inside. This was disappointing because the best part was inside. There were all different rooms with artifacts.

One room was where the women and children were kept safe. They all survived. We three girls appreciated that room.


Then in the main hall they have flags for each state or country that sent men. Each flag had a banner for how many men were.







Of course every tour of the Alamo ends with a picture with a ranger.




The funniest part of our tour took place in the courtyard. Around the church is a beautiful courtyard and then the outside wall. We were touring the courtyard and I said to Clifton and the girls, "Oh this courtyard is beautiful, wouldn't this make a nice place to get married?" to which Clifton replied, "Uh, Aunt Jill maybe getting married at the Alamo isn't the best way to start a marriage." He has a point. As brave as they were, they were doomed from the start.