Video of Jenny, Brendan, Lucia, and Aidan

For those days when we are just missing our Hong Kong buddies too much, thanks to Jenny’s BIL and sister, we now have a fantastic video we can watch whenever we want:

Beloveds Video

After Buds and I watched the video last night, and cried and laughed, the children all watched it this morning and laughed…and sighed.

Brendan and Lucia in freeze frame, while the rest of us watch and smile.

We miss you, dear ones.

A Boootiful Time Had By All

Our next-door neighbor, Jill, is amazingly talented and creative. Though her background is in engineering, since deciding to stay home with her boys she’s been producing works of art and craft to the wonder and amazement of all.

For the second year in a row, she and another neighbor, Jessica, have planned and hosted the Cluster Kids’ Halloween Party. Just like last year, it was a huge hit for any and all who attended.

Yessa helping decorate the night before the party.

A room full of spiders and a tummy full of pizza.

Has hammer, ready to pound…

The creator herself, with two of her creations.

I loved this happy little guy hanging on the mailbox.

The amazing cupcakes made by another neighbor.

It was quite a spooky spread.

Ninjago and Tom from BeastQuest square off, despite both being on the side of good.

Zoe went as a girl and her book.

Sister games.

Not a fan of gummy worms.



That’s a “knightly” face.

This is what 10 pounds of green spaghetti looks like. Surely you’ve always wanted to know.

Outdoor games.

Bug grab.

Me? Put my face into a bin of bugs?!

Broom ball.

Love this look…

Plucking marbles out of ice water with your toes. Brrrr.

Long toes help.

Warm enough for tank top…not for long.

The donut game awaits.

Monkey not a fan of powdered donuts.

To play or not to play…

Downstairs for the mystery diaper game…yum.

The mystery diaper game was not a hit with Hannah and Zoe.

Happy Halloween.

What A Weekend!

It’s now two weeks later, and writing blog posts about meaningful events is sometimes difficult to do in retrospect, but what a wonderful weekend we had.

It began with all of us going to CrossFit for the 7:15 WOD. Due to an L1 Cert., Kids CrossFit was canceled, so after Team Gems put in a stunning performance, completing this WOD:

Teams of 2. Only 1 team member working at a time.

AMRAP in 15 minutes of:

20 shoulder to overhead ( 75#/55#)
20 toes2bar
20 Front Squats ( 75#/55#)

We drove home to the Farmer’s Market, then a lovely afternoon all together. Saturday night brings church, and since neither Buds nor I were willing to miss the service, Yessa was stuck heading up the hill with us to the Sanctuary after we dropped off the big kids in class since she doesn’t feel ready to stay in RE without Dad or me with her.

Buds and I were so grateful we both insisted on attending the service because it was the most moving, powerful service either of us has ever attended. Our church hosted a conference that day, focused on all congregations being welcoming places for LGBT folks, and that spirit of purpose and love carried over to the evening service. The music, provided by The House Band and Sarah Jebian, had us all on our feet, clapping, laughing, and even crying.

The sermon was given by Michael Piazza, and he had a stirring, winning combination of Southern Minister and liberal freedom fighter which brought on many laughs, head nods, and thoughtful pauses. Fascinatingly, he preached–in part–on the book of Revelation. I don’t know how his interpretation of the 12 gates of Pearl into the Holy City would sit with those of a more conservative, fundamentalist bent, but it resounded with us. There is space for everyone in God’s holy city.

The Litany we all ready together was as moving as the music and sermon.

Litany of hope

To stand with a sanctuary of people, saying these words with meaning and heart-felt conviction was so powerful.

We came out of the service ready to spread love to the whole world.

Then, we walked down to the Program Building to pick up our crew, plus Kate and Bets, plus Emily and Marissa, and we learned that the children had studied the story of John Murray. Raising children in a faith that Buds and I found as adults means that we are learning the UU history with them. I LOVE the story of John Murray.

Then, we came to Sunday.

Many weeks ago I signed our family up for Complete The Circle, a local event to raise money for Our Daily Bread, a local charity. I feel a little extra connection with the organization because Lisa Whetzel is the Exec. Director, and besides being a UUCF member, she and her hubby are members of Green Meadows, the house we pass on the road to Massadoah.

Sundays at the Gemignani House are generally relaxed affairs. Buds may give over much of most Saturdays to family time, but Sundays are largely work days for him. As he was settling into the couch to work, I was gearing up to take all of us to Complete The Circle for the afternoon.

I looked at him.

He looked at me.

“Well…” I said.

“Would it be okay if I didn’t go?” he asked.

“No,” I said, trying not to sound petulant. “I don’t want to have this experience without you.”

We worked together to come up with a plan. Since we didn’t know what the event would actually be like, the children and I would be dropped off at the field where the picture would be taken, Buds would drive to the closest Starbucks to work, then I would call him to pop over for the picture.

The plan worked perfectly. He didn’t feel trapped by my expectations, and I didn’t feel abandoned in favor of Juice.

I called him about 20 minutes before picture taking was to begin, and he had time to drive over, park, play with us for a bit, and join in the picture.

Enough time for a little game of tag with his kids on a beautiful Autumn afternoon.

Dad’s HERE!

He reminds me of Easy Reader from The Electric Company in this shot.

The cherry picker ready to take pictures.

Our friend from church, Daisy The Clown. She made Buster a sword and Yessa a pink cat.

Getting a lift from Dad.

Another near miss for the family Christmas picture.

Monkey competed at least 10 times to earn winning tattoos for herself and her sibs. Very dedicated and kind sister!

The final product. The red area is mostly UUCF people. Our crew is in the small group of black in the bottom left of the picture.

It was a beautiful weekend in weather, spirit, and connection.

Watch a video of the day here: Complete The Circle.

Museum Monday on A Tuesday

The museum of our choice for this week was closed on Monday, so we hooked friends Liz, Sam, and Olivia into a Tuesday adventure with us.

It was The Buster’s week to pick, and he chose the Loudoun Heritage Museum, which we have visited many times, but never tire of.

This is a really quite simple museum, and the children absolutely adore it. Between the dress up clothes, the play food, country store, and Little House On The Prairie kitchen, they spend the whole time in an incredible make believe world.

I’ve been having difficulty posting videos, but for future reference, I have a wonderful video of Zoe sharing the story of she and her “twin” brother, who have been orphaned, and were given a job working as servants in return for a little place to sleep and a little food to eat. The whole story is shared in an outstanding cockney accent. It is a treat to watch.

Great time had by all.

Such a great time in fact, this was the scene on the drive home:

One sleeping child visible. One sleeping child inside the box. One child asleep in the back seat.

Out of the box.

A Factory of Wishes

Two beloved friends, Kate and Betty, have the kindness to be Yessa’s age, but to be just enough taller than her that they can pass clothes down to her. Buds brought home three big containers of clothes that Mom Kelly dropped off at Juice this afternoon.

Buds said, “Noa, I have a surprise for you.”

She came tooling down the stairs, saw the boxes, and squealed, “Is all this for me?!”

She immediately explained that she would need to begin unpacking and examining all the clothes at once, to which we readily agreed.

As I made dinner, she kept popping out into the kitchen, holding up another new item, declaring it beautiful, and perfect for…Christmas, summer, winter…”oh, my gosh, how many swimsuits did they give me?!”

She was practically spinning in delight at all these new treasures, and finally she turned to me and said the following:

“Mama, I wished for these clothes, and I got all my wishes. In fact, I got a factory of wishes!”

Jeesh, I love this kid!

Thanks, Kate and Betty!

The Best Day

Yessa just declared, “This is my best day ever since I was a child.”

It really was a good day. I’ll post the long version soon, but she summed it up pretty well.

Noa Ingalls Wilder- Laura’s much younger sister…


We had our first meeting of the year for our Mother/Daughter Book Club, and it was wonderful.

The first book was Savvy by Ingrid Law.

The Beaumont Family is gifted in a unique way. When a member turns 13, s/he comes into their savvy. The special gift that changes everything. But a savvy doesn’t always feel like a gift at first, especially if it is tough to control.

One of the great parts of the evening was the girls talking about the savvy they would want for themselves.

*Speaking any language- human and otherwise
*Changing your skin color at will
*Changing your last name changes your power-Angelwing or Dustbringer
*Being able to make anyone feel loved.

I love this idea of finding your savvy: the special talent you have to share with the world.

This book, and it’s sequel, Scumble, were both wonderful. I can’t wait to read the third one when it comes out.

The Whole Gang

A Delicious Wacky Wednesday

I had plans for blowing up balloons, in many senses of the word, and making super balls, but Monkey had plans of her own.

Her plan was much more delicious.

After a trip to Michaels, we had all the supplies we needed for BOTH balloon blowing:

The ingredients for my experiments for Wacky Wednesday.

Monkey’s ingredients for Wacky Wednesday. Guess which set of ingredients was met with more enthusiasm?

Duh, Mom, Chocolate!

The end goal

Let the molding begin.


Everyone has a turn.

While we waited for the molded chocolates to harden, we turned our eyes toward making mini-volcanoes in a bottle to see if the emitted gas would blow up a balloon.

Here we go.

We couldn’t produce enough gas to expand the balloons beyond this point.

Looks like a happy little hat for the bottle.

Monkey prepares to stab her balloon.

For future reference, we undoubtedly lost some of our gas during the transition time of dumping in the vinegar and me putting on the balloon cap. Next time we can fill the balloon with the vinegar, or the baking soda, then dump it into the bottle after it is attached. Pre-stretching the balloon may also help.

Fun, regardless.

The next experiment, making a Super Ball, only Yessa and I indulged in. We mixed borox, water, corn starch, and food coloring. It was an icky, sticky mess for a long time, then, suddenly, it wasn’t.

Readying the supplies.

The beautiful, squishy, pink ball

For future self-reference, I have a wonderful video of Yessa talking about the Super Ball experiment. We’ll have to watch it in iphoto because I have not been able to get it to upload anywhere online.

Overall, fun sets of experiments, and I’m sure that chocolate mold will keep on popping up for good times.


The Buster discovered our Costco-sized box of tin foil, and it led to a week of creations, business plans, and sparkly bits scattered all over the house.

I frequently struggle with my Earth-loving need to conserve, and even deprive, myself of unnecessary “things,” while not wanting to deprive the children of their need to create, dream, and plan. It’s a tough balance sometimes.

But, who doesn’t need a helmet?!

One of the earlier “cup” creations.

They quickly improved in form and function.

Coffee, anyone? Probably iced coffee would be a good idea…

They also created a tin foil currency to be used for trade.

Everyone working in the tin foil “mines,” on the currency creation.

More cup creation

The Buster’s helmet. Very WWI looking.

Hello out there.

Shrek, I mean Buds, tries out his helmet.

Like Father…

Like son…

But it all comes back to love.

Seized By Joy

I have had several moments of being gripped by a feeling of complete and utter joy in the last few weeks, and I wanted to commemorate them. If you’ve not had this sort of feeling, it is difficult to explain, but I pray that everyone has had it happen so you know of what I speak.

It’s best described as a welling up of total peace and acceptance and gratefulness, and the enveloping knowledge that I was exactly where and exactly being, what I needed to be. Just writing about it brings tears to my eyes.

The feeling can’t be summoned, at least not by me, at least not yet. It sweeps over me like stepping outdoors on a crisp Autumn afternoon when a warm breeze brushes your face. You breathe out with utter contentment. Heaven, right here.

Two of the moments were at CrossFit:

1) In the midst of this WOD:

Tuesday, October 09 2012
AMRAP in 15 minutes of:

10 Deadlifts (135#/95#)
8 HR Push Ups
12 Box Jumps ( 24″/20″) Game Standards

as I was jumping on the box, I was overwhelmed with so much love and excitement and wonder. I had to let out a huge harruuupp of joy.

2) Then on this day:

Monday, October 15 2012
Row as many meters as you can in 10 minutes

Rest 5 minutes

Do as many burpees as you can in 7 minutes (jumping and touching a target 6 inches over your standing reach)

During the rowing I was suffused with joy, so much so that I broke out into a huge grin, almost laughing with elation. I was grateful that Mehdi, our trainer, didn’t see me because I would have been called out for not working hard enough, based on my euphoria.

The other moments of nirvana were at random times.

1) I wrote about my Tea Time Tuesday joy here.

2) Buds was sharing a vision of our future together, and it included our family being together each day. (While the children were still young, we do know that they will need/want to leave home someday.) The picture he painted was so delicious and enticing, I teared up. I love our life as it is, but the idea of Buds being with us every day is so delightful. It’s one of the reasons I am so excited about The Year of Adventure.

3) When Monkey and I were driving home from Kids’ Tech University, again the suffusion of joy overwhelmed me. Cruising down the highway, with our delightful red-head, on a gorgeous day, talking about what we had seen and learned…nirvana.

Having had a single episode of suffocating anxiety and depression last winter, and now having had many moments of freeing earthly heaven, I’m intrigued by how similar the experiences are in their power and depth. Both came upon suddenly with no warning. Both leave behind traces of their power, like awakening from a dream or nightmare in the dead of night and either relaxing back into the beauty of the dream, or getting up to try and shake the dread of the nightmare.

I don’t know when I’ll have my next “seized by joy,” moment. And I don’t know if the crippling anxiety will ever return, but having been to both the valley and the peak, I’m grateful to walk through the daily meadow, the majority of my time spent looking and working toward the summit.

One piece of my joy

Another piece

An inanimate source of joy

And one final thought that brings me balanced joy 5 days a week:

Thanks to for this image.