Why No Posts?

Tempting fate.

It sounds superstitious.

It is superstitious, but part of the reluctance to post has been a concern about tempting fate.

This life we’ve chosen, it’s outside the norm. Our children; their path is different from that of the vast majority of children.

We obviously think the path we’ve chosen is best for us or we wouldn’t have chosen it.

Our children are happy. They have lovely, laughter-filled, learning-filled, interesting-to-them, family-filled day after day.

I’m happy. I’m living the life I want.

As part of hospice and end-of-life doula training you think about your perfect end-of-life options and how you would need your life to change to bring that about. What people would you draw close to? What people would you stop seeing? What activities would you finally do?

This life I’ve got; this is it. These people, the ones I spend time with and learn about, these are the people I want. The ways we spend our days, the trips we take, the hobbies I have; this is it.

Buds would have to write his own vision of the life he wants, but most days seem to be a chosen path he loves. Certainly this family space is his favorite place to be.

This bubble around our life, it is sacred space to me. It can vanish with a too-quick left turn in front of a distracted driver, a visit to the doctor with unusual blood test results, or harsh light from a society that does not welcome alternate paths.

Our family will spend several days in Massachusetts this summer as we gather with Buddie’s co-Ephs for his 25th year college reunion. In preparation, the reunion committee published an updated “Facebook” with autobiographical essays from those who chose to submit them.

Buds and I have been fascinated by these 25-year snapshots of human lives. You can read Buddie’s essay here.

This morning, I read Denis Gainty’s. I’m not sure if Buds knew him at Williams, but if they had met, I think they would have been friends.

We won’t be meeting Denis at the reunion this year because he died unexpectedly on March 26, 2017. He sounds like he was a splendid human (as most of us do after we die.) But, I really believe we would have all gotten along from the final paragraph of the essay he submitted for the reunion book before he died.

“I’m including a picture of me with my kids. Here’s hoping that, through some happy chance, they get to find their own Williams.”

How beautifully that complements Buddie’s final paragraph:

“My time at Williams was sweet. In this open, internet world, I don’t know what Williams my children will find. Change comes and we try to meet it with an open heart.”

This understanding of children as people, not simply an extension of ourselves; acknowledging that life is a series of events that, if we are truly blessed, may lead to happy outcomes.

How delicious it is to me that these two men, one of whom has finished his journey, recognize that their children will/may find their own Williams; their own peaceful beautiful path, if they can.

I fully reject the idea that children should be putting off living the lives they envision until “later.” There may be no later, so supporting them as they wander through all the different ideas and options and travels and adventures, that brings me joy.

And sharing that joy via the blog, to a wider audience, that feels tenuous to me.

Am I tempting fate by broadcasting this joy? This diversion from the typical?

Processing that is part of the journey.

Addendum: I talked with Sarah at Williams this weekend about Denis. She didn’t know him well, but her memories of a splendid, joy-filled human indicate my instinct was right. He and Buds would have gotten along well.

Williams Weekend

Editor’s Note: Post contains video. View at the website for best experience.

Buddie’s 25th Reunion was last week at Williams, and I’m sufficiently recovered from the epic drive home to write about it.

We attended the 15 and 20-year reunions, and this one was the best so far. In part because the children are older and that makes it more relaxed and interesting for everyone, and in part because we didn’t cram all five of us into one dorm room. (This year we had a whole wing of five rooms to ourselves.)

Buddie’s parents drove down from Vermont to spend the four days with us, which means we’ll have gotten time with them three times within 3 months, which is a great benchmark to reach.

Buds loved his time at Williams, and his college friends are splendid folks. Added bonus that we like all their chosen partners, too, so it makes for a fun gathering.

We left early on Wednesday for the first-leg drive to Buffalo, NY. (It was also Bud’s birthday, so the karmic payback of making Yessa spend 11 hours in a train for her birthday in Italy.)

Loaded up and ready to head out.

The quick drive over from Buffalo to Williamstown gave us time to check in then wander around campus on Thursday. (The full festivities didn’t begin until Friday.)

Buds lived in “The Old I” (stood for “the old infirmary”) for part of his Williams tenure. He lost his room key so he would climb in this window to get in his room.

Buds looking at the window he used to climb into.

We headed to the gym and wrestling room to see what had changed…not much.

The indoor track.

Buddie’s mom brought a cake to celebrate his birthday.

It’s says “46” and “25.” Perfect topping for the weekend.

Mary’s almost been caught by all three grands.

After a rather painful night in the dorms, we headed out to the Mass MOCA Museum in North Adams, MA.

(Note to self for the reunion in five years: Rent a house off-campus with college friends. Staying on-campus was fun and easy, but not comfortable. Do not forget the horse-hair blankets and slippy sheets.)

A quick breakfast snack together.

MOCA was fantastic. More time to explore would have been wonderful. We can do that in five years.

The grands trying out VR for the first time.

The musical art room.

Hanging out before the next exhibit.

Buds and Buster went down to Spring Street for a Magic Tournament on Friday night, which they both loved.

Telling us of their adventure.

Peter, Sarah, Ellen, and Eric were Buddie’s best college friends. Ellen didn’t attend the reunion, but we got to spend time with all the rest and their families.

Playing games.

Dining hall meals

Walking in the parade.

We swam in the pool. (Sarah was a college swimmer, so we all enjoyed the pilgrimage with her.)

Buds and I got in a workout.

We enjoyed exploring the new Sawyer Library, which was stunning.

I loved the various carols for all different types of studiers.

There may have been attempts to crush each other in the movable shelves.

The joy of being on this beautiful campus as Buds and his Williams tribe shared stories, pointed out buildings, laughed, and reminisced, it was delightful.

Buds, Mike, Peter in front wrestled together. Eric in the back.

They’ve all known him since before me:

The first time I met the gang in NYC in 1994.

Peter served cake at our wedding.

Sarah and Ellen wore those huge lapels with a smile.

We heard a hilarious story from Eric when he and Peter went to the grocery store in the small town I grew up in. They got asked if they were models because not many men dressed like them in our town.

Williams folks at our wedding.

And we’re all still here, 25 years later.

I watched the 50-year folks with special appreciation this year, and Buds and I visited with some 40-year alum. You don’t know what life holds, but having good folks with you along the way; that’s what matters.

One last note, we drove straight home after the reunion, setting a new family record 18-hour drive. The children, Chip The Dog, and I held the previous 17-hour record. Buds was proud to be part of this new record-setter.

See you in five years, Purple Cows.

All the alum from 1992:

Buds on the bottom right in a gray-looking shirt.

Streak Breaker

Note: Post contains video. Read at mommie2zs.com for best results.

I broke a long streak of many months with at least one post when I didn’t post anything in April. Living life and not writing about it.

Buds and Monkey are still working on moving the blog over to a private server. I’m a little mentally stalled by that since I know it will mean changes to how things work and look.

Many things going on with the our crew. We’ve had trips to Vermont, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, and soon to Ohio. We’ve had birthdays and Girl Scouts, and love, laughter, and tears.

And I was the target for musket shots at a Civil War Homeschool event because I teased the Lieutenant.

Please note that Yessa shoots at me with much less alacrity than many of the other children.

A few random photos with explanatory posts to follow eventually.

A few long drives.

Beautiful day for being out and about.

All getting so big.

So tall.

Saturday workouts.

Beloved nieces come in all heights.

The new game store space.

Monkey’s smile/look intrigues me in the above picture. She’s an enigma.

These “smiles.”

That’s better.

Orlando- Day 1!

Editor’s note: this post contains video. View at the website for best results.

Huge thanks to Paula and Kelly for kindly sharing their photos (mostly Paula’s) to enhance blog posts. I’m not giving individual credit by photo because I’m already having trouble getting these blog posts written since life keeps moving on, but it is hugely, hugely appreciated!

The big trip had been discussed for months. It was our kids’ Christmas present. Kate and Betty’s birthday present.

Gina and crew had just stayed at the exact resort where we were headed the week before, so we knew specifics about rides and the hotel.

(I think sending Gina ahead to do recon on all our trips should become the new standard. I just told her about the trip to Germany last night. We’ll see what she thinks about being the advance team for that one.)

Anywho…our tribe was driving down from Atlanta, then K, P, K, and B would fly in that night. Our stay was at the Cabana Bay Resort on Universal Studios property in Orlando.

Having a suite with a kitchenette was important for me, Buds and Paula loved the idea of being on property, and Kel was the reason we began planning this whole adventure since she had a work conference on Monday-Tuesday of the time we’d be there.

We immediately loved the resort and the room. The 1950’s theme is done so wonderfully, so neatly, so tongue-in-cheek. (Whenever I’d call the front desk, they’d sign off with, “Have a swell day!”)

Our living room space

Our living room space

The kitchenette

The kitchenette

The bedroom

The bedroom

Shower room- there was a separate room with the toilet.

Shower room- there was a separate room with the toilet.

The bathroom area.

The bathroom area.

The screen between the bedroom and living room.

The screen between the bedroom and living room.

The little touches that made you feel you'd stepped back in time.

The little touches that made you feel you’d stepped back in time.

We had time before the dear ones arrived, so we tested out the pool.

Let’s get this vacation started!

There were two pools. The one closest to our section of the resort had a splendid water slide. The other pool had the lazy river, and that was the one we ended up using most frequently.

After the children had their fill of swimming, Buds and I headed out to get a feel for our location relative to the parks, to see how long it took to walk to the parks, great places to eat, etc.

The resort has a bowling alley.

You already know who we bumped into.

We didn’t ever eat here, but the cafeteria was like being in The Jetsons.

The Jack LaLanne gym was a big hit with Buds.

Jack’s trophies

Part of the gorgeous, retro lobby.

Our section by day.

Our section by night.

The park was about a 15 minute walk on adult legs.

After Buds and I got back to the room, Buster, Yessa, and I decided to wander up front in the hopes that our friends would be arriving soon. THEN vacation would really begin!

Their taxi was pulling up as we walked up the sidewalk. Oh, glorious day!

They’re here!

SO HAPPY TO BE TOGETHER AGAIN.

We carted all their stuff to the room, quick switch into swim suits, and over to the other pool to explore the lazy river.

Already talking our lips off.

For our family, in addition to loving the time we were going to get with some of our best buddies, we were so happy, amazed, and a little doubtful that Buds was actually going to take vacation during our Florida time. We knew he wanted to, but Buds taking two days off in row…that just doesn’t happen.

But it…mostly…did. And it was magical.

Off he sprints to join the crowd in the lazy river.

Kel starts reconnecting with our kids.

And he’s nearly as tall as her.

Four adults, 5 kids, everyone comfortable, relaxed, and ready to play. Great times ahead!

Zachary’s face balloon had a leak. We blew him back up the next day.

Perseverance Or Perseverate…Third Times A Charm.

If you spend much time around us at all, you know Buds is a CrossFitter.

And you know that he and Todd R. have a 10-year bet.

Buddie’s opportunity to complete his portion of the bet began last Thursday night when we watched Dave Castro announce the first workout of the CrossFit Open. Jump to 20 minutes in to see the announcement.

Buds, Uncle Z, and another co-worker made plans to go to the CrossFit box where another Juicer has found a home. CrossFit H Dub will be hosting “Friday Night Lights” for five weeks total for their athletes (and visiting athletes) who want to compete in the CF Open.

Buds and crew were settled in and warming up when I arrived as their paparazzi last Friday night. The two owners were so welcoming, and as we have always found them to be, all the CrossFitters were friendly, helpful, and cheering like crazy for each other.

The workout was:

The workout had a twenty-minute time cap, and Buds had been watching the leader board as men from 45-49 had been posting their scores. He knew he was going to need to finish.

Getting ready to begin after a pep talk.

Early round because he still has his shirt on.

Uncle Z going high.

Gettin’ ‘er done.

Later rounds…no shirt.

To make a long story short…too late already…he didn’t finish under the 20 minute time cap. He still had 12 of the burpee box jumps to go.

So, Sunday afternoon, Uncle Z (who also wanted to try for a better score) came over to our house and we set up the video workout room in the garage. Since they weren’t doing their workouts in a certified CrossFit box this time, we had to video tape it.

I’m grateful that it has been muted due to music copyright issues because the video is full of me screeching like the psycho cheerleader I turn into when my heart and soul are pulling for Buds. And there’s a rather funny/horrifying part at the end where he finishes the workout, under the time cap, and I don’t realize he’s finished it. Then, when I learn he’s done I screech about how I can’t believe he actually finished.

As you might imagine, this did not earn me very many CrossFit spouse points.

I’ll do better next time.

So, he basked in the glory of scoring well and beating the time cap. Then something made him doubt himself and as he was uploading the video to youtube, he began to count the reps for each section.

The sinking sound in his voice and the look on his face when he watched the round of 40 snatches and realized he’d only done 36…That is not a moment I hope to relive anytime soon.

This workout is a mental, physical, and emotional commitment. I could not fathom giving myself over to the pain of doing it for a third time.

It was never a question for Buds.

The next day at the gym in the basement where he works and where he works out with co-workers, he tackled this beast a third time, and shattered his previous attempts.

Uncle Z sent me this as soon as Buds was done:

Final time 18:31.

The CrossFit website is stinking of failure right now because I can’t get in to see what Buds’ current stand is, but last night he was 7th in the Great State of Tennessee and at about the 8th percentile for the entire world for his age group.

Each day I’m more inspired and grateful for the example Buds sets for our family.

And I need to send a joyous thanks to Uncle Z. He also improved his score significantly when he did the WOD the second time. Then, he was so supportive and shared in our sorrow when Buds discovered the “36 is not 40” issue. And when Buds did the whole thing for the third time, Z was there to cheer for him, and let me know as soon as possible when the deed was done with a successful outcome.

Four more weeks of effort, sweat, camaraderie, anguish, and glory.

By Theodore Roosevelt

These two. Absolutely love them.

A Girl Scout Filled Day

A new homeschool troop was forming, and the girls were willing to give it a try. (Monkey with enthusiasm, Yessa semi-willingly since Monkey was going to do it.)

It’s a long drive, and we’re still learning everyone’s names, but the girls are making the most of this opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people, and grow as leaders.

They took part in their first cookie booths for this year and both said they’d be willing to do a booth again some day, which makes me consider the booth experience a stunning success.

Monkey and her co-Cadette prepare to sell all the cookies!

Monkey and her co-Cadette prepare to sell all the cookies!

She's ready!

She’s ready!

The girls had a long, two-hour shift, and for an hour of that Monkey was alone, except for me. They did a fantastic job, and worked hard on presenting Girl Scouts in a positive, productive way to all the folks who walked by on their way into Kroger.

And they sold a lot of cookies!

Getting a couple hours of reading in while waiting for his sisters.

Getting a couple hours of reading in while waiting for his sisters.

Earlier in the day, Monkey and her Sister Cadette completed their “Leader In Action” badge by preparing and leading the entire meeting for their troop’s Brownie Scouts. (As is typical for many homeschool troops, the girls belong to a multi-age troop with girls from ages 6 to 14, meeting together under one troop number, but breaking out by age for their meetings.)

FYI: Monkey is a Cadette level scout. Yessa is a Junior level scout.

Monkey and her co-Cadette did such a fantastic job presenting science activities and other fun lessons around the theme of “Wonders of Water” for the Brownies.

Meeting prep.

Meeting prep.

Thinking and planning

Thinking and planning

Presenting the lesson.

Presenting the lesson.

These Brownies are a hoot!

These Brownies are a hoot!

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More fun and games.

More fun and games.

Between the meeting and the cookie booth, we had a couple hours to play, so we headed to an fantastic park on this glorious day.

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Having children who still love a great playground, but who are also old enough to plan and lead; what fantastic ages they all are.

Instant Love

Gina purchased an Instant Pot during Black Friday last year. Buds and I saw it in action when we were there for Thanksgiving. We were so intrigued, we purchased one during Black Friday this year.

It arrived shortly after we returned home, and I dived into learning to use it.

I’m in love with it. So in love, this happened:

It was such a great sale!

It was such a great sale!

To get my defense out there before Buds laughs at me:

I love the Instant Pot because food goes in it and it can be forgotten. I was already doing the forgetting part after I put food on the stove, which seldom went well (except for that time we realized we liked our sautéed green beans really quite black), and we know I’m going to keep forgetting, so let’s embrace it!

Another part of forgetting is forgetting to start cooking the food until it is almost meal time. Instant Pot helps solve that problem, too.

Finally, it’s not just a pressure cooker. It’s also a rice cooker, a slow cooker, and a yogurt-maker. Think how much room this one appliance saves…if you actually own all those other small appliances!

Speaking of getting rid of things, I’ve already hidden away the slow cooker, and when we were getting ready for family movie night last night, I remembered I had just read about making popcorn in the Instant Pot!

Buds and the rest of the family doubted the wisdom, but I was dreaming of being able to get rid of the air popper, thereby making space for that second IP, so I suggested a pop-off.

Buds and Yessa would make popcorn the old-fashioned way. I would forge new ground and amaze them all with the IP popcorn option.

And then I’d get rid of the air popper.

We had planned to have a blind taste test, but, their popcorn was seasoned and being munched on before I’d even begun to pop.

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Guess what this is?

Guess what this is?

Whole lotta’ unpopped kernels in that IP.

So, we won’t be getting rid of the air popper just yet.

But, my love remains steadfast, and it does make great cheesecake:

This is not my cheesecake, picture from here: http://cookiesandcups.com/instant-pot-salted-caramel-cheesecake-2/

This is not my cheesecake, picture from here: http://cookiesandcups.com/instant-pot-salted-caramel-cheesecake-2/

The picture above is the recipe I used for one of the cheesecakes we had after the chocolate tour. It was supposed to be salted-caramel, but it was just caramel.

I forgot the salt.

Realization

We love receiving the holiday cards from friends all around the country. Seeing the smiling faces of those we share memories with. Learning who has moved, who has a new job, whose child has started college…it brings us a smile.

Today we received the card from one of my college roommates, Jana Lu. Jana Lu and Jeff were married exactly two weeks before us and made it back from their honeymoon in time to attend our wedding. I’ve always been so appreciative of that.

They also have three children; two girls and a boy, but they got on the parenting train much more quickly than we did, so their kids are all older than our crew by a couple years.

As Buds and I were walking back from the mailbox, I handed him their annual card, with my eyes wide. Jana Lu is now the shortest person in her family. And I realized, this is probably the last year that Buds and I will be the tallest people on our holiday card. Each day that goes by, the Buster is closer and closer to looking me straight in the face.

This picture isn’t ideal for showing the height similarities since we’re all a little slouchy, and it’s difficult not to be distracted by the hairnets (Post about the hairnets to follow soon.), but this shows how close he is to catching me, and how he’s shot by his older sister.

Inching closer and closer.

Inching closer and closer.

So often in the blog I realize I’m sharing insights that centuries of parents before me have realized. Children grow up. They change. Their problems grow, their preferences alter, they choose who they are going to be.

Despite knowing I’m not sharing something new to humanity, I’m grateful for the chance to be in awe of it with these people, these children, this family. We aren’t the first family that has recognized how children turn into adults, but that doesn’t decrease the magic of it all.

Merry Christmas.

Saying Good-bye to Massadoah

In an unusual twist for the last few new family selections, the partnership found a partner family to replace us quite quickly. Despite the rational knowledge that this was the best decision for the partnership and our family, it was still with an underlying feeling of sadness that we realized our time as Massadoahans had come to an end.

So many fantastic memories with so many dear ones.

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Thanks for the memories, Massadoah.

We Hunt Down A Christmas Tree

We’ve developed several traditions over the years that fill me with joy. Among the favorites are those around our Christmas tree selection.

We’ve gone out tromping through fields with a saw to select the perfect tree; and I’ve loved those years, too, but the last three years we’ve ended up at the same spot. The parking lot at the golf course near us turns into a tree lot during December.

We like the family that runs the business, and the last two years we’ve taken chocolates to share with the employees and the other patrons, and the children have taken candy canes to make a surprise candy cane tree for people to find while they hunt for their ideal fir.

Monkey ready with the candy canes.

Monkey ready with the candy canes.

Unfortunately this year the “cheat sheet” for the chocolates was only on the bottom of the box.

What kind do you want?

What kind do you want?

That was interesting.

I didn’t have any of the chocolates, and on the drive home the rest of the family informed me that the chocolates were terrible. Hopefully the Christmas Tree family still remembers us fondly next year.

Care for a chocolate? I hear they are DELICIOUS!

Care for a chocolate? I hear they are DELICIOUS!

Tree on top, ready to roll.

Tree on top, ready to roll.

We head home, turn on the Christmas tunes, have some hot chocolate, and putter through putting on the lights, hanging the stockings, and reminiscing about the ornaments. The vast majority of our ornaments have a story and came from a loved one, so hanging them up is an event and a celebration.

Whirring up the hot chocolate.

Whirring up the hot chocolate.

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Waffles enjoys licking the tree.

Waffles enjoys licking the tree.

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Still my very favorite Christmas decoration that sister-in-law Kathy gave me decades ago.

Still my very favorite Christmas decoration that sister-in-law Kathy gave me decades ago.

Stockings hung by the chimney with care…we’re ready for Santa.