Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Boy with Heart

Adam is a boy with a lot'a heart
 And most thankfully, that heart is healthy.

Thanks to a reader here, who suggested that we have Adam's heart checked (thank you, "Physician Worrier"!) we took Addy to the pediatrician, who sent us for a chest x-ray and E-something-G, which then led us to a visit with the pediatric cardiologist who did an echo cardiogram (when Adam asked what that was we told him a doctor would yell into his mouth and then stick his ear up to listen for an echo).  When all was said and done, the verdict was:

Adam's heart is only large in the metaphoric sense.  
He is very healthy.
And very happy, because he got to race yesterday.

That boy is fast.

(and he ate a great lunch before the race)


I find I am loving the track meets.  It is quite a different experience from soccer.  In soccer there was only one place to look, and that was wherever the ball was.  With track, there are no less than 4 events taking place in a given moment.  

In soccer, when a kid makes a goal, the audience cheers for their team.
In track, as the kids race by, the audience cheers until the kids cross the finish line.  And they cheer for every kid, particularly if one falls or is last to cross the finish.  There is a feeling of fellowship in the audience, and every kid feels like MY kid when they are struggling.  

In soccer, parents can be heard yelling directions at their kid, and criticizing the ref.
So far, in track, I have only heard parents complimenting skill and effort, no matter whose.

In soccer, the coach decides who plays when, and in what position.  In track, a kid decides what he will compete in, and may change his mind, even up to the last minute.  Perhaps he doesn't feel strong enough to compete after a hard race so he chooses not to try his high jump that day.  Or perhaps he wasn't planning to do the 100 meter, but all of a sudden feels like it.  Why not?  I love that they are being encouraged to listen to their bodies, and make their choices themselves.

And you know how they say "There are no losers?"  In track, there really aren't.  Even though the kids race in groups, there may be 20 kids in one race taken in heats.  No one will know who the ultimate winner is until all the numbers have been crunched, and honestly the kids don't even seem to care.  There is a person with a stop watch at the end of each lane of runners, and as that runner crosses, the person informs the runner of their time.  At the end of the day, the kids are only racing against themselves.  Personal best, they call it.  It is amazing.

During a particular race yesterday, three girls, two from our son's school and one from the host school were racing.  They took off at the pistol, but one of our girls began to stagger and stumble, nearly falling.  By the time she got her footing she was several paces behind the other two girls.  It was a short race, and as they crossed the finish line, the two leaders turned and immediately wrapped their arms around the girl who had faltered as she crossed the finish.  She walked between them, crying a little from disappointment, and they comforted her, neither caring about their time, or who "won".

At another moment, a little 6th grader in dead last was dragging himself at the end of his last lap on the mile.  At that moment, a teammate of his ran along the side of the track keeping pace with the boy, calling encouragement to him.  The boy perked up, and ran with just a little more spring in his step all the way to the finish line.

I  felt like I had arrived on a new planet, where all that mattered was doing better than you had in the past.  Where the lines between teammates and opponents blur and doing your best made you a winner.  
Cool planet.

When we were leaving the meet, Adam said, "I do better when there is someone ahead of me.  When I am in the lead I don't try as hard to do my best as I do when there is someone ahead of me."

I do my personal best when there is a good example to keep up with, too, don't you?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Another Trip Around the Sun

My sweetie had a birthday today.
One year better.
The layers of days and smiles and tears all pile up.
We never know what a new year will bring.

The Middles (Ellie and Tess) and the Littles (Jonah-boy and Nat) and I had gone shopping for gifts.  I don't recommend being outnumbered four to one in a public emporium.  The weight of experience carries with it a decrease in speed, or maybe it was just Mall-ing it after 8pm that had caught up with me.  I was tired before we even got started.  

We stumbled into the "As Seen on TV" store, and I wasn't thrilled to be there.  If you want to see 3 kids go nuts, show them every goofy gadget ever sold by a loudmouthed Brit during a commercial break from, The Clapper to Chia Obama.  But it was not just the visual chaos of the store mixed with the zeal of my lil' shoppers that had me feeling off; the last time I was in this store, the shop owner committed a crime against humanity (well, actually my vanity).  He called me a grandma.

Specifically, my kid's grandma.

It was painful, shocking even.  Feeling ancient is one thing, it's entirely another being accused of it by a Mall-bound peddler-man.  Worse yet, when I explained they were indeed mine, he hadn't believed me!  So, the other day when Tessa told me she wanted to get the ultra-cool french-fry cutter for her daddy that she had seen in THAT store, I had to swallow my wounded pride.  Gulp.  Let's just say that put me WAY over my calories for the day, but I did it.  We left with the fry cutter and a gadget for washing car windows.  The peddler man was happy, and not once did he accuse me of being these kids' grandmother.  I guess he knew a grandma would be too wise to try and shop with four kids.

Guy recently got asked if he was a grandpa, too.  I guess we are reaching that age.  I never knew the 40's were the beginning of the geriatric years.  At least he is, and will always be, a year and a half older than me.  Wow. 
 He's ooooold.

I made Guy a cake.  Lots of layers, like him.  Very sweet, again, him.  Kinda complicated... him.

Oh, and I made it from scratch, every last itch of it.  I mean inch (see what I did there? Scratch, itch... never mind).  It was a lovely 4 layer chiffon, with mouse, cheesecake and ganache fillings, and a yum-o buttercream frosting.  Now you might think that that is too rich, and you'd be right.  When you have a rich life, why not have cake to match.

(and in case you were counting candles and things didn't add up, Guy is not 33.  We were out of candles, so I scrounged up four single candles and if you add the two threes together that's six...46.  Yes, I know it is a stretch.  Math was never my best subject.  Maybe if they had involved more chocolate...)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Courage in Between

14 feet, 6 inches

Adam had his first track meet today.

He jumped 14 feet and 6 inches, flying through the sky like he had wings at an impossible distance.  I was awestruck.  But this was not his first jump.

His first jump was 13 feet and 8 inches.  His second, he made it 13 feet 10 inches.
You get three tries.  His third was his best.

So of course I was impressed at his improvement.  But it's what happened about an hour before he jumped, and what has happened since this afternoon, that will remain in my heart.

Adam was set to run the last leg of the 4 man relay.  He'd apparently shown a lot of promise in practice, and was chosen as the "anchor", the one who could bring up the rear and lead the team to a win.  We were excited to be sitting fifty feet before the finish line.  

Adam received the baton at a trot, and then with a burst he exploded into motion.  The team was in second place, but not for long. As he drew closer to the finish line, I was amazed by the look of ferocity and determination on his face.  His arms looked like pistons pumping in time to the blur of his wide steps.  The hours spent in recent weeks lifting weights payed off in the ripples of lean muscles that suddenly seemed to pop out on every inch of him.  I felt a thrill rise up in me that surprised me as he flashed by.  It called out "that's my boy!", but only in my head.  Out loud, my mouth yelled, "Go! Go! Go!", but it seemed like I wasn't calling out encouragement so much as I was simply narrating what already was.  Look at him GO!  

He pulled right up to the last runner and bolted past.  It was glorious.  He was headed for the finish line!  As he crossed right in front of us, in a split second and a century, depending on if you ask my eyes or my heart, I saw his legs sort of buckle, and with all that speed and fury, he plowed into the ground. 

He rolled once, and again halfway, before the force that had driven him finally let him stop.  The baton flew from his hand and for a moment he barely moved.  In that split second my heart also split.  "Ooooh!"  the crowd called in sympathy.  I felt a dozen things, all in my mother heart, imagining what the world must suddenly look like from down there on the ground.  Embarrassment?  Pain?  Shame?  Humiliation?  I could barely stand it.  I knew in that moment that he had to get up - to be able to live with himself and ever set foot on the track again - he had to get up and finish.  "You can do it!" I called.  Others did too.  He rose to the chorus and trot-stumbled across the finish line, last place.

I let my eyes linger on him until the crowd of his teammates and a few adults gathered around him.  If I couldn't be there for him, at least somebody was.  Only then did I let my eyes fill with the tears that had been waiting till I knew he was okay.  I turned to look at Guy beside me, and was met with his glistening eyes.  We would talk later, about how this had thrown us back into our own teenage disappointments.  We have both had our stumbles in front of a crowd, but I don't think anything we had experienced could compare to this literal fall.  How a parent's heart can ache for a child.

Before his last event, I talked with him.  He seemed okay, though the road rash in about 8 places told a different story.  But he didn't falter.  When I asked if it hurt, he said, "Yeah, a little, pretty much... a lot."  

"I don't know what happened," he said, "I think I blacked out."

He had.  As we put it all together later, it turns out that a granola bar and a carton of milk way back at lunchtime and nothing else can make a body feel faint.  He said that the world had all gone black, and he felt his legs buckle under him.  He said next he was dreaming that he was at a track meet, but then when he woke, opened his eyes and saw that he was, he was confused.  It was like someone had just dropped him down into the middle of the meet.  He thought "baton", and then "stay in my lane", and then "finish".  

And he did.

Yes, he fell.
Yes, he jumped 14 feet and 6 inches.  
And it was the courage in between that I will remember.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sour Puss

I would tell you  
how I am doing these days,
 but instead
 I thought I would have Natalie illustrate.

Yah, that about sums it up.

(are your cheeks puckered?  Is your mouth watering?  Mine too)
She sucked on this lemon for about 10 solid minutes.  
After every fit of spasms, 
she would go right back for more.  
Some of us can be gluttons for punishment.

Photos by my dear and talented friend Annmarie Hall, who wisely
 uses a high speed shutter setting whilst catching the antics of my kidlets.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

All the best reasons

What is most important?

Where does the true value in our lives lie?

What is the first look your kids see on your face in the morning?

What are the first words they hear?

When you climb into your weary bed at the end of the day, 
do you wish that you had done more dishes?  
More paper work? 

Are you proud of how you have lived the last 24 hours?

Someone asked me these questions this week.

I didn't like my answers.


Tomorrow morning is a new opportunity to make better choices.
And with faces like those to look into, 
who couldn't try a little harder?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Little Something Sweet

Valentine's is a day for lovers.  Well, if you don't have a bazillion kids it is.  If you have a bazillion kids you have to get creative.
NO, NOT THAT.  That's how you get a bazillion kids!  Geez.  Amateurs.

 Creative as in; ditch the bazillion kids (5 out of 6, anyway), share cooking duty to make your own dinner but then pretend you are at a fancy restaurant, hang out with a few great people and their sweethearts, sup on scrumptious food (is it wrong to compliment our own cooking?) and...well... do your own dishes.  But hey, the dessert turned out great, and the company was excellent.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
1 pound semisweet chocolate chips
2 sticks butter, plus 1/2 tablespoon
8 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Okay, this is the most annoying part, but don't worry, it's quick, or if you hate it, just dump it all in a well greased pan and hope for the best.  Take a spring form cake pan and wrap the outside with foil.  

 Melt chocolate and butter in the micro, stirring every 30 seconds.

Meanwhile combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until frothy and almost doubled in volume, about 5 to 10 minutes. Fold 1/3 of egg mixture into chocolate mixture using a rubber spatula. Repeat this process 2 more times – until all of egg mixture has been folded into chocolate mixture.

Pour batter into prepared spring form pan and place in the roasting pan. Bake until cake has risen slightly and edges are just beginning to set, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove cake from roasting pan and cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove foil, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove cake from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. I topped mine with Chocolate mouse and garnished it with raspberries and chocolate hearts.

Kathy, her folks, and Joanna and William
(oh, and us)

The years are beginning to show.  There have been 19 of them, after all.

Wayne and Kathy, and us guys.  We all cleaned up real nice.