Friday, September 30, 2011

Painting Day

This is painting weekend here. Bryan is away, in Texas, for games. Years ago when Bryan would leave, I would plan weekend projects and get nothing accomplished. Parenting little ones is more than a one person job. But now? Well, now I can cautiously plan projects. Very cautiously, while also planning easy dinners and  free afternoons. This weekend I am painting the final two, unpainted (at least by us) rooms in this house. Why two at once? It is overwhelming, but for convoluted reasons, this seemed like the right choice.

We began by peeling away the old border in the kitchen. Border scraping wasn't in the original work order, but as we washed the walls it peeled away so easily, I made an addendum to the work order. Tonight the border is gone, and the old,dirty gray is covered by a layer of primer.

While Ally and I worked in the kitchen I listened to Sally Clarkson over on Diana Waring's Blog talk radio. Sally's thoughts on home were inspiring. Then we watched the live video of my husband's soccer game. When we spotted him coaching on the sideline, an excited chorus of voices called out, "There's Dad." Arden cheerfully waved. Then we heard his voice. Wafting over the field, over the miles. My heart still thrills when I hear his voice.

Next we primed the boys room, the peachy-yellow painted by many willing hands. We love to let them help, especially with the first layers, knowing mistakes can be corrected. If their work isn't perfect, we're okay with that too. We'd rather give them the space to learn, and mistakes are part of the learning process. Of course, in an old house like this, we let go of perfection long ago. You think you've caught a paint drip on the wall, only to discover it has been there about ten years.

At the day's end, they still had the painting itch. They settled in for watercolors around the dining room table,while I read aloud Madeline Takes Command. All tired, all satisfied, all happy here tonight.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Not From Around Here

We're not from the South. We're newcomers to a land of trucks and beauty queens. New to cuisines encompassing frog legs, okra and fried food, all sorts. Heretofore we were strangers to the wafting scent of magnolia on spring days and peach festivals held under the sticky summer sun.

Two weeks ago the kids and I were roadies, following my husband's college soccer team to Mississippi for the weekend. We piled in the car one day after school and drove south. South through the delta region of Arkansas. South through Louisiana. Then west over the mighty Mississippi River and stopped in Vicksburg.

Heretofore I was a stranger to cotton, though we favor it in clothing. But an actual cotton plant was one thing I'd never, ever seen before. In September the cotton fields were ready for harvest, mile after mile, the white cloud gathering strength as we drove south. We saw farmers harvesting a field, "Loooook!" We saw cotton bundled and awaiting transport. Cotton warehouses were more common than rest stops. I pulled the car off to the side and Ally gathered handfuls of cotton from the ditch, for us all to touch and feel a little wonder.

It is a wonderful thing: cotton.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Something Lovely: A Birthday Dinner

The loveliest birthday gift of all was a fondue dinner. The whole family started in the morning, prepping every last ingredient they could, anticipating an evening full of soccer practices and dinner served after dark. Ally stayed home by herself cooking it all and setting the table. Her work was amazing. She was praised without measure. Then, in the nighttime quiet, Bryan quietly thanked me for training a girl who could pull off such a birthday fete. Motherhood, a calling rewarded with abundant blessings.

Friday, September 23, 2011

For You: The Faithful Few

Okay, we're laughing here. My stats haven't gone down this whole month without a new post. You are all still peeking at this page, wondering what happened to me (although only my sister was brave enough to ask). And so, as Bryan put it, "because you won't go away" I'll keep sharing tid-bits of our days with you.

There have been a couple reasons for my silence. First, blogging  generally seems narcissistic and self-centered. A blog is like a diary and I make the enormous presupposition that you are interested. Ally and I were recently discussing Anne Bradstreet. She wrote her poems late at night, when her creative process didn't keep her from her true work (home and family), and she never intended them to be published. I find a quiet, hidden, beautiful life tremendously appealing. However, I enjoy this framing of thoughts in words and phrases, and a platform, like a blog, encourages consistency. I'll post, you read if you want, I'll try not to take myself too seriously.

Second (this is a better reason for not posting) I have been enjoying life. Real life, that is, not screen time. I haven't been writing here, nor have I been reading other blogs, not even my favorites. I've barely been checking my email, as frustrated friends might tell you. I've just been living. And it's good. Contentment is a gift.

It is far too easy to get caught up in the advice on "How To Have a Successful Blog." All that advice seems to center on a lot of time consuming activities, advertising yourself, if you will. That's not what I'm about here (or anywhere). I got worn down, it's silliness, a little short on true meaning. I think I'll skip success. I'll aim to post several days a week, and if you are one of my faithful few, enjoy it.