Potpourri

Potpourri — any mixture, especially of unrelated objects, subjects, etc. (Definition courtesy of Dictionary.com)

The girls’ friend, John, came over for the afternoon and evening today. He wanted to start the Star Wars trilogy (Episodes 1-3) with them, since they haven’t seen it, but Andie remained completely unimpressed by the middle of Episode I, so they turned it off, much to Rachel’s chagrin. It’s so much fun to have teenagers hanging out at my house; despite the fact that the rest of us are herded upstairs where we can’t be annoying/embarrassing. (John says he doesn’t mind me hanging out with them because I’m “cool,” but I don’t think my daughters share that sentiment.)

Highlight of John’s visit this time: The short time he spent playing our piano and singing, including regaling us with his latest composition, which, though currently untitled and without a back story, is on its way to major awesomeness.  I’m always happy to have John over because he is one of the kindest, most thoughtful, open, honest and creative people that I know. He’s an old soul in a 15-year-old body.

Andie, John and Rachel

This shot is typical, though it hasn’t been seen in our house for awhile*:

Logan's choice of pajamas

Freshly showered and ready for ice cream, Logan came downstairs tonight in his Spidey costume and struck a pose. We certainly get our money’s worth out of our Halloween costumes!

*Please excuse the blurry pictures. I am told that rather than my phone’s camera being the problem, it is the operator who has the problem. This may be true, but I still like to blame the camera.

Idol chatter

The kids and I have two guilty pleasures — watching American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. We have been thrilled with this season of AI. I mean, seriously. These kids have some incredible talent. I’m not usually too emotional about live music, but I have gotten goosebumps and/or cried several times this season, almost always during one of Joshua Ledet’s songs.

I don’t know what it is, because normally I prefer gravelly, deep, male voices, but Josh’s raw talent gives me chills, even though I haven’t particularly liked any of the actual songs he has performed. I think it’s the way every song he sings seems to touch him deeply in some way. That really comes out in his performances, more than anyone else.

I was a Colton Dixon fan from the beginning, just because he was so original and made each song his own, and I liked him even more when he sang Lifehouse’s “Everything.” When he was voted off (BOO!), he got down on his knees for his final performance and sang “Everything” again, tears streaming down his face. I haven’t been that moved in a very long time.

We’re now down to Phillip Phillips, Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez. Up until tonight, I had been getting rather tired of Phillip. I liked him a lot in the beginning, but all of his songs started to sound exactly alike and I was bored. Jessica, on the other hand, is a female Joshua. Her vocal prowess is truly incredible, and she’s only 16! Until the last song of tonight’s show, I was all for a Jessica/Joshua showdown next week.

However. Phillip’s rendition of “We’ve Got Tonight,” the last performance of the night, was sooooo good. He was clearly uncomfortable because it’s not his typical style (plus he didn’t have his guitar), but it was tender, quiet, and heartfelt, and completely won me over.

So now, I don’t know. They’re all so darn good, I’ll be happy with whomever wins.

Who’s your favorite for the win?

Today, Day 2 of the kids’ summer vacation, was, overall, a heckuva lot better than yesterday. For reasons known only to themselves, my sons decided to be extra-wild and crazy yesterday, resulting in a banishment to the outdoors for a couple hours.

Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:

1. I can tell 99 out of 100 times who is at my office door by the footsteps and/or the knocking pattern and volume.

2. My productivity ratio goes down about 15% per kid when they’re are home all day, every day. Some ground rules on office hours are most likely going to have to be established. That said, I’m really enjoying spending more time with them.

3. I’m SO grateful that Andie enjoys cooking because she has been making at least one meal a day so far and she is turning into an amazing cook. I’ve always said I’d much rather have a cook than a housekeeper!

4. If left to their own devices, my sons would split their time between the TV, the computer and their Leapsters, and subsist on Cheerios, PB&J, toast, and the occasional box of mac and cheese. They would never see the light of day, nor would they ever rely on their good, old-fashioned imaginations for entertainment. Fortunately, they have me, a mom who values imagination and creativity above most everything else, and so, alas, their penchant for unlimited screen time is in check.

5. Summer vacation is full of magic. Just look at yesterday’s finding:

Baby cottontail

Isn’t it adorable? Our dog, Remy, was chasing it and Rachel rescued it. She wanted to keep it SO badly, as did all the kids, but after some quick internet research, I discovered that the best bet for this sweet little thing was to let it go. The chances of it surviving captivity are slim. After attempting to feed it some milk with no results, Rachel agreed that putting it back in its natural habitat was best. Still, moments like this, when the kids have time and opportunity to find and fawn over a sweet little bunny, are so precious.

Logan found a caterpillar on his walk with Andie yesterday too. He named it “Georgie,” and was so excited to “give it exercise in the grass” and maybe even see a butterfly hatch eventually. However, in his Lenny-esque attempt to care for it, he accidentally drowned the poor thing in its jar by giving it WAY too much water. Ah well, lesson learned. I’m quite sure there will be more caterpillars in the near future.

6. I love summer vacation. Long days, warm nights, sitting outside by the fire and roasting marshmallows, getting out the camper so the kids can sleep outside, walks, gardening, family get-togethers.

How about you? What are your favorite summer memories? What do you like best about summer vacation?

Yesterday afternoon, things at our house suddenly got very quiet. The kids were obviously upstairs, but the camaraderie I heard coming from the boys’ room as I went up the stairs was unusual.

I arrived at the boys’ door to find a notice, which had previously served as a warning for the mess inside, updated to say this:

6 hours! I thought, listening to the noises going on inside. I bet they’re cleaning it up.

Sure enough, one by one they came trickling out; first Cody, followed by Rachel, and some time later, Logan. As usual, the only one left, doing all the work herself, was Andie.

After awhile, Andie told me it was ready. I was greeted with a floor that I hadn’t seen in quite some time, newly made beds, an organized toy box and dressers,  and this:

Just like the sign on the door, this warm welcome was scrawled by my youngest, and was, by Andie’s account, the extent of his involvement in the cleaning of the room, despite the duration of his presence there.

As it turns out, I should have taken a picture of the room itself as a commemoration of its brief stint as a decent, clean bedroom, because, wouldn’t you know it, today, the boys have completely dismantled it again. Of course, I didn’t discover this until I was putting Logan to bed.

Guess I know what’s on Cody and Logan’s agenda for tomorrow.

The Avengers

If you haven’t seen the newly released movie, The Avengers, make sure it’s on your list of must-see movies when it comes out on DVD. Glen took the kids and me to see it last night for Mother’s Day. It was, as are all comic book hero movies, full of action and adventure, but what surprised me was how much humor it contained.

In preparation for the movie, which I knew Cody was going to be anxious to see, I rented Thor and Captain America this past month so we could get some background on a couple more of the characters, besides Iron Man and The Hulk. This did prove helpful in watching The Avengers, but it wasn’t necessary for understanding what was going on. It was so much fun to see the characters, most of whom have helmed their own movies, interact with each other. And I’m not positive about this, and haven’t Googled it to find out if I’m right, but I’m pretty sure I spotted Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee in a cameo appearance in the news snippets grumbling, “There’s no such thing as superheroes!,” or something similarly amusing.

Of course, when I tried to blog about it last night after we got home, my computer locked up and I was so tired, I just gave up and went to bed. So if I hadn’t already broken my blogging streak, I would have last night anyway.

Footnote: It’s certainly the age of superhero movies. Cody has been anxiously awaiting the next Spider-Man movie for, I’m not even kidding, years. Last night, as we waited for The Avengers to begin, a preview for The Amazing Spider-Man (as well as previews for multiple other superhero movies) came on. Evidently it’s coming out in July, finally. Though Cody was disappointed that the actors are different (I had to explain yet again that Tobey Maguire, the original Spider-Man, is, gasp, my age), he’s excited to give the new Spider-Man a fair shot.

There was much joy in our house this morning. Even the couple kids (who shall remain nameless) who are normally bite-your-head-off whiny/grumpy in the morning had smiles.

Last day of school!

 

Just for kicks, I’m putting up their first day of school picture from this year to see if/how much they have changed.

 

First day of school 8-23-11

Cody's Mother's Day card

 

Translation:

Dear Mom,

My love for you will bloom forever!

My favorite thing about you is that you care for me!!!

My favorite time with you is when we play games together.

Thanks for your love, your care, and for being the best Mom!!!!

You color my world!

Cody

He got the last package of mixed flower seeds in the class and, evidently, they were a hot item. “Everyone wanted to trade me because these are the best,” he said, “but I thought you would like them, so I said no.”

Seriously, is there anything better than reading what your kid honestly thinks of you? It’s more precious than any physical gift.

I made it for 8 days, at least, but I just realized this morning as I logged into my computer that I forgot to post last night and have therefore forfeited my chance of winning a Kindle Fire at the end of the Blogathon. Sigh. It’s OK though, because hanging out with a friend is far more important than blogging anyhow (Hi, Jo!!).

 

Andie's first time driving with me

My dear, wonderful, generous, loyal, loving friend, Amy, the one to whom I dedicated my Blogathon participation, went to her eternal resting place yesterday afternoon. She was at her home, surrounded by her family.

My heart is so heavy. I am finding it incomprehensible that someone so vibrant, so full of life, is gone, even though I knew it was coming. Perhaps her death reminds me that each of us is merely one sniffle away from leaving this place forever; or perhaps I am grieving because even though Amy and I only communicated a few times a month, I miss her terribly; or maybe it’s because I am so very sad for her husband and her 6-year-0ld son, who have lost such an amazing mother and wife. It could be because Amy carried the same gene that my former mother-in-law, Carmen, did, and that my daughters may carry. My guess is that it’s all of these things.

We got to know each other through the Blogathon, when we read each others’ blogs and developed a mutual respect and admiration. Immediately, we added each other to our blogrolls. I think I’m the only non-cancer related blog on hers. The first post I read was called “Naked at the Blue Lagoon,” and I loved her writing style.

All day today, bits and pieces of my friendship with Amy have been popping up in my mind. Like how she hired me to design her website because she loved how mine looked and she knew I was in need of work. The timing never quite worked out, but she was lovingly and respectfully trying to help me when I needed it. How several times, out of the blue, she called me up to ask me for some parenting advice. And how she totally put herself on the line trying to get me some writing work from one of her editors. I was seriously afraid that she was making a pest of herself on my behalf, she was so determined to get me some work. “You’re a great writer,” she told me. “I don’t have any reservations recommending you.”

“Besides,” she added, “when I don’t write, I get crabby. Don’t you?” I had never thought of it that way, but ever since she said that, I have realized that not writing does, indeed, make me crabby.

Amy sent me this angel after Carmen passed away:

Amy's angel

She knew the pain of losing a loved one to cancer; she had lost her own mother and grandmother to breast cancer at very young ages.

When I found out that Carmen carried the BRCA gene, the same gene that Amy had, she was the one I talked to about it. She told me not to worry about it yet, to get Glen tested first to see if he even carries the gene, and if he does, to not worry about my daughters yet either. “There’s no point in testing them until they’re adults,” she told me emphatically. “All that does is create worry when there’s nothing that can be done when they’re young anyway.”

When I had only known Amy for a very short time, she was already signing everything with “xoxoxo,” which I suspect she did with everyone. For me that doesn’t come easily, but it did with Amy. I think I signed every text and email to her with “xoxoxo.” Her loving personality somehow, mysteriously, brought that out of me.

Amy’s passing has left me with so many questions. Why? She was only 43. And man, was she a fighter. I think she believed up until the very end that she was going to beat the cancer monster. Other than Carmen, I’ve never seen anyone with such a positive outlook. Someone shared this link to a local news story on Amy’s battle with breast cancer. The story showcases well Amy’s optimism.

In any case, questions aside, Amy touched so many people through her blog and through real life. The legacy she is leaving behind is enormous. She meant so much to so many. I have no doubt she would be overwhelmed by just how beloved she is.

I love and miss you, Amy, and I rest in the comfort that I WILL see you again someday. xoxoxo

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