You Know You’re Loved When…..

Yesterday the littles and I were heading over to my Aunt’s for some cousin time and to circle the wagons.  As we traveled the familiar path, our Princess announced from the backseat, hairbrush in hand: “I just want my hair to look nice, and I’m worried that it doesn’t.”

Yes.  We are those people.  We keep a hairbrush in the car.  (Maybe even two) It has made me a better Mama to be honest.  Instead of losing it as we are trying to head out the door and realizing I need to send someone (HER usually) back to brush their hair and wait THAT MUCH LONGER to pull out of the driveway, we just get in the car and she (or you know, whoever) can deal with it there.

I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that she had actually already brushed it and pulled it into a side ponytail style of sorts.  It looked brushed, and really, that’s all I’m aiming for.

I was actually impressed.  This is the child whom my great Aunt W once looked at and commented, “She sure is pretty.  She’d be even prettier if you’d brush her hair.”

What could I say?  I was busted.  She was right.  Our girl has never been a fan of having her hair brushed.

So you can understand why I was VERY confused that my child was suddenly so concerned about the condition of her hair.

She was brushing it and looking quite serious.  “Do you want to know why I’m so worried about my hair?”

Well, ummm, YEAH.  “Sure.  I’d love to know.”

“Well I want Aunt to know how glad I am to see her.  See, I heard that if you show up just thrown together and everything, it will seem like you aren’t glad to be there and you don’t care about that person.  And I don’t want Aunt to think I don’t care.  So I want my hair to look nice.”

Well.

For the love.

I’m not sure where she acquired such information, and I do intend to ask her, only I keep forgetting in the busy-ness of our day to dailies, but I will.  I mean, it’s not a bad thing to do, putting yourself together because you care.  Still, I am curious as to where she might have come across information such as that…..the mind boggles.

Tonight I’m thankful for my Aunt, the one our Princess loves enough to brush her hair for. (And y’all know that’s some for real, no kidding love.) I’m thankful for Cousins and laughter and dancing in the rain.  For cups of coffee around a kitchen table and holding on to love and stories and the need to be together.  I wouldn’t trade anything for my time with my people, and that I can have that, I am eternally grateful.

May you all have someone so happy to be with you they’re willing to do just about anything to show it–even brushing their hair.

Love to all.

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By Mr. Brian (Brushes) [CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It Wasn’t About the Hoodie–Not Really

I grew up not a UGA fan.  One of my earliest memories involves a vinyl covered stool that my Aunt and Uncle had in their home when we were visiting.  It had a Yellow Jacket on it.  My Uncle graduated from Georgia Tech.  From then on, I understood us to be a Tech family.

Because in Georgia–those are pretty much your choices.  Georgia or Georgia Tech.  There are other colleges, but that’s the big state rivalry.

It didn’t make me popular.  Still doesn’t.  When I wear my GT hoodie out, there are times when another Tech fan speaks up, not too loud of course, excited to find “another” outsider.

Bulldawg fans are serious, y’all.  But so are we.  I was right.  We are a Tech family.  When I was at Wesleyan, we as a student body voted Georgia Tech to be our brother school.  (I think this was so we could cheer for a football team or invite them to our socials…..right now the exact reason eludes me.)  A few years later Sister graduated from Tech, marrying a boy she met there.  After that my Cousin and my brother both graduated from there.  (I’m not mentioning the two cousins who went to UGA–we still shake our heads over that.) Mess Cat married Leroy, who also came from a diehard Tech family.  Only they were a bit more serious–they had actually been to games.  Live.  In person.

Yes.  Go Tech!

So you can understand why I was a bit perplexed, befuddled, if you will, that our Princess announced at a very young age that she is a Bulldog fan.

Where on earth did she pick up such language?

When she was smaller, it was cute.  Oh look at the little one, she thinks she knows what she’s talking about.  Okay.  Whatever.  We patronizingly indulged her little game, knowing  full well it would. not. last.

Only it did.

A couple of years ago she found a UGA top that she liked at the GW Boutique.  I got it for her, struck with bewilderment and wondering who had switched my child at the hospital in Japan, and where on earth was my little Buzz-loving child?   She wore it often, and I would feign shock and displeasure when she did.  We both wound up laughing before the day was over.  She loved reminding us where her allegiance stood by calling out, “Go Dawgs!” quite a bit during football season.

She eventually outgrew that top.  She does not, thankfully, have a replacement.  So be it.  (She does have an Auburn top, and I believe I tried to sneak a GT one in on her to no avail.)

Today we dashed in at the GW Boutique on our Outs and Abouts. I was looking at blazers for my future law school student, when I came across a red hoodie.  I’m a lover of all things hoodie-fied, if you will recall, so I flipped it around, fingers crossed, hoping it would not be…..

but it was…..

Georgia.

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Now in this state, “Georgia” on a hoodie does not mean what you think it means.  Georgia on a hoodie–a red hoodie with black writing–means only one thing.  U. G. A.

Ughhhh.  Uhhh.

This was not the hoodie I was looking for.

Still, in the interest of full disclosure, and because it was a hoodie and most of hers are getting too short on her, I lifted it up and showed it to our Princess as she walked over to where I was.

She smiled.  Really big.

That touched my heart and almost made me feel bad about not being all gung ho about this hoodie.

“So do you want it?” I asked her.

She looked at it, smiled again, and shook her head.

Wait.  What?

“No.  I mean, it’s nice, but I don’t want it.”

“What?  Why?”

“Well, I can just think about how it will bother you if I wear it.”  She giggled and then looked a little serious.  “I know how you feel about it, and I don’t want to make you feel all that every time I wear it.”

I took her by the shoulders and looked her straight in her eyes with fierce love.  “Baby girl, NO MA’AM.  You are a Georgia fan.  I can’t explain why, but you are.  Must have been something in the water or something.  Either way, you are a Georgia fan.  That’s how you feel, you chose it.  Do not–DO NOT EVER–change what you love or how you believe or what you want in life because you are limiting yourself to others’ expectations and preferences.  YOU DO YOU.  YOU BE YOU.  As long as you’re not physically hurting anyone else or being intentionally unkind, you don’t change who you are one bit.  Be loving, be kind, but BE YOU.  Every bit of your beautiful self.”

*sigh*

Okay, so that’s what I should have said.  Only I didn’t.  It didn’t occur to me until we were almost home WITHOUT the hoodie that I had missed a teachable moment.

*sigh* It could have been so beautiful too.  And then we would have gone arm in arm to the check out to buy the hoodie.  And instead of being (mock) frustrated every time she wore it, I would have seen it as my child expressing herself and comfortable doing so–even when she is the only one who feels the way she does.  I would have seen my child comfortable and okay with who she is and what she embraces.

Instead I was so wrapped up with how much she cared about my feelings that I totally blanked on what could have been a powerful lesson.

Man.  I really messed up.

I have put my request in with my people who are in that area that if they happen back by that GW Boutique and “iffen” that hoodie is still there, please get it for my baby.  I want to be able to tell her those things.  And hand her the hoodie and apologize.  It might not be a big deal for her now, but one day, I want her to remember it and be encouraged when life has her feeling on the outside because she believes differently than others do.

Because it’s bound to happen.  Eventually.

I’m reminded of the story of my cousin’s oldest child (who married a month ago–oh my, the time has flown) when he was very young.  He adored his grandmother, my aunt, and he was talking to her about a movie he loved.  I can’t remember which one it was, but he was so happy about it, and he asked her if didn’t she love it too.  She was honest about it and told him she really didn’t care for it much.  He was sad, and then she told him that it was okay.  That people who love each other can like different things and it still be okay.

I love that so much.  It has stuck with me for probably twenty years.  I want my children to take that story to heart.

It’s okay to like different things and still be okay with other people.

Better than okay.

May you have the courage to be you–today and everyday.

Love to all.

 

Hug ’em, Y’all-And Give ’em Chocolate

Today the littles and I, after a day of decorating, learning how to do new things, and organizing around the house, traveled up to a place I love and saw one of our favorite folks do something new too.

We went up for my Aub’s Washboard Band performance at Wesleyan College.  She has played her guitar in public before, but this was her first time playing the cajon with a group.  She did well, not that I was surprised, I guess, but it was good to see something come out of the year of percussion lessons way back during our first year of homeschooling when she was in the eighth grade.

I enjoyed every moment.  The rewrite of the Twelve Days of Christmas, Wesleyan style, was hilarious and yet it rang so true.  It reminded me of the stress and anxiety of this time of year for students.  If you know one, especially a college student, hug them. And then feed them copious amounts of chocolate and put a fiver in their hands just in case they need a little more later.  Bless them.  My college student alone has two finals, a big paper, and a presentation all coming due in the next week, and she’s not even done attending classes, not to mention her job.  And this is NORMAL for a college student.

Hug ’em, y’all.  It’s hard.

They can do it and do it well, but when you’re in the midst of it, it can make you crazy and make you doubt yourself.

NOTE TO ALL MY COLLEGE FRIENDS:  You’ve got this.  Breathe.  Go watch the sunset (which was fabulous tonight, by the way).  I believe in you.  And I’m here if you need a reminder of how wonderful you are and that this too shall pass.  (And so will you, you’ve been working hard.  Yeah, I’ve noticed.)  

As we were leaving, we drove the long way to leave campus, and this stopped me in my tracks.

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The famous Wesleyan geese…..

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…..heading towards the pond. 

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…..almost…..

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There they go.  “Merry Christmas, geese!” 

And made me smile.  I love the geese.  I mean, I always leave a respectable distance between them and me, but I do love them.  Our Princess  rolled down her window and wished them a Merry Christmas, which was–well, so her.  Precious.

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Yes.  Those are the ginkgoes I love so much.  A beautiful sight.  

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My future Golden Heart said, “Oh look, that’s Golden Heart snow!”  A Wesleyanne through and through.   

As we were about to leave, Princess asked out of the blue:  “Mama, when you go here, is there a curfew or do you just have to put yourself to bed on your own?”

I laughed to myself.  She is a special bird, and I love her for it.  “No, you’re on your own.”

“Oh, okay, so you just go to bed by 9 pm, and it’s okay. Or maybe a little later as long as you get up for class the next morning?”

Oh me.  Bless her.

I don’t think she’s quite ready for college yet.  But that’s okay.  She’s got years to go yet.

And I’m sure they will fly by.

Tonight I’m thankful for my alma mater, which isn’t too far away and always welcomes me with her beauty and laughter and sisterhood across the ages. When I saw one of Aub’s classmates–one whom I adore– heading into a final, I stopped my car at the same time that she did a double take.  That’s what being a part of this community is about–and I love the young women who are a part of my girl’s posse.  Her people.  I am thankful for them.  I am also thankful that Aub shares the journey with us, and that we were able to be there and hear her perform.  I give thanks for the love our Princess has for Wesleyan, but I’m also glad it’s not quite time to send her off with suitcase and dorm fridge in hand.  (And I’m thinking, where on earth did she get 9 p.m.? That girl is a NIGHT OWL in every sense of the word. Good gravy!)

Wishing you all a moment or twelve of peace in the midst of the chaos, no matter what your chaos might be.  And if that can’t be found–chocolate.  And lots of it.

Love to all.

 

The Magic Remains

Our elves showed up last night.  (Well actually this morning.  Early.  Don’t ask me how I know.)  We have Christopher PopinKins, whom my Mama gave us years ago.  He doesn’t do anything really naughty.  He just leaves at night and goes to the North Pole to file his report, and then the adventure is finding where he is hiding the next morning.  Last year, three kindness elves flew in from England, and we enjoyed reading their daily notes on how to share a smile or offer a kindness each day.  It helped us focus on giving and not as much on the getting, which made for a lovely Advent and Christmas.

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Christopher PopinKins hanging out with the Raggedy Ann girls. He’s loaded up with peppermints (apparently his favorite, I hear) and with letters to Santa to take back to the North Pole tonight. All of which was unprompted. Precious.

It was funny to me that my littles searched high and low for the elves yesterday morning, what with it being December 1st and all.  I didn’t know we were on a set schedule, but I stand corrected.  Our Princess was so concerned last night that she made up a little bed for the three smaller elves just in case, like the one she had set up last year.  So of course, she was certain that’s why they didn’t come until today.  They were waiting on their bed.

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The three Kindness elves all tucked back into the bed, after having their little tea party. I’m not even sure where all she gathered things to make this little bed–she did it all on her own, convinced they needed a place to sleep. Bless.

I am also finding it very precious that she keeps calling the “Kindness Elves” the “Goodness Elves.”  It is good to be kind, isn’t it?  And kind to be good?  Out of the mouths of babes.

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An elf tea party a la Princess style.

What really surprised me–and yet, maybe not so much–is that my sweet girl–yes she’s 11 now, found the cupcake eraser favors we had tucked away, and she set them out for a tea party for the little elves, complete with furniture from my fairy garden.  Well.

The magic is still very real for her.  I wondered if it would be.  And I’m so thankful to find that it is.

May it ever be so.

Love and a healthy bit of wonder at the magic to all.

Our Feathered Friends–A Field Trip Story

Today we took a field trip down to Go Fish for a class.  Cooter and our Princess enjoy these classes, as do I.  They do a really good job of combining learning and fun in the classroom there, and the facility itself with the amazing aquarium and fully stocked pond for fishing is one of our area’s best kept secrets.  So many opportunities for education and adventure all in one place.

The class this morning was about Our Feathered Friends.  One of the teachers asked the children about characteristics of birds that most or all have in common.  Wings, hollow bones (except for the common loon, I learned something today), and beaks were a few of the things mentioned.

Then Cooter raised his hand, and she called on him.  I was sitting in the same room but not close enough to have assessed what his response was going to be in advance.  His answer to the question about what characteristics most or all birds have was:  “They’re good cookin’.”

She and the other educator looked at each other, confused.  “They’re good cooks? Birds can cook?”

Not daunted by the misunderstanding, my little guy shook his head no, and restated his answer, “They’re good.  Cooked.  They’re good cooked.  Tasty.”

Welp.  Okay then.

The teachers and other moms in the room laughed.  I shook my head and reminded myself about who my son is.

The class clown of Zoo Crew Academy, ladies and gentlemen.  He’s here for the next eight years.  Thank you.  

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The next activity involved using different things that had been put together to look and act like different types of bird beaks–the hummingbird, the pelican, the wider beaked birds, and the tiny little pointed ones.  It was interesting as the children tried the different “beaks” to pick up “fish” from the water, or the nectar, birdseeds, or “worms” in the sand.  The children discussed which beaks were best for each type of food.

When they finished with that, the instructors, who are vibrant and fun and have great senses of humor (thankfully) and who seem to really enjoy the children, brought around two live chickens who were hatched during the Fair about a month ago.  They were of good size, though not full-grown.  As Cooter and Princess were petting one of the chicks, my girl commented that she’d love to have that chicken at our house and how its feathers were so soft like a kitten.  The teacher agreed.  “Yes, I’d love to take it home with me.”

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Our Princess kept loving on the chick, “Can you imagine?  Eggs whenever you wanted.  You’d never have to go to the store to get them.  Scrambled eggs for breakfast everyday!”

The teacher smiled and nodded.  “That would be good.  Scrambled eggs for breakfast–I’d love that.  But I’d need the chicken to cook them for me too.”

My girl didn’t miss a beat.  She looked at her teacher and said, “But that’s what your husband is for.”

For. The. Love.

The teacher laughed, “I love that.”

And so do I.

That our Princess lives a life where, if the wife isn’t able to scramble the eggs, it is just assumed that the husband would jump in and do it.

I mean, why not, right?   So thankful for the world she lives in, what she believes, and the story that is hers.

Tonight I’m thankful for the wonderful opportunities to share in the learning with my children.  I am so appreciative of the time and energy these fantastic folks put into planning a great and interesting program for the children, and I’m glad we have such an amazing place to learn just a little bit down the road.  I love that I get to learn alongside my children.  Most of all, I’m grateful for their precious spirits–wonky sense of humor and all–and how they see the world.  Their laughter is more than infectious, it’s light pouring out from their souls and changing the world for the better.

May we all share a laugh and pour a little light into the world today.

Love to all.

 

 

Watching Her Become

We’ve been excited about tomorrow for MONTHS.  And now, it’s finally here.

Our Princess’ 11th birthday.

Standing on the precipice of growing up and staying small, of childhood and adulthood, of elementary school and middle, of little girl and young woman, of joy-filled wonder and emotional angst, she is a sister and friend and daughter and student and swimmer and dancer and gymnast and pianist and scooter rider and ball tosser and bicyclist and laugher at jokes and unloader of dishwasher and our imagination-run-wild gift from God.

She is.  A blessing.

Born in Japan, she surprised us two weeks early.  I barely had my bag packed, but it was enough so that I was able to grab it and drive myself and Aub to the hospital when my water broke.  The funny thing is I felt no fear.  Each morning when I changed her diaper in those early months, I would say out loud to her, with her: “Thank you, God, for another day.”  And we would laugh together.

Her name is an old English name meaning joy or happiness.  Spelled differently, it’s also the middle name of one of my favorite cousins.  She carries her name well.  For the most part, she is a loving and affectionate child who loves hugs and laughter and games and being with people she loves.  And Minecraft.  How she loves Minecraft.  Other times, when she’s not so loving, well, she’s a Scorpio.  Watch out for that.  When her voice deepens (and it’s laughable if it’s not your name she’s saying), someone is in deep trouble.  And she knows how to let loose and do some correcting.

We recently saw an old video of her and Cooter on his first birthday.  We were all encouraging him to dig into his little mini-cake.  She was bouncing around talking about cake and wanting some, but when he went for it, and we all got excited, her voice deepened, and she immediately started reprimanding him in her three-year old voice: “Cooter, no!  Do not do that.  Mama, he is making a mess!”

And so it is.  To this day.  She’s his best friend and his third Mama all rolled into one.

She has her own sense of style and is unapologetic as she somehow pulls off the oddest of combinations.  I’m envious and a little bit in awe of that.  She has a very strong sense of justice.  Don’t let that sweet face and smile and twinkling eyes fool you.  Say something to her that lets her know you don’t see women as equally capable of living life, and she will. LET. LOOSE.  All the madness.  I do hope she will see a competent woman President in her lifetime, because as we are studying government and elections, she is about to lose her mind over this issue.  She is constantly checking with me to make sure no one is leaving any other group out.  When she senses injustice, something she just cannot fathom, it upsets our whole home because she carries it with her constantly.

Tonight I’m thankful for this next chapter in our girl’s story.  What a beautiful unfolding of her soul we get to see.  The one who came into this world loving pink and dresses and dancing and playing dressup is growing into someone who still loves those things but also loves jeans and hoodies and blue and purple and dressing up as real people who have made a difference in this world.  She talks about traveling and being in the Olympics or coaching or teaching or being a Mama or all of these things.  Our girl already knows where she is going to college and is ready for me to make a room deposit for her at the “Oldest and the Best,” where her Maemae, her sister, and I all learned.  She dreams of a day when race and gender don’t matter, that a good heart is seen only for that, and of the day when food allergies will be cured.  She loves biographies and Harry Potter and books about fairies, and each night when I sit in the quiet house, I hear a creak that means she’s gone into the library searching out another book to help her fall asleep.  She is a beautiful, unique soul whom I get to love and learn from up close and personal.

And for that I am most thankful.

Happy birthday, baby girl!  May it be the best one ever. yet. always.  Love you mostest.

Love to all.

Just for fun, a sample of the art in our birthday girl’s room, which shows her beautiful and complex spirit.  

Her spirit flies and soars and fills our home with love and laughter and a lot of wonder.

Her spirit flies and soars and fills our home with love and laughter and a lot of wonder.

A Christmas gift from her big sister last year I think.  She loved it, because Disney and all those movies--her FAVORITES.

A Christmas gift from her big sister last year I think. She loved it, because Disney and all those movies–her FAVORITES.

A gift from our cousin who shared a birthday with our Princess.  She actually wanted our girl to be born on her birthday.  And so it was.

A gift from our cousin who shared a birthday with our Princess. She actually wanted our girl to be born on her birthday. And so it was.

A gift from the brush of her big sister, with whom she shares a love of all things Potter.

A gift from the brush of her big sister, with whom she shares a love of all things Potter.

This year's gift from her big sister, just given early tonight by her "returning to college" sister.  This one melts MY heart.

This year’s gift from her big sister, just given early tonight by her “returning to college” sister. This one melts MY heart.

The New Thing Cooter Says

Cooter tickles me.

He can also frustrate me to no end, but that’s a story for another time.

He can be such a little old man in his eight year old body.  He is trying to figure out who he is and where he is headed in our world, our community, but mostly right here in our very own house and family.  With Mama and two big sisters and a female dog and cat, he and the Fella are outnumbered.

My little guy can get overwrought sometimes–like when he wishes his sister would play with him instead of “her friends” *insert his eye roll here* or when he misses his oldest sister away at college or when I go too many days between serving foods from his favorite food group–the “beige” one–and he’s soooooo hungry.

Bless.  Just bless him.

But sometimes he surprises me with his adaptability.  Or agreeability.  Often it’s a little of both, or it’s that he is trying to play it cool and doesn’t want me to know how much he likes what I’ve just said.  Whatever it is, he has a new mantra.

Cooter’s new words that he tends to say in response multiple times a day are:

“Yeah. Sure. Why not?”

Very often a shrug is thrown in there for good measure.

“Hey Cooter, you want to run in the grocery store with me while your sisters wait in the car?”

“Yeah, sure.  Why not?”

“Hey Cooter, you up for a sandwich from CFA for supper?”

“Yeah, sure.  Why not?”

“Hey buddy, wanna walk with me while I take Sophie out?”

“Yeah, sure.  Why not?”

Instead of this being a sarcastic reply or the least bit flippant, he actually pauses in serious thought before he offers this answer.  His tone carries a lilt of genuineness, with the emphasis on the ‘why not’ bit.  As in well, sure, why wouldn’t I want to join you in the store, Mama?  I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do than be with you as you tackle that list you forgot to bring with you.  Again.

Okay, maybe that last bit was slightly exaggerated, but still–when he says “yeah, sure, why not?” it tickles my soul and gladdens my heart, because even though he’s trying to be too cool to get REALLY excited about something, that little bit of nonchalance is merely masking his true heart.  Goodness knows that boy knows how to say NO a hundred different ways if that were his answer.  Rest assured if you hear him say these new words, what he’s really saying deep down is, “Yes, thank you, that sounds GREAT!”

Maybe he’s trying to balance out his sister, our Princess, whose reactions can vary from “BEST. DAY. EVER” to “yes yes yes yes yes oh please yes thankyousomuch I can’t wait” to “I love this so much, and isn’t it the greatest thing you’ve ever seen?”

Personalities are fascinating, aren’t they?  I don’t know if they could be any more different.

Still I think both responses serve them well.  I’ve always loved our girl’s enthusiasm, and now I’m gaining a whole new appreciation for Cooter’s laid back vibe.

May we all be willing to look at something right in front of us and say, “Yeah, sure.  Why not?”  Who knows, it just might lead to our “BEST DAY EVER!”

Love to all.

Cooter in a tractor wheel? Yeah, sure.  Why not?

Cooter in a tractor tire? Yeah, sure. Why not?