Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Days of Christmas

12 Trees at LuLu's
11 Tinsels Twinkling
10 Kindergartners
9 Second Graders
8 Legos Stacking
7 Presents Wrapping
6 Cookies Gone
5 BOOOOY Cousins!
4 Gingerbread Men
3 Treats for Breakfast
2 Dunkin' Doughnuts
Composed by Katie and Anna Brown on the ride to school this morning.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


The minivan is a controversial topic. One must value efficiency over style to embrace the epic uncoolness. And I do. Man, I love this thing.
It is like spending the day in an NYC apartment. Right now the girls are in the way back, obscured by a wall of blankets they tied to the grab bars. They are whispering so that Ronnie and I can't hear them in their "secret fort".
I am sipping coffee, reading and writing while my sweet man drives us safely through the Shenandoah Valley.
O Minivan!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A House Divided

We had a civics lesson last night.
Katie was firmly in the Romney camp, but Anna was for Brock Bama. Wasn't that the name of a seventies sitcom cop?
Anna couldn't stay up to watch the returns, but Katie made it until the 9pm states were called. She colored in her own electoral map very carefully as each state was announced on the news.
Today was Anna's day for share, so she took her stuffed Portuguese Water Dog, Bo in to Kindergarten. Our friend Zulima sent us two Bo dogs straight from her job in The White House. (She also included White House M&Ms. Huge hit. HUGE.)
God Bless America!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


"When God made everybody, did he have to buy all the parts at a big store?"
"Nope. He made that stuff too."
"WOW. That's a lot of stuff. He must have a big house."
~Anna Brown, Age 5

Fall Bounty

Pumpkin seeds, jack-o-lanterns, popcorn and lemons....
Alabama Autumn


Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I am extraordinarily talented at many things. Hyperbole primarily.
But last night I realized what might be my greatest skill.
Blanket Finder.
Call me - I'm best from 2am - 4am. I can go from a dead sleep, navigate through the dark house with no contacts in, locate the blanket, even it is IN THE BED WITH THE CHILD LOOKING FOR IT, apply kisses, and return to bed without ever truly waking up. I'd brag more, but it did take seven years of intense training to reach this skill level.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Ah, the power of literature

Today, Katie Brown got her own library card.
"Can I get my very own library card??" 
When you get that request in carpool line - you go with it. 
She was thrilled with the power and possibility of a lifetime of free learning, of all the world's literature opening up before her. Or perhaps the awesome plastic card to put in her wallet.
Whatever the motivation, it was exciting for this former librarian to witness.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Not her first...

From the backseat this morning:
"Mama, I can't wait to go to the Rodeo again." - Anna, Age 5
And to think I was 32 before I saw my first rodeo. I am truly broadening my daughters' experiences.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Learn Something New...

Every Day.
The girls are in day camp this week. Two DIFFERENT day camps. Which means that for the first time in a month we are going our separate ways during the day.
We have learned a LOT in our days apart.

Katie: "Mama, did you know the big girl golf club is called a wood? They said to hit the wood and I thought we were going to hit, you know, wood."

Anna: "I love science. We did a lot of science today. I have science all over my shirt."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

There she goes...

We had a gorgeous evening on Monday. We were fishing on the dock as dusk fell. A beautiful butterfly lit on the edge of the pond. Anna was twirling on the beach, as her tiered fluffy skirt required. She over-rotated and fell into the sand, soaking her skirt in the water. She popped up, and yanked down the wet tiers, unconcerned.
After admiring her Dora panties, she decided she'd head up to the house and get dry. She scampered off through the field with her hair flying, bouncing with pure joy. It was quite a picture.
Katie watched her go, fishing pole in hand. She turned to me and said, "There she goes - pantless - into the sunset."

Sunday, July 15, 2012


"My only favorite thing about Camparama was everything."
- Anna Brown

Thursday, July 12, 2012

But I'm Almost Done!

Note the date. Katie refused to put down her chapter book and begged to bring it into the restaurant. I am THRILLED.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I fear for the future.

Standing before the paper towel dispenser, my child is repeatedly waving her hand about. She is getting frustrated; nothing is happening.  The automated dispenser is ingrained in her four year old experience. But this is a regular paper towel dispenser. As in, a sliver of paper towel is already hanging before her. But she is confused, awaiting a red laser beam and a motor to dispense it more readily into her hand.
Davy Crockett she ain't.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Katie Goes To Camp

Sleep Away Camp.

Seriously? I feel like I just stopped swaddling her.

Katie has been brave and excited by the prospect of three nights at camp.

Tonight, we looked at a map. I thought it would be reassuring for her to see how close she will be to home. It will only be about a 40 minute drive from door to door.

She asked, "Are you and Daddy staying at a hotel nearby?"

We'll see how this goes...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

the creek

looking for something to do?

you could...
party before school, spray paint your hair red, cartwheel across the lawn, run in a relay, make a card for your favorite teacher, ride on a gravitron, get your fortune told, play in two soccer games, hear LuLu and GrandDaddy cheering you on, go for a boat ride, kayak through "Pirate's Cove" at the lake, go to a CCD party in the park, host a pool party & eat cupcakes with your friends in a bathing suit while you dance on the patio.
just your standard 72 hours

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A little motherly advice...

Some of these mantras were repeated daily. Some are singular moments & conversations that have stayed with me for years. Limiting to only ten was a challenge, so I tried to select the most universal advice. I also tried to stick with Mom's voice, so more concrete lessons learned by example were omitted despite their value.   Perhaps a second list is needed for those. Because really, everyone should know that you can't use a canoe paddle to push off from a muddy bank - you will capsize.

Suz's Top Ten
10. “Work hard.”
Work is not a noun, where some is hard and some easy. It is a verb.
Whatever it is, work hard at it.
9. “Sunscreen?”
When one has repeated the same litany for years, there is no need to belabor the point.
One word should suffice as a reminder.  
8. “I’ll sit on your bed.”
Whenever I had an onerous task to complete, Mom would come sit on my bed while I finished. She’d sit and talk to me while I worked. She did this for decades. Whether I had to clean up my toys, complete my calculus homework, pack for college or write thank you notes, she would keep me company. She never did it for me; but I never had to do it alone.  
 7. “I was at home. Thanks for noticing.”
During my first post-partum come-apart, I told my Mom I felt like I wasn’t living up to her example. She was a “working mother” and I admired her career. I thought that by staying home, I might be letting her down. Turns out, she didn’t work – outside the home - until I went to Kindergarten. She was at home for five years. But, like most aspects of the Mom job, it went entirely unnoticed by the beneficiary.
[She also, quite graciously, refrained from mentioning that with a two-week old infant,
I might be less than entirely logical.]
6. “Well, you’re not going to be friends.”
I was lamenting the presence of a girl in my life that defied understanding. We disagreed politically, socially, just about in every way possible. I was confounded. What should I DO? Mom’s reply reminded me that while I needed to be nice, I don’t need to welcome everyone into my life. Especially not those that make me crazy.   
5. “There is no one different from you.”
Same conversation. Same girl. How could there possibly be someone so different in every way? But Mom didn’t believe in different. In other. We are all the same.
Far more than we ever choose to accept.
4. “Leave an extra car-length for your Mother.”
No one ever accused Mom of aggressive driving.
3. “You don’t need to be perfect to be loved.”
In college, Mom sent an article, clipped from Parade magazine that was entitled, “You don’t have to be perfect to be loved.”  It was a message she lived every day in every moment. I was amused and touched that she found an article that spoke to her philosophy, and I still have the clipping. But at 18 I still didn’t really get what a gift it was. I was privileged to have a roommate who also had an extraordinary Mom. We both received notes and gifts in the mail all through our freshman year. We mastered the college voicemail system in part to silence the 8am calls each Saturday morning.  It was only much later that I realized how rare was that tether of demonstrated, spoken, unwavering love. One day I'll have to explain "clipping" and "mail" to my daughters of the email age,  but hopefully they will have already internalized that love does not have to be earned.
2. "Call me when you cross state lines."
This was, once upon a time, “Call me when you get there.” But I am TERRIBLE at that. I can never remember, at the flurry of arrival, to stop, look back, and be grateful for the safe journey. So Mom adjusted her expectations. Call me when you cross state lines was a doable, and more accurate assessment of my safety. Then, in the habit of checking in, I’d call within a few miles of my destination, “I’m almost there.” She could take on faith that I'd make it the rest of the way on my own.
1. "Be Safe."
This is why I will never jump off tall rocks into water.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Like Riding A Bike!

Katie and I went on a bike ride together tonight. 
Just us. 
Two girls on bikes. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Say What?

Ronnie and I take great care to explain things completely as they arise. Today we covered earthworms versus amphibians, black holes, division, etc. Then at dinner Katie asked, "What is a numeral?" So Ronnie and I start discussing it, "it is a number... just as a letter makes up a word, a numeral makes up a number value..."

Katie breaks in and says, "No, a numeral is a place you go."
"Um, no. Where did you hear the word numeral?"
"Sagheer wasn't in class today because he had to go to a numeral."
"I think you mean 'funeral'."
"Yes, that's where he is. What is a funeral?"
"A different conversation."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Snips and Snails

One terrified frog "rescued" in the backyard
Two handfuls of rocks in my washer
Seven bicycles 
Eight filthy hands making mudpies
Twelve neighbors under age twelve
Twenty-four photos of "Snakes of Alabama" we had to pour through this morning
Two very happy little girls 


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Carpe Diem

This morning the girls packed their suitcases for the beach! They had a ball: deciding outfits, deliberating between toys, locking away lovies, etc. By the door, four bags sit ready to roll. 

Unfortunately, we don't leave for the beach for another six days. 

We were almost late for school. I was trying to explain that we needed to get ready for TODAY. Get shoes on, brush our hair, etc. Accomplish TODAY before we plan for tomorrow. 

Then I went back to my computer. I was busy searching for laundry room designs in a future dream house. Instead of doing laundry. 

Here's to learning the balance:
Between the boredom of repetitive tasks and
 the joy of calm, clean readiness. 
Between living in the moment and planning for the future. 
Between teaching the skills I am still practicing myself. 

And in the meantime, we'll go to the beach!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

To protect and guide...

Katie and Anna have taken to sleeping with angels under their pillows. It helps them stay in their own beds (sort of). Katie calls them her special "Gardeny Angels" that plant sweet dreams.

I am hoping it helps Anna B. today. She woke up yesterday morning and announced, 
"Mama, I have an ear infection in this  ear. It can't hear. 
But this one can."  
Turns out she was right. Our doctor was skeptical - until he looked in her ears. As soon as that girl learns her right from her left, she is going to make a great physician. 

Katie has a real caring spirit. She lent Anna her V-reader this morning and cozied her up under her flower canopy. 
Such a good big sister. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This day in history...

"Don't you roll your eyes at me!"

~Please note the date. First use of a phrase that Anna willl hear for the rest of her life.

Recently, a favorite neighbor, somone who knows Anna very well, said,
"She doesn't have a quiet voice. Just one volume. Loud."
I, of course, took that as a high compliment. I love a girl who can make herself heard!
But she also has a less charming habit.
eye rolling 
I hypothesize that eye rolling is genetic. Katie doesn't do it. Anna does.
Anna is more like me in her reactions.
"Uh, Yeah?"
Trust me. Call me the Gregor Mendel of disrespect.
God help you sweet child.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sheep May Safely Graze

We were discussing the grazing efficiency of various ungulates
relative to their desirability as pets.
(Don't ask.)
Anna cast her vote for big fluffy sheep. 

"What about goats?" asked RB.

"Nope. Horned animals scare me."

You have to respect a girl who knows what she likes.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Door

Long day. Project. With actual deadline. And accountability. 
Wondering: How did I do this? Once upon a time...
I was responsive, responsible, thorough, quick. I was a procrastinator - always - but still.

I used to return phone calls. 

When was that?
How on EARTH did I do it?

It seems impossible. Like a vague recollection that I once had the ability to fly.

Then it hit me. 
A door. 
I used to have a door. 

I used to have a chair. And a desk. And drawers. And NO ONE EVER CAME AND DUMPED OUT THE CONTENTS ON THE FLOOR.

No one stole my scissors. Or phone. Or took the address book I was using, ripped out three pages, scribbled in black sharpie, sneezed violently on it and then tossed it nonchalantly back on my desk.

Each night, I would leave a stack of papers on my desk - prioritized for completion; and when I returned, they were in exactly the same place.  And someone else had made coffee.


The biggest distractions in those beautiful door-closing, do-not-disturb setting, no facebook-having days were the intelligent adults I wanted to converse with and the birthday cake at 3pm. Cake. At least twice a month
"all these birthday celebrations really interrupt my afternoon"  

And then I went to the bathroom. Alone.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


We love orange juice - but we have to have the mulp strained out. 

Ditto for mustachios. They are almost as good as peanuts.