Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Being Lily Ruth (almost 3)

Being Lily Ruth can be exhausting. Some days, even though you really don't want to take a nap, you just might be enticed to hang out on a pallet on the floor to eat giant gummi butterflies and watch a movie... but you are NOT resting.

Being Lily Ruth can be complicated. You feel all sorts of excitement about spending the weekend at the coast, but when you get to the actual beach, you really really really loathe and despise sand and salt water. Picking up shells is cool. So is running in and out of the waves with your dog - as long as your mama will hold you. Being Lily Ruth means that your favorite part of the coast is walking out on a quarter-mile long pier and pretending that it's a boat that you are driving. You give mama and daddy tickets and yell 'Ahoy, Matey' a lot.

Being Lily Ruth means sending mixed signals. You can tell mama that you want to help her with your Fiesta shoebox float, but all you're really going to to is help with the glue at first then wander off with each element of the design after mama finishes it. You're really happy with the end result, though, and your Fiesta party at school is big fun... until you get overwhelmed and need a quiet moment.

Being Lily Ruth means acting wild with paints and teaching your friends to do the same. What's the point of getting paint out if you're not going to cover your whole body? And while you're at it, you might as well give your friends a few pointers on sticking your feet directly into bowls of finger paint - they'll thank you for it!

Being Lily Ruth means learning to be brave and strong and nearly fearless. It means climbing to the top of The Climber by yourself! It means watching the bigger kids carefully then copying their maneuvering techniques. It means being an excellent listener and following directions incredibly well when your mama (who threw out her back and is unable to climb with you) is attempting to explain how to use the wire mesh as toeholds from way down on the ground. It means enjoying your victory with a quiet moment alone at the top.

Being Lily Ruth means learning to ask questions. Real questions - not just an unending stream of 'why'. It means looking at things closely. It means holding everything that you are able to pick up. It means tasting new foods. It means perfecting new phrases. It means slowing down long enough to notice that your pole bean vines are PURPLE.

Being Lily Ruth at almost three years of age is fun. Just ask her - she'll tell you alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll about it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The time is nigh, friends! Tomorrow, my essay will go live at Baltimore Fishbowl in their My Real Life Modern Family column (or here)*happy dance*! I have no idea what time, but I wouldn't start obsessively clicking (talking to myself here) until after noon.

I think we're done with edits, bio, title and accompanying photo. Doing these tasks made me giddy and left me nauseated at the same time. It's just like when I sent a short piece to Emily at My Pajama Days and when my mom asked to link a post to her Lenten blog on simplicity - I. am. freaking. out. As I have now said repeatedly - it's one thing to hit the 'publish' button and know that a few folks (most of who know you personally) may or may not look. It's a completely different ball of wax when you put yourself out there and invite strangers in. I may start giggling nervously and sweating profusely - you've been warned.

Well, welcome strangers! Have a look around. Stay for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Settle in and tell me a story - wait, I wanna go first!

I never shared the piece from Emily's blog over here on my blog! Wait, at least, I don't think that I did... if I've already posted this, sorry. I'm too jittery to sit and go through posts to double check...

                Pajamas - A Love Story

I love pajama time.

I love the idea that there are clothes that you put on when it’s time to shut out everything but the world inside your home. Closing the blinds to exclude everyone but those within these walls. The two that chose each other. The whirling dervish of giggles, tantrums and questions that is an outward expression of their love. The fur balls that may or may not love us (maybe they stay because we feed them and our bed is soft).

I love the way that my husband’s face softens when he shucks off his suit and his workday worries and dons an old T-shirt with soft stretchy pants so that he can get down on the floor with his daughter.

I love how my daughter’s diapered buns look as she tears around the house in her tiny cotton p.j.s trying to make Daddy laugh. Her little bare toes gripping the floor as she dances with glee every time it works.

I love how it feels to undo the button of my jeans. That moment when the cruel waistband releases me from another day of constantly sucking in my post-baby abs. I love the anticipation of pants with no button and only the merest whisper of a waistband. Pants that whisper ‘go ahead – sit like that. We won’t be in the way’.

I love the moments of relaxed love when we pile up together on the bed or the couch in a pajama clad mound of tangled limbs and shared breath. Those times when our bond of family means that we can’t bear to be farther than an eyelash apart.

I love the days when our pajama time spills over into the next morning. Days when our family is able to spend time together without outside obligations except maybe a breakfast taco or doughnut run. Days when we can all lay around with wacky morning hair and unbrushed teeth grazing rather than eating a formal meal. Singing silly songs and reading favorite stories until the rest of the world pokes it’s head in.

Lets face it – I love pajamas so much that I might marry them… you know, if they asked… no offense, husband mine, but pajamas are pretty special…


There you have it! A link to my newest story on the same page with the first story that I shared outside of this blog (which I desperately want to go back and edit or even completely rewrite!). Wow, Emily ran that just over a year ago. I've been obsessing about weather or not I can write for over a year?! Get over yourself already, Lady!

Oh, and new pictures of Lily Ruth (least we forget why we're here :-P):

flying a KITE!
hogging my ENTIRE side of the bed when I went out to search for Bing
sharing her juice with the Old Guy - knowing him, he'd take it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Recent Lovliness

Ya'll, I want to do less recap-ing and more writing. To that end, I'm going to try to do fewer posts that are just blurbs about daily life... after this one. I have some pictures that I want to share :-)

Lily Ruth is heading toward her third birthday at top speed and her head down in a 'get outta my way or I'll mow you down' posture - figuratively. Things have gotten HARD. I got off easy as far as Terrible Twos, but we seem to be gearing up for Volcanic Threes. While she remains an amazing, smart, funny child, a lot of our day-to-day is absolutely exhausting. Between my resolution to be more active and her seeming resolution to throw an out and out tantrum at the drop of a feather, we are worn out every. single. night. That has translated into less posting, but you were probably tired of seeing pictures of my garden anyway... well too bad :-P

Everything is sprouting! I thinned the rows last week, and it broke my heart:

But I used a handful of sprouts on my sandwich the same day, and that made me feel pretty good :-)

 The flamingo - who's name is either Ray or Gray depending on Lily Ruth's mood - has settled in to life in the Doyle garden.

He wears glow-in-the-dark necklaces during late evening play sessions and moves at will (or rather, Daddy's whim) from garden bed to garden bed. This morning, he was in the corn, and when Lily Ruth returns home today, he will greet her from the sunflowers.

The bean teepee is growing at an exciting rate! Some of the tendrils grow several inches a day - no lie.

The rest of the plants are doing their part as well, but there's nothing like a pole bean for exciting growth progress :-)

Enough about plants! How about more Lily Ruth antics! She has entered a phase of constant interrupting. Sometimes for attention, but usually for clarification. 'What did you just say? Are you talking about Miss June?' 'Who did you call? Was that my daddy?' 'Did Daddy say he's coming home now?' OI! If she'd let me finish a sentence, she'd have her answer!

We are still trying to be as active as possible in the mornings before the weather gets so hot here that all we can do is swim or be real still... that ought to happen pretty soon :-/ So here is my interrupting angel playing with cascarones (confetti eggs - a spring time tradition in these parts) and having a picnic with her dog (and her mama) by the river:

We had a wonderful Easter weekend filled with family, food and fun. The church egg hunt is a big hit every year. This year was her probably last as a 'little one' with the eggs 'hidden' every 6 inches on flat grass. Next year she'll likely join the big kids as they swarm like locusts down a steep hill toward the springs in a winner-takes-all for the Golden Eggs. It was nice to savor some quiet time while we can:

Nanny's lap has healing powers
'That's enough eggs! I all done.' - after finding about 10...
Lily Ruth and Lola dance with flowers
Beautiful face paint!
a contemplative moment by the fountain while waiting her turn for the face painter
Easter Sunday was beautiful and cool-ish. We had a lovely lunch on the back patio. Lily Ruth is the only one young enough to hunt eggs. She likes it that way. She was more interested in the hunt when she was alone, and didn't believe me when I told her that she'd found them all!

She helped me choose the ribbons and trim for her basket handle - I absolutely love the way it turned out. Just a simple basket that is light enough for her to hold and beautiful colors cascading off the top :-)

There's not a lot else going on. Just trying to take each day bird by bird and be present in each moment. Not an easy task when a lot of moments are filled with tantrums *sigh* but I'm working on it.

I'm also working on a new project. Lily Ruth's beaded mobile inspired me to try something else. Today I began wiring a set of olive/avocado/tan beads with neon green 20 gauge copper wire:

I'm going to string them in my garden. Short strips of a few beds each across corners or dangling from the teepee. The idea of something completely unnecessary and whimsical suits my mood. The wire shapes remind me of growing tendrils and roots.

OH! My essay will be published on Baltimore Fishbowl next Wednesday (4/18/12). I'll post a link then. For now, I must return to reality. I need to make a spreadsheet for my plants. My nerd-brain demands it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Magic and Moonbeams

My very first best friend ever was magical. She was all of the things that I wished I could be. She was bold and outspoken. I was shy and compliant. She had older siblings and beautiful curly hair. I had younger brothers (brothers!? BLECH!) and stick straight locks.

We met on my first day in a new kindergarten. My family had just moved to town, and it was the middle of the school year. I was in awe from the moment we met. I'm sure she felt otherwise. I was shy and quiet. She was pulled out of the classroom rotation seconds before her turn at the 'best' station and ordered to show me around. She let me know how ticked she was, and resentfully pointed out the highlights of the room. I don't even remember how the rest of the day went, but by the time the last bell rang, somehow we were inseparable.

We spent every moment together that we were allowed to. After school play dates, weekend sleepovers. I even dragged her to a week of Lutheran summer camp with me one year - she did not thank me for that. I have almost no photos of her because we were always so physically close together that in pictures of me, she's half-hidden.

The best part about her was her wild imagination. I dreamed of being as spontaneous and adventurous as she was. Together, we braved the forbidden storm drainage ditch after heavy rains and ruined our play clothes sliding through muck. We once covered ourselves with mud from my mother's garden (head to toe!), knocked at my front door, and declared ourselves to be The Mud People. We were stunned to be turned away and told to rinse off with the hose - the Mud People had planned on a warm bath.We turned an afternoon of digging holes for her mom's new pussy-willow plants (at a quarter apiece) into a dream of an underground clubhouse... which quickly devolved into a gigantic fight over design followed by hitting each other with the digging spoons and a lengthy time-out... We played, we fought, we made up, we started over. But in all of our grand plans, she was the instigator, The Idea Guy and the ringleader. I was an eager and willing cohort and her constant shadow.

Our years of joined-at-the-hip carefree fun came slowly to a close. Our parents pulled us from the public school where we met, and sent us to separate Christian schools. My family moved to a new neighborhood that was over half an hour away. Since we were too young to drive and bridge the physical gap, we drifted apart. By the time we were reunited in high school, our bond was broken. We saw each other in the halls and occasionally shared a class, but we no longer ran in the same pack. She became a girl I used to know.

I realized recently that I've spent most of my adult life looking for her. Every best friend I've chosen since then has been based on a template of her. I'm drawn to bold, funny, fiercely intelligent, storytelling instigators who draw me out and let me act wild. My first roommate who taught me to count my drinks, hold my liquor, and always show up for work no matter how messed up the previous night was. My California friend who refuses to allow an opportunity to create a story or tell one pass him by. The bestie who knew that I was nervous entering a party so she immediately sized up the room and loudly declared us 'the finest bitches in here'. The wickedly funny work colleague who innocently suggests insanity and acts shocked if someone takes him up on it. The husband who looks straight-laced (or as an acquaintance once sneered: 'like he folds his SOCKS'), but harbors a hilariously wild streak. They're all part of my life because she taught me how awesome it is to have people like that close to you.

I have other friends as well. Quietly lovely. Humbly wonderful. Those friends are different. Those are the friends that came along naturally; friendships formed by circumstance and retained because of smiling affinity for each other. I treasure every one of them as well, but it's the wild ones with the gleam of mischief in every smile that I seem to seek out like a truffle pig. I may turn over a forest of dirt first, but I always find that gem of a friend who allows me shine just a brightly as they do.

I will always owe a debt of gratitude to my first best friend. The one who showed this shy little bookworm that fun people could love me. That I could learn to show my fun side - hell, she showed me (the consummate rule-following people pleaser) that I even had a fun side.

She still has the twinkle in her eye. I see it in the pictures she posts online. I wonder what she sees in pictures of me?

B & R July 4 1979 - she scraped her ankle seconds before my mom snapped us in our matching homemade sunsuits.

My River

My daughter grips my index finger tightly. Her hands are small, and when she's nervous, she abandons our usual loose, whole-hand-grip and goes for the security of a one-finger hold. We're at the river. It's a new place for her, but not for me. I've been floating this river for years. For me, this river means escape and peaceful quiet. It means friendship, love, drunken escapades and stories told in great detail. It's my retreat from the real world. It's physically impossible to do the dishes, pay bills or run errands while you're on the river. All you can do is float... and dream... or scheme... and laugh...

I brought her here today to show her my special place. We're in the park where most of our float trips begin. There's the bridge we walk across. There's the stairs we usually slip off and flop onto our butts. There's the shady offshoot that will draw you in and send you backward, but it would be worth the trip.

Her eyes are wide as she tries to take it all in. No, she most definitely does not want to take off her shoes like Mama and step into the cool, clear water. O.k., she'll take off her shoes, but she does not want to step on that green stuff. "Mama, they need to clean these stairs. That's dirty." I talk about algae and how it keeps the water healthy. She remains unconvinced, and glares at it disapprovingly.

We walk along a sidewalk that runs parallel to the river. "What's dose bugs doing down dere?" "What fish, Mama? I don't SEE the fish!" "Can we go back? I want to take off my shoes again!"

This time, I hold under her tiny arms and swish her bare feet through the water. We giggle about how cool the water is and talk about the people who are swimming and floating nearby. We follow along side a dog as he fetches a water toy - jumping in with a big, joyous splash each time.

We've been here a while. I'm getting hot and tired, so I know that she is, too. She maintains that she is not hot, tired or hungry. She doesn't want to leave. Fine, she'll go back up to the car, but she wants to sit in the backseat and play instead of riding in her carseat. Eventually, an accord is reached - we'll come back tomorrow. She's not ready to float in an inner tube, but she would like to bring her dog (so she can swim) and a picnic lunch so that we can stay longer. We're one step closer to Mama's version of paradise. We'll be there before too long...

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I'm obsessed with my garden. Seriously. I wander out there a minimum of 5 times a day to check on it. The crazy part is that at least 2 of those times, something new has happened! Little plants grow SO FAST!

As I suspected they would be, the sprout mix was the first to appear. I've already taught Lily Ruth to pluck and eat a sprout each time we go out there :-O She has pronounced them her 'faf-wit', and even put one in my purse 'for yay-ter'. Almost every thing else we planted has already followed suit. The only non-starter is the lettuce.

Here's a little glimpse:

That's the bean teepee on the left - that sucker sprouted yesterday, and is already 2" tall! The sweet corn is on the right - it will already be time to thin it in a day or so!

We also have a beautiful fungus that sprouts each night. I'm assuming that it arrived in the garden dirt. It shrivels away as soon as the sun hits it, but I enjoy it until then. Here's one spore hiding in the sprout mix:

And here's Keely sneaking back in (Don is completing the fence repair as I type) :-/ I added a pot of basil (foreground) and a pot of pink Cosmos next to Lily Ruth's bean teepee:
Once you start planting, it's really hard to stop. I also cleared out the bed in front of our picture window and threw out a package of 'Fairy Garden' mixed seeds. Lily Ruth is agog at the thought of fairies in our yard! Time to make up a fairy house - maybe something along these lines...

Oh, and we just added a plastic garden flamingo. Once it has a name and a place, I'll introduce you :-P

I'm all worn out from all of this healthy outdoor living. Would you be available to swing by and entertain/feed my family for the next few days? I'd like to catch up on some z's.