Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sugar Creek

It's been 2 and a half years since we all headed out to Sugar Creek, we decided it was time to go back.

We got there a little after 11 and hung out, ate and played for several hours.  It had gotten a little crowded and everyone packed up to leave, Chan went home with Keilee for a couple days.  I ended up staying another hour or so to chat with Katy and Sarah, who had gotten there after everyone else.  After our big group cleared out, there were only about 12 people there.

On the way out, we drove through the first creek really fast to make it spray and I soaked my brakes and they made a horrible noise on the way home, scared me half to death.  Hahaha!  They dried out and got quiet again, thank goodness.

As we headed down the road, we played road kill squash-em with a couple of shoes that were laying in the road and when we pulled up at the ice cream place, Heather asked if we had seen Austin's shoes on the way in.  He had put them on the trunk instead of in it and they blew off.  Oops!  

The boys had shakes, I was too hot to want anything.

After we got home, I made dinner and we have snacked some, I guess being in the sun all day finally caught up with me.  Once I got cooled off, I was hungry!

Jake found a rock with a hole in it and kept a watch for magical creatures and fairies.  I am so glad he is still young enough to believe he might see something one day, if he just keeps looking.  I hope he does.

 It was just shy of 100 degrees on this last day of May.  We started making plans for our next group outing-in September.  hahaha!  In the above pic, check out Jake and Em doing the death-stare.  They totally crack me up.

These are nearly all of my favorite people in the world.  What a motley crew!

And Zeppie, of course!  She's a favorite person, too!  : )

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Just got the call from the state line, they will be here in an hour. 
So what did I do with my free day without any responsibilities?

6:30-7:30 I read
7:30-10 I napped
10, I discovered this had been left in the driveway:
From 10 on, I tried not to name him or play with him too much and not fall for him.  

He has been helping my efforts by whining and scratching at the door and then by trying to eat weather stripping around the door and he jumps up and has little SHARP claws that hurt like mad.  He is deaf, I think, because repeated firm "NO"s elicit absolutely no response at all, he does not even back up like any other dog I have ever seen would do.  I can say, it's not going to be hard to drop him off Tuesday morning.  

I am just SO pissed that he was dumped on us and in effect has ruined my day with guilt and stress just waiting for the next barrage of howls and whines and scratching from the porch.  UGH!  I can't even go get a drink from the kitchen or he will hear me and start crying and digging at the door.  I am SO glad we had not already put in the new door, I would have tossed that dog in the well and shut the lid.  Okay, no I wouldn't, but I would have REALLY thought about.  At least the kick plate is taking the bulk of his enthusiasm.  I tried to tell him I am not really all that nice, he should not want to be under my feet.  But, as I said, he seems to be deaf.

In other news, I did all the laundry, fed the critters and finished a book-Vacations from Hell, watched the movie Songcatcher, which was really good.  I had a long bath and shaved my legs and did a conditioner thing on my hair and braided it and sat outside a while for it to dry, but I just ended up giving myself sun-blindness when I came back inside and had to use a flashlight to find my book.  It is SO dark in the living room those 2 measly lights are about as useful as trying to fart to fill up a hot air balloon.  I saw some security lights the other night and thought THAT is what we need in there.  LOL  Big spotlights!

I am going to get everyone to go take pictures with me tomorrow so we can be out all day.  Maybe with no one home, Stray Dog will chill...maybe even wander off to find a new house to haunt.  I need a photo day anyway.  I hope for his sake, he's not a night-time crier...

Class of 2011

My nephew graduated last night.  He heads off to college in Florida this fall...he's only 2.5 years older than Jake.  Eep!

The kids did not want to attend the ceremony, so it was just Daddy and myself, since Matt had to stay home with them-I will leave them home alone to run errands, but not to run to Tennessee...

I started the day with van maintenance-got the brakes and tire pressure checked, got a new tire on the back to replace one that had not held up, got the bushings lubed and that whole shebang cost me $30.  Sometimes I wonder how Mr. Holmes stays in business the way he dotes on me.  Not that I am complaining!  : )  (That's Holmes Tires 256-796-9099!)  I checked the fluids at home and topped off the power steering fluid.

Zep and her friend Jake corner a beetle!

Jake and I went to get the van washed and vacuumed and I bought road trip snacks (whale crackers!) at Dollar General for them for today and I picked up some interior wipes for the van and we wiped it down, looks nice in there!  Picked up pig litter at Shaddix and it was time for me to head out. 

We arrived at Belinda's around 4:45 and were able to chat, Dale told us a series of horrible jokes, I hope he and Matt's dad never get in the same room.  Though...mathematically speaking, I think I have a better chance of winning the lottery than they do of meeting.  That's probably for the best, when I think about it.

When all the food was set out, we got plates and everyone headed off to sit down where they wanted to and eat.  I went to the dining room and Daddy joined me.  Mother came in and then Dale and Belinda.  I am pretty sure I was 12 the last time it was just the 5 of us at a table.  Belinda had Adam's girlfriend take our picture.  I am still trying to work out if I want to see it or not.

We headed out to graduation and it was about what I expected-a parade of total strangers and an Adam.  It was nearly 11 when we left the field where it was held.

My choice of shirts was unfortunate, I was pretty convinced I looked smaller in that top. Hahaha! Though it's not obvious in this shot, I was having a good hair night overall.  Hey. My blog, I get to talk about me.

I got in around 2 and it took a while to fall asleep.  Matt and the kids were up at 6 and out the door just after 6:30, so I got up to see them out.  So far, I have been home alone 90 minutes and have yet to stumble upon anything of particular interest to keep me occupied for the day.  Maybe I should get off the computer...


Friday, May 27, 2011


I hope I don't screw things up with a late night tonight!  Happily the 5 I regained is coming off with only minimal effort on my part.  Big breakfast, early and light dinner is the key.  Plus I am doing weights and crunches daily.  I have not walked all week other than mowing, so much for my great plans to be back at it.  I feel better when we walk, too.  Maybe tomorrow...LOL

Today I am driving Daddy to my sister's to see my nephew graduate high school.  It does not start until 8 and is over 2 hours away since I will have to drop Daddy off at home on the way back in, so it will be a really late night for us.

Tomorrow, Matt and the kids will be at Adventure Science Center for a geocaching event at 9 in the morning, so the first part of our weekend will be off balanced and I will also get to spend a whole day alone-the first this year!

I love my kids, I do not mind spending all day every day with them, it's a joy and I would never consider sending them to school or otherwise 'away' for the day.  But...at some point I realize I have either been with kids or with Matt every moment for months...every now and then, I need to be alone with my thoughts-to see if I even have any that are not family-concentric.  hahaha!

So this will be an interesting weekend.  First, I get to spend a few hours alone with my father.  I am not sure I have done that since I was 20, though I lived with Daddy from 16 on.  My mother and brother will be at the graduation, so the 5 of us will be together for the first time in...20 years?  Mother did not come to my graduation, Dale did not come to grandmother's funeral or my wedding and those are the 2 events I can recall mother and Daddy and Belinda at since then.   Dale, Belinda and I have not been all 3 in the same space since Thanksgiving of 2007.  I will honestly, go to each of their houses and personally strangle my kids if they end up as disconnected as my family-and Matt's family.

I have already told the kids they will just have to expect my interference for the rest of their life, that their kids will cheer when they hear Grandma is on the way over.  Because I will be on the way over 3 times a week if they are close enough and have big sleepovers with all of them every month.  I can't imagine anything more important than my children and future grandchildren, I can't understand how the kids have all 4 grandparents and yet they spend more time in a week cleaning the guinea pig cage than they do in a year with any one grandparent. I have the best kids in the world, dammit.  How sad their grandparents own pursuits and choices have left them strangers.

Anyway, Mr. Holmes is waiting on me to get over there and get a new tire on the van so the one I have that is oddly balding despite a recent balance job will not explode and kill us all over the weekend.  I have to admit, I am already feeling really stressed that Matt will have my van and all 3 kids-4 of my very favorite things-all together and away from me.  He said, "You mean FIVE favorite things", but I don't intend to leave my camera in there, too!  Gosh!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I already know what will make me drop a pound a day, whether I follow through or not.  Skipping dinner.  Or having it before 5:30.  And eating at least a 300 calorie breakfast.

Yesterday, I mowed the front yard instead of walking, it was still 45 minutes of moving.  And pushing the mower ahead of me.  We ate just after Matt got home, spinach nuggets.  Those things are so yummy!  I lucked out Monday and found 3 boxes on manager's special for under $2 a box.  They are usually closer to $4.50 a box.  : )

At any rate, progress is back in...progress.  Hey, I've only been awake a little while.  Off to eat breakfast: gluten-free berry pancakes and a protein bar.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Back At It

Though, I don't claim to be happy about it.

Last year, I decided to drop around 25 pounds.  I am currently down 28 from the original 33 I had lost...*sigh*  So.  Now I want to drop another 25 pounds from where I am as of this morning.  I put on 3 pounds camping and another 2 over the weekend polishing off the junk food I still had left-over. 

Yesterday was ortho day, so I stocked up on a few things from Kroger and last night Jake and I drove off a mile route from the house while finishing up a book on cd.  It ended horribly, I am already tired to death of Jace and Clary and now he's posessed by his dead brother-who is actually CLARY'S brother and Jace and Clary thought they were siblings and they fell in love anyway and found out they weren't and Jace has 3 different last names and Clary's last name is totally made up and the only bright spot in the whole book is the gay romance between a warlock and a Shadowhunter.  The rest is either doom and gloom or Clary waxing poetic about how beautiful Jace is.  He does not really seem to have anything else going for him other than his perfect face and body and he is mysterious and has a bad past and he can move fast...anyone else picking up the undertones of Edward in this fine whine?  I wish I had an exciting bra!

Well, back on track to my original rant, which is that it took me less than 7 days to add back 5 pounds that took me about 7 weeks to lose. I seemed to do a little better when I blogged about it, so here I go again. 

The Plan for This Week:
Cut out the junk I was eating last week.
Get back to drinking enough water each day and cut back on soda and drink mixes.
Walk 45 minutes a day, which should be around 3 miles on flat ground or 9 loops around the driveway, 2.5 times around the local walking track. 
Get back to doing daily crunches.  That's more for stamina than weight loss.
Kettlebell or weights 3 times a week.

Jessie has starved herself on some kind of hunger strike from the food she has eaten daily for the past 5 years, so she's down between 10 and 15 pounds!  She's still moving with some hobble in that one side, but it HAS to be easier for her with less weight to carry.  I am going to get her to do at least one lap around the driveway with me each day this week and up that next week if she's still doing okay.  She's eating again and in good spirits, so we know she's not ill, they just acted like the hopper was empty for a few days there.  Maybe it was the start of the heat that got them off eating as much?

Anyway, 25 to go.  I had hoped to be there by July 31, but that's just over 2 months away...I do hope to be back to only 20 to go within the next week, since I had already lost those 5, I am kind of wanting them back.  LOL

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tree Two

Dave came over today with some chainsaws and helped Matt clear away the part of the pine that fell as well as the Paulina tree that was damaged some months ago.  Matt cut the English dogwood outside our window, it has been dying for a few years and this spring, it did not put out any leaves that were not immediately eaten by worms of some kind.  Most of the inside of the stalks were hollow.  I hope we can find another one in a couple of years and replant it somewhere not in the solid shade.  I don't think planting a new one right away would be a good idea, as the leaf-eaters would probably maul it as well.

Anyway, they worked at least 3 hours on it and then I burned a big pile of leavings, the first of many of those out there.

The AC was not working again today, the outside unit won't even kick on to run the blower.  The guy is coming in the morning to check it out again, keep your fingers crossed that it will be an easy fix, though to be honest, I am just numb at this point.

Friday, May 13, 2011


We spent the whole of yesterday getting the AC repaired, which will help with the electric bills over the course of time, but killed our plans of getting anything else done.

Today, Matt took the van because he has a gig tonight-if I ever get married again, the person will either be non-musically inclined or just REALLY into something small and portable that has no hardware at all.  Like...a ukelele.  Neil Gaiman, you have one-upped me yet again.  His new wife was just arrested in Amsterdam for playing one on the street.  You can get a hooker or smoke pot, but not...twang a tiny guitarette.

At any rate, today I was in my room fighting off a wild case of the stupids from being so groggy tired.  I could not read the words 'mall cop'.  It just would NOT arrange itself into a coherent phrase.  So, while I was reading about a call mop, it suddenly got super bright! 

"Great," my brain says, "I am having a stroke, first word confusion, now it's really super bright.  This is probably it for me, so sorry I never really lived up to my potential, I hope the whole adult diaper thing is not too terrible, I won't really know because it appears I am checking out."  Then Zephyr started barking like mad, which for 99% of small dogs is not news, but my small dog is not a barker.  My brain quietly ticked on 'auditory hallucinations' to its list of symptoms and proceeded to try to shut down.

I stood up, hoping to see the kids one last time before the dimness set in and realized the sky was very white.  This, too, was something my brain woefully added as more proof.  You can't SEE the sky from inside the house, there are trees in every direction.

You can, however, see the sky if a tree decides to split in half and fall over just outside your window.  Which is what happened today around 4:15.  I was suddenly VERY awake and alert and my brain wanted badly to see the split tree, so we went outside and found the kids climbing on it like Lilliputians on Gulliver and Zeppie giving it the evil eye. 

I came in and called Matt, who was very interested to know about the roof, which, in case you are interested about the roof, is undamaged.  I am partially glad as it would be a PITA to deal with getting it fixed, but insurance would probably kick in some of the cost, which would be okay for sure. 

Here are the few shots I fired off to send him before he left work.  The boys have already stripped the limbs and stacked them off to the side in prep for cutting it into firewood.  Matt plans to spend next week after work cutting down 2 of the remaining 4 large branches still on the tree to remove the one that would, if it fell down like this one, go through the roof over where we sleep.  Which is something my brain has shown me in stop-motion from 4 different angles already. 

I think it's being a bit dramatic myself.  I don't think just one part of the tree is heavy enough to crunch through the whole roof, attic space and through the ceiling, but then again, I don't really want to find out.  This chunk fell off on a day with no wind at all.  I don't know what that means as to the safety of the tree being above our heads any more.  I am so bummed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May Already

 Our internet is still very hit-or-miss.  The above is popping up WAY too much for my own personal happiness.  But, other than our broadband being in and out, it's pretty much back to normal after the storms.  I can't believe that was just 2 weeks ago!

This week, in an effort to get myself out of my rut, we actually left the house Tuesday and went to the year-end picnic at the park with our bigger homeschool group. 

In Alabama, you don't really homeschool, you are a satellite of a church school that is also your legal covering-these vary widely.  Then there are the regional and local support groups for field trips and making friends and for us there's 'our' homeschool group, which is to say the roamschool group of families that make up 95% of the people we do anything with, ever. 

The park day was mostly roamschoolers and we all ended up at Heather's afterward to swim.

It was nice to hang out with the moms, though I did not have much to say for a change.  ha! 

Afterward, we came home with Brit and Austin and I dropped the boys off and the girls and I went to get groceries.  Matt had practice. 

The kids stayed up until around 3 and were back up before 8.  I had planned to go to the library today, but 3 tired kids is not my idea of fun hang-out buddies when I am in the mood to cruise the stacks for an hour or so.  I want some skeery books for the camping trip!

So, we came home and finished loading the camper and I made menus and packed food and made shopping lists for everything else I need to pick up.  I always bring SO much food, I overpack in every area, really.  I thought I would be more sensible by now, but I don't seem to really have that...gene.

Jake rode with me while I ran local errands today-Mr. Holmes, post office and so forth.  Mr. Holmes let me write my check for a dollar over so we could buy drinks.  hahaha! He's such a great guy, I really hope he gets good news Monday about his broken hip.  Well, it's mended, but he needs therapy now.  We are hoping that he will get the news that he's healed enough to start walking on it again. 

Jake and I were talking-first about how I can belch and he's horrified because he can't and he made me promise to never do it in front of his friends so they would not know of his inability.  Poor kid. I only recently learned myself and can only do it if I chug a cold soda, otherwise, nothing.

Once past that little exchange, he talked a while about how kids in groups always have to have an adult with them.  Field trips, backstage, in dugouts and dozens of other places where you'd think they could just hang out and do their own thing and not need to be herded and managed. 

I told him I thought it was a mainly public school issue, safety being first, but that kids are just accustomed to being told what to do ALL the time and they can't really function without threat or bribe or reward.  I remember if the teacher ever left the classroom, we would go nuts-the longer she was gone, the more rowdy we all got.

I wonder about that now.  If we had not been kept under such rigid control with rules and schedules and time-dependent activities, would we have been nuts when left alone?  I don't really have any way to compare, when homeschoolers are together in groups, there are moms everywhere and the occasional dad as well.  It's easy to say it's public school mentality 'cat's away, mice will play' sort of thing, but it's just a theory.

The only other bit of news I have this week is that Matt has a new top boss and it seems like the new guy is planning some changes that will improve the company as well as our personal lives.  The change I am most excited about is the shift to a 4-day work week over a period of time.  That will save us...$420 a year in gas alone, plus around $240 in lunches and an oil change's worth of engine wear-so in the neighborhood of $700 a year and it gives him a day to schedule appointments without having to take off work and 3 day weekends every single week.  That would be SO good plus I think we would be healthier-think of all the hiking and camping we would be able to do!  I hope it works out that way!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Camping Countdown!

Just days away from our summer kick-off camping trip!  I am so excited, despite the good chance of rain the first few days.

I have my countdown list up and activated.  Since this is our first trip of the year, we spent the morning setting up the tables and chairs and scrubbing them down and also cleaning the sand toys and the inflatables.

We have been sorting through things-books and movies and art supplies, games, notebooks, flashlights...making sure everything we plan to bring is in good working order.  It's so tempting to throw in everything, but I know from experience, we won't use half of what I bring.  Even with my careful lists, I will overpack and there will be a whole Rubbermaid bin that gets shuffled around all week because it's forever in the way.

I can't wait!!

Here is a .gif I made of what I think the weekend will be like:

Just in time to incur my lust, the new Camping World sale catalog came in today.  Normally, I can skim and resist, as Poppy is pretty little and 95% of their goods are for grown-up campers that have places for accessories or systems that need tending.  But I do admit, there's something about the solar panels. And of course their pet section is ALL about the pocket dogs with tiny hammock beds and bone shaped towels and little play yards.

What I would really like is a patty o'room screened in patio room that hangs from my awning.  But...I think I can make my own screened room for less than $600. 

I still need to get groceries and run to the library for dvds and books on cd and books for reading.  Need to get the oil changed and replace my headlight and I bought a new air hose, though the last silicone caulking/Gorilla tape effort on the old air hose has kept the check engine light off for a month now.  I need to get the stepladder and the broom into the camper and load up tables and chairs when they dry out.  I need to pack the new huge tarp I bought yesterday and the bungie cords and ropes.  We need 2 more blankets in the camper.  SO much to get done!  Yay!

I have been feeling a little lost the last few weeks, I was telling J I think it's a remnant from that depression earlier in the year.  I can't seem to get interested in actually doing anything.  But camping has always been a high point and a group trip is the best kind.  I hope this trip will sort of put me over on the better side of things.  I have not even picked up my camera in over a week, if that says anything.  And the pics from last weekend's trip are snapshots at best.

Ah well, I have a list and a plan and a trip coming up.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Because the Origami

Because the Origami - 8in8 from Ben Jacobson on Vimeo.

Written by Neil Gaiman, sung by Ben Folds and Amanda Palmer.
Fan-made video.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


14 years ago today, May 3, I got married.

It seems like such a long time ago and also like no time at all. I don't feel settled into married life, not in that resigned way so often portrayed in the media anyway. I still really look forward to when he comes home and we call each other during the day just to check in.

I met Matt when I was 16. We wrote to each other for a few months-via a teacher who thought she saw kindred spirits in what we wrote for class. I finally got up the nerve to introduce myself on Valentine's Day, which I chose not for the romantic value, but because it seemed a valid excuse to wear a skirt and therefore heighten the chances that he would think I was a 'nice girl'.

We continued writing after he graduated, through that summer between my junior and senior year and all through my senior year, he was in love with some bimbo in my drama class and would often pop in-it was final period and security was non-existent-to talk to her. So, we saw each other pretty often. He was in college and working, I would pop in where he-and several other friends-worked and say hi once a month or so. We kept in touch, even after I got engaged and that ended, through various moves and job changes for both of us. In my whole life, he was the only boy who came to my house and picked me up and took me out to dinner. 

I can't say I lay awake dreaming of my wedding day when I was younger, I had no desire for marriage or kids, thought I would get my degree in forestry and live in a cabin somewhere remote and measure trees all day or something like that. I had plans to hike the AT, the CDT, the PCT, traipsing up and down the spines of our country every chance I got. I knew of people who worked 6 months and hiked 6 months, I had the cost of living reports for all the grungy little backpacker towns, knew after 2 years at Calhoun, I would transfer to Missoula in Montana and finish my degree. Or maybe Thunder Bay in Ontario. They had a wildlife biology program and I could major in that with a focus on wolves. Or there was always Mobile right here in Alabama and a degree in marine biology. 

By 19, I was so far off my own track, I could not even see a station, not even a blinking light indicating which direction I was headed. I am pretty sure gender sequestering for the first 30 years of life would serve the workforce and academia MUCH better than all this co-ed crap. 


I had already bailed on college, temporarily I told myself the day I just stopped going to class, feeling exhausted by the fact I have been in school full time since I was 3. By 20, I was living alone in a tiny apartment working part time in a town I did not even like, not doing a thing to get myself beyond anything more than the next few hours. Matt would come hang out sometimes. He read The Hobbit while I was at work.

When I found out I was pregnant, at the time I thought it was the worst possible thing, a grinding halt to all my plans and dreams. I was decided on getting an abortion and then using the guilt as a catalyst and hoping my parents would fund my flight cross-country to lessen their shame of having a child turn out as poorly as I had.

What I did not realize was how fiercely my bi-polar brain would fight itself to protect that child and how much internal yelling was involved with every decision I made. I started immediately eating only fresh fruit and veggies, after 10 years as a vegetarian I wanted meat, I ate fish at least once a week and drank milk by the quart. I got up early and walked before my shift and sometimes after my shift. As I progressed, I was pretty sure I was in control of things and I still had time to get the abortion, but in reality, Mama Bear was managing and she's not totally left me yet!

Needless to say, I had the baby. Far from grinding to a halt, my life started over on a new path. Hindsight is more clear than what is going on around you at any given moment and I see very clearly all the decisions made for a series of several years that led to Jake being born, Matt and I getting married, Chan popping into our lives just 9 months and 7 days after the rings were exchanged. Daddy performed the ceremony and knew full well not to do any vows for us that involved the words 'obey'. Ben came close on her heels. By our 3rd anniversary, we had 3 children.

It was not bliss, I was not a content and happy young wife and mother, I can't say I gave up totally on all I had envisioned for my future, though really-I had already done that before Jake came to be. It was a long struggle made mostly alone as Matt worked hard to provide for us. There were days when he left for work at 4 in the morning and did not come back in until 3 the next morning-working a 10 hour shift and then playing drums until 2 in the morning for the $60 to cover groceries and diapers a few more days. I did not have any friends for several years-no internet and of our 2 cars, one was nearly always not running and awaiting a repair, leaving me with no way to leave the house unless I walked and carried or pulled all 3 kids.

He has always, always taken care of us. I quit working once Chan was on the way, I was so sick, I rarely made it a full shift anyway. Paying for child care and gas took most of my income, there seemed no point and it ensured I could get more rest and in theory take care of hearth and home and children, but that was not always the case. 


I am not intuitively a mother. I don't have a strong sense of nurturing, I don't really enjoy children and I don't like playing games or reading out loud. I don't like to cook. I seem to be set up to be the most horrific parent, but we do okay, somehow. I did love my kids, marveled in their brilliance, sat in amazement as our 3rd child yawned the first time-how do they know how to DO that?-it was a perfect little O with a blink afterward! And sneezing! It was astonishing how they just...could. The little fists waving and the way they all loved to be naked, out of that diaper! They grew, sturdy and strong, no tan lines on their round bottoms from playing in the sprinkler and napping in the dappled shade on blankets.

Years of home haircuts and birthday cakes made from mixes and so much macaroni and cheese that I am surprised we have not gotten some kind of customer appreciation award from Kraft. Failings and a steep learning curve-with everything it seems like. Money and discipline and dealing with salesmen, our emergence from debt and our unbelievable luck in so many things from being able to live here to narrowly missing stepping on snakes and nails to the recent tornadoes that did not even knock over our potted plants while blowing away thousands of other homes and coming close enough to send us scrambling to the hall closet more than once that terrible day.

14 years, I can't think of our marriage without it being tangled in our children; as fat babies, curious toddlers, chatty preschoolers, little gangly 7 year old versions getting taller, stronger, smarter, faster. Jake, who walked me down the aisle-until he defected from the event and spent the rest of the ceremony squeaking a balloon he spied and grabbed-will be 16 this year. I am proud of the young man he is becoming, how kind he is, how he works, his gentle nature and effortless ability with other people that I never did possess. I burn with shame when I think of how easily it occurred to me to remove him from me as if he were nothing more than a tumor or a mole. My precious boy.

Our girl, so beautiful and smart it makes me marvel how we produced that. Her talent and sweet nature, how quiet she is, how careful and yet SO creative. How her friends often gather around with her in the middle for group hugs, as if they know she needs just a little more protection. Music, art, movie making, writing, she's the embodiment of grace.

The baby, now 11. When did that happen? HOW? He will still sit in my lap for snuggles, but he dangles off in every direction now, we don't fit like we did even a year ago. His mind is forever working. He questions everything, how it works, ways to make it more efficient, ideas to change or improve so many different things. A wireless recharger that would beam electricity across a room so you don't have to plug things in anymore, solar powered houses and cars, better driving routes for routines like trash and mail that would save gas. Ending war, curing disease, poverty, better ways to grow food, wasted spaces in towns and cities, the lack of bike paths, the need for better animal protection laws. Nothing escapes his wide range of ideas. We have a whole shelf of how things work type books and are online almost daily to look up more of the same.

Our marriage has produced these people, Matt's willingness to provide for us has allowed the kids the freedom to grow up without school to interfere, command and direct their attentions. It has allowed me to stay home with them and find ways to meet their various needs, to find ways to express myself, to find some kind of footing after years of seeing the steps behind me crumble and fall into the valley below. To finish growing up.

I know it's popular to say you married your best friend, but I really managed to do just that. I tell him everything, even when he does not really listen. We plot and scheme and dream together, we can't wait for weekends to run outside and hike and take pictures and camp out. His vacations are planned well in advance to make the most of every day he can be with us. We wonder often what we will do when we are not mom and dad, but just married to each other. We have not spent even a week of nights all added up away from the kids in 14 years.

But I do know this much, I want to find out. I want to see what comes next, what we do next month and next year and to get old and crabby together, to share another 14 years, and another, and another and another and another. As best friends, parents, grandparents, great grandparents, burying dogs and swearing off pets forever, only to come home with yet another stray a week or a year later. To watch our kids grow older, see what they become, hold wiggly grandbabies and throw rocks into the Pacific Ocean, so many little simple hopes and dreams. I don't need fame or fortune, just health and luck and Matt.