Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ethio style

This evening as we were dressing for Mass, Candace asked if she could wear one of her Ethiopian dresses. Of course, then Thomas and Sarah wanted in on the action. They got lots of compliments on their fancy clothing at church tonight!

 Sarah, Candace and Thomas in their Ethiopian finery.

 Sarah and Candace wanted this pose to send to their birth mom.

 Thomas loves to get his picture taken with Daddy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Enjoying my new "freedom"... eh, not so much.

Our oldest son, Kenneth, moved into his own apartment over the summer, closer to both his work and college classes in Omaha. Emily and Anna went off to their respective campuses, at Iowa State and University of Nebraska-Linclon. Last week, the littles headed back to elementary school. Thomas is in kindergarten this year, which is all day in our district.

That leaves me with a strangely empty and quiet house.

Wow, people exclaim, you must really be enjoying all of that free time and peace and quiet now that all your kids are in school! Whatever are you going to do with yourself all day? You must be so thrilled!

Um... not so much. The above photo suggests what I think might be a good way for me to fill up my empty hours.

 I guess what some people don't get is that I don't have a lot of kids because I like them to be somewhere else. I have a lot of kids because I love them and I like to have them around me. My identity is very tied up with being a stay at home mom to many, and to be honest, I'm kind of at loose ends here. My need to nurture small things is huge... now might be a good time for the animal fairy to drop a needy puppy or kitten in my front yard. Hey, it's happened before.

I'm very happy to see the school bus each afternoon. I'm so happy my nest is still full after four p.m. each day. I don't know what I'll do when the littles go off to college.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A new school year

Everyone was up bright and early this morning for the start of a new school year. Thomas is a kindergartener this year and Candace and Sarah are in second grade. I swear that time moves more quickly with each passing year.

 Thomas. Candace and Sarah pose by the sign before abandoning me on the sidewalk without so much as a good-bye hug.  Sniff.

 Candace and Sarah are off the bus... I missed the moment with speedy Thomas.

He was very excited to tell Daddy about his first day in kindergarten.

Home after a successful first day!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My fledgling

Six years ago, I did not have a good birthday. Tom was out of town, Kenneth was gone somewhere and the girls were at gymnastics camp in Iowa. A friend called and I cried about how I was just going to be an old and lonely woman. I remember I said that Kenneth would be going to college and before you know it, Emily will leave and then poof! Anna will be in college, too. My friend paused a beat and then said "Paula, Anna's twelve." Not fazed by this response, from a mom whose oldest child was three at the time, I wailed "You just wait and see how fast it goes!"

How fast it goes, indeed.

The dreaded day arrived on Saturday, and while it turns out that I'm not going to be alone and lonely after all, I still feel incredibly sad about my little Anna flying the nest. We're much more efficient about moving a kid to college now that we've done it multiple times, but it doesn't get any easier. My heart feels squeezed just as much as it did when we drove away from UNO when our Kenneth was a freshman.

 Anna with bestie/roomie Kenzie

 Our little Huskers will miss big sister Anna.

 A good-bye hug, with a pitiful attempt by me to fake a smile.

Just have to keep reminding myself that being a good mom means that eventually, they have to spread their wings and fly away.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympic dreams

I love the Olympics. The first one I remember seeing was the Munich Olympics in 1972. The one where I fell in love with all things Olympic was Montreal in 1976. And this little girl is the reason why:

With Nadia Comaneci and her perfect 10's, I was swept into the world of gymnastics, a place where I hung out for many years as a gymnast and later as a coach.  Her routines still give me goosebumps.

Now my little girls are being enchanted by a new gymnastics princess, Gabrielle Douglas.  It was so fun watching her and seeing the twins get excited by the success of a "brown girl" like them.  It seems gymnastics lessons are again in our future.

We have some other Olympic favorites too, like Purdue University diver David Boudia (right).  He and partner Nicholas McCrory won a bronze medal in the 10m platform synchronized diving.  Boiler Up!

And finally, we were thrilled today to see Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba win the women's 10000m race in convincing style.  Go Team Ethiopia!  And let the Games continue.  :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back home again in Indiana

Last Friday we took off on our annual summer trip to Indiana to visit with our extended family. It was just Tom and I with the littles this time around as the bigs all have jobs and have to work (yes, this is a good thing.) This year our visit coincided with the Newport family reunion, which is Tom's mother's family. It was fun for the littles to meet some relatives they didn't even know they had, as well as catch up with our more immediate relatives.

We were very blessed that the day of the reunion was pleasantly sunny and comfortable.  After weeks of sizzling high temperatures, we couldn't have asked for a nicer day to be outside.
 It's not a family reunion without a water balloon toss.
  Candace with cousin Becky, Sarah with me and Thomas partners with Uncle Andy.

 Cousin Paul in one of the sillier relay games
 concocted by Aunt Linda.

 Sarah and Candace ready for the ducky relay.

 Thomas awaits his turn.

Another fun thing we did was visit my sister Johanna in her classroom.  She teaches eighth grade math.  She showed us around her school... the littles were dazzled, as this middle school is much larger than any of the schools in our hometown of Ashland.

Aunt Johanna with the littles.

 One of the science teachers offered 
to show the kids his animal collection.
Here they are petting his python, 
Thomas and Sarah somewhat reluctantly.

We were invited to an ice cream social to meet up with some old friends from high school.  My sister Laura and her husband Richard drove in for the day to attend.  Which was crazy of them, but nice for us.

Me with Laura

I also managed to squeeze in a lunch with my oldest friend in the world, Kristen.   We met when we were teammates in club gymnastics, lo those many years ago.

Kristen and me

 Finally, we loved staying with my mom and her sweet little dog, Percy.  Mom had just returned from a Baltic cruise, but she let us descend on her home anyway... love you, Mom.

  Grandma Miles and Percy with the littles.