ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump…

That’s the sound of the holidays galloping up on me. Holy cow, time flies around here. We are in full-blown fall, and it’s already time for CRAFT FAIR again.

Sheesh. We’re avoided the obnoxious bra salesman so far, so that’s good, and I have a new crop of vendors setting up in the yard. Also, a food booth for the first time! We’ll see how that goes.

(side note: I just read a little of that post that I linked to above, and am wondering if I’m the only one who is slightly embarrassed to read stuff I wrote in the past. It’s how I imagine I’d feel if I were listening to a tape of myself rambling when I was twenty-two. Like, I’m sure I’d sound (and BE) sincere and all, but the passage of time would make me also sound somewhat ridiculous.)

I actually like craft fair, for all my grousing about the preparation for it. I’m just a poor organizer, so it’s stressful for me. I dread it when some of the vendors in my yard inevitably don’t make money; anxious little dark clouds grow over their booths and I feel compelled to smile brightly and hurry past. Also, I kind of hate talking on the phone and having the same conversations over and over with potential vendors. There’s that, too.

But! I enjoy walking around and shopping for presents and self-gifts and such. It’s fun to take the dogs out on leashes and let dog-lovers pet them and praise them. Friends pop over; we visit on the porch and compare our shopping loot. I bought some impulse purchase Italian lemon liqueur at the store today and I can’t wait to have a tangy afternoonish adult bev with a friend or two this weekend.

Cousins from Knoxville are coming in, which is always a blast for both grown-ups and kids. A good family/friend is having a party on Saturday night, too.

The galloping-horse part of it, though, is that this sort of heralds the beginning of the Holiday Season. Like, summer is officially over and The Holidays are here. After craft fair comes Ward’s birthday and then Halloween and then Brad’s birthday and Thanksgiving and my birthday and BAM IT’S CHRISTMAS. Which I am entirely unprepared for.

Totally unrelatedly, I had found Rainbow’s favorite binky in Brad’s room (apparently he dropped it during an upstairs wandering session) and stowed it in my jewelry armoire to, like, give Rainbow when he went to college or something. Inevitably, Rainbow found it yesterday. I tried to be all casual, but got really alarmed when Rainbow pulled it out and shouted, all gleeful, IT’S MY BINKY!! MY BINKY!!! MWAH-HA-HAAAA!!!

(aw, shit, here we go again…)

He popped it in his mouth and smacked it a couple of times, then yanked it out with a blecchhh and tossed it away.

(and yes, I stowed it away again for posterity.)

weekend trip report

Daddy J had to leave town for business for several days, which, though infrequent, is always a bummer for me. I get lonely and stressed when I’m solo parenting for any length of time. SO! I whipped up a weekend getaway with my mother and the big boys. Her birthday is today, so it was good timing. We usually go somewhere every summer with Grandma MJ, but this summer she took the big boys to Yosemite and we didn’t get around to our Mama, Grandma, and boys trip.

Until now.

Poking around for places within driving distance, I came up Lexington, Kentucky. I’ve been to Louisville, but never Lexington. At 4.5 hours, it was sort of far away for a one night trip, but we pushed on. There was this Harvest Festival that we were really excited about. It involved re-enacters. Yay!

We went to Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, just outside Lexington. It’s a historic Shaker Village with buildings that date from the early 1800’s. Our suite was SO much better than I expected. Super roomy and comfy. Rockinrolla slept on the fold-out couch and housekeeping brought an inflatable mattress for Brad, so we were all set.



I had planned on getting there noonish, but we didn’t actually get out of the house until close to 9:00, which I thought would put us there around 1:00. The festival ran from 10:00 til 5:00, so I figured that would be fine. What I failed to realized, though, was that Lexington is in the Eastern time zone. With food stops and check-in, we actually set foot in the Harvest Fest close to 2:30. I wish we’d had more time, but whaddayagonnado.

The boys are now 14 and 15, so there were perfectly happy to branch off with some money in their pockets and go exploring. They reported that they loved the live music and holding the baby lambs in the barn. (awwww…)

I listened to this talented trio (Dad with 12 and 15 year old daughters) while I ate my fresh parmesan pasta with squash for lunch (yum):

My mother set off to pick some apples (sadly, the season didn’t cooperate for the apple crop) and I wandered into the Shaker Meeting House, where these ladies were leading a song and dance.

I sat down for about thirty seconds, and couldn’t stand it any more. Had to get up and dance. I will fail when I try to describe it, but I’ll try anyway: the dances I participated in had concentric rings of men and women who turned in opposing ways, and then another with a line of men facing a line of women. We did very simple steps (like, step, step, STOMP, step back) and various representative moves with our hands while singing repetitive songs. You hold your hands out in front, palms up, to receive the spirit.

It was one of the most joyful things I’ve ever done. I couldn’t stop smiling, I felt so full of happiness just being there. I wept and had to keep biting my lip and wiping tears away so I wouldn’t totally fall apart. It wasn’t so much that I was embarrassed, I just didn’t want to start sobbing and have to leave the dance. I thought, Holy shit! I’m a Shaker! and then, Damn, I bet there aren’t any Shakers around where we live.

Mostly I thought, I feel God’s presence here.

I thanked the ladies after the dance with a big smile and tear-smeared cheeks, and then floated out of the Meeting House.

Mom and I did a wine tasting for a local winery. (Yes, they had wine, beer, and hard cider at this event!)

The wine was actually great, but not as great as the winery owner’s daughter. She had painted three pumpkins and had a sign out: Hold a pumpkin for One Cent. Hold it twice for a dollar! I ponied up a buck to hold a pumpkin and get my picture with her.

We all got to see the sheep herding dog Cal, which was a huge highlight for me.


(Side note: The dog handler totally says “That’ll do, that’ll do,” just like in Babe.)

There were all kids of fun, gentle little kid activities at the festival involving pumpkins and hay bales and baby animals and face paint.



The boys wandered off to listen to music and do whatever teenage boys do at Shaker festivals, and Mom and I explored.




After the festival closed down, we had a little time before our 6:30 dinner reservations. The boys watched vulgar cartoons in the suite and I swung from a tree swing and did some reading outside. Mom read too, I think. Dinner was at the Shaker Village. We asked to eat outside under a tent instead of in the crowded building, which was a good call. The food was expensive and fair-to-middlin, but whatever. The scenery was great and we didn’t have to drive anywhere.





We considered driving into Harrodsburg for a movie or bowling, but opted to stay on site. We scoped out the common room, played a top game (skittles, I think), and a few rounds of Connect Four, then turned in.

Our goal for the next morning was Keeneland Race Track; they exercise the horses there from 6-10 am, and you can eat breakfast in the trainers kitchen. This is when I realized what a small town girl I am: I did NOT anticipate the Race Track being the size of a town. There were multiple grandstands, all sorts of buildings everywhere, and roads leading all over the place. It was incredibly confusing for a girl with a poor sense of direction. We saw the track where we thought the horses were exercising, but there was just one horse and it was obstinately refusing to run in front of us. We saw the trainer’s kitchen and drove there since we were all ravenous, and learned we’d miss seeing the horses exercising. That was a bummer. At least we got breakfast.

But! We scooted on over to the Kentucky Horse Park. That was a good call. There were two spots available for the trail ride, so I bought tickets for Brad and Rockinrolla to do that and Mom and I went into the park itself.

The Parade of Breeds show sounded interesting.

And yes, it was indeed fabulous. The stadium area was really small, and we got to be right up front. These young women in costume rode various beautiful horses around while the commentator explained what made each breed special. The sun was sparkling, the horses were gorgeous.




And again with the weeping.

I pulled out my sunglasses because I didn’t want to have to explain to my mom why I was crying. I didn’t want to spoil it with words. I felt again, God is here, and also, Wardie would have loved this.

And then realized,

Wardie DOES love this.

I felt him right there with me, part of God and part of me, laughing with pure delight at the talented, beautiful horses and their riders. I thought,

THIS is the way to keep him close; doing joyful, childlike stuff with people we love will help me feel his joy.

It was such a gift to feel him close again.

There was more to see at the horse park, but we were ready to get back home.

We had our cranky moments, our minor disappointments, but it was everything I wanted in a weekend trip.

So grateful for every minute of it.

Next year, a Rainbow three-year-old is coming along.

there and back again

It was our seventeenth wedding anniversary on August 13. It seems impossible. I pointed out to Brad that I had been married longer than he’d even been alive, and he very deadpanned-ly said, Yep, that’s how it usually works, Mom. I guess the weird thing is that I have two children who are now old enough to be adult-sized and generally mature-ish. Weird.

With Brad and Rockinrolla off with my mom and her husband to Yosemite, and Goonie ready to babysit Rainbow, we wanted to have a grown-up getaway. And also wanted to see our friends K and A and their daughters in Atlanta. Originally, we were going to do a road trip to the Georgia coast, but then Daddy J priced tickets, and it turned out that there were some fabulous deals to our favorite place in Mexico.

We started with two nights in Atlanta at the Ritz (Daddy J got a corporate rate!) and hung out with my friend’s family at their neighborhood pool all day on Saturday. Fancy Thai dinner with them that night, then on to Playa del Carmen.

A bathwater-warm pool, really impressive resort food, water aerobics (for me) and volleyball (for Daddy J) and tons of reading (both of us), and muchos mojitos while we broiled. A friend from town visited at the resort one day, which was fabulous, and we went in to town one evening and caught up with some local friends at a bar. We swam in the ocean on the last night, with an almost-full moon, and it was one of the most magical times ever. Clear turquoise water and moonshine sparkling on the waves. A gorgeous, decadent trip.

I missed the tar out of my little baby, and kind of felt like I had my arm reattached when we got home to him. He did great with Goonie and at preschool while we were gone, and is now a full-on potty man with rare accidents. Brad and Rockinrolla started 10th and 9th grades yesterday; they are thrilled because their cousin began 6th grade this year.

And now the house is starting to wake up. Boys will get ready for their schools, the carpet shampooer is coming this morning (hallelujah!), and I’ll get back in my work and writing routine.

It’s nice to be home.

talking it up

I think it was in Adoptive Families magazine where I first read this excellent advice (and I really wish I could remember where, so I could credit the writer) about talking with your little ones about adoption. It’s a given, nowadays, that adopted kids should know they’re adopted. Social workers advise adoptive parents to make adoption a fact of their adopted kids’ lives that’s there from the get-go, so there’s no dramatic “breaking it to them” moment or anything like that.

However, this was a little tidbit that I thought was so great: planting the seeds from a very young age that adoption is entirely positive. So, every time adoption comes up, adopted kids will naturally think: Yeah, man, adoption is terrific! and know that their family structure is awesome. The idea being that their knee-jerk reaction when they hear the word “adoption” is that their origins are GOOD.

And yes, yes, adoption has grief and loss intrinsic to it, and I am not trying to negate or deny those realities. But obviously, we all want our kids to feel good about how they came to exist and join their families, right?

The adoption talk with Rainbow is going great. I love his enthusiasm. This conversation is generally part of every bedtime and morning cuddle session:

Mama: Hey, do you know what ADOPTION is?
Rainbow: Doption is GREAT! Is bsrkljkdzzer FAMILY!
Mama: Yes! Adoption is great because it’s how we became a family. It’s how I got to be your Mama!
Rainbow: Miss Noelle brzoiudghhcphr TUMMY!
Mama: Yes! Miss Noelle had you in her tummy when you were teeny-tiny. She loved you SO much, and she knew she couldn’t take care of a baby. She thought about it really hard and looked for a long time. She picked Mama and Daddy to be your parents. She thought we would be the very best parents for you.
Rainbow: Mama!
Mama: Yes! Lucky, lucky Mama. So lucky because I get to be Rainbow’s Mama. I love you.
Rainbow: Awwww. (plants a mushy kiss on me) So sweet.

balancing

It’s been a wildly productive week. One of my big accomplishments was learning that three days in a row of daycare for Rainbow is JUST TOO MUCH for me. I thought I could handle taking him four days a week, but I… just can’t. I miss him too much and feel all agitated thinking about him being away. I think it’s too much for him, too; I considered taking him on Wednesday this week, after having taken him on Monday and Tuesday, but he seemed a little out of sorts and I really wanted to hang out with him. So I did. And yesterday, too.

(Yes, I’m feeling incredibly blessed that I have that option.)

So, there ya go. I think we’ve found the sweet spot for now: daycare on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with flexibility built in since we went ahead and paid for five days a week and Goonie still keeps him every now and then.

I played taskmistress today and had the big boys clean the downstairs windows, and it’s amazing how much nicer the world looks. I can’t stop myself from taking a deep, contented breath when I look at that sparkly-clean glass. They were good about it, really; I only had to crack the whip a tiny bit to get them going. They were firewood stacking helpers for Daddy yesterday, too; we’re stocking up for the winter.

Knoxville cousins (at least one set) are coming in this weekend. There’s a town cookout and fireworks on Saturday, then a family/friend’s party on Sunday night. Party, party, party. It’s the full summer social season around here, which is nice.

(hmm, I’m ready to have a cookout…)

And I’ve been working a lot on the 80’s site this week. Here’s a new piece about makeovers in TV and film with some fun musical clips. And I’m about to wrap up another and send it off before I go collect a little honey pie.

And… I feel like I’m catching my breath a bit. I’m getting more of a handle on the work/childcare/housework balancing act. I was pushing it a bit after our DC trip, and I think I’m going to pull back and shoot for three solid days of paid work a week and play with Rainbow on the others, reserving those days’ naptimes (when they happen) for housework and cooking and that sort of thing. And if some sort of work crisis or deadline pops up, I can always work more.

The work from home thing is awesome; it just takes pruning and tweaking to get it just right. The nicest part about it is the way-cliched “quality time”: Like, I get it now. When I’m with him, I’m totally more fun and engaged and appreciative than otherwise. And when he’s at daycare, he’s with loving adults who are fully attentive as well. It’s leading me to be more in-the-moment and less assertively multi-tasking when we are together, and I’m so grateful for that.

It’s a wonderful summer.

The Daddy J Music Channel

Daddy J has put three of his original songs on the world wide web. I love my man’s music. Take a listen and enjoy!

http://cache.reverbnation.com/widgets/swf/40/pro_widget.swf?id=artist_1692927&skin_id=PWAS1002&border_color=000000&auto_play=false&shuffle=false

errors

Little (fine, fine, BIG) Brad is in his first non-school play. He interned with the Tennessee Shakespeare Festival and is part of their show, The Comedy of Errors.

Yes, I’m incredibly proud. There’s my boy on the back left, wearing a black hat and white suspenders and playing guitar.

They (interns and professional actors both) have been working super hard the last few weeks. I’m talking about practices from 2-9, and from 7-midnight. With some morning work as well. The show itself is superb. The dancing, the stage, the music, the costumes, the acting, and, of course, and plot are fabulous. Brad is onstage the entire time playing guitar in the ensemble music group.

If you’re around, please come see a performance and support this group. We love that it comes to our hometown, and want them to feel the love so they keep bringing it back. Tickets to this under-the-tent show are way affordable, too. There are burgers, brats, and bevs for sale, and you are invited to bring your own wine or beer if you’d like to. People show up early for performances (like, maybe an hour, hour and a half) to reserve good seats and eat and visit on the lawn.

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