When Everyone Leaves

Well this morning was not my best morning ever.  I was frustrated by all the people.  I just needed a little extra quiet this morning, or something, and I didn’t get it.  Imagine that…no quiet in a house full of people…huh.  There was a little countdown in my head. A little clock ticking down the seconds until the whistling would stop, and the shoe squeaking and the pounding of hardwoods and the talking talking talking. And the buzzy energy.  It was palpable. Every morning, it’s palpable.  I will miss this someday.

Then everyone left and I stood there looking around at the quiet. Poppy looked at me like she expected me to say something important, but I just sat down to eat my oatmeal.  Then I walked around turning off all the lights.  David likes all the lights on.  All. The. Lights. Except in the evening when you actually need all the lights on.  Then he only likes some of the lights on.

And then I straightened out all the pillows that Poppy has smashed and I smacked all the dog hair off them.  I love her but she is extremely hairy. I stood there looking out the window at the front garden which I have completely let go this summer.  It is just plain sad. When I look at it I feel blech.

I sit here now, and behind me Poppy is smashing down my fancy beaded pillow again.  It was fluffy for about ten minutes.  I knew when I bought them she would probably ruin them. I knew it and I bought them anyway.


She is asleep now. That is all I can hear, just her slow, deep breathing.

When Everyone Leaves

The Ending of Summer

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
–Henry James

Oh Henry, you slay me.  I do love summer, and we have but a month of it left.  I’m not quite sure where the time all went…but my heart is a bit heavy over the fact that summer’s end is near.

Kate will be in high school this fall.  Maybe that’s part of the sorrow in it, I don’t know. On the surface, the whole high school thing doesn’t bother me.  But just below the surface, where the beating of my heart is hidden from view but clearly palpable, I guess I know that my time with her here is fading.  I have four short years left, and one day soon I will turn around and realize it is all over.  All those little things about her will be gone — confined to her bedroom or taken away with her completely; I will look around and there will be nothing but her photographs to remind me.

No more bottles of nail polish scattered around.  No more dirty old bag full of horse hair and muddy riding boots in the kitchen.  No more viola in the hallway…and no music behind her bedroom door.  No more love notes, or doodles or sketches to surprise me. I won’t be able to hear her laugh or watch her silly new dance moves or see her smile.  I won’t be able to look over at her and see her sitting there, long legs unfolded gracefully before her as she reads. And we won’t talk at bedtime anymore, the way we do now.

Most nights, I imagine, I will go to sleep wondering if her day was a good one, or if some creep has broken her precious heart. I will wonder if she’s eating healthy and if she got her juice in the morning (and I will worry for her roommate if not…). And I will wonder if she is tucked in each night…is she safe and is she happy and is she really doing alright? I will just have to trust that she is, and that if not, she will tell me.

I’m not sure how to do that. I’m not sure how a mother trusts and lets her child go…

I do think this is where the sorrow comes from. The ending of another summer is really just an inching closer to the day my heart breaks a little…the day it goes walking off on its own.

Kate 14 NST

The Ending of Summer

This Place Right Here

The other night, Poppy was out there barking again.  Ever since the bear came sauntering through the neighborhood I’ve been nervous about at what exactly it is she’s barking. Usually it’s the groundhog eating my strawberries. And daisies. And Echinacea. And Parsley. And Black-Eyed Susans. The funny thing is, Poppy cornered that poor little groundhog against the fence the other day and didn’t know what to do next.

Anyway…  I went out to see what all the noise was about. Boy are the spiders active at night. I looked at the windows that really need cleaning. And the tree that just died this spring and needs to be brought down. Three of them, actually, need to be brought down. But in order to do that, our chainsaw needs to be fixed. And we still need to fix the water pipe that leads to the front hose. Honestly, there are so many projects around here…cracked tiles in the bathroom, and windows with popped seals and water stains on ceilings that could really use repainting.

I love this house in spite of all of it.

And also in spite of the fact that right now this house is a complete mess.

The matching sock I couldn’t find last night is on the coffee table (I don’t know why or how it got there). There are empty popcorn bowls and water bottles and three Rubik’s Cubes scattered around. The old man stuffed a box of basketball jerseys for summer league under the chair in the family room. The popcorn pot still sits on the stove from last night. There are legos and bottles of nailpolish on the island.  And Jellycat.  And four pool towels hanging on chairs and the stair posts.

The dishwasher is full of clean dishes that need to be put away.  The counters are full of clean pots and cutting boards and serving bowls. The sink is full of dirty dishes that didn’t fit in the dishwasher.

The mess will be cleaned up shortly.

And tomorrow morning I will probably be looking at a very similar scene.

In our first house everything was perfectly placed, everything clean and neat. No clutter. I looked around one day and realized what was wrong with that house. It looked sterile…not at all like a home. That was before the babies came. Sterile is no longer a word I would use to describe our environment.

I look around now, at this home we live in, and this is what a home feels like to me. Some days I really, really cannot stand the remains of the day, the messes all over the place, to be sure. But the things I see now — the popcorn bowls and pool towels, the jerseys and toys and nail polish and dishes — these are the things that remain after a day well spent.

Someone asked me the other night, half in jest, if we would be moving out to P’ville soon the way so many of our friends have.


Nothing against P’ville, but I like this place right here.


This Place Right Here

June 10th

You’ve been gone longer than you were here.  That makes me awfully sad.

You were such a good thing in my life.

I knew when you pooped on the floor at Petsmart on our way home from picking you out that we had absolutely no idea what we were getting into with you.

Remember how you chewed up all my cookbooks? I still have them you know…I don’t use them much anymore but I can’t bear to part with them.

They remind me too much of you.

It’s true that we didn’t know what life would be like with a Labrador…with you… Nor did we know just how magnificent a dog you would turn out to be.

Coco Edited

My heart aches a little, sometimes a lot, every June 10.

Miss you old Pal. I always, always miss you.

Is there really a Rainbow Bridge?

June 10th


Today you are eight years old.

Ella 8-2 NST

I can remember the terrific, terrifying thrill of knowing I was pregnant with you…the moment I knew.  For weeks after, I would lie in bed at night and listen to the life within me…you. I held my breath until I could hear the sounds…the rhythmic, rapid, whooshing of your tiny little heart.

You are a perfect little miracle.

And now eight entire years have gone by.  Sometimes I sit in my big yellow chair in the bedroom and watch you dress in the morning.  I am there mainly because you require reminding.  Usually, that is frustrating.  But every once in a while, I will just watch.  I just watch as you are enveloped in that other world you inhabit…the make-believe world filled with buttercups and dragonflies and sparkling sunshine. You are somewhere else entirely. If only I could go there with you just once…I believe it must be magical.

Ella 8-3 NST

I wonder, as I’m watching you in those few precious moments, how I am ever frustrated with you at all. Those little freckles and those little strawberry eyelashes.  Those eyes that laugh when you smile.  Your little voice, and your laugh.  Your hands, and how they feel in mine.

Even the way you throw your head back and whine…the way you stomp up the stairs when I ask you to do your chore or clean your room or brush your hair.  Yes, even those things make me smile.

The way you hold Jellycat, how s.l.o.w.l.y you eat and how absolutely horrified you are that most bugs exist at all.  Your tendency to fabricate the truth about what really happened to your toothpaste, or whether you really washed your hair.  Your horrible, horrible handwriting. Your beautiful, generous heart. Your crazy, wonky teeth.  The way you push up your glasses.

Ella 8-4 NST

You are a better story than I could have ever written, Ella Louise.

I still watch you sleep most nights.  I cover you, and brush the hair from your forehead. I kiss your crown and breathe in the scent of you. And I just look at you.

Ella 8-5 NST

From the first moment I knew, I have loved you.  Deeply, madly, and with every thing I am, I love you.

Happy birthday, baby girl.


Living the Dream

I was up early again…what is with the not sleeping?  This morning it was 4:38 when I woke up.  I went downstairs, made coffee and did a little reading.  I read a piece about dreams, having dreams and making your dreams come true.  And I sat there and thought, I don’t really have a dream…it already came true…I already have my dream come true.

I already have my dream come true.

This morning my dream come true looked like this:

7:30 Me telling Ella to get herself ready for school (which includes four basic things every.single.morning. It does not vary:  1-get dressed. 2-put your jammies and undies where they belong. 3-brush your hair. 4-brush your teeth.)

7:32 Me telling Ella to get ready for school.

7:36 Me telling Ella to get back in her room and don’t come out until she’s fully dressed.

7:38 Me asking Ella what she is supposed to be doing instead of showing me how the handles on her glasses case can look like a smiley face. She forgot what she’s supposed to be doing. It’s understandable because she’s only been doing this for the last 1,000 days or so.

7:41 Me telling Ella to get back in her room and finish getting ready.

7:44 Me, with my hands over my face asking Ella what she is supposed to be doing.

7:46 Me finishing Ella’s hair for her because her idea of getting all the tats out is not a fully-matured idea.

7:48 Me telling Ella to brush her teeth. And not to forget her sweatshirt because it will be cool today.

7:50 Hugging her goodbye. Smelling sunblock in her hair. Feeling how small she is. Wishing her the best day ever…

I watched the old man drive off with those two redheads. Henry was playing with a rubik’s cube.  He has learned algorithms to solve the thing…hasn’t solved it yet but he will.  And Ella in the back…her little tiny self smiling at me with that wonky tooth of hers and waving to me.

Then I took a glance at her room.  Her jammies and undies are on the floor. Her sweatshirt is still sitting on her bed. And I’m pretty sure she didn’t brush her teeth either.

Yep.  Living the dream.

Living the Dream