Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Play Date!!!

It was a very silly time at the House That Jack Built today. Just see for yourself:

And He's Off..

Many of us are sending our children off to school this week. I got to send both my son AND my husband back to school on Monday. They were both nervous, picking their outfits out the night before, making sure their bags are packed. It's a bittersweet day for all of us. The summer is over, and we're back to a routine. But like many of you out there... I feel like it's time. Time to get back into a routine... we've had a fun, and extremely fast summer.

I've had mixed emotions as this day approaches. On Sunday afternoon, Huckleberry and the others fell asleep on the way home from the outlet stores and Stretch laid him on our bed. I watched him sleep. It was so nice - I just watched him sleep. And it's then, when he's quiet and not moving that I can't bear the thought of him going to first grade. All day? Without me? With the influence of others that I can't control? But then I breathe... he's gonna be great in school. He's gonna love it.

And so with just a small tear in my eye - I sent him to school. But as he trotted into school with his Batman backpack on, I realized that it wasn't a tear of sadness... I was proud. Really proud - and I felt confident he was ready.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Happy 5th Birthday!!!

We celebrated Chicken Nugget's Fifth Birthday yesterday in the SWELTERING heat. As she was opening her gifts, I actually had to wipe her face with a towel, because the sweat was literally, dripping off her face.

Her four closest friends joined her in celebrating. They decorated their own pair of sunglasses, painted their fingernails and toenails, tied ribbons in their hair, put on their own makeup (yikes) and played pin the tiara on the princess. We had other games planned that involved dressing them up in layers of princess clothes and running around the yard in a race, but we thought they might actually pass out. So, in their blue eyeshadow and purple nail polish, they played on the tree swing, barely ate pizza, and scarfed the cake while the icing was melting down the sides of the cake.

Happy Birthday Chicken Nugget. I love you -

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Here's To the Invisible...

I know you are all sick of looking at my family and I on our bikes from July, so I thought I would copy and paste this wonderful story I received over email from my dear friend. I've been feeling very much like the woman in this story and so found it very uplifting. I hope you will too:

I'm invisible. It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, theway one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone andask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'mon the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please." I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going . she's going . she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip,and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees." In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, afterwhich I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."And the workman replied, "Because God sees." I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there." As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.