Saturday, April 30, 2011

charlie needs to read my blog

For the past several weeks, I've been working with Elizabeth on her numbers.

Seeing as she is so artistic, I've taken the advice of those kind people who offered it, and have worked with her on painting, coloring, tracing out of rice and molding out of Play Doh the numbers 0 through 12. She has been doing great and is easily recognizing 7, 8 and 9.


We've also been playing a lot of cards and she is turning in to a whiz at Go Fish.


My husband knows that Elizabeth has been struggling with her numbers and he knows that I've stepped up my efforts to help her. But what he doesn't realize - because he doesn't read my blog - is that I wrote about the challenges that she was having.

So the other day, when I was at work, he called to tell me that my mother had sent Elizabeth a very strange card. He sounded confused when he told me that she just put her nickname and the number SEVEN as a return address.


He went on to tell me that she had sent an old Christmas card and wrote, "There are seven people walking in to the church. Why would she send a Christmas card in APRIL?" my husband wanted to know.


"And why would she write all this stuff about the number of letters in Elizabeth's name 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and the number of letters in her name and how she has seven children and her birthday is on the seventh day of the seventh month? It's kind of crazy, Jen..."


"Well, if you read my blog you'd know that I wrote about this and my mother sent the card because she knows that Elizabeth is struggling with her numbers, particularly the number 7. She's just trying to help her think about numbers in a different way. Besides, it's totally like Mom to send a Christmas card in April. She stocks up on all the holidays and uses them throughout the year. Remember your birthday card last year was from Halloween. To me, it's endearing and very resourceful."

Charlie sounded relieved when he said, "Oh. Well I guess that makes sense."

Then he dropped his voice and whispered, "I was afraid she'd been drinking."

Friday, April 29, 2011

spring time in virginia

A few weeks ago, all the trees were barren.

And then, slowly...


Blooms began to emerge.


In waves they appeared. First there was the forsythia and daffodils...


And then there were the magnolias ...


AND THEN, there were the breathtaking cherry blossoms (at least I think that's what these are?) that just like the Fall foliage, made me nearly crash my car on my drives around town.



I honestly didn't think anything could rival the beauty of Fall, until I saw the Spring blossoms.


They literally take my breath away. Although the reason I might be having such a difficult time breathing could also have to do with the tons of pollen in the air...


Dainty dogwoods!




These look like delicate little hearts...








Everywhere I look, the vibrant growth is more beautiful than what I just saw before...


Well, except here.


"Leaves of three, let 'em be!"

Then again, I'm not absolutely certain that's poison ivy. It would probably serve us well if we actually found out since there are sprigs of it all over the lower portion of our yard.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

taking a moment to reflect

It's one of my hidden talents that I can remember dates. Charlie is often amazed that in addition to my own family, I know the birthday of every one of his siblings, nieces and nephews.


Sometimes, I also remember unusual dates. For instance, it was a year ago today that the man who had lived in this house for almost 45 years, passed away. The reason I know that is because last year when we looked at this house for the first time and Charlie felt certain that there was a "presence", I Googled the name of the estate to see if I could learn more.

What I learned is that he was from a very influential family in the area, who were great benefactors to local society. My belief that he was a good man is supported by the kind words all the neighbors use when they speak of him.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to know any information about the first person to live in this house. I guess it's because to me this house isn't just a house ... it's a home where people have lived and loved and laughed and died. So as our family goes through, respectfully making this space our own ... as we paint (and paint and paint and paint and paint and paint and will the painting ever end?)


As we replace lights ...


And repair ceiling cracks ...


And install new outlets ...


And fix plumbing ...


We often think about the life that lived here before us. Sometimes, we stumble upon hand written notes that give us a little more insight to the man that made our home, his home, for almost half a century.


He was a man who kept notes and receipts. He kept a running record of when he changed the air filter and the name of the person who installed his kitchen faucet 23 years ago.


(Charlie needs to write smaller or he'll need a new index card in less than four years.)

It's been exactly one year since the man who lived in this house passed away, in this house. Although some might think it's odd for me to reflect on that since I never met him, I feel like our lives have touched his, simply because we've shared something intimately familiar.

Our home.

Today, the friends and family that are still mourning his loss, are in our hearts.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

antique roadshow

This past weekend, Charlie was in the back yard doing yard work. These days, that's pretty much all he does when he's not sleeping or eating. It certainly seems that he's really been enjoying my new birthday present (which I have yet to use...).

So he's digging out a very old tree stump, by hand with a spade, when all of a sudden he hears, "CLINK! CLINK!" He stops digging and sees that there is some kind of metal object jutting out of the ground. He clears it away and discovers what looks like a 7-inch spear.


Before I continue any further, I should probably interject that a few months ago, we had some drywall repair work done. The man that was here repairing our walls had immigrated from Russia and was a huge American History buff. As I stood watching him spackle the walls - hoping that I could commit to memory his technique so I could do it myself and save $500.00 the next time - he mentioned that in his spare time, he likes to peruse various properties with his metal detector.


He told me that there is a plethora of 18th and 19th century artifacts buried in the soil around these parts, ranging from belt buckles to spent shell casings, to old metal cups and spoons. Apparently, he isn't allowed to use his metal detector on public lands, so is restricted to private property. Then he eyed our back yard and said, "I wouldn't be surprised if you have a few things back there..."


I'm certain that the first 10 years of my life spent in Concord Massachusetts, has something to do with my fascination of history. So when our drywall repair man highlighted the possibility of us finding something in our back yard ... I instantly imagined troops camped out on the hill, gathering water from the creek.

Which brings me back to this thing that Charlie found in the yard, approximately 18 inches below the ground surface. It's 7-inches long and is definitely weathered. It has a loop on one end and is rather sharp and pointy, with an indentation that runs around the entire front. There's also a flat part on the back which looks like it fit in to something else.


Before we have this thing carbon dated, or sprint over to Martinsburg, West Virginia ... what do you think it might be? Does it look like a Civil War era artifact, perhaps a spear?


Or more like the tip of a gardening tool, circa 1980?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the trick to seeing the sights...

... is to have people come visit.


Last week, my sister and her family came to visit us.


It's safe to say we did more sightseeing in the five days they were with us, than we have done in the nine months we've lived in Virginia.


Charlie took everyone on a hike through a park in downtown D.C. On another day, we took the metro (train) in to Washington and went on a carousel.


Children ran across the front (and back and side) lawn of various Government buildings...


And we went on a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol.


This is the Rotunda.


As luck would have it, I woke up with a bad neck strain on the day we toured the Capitol. I was extremely tempted to lay on my back in the middle of the floor so I could actually look at the ceiling without having to hold my head in my hands.


We also went to Mt. Vernon.


This is the beautiful greenhouse.


(I learned that President Washington had quite a green thumb.)


There were picturesque barns and animals ...


And vast green fields - perfect for running across.


(I challenged the kids to a race and almost died on the way back.)

We overlooked the Potomac River.


Henry's superhero cape has become a part of his daily attire. Usually he wears it in addition to his red footie pajamas that he lovingly refers to as his "Super Suit." I'm so used to this getup now, I don't even think about it when we go out. But the smiles we received throughout the day and comments from random strangers about how adorable our son is, made me stop and really appreciate the awesomeness of a three-year-old boy.


After visiting Mt. Vernon,William is obsessed with colonial-style clothing and personalities.


In fact, he now introduces himself to everyone as "George."

(That'd be Washington.)


He's also enamored with John Adams.


A few nights ago when I was tucking him in to bed he whispered, "Mom, it's OK if you just want to call me Mr. President."

His comment made me stop and really appreciate the awesomeness of a six-year-old boy.