Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In the Middle

We are alternating between days of being busy and days of being lazy, finding ourselves in the middle most days. My parents came into town last week, just a couple of days after we arrived home from vacation. Mostly we sit and visit and play with the kids, but on Friday night, we headed to a park downtown, by the river, for a picnic.
We hung around at the playground after we ate. B was on a mission to try to do everything his big sis could do.
We brought home two very tired kids and proceeded to have a fairly lazy rest of the weekend. One Ordinary Dad and I headed out on a date on Sunday night, taking full advantage of free babysitting from my parents. Our goal was to be cheap, so we used a BOGO coupon for the new berry almond chicken salad at Wendy's (delicious by the way), picked up a hardbound copy of The Annotated Charlotte's Web at Half Price Books (I love, LOVE, love Charlotte's Web) for $8, and then used free tickets to a local comedy club, where we did enjoy quite a bit of laughter.

Monday was another lazy day. Yesterday brought the exciting news that two of my friends had babies (one had twins), so there are now three new babies to snuggle in my life. And then, we spent the majority of yesterday evening at a friend's house for a small group pool party.
One of our friends enjoys fireworks, so we lit some bottle rockets and the kids played with sparklers.
Back when I first got my camera, when C was just over a year old, I tried to shoot in Manual mode as much as I could and to use natural light to my advantage. As she got busier and I had to be quicker, I began to rely on Auto mode more and more. I rarely went back to "M" unless we were doing a family photo shoot or something.

One of my goals this summer is to spend some of my lazy time learning more about the many wonderful things my camera can do. I've started shooting in RAW, which I never did before, and am trying hard to do all of my settings manually and to play with light. Our house has a ton of huge windows (an advantage to a nearly 100 year old home) that allow in a lot of natural light.
One of our small group friends is a photographer (like has his own studio photographer). He helped me get most of my settings right for the fun sparkler pictures. Between now and July 4th though, I'm going to try to learn how to get my flash to go off at the end of my exposure instead of the beginning as he said that would enhance these pictures quite a bit. If anyone knows how to do this on a Canon Digital Rebel xSi, please let me know. There's definitely a lot to learn, but armed with some guide books, a notebook for note-taking, and the ever-informative Internet, I'm confident I can get better and more comfortable on the Manual setting.
Enjoy your week friends. I'm off to go daydream about snuggly, newborn babies. And no, I am not pregnant and not planning to be anytime soon, lest you think all this baby daydreaming is a hint.

~One Ordinary Mom

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Days

We are fortunate to be in our second summer of having two parents at home. I can't believe it's been a year since One Ordinary Dad was let go from his job in the non-profit world due to budget cuts and a reduction in force. His first year as a stay-at-home dad was a huge success (in my humble opinion) and allowed him to dabble in some things he loves and even make some extra money on the side.

And now the summer vacation is here and one of the perks of my job is having summers off. Just in case you are confused or a teacher-hater, let me remind you that I am NOT paid in the summers-- the checks I receive are for days already worked. With vacation behind us already (we headed to Disney World last week, when the rates were still cheaper), we have a solid two months stretching out ahead of us. Our days now are consisting of a lot of this:
We fill up the pool in the early morning, when we head out to water the plants. Mornings are spent taking walks or playing at the park before it gets too hot. After lunch, the pool water is warm and perfect for splashing and playing. C usually gets a good hour of solo pool time before B wakes up from his nap and joins her. One Ordinary Dad and I sit nearby, on the patio, reading or just marveling in the wonder of our two awesome kids. Sometimes we dip our feet in or put on swimsuits and get all the way in, though we displace a lot of the water in the pool. Swimming lasts until dinner time and sometimes continues after we eat, all the way to bedtime. We drain the pool nightly to discourage mosquito breeding and to move it to a different spot for the next day and give the grass a rest. Every few days or so, we don't fill it at all and head the four blocks up the street to the community pool instead. C will be starting swim lessons there in a few weeks.

Life is good in the summertime. Once the kids have worn themselves out and are snuggled in bed, One Ordinary Dad and I are in the habit of taking some wine or a favorite brew out to the adirondack chairs on our front porch and reading we're nearly nodding off.

The pace of summer is slow and our sun-up to sun-down days are long. We wouldn't want it any other way.

~One Ordinary Mom

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

About Us

One Ordinary Mom

I'm one ordinary mom. I married the man of my dreams in 2004, which is also when I started my job as a middle school Language Arts teacher. I'm still married to that man and still teaching in the same classroom, but since then we've added some babies (daughter, C, and son, B) to the mix. Baby E is coming this fall. I live an extraordinarily ordinary life as a Christ-follower, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, reader, writer, amateur photographer, knitter, jogger/walker pleasure cyclist, skier, and occasional yogi.

One Ordinary Dad

He'll blog here too from time to time. He's the man of my dreams and a true renaissance man. A music-lover and music major in college, he's been a retail store manager, an impromptu IT guy, a non-profit campaign manager, a beer brewery logistician (I think I just made that word up), and most recently, he's been blessed with a wonderfully unique work from home opportunity that kind of combines his loves and knowledge of music and tech and some other things I don't understand. Basically, he's awesome. He also reads, writes, jogs/walks, pleasure cycles, cooks, and has quite the collection of vinyl (yes, records).

Miss C

C is our first born-- the girl who rocked our world one rainy February day in 2008. She's spunky and spirited and will totally melt your heart. My sweet girl loves animals, books, being outside, dancing, music (singing, playing on the piano, name it, she tries to do it), and anything that involves art of any kind. She loves going to church, school, the park, and the pool, and hates fruit (but she'll eat just about any veggie you put in front of her). She is a marvelous big sister who reads daily to her little brother, writes and draws for all of us, and fills our neighborhood with songs and she sings and swings in the backyard.

Mister B

Born just before Christmas in 2010, B is our sweet and snuggly second child. He likes his books too, but is also a fan of trains, cars, bubbles, and balls. He has a quirky sense of humor and blue eyes in which I frequently get lost. He's coming into boyhood and making friends along the way. He is OBSESSED with marbles and those wooden marble runs. He also loves babies and is going to be a phenomenal big brother.

We live in the midwest, where we get four seasons. Faith, family, and friendship are the cornerstones of how we live our lives. We live in a small house (mostly by choice and some because moving is a PAIN) that we pack full of love. We chose to stay close to family so our kids would grow up knowing great-grandparents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. We hope you'll find our ordinary life as extraordinary as your own! So pull up a chair, get a glass of sweet tea (or Sweetwater, a favorite treat we like to bring home from vacation), and enjoy!

Why Extraordinarily Ordinary?

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

~Naomi Shihab Nye, "Famous"

A friend told me today that, barring a major miracle, she will be saying goodbye to her mother in the coming months. And maybe it's because my heart is so heavy for her, or maybe it's because my daughter is at a sleepover and my son is asleep in his bed early tonight, or maybe it's because when looking for a stapler this weekend I stumbled upon some things I hadn't forgotten about, but had forgotten that I had put them there, but I feel the need for a weeknight post of the random rambling type. Anyway, what I stumbled upon was this:
10 years worth of journals. Because outside of this blog, I keep a journal. Where I document it all. In high school and even for the first year or so of college, I kept journals, but when I'd fall out of the rhythm of writing in them, I'd rip out all of the pages, throw them away, and start all over when I decided to restart that rhythm. But for whatever reason, the journal at the top of the picture, which starts on March 8, 2002, marks the beginning of NOT ripping out those pages, even if months lapsed in between entries. That journal on the bottom? Last used on 4/11/12. Oddly enough, it only has a couple of pages left. Looks like I'll be starting a new journal with a new decade.

Anyway. It's all in there-- the good, the bad, and the ugly. And were my own children to someday discover that they only had months to prepare for a final goodbye, I'd give them these. And if they read them, I think they would find that my life was extraordinarily ordinary. And it's the only way I'd want it described.

Because I'm not famous and have not lived that life. Because in all likelihood, I will never be famous. At least not in the way we think of famous in our society.

But today I thought of my friend and her mom. And I thought about that Naomi Shihab Nye poem-- one of my favorites. And I thought about how her mom is famous to her. And my mom is famous to me. And isn't that what we all want as moms? To just be famous to our kids?

And I thought about these journals that I've kept for 10 years. And how one day, under circumstances yet to be determined, my kids will either be given or will find these journals. And as their fingers turn the pages (whether they read every word or not), I hope my extraordinarily ordinary life will be famous to them. If nothing else, they might enjoy the sermon notes I've taken at church each Sunday in those journals or the photographs I've included-- some of them, or the magazine or newspaper articles I've clipped out, or maybe they'll enjoy the list of each book I've read that year that I keep in the back.

If you've hung in with me on this long post until this point, I'll share a few details from the past decade:
  • "Fire drill at midnight last night. Yuck! Anyway, needless to say, I forewent the shower this morning and went to work with semi-greasy hair and an oily face. And guess who came in? E. I was just like, please don't look at me, I'm gross." ~3/20/02 (I worked the early shift at the dining hall and E used to come have breakfast there, even though it was totally out of his way)
  • "After formal, we sat on the Stoddard study lounge couch and he asked me out." ~4/21/02 (and it's been pretty much wonderful ever since)
  • "I bought myself a present...a guitar...I know G, D, Em, E, A, Am, and C chords." ~5/24/02 (Ummm...I think I remember G chord)
  • "Had a bonfire by the ocean tonight...BIG FUN!" ~6/28/03 (the summer I spent in Los Angeles)
  • "I survived my first day as a sub!" ~1/14/03 (I graduated college in December and subbed for half a year)
  • "So besides the crazies at Hap's yesterday celebrating St. Patrick's Day, there was another reason to celebrate...I GOT A JOB!" ~3/18/04 (still at that job today)
  • "I"ll be in Paris in an hour and a half...we ordered wine with our dinner on the plane." ~7/23/04 (written in flight on the way to our honeymoon in Paris, France)
  • "Well, I did it! I have officially made it through my first year of teaching!" ~6/1/05 (and still going strong)
  • "I have so much to be thankful for and I need to be happy with what I have and not let the clothes, homes, vacations, cars, and other things that other people have and I don't get me down." ~12/30/05 (yes, I did struggle a bit with entitlement and living large for awhile--told ya there was some ugly in there)
  • "We made it to London!" ~6/14/06 (yes, I was crazy enough to take a group of students on summer vacation)
  • "I still finished all 26.2 miles in 5 hours and 40 minutes." ~2/4/07 (I had run the Disney Marathon about two weeks before in record breaking heat and with a foot injury halfway through)
  • "It's a girl!" ~9/7/07
  • "C is finally here!" ~2/6/08 (written the day after she was born)
  • "Baby B cooperated at our ultrasound last week and HE is perfect." ~8/19/10 (upon learning B would be a boy)
  • "Well, nothing ever turns out the way you plan. After 21 hours of labor on Wednesday and into Thursday morning, I got to 8cm and B stopped moving down. Around 3:30 am I started getting prepped for a c-section. At 4:13 on 12/23, B finally arrived in the world." ~12/25/10
  • "I'm amazed at what a difference a few weeks of preschool makes for her (C). She's so much more attentive at dance class...C seems to be enjoying preschool too." ~10/3/11
Thank you for sharing in my extraordinarily ordinary life. For letting me be famous to you. Tonight I'm praying for my friend. For her to feel she has enough time. For her mom to be pain free and to know she is famous to her daughters. Tonight I'm praying that we'd all embrace our ordinary lives and continue to live them in our extraordinary ways for however many days, weeks, months, or years we're given.
~One Ordinary Mom