Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Old Oak Tree

It's amazing how you can pass something so many times without really seeing it, and then one day, it almost jumps out and bites you. You truly notice it. This happened to me the other day on my early morning walk to the train. My new commute to work involves a 10 minute walk along a fairly busy stretch of road. You will typically see me plugged into my iPhone attempting to separate myself from the hub-bub of morning rush hour traffic. Yes, I've turned into one of those plugged-in Pod people with the tell-tale white earbuds. Hey, just to be clear, I'm listening to Debussy.

On this particular morning I saw something truly magnificent, an old oak tree. How old? 270 years old. At the edge of a giant Ford dealership, spreading its wings across the road is this battle-worn piece of Americana.

Right now it's stark and not particularly beautiful, but there is an aura of grandeur about this massive tree, and I can't wait to see what it looks like crowned with foliage.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Writing

If I were to pick my dream job, my office would be in a corner room of an old building with a high ceiling and french doors that lead out onto a slightly furnished terrace with a glorious, unobstructed, aerial view of a beautiful city with the ocean, or some body of water, just beyond. My desk would face these open doors and large white curtains would flutter in the gentle, salty maritime breeze.

And I would write. All morning. All afternoon. Into the pale, fading light of evening as electric illumination began to dot the landscape.

I would drink effervescent rose and listen to Debussy and pour my heart out onto paper.

Back to reality. I have a real job on the 26th floor of a high-rise in a big city. I can't see the ocean although if I crane my neck I can see the Delaware River. The windows definitely do not open. I have three children at home which leaves little free time for the long quiet expanses of thought space needed to write.

And yet that need is still there. There are days where I can't keep it back no matter how little time I have...I just have to sit down and let a little out. The snippet of story that follows this entry is one example. It is something that really happened to me a few weeks ago and shook me in that literary place so that I knew I had to get it out on paper. Ironically, although I write here all the time, I haven't really shared my other, non-blog writing with you. So this is something new and a little scary for me. The story isn't finished, but I'm putting it out there anyway. I will write Part II of __ soon.

The Sad Man in the Furniture Store (Part I)

In the lovely, dreamy fog of early morning when things are clear and blurry at the same time, when the twilight of consciousness is open and vulnerable, it came to me. As my mind began to focus, my heart rate quickened and my eyes flew open.

I knew who he was, and it took my breath away.

His words the night before still echoed in my ears, "Congratulations on your new house! I hope you enjoy it." Now the nagging in the back of my mind, racking my brain trying to figure out who he was, had been replaced by a hollow ache in the pit of my stomach. It had all come full circle.

***

I walked with the air of confidence borne of a well-executed purchase. Receipt clutched in hand, I re-entered the furniture store, one question left to clarify.

A salesman emerged from the bullpen with a friendly, expectant smile. His shoulders stooped slightly and his eyes were tinged with the faintest trace of sadness. "Can I help you?" he asked kindly. I explained my question about delivery to our new home. His helpful answer put my query to rest, and as I turned to go, spring in step, he called out behind me, "Congratulations on your new house! I hope you enjoy it." I turned around and smiled, "Thank you. We will!"

As I walked away my step slowed ever so slightly. I don't know what it was that made me pause. I think his words were the trigger. He looked so familiar. Where did I know him from? Had he sold something to us before? He had one of those everyman faces. He could have been the guy behind me in line at the grocery store or sitting across the aisle from me on the morning train. He was nondescript, of medium height and build with ordinary brown hair with not one remarkable, distinguishing feature except - except for his lost, broken eyes. They drooped with the burden of one who has seen more sadness than his years deserved and as you looked at him you felt as though you were watching a continual, slow trickle of life continuing to drip out from those otherwise kind pools of blue. The brokenness was real and the pain was very raw.

I lost some of the spring in my step as I tried to shake off the image of that man with the sad eyes, stoop-shouldered under the burden of his story. But I knew I couldn't shake him. That brief encounter nagged at me like a tiny splinter, hardly noticeable at first, but which begins to throb with unnerving tenacity.

I couldn't get him out of my mind...the sad man in the furniture store.

Monday, March 29, 2010

At Long Last

Pictures of the outside of our house.

First Black Eye

No, it wasn't the boys. It was Evie.

We have a flimsy hall table from our early married days, which Genevie pulled over on herself a few days ago, thankfully the day AFTER her one-year well-check. She is now sporting a bruise on her right cheek and a black eye.

Yes, folks, this little 17 lb, 13 oz half-pint has two brothers and is as rough and tumble as children twice her size. My advice? Don't mess with Evie. I have to confess though, a black eye never looked so cute. I am also happy to report that it is healing nicely. Kids' bodies are amazing.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Feeling Nostalgic

Everybody remembers their first...

...first car, that is. It doesn't matter how big a POS it was, that car is etched in your mind and will always have a special place in your heart.

Today as I walked through the massive parking lot at the Lindenwold PATCO Station, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted her, the car pictured above. OK, not exactly the one pictured above, but one that looked just like her, and I stopped briefly to admire.

My first car was a cream-colored 1989 Honda Civic DX, a little five-speed piece of freedom that gave me four very good years. It didn't matter that eventually the air conditioning broke or that manual steering on a manual transmission ain't easy. She was mine. All $2,900 of her saved from hours of working behind a bakery counter, her insurance, gas, and repairs all paid by yours truly.

I will never forget the day I sold her. With well over 100,000 miles on her, I still managed to get $1,000, a tribute to the Honda name. And today, as I stopped and looked, I wondered if that little beauty, now 21 years old had briefly and memorably been mine.

What was your first car?

Rinse and Repeat

Well, I've turned into a downright pathetic blogger. To be fair, this is what a typical day has looked like since all in the Holloway household are well:

Wake up
Get dressed
Get breakfast
Pack lunch
Walk to the train
Ride from the end of the NJ line to the last stop in Philly
Walk 5 blocks to work
Work all day
Reverse commute home
Cook dinner
Put children to bed
Do some unpacking
Fall asleep

Rinse and repeat

The days have begun to blur together, but on the bright side now all beds are assembled and Trey's entire library is unpacked. This, in case you were wondering, is huge. I, on the other hand, still have a number of boxes of my own to unpack involving items as disparate as yarn and nail polish.

I am also taking the day off tomorrow. That's right, Trey is giving me a much-needed personal holiday after the craziness of the past two weeks. I'm getting my hair "did" -- hair which is in a very sorry state after being neglected for over three months I'm ashamed to say, and then my mom and sister and I are going to Baltimore for a consultation with her wedding dress seamstress. Yes, that's right folks, my little sister is engaged, a not-so-minor detail which in the melee of the move was completely neglected here on the blog.

So a very belated congratulations to my sister Sarah and her fiance Matt on their pending nuptials this July!

And finally I promise that as soon as Trey returns from the pediatrician today with Addison and Davis, I will ask him to email me a recent outdoor photo he took of our house and I will post it. Still no decent indoor photos to show yet as boxes abound. I want you to see it properly. And, yes, Trey took all three children for their well-checks this week BY HIMSELF. I do not know many men who WOULD or COULD do that. Good man!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We Are Live

We have internet! When I tried to hook up our wireless on Thursday, we discovered that the phone jack was bad. Finally today a tech came out to the house to fix it and we learned that squirrels had eaten through several sets of phone lines. The previous owners must not have been using the landline for anything, and it took us setting up our DSL internet to discover it. I feel connected to the world again.

Life is still a chaos of boxes and misplaced furniture not to mention that Trey and Evie are still not feeling 100%. Little by little though I know we are making progress. And that means pictures are just around the corner!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Moving in and Tummy Troubles

We moved into our new house on one of the worst weather days I can remember in a long time. The rain came in sideways sheets powered by wind gusts in the 50mph range. In case you were wondering, this does not make it easy for transporting heavy furniture into a new home. Our moving crew was amazing, working speedily and cheerfully through it all.

No sooner did we get moved in then Addison and David both (within an hour of each other) came down with a stomach virus Sunday afternoon. And then Trey and Evie got it within 12 hours of each other Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Lots of laundry and disinfecting later, I think it is past us. I seem to have been spared, once again, although I'm still holding my breath until the 48-hour puke free window has passed. An unusual sort of christening for the new house.

Internet live date is today, so when I get home from work I'll set up the router, and then hopefully I'll be able to blog more and POST PICTURES! Trey leaves tonight for Atlanta to pick up some furniture we've stored down there for a while -- another reason I can't get sick now. Can't imagine this virus while solo parenting. Please pray for continued health.

And one humorous tidbit from meeting our next door neighbor yesterday. While talking I mentioned that we had lived in Scotland for two years and she said to me, "Not to be rude or anything, but why did you come back? I mean, did you think about staying?" I laughed on the inside at this question from a woman who has apparently lived in our new town her entire life. I can't tell you how many times I heard that same question from native Scots: "Why would you come HERE to study?" I guess the grass is always greener.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Our New Home

We have waited a very long time for this moment. Over ten years, actually. As of today, we are homeowners. Our very own 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom, fenced in yard, front porch, back deck piece of the American dream.

There were a lot of bumps in the road to get today most of which I'm not sure I'd get right even if I tried to share the details. It's all such a blur now. But through the dedicated support of many people closing today was a breeze, and we are now residents of Stratford, NJ, a quaint old town about 10 minutes from where we currently live. I am now just a few blocks from the train, making my commute into work even more convenient than it already is, and our house is within walking distance of a lovely playground.

The first time I walked through this house it just felt right. I could imagine us there. It's hard to describe what it was exactly, but I had visions of backyard barbeques and Christmas mornings. I was fairly certain we had found our new home. Somehow we survived price negotiations, mortgage hell in the wake of the housing debacle, and various last minute issues that continued to plague us until literally 15 minutes before closing was scheduled to begin. Through it all, though, we knew this was the Holloway home.

I don't have any pictures to post yet, and we won't have internet at the new house until later in the week. So you'll just have to imagine it for now, but we can't wait to share our new home with you as we begin a new chapter in our lives as homeowners.

I feel like an adult now.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Davis-isms

It's been a while since I've posted any Davis-isms. These were worth sharing:

***

After watching the video clip linked here, which you can view if you have the stomach, of a golden eagle poaching a mountain goat off a cliff-side, Davis proceeded to proffer his own lamby in his mouth, flap his arms like wings, and say through clenched teeth, "Look, Mom! I'm an eagle with a goat."

***

Davis and Addison were in the midst of a typical squabble over a coveted car and Davis proceeded to chide Addison with this little morsel: "Addison, in heaven it says, 'Be ye kind one to another'."

Yes, Davis, take the moral high ground.

Un-raveling a Mystery

On the eve of a big reveal*, whose beans I have as yet managed not to spill, and at the end of a week full of more stress than I can remember in a long time, all of which I can explain later, I came across this priceless nugget on my commute home. My sister-in-law Joanna posted it on Facebook -- like a woman after my own heart, she is a scavenger of wonderful tidbits, and I thought it deserved a mention for two reasons -- my love of knitting and my love of Cape May.

Apparently a secret knitting bandit has been leaving knitted graffiti on trees limbs in Cape May. You can read the full story here.

My question? A question only a true knitter would ask, were these limb-bands knitted in the round or sewn on?

*No, I am NOT pregnant.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Today She's One

Today Genevie Mae turns one. An entire year has passed and during that time this little spitfire has grown from a tiny babe in arms to a toddling bundle of smiles. One of the joys of parenting is getting to know the individual personalities of each of your children. Individual she is. In her first year of life she has done things her own way in her own time.

During her first year, crying was rare. She smiled at me her very first week of life and now she has a permanent, sunshiney grin on her face. Her nature is cheerful and curious. She is both even-tempered and undaunted. Her balance and dexterity are well-advanced and she already has a vocabulary of about 10 words. She has a booming voice that she loves to exercise with lusty yells and guttural growls. Her favorite toy lately is a plastic sports water bottle kept in a low cupboard in the kitchen, which she toats around and chews on with great delight.

She is not bothered by loud noises or boisterous brothers. She loves to play with Addison and Davis. You can see the inherent admiration written all over her face. She loves to be tickled and played with every bit as much as her older brothers.

She is girly too though and has dance moves like you've never seen. I'm not talking about the typical baby bobbing. No this girl gets down. She swings her hips and rocks her shoulders with a coy little head flip that makes me laugh. She knows how to bat her eyes and look sweet and innocent. But don't let the faux-innocence fool you. She's already started throwing mini-tantrums when you take something away that she wants. Like I said, she does everything early.

Genevie, you are sunshine and fire in one tiny package. We love you more each day and thank God that He made you part of our family. May you continue to grow in your curiosity and exploration of the world around you. May your heart always be filled with such exuberant joy, especially that of our Lord Jesus.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Dapper Calvin

It's not every day that a 16th-century theologian makes the 75 Best Dressed Men of All Time list (thanks, Amanda, for drawing my attention to this!). Standing toe-to-toe with such style icons as Cary Grant and JFK Jr. is our very own reformer, and I, for one, am not at all surprised. It takes a strong man to stand up to the likes of the Roman Catholic Church, and perhaps an even stronger one to sport so unflinchingly such a beard and cap. And that cap is now -- in perpetuity -- known as the Knox cap.

John Calvin, theologian
Because the most famous minimalist in world history knew a man didn't need expensive clothes or bright colors to convey authority. Black and white, worn with the requisite gravity, can be powerful and intimidating. Just look at the Secret Service. Or the Reservoir Dogs.