Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Front Lawn

Last October, I blogged about how Trey and I worked to replant grass on our tree belt, and this spring we tackled the front lawn. The lawn was almost completey Bermuda grass (see above) which has the most unbelievable root system (see below). I hated it. It turns an ugly brown in the winter and looks like matted-down astro turf in the summer. We wanted a lovely, lush lawn, but as new home owners weren't sure the best way to go about growing one. From all the research I had done online and talking with a guy at our local nursery, the best approach seemed to be roto-tilling the lawn and then planting seed. Bermuda grass, like crab grass, has long runner roots which run below the dirt's surface, making it difficult to fully pull up and eradicate, but we were determined.

We rented a roto-tiller and then hand pulled all the grass in the front, leaving the side yard which is mostly hidden from street view as our fall project. Trey and I worked non-stop for two consecutive Saturdays tearing out the crazy root system, bagging the thatch, and then hand scattering new fescue seeds.

Unlike our fall efforts, the spring ones initially seemed unsuccessful. In October we saw the first few blades of grass within a week. This time around, it took two weeks.

But with faithful watering and a second seeding tiny little grass sproutlings began to slowly emerge.

This is what it looked like a couple of weeks ago.

Patchy and uncertain.

And this is what it looks like today -- full, lush, weed free. Kind of like a golf green.

The lines you see in the photograph above are from the mower wheels. We finally cut it a few days ago, leaving it as long as the mower would allow to give the soft, young blades a chance to grow more hearty and choke out any weeds. I have to say there is real sense of accomplishment after such back-breaking work. We both were so sore and dirty at the end of each Saturday, but the results have been totally worth it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Underside of the Tapestry

For those of you on Facebook you probably saw my note from April 27 about the house across the street. It's been a month now since it burned, and its carcass has been a daily reminder for me of the sadness and brokenness in this world. The mother and son who rented the property went out for a brief errand and came home to a house ablaze. They attempted to rescue their three pets, but the flames spread so quickly they couldn't get inside and lost them all.

As I stood on our front porch with my two little boys in their pajamas and felt the intense heat of the flames as they spread from the back of the house up to the second story, I was overcome with grief for our neighbors. I could see their slumped shoulders held in embrace by others on the sidewalk. Helplessly they watched everything they owned destroyed in mere minutes.

As siding on the next door house melted and leaves on surrounding trees scorched, I was confronted with the nagging question that has plagued every heart at one time or another -- why do these things happen? Or more specifically, why does God allow these things to happen? I am a person of strong faith. I know He is good and I know He is all-powerful, and yet when I see kind-hearted people lose everything in the blink of an eye, I wonder what it all means.

I know this side of glory answers are slow to come. We live on the underside of the tapestry, and it is ugly and confusing. The world is full of pain and injustice, heartbreak and loss. Children die in dark, neglected places. Young mothers get cancer and waste away into nothingness. Homes are blown away in tornadoes, and countries bomb one another into oblivion. There is so much wrong with this world that it is almost too much to bear, and I wonder where God is in all of this.

And although I don't know why He lets it continue,  I know He is weeping too. John 11.35, "Jesus wept." The shortest verse in the Bible and one of the most jam-packed with meaning. These words occur at the death of Lazarus, one of Jesus' dear friends. Just minutes before resurrecting Lazarus,  surrounded by mourners and grieving Mary and Martha, Jesus also grieved, and I can't help but believe that part of His grief was his sadness at the brokenness of this world, that is wasn't meant to be this way, that this world labors under a weight of sin and death as a result of the fall, that the beautiful Eden of Genesis has given way to the hellish curse of death, that the minute we draw breath at birth we begin the inevitable slow decline towards the grave.

But it doesn't end there. We are left with this promise in Revelation 21.4, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." I am comforted to know that in the end, although my finite mind can't grasp its logic now, there will be answers. The confusion and chaos and meaningless arbitrariness of catastrophe will be no more. Wholeness will be restored. The beauty and intricacy of the tapestry will be revealed.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mother's Day Tea

I spent some time yesterday reading back through past posts from when we still lived in Aberdeen or Davis was just learning to walk, and it had a profound and surprising effect on me. I walked around the rest of the day with an aura of glowing happiness and had a strong desire to improve my current blogging pace. It made me so thankful for how faithfully in the past I documented the little things in our lives that so quickly fade away. It doesn't have to be profound or earth shattering. In fact, the more mundane, the better. It is in the quiet, simple moments of our lives that we capture its true essence.

This post is several weeks over due, but I have to start somewhere. The Friday before Mother's Day, Davis's preschool hosted a Mother's Day tea. When we arrived for the festivities, we were greeted by a Mystery Wall. Each child had written a description of his or her mom and drawn a picture along with it. Five year-olds' perspectives on their mothers are humorous. One little boy's treatise proclaimed his mother as "pretty as a wolf". She is a vet, so I assured her it was a vocational compliment.

It took me a while to figure out which one was Davis's, but here it is.

Genevie joined us and thoroughly enjoyed herself.

The children had prepared several musical numbers for their audience. Not surprising, Davis was rather shy at first, but he did come around and sing as time went on.

He was very proud of himself afterwards.

Davis even took a picture of me during the refreshment time. Not bad, huh?

And this hand-painted watering can with potted impatiens was one of his Mother's Day gifts to me. Lovely.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Garden Gloves

Addison is one of those kids who is hard to describe. You just have to meet him. He has one of those magnetic personalities that draws people to him and makes them remember him. I guess you could call it charisma. Trey has called him monsieur le maire ("Mr. Mayor") from the time he was young enough to smile at passersby simply because he was a little politician. Wherever he goes he has a beaming grin and a friendly question for every new person he meets.

I had to share this story on the blog because I don't want to forget its sweetness and the true dramatic irony -- in the classic sense -- of motherhood that it emphasized at such a poignant moment, Mother's Day.

This weekend I flew solo while Trey was in Atlanta visiting his mom, and by Sunday morning I was worn ragged. Between the incessant questions, frequent squabbles, and general exuberant energy inherent to three children under the age of 8 my nerves and patience were in tatters. I'd battled a child-started rogue car alarm while I was two baseball fields away dropping off a son at baseball practice only to discover that said left-handed son had forgotten an essential left-handed glove, which incidentally you can't borrow from a team mate since no one else is left-handed and had a nameless female offspring of mine surreptitiously eat the tops off 4 Oscar Meyer hotdogs right out of the package in Walmart. That was just Saturday. Juggling the full-time duties of caring for three small children, the baseball schedule of two young boys, and trying to get work done for one paying day job was definitely too ambitious. So when Addison burst into the bedroom at some ungodly hour on Sunday morning, I was pretty much dead to the world.

"Here, Mom. Happy Mother's Day!" I blinked through bleary eyes and saw the fuzzy image of Addison, with Davis at his side, proffering what was clearly the gift he'd made at school. For the past few days he'd been telling me how excited he was to give me my present. He had guarded the secret vigilantly, proudly sharing it with a select few, and here he was, like Christmas morning, eager with anticipation for me to enjoy his treasure.

I propped myself up and blinked. He was holding a clay flower pot decorated with foam dragonflies and ladybugs. Inside the pot were gardening gloves and a popsicle stick with wings glued to it -- a butterfly. "Oh thank you!" I said, pulling the gloves out of the pot to try them on. And immediately I saw the problem. Addison had unknowingly chosen two right-handed gloves.

And so I flipped one of them over, put it on my left hand and hugged him. "They're perfect," I whispered in his ear.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Di-o-ra-ma...four syllables that strike fear into every parent's heart. I must be the oddball because when I learned that Addison had to do a diorama for school in preparation for their May field trip to the Philadelphia zoo, my inner grade school child was unleashed. I loved making dioramas as a kid. I find it amusing which childhood memories stick with you. Three of my most distinct ones all involve my dad and school projects. The first was a Sculpey koala bear for my Kindergarten zoo project. Let me tell you. When you have an architect for a dad, you are guaranteed to the have the best-looking, most life-like Sculpey animal in the Kindergarten zoo. The second was a veggie person whose head was made out of butternut squash. I have a picture of me with it, which I will try to dig up and post. I'm sure you'll get a chuckle. And the third project was a diorama which, if memory serves me correctly, was supposed to be of a particular topography and I think I did the plains.

Back to Addison's project. His animal choice was the polar bear. We used glitter paper to cover the exterior of the shoe box to represent ice and snow crystals. Inside we used scrapbooking paper that looked like clouds for the sky. Addison painted the bottom of the box a deep, marine blue for the Arctic water, and then we used poster board for the icebergs and white Sculpey for the frozen sea. The bears were purchased from the animal bins at AC Moore.

We were both pretty happy with how it all turned out. I'll let Addison tell you the rest and read you his report. The kid cracks me up.

Part one.

Part two.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Take Your Child to Work Day

Two weeks ago I brought Addison to work with me to celebrate Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. These photos are a little late in being posted, but it was such a wonderful day for both him and me that I had to share a glimpse into the experience.

The group was small -- about 10 children ranging in age from 7-12, and they were all so well behaved.

We started with a tour of the office. Here you see me sharing my cubicle. (Note the fabulous green rolling laptop bag on the right-hand side of the photo, which I just got and am completely in love with.)

During the tour the children enjoyed sitting in the "big man's" corner office.

The kids created vision boards of what they wanted to be when they grew up. Addison drew a rainbow. Not sure he understood the exercise.

Here he is chatting with the president of the company -- ever the politician.

The children joined our Marketing meeting in the big board room.

After the meeting it was time for pizza and Rita's Water Ice.

Addison working hard with one of his new friends.

Later in the day I led a little exercise on what marketing is. We focused on branding and logos, a concept the kids picked up very quickly.

Here is some of the artwork featuring famous logos the kids all knew well.

At the end of the day all the children signed a Thank You board to Revitas for hosting them.

And they all went home with goody bags, including their very own resume and stack of personalized business cards. You might be interested to check out my company's humorous blog post about the events of the day. It was a wonderful experience for all involved.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mr. Baseball

Baseball season is in full swing for us, and there's no denying it. Davis is a natural. He's taken to baseball like a duck to water.


See for yourself. This video was from his first official game.

I love watching him play because he takes it all very seriously. No goofing around. He gets down to business. When it's time to field, he doesn't have to be told twice to put his hat on and get his glove. When it's time to hit, he puts on his helmet and finds his bat. While other kids may be climbing the dugout chain links or kicking dirt, Davis is focused and ready.

Do you remember his prayer from a couple of years ago? I think it really did foreshadow the kind of player he is and hopefully will continue to become.

This is a great batting sequence that Trey caught on camera.

Sprinting to first base.

Encouragement from one of the coaches.

Chatting with the first base coach.

Getting ready to take off for second base.

On third getting ready to come home.

Crossing home plate.

This picture captures the essence of the way Davis plays baseball. He hustles.

The coach behind Davis in this photo told me the other day: "He really gets it." He then went on to add that he's coached 18 year-olds who understood the game less than Davis. This Saturday they have a practice to get ready for coach pitch. The rest of the season they'll retire the tees and pitch to the kids. I can't wait to see how Davis does with that. He sees the ball really well and is an excellent hitter, natural lefty and all. In fact, he'd never used a tee before this year, and I felt like it inhibited his hitting rather than helped it -- much like someone who already knows how to ride a bike trying one with training wheels. I think he'll be unleashed once they lose the tee.