Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pause





               I tucked each kid in, and sat by their bed with questions about their fears, their hopes for                  tomorrow as they start their first day of 2nd, 4th and oh-my-gosh, middle school - 6th grade.                Everyone says it, I know, but I really can't believe how quickly it all went.  I blinked.  The                  summer was gone.

          And while I mourn summer.  I never expected my 9-year-old to feel the same.  She told me                 while I sat on the side of her bed, "It just went so quick, mom.  I feel like we didn't                                even get summer.  And like last Christmas, it's like it just passed by."

          I know not every child feels the ache of their childhood rushing by, but this one does. She has             an old soul.  And it  breaks me a bit that her days are already so rushed, so filled, so strewn                 with things to do that she hasn't had a chance to be downright bored.  Just bored with being a                kid. Dreaming of those days when she's older.

          Which is why when I read this placard, I got a bit misty and sat down to write.  I want to                      breathe and notice,  to study their faces and pay attention.   I want to hit pause.

           I know we all do. So can we do this together?  Can we all agree to slow down a bit - with the              plans, with the must-do's?  Then maybe we can learn what it is to be bored, in a most                            wonderful way.

           I'm ready.

           Pause.
           

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

So . . . We moved.


 So . . . We Moved. 

Glen Cullen Lane
And that explains a 6 month respite to the keyboard.  Not only did we move in the middle of August, in the middle of the heat, it was also the same week I began working, the kids started school, Lanie had her birthday party and ten thousand activities started up.  And we are still trying to find our feet under us so we can find "normal" in our new setting.  The greatest gift anyone gave us during that first month was offering to take our kids for the day so we could unpack.  I just about cried when they offered because it was completely unexpected.  But that's where we were.  Up to our ears in boxes and absolutely no time.  

I know people move all the time but wow, it was really hard for me.  To take 12 years of stuff in house #1 and pack it up, to say goodbye to neighbors who I've come to count on, yikes, I was a mess. Ask the kids, I cried a lot.  And they hated to see me like that.  Part of the problem was that we still weren't sure we were making the best move. But the moving frenzy can really get the best of you.  It got the best of me.  
Once we started, and houses were flying off the market in a day or two, we knew we had to get our game face on and get serious.  What started as a, "Hey, let's just go look at this house" turned into day-long searches and long, thoughtful conversations with Kenny where we played the pros and cons of every. single. aspect of each house in length.  What we ended up with -- it's really odd -- it doesn't have the yard we wanted, or the pool, or even the idyllic neighborhood, but there was something very quirky about the house that just drew us in.  Maybe it's the 365 degree Disney room, or the odd angle of stairs, or the open concept that I love, or the balcony, or the 10 minute drive to school.   Or maybe it's because 4 other cars were waiting behind us to see the house and I fell into competition mode and wanted to beat them to the asking price. Whichever it was -- we stuck it out, even though we almost changed our minds twice. We continued to come back to this quirky house over and over again.  It seemed to fit despite it's cons. 

I don't know.  Those summer months are kind of a blur.  I remember very tense shoulders, headaches, and driving around, driving around, driving around and searching HAR.com daily. But then, if buying a home is a complicated puzzle, picking out the house is only the border pieces.  Adding all the inner pieces with it's weird sides and angles make up the rest.  After a rush clean up job of our own house, we spent a solid week or two eating out.  We had 5 to 6 relators walk through our house on any given day.  It was a little fun to hang out down the street at our neighbors and watch for the possible new owners.  It wasn't so fun when our first buyers withdrew, but God is good and within a few days we had another family in line. After horror stories I've heard about trying to sell a house for years didn't get lost on me.  I knew we were blessed to find new owners so quickly. 

Now, that - that right there - was the most difficult, emotional home-selling experience for me.  Who was going to live in MY house?  Who was going to re-paint my walls?  Which kids would swing on our ancient swings? Who was going to befriend my favorite neighbors? Who was going to put as much love into the house as we did?  I'm choked up now thinking about it.  I'm not over it.  We are quite lucky that the new family is actually relatives of some church friends so we have some inside connections.  Since the move I've been able to go see the house (to pick up mail) and meet the man & woman who live there and their two daughters. The littlest, who is 3,  took Lydia by the hand and drug her upstairs to see Lydia's, I mean, her new room.  It was the strangest experience but I felt much more secure that my first home, a building that houses memories of all 3 babies - their first years - would be taken care of. Of course it won't stop us from driving by to see what they've changed, and it won't stop that pain in my gut and my sentimental nature each time I think about what we left, but it's going to be okay.  As just about EVERYONE told us during the move -- it's just a house. And I agree, it's just a house.  But it was my house. 

Pine Orchard


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flashback #4: Something about the Skies


Kenny turned 40 a few months ago and celebrated in Flight.  For some reason we Wards like to take to the skies for birthdays (see blog post about my 40th hot air balloon ride.)  But Kenny was completely on his own for his sky dive jump.  He asked several friends to take the risk, but no one was willing.  We had some that were busy, others that wouldn't jump out of a perfectly good airplane, one that wouldn't until her daughter grew up (didn't want to chance leaving an orphan), and still another wouldn't risk a fall since sky dive jumps weren't covered by insurance.  I was surprised no one else jumped (hee hee) at the chance.  Including myself.  I think myself daring - but not really. 

It was a beautifully warm May Saturday and I waited, watching the skies. Our friend Bryant came out to support - so nice of him.  We were lucky enough to be there at the same time a world record was made -- we watched S.O.S (Skydivers over Sixty) break a large formation world record with 21 jumpers at the same time.  It was pretty amazing. 



It wasn't my first rodeo at a sky dive park - K also jumped with his friend Mike for his 30th birthday. I was prepared.  I liken it to watching a marathon.  You never want to do it yourself, but when you get there to watch, you almost wish you were the one signing on the "I Agree that SKy Dive Space Land is not responsible . . . " dotted line because it seems like such a bonding experience. And I say bonding quite literally since both times Kenny has jumped, he's had a guy strapped to his back. 


While you're waiting on your sky diver to jump, you basically chance a crick in your neck.  You never really know which plane is the one you're watching, which parachute is yours to snap a picture of.  Bryant and I watched every shadow of a body float down - "that's him, no, it's not.   That's him, no it's not."  Finally though, we saw a blue and white parachute float to the ground, and there was Kenny skidding to a stop.  

He was back.  He was safe.  No drama.  No spectacle. Just my 40-year-old adventurer at heart. And while I thank him for choosing family and working to support a family over all the risky things he'd like to try, and all the places he'd like to go, I'm happy he got to celebrate The Hill his way - jumping over it. 






Thursday, July 10, 2014

Flashback #3 - False Alarms




 When Elijah was born, he had a rough start.  After one night at home, we headed to Texas Children's Hospital - E wouldn't eat at all so he was dehydrated and jaundiced. We sat in the waiting room - forever - it was a Saturday and a football game was on.  I do remember that. We had to get him hydrated, and for some reason I can't recall now -  he had a spinal tap.  That was a memorable moment,
overly tired, scared and wrought with emotions with a baby only a few days old.  Not to mention the mastitis that was burning my chest.  After a few days stay at the Ronald McDonald House so we could be close to the NICU, we headed home.  He was fine - nothing dangerously wrong.

After a few months of babyhood, we encountered another problem. E wouldn't stop spitting up nor would he sleep (due to all the spitting up.)  We had every possible blanket and gadget propping his body up so he could sleep.  Most doctors passed us by because, well babies spit up a lot.  We were lucky that while at an appointment, he threw it all up just in time for our pediatrician to see it and finally believe us that this just wasn't normal.

One appointment, our doctor confronted us with the possibility that he could have cystic fibrosis - so off to the Texas Children's Hospital again to have him tested and take a sweat test.  That was fun. Again, praise God, he was fine, just some reflux that plagued him for a year and kept us running to the pharmacy for meds with a little added grape flavor.

Overall, we've been quite blessed. None of our children have broken bones, stitches, or been seriously sick.  That's probably why this past April when Elijah went to the doctor for a hurt leg and a lingering fever, we were a bit in shock as we were advised by a sweet, but very young pediatrician, to rush to Texas Children's for more screening - the fear this time - leukemia.

I wasn't in the car as Kenny took Elijah into town but I heard it was a lot of crying, a lot of fear.  We spent a good few hours sitting in the waiting room while a friend of ours, who is also a pediatrician, but not ours, stayed updated and calmly told us that sitting there is most likely a mistake.  His blood count levels were low but just not low enough to make sitting in a hospital necessary.  He didn't want to step on the toes of our doctor who was certainly trying to be safer than sorry but even I kind of put together that even if Elijah had leukemia, the results could wait until a planned appointment the next morning.  But, because we have a tendency to trust, our whole family waited and waited until the girls couldn't take it anymore. Kenny took them home and our friend Kendra stayed the night with them.  Elijah and I stayed there.

I had fantastic people watching moments while sitting on the floor at midnight in a busy waiting room with a fussy and feverish 10-year-old laying on my lap.  Sleep was next to impossible. We were pretty fed up with the whole experience and ready to leave when E's name was finally called.  I remember our doctor was odd, and reminded me of Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley, but he seemed to know what he was doing.  We (paid for) the mandatory testing and x-rays all along believing and Squiggy basically telling us, it's probably just a virus.  And it was.  And sometime around 3am, Elijah finally came home to sleep off this random false alarm.


I'm grateful it was just a false alarm.  I know other parents who haven't been so lucky so I shouldn't be complaining.  But if I'd listened to our friend, and listened to my gut, I would have saved our family a harrowing night and a spectacular $2500 tab.  If I had to do it over, yeah, I'd probably still listen to that young pediatrician and his conservative "better safe then sorry" actions. I mean who wants to be the parent who ignored the doctor's orders, but geesh, come on, young Mr. doctor - if it's truly not an emergency and can wait until the morning, for goodness sakes, don't freak out a family, or at least not our family.  I can do people watching some other day.




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our Minnesota


When you ask a kid where they want to go on vacation, most likely, they will not say Minnesota, home of 10,000 lakes. Why?  Because, well kids who live in Texas know very little about Minnesota except that it snows there.  Ask an adult who's never lived or visited, and they may whistle a little Purple Rain. 
But for us, Minnesota was our vacation spot.  Last spring, we made our plans - we were looking for a lake, outdoorsy stuff, and cool weather.  We also wanted to see K's old law school room mate, show the kids his old house, see the Twins play in newly built Target Field, and of course, ride the indoor roller coaster at the Mall of America.




Oftentimes, a trip on paper doesn't work out so well in real life.  This trip - well, it did.  It was uneventfully wonderful. After a 3-hour flight to Minneapolis, and a 4-hour drive almost to Canada, we arrived at Ludlow's Lodge, an island resort in the woods. For the first four days, I woke to open windows surrounded by trees, cool breezes, birds, and a lake in view.  Truly picturesque. And the sunsets, oh. so. beautiful.  We chose a cabin that was most like a tree house, 4 floors and K and I lived on the top.  We spent the days fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and touring the small northern town of Cook, MN.  The kids also played in the FREEZING water but not without a lot of fanfare - "MOM - I"m going to go in! I'm REALLY going in. Watch me!"  Of course right next to my shivering children were true Scandinavian kids - all blond, blue-eyed and a different kind of blood pumping in their veins who merely hung out in the freezing water like it was bath water.



I learned a great deal about my kids that week, things I already suspected, but this week really brought it home.  Despite their spirited and talkative ways at home, at heart, my kids are introverts. All of them.  There were several families at the resort, families who come every year to this place and have it all figured out.  My kids would watch these 12 or so kids their age interact but never really cared to get in the mix of it.  They were satisfied just doing their own thing.  While I pushed them to, "go play with those girls over there" more than once, they were just as content not making new friends.  They did all string worms on their lines together and laugh at the fish wriggling off their hooks, but as far as bff's - not this week. It was an interesting study for me - and since I love to analyze . . . and talk . . . I did.

The rest of our vacation was spent in the twin cities - doing all the things we hoped to do.  We visited with Kenny's law school room mate, Erik and his wife, who I'd never met and who I really liked and the kids, my introverted kids, really took a shine too.  We sat through a 2 hour rain delay and watched the TWINS (at least the first 5 innings) who went on to win 3 straight games after a long losing streak. We experienced that MALL, took the girls to the Barbie Experience, found the store that sells the best caramel ever (Tina and I found it years ago and I haven't been back since college), and we rode those roller coasters.  Perfect.

On our last day, we had to take the kids by Kenny's old house and to see the Minnehaha Waterfall.  Not only for the silly name, but because some 16 years ago, Kenny stumbled upon this waterfall completely frozen, gorgeous, and snapped a picture.  That picture has sat on our shelf for years.  We wanted to see it again.
It was one of those days - one of those Norman Rockwell days. For Texans, I liken it to that first cool day in October when you can't help but be outside.  The Twin Cities' folks had a record-breaking cold winter, then a deluge of Spring rain, so on that day, our one day to explore Minneapolis, every. single. person was out to feel the sunshine and I was wrapped up in it.  I was ready to buy a house that day and start a new life in this awesome city, with these sweet little homes that has a Lutheran church and school on every corner.

Of course, I had to remind myself that I dislike the cold something fierce and so I quickly shook my Twin City fantasy as we headed back to the airport for our flight home.

I loved our little trip, even more so because it was in Minnesota and not a typical tourist spot.  I asked the kids where else they'd like to go so we could plan a spot next year and I got a great answer.  I think it was Lydia who said, "We don't know what there is to see!"
I can't wait to show them.

I love to travel, despite my fear of flying that I try to hide from my children.  It happens often that I get the itch to go somewhere, anywhere else but where I am.  There is nothing better for the soul then a new landscape, new weather, new history, and new people.  And there's nothing better for a family then taking that adventure together, and bringing it back, tired and exhausted, to this place we've carved out called HOME.

And then make plans to do it again, somewhere new.

Some more favorite Pics:













Thursday, June 12, 2014

Flashback #2: The Hills Are Alive


     In December of last year, an announcement went out to all students at Lutheran South that the Spring drama would be The Sound of Music -- and any student who wanted to try out, could.

     We, or me, really and my kids by extension, are a musical-loving family so I asked all three kids if they wanted to try out.  They knew the movie, some of the songs, so if there was ever a play to try out for, this seemed like the one. Lydia wanted to.  I couldn't believe it, but she did.

I wasn't able to watch her tryout, but one night at bedtime, I did record her two songs and 30 second speech she was going to give for the tryout. It's a bit long and Lanie jumps in a few times, but I'm glad I have it to add here at the end.


I didn't want Lydia to get her hopes up since I heard 57 kids were trying out in all, and she
didn't. She would have been okay if she wouldn't have been chosen. I think that's what made everything so magical when I got the email that she was invited to a callback, and then the final email, that yes, my shy, quiet 7-year-old got the part of the littlest Von Trapp, Gretl.  What a shock it was and so perfect for her. I really have to thank Wyatt Schulz, the director, for putting so much faith in her and for really building her up throughout the process.

Of course when we agreed, we had absolutely no idea how much work it would be.  The month of April is a complete blur as K and I organized pick up around her new schedule.  We often said, "if we can just get to the end of April . . . ."  I learned quickly that drama is intense - not only the practices, but the preparation - getting costumes, building a set, writing bios and for me -- trying to take off work so I could be there for every performance.


I will tell you though - Lydia LOVED it. Every minute of it.  Because she was the littlest, the high school girls treated her like a pre-schooler, carrying her around, braiding her hair, doting on her little-ness, giving her the Most Attention she's ever had.  And while I did remind her a few times of who she was, she handled it all like a champ.

We have so many friends to thank for taking time to come watch one of the performances.  It made it so real to have people she loves in the audience watching her.  For those who came more than once - double thank you -- because it was a lo-o-ng show.  I didn't mind.  I will be honest, I cried at least once in every show.  Something about watching your little girl sing on stage, watching her actually know her lines, watching her play out in public what she does in private all the time - perform, and watching her do something, to be honest, I never thought she'd do.  Talk about proud.  I was bursting.

With this play, and the number of children who watched it, we have a whole new crop of kids who are singing Do-Re-Me, Edelweiss, and The Lonely Goatherd.  In fact, little Addie - age 3 was in my Sunday School class last week and when I asked what song the kids wanted to sing - think Jesus Loves Me or Zaccheus was a wee little man, she says in her little voice, "Waindwops on roses."  And while I sang the Jesus Hokey Pokey instead, I loved her for requesting it.  The Sound of Music changed our lives for a month or two.  It definitely changed Lydia's and gave her confidence in her abilities, but also drew her closer to the high school girls who I would love to thank for being such great role models for her.  It's corny, I know, but the whole experience has been "One of My Favorite Things" this year.

For all those who came to see the play, Thank you!


 


   




The Practice Try-Out (It's 4 minutes long, but so glad I have it.)




Saturday, May 24, 2014

Flashback #1: The Diamondbacks


I feel like I've done several baseball posts in the past, but this year has been different than other years for Elijah.  This spring we have been immersed in little league but for E, one of only 3 10-year-olds on a team of 11-year-olds, it's been a whole new experience.            The kid works so hard but he admits, he doesn't LOVE baseball the way he does other sports.  This is his first year to spend a lot of his time in outfield, sometime on the bench, and a few times at 2nd base.  At the beginning, I was a bit miffed - doesn't his coach know he's a 1st baseman, that first is all he's ever played.  But after I watched a few games, I realized, the players coach chose for those important spots really deserved them and Elijah would have to learn to sit in the background a bit.  They won their first 4 games and as Elijah likes to say, "that's more games than my team won last year the whole season!"  He was pleased and didn't mind sitting out, or being in center field.  And for this mom who began the season frustrated, relaxed and actually enjoyed not having to worry that my son would have to make the big play or that he would be the one to miss the base out.  I just got to watch kids play baseball and cheer on Elijah when he was up to bat and tell him how fun it was to watch him play when it was all over.  It's been pretty free-ing.

And since I've waited until now to post about his team - we got the good news that they made it to the district tournament - by the skin of their teeth, but they made it and we start next week.  No matter the outcome of the tournament, this season will definitely go down as the least stressful, at least from the viewpoint as a fan in the stands.  I could go on and on about all the other stresses of our Spring -- but that's never fun to talk about.  So I'll end here.

Go Diamondbacks!!!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Oh, Marilla. How much you miss!"

If anyone knows this line, then you're a kindred spirit (as Anne Shirley would say.) But this line from Anne of Green Gables keeps playing in mind every time I see my little blog sitting in my favorites bar completely untouched.  In the book/movie, Anne asks Marilla if she'd ever imagine life differently from what it is and when Marilla says no, Anne whose life is one big imaginative escape, can hardly believe it.

So I speak the line to myself -- Oh, readers (of this little family blog), how much you've missed, and how much I will miss if I don't start putting picture to screen and pen to paper.

You may remember I had the dilemma of defining Love in the Library - is it a place for quips, fine writing, deep questions and solutions, memoir-like storytelling --- the answer, no.  Because those things - they take time.  I will have to settle for pics and straight info just so I can overcome my fear that I will never, ever start writing again.  I'm frustrated that journaling has taken a back seat to everything else, but I kind of knew it would.  I knew when this started, that spending hours at Panera pounding out some Ward family moment would be short-lived.  I don't have the commitment - but I'm so glad for those who do because they inspire me.

With some guilt and some inspiration from other blogs I've read lately, I'm going to play a little catch up.  Short but sweet snippets, that's all, until I get my Anne-like imagination and typing fingers back.  Thanks for hanging on and checking in now and then.

What a symbolic picture to start my flashback series -- me climbing a mountain.  Okay, it's just a rock wall, but still - March, April and May have been a steep climb of kid activity, sickness, parent visits, friends with real problems that far outweigh ours, work and lots of discussions that went like this: "How in the world are we going to do this?!" and things like, "Are we ever going to eat at home?" and more things like, "When April is over, THEN I'll relax which was followed by, when May is over, THEN it'll all be good."  It's definitely been a climbing-barefooted-uphill-over-nobby-rocks kind of Spring.

But we've hung on -- and little by little, as time allows, I'm going to write it down.



Friday, March 28, 2014

They Always Win


I'm late to work every day.  Every. Single. Day. That may not come as a surprise to anyone since I'm well known as being a bit tardy.  My principal at South, Mike, used to always say as I walked into faculty meetings, "Well Jen's here, now we can start."  I get it. I deserve any criticism when it comes to being late in most cases, but not in this case.  I wake up in plenty of time to leave for work, battle the highway, and plug my teacher # into the computer right on time.  But I don't. Instead my drive is a hurry-and-go-switch-lanes-watch for cops kinda drive.

And this daily #@* of a drive is because, well, because no matter what - my kids win in the morning.  If I fly around the breakfast table giving kisses and wishing them a good day at school, my intentions are to leave the house.  But, with just one whiny, but sweet, "fix my hair, mama" and seconds later I'm brushing hair and searching for ponytail holders.  I can't seem to leave them.  I can't seem to get out of the door.

I think it comes down to this. I don't want them to ever think that I put work before them.  But as much as I want that to be true, I still have to miss their morning rush and afternoon fallout.  What will they remember when they are 15, 20, 25-years old and looking back?  Will they remember those 7 years I stayed home and volunteered for every job, was present at every event, and was around for pretty much everything that ever happened to them?  Or will they remember that one year when mom decided to get a J. O. B. and she always rushed out during breakfast unable to chauffer them on that long drive to school like the old days. And even though we've been working through these changes for seven months now and we have the schedule down pat, it's still not easy.  It's not easy to give those minutes of their time to someone else.  Those minutes right after they walk out of school and have three thousands things to say between them, to someone else's ears.

But we've all settled into the routine, and I have my role, K has his, and the kids have theirs and no one is the worse for wear, but ya'll, it's tough.  And if you know how to do it, how to erase that g u i l t thing, I'm all ears.  Because I want them to win. Every. Single. Time.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The End of an Era




Some good things must come to an end.  Tonight I'm pondering all the many things in my life that have found their ending. Some of those conclusions came without fanfare, but most of the time, almost all the time, for me, endings come with fear and hesitancy, and a little bit of sadness.

Earlier in the school year, I had to come to terms with a major ending in our life - the ending of all things preschool -  no more daytime preschool rec classes, no more Tuesday morning library time, Mother's Day Out and preschool - done, and any other daytime activity created with a stay-at-home mom in mind. I think the moment I first recognized that that era was really over was the first day of Sunday School for this 2013-14 school year. Since 2005, when Elijah was 2 and started SS classes, either me or Kenny have walked one or two kids down the preschool hallway.  When I realized all three were now in one building, in one hallway, it actually made me tear up.  I had no reason now to visit with the teachers who taught preschool, or apologize to them for our kid being late.  That stage was over.  I now have all elementary-aged kids, all grouped together.  And while I don't want to jump the gun, in just a few years, we will again be straddling two age brackets, two school buildings, two school schedules.  
It's just enough to make me run kicking and screaming from all this growing, all these new beginnings and sad endings. 

And now, speaking of sad endings, my entire reason for writing tonight was to give praise to two great coaches (Kenny and Coach Jon), and 5 years of coaching boys basketball through UPWARD. Five years of working together, of getting to know one another, and for a family to build a friendship together. They took 4 and 5 year-old preschool tikes and through the years have helped them develop into boys, both in faith and basketball skills. Our boys are now in 4th grade, and if all goes well, Elijah will try out for the Lutheran South 5th grade boys' basketball team next year and will give up those two month's of Saturdays playing UPWARD ball with some wonderful, and amazing faith-filled families.  
Coach Jon will always be Elijah's favorite coach (not counting his dad, of course) and we are thankful to UPWARD for putting Elijah on coach Jon's team so many years ago.  That one year when Kenny told Jon, a mere stranger, "Hey, I'll help out if you need me" turned into another year, and then another, and another, and another. Now, these two guys coach like the best of them and I will greatly miss getting to watch them in action, their enthusiasm, their fun, and their kindred spirits. 

Thank you UPWARD -- we are so grateful to you for our friends, and for making the months of January and February so much more exciting & busier than they ever would have been. 
It has been our pleasure. 





But never fear ---
We Still have Lydia -- and coach Kenny has found a new niche - coaching girls.









Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Slight Corners


I took a day off of work to spend with Lanie while her teachers went to a conference.  As is tradition for all Ward kids in Kindergarten, I spent the day doing what she wanted.  After a double block bike ride, we spent our free time at the zoo.

Last year, when Lanie and I spent a l-l-o-t-t of time together, this Houston day of fun would have been expected, run-of-the-mill, and most likely taken with a group of friends, and I would have rushed her to and fro and spent more time talking to the adults and letting the play date of kids take their own course.

But on this one Friday, with just me and Lanie exploring at our own pace, and with just each other to talk to, I learned something quite obvious.  When Lanie is in charge of an audience of one, life is simple.  She's a gem - easy-going, no dramatics.  With the exception of a rush to giraffe feeding time, we walked a slow step.  We waited in a line for expensive zoo food without complaint.  We spent an unusual amount of time watching bats eat apples, and an armadillo run, surprisingly fast, on spindly legs. And we could skip the snake and spider building, because who really likes to see that - not us.

I don't know if it was that day or maybe it's been happening without my notice, but I have this strange feeling that my Lanie, my "Oh, mercy - Lanie!" has turned a slight corner.  She seems just a little bit more grown up, a little bit more focused on school work, a little bit more independent, and just a little bit, well, easier.  And when you have our lifestyle, when on any given night we have 5 places to be, just a little bit easier is just what we need.