Thursday, May 27, 2010

Department of Tourism

Have you ever called your county's department of tourism? It never occurred to me until yesterday, when I wanted to plan a hike with my sisters and niece. When I called the department, a receptionist told me about a trail built on the original B&O RR roadbed, plus he clued me in about parking options, historical sites, and the terrain. This is a resource that I will use again!

Armed with sunscreen, water, and those delicious Nature Valley peanut bars, we set out with enthusiasm! 
After hiking down to the Patapsco River,
we splashed around,

crossed a metal suspension bridge,
and finally arrived at a roaring dam.
I could sense a calmness--almost a reverence--as the children sat on the riverbank
or stared up at the treetops.

What a beautiful, sacred earth we have. 

After we came home the boys stripped themselves of calmness, put on capes, and requested pictures of themselves jumping off the ottoman. Yes.
Here's Jacob,
and a double!
What kids! I guess they can't always be calm, but they can entertain themselves for hours, without as much as a single phone call to a county office.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


It's intense, fast, international--what's not to love? Eric and I played a walloping game on Saturday, where His Brawniness scored about a dozen tries. Here he is in action:
O.K., maybe that's not actual, actual footage. But if the other players had been able to catch him by the waist, they would have been airborne. Eric and I, my brother, dad, and son (Jacob) played on the same team and everyone on the field called us all "Raynor." I haven't been called my maiden name for a long time--it felt fun, like I was fourteen years old playing church basketball. (Also, my dad was the oldest guy out there by about 15 years, and the guy was a beast on offense--go Dad!) 

Contact sports! There's nothing like being grass-stain–slammed to the ground to say, "we're friends." Oh, here we go. I found the picture:
Good times.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Outside, inside

On Sunday we took the kids through the forest near our home to a huge honeysuckle bush, where they all enjoyed the nectar. Witness the first tastes:
Honeysuckle! It's deliciousness defies description, as do the forests here. The boys love to walk through them,
collecting sticks/butterflies/rocks/scales/flowers/bugs/rashes along the way.
The county parks are all surrounded by trees,
not to mention some handy equipment! 
(This is all four boys doubled up on the swings. The big boys wanted to be together--it took a good five minutes to wriggle them out!)
When we can't be out for long,
we spend time indoors playing (Adam crawls like a little tiger cub!),
cooking (The kid made himself Cream of Wheat on the stovetop independently--see him beam with pride!), 
and pretending (This is the "library" we set up in the living room on a rainy day--such fun!).
And sometimes we are able to take the outdoors, indoors. (Can you believe that the caterpillars we captured actually formed cocoons right in our house? Intellectually I knew that it should happen, but I somehow doubted that it really would.)
For all these little wonders, I am daily grateful. What joy.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Gentlemen, buy some flowers for your lady. Today. If you have an especially careful lady who will worry about the cost, go to a florist and choose a $4 stem and they will give you the greenery (and maybe some Queen Anne's lace!), the ribbon, and that wonderfully crinkly floral wrap for free. You probably spend $4 on some extravagance every week, and you can do without it this week. But your lady cannot do without the flowers.

If you have an additional $5 to spend invest,  go to Costco and buy a Garden Bouquet. It will bloom brilliantly all week. 
The other romantic thing is poetry. Eric knew about the flowers, and I knew about the poetry--he gets credit for both, though, because his flowers reminded me of the Wordsworth verse, "I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud." The poet describes ten thousand golden daffodils, not fifteen golden tulips, but they are both bulbs and so I've been thinking of it. The distinction doesn't matter anyway, because the poem isn't about daffodils at all; the poem, like all poems, is mostly about poetry. Poet becomes nature, and nature becomes poet--they converge and diverge throughout the piece until the reader either becomes confused of the action or aware of it, whichever he is careful enough to observe. Poetry as natural, even impulsive expression. Yes.

When you bring the flowers to your lady, she may think Romantic thoughts. Or not. But YOU will certainly "flash upon [her] inward eye." And that is why you should buy them. Today. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

Each Mother's Day I have an eagerly optimistic desire for an ideal day. For instance, I hope that
1) the newly mobile baby will not create a nauseating hot dog odor in the kitchen by smearing six baby-crumbled dogs e v e r y w h e r e;
2) a two-year-old, resistant to his church clothes, will not run out on the porch deck, un-diaper himself, and fling the said diaper over the balcony;
3) two young entomologists will not create footbridges for their pet caterpillar to access various household objects; and
4) when asked to sing with other children for our church congregation, the darlings will not poke and claw and harass each other during the entire (1-minute-long) song. 

Each of these things did happen on Mother's Day morning, when I was still recovering from a nearly sleepless night (baby, oh baby!) and feeling a little fragile emotionally. I cycled through feeling amused, then bothered, then hurt, and then even a little bit entitled. 

None of those attitudes did me any good. In fact, they made my dear ones concerned that they had failed to deliver a happy holiday for me. Soon after the singing event, I realized that I was experiencing a beautifully boldfaced motherhood experience right then--no retouching, cropping, or straightening required. This is what it is to be a mother: daily leading and maintenance of an energetic, unpredictable, and self-willed group!

I hope that they know how much I adore raising them. I recently saw Jacob hand some flowering clover to Zachary and whisper, "Mother loves these." The two picked armfuls for me during the rest of our walk. Delightfully simple acts like those,
(not to mention Eric's generous kindnesses!),
motivate me to improve my efforts daily. What joy I find in this role! Whenever I think about being a mother, I feel as if I should shout aloud for the wonder of it. 

I think that most mothers feel the same way.
Four-generation photo: Grandma Joyce (visiting from FL!), Mom, and I with the boys

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The Monocacy River bank where we spent last Saturday looks like the backdrop for a film about a boyhood summer vacation. Intuitively, the kids raced down the bank and began building structures,
searching for guppies (tell me you love the sumo wetsuit!), 
casting fishing lines,
and sampling the earth's goodness (literally).
We brought the kayak, which provided a grueling workout for Eric,
and my dad,

who all tried to conquer a 75-foot stretch of rapids with no success. My brother Brian (who is becoming quite strapping!) finally made it and so became the star of the day.
Or more accurately he became a star, since my mom also reached stardom status by preparing pulled pork sandwiches for dinner. What else could so whet a family for summer like a day at the river and pulled pork sandwiches?