Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The difference between boys and girls can be summed up in this picture

Or at least, the difference between the boy and girl in this house.  I am not a fan of gender generalizations, but Gloria Steinem need only spend a morning with these two to see traditional girl/boy roles played out to the fullest.  My Frances—sweet, nurturing, forgiving, selfless, and fully-clothed.  My George—silly, rough and tumble, energetic to the nth degree, and prefers to be knickers-less.

This picture is also a pretty good representation of how the holiday weekend went at the Homiller house without the calming influence of Will (who did surprise us by coming home for dinner on Memorial Day – yippee!!).

I don’t know if it was my sheer exhaustion from the weekend or the state of my emotional health (or both), but I picked this book up at Frances’s school book fair yesterday because it made me cry real tears right there in the Kindergarten hallway.

I kept thinking as I thumbed through one animal mother love story after another, “WHO can I give this to?  WHY didn’t I see this before Mother’s Day?  I would have bought one for every mother I know.”  And so, I bought it for myself (which was really the kind thing to do after slightly soaking the pages with my sniffles).  Reading the lengths that monkeys, elephants, ducks, dogs, and even snails will go to protect their children is nothing short of miraculous and I completely identified with every single act of altruism.  A mother’s love is not only universal among humans, but universal among all living things.  It is primal.  It is genetic.  And perhaps most extraordinary, it is necessary for the survival of a species.  For all species.  Mothers are it.

Another reason I bought the book is that it is filled with quotes about mothers; and you know how I love a good quote.  Most of them are stirring, lovely, and beautiful, but this one instantly reminded me of George:

“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she rather enjoyed it.”  - Mark Twain

As always perfectly said, Mr. Twain.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. 
~Joseph Campbell

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and safe Memorial Day!

And a special “thank you” from me to those soldiers I have been lucky enough to know in my lifetime.

Friday, May 24, 2013

This and that

We have headed into a four-day weekend (school is out Friday and Monday for Frances) that promises to be low-key and low-on-Will.

My usual "Will is working HARD, people" picture

 Unfortunately, my better half is slammed at work right now and has already warned me that I may not see him in the light of day (read: never) until he emerges around June 1st.  So, the kids and I will make do without our favorite daddy-o as best we can until then.  If you are lucky enough to have your whole family around you this holiday weekend, squeeze them for me!  It’s amazing how different it is at night without the sound of Frances, George, and Will playing some game created from the inner-workings of their combined brains and yet usually involves removing all of the cushions from the den furniture.


Our yoga team at the Richmond Kickers halftime demonstration!

It was an immense amount of fun and I feel so honored to have been a part of this group.  You’ll notice a little wobble from me during the second pose (I was nervous!), but I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Next time, no wobble.


I am lucky to have found Bikram yoga, especially at this ‘advanced’ age.  Most of the yogis in the group are several years younger than I am, but are light years ahead of me in experience.  I finally have goals, ideals, and even some dreams that may or may not be attainable in this sport, but that I haven’t had since my years as a dancer.  It feels great to have a passion outside the house and completely independent of the kids.  And of course I could never do this without Will’s support – thank you!


And speaking of passion, Frances is coaching George in one of hers:

Ballet.  He is quite a willing student.

I may have a bit of an addiction to fresh flowers these days:

I blame Kroger.  When they sell them for $8 at the front door, what else is a girl to do?


Frances’s teacher asked all of the students to draw a picture of their upcoming summer plans in school the other day:

This is Frances’s interpretation of what Disney World will look like.

And the small female in the upper right corner is, “Mommy relaxing by herself in the hotel pool.”  Bless you, my child.


The mosquitos are already killing us this year.

This doesn’t bode well for June, July and August.


“Mommy, I picked you a flower.”

Fresh flowers and the cutest little boy around - what more could I want?

Happy Friday, everyone!  Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

One down, one to go

Today was George’s last day of school.

First day

Last day

*Sniff!*  His mother is little sad today thinking about how fast this year has gone, how fast he is growing (including his hair – the kid is in desperate need of a haircut), and to be perfectly honest, a little sad that I won’t have my four hours of “me” time each week.

It’s been a great year for George and he had three fantastic teachers (who I completely forgot to get a picture with today.  D’oh!).  He clung to my leg at drop-off right up until the last day, but I know he genuinely loved being there and would talk about his day for the entire 15-minute ride home from school.

I couldn’t resist giving his teachers and the school directors these adorable ‘thank you’ cards in appreciation for their patience with and sincere love of my little monkey.

The “LOVE” sign we stumbled upon at Maymont recently and I knew it would be a perfect picture to include.  The personalized cards I ordered through Walgreens for a steal (and I am warning all of my family and friends that you may be getting homemade cards from here on out – they are so easy to make).

Frances still has another month of school, so George and I will have lots of mommy/monkey bonding time while we wait for the leader of the pack to finish up.

And then, the real fun begins.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oklahoma, we love you

May you all know how much love and loss we feel for you today.  The unimaginable is here again.  Prayers that you may  find peace and comfort from those close to you and from those of us far away.

Those of us who have so much to love, have so much to lose.
- Anonymous

Monday, May 20, 2013

He's a picker, she's a grinner

We’ve been going, going, going in the Homiller House these days (just like everyone else, I imagine), but I didn’t want another day to go by without sharing two of the more fun things we’ve done recently.

George and his preschool class took a trip to the strawberry patch last week.

The strawberries had just started turning, so we had trouble finding red ones to pick; but honestly, these kids could have just run up and down the lanes for an hour and half and not cared a bit.  They just loved being together and outside.

George and one of his BFF's, Beckett

A hayride is always a big hit.

Frances had her first-ever sleepover at our house.

The girls slept in the guest room together, so Frances thought it was appropriate to provide name tags.

Carissa, her best friend since infanthood, came over for an evening of adventures.  Frances had spent the night at her house earlier this year and desperately wanted to return the favor.

It is amazing to me that after several months, these girls can pick up right where they left off.  And who are we kidding, George was in hog heaven.

With the rainy weather, an afternoon at our local indoor pool was perfect!

Carissa was a little wary of Marshall initially, but by the end of her visit she was petting him and chasing him around the house—pretty standard Frances and George dog activities.

Chef Daddy made breakfast (and took this picture)
The girls slept (maybe) 7 hours and arose around 5:30am Sunday morning.  Now that I think about, that probably explains my complete and utter exhaustion this morning.  And I don’t think I was the only one.

Carissa, only a few hours after leaving our house.  If there is anything us Homillers are good at, it is exhausting your children!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pasta with White Beans and Arugula

This is such a quick, easy, and tasty recipe that I've made so many times these last two years I thought it was high time I share it.  The arugula gives the dish that classic peppery kick and you can't go wrong with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh feta cheese for just the right amount of sweetness.  I imagine you can add chicken or salmon for a meat-ful (is that a word?) dish, but I usually count this as one of my meatless favorites.  Enjoy!

Pasta with White Beans and Arugula

16 oz package of farfalle pasta (or your favorite kind)
2 (15 oz) cans cannelli beans, rinsed and drained
1 (8.5 oz) jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 (5 oz) package fresh arugula, thoroughly washed
1 block of feta cheese, crumbled (I prefer the block feta over the pre-crumbled, which tends to be dry)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
2.  Stir together beans and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir in hot cooked pasta until blended.

Source: Southern Living (August 2009)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Eleven dancing princesses

Frances had her dance recital this past Saturday night.

Being the volunteer back-stage parent (read: sucker) my evening looked something liked this--eleven constantly moving little bodies, fifteen or so trips to the bathroom, twenty-two hair pieces continuously falling out, twenty-two wiggly feet, forty-four shoes to keep track of, and one hundred (give or take a few) tap shoe laces that needed tying at some point during the evening.

But to Frances, the evening was enchanting and included her first-ever make-up session from one of the dancer’s mothers:

The results!

Samantha, Frances and Addie - all happily made-up.

Frances’s vast fan club (Nana sans Pop—we missed you!, Grandma, Grandpa, Gram-E, Mr. Pyles, Daddy and George) kindly sat through thirty-seven dances just to watch their little ballerina perform her two numbers.

Grandpa and George, looking like twins, Frances, and Grandma.  The Pyles and my mother wisely scooted out at the earliest possible break.  Did I mention it was a long night?

Meanwhile, I was lucky enough to be backstage with the star of the show.

That little bun gets me every time.

Holding her hand, kissing her cheek, watching her interact so well with her friends—as hard as it was to contain the chaos of those eleven little girls, I will never forget how much fun it was to be in the throes of their excitement (and how much Frances loved having me back there with her, something I still can’t believe at times).  

In typical Frances fashion, she performed her moves exactly as rehearsed, watched the teacher upfront for instructions, and even sweetly reminded one of her friends onstage that she was supposed to hold her hand "now!"

If you look closely at this picture, you can see a mother whose heart is about to leap out of her chest with pride.  I still cannot believe I am the lucky one to lead this little girl through childhood.

Thank you to her fan club for coming to the looooooong show!  And a happy Wednesday evening to everyone!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The mother of all Mother's Days

This Mother’s Day, I was completely and unabashedly spoiled.

I was able to spend the weekend with my own mother, which as one of four siblings I consider that to be the greatest of gifts.  And it goes without saying that Frances and George are in hog heaven when Nana is in town (iPad, iPhone, and extra attention—what’s not to love?).

And then there was this shiny new toy rolling into our driveway on Saturday afternoon:

We finally decided on our minivan and I could not be happier!  No one can accuse Will and me of impulse purchases because we toiled over what minivan best suited us (with the final two choices being the Odyssey and the Sienna) for months.  But ultimately the Honda Odyssey was the best fit for our family and having driven it for the last two days now, I can honestly say I have no idea how we survived without it.  With a tear in his eye, Will generously traded in his eleven-year-old Honda Accord and is cheerfully driving the Toyota Highlander; so our Honda/Toyota ratio has remained intact.  But it was a little sad to say goodbye to the car that has been with us since Will passed the bar, proposed to me, whisked me away in on our wedding night, and drove the children back and forth to school (quite often) before I stopped working.

Because I am the world’s worst negotiator when it comes to personal purchases (and have zero ability to keep a poker’s face), Will bought the van completely on his own and (after nearly 8 hours of paperwork) got us a fantastic deal.  Roof racks and all-weather mats still to come! 

But my absolute favorite Mother’s Day present was this adorable video that Will made from Frances and George:

As many pictures I take of the children, I am so thankful that Will remembers to take videos.  Those Minnie Mouse voices will change before I know it and I always want to remember how George talks like he has marbles in his mouth and Frances stumbled over the word “available.”  And PS - you can tell all of this footage was filmed during breakfast because Miss F's hair has yet to be touched by Mother's evil brush.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  And a HUGE thank you to my incredible husband who made this Mother's Day the best one yet!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to my mother who has always had too much life, love, and laughter to contain in her little body.  Thank you for thirty-six years (and counting!) of being my biggest fan and supporter.  And a very special thank you for giving my daughter her incredible beauty.

Wishing all of my favorite mommies out there a Happy Mother's Day.  Enjoy your special day - you deserve it!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Our week

My apologies for being a little quiet this week.  Another lesson I’m learning as a first-time mother of a school-aged child and a preschooler is … things pick up heavily for us parents as the school year winds down.  Teacher appreciation week, dance recitals, field trips, end-of-the-year socials, end-of-the-year gifts, end-of-the-year guilt for giving the least creative teacher appreciation gifts of the class—the list is endless.  That slow summer schedule is looking better and better these days.  Of course, maybe that’s the idea—to keep us parents so busy the last two months of school we’ll appreciate a school-free 12 weeks enough not to notice that we’re slowly going crazy with ZERO childless hours in the day.  Those teachers; they are nothing if not brilliant.

Here’s a little of the collective chaos that has ensued:

Marshall had a surprise visitor this week.

My brother Henry, his original owner.  I don’t know who misses the other more.


Frances’s dance concert is this weekend and she had her final dress rehearsal earlier this week.

In what can only be described as a weak moment on my part, I volunteered to be the behind-the-scenes dance parent, so I can only see the show from the stage wings.  But sometimes that is where you get the best pictures.

And sometimes not.

George helped me take my car to the carwash this morning.

Oh, and my car will soon be known as “Will’s new car” as we’re preparing to get our minivan this weekend (fingers crossed, pretty-please, pretty-please!!).  I figured if Will is getting me a whole vehicle for Mother’s Day the least I can do is pay someone to clean the car he’ll be driving for the foreseeable future.


Frances somehow rigged Thumbelina equestrian-style on her stuffed horse, Mary.

After studying this for several minutes, I had two thoughts; 1) what in the world did she use to make this; and 2) that’s pretty darn good.

George the giant.

Seriously, I think he is easily twice the size of every other kid on the playground these days.


My yoga studio is putting on a demonstration for the Richmond Kickers (our local semi-pro soccer team) next Friday and I was asked to participate.  Here’s our first rehearsal video if you’d like to see where I spend most of my weekend time:

I am second from the left and in the unfortunate position of being between two champion yogis.  Please keep in mind, too, that at nearly 37-years-old I am the grandmother of this group.  But I am so proud of my grandkids—they are an incredible bunch!


In honor of Mother’s Day, Frances’s school had “Muffins with Mom” this morning.

Or as we like to call it, “Muffins with Mother and George.”

Silly girl!

Happy Friday, everyone!