Tag Archives: siblings

Weekend Snapshots 60: Hoop Dreams Edition

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Friday

My daughter has been pining for a basketball hoop for ages. I was dithering, mostly because the thought of having to put it together filled me with dread. When I was shopping around, I saw that it was possible to pay someone to do the assembly and I seriously considered it. On Friday I picked my daughter up after her quartet/violin recital practice and we finally went to pick up her long-awaited basketball hoop. I asked the kids for help getting the box out of the back of the car. To my surprise, they not only got it out of the car, they immediately got to work assembling it.

They worked for as long as they could, using flashlights until they finally gave up for the night.

I helped too, obviously…by holding a flashlight.

Saturday

My daughter spent the morning diligently warming up for her violin recital…

As always, her big brothers did their best to help her keep her eye on the ball.

We were running early, so we killed a few minutes at the library, which happens to be right next door to the church where the recital took place…

We picked up a couple of Pocket Poems on our way out of the library…

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Show time!

Quickie post-recital haircut…

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…aaaaand back to work!

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I was feeling guilty for letting my kids do all the work putting the hoop together. I knew I should really lend a helping hand. I rolled up my sleeves and started to peel the plastic off the backboard. A gasp of outrage and betrayal stopped me dead in my tracks. I turned around to see my kids staring at me as if I had just kicked a kitten.

“That’s the best part! We’ve been saving that up for last!!”

“OH! Sorry!!”

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I went to meet my friend for dinner and a concert to take a break from my labors!

IMG_3908In keeping with the astronomy theme presaged by the Walt Whitman poem I had randomly picked at the library earlier that day, we heard Gustav Holst’s The Planets and Kaija Saariaho’s Orion.

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Sunday

After church it was back to work on the basketball hoop…

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The appreciative siblings gave the honor of making the first basket to the boy who did the lion’s share of the work:

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And then it was game on!IMG_3943IMG_3944IMG_3946IMG_3948

“True story,” I told my kids. I got my first ‘C’ ever because of basketball. We were doing a basketball unit in P.E. and your grade for the quarter was based on the average of a bunch of different layups. Every time you missed the basket, your grade would go down by a whole letter. So I ended up with a ‘C’.” My daughter sent the ball in my direction. “Here Mama, let’s see if you’ve improved!”

 

 

I got a B! I got a B!

 

 

 

 

Surprise Symphony

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For the past couple weeks, my son has been playing his own arrangement of Haydn’s Surprise Symphony (Symphony No. 94) on the piano. He was amused to read an account that said Haydn added the dynamic of a startling thunderous chord in an otherwise quiet, flowing movement to wake up a snoring concert goer. The anecdote appealed to his inner pranskter, and it’s been entertaining for me to listen to him work out how to play the piece. I can hear him snickering every time he gets to the surprise chord. One evening he burst out laughing when the antic chord had its intended effect on our dogs, who had hitherto been peacefully snoozing in the library. My weekend ended with this scene…I found him teaching his sister how to play it on her violin:IMG_4880IMG_4879IMG_4877IMG_4873

Soccer Siblings

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Soccer has been a huge part of our lives for so many years…

The kids have bonded over their shared love of the sport…

I’ve loved watching them play together any chance they could get.

It was especially entertaining to watch them play soccer in the driveway of our old house, which, like so many homes in Charlottesville, sits on a sloped lot. They developed some mad skills as they attempted to shoot goals into a net perched at the top of our steep driveway.

For years the kids have been cheering each other on from the sidelines, analyzing each other’s plays and offering up post-game commentary…

They’ve warmed each other up before games and during half times…

They’ve congratulated each other on games won, and commiserated with each other over games lost…

We’re down to two players now. After many years of playing…

…the 13 year old officially announced his retirement at the end of the season last year.

This season, my oldest son has been getting in his required service hours for high school by helping out with his little sister’s team:

On Saturday her team lost their first game in two seasons. It was a miserably cold and rainy morning. By the end of the game, my daughter was a sopping wet, muddy mess. We were all chilled to the bone after standing out in the rain for over an hour.

But for me, watching this pre-game warm-up drill made it all worthwhile:

 

Texting with the Harpies…

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The internet can be so alluring and yet so utterly revolting all at the same time. Not too long ago I was obsessed with watching nesting eagles on a livecam. The first time I watched, I saw the mama eagle feeding a headless-yet-still-flopping fish to her fuzzy little eaglets. It was shocking and gruesome, yet I couldn’t stop myself from constantly checking in to see how the eaglets were getting on. A couple days later I got a message from the friend who turned me on to the livecam in the first place. She was traumatized by what she had just witnessed on the livecam and was writing to both process the horror and to warn me not to check in on the nest for a while. She told me that she had just seen a “fluffy black cat” being served up to the eaglets for dinner. I never tuned in again.

Another friend recently posted this CBS News story entitled, “Scientists create toe, belly button cheese from human bacteria.” I mean, come on, who’s not going to click on that?! I gagged as I read through the article and then immediately bestirred myself to share this important news with the three people in the world I knew would appreciate it the most: my Wheat Belly Sisters and our Crossfit/Paleo-Brother.

Another beautiful moment brought to you by the Interwebs…

The Snow Queen and Other Snow Day Tales

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With a son in high school and another in middle school, we’ve been flirting with the idea of letting all three kids stay at home alone without adult supervision. I know it might strike some as ridiculous that this would even be an issue at this point. As an eleven year old still in elementary school, I was babysitting infants. As a “safety patrol” armed with nothing but a frayed vinyl orange belt and a cheap badge slung over my scrawny little shoulder, I was in charge of a whole bus stop full of kids far from the watchful eyes of any of our parents. But that was a very different era. These days in our peaceful little neighborhood nestled in the bucolic countryside, I sometimes see parents waiting at the bus stop with their high school-age kids.

"The Voyage of Life: Youth," Thomas Cole, 1840.

“The Voyage of Life: Youth,” Thomas Cole, 1840.

The last time we asked the boys if they would feel comfortable staying home alone and in charge of their little sister, they looked at us wide-eyed with fear and vigorously shook their heads. Could it have been the fact that we began the discussion with exhortations to hide if they heard anyone at the door, to NOT answer the phone unless they recognized our number, and to call 911 IMMEDIATELY if their sister so much as coughed a little? Could it have been the scenarios we role-played in which evil sickos disguised as sweet old grannies would plead with them to open the door, because their car had broken down and they were hurt and needed to come in to use our phone and by the way they had a cute little puppy and sacks full of candy too? Possibly.

"The Voyage of Life: Manhood," Thomas Cole, 1840.

“The Voyage of Life: Manhood,” Thomas Cole, 1840.

We were very close to finally taking the plunge last week when the fairly modest snow we got here in Charlottesville shut down the school system for an entire week. Every day last week I would get a text from the county announcing that school would be closed for another day. Like clockwork, the next text I would receive shortly thereafter would be a one word expletive in response from my husband, who would be losing yet another day of work to stay home with the kids. Towards the end of the week, his one word text bombs would literally make me LOL.

We just couldn’t quite bring ourselves to leave our nine year old daughter home alone last week, even in the care of her older brothers, and despite the fact that my son has openly acknowledged her superior level of maturity. And so my husband and I traded our daughter back and forth throughout the entire week, while we fulfilled our various work obligations. This kind of shuffling has been going on for years. Once when my husband didn’t get back home in time to take over parenting duties, I was forced to bring my infant to a class I was teaching. I’ll never forget having to change my son’s diaper in the middle of my lecture on Russian literature. I’m sure the students will never forget it either. More recently, the kids have had to spend many a snow day or sick day sitting in on their dad’s political theory lectures. I’ll be so bitterly disappointed if after all this, they don’t have enough credits to earn their B.A.s by the time they get their high school diplomas.

It snowed again late last night and early this morning. School was cancelled for all three kids, but alas NOT for the parents. This morning we debated back and forth about how to handle this latest development. Finally, we decided that it was at last time to cross the Rubicon. We would leave all three kids at home.

A little while after getting to my office, I called home to check up on them.

“Mommy?” my daughter asked as she picked up the phone.

“Yes, it’s me!” I answered, “Oh YAY! You haven’t burned down the house yet!”

MOMMY!” she replied. Did you know it’s possible to actually hear the sound of rolling eyeballs?

“Have you gotten any homework done?”

“Yep! I’ve done some math and I’m going to do some word study.”

“And what are you guys going to have for lunch?”

“Actually, we’re in the middle of lunch right now,” she replied.

“Really? Already? It’s only 11:20…”

“Yeah!” my daughter replied, “We’re having a big fat cooking showdown.”

My heart sank.

Big fat cooking showdown sounds really scary to me. Are you guys making a big fat mess?”

No. So, N and T both made me dishes and I’m deciding which one tastes the best.”

“What are the dishes?”

“T made me macaroni & cheese and N made me some delicious noodles.”

I guess I know who won the showdown. I have to laugh as I imagine the boys microwaving the  ready-made macaroni & cheese and pouring boiling water over the instant noodles and then presenting their “dishes” to their sister with a flourish. I should probably start planning my outfit for the James Beard Award Ceremony.

I also have to laugh as I envision my daughter dispensing judgement upon her loyal subjects. It reminded me of the time a few years ago when I took the kids swimming. Eventually, I noticed that the boys were not frolicking and splashing about as one might expect two carefree kids on vacation to be doing. Instead, they were assiduously taking turns giving their little sister rides on their backs and then anxiously asking her to rate their performance. It turned out that my daughter had ruthlessly pitted her brothers against each other in a  “Best Brother Contest.”

“Well…I’d say you’ve got a 7.5 so far. N gave me a smoother ride, so he gets an 8.2, but maybe you could improve your score by giving me a longer ride.”

More bitter disappointment is coming my way if that girl doesn’t become Ruler of the Universe in my lifetime…

Until then? I’m pretty sure they’re all going to be just fine.

Sitting in the Basement

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My parents, siblings and I tended to ignore the fact that our house was a mere ten minute drive from our nation’s capital and all it had to offer. When we would find ourselves together again over the holidays, we would spend every day sitting around chewing the fat, both literally and figuratively. Our all-day gabfests would be punctuated only by meals during which the conversation would move seamlessly from the couch to the table. It never occurred to us that this could be considered a squandered opportunity until our family circle began to expand. When my sister got married and her athletic, go-getter husband from New York started coming home for the holidays with her, he would pace like a caged animal while we indulged in our favorite pastime of talking and eating, eating and talking. In his frustration, my brother-in-law mournfully dubbed this particular brand of torture: “Sitting in the Basement.”

Should we go see the thriller that just came out, or hear my sister re-tell the plot? Please believe me when I tell you, my sister’s rendition was far, far more gripping than watching it on the big screen could ever be. Score one for Sitting in the Basement. Go to the Sackler Gallery, or hear my dad’s stories about life in the Korean countryside that presented us with a much more vivid picture than any painting could? Definitely the latter! By all means, and without a doubt – Sitting in the Basement! A) Go to a performance at the Kennedy Center, or B) Clutch our bellies howling with laughter through tears, desperately trying not to pee ourselves as we listened to one of my little brother’s comedy routines? B) Always, always B! Sitting in the Basement for the win! Go out to eat at a restaurant, or eat my mom’s Korean food laced with vegetables yanked out of the backyard only moments before? Hello?! Do I even have to say it? Every holiday my poor, long-suffering brother-in-law would helplessly watch his dreams of exploring Great Falls Park, hitting the museums, or just emerging into the light of day slip through his fingers and swirl away into the vortex otherwise known as: Sitting in the Basement.

These days when we get together, my brother-in-law and husband escape from the house more often, but we still get to do a lot of Sitting in the Basement. This winter break, over never-ending platters of food, my dad regaled us with more stories about his childhood and the foods they ate, or rather didn’t get to eat. In my next post, we can pretend that we’re Sitting in the Basement while I share them with you.