Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Disturbing ...

[Just apologizing in advance for some of the fuzziness of these photos ...]

I love living here in southeastern Pennsylvania. It's where I was born and raised. I love the old houses, the sense of history, the hilly and tree-filled landscape -- esp. after spending 12+ years in the absolutely FLAT suburban jungle of Chicagoland. I love cheesesteaks, and soft pretzels, and yes, I'll admit it ... even the Eagles.

However, today I got this brochure in the mail and I found it a bit disturbing ... It is a short manual on what to do in the event of a nuclear accident!

You see, we live within 10 miles of a nuclear generating station, so we need to know about evacuation routes and what kind of safety kits we should have on hand in the case of an accident... Phoenixville is close to the southernmost "limit" as shown in this little handy-dandy diagram.

Always comforting to read something that has a headline reading "What is Radiation?" as well as "What You Need to Know About Nuclear Power Plants and Radiation"

Our phone books also contain all this information. Honestly, having grown up in the general area of the nuclear power station (although not within 10 miles), I don't worry too much about it. (After all, I didn't grow an extra arm or anything ...)

But getting brochures like this in the mail do make you think ...

If it's May in Phoenixville ...

...it must be time for the DOGWOOD FESTIVAL!!!
(Or, as Audrey used to say "the dog festabul")

The moment every kid (in Phoenixville, that is) waits for all year -- rides, ice cream, and fun with friends!

Here are Audrey & Emma riding the kiddie coaster ...

Audrey with some more neighborhood buds, Nathan & Kaitlyn

Another integral part of the Dogwood Festival is the PARADE! This thing lasts for, I'd say, about 2 hours! (rivaling Wheaton's 4th of July parade...) And people throw candy to the kids! Can it get any better??

Audrey & Carter sitting with our next door neighbor, Brianna

Carter discovers juice boxes. Thanks a lot, Miss Hillary! :)
(Just have to add - this is about the longest Carter sat the whole time-- I had the pleasure of chasing him up and down the sidewalk for the remaining 2 hours of the parade ...)

Hmm. I don't think I know that one making goofy faces in the
middle there ...

Carter & his girlfriend-to-be, Rebecca :)

All the kiddos lined up with their candy bags

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Well, today is Mother's Day. I was awakened at 7:30 by Audrey, who had a half-dozen little "presents" for me that she found in her own room and had been collecting for a number of days now - a coloring page and crayons (so I could enjoy coloring the picture myself), a piece of yarn and a few beads (again, a DIY project), some stickers, a few princess books ... all very sweet! She's been reminding Chad for days that he should wake her up early on Mother's Day so that they could make me breakfast. Well, this morning Chad got up and made me pancakes, but evidently Audrey was a little too tired to drag her hiney out of bed to help :)

After breakfast, Chad was off to church to help set up. Meanwhile, I set the kids up with an episode of Curious George and into the shower I went. I wish I had a recording of what transpired next! Within moments, Carter was in the bathroom calling "mamamamama" (fortunately I had remembered to take the toilet paper off the hanger so he couldn't unwind the whole roll!) However, he then left and proceeded to fall or something because next thing you know I heard wailing. I called Audrey about 10 times to see if she could check for bleeding or serious injury and/or give him a hug. Then I heard the wailing going up and down the hallway, searching for mama (finally it stopped so I guess he was okay). Then the smoke detector started going off incessantly (the steam from the shower sets it off if the door is open ...) I rushed to rinse and dry off to stop the insanity! So much for a relaxing morning. In these moments I tell myself that this is the life of a mother of preschoolers so just relax and deal. Otherwise, I just start feeling sorry for myself ... which of course is silly. I am fortunate and thankful to have 2 healthy, happy kids. They can't help it that they are small and needy! However, I do dream of the day that we all can go out for a nice relaxing brunch after church ...

For now, I will be enjoying the small treasures and huge hugs from my daughter, and drink in the way my son's eyes light up when I come to get him from the church nursery. That's the only "Happy Mother's Day" that I really need. :)

PS - For Mother's Day, I also got flowers late last week from Chad ... that was a special treat in and of itself!

Friday, May 9, 2008

"I am invisible"

My neighbor Kelly sent me to this a number of months ago and I found it so inspiring. In honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to share it with all the moms out there who need a little encouraging (and I am one of them) ...

PS - Sorry for the blue line to the left - not sure quite how to get rid of it (and of course don't have time to figure it out)!

To Moms and Dads everywhere,

I am invisible!

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way
one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Pick me up about 5:30, please." I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going...she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and
she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it
to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the
greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could
pattern my work:

1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of
their names.

2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

4. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of
God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird
on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost
as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease
that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're
doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Live Simply. Love Generously. Care Deeply. Speak Kindly. Leave the rest to