Family Moments Archives

May 9, 2008

Counting down

Well we have about three days until we leave for our three month jaunt to Costa Rica. I’m trying to pack and organize the multitude of things that must be done before a big trip. Each time we do this I have a goal of spreading the must-do list out over a longer time and trying to ensure I am not racing around like a crazy woman the day before. We’ll see on Monday but heck why break with tradition -- perhaps the last minute cyclonic activity is part of the fun of traveling.

Another issue I find before leaving for an extended trip is how I start to look at my home and find greater satisfaction and joy in it. I almost nostalgically pat my bed and favorite places to sit and read, thinking how much I will miss them. I look fondly at the plants and imagine how they will have changed by the time we arrive home.

I was comforted to read Frances Mayes sharing the same conflicting emotion. In a Year in the World she wrote “The need to travel is a mysterious force. A desire to go runs through me equally with an intense desire to stay at home. The balance just slightly tips in the direction of the airport.” Funnily enough I read this while waiting for a plane last week at LaGuardia airport. The airport was very chaotic and I was tired from two days of intense (but good) work. I was thinking quite negatively about why we do this and thinking fondly of home. But after boarding the plane, from which I was debarking in Dulles, I heard it was continuing on to Buenos Aires. I found the desire to be on that plane and heading to Argentina quite intense. The travel bug is deep!

But to celebrate our lovely home here in Tennessee and remind us of how lucky we are to live here, I am putting in a few pictures from the last two weeks. Now back to list-making and last minute shopping!

May 15, 2008

Max at Atlanta airport


Continue reading "Max at Atlanta airport" »

June 3, 2008

Jacob leaves

Well I should be grading papers as we hope to head to the beach tomorrow for a few days. We had planned to go last week but were rained out from two tropical storms hitting. About 900 people’s homes were damaged in the Guanacaste area and the rains caused local mudslides but we didn’t see anything too destructive around our house.

We were up early as Jacob (our 18-year-old) left to fly back to the US after spending three weeks here. His plane took off (hopefully) about 15 minutes ago and he will be picked up in Atlanta by his older brother Sam. Mark and he figured out the exit visa payment -- $26 per person to leave the country. You pay at a main desk in the airport and everyone has to pay in order to leave. In other countries this is levied into the price of the ticket but here is separate.

We are all sad about Jacob’s leaving but so glad he could come for at least three weeks. Having experienced his older brother leaving home last year (well I’m actually in denial of this and like to think of him just being on a sleep-over somewhere), I am very cognizant of how short a time we have with our children living at home. All our travel memories include the boys; from Sam at 6 months fast asleep on an Amtrak train that had broken down in the middle of the Arizona desert to trying to wrestle a double stroller, newborn and toddler on and off the subway in London (including Mark carrying them all up a huge, steep and broken escalator to get out of the subway). Travel is not always easy or glamorous with babies and young children but somehow it gets into their very being and senses even at such a young age. Plus we have found having children is a gateway into being more accepted and part of new communities. Playing at the local playgrounds and pools gets children and parents interacting with new friends. We have had waiters pick up our children and carry them off to feed them snacks and treats that we hadn’t thought of ordering. Sharing a tired smile with another mother when your toddler is throwing a big fit about leaving the park connects you to moms from every culture.

So it feels full circle to see our 18-year-old take off on his first international flight alone. Knowing Jacob this is just the first of many journeys. I know all parents say this about their children but he really is an incredible young man. I learn so much from him as he quietly seeks to make the world a better place. He is an activist who doesn’t shout or yell or make others feel bad but rather just gently tries to model a different path. I have tried to talk him out of some demonstrations or events because I’ve been worried about his safety but he just explains the steps he has taken to be safe and manages to reassure me. Anti-KKK rallies, Food Not Bombs, Gay-Rights marches and more. He lives peacefully and gently in the world and tries to get others who don’t practice such tolerance to change.

Let’s just hope he and his brother who is house-sitting (see I said he was only on a sleepover) manage to get along for the next two months in peace – while figuring out who is going to cut the grass! He's also a wonderful photographer and has taken most of the photos so far on the blog so let's hope I can continue in his talented footsteps.


July 28, 2008

Home "safely."

We decided to leave a few weeks early and so arrived home last week. It was an interesting re-entry back to US and home base. I thought I was ready to leave Costa Rica because between the scary driving, threat of crime and high prices, I was thinking longingly of home.

Today though something horrific has happened in my home and I am alternately wishing I was back "safely" in Costa Rica and very glad to be here. Our loved Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist church was the scene of a shooting today. A gunman entered the church with a guitar case which he opened up and randomly fired at people who were innocently watching a big children's production of Annie during our service.

My family was not at the service although last night we had discussed going. This morning we were still feeling lazy so stayed at home and made muffins in our pjs. Why we make these decisions and how the smallest decision can change our entire life is a total mystery and scares the heck out of me at times such as this. Even my 18 year old son who normally attends every week did not go as he was staying at a friend's home.

As of now one person is dead (he put himself in front of the shooter to protect children) and a few others are clinging on. One of them is a mom of two adorable little boys who were sitting next to her in the sanctuary when it happened. Please hold them and all the congregation in your hearts. We are going to need some healing here.

I cannot help but compare this to Costa Rica. There we lived with an armed guard 24 hours and the worry of theft and car jacking etc. I wrote previously about how draining that was but you know it is crime that I can understand. People are very poor and steal to provide for their families and themselves. I can even understand the thefts to gain money to support their drug or alcohol problems. But senseless and random shooting at children and parents in a church is just incomprehensible. No words for it.

July 29, 2008

The Sun Will Come Out

As I posted yesterday, our UU church was the scene of a tragic shooting this Sunday. Two people are dead and others seriously hurt. Our friend Tammy is still in critical condition but the news is positive so we are hopeful she will be back to laughing and chasing preschoolers around the playground soon.

Last night two of my sons and I attended a big candle light vigil held at the neighboring church. The parking lot was full so we had to walk through our church to get there. It was actually very healing to do so but incredibly sad. There is an aura of heaviness now. The other church was packed with people. I started to notice many women wearing head scarves and men in yarmulkes and to realize I didn’t know a lot of these folks. It turns out the local mosque and synagogues, plus other local churches, had rallied together to bring large amounts of food to nourish our community and be of support. There were hundreds of people of varying faiths coming together in this large Presbyterian church just to hug us, hold candles, listen to our laments, and demonstrate in their presence the support for goodness and love of all.

Our minister spoke and the president of the UU church, Rev. William Sinkford gave a moving speech and shared that at the same time we were having our candle light vigil, other UU churches around the world were doing likewise. This really impacted my 13 year old Ben and helped him to recognize and feel joy about being a part of such a large and wonderful community. At the end of the service the song The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow started to play and the children who had practiced so hard and were putting on the play Annie went up on stage. They sang that song with such determination and hope it had most in the audience in tears again. Good shines through.

The gunman killed our congregants because he doesn’t agree with our open stance to accepting and loving everyone. He disagrees with being “liberal” and is anti-gay. Well what a showing last night to present a visible force against such hatred and negative ideology. Many of the represented religions may disagree with elements of our beliefs but our shared belief in loving and accepting all and seeing the goodness in life was what came through last night as we all stood holding candles to light our world. One mentally ill and deranged person can not stop goodness from going forward. The sun WILL come out – hatred isn’t going to stop that!


Here is a link to the recording from the candle light service of the kids and congregation singing Tomorrow. I am so privileged to be part of such an amazing group of people.

August 10, 2008

Our church

Just wanted to say thanks to all the people who have sent their messages of hope and good thoughts to our family and our congregation. There have been so many good things to come out of something so awful that it shows the power of love and peace.

Our friend Tammy is the only person left in the hospital and she has been moved to the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center and is doing pretty well all things considered. The love and strength of her family and friends is a testament to Tammy's own positive traits and the care she has shown others in the past. Fingers crossed she will be home soon.

The minister of our church when I first joined was with us all last week which I know many people found helpful. She wrote a lovely article for the Washington Post which I'm going to put in the extended entry here as the link isn't working for me now. I think it again shows the way Knoxville came together to show care and love. That has been very powerful for our own family.

Continue reading "Our church" »

August 21, 2008

Max's big news

Have to include this photo of Max (5) as it shows his big news. Last week he lost both his bottom two baby teeth! He is very excited about it and has Charlotte shine the flashlight into the cavities to check for the new teeth almost hourly.


January 19, 2009

Jacob is off to Peru!

My second son Jacob, 19, is heading out tomorrow for Peru. He is going to spend almost two months working in an orphanage there. As homeschoolers we have always talked about a culminating experience to celebrate graduation. Not a mission trip as that is not part of our belief system, but a launching into the world trip.

I think this will do it!

The orphanage he is working at is near Cuzco in the Sacred Valley.

I am embedding a video from YouTube. Hope this works!

April 10, 2009

Easter fun

We had a great Easter this year with the whole group around. We even had the pleasure of our soon-to-be daughter in law (wedding in July!) and her parents. They are lots of fun. Weather was great so we pulled tables together out on the deck and ate a huge meal, including good ceviche and wine and chatting.

Afterward the kids all had Easter egg hunts and games including egg and spoon races:



May 12, 2009

Charlotte starts ballet


Charlotte has wanted to start ballet for ages. Put her near a stage and she immediately dances and sings! It has been a fight to get her out of the outfit!

May 13, 2009

Our Additional Family Members

Thought we would share a few pictures of our additional family members. Our still loved old guy was Charlie (seen here with Max when he was about 2 years old) who died on the same day I found out I was pregnant with (now) Charlotte -- no one tell her she was named after the dog!


Here is said Charlotte with our other older guy, George (he's 10 and she's 3). Lovely George puts up with many different outfits and play times each day. He particularly enjoys tea party when he gets biscuits.



Then there is Tallulah who is about 5 years old. We got her from a border collie rescue group after she and her sister were dropped off at a kill-shelter in Georgia. We think she was a farm dog as she knows some commands but does not know how to play with toys. She's a sweetie but very driven to herd and spends her days staring and stalking the cat!


And then there is the stalked cat. She couldn't care less about Tallulah and occasionally hits her on the nose to remind the dog that cats are in charge!


I won't bother with all the gerbil or small animal pictures as they don't sit still long enough in costumes to be really exciting!

Last one is Max with Tallulah. Both had fallen asleep under my desk as I worked!


August 21, 2009

Charlotte and Noodle

A new friend from ballet class gave Charlotte a princess hat and the next day she saw a cat-sized matching one in a store. Too good to pass up although I think the cat wishes someone would turn into a frog!



This is a summer of change and one in which the term roots and wings is beginning to seem like a bad idea -- no more wings for my kids!

Jacob left this morning to move into the dorm in his Atlanta university. I've called him twice and he's called me twice so we are even. It's an exciting time and I think will be a good fit for him but is hard on mom (and siblings -- Charlotte shed tears when she woke this morning and he'd already gone). Sam will be moving to Denver next week so we get to go through it all over again.

I found some old family beach photos that I thought would be fun to post. Good reminders of the many trips and joys we have shared and hopes of many more to come! Forgive my wandering into the past but the changes make a mom sentimental.

Three here from Scarborough beach in England -- about 1990-92. My home and birthplace and somewhere the older two boys loved.




Moving on in years -- some memories from Hawaii:


Then Jacob (the biggest) and Ben in Khorfikan, United Arab Emirates:


And lastly a teenage Sam parasailing in Malaysia:


June 4, 2012

Big news

OK this is way more exciting than pictures of buildings and before anyone faints I will share this is my first grandchild!!

Sam and Erika are pregnant with first baby. How exciting.


I am seeing more and more reason to head back to Paris for a few days as I have shopping to do!

We are exploring a name for me to be called. I am not a granny thank you very much:)

Ideas welcomed.

June 24, 2012

Love this

My sister says this should be our family motto and I agree!


March 30, 2013

Darwin the Easter "bunny."

Our first Easter in Dubai, Jake and I decided that on a trip to Abu Dhabi we would visit the pet souk and get a bunny for the Littles who were seriously missing their dogs in the US. However we made the mistake of holding a floppy eared beagle instead of the bunny and immediately fell in love. After turning over ridiculous amounts of money (we are normally shelter-dog people so this was painful and against our regular values), we drove home with this guy.

Continue reading "Darwin the Easter "bunny."" »

June 8, 2014

US visit

I went back to the US for a week to visit family. Most importantly to spend time with my first grandson who is of course the smartest and most wonderful toddler EVER!


We flew direct on Delta from Dubai to Atlanta (15 hours) and then onto Tampa. Delta was OK but no cleaning of the bathrooms so that was unpleasant. I think possibly breaking the journey in Europe is better. There are only so many movies I can watch in one sitting!

Jet lag is so much fun. Anyway unpacked mostly and now am repacking as we leave in 3 days for our two month excursion to S. E. Asia. More to come on that.

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year


Dubai manages to amaze constantly and the New Year fireworks were impressive -- the Littles and I watched on live television from our comfy villa though. Older boys were out and about with their uncle and friends. Braver souls than I am to delve into 1.5 million people expected were out watching fireworks at both the Burj Khalifa and Burj al Arab.

It's another beautiful morning though this January 1. I will miss this view when we leave here in 3 weeks. I am not sure where next New Year's Eve will be spent (Florida probably) but I am hoping for another year as amazing and wonderful as this one has been.


Wishing the best to everyone.

April 20, 2015

Max's Scoliosis Journey

Well we left Dubai at the end of January to return back to Florida because of our worries about Max’s back. In May, 2014 he was diagnosed with scoliosis and prescribed a Boston Brace which was made in a tiny little shop on a side street of Dubai. The brace was very heavy and rather archaic (and expensive) and he really could not sit or live life in it and was supposed to have this on for 23 hours a day.
So after researching options, we headed back to the US for another opinion. There however they discovered his curvature had gone from low 30s to 47% plus he has kurtosis. The doctors at All Children’s Hospital (a part of Johns Hopkins) immediately said there was no option but surgery and he was scheduled in for April 23.
So now two days before that, we are trying to get all the pre-op appointments out of the way. His cardiology appointment has left questions and we have to go back tomorrow (hours before surgery) for another test plus visit with doctor. We do not know yet what that is going to uncover but hope it won’t delay surgery or be anything serious.
With Max’s permission. we are putting pictures of his back onto the blog so that he can remember what it looked like and understand how important the surgery is. We will all need to remember that with a 6-7 hour surgery ahead plus 6 days in the hospital. Then it’s going to be many weeks and months until he is back to regular level. Daunting to be facing.
Max is the most amazing young man though. When facing this he was optimistic and said, “well at least he would plenty of excuse to lie around and play video games.” He is also mid-negotiations as to how much disability pay he should be receiving if he cannot physically do his chores.
Max: Age 12. Scoliosis and Kurtosis Pictures





July 2, 2015

Max's scoliosis journey -- recovery

Well finally getting around to an updated blog post. What a year! Max’s surgery went wonderfully overall but it was a rough time for him poor guy. He was in the operating room for about 8 hours.


Continue reading "Max's scoliosis journey -- recovery" »

October 2, 2015

Continued Recovery


Love my kids. They all rallied around Max as did all his family members. His healing has gone so well.



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