Monday, June 27, 2011


The big kids and I are working through a fun kindergarten curriculum this summer called Five In a Row.  It is a literature based program with a list of 20 or so classic childrens books, one per week, everyday of the week, thus reading each book five days in a row.  Nifty, huh?  Each day is a different academic subject:  Mon-Social Studies, Tues-Language Arts, Wed-Art, Thurs-Math, and Fri-Science.

Our first book was Madeleine.  Sweet Madeleine.  So we took the week and focused on Paris and France.

Our little French flag.

We started the week with French toast and poached eggs.  Not even sure that French toast is exactly French, but it was fun and a treat for my Paleo kiddos.

Because Paris sits on the banks of the Seine River, and our lovely city sits on the banks of the Mississippi River, we took a trip to the Stone Arch Bridge in downtown Minneapolis to see the river for the first time.

 The kids had driven over the river a couple times, but we got up close and personal.

The Stone Arch bridge was the original bridge built for trains to bring grain from the northern wheat fields across the river to the mill where it would be ground into flour.  Both Gold Medal and Pillsbury have mills on the banks of the river in downtown Minneapolis.  Parts of the Gold Medal Mill have been transformed into a museum.  It really is stunning.

And windy.
One of the highlights from our little field trip was watching a ferry boat go through the lock and dam.  Definitely on our list of things to do in Minnesota.
Before we left we took a little hike down next to the water.  You should have seen the crazy woman with 3 monkeys, scaling walls and slippery rocks with one of the monkeys literally on her back.  And a fancy camera on her shoulder.  It was a memory maker for sure.

Isn't that tree the most fascinating thing!  Couldn't resist a snap.  Or two.

Tuesday I took the kids to The French Meadow for lunch and brioche.  French Meadow has got to be one of the coolest, greenest, tree-hugger friendly granola eatin' places around.  Love it.  They actually have gluten-free treats!  Who does that?

Our particular treat of Brioche had lots of yummy gluten!
 And gooey chocolate!

And this would be a classic shot of Pipe's first taste of grape fruit!

Wednesday, art day, we constructed and painted our very own Eiffel Towers!  Correction...I constructed.  They painted.
 My lovely friend Tammy Melson worked her magic on that tower!  It took the two of us all morning to put together 3 towers!

And the finished product...(drumroll, please)
To cap off the week we had the Melsons over for dinner and I made Coq Au Vin.  Sounds really fancy.  French makes everything sound fancy (and now I sound like Fancy Nancy).  Chicken in wine is all it really is.  With yummy bacon goodness, too.  And brussel sprouts.  The new Knight family favorite. 
Fun times.  So glad I get to do this with my little monkeys.  Not sure who enjoys it more...probably me.

By the way, the kids now recite Madeleine by heart!

Next stop, Japan!

Monday, June 20, 2011

My 3 Dads, Part 3

And last, but most certainly not least...Pop-Pop!
TBird was his first girl.  And, surprisingly, this father of only boys has embraced it with gentleness and kindness that she cannot ignore.

TBird:  "I love Pop because he loves us so much!"
Riv:  "I love Pop because he plays baseball with me."
Both big kids still, whenever swimming in the pool, chant, "Pray and scoop...pray and scoop..."  Pop gave them their first swim lessons.  Good going, Pop...they're little fish now!

Pipe:  Pa-Pa!
Pop is her favorite (much to Gram's chagrin)!  Who knew "Beer:30" would turn out to be such an adoring and endearing grandfather!  But you have!  And they love you for it.  As do we.

And finally, thank you for fathering the father of my children.  He learned from you to think about everything with a bit of creativity.  Boxes are meant to be thought outside of.  There are always two sides to every story.  And that has served him well in life.  Without you none of this (this being my blessed life) would be possible!  Now it is late and I am getting sappy.

Happy Father's Day!

My 3 Dads, Part 2

And my Dad...

Love this picture of my dad.  Yes, that is a racing suit he has on.  No, he isn't a professional race car driver (though, yes, I am from Talladega).  But he does like fast cars...and airplanes...and motorcycles...and speed boats.  My dad, thrill-seeker. 

But my favorite thing about my dad? 

He is MacGyver!

Even Riv will tell you...whenever anything breaks around our house, it isn't "Daddy needs to fix it.", but "We need Popaw to come fix it!"  Lee would say that the ultimate compliment for him would be "Wow, that was very Buster-like!"  Like how he re-wired the pendant lights above our island this afternoon.  Very Buster-like, indeed.

The things Lee loves most about me I got from my Dad.  He made me tough.  And taught me how to work hard.  Especially when no one is looking.

He taught me to leave things better than when I found them (doesn't always translate in my own house, but I did fill my Mom's Tahoe up with gas a couple weeks ago.).

He made me a better singer.  And has a pretty darn good voice himself.

It has been fun in recent years to watch him relax into grandparenting.

Riv:  " I love that he goes to work and then comes home for lunch."
The effort at quality time is not missed on him, Dad.  He thinks his Popaw is pretty cool.

TB:  "I love Popaw because he comes in to kiss us goodnight."
Thank you for taking the time at night when you are most tired (because you are getting pretty old) to kiss the kids goodnight.  It means alot to them.

Pipe:  Uh-huh!

Now if we could just talk you into retiring and moving to MN!  It isn't THAT cold...yeah, it is. 

Happy Father's Day!

My 3 Dads, Part 1

In honor of Father's Day, I'd like to highlight the 3 most spectacular dads in my life.  I will proceed in 3 parts, 1 for each.

Part 1:  My #1, absolute favorite Dad...the Hubs!
Hot stuff, huh?

The truth is, there is no one other person I can think of at the moment with whom I'd rather be raising these 3 monkeys.  And they are pretty pumped he's their dad as well.
So I asked them this afternoon to tell me their very favorite thing about Daddy...

TB:  "I love that he is so sweet to us."

Riv: "I love that he is so much fun with us and plays arm ball with me all the time." (Little source of parental tension there...he is quite the fun Daddy.  Which means sometimes I have to be the mean Mommy.  You get the picture.)
(Hairy eyeball example :)
 Pipe:  Hi!

And me:

I love that he frequently tells TB that she is beautiful.  And shows her lots of affection.  And is pretty much her biggest cheerleader and encourager of her free-spiritedness.  And she is his "mini-me".  Gotta love that.
I love how engaged he is with his only son.  How Riv is his favorite golf partner.  How he would choose to play baseball with him in the front yard over watching the US Open.  Now that's love.  And Rivers idolizes him for it.  What a fabulous foundation for a boy and his Dad.  I know there are days coming when that foundation will be built on and tried by the winds of puberty and teen angst and on-setting manhood.  Thank you, Jesus, for a dad to walk Riv through it all. 

I love it that, from the first moment P entered into this world of bright lights and strange noises, his voice was the only one that would soothe her.  That she will quickly reach out to him to hold her.  And laughs at his "hairy eyeball".  And mimics it comedically.  (Wish I had a picture of that one.  Assignment for tomorrow.)

I love that his favorite first thing with each of our new babies is a nap with them on his chest. (Since he worked so hard during the delivery.)

And that he would throw a punch for them if need be.  ( That one makes me a bit nervous from time to time.)

I love that he always hurries home from work to be with us because he loves being a dad.

And, perhaps most importantly, I love that he really believes it is by grace that we have been saved, not of ourselves, but as a gift from God so that no man can boast.  And he fathers like he believes it.  And knows it is only a gift of God and the working of the Spirit if our kids believe it too.  That frees me and encourages and challenges me.

So grateful for you, babe, my partner in crazydom zooville chaos! 

Happy Father's Day!

And my all-time favorite pic of Daddy Lee...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Beauty in Darkness

My Mom (Nana) and I took the kids to Desoto Caverns right before we left Alabama.  I've been plenty of times, mostly when I was a kid.  But this time...not sure of the difference...maybe mothering is heightening my sense of surroundings...and my recognition of beauty in those surroundings...I was utterly struck by the eery beauty that can exist deep below.

And found I could not stop clicking my shutter.

There are only a couple places one might experience true and complete darkness.  Inside a cave is one.

But yet...

 In the midst of total darkness...

 With every drip of water...

 ...on a piece of stone...

 Life is brewing.

A sculpture is being carved...

And to is beautiful. 

.13mm of growth per year.  Such faithful, persistent work on these pieces of art.  Beauty in darkness.  Couldn't help sharing.