Looking for a beautiful moment

I’ll confess – sometimes I’m writing a story in my head while it’s happening. I know I’m not the only writer that does this. You think to yourself, I can use this beautiful moment for content.

But that’s not how life works is it?

Since the pandemic, I’ve been visiting our local park almost daily. One afternoon, my husband and I were treated to the sight of six baby ducklings. They crowded their mama, much like my twins used to do to me.

The next day at lunch, I announce to my ten-year-old boys that we were going to do something fun and go find the ducks! It was a gorgeous sunny day without the usual Ohio humidity.

three ducks
The ducks as preteens. Photo by friend Megan.

I knew when they saw the ducklings they would love them but these days (even in a pandemic!) they often moan and whine about leaving the house. I wonder if this is foreshadowing to the teen years.

Underlying this is the fact that we’ve been trying to cut down technology all summer. A friend told me her kids have to complete everything on a list before they have technology time. This was not a popular suggestion at my house and honestly, my attempt didn’t last long since I’m working from home and my husband is at work in the mornings.

Back to my beautiful moment, Max and Calvin agree to ride bikes to the park.

Calvin is riding his new bike is a big deal. I feel grateful and hopeful, emotions that are hard to tap into these days.  

As they ride, Max zooming, Calvin quite cautious, I snap a photo. I think to myself, “I’m killing it as a stay-at home-working mom today.”

The universe put me in my place.

We go to lock up the bikes so we can navigate to the ducks on foot. A fight breaks out. The easiest of tasks often elicit high emotions.

We get down to the path by the pond and the rain has made it a mess. I tell them to walk around the path but this makes it worse and we sink. Calvin gets mad that his new shoes are muddy. This is my fault, of course.

We get to the dock where we spied the ducks and they are nowhere to be found. I keep up my sunny spirits and we look for turtles too. But everyone is grumpy and their lives are hard because I made them do this. They continue to bicker. Calvin cries; Max rides ahead. I keep my cool but am thinking, “I need to get back to my desk. “

I’m not having a beautiful moment.

Being a parent is like that for me. There are many times where I have no idea if I’m doing the right thing. I remember asking my friends when they had babies, “How do you know what to do?”

They would tell me, “You just know.”

I now understand how you can apply this to babies but each age comes with a new challenge and I still question myself. It’s exhausting.

You would think I wouldn’t sweat the day-to-day stuff since Calvin was diagnosed with a brain tumor when the boys were two. We’re lucky and grateful but the lasting repercussions of chemotherapy are not always easy. (Read more in a previous post.)

I get frustrated that people don’t understand but that’s probably just the pain I feel as a mother. One thing Calvin has struggled with is his balance. He used to fall down a lot and in preschool his teachers were very concerned. On the flip side, his doctors tell us they wish all kids with his tumor would do so well.

He’s improved with time. Last summer when Max got a new bike, Calvin wasn’t interested and we didn’t push it. This year, during the stay at home orders, he expressed his desire for a bike.

It hasn’t been an instant fix. He’s frustrated and wants to be as good as his neighborhood friends. He chose a pink bike and helmet. Calvin is always true to himself.

When we get home, I go back upstairs to work, leaving Max to pout about not getting the computer. Calvin decides to go out.

On his bike.

From my desk, I watch him bike up the street, slowly but surely.

Hey, I got my beautiful moment.

Calvi on a bike
Calvin on his bike

Now for the books

It’s hard to believe my babes will be eleven this week. I feel like I just wrote this post about them turning six. I’m excited to give them some new books and will share in the future.

Max has been rereading Charlotte’s Web. (Read about the first time here.)

One of Calvin’s recent picks are Snapdragon By Kat Leyh. (I loved this special book and recommend it.)

Graphic novels are real books

My friend Michael says Raina Telgemeier’s books grow with age. He’s referring to the spines that crack and pages that expand with each reading.

Her graphic novels are reread because they are that good! She shares stories of her own childhood/teen years that are relatable and entertaining. Challenges with siblings, friends, dentists…it’s all there.

Calvin and agree that Ghosts, is our favorite. It  deals with moving, ancestors and a delicious Day of the Dead story.

We recently saw Raina when Joseph-Beth Booksellers brought her to town to discuss her new book Guts. Calvin had been anticipating the release of this book for months.


Calvin and our friend, Iris. (Her dad is Michael and he introduced Raina at the event.)

Hearing her talk about her journey and books was a treat ­– for me. I think Calvin liked it. He had his head in the new book most of the time. I would nudge him from time to time but since he was content, I mostly left him alone. He was too busy devouring the book.

I loved what Raina had to say to her young fans (and old) about books.

“Graphic novels are real reading,” Raina said. “They have all the elements of a book.”

She also mentioned that reading makes you feel less alone – so true!


We went to the event with our friend, Stella! She’s a connoisseur of graphic novels and told us about Raina’s visit.

A few weeks later, my niece Margot and I had a great discussion about Guts and Raina’s other books. It was like an aunt-niece book club!

It’s not the first time Calvin and Margot have enjoyed the same books – revisit one of my old blog posts, Kissing cousins and being weird is cool.

And check out Raina Telgemeier!


Baking with Sarah Varon

We bought a lot of butter last week.

After reading Sara Varon’s delightful and touching graphic novel Bake Sale, the kids and I felt hungry for baked goods.

Varon’s book features Cupcake, owner of a bakery, and friend Eggplant. It’s a story about dreams, friendship and a lot of baking in Cupcake’s shop. Her illustrations are both charming and funny.


Eggplant and Cupcake inspired the Rush kids.

Calvin suggested we follow Varon’s recipes and it seemed like a good Saturday morning plan. Of course, Max and Calvin couldn’t agree on a recipe, so I let them each pick one. Max chose cupcakes and Calvin chose the brownies – both requiring a lot of butter.

We set out to Clifton Market to buy the ingredients. Before we left, we read the recipes and made a shopping list.


Calvin checks out the brownie recipe.


Max made our shopping list.

Baking with little kids is an adventure and I summoned my most yoga-like self as they cracked eggs and helped me measure. We started with the cupcakes.


Calvin tests the cupcake batter.

By the time we started mixing up the brownies, the kids lost interest but I carried on like the sugar addict I am.

The results were delicious. Max thought the cupcakes were best, Calvin liked the brownies. I think the cupcakes may have been my favorite.



We love this story and its adorable illustrations. Here are the recipes below:


Cupcake recipe.


These brownies us a lot of butter! Yummy.


Varon also has a recipe for peppermint brownies in the book.

I’m not the only blogger who has featured this book. Read Jama’s Alphabet Soup for a very charming description of this book.


Ghosts make for a great bedtime

What’s the sign of a good book – fighting over it with your kid!

After starting Raina Telgemeir’s Ghosts at bedtime, Calvin and I both wanted to take it to bed with us. (Yes, he sneaks reading after hours – just like I did as child.)

This graphic novel’s mix of realism and fantasy are compelling. Sisters Catrina and Maya move to a new California town because it’s better for Maya’s Cystic Fibrosis. They find out that it’s also home to a lot of ghosts and the townspeople don’t seem to mind. In fact, they celebrate their dead with Dia De Los Day Meurutos (Day of the Dead) celebrations.


Our new favorite read.

There is a lot under the surface of this book – life changes, friendship, and mortality. I’m not sure if Calvin picked up on all of this but the important thing is he loved it.

We had different reactions – Calvin found the ghosts “a little scary at first” and wants to know, “why do ghosts like orange pop?” These ghosts are friendly and love orange pop.

Being hugely sentimental, I’ve always been attracted to the Day of Dead tradition. I’m the girl who still misses her grandparents.


I’ve always been fascinated by Day of the Dead. Check out my glamorous skeleton.

Here’s what’s also different – when talking about the book, Calvin can rattle off the names of the characters. His 40-something mama had to look them up for this post.

We’ve both read it more than once and are looking forward to Max’s take.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this great read comes out in conversation at our house. We’re also reading Telgemeier’s book Sisters. Stay up late and read these books.


These friendly ghosts like orange pop and Maya.