Saturday, October 30, 2010

Parent Teacher Conference Report

Caution:  this girl has been homeschooled.

Last week was parent teacher conferences in our neck of the woods.  We visited Emma's teacher first.  When we asked her how Emma was doing she said,  "I was really surprised.  I didn't know what to expect since Emma was homeschooled but she's doing fine."

Thanks...I guess.

My favorite part of Braeden's conferences was meeting with his band teacher.  He asked Adam and me if we were musicians.  We said, "Not really."

He looked at my burly husband and decided a football analogy was in order.  He talked about how on a football team, everyone needed to work together and that's how band was as opposed to say, a math class.

Luckily he used small enough words that Adam could understand.

When we mentioned to Braeden's teachers that he had been homeschooled, that this was his first school experience, they didn't even attempt to hide their shock.

His science teacher said, "You would never have guessed!  He's!  He does so well!  He participates in class."

His P.E. teacher said, "Well, you can't even tell he was homeschooled.  That's a credit to you I guess.  Usually homeschooled kids are whiny...I mean... aggressive and can't do things."


I kind of didn't know how to take all the shock and horror regarding his homeschooling...the "compliments" that you can't even tell.  I guess we're beating the odds somehow.  What did they expect?  That the poor homeschooled kid would walk into walls and trip over his shoelaces?

It's OK though.

I didn't ever decide to homeschool to impress people (that would have been a failure!).  Not even middle school teachers.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What Do Picasso and Chief Seattle Have in Common?

We played hooky yesterday.  I forgot to even call Emma's school to tell them.  There was a message on my machine when I got home.  Apparently, "the absence will remain unexcused until they hear from me."

I think if it stays unexcused for too long, they'll take away my birthday.

But I'm just guessing.

Mark and I abandoned our school room.  Adam stayed home from work.  Braeden and Emma stayed home from school.

And then we all went to Seattle.

I drove and when Adam lets me drive in a place like Seattle he's either really really tired or out of his mind.

He was tired.

Having me drive in Seattle has a way of waking him up though.

We went to the Seattle Art Museum for the Picasso exhibit.

How could we not?

Picasso is not my favorite artist in the world but an extremely interesting one and I wanted to take the chance to show our kids the traveling exhibit.  Braeden soaked it up, listening to an audio recording.  Emma hated the crowds and was grumpy but eventually came around.  Mark, with his typical gusto, listened in on Adam's audio recording, demanding I listened to certain descriptions.  He pushed and pulled me to look at what he wanted to show me and was cautioned 3,476,893 times not to touch anything.

Towards the end he said, "Mom, you're going to think this is crazy, but I'm not sure art is my thing.  I think sculpture is my thing."

(It was OK; I already thought Mark was crazy.)

We wandered through SAM for awhile.  Mark and I needed a bathroom break and when we joined up with Adam and the other two, Braeden called, "Mark, I have to show you something."

Mark ran into the room at full speed and said, "It's #10!"

Braeden said, "I know, look!"

They skedaddled over to Mark Rothko's #10 hanging on the wall then Mark put on the brakes and on the adjacent wall, there sat Helen Frankenthaler's Buzzard's Bay.  He had just learned about both paintings last week in school.

Every once in awhile, they remember something.  And that's thrilling.

We went to lunch at a Thai restaurant, not far from the Space Needle, which overlooks the statue of Chief Seattle.

handsome guy

Mark ran laps around the statue.

Both directions.

And Braeden and Emma talked and talked.  They miss each other now that they no longer spend all of their days together.

It seemed like everything was right with the world.

All together.

from the looks of this picture I even brought some extra chins...I wouldn't have included it except for look at my cute baby boy

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wishing On Stars

The other night after rehearsing a list of worries to Adam, he encouraged me to dwell on something positive.  Something happy.

He said, "Think about our trip."

I am tagging along next week with Adam on a business trip.  I am excited, but the control freak conscientious mother in me also experiences some anxiety about the prospect as well.  Adam's saintly mother is going to stay with our children so I am not worried about them.  They'll be high-fiving as they watch me go.  There are just so many details!  I want to make everything seamless and easy for Geri.  I appreciate her so much and know my children aren't always little angels.  Also they have a lot of different directions they need to go.  Also they're not good at hanging up towels.  Or manners in general. get the idea.

So when I think about the trip, my mind spins with details and plans I need to arrange.  (And last minute civilizing of children.)

I decided to take Adam's advice though and while Mark was busy with a math assignment, I tapped a little on my laptop and explored.

I got really excited.

One day next week will find us in New York City.  Adam will be working (a downside of business trips) and I'll be on my own.  One of my favorite on-my-own activities is to visit art museums.  (I dearly love Adam but going to art museums with him is a trying experience.  We view things at different...speeds.)  In New York I either wanted to visit the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim or The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I did a google search (was there life before google?) and found that MoMA is closest to where Adam will be.  (And the less navigating I have to do, the better.)

I had a vague notion of what was housed in MoMA, then with mounting delight, I perused the website.


I now have a list of the must sees.  I'm wondering if a day will be long enough.

This is there:

And this is there:

And so much more.

I saw Van Gogh's Sunflowers in London and it thrilled me.  Starry Night is at MoMA.  STARRY NIGHT!


For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.

Vincent Van Gogh

For my part I know one thing for certainty.

I'm going to enjoy the Museum of Modern Art.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

At Least I'm Consistent

I almost always look like a goof in pictures.

This one is no exception.  The un-photogenic tendencies live on!

Olivia wanted a picture of my new haircut though.

And I'd do just about anything for Olivia.

(Almost anything...don't test me on that claim Olivia.)

If my eyes look puffy and neither "Big And Beautiful" nor "Smokin'" it's due to another eczema flare-up and not enough sleep.

(I didn't want you to blame Benefit Cosmetics.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Love...True Love

I've been thinking a lot about love. There's a lot to love about love.  But, it is easy to get confused and deceived about love.

We say we love pizza. We love chocolate (of course). People also say immoral uncommitted relations are love.

We need a different word.

Something that means the real love.  Love that is so transcendent and important that it is stronger than any force.

I've noticed that in a lot of stories, love is the victor.  Real love.  The True stuff I'm talking about.  I was remembering A Wrinkle in Time which I've always enjoyed.  (I read it to my kids and they didn't enjoy it...maybe it's an acquired taste.)  Do you remember it?  Meg was able to withstand IT and fight in order to save her brother.

Love. That was what she had that IT did not have.
Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Suddenly there was a great burst of light through the Darkness. The light spread out and where it touched the Darkness the Darkness disappeared. The light spread until the patch of Dark Thing had vanished, and there was only a gentle shining, and through the shining came the stars, clear and pure.
 Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Talk about a superpower!

Do you remember this from Harry Potter?

If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign . . . to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin.
Albus Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Then there's the paramount example of real, true love:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend.
John 15:13 

There is inconceivable power in the love Jesus Christ has for each of us.  It is what we can cling to, where we can draw strength and how we can continue on.

There is no greater love.

And that love is light and truth, peace and happiness.  Security.

And I'm grateful.


Monday, October 25, 2010

My People

Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.
Anthony Brandt

Saturday I talked to my brother Tabor.  He's about as delightful as anyone in this world.  I can say that because he doesn't read my blog and won't get a big head.  If you ever need a laugh, call Tabor and have him explain to you about Jim Bridger.  He'll know what I'm talking about.

I also bought Tabor a Christmas gift on Saturday.  I can't say what it is because Tabor might start reading this blog.  You never know.  He might get that bored.

I also, on Saturday, talked to my mom twice, Marianne, Olivia and Jennifer.  These are good women.  These are strong women.  These are incredibly strong women.

The house does not rest upon the ground, but upon a woman.
Mexican Proverb

(Their various houses are in good hands.)

I am tremendously blessed to have my mother and sisters.  I am further and forever blessed by the stellar women my brothers married.  I could go on and on and on.  And on. 

Life can be hard.  Hard things happen and we can get hurt and pummeled and left for near dead.

But then our family comes along.  I have been buoyed my family.  And I will do anything and everything to buoy them.

I love them.

All of them.

Even the ones that don't read my blog.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Could Have Been Taken the Wrong Way

The other day it was either me or our bedroom/bathroom. Someone was going to win. I donned old clothes, rubber gloves and put my hair in a ponytail. I was taking no prisoners.

I think I burned the entire lining of my respiratory system with the cocktail of chemicals I administered to the shower. (Lately it's been Emma's job. Remember how she's a perfectionist? I have to amend that. She's selectively a perfectionist. And trying to teach my children to work is kind of like being tortured.  Every day of my life. )

I started in one corner of our bedroom and worked my way around. Finally dealing with every odd and end that had been placed for future contemplation. (I moved one stack from the bedroom to the schoolroom for future contemplation. Rome wasn't built in a day.)

A few summers ago, the neighbors across the street from Adam's parents were moving and getting rid of furniture. I became the happy recipient of an old dresser that I fell in love with immediately. It has a mirror attached which was perhaps my favorite part. I had it unattached though because it worked better in the spaces it has occupied. What to do with the mirror though?

(besides having it sit in the corner of our bedroom)

I decided to attach it. I like the mirror. I don't like it lingering in a corner.  I enlisted Braeden's help. He said, "This is heavy.  Have you thought this through?"

I said, "Of course not. I'm just doing it."

Then I added, "Hurry, I'm leaving to pick up Emma and Mark in three minutes."

He said, "Is that enough time?"

I said, "Probably not but I'm doing it anyway."

Because when I get an idea, I'm not one to wait.*

Between us we got the behemoth thing attached. And I made it in time for Primary Program Practice Pick-up. (I just didn't really look very presentable.)

That night, in our newly clean and sparkly room, Adam and I commented on the oddity of a new mirror in our room. Seeing ourselves at a new angle.

The next morning Adam said, "So were you freaked out by seeing yourself in the mirror this morning?"

I know what he meant, was I startled by a mirror that isn't usually there?

But I know how I look in the morning. I could have taken it either way.

*Further evidence of my impromptu nature:  yesterday I decided to get 6 inches cut off my hair so I did.  Titi talked to me the whole time about Mark.  I think she likes him more than she likes me. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Love This

You may have already seen this.  I love it. 

It delights me every time I watch it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eye Identity Crisis

Last week Adam was on a business trip a.k.a. "The Grand Tour."  He went to locations glittering and varied.  Well, not glittering.  OK, not that varied either...they were all in small hamlets in the Midwest.

I'm still calling it The Grand Tour.

(And it's my blog so I can if I want to.)

As you know he works with Benefit cosmetics sometimes.  They were training at a call center and Adam was listening in on the training.  At one point the Benefit guru asked everyone which Benefit product they would take if stranded on a deserted island.  Adam said he'd take his wife's Sophia perfume (there is just something about Sophia) because I'd track him down.

The man speaks the truth.

He's a good man and not just because he brought me home this:

Now I'm left to wonder:

Do I want big beautiful eyes?

Or smokin' eyes?

Or (and this is more likely), does it even matter because I don't know how to apply make-up anyway?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hell Hath No Fury...

Forget a woman scorned.  I don't think there's anything quite as scary as a woman stressed out.

And Emma is no exception.  She's always been a perfectionist.  It's something about her I've always admired but knew was out of my grasp.  Kind of like how I admire athleticism in other people.  I know I'll never be athletic (or a perfectionist) but it is a praiseworthy way to be.

I remember Emma as a zealous 5 year old, running to her room and slamming the door because she couldn't form her letters perfectly.  I remember her outrage when I dared to mark something wrong in her schoolwork.  She does not like to make mistakes.

And it turns out deadlines are also her Achilles heel.

She has been working on a project for's called Survival Math.  Adam's taken to calling it Suicide Math.  She has several of these projects scattered throughout the year...the first one is due Friday.  She gets extra credit if she turns it in early.  So of course, she wants (needs) to turn it in early.   To prove that she takes after her father more than she takes after me, she's been embracing technology and conversing with Adam along the way on good ways to present her material.  Yesterday afternoon she was almost ready, just putting on the finishing touches. She's been trying to expand the project and do more!  More!  More!

Her agitation was also expanding.  More!  More!  More!  She couldn't get Excel to cooperate (and I was no help).  She accidentally ripped her paper and she dissolved into sobbing tears when she inadvertently erased a paragraph from her Word document.  I was trying to be comforting and bolstering and reassuring and told her to re-lax but it didn't help too much.  She was a whirling dervish of panic and fury and I was bracing for the onslaught when Adam called and needed us to pick him up at our mechanic's where he was dropping off his car for a little TLC.

It was just the change of scenery Emma needed.  And I promised her that Adam would help.  I said, "Don't you think Dad can figure out the Excel problem?"

She said, "I know he can."

"So it's going to be OK?"

She said, "I don't know.  I HATE deadlines."  And I could read the hysteria simmering below the surface of her demeanor.

Sheesh.  I was considering a tranquilizer IV drip for her.

But it turns out, Adam, our steady and unwavering mooring was the perfect anecdote.  After years of practice in calming yours truly down, he encouraged and troubleshooted and advised and when I was hearing them converse about colon and semi-colon placement, I knew I was a foreigner in a foreign land.

Adam and Emma.  They don't rest until it's right.  They want the ideal.  The best.

I'm glad they have each other.  And I'm glad I have Braeden.  Together we're masters of Good Enough.   

(Which is a nice way of saying we're kind of slackers.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

An Unexpected Victim of Terrrorism

I heard on the radio that body scanners are going to be installed at SeaTac airport this week.  The scanners take x-ray pictures of people that show what's under their clothes.

I've been thinking about the people who have to view the body scans.

Those unfortunate people! Talk about terrorism.

I mean, I've seen the public.  We're not exactly super-models.  I've seen enough flesh hanging out of too skimpy clothes that I'm pretty sure I don't want to see more.

I can imagine the body scanner readers trudging to work, feeling impending doom as they watch passengers schelp along balancing their luggage, huge lattes and Cinnabon boxes. 

As a passenger will I feel more safe as a result of these body scans?  Will I feel creeped out and violated? Or, will I just feel really, really grateful that I don't have to view the body scans?

The only upside I can see is that IF you are afraid of public speaking, AND you have a public speaking engagement coming up, AND you're a body scan reader, you're in luck.

You know the whole, "imagine the audience naked" thing.

Imagine the airport naked!  You'll feel more confident and less nervous!

(Or more creeped out and violated.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Little Boy Named Mark

Yesterday I went to Emma's school to volunteer in her classroom.  It was my first time ever.  I had no idea what to expect.

For part of my time there, Emma's class was paired up with a third grade class.  They each had a buddy for an art project they were all doing.  The kids in Emma's class were the Big Buddies and the third graders were the Little Buddies.  Sometimes it was hard for me to tell who was Big and who was Little.  Let's just say Emma's classmates are not all as tall as she is.

There was one little boy who I knew was a Little Buddy though.  His name was Mark.  I think I instantly gravitated to his big brown eyes...and name.  (He had straight blond floppy hair though.)

Also, he didn't pay attention.

Like another Mark I know. 

He sat there with no idea what he was supposed to be doing because he hadn't listened.  His Big Buddies (he had two) were no help to him.  They were sort of disgusted by him and completely ignored him.

I said, "Mark, are you going to do your art project?"  He looked at me. 

Then he said,  "I'm going to the bathroom."

I know a Mark that makes that same escape when he's been sitting too long (like 5 minutes).

When he was gone, I asked the girl next to him if she would help him.  She said, "He's annoying."

So I helped him when he came back.  As best I could.  He was something of a handful with his interpretation of the instructions.  I couldn't turn my back on the kid.  (Glue was involved.)

But I liked him.

He reminded me of somebody.

Somebody who wrapped his wiry body around mine from the top rung of his bunk bed ladder when I kissed him good-night.  He said, "Tomorrow I want to spend more time with you.  Today you were rushing."

I was rushing.

Today we'll have more time.  My Mark and me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Sometimes there are "Mark, clean up your room" nights.

Sometimes there are "Well, at least make a path then" sort of nights.

Guess which last night was?

I know.

I was raised better.

I know.

But look what he's got going on.  Who am I to thwart that kind of magnum opus?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Arachne's Handiwork

We are captivated by Greek mythology around here.  I like the story of Arachne...a conceited weaver who bragged she was better than Athena (big mistake Arachne--you don't mess with those Greek gods or goddesses!).  In a contest, Arachne indeed bested Athena which enraged her.

In the end, Athena turned Arachne into a spider.

I've been enjoying the beautiful spinning Arachne has been deftly performing this fall.  Especially when the dew creates a shimmering outline.

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sweet More Than Bitter

The relentless growing, growing, growing of children is bittersweet.  There are things I miss.

But then there are things I don't.

On Sunday afternoon, I was lying on my bed, near sleep.  I heard Braeden come up the stairs.  I recognize each one of my family members by the way they walk.

There were days I never would have dreamed of napping if Braeden were awake.

There were days that if he would have found me with my eyes closed, he would have pried them open with chubby fingers.

There were days he would have thought me napping was code for me wanting to field requests from him.

And then there are these days.

I heard Braeden softly click my open door shut and tiptoe away.  He not only didn't disturb me, he wanted to prevent anyone else from bothering me.

These days are not bad.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Gastronomically speaking, Saturday was a pretty good day.

It started early when I took Mark out to breakfast before his haircut.  We either needed to get it cut or I needed to start braiding it.  Titi cuts Mark's hair.  She is a terrific lady and Mark adores her.  (Me too.)

When Adam asked him how Titi was when we got home, he said, "I thought we were going to talk about my Halloween costume but we ended up talking about my school work." 

A little self absorbed?

But then, at least he doesn't write a blog about himself thinking people would be interested in the silly drivel in his head...

Because that would be really self absorbed.

Saturday was spent with a gentle pleasant mix of leisurely pursuits and much needed tasks completed like changing lightbulbs and fertilizing the lawn.  OK, Adam did those things.  I took care of the leisurely pursuits.

Last week, Grandma Geri had questioned Mark's footwear choice...flip flops.  He told her his tennis shoes were too small.  Adam and I felt duly chastised and determined to take Mark shoe shopping.  We gathered him up from his new friend's house.  We met our new neighbors.  Neither of us caught the dad's name although he told it to us.  Darn.

Mark kept telling us his shoes were fine as we were driving away.  He wanted to go back to John's house.  Finally Adam said, "Put your foot up here."  Mark swung his foot up towards Adam and while he was driving, he squeezed Mark's toes and said, "Yeah, his shoes fit fine."

It turned out Mark wanted to wear his flip flops because they were faster.

Adam said, "Mark!  You know I got in trouble with my mom because of that?  She was mad that your shoes were too small and I hadn't gotten you new ones."

I don't think Mark believed Adam.  I don't think I did either.

We abandoned the shoe shopping trip and went to lunch instead at El Paraiso.  Adam and I can't pronounce it correctly.

We still like to eat there.

I had vegetarian fajitas and chastised Mark for looking at the football game on the TV over my shoulder while I was talking to him.

question 1:  why do restaurants put TV in their corners?

question 2:  why is it men can't resist them?

We went to Fred Meyer for a mix of random errands and crisscrossed the store in inefficient ways.  It was OK though...and kind of fun even.  Adam bought an eggplant for a dinner idea he was hatching.

(See what I did there?  Eggplant--hatching?)

It was a rainy day and when we got home, I decided to bake a cake because there's nothing I like doing more than baking on a rainy day and there's nothing I like more than cake.

I made a spongy oatmeal cake like my mom used to make.  I made creamy penuche frosting for it like she used to make too.  It's so rich and caramelly I think it will give us each several cavities.  But worth it.

On a whim, Adam and Mark decided we should go swimming at the YMCA.  Adam asked me if I wanted to go.  He quickly amended, "You can read your book."

Rainy days are for baking cakes, not swimming.

Everyone suited up (except me, I found my book) and we went to the YMCA.  I found a comfortable chair in the snazzy new lobby and they swam.

After, we stopped at Safeway.  Adam needed more ingredients for his dinner plan and he needed to get the kids a treat.  He had promised them one if they could beat their swimming times.

We left the wet chlorine scented kids in the car and perused Safeway.  We sampled carmelized onion and garlic bread in the bakery spread with imported Irish butter.  We gathered supplies for Adam's feast and pretzel M&Ms for the kids.  I got an extra bag for Adam and me to share because I deserved a treat too.

I had done really well reading my book.

Our next stop was Central Market for tapenade.  The selections at Safeway were not satisfactory for my maestro.  We added peppercini and fresh mozzarella...they were just sitting there, ready for us.  And also my favorite pasta salad in the world.  How could we not?

It was late when we finally made our way home...and the kids had already had sandwiches (boys) and salad (Emma--who is shunning meat presently) from Safeway.  (Braeden had been a little hesitant at the mention of eggplant and why should we cast our pearls before swine?  We'll save the good stuff for us.) They settled down to watch the conclusion of Where the Wild Things Are, Adam prepared our dinner and I painted my nails and Emma's.

The dinner was divine.  On split foccaccia, Adam layered grilled eggplant, tapenade, roasted red peppers, peppercinis, spinach, artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella...I'm not sure what all.  It was good though.  And spicy.  We also ate the wonderful garlicky bowtie pasta salad.

Mark said he "needed his mama" towards the end of Where the Wild Things Are so I squeezed into the red chair with him.  (If he wants to keep doing that, he's going to have to stop growing.)  Adam and I saw the movie in the theater months ago but our kids hadn't seen it.  It's really not a kid movie.  We decided to show it to them though.  I think Mark got it in ways that we didn't.  I also think in so many ways, he is Max.

Hopefully a less sad Max.

He reached up and felt my eyes to see if I was crying at the end.  He felt my tears.  When the mom is watching Max eat after he's returned could a mother not cry?

I love my children.

I'll eat them up I love them so.

Or not.

I was too full.  Too full even for the cake which we had to save for the next day.

And when I'm too full for cake, I am full.

Friday, October 8, 2010


flexible |ˈfleksəbəl|

capable of bending easily without breaking
• able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances or conditions
• (of a person) ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances

Women, mothers, are flexible.  We've got to be.  We have to be deal with how pregnancy will alter our bodies.  We have to be OK with the manner in which our babies will be born.

When an infant needs us at midnight one night and 1:30 a.m. the next, we accommodate.

Braeden shunned anything to eat that originated as a plant except for apples (peeled apples).  I'd perfected the art of feeding my finicky toddler and then Emma came along and would eat no meat or cheese in favor of any fruit or vegetable I could come up with...including raw onions.  I had to adapt.

As mothers, we roll with the punches.  When our babies throw up in church, when our toddlers get a bloody knee or break something valuable, we deal with it.

We have to.

You can't survive motherhood without being flexible.  You have to be ready for last minute changes, for sudden strept throat, for unanticipated and irrational misbehavior, for lost/forgotten/broken... everything.

It comes with the territory.

One of my very favorite talks from the recent General Conference was the talk by President Uchtdorf.

When he spoke, I knew that he was speaking the truth.  It resonated deep inside.  His words have been ringing in my ears ever since:

"Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship — the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace."

But how?


A few days ago, my day was railroaded into submission by forces that seemed out of my control.  I didn't do the things that matter most to me.  I was high on anxiety and low on peace.  I kept thinking about President Uchtdorf.  I wanted to call him.  I wanted to present him with my life and say, "Please, help me!  Tell me how I can implement what you said.  I know you're right.  I know this is no way to live."

But I didn't know President Uchtdorf's phone number.  (Smart move on his part.)

Adam came home and found me in low spirits.  (Luckily Adam's resilient himself and he's seen me like this before.)  He hugged me tight and told me that he'd take Braeden to watch a football game and I'd take the activity day/cub scout carpool and run my errands and then later, we'd talk.  He said it like he was sure he could fix whatever was ailing me.

And when he says that, I want to believe him so I do.

Later, after all the comings and goings and Thai takeout that Adam brought home, I poured it all out for him.

And he listened.  Because it's what he does.  He loves me and he also doesn't like coming home to a despondent wife.

He pointed out to me obvious things, but things I'd been missing.

Because I'm flexible.  I'm accommodating.  I'm willing to compromise.  Because I'm a woman and a mother and that's what we DO.

But should we?  At the expense of our family?  Our goals?  Our highest and most true responsibilities?  I don't think so.  And neither did Adam.  He talked me through my days.  He made me see that homeschooling is my Job and I can't keep bending for the convenience of others.  It was all stuff I knew.  Nothing was taken off my plate.  I can't even really explain or describe it, but I feel different.  I feel lighter.  I feel like my priorities have been realigned.

And I think that's exactly what President Uchtdorf was talking about.

If I had his phone number I'd call him and tell him I get it now.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Variety is the Spice of Life (for some)

When Braeden and Emma were little, I'd come up with creative Halloween costumes.  I'd get ideas from the pages of Parent's magazine and armed with my glue gun, I'd go to work.  A lot of things changed after Mark came along.  I was busier is the main one.  Also, as I got busier my angst for Halloween in general grew.  I no longer had the time or inclination for costume design.

And Mark is fine with that.

Every year we go to the store and I give him his spending limit and he goes to work.

This is Mark's costume last year:

This is Mark's costume for this year:

Mark's only trouble with the costume is that his red hair flames out the back.  He wanted a helmet that went all the way around.  That's not standard with the $19.99 model at Party City.
While we were standing in line for the purchase, I said, "Are you sure this is what you want?  It looks like last year's costume."

Mark patiently explained to his mother how it was different. The little boy in line in front of us chimed in.  He also knew the obvious dissimilarities.  

Then they gave up on me altogether and started chatting about Star Wars and costumes past and present.

I know my duty.  I paid for the costume.  I let Mark carry the bag.  I told him that if he loses/breaks/maims the costume in any way, I will not be replacing it.

One costume per year.

Even if I think they look exactly the same.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Little Charmer

Last night, declaring he was full, Mark rinsed the remnants of his dinner down the sink.

Then he put his plate in the dishwasher.

As he was closing it, with a bang, he said, "Mom!  I have a great idea!"

"What?" I asked distractedly because I was listening to Braeden and Emma simultaneously and putting away my rice cooker (mothers are multi-taskers if nothing else and all three of my children like to talk to me at the same time).

"If we sold the dishwasher, " Mark said, enthusiastically (he says everything enthusiastically),"we could use the sink and soap to wash the dishes."

What a novel idea.

"Then with all the money we get from selling the dishwasher, we could buy food."

"So you could put it down the sink?" I asked.

He looked a little sheepish and also disappointed that I wasn't jumping on the bandwagon of his fabulous idea.

"Well," he said, "We could buy good food."

I'm either going to sell him or make him wash all the dishes (using the sink and soap) for the next 10 years.

I haven't decided yet.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Good Old Days

When I was growing up, being sick was a good gig.  My mom would cluck her tongue and kiss my head and tuck me into bed with either juice or Sprite.  With a straw.  I'd lay in bed and look at the patterns the wood knots made on my ceiling or I'd read and then when it was 10:00, I'd take my pillow and blanket downstairs to the couch and watch The Price is Right.  My mom would check on me and bring me toast.  My dad would tell me, with a conspirator's smile, it was a good thing I stayed home from school so the other kids could have a chance to catch up.

The good old days.

Not so much fun now.

Friday I was sick.  As sick as I've been in a long time.  I didn't teach school.  I didn't plan my next school week like I usually do on Friday.  I didn't clean or cook or launder or anything even close to it.  I don't even remember most of the day.

But I paid for it.

Even though Adam valiantly stepped in as my substitute on Saturday, there were still things that didn't get done.  Because of Friday.  Yesterday was a scramble with school.  We were disorganized.  There was a pile of dirty laundry and a pile of clean laundry.

Being sick as an adult has lost it's charm.

The only thing worse is having sick kids.

Emma was sick yesterday.  That's hard because she's my girl and I hate to see her suffer.  Also, it's quite a production.

I had to call the school to tell them she would be gone and why.

I had to call to get her a Dr. appointment.  My doctor, beloved for every other reason, doesn't work on Monday.  I was told I could get in with another doctor.  I said no.  I don't like that doctor.  I don't like to be that person, the one that frankly says I don't like someone and won't go see them.

But there it is. I don't like him.

I got in with a different doctor.

Then I had to call to cancel the appointment for the afternoon with a dermatologist where Emma was having a suspicious looking mole removed.

Then I had to call and cancel piano lessons.

When did sickness become so much work?

For Emma's part, it's not.  She sipped juice and ice water from straws.  She played Mario Kart and finished the book she'd been reading.  She wandered around in a haze and I gave her kisses.

I didn't mind.

I know she'll do the same for her babies someday.

And then she'll wonder when sickness stopped being so much fun.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dickens' Latest

When my sisters and I were young, we liked to read...the same books over and over again.  Mostly silly Jack Weyland books.  We loved them.  My mom thought it was ridiculous to read the same book over and over and would tell us to read more variety.

She was always trying to get us to read "the classics".

One summer day at lunch, Marianne turned to me and said in a hoity toity voice, "Have you read Dickens' latest?"

I think I remember this exchange because usually it was Olivia being cheeky to our mother and Marianne doing things like getting us to do the dishes to surprise her.

Now I understand how my mom felt though.

My children read the same books over and over.  They're missing so many books!!!!

I compiled a list for each of them, complete with bribes.  (I love a good bribe.)

I culled the lists from the curriculum my sisters use in their home school.  If our children read 10 books on my list, I'll buy them a book.

Mark wondered if I'd buy him a movie if he read 50 books.

I wondered what movie he wanted.  He shrugged and said, "I don't know, there may be one..."

(Mark's less enticed by me buying him a book than the others.  I may have to rethink his reward.)

I think this all proves that you can take the children out of their mother's school room but you can't take the meddlesome out of the mother.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Like Fudge

One of the sadnesses of my life is that my kids no longer watch Arthur.  Is it even on anymore?  Have they corrupted it like they have other shows?  (I hear Cookie Monster no longer eats cookies but fruits and vegetables.  I don't know if that's true but if it is, it's really, really sad.)

Anyway, Arthur.

I love it.  I love the characters.

I love when Muffy calls Francine a walking talking poke in the eye.  I've known people that are walking talking pokes in the eye.  I think I've been one at times.

I love the Tibble Twins.  I can relate.  There are triplets on our street.  Tibble triplets.

I love Mr. Ratburn.  When I teach school, I try to channel Mr. Ratburn but there's no way I'm that good.  There's a big disparity between Mr. Ratburn and the other 3rd grade teacher, Miss Sweetwater.  The other class has easy work and sings "I Like Fudge."  And Arthur's class always feels jealous.  My favorite Arthur is maybe the one where Mr. Ratburn is sick.  His sister, Miss Ratburn substitutes.  She gives them easy work like the 1 times tables and they are thrilled.  As the day progresses, and they are spelling words like DOG and CAT,  the too easy work drives them crazy.

Then Miss Ratburn sings Miss Sweetwater's infamous song,

I like fudge,
I like fudge,
Tell me what you like and I'll tell you
I like fudge.

At the end of the day, Brain has to hurry home to his computer because he thinks his brain is melting.

I love it.

My kids know it.  I sing "I Like Fudge" to them when they complain about things being too hard.

Yesterday Mark was learning how to tell time when it was quarter past or quarter 'til.  It blew his mind. 

"This is hard," he wailed (except he said it with 12 vowel sounds in the word hard--are there 12 vowel sounds?). 

Mark lay on the floor.  He said he had a head-ache.  He said he was a failure.

He was brooding in the back seat when we picked Braeden up from school.

"What's with him?" Braeden asked.

I said he was cranky pants.

Mark said, "Mom's not even being sarcastic, I am cranky pants and the reason is math."  (It should be noted that I'm never sarcastic...I think he's mistaken me for another woman.)

I told Mark about his old Duplo Lego bricks.  They are easy and if he never had harder Lego sets, he wouldn't be as good at building.  He said, "That's different.  Legos are my career.  Math is not."

So I sang "I Like Fudge" to him and he started to laugh and get mad at the same time because he didn't want to laugh.  He didn't want to be cajoled.  He doesn't want to do hard things.

None of us do.

But it's better than singing "I Like Fudge" all day.


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