Monday, May 31, 2010

Harvey and Margaret Dahl


I heisted this picture from my cousin Britta's facebook album.  (Don't you love the digital age?)

I love this picture.

I love my grandma and grandpa.  (I'm not sure when this picture was taken, but it's been awhile.  My grandpa passed away in 2002.)

Seeing this picture has left me in a reverie of reminiscence.

This week, I'll be blogging about some of these memories.  Please indulge me while I get it out of my system.

(Are the voices in my head bothering anyone else?)

I should note that Adam says that I write like Monet paints, I give the "impression" of what happens while it's not exact.  My dad says I have a "creative memory" (and I don't think he means to have that sarcastic tone when saying it).  I am lucky to have such supportive glass-half-full sort of men around, huh?

I'll write what I remember, the way I remember it.

Here's a picture for you to have in exchange for the one I took, Britta.  (Or do you already have it?)  It's from Grandma and Grandpa's wedding:




Friday, May 28, 2010

Crossing The Rubicon

With only a few weeks left of the school year, I am feeling bittersweet.  I'm happy because, "Yay, it's summer!  I'll have more time and more sunshine.  What's not to love?"

But this is the last year of homeschooling all three children exclusively.  After this, I'll still be homeschooling but not all three of them all day.  I told my dad, "It feels like the end of something."

He said, "Or the beginning."

I said, "No.  The end."

I've put more of myself into homeschooling my children than I have into any other pursuit.  And I know I've gotten more out of it than they have.  I've learned an incredible amount. I've learned things like what crossing the Rubicon means.  I've learned a lot about managing my time and prioritizing.  I've learned to pray (really pray) and that I'm not alone in the task of educating my children. I've learned that it's OK with me if people disapprove of my choice.

Mostly though, I've really, really enjoyed being with my children.

What a blessing all that lovely time spent with them has been.

Every day as my children have been aggravating me, stretching my skills and trying my patience, they've also been charmingly entertaining me and enriching my days.

Yesterday, I explained Mark's math assignment to him.  I said, "Do you get how to do this?"

He said, "Yes, but Mom?  I would be delighted if you would do this page for me."

Laughing, I handed the paper to Mark.

And believe me, the delight is all mine.




Thursday, May 27, 2010

For My Dad and Brothers--He's One of You

For the annual Primary talent show, Mark had a few options.

He could be naughty, naughty, naughty all day long then smile at me and give me a kiss and melt my heart.

He's good at that.

What he decided to do though, was work some Lego magic.  He can whip out a Lego construction following the directions but I think what he prefers to do is create his own.  He calls them "copies" because they're almost always taken from Star Wars ships he has seen pictures of.  He took a creative detour though and made an R2-D2.

R2D2:



Mark's version:



He also made a Jedi Cruiser. 

The original:


Mark's version:

It was replete with swiveling guns...everything very symmetrical...this picture doesn't do it justice.


Mark's a builder. Like his progenitors.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Snacks

On any given day, about 4,000 snacks are consumed in our household.  Some of them are better than others.  I was feeling altruistic yesterday so I took pictures of my snack so you could see how easy it is to make one for your very own.

First, you start with some lackluster string cheese (but these guys are destined for greatness).


Two because Braeden wanted some too.

Then you put the cheese in an ungreased pan over medium/medium low heat...it depends on how vigilant you want to be.

Next, press the cheese down as it gets melty so it will spread flat.


I guess you could use a spatula for this but then there's no chance you'll get burned and where's the adventure in that?


Flip the cheese over when it starts to get toasty brown.


Mine got a little disheveled because I don't flip gracefully but you get the idea.


And then that's it.

Through some chemical reaction wizardry, the cheese becomes chewy and salty and crispy and so, so good.  (I can't take credit, my friend Stephanie told me how to do this.)

So you could see a happy customer, I took pictures of Braeden before his was completely consumed.

I told him to "sell the deliciousness":







I think he really has a future in something completely unrelated.


Really though.  It's good stuff.

Many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese--toasted, mostly.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Snack Number Two:
Last night Mark said, "Mom, do you want to know something really awful that I ate?"  Why, of course Mark.  What mom doesn't love to hear those words?

Mark said "It's called Milky Mushy Delight.  Do you want to know how I made it?"

(Not really.)

He continued, "I got a cold pancake and some milk and sugar and syrup and then I heated it for 4 seconds.  It wasn't good at all."

He did eat it though.

I didn't get any pictures. I think Milky Mushy Delight happened when I was upstairs, on the phone, with Janet.  My children do some of their best work at times like that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What's Next?


I carefully avoid Wal-mart.  I don't go.  Ever.

Except I got a hot tip on some Adirondack chairs in bright red and blue at Wal-mart.

And I wanted some.

Rats.

I didn't want to go to Wal-mart.  Darkening their door after vowing never again felt like tossing my integrity to the wind.

Curse their lower prices.

I prepared myself.  I mustered the psychological moxie I'd need.  The cranky incompetent employees!  The crowded miserable aisles!  The off beat, unsettling customers in their sloppy clothes and with excessive skin exposure (just because they make it in your size. Doesn't. Mean. You. Should. Wear. It.)

See?  Wal-mart makes me grouchy.  And judgmental.  And miserable.

So I stay away.

But those chairs...

I went.

Going around a tight corner with my cart, a fellow shopper (who looked normal) stepped aside and smiled and motioned for me to go first.

When I bought the chairs, the polite and efficient checker pointed out one of them was cracked.  The man in the wheel-chair in line behind me graciously waited for me to turn around my cart to go get another chair and cheerfully said, "No problem," when I apologized.

Back in the garden center when I retrieved a new chair and then left through the garden center exit, the employee waved me through without bothering to see my receipt and said, "Have a good day!"

Weird.

What's next?

Bliss while cleaning my bathrooms?

Enjoyment taking my three children on errands?

My world feels a little rocked, a little less predictable.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I Spy



On Saturday, we heard there was a gray whale swimming near the mouth of the Snohomish River.  Of course Adam thought we should go see if we could spot it. Because he's Adam.

We went to Grand Avenue to survey the scene and also because we love Grand Avenue and would make any excuse to go there.


Adam said, "We like it so much, we should move here."

Braeden looked stricken and said, like he always does, "But I don't want to move."  What Braeden doesn't know is that we're not millionaires and so couldn't afford those houses that call my name.  The only way we'll be moving there anytime soon is if we get hired as scullery maids by the current residents.  If you could see my children's rooms you'd know that's never going to happen.  We'd never make the vetting process to become maids.

We saw some kite surfers, drank in the landscape, hugged a tree,



and performed some acrobatics.



(I took most these pictures from the van.  I was cold.  Just like how Adam can be depended on to seek a little adventure, I can be depended on to seek a little warmth.)

We drove down to the marina, parked next to the DO NOT FLY KITES sign, and watched some guys flying a kite.  (Until someone in an official capacity came along and told them to stop.)

It was perfect kite flying weather though.


A little windy, but my descendants have never let the elements dampen their good time.  (Adam took these pictures.  I was in the van.  It was cold.  Have I mentioned that?)



We never did see that whale but the sky was so beautiful, I don't think any of us minded.



The End.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Father's Day

 I love this picture of Adam:  carrying Mark's sweatshirt for him in a way that enables him to still hold two children's hands.


Last night we celebrated our dad around here.

Because he deserved it.

I made chicken tikka masala and bought Bundaberg Root Beer.  (Indian food with Australian root beer?  We're just international like that.)  Adam loves both of those things.

And I love Adam.

I could go on and on (and on) about what a good husband Adam is.  He is also a great father.

Whenever we are somewhere with two cars, our kids clamor to be the one to ride with Adam.  I wish I could let Braeden drive so I could be the one to ride with Adam.

(It's not because of the decrepit car Adam drives that we all want to ride with him, by the way.)

When we reach our destination, whoever is with Adam is engrossed in a conversation (often, but not always, about politics).  They reluctantly pull themselves out of the car and the conversation much like they pull themselves away from a Wii game they haven't saved.  They don't want it to end.  They walk away with a look on their faces that shows me they're mulling over the conversation.  Adam always gives them something to consider.  He listens to their views.  Then asks a lot of questions to make them really think.

I guess I can see why they'd rather ride with him.  I mostly listen to the radio.

Adam has a demanding job.  Most providers in a one income family do (and I admire them deeply).  Here's the thing about Adam though.  Despite pressures at work that give him around the clock work, the other night (after a scout court of honor he administered) he read several chapters of Percy Jackson and the Olympians to Mark.  Then he indulged me by watching a 1970's British sitcom with me.   After we were all in bed, he worked late into the night.

He's always been like that.

In graduate school (when he had a little homework) he'd first make time to take Braeden to the park, then spend time with me, then study.

(My children should be thanking me for marrying such a stellar father.)

This morning, observing the yet to be recycled root beer bottles, Mark said, "This was a waste to drink all the root beer."

I said, "What should we have done with it?  I bought it so we could drink it."

He said, "We should have saved it for a special occasion."

"It WAS a special occasion."

My charming son said, "Where's your evidence for that, young lady?"

"I DECIDED it was a special occasion."

He said, "Well, you are the mom, so I guess you're off the hook."

(You can imagine my relief.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Reminding Myself Why

In the past week four different people have said that they have nothing to do.  Four.  Also someone (who doesn't have children) said, "You're not busy, right?  You don't have a 9 to 5?"

I felt like smacking each one of these people.

(Apparently charitable thoughts are inversely proportional to being busy as a bee.)

When I think about each one of those people though, and what I know about them, I wouldn't trade places with them for anything.

I may long sometimes to have "nothing to do," but the things that make me busiest, are those that make me happiest.

I need to keep remembering that.  Especially when my To Do list makes me want to hyperventilate.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Wisdom of Solomon



What's the point of having a blog if you can't brag every once in awhile?

No point, I tell you.

So guess how amazingly clever I was yesterday? Wisdom of King Solomon clever, that's how clever.

In between picking up my children from their MSP (Measurement of Student Progress...not as zippy as the Washington Assessment of Student Learning--WASL--but you'll have to take that up with state superintendent of education, Randy Dorn) testing and piano lessons, we had just enough time for lunch at Baja Fresh.  (phew, long sentence)

Baja Fresh is a great place and one thing I like about it is that Adam negotiates the menu with the offspring and orders the food.

Except this time he was at work.

Mark wanted, "The Usual," which I needed some clarification on.  Braeden and Emma immediately started arguing because (are you ready for this fascinating tidbit?) Emma usually gets a kids' meal but then she's still a little hungry and she wanted Braeden to share a few bites of his burrito like usual so she could still get the kids' meal.  But Braeden didn't want to share.  Because what if Emma took a few bites and (gasp!) he was still hungry and then starved to death?

I listened to about 20 seconds of this exchange and marched up to the counter in an ignoring fashion.

This is when I was smart.  Oh, so smart.

I didn't get Braeden a drink.

I told Emma that she could share her drink with Braeden, or not.

I told Braeden he could share his burrito with Emma, or not.

Emma gave me a raised eyebrow smile of you're-the-biggest-genius-in-America (I'm guessing that's what she was trying to express) and Braeden sighed deeply and looked at me in a less complimentary way.

I shrugged and told them it didn't matter to me what they decided.

Braeden said to Emma, "Just a few bites?"

She said, "Yes."

He said, "And I can have some of your drink?"

Again, yes.

It was settled.

Then Mark said, "I would have given you my drink Braeden.  For free."

Nobody asked you Mark.

(And I hadn't thought of that so I'm glad no one else had either before negotiations were made.)

If you now feel like you have fabulous children that would never argue about really dumb things like bites of a burrito, then you're welcome.

Just trying to do my part for your self esteem.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Deck-orations and a Bit About My Sisters



Last night we went to IKEA.  It was time, I said, for me to get my Mother's Day and birthday presents in the way of furnishings for our deck.  (Mark deemed them deck-orations.)

I have grand ideas for the deck that make Adam raise his eyebrows a little but for now, I just wanted us to have a place to sit.

Before we left, I was on the phone with Marianne (big sister extraordinaire).  She told me that someone had said something to her that was the worst thing anyone could ever SAY to her.  (And it wasn't true...I can promise that.)

Then when we were at IKEA, someone said something awful to me.

I was innocently traversing the restaurant and a man approached me.  He was tall and had gray hair.  If I were to guess, I'd say he was at least 10 years older than me.  Maybe 15.

He said, "Excuse me, when did you graduate from high school?"

I said, "1991."

He said, "Oh, that's much later," and wandered away from me.

I was stunned as the realization dawned on me that he thought WE had gone to high school together.  (There were 23 in my graduating class so if he had gone to high school with me, I would have known immediately.)  What stopped me in my tracks was that he was old.  Do I look that old?

Adam said something reassuring and we continued shopping.

I kept contemplating how old I must look, then I decided that he must have an unrealistic view of how old HE is.  That's why he considered someone as young and hale as me to be his age.

Yeah, we'll go with that.

We found some good stuff for our deck and bought five chairs as commissioned by my friend Stephanie.  Adam employed his stellar packing skills and got it all into our van somehow.  On the way home, indicating the cardboard kingdom that was encasing our children in the back, Adam asked, "So how much did all this end up costing?"

I told him and he said that didn't sound right.  He's like that.  He keeps track and knows about how much we should have spent.  I pulled out the receipt and sure enough we had been overcharged.

By $70.

I had no idea.

We turned around and went back to IKEA to have the situation remedied and I thought, good thing for Adam.

This morning I read this post on my talented and wonderful cousin Hannah's new blog.  (Btw, if you want to see a really ugly picture of me, scroll down a little on her blog.  Don't say I didn't warn you.)  Olivia (little sister extraordinaire) is the only person I know that would go back to return a nickel, but considering my experience last night at IKEA, I'm staggered by how she even knew she was overpaid a nickel.

Amazing.

Her children will long remember her for her strong moral compass.

My children will long remember me as the one with shaky math skills.

We all do what we can.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Abuzz

In case you were just going to ask me, "How was your weekend?" 

It was busy.

(In case you aren't interested in how my weekend was, you might want to stop reading now.)

Saturday, after cleaning the kitchen (which was in desperate straits) and dropping Mark off at his grandma's, Emma and I went to a mother daughter luncheon at the church.  (Braeden and Adam were rock climbing with the scouts.)

We had a lovely time, picked up Mark, met Adam at home and hit the garden center for plants, plants, plants!

We weeded and pruned and dug and transplanted and schemed and then sent out a distress call to Geri, Adam's mom, for help with our gardening.  We were having plant placement issues.  We promised her dinner if she'd help.

My mom called and was in the middle of telling me that I was busy and she'd been trying to get ahold of me all week...when I had to end the conversation because help in the form of Geri and niece Raelyn had arrived.  After putting all the plants in their places and a raucous dinner (Mark's friend Gavin was over too and when those two are on the scene, raucous is the only option) we had strawberry shortcake and Adam and I played a quick game of Catch Phrase with Raelyn (which is something of an adventure by itself).

The day ended and I hadn't ever really had a chance to breathe.

Sunday morning dawned early with a before church meeting, then church, then zipping home to grab our picnic-in-the-car.  We drove to Seattle and Benaroya Hall for a concert.  The Everett Youth Symphony was performing along with an Honor Choir that niece Talia and nephew Jackson were a part of.

Mark, after three hours of church, wasn't all that keen on 1 1/2 hours of symphony music.  He did perk up during Sibelius' "Finlandia". 

"Hey, I KNOW this song."

The Meldrums, a family Adam grew up parallel with, had a granddaughter in the choir.  She is 10 and sang an angelic solo--in Latin.  I loved it.

Our next stop was Geri's for a celebratory fete.  The Meldrums were there too and it was a cozy convivial gathering...until the friendly baseball game in the backyard heated up.

Adam, still wearing his white shirt and tie (I had commandeered his jacket to keep me warm on my perch on the deck) was the umpire.    The bases were 1) a pair of shoes, 2) a Bop It game and 3) a rock.  There were accidentally thrown bats (by my son, sorry Megan), in-yard home runs, discussion over just how to call interference by the trees, and my cheeks hurt from laughing.

Perhaps the highlight of it all for me was when Mark, who had already been hit in the face with the ball, emerged with a bicycle helmet and a toy shield to be the catcher.  He'd kneel down (His pants were already tragically grass stained from sliding into base--unless some laundry room miracle happens this week, we'll be purchasing Mark some new pants before next Sunday.) and peek over the shield with only his eyes and a fringe of red curls showing under the helmet.

By the time we got home, I'd been wearing high heels for 12 hours.

After our kids were in bed (and I remembered in a panic we have state testing for Braeden and Emma today), Adam and I discussed when we could have our new friends over for dinner.

Monday, no.
Tuesday, no.
Wednesday, no.  (Court of Honor.  Which means I get to sew on more badges.  Yaaaaaaaaaaaay.)
Thursday, no.  (We're BOTH double booked that night.)
Friday, no.
Saturday, probably not.
Sunday, no.

Adam said, "We're busy."

I think it's better than the alternative of bored and lonely.

But I'm not sure.

If I weren't so busy, maybe I could take the time to contemplate that.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Emergency Preparedness



We're having a deck built in our back yard.  (I will post pictures when it's done...and you should also come over for a BBQ when it's done.  Unless you're a stalker.  Then stay away.)

Part of the deck is covered and the roof is outside our bedroom window.

Adam and Mark were surveying the scene out the window the other night and the following conversation ensued:

Mark:  If the house was on fire, we could throw the fan at the window to break it then rip the screen out.  Mom could go first and we could go out on the roof and then drop to the ground.

Adam:  Or we could open the window.

Mark:  Yeah, I guess.


Did he want me to go first in a magnanimous gesture of chivalry?  Or did he want me to be the first one to clear out shards of broken glass?

I didn't ask.




btw:  I survived the dentist.  It was a nice dentist office.  I don't want to build a summer home there, but it was a nice dentist office.  Sadly, I have a cavity, but if that is the only damage to my teeth, considering their neglect, I guess I'll take it.  Heather made all the difference.  I felt much more comfortable being in the hands of someone I know and trust.  Some people need a buddy to exercise.  Some people need a buddy to go to the dentist.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jittery

Good news:  Today I'm going to see my friend Heather.

Bad news:  She's works for a dentist.

She's going to clean my teeth and promised me after one of my posts about dentistry (and I seem to write about it a lot despite the angst/because of the angst) that she'd take good care of me.

Yesterday I mustered my courage and made an appointment.

For today.

Good, I thought.  I'll get it over with.

Then I remembered the death-bed-repentance-flossing that I needed to do.  Rats.  Now there's no time for that.  Yesterday when I sent Heather a facebook message telling her/warning her that I was coming to see her, she kindly wrote back that I should let her know what she could do to make me feel more comfortable.

I didn't answer, but now that I've thought about it:

Dear Heather,

Please pretend like I DO floss.  Please ignore any problems that need attention.  Please just hit me over the head with a shoe so I can be unconscious the whole time.

I love the comedian Mitch Hedberg as much as I don't like going to the dentist.  Here's what he said about it all:

I can't get into the whole flossing thing.  People who smoke cigarettes, they say "You don't know how hard it is to quit smoking." Yes I do. It's as hard as it is to start flossing.  

"You seem jittery."

"Yeah, I'm about to floss."

I'll let you know how it goes.

Assuming I survive.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Me, Whining. Again.

I'm a pretty boring person I think.  Conventional.  Married, three kids, suburbs.  Brown hair.  Brown eyes.  Nonathletic.  Not wealthy.  No criminal record.  Not one to make waves.

Except for sometimes.

Without meaning to.

My children and their education--it may be the death of me.  When I decided on a sunny day on the drive from Concord, California to my little apartment in East Bay that I would indeed homeschool Braeden, I don't think I knew what I was in for.

I know I didn't.

But here I am.  Homeschooling.  Divergent.  Constantly have to explain.  Some people approach my homeschooling like I'm crazy/have the plague.  Some people give me misplaced praise, saying things like, "I could NEVER do that."  They probably could.  I mean, I can.  Most people don't really care either way.

And I like that.

Now that I find myself trying to have both my older children attend school in unconventional ways, I'm feeling even more aberrant.  I'm stuck in a net of bureaucracy with different officials telling me different information with different levels of nice.

One kind lady at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI for us lucky enough to be interacting with them), told me about a bulletin I could find online that would have information I needed.  Yay!  A definitive source of information.  Something to arm myself with when I return to talk to Ms. Unhelpful (and not nice).

When I located it and printed it off, it seemed like the script the adults used in Peanuts cartoons.  Unintelligible.  At least to the likes of me.  I knew Adam would be able to decipher it so I set it aside for him to contemplate when he got home (along with Braeden's algebra...it isn't always easy being me, or having to admit my deficits to my teenage son).

All afternoon, I chided myself, "Why do I have to be different?  Why can't I just do things like everyone else and not have to lock horns with Ms. Unhelpful (and not nice)?

I don't know.

I don't.

But there it is.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Somebody Alert Wall Street



When I graduated from high school (almost 20 years ago...I know, I don't look that old.  Do I?  Do I? Never mind.) my mom, among other things, gave me office supplies.  I didn't realize I'd need them (because when I lived at home I always found that kind of stuff in my mom's desk) but they were a brilliant gift.  I've used the (left handed) scissors, tape dispenser, and stapler all these years.  She also bought me a box of staples.

5000 of them.

And I use staples.  Every day I staple history pages together.  Or literature.  Or phonics.

This past weekend, I ran out of staples. 

Yesterday I went to Target and bought a new box of staples.  5000 more for the next 20 years.  It cost $1.29.  I will never pretend to be a financial adviser but if you want to make a sound investment, I'd put my money on staples.

What a deal!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Continuing Saga

You may remember my past Shoe Wars post.  Like any good chronicle, it's long and episodic.  Mostly because the girl keeps needing shoes.

Friday night (after pedicures and Greek food--the boys and Adam had generously gone to Father and Son Camp), we went to the mall.  Our mission:  new church shoes for Emma.

Happily, thankfully, to my everlasting relief, our taste in clothes and shoes seems to be coinciding more often than not.  On the other hand, the appropriate height of a heel is not something we can see eye to eye on.  (Arguably, Emma wants high heels so she can see eye to eye with me...)

Our feet are the same size so gone are the days of cute little girl shoes.

But she's still little girl age.  At least when it comes to shoes.  At least in my mind.

Eleven is no time to be embracing stilettos...or anything approaching stilettos.  What it came down to is Emma wanted heels and I wanted none.  We compromised on a short heel but it had to be a wedge rather than a separate heel.

Emma wondered why that would possibly matter.

I had no idea.

But it did.

And when you're the one paying, sometimes you don't need to have all the answers.

We bought some wedge heels.  They're cute white slip-ons.  I'm hoping I'll inherit them someday when Emma's feet grow and mine do not.

As we were walking to the parking lot, Emma said, "I'm sorry, Mom."

"About what?"

"Arguing with you about the shoes."

If I'd been wearing unsteady high heels I would have fallen over.  Apologizing is a new skill Emma's acquired recently and it is disarming.

I assured her that like my mother and my tween self before her, mothers and daughters disagreed about high heels.

It's what we do.

Then we eat chocolate.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Mom

When I was growing up, sometimes on Mother's Day someone would speak in church and rhapsodize about the virtues of their mother.

My mom told us, "Don't you EVER do that."

But sometimes I want to rhapsodize about my mom.

Because I love her.

There is this problem though.

My mother is a poem I'll never be able to write
But everything I write is a poem to my mother.

Sharon Doubiago


I wish I had the words for my mother.  I struggle with the space in a greeting card.  I struggle here.  Everything I can come up with sounds trite and cliché. There's so much to thank her for--more and more I'm realizing as my motherhood experiences lengthen.  A great thing about growing up though is that my appreciation for her as a person, as a friend, expands.  She is fun to be with.  She has good advice.  She understands me.  She's as tough as nails.  If I ever needed anyone to help me...with just about anything...she'd be my first pick.

Happy Mother's Day to my dear mother.   Assuming there is anything praiseworthy about my siblings or me, it is because of your goodness...and the sheer force of your will.

I love you.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Make Way for Ducklings



Yesterday there was a mother duck in our neighborhood and her nine baby ducklings.

It really delighted me.

I was taking a walk with my friend Stephanie and had to call my kids on my cell phone and tell them to COME RIGHT NOW AND LOOK AT THESE DUCKS! 

I also had to admire/worry about the mother duck.  The lady had guts.  She'd strut out onto the street (without looking both ways) without caring if there was a car coming or not.  Her ducklings waggled after her.

Things are happening around here.  If you hear a cracking sound it's my heart breaking a little bit.  Braeden's going to part of school next year and Emma likely for the entire day (a longish story for another day).

Yesterday we went to the middle school to get Braeden registered.  Heady with the thoughts of How Grown Up I Am Now, Braeden started talking to me about when he'll be driving.  He thinks it will be just dandy and I...don't.

He decided a GREAT way to practice his driving would be, once he's sixteen and has a license, to drive by himself the nearly 800 miles to Nevada to visit my parents.  I laughed at him.  He said, "I'd take Emma and Mark."  Like that was going to make it better.  Then he said, "I'd leave early in the morning."  He was serious.  And I laughed at him again.

We stopped at Albertson's and he commandeered the shopping cart.  He said, "I'll push."  I looked hesitant I guess (I can't count the times the kid has accidentally run the cart into the backs of my legs in his 13 years) and Braeden said, "Come on, Mom.  It will give me practice driving."

So today it's hoping he doesn't run me down with a shopping cart and tomorrow it's hoping he doesn't run me down with a car.

Today it's registering him for middle school and tomorrow it will be him leaving me for the wide world.

I need to channel the dauntless mother duck.

I need courage.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Marie Antoinette Would Approve

You can never recreate the past. But you can shape your own future. And you can make a cake.
-- Jacqueline Duval

Last night I baked a cake.  Soft and fragrant with a mound of cream cheese frosting on top (something went a little awry with the frosting consistency but it still tasted good).

It had been that kind of day so why wouldn't I bake a cake?

There are people in the world that will tell you that cake isn't the answer to whatever ails you.

Don't trust those people.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When You've Got to Do What You've Got to Do

Yesterday afternoon I had a to do list.  Like every other day.

After the piano lesson run and mailing packages at the post office, my plan was to:

-organize the pictures I am going to order from Costco before my coupon expires

-finish refinishing the Finnish shelf I bought for our bathroom (it's not really Finnish, I just thought that would contribute to the sentence)

-clean the computer desk in the school room

-put away all the sundry items on the dresser in our bedroom

-exercise

-correct schoolwork and prepare school for tomorrow

-help Mark practice the piano

-fold the laundry

Here's what I did instead:

I read Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games).  All 391 pages.  In one afternoon.  It was an emergency.  I'm late arriving at The Hunger Games party.  I was scared to read them.  We read it for book club though and I have officially been swept up.

After reading all afternoon, I felt a little dizzy.  And guilty.

But the world didn't end.

And today I'll be the picture of productivity.  (I promise.)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Me, the Fashionista

On a whim I picked up this book at the library:



I took it to the pool to read while my kids swam.  I read/skimmed it in the 45 minutes we were there.

And I learned some things.

Nina and I live on different planets.

Which shouldn't be that surprising, I guess.  On the book it says, "From the hit show Project Runway and  Fashion Director, Elle Magazine."

I've neither watched Project Runway nor read Elle Magazine.

And I likely won't start.

There was good advice in the book...like get rid of stuff you don't wear in your closet.  It's an easy concept but every time I try to do it, I remember the cost of the perfectly good clothes I'm considering letting go.  Just because I never wear them doesn't mean...

Well, yes, it does.  I should get rid of them.

And I'll try.

The book recommended I "invest in the bones" of my wardrobe with "essential styles". Since we inhabit two different planets, I decided to add my version of her recommendation.  If Nina is confident to think she knows what every woman needs, then so am I!

The little black dress. ( I don't have one...I don't know where I'd wear one except the rare fancy date with Adam.  This would become one of those things I agonize about getting rid of because I never wear...)

I recommend:  An assortment of dresses/skirts for church.  Nothing too fancy.  Especially if you're teaching a primary class at church that feels like combat duty.  Long is good.  Less pasty white leg to show.  Also if you have a baby with a runny nose (which I used to have on occasion), the hem of a long full skirt is invaluable.

A classic men's white shirt (I don't have one.  She recommended borrowing one from your boyfriend/husband.  Has she seen the size of my husband?)

I recommend:  Land's End t-shirts. 

Cashmere cardigan or turtleneck (I don't have one.  Cashmere sort of makes me itch.  And like the comedian Mitch Hedberg said, "wearing a turtleneck is like getting strangled by a really weak guy all day."

I recommend: Cotton sweaters and cardigans.  They wear really well and keep you warm if you live under clouds north of Seattle.

A trench coat (I don't have one.  But this one is something I might consider.  I LOVE jackets/coats.  I live in a perfect place for jackets.  You never really need a heavy, warm coat but you almost always could use a light jacket.  I have a lot of jackets.  Why not add a trench coat?)

I recommend: Starting to look for a snazzy trench coat.

Denim (I have this covered.  I don't have any pants that aren't jeans.  See how cutting edge I am?)

I recommend:  Get some pairs of jeans you like and wear them every day.

A man's classic watch (I also like watches and I like big watches so maybe they'd qualify as men's?  I don't know.)

I recommend: Get a watch that doesn't bug you when you're typing on the computer. 

Diamonds (I have one, from Adam.  I love it. And him.)

I recommend: Big costume jewelry that's fairly cheap so if you have a restless child around you can let them play with it.

Ballet flats (I don't have any.  I'm not really that into shoes.  And I don't really like ballet flats.)

I recommend: Comfortable shoes.  They are directly related to happiness.

A classic high heel pump (I do like pumps...mostly because you can wear them instead of deciding what shoes to wear.  Again, me.  Cutting edge here.)

I recommend: Make sure they're versatile enough that you can chase down the Mark in your life after church if you need to.  (Or are your kids always behaved?)

A great bag She recommends that every woman should have:

-a tote or shoulder bag
-a clutch
-a medium-sized handbag, with a chain-link strap
-the must-have bag:  Chanel 2.55, Louis Vuitton Speedy, Gucci's Jackie O., Hérmes Birkin

I recommend: every woman should have:

-reusable grocery bags...big ones that hold a lot of stuff
-a big church bag...full of gum and mints and pens and loose paper (again, I'm thinking of Mark here)
-a purse...make sure there's an easily accessible cell phone spot in it
-the enormous bags from IKEA can be purchased for a song and when you have a lot of Christmas gifts to carry or beach towels to pack, they are the cat's meow

I don't know about those must-have bags.  I wouldn't recognize a Chanel 2.55, Louis Vuitton Speedy, Gucci's Jackie O, or Hérmes Birkin if it sat down beside me.

Maybe I'll write a book.  You can pick it up on a whim at the library if you need something to read while you're watching your kids swim.

The Suburban Woman's Guide to Sort of Slouchy But Comfortable Style.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Laundry

One of the great meetings at BYU Women's Conference was a moving presentation by Silvia Allred and Barbara Thompson,  the General Relief Society counselors.  They spoke about humanitarian aid the church has been involved with and showed video clips.

I was particularly touched by this woman from the Dominican Republic:

Howard Collett, LDS Philanthropies
Mayerlinth Reyes is fitted with two prosthetic legs while her daughter watches. Her new mobility will enable her to provide and care for her family.


This woman lost both of her legs as a result of an accident.  The video clip showed her with her new prosthetic legs, thrilled to be able to have the mobility she wanted.  She mentioned she was now able to do things like laundry and take care of her family.

I thought about how grateful I am for my two legs.

I'm grateful for my ability to do laundry.

And today I have plenty of laundry doing to be grateful about.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Welcome Home

I'm the only one awake in a quiet house about to leave for Ward Council.  I'm substituting today and inadequately at that.  I've been gone so I hope they don't expect me to know anything.  (I know very little when I've been home, minding the store.)

We had a happy reunion.  My children love me.  What more could I want?  Emma said she thinks Mark loves me most.  He talked about the countdown to me coming home the whole time I was gone.  I thought it was kind of funny that Emma would admit that her brother loves me more, but also true.  Although Braeden, crawling into my arms "for a snuggle" may give the wild redhead a run for his money.  When Braeden gets too big to crawl into my arms (soon), I'll have to crawl into his.

All is right with the world to be back beside Adam.  He is the stability in this world that I need.  This morning I reread his blog posts from when I was gone.  He is generous and kind when it comes to me.  He also makes me laugh.

I feel ready to burst with gratitude for this happy little life I lead.  I'd better wrap this up though.  I don't want to be clueless and late for Ward Council.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Because I Can

My mind is probably too muddled for me to be posting on this blog.

But here's the thing:  I brought my Compé and have not had internet access until now...in the SLC airport.  In order to make it worthwhile to have carried this thing around, I have to use it.

So sorry if I'm incoherent.  I'll try to be more organized in my thoughts after I've had about 30 hours of sleep.  I think that's what it will take.

For now I want to say that I am thrilled to be going home to my family.  I missed them.  I love them.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my parents and Ammon and Melanee and Cormac.  I adore my grandma.  I got to see my aunt Mary too.  It's been good.

Staying at my grandma's house is kind of reminiscent of everything wonderful that happened in my life growing up.  Everything that meant anything involved my grandma.

If I hadn't already been wrenched of every tear from all of the emotion of the weekend, I would have cried last night in my grandma's family room when we knelt to pray and I heard my grandma pray for my family and for me.  Can anything top hearing your beloved grandmother pray just for you?  I can't think of it if there is.

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