Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I have learned a lot from homeschooling.  I have learned how my children's little minds work (I have learned a lot about them).  I have learned different teaching methods (different things work better for different children) and I have learned from their curriculum.  Since Mark is my third child, I remember teaching most of the information to Braeden and Emma already.  Occasionally there's something that seems like brand new knowledge to me though.  (Maybe I need to work on my capacity to retain...)

The other day, in science we were reading about different states of matter, Mark (and I) learned that when you heat ice, it stays at 0 degrees Celsius until it is completely melted.  Interesting!

I shared my newly acquired knowledge at dinner.  Everyone told me they'd already known that.  I wasn't surprised that Adam already knew that because he already knows everything (which is annoying unless you need him to give you an answer to something...then it's helpful).  I thought I would at least impress Braeden and Emma.  Nope.  They already knew.

I decided to share my knowledge with the seminary carpool the next morning.  (I can't remember why it came up.)  I asked them if they knew about ice staying at 0 degrees Celsius until it's all melted.  They, who are always surprisingly chipper at 5:45 in the morning, (I am by far the least awake one in the van and I'm the one driving. Don't tell their mothers.) told me that yes, they knew that.

I said that I'd learned that teaching Mark science.  Braeden added that I wasn't a very good science teacher because it's my least favorite subject.  While true, I found that an unsupportive statement at 5:45 in the morning.

So I learned a second lesson.  If you have some interesting new tidbit that you think will enlighten other people and make them think, "Wow, that Thelma certainly knows her science,"  just keep it to yourself.  Everyone already knows. (I mean they already know the interesting tidbit.  No one is thinking "that Thelma certainly knows her science.")

Books I Read in November

I started to read:

A Covert Affair by Jennet Conant**

I wanted to read it.  I wanted to like it.  Then I decided I wanted to read something more interesting.  Didn't grab me after 50 pages.  I usually don't have the staying power to read on if it feels like homework.  I gave it two stars instead of just one because this rating system of mine makes an incredible amount of sense in my own head and I do think this would be an intriguing book if I were less shallow.

I did read:

Whirligig by Paul Fleischman***

This book is young adult fiction.  I read it because Emma's language arts teacher said they'd be reading it and that it was "controversial" so we may want to read it ahead of time.  I felt like I won Great Mother points because I actually remembered the title of the book and found it at the library.

I read it with a picky eye (because I was looking for the controversy).  I didn't really find much controversy.  I didn't like the way a few middle school girls talked about how they needed boyfriends to be acceptable because as eighth graders they were at the peak of their beauty (!).  They were minor characters though and hopefully seen through for their silliness when Emma reads it.

It was a great book about redemption and what matters.  I liked it.

Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah ***

I love Kristin Hannah books and I have to read them cautiously because they have a way of taking over my life.  This book is about a sad marriage and lost people.  It's also about courage and hope and forgiveness and I liked it.

Crossed by Ally Condie ***

I am usually not a sci-fi fan but there are exceptions.  I like Ally Condie.  We met her and she was lovely and kind.  I enjoyed Matched which goes before Crossed.  I am looking forward to the third book in the series.  These books are intended for a YA audience I think but they are interesting for adults too.

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani***

As I rule, I like books by Adriana Trigiani.  Her characters are fabulous.  This book wasn't one of my favorites.  The main character Valentine, had all these issues to work through and it dragged a little.  (Just get over yourself already.)  But I still enjoyed the book.  I like books that transport me to different places like this one did.

I also am cleaning our master closet and bathroom for November and it turns out December too.  Big job.  Big, big job.  And there's a lot going on otherwise as well.  You know, Christmas stuff.  My linen closet (which is in the master bathroom) is currently a thing of beauty.  Sheet sets are folded into dignified bundles with the pillowcases housing the corresponding sheets.  Lovely.  It wouldn't work if anyone else folded them because no one else would take the time.  But since I fold the sheets, I am in charge of the destiny of my linen closet.

Now someone needs to be in charge of the destiny of the shelves in my closet.

My Lists Have Lists

I cope with any sort of busy-ness with list making.  Lists, lists, glorious lists!  They keep me from worry.  If it's on the has a prayer of getting done.  My children know that mantra.  They know if they have a request for me, I need to write it down.

But around this time of year, my lists become monstrous.  There are the gifts (choosing, buying, wrapping, sending), there's the food (this year I'm trying several varieties of fudge...I have a list of the kinds I want to attempt), there are the to dos (send Christmas cards, plan events, decorate).

Then there's my regular full time jobs...home schooling and mothering and chauffeuring and housekeeping.

You know what I mean.  This isn't something unique to just me.

The other day I was talking to Stephanie.  She's my friend for very many reasons and here's one of them.  I told her I felt busy with the Christmas season upon us.  She said, "Yes.  But it's all joyful."

And it is.

pepperkaker hanging in my front window

I need to remember not to let the frenzy eclipse the joy.  Because that would really be missing the point.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I've Got A Cousin for That

A few years ago, I realized that I have 50 cousins.  50!  I like that it's such a nice round number.  I have also realized that when you have 50 cousins, you pretty much have every type of person as a cousin.

I have cousins who remind me of snotty teenage girls I see in movies.   I have cousins who aren't doing much of anything with their lives.  I have successful ambitious cousins who impress me.  I have musician cousins and a professional football player cousin.  I have funny cousins who make me laugh.  I have kind and adored cousins who I wish were my neighbors.  (I have cousins who I am glad are not my neighbors.)  I have creative cousins who dazzle me.

Hannah dazzles me.

This morning I saw her blog post and had to share it with the world.

I have two questions for Hannah:

1-How did you get so spectacular?

2-Will you adopt me?

Friday, November 25, 2011


For Thanksgiving dinner, I was assigned to take rolls, sweet potatoes and dessert.

These were all things I thought I could handle.  I make bread every livelong week.  I have made rolls fairly often.  My love affairs with sweet potatoes and dessert make them familiar undertakings around here.

I made the rolls Wednesday afternoon.  I quadrupled the recipe.  Last time I made rolls for a family gathering, they were a fail.  I am trying to perfect a perfect whole wheat roll recipe and they're not...perfect yet.  It seemed to be going better this time.  I thought I had a better merger of the wheat flour and gluten and lecithin.  Then, since it was a quadruple recipe, I put them in 9x13 pans so I could bake more at once. (I can fit two of those pans in my oven, but not two cookie sheets.)

This was a mistake.

The tops (and bottoms) were nicely browned but when they were cooled, I realized they were not sufficiently cooked inside.

So I called my mom.  (What else?)

She said to try baking them some more.  I did.  But I felt demoralized.  All that work and I didn't think the rolls were going to be all that good.

Adam (a.k.a. the fixer of demoralization) took me to the store with him after the kids went to bed. First he bought me a pumpkin pie milkshake at Jack in the Box because he knows my currency.  By the time we'd wandered the store and bought Brussels sprouts for Adam's creative contribution to Thanksgiving and yogurt just because we're impulsive like that, I was cheered up. 

Thanksgiving dawned with promise and I donned an apron and got to work.  I planned to make pumpkin spice whoopie pies for dessert...something different.  There's Jill, my across the street bestie and then there's Jill whose blog I've recently found and enjoy.  The blogging Jill posted a recipe that I decided to try.  I thought they'd be a nice contrast to the actual pies.

I was humming along and then I realized that I had messed up.  Again.  I'm really pretty lousy at following recipes.  If I'm doing anything like talking on the phone or am involved with peace talks between warring children or the like, I usually mess up something.  Adam responded to my cry of anguish and came into the kitchen.  "What happened?" he asked.  I told him that I was doubling the recipe.  It called for 1/2 cup of milk and I'd put in 2 cups of milk.

He said, "How did that happen?"  He seemed incredulous.  I think it's a kind thing to seem shocked when someone does something stupid.  Much better than if he'd acted like he expected me not to be able to add 1/2 + 1/2.  (By the way, can you do me a favor and not mention this to the Snohomish School District?  If they learn what a dolt I am, they will come and take Mark away from me and not let me homeschool.  And I would really miss that guy.)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies turned into Pumpkin Cakes.  I used the maple cream cheese filling for frosting and it was lovely.  I still want to try the whoopie pies someday.  I'll have to build up my courage.

We went to Adam's mom's house for Thanksgiving.  It was a terrific day.  Adam's cousin Kristie was there and I had a great visit with her.  (I had no idea when I married Adam that I would like some of his cousins so very much.)  Braeden got to laugh with his uncles, Emma was happy with girl cousins and Kristie's sons provided fun for Mark.  Adam chatted with his cousins (who are older) and learned things about his grandfather, who died when Adam was only seven.  It was altogether nice.

As is our custom, we went to the movie in the evening.  We watched The Muppets.

 All five of us loved it!  I can't recommend it enough.  It was funny and sweet and there were lots of '80s references that made me laugh.  You should see it.

Late last night when we crawled into bed, a little jittery from the big Diet Coke we'd shared during the movie, I slid my ice cold feet over to Adam's warm feet which he never minds.

I thought about our day.  I thought about all that I'm blessed with in my life, all that I'm grateful for.  I realized something.

On my list of things I'm thankful for, Adam's the first ten things.  At least.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Alphabetically Speaking

raking leaves at Grandma Geri's house--lovely autumn!

I am grateful for:

Adam and Ammon (my baby brother)
Braeden and Bread
Coralee (my mom) and Cousins
Diet Coke and Daydreams
Emma and Enoch (my biggest little brother)
Fall and Forgiveness
Grandparents and Geri (Adam's mom)
Holidays and Home
Ice Cream and IKEA
Janet and Jill
Kitchens and kites
Limes and Linn (Adam's dad who we miss)
Mark, Mark (my dad) and Marianne (my favorite sister)
Nieces and Nephews
Olivia (my favorite sister) and Oranges
Peanut butter and Plays
Quilts and Quirks
Remembering and Road trips
Stephanie and Sisters-in-law
Tabor (my middlest little brother) and Texting
Umbrellas and Uncles (my kids often tell me they have the funniest uncles in the world)
Vans and Vacations
Washington and Washing machines (clothes and dishes!)
X-rays and Xylophones (because what other words start with X?)
Yoga and Yogurt (frozen)
Zippers and Zzzzzzzzzz (especially)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Surviving Long Division

When I had three children to homeschool, I was dazzlingly busy.  It was a full time job.  Homeschooling Mark still takes a big block of time but is a less intense.  I love it.  I love spending time with my boy.

I mean, look how cute and cuddly he is.

Here's what is hard:  the in between time.  Mark will be working on an assignment and he is working fairly independently, maybe with just a question now and then.  And I am sitting there.  Inactive.

It didn't happen when I was a school teacher in a classroom.  There was always someone who needed something.  It didn't even happen when I had all three at home.  There was always something.

Now, I can sometimes slip away and do a quick task...the laundry room is directly off the school room.  Sometimes I have time to make my bed, or load the dishwasher.  (But I have to be careful.  My little sprite is an opportunist and he'll escape if he sees an opening.)

And then sometimes, Mark is doing long division.  For reasons known only to the writer of our math curriculum, it moves at a breakneck speed.  In a matter of weeks Mark learned all the multiplication facts, zipped through division and has moved onto long division.  I say "learned" but not really.  He has a solid grasp on about half of the times tables (which I think is pretty good actually).  So he needs me to be available as he toils away at long division.

It's not active time, like when I'm teaching him a concept.  I just need to be there at his elbow, reminding him to now subtract, now bring down the next number, and 8x7 is 56.

It makes me a little crazy to sit there not doing anything except supplying an occasional long division prompting.

Inactivity makes me itchy.  I needed a mindless task to keep me from losing my mind.

I found a perfect candidate, a paper chain.

Awhile ago, I got a book from Amazon that was numbered incorrectly.  The good people at Amazon sent me another one.  (Wow, they have good people there.  Handsome too.)  I didn't toss the mis-numbered one in the recycling because I wanted to do something with the lovely printed pages.


I found a perfect candidate, a paper chain.

I've been slicing paper into strips (and all the while helping with long division).

I've been looping them into hearts (and helping with long division).

I've been linking them into a chain (while helping with long division).

I think I'll wrap it around my Christmas tree.  Or not.  I'll see how it looks.  Maybe I'll just end up with a chain to rival Marley's Ghost.

Either way.  It gives me something to do during long division

Friday, November 18, 2011

Errand Day

Dear cranky lady in the Costco line behind me,

Stop being so cranky.  The woman up there ahead of us was writing a check.  Remember checks?  You looked like you are old enough to remember crooning along with Bing Crosby so I bet you remember checks.  She was not "writing a letter" like you queried in a snarky tone.  Be patient.

Dear check writer,

Really?  You were writing a check?

Dear grandma sitting at Costco waiting for your husband to buy a hot dog,

You're adorable.  I loved your amiable smile.  You reminded me of my Grandma Dahl.

Dear Costco guy that loaded my cart,

When you weren't putting my stuff in the bags I brought but stacking it in the cart, I was more harsh than I meant to be when I said, "If you won't put the stuff in the bags, will you hand it to me so I can?"  Sheesh.  I should take my own advice and be more patient.  I'm sorry. (And thanks for putting all my stuff in the bags.)

Dear library worker,

Thanks for pointing us to the Dinosaur books for Mark's school report.  He was two and a half seconds from losing patience and I appreciate your help.

Dear returns guy at Target,

Thanks for letting me return those shoes.  Mark wore them outside for about an hour then he told me his feet hurt.  I told you they had been worn outside, you carefully inspected them (I had worked hard to clean them!) and then gave me my money back. 

Dear woman at Safeway,

I noticed you because your oldest child, who kept lagging behind was named Braeden and you kept calling his name to keep him in tow.  Our paths criss-crossed a little through the store and you had your hands full with a toddler, newborn and Braeden who was a preschooler and wouldn't keep up.

We left the store about the same time too and by then your toddler daughter was screaming at the top of her lungs.  I wanted to tell you two things but I didn't think you would hear me over the racket she was making.  1) You're doing a great job as a mother and 2) It does get easier.  Grocery shopping, that is.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The First One

When I was in high school, I was at my Aunt Mary's house on Thanksgiving morning.  She opened a closet and showed me stacks of wrapped Christmas presents.  She told me, while grinning like a Cheshire cat, that her gifts were complete

It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

I'm not quite as on the ball as my aunt, but I aspire to her greatness.  I aspire.

I get that not everyone shares this view.  Braeden told me his friends thought it was weird that I decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving.  (Who didn't see that coming?  My kids talking with their friends about how weird I am.)

But I love it.  I'm the early bird and Christmas is the worm.  It combines everything I like:  planning ahead and buying gifts and Christmas!  What's not to love?

Yesterday I wrapped the first gift.  It was a rather big gift for Adam (Curious, Adam?) and I wasn't sure where to hide it so I decided to wrap it.

My mom told me "only Thelma" would take a picture of Christmas decorations.  I don't think that's strictly true but I took a picture of the first gift because I think my mom would also think "only Thelma" would do that.

When you're the middle-ish child in a big family I guess you'll do anything to get attention.

to Santa from the Mrs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Photo Shoot

I wanted a picture of our three darlings for a Christmas card.

We're not one of those families who:

1) can smile at a camera in unison
2) is very cooperative about family photos

I decided to try anyway.

I determined the apple green wall in Emma's room would be a good backdrop.  (green = Christmas, am I right?)  I gathered the troops and promised them a treat if they were cooperative.  I was thinking The Spotted Cow for ice cream or Starbucks for peppermint hot chocolate.

We got all artsy and added a picture frame:

It didn't help.

We finally got a tolerable picture.

But they didn't get a treat.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's That Time of Year

Every year about this time:

I talk to my sisters persistently about what our children are getting for Christmas.

I try to devise a fresh take on our Christmas card.

I create a Christmas spreadsheet (spreadsheets make the nerdy list maker in me supremely happy).

I find some new Christmas music.

(I think I've found this year's addition to our collection.)

I hunt for a Christmas decoration my grandma will like so I can send it to her.

I assess my wrapping paper and tell myself not to buy more.  (Sometimes I don't listen to myself.)

And I go to IKEA to see what they have.

Last night we ventured to the blue and yellow mecca.  We were meeting Adam there and got there before him.  So logically, we ate some cake.

Mark and I shared a piece of chocolate and Braeden and Emma shared some apple cake.

Have you had that chocolate cake?  You should.

After cake, we decided to check Mark into Småland.  He was excited.  I typed in all of his information and got to the door where they had a new sign posted.  A new policy:  age no longer mattered for admittance.  Now, you had to be the right height.

And Mark was at least two inches too tall.

(I don't think it's very sporting of a Swedish company to discriminate against a kid who has his Scandinavian roots to blame for his height.)

And after Mark hit the IKEA showroom, they may change the policy to keep him contained in a ball pit.  He approached the store like it was a parkour course.  He also had to see if every prop computer would really work.

None of them did.  But I know that because he tried every.  One.

We were not too far along our way when Adam texted that he was there.  I turned around and started walking the wrong way.  Braeden, who will be the one to make sure I don't leave the stove on in my dotage, became concerned.

"Mom!  You're walking the wrong way."

I said, "No I'm not."

He said, "Yes, you are.  Look at the arrows.  They're pointing back that way."

"No they're not." I kept walking.

He was really worried then.  "Mom, look, see we've walked this way before."

"No we haven't," I said.

I think Braeden thought my declining years had arrived.

Emma said, "Braeden.  She. Is. Messing. With. You."

I don't know about this sick pleasure I get in causing my children anxiety like that.  Braeden was edgy until we met up with Adam and he realized maybe I wasn't crazy after all.

The kids all want chairs that swivel.


Which I must veto because all that swiveling would make me car sick.

Finally it was time for the pièce de résistance.  The Christmas decorations.  There's something about straw and bright red this time of year.

They make my heart sing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

When You Have A Twelve Year Old Daughter

You can lay on her bed and talk about what you have each been writing.

She sometimes wants hugs and is chatty.  She sometimes recoils from your touch and wants to be left alone.

You can give her advice on hair, clothes, books to read, cleaning her room...and she'll ignore every word.

Sometimes she stays up until 2:00 a.m. reading.

She'll do surprising things like dishes without being asked, or she'll help her younger brother clean his room.  (Or she'll tell him to "go away.")

She will make you laugh with her cleverness and ability to remember funny lines from books and movies.

She will make you wonder at what goes on in her mind when you read her poetry.

You may have the exact same color of eyes...

...but she may have better eyelashes.  (Do I even have eyelashes?)

Having a twelve year old daughter means loving a headstrong, sometimes timid, sometimes confident, always creative, affectionate, prickly, sensational girl.

At least for me that's what it means.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dreams Really Do Come True

Wednesday I posted "Ten Things I Want".

Number one on the list was that I wanted my neighbors to paint all of their trim--as opposed to just some of it.  It may not matter so much but the new trim is bright red.  And the house looked odd with partially bright red trim and partially white trim.

Thursday, after months of leaving it partway done, they finished painting their trim.  (Do you think they read my blog?)

Number two on the list was to sleep until it was light outside.

Friday, since there was no school, I slept until it was light outside.

I am thinking I should have been more ambitious with my wishlist.  I didn't realize the wishes were going to be systematically granted.

Friday was a nice day altogether.  (And I needed such a nice day because it was at the tail end of the busiest week I've had in recent memory.)  I sat next to Braeden on the couch and caught up on Everything.  I talked on the phone with my parents and both sisters.  I watched the wind blow autumn leaves around and then watched the rain come down.  I needed to do errands and invited Braeden to join me.  He agreed, then Mark reminded him that Braeden had promised to play on the computer with him.  We haven't seen nearly enough of Braeden lately and everyone is clamoring for time with him.  (When I am gone they just throw a party and eat a lot of Chinese food.)

Braeden felt torn and I told him it was OK if he stayed home with Mark, but I felt a little lonely.  There was a time, not so long ago that doing errands without kids would have been another dream come true but now I really wanted Braeden's company.  I thought, "I should have enjoyed it while I had the chance."

I remembered I needed to get dinner in the crockpot so the boys played and Braeden came with me after all.  It made me so happy I bought him lunch.

At the grocery store, Braeden and I chatted and then he'd wander off to go check something out and then he'd find me again. I saw a harried man try to keep his toddlers close by while he was shopping and I remembered those days and realized that the reason I didn't enjoy it when I had the chance is because taking small children to the store isn't all that enjoyable.  I'll just enjoy it now, instead of wishing I'd enjoyed it then.

At Costco, Braeden started gasping for air when he saw the pile of new Inheritance books.  He's loved the series by Christopher Paolini.   I bought it for him.  (In hindsight, considering the lunch, Harry Potter DVDs and book, it would have been more cost effective to let Braeden stay home and play with Mark...)  Braeden was thrilled with the book and couldn't wait to start reading it.  When we left Costco, he was pushing the cart that weighed approximately 1000 pounds and asked me to carry the book under my coat so it wouldn't get rained on.  As we were crossing the parking lot, he cautioned, "Don't drop it OK, Mom?"

Does he realize that I used to carry him around and never once dropped him?

I cleaned my kitchen when we got home because unfortunately even though I put a self cleaning kitchen on my list of wants, that hasn't happened.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tell Me You're Still Acting

The moment we walked into the darkened theater I saw the bare stage and spotlights, it all rushed back: the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd, the chills, thrills, magic, mystery, and wonder.

--Sarah Ban Breathnach

This week, I have spent every evening at Braeden's school, helping to feed the cast for the school play.  Braeden is in the play* and so my service in feeding them is very self-interested.  It's my one big chance each day to see my son.  I love to see my dear boy interacting with his friends.  I love meeting his new drama friends...who are um, dramatic.  One night, Braeden led me backstage to show me the set.  It was electrifying.

the set

In my tiny little high school, I was in school plays.  I remember rehearsing on an empty stage and then the magic that happened the week of the play when the set was complete.  It was a different world.

Speaking of different worlds, Braeden's school and mine hardly resemble each other.  At his school there's a parent Drama Booster Club.  The parents provide meals for Tech Week and sell tickets and help advertise and sew costumes and build the sets and print glossy programs and sell concessions at the performances.  There's a make-up room with big lighted mirrors and counter space to spread out.  There's a costume room. 

In my school, our director's kids sold tickets at the door.  There was a xeroxed copy of a program.  I think our director and a handful of kids did the sets.  We found our own costumes and did each others' make-up in a classroom, sans mirror.  Oh, and the final week of rehearsals, when we were there late (even later when the lead--often Marianne--had basketball practice too) we brought a sandwich from home.  That's it.

But it was still exciting.  I loved it.

At my ten year high school reunion, my drama teacher was there.  He was always kind, a little bit creepy, a lot phony and always, always dramatic.

He said, "Thelma!  Tell me you're still acting!" (As if the world would feel the loss if I wasn't.)

I didn't even know what to say to that.  I was a young mother with two preschoolers and zero interest or time for acting.  It did however provide a lot of entertainment to Olivia when I told her later.  Occasionally she'll say to me, "Tell me you're still acting!"

Walking onto the set the other night with Braeden, I thought about being in school plays.  I felt a little shiver of excitement for my son.

And I realized I AM still acting.

I am acting like I know what I'm doing being the mother of three very unique children with diverse needs.  I have been acting for a long time.

And it's still just as scary and exhilarating as opening night.

*Braeden is an understudy but will be in the performance on November 12. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

---Shel Silverstein

My mom used to say sometimes that I had "school bus sickness".  I was sick until after the school bus had come and gone, then I had a miraculous recovery.

I admit, sometimes I just didn't want to go to school.

Mark seemed to inherit this proclivity for illness from me.  He's sick every morning.  Deathly ill.  He moans and groans and promises me he slept horribly and can't possibly do school.  Yesterday morning he told me his "stomach was about to explode."  I asked him if he wanted to eat anything.  He moaned that he'd better not.  I asked my little boy who cried wolf if he wanted toast?  Yogurt?  Cheese?  (Cheese, he always wants.)

He wanted none of it.

To further make his case, he told me he was sure he wouldn't be able to play with his friends later because he was SO sick.

I kind of ignored his ailments like I usually do.

A few minutes later he said maybe he should eat and he knew just what he wanted, some of the Chicken Tikka Masala leftover from the night before.  He whistled as he went about heating it up.  (Poor sick baby.)

When I went into the kitchen I saw that in addition to his steaming bowl of spicy Indian food, he had also helped himself to a Coke.  (Which I vetoed.)

I texted Adam with our son's cure to his gastrointestinal ailments.

He texted back, "His take on the BRAT diet."

Ah, I remember the BRAT diet.  I remember when my little ones had upset tummies and I'd give them Bananas, Rice, Applesauce or Toast.

I wish I'd known then that Chicken Tikka Masala is really the cure.  Because Mark had a miraculous recovery once he had eaten it (and once he realized I was not paying attention to his afflictions).

When Mark's not too busy being sick, he loves to take pictures of himself.  Unsettling pictures of himself.

Ten Things I Want

A Sunday on La Grande Jat (from Wikipedia)

 1. I want to tell people that if they're going to paint some of the trim on their house, they need to paint all of the trim on their house.  (And by people I mean my across the street neighbor.  No, not Jill.)

2. I want to sleep until it's not dark anymore in the morning.

3. I want to tell someone at the high school that there are two misspelled words in the fight song that is posted larger than life in the gym.

4. I want to shrink wrap my children so they'll stop growing.  Especially Mark.  His feet are almost as big as mine and that's ridiculous.

5. I want a self cleaning kitchen.

6. I want my sisters and brothers to be my neighbors...and my parents.  (Oh, and if you become my neighbors, will you paint all the trim on your house?)

7. I want a do over on homeschooling Emma.  She's as sharp as a little tack but the other day she didn't remember who Seurat was.  Who cares if the girl can spell and do algebra?  She ought to remember who Seurat is.

8. I want to clone myself so my cloned self can go to boring meetings and my real self can stay home and be with Adam.

9. I want to sign my rhododendron up for some sort of remedial class so it can figure out the seasons.  It's blooming.

10. I want courage to pursue my dreams and perspective to know what dreams are worth pursuing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Peter Pan

“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.”
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Some days Braeden tells me he doesn't want to be growing up.  Growing up means new adventures but some days it just means early, early mornings, hard school work, limited free time and lots of demands. 

Some days Braeden wishes he was Peter Pan, living in Neverland, fighting pirates and never growing up.

A while ago, I was trying to reach something in my top cupboard in my laundry room.  Usually I have to drag a chair in to stand on but in an effort to save time, I was just trying to stretch and reach it.  On my tip toes, it was just barely out of my grasp.  In frustration, and without thinking about it, I called to Braeden.  "Can you reach that bottle for me?" I asked.

A slow smile spread over his face and the realization dawned on both of us.  For the first time, I asked my boy to do something that I physically could not do.  Flat footed and with ease, he reached the bottle and handed it to me.

In that moment, I think Neverland had lost a little of its shine.  Braeden was glad to be growing.

For this post, I decided I wanted a nice picture of Braeden and me standing next to each other.

I asked Adam to take a picture of us and he said, "What do you want the picture to be?"

I said I wanted to look beautiful.  Too much to ask?


here Braeden is just about to say something cheeky or has just said something cheeky

here I am in the middle of smacking him because getting him to stand still and not be goofy is nearly impossible...but he does make me laugh

here's the best we could come up, I love this boy

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meeting Ally Condie

Hannah, Ally Condie, Emma and Freja

Last Friday Jill and I took our girls and Freja to Seattle to meet Ally Condie, the author of Matched and the latest book in the series, Crossed.

First, if you're going to go to Seattle with three giggly and excited girls, I recommend Jill as a traveling companion.  Maybe everything's better with Jill.

We navigated Friday evening traffic and found our way to the University Book Store in the U District.  We found our seats and the girls were ready to go, alternately bouncing in their seats and saying, "I'm SO excited" to each other.

(Emma and I are both extremely lucky in our friends.)

Ally Condie was well spoken and kind and interesting.  I want to be her when I grow up (although I think I'm already older than she is).  Jill promised me that she'd be my agent and come to my book signing (assuming I, you know, ever have one).

Ally Condie took time to chat with each person in the line.  She agreed to pose for multiple pictures with our group.  She was gracious and sweet.  Emma, who is often too shy to order food in a restaurant, was a chatterbox.  She went on and on about how she herself is writing a story and how she usually doesn't like science fiction but loved Matched.

I think it made Emma's day.

And when I see that smile on my girl's face...

it makes my day.

In case you were wondering what my boys were doing while we were away, you are in luck!  Adam posted on his blog.  (I love it when he does that.  I love his writing.  And him.  I don't love all his pizza ideas.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

On a Sunny Saturday

In October, Adam was asked to help referee for an LDS Institute Young Single Adult flag football tournament.  It included teams from Tacoma to Bellingham.  (If you're not from here, that includes a swath 120 miles long with a whole lot of people in the middle.)

Adam loves to referee (why, I can't say...I would rather do just about anything) so he immediately said yes.  I asked him if he knew how to referee flag football (he'd only refereed basketball as far as I knew).  He said, "No, but it's at Husky Stadium."

That did add a little something.

Our children and I went to watch him for the first couple of hours (he refereed for over 6 hours with a 12 minute break).  It was my first time being in Husky Stadium at the University of Washington.  Apparently the wave originated there at a football game in 1981.  Who knew?  The kids figured out that if they navigated a short wall they could get to the Tyee Club which is where the luxury seats are.  We sat there and watched Adam boss around flag football players.

The view was stunning, the day was sunny with a perfect not too warm, not too cool temperature and we had the Tyee Club to ourselves.

Lake Washington...people tailgate at the football games in boats.  (People that own boats do at least.)

What was not to love?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What I Cleaned in October

In October I cleaned our bedroom.  It's (ridiculously) the biggest room in our house.  (I want to carve off a corner of our bedroom and attach it to the kitchen.)  Because of its size, it sort of became a depository for random furniture and belongings that didn't have a home otherwise.

Then I got tired of that.

I took back our bedroom.  I moved furniture out and moved around the existing furniture (by I, I mean Adam and strong children moved things, I pointed directions).

I created a little seating area in the corner.

Then, I tackled the dresser.  Its drawers contain craft and sewing supplies because all of our clothes are housed in our closet.  I wish I had a before picture of the drawers to show you.  (No I don't, you'd be horrified.)

They were scary drawers.  The kind of place where you had to leave a trail of bread crumbs to find your way out.  I took everything out and sorted and sifted and ended up with this.

And this.

I even got exceptionally carried away (because I love organizing and compartmentalizing as much as the next person) and wrapped up all the loose, random lengths of ribbon.

Oh, what a thing of beauty is a little organization!

(I took pictures in case it doesn't last.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Books I Read In October

The Peach Keepers by Sarah Addison Allen***

I like this author.  I like how her novels are completely realistic with believable characters that I can relate to and then there's something magical involved.  It kind of delights me.  This wasn't my favorite book by her but I still liked it.

Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson**

Again an author I usually like but this wasn't my favorite.  She writes a series about a caterer who also solves murders.  The detective part is mostly interesting to me and I mainly like reading about the food (these books make me hungry).

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery***

This book took me a little while to get into.  Usually I don't have the patience to persist with a book after 50-100 pages if I'm not completely interested but this one was highly recommended.  I ended up liking it.  There were interesting characters, fascinating ideas and beautiful language.  It also felt a little bit like homework from my college philosophy class.  Emma asked me if she could read it.  I told her it may be a little too hard.  She doesn't like to hear that.  I told her to read any random paragraph.  She did and handed it back to me.  "I see what you mean."

Letters From Home by Kristina McMorris ****

I re-read this book because my book club read it and I loved the book and wanted to revisit it.  It is compelling and romantic and pleasant (as long as you skim the war parts which I did because I don't like to read about war).

I'm a skimmer.

I even drink skim milk.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Mark is Getting For Christmas

The Cub Scouts took a field trip to The Northwest Animal Hospital.  (If I had pets--which I can't see happening any time soon--I would take them to The Northwest Animal Hospital.  After hosting us, Dr. Johnson is my favorite vet he's my neighbor and Stephanie's husband.)

He let the boys try on the heavy, lead aprons and gloves they use when they do x-rays.

Look how sedate and calm Mark looks.  He is holding perfectly still.  (He doesn't have a choice...all his effort is being used to keep himself upright.)

The possibilities!  If Mark had an apron like that, we could use it at church, during school, at the grocery store.

No more "Hold still, Mark," no more, "Stop running around."

Mark's constantly trying to catch gravity unawares.

I'm all about giving gravity a little help.


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