Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Four years ago, on leap day, I was at Trafalgar Square in London with Braeden and Emma.  They loved to climb the lion sculptures.  I wasn't sure if that was OK but I could plead the ugly American so I let them.

I decided that was a pretty good way to spend an extra day.

This year I am here.

I am convinced that I should be a snowbird when I grow up.  I love deserts.  I love sunshine.  I love dry heat.  Who am I kidding?  In February, I love any kind of heat.

In July, I will be thanking my lucky northwest stars that I am in Seattle, where people are happy and summer is mild.

Mark may or may not have been really excited to be on the plane.

A lot of pictures were snapped out the window with my phone.  Here's the difference between the place we left:

And the place we landed:

A little bit more water in Seattle.

But Palm Desert is a delightful little place.  (Maybe when I am a snowbird when I grow up I can work for the chamber of commerce life's purpose will be to tell people how lovely Palm Desert is.)  There are palm trees (naturally) and citrus trees, heavy with fruit.  There are flowers blooming everywhere and the horizon is my favorite kind of horizon, filled with mountains.

There's an In 'n Out Burger.

Paradise, people.  Paradise.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

When Baby Made Four

Emma's birthday cake this year:  a result of an oven that self destructed (it's since been fixed) and spectacular friends.  Leif made the cupcakes for Emma and Janet added the lovely frosting.  I may pretend my oven is broken for all future birthdays.  (Forget you just read that Janet.)

 Two things happened recently that reminded me.

 1) On Emma's birthday, Braeden wanted stories about when she was a baby.  He is always wanting stories.  My historian.

2) My brother and his wife welcomed their second baby, a little girl, into the world.  (Welcome aboard, Azure!  I am looking forward to meeting you.)

I remembered the first few days of Emma's life.  The day we brought her home from the hospital, I lay Emma in the middle of our bed and went about putting things away.  Luckily, that didn't take me very far from Emma because Braeden covered her entire body with a pillow.  He said he wanted to play hide and seek with her.

When my heart started beating again,  I explained to Braeden fervently that he was never to do that.

I felt slightly alarmed about this whole mother of two proposition.

My mom came to visit and kept us fed and cared for and kept Braeden from playing hide and seek with Emma. She stayed for several days and it was lovely.  I decided that after she left, I would cope with all the feeding sessions, when Braeden could potentially get into all sorts of two year old trouble, by reading to him.  (Even back then, he loved stories.)

On the morning my mom left and when it was time for me to feed Emma, I settled onto the couch and instructed Braeden to bring me a book.  He amiably selected a book and scampered to my side.  He handed me the book and then climbed onto the couch.   As he was propelling his stout legs upward, he accidentally kicked newborn Emma with one of his chunky toddler shoes.  He kicked her in the head.

Emma started screaming.

I started crying.

And then Braeden did too.

As we sat there crying together, I wondered what on earth I was thinking.  Why did I think I could handle two babies?  I in no way had what it took.

(I still feel like that sometimes.)

But the upside is that Braeden hasn't kicked Emma in the head since...and Emma's head survived.  We all survived.  So far so good.

Sigh...I miss Braeden and Emma.  Tomorrow I'll give you a Palm Desert update.  I wish they were here too.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Adam, Traveling

Welcome home signs from Emma and Mark.  (Braeden's not really a pen and paper kind of guy.) Incidentally I am glad Emma wrote her whole name.  We have so many Emmas around here that it's hard to know which one is which...

Recently Adam was on a business trip.  He had four hours+ before his flight left Louisville, KY and he was about two hours away from Louisville.  He called me and described the countryside of Indiana.  (It's very gray and brown in February apparently.  I think he is a little spoiled by green all winter.  You know, the Evergreen State.)  He told me he was going to explore for awhile.  I would have arrived at the airport early and found a quiet corner to read.  Adam instead drove down country roads, seeing what there was to see.

He called me a few hours later.  He said, "I feel panicked."  He usually has to tell me when he feels panicked because he didn't sound panicked.  He's usually quite calm unless he stubs his toe.  (Then, yikes.)  He said, "According to Google maps, I am 2 hours and 15 minutes from Louisville.  And my flight leaves in 2 hours."  He explained that he'd gotten lost on his rural Indiana expedition.

"So what are you going to do?" I asked.  I meant what are you going to do since you are going to miss your flight.

He said, "Drive really fast."

"You won't make it," I said.

"I might not," he said, which was sort of a major concession for him because, like I said, he's not an alarmist.  "Actually," he added, "I'll probably make it and then I won't learn my lesson."

I would have been hyperventilating if I'd been with him but I just told him good luck.

According to his receipt, he checked in his rental car at 6:36 p.m.

At 6:44 p.m., he called me from his seat.  On the plane, which left Louisville at 7:00 p.m.

I'm guessing he didn't learn his lesson.

But I'm glad.  Today Mark and I are joining him on another trip and who knows what adventures are in store.   I wanted to take Braeden and Emma too but they have to stay for school.  (School!  Humph! Who needs it?)  Maybe it's a good thing we're leaving them home.  Otherwise, I may not be willing to come back.  We're going to Palm Desert, CA and word on the street is, it's sunny and warm there.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Meal Planning

Technology I love:  Plan to Eat

I saved the best for last.  This is my favorite new thing.  I am a sucker for a good organizational system and this one is pretty great.  It is nice because you can sign up for a free trial (and you don't have to remember to cancel or they'll charge you, I didn't have to enter any credit card information).

First, I entered (or uploaded from the internet) my favorite recipes onto the website.

After that, I can arrange them onto a calendar by clicking and dragging.  It keeps track for me how often I've used a particular recipe.  I can narrow the recipe selection by category--main ingredient/crockpot/you name it.  It makes me giddy.

Then, it just keeps getting better.  It will generate a shopping list, even to multiple stores AND it will remember which store I usually buy which item.

I am in love.  Here's a link if you are so inclined:Plan to Eat

Thursday, February 23, 2012

App Happy

Technology I love:  apps

My favorites:


This is a list makers dream.  (And I am a list maker.)

Here is a typical day:

If I decide with going to Disneyland, I don't have time to get that massage, I can drag it to a different day.  Also, if there's anything I don't accomplish, it automatically rolls over to the next day too.


My very favorite feature of it though is that I have certain tasks I do every week.  For example, every Monday, I change the sheets on our bed.  After I'm done, I click on "change sheets" and drag it to the following Monday.  You would think that since I've been changing our sheets every Monday for years and years, I wouldn't need the reminder but there is something so satisfying in having a neat and tidy little list and getting rid of items on it.

Candy Heart Maker

In a nod to Valentine's Day month, I've been sending Adam candy hearts.  I think real candy hearts are nasty.  These aren't.

From this:

You get this:

It makes me happy.

We all have our favorite apps.

Adam has a NY Times primary election app that is pretty good. Among other things, it creates maps of the states and lets you know which counties voted for which candidate.  Without that app, I never would have known that Newt Gingrich won Mineral County in Nevada.  Have you ever been to Mineral County?  Our school used to play against the teams from Gabbs which is in Mineral County.  Gabbs is no longer a town because it got too small.  I now know they like Newt there, in that county with the depleting population.  (A question the NY Times primary election doesn't answer is why.) Thank you NY Times primary election app and you're welcome, readers, for giving you this cutting edge information about Mineral County, Nevada.

Emma likes weird apps like Zombie Highway.  I don't want to analyze why.

Mark is an Angry Birds kind of guy.  If you know Mark, I think that's obvious.

Braeden is my one child that isn't frequently asking me to play on my phone.  Maybe because I don't see that kid enough for him to get bored with the scintillating conversation I provide.  Why would he want to play on my phone when he could talk to me?  Am I right?

Apparently I didn't give my non-techie sisters enough credit yesterday.  They didn't know about Pinterest either.  Sorry girls.  And seriously, Marianne, programming your cell phone is not the gateway drug to other addictions.  You're just showing off that you have so many numbers memorized.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thoughts on Pinterest

Technology I love:  Pinterest

I have the feeling that if I let it, Pinterest could take over my very life.  It is chock full of inspiration.  If I had the time/took the time, I'm sure I could find a myriad of ideas that would delight me every single day.

I just keep Pinterest more or less at bay because I don't need the distraction.

Here's why I love Pinterest though.  I love magazines.  I get ideas for books to read/what's for dinner/decorating/holidays all from magazines.  I used to tear pages out of magazines and have a pile of torn out pages to sift through.  Now I see something tear-out-worthy and look it up online and pin it.  Wonderful!

I pin ideas that seem like a good gift for someone and I pin stuff I would like for myself.  At Christmastime, I told Adam to look at my Pinterest boards for gift inspiration.

In our recent decorating of Emma's room, I pinned ideas that she or I liked.

(Alas, usually she and I didn't like the same thing at the same time but we eventually found a meeting ground...I will post pictures when the whole project is complete.  This may take awhile.)

My boards are a little anemic but I'm glad other people have boards brimming with charm to delight my senses whenever I succumb to the siren song of Pinterest.

(Are you thinking that this is insipid because everyone already knows what Pinterest is?  Well, I guarantee one of my favorite readers does not.  He's a handsome cowboy with a broken leg who still rides but has to climb on the horse using a chair.  Hi Tabor.  I love you and please be careful.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Instead of TV


Technology I love:  Hulu and Netflix

The cable we pay for is the bare minimum.  Below basic.  We like to watch TV shows on Netflix.  Mark soaks up Mythbusters and America's Funniest Home Videos.  We all love Phineas and Ferb.  We pull up Keeping Up Appearances when we need a Hyacinth Bucket fix.

We also are fans of Hulu.  Besides Masterpiece Theater on PBS, I don't think I've watched a show on TV--when it was actually on--in years.  We either connect one of our laptops to the TV or just watch on the computer.  I much prefer it to conventional TV viewing.  There are fewer commercials and we can watch it when we want.  It's our poor man's version of a DVR. 

I like to watch shows while I fold laundry.  Adam and I like to catch up with "our shows" over a span of a week because we rarely have time to watch them when they're actually on TV.  I love being able to be deliberate with my viewing.

Downside:  Because we don't watch TV, I never see movie trailers or advertisements for new TV shows.  What am I missing?  What are your favorite TV shows/ upcoming movies you are looking forward to?

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Love Technology


I have been thinking lately, gratefully, about all the technology that makes my life easier and better.  (I do feel sometimes like I am in a battle with technology to keep my kids safe/from rotting their brains but it is pretty great too.)

I've decided to proclaim this week Technology Week.  Every day I will tell you about my favorite websites/apps/etc that make my life easier and better.  Please share if you have some of your own.  I am always in the market for easier and better.

There are all the general lovelies:  having my calendar on my phone, checking in with friends and cousins on facebook and blogs.  There's email.  I love texting.  It's all so nice and convenient.

But first, as Ammon would tell you (and I listen to that guy, even when he leaves cheeky comments on my blog), safety first.

I am glad I have Pinkie Pie's rugged cover.  It lent inspiration for a name (and really, a name is imperative in a need it when you say, "Where's Pinkie Pie?" or "Mark, bring me Pinkie Pie.").  But more importantly, I have dropped Pinkie Pie on her head often.  The other day she went careening down the stairs.  And that cover.  Saved the day, I tell you.

Also you may remember the tragic Diet Coke Incident of 2011.  As a result of spilled black gold on my keyboard, my z key doesn't work.  Because of magical Adam, I can adapt.  (He taught me how to work around it using special characters.  That guy's a whiz and I can only type that word because of him.)

Speaking of Adam, he Thelma-proofed my laptop for me for Christmas.


A thin skin over the keys to prevent a Diet Coke Incident of 2012 and a hard plastic shell, intentionally selected to match Pinkie Pie.  Because yes, I have also dropped my laptop on its head...I did (again) just last night. 

I love technology. I love covers and cases designed to protect me from myself.

I love Adam who keeps everything humming along smoothly.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Emma Jayne

This isn't exactly earth shattering news, but the mother daughter relationship can be a little tricky.  Is it because we're too much alike?  Not alike enough?  We know how to wound each other?  We know how to heal each other?

This isn't earth shattering news either:  some of the hardest things in life are the most rewarding.  When Emma and I really connect, when she throws her arms around me, when she sincerely wants my opinion, when she laughs at my jokes, when I know she gets me, I feel like I just won the best prize in the world.  Because wrapped up in this stubborn, independent, creative and talented girl, is my heart.  It is walking around outside my body.

She keeps me constantly guessing.  She is shy and then does something incredibly outgoing.  She resists my every suggestion then does exactly what I want. 

Last Saturday Emma participated in a solo and ensemble contest.  She sang.  She was extremely nervous (and so was I because, like I said, she has my heart).  I knew what it was costing her to stand there and sing all alone and I knew what it was costing her to stand and listen to the judge critique her afterward.  It took my best effort to keep a composed smiling face for her.  I loved her dearly in her vulnerability.  I loved her courage and talent and moxie.

Later that day, I accidentally stepped on a framed picture that was on the ground because I had been repainting the frame.  The glass shattered.  I picked up the devastating shards of glass and exclaimed in dismay at my never-ending klutzy nature.  Why do I always do such stupid things?  Emma, who berates herself for anything less than perfection, looked at me kindly.  She hugged me.  She said, "Oh, Mom.  I've never loved you more."

Mothers and daughters.  We know how to make each other crazy.  But we also know that when we need it, the other one will be there with a composed smiling face and a hug, loving each other more.

Today my razzle-dazzle pie in the sky daughter is thirteen!  Happy birthday brown eyed girl of mine.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You Have To Know Your Audience

For Mark, something blowing up is not only fascinating, but highly entertaining.  Myth Busters is his favorite new show.  It delights him especially when they are blowing something up.

Yesterday I saw this:

I showed Mark and he laughed.  He howled.  He gasped for breath.  Nothing cheers me up like uncontrollable laughter, particularly from Mark.

So in addition to things blowing up, Mark enjoys a good joke about lighting something on fire.

(Also, I hope he stays away from the matches.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Came THIS Close to Painting the Lawn Mower

I saw something clever online (there's a lot of cleverness online).  I clicked back and back through several links to the original source.  And I fell in love.

I wanted to make my own elephant book end.

I have long had an affection for elephants.

I bought two elephants and a giraffe and some spray paint.  I wanted some turquoise spray paint but couldn't find any so I bought hot pink paint. 

(How do you keep an elephant from charging?  Take away its credit card.)

Since Emma was with me when I was shopping, she claimed the giraffe and wanted silver spray paint.  And she named the giraffe Steven.

(How can you tell if an elephant is reading over your shoulder?  You can smell the peanuts on its breath.)

Emma and I set up shop in the garage.  Mark (who is master of insinuating himself...a valuable skill I think for a youngest child) wanted to paint too.  He brought a C-3PO to paint silver.  Braeden brought a Mickey Mouse and found some gold spray paint in the garage.  Emma painted the giraffe, I painted one elephant pink.  (I'm going to paint the other one turquoise when I find turquoise spray paint.  The heart wants what the heart wants.)

(Why do elephants drink so much?  To try to forget.)

Then we started looking for more things to paint.  The recycling bin?  (no)  The shovel? (no)  We all dashed inside and ran around looking for anything that would benefit from a coat of paint.  Emma found a little tiger, Mark a handful of Bionicle pieces and Braeden a wiffle ball and a pen.

Here is the final product:  my new book end.

I can't recommend this highly enough as an entertaining activity.  Just make sure you have enough items ready to paint.  You will be really tempted to paint anything and everything.

(What do you call two elephants on a unicycle?  Optimistic.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Three Loves

Adam told me about a conversation he had with Braeden.  Braeden and Emma are both constantly "working on a story" and Braeden said that one of the characters in the story he was writing was going to be in love with someone.  But Braeden said, "I don't know anything about being in love though.  So can you tell me?"

I think Adam may have laughed at him.  Where to start?

Adam said they ended up having an interesting conversation and talked about three kinds of love that Ancient Greeks described.


Agápe is love like is described in 1 Corinithians 13 in the New Testament:
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth...

When I think about agápe, I think of the many myriad ways I've been served in my life.  I think of my parents.  I think of friends who cared for me after my babies were born.  I think of my friends now, giving my kids rides, bringing me dinner when my oven self destructs, being on my side in the parenting adventures I encounter.


Philía is friendship and affection.  (Philadelphia=city of brotherly love.) When I think of philía I think of Adam bantering on a basketball court with his friends.  I think of Braeden whispering to me before church started that his friend Max (who was speaking that day) couldn't get the document to open for the talk he'd prepared on his laptop.  But he had to speak anyway.  Braeden told me, "I'm praying for him."  That's philía.  I think of Emma chattering with her friends in high pitched and earnest ways, punctuated frequently with "I know, right?"  I think of Mark and his best buddy Gavin, hurtling through life, happiest by each others' side.  I think of Gavin, older, wiser, telling Mark advice under his to stay out of trouble.  (And to Mark I say, listen to Gavin.)  I think of my sisters convincing me it's all going to be all right and of my friends and the way our eyes fill with tears sometimes when we talk. (I may or may not cry easily.)


This of course is romantic love.  When Adam and I were preparing for our big seven course meal, we went to three different stores to find the crackers we were seeking for the cheese course.  We knew exactly what we wanted.  The crackers were pretty important, don't get me wrong, but maybe we were also just prolonging our errand time.  It is fun being together.  Adam is all three types of love rolled into one.

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
Emily Brontë

Love...what's not to love? Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Food Love

For a few years we've been celebrating a Valentine's dinner with our children (and Grandma Geri) with a seven course meal.  We decided to have the dinner last night since our weeknights resemble a poorly orchestrated circus most of the time.  We wanted to have time to savor and enjoy.

And we did.  Savor and enjoy.

My favorite part of any meal, besides the dessert, is setting the table.

There is no such thing as too much red.  (The M&Ms are dark chocolate cherry some, do.)

First course: shrimp cocktail

Second course: tomato bisque

Third course:  caprese salad

(Tragically, no picture. I forgot and then the salad was gone.  It was lovely though.  Arugula, grape tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I drizzled a little extra balsamic vinegar on mine.  I love that stuff.  It makes my tongue sizzle.)

Fourth course:  a palette cleansing lemon sorbet

it looks a little like a pickled egg but it tasted like a gloriously sour lemon

Fifth course:  steak, scallops, roasted sweet potatoes

Sixth course:  caramel walnut brownie and a raspberry tartlett

Seventh course: double gloucester and gouda cheese (not smoked gouda...cheese should not be smoked if you ask me), biscoff cookies and dark chocolate with lemon and black pepper.  Geri brought the chocolate.  The idea of black pepper gave me pause but once I tried it, I realized it is definitely something I can get behind.

It was a delightful meal.  It's fun to pull out all the stops once in awhile.

Afterwards we sat around in a happy state, chatting.  Geri gave me ideas for Emma's room and we talked over paint chips for a scheme I'm hatching elsewhere.

Sometimes life is just really lovely.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I read these words that sent a zing right to my soul.  I recognized truth.

No matter how much we consume, we never get closer to happiness; we only speed up the treadmill.
James A. Robert

Very wise words regarding consumerism and materialism.  I started thinking about other kinds of treadmills though.  Sometimes days (like the one I wrote about yesterday) are a treadmill.  I am constantly in motion.  I am zigging and zagging and doing stuff.  Some days the treadmill feels like it is moving really fast.

I have found that the way to get closer to happiness is not to speed the treadmill up.  (That only gets me closer to exhaustion.)  I get closer to happiness when I step off the treadmill occasionally.  I leave my housework behind and take a restorative walk with my nearest and dearest friends in my hilly neighborhood.  I go to book club and talk about books and life with women who matter to me.  I grab my children (even the big one) and give them long hugs.  I talk to them about real things.  I go on a date with Adam.

It's all about balance.  The errands need to be run, the children need to be chauffeured, the dishes washed, the socks folded.  But when I remember to take care of souls too (mine included), I can take intense sessions on the treadmill from time to time.

And be none worse for the wear.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


1-I drove the seminary carpool from the church to the school.  Those kids are so lucky to have me.  We listened to 40s music on my Sirius satellite radio.  It must be said, that music is swinging in the 6:00 hour of the morning.  (Teenage boys may or may not beg to differ.)

2-I taught Mark school.  Math, handwriting, spelling, pronouns, art, history. (He got teary when we read about the treacherous way Pizarro dealt with Atahualpa and the Incas--that boy is a paradox.  His favorite games include toy weapons and "taking someone down" but he has a soft mushy heart.)

3-I had a phone conference with our teacher that we coordinate with as part of our virtual academy.

4-I talked to my mom on the phone about Downton Abbey.  We speculated about the plot.

5-I prepared for cub scouts (included a trip to the store for stickers--we are fancy like that).

6- I bought lunch at the Taco Bell drive thru which Mark requested and which was close to where I was shopping.  Taco Bell is always a mistake.  I think I forget between infrequent visits that I don't like Taco Bell.

7-I dragged Mark into Ross to look at curtains for Emma's room.  Emma is going for a world record of pickiest curtain shopper.  So far, in addition to Ross, we have looked at Target, Pier 1, JCPenney, TJ Maxx, Bed Bath and Beyond, World Market, Fred Meyer and Home Depot.  Nothing suits her fancy.

8-I read to Mark and had a very abbreviated silent reading time with him.

9-I did a load of laundry (didn't fold it though).

10- I took a walk with Stephanie, cut short by getting a phone call from Braeden's director saying he was mistaken when he told Braeden he didn't have to be at play practice.  Braeden got off the bus, ate a snack and I drove him to the school.

11-I had to be back at the school in about 45 minutes so I went (with my trusty sidekick Mark) to the library.

12-Back at the high school, I met with the costume director about how she wants me to help.  (I broke the news to her that I'm no seamstress.  She said I can hand sew feathers on bird costumes.)

13-I picked up one of my scouts and took him (and Mark) to cub scouts.  Mark didn't have his uniform on.  I didn't care.

14-Mark lost the privilege of playing on the computer today because he did not behave well at scouts.

15-I dropped off my extra scout and hurried home.  I quickly changed into a skirt and herded everyone back into the van.

16-We had a ten minute dinner at Wendy's.  Adam met us there.

17-I hustled Emma along and drove her and Braeden to the church where she was rehearsing for her part in New Beginnings and Braeden had basketball practice.

18- I caught my breath.

19-Adam and Mark joined us.  Braeden had scouts and the rest of us went to Emma's New Beginnings program.  I cried.  It was really good.

20-We finally got everyone home.  And to bed.

Sometimes I wonder at night why I'm so tired.

Sometimes I know.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nothing to Complain About

 I sometimes complain (just a little tiny'd hardly notice, really) about the weather.

I'm Goldilocks.

I want it juuuuust right.

Also, I want it sunny and not rainy.  Which is why, of course, I live in Seattle.

This has been one lovely winter though.  I must show gratitude or else I'm afraid I will anger the sun and it will hide its face again.

We haven't had as much rain as usual.  We got one lovely week of snow (no school!  at just the perfect time for my psyche, I should add).  And then lately we've had sunshine.

It has been glorious.  Mood altering.

I saw this on facebook.  I have no idea where to give credit.  But whoever you are, thanks for leaving so Seattle would turn off the rain.

Today doesn't promise to be as sunny.  I completely blame Jill.  Seattle is crying because she's going on vacation.  Don't be gone too long, lady.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Parenting Teenagers

The other day I was talking on the phone to Olivia.  She was telling me about a great article she'd read.  Then she told me about another great one about parenting teenagers.  She said, "I sent it to Marianne."  (Because, you know Marianne has teenagers and I...don't?)

Maybe it was a compliment.  She knew I was such a spectacular mother I didn't need the help?

Then I remembered that Marianne's girls are practically perfect in every way.  Maybe it was more of a slight on Olivia's part.  As in, Thelma's beyond help?

(I am way too narcissistic to consider maybe she didn't think about me at all.)

Whatever the reason, Olivia.  Rude.  I am not a bit sorry for the times I used to make you laugh until you wet your pants.  You deserved it, little sister.

I demanded she send the article to me as well.  (And since she's frightened of my wrath--and ability to make her laugh until she wets her pants--Olivia complied.)

It was a very good article.  It was written by Donald K. Jarvis and he draws a parallel between parenting teenagers and their need for increased independence to Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden and becoming independent from the ease they experienced there.

I loved this part that keeps running through my brain:

For parents, one of the real contributions of the account of Adam and Eve is that it illuminates the challenges children face as they grow beyond simple obedience to the mature use of agency. For the first part of childhood, the most important task for children is obedience, learning to follow parental advice very strictly. However, as children grow older, they gradually must pay more attention to the task of learning to act independently. In the beginning, parents personally show three-year-old children exactly when and where to cross the street. Such guidance at age fourteen is seldom appropriate. In fact, if adolescents do not eventually pay more attention to this second task, they become in a real sense crippled, continually dependent on parents to make their decisions.
Shifting from obedience to independence is difficult. Ideally, parents should help their children make a gradual transition by carefully guiding the children as they exercise increasingly more independence. But in practice, it is very difficult for parents to know when and where to step back and allow their children freedom. Parents understandably make mistakes—by either giving too much or too little leeway. But even if parents’ timing is perfect, they simply cannot smooth out all the bumps: at some point, all children will make mistakes and have the opportunity to learn from them.
We can take comfort from contemporary writer Michael Novak, a committed parent. He points out that family life makes us confront our own shortcomings and forces us to grow up. He laments that he stands convicted every day of his inadequacies as a parent: “Trying to act fairly to children, each of whom is temperamentally different from myself and from each other, each of whom is at a different stage of perception and aspiration, is far more baffling than anything Harvard prepared me for.” (Michael Novak, “The Family Out of Favor,” Harpers, April 1976, p. 42.)
I'm grateful he points out it is "very difficult for parents to know when and where to step back and allow their children freedom."

I seem to get it wrong more often than not.

I give too much freedom and my children flounder.

I don't give enough freedom and my children are stunted.


I would take comfort in the fact that I'll get better at this with time (I mean, look at my parents.  Their sixth child is by all accounts, perfect.  Does that put undo pressure on you, Ammon?) but I suspect that I will not.  My children all have brown eyes and agree with me that The Emperor's New Groove is a high form of comedy but they are all vastly different too.  I know that what works for one child does not work for another.


So the solution seems to be keep trying.  I'll keep making mistakes and adjusting.  I'll keep praying.  I'll keep conferring with Adam.  I'll keep asking our parents for advice (and I'll ignore their advice when they are way too sympathetic to my "hungry children").

I'll keep loving them.

If you're interested in reading the whole article and if you're like me and Olivia didn't initially send it to you, here's the link.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Adam's Apprentice

I think it's endearing how much Adam enjoys refereeing.

I think his passion for his Fox 40 (the best whistle obviously, apparently) is cute.

But Mark as his little apprentice referee is the most adorable thing ever.  (Don't tell Adam and Mark that I'm using these unmanly adjectives.)


So darling.

I don't know how Adam found a little referee shirt small enough to fit Mark.  I also don't know what really happened in the game because I was too busy watching the referees.

Mark is a little unconventional as referees go.  He got a bird's eye view a few times.

And when things got slow, he danced a bit for his mother's entertainment.

And when the kid sees I'm taking a picture, he's quick to strike a pose.

The smile that's been melting my heart for nine years.
 I forgave him for accidentally hitting one of the coaches in the head with a ball--and luckily so did the coach.

(I am used to apologizing on Mark's behalf.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Four Unrelated Stories


I was driving, making a right turn onto a busy street.  Also, I was waiting for a woman and little girl to cross the street.  The crosswalk was the kind that is a series of parallel lines.

In fact, this very crosswalk.

(I am not saying Google maps is there just so I can take screen shots of the street view to illustrate my stories but it might be.)

This woman was obviously not on her way to cub scouts (running late) like I was because she was taking her sweet time.  She and the little girl were hopping from line to line.  Seriously.

I just sat there, patiently.  Sweetly.

The person in the car behind me honked their horn.  Incessantly.

The woman turned and stuck her tongue out at ME.

Which I thought was rude.  I would have tracked her down and pointed out to her that I hadn't honked at her, but waited patiently.  That she did not need to stick her tongue out at me.

And also, I would have said, "What's with the jumping from line to line anyway?"

I would have done all of that.

But I needed to get to cub scouts.


In an ongoing battle of wills, I am trying to get Mark to pick a new book to read (now that he's finished a series he inhaled) that is more age appropriate and less book-of-Braeden's-that-weighs-more-than-Mark-does.  I suggested Charlotte's Web.  Mark said, "No way.  I've seen the front cover of that book.  They're all smiling.  You know they're all not going to make it out alive."

Later, Janet reminded me Charlotte doesn't make it out alive.  I think Mark's right, he shouldn't read that book.  He is no fan of books where animals die.


Someone told the IRS that I am the worst accountant on the planet and they should send me letters and give me phone calls requesting I prove our charitable contributions for 2009 and 2010.  Thank you IRS.  I a) needed a project to keep me busy and b) love that kind of stuff.  I called my mom and wailed to her that I needed an accountant (because she is one).  She explained what I needed to do, was horrified that I don't have all my bank statements neatly filed (I requested that the bank stop sending them to me because I didn't want to file them), and assured me that the world was not ending.  Moms are good at that sort of thing.

Then I realized that my mom is maybe busier and more stressed than she's been in a long time as she's hard at work sewing and preparing for her mission.  (She has to make historically accurate clothes for them to wear since they'll be serving at a historical sight.) I left her to her stress and returned to mine.  (And felt grateful that Marianne is helping her sew since she lives nearby.  Oh, and also since she can sew. If I lived nearby I could wail about the IRS but not be much help sewing.)


Adam and I decided that we can't die and leave our children to the care of their grandmothers.  Those ladies have gone soft.  As part of a sting operation, several of my unnamed friends with unnamed seventh grade daughters and I have discovered that certain unnamed seventh grade girls (and in at least one case her unnamed older brother) have been supplementing their school lunch with treats.  A lot of treats.  A mother that was good at record keeping (see above:  worst accountant on the planet) would have realized her children were buying treats.  A lot of treats.  But, I did not.  Our children are now indentured servants until the debt has been repayed.

Both grandmothers felt tremendous sympathy for the poor hungry kids and didn't think they should have to repay but instead should be given money every month to buy treats.


I don't know about Adam's mother but my own mom saying that in no way resembles the woman who raised me.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Just Add Buttons

Years ago, Marianne gave me a box of buttons as a gift.  I just love the practical little spheres.  The tiny details make them distinct and charming.  It was a lovely gift; buttons are fun to sift through. And glue.

Multi talented lady that Janet is, she made this magnet board for me a few years ago.

She made the magnets too.  MULTI talented.  When I saw another of these magnet boards she'd made at a garage sale, one that she'd decided-to-alter-but-had-never-gotten-around-to-so-decided-to-get-rid-of, I snatched it up.

It looked like this:

I loved the decoupaged paper on it and wanted to leave it.  I had to do something about the places where the paper was peeled away though.

Then I remembered my box of buttons.

I asked Janet for the name of some super strong, quick drying glue. (I'm telling you, she is so much more than those chocolate covered cherries I won't share with my kids--but even if she weren't, those chocolate covered cherries would be enough...)

I glued buttons.

It makes me happy.

The tiny picture of the barn in the corner makes me happy too.  It's my grandparents' barn and I grew up playing in it.  I haven't been inside for years and I don't think I want to.  I'm sure it's changed.  I want to remember it the way it was.  I want to remember the skinned bobcat that hung on the tack room door.  I want to remember the last stall on the right where my dad put his draft horses, Betty and Billy.  I want to remember the fragrant loft where we made nests in the mounds of hay and sneezed a lot.  I learned a lot in that barn.  I learned how to saddle a horse.  I learned that I was not brave enough to drop down the chutes from the loft to the stalls below like Marianne and my cousins were.  I learned that we would get in a lot of trouble for swinging on the barn doors.  My grandma sent me that picture years ago in her Christmas card.  I love it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Books I Read in January 2012

Mount Vernon Love Story by Mary Higgins Clark***

I really liked this book.  It was sweet and an interesting look at the life of George Washington.  I like reading historical fiction.  I know it isn't always 100% accurate but I like that it paints a picture for me to put facts into context.  I recommend it.  Literally, it's my turn to pick next for book club and this is what I'm picking.  Then we'll have cherry pie when we discuss it.  There is no mention of cherry pie in the book but that will not stop me.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares****

I love this series:  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  I love everything I've read by Ann Brashares.  This book was devastating and hopeful and wonderful.

Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler**

I normally like Anne Tyler but this book was not one of my favorites by her.  It had the same quirky characters that I love in her books but it really just ended.  I was left thinking, "what?!"  I don't like that in a book.  Real life is untidy enough.  I like books to have a nice happy little ending.

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira ****

More historical fiction.  This book was set during the Civil War and I LOVED this book.  I loved Mary Sutter.  I wanted to be her friend and neighbor.  The historical parts of the book were fascinating and the characters were wonderful but I'm not sure I think she ended up with the right guy.  If you've read this book, tell me what you think.

 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury*

I did not really enjoy reading this book...I read it for book club otherwise I would have abandoned the pursuit.  I'm just not that into science fiction.  It was thought provoking and I'm sure I will enjoy our book club discussion.  I always do.


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