Friday, August 31, 2012

Word to the wise

Don't tell my son he's getting his braces off then tell him when he shows up, all anticipation, that you are not going to take them off.

Not on my watch.

I had left him there for the appointment and I went to do errands because I have been in that doctor's office enough times to see everything there is to see.  Believe me.

I wasn't gone too long when Braeden called (in slight panic) to tell me that the orthodontist had a different plan and it didn't include taking his braces off.

I said, "I'll be right there."

Because that's what you do when your boy sends out a distress signal.  I was growing increasingly irritated with said orthodontist as I thought about it so by the time I got there, I went in guns blazing.  (Not really, I don't have guns.  Much to my brothers' dismay.)

I'm pretty sure I had the look though.  Adam tells me about the look.  My sisters and Janet have confirmed that yes, they think they know what he's talking about.

Again.  My boy.  Distress.

So I found out what the deal was.  I may or may not have been a little cheeky.

Braeden got his braces off.

You would think, after all that, he would be willing to pose for a nice post braces picture.

On second thought, maybe I should have left the braces on the uncooperative kid.

Then he got distracted by Emma so I got a picture.

Adam said that because I was a Mama Bear, he took me to The Diamond Knot and bought me a "growler" which is an enormous container of root beer.

I took a (blurry, sorry Adam) picture of it on the counter and someone said, "But you can't see how big it is." So the next thing we knew, Braeden had thrown his size 13 up on the counter.

Adam said, "Get you foot off the counter!" and I quick snapped a (blurry, sorry Adam) picture and then we all drank root beer.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The proof is in the playlist

If Adam needed proof that his wife and children were maybe...odd ducks...he got it last night.  (He may not have needed proof.)

We decided that since he had had a hard week--stress at work, sick, coughing incessantly all night long, fun stuff like that--that we'd plan a little adventure for him.  We called it high jinx, as in, hurry and eat your dinner because we have some high jinx planned.  Adam complied because he's up for anything except he isn't very adventurous when it comes to dairy products.

After dinner, we started playing music from Pinky Pie (good little Pinky Pie--the phone that keeps giving).  Emma asked me how Pinky Pie got its name and I said it came that way, like a Cabbage Patch Kid.  (Because I'm one of those moms that always looks for a good teaching moment.) She looked extremely skeptical and said cheekily, "They knew you were going to buy a pink cover?"  Then she went on to say she was wondering how the car recognized the name Pinky Pie when the bluetooth of my phone was connected to it and I said, "Oh, I don't know.  Your dad set that up."

Emma always wants to know the why behind technology and I am happy to just accept that Adam is magic.

But speaking of Adam, I was telling you about high jinx.  And my phone. (But I'll avoid a tangent this time.)

The first song was Come Away With Me by Norah Jones, so we all went and got in the car.

Next song:  Piano Man by Billy Joel.  Being the smart cookie Adam is, he realized that meant go to downtown Everett where they have pianos painted by artists out on the streets in August.  We went last year.  We drove around looking for pianos and didn't see any.  I googled it on Pinky Pie and the pianos were there until August 22.


So playing the pianos was the main thing for our fun little adventure.  The rest of it was just weird.  Since we couldn't do the fun part, we were left with just the weird part.

At one point, Braeden admitted that we'd thrown the whole thing together in 15 minutes of semi-rational thought except for Mark who was practicing cartwheels at the time.  I didn't think we should admit that but as we got deeper in, I realized it was a good idea to say we hadn't given our very best.  The whole thing was sort of bizarre.

After the pianos, the song was A Kiss to Build a Dream on by Louis Armstrong.  Adam puzzled over it before finally realizing he was just supposed to kiss me.  Next, (and this was Braeden's idea so I don't want the blame) was Beer Run by Garth Brooks.  Adam was completely confused and Braeden finally told him, "We're supposed to go to a bar, but not go in."  O-kay.

I assured him it was going to get a lot better.

But I wasn't sure.

The next song was Down to the River to Pray by Allison Krauss.  Adam drove across the trestle (and across the Snohomish River) and we played Come Fly with Me by Frank Sinatra so he drove to the little Snohomish airfield, Harvey Field.

You can see that this was really a wild time for the Davis family.

It was a beautiful evening though.  The river was serene and flat and there was a full moon.  Lovely.

The next song was Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane so we hit Highway 9 and headed to Safeway because the song was Shopping by the Bare Naked Ladies.  Before we got to Safeway, the song was Starfish and Coffee by Matt Nathanson.

Emma said, "This song is really open to your own interpretation." Adam, who was a really good sport in the face of a really weird family, considered his options.  In case you're not familiar with the song, here's the chorus:

Starfish and coffee, maple syrup and jam
Butterscotch clouds, a tangerine and a side order of ham
If you set your mind free, baby, maybe you'd understand
Starfish and coffee, maple syrup and jam  

We went inside Safeway and Adam bought one tangelo (couldn't find a tangerine) and a little package of maple almonds.

Braeden had speculated that the star on the Starbucks logo was a starfish so that worked for the song too.  (There is of course, a Starbucks in Safeway.  Just like there are slot machines in grocery stores in Nevada, there are coffee shops in every grocery store in the Northwest.)

Mark said, "Are the people that started Starbucks Mormons?"

He said, "Oh, maybe I'm thinking of Napoleon Dynamite."


I don't know how his brain works.  But as I said, we can't blame him for the playlist because he was practicing cartwheels at the time.

The next song, after Adam got tangelo juice all over because that was one juicy tangelo and we all decided that maple almonds are the cat's meow, was Meltdown by Justin Roberts.

Adam figured out it was ice cream or frozen yogurt so in spite of my protestations, we headed to Cherry de Pon.  (I would have preferred Skinny Dip.) I don't think the yogurt is that good at Cherry de Pon and the decor is an affront to my sensibilities.  Emma hadn't been there before but as we were waiting in line she said, "I see what you mean.  This is ugly."

We took our froyo on the road.

Final song:  Home Again by Mike Kiwanuka. 

I know what you're thinking, "The time I spent reading this blog post is time I'll never get back."

Sorry about that.  At least I didn't make you spend an evening following a playlist.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Sometimes I get an idea in my head that won't leave until I write about it.

This is one of those times.

Just like everyone else, there are times when I feel hassled, worried, stressed, not enough.  The other day I read in Matthew verses of scripture that I think are probably familiar to Christians everywhere:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

It struck me as a promise that I could use.  When animals are yoked together, they each pull and share the effort.  (Although in the picture above, it looks like one of those oxen is misbehaving.  I don't know about those oxen...they strike me as untrustworthy.)


When I think of being yoked with the Lord, it feels like a great bargain.  Yes, I still have to do my part.  I have to work and show up and try.  It's just nice to know that on the other side of the yoke is the Supreme Creator.  

Gives a certain degree of comfort.

I absolutely love this:

...wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love.
 Just think of it: You are known and remembered by the most majestic, powerful, and glorious Being in the universe! You are loved by the King of infinite space and everlasting time!
-Dieter Uchtdorf, entire text found here

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Checking things off

Remember this list?  We'd pretty much done it all except go see King Tut at the Pacific Science Center.  (Spoiler alert:  he wasn't actually there to chat with us.)

This wasn't as creepy looking in real life.  It was beautiful.  I was struck by the artistry of the ancient Egyptians and their dogged determination to live forever.  They left their mark on the earth and as I was wandering around, I guess I felt a little philosophical because I thought maybe creating is the only thing.  It's what we create that matters, that lasts.  (Especially if you have a desert to bury your creations in.  Which I don't recommend if your children are some of your creations.)
I opted not to get the audio tour to listen to because I'd brought Braeden and he's pretty much an Egyptian audio tour, minus the headset you have to carry around.  He explained things to me when I asked him to but didn't tell me things I didn't care about so that was pretty much perfect.  If Braeden was the Egypt expert, Mark was the pace car.  I had to keep reeling him back in.  There was a lot of wait and stay here and not yet, Mark.  You know, typical stuff.  As for Emma, she stuck close to Braeden's side.  I think they're both at their most comfortable when they're side by side.  And I'm glad.

After the King Tut exhibit, Mark groused that we were gypped because there was no dead body.  He said, "How much did you pay for that?  Whatever it was, it was not worth it."  Then he was offended that I wouldn't buy him something from the gift shop.

(Whatever you want from the gift shop, Mark?  Not worth it.)

Mark got his money's worth (if he'd actually paid any money) in the rest of the Science Center.  He loves that place.  He can touch everything and figure out how stuff works and skip over things that don't entice him.  He helped us solve the spatial puzzles because that's his thing.

It was also helpful that Mark wore his acid green shirt so I could find him easily.  The kid wanders off.
Braeden and I figured out how to play mancala by trial and error.  Neither of us are very keen on reading instructions.  Emma was triumphant in almost every game of strategy we played though.

We met Adam for dinner and over ginger chicken gyoza and soft pretzels and three different kinds of pizza (a celebration of variety if you ask me), I told him about our day and how each of our kids had their interests.  I said, "I'm not sure what I was good at."

He said, "Getting them there."

Braeden and I looked at each other.  If there's one area where I don't shine, it's driving in Seattle (or any other city you can name).  The suburbs I can do.  Maneuvering to and from and around enormous parking lots I have mastered.  (I even know the best parking spot in the Costco parking lot.  This has come from a lot of research in the field.)  In big cities with one way streets at inconvenient intervals I get anxious about making wrong turns and then I make wrong turns in self fulfilling prophesies and then I get anxious about the wrong turns I made.

It's a lot of anxiousness, I tell you.  (Also, my ability to take not all that great pictures with my phone should not be discounted.)

But here's what I know after spending a day with my children in Seattle.

I don't want school to start.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ups and Downs

⬇I had a terrible sore throat.

⬆I slept over 10 hours Friday night.

⬆It helped my sore throat.

⬆We were invited to Bowman Bay with a bunch of our friends.

⬇I forgot sunscreen.

⬇I got a sunburn on one ear, one arm and my neck.

⬆The pattern of my necklace is visible on my sunburned neck which is at least a little interesting.

⬇We had to leave Bowman Bay early.

⬆Because we were hosting a party for the kids in Braeden's seminary class.  He wanted a boy who moved in this summer to get to know everyone else.

⬇The boy didn't come because he went camping with his family.

⬆Which was a little funny.

⬆I like having parties.

⬆When they were arguing over who won the scavenger hunt, they called me outside to mediate.  They started yelling, "Mama Davis! We need you!"  It made me smile.

⬇While "Mama Davis" was outside being the judge of the contest, the hot fudge sauce got too thick.  The boys told me it was more like cake batter than hot fudge sauce.

⬆ They quickly added that was not a bad thing.

⬆ And I don't think they were just being polite.  They went to town on that hot fudge/cake batter.

⬆Braeden's friends are good kids.  They are also very funny.  Everyone was laughing so much that after they'd come inside, I shut all the windows. I was afraid their exuberance would bother our neighbors.

⬆When I told them it was time for ice cream, the boys said, "The girls get to go first."  The girls looked a little taken back and a lot pleased and I thought sometimes these boys are more civilized than I thought. 

⬇Adam felt sick during the party.

⬆But he rallied enough to dish up the ice cream which is fabulous because he's good at it.  (Sturdy wrists.)

⬇It seems like someone or other has been sick in our family all summer.

⬆Summer is almost over, maybe we'll have a resurgence of good health.

⬆Even though weekends are like life and have their ups and downs, I think there are usually more ups.

⬆And I am glad.

Friday, August 24, 2012


In the past, when I've seen books arranged chromatically I've thought it was a little crazy.  Who would do that?  My books have always been arranged by type and genre so I can find what I'm looking for.

Then I noticed something.

I'd walk into stores that were monochromatic (there's one in Snohomish and I love it!) and it would make my heart skip.  Color is powerful.  And since I have a lot of books, I have a lot of color to play with around here.  (Besides, they all needed to be dusted anyway.)  Yesterday afternoon, I moved some books around.

I snapped some pictures because who knows how long it will last.

Some black in the living room:

double rows...see?  a lot of books

Some blue--and red, always red-- in the school room:

Some white in the school room:

Some earthy tones in our bedroom:

A few rainbows (requisite when you live in a rainy place, don't you think?):

And my favorite, some neutral monochrome goodness:

It didn't take long and it was free and it makes me happy.  What more could I want?

Last night I told Adam that all my rearranging keeps our brains sharp.

He said, "Like a tack."

He said it in a tone like, a tack we have to constantly step on but I'm pretty sure he's thanking me on the inside for the contribution I'm making to agility and adaptability in his brain.

You're welcome, family.  I do it all for you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I like reading acknowledgements in a book.  I don't know one soul that they are thanking but it feels like it gives me a window into the author's life.  And hey, I like windows.

Since I carefully tend a dream of someday writing a book, I have indulged in thoughts about my own acknowledgements.  Surely I would thank my family.  I think if I were busily writing a book they'd have to do all the dishes and that would mean some thank yous would be in order.  I'd thank my loved ones for believing in me (husband, children, parents, siblings, friends).  When I read acknowledgements, they often have a writing group to thank.  I've often thought, "I want a writing group."

Guess what?

I have a writing group! 

Six busy mothers, some with English degrees and some with ideas they want to write and some without have formed a group.   We all come with carefully tended dreams and varied life experiences.  I was a little nervous the first time I sent out a few chapters of my "novel" for them to critique.  Fortunately (fortunately?) it was the same week I was asked to be primary president so I was a little distracted and didn't have too much time to devote to obsessing about their reactions.

It turns out I didn't need to be worried.  Our writing group is one safe place.  They kindly told me what they liked.  They told me what worked.  Then they told me what didn't.  They asked questions.  Good questions.  There was a lot of "Oh, I hadn't thought of that," on my part.  There was a realization that these ladies could help me make it better!  Exciting stuff.

We met again last week.  We had read what another member had written.  It was so good!  It was laugh out loud funny!  What a thrill.  We asked her clarifying questions.  She noted where she'll change things to make them more clear.  We gave her a wish list of what we wanted to know about her characters.

Then they turned to a few more chapters I had sent out.  Their questions and wish list for me (as well as their dismay that things weren't working out how they wanted), sent my mind spinning.  They filled me with the desire to write more. 

There is something downright magical about what happens when women truly support each other.  The collective power of a group of females reassuring you and offering constructive feedback and kindness is formidable indeed.  It's exhilarating.

I will definitely be including them in my acknowledgements.  You know, if I ever really need to write some.  (A girl can dream, OK?)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Best. Rash. Ever.

Last night, Mark's back was itchy.  I knew he'd gotten a mosquito bite the night before.  Adam said he'd put anti-itch cream on it and took him into our bathroom.

"Come and look at this," he called.

I went hurrying in.  "Does this mean we don't have to go to camp tomorrow?!?"  (Oh, and is my baby OK?)

Mark's back and torso were covered in a rash.  It looked like he'd had a run in with poison ivy or something.  Adam covered him with cream and I gave him some Benadryl.

"Do you think we have to stay home from camp tomorrow?" I asked hopefully.  Mark whimpered and said yes. 

Eventually, after I'd had my celebratory we-don't-have-to-go-to-camp moment, I did show sympathy to my boy.  He had sort of a miserable itchy night and you can bet I'm going to baby and pamper him today. 

Because I didn't need to go to cub scout day camp today!

(I needed a break, OK?)

Here's an amazing part of the story.  Last night when I told Emma, who has been going to camp and helping with the little ones, she looked distressed.  "I have to go," she said, "They need me."  And they really do.  She's always the first one there to help and the last one to leave.  She's there with the little kids waiting for their parents to check them out and I think, "Do they know she's thirteen?"  But I don't think they care because they're desperate.

Adam told Emma he would take her to camp on his way to work.  She was relieved.  She said, "It would be really hard with only two people working in tag alongs.  It's hard enough with three."

So somehow, even though I'm gleeful about slacking my duty, I managed to raise a daughter that woke herself up early and packed her own lunch and donned her camp t-shirt so she can go help.

That ought to count for something.  (Yes, I'm trying to take credit for her goodness to allay any guilt I feel...)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Winding down

In much the same way that I've lost the ability to stay up late, I've lost the ability to sleep in.  (I've actually never been too good at either pursuit, but now I'm worse.)  I wilt about 10:00 p.m. and my eyes pop open before 6:00 a.m.  I am not happy about this.

That's beside the point though. 

The past few mornings, I've noticed that while it's not exactly dark when I wake up in the morning, it's not exactly light either.  I love summers in the north.  We have an abundance of light.  In the winter, well, you know.

Also, yesterday I went to Cub Scout Day camp with Mark and Emma (she helped in the Tag a Longs taking care of the cute younger children whose parents were volunteering at camp).  I spent the day with Mark and chatted with Emma frequently throughout the day.  Braeden stayed home. 

I missed him.  It reminded me that way too soon he'll be gone every day all day.  And here's the thing:  I really like that kid. 

The clincher that made me feel like I was trying to hold summer in my grasp and it was being wrenched out from under me?

My calendar is filling up.  Last night I entered "Back to School Night" into the calendar on my phone. 

I don't want to be busy.  I don't want to have a bunch of evening activities (except for the ones I like!).  I don't want summer to end!

Apparently, that doesn't matter.

So, in an effort to soothe my troubled soul:

-- sweaters
-- hot chocolate
-- pumpkins
-- tights and boots and wool skirts
-- apples
-- gingerbread
-- scarves
-- hot apple cider
-- autumn leaves
-- school with Mark
-- squash

(it's helping...)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Happy 1/2

Emma's is the last half birthday of the season.  (Adam and I never remember to acknowledge our own.)  To celebrate she came to me with her plan.

"Will you drop Hannah and Freja and me off at the mall for a few hours?"

I said, "I will but I will stay nearby."

"No," Emma said, "I want to just be dropped off."

"I'll keep a respectful distance," I promised.  She still looked hesitant so I added, "Or we don't have to go."

So she relented and I think felt a little better when Hannah's and Freja's moms wouldn't have let them go unless I was going too.

Off we went to the mall.  On the drive there, they first complimented each other profusely on their hair, shirts, make-up.  Then they talked about spiders (they are creepy and disgusting).  Then they talked about mice (sooooo cute).  Next, boys which seemed to be creepy, disgusting and soooo cute, depending on the boy.

I walked behind them at the mall.  They seemed to be mostly in the market for accessories.  While they were at Claire's, I sat on an upholstered chair outside the store with Pinky Pie (my phone) as entertainment.  They each emerged with a tiny bag and a tiny purchase of either earrings or bracelet.  At Bath and Body Works I knew it would take them awhile to smell everything there was to smell so I went to a different store with strict instructions to text me if they were done.  They weren't nearly done by the time I came back and still had to peruse several scents.  They bought tiny hand sanitizers.  Tiny + cheap = their budget.  I wandered after them a little longer and finally lured them to the food court with promises of Orange Julius all around.  I bought a pretzel to share with them.  They liked it so much they pooled their remaining money and bought another.  Then they talked about boys in the food court.  Adam and/or Braeden would have been revolted.

I decided I wouldn't be 13 again for anything but I surely like hanging out with 13 year olds occasionally.

All the way home they sang loudly along to the radio.  They are silly but smart, sweet girls.  I'm glad they're friends and not at all surprised they're friends.

I like their moms a lot.

(And today's Janet's birthday.  I wish we could go to the mall and smell Bath and Body Works concoctions all day.  But alas, I'm going to cub scout day camp.  If I'm not back tomorrow, you'll know why.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Genetic roulette

You really can't help the genes you inherited.

And you can't help the genes your kids have either.  It's not your fault what you passed on.  I maintain it's not your fault that you fell in love with someone with wonky genes to pass on either.  Nor is it your fault that the two of you together created some freaky teeth situations.

I insist I'm blameless.


It's still no fun to be That Mom at the orthodontist.  The one they call back for a hushed conference.

I was sitting in the waiting room, reading my book and feeling smug that I wasn't the wreck of a mom who was complaining loudly to the receptionist that she didn't want to wait around (even though she'd been there about 5 minutes) for her appointment because it was summer.  She said that her son's appointment "would take 5 seconds" so he should go ahead of everyone else. (So don't make an appointment if your summers are so sacred.)

So there I was, feeling smug.  A nice lady emerged who looked way too young to be gainfully employed (I'm old).  "Mrs. Davis?"


I followed her back and was treated to a lecture on mid-line alignment (or misalignment as the case may be).  I was shown x-rays of my abnormal beloved daughter's jaw.  "There's only so much we can do, " her orthodontist said.  "We can fix her teeth and her jaw to a certain extent but this is deeper than that.  This is skeletal."  The only answer he had was surgery.

"But why?  Why are her jaws like that?"


It's always genetics when it has to do with our children and their cockeyed teeth.

I took a deep breath and took infinitesimal comfort in the fact that he said we need do nothing now because she was young enough to still be growing.

I guess he just wanted me to be prepared for joy on the horizon.  

Usually I stay in the waiting room with my book during my children's appointments and usually I'm never lucky enough to get appointments for both of them on the same day.  Yesterday, Braeden was a few chairs down though so I slid down to the bench next to him.

The good doctor looked in his mouth.  He kept telling him to bite.  Now bite again.  Again.  He poked and prodded and pushed his little mirror around for different views from different angles.

"His teeth are completely straight."

Braeden's eyes reflected glee.

"But come and look at his jaw."  I reluctantly got out of my chair and approached Braeden's jaw.  It didn't sound like look-how-fabulous-this-jaw-is sort of news.  It turns out that Braeden's lower jaw is waaaaay bigger than his top.  It has to do with the way he breathes and with his tongue which is apparently huge.  (I also had to be shown The Enormous Tongue so I could understand the bad raw materials I had brought to the let's-fix-the-teeth table.)  The solution for Braeden's problem?  Surgery.  "But with that tongue, that may not even help."  (His big tongue must be linked to his big feet.  Curse that family tree.)

As soon as there weren't instruments and fingers in Braeden's mouth, he sat up in the chair and looked from person to person.  "It sounds to me," he said in a tone I recognize very well, (It's two parts charming and one part iron willed persistence.) "That there's nothing more you can do for my teeth.  It sounds to me like your work here is done and you'd better just take these braces off."

Then he lay back down and opened his mouth helpfully.

The doctor looked at me. "It's up to you," he said, "There's really not much more we can do."

So an impression was taken for a retainer and in two weeks, the braces come off.

On the way home from the orthodontist, Braeden told me he would never have surgery on his jaw.  Never!  Then he began a tirade about how weakened we've become as a society because we all correct our crooked teeth.  We should just let them be.  I let him rant. 

Such is the life when you have played the genetic lottery.  And lost.

addendum:  I looked at Adam's teeth.  His top middle teeth are not in line with his bottom middle teeth.  He seems to be functioning in the world.  I don't think I'm going to let them break my girl's jaw.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I want to remember

I saw this on my cousin Hannah's pinterest.  (Yes, same Hannah who is the source of all goodness.)

This is the wisest reminder I've been given in awhile.  I aspire to be more grateful. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Personal life choices

My KitchenAid has gone the way of all the world.  It was a sad series of events involving Emma's irrational fear of the wheat grinder (I don't judge, I have irrational fears of my own) which led to me measuring the wheat for her which led to me measuring too much wheat (because I didn't pay attention) which led to heavy dense bread dough.  Emma left the mixer unattended (and I had left her unattended) and when she went back downstairs, the mixer was sputtering smoke and had...died.  Luckily because of the circuit breaker, our kitchen didn't catch on fire.

I view recipes more as suggestions than the gospel truth so I would have just adjusted everything else when I noticed extra heavy dough and also I never leave the mixer unattended because once my mom's mixer jumped off the countertop in dramatic fashion.

But alas, I wasn't the one making the bread.

Because I am rather attached to my KitchenAid, I started thinking about a replacement.  I have polled my nearest and dearest about their mixers.

On the way to drop Braeden off for his shift at the pool, I laid out all the options for him.  I am 99% sure he was not at all interested but the beauty of driving your children around is the whole captive audience thing.

I detailed the pros and cons of another KitchenAid (I loved my KitchenAid, you can get it in red, or aqua blue, or a bunch of other colors, did I mention red?) verses a Bosch (stronger motor, not very attractive but maybe light enough and small enough it can be put away between uses and free up counter space--which is at a premium in my little kitchen).

Braeden pretended to listen carefully then he said, "You know, Mom, this sounds like a really important personal life choice.  I don't think I'm equipped to advise you on this one."

Even though this is a personal life choice, do any of you have advice?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pluck the chicken

Yesterday I was in a bad mood from about noon on. 

Oh, please don't ask why, no one quite knows the reason.
It could be, perhaps, that (her) shoes were too tight.
It could be (her) head wasn't screwed on just right.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that (her) heart was two sizes too small.

Just cranky.

I talked to Olivia on the phone and told her my kids were all bugging me.  She told me about Marcos's misbehavior and I could only laugh.  (I'm not sure it can even be called misbehavior when the child is that cute and your nephew.)

Because sometimes it's how these things go, on this day that I was cranky and everything seemed to be going wrong, Adam called to tell me he would be late.  Late.


We picked up Braeden from swimming and he wondered why I'd brought all the kids.  I said, "Because we're going to get dinner.  What do you want?"

I vetoed all of their choices.  (I didn't know what I wanted, I only knew what I didn't want.  Cranky.)

We went to Safeway and I told them to get a sandwich.  Adam called and said he was on his way home, earlier than he thought and he was bringing me some dinner.  (Already? Things were looking up.)

Braeden made me laugh in the store.

We bought sandwiches and a strawberry cake as well.  (What happens when you shop hungry.)

Adam got home about the same time we did.  He had brought me fabulous cannelloni.  We had a brief but meaningful family home evening.  Adam talked to us about making scriptures our own.  Everyone read a scripture they liked.  It was nice.  My bad mood was dissolving but still there.  I know because after we'd had our cake and I was ready for the kids to go to BED, Adam said, "It's not their bedtime yet."

I thought, we're in charge!  Let's make it their bedtime! 

Everyone had an idea of what we could do in the remaining 20 minutes until bedtime.  Mark's idea was play pluck the chicken.

Have you ever played pluck the chicken?  It's a guessing game.  A person decides a verb and everyone else asks questions to find out what it is.  You just ask replacing the verb with pluck the chicken.  "Can you pluck the chicken inside?"  "Did you pluck the chicken today?"  "Do you know how to pluck the chicken?"

It's a silly game but since we've played it for years, it's our silly game.  We laughed and teased each other and felt triumphant when we guessed what plucking the chicken was.

Some days are no fun.  You feel unproductive and hassled and your favorite sunglasses break.  But here's the thing, you never know when you may be able to play pluck the chicken and find yourself deep enough into convivial family life that you remember what matters and what doesn't and you realize maybe you've just been being a brat and things aren't that bad.

All because of plucking the chicken.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Antibiotics are a good thing

Friday Jill pulled me out of my pathetic state with an invitation to go sit in the sun.  We went to Starbucks--she got some sort of icy frothy looking drink and I got a smoothie to go smoothly down my tired-of-all-the-coughing throat.  We were waiting in line for our drinks.  It was all lovely until Mark called.

Minutes before I had left Mark in Emma's able care, he had told me his ears hurt.  My ears had been hurting off and on too.  All part of the fun.  I gave him a Sudafed and an Advil (I'm not shy with medicine) and told him he'd feel better soon.

Well, not soon enough for his taste.  He called to tell me his ear huuuuuuuurt.  I told him to get comfy, watch TV.  I would be home soon.

Jill and I settled down outside at a table in the sunshine.  It was all lovely until Emma called.

She called to tell me that Mark had thrown up because he was coughing and crying so hard.  (A bit of a flair for the dramatic, that one?)  I told her to get him in the red recliner, turn on a DVD for him.  Get him to calm down.  I had confidence in the Sudafed and Advil.  I had confidence that sitting in the sun and chatting with Jill was what I needed.

Then I got a text.  From Emma.  "Please come home.  He's crying."


Jill and I left.  "Come and sit on my patio," I told her.  I checked on Mark.  I asked him if he wanted to sit outside in the sunshine with me.

"No," he said cozily, snuggling under a fleece blanket, "I'll just stay here."  I left him watching his show and Jill and I sat outside.

For about 30 seconds.

Then we heard wailing.

"Is that Mark?" Jill asked.

I went to check.  It was.

"My eeeaaaarrrrr," he wailed.

Jill went home (can you blame her?).  I drove Mark to the walk-in clinic.  As I was driving there, I thought, this is ridiculous.  The kids ears had hurt for all of 2 hours and I was taking him to the doctor?  The doctor was going to say, "Yep.  He has a cold."

Mark happily played on my phone in the waiting room.  He seemed chipper and happy.  He had, after all, what he wanted.  Me.

We went into the exam room.  He spun on the doctor's swiveling chair while we waited.  I thought, "This kid is not that sick."

The doctor came in.  He checked Mark over.  He looked in his ears.

"Ear infection," he said.  He wrote me a prescription and sent us on our way.

In the van, Mark wanted my phone.  "I need to tell Emma," he said.

"Are you going to call her?" I asked.

"No.  Text."

It's weird that that is how they prefer to communicate but I sort of like it too.  I like having documented proof that they are sometimes sweet to each other.

I gave Mark his antibiotics and kept him on a steady stream of Advil for the first day and he's been perfectly fine ever since.  He happily swallows his pills on schedule.

When I'm sick, I'm always glad for antibiotics.  When my children are sick, I feel like antibiotics are the best thing in the entire world. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sick day, revisited

Yesterday I felt all stoic and accepting about being sick.

Today, I just. Want. To. Stop. Coughing.

Also, trying to get back to life after being sick is like trying to get back to life after vacation.  No fun.  The differences are, you didn't have any fun while you were gone.  And your kids messed up the kitchen.  (Usually on vacation, they're with me so no kid damages are sustained.)


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sick Day

If I had my life to live over again...I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
Erma Bombeck

For nearly a week, I've been fighting being sick.  Mind over mattress.  I felt terrible sometimes and then I'd feel just a little sick.  And I kept going because, who has time to be sick?  Not me. 

But then I felt terrible again.

Yesterday I gave up.  OK, I thought.  I'm sick.  I went to the doctor.  I got a prescription.  I went to bed.  I told my kids to stop talking to me when they were making requests because I was sick.  I handed Braeden and Emma each a to do list.  They may have felt like arguing, but I was sick, so they didn't.  (I gave Mark a pass because he's also sick.)

I had Safeway chicken noodle soup for lunch.  And orange sherbet. I left my dishes in the sink.

I went back to bed.

The earth didn't go into a holding pattern.  Things on my list didn't get done.  And I don't think anyone cares.  Sometimes it's a little startling that things don't come unhinged a little if I don't do all the things I'm supposed to do.  

Sometimes it's relieving.  It's like the universe is saying "Get over yourself."  And to that I say, "Thank you universe."

Then I say, "If you need me, I'll be in bed.  But don't need me."

(Because I'm sick.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Yesterday someone asked me if I was excited about school starting.

My answer used to be an unequivocal yes.  School with its newly sharpened pencils and stack of new books and fresh start was exciting. That was before "it" happened.  And by "it" I mean my kids going to school. 

I didn't know how to answer which is kind of stupid because it's not a person that I'm really close to and I don't think she really cared how I felt but was just making conversation.  I murmured a quick noncommittal answer.  But am I excited for school to start?


-I won't have to wash swimsuits and towels every day.

-I am looking forward to Mark's new curriculum.

-Autumn is maybe my favorite season. (It's at least in the top four.)

-I will get lots of time with Mark.  I have missed him this summer.  My attention is diluted by Braeden and Emma and Mark's attention is diluted by his friends.  Even though a good 30% of our time together each day consists of him telling me how much he hates school, I love spending my days with him.  I love snuggling under a blanket and reading to him.  When I see the shelf full of books we're going to read together next school year, I get positively giddy.


-I will have to pack lunches.  Packing lunches saps the joy out of life.

-I will have to get up earlier.  Getting up early saps the joy out of life.

-I will miss Braeden and Emma.  I won't have them here for lunch.  Not spending my days with them saps the joy out of life.

-Summer is maybe my favorite season.  (It's at least in the top four.)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

I am either quoting Ecclesiastes or Turn! Turn! Turn! (C'mon, you know the song.  Didn't your mom ever sing '60s music to you?)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Maximizing room potential

I am interested in weather (I think I got it from my dad) or otherwise I wouldn't write about the weather so much.  Because around here, the weather isn't all that interesting.

We have a lot of rain.  We have a lot of cloudy gray days.  We have some sunshine.  Repeat.

We rarely even get a thunderstorm.  Snow is such a scarcity that it's kind of a holiday whenever it snows.

And then there are those few occasional days of heat.  Every once in a while, it gets actually hot.    Last weekend was actually hot.  We don't have central air conditioning plus (as a result of all that mild marine air we usually live in) we are incredibly wimpy when it comes to heat.

The upside?  It kind of creates a holiday.

Saturday we went to the river.

Sunday, after church, we encamped in our bedroom.  (In our bedroom we have a small air conditioner that we didn't even plug in last summer because we didn't need it.)

Adam and I have often lamented the disproportionate size of our bedroom.  (Why can't I transfer some of the space to my kitchen?)

But not any more.

We spent all day there.  We napped, played games, read.  There was space for everyone.

We ate in there.  It was one of those, "I can't believe we're really doing this," sort of moments but then we did.

Because of that blessed air conditioning.

See the computer monitor behind Mark?  We used it for Netflix Saturday the air conditioning.
As  you can see, I set the table with our best china.  (It sort of seemed like a picnic so paper plates were in order.)

Here's the good news.  I realized I have the perfect spot for Thanksgiving dinner someday when our children all have families of their own.

Our bedroom. 

(and then we can all take a nap)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Saturday at Cascade Park

Perhaps because I grew up cooling off in Boulder Creek near my parents' house, Cascade Park is my favorite summer place.  The Stillaguamish River never disappoints.

When Adam and I were engaged and I came to visit him the summer we got married, he took me to Cascade Park.  He swam me across the river while I clutched hold of him for dear life.  It's still the only way I can get across the river.  (A swimmer I am not.)

Adam has spent years teaching our kids how to swim in the river.  We all have a healthy respect for deep water and swift currents.  I love watching Braeden and Emma power across the river.  They know how to use the current and how to look for eddies to get them where they want to go.

This year it was Mark's turn for instruction.  In years past, Adam has ferried him across on his back.  This year, there was some of that.  Then they swam side by side.  Then Adam stood on the edge and called instructions to Mark.  "Big arms!"  "Kick!"  "Aim that way!"

It makes me happy.

They also practiced diving.  There's a limestone edge on the opposite side of the river that makes the perfect perch to dive in where it's deep.

Braeden helping Mark to dive.  "Go over my hand."
Papa Bear shows how it's done.

The pictures of Braeden and Adam look like they're doing yoga.  Downward facing dog, anyone?

At one point, some other kids came to play at the river.  One little boy, about ten, got into the current and was in trouble.  He started yelling for help then he slipped under the surface.  Adam acted quickly and plucked the little boy's flailing body above the surface.  He is always calm in a crisis.  Swimming with the little boy in tow, he instructed him to turn around and grab an inner tube (which Adam happened to be holding at the time).  The little boy stopped screaming and stopped flailing and Adam swam him to shore.

My hero.

(Then Adam went and told the parents of all the kids, who were picnicking up above in the field what had happened and that they needed to keep a closer eye on things.  Soon there were whistles and calls for children and luckily, no more rescues needed.)

It's not the first time Adam (or someone in his family) has saved someone in that river.  Maybe that's why he's so vigilant teaching our kids.

Whatever the reason, I am grateful.  Because I am pretty much useless at swimming the river.  I distribute snacks and sunscreen and read my book at the water's edge.

I was wearing Emma's flip flops.  She had two broken shoes and insisted she didn't need a new pair because she had these two.  (Was she raised during the Depression?)  Both of these flip flops broke yesterday so we may have to go for the $2 investment of a new pair.
Grandma Geri joined us and is the kind of grandma that brings cookies and inner tubes to share and goes down the rapids to show how it's done.

Saturday was hot enough that I actually got in the water a few times.  Adam swam me across the river.  It scared me.  It's deep and swift.  But it's kind of a metaphor for our marriage.  I may whimper and protest and have to fight off panic when life throws me challenges at times but I'm always OK if I can hang onto Adam.

I realized I don't have any pictures of Emma swimming.  I promise she was there.  She swam hard.  Then she napped.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary.  Seventeen years ago I was really young.  So was Adam.  It seems like a long time ago.  When you think about the fact that we are (gratefully) going to be  together forever (we're fully planning on it!), seventeen years doesn't seem all that long.

When I think about why I'm happy to be married to Adam, I tend to think about the big things.  The children we happily welcomed into our family, the big trips, the exciting adventures.  He's a good guy for the Big Things in life.

There are a lot of other reasons to be glad I'm married to him though.  Here are seventeen.

1) I can tell him, "We have really great kids!" and he doesn't think I'm bragging because he feels the same way.

2) I can tell him, "We have really rotten kids!" and he doesn't think I'm a terrible mother because he  feels the same way. (Sometimes he feels the same way--he's usually nicer than I am.)

3) He almost always knows the right thing to say to me to make me feel better.

4) He wraps his arms around me for those times when there is nothing to say to make me feel better.

5) He unquestioningly supports my ideas.  (Although he draws the line at becoming a bank robber so we can afford a vacation house somewhere sunny.  I'm still working on him though.  Give me seventeen more years.)

6) He's good at moving furniture.  This has been invaluable the 9 times we've moved as well as the 9,000 times we've rearranged. (See number 5.)

7) Every day he has either read or heard something interesting to tell me.

8) He takes over for me when I need him to.  (I sort of wish he didn't do such a good job sometimes.)

9) He bought me a nice van and he drives a decrepit car, cheerfully.

10) He likes my family.  He has happily clocked a lot of hours traveling to see them.

11) He can stay up late and not be cranky.

12) He can tolerate me when I am cranky.

13) He can figure out what to make for dinner when I'm out of ideas.

14) Or he takes me out to dinner.

15) He reads to our kids.  Usually while they're climbing on him like he's a jungle gym.  (OK, the older two don't climb anymore.  They used to.)

16) When I was nine months pregnant, he could still lift me up and carry me.  (I know this because he did.  It was when I was in labor with Emma.  I was enormous.  It was impressive.)

17) He makes me laugh every day.  Usually right before I fall asleep.  It's a good life.

Adam:  explaining the complexities of the Ballard Locks to Mark.  Seventeen years ago, I didn't know what kind of dad he would be.  I'm not sure I even worried about it.  Turns out I didn't need to.

Last night I told Adam he would regret criticizing my driving when he read the kind things I was going to write about him on my blog.  So you regret it don't you, Adam?  Feel a little bad?  Feel like I'm pretty much a great driver?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Like my mom

I often find myself sounding exactly like my mom.  I use a lot of her recipes and feel the same way about camping and pets and Jane Austen and chocolate and watching the sunset from the front porch as she does.  I channel my mom when I square off against sassy children.  Recently when the drama department at Braeden's school was considering an inappropriate play for next year, I took a deep breath, considered how my mom would respond in my same situation, and dove in.

I called my mom a lot for encouragement and support.

In nearly every way, I want to be like my mom.  (There are a few exceptions.  For example, the woman doesn't own a pair of jeans.)

I deep clean my house just like my mom did every year.  Except our house was log when we were growing up and my mom made us scrub the walls and ceiling.  The smell of wet wood still makes me feel a little sick.  I hated it.

To reach the ceiling, my mom and sisters and I each had a kitchen chair to stand on.

Then my brothers got to heights that surpassed normal heights.  My mom enlisted their help. They cleaned the ceilings flat footed and my mom felt like she'd won the lottery.

I scrubbed the outsides of my kitchen cabinets.  I called in my son with the long arms and legs to take everything off the tops of the cupboards and to get up there and clean it all.  It was easier for him than me.

What can I say?  I learned from the best.

Books I read in July 2012

Dear Enemy by Jean Webster***

This book was a sequel to Daddy Long Legs.  I liked it even more than I liked the first book.  It is also a series of letters but this time, they are letters written by Sallie McBride who is a college friend of Judy, the author of the letters in Daddy Long Legs.  Sallie has agreed to be the superintendent for the orphanage where Judy grew up and where she is now, along with her husband, the patron.  The "enemy" in question is the Scottish doctor at the orphanage that Sallie has differences of opinion with.  The letters are also written to Judy and Gordon, Sallie's boyfriend.  The letters are witty and the story is endearing and compelling and old fashioned and I liked it!

Unwind by Neal Shusterman **

I don't give many stars to this book just because it freaked out my freaky.  I normally don't read books like this for that reason but we were reading it for book club so I read it.  It is science fiction, set in the future in the United States.  There is a law that if your teenager becomes too much trouble you can have them unwound--taken apart and used for transplants.  They insist you go on living, just in a different form.  The teenagers of course feel differently about it.  First, it was compelling.  Then depressing, then disturbing, then chilling, then creepy, then horrific.  It stayed compelling the whole time but I don't think I'll read any more in the series.  I don't think I could take it.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty****

I loved this book.  It's about a woman who falls and bumps her head.  She wakes up thinking it is ten years earlier.  She doesn't remember her three children.  She doesn't understand how she could possibly be divorcing her wonderful and much loved husband and she doesn't know why relations seemed strained with her sister.  It is the kind of book that makes me remember why I love Adam so much.  I like to read that sort of book.  (I suspect he likes me to read that sort of book too.)


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