Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Addendum

We are in the middle of math as I write.

Mark is learning about units of measure.  I was showing him milliliters and liters.  He said, "I've got news for you Mom, we won the war." 

He was quoting Corner Gas, the best thing to come out of Canada since ketchup potato chips. (Never mind.  Ketchup potato chips are nasty).

Mark is like his brother and sister and remembers funny lines from TV shows and movies with perfect clarity.  I wish I could translate that into them remembering other things with perfect clarity.  But I am glad that my children are armed with wit.  They bring out the big guns when they know I need to smile.

Sometimes

Sometimes (like this morning) I wake up in the morning and feel like my life is a drudgery.  Too much.  One unpleasant task stacked on another (and also my new-ish oven self destructed last night).  Sometimes I wish I could change things.

Sometimes I wish I had more time.

More time to write.  More time to restore/create some order around here.  More time to exercise/improve myself/decrease my carbon footprint/learn Latin...who am I kidding?  More time to read.

Sometimes I consider how much more time I would have if I sent my little goblin to school instead of working on school plans and negotiating with him to be in a motionless state for longer than five minutes.  I wonder how I would spend my days if they didn't include trying to keep Mark writing/reading/adding/subtracting.  What would I do with all the time I wasn't spending convincing him that he's not too sick for school, that he'd be plenty warm (and not need to be wrapped in a blanket) if he went and put a shirt on, and that no, we aren't going to snuggle until you are done with math.  Would I for once in my life be On Top of It.  Whatever It is?

I doubt it.

And the day I trade more time for days without Mark will be a dark day.



I mean, look at the way he makes hot chocolate for me.  (The kid knows his way around chocolate.)

Sometimes Mark and I play Scrabble when everyone else is gone in the evening.  I destroy him.  I know, he's nine.  But still.   
Yesterday, while we were eating lunch, Mark and I were trading hi-larious jokes.  His two favorites:

Q: What has a bottom at the top?

A: Legs.

Q:  What goes ha ha kerplunk?

A:  Laughing your head off.

Life is like pizza.

Even when it's bad, it's good.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Forgotten Photos

I am plugging away at approximately 35 partially finished projects at once (a good solution for when I have a short attention span).  I am making photo books of our last year and found this picture.



We were driving home from Lake Chelan last September.  I was in my happy place, in the front seat, next to Adam.  He spotted the license plates and said, "Take a picture!"

I did.

It makes me laugh.

I also saw this picture, from the Mukilteo Ferry.


My boys.

There were a lot of pictures like this:


Pictures of me with straight hair.  Weird.  (I always ask someone to take a picture after I have Megan, the wonder stylist, straighten my hair because it's so startling to me.)


And a happy sunshine picture:

no more straight hair

None of these pictures will likely make the Snapfish book cut.  But, they are good pictures to remember.  Good to remember; life is pretty good.

Friday, January 27, 2012

We Might Just Agree



When I was about a junior in high school, I had a brief love affair with Southwest style.  A Georgia O'Keefe phase?  I loved cacti, painted pottery, and muted colors.  I decided that I wanted canvas bedspreads for my bed and Marianne's bed.  (She was gone to college and her bed was sort of a staging area for my laundry but I wanted a new bedspread for it as well.)

I asked my mom to make me two canvas bedspreads.  "Canvas?" she said incredulously.  Yes.  I liked the texture.  It was spare and seemed like...sand.  It took a little convincing but soon enough, I ended up with two canvas bedspreads.

One day I came home from school to find a prickly pear cactus my dad had dug up from the sagebrush and put into a pot for me.

Another day I came home and found a cow skull on my shelf, which delighted me.  It was perfect.

My parents thought my decorating ideas were weird but they supported them just the same.

So now there's Emma.

As mentioned earlier, we've gone back and forth about her bedroom.  I thought her ideas were cheesy.  I had such better ideas.  Neither of us could get the other one to see reason.   Then I remembered my parents--my mom sewing canvas bedspreads, my dad digging up cactus and gifting me with a cow skull.  (If I can align my parenting as close to my parents' as possible, I think I'll do OK in the world.)  I also considered that the part of Emma that is self-assured and independent is (usually) one of my very favorite parts about her.  Who was I to squelch her ideas, her vision?

I told her we would do whatever she wanted.

Yesterday afternoon, we were driving to the store to gather paint chips.  She said, "I've been thinking about what you said and I think I see your point."  I nearly fainted dead away (which isn't safe when you're driving to the store to gather paint chips).

Here's the thing about Emma.  You just never know.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Just Don't Know

I have a lot of ideas for redecorating Emma's room but she has different ideas.  I am trying to strike a balance.  On the one hand, it's her room.  I want her to have the thrill of coming up with an idea, executing it and watching it fail or succeed.  On the other hand, she's not paying for the paint, curtains, etc.  And I'll be doing most of the work.  I have a vested interest in it all.

I have a single spaced nine page long typed list of books I want to read (really, I am not kidding) and I'm reading a boring book right now.

I want to spend more time writing but every day it gets pushed to the bottom of my list then falls off the list, right onto the floor.  Where it's kicked around.

Just when I feel like I have conquered one teeny little corner of motherhood, my children dazzle me by doing something so stupid I realize I have to reassess and give this new problem immediate, prompt attention.  (Why can't those people let me rest on my laurels, however puny those laurels may be?)

Just when I feel like maybe I have rotten children after all, they do something terrific and charming and make me believe that maybe all isn't lost.

Marianne and I have children that sleep through the night, can get dressed themselves, put their own shoes on, buckle their own seatbelts and even get their own snacks.   But we never have time to talk on the phone.  If you had asked us ten years ago if we'd have more time now, we would have said an emphatic yes. What happened?

Sometimes I don't feel like I know very much about my life.

But here's something I do know:  I have terrific friends.

Yesterday:

Janet picked up Braeden from play practice (and Hans didn't even have to be at that practice).

Stephanie hosted Mark when I needed her to.

Jill agreed with me about Emma's room.

Heather inquired about my writing which made me feel good.

In a world where a lot doesn't make sense, my friends do.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Poem for My Sister

Marianne is really the one that's good at writing clever poetry but I changed a few words in "Oh The Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss in honor of my sweet little sister, Olivia.  She recently found out that baby number five will be boy number four!  It's exciting news.  Babies are always exciting news.

So here's "my" poem.  (I'm the Milli Vanilli of poetry.)


For Olivia:


Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're going to have four!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can pick a name
any boy name you choose.
You're not on your own.  (And Edgar’s picky you know.)
But I’m sure you'll decide a name that will go.

You'll have four boys to love.  Look 'em over with care.
I know you will say, "I am glad that they’re there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart not to know that four boys are a treat.

And Lili will not have any
reason to frown.
No sisters, of course,
but lots of girl cousins in town.

It's lively there
when four sons are your share.

To moms things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
like cub scouts.  Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start sewing badges too.

OH!
THE BADGES YOU'LL SEW!

You'll have some wolf pups!
You'll have pack meeting nights!
You'll even have eagles
who soar to high heights.

Your pinewood derby cars will have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that boys and their laundry
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in clothes that smell bad.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left sort of sad.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where boy socks seem to rot.
Some things are picked up.  But mostly they're not.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
You may wonder what happened to your little kin.
When did they get tall and with hair on their chin?

They’ll start to be hungry all day and night...
“Is there something to eat?” Food will vanish bite by bite.
They’ll always be famished, want snacks of any kind
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
providing food; you may lose your mind.

Then they’ll need rides
and you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for mothers just waiting.
Waiting for scouts
or sports practice, or lessons
or doctors, or dentists
or orthodontists, or play practice
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Mothers are waiting.

NO!
That's not for you!

Someday you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

They’ll get a driver’s license,
once more you'll ride high!
In the meantime you’ll have books to read.
(Because audio books are what you will need!)

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
Your boys will achieve.  There are games to be won.
Your sons will be heroes at all kinds of ball,
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame!  You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.

I'm afraid that some times
they won’t succeed too.
No one is perfect,
comforting will be up to you.

Being mom!
Whether you like it or not,
Making them happy
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're a mom, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many kid troubles as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

PARD, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So...
be your baby a Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!
 
              

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Shame

A few weeks ago, something happened.  Something embarrassing.  My friends have asked me when I'm going to blog about it.  I said, "Never."

It was humiliating.

And don't you think it's nice if you, dear reader, have only the best opinion of me?

Too late?

Alright.

Here's what happened.

We were sitting complacently at church in sacrament meeting.  It was testimony meeting.  All was right with the world.

A sweet, kind older lady in our ward went to the pulpit and told about her recent serious health scare.  She collapsed, was rushed to the hospital, had a cardiac arrest, lingered near death.  She spoke earnestly about how she'd been comforted during that time, how she'd felt like she wasn't alone.

Then she said, "On a lighter note, I got a nice get well card with names of adults and children.  One child had written, 'Get Well Sicko' and had drawn a circle around it. It made me laugh.  I don't know who Mark is, but I want him to know that this 'sicko' got better."

I had the sinking feeling that I knew who Mark was.

I had the sinking feeling that everyone else in the room, everyone else who was laughing, knew exactly who Mark was.

Mark excitedly whispered to Emma, "That was me!"  Emma jabbed him in the ribs and hissed for him to be quiet.

Braeden hung his head.  So did Adam.  And me.  Thankfully we sit in the front row usually so we didn't have to make eye contact with anyone.  I felt terrible.  Mark, Mark, Mark.  I also felt very grateful that this lovely woman had a sense of humor.

After the meeting, Braeden whispered in my ear.  "He has shamed our family."

Everyone else I talked to for the rest of the day was delighted by it though.  (They were glad it wasn't their child, I'm guessing.)

There's nothing like having your child's poor behavior called out in front of your entire church congregation.

Determined to make a lesson out of it for Mark, I told him that he needed to be careful what people knew him for.  I said, "You want people, when they hear the name Mark, to think of someone kind and good, not someone who is rude when they're trying to be funny."

I upped the ante.

I said, "You're named after your grandpa and he's a very good man.  You need to make him glad that you have his name by your good behavior."

Mark said, "Didn't your dad tie his teacher to his desk in high school?"

"Yes...he did.  But that was a long time ago!  Grandpa is a very good man now!"

I would give up but I don't want anything like this to ever happen again so I'll persevere.

I just want Mark to start wearing a sign pinned to his shirt.  "My mom really is trying."

Monday, January 23, 2012

This Weekend

This weekend:

--there was a steady drip of melting snow

--we finally made it out of the confines of our neighborhood (such is the life when you live at the bottom of a hill on a street that doesn't get plowed...you're the last one to get out)

--we celebrated leaving the neighborhood with an exciting grocery store trip

--we also ate dinner (later) at Alfy's and read each other the most poorly written trivia questions ever, which I think Alfy's should be famous for: "True or False.  Can a horse vomit?"

--I fought a cold all weekend and slept poorly.  I had a repetitive dream about watching a football game in Alabama.  I think it was drug induced.  (I take medicine when I'm sick. When people say, "I don't like to take medicine," I think they're the same as the people that say, "I don't like chocolate."  What is wrong with those people?)

--I read something disguised as truth but not true.  I thought about why it was wrong and figured it out.  I love the exhilaration of discernment.

--and speaking of exhilaration, we went to a youth church meeting Sunday night celebrating 100 years of seminary (and now I will no longer feel sorry for myself because some kids in Peru leave their home at 4:30 a.m. by canoe to go to seminary).  The wonderful part of that meeting though, was that I recognized truth there.  Absolutely.  I felt it in my soul.

And that is the best feeling of all.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snowed In

Adirondack chairs on our deck
The snow days keep coming.

I couldn't be happier.

Yesterday (since I didn't have any deep desire to move furniture) and after I taught Mark school (because he doesn't get snow days...go ahead, think I'm cruel, he does), Emma and I invited her friends over for a little craft.

These are the same girls that get together and read aloud the stories they've written and made each other handmade Christmas gifts.  They're creative types.



We took crayon shavings, melted them between waxed paper and cut out shapes.  The girls confidently did their own thing, tried new things, never said, "help me!" or "what should I do?"  I love the self assured ways of imaginative girls.

It made a tremendous mess but that will happen.


I hung my creations in the window to catch the sun.







I know, I know, we don't actually get sun.

Maybe I'll keep them up until July.

In the meantime, I would happily take as many snow days as I can get.  Although we may have to walk to Costco eventually for more milk...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New and Improved

When I approached our children with the idea of the changing of the schoolroom, I met with a predictable response.

"We can't do it!"  Braeden said, "Let's wait for Dad."

"We can do it," I promised.

"I like it the way it is.  It won't work.  Noooooooo."

"Yes."

And we did. (And it helped that Braeden could have friends over after it was done.)

Here's how it looked before (roughly--these were taken last summer but it was mostly like that still):




Here's how it looked after:

I got rid of one desk, moved one bookshelf to the stairway landing and two bookshelves to the hall.

I need to move the rug over but I really do need Adam for that.  He needs to lift the futon which weighs approximately 2 million tons (because he's the only one that can do it alone) and everyone else needs to grab a corner of the rug.

When Adam got home from work, he gave his stamp of approval.  He asked Braeden if he'd helped (yes, a lot...there were a lot of books to move and heavy stuff too).  Braeden said, "I doubted her at first, but it worked."

I said, "Braeden, when are you going to learn not to doubt me?"

Adam added, "I still doubt her sometimes, but I've learned not to object."

Sometimes you have to take what you can get.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Days

Monday was no school because of Martin Luther King day and we have had snow days since.  I love sleeping in a little.  I love having my kids home.  I love the extra time I have because I'm not the chauffeur for lessons and practices.  Everything's cancelled.

We've had a steady stream of hot chocolate, Adam's devised a drying rack in the garage out of a ladder and space heater and ski poles for the steady stream of wet snow clothes, and life has been cozy.

I have been able to make a slight dent in unfinished projects.  One of them is Emma's room.  She's redecorating it.  She thought this meant I would drive her to the store and buy her paint and whatever else her heart desired.

It truly means it's time for her to go through her things and pare down and tidy up before I'll buy anything.

That isn't quite as fun.

And she's moving slowly because of the siren song of her friends and the snow.

She wants to get rid of a bookshelf and I want to incorporate it back into the schoolroom where it started in the first place.

So you know what this means.

Today, while I have my muscle home for one more day...

...we are moving furniture.  I have a new layout in mind for the schoolroom.

Lovely, lovely snow days.




Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pros and Cons

There are pros and cons of being homeschooled.

Pro:  You don't have to wake up too early.  Mark rolls out of bed and watches Netflix (and eats a bean burrito...his favorite breakfast).  After awhile I call him upstairs.  In his pajamas.

Con: It's a snow day here and Braeden and Emma don't need to go to school but Mark does.

Pro: When you are homeschooled your parents sometimes take you on trips like London, Disneyland, Palm Desert while everyone else is in school.

Con:  When you are not homeschooled, you have to stay home and go to school while everyone else is in school.

Pro: You can do your schoolwork at a desk, on a couch, on the floor, upside down with your feet in the air.  On a boat, with a goat.  (Horace)

Con:  You don't learn how to taunt.  The other night we were playing Qwirkle (which is a very fun game incidentally) and Braeden and Emma were attempting to provoke each other.  "Something something trash, I burn it?" Braeden said.  "What is that?  How does that go?"

Emma said, "I don't play with trash, I burn it?"

Braeden said, "No, that doesn't seem right."

Then they turned to me.  "Mom, how does that go?  We didn't go to elementary school."

"Well, I did," Emma said.  "I went to sixth grade." Accuracy is key to her happiness.

"Not enough," Braeden said, "We didn't learn this stuff."

I said, "Someone says, 'make me' and you say, 'I don't make trash, I burn it.'"

I know I've told them this gem of wisdom before but just like everything else:

1) They don't listen (unless I say "time to eat").

2) They only remember about half of what I teach them.

Poor homeschooled kids.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Queen of All the World



Lately I've been daydreaming desert daydreams.  I love the desert like Adam loves moss.

We were driving among misty tall trees and I told Adam it was a testament to how much I love him that I have surrendered dry heat, stunning sunsets, wide skies and determined wildflowers for him.  (Anything that grows in the desert is determined.)

Quoting Isabel Burton, I told him, "I would rather have a crust and a tent with you than be queen of all the world."

Mark was in the backseat and asked, "If you were queen of all the world, couldn't you just get Dad?"

Which is true, I could.

So never mind.  I do want to be queen of all the world, after all.  (I don't mind eating crusts but I don't want to sleep in a tent.)






In the interest of giving the Pacific Northwest its due, here's the sunset Emma shot with my phone from her bedroom window the other night.  Beautiful.


Friday, January 13, 2012

How It's Going

My New Year's Resolutions:

I have been writing (some).

The other day I mailed the Lovely Lady of the Lea's birthday card.

I have not mastered Pachelbel's Canon (stop judging me, it's early days yet).

But look at this:



Ta Da!  The top of my dresser--perfectly clean!

Don't look at this:

things I want to hang up/decide what to do with and boxes of papers and detritus I am sorting...


I don't want to talk about it but it will be nice to have something to work toward in 2013.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Birthday Cake and Other Sugar

For Emma's first birthday I put effort into decorating a cake for her.  It turned out pretty cute, not spectacular, but cute.

If you're wondering when I'm going to stop taking pictures of pictures and use a scanner, the answer is--when I get a scanner.  I will get a scanner when my current printer dies so it could be awhile.

I spent a good portion of the day on the cake and largely ignored our children (as much as you can ignore a three year old and a one year old).  They were probably watching Barney while I was carefully placing honeycomb cereal for hair.

We had a bunch of friends over to celebrate.  Braeden ate a lot of cake then ran around like a wild man with his little friends.  The party ended abruptly when he threw up all over the middle of the room.  That clears a room like nothing else.  Everyone left except Mindy and Bill.  Mindy helped me clean up and Bill took the kids in the other room (Adam had had to leave the party early, lucky guy).

So this cake makes me think of two things:  Mindy and Bill = great friends and I should not have wasted so much time on that cake.

Ever since, I've been making ugly birthday cakes.  (Not on purpose, they just turn out that way.)  My kids no longer would watch Barney all day even if I made the option available and I don't spend all day on their birthday cakes.

As a result, the cakes look like this:


I am ashamed.

It did taste really good though.  I am still on my quest for the perfect chocolate cake and this one is in the running.  I got the recipe from the December 2011 Good Housekeeping magazine.

And it was supposed to look like this:


Did I mention I am ashamed?

Besides the other glaring differences, I didn't put candy canes on mine because that is so last month.

My kids thought the mint in the cake was a little strong so I may not include the mints between layers when I make this cake again.  The ganache was divine.  You really can't go wrong with a pint of cream and a pound of chocolate though.

Last night, in addition to cake, we celebrated with presents for the birthday boy.  Among his gifts were boxes of cereal--for the boy who inhales food.  He was a little surprised by the gifts, but pleased.


They weren't the typical kind of cereal I buy either.  There was no notice given to sugar content.  Grandma Geri gave Braeden a generous gift card but also a box of Zingers.

What does it say about a person when people give them food for presents?  That they're an always hungry teenager?

Geri covered him in boxes of sugar food for a picture.  What does it say about a person when they can't stop talking to smile at the camera?

That they're Braeden.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm Now Invincible!



Years ago, Geri told me two things about parenting.

1) When Emma was two she told me, "You are in so much trouble when she is twelve."

2) When Braeden was eleven (and sort of a pain), she told me, "If you can let your son live between the ages of 11 and 15, you can do anything."

Guess who's 15?

(And it's true, the closer he has been getting to this age, the more I've enjoyed him.)

This is Braeden on his second birthday.  Yes, that's me in the becoming plaid flannel shirt.  That's Jessica down in the corner.  She turned 16 a few days ago which boggles my mind.
Despite pictures like this...


...and this...


  ...and this...

...it is hard to ignore signs that my babies are growing up.  (Denying it by looking at old scrapbook pages isn't helping.)

Braeden's growing up.  Babies don't keep.  Neither do toddlers.  They have undeniable expiration dates and they morph into something bigger that eats more.

My mom told me that the last several times she's talked to Braeden on the phone she's asked him, "Are you sick?  Do you have a cold?"  (My mom's protective lioness nature goes on alert when she's confronted with sickness in those she loves.)  Braeden kept telling her he wasn't sick and she finally realized his voice is just deeper.

I hadn't really noticed it but I have noticed that when Adam is home, I can't always tell who's talking, Adam or Braeden.  Weird.

Over Christmas break, Braeden shaved for the first time.



I loved watching Adam move his mouth around in shaving conducive shapes with Braeden.  I think strange things are cute.

Sometimes Braeden pats me on the shoulder in an everything's-going-to-be-OK sort of way.  He rolls his eyes sometimes at my (hilarious) jokes.

He is growing up.

And I love him more than I could ever, ever describe.  If the only thing I ever did in this life was be mother to Braeden, I think I should be satisfied that I had accomplished something important.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Among Friends

Last night I went to a Drama Booster Parents Meeting.  I hate meetings but these aren't so bad.  Maybe because I get these people.

Before the meeting started, the president said that her husband told her it was a bad night for a meeting because it was the championship game.

The rest of us looked at each other with blank expressions.  Championship game?

"Basketball?" One mother questioned tentatively.  The rest of us still had blank looks, shrugging.

"National College Football," the president said.

"Oh." 

Whatever.

No wonder Braeden has found his niche with the drama kids.

I think I've found my niche with the drama mamas and papas.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Wheelhouse



Friday night I texted my brother, Ammon.  I asked him if he was busy.  It was, after all, Friday night and he is, after all, a young whipper snapper.  For all I knew he was out painting the town.

My home phone rang.  It was Ammon.  He was ready to field my questions.  He always is.  When I have questions for things he knows about (which is a lot) he is willing to explain (and re explain) to me.

I had questions for him about the curtain rod in our boys' room that jumped off the wall in an alarming display of recklessness that I'm not sure I can support.  That curtain rod is supposed to stay attached to the wall.

Ammon patched our drywall once after Braeden's foot punched a foot shaped hole in it.

Ammon knows drywall.

Ammon was carefully explaining ways to repair the thing to me and I kept saying, "Wait, I don't understand."  He lost me when he was describing ways that a house is framed and how I could reinforce the wall by inserting a new stud.  He wondered if my house was framed with 2 x 4s or 2 x 6s.  What?  He started explaining again.  At one point he said, "What does Adam think?"  (Which may have been his nice way of saying,  "Is there anyone else there I can talk to that would get this so I wouldn't have to keep re explaining it?")

I reported Adam was still at work.  Adam was ultimately the one that would be doing the repair and he gets that stuff better than I do but if I'm anything, I'm impatient and I wanted to query Ammon for advice rather than sit on my hands (or make dinner).

After I thanked my smart and capable little brother for his help and got off the phone (and while I was making dinner), I wondered if there would ever be a time when Ammon would need to ask me for advice or help.  I ask my parents for advice on Everything.  I ask my sisters for advice on parenting and sewing (no, not YOU Olivia, the other sister) and recipes and homeschooling and gift ideas and the like.  I ask my brothers for advice on home repairs, car repairs, purchases and the like.

No one asks me for much advice.

I decided maybe they don't realize my wheelhouse...what I KNOW.  (Then I had to decide what that was also...)

And here it is.

I know cake mixes.

I can make a cake from a cake mix in no time at all (multiple flavors too...that's how good I am).

I can make cookies and muffins from cake mixes too.  Recently when I made cake mix muffins, Mark said they'd be good with frosting.  Emma said, "No, then they'd be cupcakes."  (Therefore, illegal breakfast fare.)

So here's the word to anyone who would ever like my advice.  If you need help with a cake mix, call me.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Remember to Be Happy

That's what I need to do.

Because sometimes I forget.

I am not happy that my older two kids are back in school.  I miss them.

I am not happy that my older two kids are back in school and so I need to wake up in the early cold dark hours when it's only reasonable to stay in my warm bed.

I am not happy that I haven't been sleeping well.  At all.  Waaaaaaaaaaaaah.

I am not happy about dark rainy days and wet socks.

I am not happy about resuming busy after school hours and evenings.

But then the sun came out...briefly, weakly.  I remembered that there is a lot to be happy about.

I remembered starting out on a walk the other day and smelling the rich smell of wet earth and thinking spring.  Maybe?

I remembered texting with my sisters.  Olivia and I assured each other that our chocolate consumption was healthy.  Marianne and I referred to wrestling someone off a tractor.  It's a long story.  But when you have sisters, it's fun to text with them.

I remembered how very kind Adam is to me when I can't sleep.  He wakes himself up to talk sensibly to me.  He tells me to turn off my alarm clock...he'll get up with the kids.  He's a good one.

I remembered time spent with Mark.  During the Christmas vacation I missed him a little because he was off and running with his neighborhood friends and I saw less of him.  I love having school with him and his various stuffed animals.  (He insists they like learning about science.)

I remembered shopping with Mark.  He likes to "speed shop."  He asks me for tasks and bolts away at top speed to find them. I call after him to not run but that's like telling a Seattle sky not to rain.  He runs back and slam dunks whatever he found in the cart and asks for a new item to find.  He says, "C'mon Mom.  I am in the zone."  We'll probably get asked to shop elsewhere because I doubt stores enjoy red heads that catapult around but in the meantime, we're getting our shopping done quickly.

So I guess what it comes down to is this: re entry is no fun but life is still good.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Like a Wink and a Smile

Braeden, drowning his sore teeth sorrow in a plate of pasta

 Braeden is mild tempered.  He is a peacemaker.  He is easy going.

Unless orthodontia is involved.

He gets mad and surly when his mouth is associated with metal.  (He's stormed out of the chair and out of the office, full of wrath and indignation, in the middle of an appointment.  I hardly recognized my good-natured son.)  Janet told me he was grumbling on the way to seminary the other morning that people should compare teeth before they decide to have children.  He feels like he was dealt an unfair hand.  He blames us.

I still would have married Adam though, even considering the hours (and dollars) spent at the orthodontist.

We go together.

Some things just do.

Chapstick and gum for example.  I never use one without wanting the other.



Tangent alert:
I love Burt's Bees lip balm.  Most chapstick makes my lips more chapped because I'm allergic to it somehow.  I don't know what it is I'm allergic to but I know Burt's Bees doesn't have it.


I also love Stride cinnamon gum.  I order it from Amazon because I can't find it at the store.  It lasts longer than other cinnamon gum.  And tastes good.  (The reason I like cinnamon gum is because of Stephanie.  She is against aspartame and told me cinnamon gum is the only kind without it.  I congratulate myself on my healthy lifestyle choice and chew cinnamon gum and try to ignore the fact that I'm getting plenty of aspartame from Diet Coke...you can't always be virtuously healthy).

Other things that go together:

hot chocolate + candy canes
socks + winter
powerpoint presentations + instant boredom
sunglasses + summer
road trips + music
cold milk + chocolate cake
Mark + Legos
pizza + root beer
chocolate milk + tuna fish sandwiches

Then there are the things that don't go together:

wii fit + questions (Sometimes the Wii asks me, "How was going back to that routine after not doing it for a few days?"  Really Wii fit?  You just sit right down and I'll tell you all about it.)

water + Styrofoam cups (it makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it)

hot chocolate + cinnamon (I've tried to like this.  I can't.)

rap music + my ears

orange juice + brushing your teeth (bleck)

and of course:

Braeden + orthodontics


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Cell Phone in Shiny Armor

I like having a cell phone so I can talk to people on the go.  I like that I can text Adam across a store.  I like that we haven't coordinated a time and place to meet in ten years.  We just call.

I really like all the lovely additions to my phone.  (The apps!  The calendar!  The calculator!)

The camera.

The good news about having a camera on your phone is that you can take quick shots when you want to remember something wonderful like going to see Cinderella at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle with the girls:

Emma with her cousins Talia, Raelyn and Asia and Grandma Geri--she gave them tickets to Cinderella for Christmas

The bad news is that between my skills and the lighting in the theater, the pictures aren't always stellar.


I love the 5th Avenue Theater more than I love this picture inside the 5th Avenue Theater.

I was also glad to have the phone camera handy when we were lounging in a conference room in Adam's office building while we were waiting for him.  Since I had nothing to do, I snapped pointless pictures.  A picture of Braeden looking loungy:


I was able to document that both my sons had holes in their socks (fascinating information, right?):

Mark wrote his name in red marker on the dry erase board.  I think every dry erase board at Amazon has been tagged by our kids.

And I took a picture with my cell phone of Emma taking a picture of Lake Union with her cell phone:


I think if I were Adam I would forget about work and sit in that conference room and watch sea planes land on Lake Union all day.

Maybe it's a good thing I'm not Adam.

The very best thing about the phone?

Giving it to Mark so he can be entertained.


He is sort of easy to entertain.

Recently overhead from the backseat while Mark was playing Angry Birds on my phone:  "Eat that you little meat bricks!"  (apparently pigs = meat bricks)

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