Friday, November 29, 2013

Books I read in November 2013

November was pathetic for reading.  Too busy to read = too busy...

I tried to read:

 Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler *

I didn't finish it or really give it much of a chance.  Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books of all and this is a fictional, but based on truth, story about Charlotte Bronte.  It was depressing (of course it was depressing) and there was a lot of mention made about the gloomy weather and it was November in the Pacific Northwest.  So I needed something a little less gray.


Beach Trees by Karen White ***

I liked this book a lot.  It's set in New Orleans and Biloxi, MS.  It was an intriguing story about a woman who is trying to help unravel family secrets about her dead friend's family.  That doesn't really describe it aptly but if you googled it you could find a more satisfactory synopsis.  I appreciated the way the author was able to depict the place.  I also thought the characters were interesting.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer **

I don't really like sci-fi or dystopia literature but I gave this one a try anyway.  My writing group friends recommended it and I like to read what the cool people are reading.  It was good enough that I made it to the end (which was sort of a cliff hanger) but yeah, I still don't like sci-fi or dystopia stuff all that much.  Emma would love this book so I'll have her read the subsequent ones to tell me what happens.

I'm just not that interested in cyborgs.  I guess I'll never be like the cool people...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Comfort and joy

A lot of the time I feel a little tepid about facebook.  There are people I regret ever friending.  (I regret that friending is a word because that's weird.)  At times I see things about people I didn't want to know.  If I ever post something there--which is rare--I feel squeamish like that was awfully forward of me.  I have no problem pouring out my narcissism on my blog but not on facebook.  I don't have to always make sense, OK?

Sometimes though, facebook really delivers.

My cousin Dixie got married recently.  I would have loved to have gone.  I love my cousins (almost without exception) and I enjoy myself any time I'm around them.  I was happy to be able to look through the pictures Dixie posted on facebook of her happy day.  I loved seeing the joy reflected on her face and her groom's face and on the faces of her lovely sisters and brother.  It was downright heartwarming.

Then I saw these two pictures. (And I stole them because the internet turns me into a kleptomaniac at times.)

Pictured here are my uncle Joe, my dad, my mom, my uncle Drew and my aunt Pam.  From my earliest memories my parents would sit around with my aunts and uncles at family gatherings and there was a constant hum of witty dialog, punctuated occasionally by erupting laughter.  Seeing these pictures made me unreasonably happy.  I love seeing these people together.  I love seeing them enjoy each other.  I love seeing them laugh together.

I read one time that the safest a child can feel is when they are between their parents.  Maybe the second safest a child can feel is when they see their parents sitting around with their aunts and uncles, talking and laughing and reassuring you that all is right with the world.

It is certainly true in my case.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A whoooooooole lot of pictures

To my credit, I purchased a disc of over 800 pictures from the photographer so I really showed a great deal of restraint.

Here are some of my favorites:

Algernon (Jadon) and Jack (Braeden) conversing in their British accents and looking like dandies.

Jack trying to recover his cigarette case

Jack (posing as Earnest) and his lady love, Gwendolyn

Jack proposes and is accepted. (They didn't wear khaki dockers in Victorian England but they were the pants long enough for Braeden's legs.)

...but then Lady Bracknell, Gwendolyn's mother, objects...there's the matter of his not knowing who his parents are and being found in a handbag at Victoria station as a baby (Brighton Line).

Gwendolyn comes back to find out where Jack's country estate is located...Algernon eavesdrops and gets the address.

Algernon shows up--posing as Earnest--and meets Jack's ward Cecily who is "very pretty and just eighteen".

Jack is faking the death of his fake brother Earnest to Dr. Chasuble and Miss Prism

But Earnest isn't dead after all!  Cecily encourages a reconciliation between the two "brothers." Jack squeezes Algernon's hand a little harder than necessary.

Cecily instructs "Earnest" on their engagement which happened months before they ever met (in her mind).

Cecily and Gwendolyn meet and instantly like each other.

Until they find out they are both engaged to Earnest

They learn neither man is named Earnest.

They immediately forgive each other.

but the men are not too happy...

They whistle their way to forgiveness...

And promise to be christened Earnest

Until Lady Bracknell shows up again

She decides she likes Cecily (because Cecily is wealthy) and instructs her in how to hold her chin.

Jack insists he won't allow Cecily to marry unless he can marry Gwendolyn.  One of my favorite lines of the play, when Lady Bracknell still refuses to give her consent (because of the whole handbag situation), Jack says, "Then a very passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to."

But then Lady Bracknell sees Miss Prism and confronts her about what ever happened to that baby...

Jack produces the handbag and yes it is Miss Prism's and she did leave a baby in it...


But she wasn't his mother, Algernon's mother was Jack's mother and they are brothers!

Looking in a book about his newly found father, Jack learn his name truly is Earnest.

And they lived happily ever after (except Lady Bracknell wasn't all that happy).

If you're still reading you are either related to me or extremely patient.  Here are two parting shots...the crew:  my darling prop manager front and center.

And the cast:

The End.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Aunt Olivia

One of my favorite aunts is my Aunt Olivia.  She's my dad's little sister.  She's the one that broke my dad's front tooth with a broom handle (after he purposefully got a comb so stuck in her hair that it had to be cut).  They love each other a lot and to my knowledge have stopped torturing each other.  Aunt Olivia is kind and loving and generous to us and always has been.

I am happy that my children have an Aunt Olivia too.

Because she's something else.

My children are very lucky in their wonderful aunts.  They are all good and kind.  (But this post is about Olivia.)

Olivia and Edgar came to visit and to see The Importance of Being Earnest.  It was a whirlwind trip because Olivia didn't want to be gone from her children for too long.  I was grateful to get what we could from them.  Olivia chatted with our kids and showed interest in their lives and complimented them and did all the aunt things you could want.

I loved sitting next to her at the play.  I feel supremely happy next to my sisters.  (And when I walk next to them I feel a little short.)

My kids call Olivia "ciocia" which is aunt in Polish.  (My kids don't speak Polish but Olivia does so maybe that makes sense?)

My kids love Ciocia--and can you blame them?

I think she is adorable.  Her smile is like an antidote for every ill in the world.

After the play Adam was still at the school with Braeden and Emma, helping to strike the set, Mark had been sent to bed and Edgar--the patient driver of long distance--had also gone to bed.  Olivia and I lounged around chatting in an exhausted state.  We started talking about mothers vs. aunts and I reminded her that before she had children she was an instigator among my toddler children.  She'd get them riled up and they would all get in trouble.  She's that sort of aunt.  She had a dress up box for them when she was still in college.

Olivia lamented that she used to be a much better aunt before she got so busy with her five children.

I had to agree. 

I mean driving 800 miles to see your nephew in a high school play is sort of the epitome of a lame aunt, right?

Friday, November 22, 2013

My life is complete

Yesterday I was driving home from a few errands.  I had picked up some library books which always feels a little like Christmas, I had chatted with my sisters on the phone, I was preparing for book club at my house.  It was a nice day.  (Also Olivia told me about her little Ammon looking forward to staying at Grandma's and getting Yucky Charms...his way to say Lucky Charms.  How cute is that little boy?) 

The sky was completely blue and the sun was shining.  Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand were singing "Smile" on the Sinatra station on my XM radio.  

Then, when everything was already going so well, the universe kicked it up a notch.

I saw the cat walker.  The cat was in the jogging stroller, nestled in a thick fleece blanket.  I had forgotten all about the cat walker (I don't think he or the cat like rain).  It made me smile a ridiculously big smile.  The cat walker!  How happy is my life?

Sunshine...sisters on the sky...the cat walker.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Playing Sherlock Holmes

Sometimes I find something odd and I try to figure out how it happened to be. 

I found this in the school room:

Here are the facts of the case:

1) This is Braeden's messy handwriting.

2) Mark has been making videos of himself playing Minecraft. (I wonder who in the wide world would ever want to watch them?) 

3) There's a lot of alliteration in the above sentence.

Here's what I suspect:

1) Braeden wanted a turn on the computer but didn't want to interrupt Mark's cinematography with a verbal request.

2)  Emma altered this message with the infinity symbol instead of whatever number Braeden was laying claim to (because that's the sort of thing Emma does).


I find odd things laying around because I have sort of odd children.  They're lovable, just odd.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Anybody want help with algebra?

Yesterday someone called me for tech support.  She needed advice on creating a google doc.  I was thrilled.  Someone was asking ME for computer help.  It was a very foreign concept and made me feel like I was impersonating someone else.

Later Braeden asked me for help with his homework.  I thought he was doing physics which is a terrible subject, almost as bad as chemistry (though nothing is as bad as chemistry).  I said, "You want my help? This reminds me of earlier when someone called me for computer help."

Braeden was shocked.  "Someone asked you?!?"

"Well," I said, "YOU are asking me for help."  (In other words, see?  People get desperate sometimes.)

He said, "But this is algebra."

I love algebra and Braeden knows it.  I would do it in my free time for fun.  I don't like science.  I don't like math.  I love algebra.  I don't know.

Equations.  They make me giddy.  I love to solve for x.  I love to factor.  Don't get me started on the quadratic equation or the foil method.  It's like a big puzzle and it is fun fun fun!

I went and got a stack of scratch paper (because I wanted to do a stack of algebra) and I got a sharp pencil.  Braeden does his homework in pen and you can't do algebra in pen.  You need a sharp pencil with a good eraser.  And a stack of scratch paper.  These are just the basic truths about doing algebra.

I started to show Braeden and he said, "Oh, yeah.  I remember now."

But what about the whole stack of paper?  Don't you have other problems you need help with?


He had other homework to move on to.

I think I still have an algebra book from my homeschooling days.  I may just pull it out and do some problems.

I have my pencil all sharpened.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Feeling really grateful

I am happy to be on the mend.  I'm happy to not cough so often.  I'm happy there are antibiotics in the world.

Being sick reminds me to be grateful.

Of course I'm grateful to be reminded that usually I can work hard and that I usually have energy and the ability to get things done.

But remember this?

It is my tongue in cheek reminder to myself to chill out already.

What really comforts me is the knowledge that they aren't helpless without me.  I am surrounded by really helpful competent people.  My fellow drama mamas didn't miss a beat getting everything done that needed to be done for the play without my help.  My parents did a lot to take care of things (especially my mom, the superstar).  One of my primary counselors was the only one there on Sunday and she handled everything alone, ably and confidently.  My children have taken care of themselves and me.  Braeden substituted for a primary class.  And then there's Adam.  He's done everything he could to help.  He stepped in to help with the play.  He did the grocery shopping and meal planning.  He got Braeden to substitute for primary and found someone else for another class as well and was on hand the whole day at church in case he was needed.

No one is helpless without me.  I would much prefer to do my own work but I'm glad that I can be sick every now and then too.  Crazy thing to be grateful for, but in this month when my thoughts are turned to gratitude anyway, it's on my list.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Opening weekend

Lady Bracknell: Well, I must say, Algernon, that I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd. Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids. I consider it morbid. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others. Health is the primary duty of life.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

I have been lax in my primary duty of life.  Not so healthy.  (I did watch The Importance of Being Earnest this weekend though...twice.  I couldn't stay away.)

Saturday night when I was at the ticket booth, writing a check for tickets to the show, Rita, one of the ladies selling tickets asked, "What do you need, Thelma?"

I said, "Sleep."

She meant how many tickets.


It was wonderful to have my parents here.  Mark was right, you do need your mom when you're sick.  On Thursday, I enlisted their help in making 48 tea cups out of paper.  I had created a prototype, modified from things I found online.  I knew it was something my dad could figure out.  He did.  He  perfected my pattern.  The three of us sat at the table with scissors and glue and staplers and went to town.  It was sort of fun to do a craft project together.

On Friday I felt worse.  My mom insisted I rest.  She relegated me to my red chair with a red blanket and she made cupcakes to fill the tea cups (to sell at the concession stand for the play) and she made brownies for a funeral I had been asked to make brownies for.  She also did all the dishes and knit Emma a scarf and helped Mark on the piano (you know, in her free time).

Here is a sample of the finished tea cup product:

And then there was the show.  I could gush about how fabulous it was but you may or may not believe me because my son was in it so of course I thought it was great.

It WAS though.  I loved it.  Every member of the cast was wonderful.  They cracked me up--although I tried not to laugh because then I'd start coughing.  I sucked cough drops the entire show and I need some new flavors.  (I wish Willie Wonka made cough drops.)  The costumes and sets were great.  The crew was great.  (The prop manager, Miss Emma Jayne was a personal favorite.)

I am looking forward to another weekend of the show.  I will post pictures when I get some from the photographer.

I am also looking forward to not being sick next weekend.  I felt like a huge slacker for not helping in the concession stand like I usually do.  I thought there was a certain "no" about coughing all over food you're selling though.

I have high hopes for improvement.  I went to the doctor Saturday and had myself diagnosed.  Bronchitis.  I also got an arsenal of medicine to get me through.

As Tabor would say, "The morphine, the better."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Now I've got someone

My parents came to visit.  They're here to watch the play and tonight get to see Emma in a mini choir concert.  Last night Mark said, "I'm glad your mom's coming since you're sick.  When I'm sick, you take care of me.  When you're sick, you've got no one."

Last night I was trying to get my kids--who were excited their grandparents were here and resisting my efforts--to go to bed.  My mom said to me, "You need to go to bed."

Mark hugged her and said, "This is just what I had in mind."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I have hired help

Well, sort of.

It's Mark.

All of the materialistic tendencies that Braeden and Emma didn't end up with were saved and intensified for Mark.  Braeden and Emma shrug when I ask them what they want for Christmas.  Mark handed me a complex list.

Every time we go to the store there are things he wants to buy.  He puts things in my Amazon cart.  For a while he kept devising schemes to use his allowance before he actually had it.  I've put an Absolutely Not stamp on that practice so his next proposal was to work for money.  He presented Adam and me with his plan.  He would do all of the dishes for a dollar a day.  I didn't think it was a good idea...figuring I'd be doing the bulk of the work still.  Adam thought we should encourage him in his effort to actually earn money rather than swindle us.

I'm also sick, so I agreed.

Monday morning he enthusiastically donned yellow latex gloves and said he was going to do the dishes.  I went upstairs.  He came up and told me he was done.  "With everything?" I asked.

"Everything," he confirmed.

Since it isn't my first rodeo, I asked, "Did you wipe everything off?"

"Um..." he faltered, "Did I have to do that?"

"Yes," I said.  So we went downstairs and checked his work.

He had emptied the dishwasher and that was it.  There were still cereal bowls and leftover Sunday night snack dishes in the sink (we don't really have dinner on Sunday night to the weekly dismay of a certain teenage boy).

So there's a bit of a learning curve.  Like yesterday when I taught him to use hot water rather than cold when hand washing the dishes.  (Details details.)

Looking forward to him actually getting good at doing the dishes.  He certainly has the enthusiasm and motivation which is half the battle.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Heading for the hills

Yesterday Geri, Mark, Talia, Jackson and I headed for the hills.  Or mountains.  We went East of the Mountains (which is a thing in Washington so I capitalized it) to Leavenworth.  Leavenworth is a delightfully kitschy Bavarian village in the middle of the Cascade Mountains.

We wandered in and out of shops and there was the requisite trying on of hats in the hat shop:

I bought the kids each a pre-lunch ice cream cone to buy us a little more shopping time before there was a mutiny.  (I have learned that ice cream cones stave off mutinies.)

We found more photo ops.

a cute goat but we still love Horace best

another cute little goat, somehow eating a big lollipop...

We had lunch, saw a few more shops, then headed home.  On our return trip, we stopped on the top of the pass, where the snow was, and Geri handed out gloves and handed me a stocking cap.  She pulled a sled out of the back of her van.

Within 10 seconds Mark and Jackson were pelting snowballs at each other.

Here's Mark and Talia, beating a hasty retreat from Jackson and his snow bullets (the kid has an arm that can throw):

Geri pushing Mark on the sled, Jackson looking for an opportunity to strike

Grandma was the role Geri was born to play. She excels at it. She's a wonder. I should be taking notes.  Back at the car she had dry socks, blankets, hot chocolate and whipped cream.  I hope these kids know how lucky they are.

(As a side note, all this frivolity yesterday put me over the top in my fight against a cold...or put the cold over the top.  It's winning.  When I take NyQuil at night and I grimace and shudder with the awfulness of the flavor, I feel like a cowboy drinking a shot of whiskey in a saloon.  Yes, I watched a lot of Westerns when I was growing up.  Why do you ask?)

Monday, November 11, 2013


First of all, I have to say that our primary program in church was a good one.  The practice Saturday was sort of a disaster (my mom said that's how it's supposed to be) and I was nervous about it.  Adam said that I was dealing with gold.  No matter what the kids did, everyone was going to love it.  He was right.

Several weeks ago I was wearing my new-ish boots to church.  During primary, I spent time on the floor with one of the three-year-olds.  Sometimes when you need to communicate with a three-year-old, you have to spend time on the floor.  In the process, I scuffed my boots.

It reminded me of this by Marjorie Hinckley:

I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor's children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.
It's nice sometimes to have reminders of a life lived.  I have wrinkles from laughing and crying and worrying and enjoying some sunshine.  I have clothes with snags from blackberry bushes and smears from paint.  I have a lot of stuff ruined by my three children.

We're living life here.  If you don't believe me, just look at our stained carpet. (Speaking of which...why do some things get better with age?  They get a patina that makes them more lovely.  Why isn't carpet one of those things?)


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