Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Boy One brings home a new toy airplane from his grandma’s house and is showing it to Boy Two, whose comment is “Wow! . . . . what kind of GUNS does it have on it?”
I took the kids over to my mom’s today to play in her little pool, seeing how it will probably be the last warm day this summer. After all three kids stripped off their clothes and jumped into their swimsuits, they waste an hour either swimming and splashing, or complaining that they didn’t WANT to play outside, they don’t LIKE the water, mom is being MEAN again, blah, blah, blah.

So Boy One finishes, goes inside to change back into his clothes, and brings his wet things outside to dry in the sun. Boy Two finally drifts inside to do the same, but calls out to me that he can’t find his underwear. No, it’s not under the bed. Or under the blanket. Or anywhere else that I immediately though of. Now, it may be obvious to the reader, but I was not brought up with boys and it took me a minute to realize where the elusive underwear was. Yup. Big brother is wearing it.

This is no problem for a boy. Boy Two finds Boy One, quickly questions him, then strips him of his pants and underwear, takes the underwear, and pulls it on himself. There now. Everyone is happy. And Mama had to leave the room to keep from breaking down in a fit of giggles.

Boy Two Goes to School

Boy Two attended his first day of ‘summer’ school on Monday.

Two years ago when Boy One did the same thing there was tears and hiding under the tables and refusing to participate/talk to anyone, much less his parents when we came to pick him up after two hours were over. You’d think we had sent him to school to punish him!

What a different story with this child! Boy Two has been talking about school for, oh, two years now. He has paid close attention to everything that Boy One has done and literally knows EVERYTHING about being in kindergarten – and likes to share this knowledge.

He carefully picked out his ‘school clothes’ to wear and readily sacrificed sandals for much more conservative socks and tennis shoes (because that is what school kids wear). He ran ahead of us all the way to school and only hesitated when we got inside and all the teachers and helpers exclaimed how excited they were that Boy Two was old enough for school! And getting so tall! And they were so excited to have him!

Boy One (in terrific big brother fashion) guided him down the hall with a hand on his shoulder til we got to class. From there, he performed as if he had been doing this all his life: finding his name on the board as well as what seat what assigned to him, writing his name on his paper and filling the worksheet with perfect ‘2’s, raising his hand for teacher, etc. We tried to keep Boy One out of the limelight since this was not technically a day for him to shine, so we left early and came back two hours later to pick up Boy Two.

Here’s his summation of the day:
“We had little teddy bear snacks! Yellow ones and brown ones. But I had RED ones! And we read a book. And, Mommy, I got to be the HOT DOG! Yeah! See my sticker? No, Ms. Johnson say I need to keep it on my shirt. And we line up and Sam get to be first and we walk quiet like little mice to the toilet and I don’t have to use the toilet so I sit out here like this and we go out to the playground. But it not the fire truck playground. No. It the pirate playground. And I go down the slide! And the kids get their hands all in paint and it go squish like that and on the backpacks! But Sam not do the paint. No. Its gross. And we sang the POPCORN song! And I go like this and then I POP like this! And then we wait for you but you not coming! Yeah. And, I, …..*sigh* never mind, let’s just go.”

There you have it! A first day of school.

How Camping is Like School

Our little family went to our annual church campout this August at Ft. Stevens state park on the coast. I personally LOVE this campground. I’ve been coming here for various church related camping activities since I was very small and, although it’s almost always rainy, there is always lots to do (provided one has decent walking shoes or a bike to get anywhere).

But here are the things I learned this year:


Fingernail polish painted on mosquito bites will take the sting away because it creates a seal over the bite that deprives it of air, thus eliminating the itch. I thought this sounded great, but after I painted three pretty little glittery dots on my calf I realized this theory was baloney. They still itched. But at least they looked pretty!

No matter how hot the sun is or how long you are out in it, SPF 30 sunscreen will last. The weather on the beach on Friday was honestly the best I’d ever seen: warm and sunny and just a touch of wind and we were out in it all day without getting the slightest sunburn. Well, except for a little patch on the back of my neck that I couldn’t reach and therefore attested to what WOULD have happened to us all without that amazing SPF 30.


No matter how many marshmallows you personally bring to the campfire and manage to eat, you will inevitably bring home three more bags than you started with.  I don’t know why this is true, but it must be because I have the evidence in my pantry.


Spiders don’t just live at your house. They also live in your tent at the beach where they know you don’t have adequate tools to fight them.

Also, the doe and fawn that have created the little path behind your campsite will visit frequently and have no fear of you or your long, intimidating group gawking.

And if a marine mammal decides to make a man-made object it’s home of choice, the park service will put up caution tape all around the area to keep man away from his objects and give it to the mammal as a gesture of good will.


I’ve lived in Oregon all my life and for some reason JUST NOW realized that the little northwest tip of Oregon is not, in fact, occupied by Astoria as I was always led to believe, but instead that entire area is Ft. Stevens State Park. Who knew? Astoria is inland on the COLUMBIA RIVER and should never even be mentioned in the same sentence with ‘coast’ since it DOESN’T HAVE ONE. How did I not know this all this time?


Riding a bike that terrifies you is a great way to exercise your vocal chords for later in life. Little Girl rode her Allycat that attaches to the back of Daddy’s bike (and is actually perfectly safe) whenever we went anywhere that weekend, and screamed and screeched the entire time. It was easy to know where we were because you could hear her coming and going every time. But despite her pleas to the contrary we made her ride it anyway. It should build character, right?


Paddling a kayak is actually a lot easier to learn than I thought it was. I didn’t tip over and I only ran into my kayaking partner once! Wow, a water sport that I can master! My new favorite hobby!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Collection of Kid Quotes

Sometimes I have to save for months to have enough kid quotes to fill up the white board in our hallway.  I write down the memorable things that they say because if I don't I'll forget them and then they'll be gone forever.  Which also helps to explain why I can write several hundred words on bugs and appliances: by writing about something I can halt the passage of time.

Quotes from Boy One
"Mama, we don't smell butterflies!" -- I don't remember the context for this quote, so I won't elaborate.

Quotes from Boy Two
"You can do it, Mama!  You're over nine years old!" -- he wanted me to kill a mosquito eater that had gotten in the house and I wasn't very motivated.

"When I bigger, I gonna turn into a DRAGON!" -- sometimes I think he already is one but, sure.

(To Girl, while using a stethoscope) "Let me listen to your heart.  Okay, now let me listen to your box.  Where's your box?" -- in our house we talk a lot about being careful of the box in sister's tummy that keeps her heart going.

Playing a race in MarioKart (and, apparently anticipating how well he'll play) "Let's see what this one called.  It called Fall Off."

"Mama, big guns are called 'Biscuits'." -- I think he meant MUSKets.

The morning that Daddy left for another overnight work trip: "Daddy won't come back anymore.  We won't have a father anymore." -- you can probably guess how that made Daddy feel later.

Quotes from Girl
Having trouble dressing a dolly: "Mama, I'm not a big girl!  I can't do it!"

"Can we talk to Daddy?  I want to see him in the computer!" -- Skype is a great tool that we are still learning to use when Daddy is out of town.

A morning spent picking at a berry field introduced her to a new concept: the porta potty.  "I don't want to use the scary toilet!  It has wheels!!  It might drive away!!!"

Regarding Beauty and the Beast: "The Beast is not a monster, the Beast is HAPPY!"

"Mama, I want to play with those bugs!" -- no explanation necessary.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I can call Boy Two this because my grandmother used to use this term to describe me.  I'm sure that she's forgotten the incidents, but I clearly remember when the words passed her lips.

But back to Boy Two.

The older he gets, the more trouble he likes to cause.  Some of it is fairly innocent: not being careful or considerate of other people's property, etc.  The rest of it is carefully selected to inflict maximum harm.

Girl received some really girly gifts for her birthday and she and Boy Two happily played with them together....for about six hours.  Then he announces "Mom, I lost Chip!"  No guilt in his face at all; maybe a hint of satisfaction, though.  Great.  I scoured the house after they went to bed and turned up nothing.  Hmpf.

Next morning he shows me a little princess doll dress the he's 'accidentally' torn the sleeve from.  Uh-huh.  Mere moments later he brings me a little plastic mouse that also goes with this set (what does he have against Disney princesses?!) that has been completely severed at the waist.  Okay, time to intervene with some serious consequences.

I send him to his room until I can figure out what his Achilles heel is in order to get the point across.  Aha!

He thinks I'm just coming into his room to give him the 'I'm so disappointed in you, you need to be nicer' speech, so he starts to tune me out when he hears the words " its only fair that you lose two of your favorite toys.  I'm going to throw away two of your dinosaurs."  Zing!  Was that actual fear behind his eyes?  I let him pick out the two he was willing to sacrifice and we threw them in the outside garbage can so he knew I was serious.  I think I saw him blink back tears.  I'll have to remember this tactic.

The 'carefully selected' part has to do with the fact that he is really smart.  And he knows how to use it.  My kids love to listen to those Sixty Years of Classic Disney CDs that came out when I was in high school, and they know what movie each song is from and can anticipate them.  A few days ago while listening to a Lady and the Tramp song, Boy Two says "This song is from Peter Pan!"  Boy One attempts to correct him, but Boy Two gleefully maintains his stance, allowing Boy One to grow very upset because he knows that this song is from Lady and the Tramp!  With so much success, Boy Two tries again with the next song, saying that is something that it isn't.  Any other brother would just ignore him or deck him, but Boy One is so distressed and begins to cry.  Drat, I have to intervene. 

So I said the only thing I could think of at the time, "Oh, poor, crazy Boy Two!  He doesn't know what song this is!  Isn't that so sad?"  After a few turns of this Boy One catches on and starts to see the humor in the situation.  Pretty soon Boy One starts to mix up the songs on his own and Boy Two loses the fun in it.  But by now he's created a monster because we all know that Boy One never lets anything go and now the game will never stop.

Ah, siblings!

Cardio Workout

My little Girl had her annual cardiology appointment last week and, like I always do, I have mulled my thoughts regarding it around enough to write them down.

Dr. C has been her cardiologist since the day she was born, although it hadn’t been planned that way. We were told during the pregnancy that the ‘best’ pediatric cardiologist on staff was a Dr. K and that Girl would become his patient because her case was so rare and his skills were most honed. Dr. K never seemed to have time to come to the prenatal appointments to review the cardio data in person, but we were assured not to worry, he was just REALLY busy. When push came to shove, we could count on him.

However, when push came to shove during a ‘routine’ prenatal appointment six weeks before the due date, Dr. K was still too busy. Instead the new, young colleague with few patients yet, a Dr. C, would make a dandy replacement, just wait and see! Now, we were ready for the absolute worst so a ‘new’ cardio doctor didn’t seem that bad to us: fine, that sounds great. And, really, it was.

Husband and I were discussing Girl’s latest appointment a few days ago, and how impressed we always are with Dr. C. He almost seems like an old friend, we’ve spent so much time with him over the years. He knows Girl’s heart better than anyone else in the world, and that is really saying something: he designed it.

Girl’s heart was just a jumble of pieces when she was born – it couldn’t even function without Mama’s body to keep it pumping. Studying the echo-cardiogram the doctors couldn’t believe that it would ever work on its own. Dr. C was the attending pediatric cardiologist when she was born and, two weeks later, was part of the team for her first heart surgery. When the surgery didn’t make the drastic changes that were needed, Dr. C redesigned what needed to be done to fix her heart and showed us the diagram two days before her open heart surgery, performed at still three weeks premature. It was like plumbing an apartment building: there were holes to be fixed, tubes to move from one side to the other to reverse flow, filters to devise, pumps to strengthen. Somewhere in a box of memorabilia I have notes on everything that was done. It was a lot – seven hours worth.

Eighteen months later the same team, including Dr. C, performed another open-heart surgery to install a pacemaker to keep Girl’s heart from stopping completely again. Now when we come to his office for Girl’s annual appointments Dr. C lights up to see her dancing around the room and talking with him about Disney princesses. I used to think his obvious affection for her was just endearing but now I think it stems from a marveling at this amazing case that just happened to fall in his lap: the new specialist on staff, only a few years older the Husband and I, relatively recently out of school himself is handed this rare case that the other doctors think won’t survive. But Dr. C makes it happen. He is able to create something amazing out of a jumble of pieces and IT WORKS. Girl is a great footnote for Dr. C’s resume, and I can tell that he’s proud of his work.

I see some obvious parallels between Dr. C’s work on Girl and the work God does with us. No need to explain further: like I said, it’s obvious.

We love you, Dr. C!

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Kill a Spider On The Ceiling

This used to be easy.

I had a great vacuum that could reach most of the ceilings (a spider's favorite place to hide) and just the sound of the power turning on could send the little varmints into a hypnotic state (because we all know nature abhors a vacuum!  Heh, heh, heh.......ahem.) thereby rendering them helpless to their fate.  But we all know my vacuum died.

Hence this morning the sight of a shiny black substance attempting to make itself hidden didn't fill me with the glee it usually does.  Thus, I deferred to Method Two: Pine Sol.

My mother shared this idea with me one afternoon when I called her in a panic that my garage had been taken over by a big spider with grenades and a machine gun and he was too high for me to reach.  My plan had been to just give him the garage but with a little coaxing from said mother I filled a spray bottle (the one with the straightest, longest stream) with pure Pinesol and came out shooting.  Having succeeded once before, I was sure I could do it again today.

1) Grab your bottle of Pinesol (I have a convenient quick-draw holster for mine in case of any Pinesol emergencies), but do it with confidence: don't let the spider see you hesitate or he'll assume he has the higher ground (wow, do I EVER stop using puns?).

2) Clear the area of things he may hide behind: you can be sure he'll run.  If he does, its better if he's on a treadmill where you can catch him.

3) Aim and fire, knowing he'll fall immediately.  Simultaneous with the firing, emit a high-pitched sound, kind of like a dog whistle (Oh, Edison, stop that whistling).  Mine usually sound like "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"  Be sure you keep up the shrieking the entire time you're firing and chasing the thing around: it confuses him and makes you feel better about the ick factor.  Plus, it conceals your fear.

4) Saturate the bugger with as much liquid as you can for as long as you can.  He'll stop and be still for a few seconds hoping that you've given up and turned away.  Don't fall for that ruse!  Saturate him again until the smell really starts getting to you.  If you're about to pass out, you can be sure that the spider probably already has.

5) Don't give him to your cat at this point, that would be bad.  Probably best to find a way to get him outside where he can be a testimony to others who may try to pass this way.  "Dead Spiders Tell No Tales."  Except that they kind of DO, but, um..............never mind.  End scene.

Death of a Vacuum

Our vacuum was considered 'old' when we first got it. 

My Mother-in-law found a great Spimplicity vacuum (never heard of it?  Because it's not being made anymore.) at a garage sale more than nine years ago.  I loved it: great suction, all the hose attachments, even a pretty green color!  I had so much confidence: this I could manage without help!

It performed beautifully for us for several years but recently it has been showing its age. 

The long nozzle attachment that gets longer as you add its friends was my favorite part.  I could suction spiders from tight crevices while standing eight feet away (okay, more like three, but it felt like eight)!  Then the fitting cracked and had to be repaired with electrical tape, thus it never quite fit correctly again.  Drat.

The light later flickered for months before going out completely (not a calamity, but it still counts) and the bumper has come loose, thus helping to mark up the walls with minor dents.  Hmm.

Husband bought me another vacuum for my birthday a few years ago as a replacement, but after the initial love affair I drifted back to my old Simplicity (it was either because the noise level on the new one rivaled a lawn mower or because I vacuumed up some spiders and, instead of throwing out the bag, was required to 'empty the canister'.  Ew.  Never happened - spiders still in there.).

Then came the vague hints that it was ready for retirement: physical violence, especially towards me.  For some reason the catch the keeps the back of the vacuum from reclining when not in use deteriorated.  Now it falls down constantly: a breeze from the fan, someone walking nearby, a door slamming.  Myself and various children (not all of whom belong to me) have been injured by said deterioration and I have the bruises to prove it.  It is especially bad when crouching under a table and attempting to use the hose: the vacuum will get you every time.

The final straw (or, maybe not, you never know) came a few days ago when the nozzle on the hose that plugs into the body of the vacuum came completely off.  Pieces had cracked and fallen off for years but without this final piece the hose just flops around aimlessly.  In attempting to vacuum today the free-wheeling hose swung back and suctioned to my pants every time I pulled the monster back.  This was getting a little too friendly for my taste, so I held the hose and handle in one hand, and the extra loop of cord in the other.  This worked fine until I realized that the suction was getting about 80% of the crumbs off the floor, and then loosing gumpf part way through the system and spitting sixty percent of the crumbs back onto the floor.  I vacuumed for ten minutes and only managed to rid the floor of twelve crumbs.

School Supply Shopping

This is an exciting year for us (insert exclamation point here).

Boy One will be (finally) moving on to first grade and Boy Two will be entering kindergarten, a day that he has been anticipating (and been ready for) since Boy One started two years ago.  Hurray for us!  Mama and Girl will have two hours to ourselves five days a week! 

To begin the process of preparing for and building the anticipation  towards the first day of school, I did what every red-blooded American mom does: peruse the store ads and find acceptable prices on needed (and, especially, desired) school supplies.  Let the fun begin!

Boy Two was determined to find a DINOSAUR backpack for school because, well, dinosaurs go with everything, don't they?  Why not at school, too!  Sadly, because there weren't any 'dinosaur' movies released this summer we were hard put to find anything remotely feasible. Until (drum roll, please) the DRAGON backpack!  Wow! (If you're tiring of the use of CAPITAL LETTERS and exclamation marks be forewarned that this is how Boy Two talks: loudly and with lots of enthusiasm.  It's only fair to share it.)

But (and here's the clincher) at store two he veered completely off course and settled on a backpack depicting (what else?) MarioKart characters!  SO EXCITED!  Apparently, Mario outranks dinosaurs in this universe.  End of Boy Two's story. (run credits)

Boy One was experiencing great trepidation about said shopping excursion because nothing says 'overwhelming change' like shopping does.  He had almost nothing to say about what he wanted (portfolio folders: kitties?  unicorns?  superheroes?  Fine, plain green it is!) and made several comments that betrayed his nervousness.  When I asked him what kind of a backpack he wanted, he quietly mentioned "Backpack in garbage."  Mama's brain works fast.  "Oh, Boy One, we had to throw away your last backpack.  You used it for two years and the bottom had torn out!  But now we can get a new one, whatever you want!"  After a lot of head shaking, we settled on plain black and Mama would create a cool airplane to affix that would make it HIS.  Good enough.  And he vehemently refused a new lunch box.  O-kay.  I'm still taken aback by how much Boy One can communicate about his thoughts/feelings by saying just a few words.