Monday, October 17, 2011


Another lesson learned:

no matter how desperate you are, don't ever trust your husband to trim your hair.  Even if it's a tiny piece that you can't quite reach.  You'll end up with the shortest hair you've ever had and will have to decide whether it's worth it to just do him in right now and be done with it.

End scene.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Girl Goes To School

This Girl has been begging to go to school since Boy One started kindergarten four years ago.  She begged.  She planned.  She chose and re-chose outfits.  She gleaned important information from her brothers as to the skills/songs/behaviors needed to become the model student.

And, finally, the day arrived.

There she is, posing for Daddy on the first day of school; five-years-old going on eighteen.

We all walked down to the elementary school to take the boys to class and put Girl on the bus.  Without the slightest hint of fear she tromped straight up to the bus and climbed the steps, talked to her new bus driver about her new tights, and chose the seat closest to the front.  Her grin wrapped all the way around her face!

I sneakily walked down to the kindergarten and watched while the buses unloaded the kids in front of the building, and as the line of children wobbled into the school and drifted towards the foam blocks to waste some time before classes began.  I could hardly believe how confidant she was! 

She finally noticed me hiding behind some other parents and acknowledged that I was there, but never needed my help.  I ended up helping a few other kids with very wide eyes find their cubbies, their seats, their attendance markers, and open their crayons.  Girl barely even noticed me, she was so busy asserting her independence. 

I was surprised it didn't make me sad when she didn't even say good-bye when I left.  I guess we both knew how ready she was for this that enormity of it (all my kids in school!) seemed so nonchalant.

Friday, September 9, 2011

School resumes

The boys are in first and second grade this year, and Girl will be in kindergarten when it starts classes next week.  For the first time, we have kids repeating teachers: Girl has Boy Two's previous teacher, and Boy Two has Boy One's previous teacher.  Its kind of nice to start out the year with teachers that I know and are actually looking forward to having my kids in their classes!

Boy Two happens to have his best friend from kindergarten in his first grade class, along with a boy from his T-ball team (yay!) and also the neighbor girl from across the street.  His teacher came up to me after the first day of class and was amazed at how terrific Boy Two is.  Having never had him in class, she was blown away by his politeness / helpfulness / knowledge of routines / quietness / kindness with other students.  He isn't always like that at home, but I love to hear about how great his is elsewhere.  He takes school very seriously.

Except when he brings home the garbage from his lunchbox but accidentally throws away the Tupperware containers.  Oops.

Boy One was a little reserved and distracted by his new second grade class (which I knew would be the case).  He has thirty one kids in his class (!) and at least five of them are special needs kids.  In talking with the classroom aids, apparently there was an insurgence of special needs kids this year (right after they had their budget cut for classroom aids) and everything seems to be slightly chaotic.

Boy One doesn't have a lot of friends at school, and hardly anyone in this class whom he remembers from first grade or kindergarten, so instead he's choosing to spend time with his teacher while the other kids are at recess.  He's generally much more comfortable with adults than kids but it makes me a little sad for him.  I'm glad that he and his brother are so close -- he told his teacher that his brother is his best friend. (Cue mom's tears.)

There was a minor incident at library time when he wanted to check out books about trains and airplanes from the reference section and he was instead told to look at picture books.  Not his idea of fun.  But I'm on it; I've got a Plan B for library days.....

I'm glad that I will have mornings free to volunteer this year.  It looks like the school could really use the extra set of hands - especially with the special needs kids.  And if there's anything that I feel ready to jump in with, its helping those special needs kids.  I guess God knew what He was doing all along.....

Friday, August 26, 2011

Church Camp @ Cove Palisades

Boy Two with a tiny lizard that he caught; one of the hundreds that the kids searched for and chased over the week.  We also saw jack rabbits, garter snakes, buzzards and mice, none of which we caught.

Girl and I in the kayak.  She fell asleep!
Our church usually spends one long weekend a summer at a campground and this year it was at Cove Palisades on Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon.

While I seem to have (or, at least, want to have) fond memories of tent camping with my family as a kid, I realize as an adult that there is nothing fun about tent camping with small children.  Nothing.

That said, the other families all brought their RVs and we happened to benefit from their relative luxury, which made the experience bearable.  That, and the camp hosts were a retired couple from our church that made everything easier: from collecting excess wood and giving it to us for our campfires so we didn't have to bring our own; to advising us on which of the shower stalls were the best; to sharing their air pump when we forgot ours; to opening up the laundry facilities early (Laundry facilities!  While camping!!) so I could do two loads of laundry the morning my son had an accident in his sleeping bag.
Boy One in the little raft he commandeered for himself.  He was very good with it!
Camping Cons:

The dust.  It was everywhere.  It coated everything.  The kids threw it in the air in handfuls when they had nothing else to do.

Forgetting the pump to your air mattress at home.

Five people in a four person tent.

Not having room for a decent sized ice chest and having to make do with a miniscule plug-in fridge.

Night critters chewing on all your Tupperware containers so that you eventually have to throw them all away.

Husband having to work all day Friday and missing out on a day of fun that he really needed.

Exhaustedly falling into bed at 9pm every night, and getting up every morning at  5:45am.  I felt so old.

Girl with one of the many bugs that she found, picked up, and tortured.  No fear.
 Camping Pros:

Five entire days away from home.

Seeing my husband relax enough to enjoy himself - it's been years since he's been that relaxed.
Boys and their sticks.  There were many.  They were coveted.

Boy One driving the paddle boat with a dear friend from church.
 My children spending two entire days in the water and loving it.

Life jackets for the whole family!

Our pastor taking each of the kids out on the Wave Runner as many times as they wanted and even letting them 'drive'.
Someone sharing their homemade smoked fresh salmon.  Deliriously happy.

Finally getting a chance to talk with the two women in our church that I'm closest to.  Honestly, it's been years since I've gotten to talk with them.

Boy One getting to take the paddle-boat/ kayak/ raft/ wave runner out as much as he wanted, asserting his independence, learning his strengths, gaining more self confidence.  He bloomed before my very eyes.

Taking the kids to explore the Lava Tubes in Bend.  We were prepared with torch lights and warm jackets and the kids were delighted with the trek.  That is, after the teenagers ahead of us in the cave stopped making scary noises.

My husband declaring "This isn't just camping, it's our vacation" and taking us out to dinner at Mazatlan in Madras on Thursday night instead of my having to prepare something back at camp.

Boy Two declaring "I like the green stuff!" and heaping the lettuce onto his tacos.

Daddy learning how to drive our pastor's Wave Runner.
BLTs with avocado as camp food.  Why didn't I think of this earlier?

Scattering quarters around our campsite as we left, knowing that our camp hosts rake the sights and get a thrill out of finding the spare change.

 Knowing there is a Fred Meyer in every Oregon town, just in case you need to make a run to the store one or all of the days that you are vacationing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


My daughter started early making her own hair decisions.

She wanted pigtails instead of barrettes.  Then she wanted butterfly clips with elaborate hair styles (think Princess Leia).  Then she decided to grow her bangs out. (Waaahh!  She was so adorable with them!)  Then she wanted to leave her hair down, with the possible little braids at the front to keep the growing bangs back.  Then came, TODAY.

Cue dramatic music.

She had been talking for a few weeks about wanting to cut her hair because, let's face it, the twenty minute morning ritual of hair styling was a bit over the top.  It's the same morning hair routine that I remember vividly from my own childhood.

Mom calls for Girl "Let's do your hair."
Girl reluctantly abandons her play and come to sit on the stool. 
Mom arranges her arsenal of hair styling supplies and grabs a brush in one hand and hair conditioning spray in the other.
Tilt Girl's head up.
Brush.  Brush.  Squirt.  Brush.  Screech. 
Tilt Girl's head up.  Brush.  Screech.  Squirt.
Tilt Girl's head up.
Squirt.  Screech.  Brush.
Finally have all the tangles out.  Use the painful end of the comb to make a part. 
Redo part.  Tilt Girl's head up.  Make another part.
Mist hair with water.  Comb.  Tilt head.
Divide portion of hair into equal thicknesses.  Braid - tightly. 
Bind ends with rubber band.  Rubber band snaps.  Find another and bind hair again.
Begin the process again with the other side of the head.
Using various clips, butterflies, bands, bobby pins, hair pins and flowers, design and secure hair in elaborate styles, all the while tilting Girls head up.
Spray liberally with hair spray.
Repeat every day without killing each other.

Girl decided to end the cycle of madness and cut her hair.  And she trusted ME to do it for her!

After only fifteen minutes she had a quite respectable haircut that I must admit looks charming on her.
She even insisted that we walk down to her soon-to-be kindergarten and show the office manager (whom she esteems for her great fashion sense).  Gosh, she's so cute!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives...

This morning Girl and Boy Two decided to play Mom and Dad Drive The Car with the mats from the van. 

They arranged the mats in the driveway and Boy Two took the position of Dad in the driver's seat, and Girl sat in Mom's passenger seat.  They took this very seriously.

Boy put his arms up where the steering wheel would be and started the 'drive'.  Girl, apparently mimicking Mom, immediately put on pretend hand lotion.

'Dad' turned the 'car' right, then left, leaning way over to each side like a race car driver.  'Mom' screeched and encouraged 'Dad' that "We're here!" every few seconds.

Eventually, 'Dad' pulled into his desired destination: McDonald's.  Sure, why not.

'Mom', of course, put on more hand lotion.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm still alive, I just have nothing to say

For some reason, August brings out a blah attitude towards chronicling our lives.

Not that there is anything altogether exciting to report.

Girl had her annual echo cardiogram and pacemaker check appointment in the big city.  Now that she has turned five she is completely comfortable with whatever they need to do to her.  She'll lift her shirt for anyone.

The pacer technician re-set her pacer to beat as low as 60 bpm and it tops out at 180bpm.  I was shown a chart that measures her usage of the device: she regularly gets her heart rate up to 180bpm.  I'm gad they didn't have a chart of how high my rate goes.  I think she would top me.

They also re-set the sensitivity so that the lower wires (this is as technical as I get) are no longer reading the upper wires and delivering the wrong information.  It makes it appear that she has an arrhythmia.  We don't need to add that on, too.

The echo showed that her heart is still hanging on as they designed it to.  Her cardiologist drew us a picture comparing what a normal heart looks like and what her's looks like: it's difficult to compare the two.  He commented that Girl's heart is utterly unique: there isn't another one designed like it in the world. 

I don't know why, but this makes me smile.

A few days after the appointment Girl turned five years old.  This made me feel a little odd, since I distinctly remember my own fifth birthday (and, moreover, the evening before when I received not one, but two spankings.).  Reflectively, I guess I should have put more effort into making it seem memorable for her but I shamefully admit to being the World's Worst Birthday Planning Mom. 

My children's birthdays usually end about ten minutes before bedtime when I have had just enough time to slap some frosting on the still-hot-from-the-oven cake, cut it into pieces, serve it to the children, then bemoan the apparent facts that not only did I forget to get any ice cream, but I also forget to sing and let them blow out candles.

My children will probably need therapy after having grown up with me.

But back to Girl's birthday: she picked out her own presents of Disney Princess play sets (the ones that come with the prince included: she's no dummy), and also was gifted with Princess dresses, a backpack, a thermos, coloring pages, the works.  Disney certainly makes its share of money from my daughter's unflagging interest.

And to close, the cute anecdotal and ongoing conversation between Girl and Boy Two.  Girl will declare throughout the house, "Who wants to play the princess is getting MAR-ried?!"  And Boy Two will distractedly counter that with, "I'm playing the DINOSAUR learns how to FIGHT!"

Combine the two only with tremendous caution.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Parenting Other People's Children

This one is always sticky.

We have a neighbor girl (let's call her Jill) who was in Boy Two's kindergarten class last year.  Jill lives across the street and is the only child living at her house full-time so she is often bored and in need of other children with whom to play.  By default, my children have become her playmates of choice.

Because our little townhouse doesn't really have a back yard to play in, we spend most of our outside time in the common driveway and minimal surrounding landscape shared by our subdivision.  Thus as soon as we exit the house, neighbor Jill sees us and clamors for our attention.  My children (for the most part) love to play with other children and are flattered that others want to play with them, but tend to end up disappointed with the progression of the playtime.

For example:
  • Jill will invite Boy Two and (occasionally) Girl over to her house to play in the yard, but she never invites Boy One (whose feelings are characteristically hurt by this).
  • Jill will insist on playing with the majority of Boy Two's horses herself, but refuses to even let him touch the 'special' horses that she brings over.  Her rules for playing with her personal belongings are numerous and convoluted, subject to change without notice.
  • When Boy Two is excited he tends to stutter quite a bit, as he has so much that he wants to share so quickly.  Jill has taken to mocking his stuttering when she comes over.  He either doesn't notice or doesn't know what to do about it, but I have to restrain myself from being mean back to her.
  • Jill brings her own bike over, but will ride the boys' bikes whenever she feels like it.  When Boy One asked with mild protest why she was riding his bike and not her own, she flippantly retorted "Because I felt like it."  My kids have been trained to ask before they borrow, and this behavior shocked them all.
  • When Boy Two excitedly asked Jill if she wanted to know what he named his toy horse, Jill indifferently replied "Something dumb I'll bet."  I find it hard not to glare at her.
  • When Jill asked Girl if she could undo the carefully plaited braid that I had made in her dolly's hair, Girl said no but Jill did it anyway.  Then, when she couldn't make the dolly's hair do what she wanted, Jill took out her impatience and annoyance on Girl, as if it were her fault.  It was easy to see that this kind of scene had been played out in Jill's house often as she parodied her parents.
  • Jill refuses to take turns when playing games like Hide and Seek with my kids and often changes the rules to suit herself or just stops playing when she gets bored, which is often.  I know this is typical child behavior, but that doesn't make me like it.
I finally claimed the last straw the other day when Jill asked Girl to bring her certain tools from the garage.  I quietly reminded Girl in Jill's hearing that Mama's rules specifically forbid her from getting those tools.  Jill waited a minute, and then again asked Girl to bring her the tools, and Girl (ever wanting to be helpful) went off to the garage to find them. 

At this point I began picking up our things and told the children it was time to go inside.  Jill asked why, and I crouched beside her and told her that she was not being respectful of me and my rules by asking my children to undermine me, that it hurt my feelings, and that when she behaves like this it makes me not want to let her come over anymore.  I chose my words very carefully without any malicious undertones, but I could tell that she really took them to heart.  I helped her carry her toys back home and cheerfully thanked her for playing with us, all the while she remained quiet and pensive.

I greatly abhor reprimanding other people's children for behavior that I feel they should know better then to exhibit. 

I obviously understand that all children have the tendency to want to manipulate circumstances towards their own best interest.  I know that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.  I know that selfishness, self-absorption, self-satisfaction, self-promotion is the natural tendency of the human condition and is displayed by every human being ever conceived.  I know that God alone changes the human heart.

But I don't know what to do about other people's children.  How much should I protect my kids from the nasty behavior of other kids?  Should I refuse to let them play with all but the most perfect of children? 

Thus far I find it most affective to talk with my children about the behavior of other kids that my children did not like.  They admit that it doesn't make them feel good when others don't share their toys.  Or when kids change rules for games or not take turns.  Or when they say things that aren't kind.  This seems to be fairly effective, but I want so much to do more.

I can't protect them, but what is the best way to guide them?  To help them learn to make wise choices and not be swayed by the poor choices of their peers?

I hate this part of parenting.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On Being A Boy

Step 1
Go for a walk with your parents and alternately run ahead/lag behind to annoy them.

Step 2
When you've exasperated your parents, reluctantly agree to hold your brother's hand to 'keep an eye on each other.'

Step 3
After you've grabbed his hand, reach over and take away the stick that he's holding with his other hand.

Step 4
When he notices, hold the stick as far away as possible so he can't get it back.

Step 5
Once brother's attention is elsewhere, hit him on the head with his own stick.  Just because you can.

Step 6
At the first sign of his protest, nonchalantly toss the stick over your shoulder so you don't look guilty and drop your brother's hand.

Step 7
Distractedly puzzle over why your parents are laughing hysterically behind you.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Who needs a dog?

My young son, who had a deep and abiding love for animals and regularly tells me that he has plans to be a farmer and a zoo keeper when he grows up, is desperate for a pet.

He knows all the reasons that we aren't able to at this time of his life but that hardly makes him feel better.

I had no idea how desperate he was to have something to call his own until he was out shopping with his grandmother one day.

Browsing through a Big Lots! to find something worthy to take home, he spotted it up on a shelf and claimed it forever as his.  "Look!  Pet fish!"
If you're guessing that it's a glass paperweight, you win.

He has proudly shown this to visitors to our house, as well as talked with the neighbors and school personnel as his pet fish.  "They don't move, though," he concedes.

My sweet little boy.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Highlights from the holiday

1. Husband cleaned the garage. 
This may seem paltry to the lay reader but it ranks as my favorite episode of Independence Day weekend.  A mere ten years have eclipsed since our wedding and this is the first instance of this particular event occurring.  And while I didn't exactly broadcast my delight with a bullhorn and sparklers, I was found wriggling with delight at various points throughout the day and grinning stupidly during odd moments.

2. Impromptu sports with my sisters.
While none of us have ever been considered athletic I have always prized their uninhibited alacrity when it comes to games of any kind.  Finding people with that kind of willingness is a feat akin to . . . well, something impressively difficult.
My sisters played an enthusiastic game of wiffle baseball with my kids (which requires surprisingly quick adaptability), round-robin seven-man badminton (also consisting of said children), and invented their own version of golf/football/baseball-with-a-net (the only fall out being when the football went reeling twenty feet into the neighbor's yard.  Good old Dad got it back.).

3. The Molalla Buckeroo Parade
I've either participated in or attended this parade for at least fifteen of the last twenty years.  Bringing my own children adds to the chaos of the event, but now that they are old enough to help carry our unruly load of parade-watching supplies it almost makes up for the five years running where we carried them, carted their stuff, cleaned up their messes, shushed their screaming, dried their tears.  Boy Two enthusiastically rushes out (responsibly!) to pick up the handfuls of candy thrown at him and collects it in Grandpa's cowboy hat.  Girl sits in her own chair between Mama and Auntie and points out the horses and the girls with the pretty dresses.  Boy One eats as many doughnuts as he can get away with.  And then we all complain as we schlepp our stuff four blocks back across town to our waiting cars.  This is one of my favorite family traditions!

4. Catching salamanders
Grandpa's little koi pond has been decidedly quiet the last few years: even since the last of the fish provided a tasty breakfast for a hungry heron.  We assumed it was devoid of all interest until Monday when Girl and I wandered down there to while away the afternoon and were astonished to find a pair of salamanders had set up a nice residence.
I gleefully used the swimming pool net to scoop up the little beings and Girl grabbed them and ran to the house, shouting about her great prize and trying to bring them inside (a decided 'no' from the grandparents put a stop to that).  There were only two salamanders to be divided amongst three children, but they were all so delighted that they actually shared.

The only downside is that the salamanders are probably already hightailing it to someone else's pond where there is less need to perform for your human captors.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Being the type pf blogger that I am, I will wait an eternity (if it takes that) for something interesting to blog about before actually sitting down to write.

For instance, school ended for the boys about two weeks ago, but other than the fact that Boy Two cried for the rest of the day about how much he would miss it there wasn't much to say.

Also, the boys have learned how to play Battleship (either with each other or myself) and Boy One is actually pretty good.  Except that the little pieces have now been lost forever under Boy Two's bed and may never be recovered.  Another distraction down the drain.

I spent last week tirelessly working with said boys to help them gain confidence and their bikes, and now neither one needs the slightest help - they just trundle out to the driveway and ride in circles for hours at a time.

The boys have collectively lost fifteen teeth in the last two years: three of them in the last two weeks.  When Boy Two smiles at us it looks like his brother belted him.

Boy One's birthday was the first day of summer and, as I have for every birthday in the last four years, I cut and served the cake before I remembered to place the candles.  My children may end up in therapy because I just can't seem to remember this vital childhood staple.

See?  A lot of nothingness.  But we did have one incident that I thought to share.

Boy Two, having gained confidence on his bike, was riding circles around his seated brother on said brother's birthday, making smaller and smaller circles around him chanting "I'm not too close."

Until, fortuitously, the bicycle crashed into seated brother and ran over his head.  Poor Boy One.  On his birthday he's sporting tire tracks on the back of his neck and an inch-diameter chunk of flesh missing from his right eyebrow.

The offending bicycle has been removed from service until a proper court-martial can be conducted.

So much for my hoped-for quiet afternoons.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Can't Read My Poker Face

Even though I had decided not to mention it, I have since concluded that it's a story that needs to be remembered (mostly for its comic timing) and hence will record it here.  I've discovered that as soon as I write something down I promptly forget all about it and only remember when re-reading through old posts.  So has my brain become mush as I've aged.

Myself and some others were set to attend a memorial service on Saturday. 

Unfortunately, our driver was horridly ill with a virus and we left for the drive a little later than we'd planned.

Fortunately, the driver is fast and we shaved some time on the interstate, even catching up to some friends as they drove!

Unfortunately, it was mid afternoon and there were hungry people in the party.

Fortunately, we stopped at a classic burger drive in with terrific fries.

Unfortunately, the drive-in did not have a bathroom and some of us were forced to drive around an unfamiliar part of town looking for one.

Fortunately, with everyone sated, we drove to the service with twenty minutes to spare.

Unfortunately, we found out when we arrived that we were actually fifteen minutes late.

Fortunately, the family didn't seem overly upset with us for our mistimed arrival.

Unfortunately, the service had been held up until we arrived.

More unfortunately, some of us had anticipated having time to change clothes once we arrived and were mildly mortified to realize that would no longer be possible.

Most unfortunately, with a churchful of persons looking on (likely disdainfully; I don't know, I avoided eye-contact with everyone) we were led down the center aisle and seated in the front row.

I must admit that my poker face has gotten better because I don't believe my cheeks even flushed with the mortification that the situation called forth.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Way to a Man's Heart

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when all else fails, the promise of food will undermine a man's firm resolve.

Women exposed this many years ago.  I believe Eve first demonstrated the theory to rancorous applause in the Garden.

And though as mothers we don't set out to teach our daughters the verity of this theology, even the littlest of girls inherently understand it's power.

Girl demonstrated this to my profound awe and amusement on Monday morning as she attempted to gain her brothers' compliance to play Tea Party.

It would have been a difficult win either way as neither of the boys is particularly fond of staging a soiree with Girl's dollies, and on this day they were much more interested in chasing one another around the house with Nerf guns - a happier inducement by far.

Girl attempted begging.  Bribery.  Threats.  Tears.  Extortion.  Promises.  Pleas.  Nothing chinked their firm resolve.

Until she brought out: the cookies.

I had purchased a box of cookie-shaped cold cereal for her occasional use in tea parties and she admirably put them to good use.  The boys animatedly set up the blanket and arranged the stuffed animals around themselves, and even gladly submitted to Girl's bossy 'rules' about proper behavior.  And all for the sake of a cookie.

I am sure Girl will remember this tactic and put it to good use in the future.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I received a phone call last Thursday from Boy One's teacher.

Apparently, he had a petit mal seizure during library.

Nobody really noticed until he was supposed to stand up and choose a book before going back to class and he couldn't stand up without help from his friends.  Then, instead of choosing a book, he kind of stood around with a blank stare.  Eventually, the other kids were sent back to class and his assistant helped him choose a book and walked him back, where he was relatively normal for the rest of the day.

I talked with his teacher, and then with him about the event and was relieved to know exactly what they were talking about -- I've experienced enough of them myself to know how to describe them.  The school was relieved that they didn't need to worry too much about handling them.  Boy One was relieved that Mama knows all about these incidents that are happening to him, could describe them when he couldn't, and that he doesn't have to be scared because Mama has them and there's nothing to be scared about.

I just want to cry.

With his autism, he isn't able to communicate anything about these seizures, either during or afterwards.  And its almost impossible to tell the difference between when he's having a seizure (and seems detached, giving you blank stares and seeming not to hear you) and when he's just having another autistic memory/communication lapse.

The shining light at the end of the tunnel is that the diet that should lighten his autism should also help to lighten his seizures, and he seems terribly excited that he and Mama have special foods were going to eat this summer that will help our brains not to get fuzzy anymore.  He's been telling other people about it like it's a fantastic secret pact that we have. 

I really didn't want to pass this on the my kids.  They have enough issues to deal with.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Mother's Day

This was my Mother's Day gift (technically from my 'children' but bought and paid for by my Husband).

Yes, it is a clothes drying rack.

No, it is not romantic or thoughtful or an addition to any of my hobbies (unless you can count laundry as a hobby of mine.  Which, I guess, may fall in to that category.).

But it is practical.  And I requested it two months in advance.  And I got to pick it out at IKEA on Saturday.  And Husband put it together on Sunday night.

I am anticipating saving oodles of money on our electric bill this summer (and maybe forever).

Our lovely dryer needs at least two (sometimes, three) cycles to dry a load of clothes.  I'm assuming it's because of lint buildup in the exhaust tunnel (or something like that but in more technical terms).  Because I do not anticipate this ever correcting itself I concluded that my best recourse was to dry each load of clothes for a mere twenty-thirty minutes and then hang them up to finish the process.

Additionally, many of our clothes are of polyester or blended fabrics and need not be put in the dryer at all.

Hence, the drying rack!

My lack of a real laundry room (a feeble but luxurious dream of mine) means that the rack is temporarily housed in the upstairs loft, a.k.a. Husband's office.  But since the ironing board already claimed permanent residence there I believed that the rack could keep it company in the midst of all the dusty books and stuffy computer equipment.

It is now happily and busily employed.
As the weather improves this summer I anticipate moving it out to the back patio where there is plenty of sunshine.  It will be the closest I've ever been to having my own clothesline.

Klingon Catch-phrases

The weather was warm and beautiful the other day and we came home from school to find the neighbor children begging for a water fight.

I opened my garage and encouraged them to try out and use any of our (Husband's) large collection of squirt guns.

I generously manned the water hose and compliantly filled all squirt guns as often as needed.

I pumped up the large guns so that all the kids had to do was pull the trigger.

I brought out dry towels and wiped faces that were drenched by friendly (or not-so-friendly) fire.

I may or may not have chased down a neighbor boy who shot me once too often in the face and wrestled the gun from his grip, only to turn around and use it on him yelling "Death to the opposition!"

Squirt guns are not known to bring out my best side.

The trouble with an active imagination

Boy Two and Girl have matured to the age where they are using fewer and fewer toys when they play together and instead are relying on their imaginations for drama.

Their favorite thing to play recently is 'Kitty and Doggy'.  Girl plays the part of the cat and chases/is chased by Doggy (Boy Two), in addition to giving him advice on whatever else she thinks should be added to the script: climbing, hiding, eating, having babies, etc.

They have both taken to bringing their imaginary animals with them to the elementary school several times a week.  Those imaginary animals have been causing so much trouble in the classroom than I have taken to requiring them to tie the animals (monkeys, horses, dragons) up at the bike rack outside the school before we go in.

These imaginary animals are so real to my children that they even fooled Daddy last Sunday.

Girl and Boy Two were playing downstairs when Girl came upstairs, crying, to find us as we readied for church.

She tearfully explained to Daddy that Boy Two's monkey's had chased her out of  the boy's room where she was playing with them and it wasn't nice.  Daddy, ready to take away the offending monkeys, went downstairs where he ran into Boy One (who previously had nothing to do with this case whatsoever), who eagerly volunteered to show him where the drama unfolded and the offending monkeys were hiding.

Entering the boy's room and finding nothing, Daddy confusedly questioned the Boy Two about the monkey's whereabouts and was informed that the offending monkeys had left the room and run away.  Not knowing what else to do, Daddy instead informed the children that they were restricted to their rooms until it was time to leave for church.

Daddy came upstairs to find me sniggering in our room, where I nonchalantly mentioned "It sure is difficult to discipline imaginary animals, isn't it?"  Finally registering the reality of the situation, Daddy threw up his hands in exasperation with his impossible children.

I had a very active imagination as a child and understand that my children come by it naturally, although I was always too embarrassed to involve my parents in the charade.  But even I wasn't so taken with pretending that I cried about it.

Girl came to us in inconsolable tears several months ago.  In between gasps, we managed to wring the explanation from her: she had been pretending to blow a roomful of imaginary bubbles when her heartless older brother came along and popped them all.

Not knowing what else to do, I attempted to squelch my giggles and suggested that she blow some more.

This is another side of parenting that I just can't seem to get the hang of.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Memorizing Bible Verses

I enjoy manipulating my children's minds.  I may as well just admit it.

This year for our church's Junior Church program the other teachers and I are having the kids attempt to memorize one verse a week for fifty-two weeks.  Each week the verse must have some correlation to the week's lesson in order for the kids to grasp a portion of it's context.

I was asked to help the teacher from the month of May come up with a verse to use for Mother's Day and came up with about seven little-used choices that supplied the word 'mother' and submitted them for approval.

With four of us voting, we chose Proverbs 30:17:
The eye the mocks the father and scorns to obey the mother will be plucked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.

Gross.  But very cool.  And a great illustration.

I wrote the verse out at home for my children to read and memorize if they so choose and in less than twenty minutes Boy Two had read it/talked about it so much that he knew it by heart.  

He is a great comrade to all things animal and is learning many tidbits about vultures in conjunction with this verse.  We have also spent the last few days discussing what 'mocks' and 'scorn' mean, along with 'obey'.

Cut to yesterday when I was in his room confronting him about why he didn't put away the clean clothes/pick up the toys/make his bed like I had asked him to three hours previous.  

"Did you obey Mama?"
". . . no . ."
"What happens when we don't obey?"
*quick intake of breathe and hands cover his face* "I don't want you to pluck my eye out!"

Aaahh.  Comprehension, how chilling you are to my children.

I admit, I'm still sniggering about this.

Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

Several weeks ago (I don't remember the precise date) Boy Two's school celebrated Earth Day.

Some very helpful retirees came over from the local Senior Center and assisted the kindergarteners with various 'green' tasks like planting seeds in paper cups of dirt and things like that.

At the end of the day each child was given not only a planted seed, but their very own worm!  Boy Two was thrilled.  There were very specific instructions about the worm including the tidbit be sure to release your worm into the dirt within two days as worms can't live in little plastic containers and don't make for good pets.  Especially if they aren't fed.  I may or may not have added a few minor embellishments to the instructions.

Fast forward a week and I notice the container sitting on the dresser in the boy's room hidden by a pirate ship, a dinosaur, and a pile of drawings of trains and of wild animals eating each other. 

I promptly forgot about it.

Another week or two goes by until I remember that poor worm and go looking for it on Saturday about three weeks after it came home.

Lo and behold, the boys had discovered the previously misplaced container and had decided to give it a position of authority on the windowsill - possibly so it could get enough light to grow.  How thoughtful.

I did, in fact, open it up and look for the worm in the vain hope that it may have survived the three weeks of humid, recycled air and lack of food and water.

Ironically, either worms decompose quickly when they die or it found a way of escape and is now living in my laundry room because I couldn't find a trace of it in the dirt.

That's a satisfying way to end a story.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Let me just start by proclaiming that of all the pests to invade one's home, sugar ants are my favorite.

They don't really bite.  You can't hear them scampering through the walls.  They don't have numerous long, hairy legs that they use to chase you through the house.  Finding them drowned in your bedside water glass in the morning does not cause you to shriek and throw up, wondering how many you unknowingly swallowed during the night.

Sugar ants are good pests.

That being said, I still prefer to let them live outside as opposed to in(side.  Sorry, I couldn't leave the preposition hanging so perilously.).

When they began to appear (in my bedroom, no less) about a month ago, I forgave them and let them have their space.  After all, they weren't really bothering me and there were only a few here and there.  Let them realize there isn't anything to eat and they'll leave.  Right?

But then they found something.  A lone raisin that had tumbled under Husband's dresser and lain forgotten.  At least, it was forgotten by the humans.  The ants apparently called all their friends for a picnic.

Realizing on Saturday morning that they planned to stay forever I mixed some honey with about 1/4 cup of Borax and dabbed it on three pieces of cardboard aligned on the windowsill.
Boy Two, who loves all animals (at least, from a distance) nevertheless took great pleasure in watching them greedily consume the poisoned treat.  I believe the words "Die, ant, die" came out of his mouth while he looked on.

Within an hour the party was accumulating more and more friends, and they were calling their friends, who were selling everything they had to invest in tainted honey.

By mid afternoon it was a free-for-all.  It was everything I could do to keep Girl from picking them up and taking them to her room, calling them her 'bug friends'.
By Sunday morning the ants had all disappeared back to their home to either die or to sleep off their Borax-induced hangover.

Tuesday morning I observed one or two on patrol, giving the impression of grogginess and the aftermath of the collapse of a colony.  Or maybe that was just my imagination.

Husband wants me to toss the no-longer-useful bait, but I intend to wait at least a week.  The drowned carcass of a greedy ant tops the largest of the temptations and I envision its bloated remains dissuading any would-be tourists from staking a claim on my bedroom in the near future.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The only thing we have to fear.....

Fear is the largest obstacle anyone ever had to conquer in their lives.  Fear prevents otherwise normal people from fulfilling their dreams.  It forces us to do the things that we don't want to do.  Humans are afraid of things that have the potential to cause us great physical/emotional/mental/relational/vocational/spiritual/economical/biological (pretty much any word that ends in'-al') harm.

Some of the things that, even as an adult, I'm afraid of and have yet to conquor: large-ish spiders, making phone calls, going somewhere new and talking to people that I've never met (and acting like I'm not scared).

For persons who aren't afraid of these things, those particular fears seem irrational and almost endearing (or stupid, take your pick).  But for myself, the fear is quite palpable.

I was reminded of this idea last weekend when Husband and I took our children to the playground for the express purpose of teaching the boys (ages six and seven) to ride their bikes without training wheels.

We have been encouraging them to learn this since the previous summer but our success was limited to nonexistent.  Training wheels, to them, meant that they could take no action and still be safe.  You can't even fall down when standing still when one has training wheels - what's not to love?!

But Husband refused to put the training wheels back on the bikes at the end of our camping trip last August and so the bikes have slumped against the back wall of the garage since then, much to the chagrin of our boys who have begged for the training wheels back.

But last week when a neighbor girl came over to play she showed off her cycling skills on her two wheeler and Boy Two suddenly didn't want to be the pathetic neighbor boy who couldn't do what a girl six months younger than him can handle.  Peer pressure has its positive side.

There is a large, fenced blacktop at the elementary school and we walked the boys there with their bikes with the attitude of "you're going to learn this if it kills you."  Which, in hindsight, is not the best motivator for a child who is under the impression that it really will kill them.

Some of the advice we gave them (as we held on to their bicycle seats and ran in circles) must have sounded slightly ludicrous: "Pedal faster!  You'll have less a chance of falling over."  "Don't go straight, turn; its easier to balance when you're not going in a straight line."  "Don't look at the ground, look ahead to where you're going."  "Don't laugh at Grandad's jokes, it just encourages him."

Not all the advice was specifically tailored to bike riding, but you have to slip it in when you can.

By the time we had been there for an hour Boy Two had stopped trembling with fear and was riding without help!  And once Boy One realized that Boy Two was besting him at something he tried harder and realized that he could do it, too.  Success!

Once they both realized that they didn't have to be afraid of the bikes, that fear was the only thing keeping them from doing what they wanted, they were never more confidant!

Yes, Girl really does take that Dolly everywhere with her.
 Overcoming the fear of learning to ride was such a big obstacle that we took all the kids out for ice cream to celebrate.

And yes, that is me in the mirror, taking a picture of myself.  I have zero talent for photography.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

T-Ball, Take Two

 April has arrived in all it's rainy, misty, mucky, just-shy-of-freezing glory and y'all know what that means: baseball!

Boy One played (or, at least, attempted) rookie baseball last spring and made it through fairly unscathed.  And considering that Boy Two was hugely jealous that he wasn't able to participate then, we signed them both up for this year and they are playing on the same team.

We are with the same coach as last year and many of the same kids are on the team so Mama is feeling pretty secure confidant about the expected routine.  However, I may take those words back in about a month.
Boy Two demonstrating his run through first base.  Good centering.
Boy Two started (and ended) the first day of practice by jumping up and down with giddy excitement for an entire hour.  Yay!  Baseball!!  He may not have paid that much attention to what the coaches were advising him, but his enthusiasm was so palpable you could spread it on a piece of toast.
My boys like each other a lot.  At least, for now.
 Boy One, feeling pretty sure of himself (since, you know, he did this last year), spent less time doing what he was supposed to and instead acted the part of the team clown: silly voices, silly antics, silly running moves (oh, wait, he may have gotten those from me).
The new assistant coach was particularly pleased that Boy One can bat left-handed (the dads' all let out a cheer because of this: yes!  Secret Weapon!) and Boy Two, not knowing the difference, is following in his brother's footsteps and also training himself to bat left-handed. 

Sure, why not.

At last night's practice the boys were in the same assemblage: catch a grounder and throw it to the first base man.  Fairly straight-forward, yet Boy One was at first base and Boy Two was fielding the ground ball.  Instead of throwing it to first, he ran the ball there (we all do it - no big deal).  But when reminded of the rules of the drill, fulfilled them by throwing the ball at his brother - who was a mere three feet away. 

Boy One didn't even have a chance.

Sadly, this morning there wasn't a big shiner around his eye to parade around school as a badge of honor, which would have been the only truly acceptable recourse to the tragedy. 
Girl, in typical fashion, prefers to spend the hours reserved for baseball practice either picking flowers, jumping off the bleachers to make her dress pouf, chastising her Dolly, or roughing up Grandad.
A token picture of Girl: for her fans.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Biblical Legos

I was teaching our church's Junior Church last Sunday and, seeing as it was Palm Sunday, I told the kids the story of the Triumphal Entry and the other events that occurred during Passover Week in Jerusalem. 

Because keeping the attention of a dozen children between the ages 3-8 is difficult, I brought in Lego men to use as Jesus and his disciples.

Boy Two was so enthralled with this idea that he came home and, on his own, recreated the story himself, adding the scene of Jesus' arrest and crucifixion.

Here we have the Garden of Gethsemane and all the disciples sleeping.  Also, the 'donkey' is tied under the tree.  
Sorry about the light reflecting off the coffee table: I'm not a great photographer. 

Notice the crowd of soldiers and religious leaders coming to get Jesus in the garden.  Judas Iscariot is the one with the eye-patch: it causes him appear more menacing.  
We replaced the heads of the ' 'Robin Hood' figures with the heads of the pirate men to give them the facial hair that would make the figures more authentic to first century Judaism.  
Believability is key. 

And here is Jesus, on his cross that needs a wooden block to prop it up.  I was very impresses that Boy Two came up with this himself.

Although we couldn't finish the story because we didn't make the cave tomb.

But don't worry: we still have three days before he needs it! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

No news is good news

Wish I had something interesting to say for this week, but all that comes to mind is rain.

As this particular weather phenomenon is no news to anyone, I think I'll skip it.

Got called to the school office on Tuesday morning for another 'intervention' with my oldest - wish he wasn't so smart.  When he doesn't want to be in class (e.g. his aid is ill and he has a substitute) he'll go to the office and tell them he's ill and needs to go home.  Then I rush down and talk him down from the brink so he can head back to class.

The office staff (as well as most of the teachers) now all know me by first name.

*  *  *
Finally bought a crochet hook, borrowed some yarn from my mother and picked up Crocheting For Dummies at the library.  I have a pattern for a cardigan that I really want to own and couldn't find anyone to make it for me so I guess I'm doing it myself.

I don't envision the process moving along very quickly as I haven't crocheted since Girl Scouts when I made a very lumpy yellow rectangle dish cloth.  My mom used it for years and I always hated seeing it next to the sink.  I hope the cardigan doesn't end up as a dishrag as well.

And with that, I've exhausted all the news for this week.  Maybe with the hoped-for return of nice weather I'll have more to say next week.  After all, baseball practice begins on Monday!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Birds of Pray?

Boy Two was very excited to bring his savings with him to the store on Wednesday in hopes of buying something alluring: another animal for his collection.

Rummaging through the bin, we found several dragons (too much money), a griffin (he had no idea what that was), a fox, a wolf (not exciting enough), a doe and fawn (too tame) and finally, a Great Horned Owl.


He was very pleased with himself for about five minutes until we were sitting in the car leaving the store and he asked me what owls ate.  "Oh, mice.  Bunnies.  Snakes.  Stuff like that."

Then he was disappointed.  The snake and rabbit he had at home, but what about the mouse?!

Fortuitously, Mama remembered that Grandma used to have some mouse buttons that would be just the right size, and, who would have guessed, we were going to the fabric store next!

Except for the lack of foresight by way of the fabric store employees (where is the wisdom in arranging the cute buttons within reach of small children so they can break them all before people have a chance to buy them?) we found an adorable mouse button (with broken mouse trap) and I was persuaded to buy it for him.

While I waited in line with my purchases I had the odd epiphany: there just seems to be something not right about buying prey for your son's plastic animals.

But then my sweet son was discussing Birds of Prey with me and, not understanding the context, began asking "What other animals pray?" and came up with an entire contingent of pious fauna.

I have the sweetest children.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Boys. Big ones. Small ones.

Occasionally I abhor parenting.

I recollect my own childhood as quite mellow.  With three girls there were the intermittent hair-pulling and possession-hoarding incidents, but otherwise we were very easy on my parents.  Well, at least I was.

Boys are just . . . . well, I can't say different so I'll say 'icky'.

They seem to view the body and the things that come out of it with artist attention. 

This is not pleasant for a woman who even thinks her own husband is icky on occurrence.

I have caught those little boys popping bubbles in the toilet and drawing on the bathroom walls.  I will not elaborate on either.

Boy One is perfectly smart with academics, sports, art.  But because of his autism he's completely ignorant of social concepts. 

Sitting with his class at library yesterday he had his hands in his pants (we can't seem to break him of that) and then proceeded to unzip.

His aid, the librarian and his teacher were all flummoxed with how to handle this and informed me of the incident in cryptic tones after school let out.  The teacher is just hoping that the two little girls sitting with him don't tell their parents, who will then call the school and create a huge fuss.

Great.  Just great.

How do I handle this?

I tried to calmly (but with just the right hint of disapproving emotion) talk with him about this, but he seemed to have completely forgotten the entire episode and couldn't follow the simple words I was saying.

I turned the whole thing over to Husband when he came home and I'm praying that makes the difference.

Little boys are icky.  What's that poem about snakes and snails and puppy dog's tails?  It seems fairly accurate.

 *      *      *      *

On another note, every home we've lived in has had an oven that just can't seem to keep up with the demands I've placed on it.  They all sputter their dislike and overheat in varying grades, sometimes demanding to be replaced.

This oven is no different.

I had assumed that by leaving the oven alone for a few days it would decide to cooperate and we'd forget the ugliness ever happened.  After all, I don't hold a grudge.  Why should it?

But it did.  Horrible, pathetic, cursed oven. 

I put the muffin batter in at *375 and set the timer for only ten minutes (eight minutes before it was 'due').  Sadly, the oven continued to heat until the timer went off ten minutes later and I entered the kitchen to see smoke wafting from below the burners and opened the oven to find the temperature at a balmy *515 and the muffins scorched into briquettes.

As I growled with vexation, Helpful Husband (I put this in the nicest possible terms) advised with flippant nonchalance "Just set the timer for fewer minutes."

Big Boys are icky, too.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


My children have recently taken up a cause that is very dear to my heart, but may just be the end of my marriage.

We live in a very nice townhouse.  I say nice because it has two full bathrooms (a novelty, to me at least).  It also has a loft area that has been dedicated as my husband's 'office' / library.  It has mostly become a dumping ground for random paraphernalia, playroom for the kids, and ironing station.  With a computer thrown in for good measure.

But I digress.

Of the five homes we've lived in during our ten year marriage, this one seems to suit us the best for a myriad of reasons: location, mostly.  Halfway between church and Husband's office, so he need only drive thirty minutes to either location.

This was our townhouse two years ago.  It hasn't changed much, except there's less snow now.  And the kids are bigger.

However, I am a house girl.  I dislike sharing walls with neighbors, tiny backyards full of dandelions, tall and narrow floor plans, not being allowed to paint the walls or fix the maintenance issues on my own, and always feeling as though I'm on pins and needles anticipating another move at any time.

My children are most upset because it means that we can't have pets.

They often ask me for stories about the dozens of pets that my husband and I razed when we were kids and have imagined the potential adventurous bliss of having pets of their very own. 

They have taken to pestering their Father about "what kind of pet do YOU like?" every day or so and drawing pictures of what they consider 'good' pets and 'bad' pets in an endless pro/con list of potential candidates.

This is not going over well with Daddy.  He tends to dislike the out-of-doors and prefers to avoid it.  A home of our own means maintenance of a yard, which he had his fill of as a teen, thank you very much.

But I think the children are wearing him down. 

Either that, or just annoying him.

Sometimes its hard to tell the difference.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Break

My boys have Spring Break this week, which means I'm feeling a tiny bit of pressure to make the week a little bit more fun than usual.  Usually we would just sit around the house all week: reading Berenstain Bear books, staging dramatic movie reenactments with plastic animals and Lincoln Logs, and dancing around the living room to Disney soundtracks.

Yep, that sounds boring to me, too.

My mother-in-law offered to take them off my hands for Sunday through Tuesday for the low, low price of driving them up there after church: can you say, bargain?  Apparently they even got to play in the snow one day (yes, snow in spring break.  I'm so tired of this winter.) but all that I can get out of them is various quotes about cartoons "on cable channel" and shows that have been banned at my house (Maisy.  My nemesis.).  But at least they got to go somewhere 'fun'.

On Wednesday Husband was taking the youth group to Seaside for the annual spring break beach day and I had just about convinced him that the kids and I could squish in the back of the van and tag along.  I even promised that we wouldn't be any trouble.  But his fellow crony reared doubts in his mind about space issues and we ended up being eliminated from the plan.  Shucks.

So where do you go for fun when you can't go the beach?  If you guessed the other grandma's house, you're right!

 We played baseball in the backyard, dug in the garden, roasted s'mores in the fire pit and put together a new puzzle.


By Thursday, I was all out of relatives to take pity on us and all we did was walk to the library for a new cache of books. 

Tomorrow is Friday.  And I'm all out of ideas.

Maybe make cupcakes?

Bored?  I know!  Let's eat something!

Yes, I'm that mom.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Improvisational Girl-ish Crafts

I went with my mother and two younger children to IKEA a week (or was it two weeks?) ago - mostly because its a great place to walk through and get ideas for your home.  Girl saw a bedroom that she drooled over, but Mama doesn't have $400 to spend on cute room decorations so I tried to find a way to make some of those cute things, only much more cheaply (I am nothing if not a skinflint).

Anyway, Instead of spending $20 for the item we wanted, I found a set of tulle curtains for $5 and borrowed a wooden embroidery hoop from my mom, then fished around in my husband's dresser for some dollar-store shoe laces and some random hardware.  Ten minutes of tinkering and, voila!

(Please excuse the messy bed)
She came home from her Grandma's and gushed over the canopy, repeatedly telling me how much she loved me!  She sure is easy to please.

And yes, sisters, Mom finally made me bring home the giant bunny.  Drat.

Monday, March 21, 2011


I don't know why this bothers me, but it does.

I mean, I can go to Target and buy a bra and tampons and have no problem with a man as my cashier - even when they comment on my purchases, it doesn't rattle me.

But if the only two employees at the library check-out are men, I'll put back the Confessions of a Shopaholic movie and any girl-y novels or self-help books.  Is it that I don't want to appear ditsy by my choice of entertainment material? 

I have made a mental note to only check-out impressively cognizant materials (gardening literature, war history, sci-fi movies) on Saturdays from now on.  I'm caving to the pressure......

Monday, March 14, 2011

Random rants

Casablanca --
Finally saw the movie that is quoted in every other movie ever made.  I understand that this is one of the best movies of all time and is a favorite for many people so I cringe a little when I say "That was it?"
I guess I let the hype of "It's a classic!"  train my mind to think I would get swept away with the story but, um, I didn't.  However, I did enjoy seeing the context for all those random quips in my head.

Bacon grease --
This is one of those things that people saved in metal cans and cooked with for many many many years before Crisco and cooking spray were invented.  Apparently it will kill you with just a glance because it is so full of grease and bacon and, therefore, worse for you than just plain grease.  But I rose to the challenge the other night and cooked with it and I just have to say yum.  I will definitely be using this again in the future.  At least, until my heart clogs.

Published! --
I've actually seen my name in print!!  I don't know why this excites me so much other than it means that other people in the world now know that I exist, but it does!  Any no, it's nothing monumental, just a Letter to the Editor in Living Without magazine (a magazine for people with food allergies) but I still get to brag about it!  Just don't critique it: yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition.  I was lazy.  It will never happen again.

Plastic bags --
For a good fifteen years the media has made sure that everyone knows that when shopping for groceries (or just random things at a store) you should always choose plastic bags over paper because they are recyclable.  Most store don't even carry paper sacks, and since I (and my husband) are of the dust of the earth that can never remember to bring reusable bags with us we end up taking home a gallon jar full or various plastic bags each month (shopping bags, sandwich bags, frozen vegetable bags, bulk food bags, etc.).  This never seemed a big deal to me, since I collect them and take them to Target (or wherever) once in awhile to dutifully recycle them into something useful, like a good Oregon girl should.

However, I was mildly annoyed (or perhaps a stronger word) reading a fact-check article in the paper a week ago that stated that, um, yeah, plastic bags aren't really recyclable.  That was all a lie.  Only about 0.3% of the bags that are even taken to be recycled (which is about 13% of all plastic bags in general) actually get turned into something else.  There isn't even a market for the rest of them, so those nice stores that take back your bags and promise you a pat on the back for being a conscientious citizen are just throwing them in the garbage when your back is turned.

I'm not really into the save-the-world, earth-day buy-in, but I do believe in making a small effort not to fill my garbage can to the brim each week.  Plus, I really hate it when others lie to me.  I'm a big girl, I can handle the truth even if it makes you look bad.

Okay, enough ranting.  Time to load my dishwasher.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shopping with mom

My mother takes me shopping all the time.  Not the kind where she buys me stuff and I come home with bags of fun clothes and items to try out, but the kind where she lets me ride in the passenger seat of her car with my two kids in back as we shuttle to and fro to get the things on our lists.

This week I had perused the ads in the Sunday paper and found nothing that tickled my fancy, so I happily planned to spend the week at home cleaning bathrooms and filing bills.  So when Mom called on Monday morning and said she had a few places to go and did I want to come along? I jumped at the chance, not expecting to actually purchase anything.  She had a few specific things to get and I just went to browse.

We spent time at the Mill End Store where she returned a rug and I was chagrined with how much they wanted me to pay for music note fabric; then JoAnns (where she bought nothing and I spend $20 on a pattern, thread and material for a new dress); and finally Winco, where I ended up buying another $10 in groceries even though I'd already bought my monthly groceries LAST week.  There's thirty dollars I'll never see again.  But it wasn't like I broke the bank, so I wasn't ashamed.

Tuesday morning comes and Mom calls me up again: "I have to go to IKEA today, do you want to come?"  IKEA?  Yes!  There isn't anything I need there, but so what?

But first we stop at Home Goods to look for a rug for mom - she found nothing, but I bought something.  Then to IKEA, where, again, she bought nothing but I spent $40.  Hmm.  Then we ran in to the huge Target there at the airport (lovely.  Huge store with no customers - a dream) and I spent another $10.  Drat.  Husband will not be doing a happy dance this week.

After two days of 'helping' Mom find the things she needed to buy, she bought nothing and I bought everything.  Score two points for Mom.  I did, however, tell my mother as she dropped us back home that if she was going to any other stores this week don't call me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Laundry, Laundry

Laundry, laundry, so good to me,
Laundry, laundry, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh laundry morning, laundry morning couldn't guarantee
That laundry evening you would still be here with me.
 Laundry, laundry, can't trust that day,
Laundry, laundry, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh laundry morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh laundry, laundry, how you could leave and not take me.
 Every other day, every other day,
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever laundry comes, but whenever laundry comes
You can find me cryin' all of the time
 Laundry laundry . . . . .

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

IEP meeting

Right after school ended on Monday I met with Boy One's 'school team' for our annual Individualized Education Program (or something like that.  I actually don't recall for certain what the initials IEP stand for.  My bad.).

This is the third year that we have held these meetings (two years of kindergarten and this year in first grade) and it's always his classroom teacher, the learning specialist, speech therapist, autism specialist, his classroom aid, and myself.  This year we were missing his occupational therapist, which is fine because he doesn't like her and has thus far refused to comply with holding the pencil the way she says to. 

I brought Girl and Boy One with me to the meeting in the first grade classroom and for the full hour and fifteen minutes they played educational games on the class computers and read books quietly to themselves.  The other team members commented as the meeting came to a close how impressed they were with how quiet and well behaved the kids were.  I wanted to gloat, but managed to bite my tongue.  After all, we had just talked for an hour about the behavioral issues my son has in class - gloating would have been a bit uncalled for self-serving unreasonable cheesy.

Things I remember from the meeting:
  • Boy One will still throw himself on the floor if he doesn't get to choose the job he wants for the week.
  • He has certainly surpassed the eight-words-per-utterance goal that the speech therapist set for him.  He tends to tell her "I don't want to go to speech today.  I'm not happy.  I want to stay in class.  I haven't finished my illustrating.  You already took me out of class once, that's enough.  I not happy about this."  He can be very vocal when the situation warrants it.
  • Everyone agreed that Boy One is smart.  Too much so.  (He gets that from me.)  And stubborn, too.   (He gets that from his dad.)
  • He is right on track with the other first graders with math, reading and writing (!).  So much so, that he no longer has to go to Resource Room everyday for tutoring.  This is FANTASTIC news, since he abhors being separated from his classmates (he's removed from class two to three times a day for individualized instruction - he hates that) and doing so causes most of his moods.  Woo-hoo!
  • His internal clock is more accurate than the atomic clock - no one needs a watch as long as he's around.  This annoys his teachers to no end.
  • He still doesn't want to participate in group discussions because he takes longer to process his answer than the other kids and feels lost when pushed to perform on the spot.  But that seems to be pretty common to people in general.
  • Best news: Boy Two can ride the short bus to school with Boy One next year, even though he's not in a specialized program!  Boy Two swelled with pride upon hearing this.

I conveniently forgot just how long these meetings tend to run, and ended up leaving Boy Two at his kindergarten for a full fifty minutes after he was dismissed for the day.  Again, my bad. 

Good thing the school secretary likes me. 

Or, did.