Thursday, June 30, 2005

I Wanna Talk About Me, Wanna Talk About I

So Ben and Milo flunked their speech evaluations and were admitted to the Penn State Graduate Department -- see sidebar -- GOSH I'm funny!

It's now official. They'll spend two mornings a week getting Speech Preschool from a gaggle of pretty young graduate-level speech therapists and then Milo will go twice a week for articulation therapy and chances are really good that Max will end up in their stuttering/stammering program.

We'd never be able to afford it all except that a) the preschool is basically paid for by whomever is loaning these kids money to go to graduate school and b) my parents are paying for a large chunk of the speech therapy. (Did I mention my grandfather was a professor emeritus of Speech and Hearing at Ohio State? Yep.) The twins will get two mornings of preschool a week for $10/month each. The woman taking the message from me that we were withdrawing the twins from the cooperative preschool was telling me that if they had room we could reapply for the spring and I found myself secretly hoping they'd get to do the preschool all year. After all, thanks to a November birthday, the twins can go to this preschool for two more years after '05-'06. There's plenty of time to pay more for preschool. It does seem to be THE place to send your kid. I keep meeting new people and finding out that, yep, they send their kid there. OOh, yeah. We're hip. Well, we were anyway. Now we're back to being geeks.

I'm trying not to get paranoid about the fact that two perfectly intelligent, involved parents ended up with three of the noisiest kids to ever not speak properly, but there it is. For three guys who can't speak well, they sure never shut up.

Okay, I'm kind of upset about it. What did we do wrong?

Carly Simon's First Draft, (but nixed by her record company)

iiiiiiis making me blog
making me blo-o-o-o-og.

Later she put that anticipation song to the same tune and claimed it was inspired by waiting for a date with James Taylor. Shyah.

This is me NOT working because if I WERE working I'd have to write six vocabulary teacher's editions, do copy edit changes on two 128-page manuscripts, and check the first proof of a third 128-page manuscript.

Too. much. fun.

So! Let's post pictures instead!


Here is Milo, taking a nap, after putting himself to bed. Something clearly is weighing heavy on his mind. That's jam, not scar tissue, on his arm.

Playing with every bit of Fisher Price we own.

The boys blew up an air mattress and created the SS Naptime (they named it that).

Max is steering.

Later the pillows ended up on the floor, so Ms. Princess Please took them thankyouverymuch. (She's badly in need of a hair cut, but they couldn't "fit her in" until July 14th. I should have them give her a continental cut by then since she'll have the hair for it.) I just realized you can't even see her pretty, and very bright, red collar.

Continental cut -- not my poodle.

MY pretty little redhead, sporting the terrible haircut that led to this too-long gap between hair cuts (you can't actually see the worst of it in this picture):

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Catching Up


I think I have mentioned before that Mrs. Bernstein, a Russian native, is fond of Max. This past week I apologized to both Max and Mrs. Bernstein for not having found the time to practice more than once the previous week. She accepted the apology, and then gently, with no evidence of guile (I am not saying there was none, just that the charge would never stick), spent the rest of the lesson inserting little comments here and there into the lesson addressing the issue of Max and his piano practice. "Oh, you are sooooo smart! You can learn the lesson right off the page the very first time! See? You don't even need your mother's help." and "Nine years old? Why that's such a big boy! A big boy like yourself can practice his piano without his mother around. [as if in confidence] I think she's babying you a little here. You can practice your lesson on your own, no?" And Max, not one to offer to do these kinds of things independently, found himself nodding and gradually being convinced that yes, he was old enough, responsible enough, and smart enough to do his own practicing as long as I made him a checklist and guided what he did for that lesson.

So for the past two mornings when it came time to practice, I made a checklist of the things she wanted covered. There is so much material now that we can no longer review it all in one sitting. So I break it up in to pieces. Some of this today, some of that tomorrow.

And then, by golly, he goes downstairs and I listen from upstairs in the kitchen and he does it all.

At first I was a bit resistant to the slight fee increase this program represented. I am over it now.


We had the first real meet last night and it was fun. I knit, decided the piece was too wide, ripped out the stitches, and knit it again. Max talked to me for awhile, swam races, and played with the other kids. It rained on us rather steadily towards the end and it occurred to me that seeing as how we're never, ever moving again, I should probably actually buy the family some umbrellas. As usual, Max swam faster and with more determination than he ever does in any situation other than a race. This morning they're having an intense workout involving cannon balls and Sharks and Minnows. I used to LOVE Sharks and Minnows. :::happy sigh:::

I also got to hang out with our baby sitter's mother, Beth. She's very nice and right around the corner and her second son is only a year younger than Max. Max was being ageist about 8-year-olds last night, which is a side of him I'd never seen, but I am hoping she forgives him and lets her son play with him anyway.

Everything Else

So we are three days into the new schedule, with two days and two nights under our belt. Yesterday I was enjoying some of the side effects of the new schedule -- spending more time with the kids, feeling like the proper phone calls were made and the dishes were done, that sort of thing. But I was just mind-numblingly exhausted the whole day. WHY!?! The new schedule is supposed to provide for more sleep! I should be feeling better than I have in, oh, months! What's going on?

Then as I was going to sleep last night I realized, duh, we started the schedule Monday morning, but I'd had only three hours of sleep the night before! So I am guessing that the chronic sleep deprivation of the previous two to three weeks will require a few more days to right itself.

[Max was just sharked. LOL, people here are SO incredibly nice. Get this, the kid who tagged him laughed, said, "SHARK!" and then followed this with a contrite, "Sorry, Max!" Max grinned and gave him a thumbs-up.]

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Indeed, It's Sesame Street

Oh everything comes in its own special size
I guess it can be measured by where you put your eyes
It looks big when you're close
And it looks smaller back a bit
That's about the size of it.

Oh the big becomes the little
When you see it back a bit
The huge becomes the dinky
Which is just the opposite
Of the larger that gets smaller
It never seems to fit
That's about the size of it.

That's about the size
It's where you put your eyes
That's about the size of it.

Well, I have a lot to talk about including rain at an east-coast swim meet, 9 year olds, and sleep deprivation, but I'm working REALLY REALLY hard at overcoming that last one, so I'm off to bed and it will have to wait until tomorrow. g'night.

Monday, June 27, 2005

That's About the Size, Where You Put Your Eyes, That's About the Size of It

Can anyone other than my brother and husband name the song that's from? 100 nothing points to the first person who can. No fair googling.

Googling. Think it'll be in the next Websters?

Google (v) goo-gul to make use of the search engine Google to locate information online. Did you google the doctor's name to see if there were any complaints against him?

Anyway. The song above is about perspective. It goes on to say something along the lines of "Well the big becomes the little and the little becomes the big, something something something . . . That's about the size, where you put your eyes, that's about the size of it."

I was starting to feel a wee bit "old" this week as I start closing in on 37. So the good Lord used up all my milk. And butter. And cream. And half n half. I was nearly dairy-less and we're not a dairy-free household. (I do have some fat free shredded cheddar, but this goes poorly on cereal.) This caused me to need to run to Meyer's Dairy for more of the above.

Now, Meyer's sells fresh milk. It's pasturized, but they don't use hormones in the cows. I don't know what they DO use in the cows, but if you've never had fresh-from-the-cow milk, you don't know what you're missing. It's just . . . delicious. It lacks that flat, cardboardy taste. Maybe that's just the lack of plastic packaging. I don't know. But the milk at Meyer's is packed in glass 2-quart bottles. It's thick glass and it's heavy without any milk in it. If you're trying to buy four bottles, it gets awkward. So you give the dairy a $5 deposit and they give you a metal widget that holds all four glass bottles.

Even with the widget, if you also have a box of butter, two 1-quart boxes of buttermilk, and a 1-qt container of heavy cream (the likes of which you've never tasted), it's a lot to carry. Especially if you notice that in the corner they've stacked some plastic food-grade buckets that they're selling for $1.25 each. Then you need to buy two of those for food storage.

Enter Mr. Sir. Mr. Sir came in as I was first taking everything to the counter. I left the 4-bottle carrier on the floor next to the fridge case and he scooped it up and carried it to the counter for me. I thanked him heartily. Noone does that anymore. He smiled. Five minutes later he was back just as I was putting everything but the bottles in the buckets and telling the girl not to mind, but I'd make two trips (I was putting the bottles off to the side). He couldn't have been a day under 72, but he was tall and thin and insistent. He'd carry the bottles. Well . . . (I scan brain for reason this is a bad idea. Come up empty.) okay! So we go out to my car, he places the bottles on the floor, I thank him effusively again. He says, "No problem! I've made it a policy my whole life to help out the young ladies when ever possible." And it was just the tone of voice, the barely perceptible swagger, that little bit of *something* that made me smile and think to myself, "NANDO! It's you!" Indeed I went on to wonder if maybe he WAS my husband, come back in time to entertain himself bringing my milk to my car.

And suddenly I wasn't so old. I was just another young lady and he was another handsome swashbuckling Nando and my day, at the wee hour of 9:15 am, was made.


I'm tired. I'm tired because as time has gone on in this house, I have pushed back my bedtime ever further. For the past ten days, I didn't go to bed one minutes earlier than 1:30. I hit 3:30 a.m. twice. The latest I slept in was 9:00 am, but more typically I was up at 8:30. Except yesterday for church. That was 6:45. So last night when Chris and I sat down to hammer out a final schedule I said, "ENOUGH!" and I put down my bedtime as 10.p.m.and my wake time as 5:30. This is much more like the schedule my body would normally take if left to its own devices (in actual fact, my body wants to go to bed at 8:30 and get up at 4:00, but that won't happen till all the kids are flown and my husband hits the age where he stars falling asleep in the lazy boy at night). This schedule will only take us through the next two weeks because school then starts again – but it's a starting point. We'll know a little more when we go to create that schedule.

So today I am just TOAST because I did work till 3:30 am last "night" and I got up at 6:45 (because I'm not a complete masochist) and since then I've made every effort to stick to the schedule. It's part of the reason I was at the dairy so early. I'm scheduled for swim team 9:00 to 10:00 and if I go to the dairy AFTER practice then I cut into work time. So I went while Max swam. Ah -- swimming is over. Time to de-blog and head home to work.

I'm Hot Blooded, I'm Hot Blooded!

This is a very funny e-mail from my aunt, so I decided to make her today's guest blogger.

A little background: the family farm is so rural that it really *is* near impossible to get regular service people out there to look at anything when it breaks. I ran into this when the pump broke while we were there. Nobody really wanted the job . . . thank goodness for family friends.

Anyway, from my guest blogger, Aunt Charlotte.

And the LORD GOD looked down on his good and faithful servant, Charlotte, and saw that she was sorely troubled. In fact, visions of "For Sale" signs danced in her head at the farm. Not only was the AC not working and it was 95 degrees, and she could not get ANYONE to return her calls about it, but it appeared to her that one of the ceiling fans was falling out of the ceiling! So the LORD GOD, decided to cut her a break, and sent Russ over to look at the fan, (it's not falling, it's shot! the motor is resting on the blades- go figure. Something about ball bearings. Sure, he has been released from his doctor to return to work, so he will pick up 2 and install them, and why don't you try Todd Keeling of Hillsboro for the AC?) So the good and faithful servant called Todd, and was encouraged that at least he had an emergency phone number. And the valiant Todd came over, on Saturday, between his son's ball games in the 95 degree heat, and DID SMITE THE EVIL BEES THAT HAD TAKEN OVER THE MOUSE NEST IN THE AC UNIT, causing it to not work. (go figure, again- something about terminals not drawing?). All the while apologizing that he would have to charge me the weekend rate ($55 for the service call), plus the cost of cleaning out the bees. (AS IF I CARED!) He would not charge me for the mouse nest, however, since that was related to the bees.

And the LORD GOD looked down, and was pleased. His good and faithful servant, Charlotte, was smiling at the cute little bunny (from inside her cool living room) as he ate the contents of the kitchen garden (It is hard to be angry at a bunny who likes dill as much as I do, and has EATEN ALL OF IT. Tomato plants are doing fine though), and the cute little "chip-a-monk", as he ran around, and the cute little baby birds (real little! tufts of down on their heads, not feathers- don't know if they can survive the heat, but at least 2 had lived to Sunday). AND IT IS GOOD.

Yeah for AC! And thanks for the smile Aunt-ie Gwamma Charlotte (as Milo would say).

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Come Mr. Tallyman, Tally Me Banana

I'm in a grouchy mood because I didn't want to work through this weekend and yet, here I am. So humor me while I take a break from all that.

For dinner tonight we're having this healthier version of Shephard's Pie. It's on the final "bake in the oven for thirty minutes" stage, so this is probably premature, but I think it's coming out wonderfully and I can't wait to eat it. As I was making it though it occurred (okay, it says there's spell check above but I can't seem to figure out how it works? Any hints? I think my occurr is over populated but I'm not sure in what way. Too many r's? occured?) to me that you could probably use cauliflower "fake" potatoes -- you slightly oversteam some cauliflower and then mash it like potatoes. It looks and feels like (has the texture of) mashed potatoes, but of course, it's ever so slightly ahead of potatoes in the nutrition department. I'm still using up a #10 can of potato pellets so I'm not tempted to try it right now, but it's there for the future.

Eating well is still benefitting us. Obviously if I'm making the occasional apple pie then I'm not taking things to extremes. But Max is down 7 lbs from start and when I last weighed myself I was down another three pounds. He grew 3/4 of an inch since start, too. 7 lbs doesn't sound like much but when you combine it with a 3/4 inch growth it means that his BMI is down from "severely overweight" to "overweight" and that means that I'm down from "severely bad mother" to "bad mother" and things are looking up ;)

I knit two swatches for my pants project and picked the second swatch. The first one -- seed stitch on size 3 needles -- is REALLY cute, but too stiff. It's working out better on size 5 needles with the seed stitch. The seed stitch just gobbles up yarn though.

I think I may have a solution for my sweater problem. Unfortunately it involves buying more yarn (maniacal laugh). I found a nice pattern for a sweater set and the yarn I have would be perfect for the smaller shell. I'd just need to buy more yarn for the accompanying cardigan.

Of course at the rate I get things done, I can go ahead and knit it in size twelve because that's the size I'll be by the time I finish it. right?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Free Free Free!

Before I head off to bed here . . .

If you're not familiar with, please go check them out. It's the greatest schtick -- as long as you're willing to follow the rules. Basically you go to the website, find the group nearest you, and sign up. In So Cal there were two near me and I signed up for both.

Seeing as how normally I am a Potlatch Giver and not an accumulator , I have gleefully used freecycle to rid our house of boxes, get rid of old mattresses, unwanted furniture, an ancient filing cabinet, and that sort of thing. I did *get* a ton of moving boxes -- at least half of our final number -- through freecycle in So Cal. And here, twice in one week, I've received an ancient, ugly, rusted (not rustic) but still perfectly functional compost bin (the kind that spins!) and a juicer. Whoo-hoo!

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News . . .

I got a -- bad case of lovin' you!

Did you know that Robert Palmer is dead?!? I totally missed that. September, 2003 in Paris, France. Heart attack.

Anyway. Today I went to see my new doctor and was just thrilled with the place. They got me in at the time of my actual appointment. They were friendly and polite. the nurses seemed clever and not so overworked that they couldn't smile at you. My new doctor looks to be about my age or a little younger. She's got GREAT hair. Red, long, curly. Wish I hair like that.

And I had a few things I wanted to talk to her about. We zipped through the list and agreed to see each other again briefly next month. I got refills for the stuff I needed refills for. And I left.

It is such a pleasant thing to say, "I read X and I read Y and I have this question because of it" and not have the doctor make fun of you for reading around on the internet. She just said, "Yep, personally I think we should try xxx," and I said, "me, too!" and the rest of the visit was that again in repetition. ::: happy dance :::


Remember Socrates? He had this buddy who went to see the Oracle and for whatever reason, the question he put forth to the Oracle was, "Is there anyone smarter than Socrates?" and the Oracle replied, "Nope." Socrates was so blown away when he heard this, so the story goes, that he began a quest to see, basically, what other people knew. He was in search of the guy smarter than he. It would seem that after some time passed, he decided maybe the Oracle had a point and he went on to urge people to start thinking a little more and be a bit more introspective.

I wonder what the Oracle would say if I said, "Is there a better place on earth than State College, PA?" At the very least I suspect she'd smile and say, "Not for you. What are you doing here? Go home."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I'm looking at the man in the mirror . . .

It was one of those days that gets off to such a rough start that the two of you--the parental units--spend the rest of the day talking about one particular child and whether or not it's time to change something fundamental about the way in which you are parenting him. I say him as we have no hers.

I won't go into details, largely because it creates a sense of anticipation in the reader and lets your imagination run wild, but also because the catalyst of these discussions -- the behavior of the child -- was so common and ordinary for this particular child. It wasn't a big deal. It's just that the behavior is unacceptable to us as parents and we've been trying for over a year to change this one particular behavior without any success. Add to that a full moon, a thunderstorm coming in, rising humidity and pressure, and a tendency on our parts to stay up to late -- and there was a big explosion around 10 am.

We have given our approach to the matter time to take effect and it hasn't. The problem is unchanged. No better, no worse.

We take our role as parents very, very seriously. Obviously. So it's killing us right now that we're in a period of upheaval with this child. But that's how it is. You have periods where things are sort of quiet and organized and you can get to feeling sort of self-congratulatory. We're in that space with Ben right now. He is well managed. Not horrible in public, no toileting accidents, not inclined to hit or bite -- he makes us look good. If only the other two would give us a similar break. But that's not where they are right now. Right now they're our wake-up call. So we keep talking and talking and talking . . .

On the upside of the day, I'm trying to cook my way through some of my food storage items and one of them is dehydrated apples. I found a recipe for apple pie using the dehydrated apples and decided to give it a try even though it meant making my own pie pastry.

Well, it came out deliciously, in a sort of frankenstein-esque way. I am out of wax paper, so I tried rolling out the pastry between two sheets of non-stick aluminum foil. I had to freeze the pastry for twenty minutes to get it to cooperate and come off the aluminum foil, but it all came out okay. Sadly, when it was time to eat the pie we discovered it had taken on a kind of graham cracker crust consistency. The taste was great but the pastry was crumbly, not flakey. Nobody really complained. It *did* taste good. But I'll have to keep working on the crust. Do you think it's because I was using ww pastry flour? Can you not make a pie crust from ww flour?

I just ripped out the sweater I'd started for myself. It wasn't going to work for a couple of reasons. But the yarn is beautiful and I want to wear it. I haven't knitted anything for myself in years and years. And I think my MIL would be upset if I turned around and used it to knit up a gift for someone else. So it has to be for me. I spent an hour tonight looking for a pretty cotton sweater to knit in its place and came up empty handed. (I started to type, "I wasted an hour" but then I reconsidered. It wasn't the hour's fault that I didn't find what I was looking for.) So, maybe I'll cash in some of my reward points for a B&N gift certificate and go spend another hour one afternoon looking at knitting books until I find what I'm looking for. It can't be a shawl or a poncho because I've made three in a row and I need something else. It can't be a scarf because I intended this project to reach beyond my existing abilities and I can knit a scarf in my sleep. I *was* tempted to start a project for the twins with the yarn because I suspect that my MIL would be okay with THAT, but for the time being, I'll keep looking for something for ME.

The pants I've started are my first attempt to do my own design. I want to make a comfy pair of pants for the boys and they don't exist. In general, most knitting designers are smarter than I am and they have the sense not to knit anything for the preschool boy's bottom. But ever since I saw this totally magnificent pair of pants in a vogue about a year ago, I've been obsessed with knitting a pair. Ben and Milo are much shorter (and better looking) so they make good models for this attempt. I'm using a pair of Levi jeans that fit them well for measurements.

Hmmm, any fellow knitters out there want to take on the challenge? To be fair, the model has to be between size 3T and 6 and out of diapers (which requires an entirely different tush design). The finished pants must have some way to stay UP and must be full length. Otherwise you can use whatever type of yarn you want, whatever stitch, and indulge whatever wild whims you have as you go. Keep in mind that if you can find more than an hour each day to knit that you're going to finish well before me. So feel free to make more than one and submit both pictures :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I Said A Boom Chicka Rocka Chicka Rocka Chicka Boom!

Black Team: Hey, Gold!
Gold Team: Hey, What!
Black Team: Hey, Gold!
Gold Team: Hey, What!
Black Team: I said a Boom Chicka Boom!
Gold Team: I said a Boom Chicka Boom!
Black Team: I said a Boom Chicka Rocka Chicka Rocka Chicka Boom!
Gold Team: I said a Boom Chicka Rocka Chicka Rocka Chicka Boom!

repeat with Gold Team leading.

God loves His camp counselors and underpaid teenage swim coaches. They work hard all day long with other people's children, insist on good manners, teach them loud silly chants and cheers, and for the privelege of paying 1/3 of their pitiful salary in taxes they leave kids at the end of the summer with the kinds of memories that make summer what it is.

Today was Max's mock meet. For the mock meet the kids get to race against each other and it means nothing except that they get to establish a time to beat in the next meet. It doesn't reduce the kids' jitters. Max didn't do well. He was slow in the freestyle, so nervous in the breaststroke that he freaked and swam freestyle again, so worried about hitting his head in the backstroke that he gave up his lead (ahead of the only other kid still in the pool--the three other kids having finished and jumped out of the pool) to sail cautiously into the pool. But by golly he wasn't DQ'd! So that was an improvement over the first backstroke race of last season. And in butterfly -- well, we were just proud that he finished the race. Nobody under the age of 12 could really do that stroke.

This summer will probably not net Max any ribbons. Unlike last fall, he's not at the upper end of the age spread. Oh no, he's in the ten and unders which means that Max is at a disadvantage. The fifth graders are pretty fast.

But his attitude was great, I enjoyed the time we spent together, and in spite of his poor showing, I couldn't help but have a great time and feel so proud of him. Unfortunately, we missed the social event afterwards as I had an appointment at church and needed to get him home. We skiddadled on home, greeted our new babysitter (a boy!), grabbed the truck keys and ran over to church where we had a really nice talk with the new Bishop about renewing our vows. He explained that if we were both members -- well, mormons just don't do that sort of thing. But seeing as how we're not, he was more than happy to trudge with us to some nice scenic overlook and "marry" us again. He did want to explain the LDS outlook on eternal marriage and family after death and that sort of thing and I'm really glad he did because in addition to the opportunity to get all choked up about it, it led to a good discussion.

I really like this Bishop. He's good people.

So now we're in search of a beautiful place in State College to go recite those vows. Good day :)

Monday, June 20, 2005

In the Middle of the Night

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the jungle of doubt
To the river so deep
I know I'm searching for something
Something so undefined
That it can only be seen
By the eyes of the blind
In the middle of the night
-Billy Joel

Look what came to see us tonight.

She's a Luna moth (Chris thinks it's a Luna Father moth). They only live in Eastern North America (which is where WE picked to live and yes it IS another sign JUST FOR US that we picked the right place). They only fly at night. Their adult lifespan is only one week long. One beautiful, gorgeous week. And they like our back porch light. Or she does. Or he does.

Chris is standing by the window with a flashlight strapped to his head trying to lure the moth to the window screen so he can get a better look. I wish I had a picture of that, too.

I Just Want to Bang on De Drums All Day

Mondays are tough as far as any productivity. There's morning swim practice and afternoon piano lessons and just the whole MONDAYness of it all. This weekend I actually got some sleep, so for some reason today my body seemed to feel well rested enough to realize how TIRED it is, and it was all I could do to stay upright for most of the afternoon. I actually gave up and took a 20 minute nap to try to refresh myself but woke up feeling worse because I'd had crazy fever-dream-like dreams the whole twenty minutes.

I could use some chocolate.

Nevertheless, I did get a bit done and am hopeful that I'll get a bit more done tonight. Tomorrow is Tuesday which is usually GOOD for productivity.

Hooooold Me Back, Hold Me Back, Oh Won't You Please, Hold Me Back?

I'm going to a Pampered Chef party tonight. I really, really need a new pancake pan. AND I don't have a dime for that kind of thing. Crud. Crumb. (yum!)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunday Evening

Chris came back happy from the RC track because he came in second and because he feels officially part of that track's group now. Max made him a Father's Day card with a picture of them racing together. I gather he made everyone at the track look at it.

My day wasn't nearly so interesting. I was just happy because we were *only* ten minutes late for church and all three boys were wearing ironed clothing. I was wearing my (one and only thankyouverymuch) denim jumper, but at least my hair was brushed and I had put on some makeup. Sacrament meeting was a disjointed collection of talks. Why are the mother's day talks so sweet and sniffles inducing and the father's day talks such a disappointment. Are we afraid of giving our father's any credit for doing a good job anymore? Is the bar so impossibly high for fatherhood now that every father except the One Father falls short? A shame. One of my favorite features about the Latter Day Saint church is the enthusiastic participation of the men in the actual raising of their children. I kept waiting for someone to stand up and say, "Check us out! Are we not doing a great job or what?!?" But there seemed to be some great hesitency to gush.

Well I bring my three boys to church BECAUSE I think they'll learn a thing or ten about fathering well there. Go Mormon Dads! You rock. Basketball, diapers, prayers, and bills. You got it all covered. That's talent. That's dedication. That's really something to be proud of. You have my vote and my gratitude.


Tomorrow it's jumping back into work. It's been nice to have the weekend to catch up on bills and house cleaning and socializing and church going. The laundry is folded, the downstairs sink is clean and clear. The bedroom floors are clear. The books back on bookshelves.

You know, this place is beautiful, this house is pretty cool, the dogs and kids are happy. I married a wonderful man. I am so blessed. Happy Father's Day to me.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


I'm on a completely twisted sleep schedule since last week's attempts to make too many impossible deadlines, so I'll keep this short so I can get to bed. I've been on a mission to get us caught up with financial type things this weekend and I'm glad that's done. Bills are paid. Receipts are recorded and in an envelope to go to Bill-the-accountant-who-keeps-me-out-of-jail, I have a to-do list for tomorrow ('cause it's Father's Day and in the spirit of recent Mother's Days), in lieu of a spendy gift, I'm cleaning something he feels overwhelmed by. No small task, cleaning the toxic dump that had been my truck on Mother's Day took him the better part of the day (and it looked great afterwards). So this time I'm cleaning the house. It's not a toxic waste dump, but every Fisher Price toy we own was taken out on Friday to create a massive Fisher Price village--and then not put away. We have seven million six million loads of clean laundry to fold and someone needs to find a better place to store the carpet cleaner than in our only full bath. So he shall go race little cars and I shall take the kids to church and then come home and clean.

I put together the menu for the week and then took the family grocery shopping. When we got back we tossed brownies in the oven, put away the groceries, jumped in the shower, dressed, grabbed the hot brownies, and then headed over to Chris' former coworker's house for a BBQ. It is midnight and I spent the whole evening talking to his wife, so I'm completely blanking on his name . . . Todd! Todd. Todd and Dawn. Two of the NICEST people you ever met in your whole life. They dote on their four-year-old--Z. Z and Milo were soon best buddies and Ben was right there with them, although he would occasionally spin off to do his own thing. Max built cities and pirate ships for the little guys to play with and mostly did a great job of entertaining them. There was one NASTY bonk by Ben on the floor, but otherwise the evening was casualty free. Dinner was great, and Chris even forgot to make fun of me for bringing out my knitting.

On the way home Chris commented that he'd smoked a cigar with Todd (I'd missed that part) and Max said in a firm tone, "I hope you won't be doing that again!" Chris reassured him that he had no intention of taking up smoking. I echoed that Daddy knows smoking is very bad for you, and Max seemed reassured. Someday we'll have the discussion about social drinking and smoking and the odd role of the cigar and we'll have to frame that all in the context of being a part-LDS family. But tonight we stuck to reassuring the boy that that particular line still holds and that was apparently all he needed. An odd little moment at the end of a long day.

I put the kids to bed and then worked on a massive pile of moving receipts Chris had found and which needed to be recorded and categorized and put in the Bill-the-accountant envelope and the evening wound a way to a close.

Happy Father's Day everyone. We are awfully fond of all of ours.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Not Crud

My own husband was getting mad at me for not blogging. "Crud! Crud! Crud!" He said today. "That's all it's said since TUESDAY!" I had no reply for that.

It's been one of those weeks where I have not enjoyed working for myself because there has been noone else to blame for how miserable my work was this week. Just plain too much to do. An early night to bed was 2 AM.

I got a check I've been waiting for and I still haven't had two minutes together to sit down and pay bills (I did call the auto insurance people and pay them, but that's as far as I got). I get to pay everyone else tonight after the twins are in bed. Yee-haw.

I did end up switching us to Verizon DSL even though the adelphia cable gal was helpful and did make the service better. It was faster and it cut out less often. But it still cut out repeatedly. That just never happens with our DSL. Then Verizon made it even easier to let go of adelphia by turning on the DSL three days earlier than promised.

We returned the adelphia equipment, cut the cable TV back to PBS and two black and white channels (okay, but you know what I mean), and have surfed along back in DSL land ever since.

Spring YMCA swimming came to an end and we were getting ready to fork over the money for summer YMCA swimming when I ran across something on the community swim team. This program looks noisy, over-crowded--fun! Fun is good. So I made some calls and the next thing we knew, we'd temporarily ditched the Y for the community pool. He can still go back to the Y in August, but the next 8 weeks are highly chlorinated outdoor swimming.

Among other advantages, if he's not AT the Y, he doesn't risk swimming well enough to move up to the next level. We don't want him to move on to the next level this year because then he has to swim five nights a week. Five nights a week is BAD because he wants to play football for two of those nights. BUT if he stays in the lower group, it just happens that those two nights are the two nights he has off. SO everybody wins.

So the rec program looks like it's a hoot and half. There are twelve kids his age (instead of, oh, two at the Y) and they share two coaches who are actually old enough to drive. They're on top of things and Chris thinks Max might actually be burning some calories in this workout. They have one meet a week -- the first one being next Tuesday. Since they'll have been swimming for less than a week together, this is actually a "mock meet" with ice cream social. Hey, I'm for that!

erm, what else. So today I worked till noon and then we had a nice lunch and walked over to the playground. We met Jill and her kids there and they all ran around like lunatics. Then Jill's older daughter came over and played with Max for the rest of the afternoon. I accomplished a lot of puttering around and not much else. I pushed people on swings (they're really demanding, actually. PUSH HARDER!!! PUSH ME! PUSH ME!) and threw the green and white tennis ball for Emily a million billion times until she collapsed on the lawn in front of me in a position that said clearly, "I can't move, but you can still scratch my ears if you want." So I did.

Okay, Max says it's family game night. Off to play Lego Creator.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Just when you think you're off to slay some corporate beast, they complicate things by giving you someone with a bean of intelligence. She fixes the problem that has plagued you for nearly two months and suddenly you have to figure out how to cancel the NEW service you'd arranged to replace it.

Our high-speed internet cable service has been nothing but a thorn in our sides. It cuts out constantly. Sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for a few hours. A call to technical support blamed it on a faulty modem (actually, on THAT day, it was because the service was out to half our county, but she kept insisting that it wasn't that). We replaced the modem (driving to their location to do the exchange and standing in line with a lot of other angry people) and tried to make do with the horrible connections. In general, as near as we could tell, cable internet meant slow connections and constant loss of service.

Well, apparently when they signed us up, they signed us up for both regular AND premier internet service. And they can't travel over the same line. So they competed. Hence barely working internet. She turned off the premier, credited the account for two months of charges, and told us to try it for a day before turning our equipment in.


She said the changes would take effect as soon as she exited the account which would be fairly soon after we got off the phone with her. Chris signed on as I was telling him about the conversation and his jaw dropped. "This is the fastest internet I've ever experienced."

So. Ugh. Now I may have to cancel the DSL order with verizon. I still want cheaper services though. We're dropping any extras from the cable service and that will help. What's the cheapest way to do phone service? Vonage and an emergency landline? Anyone here have vonage? Like it? hate it?

Whoops! There's another service blip. And there's another one. It's hardly noticeable on firefox -- it's on AOL that it's a big problem. Maybe if I ditched AOL? I love my AOL, but it would another $14/month I wouldn't have to spend . . . but oh gosh, to have to change all those email addresses!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Thank You, Thank You

To Edana, who hosts her own wild blog at Barefoot Bloggin', and who created this custom template for me. I'm not nearly as interesting as most of her clients, but she was very sweet and never said so ;) And I do LOVE the finished product. Ahhh . . . . :::settles in happily to comfy, cozy new blog::: it's great to have a new home.


It was time to shave the puppies again. Their hair was over their ears and it's hot outside. Milo, who sweats profusely at night when it's freezing outside, had started to grow moss in his scalp. Chris, who doesn't like to think of himself as bald, no matter how often I tell him its sexy, was still feeling like the centimeter of hair he had on his head was a centimeter too much. So we put the stool in the bathtub and I shaved the gang down. Max and Milo got short cuts (No. 2) but got to keep some of their hair. Chris and Ben were shaved nearly to scalp. Chris--because I like it that way. Ben because he has a nearly perfectly shaped head and can pull it off. If people start giving us donations for his chemotherapy I'll know I went too far, but otherwise, the boy looks comfortable.

We all walked around for the rest of the day rubbing the tops of the boys' heads.

Otherwise, it was a quiet day. Chris and Max did their exercise routine and then went on a bike ride. Then Chris mowed the lawn. I felt icky and spent the vast majority of the day in my blue comfy chair trying to focus on the book I'm working on and popping excedrins and trying not to throw up. (Pause for sympathy. Thank you.) So I guess it WASN'T a quiet day for Chris, but I missed most of it sitting here spaced out, trying to work. It was probably a banner day for typos.

Max is doing very well with the new routines. Between getting regular exercise and the change in the way we are all eating, he has lost five lbs and I think maybe he grew some, too. He is gradually becoming more active over all, running ahead when we go out, and hosting a really positive attitude about the activities Chris comes up with for them to do. I lay the success of all this at Chris' feet. It's so much easier to change your habits if your mom and dad are changing them with you. I've lost some weight, too. I haven't started exercising much yet. I live in fear of the humidity and it's hard to find the time. But I'm going to have to soon or I'll stop losing weight. And I don't want to stop. I want to be able to say a year from now, that since we moved here we lost X lbs, paid of $X debt, and made a ton of friends, and some other good things. That would be great. At any rate, at the rate Max is going, he'll be under 100 lbs for the first time in '05 in another two to three weeks. That would put us perfectly on track for a total weight loss of 20 lbs in 12 weeks. That's a whole new lifestyle when you're only 9 years old. (And, he won't need new clothes for a year or two!) I'm so proud of him--not for losing weight--for having such a terrific attitude about the new foods and the new activities. It's been nothing but change for this kid this year.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


I keep checking my own blog as if to see if maybe I wrote anything interesting since the last time I blogged. Nope.

Did you have to do a summer at girl or boyscout camp? I did one summer when I was thirteen. We had to pass a red cross swimming test in order to be able to check out the boats. If you passed such and such level then you could check out a canoe, and another level and you could check out a sail boat, and the third level and you could check out either one of the boats and not have to have a counselor in the boat with you. The third level involved treading water for two minutes while holding your hands out of the water. You had to keep your head above water the whole time. Couldn't stretch out for a nice back float, couldn't let your hands down into the water further than your wrists.

It made two minutes stretch into an eternity. But by golly, you wanted the counselor in someone ELSE'S boat, so you kicked and kicked and kicked . . . I think in the end only six of us passed but four of us were all in the same cabin and so we were happy.

Well, I liken this stage of moving in to the water safety water tread test. On the one hand, you're unpacked enough, things are where they should be enough, that you can get things done. You can do your job, get to church, find at least one phone when the phone rings, make a good meal, get some knitting done.

But on the other hand you are not really swimming. There are still picture frames stacked against two bookshelves, no place for the iron and ironing board, no place for the empty milk bottles to go while they wait for you to take them back to the dairy. Routines are not habits yet. Schedules are easily slaughtered. And the financial safety net is still incredibly flimsy. It's nerve wracking. You want so much to be able to say that this is home, and yet at the same time, you hope noone comes by the house because no, this is not how you want it to look. I *almost* have a place for all of the dog stuff. But not quite -- not quite there yet. I *almost* have my office completely unpacked. But not yet. Still have two boxes left. I know exactly how I want the food storage room to look -- but it'll be months before I have it looking like that. I know what I want for my birthday -- I want spice racks, because if I have to dig through the tiny, narrow cupboard they're in right now one more time looking for the powdered mustard, I'm going to fling them all against the wall until they break.

I feel like we've crossed the better part of the atlantic ocean, and now, having entered some nameless only-partly-poluted-East-Coast port (I can't think of one off the top of my head that I would swim in without some kind of chemical safety gear on) we're treading water from a mile out, just looking at the shore line, and waiting for that last bit of energy that will take us into shore.

tread tread tread tread tread

This week I finished the shawl for my sister-in-law. A mere 7 months after her birthday. I should be ashamed but I'm just happy we didn't get to her next birthday before it was done. One more shawl to go and then I can either knit for myself or get back to knitting for kids. I was going to do a sweater I've been meaning to finish for myself for a year now, but then we had two more births in the family this week and now I'm having second thoughts. I'll read their respective registeries first and then decide. I have to finish this other shawl first anyway.

tread tread tread tread tread

Thursday, June 09, 2005

YOU are telling ME they're kids?

An upstairs in the reading room to a downstairs in the garage IM

BringsCrickets [3:51 PM]: Your kids are not quietly reading
Lapper808 [3:53 PM]: did they quietly read for awhle?
Lapper808 [3:53 PM]: 'cuz. You know. They're kids.

If you had told me a year ago . . .

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My Street

Our street is not a circle, not a straight line . . . it's a funny mix of loops and circles all called by the same name. When I walk it with the dogs lately I feel like it's 30 years ago and we're at some East Coast campsite somewhere. There are the bugs, the distant noise of a barking dog, the thick, old, tall trees and so much vibrant green everywhere. The houses are just far enough back from the road to lend a sort of private cabin feel to the place. Some of the houses are really big, but you can kind of squint your eyes and make them further away and more cabin like. The way in which the houses alternate -- left, right, left, right -- along the road instead of marching along in subdivision rows. Few of the houses are directly across the street from another. The yards are big, but not wealthy subdivision big. Just divided-up-70 years ago big.

Overheard Today

Ben: Mommy! I'm all done cleaning my hair off! Mommy, can I clean my other hair? I gotta clean my other hair. :::trots off to bathroom:::
:::comes back:::
Ben: I'm all done!
Me: Okay, but, you still have jelly all over your chest.
Ben: Oh! Well, I have to put a washcloth in the cup.
Me: In the cup?
Ben: Yup. For the jelly!

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Quiet day. Church and some unpacking and organizing and then a long nap and dinner and some knitting and >poof< it was the end of the day. It's a quarter to ten now and I'm trying to brave the continued climbing humidity to get some more knitting done.

Emily wants me to turn the fan back on. She's hot. She keeps standing in front of the fan with her tongue hanging out and looking at me hopefully.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Saturday Night

So I ran errands with the twins this morning and made it back shortly before J and K got here. I made enchiladas while J and K, who are used to bugs, having not lived the last year and a half in the bug-free California desert (I mean, we had rats and other icky things, but we had no gnats and that IS a bonus.) played in the backyard with the kids. We all sat down for lunch and talked and ate and drove the kids nuts having out "adult" conversation (I say adult because we were doing what the adults did when I was a kid, but I made no claims to being all grown up) which only post-poned the cake. Finally, we took pity on the kids and had the cake which was this really cool collection of cupcakes and icing. A whole LOT of sugar died to make that confection. Yum.

Then Max opened presents and after oohing and aahing and yaying over everything, it was decided to break in one of the presents from J and K, which was an air-pressure fueled rocket with a foam "nose cone." Actually, there are two rockets, so you can keep playing even after the first one lands on the roof. When they're both on the roof, then you send Uncle J up there to go get them.

While he was up there, he cleaned out our gutters, which just goes to show you how blessed I am to have this man as my brother. THAT is love.

So the rest of the afternoon passed in happy bliss and then they had to go because they had another family event which I think also involved cake at a location about three hours away.

So I attacked the yard which was looking rather over grown. Especially since my neighbors on both sides were up mowing their respective lawns at 8am. It had rained most of the week, so the lawn was about a half foot high and had gone, in one week, completely to seed. I thought a lawn had to be abandoned for a few weeks before it would do that, but here it had been one week and we had little grass seed stalks everywhere. So I mowed and I weed whacked. The weed whacker is very heavy. It's a gas weed whacker that we picked because it claimed to be easier to start than most of its contemporaries. This seemed partially true. But it was definitely heavy and I struggled to get it to do what I wanted it to do, but when all was said and done, the house had lost its neglected look and I was mostly pleased. I took a shower, crawled into my jammies and have barely moved since.

I made an appointment for this year's school pictures. Picture day for the Three Beacon Academy is the Friday before the first Monday of school. The first Monday of pre-K/fourth grade will be July 11, so July 8th is school picture day. Now I need to make a barber shop appointment for earlier in that week :) Maybe I should get a hair cut myself. I'd kind of like to have a picture with my boys this year myself.

Happy Birthday, Baby

My baby turned nine yesterday. We're celebrating it again today because we figure, seeing as how he was born a bit after nine pm on June 3rd in PST, that means that in EST, he was born a bit after midnight on June 4th. Yesterday I worked most of the day while Chris ran errands and worked on the house. Then we went for groceries together and came home just in time for our guests to arrive. We had friends visiting from Ohio. They're nearby for a wedding this weekend and I hadn't seen them since her mother's wedding five-ish years ago. They have a beautiful daughter now, nearly three, are expecting a baby (she thinks a son) in another two and a half months, and they are a young, good-looking, smart couple. We had a great time.

Max got boisterous and a bit over-the-top towards the end. All my boys were WAY too loud most of the evening. They were having a great time. RIGHT after they left yesterday's lunch of refried black beans and cheese with blue corn chips caught up with Milo and while he got most of the damage in the potty, he didn't get it all. It was a horrific hallway mess and I felt completely traumatized by the situation. After I got the worst of it cleaned up I got the boys in bed, picked up everything on the floor of the twins room (that needed to happen anyway), vacuumed, and then shampooed that part of the hallway and their room. In the end I decided it was just as well since their room looks a LOT better now.

After all of that though, I was beat. Any intentions of staying up vanished and I crawled off to bed. I'm caught up enough with work to be a tiny bit less panicked, thanks to some help from another editing friend. I promised Chris I would go the weekend without working and I'm doing my best to do that.

Today is a Max day. My brother and his lovely wife are coming up later this morning and we'll eat, birthday party, and be merry. Ben says he has a cough in his mouth. Milo says he needs a "tithoo". So maybe we have a little summer cold.

Off to walk the dogs and get a start on the day. It will be a big, busy day.

Did I mention that my BABY is nine? He's so big and tall. I'm going to blink and find him at my height. He's still so young and yet at the same time I find myself worrying that here we are at the halfway point to 18. Have I been enough so far? I'm not really sure. I'd better keep working at it. But gosh, he's a wonderful kid.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Snap Shot

Chris singing this morning as he puts on his shoes:

"You may be right!"
:::makes music noises:::
"I may be crazy,
but it just might be a
pooooooodle you've been looking for!"
:::Emily, watching him adoringly from a distance of two inches licks his face copiously. Chris coughs and sputters.:::

The twins are practing their rolls across the living/reading room floor. Milo wants to do a somersault but hasn't quite figured it out yet. Ben is trying to teach Milo "leap frog jumping" but it soon becomes apparent that other than knowing that Milo is supposed to crouch really, low, he's not sure what to do next. They give up and play a sort of follow the leader doing to footed jumps across the floor and into the kitchen. Since they have the typical lead-in-the-bone-marrow constitution of our family, this sounds like THUD THUD THUD THUD giggle, giggle, giggle.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

La La La!

Ben and Milo have this toy that plays these music cartridges. They're interactive and there's a scrolling paper screen . . . the widget comes with a working microphone on the side and the boys are singing into it right now. I *think* they're trying to sing along with it, but if so, it requires a vivid imagination to think they're singing the same song. Nevertheless, it's cute.

I got a lot of work done today and have a lot left to go. I'm going to bed early tonight though. I'm bushed.

We just about have the living room at an intermediary living level. The boxes are gone, the books put away. The dog stuff still needs to move downstairs and the walls need photos, but at least I could get at the carpet to vacuum. I was working on the hard copy of a document today instead of at my computer, so I sat in one of the comfy chairs in the living room and worked. A gentle breeze passed through that part of the house, the lush green leaves of the trees formed the view through the window.

It was really nice. It was REALLY tempting to take a nap :)


Elizabeth tagged me with the blog question "When did you know you were different?" and my reply is similar to hers in that I was a minority student in a US-minority school. I grew up in Washington D.C. and at least at that time, Shephard Park Elementary was not a very racially mixed school. There were four white kids in my class, of which I was one.

That said, I try not to hit the "different" thing too hard. I believe that my willingness to be "different" -- the belief that I don't have a life like other people do -- has not contributed to my well being. I've made decisions and run my life in directions that didn't work well because I felt so completely different than other people.

When I come at things from the point of view that God loves me like all His other children, expects the same sort of behavior of me that He expects of all His other children, and will send the same blessings He sends all his other children . . . I straighten up and fly right.

It's great to be a little different. Sameness can be dull and a lot of what we might emulate in others isn't what God had in mind either. But my "you're different" message too often leads to "there's no sense following the rules because even if you do, you'll never fit in." And soon, my life spins off again into chaos. So I try REALLY hard not to listen to that nonsense any more. It's not that awful to focus on the similarities.

You know what you get when you take honey, spices, and whole grains out of a basic 50/50 bread recipe? You get french bread (or pizza dough :). It's really nice having the honey, spices, and a variety of grains, but they're not really -- and you'll hear lots of people say otherwise, but I don't believe it -- they're not really what makes the bread, bread.