Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Zero Problem

I have a zero problem.  No, not zero problems - although that might be nice to try!  It happens when I am thinking about large numbers that have lots of zeros.  I know how much a house is worth, but I'm just as apt to say, "thirty thousand dollars" instead of "three hundred thousand."  That last zero makes a huge difference!  Some people are quite confused when I talk about numbers.  My husband has learned about this little quirk of mine, and doesn't bat an eye when I rattle off a number that is off by a magnitude of ten.  He calmly corrects the number and we laugh about my zero problem.

The other day, Trent was given cash as a payment.  He brought home the large bills and showed them to the kids.  Little Georgie's eyes got big as he looked at the money.  "Hey Mom!" he excitedly piped up, "Can I have 6 of those?"

Um, what?  That's an awful lot of money!  When I asked him to tell me more about why he needed money, he explained, "I need sixty cents right now."  Sixty cents... six hundred dollars... I guess I've passed on my zero problem and then some.  Yikes!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dirty Dishes

Oh, I have a lot to say about last week's DesignMom feature!  I still can't believe that they really wanted to feature my house - my family.  I'm pinching myself.

I had so much fun with the photo shoot.  A friend came over and helped me scoot chairs and plump pillows and remove clutter and laugh.  Mostly, it's laughing that what is normally an every-day scene can be dolled up into a fancy-pants fashion photo.  It was so satisfying to see the inherent wonderfulness in my life - the beauty that I'm usually too busy to acknowledge.

A night or two later, I was headed to bed, trying my best to ignore the whisperings of the dirty dishes on the counter.  I really shouldn't leave them until morning, I know.  Not just because of flies and the health department, but mostly because my sweet husband does breakfast and a messy kitchen makes him crazy.  I appreciate that he takes the morning shift and I don't want him to have angst that early!

I was so tired, though!  I walked back to the bedroom with the image of the stack of soup bowls and piles of dirty spoons still flitting around in my head.  I'm grateful for those dishes.  It's a testimony that my family was well-fed tonight.  Before I could climb into bed, I just had to grab my camera and head back to the kitchen.  It only took a moment or two to grab the shot (and then I went to bed anyway).

The next day, I was looking through the raw files, getting ready to crop and edit the pictures to the format DesignMom wanted.  There, with all the pretty pictures was the shot of the dirty dishes, awkwardly hanging around the cheerleaders like a seventh grader with braces.  Oh yeah, that was me.

I don't know why I included that late-night picture.  I was sure they wouldn't use it in the article.  It wasn't prepped, it wasn't pretty, no natural light...who wants to see my dirty dinner dishes?

It's part of our life, and they included the picture in the home feature.  I gasped when I saw it, then bubbled up with giggles.  Really??

I guess we don't need to look that hard to find beauty in our lives.  Dirty dishes and all.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

DesignMom Feature!

I can hardly believe my good luck today!  Our home has been featured on DesignMom - a publication I've long read and admired.  I've been alternately excited, humbled, and terrified.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Bike Rack

I grew up on a bike.  I loved flying down the street, my timid feet planted firmly on the brake, so I wasn't really flying but going as darn fast as I dared.  My brother gave me a hard time about how slowly my "fast as I dared" was, but I won't go there today.

When my first boys were 2,4, and 6, Jay and I decided to spend Grandma Jeanne's Christmas money on little bikes for them.  Alec's bike was little.  Ben's bike was tiny, and the bicycle for Chris was downright tiny.  We had a large RV garage, so they pedaled their little hearts out, round and round the garage.  They arranged stacked boxes to make racetracks and spent hours in there.  Seeing their fun, of course Jay and I had to purchase bicycles for ourselves.  From then on, we rode bikes to school.  Alec and Ben parked their bikes carefully in the big bike rack, and Chris and I would head back home, stopping at the post office on the way.  It was an itty-bitty small town and we pedaled all over it.

A few months later, we moved to the Seattle area.  We found many bike trails snaking alongside the river and through town.  We packed up our dinner, loaded it into the bike trailer with Baby David, and rode off into the sunset.  What fun we had!

Not long after Eddie was born, a neighbor gave us their bike rack.  Huge and made of solid steel, it held all our bike upright and tangle free.  This is where the bicycles belong.  Not falling over each other, not on top of the sprinklers, not stashed into the bushes, not languishing on the front lawn.  What a wonderful organizational tool!

And do the children actually use it?  Ha.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Little Black Rain Clouds

It's been hard to sleep.  I lay down and my exhausted body rebels.  It's too hot.  My skin itches all over.  There are too many blankets.  It's too noisy.  The fan tickles.  My legs feel twitchy.  It's too bright.  My mind whirls with a million plans, worries, and disappointments.  Slowly, everything unravels and relaxes, and at 3 or 4 am, I sleep.

My thoughtful husband stayed home this morning and made breakfast so I could keep sleeping.  I woke up to a small boy snuggling into my bed before he ran off to play.  Then I woke up to the neighbor's muffler pointed into my bedroom window.  Then I woke up to little footsteps skittering through the kitchen.  It was glorious to fall back asleep after each interruption.  When my eyes finally opened, I felt rested, beautiful, light, and hopeful - things I haven't felt for a long time.

Within a few minutes, however, I feel the weight crushing back on my shoulders.  Life is heavy right now.  I'm struggling with the stress of an all-consuming, life-changing project foisted upon me for the convenience of others.  I think there is a little black rain cloud hovering over this part of town.  A girlfriend is dealing with her husband's invisible injury.  Another is dealing with heartbreaking family relationships.  A neighbor worries over a possible major life upset and what that means for her delicate children.

I don't know any way to go on but to just go on.  One foot goes in front of the other as we drag ourselves along.  We all have black rain cloud periods, don't we?  I'm exhausted.  But somehow we make it through.  There is nothing so wonderful as a warm summer thunderstorm, as wild and turbulent as it begins.  There is a promise of a rainbow at the end of the storm - or at least clean-washed air and a peaceful stillness.  And then we will rest.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Inked Pillows

I have a great big giant bed, and only two of us sleep in it.  More people are in it at other times - two big boys were sprawled across it last night, looking at pictures of a recent camping trip; and two littler boys with cold feet were snuggled in it with me much-too-early this morning.  I have great big pillows that fit on the bed, but I prefer to use the regular sized pillows.  Partly because they are Goldilocks-just-right, and mostly because of the nice pillowcases I have for them.

My grandmother made these pillowcases for my mother's trousseau.  I don't do fine handwork like this, so I can only imagine how many hours she spent embroidering and crocheting the edging.  The pillowcases went from her loving hands to my mother's cedar chest - where they stayed for decades.  My mother never used them.  I don't know whether they seemed to fancy to actually sleep on, or whether it was residual bad feelings from her short first marriage, or whether she just forgot about them.  But I love them.  They are old-fashioned and 100% cotton and they make me happy.

Recently, as I was making the bed in the morning, I noticed some extra decorations on one of the pillows.  Ball point pen marks!  Thankfully, they are on one of the plain great big pillows and not on grandmother's pretty pillows, but still!

Can you see it?  I went around for quite a while, grumbling at my small children for scribbling where they definitely should not have been!  Later, as I was pulling my hair up into a bun, I remembered that I had stuck a pen in my hair the day before... and I had done the pillowcase decorating while I was reading in bed, my head (and bun and pen) resting against the pillows.  Aargh.  I think my Grandma Amy is laughing at me for my lovely pillowcase skills.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


A neighbor up the street replaced the grass in their nature strip with rocks.  A few times every week, they have to get after the neighborhood kids for throwing rocks or kicking them out in the street.  They told me they were plenty surprised when they answered their doorbell to find my Angel on their front porch.  She opened her hands to show a collection of rocks and asked timidly if she could take them to school for show and tell.  She loves pretty rocks!

Freddy has a loose tooth.  It's on the lower left side,  and he's been wiggling it a bunch.  These first graders are so proud of their missing teeth!  He showed me the wiggler, and I told him that Georgie also had a loose tooth.  Before I could mention that Georgie's was on the opposite side, he grinned and exclaimed, "I know!  And it's the very same tooth!" I guess it looks that way when you face your mirror image. 

I drove to the high school to pick up David after his track meet.  I was people-watching while I was waiting,  seeing all different kinds of folks go by.  I was particularly intrigued by one old woman.  Wrapped snug in a blanket, she hunched over against the chilly breeze and hobbled awkwardly towards the building.  Imagine my surprise after a few minutes, when I realized that the "old woman" was actually my teenaged son. His backpack bulged his shoulders out under his blanket, and he took quick, tottering steps on the heels of his track spikes. Hasty first impressions can be amusing. 

Angel was coloring with a friend.  When I went in her room to call her to dinner,  the friend had gone home and Angel was still coloring,  her mouth set in a grim line.  Usually she loves coloring,  so I was puzzled to see her buoyant spirit so dimmed. It turns out that the friend wanted the background of the picture colored black,  but had to leave before she finished so Angel was helping complete that section.  She has such a bright, bubbly disposition that working in black literally depressed her.  Maybe I should hide the black crayons. 

I work with the children at church and I love my job!  Their happy faces and sweet singing voices make me happy all week.  I'm the secretary,  and I actually work with the papers more than the children, so I was delighted when a tiny girl pointed me out to her mother at church.  "Look, Mommy,  it's my teacher!" I got a big grin on my face that she would recognize me... and it lasted until I noticed her class teacher sitting behind me.  Then I laugh at myself.