Thursday, March 28, 2013

Love(d) My Dining Room

We've been working on the last bit of wiring for moving the computers and finishing the family room.  Trent has been glad that the weather is not roastingly hot while he is crawling around in the attic.  I'm just glad that he didn't do this part of the job last week, just before the meeting we held here.

I guess Trent missed us while he was up there working, 'cuz he came home early.  Through the dining room ceiling.

It dumped insulation all over the table, and all over Ben and Chris who were sitting here.  Ben just looked up and said, "Um... hello?"  Chris got up, shoveled out his math books, and went to take a shower.  There is this much junk again on the floor.

Now Mr. Fix-It-Pants has a shortcut to get to work when he wants to do these kinds of projects.  He's even offering to move the light fixture, if I want it elsewhere.  What a nice guy!

We have lots of ventilation now, where he drilled holes to mark where the joists are.  He drew on the ceiling, too, like Michelangelo   Or maybe it was just to mark where the cut lines were so he could take the damaged piece out tomorrow.  Alec volunteered to do that part.  Love that boy.

And I can see into my attic.  Betcha you don't have that neat feature in your house!  I know you're jealous, but I'm not loaning out my man.  Sorry.  

Just glad he's undamaged, and that he's so good at fixing it back up!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Announcing... An Addition!

The twins are my littlest ones.  They grow so fast!  And they are big enough now that I can think about adding to our little family.  So we did.  And we have an unusual interest in what is going on... in the laundry room.

Wanna see what he's looking at?

Aren't they cute?  Even the big boys are mesmerized, and using non-teenager-boy words like "adorable."

It's a new adventure, that's what it is.  Wish us luck.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I thought it was getting to be more spring-ish.  I even started working in the garden.  Then it snowed again.  I guess that's what spring is all about.  I don't really mind.  We're not out of hot cocoa yet.  And I can sit by the fire and slowly sip and think lovingly of my wonderful children.

If I think warm, happy thoughts their way, it might warm them up.  Because they are out camping in this snowstorm.  In a higher elevation.  With more snow.  Enjoy, my dears.  :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Love My Family Room

I've been working really hard on my house this month.  I've been decluttering, cleaning, and moving furniture.
One big motivator is that I volunteered to have our women's scripture group meet at our home.  That's a great incentive to get a few things done.

So I shopped the house and brought in a couch from downstairs.  It's really my brother's couch, and we are just babysitting it, but it works so much better here.  And I can keep an eye on it and make sure the kids don't climb on it and destroy it.  That's the worst, to wreck something that doesn't even belong to you!

And I wanted to move our computers into the family room, where I can keep a close eye on them, too.  I like to know what my kids are getting into.  We'd just plunk one monitor in each of those bookshelves there, and the CPU in the cabinet beneath.  Trent agreed to the plan, and was even more enthusiastic than I thought.  All he had to do, he said, was to run the internet cables through the attic from the other side of the house and drop them back down into the family room.  No problem to have it done before the ladies came over.

I tried to get a good picture of Trent cutting through the wall in his office, but the dust was so thick!

But then this happened.  An ALAIAI (pronounced "I lie, I").  It's an As Long As I'm At It.  An ALAIAI will mess with the whole system, every time.  Alec came up with this great idea that it would be better to pull the cables through this wall than around the floorboards where they had been.  A good idea, I guess.  But ...  my schedule!  I was assured that the project would still be finished on time.

And ten minutes before the meeting was to start, we looked like this.

Trent was sucking up sawdust with the monster shop-vac while the third and fourth women came in.  And you know what?  It was good enough. He worked hard, he wanted to make me happy, the meeting was lovely, the company wonderful.

And I still have something to look forward to!

Friday, March 22, 2013


I dreamed of having a flower garden, with bunches of flowers to smell and enjoy.  My mother had one; her mother had one; all the other ladies seemed to have one.  It looked effortless.  All you do is plant seeds and wait.  The waiting is the hardest part, isn't it?  Oh, and water.  I'll be such a good waterer.

And the Lord gave me dandelions.  At first, I was mad.  This was not what I wanted.  I wanted roses and daisies and poppies, their colorful heads nodding in a light breeze.  Dandelions are weeds.  No one likes them.  I don't like them.  I dug them out of my garden and waited for the real flowers to grow.

And I got more dandelions.  I sat near my flower-less garden and wondered.  Had I done something wrong?  Did the Lord not think I would be a very good gardener?  Why can't I have flowers when everyone else has them?  I was agitated.  But something told me to sit just a little bit longer.  Hush.  Be still.

I do want you to have flowers, my dear.  And these are the flowers I've picked out for you.  Aren't they lovely? I made them, you know.  I knew that you had a big enough heart to see more than what others see.  You can love what others might despise.  You are a gardener.  You are.  You can take good care of my dandelions.  You can love dandelions.

He was right.  I can love dandelions.  And I do.  They make me happy.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Turn the Other Cheek

All my life I have listened to the teachings of Jesus.  Some make sense instantly.  Others feel right without making a lot of sense.  And others I wonder about.  Take Matthew 5:39, "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."  I understood that He was trying to teach us to not be revengeful, to not quickly smite back and ignite the spark.  I've heard folks complain that we are supposed to be in pain, to ignore abuse, or to not resist injury.  I'm sure that was not the intended message, given the loving context.  Christ wants us to be good and be better, not to be beaten down.

Today, I think I got a bit of an idea.

I was putting the twins down for a nap this afternoon, and they were unusually unruly.  They resisted guidance, didn't want to go to bed, were physically aggressive, and wanted to do anything but go to bed.  That's usually when they need a nap the most.  After much wrestling, I finally got Georgie to lay down, and covered him with his blankie.  Freddie was still fighting, so I held him until he quieted, then slowly lowered both of us onto the bed.  I laid on the bed, a twin on each side, holding my breath.  As soon as he discovered that we were in bed, Freddie was mad.  He jumped away from me, knelt on the bed, and slammed his hands into the pillow.

Unfortunately, I was too close, and he slapped my face - hard.  My eye started to water, and I jerked away from the pain.  I turned away from him and snuggled up with Georgie.  I didn't want to be anywhere close Freddie's flailing limbs.  And then the scripture whispered into my mind.  Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  I was calmed and intrigued, but my cheek still smarted.  How can I use this verse to help me now?  Don't wanna get slapped again, that's for sure.

In spite of my inclination to stay far away, I glanced back at my little terror-child.  His sad, frustrated face was staring at me, hurt by his abandonment.  In that moment, I chose against my natural instinct and chose to root for another person.  I put off my pain in order to help my boy.  I decided to give him another chance.  I knew that there was every possibility that I could get hurt again - and I was prepared for that.  I wouldn't allow him to abuse me, but there could be hurt.

I turned the other cheek and turned towards the one who had hurt me.  I rolled back over to face little Fred.  I smiled and opened my arms to him.  His dejected face changed to a look of hope, then relief.  He crashed into my arms and sobbed.  I held him for a long time, while both our hearts healed.  A slap on the cheek may not seem like that big of a deal.  But it does sting.  And it is tempting to hide, or strike back.

I learned that responding with gentle love, even with the chance of getting hurt, will help us both to grow.  Thanks, Lord, for your little lessons.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nuthin' Like a Kiss

There ain't nuthin' in the world like having your sweet toddler, warm and flushed from playing outside, light up when he sees you round the corner.  "Mama!" he happily calls, and runs like nobody's business just to be with you.  You scoop up his cuddly plump body and hold him happily.  Soak in the moment.  It's pure bliss.  He puts his soft hands on your cheeks and you don't mind the dusty smears.  You look deep into his baby blues while he leans forward, presses his precious face into your cheek... and blows a raspberry in your ear. Ain't nuthin' like a kiss.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy Birthday, Trent

How do you teach a child to keep a secret?  In this day, I really don't want to teach my kidlets that keeping secrets from me is OK.  On the other hand, there are some fun secrets.  I can differentiate by calling them "surprises," but it's tricky.

Angel was helping me make a birthday banana cream pie for Trent (it's his favorite).  I was trying to help her understand that she shouldn't tell Daddy about the pie until it was time to eat it.  "But why, Mommy?"  Because then it won't be  surprise.  And we need to not tell Daddy about birthday surprises but if anyone else ever asks you to keep a secret from Mommy and Daddy you must tell us right away.  See?  It doesn't work very well.

We made the pie and hid it away in the fridge to cool and firm up.  A few minutes later, the birthday boy came in the room.  Immediately, Angel piped up with, "We made a surprise for you, Daddy!"

He stopped in his tracks and started to chuckle.  Angel turned to me and innocently asked, "Is that all I can say, Mom?"  Trent looked at his little girl and  just laughed.  He said that having her and her funny ways was the best birthday present of all!

He liked the banana cream pie, too - even before the whipped cream and garnish.  And despite his pose, he did not throw it at me after I took a picture.  That would be wasting food.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hairy Scary

Don't you always shave with your hands like this?  I totally do.  And then I drop the razor because graceful hands don't really hold anything firmly, and it falls down and slices a gash in my leg and I bleed all over the shower.  Lovely, no?

When I got sick in December, I didn't want to do much of anything.  When I stayed mostly sick for the next six weeks, I really didn't want to do much of anything.  Me and the couch got really close.  I did manage to make sure that the absolutely essential things got taken care of.  No one killed each other, we all ate three meals a day, and health inspectors didn't come to the door.  But everything else was gone-ski.

Including shaving my legs.  Teenaged boys can stop reading now, as well as anyone else who may be body-squeamish.  I wasn't yucky dirty, but when I got up to shower, I just wanted to get in, out, and back to resting as fast as I could.  Shaving doesn't fit in the "quick" category.  Besides, it was in the dead of winter.  I was hanging out in long pants or sweats.  If I wore a skirt, it was with tights and sometimes leggings too.  Who needs to see my pasty white legs during a snowstorm?  For the record, I have a very patient, tolerant husband who loves me and knows that I am more than the sum of my parts.

So the hair grew.  And it grew and it grew.  And it wasn't the end of the world and I didn't lose my femininity and it really wasn't that gross.  And the biggest one:  no one really noticed.  I didn't start out not shaving to accomplish anything.  I wasn't trying to see how long it would grow or how long it would be before I felt like a woolly mammoth.  It just happened because I was too sick to care.

As I started getting better, I started noticing that I could feel drafts - ruffling the fuzz on my legs.  Different.  Not disgusting.  I have always felt breezes in the hair on my arms, or in the hair on my head.  Why would leg hair be different?

I could go on a feminist rant here about why a mature woman's body has to look like a pre-pubescent girl, or why some hair is valued (head, lashes, tamed eyebrows), and some hair is tolerated (fine face fuzz or light arm hair), and some hair is taboo (legs, armpits, anything else dark).  Or I could go all ultra-modest and just cover up anything I didn't want to shave.  Actually, wearing a burqa would save a lot of time getting ready in the morning, wouldn't it?  Wish I had the gorgeous Middle-Eastern eyes to go with it.

I have shaved, and I have to admit that I do like the smooth skin feel.  All ten  minutes of it before it morphs into the prickly stubble feel.  And I like the soft fuzzy feel too.  Not trying to start a revolution, just wanting to do things on purpose, not just because everyone else does, and not sure how I feel about this.

Anyway, having smooth legs must make me more sexy.  The hair removal commercials tell me so.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Homemaking is Great Work

I am a homemaker.  I have a love/hate relationship with forms that ask me to list my occupation.  I've written MOTHER, just like that in screaming capital letters.  I've filled in the blank with N/A on days when I wasn't feeling so hot.  I am a college graduate.  I did have a career, but I like what I'm doing now ever so much better.  Most of the time, I either write "Homemaker" or "Domestic Goddess" on those forms.  They are both true, and I'm happy with my occupation.

I am never bored.  The commute is a breeze.  I can set my own hours (didn't say that those hours are honored, but I can set them).  There is no end to creative license.  I can laugh out loud, sit on the floor, and eat any time I want to.  And I get to boss other people around.  I get hugs and snuggles, and my cow-orker-husband-dude gives me... what isn't normal from other co-workers (I like cow-orkers better.  Thanks, Mike.).  Foot rubs, if you're curious.  And I get to control the thermostat.

It's a lot of hard work.  And it often involves menial labor.  Most jobs, when you get right down to it, do require some menial labor.  Filing papers.  Sorting paperclips.  Getting the mail.  Crawling under the desk to see why the internet is down again.  Dusting.  Cleaning out the drink machine.  Shoveling the front walk.  Saying "Have a nice day" a million times in a row.  And like most jobs, in order for me to feel the most fulfilled about my work, I have to work it.

I do work.  Lots.  And I play.  Not as much as I should.  And I stop and appreciate.  And I give compliments and encourage and bite my tongue.  And I love seeing what other mothers have to say about their work.  You can call that networking.

We network over the back fence and across the rows of weeds vegetables.  We network at church and on the back row of cub scout pack meeting.  We network on the phone while emptying the dishwasher and at the park and when planning play dates (hate that term, BTW.  I don't think parents should schedule their kids that much!).  And we network online.  Here are a few of my recent mothering favorites:  The myth of the perfect day The art of making a home, Dear Mom you are amazing, and the whole living with kids house tours section on Design Mom.  I'll just give a shout-out to the Establish a House series starting over at Chocolate on My Cranium.

I'm a fan of homemaking.  I think it is the best - and most important - job in the world.  Each of us was brought up is some home or another, and the future of the world is, in great part, determined by what goes on at our hearths.  Like.  Love it.  I'm living my dream.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Love My Patio

Here's my decluttering "hooray" for the week: reclaiming my back patio.

As far as patios go, it is lovely.  There is a large tree for shade, a porch overhang for more shade, a sandbox for the kids to play in, cement lines that are more swoopy than straight and boring, pretty plants, lots of grass around, flower beds, and even a trickling waterfall water feature.  Lovely, no?

Except that the tree is surrounded with weeds.  The sandbox has been a cat pit-stop for years.  The boys smashed a bucket to smithereens so there are sharp shards all over the cement.  We didn't finish raking the leaves before the winter came in strong.  And there are old pieces of carpet we had to throw out when we had a leak.  It was a dumpy, not-used area.

On garbage day, I rolled up my sleeves (figuratively.  In reality, I wanted to long sleeves there to protect my delicate arms) and dragged the carpet pieces to the garbage can.  The carpet was not very big, but it was heavy and moldy-yucky.  And now it's gone.  Happy dance!  Tomorrow morning I'll rake the leaves, sweep the patio, set up the chairs, and sit and watch the kids play.

I'm going to love my patio!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Family Funnies

It must be spring.  The snow has melted, the weather is getting nicer, and green things are starting to poke out of the ground.  As we were climbing out of the van, Georgie stopped and sighed.  Closing his eyes against the sunshine, he smiled and said, "Oh!  It is so nice and comfy warm!"

Trent is our resident breakfast person.  He loves to get up early and cook up a big morning meal.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it requires protein.  Preferably eggs and meat.  The other morning, he got up to find that I had used the last eggs making rice pudding (Alec's favorite).  Trent wanted eggs.  I don't get cold cereal as a general rule because it isn't filling enough, doesn't count as real food for him, is quite expensive per serving, and we could inhale several boxes of the stuff at a single meal.  So instead of making oatmeal or something otherwise carb-y (and quick so the kids could get to school on time), Trent ran to the store to get eggs.  The drugstore which is rumored to have the cheapest eggs was out.  Pressing forward, he went to the super-mega-mart, where eggs were two dollars a dozen.  Too expensive.  Instead, he bought $10 worth of cold cereal.  And an expensive carton of eggs.  Yay!  Trent has eggs for breakfast!  And then he ate cold cereal.  He survived.

Ben is of a similar opinion that cold cereal is not the best breakfast in the universe.  He doesn't mind having a bowl of it for a snack, or after he has eaten an otherwise good breakfast.  He explained, "Cereal is like packing peanuts.  It's good for filling in all the empty spots."

We bought the twins new unders.  Georgie was so excited about getting to wear his "great big gi-nant big boy unders-wears." and promises to keep them dry.  Freddie, after putting on his first pair of unders with a fly, kept checking his hips, looking for his pockets.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Love My Garden

Anyone love fresh tomatoes?  (jumping wildly, hands waving in the air) Me!  Me!  Me!

And that is why I garden.  Trent gardens out of an inbred need to till and toil and weed.  That's just what you do, or at least that's just what his family did.  My family didn't really garden.  we had fruit trees and we made jam like crazy, but no regular garden.  We'd try in fits and spurts, but it didn't take.  Both my grandfathers had immaculate, impressive gardens.  And I loved it when they would bring us fresh cucumbers and tomatoes.

I do have to admit that I like playing in the dirt.  I'm just not very good at it.  And our garden has been a confined weed-patch that produces rocks and some tomatoes and a lot of those nasty sticker weeds (I think they are called burrweed?  Awful stuff.).  It's highly unfortunate, not only for the deflated pride issue, but also because our garden spot is right out in front of our house.  It's a lovely way to welcome folks in.

This year, though, is different.  I think I'll say that every year.

I sat down and planned out an organized garden, pulling out ideas from here and here and here.  And I'm excited.  Not just for the tomatoes and fresh salsa, but because I am planning a place that can look a little better.  It will be a place where our family can work together.  And we can get tasty, fresh, organic, good-for-us produce to help feed all these mouths.  That's the idea.

I started a bunch of seeds here in the house to get a jump on the season.  We'll see if they can survive the little people, and if the dirt can stay in the pots.  Maybe they will even grow.

And this year, I can love my garden.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mouths to Feed

Trent came home from work with a sober face.  He told me that there had been an incident on the way home and that we had nearly had one less mouth to feed.

After a pause, and a twinkle in his eye, he admitted that he nearly ran over the neighbor's cat.  The cat who regularly mooches at our cat's food.

One less mouth to feed... too bad.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Is Your Kid Gifted?

A few weeks ago, Eddie took the district-wide test to see if he would qualify for placement in the 5th grade gifted and talented program.  David took the test to get into the 7th grade program at the junior high.  And then they had to wait for the results to come in the mail.

Early last, week, David got a letter.  THE letter.  He was accepted!  What a happy boy he was that day.  The test he took, as a 6th grader, was the end-of-year test that 8th graders have to pass.  And David was above the 92nd percentile in everything but science - where he was in the 97th.  He has his daddy's genes, that's for sure.  I'm not bragging; I'm just saying that these boys need a little extra challenge.

Poor Eddie was left waiting for his letter.  And waiting.  And anxiously collecting the daily mail.  And waiting some more.  Finally, we got a phone call from the elementary school principal.  Eddie would have made it into the program, he told us, except that they are cancelling the gifted program at their school.  We have the option of going to that school anyway (even though it is already across town from where we live), or going to a school two towns down, or going to a school two towns over.  Or Eddie could just go to our local elementary, which is much closer.  

Eddie was so disappointed when I broke the news to him.  He had been so excited to be in the accelerated program.  I was sad, too.  Ben, Chris, and David were all in these classes - Alec should have been too, but I didn't know then as much as I know now about it.  I wish he'd had those same experiences.  And now Eddie might miss out on that good school, that good program to stretch him and help him learn how to be his best self.

It was about 30 years ago that a group of parents started the gifted program at the elementary school.  They talked and planned and petitioned the school district and convinced the principal to let them try something new. It was the first of its kind in our part of the state.  One of the ringleaders of the parent group was my hardworking, beautiful, concerned-about-her-kids-and-their-education mother.  And two of the guinea pigs children in that first group were me and my next younger brother.  

Mom worked hard to make sure we got the very best learning opportunities we could.  She was at every parent-teacher conference.  She patiently quizzed me daily on my spelling words -  hundreds of them for the spelling bee.  She was famous for her ability to edit our essays until they bled red ink.  I remember her sitting at the kitchen table late into the night, completing her own homework so she could finish her college degree.  Education was vital to her.

So it's a double blow to have her gifted program come to an end.  I feel bad to not continue her legacy, and extra bad that my boy won't have those opportunities.

I think I'll have to call the school district.  My boy is worth fighting for.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

Yeah, I have a Syndrome.  Don't we all?  Whatever is bothering you, package it up in a fancy box, call it a Syndrome, and you will get sympathy.  And maybe even medical attention.  And probably pills.  And a grant from the government!  I digress.

Two summers ago, I started having a searing pain running along the thumb side of my right hand and wrist.  It hurt when I tried to pick up our one-year-old twins, when I took a cast iron pan off the stove, or when I tried to open doors with those annoying-but-with-twins-necessary doorknob covers.  Over time, it got bad enough that it would hurt like crazy almost all the time, and when it wasn't hurting, it would tingle with pins and needles.  I didn't want to cause any permanent damage, so I knew I had to do something.

I tried an inexpensive wrap-style wrist brace, but it didn't help.  I got a brace with a metal plate to immobilize my wrist, like those used by people suffering from tendinitis or carpal tunnel.  Still a no-go.  That's when I figured out that the pain was actually in my thumb.  I bought an expensive thumb-immobilizing brace, but the thumb part was too thin and it cut off circulation to my thumb.  So I just wore the carpal tunnel brace for a few months with my thumb tucked in.

I did a lot of on-line searching, and finally found this Finkelstein test:
You grab your thumb inside a clenched fist, then move the fist away from the thumb.  See if it hurts.  Great test, huh?  For me, I couldn't even tuck my thumb into a fist before it started to hurt.  So I got a positive (is pain positive?) result on that test.

The diagnosis?  De Quervain's Tenosynovitis.  Also known as gamer's thumb, whasherwoman's sprain, stenosing tenosynovitis, or mommy thumb.  It is a repetitive stress injury to the two tendons that run along the thumb side of the hand.  It isn't uncommon for older mothers (over 40) to get this.  And since I have twins I was lifting all day, it was almost inevitable.  It is often caused by constant gripping and stretching, like for golfing, knitting, hand-weeding, hammering, etc.  Here are some thing I've learned.

When you lift a child, DO NOT put your thumbs in their armpits and lift.  That puts all the pressure of their weight on your outstretched thumb.  DON'T let your thumb stay in the "L" shape.  Try to keep your thumb on the same plane as your hand (not behind or in front, pincher-style).  DO rest the hand a lot.  DO lift your child with your whole hands on his sides, or with one hand on his bottom and your other hand at the back of his neck.  DO ice the inflamed part.  DO lift heavy pans with two hands (and hot pads).  You can take anti-inflammatory medicine if the pain is bad.

If you go to the doctor, they will prescribe cortisone shots and recommend surgery.  But usually, after plenty of rest, the swelling will go down and the tendons will heal by themselves.  And you will sigh in relief.

BUT THEN DON'T HURT IT AGAIN!  (That was a memo to myself.  Sorry for the yelling.)

The next Christmas, I decided to knit slippers for gifts.  So I sat and knitted.  For days.  What a surprise that the pain flared up again!  Who knew?  I did make some mighty cute slippers, but my patient brother had to wait months until I could knit his other slipper.  And then maybe I forgot and he got the other one for the next Christmas.

AND THEN DON'T THINK YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN AND NOT HURT AGAIN!  Sheesh.  You think I would listen to myself when I am yelling like that.

A few days ago, I though I could whip out an afghan for a new baby before the new grandma flew out to visit.  She could take my gift with her.  But I'd have only two days to make it.  Two days.  Who can crochet a baby blanket in two days?  Oh, I can.  Pick me!  Pick me!  I got it 75% finished before the pain flared up again.  You think I'd learn.  So I've been resting. Sort of.  It's hard to rest.  Honestly, typing is making my thumb tingle again.

But I'd really like to finish the afghan...

To read more information about my Syndrome, look here and here and here.  Maybe we are thumb buddies?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Love My Moving Boxes

I did get some decluttering finished this week.  One of my piles that has been really bothering me is the stack of empty boxes in the sunroom.  When we moved in and started unpacking, we needed a place to put the now-naked boxes.  We weren't sure what we would be doing with the sunroom, so we stacked the boxes there.  Over time, the stacks moved to the end of the room, but they somehow stayed there.  And whenever we have an empty box, that's where it goes.  Occasionally, on recycle day, I go in and pull out random boxes: the oddly sized ones, or the yucky ones, or the beat-up ones.  I flattened out the poor box, cut it down, and put it in the recycle bin.  Good for me.

But there was always a pile of boxes there.  Always.  We stacked them up neatly to make it more tidy, but they didn't go away.  And it's been three years.  Most of the unpacking is done (and what's left should probably be given away - we haven't needed whatever it is).

I have realized that I must be a box hoarder.  I have kept the banana boxes because Trent likes them.  They are sturdy, stack well, have lids, and are uniform.  He likes to be efficient that way.  The cherry boxes are good for picking fruit.  The smaller cube-ish boxes might be good for organizing something.  Can't toss the shoe boxes because they are great to wrap presents in.  And the cardboard trays that a flat of canned goods come in - they might be helpful to make things with.  Dividers for the kitchen drawers, maybe?

My brother and sister-in-law just announced that they were moving.  I gulped, took advantage of an opportunity, and took them all my boxes.  I think there were about 50!  Fifty boxes!  They are great for... putting stuff in.  I'm glad she can use them, and I'm glad I don't have them!  Yay!  One corner decluttered.  It looks good.

I now love that part of my house that has been making me crazy.  I can do this.

Should I mention that later in the day, we went to the grocery store and picked up another dozen boxes?  Trent couldn't resist talking with the produce manager who was restocking bananas.  Fortunately, we moved those boxes out, too.  It was a close call, though!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Family Funnies

The kids are already getting older and already I miss all these times.  Love these children of mine!


Freddie: little pig, little pig, let me in, not by chinny chinny


Angel: please help us to dream about good cats and good dogs that they won't get run over by the bad cars and please bless that we will not dream about bad dogs and bad cats so they would get run over by vehicles.  We will send vehicles to all the bad cats and bad dogs.


Mom: (late in the evening) Sorry we locked that door.  We thought you were coming in the other door.
Alec: I can get in anywhere.  That is the power of my keys!


Ben, explaining why he wasn't going to tease his older brother, even though he would dearly love to:  but I probably shouldn't, because it would make him really mad.  (pause) But he's already mad anyway, (brightening) so I might as well!


Georgie has a stutter now because his mind comes up with ideas so quickly that he can't come up with words fast enough.  Always saying Mom mom mom mom mom while his words try to catch up

My (Late) Husband

I like to be punctual.  My late (dead) husband liked to be early.  My current (live) husband is the late one.  I have clocks in every room, and swear by my watch.  Trent doesn't even wear one.  When we were dating, and time just seemed to fly away, I didn't realize that it wasn't the magic of the romance that made time stand still.  It is something about Trent.  He and time just don't get along, I guess.

In all fairness, I am often late even without him.  Getting this many kids going takes more time than I allot.  It's something I work hard on.  But being late just makes me crazy!  It's never worth it.

Trent and I went on a fancy date to a time-share sales presentation.  Woop.  Hafta get that "free" vacation prize they promise just for coming, of course.  We were running late - even without the children.  What a surprise.  I made him call the place, explain that we were running 7 minutes late, and ask if we would be denied admittance.  (Yes, it has happened before.  That's how I know.)  We were assured that as long as we were no more than 10 minutes late, everything would be fine.  We pulled up at 7 minutes late, and went in at 8 minutes late.

And they wouldn't let us in.  We were too late.  I raised my eyebrows at Trent in a "told you so" gesture, and he shrugged.  How he puts up with me so much I don't know!

But they gave us the restaurant gift card and the "free" vacation getaway prize anyway.  And we didn't have to listen to their sales pitch!  And we got to have a leisurely dinner out instead!  I'm delighted.  I detest sales pitches.  Trent loves them, but he's a great salesman, you know?

As we drove away, me happier than I thought I'd be, Trent turned to me and grinned.  "Sometimes it pays to be late, after all!"  Can't argue with the man.  Love my (late) husband!

This message was written with the express permission - and good humor - of said (late) husband.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Favorite Picture Book

This is my kids' favorite picture book.  It is very, very old (picture book life spans can be measured in months in a house with children).  Printed in 1961, it even has lovely duct tape holding it together.  I'm not sure where we got it, but we love The Littlest Rabbit.

It chronicles the story of a little bunny who wants to be bigger.

Can you blame him for not wanting to be small?  It's no fun to be picked on.

But in the end, everything is ok when you get bigger and take revenge on your tormentors.  This part makes my teens laugh and laugh - because it would so not be included in any books written today.

We may have to censor this totally not politically correct book.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Finding Mom's Journals

There is only one pillow in my dad's bed.  He sleeps on her side now.  The covers - two random blankets - look more bachelor-ish than the lovely color-coordinated bedspreads Mom used to pick out.  The bed is made, meticulously straight, showing years of training from Dad's German mother, and then reinforcement more from the army.  It makes a smooth work surface, for today we are sorting.

There are five white banker's boxes lined up across the middle of my dad's bed: one for me and each of my four brothers.  At the end of the bed are four more.  Dad's box is overflowing; Mom's is nearly full; the box for Dad's parents has half more to go, and the paperbox lid holds pictures and calendars from the family growing up.

Dad brings a large box from Mom's office, I pull out the comfortable chair for him to sit on, and we sort.  We smile and laugh and show each other the papers before filing them neatly in one of the boxes.  Dad lingers over old pictures then half turns, arms stretching out, before he pulls back and shakes his head.  "I want to show these to her, to say 'Remember this?'" he says sheepishly, "but I keep forgetting she's not there."  And then more quietly, "It seems like she should be."

When Jay died, there weren't an awful lot of things to go through.  Mom has boxes and boxes of papers.  I know she lived much longer, but I've come to realize that her papers are the memories of a mother:  stained recipes of family-friendly foods, yellowed newspaper clippings of her father, painted handprints of a toddler, Mother's Day cards from her grandchildren, an old construction paper love note from an adoring child, curls from the first haircut gently wrapped in a sandwich baggie.  This, mixed in with mortgage statements and old utility bills and fading pictures and organized binders of financial information.

The last few things in the box were three old binders.  The first contained notes from a college course she took - mimeographed outlines bleeding purple onto her scripted notes.  The second binder was part of a journal she wrote when she attended Girl's State in the early '60s.  But the third binder was the jackpot: several spiral-bound notebooks filled with Mom's college years.  They contained a daily record of her girlish dreams and activities, as well as her time living in Europe with her brother's family. 

Just opening the notebook to any random page lets me feel of Mom's love for life - although in a definitely more coquettish way than I, as a daughter, ever saw.  This entry, dated "May 5, Sunday," reads,

It's my anniversary - 2 years ago I received my first kiss.

The rest of the short record from that day include notes about five different boys.  Five!  And in the margin is scrawled, "Elaine thinks Eldon likes me." and "Eldon went with Jeff - I ironed his shirt."

Can't wait to read more and find Mom again!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Soldier Boy

I've been thinking over this post for a couple of weeks now, and I haven't been sure where to start.

I love my country.  I am patriotic to the point of tears when Old Glory goes by at the beginning of a summer parade.  I choke up a bit when the Cub Scouts recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  I love watching my older boys post "the colors of the United States of America."  I've been wanting, for a while now, to build a flagpole in my front yard so we could fly the flag.

Now, I'm supporting my country in a way I never really considered.  Alec has joined the armed forces, as a member of the Army National Guard.

As a citizen, I'm as proud as can be.  As a mother... I dunno.  I'm torn.  What if he deploys?  What if he is in a dangerous situation?  What if he is injured?  What if he...?  This is my boy, for crying out loud!  My firstborn, the baby who made me a mother.  I see his dimple and see my little strawberry blond tyke, the squirt who looked so much like his daddy that people called him "scale model."

But when he puts on his camouflaged uniform and khaki boots, and tips his cap forward just so over his short-cropped hair, I see the man he is becoming. His lean body is so different from the pudge-monster we used to play ball with in the living room.  He's got his father's build, his father's lips, his father's quickness to learn, his father's determination.

He has regular drills with the Guard, and will be shipping out to basic training not long from now.  His other training will be extensive, so it will be December before he can go on his LDS mission.  It will be interesting to sit back and watch how he learns and grows over the next few months.

As a Mom, that's what we do: give them wings, help them learn how to use them, then watch them fly away. Happy flights, my son.  I'm ever so proud of you.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Love My House

In January, I decided that I wanted to be more whole-hearted, more on-purpose about loving.

In February, I got better at loving my husband by not letting his stuff mess with me.  We all have stuff.  I hope my mental and emotional baggage doesn't mess with him too much.  We've been working on it together.

In March, I'll be focusing on not letting my other stuff mess with me.  I mean the stuff in my house.  I've already been thinking about it here and here, and doing some work on decluttering here.  I want to first declutter, clean, organize, and prettify (that's a real word!).  And I need to give up some of my negative thoughts, too.  So instead of thinking about the massive stone fireplace that I'm not fond of every time I walk in the family room, I'll practice letting it go.  I'll replace those thoughts with happier, more loving thoughts as I do the work to have more that is truly lovely.

I think it would help me make it more of a priority if I had to give more frequent updates.  Maybe weekly (just not weakly)?  Need something catchy...  Moving it Mondays?  Throw it out Thursdays?  I'll put it on the back burner and mull it over...