Thursday, June 30, 2011

No one is responsible for our mistakes but our selves.

Adam tried to blame it on Eve, Eve on the serpent.

God accepted neither.  Both knew the truth.

For the low, low price of one penny . . .

Let's be real.  I like King Soopers.  I like their fuel points.  I like that they have real checkers.  I like that you don't have to clip coupons, read ads or rifle through unnecessary papers to feel like you get a decent deal on family necessities.  I love their gift card center.  Produce is pretty damn good, and in times when I have been laid up, I love that you can schedule a delivery.  I actually look for family vacation places with a King Soopers or City Market that will deliver to our "vacation house."  It's so easy.  

I also love King Soopers because of this:  

This pony ride is a high ticket item.  It's a penny.  It's a penny that Mimi looks forward to.  One of the bigger kids can take her over while I check out.  It goes for what seems like forever.  She's happy, and with a little post-horsie-ride hand sanitizer (Mimi calls that "han-i-tizer"), we're golden.

Ooh, ooh, other pluses for my neighborhood King Soopers . . . . fresh seafood (well, as fresh as you can get in a landlocked state), it's right next to the gym where Middle, Little and Mimi are in gymnastics, great plants, a next door liquor store, a next door hair-cutting place and a next door dry cleaner.  It's one stop shopping, only better . . . because of the penny-horse.

Yes, I like King Soopers.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A String of Random Thoughts from my Very Cluttered Mind . . .

In no particular order:

* I went to a three hour booster club meeting for this gymnastics thing that we do.  It was a lot of information and at the end of the night, I checked the box next to "active member".  I came home chewing my fingernails and wishing I had a vice.
* On vices:  I don't have a vice.  I don't smoke.  I don't drink.  I don't have that "thing" that people do when they need an emotional release.  Who has one?  Who will share?  I need a suggestion that doesn't include eating or cleaning.
*  MOTH and I went to a Bingo training.  Holy.  Catfish.  I had no idea that this was such a big thing.  It's an industry.  I learned lots of lingo and got an introduction to the process.  I'm totally overwhelmed.  Now I know where the place is, where to park, how to get in, what a "pickle" is (not the spear shaped gizmo that comes with a good sandwich from a reputable delicatessen).    I'm gathering a girlfriend or two and going to check things out in the next week or two, before my first volunteer night.  I think with the right attitude, it could be totally fun  . . . more on that later.
* I tried to clean my car.  This terrible thing had to happen before I could take it to Denver for an appraisal. I tried for three days.  It was so damn hot and I was so overwhelmed that I kept quitting.  Have I ever said how much I HATE cleaning the car?  I'm not much of a car girl  . . . never have been.  I don't care about color or shape or body or interior or anything.  I just need a rolling machine that can get me from point A to point B.  I've driven all kinds of different cars.  My favorite was a little Hyundai hatchback that I drove when I was in late high school-slash-college.  His name was Chang and I loved that car.  Or maybe I loved the time in my life.  Right now, I prefer a large machine.  Not only do I prefer a big SUV, I need one.  Especially for ski trips and road trips and times when we six are all in one car.  It ain't easy, especially if someone has gas.    So, in cleaning the car, the handsome and talented fella I call Little managed to engage some kind of child lock in the back door.  Awesome.  Usually it's used when the child is IN the car, and you want to keep said child IN THE CAR.  Because we really know how to have fun, he deployed this magical gadget while the door was gaping open and I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to un-do it.  In dinkering, I managed to engage the same thing on the other side.  Fan-freaking-tastic.  An almost clean car in need of a detail with two back doors that won't close.  How much can I get for that?  Anyhoo, after 2 1/2 hours of messing with it (well, and taking a few sanity breaks), I finally figured out how to close that damn doors.  And then, I drove over to this fabulous place called The Hub.  I paid those guys $43.95 to wash, wax, and detail the whole car.  Best $43.95 I've spent all summer.
*  And the next day, before I could jack it up, lock myself out or otherwise *&^% it up, I took it to Denver for appraisal.  And to give my "car guy" my wish list.  Speaking of which . . . . I have to put a plug in for car brokers.  I use HM Brown.  Best damn car buying or leasing experience of my entire life.  I'll never buy another car from a dealer.  I'm not the only one that hates that game where you sit in the hot cubby while they pump you full of coffee and the fat guy in the red shirt keeps going back and forth saying, "I'll run that past my boss."  It makes me want to scream, "PISS OFF".   HM Brown makes all that go away.  When we got the Saturn, we drove up, tested the top four things on my list (he pulled them all off different lots to their location so I wouldn't have to deal with a dealer).  I made my choice.  The next week, I drove up and drove home in my snazzy new Saturn Outlook.  It was positively orgasmic.
* Work.  I'm busy this week.
*  Work II.  I'm busy this week.
*  The kids are all over the place this week . . . Middle's in camp from 8 to 5 every day.  Thursday is drive in movie night.  Friday we're at an indoor party place.  We've been to Denver, a girlfriends, the outlet mall, a movie . . . we're boinging around like ping-pong balls this week . . . .

I have to gather my troops and go get Middle, along with some paperwork, run an errand while we're out and start thinking about what to feed this mob of angry butterflies.  So, more later . . . maybe much later . . .

Resolution Check-In

Round about mid-year, I sometimes, when I remember check on my resolutions to see what I haven't done.  Yeah.  That was a month ago and we've been busy as hell.  In all honesty, somewhere this month, I hit 1000 posts and gasped when I logged in.  I scheduled a bunch of piddly little posts sometime last week so it would create the appearance that I'd be blogging.  I haven't.   I've been a total slacker.   Sigh.  I do want to check in on resolutions, though.  And I have a few things to say about life in general, our un-bummer-summer list, and the search for a new car.   Obviously, more posts to follow . . . .

Here's what I wrote about resolutions in January.

In short, my list with some comments:

1.  I resolve to grow thicker skin.  Well, that was a good idea.  I don't think I've accomplished jack-bone on that one.  Once a tender heart, always a soft soul. 
2.  I resolve to do a better job flossing. I think I cheated on this one.  I already did a pretty good job flossing, so I must have put this in so that I'd be able to profess that I had accomplished something. 
3.  OHIO.  This my personal method of home organization.  Only Handle It Once.  It's a lifestyle . . and I'm continuing to practice.  Also, I resolve to go as paperless as possible.  Yeah, sort-of.
4.  Body, exercise, diet, boobs & curves.  I'm still working on accepting and living with my body.  Last year was good, and living pain free after back surgery has certainly helped get me to the gym and create a calorie deficit.  Deep down, there's a goal -- an "I'd like to lose 10 pounds", but I'm also okay like I am.  Losing those last ten pounds doesn't invade every thought and the fear of NOT losing those last ten pounds doesn't keep me out of social situations.  This year's goal for health and fitness:  make good choices.  That's it.  Do the right thing for me. OH. MY. GAWD.  What was I thinking?  Was I really happy with my extra 10 pounds?  Probably not.  I'm such a liar.  Or maybe it was the clothing.  In January, we were doing lots of skiing.  Everyone looks thin in snowpants.  Now it's July.  It's hotter than hell and I'm forced to wear (gasp) swimwear.  I feel like a hippo in fantasia and I despise my body.   I love the idea of making good choices, and I do a pretty good job with that, but I am desperately unhappy with this body.  Let's be real.  
5.  Cut and pasted straight out of last year's list:  I'll continue to purge negativity . . . people and their energy from my life.  In the unfortunate circumstance where I MUST deal with bad energy, I'll do my very best to leave the situation balanced & centered. If my kids are involved, I resolve to use it as a teachable moment and speak the truth into them.   Uh.  Long pause.  It's come to my attention that not all negativity CAN be purged from a life.  
6. I'll make the trip to see my dad as many times as possible this year.   Another trip planned for early July. 
7. I'll concentrate on the people and things I love. I'll grow my garden, train my dogs & be absolutely real with my friends.   I'll limit involvement with social media so that my FREE time can be spent sharing coffee and conversation instead of clicking "update status."  I will not be a slave to email.  Nod, nod, enthusiastic nod.  I've been off Facebook for quite a while, unless it's messages & that's mostly because I don't want some folks to have my real email.  Note to self:  I need to set up a private email.  Nothing is sacred around here.  My email is open on this computer and my iPad and my phone all the time.  It'd be nice to switch to a new email and let the coupons keep coming to my old address.  Add that to my list. 
8.  Also right out of last year, mostly becasue it worked . . . but also becasue it's good practice:  On money.This year, I'll add money to savings every month. I'll recover the cash spent on time-sharing. I'll be better about saving the receipts for flex spending and I will submit them on time.   I'll make at least one extra mortgage payment.  Not so good here.  Maybe it was the patio addition.  Or the extra payment for an escrow shortage.  Not really sure, but I need to re-vamp this one  . . and maybe even set a more attainable goal. 
9.  I will give back . . .  check.
10.  On Mimi  . . . I will support her transition into preschool with the enthusiasm and uniqueness that she deserves.   I will color with her and play dollies.  I will make time for her needs.   Check.
11.  On Little . . . I will both embrace and protect his need for spontaneous jedi rolls and making sound effects for various weaponry.  I will not be upset that spit flies out of his missing teeth holes at sound effect time. This too shall pass.  I will love that little man from deep in the center to as far as I can reach every single day.   Check.
12.  On Middle . . . I will support her transition to competitive gymnastics.  I will do her hair.  I will understand sore muscles, tired bodies and stress over homework.  I will balance her sporting life with books and down time and will concentrate on making opportunities for her to be a child.  Check.
13.  On Big . . . I will breathe deeply and count when her pre-teen attitude shows its ugly head.   I will communicate with her every day.  I will tuck her in, hug her and share secrets.   I will embrace her dramatic side and teach her to identify and label her emotions and understand the WHY.   I will stand beside her, let her lean on me, or carry her, if needed, as she transitions into her middle school mind and body.  Check.
14.  On parenting . . . . I will live by example, even (and especially) in the face of judgement and scrutiny.  I will put into practice these phenomenal tips on parenting gifted children.  I resolve to understand and teach the people around me that their battle is not the same as mine . . but they are both battles.  My fingers are hovering as I'm thinking about the last six months, but I think I'm good here. 
15.  I resolve to read.  Check, for sure.   I'm half-way through The Mammoth Hunters now.  
16.  I resolve to CHOOSE happiness.  Except on the days I choose to be a meanie.
17.  I resolve to be the best wife that I can be.   Hmm.
18.  I resolve to appeciate, communicate and negotiate.  Double hmmm.

Un-bummer summer activity number Y-7

Yo-yogurt . . .
Been there?

It's glorious.  More fun than a barrel of monkeys!!

Five different cups . . something to please everyone, right down to the color of the spoons!

It's paper-cup-lickin' good!! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Outside my window . . .


Got these email from Middle's coach last night . . . .

"I promised I would send this to you :)  A backhandspring on high beam is a level 7 skill and it is the lead up to many more optional skills to come!! "

A backhandspring . . . on high beam  . . . by herself . .  . I'm so excited for her!! 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Un-bummer summer activity number K-4

18 holes
5 players . . . great fun . . . Mimi was hilarious.  She actually had a great score, despite her cross of croquet-field hockey-golf-tennis style . . .

More Flowers . . .

Pretty little thing.  Penstamon.

New color on the bush by the trash can.

Love this stuff.  Flowers look like Queen Anne's Lace, but it's not.

Forgot the name.  Came with a transplanted shasta daisy clump.

This is the street bed.  Yes, Mimi is digging for rollie pollie bugs with  no shirt on. 


Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm feeling like . . .

. . . . letting go, for a change, and saying what I want.  Well, maybe that's not for a change, but I'm feeling compelled to rip it, so . . . .

Here's my humble opinion.

When a man and a woman decide to get married, the union is between the two of them.  Well, and God, if they choose that route.   The unique aspects of their marriage are the business of the husband and wife, or wife and wife, or husband and husband, however that applies.  In my case, the intimate details of MY marriage, to MY husband are OUR business.  Not anyone else's.  Within that safety structure, we are free to talk and dialogue and be our best for each other.  I believe this is true of all couples.   Some choose to cross-dress, some have open marriages, some choose divorce and some endure unthinkable hardships.  Some dress up like babies and like to be spanked.  Just watch TABOO once if you don't know what I'm talking about.  Whatever YOUR case, it's YOUR business.  Nobody else should get to weigh in.  

So, in MY marriage . . . these are the words that I said to MOTH almost 13 years ago, with names changed to protect the guilty, or innocent:

I, Elle, choose you, MOTH, to be my husband, my friend, my love, the father of my children.  I will be yours in plenty and in want, in sickness and in health, in failure and in triumph.  I will cherish and respect you, comfort and encourage you and together we shall live, freed and bound by our love. 

I wrote those words.  They are important to me.  I purposefully put the word "choose" in there.  I did choose this life.  I purposely removed the word "obey".  I don't obey well and I don't expect to be obeyed by my spouse.  That's stupid.  I specifically wrote about the highs and lows that I foresaw in our life and I pledged to be there when it sucked and when it rocked.  We both did.   We said these words to EACH other.    There were two people up there at that alter.  Yes, we were surrounded by family and friends.  But I did not pledge or make promises to family and friends.  I made promises to MOTH.  And he to me.

In private conversations, we made more promises.  Everyone has their deal breakers.  Here are ours, for public record:  Cheating is an absolute no.  Abuse is an absolute no.  I-slash-we can/could deal with just about anything else, but there can be (1) no cheating and (2) no abuse.   Deal.  We had a deal.  We have a deal.  We have a deal that is working.  It has always worked.  We like our deal.  

So . . . . along marriage's sometimes rocky course, there are things that crop up.  There are people who are not supportive.  It seems like around the ten-year mark, other friends of ours, with similar marital histories, started to have trouble.  We saw several divorces happen.  We stayed the course.   But here's what I have to say today:  Unless you are specifically asked to weigh in and give your opinion on someone's marriage, stay quiet.  Your opinion is like an asshole:  everyone has one.  Sure, girlfriends confide.  Sure, there's some locker room talk among men.  Whatever.  But, if you are witness to a marriage where there is something you don't agree with . . . shut up and be supportive.  Your friends, your colleagues, your daughter, your son . . . .  will choose what's right for them.  What is right for them may not be right for you.  Open marriage?  Not for me.  Please revisit the above paragraph.   Personally, I'm tired.  Keeping the kids, the house, the jobs  . . all of the plates spinning at the same time . . . . I lack both the time AND energy to deal with an affair.  And I definitely don't have time to deal with the web of lies that would surely ensue.   And for God's sake, don't plant rumors and be ugly.  Don't purposefully try to drive a wedge and try to cause a divorce.   Don't plant seeds of hate and be nasty.    Be supportive.

They Hatched . . .

Three babies . . . born Saturday morning, I think . . .

New Garden Things

I admit that I'm new to the world of peonies, but is this normal?  The color fades?  This is the same pink one I posted last week . . . now it's white and the new blossoms are pale pink.  Curious.

I didn't even know I had these metallic purple iris . . . . And below . . . japanese iris & the first of the orange day lilies . . .

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hair 101 with a flip-flop and scrunchie bonus

This week, I went to the Team Flip-Flop and Scrunchie Event.  Look at what I made for my daughter: 

Here are Middle's "meet-day" flip-flops & hair scrunchie.  Have I ever said how much I despise the word 'scrunchie'.  In my house, this thing is called a 'dogger'.  It always has been.  It always will be. 

As an added bonus of flip-flop/dogger day, we had a 'mandatory hair clinic'.
I learned a lot.  I won't kid.  There are two 'approved' meet hair styles.  They said to practice.  They said to plan FOUR HOURS on your first try to make this style happen.  Since, I'm a complete over-achiever and needed something to do while watching The Voice (holy cow, Adam Levine . . . I think I have a crush . . . ), I went shopping for the stuff.  Fifty five dollars later, I'm home with my hair supplies.  Okay, I bought some gum and a little chocolate in case things went south, too.  Coffee, in case you are wondering, is a necessary item.

As Big's first act of "I'll-support-my-gymnast-sister", she let me practice on her head.  Here's the picture.  This is called "webbing".  It's not that hard to accomplish, but it takes a bit of product to make it bulletproof and keep the wispies pinned down. The back . . that curly pony is done with something called a cheetah curl. I can't get Chester Cheetah out of my mind and it makes me think of happy snacking on Cheet-o puffs . . . . 

The finished ponytail. In Big's hair, of which there is a TON, some of her hair was still wet the next morning, but Middle has much thinner hair & I think it will be better.  I probably used sections of hair too large for coach's approval. (Yes, they do have to approve.)
Still, the idea is there.   It's Nellie Olson hair.  From Little House on the Prairie.  Did I just date myself? 

This did not budge . . . not an inch overnight.  It's not crunchy, either.  Just tight. 

For the sake of gymnastics, the glitter and her dogger are missing, but I'm really happy with  my first attempt.  Oh, I must be some sort of hair magician. It took me one hour to do it all.  Only one hour.  Three hours short of the rookie-time estimate.  I'm feeling pretty good about this hair thing . . . 

Homestead wants to know . . .

1. Are my daisies marguerite or shasta? I love daisies... but I REALLY love Gerber daisies.... but I don't think they would work in zone 4.  Yours are shastas, although I think you have some marguerite, too.  Here's how I tell . . . . Shastas have a thick base of uniformly high round-edged leaves.  You wait forever for them to bloom and when they do, it's  glorious -- like fireworks -- lots and lots and lots of full blossoms.  Marguerites are scraggly little ugly things with a striped stalk that both look and smell like a weed.  They bloom randomly and in singles -- or in small clumps . . . . they also have a different leaf shape.   I love Gerber's too . . but they are too fragile for my 150-pound dog.  He laid on the one clump that I had (remember MOTH's suck up gift?  Is that a sign?)   I love how Gerbers look but I love Shastas more.  Shastas make me think of my wedding.  

2. I also love coreopsis and, now that I think about it, I'm not sure mine survived. I like "nana" ones.... and the deer tend to not eat them.  I like them, too, but I find them . . . uncontrollable.   For yellow, I prefer the false sunflowers or black eyed susans . . . they come back where you put them, like faithful shasta daisies.

3. My grass also looks like this... but it is because a deer actually did bed down in it.  My kids were talking about deer in your yard just the other day . . . . the girls have very warm, fond memories of that visit.  They still talk about ME talking about . . . the rocks!! 

4. Have you ever grown hops?  Yes!!  I have three strands mixed in with the Virginia Creeper on the fence.  I like Creeper better.  Hops are more fragile, and they come up from nothing every year . . . not like creeper that forms a "structure".   They're VERY fragile. 

5. I adore sedum... .all sedum.  I think I'll do a sedum issue.  Do you want/need some autumn joy? 

6. Gorgeous pe-ony.  Why, thank you  . . . thank you very much, in my very best Elvis voice.

7. My lavender looks like crap so far.... and all the ones near the steps (well established) died out. I think it is that horrible weed... it kills them.   That stinking yarrow crept in and killed that lavender, too.  I'm okay with it . . . . lavender attracts bees like crazy . . . and I have enough bees in my yard with the russian sage . . . . I'm thinking about putting a hibiscus there.  King Soopers has really nice looking hibiscus in front for only $9.99. 

8. Plants separated by visible mulch are builder basic. Like pale beige walls and those lights that look like boobs. Remember the four little junipers, perfectly spaced and surrounded by rocks, in front of the house in town? I hated them from the moment I moved in until the moment we moved. Nature has her own symmetry.... gardeners should look to nature to develop their design. I'm reading a great book right now on garden design. Maybe someday I will actually do it "right."  AMEN!  I'm just saying . . . .   We had that same freaky spacing with those trees along the sides of our house.  And the previous owners put those five trees perfectly spaced on the hill . . . it still makes me nuts!!   I think the same of rocks . . . it still doesn't make sense to me to buy plants, real-flower-bed style plants and stick them into rocks.  Still, it's popular around here . . . . gorgeous flowering plants, planted in a bed of rocks.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Origami 101

I've always wanted to do this.  Learn origami, I mean.  I've had several books that I've thumbed through and somewhere between reverse-fold this and mountain-valley to the opposite tip, I've become frustrated, wadded all my pretty paper into balls and had a basketball shooting contest with the waste can in the office.

Maybe patience and age is paying off along these lines.  I drug this out of the memory last time I was due to complete invoicing.  I taught the big girls how to make fortune tellers and they spent the morning asking yes-no questions of each other with a chorus of happy "do me, do me" coming from Mimi and Little.  I can remember doing these on the bus ride home.  They were used so much the paper practically fell apart.

Once invoicing was complete for the month, I actually started dinkering around with this art of paper folding business.  Look  . . . a butterfly.  That day, we made about 20 of them.  They all went outside to fly . . . this is the only one left.

Not easy, but not hard, either.  I unfolded, refolded and re-did no less than five times on the first one.  But once completed, I had a new-found confidence that let me slide right into frogs.  These were the easiest to do by instruction, for sure.  They're also the hardest for little fingers because the paper gets thick and hard to handle.  Middle is really good at these, and she made a whole frog family for Mimi to play with during one of last week's meetings . . .

Back when I was a waitress, I loved to get folded money as tips.  I had a whole collection of letters, cranes, frogs . . all kinds of things.  During the summer after my senior year of high school, a man left me a folded paper crane as a tip.  It went to college with me and it wasn't until midway through my sophomore year, when I was dirt poor that I unfolded it.  Imagine my surprise when it wasn't a single bill . . it was a hundred.    Anyway, cranes are actually not that hard to do . . .  I left a crane $5 as a tip for Ashley, my favorite Village Inn waitress just last week.

To date, this is my most prized piece.  It's not stable, but it looks cool and is a testament to the patience I had that day . . .

It's kind of a cool new hobby.  I can entertain a kid for a few critical minutes making a frog out of a Costco receipt.  I wish I would have had this jazzy skill when I had itty ones.  At any rate, I might try a few more of the un-beginner things today . . . we'll see.

Family Snapshot . . .

It's been forever since I penned a family snapshot, and I began feeling that necessary urge to jot . . .

I looked back into February looking for the last one, which is probably about right.  Amazing how time flies.

Parent Corner:    MOTH. . . is busy, busy, busy  . . . . . working, working, working.  Is there much else to say?  He's traveling a bit for work this month.  Work has been, odd for the season, busy in the last couple weeks and he's been doing early mornings and late nights peppered with several middle-of-the-night call nights.   Later than usual bedtimes have us both looking bleary eyed at night.   He's admitted that my fireplace idea was a good one and takes an evening catnap from time to time slouched in front of the outdoor fireplace.  He's stressed by things that nothing will heal.  Not time, nor money, nor winning the lotto.  It's a sad place.   I'm busy with the little people.  One is standing in front of me now with sad green eyes looking like he might tattle but has a story to tell.  They're painting with sidewalk paint.  What a genius invention.  And stencils.  That's brilliant.    I'm fitting work in where it fits.  Sometimes that's early morning.  Sometimes, it's late at night.  It fits where it fits and as much as I sometimes question the beast we've created by the "business", I'm eternally grateful, especially in the summers to have time with the kids instead of doing a year round shuffle and daycare dance.  Working from home means the house is never clean, but it means I'm here.  I'm present every day.   Blessing.  And sometimes, curse.   Aside from work, (I mean my real job), I'm finding time here and there to peddle those bags.  The company is changing rapidly and I've elected to stay home from the national meeting this year.  I've lost a touch of faith in the company and am waiting to see if they can survive before I push much harder.  Still, I love the product and find gobs of every day use for many of the items.  I'm still volunteering with PTA at school, coordinating the back-to-school event and working with fundraising.  I'm ever so happy to be off the executive board.  With the booster club things and commitment to gymnastics coming up, I'm thinking it was fate to be finished at this most opportune time.   I'm piddling in the garden, as evidenced by my cluster of recent flower pictures.  Love the yard.  Adore the garden.   I'm working with the dogs and teaching myself origami.  And, I'm on a saving mission . . .

Big . . .
Big's signature phrase right now, is "oh, gosh!"  She also says, "oh, yea" . . kind of like a Minnesotan would.  It cracks me up.  She's a huge help.  Mimi loves her to pieces right now and she's the best big sister ever.  She plays well, laughs often, loves much.  She will still play babies with Mimi and will sit and build legos with Little for hours.  She's playing volleyball, just finished a week long camp at The Academy and is doing a camp at CC next month.  Volleyball is her THING.  She's always serving a ball against the side of the house or setting into the basketball hoop.  She's growing.  She's almost taller than I am.  She's strikingly gorgeous and has that kind of 'nice girl' feel that makes a kid really, really special.

Middle . . .
I've posted so much about gymnastics lately, it feels like there's nothing more to say.  She's at the gym.  A lot.  She comes home tired.  And sometimes crying.    We're reading a book together about the Psychology of Gymnastics.  She's learning.  She's practicing funneling her mental energy.  She's pretty.  And smart. And very sensitive.  Her laugh is absolutely contagious.  She's almost finished with a really good book that she can't seem to put down.  She's a little gardener at heart.  She walks in the yard with me clipping and noting and picking and naming all the things she knows.  I love our time together in the yard.

Little . . .
Man, alive!  The little man is ornery!  He's into singing right now.  He parrots back what just about anyone says but sings it in the most hilarious operatic voice EVER.  He stretches his arms out and opens his mouth wide and belts random words at totally random times.  Yesterday, we were in line to check out at Hobby Lobby.  The cashier said, to the lady in front of me, "have a nice day," and Little stretches his arms out, busts out in opera-mode "have a nice day!!!   And come back soon!!!"    He doesn't even know he's being hilarious.   He can hold a note for a long time and, to be completely honest, can totally embarrass me, depending on the time.  As another observation . . . . and to claim partial responsibility . . . I taught him to do this, sort of.  When he was having a hard time remembering how to spell the words on his spelling list, I taught him to sing them.  It made all the different in the world and soon he was brining home 100%s on spelling tests.  I didn't realize singing would seep into other areas of his life, but it has.  He just sings.   And he loves legos.  And Star Wars.  And Harry Potter.  And he's reading chapter books this summer.  He likes mac and cheese and pizza.  

Mimi . . .
Mimi is growing up.  She's big and full of herself and confident and has made the transition from toddler to tiny-little-person.  She's really competitive . . almost to a fault.  She's always gotta have the last word, even if it is the "I love you -- no -- I love you more -- no -- I love you most-er"  game.  She'll do that whether she wants to be the oldest, tallest, smartest, best swimmer (all of which are obviously wrong!!) or she wants to be first in line or last on the potty.   Reverse psychology works wonders on this one.   If I want her to have water, all I have to say is "juice doesn't taste good right now" and she'll add on . . . "it's yuckier . . I only like water."  Right.   I've always said parenting is about pushing the right buttons for the kid, at the moment.  I've totally got her number, right now, for this very, very narrow window of time.   Her vocabulary is expanding.  She called Little' milk "nasty" this morning and routinely says things are "disgusting".   I almost cried the other day when she said "helicopter".   Up until recently, she's said "horkee" for "horses" and "cop-i-nopter" for "helicopter".  She's growing up.  I know, because she can say "horse" and "helicopter".    I can't close this most without talking about Mimi singing.  The first kid sings nursery rhymes.  Mary had a little lamb.  Twinkle twinkle little star.  This one sings songs from Rock Band or the radio.  This week, she had MOTH in stitches as she jumped on the trampoline belting, "hallelujah, it's raining men."

I don't usually include stuff about other family . . . but feel like I should this time . . .

My mom . . . is great.  She's happy and healthy.  She's adjusted to a new insulin routine, is teaching several sessions of water aerobics every week and has developed a close bunch of friends that live near her.

My dad  . .  is doing well, too.  He's through his first six-week treatment series for bladder cancer.  We're planning a visit to see him late this month or early next month.

Pictures.  Not this time.  You're bored anyway.  And, I have to go . . .

Thursday: The Garden Edition

I walked around the yard this morning admiring new things and taking pictures.  Zen moment.

Morning glory & these terrible marguerite daisies.   These are coming up next
to this little baby aspen tree.  I've had this tree for, um, forever.  It was a tiny
little thing that I transplanted from my uncle's yard about 6 years ago.
It's pathetic, but persistent.    Marguerite daisies . . . I suddenly feel like I've hurt their feelings . . .
it's just that I prefer a shasta much, much more.  I'm a daisy snob.

It's a classic coreopsis . . . these and blanket flowers pop up all over my yard,
generally in places where I don't really want them, but they don't transplant all
that well . . . . so I just let them be there.  Happy little misfits . . . 

There's not much blooming in the yard this week,
so it gives me time to appreciate the non-bloomers.  
I have this great patch of only mildly trompled ribbon grass that frames the upper
patio in a pretty little sort-of semi-circle.   Unfortunately, Moose loves to lay in it, so it
sometimes looks like a deer bedded down, but it really is a nice color variety.

Virginia Creeper on the right fence.  I love this stuff. 

A giant autumn joy sedum and a baby daisy tucked into the back of
'the mother's day bed'. 

It's a decent peony after all!! 

Lupine's gonna bloom soon . . . 

Day lilies are popping out here and there.  These are my
least favorite . . . kinda boring, but they get me excited for the
red ones . . . 

One dead lavender.  How sad.

This bed is always forgotten.  I tend to pile yard waste in it.
I actually built the bricks around this cottonwood clump that suckered &
came up on its own.  I transplanted a tiny little shrub in there.  Back surgery
last year lent nothing but neglect to this.  I cleaned it out and found such a
variety of wonderful things:  iris, raspberry, sedum, delphinium, some cast off asters,
a decent winter creeper &, oh heck, what's the name of that stuff . . . dianthus.

Mother's Day bed.  I like this full look.  I was so surprised a couple weeks ago
to hear someone say they like their plants separated with visible mulch between each one.
I've never thought of myself as a cluttery person . . . but apparently
my garden is a cluttered, overgrown mess.
Guess what?
I like it.  Cottage garden, full of height and blooms and busy with
textures . . . I like it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sidewalk Chalk

This was a happy morning.  I was digging and trimming the tree and the kids were playing and scootering and drawing and doing bubbles.  I like this photo from today, a sliver of our day . . . .

Booster Club . . .

I've been trying to purge some extra stuff lately.  Random blog posts about things like booster club and school work.  Go figure.  I write about things that are at the forefront of my brain space.  Here's a topic that's taking a lot of mental power lately.

Gymnastics.  And booster club.


I'm not a sport virgin.  I get it.  I understand non-profits and parent organizations and offsetting costs.  I understand team mentality and the feeling of community.  I get the weakest link deal. I get it.  I'm not naive or blind.  I know now, as I have always known that as Middle advanced through some levels of gymnastics, eventually the cost and time commitment would increase.   But, I didn't know much about the parent non-profit booster club that is affiliated with THIS gym.  So last week, there was a very nicely put together packet of information for me at the front desk.  It looked sharp and for the first time since we started at this gym, I thought, "hmm, maybe they do know our names."   I brought it home.  I put it on the counter resolving to read it later.

Later came and went.  And then an email came with an invitation to come to a new-parent-only booster club meeting.  There's a team mom that encouraged attendance, prefacing it with something like, "the first meeting is so long and has so much information, it would be good to get some questions answered before the meeting . . . " It was scheduled for a good time, and let's be honest:  I did have questions, so I went.

Backtracking . .  . I sat down to read the packet the night before.  There was lots of general discussion about being "active" or "inactive" and it outlines the time commitment, volunteer wise for the booster club (which, by the way, is different than the volunteer time commitment for the GYM).  And then, this word kept surfacing that gave me pause.  The word is "Bingo."  As in, ". . . and Bingo was his name-oh."

Ok, except for the iPad app of road trip bingo finding street signs, deer and power lines, I don't play bingo. Our bingo game lost lots of pieces a long time ago, and now it's just a random grouping of balls stamped with a letter and a number.  As I read, my mind began conjuring up these images of bingo night . . . a bunch of parents gathered together like a bunco party.  I couldn't quite make the mental leap to how this bingo thing is such a fantastic fundraiser.  I just didn't get it.   As well, I didn't really get what kind of cost off-setting the booster club was responsible for.  In my mind, it seemed like it couldn't be much with a weekly game of bingo among parents . . . .

Anyhoo . . . consider me schooled.  This ain't your mama's kind of bingo, folks. Here's what I know now, after the preliminary booster club meeting.

* Active means that you 'owe' the booster club 25 hours of volunteer time.
* Inactive means that you 'owe' the booster club 25 hours of volunteer time.
* Active means that you agree to participate in bingo nights and be in a four week rotation of parents who are divided into teams to RUN, staff and maintain three weekly BINGO nights at a REAL local bingo "parlor".  Is it still a parlor?  Or a hall?  I'm not sure.
*  Inactive equals no bingo.
*  It's real, live, down-to-your-last-dollar, serve-me-a-beer-and-bring-me-some-peanuts gambling, folks.
*  It raises a shit load of money.  Shit. Load.
*  Active means that in exchange for braving the bingo hall on your four week rotation, you can submit receipts for your gymnasts applicable expenses, including travel.   Hmm.  That gave me pause.  Think, think, think.
*  So, to boil it down, you owe volunteer time to the gym.  Can't get out of it.
*  And you owe volunteer time to the booster club, whether you elect to be active or inactive.
*  But . . if you check the box next to active, there's a strong possibility that in exchange for being a cashier, caller or some other random bingo parlor job participant, this whole gymnastics gig just might drop down into the affordable range.
*  Point to ponder:  if you check "inactive" this year and want to be "active" next year, after you test the waters and really get a grip on travel fees, coaches fees, entry fees, fees, fees, fees, there's a $300 penalty.  Hmm.  Again, I pause and think, think, think.
*  Oh, if you are active and don't put in your 25 hours, you have to pay for what you didn't do -- at $15 per hour.
*  Hours.  Tuesday from 5:45 to 10 pm.  Um, that's past my bedtime.
*  Hours.  Thursday from 5:45 to 1:30 am.  Wha??  Think of me as the kind of girl who doesn't stay up for fireworks on new year's eve.  I haven't seen the wee hours of the morning unless I was (a) vomiting or (b) sleepwalking in to get a squawking kid and shove a boob in it's mouth, in about, um 10 years, at least.   Well, I worked night shifts when Big was a baby, but she'll be 12 in the fall.  So, yea, a decade of 9 pm bedtime.  I don't even see the nightly news.  I start seeing double at 8:30, and by 9, even MOTH can barely talk to me.    So, I guess Tuesdays are the night.

Blink. Blink.  Blink.
It's almost been a week and I still can't really wrap my mind around all the details.

Monday, June 20, 2011

How to Build a Snowman, By Little

I told ya I was scanning school work this morning.  I actually teared up a little when I read this one.  It struck me as so precious and sweet.  And the handwriting and spelling are perfect -- such an innocent reminder of how perfectly imperfect first graders are . . . .

How to Build a Snoman, by Little

First you have to roll three snow balls because thats the rooll.   

Next you put them on top of ech uther going yumunges meddeum and then smol.  

Then coal eyes and a carat noes and a doler for a mouth and a stov-pip hat.  At last legos for butens a rac for one arem a shuvel for the other a jetpac to that spras blou and red fier.

I left all of the mis-spellings . . . . but someday, I'm hoping he finds this and chuckles at how he thought it was a "rule".  I especially love the word humongous.  I use it all the time and am not surprised that he threw it in.  We made a snowman with a rake and a shovel for arms so I'm not shocked at that, either.  Best of all . . . how authentically little boy to have a snowman wearing a jet-pack that sprays blue and red fire.  How manly.

My Peony . . . So not what I thought . . .


I've been so eagerly awaiting the opening of this fabulous peony.  Heck, it's only  been about five years.

Here it is.  Don't get me wrong, it's lovely and beautiful, but . . .

. . . here's why the har-humph.  This is what I wanted, what I've been dreaming about  . . . .
They are SO NOT the same thing.

Secrets II

So, I love this post by blogger-friend (can people REALLY be cyber-buddies?) Heather . . . .

I've spent so many minutes, hours, weeks, days pounding at the keyboard, peeling off layers of the masks we wear and digging into the real meat of who we are, who I am, as a person that I found it refreshing and honest to have someone else use a blogger platform to spill it.

Interesting . . . . I just drafted a post about the IT . . the IT of life.  Here's part of it:

The sad truth about IT, the great unspoken IT, is that IT happens to everyone at some point or another.  In some year, one month, one time or another in your life, everyone's life, something terrible will happen.  Something so terrible that you'll want to choose death over navigating the circumstances.  Something so gut-wrenching and heart-wrenching and wrong happens that IT keeps you up at night.  You can't make it through a day.  Any friends you have quickly duck and run when they see you coming.  Because that something is infectious.  It's viral.  Close contact with YOU, the infected one isn't recommended.

IT can be anything.  IT will lead you into a dark and terrible hole, under the proverbial rock where nasty creatures dwell.  IT could be a death.  Your mother, your father, a child, your spouse.  IT  could be a divorce.  Your parents, your best friends, you.  IT could be illness.  Dad's bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, mom's diabetes, your son's asthma, obesity, a tumor.  Your IT is likely different that my IT.  My IT is different from other ITS.  IT might recur.   Whatever IT is, whenever IT happens, IT sucks.

But here's one thing I know about IT.  IT gives me perspective.  All of my ITS break my rules of blogger taboo topics.  There are a few things that are blogger-banned.  By me.

It was a pity-party post that was a semi-connected link to another blogger-buddy, Disney Redhead's post.  Read it here.

I've been thinking long and hard lately about minimizing regrets.  I think life, in large part, is about calming the storm, listening to your internal whisper and avoiding doing things that you'll regret.  Regretfully, regrets fall among the many blogger taboo topics . . . which brings me to blogging.  Blogging is honest for me, and open, and authentically me, and I don't believe I'll ever be sorry that I chose to cultivate the inner-writer by blogging.   I do, however, have many moments where I wish beyond all wishes that my name, as well as my blogger address would have been kept confidential.  It is very hard to be open, honest, transparent while constantly filtering what comes out through the keyboard.  There's more comfort in strangers, sometimes.

At any rate . . . such has become a long rambling post about nothing, so on to more productive things.  I have Monday morning mayhem happening in my house.  It's rainy and cold, so I'm roasting a chicken, because I can stand to have the oven on.  I'm sorting bills, printing labels for stuff sold on ebay this weekend, tidying after a sleepover, sending one of the kids over to help decorate for VBS, scanning the rest of the paperwork from school, creating a recycle pile, organizing my thoughts and getting ready to paint rocks.  I need a food plan this week.  The kids are eating me out of house and home.  Having everyone home all day makes for endless grazing.  If the weather stays cloudy, cookies are certainly in order this afternoon.  I want to squeeze in a workout.  It's mid-year, so I have a burning desire to assess by resolution list and see how I've done and what needs doing.  My peony bloomed.  I want to post a picture.  I'm following a true love of mine and doing a gardening project for a friend.  I'm designing and garden-scaping an flower bed.  I've got a $100 budget, but am shooting to really impress and come in around $40.  I want to tear into the storage room and see what kind of treasures are hiding in there, but I've just been challenged to some Rock Band.  I never turn that down . . . I'm the lead singer, so if I didn't have alot to do before, now I have to belt some tunes . . . .

More later, I am certain.

Friday, June 17, 2011


When Mimi lives in my belly, Little was just certain she was a boy.  He begged God for a boy.  He bargained and pleaded and reckoned with everything.  He had her named.  She was destined to be Thor-Girl.  Second in line was She-Hulk.    He was really sad when Mimi turned out to be a girl instead of a boy.  But, now, I think he might be glad that she has her softer side and likes Dora, but can also wield a light sabre and wear a Thor helmet with the best of them . . .

Looks like rain . . . .

And I'm hoping it does!!  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ok, I'll be honest.  I didn't have a picture for the "A Year in Photos" Challenge, so much like the eenie-meenie-miney-mo system,  I randomly chose a picture from my photo archives.  I didn't look, but here it is.

That's Big and Little.  Winter of 2005.  We must have just moved in to this house.  I'm basing that on . . . the paci . . . no fence (that went in the 1st summer) and Big's long hair and all of her baby teeth, so she would have been in kindergarten.

Mandatory Meeting with the Gym Owner

Here's a list of important things I learned at the Mandatory Parent Meeting with the gym owner last week:

* The gym's mission is to help each gymnast be the very best that they can be, for as long as they want to go.   That can mean that they stop at level 6.  This gym is also equipped and staffed to get a young gymnast seen at the national level.
* There is an extensive team of coaches for the team girls.  At least six.  They are all highly qualified.  This is their job, not a hobby.  They hold certifications and a variety of other things that make them worthy of our time and money.
* Trust is key.  If you don't trust your kids' coach, you should move to another gym.
* Cost.  Is a lot.  But it's kept down by the owner's assumption that all team parents will tow their share of the line and help the gym host home meets.  There are three home meets.
* My daughter was handpicked.
* The gym owner says he has no doubt that my child is meant to be in this spot, right now, on this team.
* The gym's vision for my child is very long sighted.  Their focus, even now, with my nine-year old kid, is getting them noticed in their sophomore or junior year of high school, when scholarship scouts are on the prowl for girls.
*  They will never weigh my kid.
*  One primary goal is to build good citizens and sports, through gymnastics.
*  They teach life lessons.
*  And I quote, "if you aren't watching what goes into your child as far as healthy food, solid snacks and quality meals now, then I encourage you do get on the bandwagon."  The gist:  kids can no more do well at this sport when they are fueled by hamburgers, happy meals and sweet tarts than fly.   Take the opportunity to get your whole family on the right track.  Invest in the nutritional status of your whole family.
* More on nutrition:  If you don't already, limit soda or eliminate it completely.   Soda is known to alter bone density and make strong bones very weak.  Of all athletes, gymnasts can not afford to have weak bones.  They need strong bones to absorb all of the impact of gravity defying tricks.
* More on nutrition:  Throw what you know about carb loading before meets out the window.  Gymnasts are anaerobic athletes that require short bursts of intense activity.  They go for 90 seconds at a time, at the most.  There is no need for a giant pile of spaghetti the night before a meet.  They need sleep, water and fruit.  Crackers? No.  Popcorn? Not really.
* There's an open door policy.
* Come watch your kid anytime, preferably when they don't know you are there.
* Get the full story . . . especially when or if your kid comes home distraught, crying or upset.
* Talk to their coach, but not at a time when they are coaching.
*  Parents are responsible for getting athletes to away meets ON TIME.  I actually think he looked me in the eye when he said ON TIME.
*  They need a competition leotard.
*  And warm ups.  Top and bottoms.
*  And a warm up leotard.
*  And a bag.
*  There's a team mom that holds a hair clinic.  Hair can't be longer than shoulder length when it's in a ponytail.  If it is, you have to cut hair or learn to do a bun or springy curls.
*  No nail polish at meets.
*  There's a team building thing coming up where we make flip flops and scrunchies for the kids.
*  There's a booster club.  Supposedly, membership is optional, but can drastically offset the financial aspect.  More to come next week.
*  This gym owner, while he's the OWNER . . is still a coach.  He's actively out there with the girls at every level.  He tolerates no 'mean girls'.  In the meeting, he said, "if your daughter is bringing drama to the gym and I find out that she is at the center of it, I will invite you to leave the program. "  Simply stated, there is no room for drama or poor manners.  I liked that part.  I like it when leadership figures expect excellence from my kids.
* Don't feed the rumor mill.  Ever.
* Don't ever question scoring, especially at a meet.
* Take some time to learn gymnastics meet etiquette.

There might have been more   . . . but I can't recall it all.  I was taking notes on my iPad but it suddenly dawned on me that I looked as if I were playing an app and not tuned in, so I stopped in the name of courtesy.