Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dear Homestead,

Please come visit me.  I have to take you and your lovely kids to see this:

Aren't these THE coolest forts you have EVER seen in your whole life?  They're on the corner of Cache & Cascade . . . see Worner Center behind there?  Apparently, it was a project some years back.  They are so stinkin' rad.  You can go in there and see up inside.  There are four or five of them all naturally nestled in the cottonless cottonwoods on the corner.  It will blow your mind.   I'm dying to figure out how to make one.  They kind of look like living willow, but they're not green!!

It's amazing.  Come see me.


Doesn't seem like much to you?

What?  That's nothing remarkable to you?  It's nothing short of extraordinary to me, for this is not just the bottom of any old giant basket.  This is the bottom of my laundry basket.  It's fabulous.  And more than an empty laundry basket, I should have photographed an empty bed.  No piles on my bed.  And empty rails.  I have a nasty habit of pulling warm laundry out of the dryer and putting it over the rails in piles for each kid.  (Remember, we don't have any dressers, so what's the point of folding all of that just to go hang it up!!)  I'm feeling especially accomplished right now with an empty basket, no piles on the bed and naked rails, too!  Go me.

Blah plus Tired

I've been Blah.
Plus Tired.

The first week of school absolutely TOOK it out of me.   I can only imagine how the kids feel.  We're just plain tuckered out.   I'm mentally spent from contemplating money, money at work, stressed about contracts, dinkering with MOTH's call schedule and pondering a whole bunch of solo-travel to meets across the state.  I'm exhausted at the very thought of doing the DC trip with my dad.  My brother's life has been nutty lately and he's backed out and re-inserted himself as the guardian traveling with my dad.  Changing plans meant lots of communication with a very crotchety old geezer who is in charge of the state's organization.   I've been coordinating the social and sports calendar for the fall semester.  Ee-gads is all I have to say.  But before you pass judgement, it's okay  . . I've got this.   For the record, it wouldn't be any better if we only had two kids.  It's the two older ones that are the busiest.    

I went to Parent's Open House at Big's school last week.  Middle school.  It was a great open house.  Lots of information.  I met all but one of her teachers, because, well, because I wanted to.  I listened to the policies and the rig-a-ma-roll on how to cover homework and absences.  What do do with a variety of parental concerns.  I listened to the schpeels on "everybody engaged".  I get it and I absolutely love the idea.  I love the idea of a partnership with parents and the schools instead of being left out of the loop.  Love. Love. Love.  

I have to write a little about how times are changing.  Yes, that makes me feel like a dinosaur.  Most times, I consider myself a pretty hip & cool mom.  I get text messaging and I speak the language of moody pre-teens.   But school has changed.  The expectations have changed.  A LOT.  It was kind of a surreal moment to come home and say to my not-even-a-teenager-yet daughter . . .

1.  Could you please sign me up for all the notify lists for your teachers on-line websites?  Yes.  All of her teachers post everything online.  Kids are expected to use the website as a syllabus, as it were, for the year. I think I really learned what a syllabus was in college.  Now, it's 6th grade.  They check homework, assignments and test dates on line.  Hmmm.  At open house, I learned that she earns something fabulous if she subscribes her parental units to get email notifications when something is updated.  Imagine my surprise when she said, "Oh, yea, I meant to talk to you about that.  I already did that, I hope that's okay."  Why, YES  .. . Thank the Gods she's on top of these things.

2.  Parent Connect.   Again, something not in existence in the days of the tattered old green grade book.  I can remember my mom keep track of HER students grades in those things.  Now, teachers put them into "the system" and kids & parents can log in at any time to play big brother.  

3.  Online textbooks.  Seriously.  They have video tutorials built in.  Um, wow, is all I really have to say to that.  And, "keep your password in a safe place, honey."  (That mostly seems like an appropriate thing to say anytime we deal with passwords, right?)

4.  A policy on digital thingies.  I signed a policy on digital thingies.  Actually, I signed two.  One is specifically for a digital photography class that Big is taking.  It's a whole room of iMacs.  Seriously.  The classroom looks like a Mac superstore at the mall, and has tablets at every station, too.  And a smart board.  That thing is rad.  Oh, to a child learning in this century.  How exciting.   So I signed a paper saying I would replace anything that my student jacks up during the class.  So if she spills green tea on the keyboard . . cha-ching.  If she drops a tablet . . . cha-ching.  If she loses the Nikon . . . cha-ching.   Then, I said, "honey, google the cost of these things, so you know how much babysitting you'll have to do if you jack something up."   I also signed a policy on cell phones, MP3 players and gaming devices.   In essence, they can't be seen or heard during school hours.  Makes sense.    I remember being in 6th grade and feeling like a complete rule-breaker when I snuck my brother's walkman into my backpack.  See, times change.  Big takes her cell to school and texts me when she is safely on grounds.

Alright, I have a lot more to say.  A LOT.  I've been stringing together lots of simple and superficial posts, but I actually have a few things to say.  But not now.  Mimi has gymnastics in 15 minutes and we're gonna be late if I don't move my ass.  Right. Now.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jazzy McJazzerson

Okay . . . the truth about this baby cockatiel is:

He acts more like a puppy than a bird.  He's a baby.  He paces and squawks in his cage when he wants out.  He loves to ride on shoulders.  When he's there, he finds a fringe of hair hanging down snuggles into it, draping hair over his back and wrapping himself up with it.  When the kids come home from school, it's his signal for playtime.  He comes out of his cage for homework time and is rotten, rotten, rotten.  He mooches their snacks, steals their pencils and is a sucker for attention.  

Middle and Little let him ride on the fire truck.  He's the chief. 

Mimi LOVES birdie.

He loves being right next to a cheek, and is especially obsessed with Middle's eyelashes.  Try explaining that "community grooming" idea . . . aka "he does it because he loves you" to a nine-year old that is dying laughing.

Jaz says, "homework schmomework . . let's play with the pencil."

". . . or the eraser, yeah, yeah, I like the eraser."

Now he's perched on her back.  As a side note, why do my kids love to do their homework while they LAY on the counter? 

Mimi is fearless w/ the bird.  In this picture, I like her hat better than the bird! 


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bye bye, little girl!!

Here's my little girl.  Well, one of them.  I know because she was mis-matched and carefree.  She wore sparkly light up glasses and had snaggle-teeth poking out everywhere.

Here's my little girl now . . .

Okay, the truth is that we were on our summer date and we were trying on crazy and outlandish shoes in Marshalls.  This is NOT her everyday foot wear, but my GAWD, would you look at the length of those legs?  She's two inches shorter than I am now.  Two stinkin' inches.  The kid is ELEVEN.   (Though she would quickly interject, "ALMOST TWELVE!!" )

What's a good Marshalls shopping date without trying on bra-wear for your face?  Okay, sleeping masks.  Whatever. But they are molded like D-cups.

If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again

If I had my child to raise over again,
I'd finger paint more  . . . and point fingers less.
I'd do less correcting . . . and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch . . . and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less . . . and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes . . . and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious . . . and seriously play.
I'd run through more fields . . . and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging . . . and less tugging.
I would be firm less often . . . and affirm much more.
I'd build self-esteem first . . . and the house later.
I'd teach less about the love of power . . . and more about the power of love.

- Diana Loomans

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tiny Gymnasts . . .

Middle, age 3, or maybe 4 . . .
See that second toe on her right foot?
She still does that when she's concentrating or thinking . . that toe twitches and bends inward.
I find it adorable.
Dang, she was cute. 

Mimi, age 3 . . . almost four . . . .
She does this "skill" really well & loves to be up-side-down.  She's strong as an ox.  She did eight pull ups on her own last week.  Which made me wonder . . . how many pull ups can I do?  I'm gonna figure it out this week.  I watched Middle do 20 in strength on Saturday.  I'm shooting for three.  We'll see. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Taco Seasoning

Thanks, Mom of 3J's . . . for the homemade-my-kids-like-it-better AND no-MSG recipe . . . .

¼  tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp oregano
¼ tsp salt

What a grizzly lot . . .

. . . faces only a mother could love, right?

Here's the picture that prompted my new haircut and fabulous forehead-wrinkle-hiding fringy bangs.  Whatever.  The sun was in my eyes.  I naturally scowl.  Remember the ages in our family are way off, because my dad married late and had me when he was 55, so all of these "first cousins" are considerably older than I am . . . some are grandparents.  The closest in age to me is at least 10 years older.  By the way, a photo of my new hair  look coming soon . . . .

These are all of my cousins . . . and me . . . with Mimi, cause she wouldn't leave my side.  She's holding Darleen, who goes everywhere with us . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blast from the past yard pictures . . .

Oh my gosh!  They are so stinkin' cute!  I had all but forgotten about Middle's shoes.  She loved those mismatched crocs and one one pink and one purple all the time.  

That whole corner has grown in with creeper now . . . . and that chair is long gone. 

That's Big with her snow crab in the spring of 2005, I think.  She would have been in kindergarten.  I only know because of those jeans.  They were her favorite.  The tree didn't make it.  Neither did the softball stint.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Is Love?

A group of professional people posed this question to a bunch of 4-8 year old kids.  Amazing responses. 

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.' Rebecca- age 8 

'When someone loves you , the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.' Billy - age 4 

'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.' Karl - age 5 

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.'  Chrissy - age 6 

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.' Terri - age 4 

'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him , to make sure the taste is OK.' Danny - age 7 

'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing , you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss' Emily - age 8 

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.' Bobby - age 7 (Wow!) 

'If you want to learn to love better , you should start with a friend who you hate, ' Nikka - age 6 (we need a few million more Nikka's on this planet)

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt , then he wears it everyday.' Noelle - age 7 

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.' Tommy - age 6 

'During my piano recital , I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.' Cindy - age 8 

'My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.' Clare - age 6 

'Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.' Elaine-age 5 

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.' Chris - age 7

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.' Mary Ann - age 4 

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.' Lauren - age 4 

'When you love somebody , your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' (what an image) Karen - age

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross.' Mark - age 6 

'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it , you should say it a lot. People forget.' Jessica - age 8 

One more:  A four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said , 'Nothing, I just helped him cry'

"Bada-bing" sparkly . . .

That's what Middle says, her fabulous descriptive words about her brand spankin' new competition leotard.  They were distributed to compulsory girls on Saturday . . . . they're pretty sweet :)

Team colors are changing this year -- that's why the jacket is red and the leo is orange.  Next year's jackets will match the new leos.

Moose behind her might take away just a tad, don't you think? 

Welcome to the gun show! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

1st day of school . . my middle school kid

1st day of school . . . My Elementary School Kids


Meet Jaz.  He's the newest addition to our family.  He's about, uh, 8 weeks old . . hand tamed, hand raised pearl cockatiel.  He's super sweet & the kids absolutely adore him!

Can I just be honest for a moment?

Okay, I'm feeling a moment of truth coming on.  A honest moment.  And here it is . . . . I'm exhausted.  I feel like I have run a friggin' marathon the last few days.  We've been going from the minute our feet hit the floor in the morning & we haven't stopped until bedtime.

Monday . . . . Mimi started school.  She was super excited and a total rock star.  Too bad her new teacher didn't share that enthusiasm.  I'm never sure how to take a "new" teacher.  Maybe Heather can help . . . . seems like on a little kids' first day, a smile is in order, a little bit of friendly topping to help quell the anxiety and ease the transition.  Mimi's independent and totally on her own . . . . I don't need a teacher to openly distract her or take her hand from mine, but it would be nice if she acknowledged that we have entered the classroom.  A "good morning" seems in order to me.  Anyhoo . . . I'm thinking she's sizing us up, too, so I'll let the first day slide.  Heck, maybe she's a sub.  And truth be told, Mimi didn't need it.  I did.  I like to know that someone knows our names.  It helps when I write the check for (cough, hack) all that cold, hard cash.   With Mimi off to school, we took care of middle school registration for Big.  She got her class schedule, locker combination, school ID, yadda yadda yadda.    I ran an errand, picked her back up after the 8th grade trust team did the in-depth orientation with the 6th grade crew.    The rest of Monday I spent doing prep work and executing back-to-school night at the elementary school.  We have a nautical theme going this year, so we hung boat flags, cut watermelon, served goldfish, made lemonade, did a boardwalk game area where the kids played while they waited for the ribbon cutting on the new playground.  Five years of fundraising and work is officially done with the installation and dedication of this playground.  I'm so glad.  And so relieved.  And so done.  Middle got a great teacher.  Little got a great teacher.  Yeah for us.  Good year ahead.   MOTH thought far enough ahead to pick up dinner.  And show up for a few minutes for the kids.  Yea, MOTH.

Tuesday .  . . . is Mimi's gymnastics day.  Here's a funny thought.  Her "coach-slash-teacher" came out after class and talked to me about moving her to an advanced class.  I chuckle.  What, exactly, does an advanced class DO at this age?  Not sure.  My first questions are:  (1) is she ready for that? and (2) is it more money?   She's moving, mostly because I appreciate the focus of an advanced class.  There's a hefty portion of this class that just screws off.  After gymnastics, there were physicals for Big, Middle & Little.  I'm a believer in well child checks.  What can I say.  They're all healthy.  Middle and Little and tiny people.  Middle is in the 17% for height.  Little is the the 10th percentile.   Big got two shots.  We ate lunch together.  We went to the Middle school and put supplies in her locker.  No, I didn't have the foresight on Monday morning.  And, they weren't ready.  And, in retrospect, I'm glad we didn't take them.  The lines were like airport security and I would not have wanted to hold all that crap anyway.  Then to the grocery store for lunch packing provisions.  Home for a bit before gymnastics, BINGO, and a few other random things.    I read classic back-to-school books to the whole crew last night at bedtime. Do Unto Otters.  Read it.  It's one of my favorites.

And a few random thoughts:

1.  I asked Big if she's nervous.  She says, "Not at all  . . the school will be fine, the kids will be fine, but I'm a little afraid of other's kids' moms."  Hmmm.  Think about that for a while.   In classic mommy style, I'm wondering where I went wrong?  What soft parenting moment lead to that?  Should I have been more forceful?  More protective?  Taken a firmer stand?
2.  Jaz.  Pictures and posts coming of our new addition.  Jaz.
3.  Taco night.  Because back-to-school means getting serious about feeding the swarm on time so that bedtime happens at the right time.  Late bedtime means cranky kids in the morning . . . and there will be none of that here!!
4.  I had exactly no kids for several hours today.  I got a pedicure.  And had my nails done.  My nails actually kind of hurt right now, but they look SWEET.
5.  It's gonna take me a few days to get this schedule nailed down.  Three different schools this year equals three different start times.   And they kind of overlap.  Hmmm.  Also three different end times.  Double hmmm.

Pictures, pictures . . . must upload pictures.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Last Hoorah . . .

We fun parents of summer always try for one last hoorah, right.   Summer's been great and I'm actually, for the first time ever NOT ready to have everyone back in school . . . I'm just feeling not-done playing with the kids, but, alas . . . .

We took our last hoorah last weekend.  Super fast up and back trip up to the mile-high city.  We paid too much for a hotel room, gorged on breakfast buffet, walked the 16th street mall watching people and, well, watching people.  We ate out, hit the zoo and marveled at the "skyscrapers".  We swam and hot-tubbed and piddled around for a day and a while.

Moo again.

We like this building.

Our hotel.  Middle loved riding the elevator to the 20th floor.  It's the little things that make a kids' day.


Mimi is mildly obsessed with camels right now.  Everything is a camel and she only wants to see the camels.  Finally, we got to the camels.  They had two-humpers and the one-hump variety.  She likes them all. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Middle's Tree . . then and now . . .

Spring 2006.  I planted this tree for Middle.  I chose this one because (a) she likes pink-flower trees and (b) it's called a Thunderchild.  I couldn't think of anything more appropriate at the time. 

Summer 2007.  Middle is 5. 

Summer 2011.  Middle is 9.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tweeters . . .

Have I blogged about how much I love the birds in the backyard?  Have I confessed to how ANCIENT that makes me feel?  It's like a secret, hidden thing that I enjoy.   I'm accepting the whatever.  I've been down on myself for failed friendships lately.  I feel like I should come with a warning.  Something like, "I might seem like I'd be a good friend, but trust me, things will get screwed up.  I have thin skin.   Bash me all you want, but don't go there with my kids."  Or maybe something more to the point like, "Don't even think about befriending me.  I will bring you heartache."

Anyway, I can be friends with the birds.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Painting the Hor-kee

It was a good project.  She worked long and hard.  And only made a little bit of a mess.  We fixed & breathed life into "Star", her most awesome spring horse.

Planking at the Dunes

"God, our Father, walk through my house and take away 
all my worries and illnesses and please watch over and heal my 
family, Amen." 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Today's Flowers

These are the red ones that I adore.

I like hollyhocks.  I like how they are independent and unpredictable.  The come up where ever they want and bloom only if they want.  I'm missing all my double hollyhocks this year.  Hmm.

These are a new variety this year.

The Russian Sage . . . it's a bee magnet but it sure is a striking color at this time of year. 

All all white hollyhock.  It's all by itself on the opposite side of the yard.  Not a friend in sight.

Hostas, oh, hostas. 

Penstamon  . . . lots of it.  I'm thinking a shed would be nice here.  A narrow one that would sit right up against the house.  At least the mower would fit in it. 

I love, love, love these!!