Friday, September 30, 2011

True Love

Ah, remember love when tender.   There were  notes left under windshield wipers, sweet somethings, soft kisses goodnight.  There was the age old, "no, you pick" conversation.


I posted a picture of love.  Love right  now, anyway.  Double whatever.  To you, it might look like a iPhone picture of my trash cans.  You're right.  But it's also photographic evidence of true love.  Because, let's be real.  After this many years of romancing the same man, it is true love that he remembers to put the trash out (at all).  Add to that that a busy Friday, end of the month (so get the deposit in), walk-your-child-to-school-day and FIELD day for the elementary school gang, along with Australian outback dress day for Mimi and oh-don't-forget-the-homemade-salsa for Big's 1st period Mexican fiesta day, and when I see another responsible adult has put the trash out . . . that's true love.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Quick . . .

Quick . . .
Without over-thinking it, give me your thoughts on forgiveness.

Are you the forgiving type?  Is there a situation that's unforgivable?  What about your kids?  Are they live-and-let-live, easy-going types or do they hold a grudge?   Without googling the unforgivable sin and without being overly theological . . . is there an unforgivable sin, according to you?

Quick.  Set the comment box on fire.  Go.



What's the purpose?

I'm thinking the sole purpose of school pictures might, indeed, be to capture the worst possible image of your child.  This image is THE one stored for all time and eternity in yearbooks, grandma's picture frames, keycards and student IDs.  I'm not sure a single school portrait is actually worth the stamp it takes to mail the payment.  My kids are so much cuter than this.  Also, some AWESOME photographic assistant managed to let my son through the line and all the way to his spot in front of the camera with his lunch plastered all over his face.  Yes, I've already re-touched, enhanced and color corrected these in iPhoto . . . and they're STILL bad!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Up to my ears in . . .

I'm maxed.

I don't have a great title for this post, probably because my mind is whirling so fast I can't really focus on one thing.  But I'm feeling maxed, so that's it.  I'm up to my ears in ______________ (yea, go ahead, fill in the blank.)

I'm up to my ears in work.  I've been procrastinating so the pile on my desk is big.  And overwhelming.   This is my REAL job . . . not my "for fun" job, so  I need to get my ass in gear but every time I start, someone interrupts me.  "Working" for me is too-often peppered with "mom, can you get me a drink" or "mom, I need a wipe" or "mom, do you think this needs stitches."  I need to finish this month's accounting.  I need to post payments.  I need to work through payroll for the first time.  I need to scan these files.

I'm up to my ears in household manager stuff.  I'm that person in our house.  I coordinate the schedules.  I mesh the volleyball practice schedule with games.  I marry that with gymnastic practices and meets, travel time.  I pay the bills.  I do the laundry.  I maintain the house.  I order coffee and re-order checks.  I'm the house person, inside and out.  My list is long right now.  Just in the kitchen.  My office is a whole different story.  It will take me hours to tunnel out.  

I'm up to my ears in kid-stuff.  The first bit of school is crazy as heck with conferences and getting everyone going in the right direction.  Middle and Little both had field trips last week.  There's been money going this way and money going that way. I've had two open houses and two meetings with GT coordinators for plans for kids.  I've been supervising homework so we get off on the right start.  Though I'm not a PTA officer this year, I did agree to do fundraising.

So, I've been up to my ears in fundraising.  It  will be over and buttoned up as of this week, but it's left me a touch bitter.  Between me and my co-chair, no less than a dozen moms have called or emailed and absolutely LIT us up about something they are unhappy about.  A couple have made God-awful scenes in the office.  They've made absolute asses of themselves and labeled themselves as "that mother".  I've been trying to keep the faith and maintain perspective, but a couple of times, in my most honest moments, I've wanted to say, "PTA just sunk 30K into that playground . . and in years before that, we bought every one of those picnic tables and benches.  So, if you don't want to participate, that's fine.  Opt out.  But be supportive.  Or keep your kid off the playground.  And they should park their ass on the grass to eat lunch, too.  Have a nice day."

I'm up to my ears in laundry, for sure.  That being said, the dryer just buzzed again . . . . off I go.  Again.

Piddling around with my camera . . . .

At volleyball . . . and got this shot.

Gym lighting is tough.  Action is tough.  Teenage volleyball players are tough.  They are really unpredictable, but I like this shot.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My deepest wish today is that my good friends (another laughable oxymoron) will remember the old adage:  There are always two sides to the story.

Also, wonderful words by P. J. O'Rourke:  Gossip is what you say about objects of flattery when they aren't present.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


This is the saddest story I've ever heard.  Seriously.

I have a friend.  Her name is K.  She has a mother.  Her name is M.

K is about my age, give or take a year or so.  M is a mom-aged person, probably mid-60's at this time.  K's biologic parents had a rocky marriage in her young years and when she was a teen, they divorced.  It was ugly, but time came to heal pieces and parts of everyone's heart.  K grew separate relationship with her mom, M and her dad, D.   Many, many years after their messy divorce, D remarried.  Many more years after that, M rekindled a once-young love affair with a boy from her youth.  She thought of him as the one that got away and they thought this was their second chance.  Their re-kindeling grew into a healthy relationship and they were married less than a year into their courtship.   They were overjoyed.  They were unbelievably, inconceivably happy.  They had a new lease on life and all the stars were in alignment.  It was glorious.  It was fun to watch, for K.  It was fun to watch for me, as a friend of K.  I deeply wished for that kind of once-in-a-lifetime-love to happen for my mom.  For me.  For everyone.

And then, out of the blue, the new hubby, the prince on the white horse, had a heart attack.

And died.  Suddenly.

And that is the saddest thing I can imagine.  It leaves me aching inside for so many reasons, I can't even name them all or identify half.  Every time I think about it, I feel the air rush out of my lungs and I feel empty, like someone has just plowed me in the chest with an armchair.  Whoomph.


When my son looks at me and says, "You look tired today, mama, let me make you a snack,"  I don't have the heart to say anything except an enthusiastic, "Awesome, buddy . . . you are such a good cook!!"     Never mind what it is.  I'd eat my mom's favorite, shit on a shingle, when it's presented with loving hands from a tender hearted little man.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Beam Champ . . .

At last week's meet, she fell on beam.  This week, as she was waiting for the judges' salute to start, I closed my eyes and wished and prayed . . . something I used to do when I was waiting for the salute.  I think I wish-prayed harder for HER than I ever did for myself . . . .

It's funny the impact our children make on us.

Anyway . . . yesterday was a great gymnastics day.  Middle ended up with sixth place on vault, 4th on floor, 2nd on bars, 1st on BEAM (with a 9.625!!).  She tied one of her teammates for FIRST place all-around, too.

Yesterday was MOTH's first gymnastics meet.  I found it absolutely adorable.  He was a train wreck  . . . absolutely tied in knots from the moment his feet hit the floor yesterday morning until his shadow darkened the doorstep a few hours after I was home with all the kiddos.  I don't think he took a single breath while she was performing on any one event.  He's still beaming, even today . . . and he's motivated to know MORE about everything.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What to get . . what to get??

Crikey . . . what to get for a 12-year old girl for her birthday.  Same girl who, when asked, "what do you want for your birthday?" says "nothin' . . hugs and kisses and birthday wishes."

There's NOTHING you want? I press?  Clothes?  No, she says, I'm good.

School stuff?  No, she says, I'm good.

Electronics?  No, she says, I'm good.

Something frivolous and senseless?  No, she says, nothing I can think of.

So here I am . . . thinking, thinking, thinking . . . what to get for a twelve year old girl on her birthday?    

I want something awesome.  And thoughtful.  And something she wouldn't have thought of on her own.  And something she will use.  And appreciate.  Hmm.  Thinking, thinking.

She's a wee-bit past most of the standard stuff . . . so here I am thinking, thinking . . .

Just when you think it's over . . .

Just when things are winding down in the yard and there's really nothing exciting . . .

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

French Dips a la Crock Pot

Homestead is on a recipe kick.  I am too, kind-of.  Cooler weather always makes it so.  Add to that the pure necessity of navigating busy school nights and planning a menu and laying out a successful shopping trip are part of my personal recipe for success.    Anyway, make this:

French Dips a la Crock Pot 

A hunk of meat . . . whatever you like.  It can just about be any cut.  A cheap-ass one will do, since you're gonna all but make it melt away by crock potting it all stinkin' day.  I just did this with a $6 top roast.  I like them small because I hate (yes HATE) leftovers.

So, into the crock pot goes:  The hunk of meat, a beer (make it dark . . . Guinness, Newcastle or something equally revolting), a couple cups of water and a packet of onion soup mix.   Cook it on low for 6-8 hours.

Pick up a loaf of french bread.  I trench out the middle, slice or pull the meat apart & top it with provolone. Throw the whole loaf in the oven and broil it just long enough to soften the bread and brown the cheese. Cut it into hunks & serve it up.   Use the cooking sauce as au jus.

For a dinner with, ack, beef . . . it's pretty good :)

Hilarious. Just Freakin' Hilarious. 


Monday, September 12, 2011

Tiny Gymnast

Ahhh!  First meet is under our belts :)  She came home with her hand on the 1st place team trophy.   That's a mitt-full of ribbons she has, six to be exact, along with two medals hanging from her neck.  So . . . 1st place team, 2nd place on vault, 3rd place on bars, 4th on floor and 5th all-around.  Whoop-whoop!! It was so much fun, she's excited to do it all again in 6 days.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


At the end of last year, my kids came home singing this song and I about died laughing:

"I throw my sandwich at my mom sometimes
saying, hey-oh, too much mayo"

Here's the tune in case you can't envision the popular song. Thank you Taio Cruz.

Today, I'm in absolute stitches watching my son sing and dance to these lines:

"I kicked a squirrel and he liked it.
He did a double back-flip."

These fabulous lyrics go with Katy Perry's, "I kissed a girl."

It's hysterical.  I've got the iPod going now, though, cause I don't want that stuck in my head much longer!!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Spiderweb Park . . .

Yea, I'm not sure that's the REAL name . . . it's just what I call it.  It has a big climbing rope thing that looks kind-of like a spiderweb, thus, Spiderweb Park.    It also has a kick-ass steep hill with no sizable trees.  Perfect for sledding on snow.  And also perfect for cardboard box sledding on dead grass in early spring.  Love this park.

Labor Day weekend at our house, MOTH was on call.  That means no major family plans, keeping close to the homestead and, IF we go anywhere, take two cars.  More than one family outing has been aborted suddenly when a hospital calls and says, "the patient is on the table."  We've learned to just take two cars.  That way I'm not schlepping all the kids home on foot from 17 miles away -- OR dropping him off at the hospital and having to go pick him up in the middle of the damn night.  I got off topic.

The kids are park hounds.  Actually, I am too.  I love spending fall afternoons at the park.  And fall did arrive here on Saturday morning.  It was 51 and breezy with a decided nip in the air.  It was glorious.  MOTH, of course, was opposed to the park.  He says "no" first more times than not.  That's one of our major parenting differences.  He says "no" before he thinks and then has to backtrack.  I say "yes" before I think and then I have to make it happen.  Such is our life.

So, as evidenced by the photos, the park DID indeed happen.

Mimi is positively fearless.  This thing is really tall. 

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Chores . . .

Chores.  I've been thinking about chores lately.  In our house, everyone has chores.  But I know households where kids have nothing.  No responsibility.  Mom does it all.  Ugh.  I can't really even imagine it.  I also know of two different methods, and that's the source of my thinking.

We have family friends that use these systems . . . .

The J's have 3 kids ages 13, 11 and 7.  Ish.  I might have that a touch wrong. Eight grade, seventh grade & second grade.  They have chores.  And they are NOT paid for their chores.  They do their chores as part of membership and responsibility, as part of being a family member.

The G's have 3 kids, ages 14, 12, 10.  Ish.  I might be a little off.  Eighth grade, sixth grade, fifth grade.  And the G-kids have chores, too.  But they get paid for their chores.  For completed chores each month, each kid earns $20.

Here's a major difference.  The J-kids, because they have no money, depend on parents to make their purchases and do their shopping, including gift purchases.  The G-kids, because they have money, save and make their own purchases for everything from pencil toppers to Christmas gifts.

Both work, for sure.  But it's made me think about our family chore situation.  Here's how it works in our house.  My kids have chores.  It's their job and their responsibility for being a family member.   That's how I see it.   Mimi doesn't have designated chores, but she is quickly approaching the age where she will get some.  Big, Middle and Little have daily chores and weekly chores.  I'm not a complete ogre about their chores.  There's a ton of wiggle room.  Homework comes first, so if they are buried under assignments, chores sometimes slide.  On sports nights, chores are not a high priority because I want them fed, clean and in bed as a priority.

Here's the info right off of their chore chart:

Daily:  dining room/kitchen including emptying dishwasher, laundry helper, the ready-set-go person & a mom's choice
Weekly:  Your basket, Mimi's basket, your laundry, your room
Extras:  Office manager & mail getter

Daily:  front room, dog feeder, garden manager, kitchen manager, mom's choice
Weekly:  your basket, your laundry, your room, Mimi's laundry

Daily:  TV room, dog poop, recycler, trash taker-outer, mom's choice
Weekly:  your basket, your laundry, your room

Mimi . . while she doesn't have set chores, she is the plate washer & the little-pile-vacuumer after we sweep.  She also pushes in chairs at the dinner table.

So what does all that mean?  Sometimes our house is a terrible mess, but at the end of the day, I feel really good if the main level is picked up.  I like these three categories tucked away:  shoes, toys and laundry.  It makes me stark raving bonkers to come downstairs to an unkept middle level full of toys, shirts, socks and mismatched shoes.  With a dozen feet coming into and out of our house several times a day, shoes stack up fast.  Baskets full.  In the course of an afternoon.   After supper, each kid maintains one room.  They rotate from time to time.  Within their room, they pick up shoes, toys & laundry.  They do a ten-minute tidy of the room.  For Little, that includes vacuuming around Jaz' cage.  Everyone finds their shoes for the next day.  Mimi is the inspector and she tours each room looking for things left undone.  Big is my ready-set-go person.  That just means that she helps us launch.  She's the one that plays secretary to me.  If we're going to the library, she helps remember the books & library cards.  If we're going to the gym, she makes sure the membership cards are in.  If we are going to the mall, she makes sure the coupons are in.  She usually has my water bottle and a snack in case someone needs one. She kennels the dogs when we are leaving and makes sure the door is locked.  It's a HUGE help.  Big is also office manager.  She uses my computer and office supplies just as much as I do, so it only makes sense that she help maintain the area.  Right?  Right.  Other questions.  Hmm.  The garden manager waters the hanging basket and the urn on the porch that don't get hit with sprinklers.  She also picks up toys out of the yard on nights before the sprinklers run.    The kitchen manager helps manage lists and remembers to add shampoo to the list when we are upstairs.    Mom's choice.  I reserve this kind of chore for things that are abnormal.  Like, "honey, will you carry that bail of toilet paper upstairs for me?"  I get three of these every day.  I love it.  I also use, "would you please help me fill the bird feeder?"  or "can you run around and close all the windows since it's starting to rain?"

Baskets.  I've blogged about that.  It's a system that still works well in our house.   It's an old, converted post from my brief career as an organizational blogger.  The bench is gone now and I like the area better without it, but the basket system is just too perfect to change.

And payment.  As a rule, I pay my kids in hugs, kisses and kind words for their chores.  However, when they need something, it comes from my wallet.  I also supply them with fun money.  Over the summer, we tried to track chores in a different way.  It didn't work for us, but I had an IOU list.  Yesterday, I took them all to Target, handed each one a nice, crisp $20 bill and said, "have fun."  Their eyes bugged out and they looked momentarily crazed, but it was a good time.  It took almost two hours. Everyone spent their money.  Good purchases.  A good time.   I'm not at all opposed to paying for chores, especially in a pinch, like before company or an open house.  I pay them in "penny chores" . . which means they keep track of how many things they've done for me and I pay them in loose change.  Fifteen chores = fifteen coins from the bank, whichever ones fall out first.  It's not all pennies.

And I think that's all I have to say about that.  For now.

Excited Voices . . .

Friday after school, a cacophony of excited voices summoned me to the back yard.  Urgently.  The kids were all standing on the fence looking over into the neighbors' yard.  

Our neighbors have finches.  On nice days, they take the bird cages outside, hang them from the eves and the birds sing with their wild cousins.  It's joyful noise.  I've worried a touch about cats, but otherwise, I don't much think about it.  

Until now.

Check out this bird of prey.  It was on their deck.  Stalking.  Hovering.  We watched it fly up to the cages and double leg-smack the cages making them swing and the birds inside freak out.  We watched him for long minutes.  Long enough for me to go back in, get a camera, take a few shots, switch lenses, creep into their yard & take a few more pictures.  Google image research tells me it's a Cooper's Hawk.  Pretty cool, huh?

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Book List

My book list is sad right now.  It took me as long to read this book as it took Ayla and Jondalar to travel all the way across Europe.  On foot.  Through ice.  Over a glacier.  Of the first four, this is the longest and most torturous.  There are a couple good parts, but the rest is pretty (not bad) long.  I'm into the fifth and it's much faster.  But I won't post that I'm done until I've turned the last page.   On a side note, I'm reading the 5th on my Kindle.  Love it.

I'm also skimming back through the Hunger Games . . . in preparation for the movie coming out soon.  Both of the big girls have read the trilogy and we all LOVE it.

Big's language arts teacher is a Shakespeare buff.  Gee, I havent' met one of those since I was in high school and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that he encourages the kids to dabble with ancient language.  I'm reading A Midsummer Night's Dream with Big.  She's beginning to understand the jabs and humor and trust her instinct on what the words mean.  Middle's listening too . . . . there's no greater vocabulary lesson than reading Shakespeare.  And it's so easy and fast on a Kindle . . . what a great learning tool.   For following along, I've pulled this down and dusted it off . . . .

It's one of my most treasured items.  If the house were burning down, I'd run back in for this, some albums and a flash drive.    Hmm.  I could go on and on about this, so I'll stop here and make it a whole separate post.   Suffice it to say that it's one of THE best gifts I was ever given.  Now that I'm older and smarter, I wish I would have seen the meaning then.  I was a dumb-ass.  There's been many days since this book was given to me in the fall of 1991 that I've wished to take back the day, put my arms around the giver and say two things:  I'm sorry and I absolutely, positively loved you.