Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth

The Saddest Baby
The Happiest Place on Earth

Actually, he did great considering we went from 9AM and got back to our car at 1AM, a fun filled.  16 hours later.
I am sorry I didn't get a chance to post while we were away.  I know the three people who read my blog regularly were on pins and needles.  I would have mentioned that we were leaving town, but it is a well documented fact that cat burglars lurk on the blogs of homemakers waiting for such announcements.

So, now we are back. 

I can't wait to tell you all about Disneyland with a broken toe.
I can't wait to tell you about Thanksgiving in Vegas (those showgirls make fab gravy).
I can't wait to tell you about how wonderful Melissa  (my own personal Vegas showgirl) made me feel as we created an allergen free extravaganza so that I could enjoy the holiday.
I can't wait to tell you about the 11 1/2 hour trip back home with five cranky kids.  At least no one threw up all the way home (Oh, darn, I just gave away the spoiler of our drive down!).
Sadly, I must... wait, that is.  I have to get us unpacked, groceries re-stocked, and brain switched to December mode (insert scream heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere!).

But, just so I don't leave you wanting, here is a little listen into my living room right now:

Tessa (singing): Yo ho!  Yo ho,
a pirate submarine!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This little piggy II

 This little piggy went to market,
this little piggy stayed home,
this little piggy got caught on the frame of the blankety-blank bouncy seat for the 5th time and snapped.

It now faces North East at a 45 degree angle when not tapped to Market Piggy.  The other two piggies laughed their little pork butts off as I sat on the kitchen floor whimpering.

Rich from church, who is a PA, came over to see if it was dislocated or broken.  Upon examination, he said "Could be" and "Tape it".  Good times.  A day later I can confirm... definitely broken. 

Oh, and remember way back when we made blankets to be donated to needy children so that we could get free Disneyland tickets?


We are going to Disneyland Monday.  Nothing says FUN like a broken toe at Disneyland.
On a completely different note, I would like to show you the cool little dude Adam made for a Webelos project.

He calls him Steve.
One-eyed Steve.

I know, it's funny, huh?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Multiple choice

Just after breakfast I noticed the boys sitting at the table reading from accordian folded papers.  This is what they said:

Hi Ethan (Adam).  Why do you be so meen to me.  Can you trie to be nicse.  I promis I will Trie to be nicse to.  Wate a minit.  I no why you are be so meen to me.  be cus I be so meen to you.  can we make a deel on this.  pout an X in the box that has. A yes or no nex to it.  then give it to me.
_ yes

your sitier Ellie and Tessa
Then, as she was getting out of the car after we dropped the kids off, Tessa hands me this:

Hi mom.  I am sorry that I wus screaming.  I proumis that I will trie to stop.  I will trie to ceap my room clean.  and not get in trubl.  Can we make a deal on this.  Pout a X in the box that has a yes or no in it.  then pleas giv it bac to me.

_ yes

your dodr Ellie
and Tessa

Bet you can't guess what kind of day we had yesterday.

pleas chous:
__ rottin
__ more rottiner

Monday, November 15, 2010


 On Saturday at Adam's soccer game, the kids started out so strong.  They ran like lightning, their little legs a blur in the morning light against the wet, green grass.  They wove and dodged, they scampered, they dashed and swerved.  It was wild to see energy incarnate in the bodies of two dozen 11 year-olds.

That lasted ten minutes.

Somewhere around minute eleven, it was like someone forgot to wind up the springs in their legs.  Feet began to drag.  The boys would only run if the ball was in play close by, and often they all just walked toward the ball.  It was almost like they were saying, "Please, don't kick that thing over here."  When they did run, the tips of their shoes barely cleared the ground.  It was a good thing that both teams were equally weary, or we would have lost by ten goals instead of just one. 

I recognized the pattern in my own life.  So often I leave the gate at a dead run, only to grind to a dead stop a short time later.  We have an overworked little saying at my church; "Endure to the end."  It's great, we are told, to do the right thing, but the real test is being able to do the right thing and keep doing it.  To the end, whenever that happens to be.  It's so easy to get tired of life, of trials, of being patient, of being

In the second half of the game, Adam looked pooped.  They were down by one, and Adam was not going after the ball much.  He looked dejected.  I saw the ball coming toward him, and knowing he was close enough to hear my voice, I called out, "You can do it, Adam!"  He suddenly got a spring in is step.  The charge coursed up his legs and he started bounding.  Each time he was close enough to pick my voice out of the clamour, I called out an encouraging mom-ism.  Each time, I saw a noticeable change in his energy level.  In the last few minutes of the game, he made some great passes, and used his head and chest a few times to send the ball flying.  In the very last two seconds of the game he made a hurried shot at the goal.

It would be a great end to this story if I could say the ball made the goal that tied up the game.  It didn't.  But that's ok.  He felt really good that he tried, and I was so proud of him.
I wonder, on days when our feet are dragging, if we listened with our hearts we might hear a heaven sent whisper of encouragement, "You can do it.  I am proud of the person you are trying to be.  Keep it up!".  I wonder if we might not have more spring in our step during long, drawn out trials if we realized we have a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to be happy and successful in our efforts, however small or insignificant they may seem.

So, in case the crowd is noisy, and your feet are dragging, just in case you haven't heard the words lately, I just thought I'd say them for you; "You can do it!"


Thinking of Ruth today, one month after saying goodbye to her sweet baby Rhys.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.  ~Isaiah 41:10  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes...

It's the bane of my existence.  It's the thorn in my side.  It's the ache in my-achin' back.  No, not the adorable baby in the laundry basket (those clothes are clean, by the way).
It's the laundry.
Two days a week my children carry the "soiled" clothes out to the laundry area in our garage (and by soiled, I mean boy-smelling, peed on, lunched upon and "I let my friends drag me through the playground by my feet" clothes, mixed with a hefty amount of perfectly clean clothes that were tried on once and rejected, or better yet, never even made it in the drawer).  They do a pretty decent job of sorting them by white, medium and dark into three large baskets.  But then it is like three swiftly moving freeways that have all merged into one interstate, and there is a massive laundry traffic jam.  I then spend the better part of many days washing, folding and putting them away, never done before the next sorting day comes. 
Ok, I confess.  I wash and dry them, then drag them out in many baskets to the couch to be folded.  I do eventually put them away, but not before I have washed several more loads that are in various stages of the process.  Yeah, basically my couch looks like the discount bin at the local Goodwill - all the time.  We clear it all off for company (the baskets of clothes make very nice foot rests for our guests), or drag them into my room if someone really special comes over (and by special, I mean, someone who is either a marvelous housekeeper or a total gossip.  We must not, as my father used to say "air our dirty laundry"!).
But no more, I tell you, "No more!"
This week I spent two mornings, between nursing Jonah boy and resetting Dinosaur Train on Netflix 12 times for Tessa, clearing the rubble that is my garage floor and making a laundry zen garden for myself.  Darnit all, if I am going to spend half my life doing laundry, it's time to do it in a space that I don't hate.
Next, I arranged the baskets for sorting, and created a makeshift folding table out of boxes and a hunk of drywall.
I was so proud, I took Joanna out to show her.  And Stephanie.  If you come by, I will show you too.  I tried to grab Ellen from off the lawn and drag her in the house by her hand but she had to leave for work.  That's ok, I'll wait and show her after I install my new hanging rod for the hang-up stuff. I will also burn incense and play Enya music to enhance the zen-like feel.  I'm mad I tell you!  Simply mad!  Wua-ah-ah-ah!
But here is the best part.
I don't bring the laundry in the house anymore.  I wash each load, and as I take the clothes out of the dryer, I immediately sort them into the kids baskets for them to fold...or not.  I really gave up caring about them having folded clothes in their drawers about a year ago, after I saw what they do with the clothes I fold for them whilst digging through their drawers (the little neanderthals).  I fold towels, grown-up and baby clothes, and hang up the nicer of our thrift store-like attire on hangers.  I have a bin for the socks waiting to find their eternal companions, and a bucket for those who have found their mates.  I don't spend a whole lot of time putting clothes away, but instead I just take one stack in with me after each trip to the garage.
Today something totally freaky happened.  I finished the laundry.  I even wandered out there two more times out of habit, but alas, there were no more dirty clothes to wash.  And the next sorting day isn't even until Monday!

Now, you probably had this all figured out a long, long time ago.  I know.  I'm slow.  But I'm a slow person with a really groovy laundry space, baby.
Tours will be on Fridays from noon till two.  If you're nice, I'll let you play matchmaker with ths socks.

Friday, November 12, 2010

!Pura Vida!

!Pura Vida! a greeting that means Pure Life!

I am not exactly sure how it all even started.  One day the guys who serve together in the leadership positions in our church, Bishop, Dave his counselor, and my Guy, the executive secretary, got to talking about food.  It was probably a bunch of big fish stories from missions in foreign countries, or Dave and Guy planning to use their skills and their new Julia Child cook books.  How ever it came about, we have been meeting together from time to time to share food from our pasts. 

I love food, and I love our friends, so there couldn't be a better way to spend a Saturday night.  And this time, after having toured Germany, France, Finland, and the Southern States, it was my turn on our world tour to share the flavors of Costa Rica.

Jonah was quality control.

I started cooking at 10AM, and all except for a soccer game, I was in the kitchen all day, peeling and dicing foods you've probably never even heard of!  Chiyote squash, anyone?

First, The Friends:

 Kathy and Bishop

 Steph and David (Steph, I think you blinked!)
Now, THE FOOD!!!!!!!

 We started with a stew that my neighbor next door, who happens to be from Costa Rica (lucky me), came over and taught me to make.  I lived in places too poor to serve meat and never learned how to make a meat dish.

Dinner, staring (clockwise) Picadillo (chiyote squash, carrots and potatoes, seasoned with Achoyte), Ensalada de Repollo (a fancy way of saying cabage with lime and salt), Patacones (kind of a cross between a potato chip and a french fry, made with green plantain), Maduros (fried ripe plantain; tangy and salty, and a little bit sweet.  Yum!!!), Gallo Pinto (black beans and rice), and Fried Yuca with lime.  And all of it was safe for Jonah.  To drink, I made Tamarindo and Chan.  Chan looks like little frogs eggs floating at the bottom of your glass, but the fresh, minty flavor blended with a hint of orange is wonderful.

For dessert I made Orange Rice Pudding (safe for Jonah!) and -nectar of the gods- Tres Leches (which sadly, I could not eat, but I dreamed that night that I ate a big helping, and that made me feel better!). 

Leftovers were divine.

It made me miss Costa Rica.

I think I will go buy more plantains today.

Thinking of Julean and Rebekah as I write this post.  Julean, because I sat with her at many, many meals in Costa Rica sharing this food, and Rebekah, because I know my food posts torture her!  Love you both!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Fruits of my Labors

I've noticed that as my kiddos get older, they don't need me to be a hands-on mama so much any more.  We've evolved from the bum-and-nose-wiping, lap-napping and owie-kissing kind of relationship, to the homework-helping, high-five-ing, peck-before-bed-ing type.  As I often lament here in posts, their childhoods are going by at warp-speed, and I can't seem to find the cosmic brakes.

I decided recently to look for ways to make more loving contact with my larger rugrats, beginning with my eldest.  Yesterday when he got back from school I tried hard to let him see the joy on my face as I welcomed him home.  I helped him with his math, something I should have been given a medal for, and told him my favorite jokes from middleschool.  Later, as we stood chatting, I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a long, bury-his-face-in-my-squishy-chest hug. 

And what were the fruits of my labors?

He surfaced for air and said:

"Um, no offense mom,"

 (uh-oh, here it comes, think I),

"but you smell like baby puke."

Monday, November 8, 2010

I blinked

When I was born, my half-sister was eleven.  I adored her more than any human that had ever lived.  My heart was never so broken as when she scolded me.  It only happened twice.  Because she spent most of her time with her mom, she was more like an aunt than a sister.  When she left home for the big bad world when I was seven, I hardly ever saw her anymore.

One of the challenges I faced bringing Jonah here was how he would fit into our family dynamic.  Tessa, his next older sibling, is four and a half years older than him.  When Ethan, the oldest, graduates high school, Jonah will not even be in Kindergarten yet.  I want him to know his brothers, but they will be up and out in no time. 

It feels like I blinked and Ethan went from being a wee babe like Jonah, to being a young man. 

Yesterday Ethan fell asleep with Jonah, who suddenly looked like his mini-me.  I had to snap a picture of the moment to freeze it in time.  The sound of the camera woke Ethan, who mumbled "No blog!"

I imagine that Ethan and Jonah will carve out their own kind of relationship.  It won't be the kind that Ethan had with Adam, with wrestling, teasing, legos and skateboards, but it will be special in it's own way.  But I better try hard to blink less, or it might blast by.  (Oh, and if you talk to Ethan, don't snitch on me.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010


 Me:  "Hold still, Tess, let me take another picture."
Tessa:  "Yeah, cuz my baby bwinked."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bad, bad mama, or How to Become a Human Burp Cloth

The girls asked me to make paper fans for them tonight.  I was preoccupied with other things (see below) and so I whipped out two folded-copier-paper fans and absently said, "Ok, now go play."  About a half an hour later, Ellie came out of the kitchen to show me that she had decorated her fan.  I don't know why the sight of glitter didn't set off alarm bells, but I only checked into the situation on Ellie's third trip into the living room to show me her fan.  It must have been the sparkling shower I got when she waved it at me.  I looked up at her  only to see she had completely bedazzled herself.  Oh, but wait, there's more.

Tessa , her young accomplice, was a shimmering vision as well.  I believe they managed to get the glitter to adhere to their skin with the glue stick I later found.  Faces, arms and hands sparkled in the lamp light.  Tessa's scalp shone like a Vegas Showgirl.  She showed me the soles of her feet and I panicked.  They were completely gold.  I jumped up and ran to the kitchen.

The floor reflected a rainbow of color as I moved through the room, not knowing where to step.  The table glinted under the CFL, and there upon it was the completely empty bottle of micro-fine iridescent glitter dust, and the last few shakes of fine gold glitter.

Allow me to share with you another mess.

Jonah has been doing so much better since I went on the elimination diet.  I have learned to navigate my way through the perplexing world of food labels with a lot of help from friend Erin, and I have grown accustomed to rice cakes, sunflower seed butter and coconut milk.  Some of the stuff ain't even so bad.  It wasn't until I figured out that corn had to get the ax that Jonah had finally begun to have pretty, yellow, sweet smelling poop (yes, I said sweet.  Get over it.). 

About two weeks before Halloween I had begun the process of reintroducing foods one by one at four day intervals.  I began, as any ice cream lover would, in the dairy aisle.  By the end of that same evening, Jonah had lovely vermilion green poop.  *Sigh*.  No dairy.

Next, of course, was chocolate.  I don't believe any explanation is needed.

Strike two.  Forrest green.

Next on the I-could-survive-if-only-I could-eat-this list was Gluten (read: donuts, sourdough bread, gravy...).  I thought we were going to slide by with this one, but on day two, some rashy little bumps popped up in a few places on Jonah's cute little face.

Strike three.

But then I started to doubt my methodology.  Was I waiting long enough in between?  What if, (hope, hope) I just hadn't given the dairy and chocolate enough time to clear out?  We had a party coming up that evening, and I decided I would try wheat products again.  Of course, by noon it seemed silly to wait till that evening, and so I sampled a gluteny goodie right then and there. 

And then another.

By evening I had convinced myself that even though Jonah's diapers were mother nature's kaleidoscope, that as long as he was still happy, what would be the harm?  I mean, what's wrong with having a Technicolor tush?

And with that thought, the dam that had been my resolve broke.  I became a food trollop, sampling every sweet and savory item that came in the door.  I even ate things I didn't like so much, just because I was "taking a break" from the food thing.  (Erin, if you're reading, I hang my head in shame).

The next day....Jonah was fine.  Poop the color of sunflowers, of clean school buses, of French's mustard! 

And the day after that was the same.  And, lacking evidence that anything I had eaten had so much as caused an odiferous toot, I... oh, I can barely say it... I kept porkin' out.  I even remember the feeling coming over me that it was a little sad that I wouldn't need to be on the diet, seeing as I had lost my last 5 pounds of preggo plumpness and might even lose more were I to continue.

"Se' la vi!"  I told myself, finishing off some of Guy's crisp pumpkin cobbler.

  Of course, I know you see what's coming.  Indeed, Jonah is allergic.  Boy is he.

On day three his diaper skipped right through the greens and went to red... as in blood.  He then began screaming.  We are on day two of that.  Oh, and the rash, you ask?  Well, thank you for asking.  It's back with a vengence.

And he has begun spitting up all over. 
All over me. 
I am a big ol' burp cloth.
And I deserve it.

Why did I fool myself into thinking that it had been a coincidence that he had reacted after I ate known allergens?  Why did I not take it fully to heart all that Erin has taken time to teach me?  I guess I didn't think it would really be that bad.  I was like an alcoholic that is in denial.  Yes, we really do have a problem here.

Now this is where my two stories collide.  My girls knew better than to adorn my entire kitchen and their entire bodies with glitter.  And it had all started out so innocently, but in no time went completely out of control.

The girls are grounded from glitter.
and I made them clean up the mess.
  I washed Tessa's hair four times, and her scalp still sparkles.

I am cleaning up my act, too.  I know Jonah doesn't know what I am saying, but I have apologised to him all day long.  His face looks clearer tonight, and after a pretty bad scream-fest, he is now sleeping on the sofa beside me.  The blood is gone, thank heaven.

Indeed, Thank Heaven, but shame on me.  We have prayed to know what to do to help Jonah, and I selfishly let myself ignore heavenly counsel, all for an appetite.

Bad, bad burp cloth.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Post post...

"I vant to eat jour coooooookieeeeees!"

For some mysterious reason, when I tried 7 times to post this picture the other night, it wouldn't work.  Must be the ghost in the machine.

But isn't my little milk monster cute? 
(I know the costume says "cookie", that's just Jonah's nic-name for the girls)

Carving out time to get things done

When we were kids my mom would buy one enormous pumpkin, and we would all help to clean it out, vote on a design, and then carve it together.  I have a vivid memory of sitting in front of the old stereo console with the lights out, staring at the jack o'lantern on top that we had carved, anxious for Halloween fun.
This year we ended up carving pumpkins in November.  We over planned our weekend with activities and shopping, and ended up waiting to carve pumpkins till last night.
 The kids put on laytex gloves, and I can't blame them.  Pumpkin guts are slimmy!
Just ask Tessa...

 Ethan's Jack the Pumpkin King was amazingly created from memory. 
As usual, Ellie thought hers wasn't good enough. 
I loved it. 

 Adam's cyclops was hysterical,
and Tessa coaxed Daddy into doing her dirty work. 
She chose the features.

I just ended up playing with my little pumpkin.

It used to be I absolutely had to do things on the day they were meant to be done.  Even if it was exhausting, even if it meant everyone was crabby by the time it was all done, even if it was midnight, I forced myself (and often everyone else) to get it done. 

I don't know what made it all change, but maybe as I 'grow up' I have realized that the whole point to all of these fun traditions is...duuuuuh... for them to actually be fun.  I regret all of the times I have taken the fun out of things.  I guess I have always looked at holidays as if they were ruined if I didn't bake every pie from scratch and make every gift by hand.  In the past if I had not made the kids their costumes, I felt as though I had failed them. 

It occurred to me recently that the kids probably won't remember this particular Halloween, or any particular Christmas or birthday, but they will remember them all together as a memory collage.  If they usually had fun, that would be the thing they would hold in their hearts.  I doubt that the kids will remember that we carved pumpkins this year the day after Halloween, but I bet you they will always remember this:

Monday, November 1, 2010

An All Hallows Eve Photo Album

Because this Halloween landed on Sunday, our family chose to keep the Sabbath day holy and do our celebrating on Saturday at a church party. 
Ethan was like a ghost, (though he decided he was too old to dress up ...are you ever too old?), he managed to avoid being photographed (or did he just not have an image on film?)
Adam's eerie martian won him the prize for most original costume.  Beware the third eye, he says it is all seeing and never sleeps.
Our little witch fell asleep after she got part of her costume on, and when she woke up crabby, well, let's just say she was simply wicked.  She refused to wear her cute orange and black striped stockings, to carry her broom, or even to wear shoes.  She cheered up once she got going though.  I think the sugar helped. 

The bat only allowed herself to be photographed  once.  Thank goodness Alice doesn't mind hanging out with weirdos.

Tonight we turned down the lights and watched one of my favorite movies, "To Kill a Mockingbird".  I was transported back to my childhood.  The haunting music, the mysterious Boo Radley, the rustling leaves tumbling down the street...

I think the reason I love Hallloween so much now is because I loved it so much when I was little.  I remember eating stew as the sun began to set, putting on my costume, fussing with my mom about not wanting to spoil my costume with a jacket, and then walking the neighborhood trick-or-treating with my brothers and sisters until my legs ached.

 This year was different in a lot of ways.  Besides not going out Trick-or-Treating, I didn't make costumes for the kids like I usually do.  It was sort of a hodge podge as we dug through the costume trunk at the last minute throwing parts of old costumes together.  I didn't decorate early as I had planned, and I wasn't feeling too festive after all that has happened with Ruth.  The time I would have spent baking and sewing this year has been spent holding Jonah, but there will be other Octobers