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."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The River Goes By

"Me" - Jonah says when he sees this picture.

"It's the perfect time of day
to throw all your cares away.
Put the sprinkler on the lawn,
and run through with my gym shorts on.
Take a drink right from the hose,
and change into some drier clothes.
Climb the stairs up to my room
and sleep away the afternoon."
-Bare Naked Ladies 

(for my slightly more "mature" readers 
(Hi Aunt June and Sandy!), 
that's a band from the 90's)
(song here)

The lyrics from this song 
 have been playing in my mind lately like a soundtrack to my days.  
They seem to epitomize summer.  

Long sticky days, breezy nights with their hot breath 
that starts to cool as the last glow fades from the sky.  

Rainbows of fruit that I can't keep stocked in the bowl on my table, 
and the sticky little fingers and chins of those who devour them.  

Wet swimsuits on the garage floor (though I scold, of course), 
and dirty, bare feet.  

Late mornings and late evenings, and long visits from friends.  

Sprinklers and hoses and grass clippings.  

Firelight and candle light and barbeque plumes.

Though most of the schools in California have made the freaky leap to school starting as soon as the beginning of August, Ethan's school starts (ahhhh!) the day after Labor day (Thank you, whoever you are, that knows that no child can learn anything before the tomatoes are even coming ripe on the vine!).  And because we homeschool,  
 I am starting the littler kids back to school the same day.  

But strangely, as the summer days blur into each other, and the windows darken sooner and sooner at the end of each day, the feeling of school is coming upon is.  The other morning, as I read the last few chapters of Jane Eyre (even though dishes and laundry sat competing with the gathering drifts of dust), I became aware of a quiet that had settled over the house.  Jonah played a softly as the girls sat together pouring over workbooks I had brought home.  Adam hung spellbound over his new-found novel.

It felt like we were in school.

And for the first time in my life,
- in my life as a student and as the mother of students-
I felt excited about school starting.

The summer has passed by us like a lazy river that has now picked up speed. 
Ours has been a summer of play and some work,
and of late nights outdoors by the fire.
I can't think of a Summer in years that I have enjoyed more.

And yet I don't think I'll mind so much 
to see it go.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Most decidedly; The Chicken

 "Which came first, Tessa, 
 'the chicken or the egg'?"  I asked
as we stood holding our latest discovery.  

A few days ago I glanced into the chicken coup and, to my utter delight, there, amongst the feathers, lay three tiny eggs.  They were less than two inches long and seemed almost a joke, like a can of fake snakes or a whoopie cushion.

"The egg."  she stated firmly.  "Remember?  
We got the chickens from Kathy, and Kathy got them from eggs."
"And where did those eggs come from?"  I puzzled.

"Oh..." she wavered , her confidence slackening.
"Well, the chicken, I guess.  I always thought God just, *Plink!*,
 put the chicken here with Adam and Eve."

It's an interesting quandary.

I don't mind that I don't know the details of the eternities.  
There are five miracles that stomp the floors of this house daily.  
It is enough to me that they are here.

Yesterday someone said, "I don't need to know exactly how electricity makes my lights work, 
but I have faith that when I flip the switch, the lights will turn on."

There have been some other miracles around here of late.  
One of my sons, one who I am not allowed to blog about, 
came up behind me the other night, pecked me on my cheek and said,
"G'night  Mom.  Love you."

It was the first time in about 6 years.  

I don't need to understand the mysteries of God
to enjoy them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Welcome, Little One

 I am pleased to present

dear baby 
Anchor Rowan Leach

Born to super mom Robin and her side kick Nathan (holy role reversal, Batman!)
on August 14th.

Perfect from head to ten little toes.

I have held him THREE times.  You are jealous, I know.  Too bad.

He is so itty bitty (down to 7 pounds... her last baby was 10lbs 6oz)
and he makes those amazing squeaky baby sounds
that would make Scrooge smile.
He has so much hair he will be able to dress as Elvis for Halloween.

I am so proud of my friend, Robin.  
It is her story, so I won't tell it for her, but I will say that it was such a hard labor 
with many challenging moments (and one challenging nurse!),
but Robin managed to have a natural, un-medicated birth
even though she was on Pitocin, 
which, in case you didn't know, is like labor-on-steroids.  

She was brave and so strong and she listened to her body so well, she knew right when baby was about to be born even though it seemed to the rest of us like she had several more hours to go.  I feel so blessed that she asked me to come and help her.  When I got up that morning, I never imagined that my day would turn out like it did, but what an amazing day it was!

Mama and baby are doing BEAUTIFULLY
in every sense of the word.

Friday, August 17, 2012


 You postponed my birthday!?!?!
You wanna see why they call it 
Terrible Twos, lady?  
Huh?  Do ya?!?!?

Yes, Fems and Gentry, that is a giant bread knife in my toddler's hands.  
Look no further.  I'm the mother of the year.

Actually, he was helping me with his birthday cake by chopping the trimmings into unrecognizable confectionery crumble.  He was well supervised, and I promise that after the photo was taken I did swap his machete out for non-amputating cutlery.
You can take CPS off your speed-dial now.


We ended up postponing the b-day-ing till today, two days late.  
There was no way that we were going to pull it off yesterday, what with a dropping-off of teens to the river, a dinner made for a grieving friend, present shopping, cake baking, and the regular rumblings of daily duty.

So today, after exercise, building a pond with Kathy, and babysitting, I hit the road. 
 The fondant and food coloring road. 
 I built the cake yesterday, but all the sugar-bling went on today.

About 3/4ths of the way through the seventeenth shrub,
I began to question my own sanity.

Why do I work so hard on these cakes for the kids?

I started to wonder if my efforts would be better spent... um... well, see, that's the problem.  I could tell myself that maybe I should do something else more lasting and more important, but it seems that nothing in my life is... not lasting at least.  
Is there such a thing a temporary and important?
I think of the things that I spend most of my time doing;
(ok, so that doesn't take all that much time, but honestly, 
is there anything more temporary than a well shaved pair of legs?)

- all things that will be undone inside of a day, or more often, an hour.
What, in these rice-paper days, that melt away one after the other, 
can I do that will matter?


At the end of the night, the cake demolished, wrapping paper shreds adorning the floor, 
I turned to face the catastrophe that was my kitchen.  
I wanted to leave it.  I dared not.  
Tomorrow is another full day, and the ants in my neighborhood send scouts to my kitchen nightly.  
One misplaced cheerio and it's a regular
block party in there.

So, I reluctantly began.  Before I knew it, tears were falling into the dishwater.  
Am I the only mom that cries into my sink-o-dirty-dishes?

I was just so tired, and that sad little song from Toy Story Two, where the girl abandons her cherished doll because she grew up, looped in my head like a ridiculous soundtrack to the end of my day.
My baby is growing up, 
my children are changing but I don't even see it until 
I look at a photo from not-so-very long ago,
and I hate that I spend so much of their lives
washing dirty underwear and scraping congealed mac-n-cheese 
out of tired old pots.

I guess I make their cakes because, even though all of my work will be undone in one fell swoop of the only good knife in the house, they will always know I did it for them.  All of the dishes and the food and the laundry is for them too,
but they will never see it.

What is the old saying?
Let them eat cake.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Two You

Jonah 5 days old
Jonah Boy turned two today.
I have spent some quiet time remembering his birth, 
the days and months before, and the several difficult years before that.  

I am so blessed.

I still nuzzle my nose into his hair while he sleeps, 
though there is so much more than there was before, and whisper,
"I'm so glad that you are here."

This morning the phone rang and one of my dearest friends 
asked me to come help her at her birth.  It was a mournful choice to make:
do I stay home to celebrate Jonah's birthday
or do I go to help another mother with her birth-day?

I asked my kids.
I called my husband.
It was collectively decided that Jonah had no idea it was his birthday, 
or what that even means exactly, so it would be reasonable to postpone the cake
 (that still needs to be decorated) and presents
so that I could go and help her.

I cried a little on the way there, but I knew I had made the right choice.
Any other year I couldn't have done it.  By next year he will know what "birthday" means.
Any other child and I couldn't have done it... they would have been too disappointed.
And how better to show my gratitude at the blessing of having this precious boy in our family,
 than to go and help another mama to welcome her own cherished boy?

So I'm going to go nuzzle him right now,
and we'll have cake tomorrow.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Summer Photo Album

Isn't Summer wonderful? 
 So wonderful, in fact, that I have been living it and not documenting it much.  I haven't even had a running blog-commentary going through my head lately.  Frankly, it's liberating.

 But, it is also important to me to get it all down, so here is our Summer in pictures; for my children to remember that we are not that lame, for me to remember that I am not that bad of a mom, and for our loved ones afar off to know why we are horrible at returning phone calls (Sorry, Julean!).

 Girl time

 Lots of free bowling
("Do you think if I lean to the right the ball will too?")

" We don't know what the score is, we will tell you in 3 minutes 
when the ball finally reaches the end of the lane."

Our new favorite space, the outdoor room.  


 Second cousins ...

 in Bodega Bay

 Long lost friends...

 Come again, McKays!

 Brotherly love

 And real smiles
 (bet you didn't know Ethan had actual teeth, did you?)

 I'd like a nibble of that belly, too, please.


Oh, my goodness... what a cutie.

Robin (still waiting, as we speak for baby to make his debut) 
with belly art by yours truly.

 My very cool hunny and his annual ice cream social for his class.  
This is such a cool thing... he sets up blenders with special adaptive switches so that even the most severely disabled of his students can make milk shakes.  He really goes all out, and I love that he does that.


Now, for the real fun...

 A weekend away to Mendocino with Kathy and Bishop.

 Speak of the devils!

 70's and gorgeous.

 Looking for beach glass at Glass Beach
 (is there an echo in here?)

 Tall, dark and handsome.
Well, dark and handsome, anyway.

 What is a romantic weekend get away without your favorite toddler?
Yep, I'm still nursing.  Get over it.

 We stayed at the Pine Beach Inn, 11 acres of beautiful property with a private beach, simple but cozy rooms and a patio to breakfast on (no, we didn't eat the patio.  Duh.  That's just what happens when you dangle your participles).

 The Joker on the left is mine.

(Waiting for our yummy Thai food)


Then no sooner had we unpacked our bags, than we were off to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.  
The kids earned free tickets through homeschool by reading.
 Stingrays - sans sting.

 My favorite part of the day... touching Berttie.  
She was huge and beautiful.

 We drug Tyler along to keep Ethan happy
 and to go on the big vomit-inducing rides.  
They acted like a pair of old ladies and by 2PM they were "tired and wanted to go home".  No way, girls!  
Mom and Dad have just gotten started.



Back at home (for just a day) I harvested my peach tree...

 It was a bountiful crop and reminded me to be grateful.  
The last two years we only got a peach or two.


Pack up, everyone!  We're going CAMPIN'!

 I wish I could say it was uneventful, but in the first hour Tessa got
 a bloody nose and Ellie puked on her.  And that was just the ride there.  Oh, and they were in Kathy and Bishop's van.  Uh, sorry guys.  Can we still be friends?
(we also brought buddies for the big boys... next to Adam are Eloy and Tyler.  
Ducking out of the frame is Ethan.  He is really good at that)

 The "meat bees" (like yellow jackets) were terrible, but the site hosts taught us this cool trick... a bee trap:
Water bottle with a hole in the side, meat hung in the top, water in the bottom.  We caught nearly 1000 bees over the 3 days, and that is no exaggeration.

 I also realized that I don't really like s'mores...
It's the graham crackers.  Not a big fan of flat, dry crackers.  
So who says you have to use graham crackers???
Yumm-o with homemade choco-chip cookies!

 Feeding 14 people?  No problem...
Oh, wait.  Yeah, there is a problem.  Laine forgot the forks.  Oh, and the spoons.
"Uh, Kathy... can we eat in shifts with yours?"

When in need, whittle.
OK, so you can't eat rice with it, but it worked for pancakes!

 Ladies and Gentlemen, it's a race to the finish, 
but who will be the victor of the cocoa pour-off?

 Teenagers doin' dishes, baby.
Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

 "The Lake".  
For some reason that is what every one of the kids called the creek.
City folk.  Sheesh.


 Why, yes it was.

 Makes me want to get out my paints.

 "And after you cut those limes, young man, you can chop some cilantro! 
This ain't no summer camp boy!  
Oh, wait.  Yes, it is.
  Ok, go play."

 The "Hand Washing Station" where Jonah spent the majority of his time for the whole 3 days.  
Yes, he is drinking the nasty water.  So far, he has not died or developed cholera, but his breath smells like dial soap.  Is that normal?

Um, yah, I have no idea.  

 OK, so this here was my proudest moment, and I think completely absolves me of the fork and spoon debockle.  Carnitas, baby, slow roasted over open coals in a dutch oven.  5 hours, but totally worth it.

 Braised then simmered then shredded then reduced then roasted.

 He he.  
The one and only time Jonah had a clean face.

 Super helpful Tessa.

 I love the example that is set for little ones as they watch the grown-ups work.  
Soon littler ones are following in the footsteps of the bigger sibs.
I have really nice kids sometimes.

 One last dip

Then time to go home.


I am still doing laundry, and we are all still scratching bug bites, but it was so worth it.
I am grateful to Kathy for her excellent planning skills and to my hubby, master-packer extraordinaire.  I am also grateful to my Father in Heaven for my special family, good friends, and the beauty we were blessed to experience.