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, February 28, 2011

The Ninja Tea Party that never was

Tessa was pestering Jonah
at our tea party yesterday.  Daddy told her to stop,
but like any good tea party hostess,
she persisted in annoying her guest.  Finally, daddy got firm. 

"Tessa!  I know you heard me.  Leave Jonah alone."

To which she replied with a whole lot'ta 'tude,
"I heeyerd.  It's not like I'm ear blind!"

But oh, Dah'ling, theyas mowah...
We had been seated with care. 
 "You know how you and daddy love da'chudder very much? 
You two get to sit togedder."
We were of course, dressed for the occasion.  Ellie in her Kimono over the top of the mummy costume, Tessa as Miss Tinkerbell, and Jonah as a Magician.  Daddy and I sported hats.  We nibbled dry cereal, crackers and cookies, itty-bits of fried cheese and quesadilla.

You see, thanks to miss-voice-that-could-curdle-milk Strawberry Shortcake, we were having a "Manners Tea Party", which means that while we drank tiny puddles of herb tea out of  nostril sized tea cups, Tessa kindly let us know all the ways we were "not being manners".  Mouth overflowing with cookie and cereal bits, she asked me if I liked the tea party.  "Mmm-hmmm" I hummed affirmatively. 

 "It's not mannohs to talk wiff youwah mouff full, Mama." 
She reminded me between mushy chews.

Later Ethan took issue with the fact that he had not been invited, making it clear that he would not have come, even if he had been invited, since, according to him, we had clearly chosen to have a girly 'ol tea party with the express intent of excluding him.  All off this was leading up to his grand finale; he wanted to watch a movie without the girls (let me summarize: tea party + girls - boys = movie + boys - girls). 
 It was an exhausting and mystifying loop of 13 year old logic.

Other highlights of the day included:

Family dish washing (otherwise known as  "Squabble-fest")
Playing Scribblish.  For a few brief moments in time, everyone got along together.
One Hit Ninja, in costume.  I won against it's creator, Ethan.  Yesssss.
Everyone asleep by 9:30

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oh my HAIL!

This is what Ethan calls
 his "Sacramento Snowball". 
It hailed yesterday for about 5 minutes or so,
leaving a layer of hail on the trampoline. 
Ethan gathered it all up and made a slush ball which he put in the freezer
 "to show Adam later". 

It is in there with his Santa Rosa Snowball of 2006. 

No, I am not kidding.

When he turns 18, they are going with him, like a really cold dowry.

We are easily entertained.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just add water

When I was a little girl, I wanted a doll house more than I had ever wanted anything.  For Christmas one year I was given one, but it was aluminum with furniture and rugs and curtains all printed inside on the walls and floors.  I felt so selfish for being disappointed, but I was.  It was nothing like I had imagined it would be.

Flash forward "a few" years.  Francine calls to tell me she has a surprise for the kids when we come at Christmas.  It's a doll house.  The doll house of my childhood dreams.  Oh, it was so beautiful.  It is so beautiful. 

It's a little house that was given to a young girl by her mother years ago.  Not long after the gift was given, the girl's mother was found to have cancer.  She passed away, and the little girl's dream of her lovely doll house did too.  The house sat untouched for years, a painful reminder of all she had lost.  She couldn't fix it up without her mother, and she couldn't let it go, so she just held on to it.  But now she is a young woman, and though it was painful for her to say goodbye to the lovely little house that her mother gave her, she knew she was ready.  She just wanted to make sure that it would be played with by someone who would love it and take good care of it.  Francine had long known that I was looking for a doll house.  My children have spent hour after hour playing in Francine's sweet three story doll house. They are respectful and creative, and I love to see them play in it.  Every time we leave, Francine goes over to her doll house and looks to see what the kids have done in the doll house.  They rearrange the furniture, fold and unfold the blankets, and restock the cake case in the little ground-floor general store.  She is tickled by the chance to step into their little world.

Steph went with me to pick up the doll house because it didn't fit in the van with the whole family on board.  We enjoyed a lovely lunch with Francine and then loaded the house into the van.  It's actually pretty big, and is the reason we wanted to take down the huge fish tank to free up space.  It will take a while before we have collected cute furniture and interesting little objects to place on shelves.  Heck, it will be a while before we even have shelves, but I already have picked out the wallpaper, and I'm working out the electrical as well.  But the girls don't care about all of that.  They are having a ball in it with their horses, dinosaurs and legos.  That's the magic of being a child.

I know it is for them, but I am having as much fun with it as they are. 
It a dreamy little house.  Guy asked,
"If we water it, will it grow up to be a big house we can live in?"

Don't I wish!

Francine's doll house all decked out for Christmas

The general store

I love the tiny bottles of chillies and the itty-bitty tools.

Can you find the chips and salsa?

Can you find two little girls having the time of their lives?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Making Room

I almost can't remember a time when I didn't have a fish tank.  When I was about 10, Santa brought a tank for us, with a cute pair of fish for each kid.  I still have dreams about those fish, and forever in my mind Zack will have Swordtails and Kenny will have Tetras.  In college I always had a tank, and when Guy and I got married we set one up almost as soon as we moved in.  Over time, hundreds of fish have lived with us.  Some have decided to try their fin at flying and been found dead on the floor the next morning, all crusty and plastered with dust bunnies.  It has been a great opportunity to teach the kids about death, and about why sometimes limits are there to keep us safe.  The kids have used their own money to buy fish, creating a living lesson in finance.  Then there is the inevitable - when you own guppies or Jeweled Cichlids -  the reproduction lesson.  I can't count the times we have heard a child shout, "They had babies again!".  There have been lessons in biology as we deal with algae, diseases, water cycles, charcoal filters, Ph and more.  Oh, and the fishies are real perdy, too.

But we had gotten over-run with fish tanks.  At one point we had four tanks at 225 total gallons in our house.  It got to be too much.  One by one we have taken tanks down, and recently I considered having no tanks at all.  But then I thought about all that the kids have experienced through having fish here.  "Shish-y" is always one of our kid's firsts words, and a first sign language word.  Then there is the fun of hoisting a little two year old up to the tank to let them sprinkle food flakes into the water.  There is the thrill when you have to catch all of the fish to clean the tank, and the fright of one busting out of the brink and flopping on the floor. 

I thought about family reunions 20 years from now when Ethan or Adam might say, "Do you remember the time we had that tank...?" and having Jonah feel out of the loop.  It's not even about the fish, it's about continuity.  It's about trying to provide children of two completely different decades a similar upbringing when it comes to the things that matter.  Like shishies.

So I put a smallish 30 gallon tank back up in the living room.  Jonah loves to sit in his car seat and watch the fishies swim.  No, he won't remember that crazy 120 gallon tank that was just feet away from him when he was born, but that's OK.  I bet I already know what one of his first words will be.

Besides, we needed to make room for something else.....
(to be continued!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

102 point 2

Last night Ellie lay on the couch in a daze.  Her cheeks were flushed, her lips bright red.  Her eyes were sleepy-puffy, and though she was sick and feverish, the warmth in her face made her look so beautiful.  I hate it when my kidlets are sick, but I love it when they are snugly and calm and quiet.  It helps me to remember who my children are when they are reduced down to their essence.  At her core Ellie is sweet, smart, and tender.  She is a good friend to her sister and a very sensitive soul.  She loves her family.  She just wants to get love back.

It's nice when I get a chance to see Ellie.  Really see her, not just the tattling, messy room, and screaming that I focus on too much.  When I am busy being mom and she is busy being eight, we tend not to see each other for who we really are.  I'll be glad when she is well, because I hate seeing my kids miserable, but it's nice to get a reminder to look at and appreciate the big soul that is packed into her little 102.2 degree body.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A "First" I hadn't counted on

Jonah hit the big 6 month mark
 on Valentine's day.  A few days before that, he cut his first tooth, and two days later, the second followed.  He's getting to be a big boy.

He likes to rub his little tongue over the bumpy edges of his new toofers.  He pokes out the tip of it over and over, and I swear if it ain't the cutest thing I ever dun' seen!

Then on Friday, all whiny and bent out of shape, Tessa's voice squawks from the back seat of the van...
(to be read in the voice you once used to tattle on your little brother when you were four);
"Mom!  Jonah sticked out his tongue at me!"

Are ya' kiddin' me?!  Seriously?! 

I quote the immortal words of Timone in Lion King when he sees that Simba and Nala have hooked up:

"It starts!"

Friday, February 18, 2011


 "Mama, do you wanna play chest?"

"I would love to!" say I.

Now a question floats up in my mind.  Is this just to play?  Is it a learning opportunity?  Do I try to teach her the rules and the names of the pieces?  Or do we just try to have fun?  I have been thinking a lot lately about how often I miss learning opportunities with the kids.  But in a moment like this, I am not sure which lesson is more important.  I know that little ones learn as they go, which makes me want to teach her the real rules of the game.  But I also know that she needs to know that I love her and that no matter how the game ends, she is the most important thing to me, which makes me just want to smile sweetly at her and play as though we were having a tea party.

"Don't kiwl my horsie guy.  Or my queen.  Or anybody."

"Your knight."

"Yeah, my knight on my horsie.  Don't kiwl him, K?"

We play for about 20 minutes.  Every time I take one of her pieces, she counts how many each of us has left on the board.  It takes a while.  I start to show her ways she can take my pieces so that the game will move along. 
She takes her queen and makes it kiss the nearest pawn.

She learned that pawns can attack diagonally.  I learned that the horsie guy named his horsie White-ie.
Ellie bangs into the game board and knocks all of the pieces down.  No body wins.

Except the horsie guys.  They ran off with the queen for a picnic.
It was the best game of chest ever.

Tessa wipes out my horsie-guy by smacking it with her bishop. 
Poor, poor horsie.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Guy pointed out the window
a few days ago.  "Look," he said, "there are four this time." 
I smiled and nodded.  I had noticed already. 

When we lost our first baby the midwife suggested we bury it in a pot and plant a fruiting tree over it.  We did, and that year, only one tiny mandarin
timidly grew on the little tree.

Oddly, after the second and then third babies were buried in the pot of the little tree,
the next season three mandarins grew.

Now there are four.  I don't know that it means anything,
but I love that it happened. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Twue Loves

Jonah, asleep in the loving arms of my Valentine, 
sporting the sweatshirt that his papa wore when he was a wee sprout. 
 No, I don't know where you can get one.  Try Gun's n' Ammo.

I used to get really worked up over things like holidays.  I would torture myself if I didn't have the perfect ___________ for so-and-so.

Today is Valentine's day.  For the past couple of years, Guy and I have exchanged fun $5 gifts, and usually make each other a card.  Alas, this year after our busy week, I find myself unprepared.  I told myself it would be ok because I could get something together while Guy was at work.  Oops, I forgot - Guy has the day off tomorrow.  We are going to the Social Security office to let the government know that we actually had a kid last year.  It will be so romantic.  We can sit in grimey plastic chairs, and between wipes of Jonah's green gooey nose and throwing Tessa and her horses a granola bar every 15 minutes, we can make goo-goo eyes at each other.
So hot.  Ooo, baby.

But when I think about last year, on bed rest for Valentine's, I clearly cannot complain!  I get to spend a whole day with my true loves. 

And the lady with the beard at window 7.  Awesome. 

A Grand C'ellie'-bration

 My little miss Ellie turned eight this week.  It was a pretty big deal around here.  We started the morning with a bowl full of sugar-death with a candle lit for a morning wish.  I did the pretend-to-be-a-fab-o-mommy thing by making brownies for Miss E to share with her class at school.  Let me tell you, that makes up for a whole week of "mean mommy"- ask any kid.  Though I didn't quite fulfill my goal of having her cake done before she got home from school, with help from the girls, Tinkerbell got all decked out for a night on the town (and if you remember Tess's last bday, it was a vast improvement, but I hope that we are done with Disney characters for a while!).

 But this year we celebrated more than just a birthday.

  This week, Ellie was also baptised.  It might seem to some that eight years old is far too young to seriously take such an important step in life.  In our faith, we believe that when a young person begins to understand the difference between right and wrong, and truly is beginning to understand that they can choose the right, they are ready to embark on the life long path of refinement that all who follow Jesus Christ journey along. 

 Ellie and I woke early yesterday morning and headed for the river a few hours before the baptism.  There in the woods, the dew upon the ground and the low morning sun making the winter grasses glow a springtime green, she and I sat and read from the bible. I read a passage to her from my journal that I wrote to her when she was a baby.  It sang of my love for her, my joy at her having come into our family, my worry that we would both let each other down sometimes, but my reassurance that I would always be here for her, always be proud of her and always adore her.  Then I stepped away a little distance to allow her some private time to pray about the choice she was making to be baptised.  As we walked back through the woods, she told me about the promises she was making to her Heavenly Father, and that she felt good about her choice. 

It was a precious morning.

Then, later that morning, we went to the church where her daddy took her by the hand and helped her into the baptismal font.  She beamed at him and was so happy. 


 Later we gathered with family and friends to share a meal and many smiles.  Though most of our family were unable to be there, my dad and Guy's folks came.  I missed my brothers and sisters, their families, and especially my mom.  I wore her shoes and kept looking down at them, imagining her wearing them.

Maybe in some way, she was there with us.

I remembered my own baptism.  I had been twelve at the time, and was so happy and ready to make that promise to follow in the footsteps of the Savior.  It was a decision that has influenced every day of my life since that time.  Even though I was young, making that choice later influenced choices I would go on to make later in High School and in college.  It led me down the road where I would eventually meet and marry my sweet husband, and it has created who I am as a mother, wife and friend.

I know that the meaning of this day will grow to take on a greater meaning to Ellie as she learns more about life, about the gospel, and about who she is as a daughter of God.  But for now she wants to follow the example of Jesus, and in it's pure simplicity it is what I would want for her and for all of my children for the rest of their lives.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cloudy with a Chance of Fun

 Ever since we saw the movie, we have been planning our "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Party".  It was first postponed when my blood sugar was on red alert, and then pushed further along on the calender when cutie Jonah boy got all polka-dotty and green-poopie when I ate actual FOOD (as apposed to the rabbit food that I lived on those few months).  At long last, the time arrived that mama could join in the food fun and so we did it,
we had our party.

Our Menu
Tiny hamburgers (White Castle... and yes, they were good)
Teenie wiennies in itty-bitty buns
Mini slices of pizza
Dwarfed pancakes (but the syrup was normal sized)
Spaghetti and meatballs, of course
Mini jello-moulded (not molded, ew) Jello
Shrimp ("Hey, sign my shrimp!")
Gummi Bears, ...cuz, well DUH!  It's only the best part of the movie
and Ice Cream

At each point in the movie when a particular food was on screen, we would pause the DVD and run to the kitchen to get that food on our plate.  We messed up a couple of times (it was our maiden voyage); we ate the pizza too soon and missed an opportunity to use our pizza slices as eeinsie weensie fighter jets, but really it was a delightful way to eat dangerously high fat foods.  We ate the ice cream at the end of the movie 'cuz, well, the thought of eating ice cream and then shrimp?  - double eew-  but we skipped back to the ice cream scene in the movie and watched it again with our dessert so that we could really get the full effect. 

We decided that next year we MUST make Guy's monkey-poop cookies (yes, they are called that) for the scene when Steve the Monkey is throwing his own special "chocolate" snow balls.  We also agreed that future CWACOM parties must include party sized chicken wings and mini doughnuts, because we didn't quite cosume enough carbs (yeah, right), and the chicken scene is awesome.

When the Gummi Bears hit the screen we took great delight in biting off their heads and replacing them with heads from otherly-colored bears.  It was pure corn-syrup carnage, I tell you.

The evening had a few low-lights.  Ethan managed to somehow have a problem with just about everything that night (and every night since, and every night prior for about a month now).  That is always fun.  Did you know?  Thirteen is the new three. 

Then there was The Jello Incident.  I ask you, is it ever a good idea to have a preschooler carry her own jello?  Now, you and I both know the answer to that one is no, but alas, we had her do it anyway.
The funny part was watching it bounce.  The jello, not the preschooler.
But you don't laugh out loud when a preschooler bounces her jello.  Well, you learn not to after you have already done so, but you pretend you were coughing (your kid won't buy the cough bit, either).
 I was able to rinse off the jello.  You can't do that with too many foods, now can ya?

I imagine you could do a grown-up version of our little soiree to the foodie-flick "Julie and Julia", but I gar-un-tee that you won't find pre-cooked Beef Bourguignon in the freezer case next to the dinosaur shaped bagel pizza pockets at Walmart.

You will, however find Gummi Bears.  Des bonbons Haribo Gummibar.

 "They only gave me milk."

Fav quotes from the flick:
"Come on, Steve. We've got a diem to carpe!"

"My chest hairs are tingling. Something's wrong."

"Whoa, Steve, no. We both know how you get around Gummi Bears."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ready or not

It's beginning.

It's starts today.

It starts with his first bites of big people food. 

Jonah will be 6 months old in 11 days, but he has been trying to get food out of my hand or off of my plate for about 2 weeks now.  I decided I needed to worry less about the calender, and listen to his little spirit.  He was telling me he was ready for food.  He salad-napped a piece of my green leaf on Tuesday, which made a reappearance today, if you know what I mean.  Hey, at least it wasn't a penny or a crayon or something. 

Yes, the time had come.

He loved the food tonight.  The first bite of applesauce surprised him, and he puckered and shuddered and blinked one eye like we had given him a lemon.  Then he started screaming, very loudly, for more.  The shuddering stopped, and the hollering before each successive bite got fever pitched.  He began grabbing the spoon to help with the shoveling- clearly I wasn't moving fast enough.  Soon I had to just go nurse him just to settle him down.  The food was just too exciting.

The first food today.  Soon the first steps, the first words, and all of those other firsts that will take him away little by little, from being my baby.

I felt this tiny thing in me flicker and sputter as I sat down to nurse him.  It was the part of me that knows that I am the only thing he needs.  It is the thing that separated us from the rest of the universe.  In some strange way, I gave him to the world today.  Or started to.

If only I was as ready as he seems to be.