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."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tears and Valentines

 Um, so yeah.  I can do it aaaaalllll.  I can cook (weenie-beanie XEIO soup, last night), I can clean (I think if you swept my floor right now, you could roll the contents of the dust pan in a little Elmer's glue and get a puppy), I can homeschool (Did you know there was a solar storm this week?), and I can, uh, um... I can... what was I saying?

So, it looks like keeping up with posting about my life, returning phone calls and, apparently, shaving my legs, have all taken a serious back seat in my life, as in last-bench-in-the-mini-van back seat. These are a few high-lights and low-lights of the week:
Tessa begs to say the prayer every night, every meal.  This week she sweetly asked God to bless "all da people in all da hostibles (hospitals) and all da people who are homeless, for that the people in hostibles will get houses an the homeless people will get better."

Ethan: "Do I have to take Spanish?"
Me: "It's a graduation requirement."
Ethan: "Why?  I'm pretty happy with English.
It's gotten me where I've wanted to go."


Sweet Adam wept in my arms this week when he realized that his female lizard, Dr. Jekyl, was sicker than we thought.  She died when I was away shopping, and he didn't tell a soul.  He just took her outside in a box he made at camp and through his tears he dug a little grave for her.  Two nights ago, he came out of his room at midnight.  When I asked what was wrong, he simply said, "I can't stop thinking about her."  I held my big boy on my lap while he grieved his first loss.  I talked about cycle-of-life-stuff.
It wasn't helping.
So then I just held him.

Ethan thought it would be a terrific idea to feed a pinkie to his bearded dragon.
A pinkie is a baby mouse.
A live baby mouse.
He did it in front of Ellie.
And Tessa.
And a four year old neighbor girl.
I spent the next hour explaining more life-cycle-stuff to two sobbing little girls.  It turns out that it does not, in fact, help to include in your explanation that we eat chicken.  Now, I am also actually a murderer.
Yup.  I kill chickens.  And if Tessa is ever put in charge, lions and tigers will eat salad.

I took the girls to the movies tonight.  I had a ball explaining The Muppets to them.  I sang along.  They thought I was weird and a little bit cool (I already knew the songs, so how cool was I?)  And Ellie excitedly said "This is prob'ly the first time I 'ever been to a movie on time!" (Sadly, she is not only right, she didn't realize we were actually late and we missed the little cartoon feature at the beginning).

My sweetheart gave away about four of his nine lives this week
helping Ethan with school work.


I gave away many, many tears that my son will never appreciate.

I made valentines.  
And it's not even February.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Softer Focus

Ellen told me a story the other day.
A woman she knew was sleeping one night when her house caught fire.  She ran from room to room in her house, gathering her five children and getting them out of the house safely, all the while oblivious to the fact she had gone to bed nude.  As she stood on the neighbor's lawn, her five babies gathered safely around her, she watched in horror as her house was engulfed in flames, looking on as everything she owned was eaten by the fire.  In that moment, a firefighter approached her and offered her his long coat.  And in that moment she discovered that she, indeed, 
was not covered.

She hurriedly accepted the coat as a rush of embarrassment overcame her.  So great was her shame that she retreated to the emergency vehicle with her children, keeping her eyes downcast.  Consumed by her shame, she no longer thought of all that she was losing, but focused on avoiding eye contact with the firefighters.

I can't stop thinking about that story.  How could someone's focus be shifted so instantly from something that was literally all consuming, to something that truly, in the grander scheme, did not really matter?  

I have been examining my life trying to see where my focus is. 
Is it where it should be?  
Is my house on fire while I fret over my naked insecurities?

As I played with Tessa's picture in the photo editor tonight, I cropped out everything that wasn't her sweet face.  I brought out the light that was already there, and then, last of all, I softened my focus, so that what really matters 
is what I can see most clearly.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Car School

The days are short
but long. 
Laundry piles rise and crest and fall, 
but just like the tide, 
always return.  
The baby poops.
The floors are dusty.
It's cold. 

We read and paint.  We experiment.
We homeschool.

I find myself driving a lot these days.  
To electronics class.  
To Medieval History class.  
To Ancient Times class.
To Lego Engineering class.
To Fairytale class.
To Gymnastics.
To piano lessons.

I guess we really car school.


Sometimes we sit and wait.
I read to Tessa if she is not in class, while Jonah naps.  
It is not quite what I had expected it to be.

My life is set by a different kind of clock.
One that runs on stories that lead to more stories,
and on questions that lead to more questions, then still more.
A clock that stops suddenly when cooking becomes science
and science becomes art
and art becomes history
which, of course, is story time,
after all.

And, in case you are still wondering, 
No.  I am not worried about their socialization.
They are doing just fine.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Three Stories of Christmas: Part Three

Sorry I made you wait.

I know, I am done with Christmas, too.  But I told you there was one more story.

Here she blows.

The night before The Great Hamster Escape we headed out to deliver goodies and a few other items to friends.  I had an art order that needed delivering, so we decided we would kill two turtledoves with one fruitcake and drop it off as well.

Upon arrival to the beautiful home of our friends, we found no one home, but oddly, their keys were hanging  in the door.  We felt like we couldn't just leave them hanging there like a big ol' invite to steal Christmas, but while pulling them from the lock to hide them, I heard a click sound.

"You better check to see if it is locked or not."  Guy said.

(This makes the following events his fault, by the way)

I checked the door handle, and the door popped right open.  I pulled the door shut, locked it with the key and then began to look for a good-enough-to-hide-from-criminals but not so-good-they're-lost-forever place to stash the keys when,

(did you see it coming?  Yep, you did...)

The burglar alarm went off.  We bumbled around on the porch for a moment and then decided the go to the van and try calling our friends.  Four calls later, all we had for our efforts were two hysterical girls in the back seat who were begging us to "please drive away before the p'leece come to put us in jay-yol".  I couldn't hide my giggles.

Oh, on a side note: it turns out that not one neighbor even so much as peeped through a curtain in our direction.  Nice, eh?  Ho, ho ho... Merry Christmas.

We figured we had some 's'plainin' to do, Lucy, so we hung around for over 10 minutes for the police to come.  Apparently they were otherwise engaged, because they never did show up.  
It felt weird, but we finally just drove away.

I don't know if it is so much a story as it is a lesson learned.
Leave the breaking and entering to Santa.  He's better at it, 
and committing felonies at Christmas seems to upset the children.

(This was one of those moments that you didn't have to look back on to find funny, and thankfully our friends were as entertained as we were!)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Three Stories of Christmas: Part Two

Adam plays Rudolph with a lazer pointer up the nose
while we go to deliver Christmas goodies.  
Eh-yup.  That's my boy.

Three days before Christmas I was excited to attend my very first "Cookie Exchange" hosted by my hubby's co-worker.  If you have never heard of one, the point is that you make a booty load of one type of cookie, and trade all around with other folks so that by the end you have half a dozen different kinds cookies for your holiday-googie-tray giving.  I got a late start at making my goodies (my fabulous Toffee Bars that are more like candy than cookies), but even so, I decided it was more important that I go, than to have everything perfect.  I spread the melted chocolate topping on the bar cookies that were still warm in the pan, Googled the directions and headed out.  I was hungry for the brunch that would be served, and as I drove I tried to imagine how a Cookie Exchange goes down.  I suddenly got stage fright.  I imagined myself entering a room full of gorgeous strangers who were all tall, slim and tan, wearing flowing, trendy clothes and holding adorably packaged bundles of cookies with hand crafted tags and elegantly stamped recipe cards that matched.  I glanced at my old jelly roll pan and photo copied recipes and got a lump in my throat.

Fast forward one hour:
I am still driving.  A certain road had split and become two.  Thanks for the warning, Google.  You're a peach.  Phoneless (has anyone seen my phone?  It' been missing for 2 months.  If I have been to your house, will you check in your sofa?), I asked directions twice (I swear the first guy  I asked was just makin' crap up) and was now driving on several streets that showed up in the directions as intersecting.  However, apparently while no one was looking, some madman rearranged these streets to all run parallel to each other.  And in the scariest place I've been in since I took my last late night jaunt to the local Walmart.  Seriously, Freaky People, do you all have to shop at Walmart?  There s a creepy little Kmart not two miles away.  Go there.

You know how some stories have a last straw?  Well here it comes: upon finally reaching a street with the name of the street I was supposed to be on, and two blocks later hitting a dead end on said street just two blocks from the house number I needed, I flipped a U-turn - at which point my un-lovely recipe photo copies, along with my dang Google map and ultra-helpful directions, gracefully slid across the dash and landed in my semi-melted semi-sweet chocolate topping.

Just for kicks, let's fast forward a little more, saaaaay... one half hour?
Here you see a sad, sad girl driving aimlessly through the city, seeing the freeway just above her and not being able to find the blankety-blank on-ramp.  There are tears streaming down her cheeks.  There is chocolate smeared on her hands from the recipe rescue.  She is yelling.  Oh, yes, my friends, yelling at the top of her sad little lungs.  Oops, look away; she is wiping her nose on her sleeve.  Well, lookie there!  A two-year-old temper tantrum, complete with steering wheel pounding!  I hope, as she drove along, she landed on someones surveillance tapes along the way.  Just for kicks.
  Good times.  Good times.

Shall we time travel one more time?
Two hours from the time I left the house, I kicked the door open, chocolate coated papers in one hand, cookie bars in the other.  Oh, yeah, and hungry.  So, so, hungry.

My hubby hugged me.  He listened to me rant.  He watched as I dramatically threw the recipes into the trash and grabbed a knife to cut into the cookie bars.
I stuffed one into my mouth.
They were finally cooled off.
I, however, would not be for another hour.


Chocolate Toffee Bars

Make your favorite shortbread crust recipe and press it into an ungreased pan.  Bake at 350 til just golden.
While that is baking, in a saucepan simmer: 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 2 tbsp. butter, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. vanilla until it gets thick and starts to turn lightly golden.  Spread out on crust and then bake again until the top is a bubbly dark golden brown.  Remove from oven, spread a bag of chocolate chips on top and leave them to melt.  Spread melted chocolate evenly with a spatula or your Google directions.

Then get lost for two hours.  
Yes, that is part of the recipe.
They will be cool when you get back.
Cut and serve.  But not to the kids.  Give them the junky dollar store cookies.  
Save these in your secret hiding place.
Dang, I said too much.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Three Stories of Christmas: Part One

Five days before Christmas...

Santa brought a pair of hamsters for the girls so as to save them the long, cold flight from the North Pole.  Rodents don't fly well.  Guy and I went to a Petsmart to pick the puff balls up.  While at the store the cute-spunky-and-all-knowing rodent expert helped us select two tufts of fur and an extra habitat.  We had one on the way from the North Pole via US Air, but in case they didn't get along, we bought a portable and easy-to-assemble back up plan, then headed to Amanda's where she graciously agreed to watch over them for the week.

OK, this story is taking way to long.  Let's move it.

Day 2:
I get a call from Amanda.  The hamsters have been in a fight.  They have been separated, but one is bleeding.  Lucky for me the second habitat has just arrived in the mail.  I rush over.

The injured hamster didn't look great.  There was a cut above and below his little beady eye.  I follow the maddeningly simple, yet somehow impossible instructions to put together the cage-thingy.  There is a crash in the other room, followed by the barking of little Frodo, the family mascot.  The meany hamster had managed to walk it's temporary jail-box right off the counter.  
No harm done, but I think Frodo was plenty freaked out, walking boxes and all.  
Crisis averted.

Christmas Eve:
Amanda calls again.  She sounds downright dreary. 
"Uh-oh, did it die?"
"Worse.  One is missing."

Somehow the hamster escaped.  Perhaps it was her sleepwalking son, no one was quite sure, but the cage was still closed, but empty as a cookie jar at my house.  An hour of looking had produced no furry fugitive.  

Two hours later, another call, the voice on the other end, dejected.
"Well, we found it."

The fur ball was hiding behind some plaques that were leaning against a wall when Frodo found him.  Frodo nudged into the corner, knocking the boards over, which scooped up the clandestine critter and flung him out into the room (did I mention that they don't fly well?  Well, in this case they do), where Frodo snatched him up.

Everyone screamed, and Frodo dropped his piliferous prize, but not unscathed.  
He was bleeding.

We waited a few hours.  
The bleeding was just a small scratch on his nose.  
He was fine.  
Well, as fine as a hamster that has been in a fight, 
fallen off of the equivalent of a four story building, 
and then was nearly puppy chow.


On Christmas morning, the kids came out into the living room to see what Santa left for them.  Amidst the squeals of delight, Tessa's voice reached my ears.

"Santa brought me a candy cane in my stocking!"
"Look some more, Sweetie.  What else?"
"My own bag of beef jerky!"
"Look Sweetie, a hamster..."
"AND GUM!!!!"
Oh, well.  Best laid plans of mice and moms.
I blame Santa and his darned planning ahead to avoid a last minute trip 
to the pet store only to find they were plum out of hamsters.  
He had to know that beef jerky would upstage a rat.
And gum.  I mean, really? 
Should'a just let Frodo have him.
He never stood a chance against gum.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy New List!

 New Years goals:

More writingg,, less editing (duh, I did that on purpose)

More authentic, less lying to myself, and therefore to others (um, not that I lie to you)

More listening, less blah-blah blah-blah BLAAAAAH

More cooking, less crap on their plates

More space, less stuff (um, yeah, that would also be crap)

More moments, less days-blurring-into-an-endless-stream-of-obligations

More seeing their faces, less seeing their messes

More flavor, less fat and sugar (insert whimpering sound here)

Less whimpering

More order, less searching

More smootchin', dang it!

More patience, ooohhhhmmmmmmm

More planning, less rushing

More sleep

More counting to ten, twenty, ... four million, whatever.

More present

More smiles

More prayer

More faith

More hope 

More charity

More love

More the woman I want to be.


Lucky for me there is a whole year to do it.


Photo:  Jonah playing with his Christmas gift, "The Toothbrush Chain".  No, no it has not made him stop stealing our toothbrushes and brushing the dog with them.  Thank you for asking.